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To R. R. Livingston, Esq. Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Passy, March 9, 1782. Sir, I HAVE just received the honor of yours, dated January the 7th. Your communication of the sentiments of congress with respect to many points that may come under consideration in a treaty of peace, gives me great pleasure, and the more as they agree so perfectly with my own opinions, and furnish me with additional arguments in their support. I shall be more particular on this subject in my next; for having notice from captain Barry last night, that he will not go to Brest, as I expected, to take in some of our goods, but will sail immediately on the return of the post, which sets out to-day; I am obliged to be short. You will see in the enclosed newspapers, the full debate in the house of commons, on the subject of declining the war with North America. By private advices, I learn, that the whole opposition now become the majority, went up in a body with the address to the king, who answered that he would pay a due regard to the advice of his faithful com: mons, and employ his forces with more vigour against the ancient enemies of the nation, or to that purpose ; and that orders were immediately given for taking up a great number of large transports, among which are many old India ships, whence it is conjectured that they intend some great effort in the West Indies, and perhaps mean to carry off their troops and stores from New York and Charleston. I hope however, that we shall not in expectation of this, relax in our preparations for the approaching campaign.
I will procure the books you write for, and send them as soon as possible.
Present my duty to the congress, and believe me to be with sincere esteem, &c.
To the same.
Passy, Mareh 30, 1782. IN mine of the ninth instant, I acknowleged the receipt of yours of January the 7th, and I have not since received any of a later date.
The newspapers which I send you by this conveyance, will acquaint you with what has, since my last, passed in parliament. You will then see a copy of the bill brought in by the attorney general for empowering the king to make peace with the colonies. They still seem to flatter themselves with the idea of dividing us, and rather than name the congress, they empower him to treat with any body or bodies of men, or any person or persons, &c. They are here likewise endeavoring to get us to treat separately from France, at the same time they are tempting France to treat separately from us, equally without the least chance of suc. cess. I have been drawn into a correspondence on this subject, which you shall have with my next. I send you a letter of Mr. Adams's just received, which shews also that they are weary of the war, and would get out of it if they knew how. They had not then received the certain news of the loss of St. Christophers, which will probably render them still more disposed to peace. I see that a bill is also passing through the house of commons, for the exchange of American prisoners, the purport of which I do not yet know.
In my last I promised to be more particular with respect to the points you mentioned, as proper to be insisted on in the treaty of peace. My ideas on those points, are, I assure you, full as strong as yours, I did intend to have given you my reasons for some addition, and if the treaty were to be held on your side the water I would do it; otherwise it seems on second thought to be unnecessary, and if my letter should be intercepted, may be inconvenient. Be assured I shall not willingly give up any important right or interest of our country, and unless this campaign should afford our enemies some considerable advantage, I hope more may be obtained than is yet expected. I have purchased for you all the books you desired, except four which we have sent fór to England. I shall request our excellent friend, the marquis de la Fayette, to take them under his care, and I hope they will get safe to hand. The others shall follow by the first opportunity after I receive them.
Our affairs go on generally well in Europe; Holland has been slow; Spain slower; but time will, I hope, smooth away all difficulties. Let us keep up not only our courage but our vigilance, and not be laid asleep by the pretended half peace the English make with us, without asking our consent. We cannot be safe while they keep armies in our country.
With great esteem, &c.
John Adams, Esq. to Dr. Franklin.
Hague, March 26, 1782. SIR, ONE day last week, I received at Amsterdam a card from ...... enclosing two letters to me from Mr. David Hartley. The card desired to see me on business of importance, and the letters from Mr. Hartley contained an assurance, that to his knowlege the bearer came from the highest authority. I answered the card, that in the present situation of affairs here, and elsewhere, it was impossible for me to see any one from England without witness, but if he were willing to see me in presence of Mr. Thaxter, my secretary, and that I should communicate whatever he should say to me to Doctor Franklin and the count de Vergennes, I would wait for him at home at ten o'clock, but that I had rather he should go to Paris without seeing me, and communicate what he had to say to Doctor Franklin, whose situation enabled him to consult the court without loss of time. At ten however, he came and told me a long story about consultations with Mr. Penn, Mr. Hartley, lord Beauchamp, and at last Lord North, by whom he was finally sent to inquire of me, if I or any other had authority to treat with Great Britain of a truce. I answered
that I came to Europe last, with full power to make peace, that those powers had been announced to the public upon my arrival, and continued in force till last summer, when congress sent a new commission, containing the same powers to five persons, whom I named. That if the king of England were my father, and I the heir apparent to his throne, I could not advise him ever to think of a truce, because it would be but a real war under a simulated appearance of tranquillity, and would end in another open and bloody war, without doing any real good to any of the parties.
"He said that the ministry would send some person of consequence over, perhaps general Conway; but they were apprehensive that he would be ill treated or exposed. I said that if they resolved upon such a measure, I had rather they would send immediately to Doctor Franklin, because of his situation near the French court. But there was no doubt if they sent any respectable personage, properly authorized, who should come to treat honorably, he would be treated with great respect. But that if he came to me, I could give him no opinion upon any thing, without consulting my colleagues, and should reserve a right of communicating every thing to them and to our allies. .
He then said that his mission was finished, that the fact to be ascertained was simply, that there was a commission in Europe to treat and conclude; but that there was not one person in Great Britain who could affirm or prove that there was such a commission, although it had been announced in the gazettes.
I desired him, and he promised me not to mention Mr. Laurens to the ministry, without his consent, and (without informing him that it was impossible that he should say any. thing in the business) because he knew nothing of our instructions, because although it was possible that his being in such a commission might induce them to release him, yet it was also possible it might render them more difficult concerning his exchange.
The picture he gives of the situation of things in Eng
land is gloomy enough for them. The distresses of the people, and the distractions in administration and parliament, are such as may produce any effect almost that can be imagined.
The only use of all this, I think, is to strike decisive. strokes at New York and Charleston. There is no posi. tion so advantageous for negociation, as when we have all an enemy's armies prisoners. I must beg the favor of you sir, to send me by one of count de Vergennes's couriers to the Duc la Vauguion, a copy in letters of our peace instructions. I have not been able to decypher one quarter part of mine. Some mistake has certainly been made.
Ten or eleven cities of Holland have declared themselves in favor of the American independence, and it is expected that to-day or to-morrow this province will take the decisive resolution of admitting me to my audience. Perhaps some of the other provinces may delay it for three or four weeks. But the prince has declared that he has no hopes of resisting the torrent, and therefore that he shall not attempt it. The Duc de la Vauguion, has acted a very friendly and honorable part in this business, without however doing any ministerial act in it.
With great respect, &c.
To R. R. Livingston, Esq. Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Passy, April 8, 1782. SIR, SINCE my last an extraordinary revolution has taken place in the court of England. All the old ministers are out, and the chiefs of the opposition are in their places. The newspapers that I send will give you the names as correctly as we yet know them; our last advices mention their kissing hands, but they had yet done nothing in their respective offices, by which one might judge of their projected measures, as whether they will ask a peace, of which they have great need, the nation having of late suffered