Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Adams: Two Letters, 24 October 1780

From John Adams: Two Letters

(I) ALS: American Philosophical Society; (II) ALS: Reprinted from Stan V. Henkels sales catalogue no. 1415 (May 22, 1928), p. 8.


Amsterdam October 24. 1780


I have this moment the Honour of your Letter of the twentyeth of this Month and it is, as cold Water to a thirsty Soul.

I have been busily employed in making Enquiries, in forming Acquaintances and in taking Advice.— In hopes of Mr Laurens’s Arrival, and wishing him to judge for himself, I have not decided, upon some Questions that necessarily arise. I am not able to promise any Thing but I am led to hope, for Something. The Contents of Mr Jays Letter, will certainly be of great Weight and Use.— I am assured of the good Will of a Number of very worthy and considerable People and that they will endeavour to assist a Loan.

Let me intreat your Excellency, to communicate to me every Thing you may further Learn respecting the benevolent Intentions of the Court of Madrid, respecting this Matter.— I will do myself the Honour, to acquaint you with the Progress I make,.— I was before in hopes of assisting you Somewhat, and your Letter has raised those hopes a great deal, for the English Credit certainly Staggers here, a little.

The Treatment of Mr Laurens is truly affecting. It will make a deep and lasting Impression on the Minds of the Americans. But this will not be a present Relief to him. You are no doubt minutely informed, of his ill Usage.— Can any Thing be done in Europe for his Comfort or Relief?

I have the Honour to be, with respectfull Compliments to all Friends, sir, your most obedient humble servant

John Adams

His Excellency Dr Franklin

Notation: J. Adams. Oct 24. 1780


Amsterdam october 24. 1780


Separated from Master S.C. Johonnot6 for a longer time than I expected, I am under apprehensions about him, and therefore must request your Excellencys Attention to him;

I have no Money in my Hands, which belongs to his Father,7 but am informed he has sent a Remittance for him, which I hope will soon arrive.— I must however, be responsible, for his Expenses, whether Remittances arrive or not as long as he Stays. I have the Honour to be, sir, your humb. sert8

John Adams

His Excellency Dr Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Samuel Cooper’s grandson Samuel Cooper Johonnot had been a classmate of JA’s sons in Passy: XXXI, 85n; XXXII, 117n. When JA went to the Netherlands BF took over JA’s responsibility for the boy’s care and paid for his schooling: BF to Cooper, Dec. 2, 1780 (Henry E. Huntington Library). On March 4, 1781 BF prepared a record of what he had spent (APS): he had paid the schoolmaster M. Péchigny 345 l.t. 10 s. on Nov. 6 for a quarter’s schooling and on Feb. 9, 1781, 374 l.t. 7 s. for another quarter. Meanwhile on Dec. 30 he had received two bills of exchange worth 900 l.t. from JA to cover the expenses, leaving a favorable balance of 180 l.t. 3 s. BF labeled this document “Johonnot’s Acct Settled.”

7Gabriel Johonnot, a Boston merchant whose wife Judith died in 1773: XXI, 124n. The bills of exchange mentioned in the previous note were his; he sent them to JA in September and came to Europe himself in 1781: Adams Papers, X, 139, 305n.

8On Nov. 6 WTF, writing for his grandfather, informs JA that BF had been unable to answer JA’s several letters because he is “laid up with the Gout.” He hopes within a few days to be sufficiently recovered to write. WTF sends his regards to Mr. Dana and Mr. Thaxter (Mass. Hist. Soc.).

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