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ARTHUR LEE TO JAMES WARREN
IN CONGRESS, Decr. 12th, 1782
DEAR SIR, I enclose you three Newspapers containing the Essays of Lucius, Valerius and Bellesarius which deserve your perusal and being represented in your Papers. Barney is arrivd with Dispatches. He left L'Orient the 17 Jany. He keeps strict silence and none of his Crew are allowd to come on shore. The Letters were all carried to Mr. Morris, from whom Congress have not yet receivd any intelligence. When his speculations are settled we shall be favord with the news. All these restraints upon public information and the engrossing all the Letters, are by his own orders, Congress knowing nothing of it; and I verily believe for the sole purpose of speculation. I was persuaded when his friends proposd the purchasing Barney's vessel and dispatching her under his direction, that it was for the same purpose. (Thro' the whole war he has made his public trust subservient to his private Speculation, and has thereby become as rich as a Jew.
You wish to have some observations on the manners of this place. They are as little worthy of panygeric as an awkward imitation of the French can make them. Broke suddenly loose from the simplicity of quaker manners, dress and fashions and affecting the vanity, and nonsense, if nothing worse, of french parade, you may conceive they are more fit subjects of ridicule than of admiration. Mr. Morris, Mr. Bingham,1 Mr. Ross,2 and others, who have made large fortunes during this war, employ their wealth in a manner not very consistent with that unostentatious virtue which ought to animate our Infant republic. Extravagance, ostentation and dissipation distinguish what are calld the Ladies of the first rank. There are however exceptions, there being prudent, amiable and worthy persons of both Sexes. But the generality seem to be intoxicated with a sudden change of manners and unexpected elevation.
I had not time to finish this Letter, being occupyd by attending to the Dispatches. The preliminary Articles are well enough, but being conditiond on the conclusion of Peace with France, which 2 John Ross (1726–1800).
I William Bingham (1751-1804).
seems to me not probable this year; we still remain dependent on the issue of this Campaign at least, which if very successful on the part of the Enemy may make them retract these conditions, and if ever so prosperous on the part of our Ally, we cannot hope for any thing better, as the latter seems more averse to our participation in the Fishery, and our possessing the western Country, than the English themselves are. We are placd in this uncomfortable situation, by the ambition of our Ally, And by the obligation our Alliance is supposd to have imposd upon us not to make Peace without their concurrence. My latest Letters give the most sanguine expectations of speedy peace. But from reasoning on all circumstances it appears to me at least very doubtful. I wish most sincerely that peace may take place, and give us an opportunity of arranging our governments and Finances and of paying our Debts.
I receivd the two Joes you was so good as to send me for interest; and am very much obligd to you for your attention to my Affairs. When peace will permit the travelling in the extreme parts of your State, and I am freed from Congress, I shall revisit you, and take a view of the Country where the grant to me may be located. In the mean time I trust to your goodness and care to have the location made as advantageously as possible.
Mr. J. Adams is so persuaded, that Peace is settled that he has desird leave to resign and return home. I am not of opinion that we can spare him yet. He and Mr. Jay have acted a spirited, independent, and therefore, in my judgment, a most laudable part; and will be necessary in Europe to counteract the treachery of old Franklin. I had drawn up a vote of thanks to Mr. Adams for the extraordinary Services he has renderd us in Holland; but upon sounding I found the jealousy which Dr. F's friends, after his example, entertain of any approbation bestowd upon another, being a censure upon him woud render the passage of it doubtful. It was therefore thought more prudent not to move it. There never I think existed a man more meanly envious and selfish than Dr. Franklin. The reason probably why it is not seen so as to make men dispise him is, that men in general listen much to professions, and look little to actions.
Mr. Adams has mentiond one mark of his tricking and selfish disposition. He obtaind a promise from Mr. Jay when at Madrid, to give his voice for appointing his Grandson W. T. Franklin, a young insignificant Boy as any in existence, to be Secretary to the Embassy for making Peace, who ought to be a person of consummate prudence, ability and worth. Upon this he appoints him to that office without consulting the other Commissioners. Thus while Govr. Franklin is planning our destruction in London, his father and Son, are entrusted with all our Secrets in Paris. If it shoud be said that the establishd character of the old man will justify such a confidence; the same cannot be urged in favor of the young one, who is yet to be tried and has no character at all.
