Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Adams, John (1735-1826) to Benjamin Rush

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00748 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Braintree Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 19 September 1779 Pagination: 2 p. : docket ; 25 x 19 cm.

Summary of Content: Adams had returned from France, and comments upon the importance of having an American in Paris "who knows somewhat of the affairs of America, as well as Europe...." re: fight for independence and French negotiations.

Background Information:

Full Transcript: Braintree Sept. 19. 1779
Dear Sir
I had the Pleasure of yours of August 19, by the last Post, and thank you for your kind Congratulations on my Return. You judge right, when ...you Suppose, that I cannot be idle, but my Industry will probably be directed, in a different manner, in future. My Principles are not in Fashion. I may be more usefull here, as you observe, than in the Cabinet of Louis the 16.- But let me tell you, that that Cabinet, is of great Importance, and that there ought to be Somebody there, who knows somewhat of the affairs of America, as well as Europe, and who will take the Pains to think, and to advise that Cabinet, with all proper Delicacy, in certain Circumstances.
I have little to say about the Time and manner of my being Superceded. Let those reflect upon themselves, who are disgraced by it, not I. - Those who did it, are alone disgraced by it. The Man who can show a long Series of disinterested Services to his Country, cannot be disgraced even by his Country. If she attempts it, she only brings a stain upon her own Character and makes his Glory the more illustrious.
We have Cause to congratulate ourselves, on the favourable appearance & affairs in Europe and America. There is not one symptom in Europe against Us. - Yet I must own to you, that I think France and Spain are yet to be convinced, of the true Method of conducting this War. It is not by besieging Gibralter [2] nor invading Ireland, in my humble opinion, but by Sending a clear Superiority of naval Power into the American Seas, by destroying or captivating the British Forces here by Sea and Land, by taking the West India Islands and destroying the British Trade, and by affording Convoys to Commerce between Europe and America, and between america and the french and Spanish Islands, that this war is to be brought to a Speedy Conclusion, happy for us, and glorious as well as advantageous to our allies.
These were the objects of all my Negotiations, and I dare hazard all, upon the good Policy of them. - I fear that these Ideas, will now be forgotten: I cannot but wish that Congress would give possitive Instructions to their Minister, nay that they would make a direct application themselves to their Ally, to this Purpose. - Mr. Gerry can show you, in Confidence, Some Papers upon the Subject.
I have a great Curiosity to know, the History of the political Proceedings, within and out of Doors, last Winter. I confess myself, unable to comprehend it. I am more puzzled at the Conduct of those who ought to have been my Friends than at any Thing else. However I have not Light enough to form a Judgment.
You Speak French so perfectly, and love good Men so much, that I wish you to be acquainted with the Chevalier De la Luzerne, and Mr Marbois. Those gentlemen were making Enquiry after a certain Letter, that you was very partial to. - I enclose it to you and request you to give it them from me [inserted: with my most affectionate and respectfull Compliments.] I am with much affection, your Friend
& Servt
John Adams.
Dr Rush.

Septemr. 19: 1779
See More

People: Adams, John, 1735-1826
Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: PresidentRevolutionary WarFranceGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyDiplomacyMilitary HistoryNavyCaribbeanCommerceVice President

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources