242
242

PROPERTY OF THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY

Adams, John, as Minister Plenipotentiary
Estimate
4,0006,000
LOT SOLD. 6,875 USD
JUMP TO LOT
242

PROPERTY OF THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY

Adams, John, as Minister Plenipotentiary
Estimate
4,0006,000
LOT SOLD. 6,875 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Books & Manuscripts

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New York

Adams, John, as Minister Plenipotentiary
Letter in the hand of Adams's secretary, John Thaxter Jr., signed ("John Adams"), one page (8 5/8 x 7 1/4 in.; 217 x 185 mm), [Paris, 3 May 1780, place and date taken from letterbook copy] to Edmé Jacques Genêt, requesting that Genêt publish an article in the Gazette and Mercure about the victory of an American ship over British privateers; upper margin scorched with losses to the date and salutation, dampstained, extended, silked.  
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Literature

Papers of John Adams 9:266–267

Catalogue Note

Adams as diplomat and and covert mastermind of media intelligence. Determined to raise European understanding and sympathy of the American cause, Adams became his own office of information and propaganda, sanctioned by the French foreign minister, the Comte de Vergennes. He frequently supplied anonymous articles to the Mercure de France, a journal edited by Edmé Jacques Genêt of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "I had two days ago the Honour to inclose to the Minister a Boston Gazette of 20 February, in which is a Relation of a glorious Combat and Cruise of my Countryman Captain Waters of the Thorn. — Let me by of you Sir, to insert this Account in the Gazette and the Mercure."

Adams is referring to the fiercely heated engagement of the Thorn, an American privateer of sixteen guns on 25 December 1779 with three British ships: the Governor Tryon, carrying sixteen guns and eighty-six men; Sir William Erskine with eighteen guns and eighty-five men; and the Spartan, mounting eighteen guns. The journal of the Thorn's first lieutenant relates that Captain Waters was hailed by the commander of one of the vessels and asked what right he had to wear thirteen stars in his pendant.  Waters—a privateersman of true mettle—replied: "I'll let you know presently" and then let fly a broadside "within pistol shot" (Gardner W. Allen, A Naval History of the American Revolution, p. 417).  The battle raged on for several hours;  Waters emerged the vanquisher, taking two of his three prizes into Boston Harbor (the Governor Tryon had escaped under cover of night).

Adams concludes by drawing out the purpose of his request. "There has not been a more memorable Action this War, and the Feats of our American Frigates and Privateers have not been Sufficiently published in Europe. It would answer valuable Purposes, both by encouraging their honest and brave Hearts, and by exciting Emulations elsewhere, to give them a little more than they have had, of the Fame that they have deserved. Some of the most Skillful, determined, persevering, and successfull engagements, that have ever happened upon the Seas, have been performed by American Privateers against the Privateers from New York."

 

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