I enclose you a Paper containing the preliminary Articles. With the most cordial remembrance of Mrs. Warren's politeness and very agreable conversation, I beg you will present to her my best respects. My Nephew T. Shippen is equally pleasd with the Society at Milton and desires his respects. Farewell.
JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
PARIS, Decr. 15, 1782
DEAR SIR, — This goes with the Preliminary Treaty between the Crown of G. Britain and the United States of America. it is not to be in force untill France and Great Britain shall agree and sign. When this will be is not yet known. it is supposd that the principal Points remaining are Spanish or Dutch.
The great Interests of our Country in the West and in the East are secured, as well as her Independence. St Croix is the Boundary against Nova Scotia. The Fisheries are very safe, the Missisippi and Western Lands to the middle of the great Lakes, are as well secured to Us as they could be by England. All these Advantages would not have been obtained if we had litterally pursued our Instructions, the Necessity of departing from which in some degree will I hope be our Excuse.
The King of Sweden1 is the first Power in Europe who has invited Us to an alliance, the Commissioners are arrived here, and the Treaty will be soon made. The other neutral Powers may possibly acknowledge our Independence all together. it is possible, that England herself may advise it, but this is no more than Conjecture. The K. of Sweden has inserted in his Commission an handsome Compliment to Us, says that he had a great desire to form a Connection with a People who had so well established their Independence, and by their Wisdom and Bravery so well deserved it.
England has been wise to be the third Power in Europe to acknowledge Us. Is it my Vanity which makes me believe that the Dutch Negotiation has wrought this mighty Reverse, and carried Us tryumphantly to the End of all our Wishes? without this, the War would have continued for years, and the House of Bourbon so pressed for Peace and We so dependent on them that We should have lost the Western Country and the Fisheries and very probably been left in a Truce, in a state of Poverty and Weakness, which would have made Us long the miserable Satellites of some great European Planet.
It is the Providence of God, not the good Will of England of France, nor yet the Wisdom and Firmness of Congress that has done this. To that Providence let Us with humble Gratitude and Adoration ascribe it. Without making an Ostentation of Piety upon the Occasion however, let us turn our Thoughts to what is future.
The Union of the States, an affectionate Respect and Attachment among all their Members, the Education of the rising Generation, the Formation of a national System of Oeconomy Policy, and Manners are the great Concerns which still lye before us. We must guard as much as Prudence will permit against the Contagion of European Manners, and that excessive Influx of Commerce Luxury and Inhabitants from abroad, which will soon embarrass Us. with great Esteem, your Friend,
I Gustavus III.
JOHN ADAMS TO MERCY WARREN
PARIS, January 29, 1783
MADAM,-Your Favour of the 25 of October never reached me till to day, but it has given me great Pleasure as your Letters always do. I was disappointed however in finding no Line from Mr. Warren except the Superscription of yours.
I assure you, Madam, what I said about certain Annals was no Sarcasm. I have the utmost Veneration for them, although I never was honoured with a Sight of any of them. Let me intreat you not to reserve any Place in them for the Dutch Negotiation, if you intend to celebrate my Patience. of all Virtues or Qualities I hate most to be praised for my Patience. I had rather you should immortalize my Impudence, for I rather think it was this quality, than the other which produced the Effect in Holland. I entered into the Seven United Provinces with as much Impudence, as I should have appeared in the 13 United States of America. As Johnny Morehead 1 said to Mr. Bollan,2 "Mr. Such an one used, Sir, to come into my House with as much Impudence, as you would come into your own." If the word shocks you, Madam, call it modest Assurance, or honest Boldness, or almost what you will except Patience.
The Times, Madam have made a Strange Being of me. I shall appear a Domestic Animal, never at home, a bashfull Creature, braving the Fronts of the greatest ones of the Earth, a timid Man, venturing on a long Series of the greatest dangers, an irritable fiery Mortal, enduring every Provocation and Disgust, a delicate Valetudinarian bearing the greatest Hardships, an humble Farmer, dispising Pomp Shew Power and Wealth, as profuse as a Prodigal and as proud as Caesar — But an honest Man in all and to the Death.
Alas! who would wish for such a Character! Who would wish to live in Times and Circumstances when to be an honest Man, one must be all the rest? Not I. it can never be the Duty of one Man
I Rev. John Morehead, a native of Belfast, Ireland, and pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Long Lane, now Federal Street, from 1730 to his death in 1773. He was of a quick temper.
2 William Bollan (1740–1774?).