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YESTERDAY's post brought me your kind favor of March 8th, 9th, 10th, with a letter enclosed from each of my sons ; but where is my daughter's letter ? That is missing. I regret the loss of it much. You think I dont t write politics enough. Indeed I have a surfeit of them. But I shall give you now and then a taste, since you have such a gout for them.
By a letter of 17th January, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Deane, and Dr. Lee met in Paris, and on the 28th December, had an audience of the Count do Vergcnnes, Secretary of state and minister of foreign affairs ; laid before him their commission with the articles of the proposed treaty of commerce ; were assured of the protection of his court, and that due consideration should be given to what they offered. Soon after, they presented a memorial on the situation of our States, drawn up at the minister's request, together with the articles of general confederation, and the demand for ships of war, agreeably to their instructions, copies of all which papers they gave to the Count d Aranda, the Spanish ambassador, to be communicated to his Court. They were promised an answer from the French Court, as soon as they could know the determination of Spain, with whom they design to act with perfect unanimity. \In the mean time, they are expediting several vessels laden with artillery, arms, ammunition and clothing.
The ports of France, Spain and Florence, (that is Leghorn in the Mediterranean) are open to the American cruisers upon the usual terms of neutrality. They write for commissions to be given to privateers, and for more frequent arid authentic intelligence. Great efforts are now making by the British ministry to procure more troops from Germany. The princes in alliance with France have refused to lend any or to enter into any guarantee of Hanover, which England has been mean enough to ask, being apprehensive for that electorate, if she should draw from it any more of its troops. Four more regiments (two of them to be light horse,) are raising in Hesse, where there has been an insurrection on account of drafting the people, and now great sums of money are distributed for procuring men. They talk of ten thousand men in all, to be sent over this spring.
The hearts of the French are universally for us, and the cry is strong for immediate war with Britain. Indeed, every thing tends that way, but the Count has reasons for postponing it a little longer. In the mean time preparations are making. They have twenty-six sail of the line manned and fit for the sea. Spain has seventeen sail in the same state, and more are fitting with such diligence, that they reckon to have thirty sail in each kingdom by April. This must have an immediate good effect in our favor, as it keeps the English fleet at bay, coops up their seamen, of whom they will scarce find sufficient to man their next set of transports, will probably keep Lord Howe's fleet more together, for fear of a visit, and leave us more sea room to prey upon their commerce, and a freer coast to bring in our prizes and supplies from abroad. The letter then mentions a circumstance much to our ad vantage, but this is a secret So strong is the inclination of the wealthy in France to assist us, that our Ambassadors have been offered a loan of two millions of livres, without interest, and to be repaid when the United States are settled in peace and prosperity. No conditions or securities are required. They have accepted this noble benefaction, and one half of it is paid into the hands of their Banker. On the strength of this supply, they are now in treaty for some strong ships.
Lee is in New York, confined, but otherwise treated well.
- John Adams
- Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume I, 1841