Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence

By John Ferling | Go to book overview

16
CHOICES, 1780

AMONTH after d'Estaing's failure in Savannah, John Adams, America's minister plenipotentiary for peace, sailed for France on the frigate La Sensible. Adams learned of his appointment only about six weeks after he returned from a fifteen-month assignment in France. Accepting Congress's call meant a second hazardous wartime crossing of the Atlantic and still another long separation from his family. (Between his service in Congress and abroad, he had already been apart from Abigail and his children during fifty-five of the past sixty months.) Many men—perhaps most—would not have accepted the appointment, but Adams never hesitated to accept. He thirsted after glory, and hoped for accolades once he negotiated the peace settlement. Despite Abigail's pleas that she be permitted to accompany him, he refused. He feared what might happen to her should La Sensible be captured, but he also wanted her at home to manage the farm, their security for latter years. When he accepted Congress's appointment, Adams told Abigail that she was “all that is dear to me in this World.” He also reminded her that if the Revolution was to succeed, the revolutionaries must make personal sacrifices. “We shall be happy, whenever our Country is so,” he said.1

Adams's outlook mingled optimism with profound concern, as he looked toward 1780. The European diplomatic situation appeared favorable for the United States, as Britain was isolated, the scope of its imperial power having led Europe to be nearly “universally and Sincerely united in the Desire of reducing her.” Furthermore, he remained confident that France continued to see “the great Importance of our Independence to their Interests,” and he was optimistic

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