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Adams was twice sent to France to represent the new Continental Congress in Europe, accompanied on both occasions by his eldest son John Quincy Adams. His first stay, between April 1, 1778 and June 17, 1779, was largely unproductive, and he returned to his home in Braintree in early August 1779. He writes: "I have the Honour to inclose to Congress a few of the public Papers, which contain all the News that is passing. As it is uncertain by what Vessell the Gentleman will go who takes this, the Conveyance is too precarious, to send any Thing which ought not to be known to the Enemy."
The comte d'Estaing (1729-1794), on the entry of France in the war, left Toulon in command of a fleet of twelve ships of the line and four frigates with the intention of assisting the American colonies against Great Britain. He sailed on 13 April, and, between the 11th and the 22nd of July, blockaded the smaller British fleet of Lord Howe at Sandy Hook, the entrance to New York harbor.
"We are waiting with an impatient Anxiety, to hear from America, the last Accounts from thence having been brought by Captain Ayers and Barns from Boston neither of them later than the 3 of 4 July. We have no advice of the Compte D'Estaings Fleet Since he passed the straights on the 16 May."