Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Adams, 18 September 1785

From John Adams

Grosvenor Square 18 Sepr. 1785

Dear Sir

Inclosed, you have in Confidence some Compliments. Give me in confidence your Opinion of them. Is there any thing said by me which I ought not to have said? Is there any expression exceptionable? Have I compromised myself or the public in any thing? more than ought to be—

The Custom of making a Speech is so settled, that not only, the Secretary of State and the Master of the Ceremonies, but some of the Foreign Ministers, took the pains to inform me it was indispensable; otherwise being sensible of the difficulty of being complaisant enough without being too much, I intended to have delivered my Credentials, without saying more, than that they were Credentials to his Majesty from the United States. Your Friend.

FC (MHi: AMT); unsigned. Recorded in SJL as received 22 Sep. 1785. Enclosures (DLC: TJ Papers, 12: 2133–4): Copies of Adams’ address to George III, delivered on the occasion of his audience to present his credentials as minister to Great Britain, 1 June 1785; the King’s reply; Adams’ address to the Queen of 9 June and her reply.

It is puzzling that Adams should have waited so long to transmit these ceremonial addresses to TJ. He had already sent them, under an injunction of secrecy, to Jay in his letters of 2 and 10 June 1785 (Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, ii, 367–71, 376–8; the rough draft of the letter of 2 June, with a number of revisions in the speeches by Adams and by George III, is in MHi: AMT, Letter-book No. 21; the fair copy is in same, Letter-book No. 22). The texts of these addresses as printed in Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 and in Adams’ Works, ed. C. F. Adams, viii, 255–9, 265–6, are the same, but they vary in a number of particulars from those sent to TJ. As published, for example, the remarks of George III are quoted in part as follows: “I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to the separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent Power.” The text sent to TJ reads: “I will be very frank with you, Sir. I was the last to consent to the Seperation, but the seperation having been made and having become inevitable, I have always said as I say now, that I will be the last to disturb the Independence of the United States, or in any way to infringe upon their Rights.”

Index Entries