Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

Benjamin Waterhouse to John Adams, 21 May 1781 Waterhouse, Benjamin JA Benjamin Waterhouse to John Adams, 21 May 1781 Waterhouse, Benjamin Adams, John
Benjamin Waterhouse to John Adams
Sir Leyden 21st of May 1781

Almost every body here is preparing for the fair which opens next Thursday, and as this is Leyden-'Lection I was saying to my companion that it was a pity Master Charles was not here that he might see that a Dutchman can be merry when he is resolved upon it. And John seems to wish it so much, that I thought I would write to you and if you had no objection we should have the little Gentlemans company. We thought he would perhaps find some of his Countrymen 121in Amsterdam who having as much leisure as curiosity would accompany him here. At this time every one turns the best side outwards and the Dutchmen and Women try to look pleasant. The vast number of tents—merchandize—the different nations, together with a multitude of things to be seen as sights— would perhaps both please and instruct my little friend. This idea together with that of the pleasure of his company for a day or two induces me to request you would let him come.1

It is with no small pleasure I inform you that John adheres to his studies with a constancy rarely seen at that age, and what is happy for him the adding to his knowledge does not diminish his flesh. We have no news. With my best compliments to Mr. Dana and Mr. Thaxter, I remain with great respect your humble servt.,

Benj. Waterhouse

RC (Adams Papers).


It does not appear that CA came to Leyden for the fair. See below, JA to JQA, 30 May, and note there.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 22 May 1781 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 22 May 1781 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Amsterdam May 22 1781

I Yesterday received your Letters by Captain Cazneau and Mr. De Neufville received his, and will accordingly send the Things you wrote for.1

You had better pursue this Method and write to Mr. Guardoqui at Bilboa and Mr. De Neufville here for what you want and desire them to draw upon me for the Pay.

I will answer the Letters of my Friends as soon as I can, but I have so many Things upon me at present, that I have not Time. We are all well but Charles, who is yet weak from his Fever, but is getting better daily.

We are anxious to hear further of Green and Cornwallis. Tho Green lost the Field on 15 March, it seems Cornwallis must be in a critical situation.2

I know not what this People will do. I believe they will awake, after some time. Amsterdam, Harlem and Dort have represented the Necessity of an Alliance with America but when the rest will be of their Mind, I know not.3 If they neglect it, they and their Posterity will repent of it.

The Trade will turn away from this Country to France and Spain if the Dutch act so unwise a Part, and indeed, according to every 122Appearance, this Country will dwindle away to nothing. Other Powers will draw away all its Commerce. By an early Treaty with America and active Exertions they might save it: but they seem little disposed as yet.

My dear Nabby and Tommy how do they do? Our Parents, our Brothers, sisters and all Friends how are they?

If I could get back again I would never more leave that Country, let who would beg, scold, or threaten.

As to Peace, mark my Words, the English will never make it with Us, while they have a ship or a Regiment in America. If any one asks whether there is like to be Peace, ask in return, whether G. Washington has taken New York, Green Cornwallis and Charlestown, and Nelson Arnold and Portsmouth?

Rodney has lost most of his Statia Booty. De la Motte Piquet has taken it. The English East India Possessions seem to be going to wreck—their Trade is torn to Pieces, but all is not enough.

If Congress and the states execute their Resolution of cutting off all Communication and Commerce, directly and indirectly with America, this will affect them more than any Thing. But how the Authority can prevent British Manufactures from being imported from France, Holland, Brabant &c. Is the Question.4

RC (Adams Papers). Partial Tr (MHi:Cranch Papers), in hand of Richard Cranch; see note 4. For an important enclosure, not now with the letter, see note 4 also.


AA wrote JA on 15 Jan. by Cazneau; her letter is printed above. A letter she wrote Jean de Neufville & Son the same day has not been found; see their reply, 25 May, below. A version of her order for goods from the Neufville firm had first been enclosed in her letter to JA of 13 Nov. 1780 and is printed above as an enclosure in that letter.


Although Nathanael Greene “lost the Field” at the battle of Guilford Court House, N.C., the action has generally been accounted an American strategic victory because Cornwallis suffered heavier losses and was obliged to abandon the interior of the state; see Isaac Smith Sr. to JA, 23 May 1781, below.


JA refers to the Amsterdam “Proposition” of 18 May, soon thereafter endorsed by the deputies of Haerlem and Dort (Dordrecht). A French text is in the Gazette de Leyde, Supplément, 25 May 1781, and JA sent an English version in his letter to Huntington, 24 May (PCC: No. 84, III; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 4:431–433). See also Thaxter to AA, 27 May, below.


In her reply to the present letter, AA informed JA that it had been almost exactly a year since the date of the last letter that she had received from him (AA to JA, 29 Sept., below). She promptly shared the letter with the Cranch circle, and Richard Cranch copied most of the text, probably for publication, though it has not been found in print (Tr in MHi: Cranch Papers, omitting only the paragraphs dealing with personal matters). In his letter to JA of 26 Sept., below, Cranch remarks that the present letter enclosed JA's “excellent Address to the States General of the United Provinces” and that he had “put it into the Press.” This was the English version of A Memorial to ... the States General, dated 19 April 1781; it was reprinted in the Independent Chronicle of 27 Sept., p. 1, col. 2-p. 2, col. 3.