Description

    Adams Writes to Congress that He and the Other American Commissioners to France Wait With "impatient anxiety to hear from America."

    [Revolutionary War]. John Adams Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 7.25" x 8.75" (sight), "Passi [Passy, France]," August 14, 1778. The Kingdom of France had taken an early interest in America's War for Independence, viewing it as an opportunity to take revenge on the British for their defeat in the Seven Year's War (the French and Indian War in America). On February 16, 1778, John Adams boarded the twenty-four-gun frigate USS Boston bound for France. He was to replace Silas Deane in assisting Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee in securing a treaty with the French, Deane having been recalled to America due to his laxity in his financial records keeping.

    Adams arrived on April 1, but soon discovered that, following the success of the Continental Army at Saratoga, Franklin, Lee, and Deane had already secured a Treaty of Alliance and a Treaty of Amity and Commerce (February 6, 1778). In the treaties, France recognized the sovereignty of the United States and a military and commercial alliance would be established between the two nations. Britain immediately declared war on France. On April 13, France dispatched Charles Hector, comte d'Estaing, with a fleet of four frigates and twelve ships of the line to America - France's first show of force in the war.

    Four and a half months into his European visit, Adams sent this letter to Congress, in full, as written: "I have the Honour to inclose to Congress, a few of the public Papers, which contain all the Intelligence that is passing. As it is uncertain by what Vessell, the Gentleman will go, who carries this, the Conveyance is too precarious, to send any thing which ought not to be known to the Enemy. We are waiting with an impatient anxiety to hear from America, the last accounts from thence having been brought by Captns Ayers and Barnes from Boston, neither of them later than the 3 or 4 of July. We have no Advice of the Compte D'Estaings Fleet since he passed the Straights on the 16 May." As is evident from the letter, the commissioners were waiting anxiously for any news of the French arrival in America, hoping that a French presence would help turn the tide of the war.

    Smoothed folds. Light water damage is present, especially along the right edge, causing bits of the text to fade and a blooming effect throughout, though it remains wholly legible. Matted with a chest-up portrait of Adams in tan and framed to an overall size of 24" x 16.75".

    This letter is found in The Adams Papers: Papers of John Adams, Vol. 6, March -August 1778, Harvard University Press, 1983, p. 370, with a notation: "This may be JA's letter that was 'laid before Congress by the Committee for Foreign Affairs and read' on 7 Dec. (Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, 12:1198). Adams remained in France until June 17, 1779, sorting out the mess that was the American commission's finances.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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