Papers of John Adams, volume 11

To Laurent Bérenger, 7 June 1781 JA Bérenger, Laurent To Laurent Bérenger, 7 June 1781 Adams, John Bérenger, Laurent
To Laurent Bérenger
Sir Amsterdam June 7th. 1781

Capt. Isaac Cazneau of Boston, lately arrived here from Norway, in his passage on board a Danish Vessel, unfortunately fell in with an English Privateer belonging to Hull, called the Flying Fish, who took away his Mate who was his Brother, and a Negroe Boy of about fifteen Years of age named Pompey. The Mate the flying Fish left in Prison in Hull, but kept the Negro on board.

The Privateer is lately taken by a French Privateer the Sans Peur, and carried into Helvoetsluis with the Negro on board, who is a Native of North America, and a Freeman.

Capt. Cazneau is very anxious to obtain for him his liberty. I have the Honour to beg your Interposition in this business, in the absence of his Excellency the Duke de la Vauguion, that if it can be done with 363propriety, the Boy may be discharged. It is the constant practice in France to set Americans at Liberty, who have been captured in like manner.

Capt. Cazneau is a Gentleman of good Character and well known, so that his Testimony I suppose would be sufficient to prove the facts, but other Witnesses are here, if they were necessary.1

I have the Honour to be, with great Respect Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servt.

LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers).


Cazneau reached Amsterdam on or about 22 May, the date on which JA wrote to AA that the letters she had entrusted to him had arrived ( Adams Family Correspondence , 4:121–122).

To Laurent Berénger, 8 June 1781 Bérenger, Laurent JA To Laurent Berénger, 8 June 1781 Bérenger, Laurent Adams, John
To Laurent Berénger
Sir Amsterdam June 8. 1781

I have received the Letter which you did me, the Honour, to write me, on the fifth of this month, informing me, that you have received a Letter from the Compte de Vergennes, by which his Excellency directs you to tell me, that the Interests of the United States require my Presence at Paris, and that he should desire that I would go there, as soon as my Affairs in Holland, will permit me.

I should be extreamly obliged to you, Sir, if you would confide to me the Nature of the Business that requires me at Paris, that I might be able to form Some Judgment, whether it is of So much Importance and So pressing as to make it necessary for me to go forthwith.

His Excellency Dr. Franklin, and Coll. Laurens, have arranged Affairs in such a manner, that the Accounts of the Indian are to be produced to me and I am to draw Bills to discharge them, So that it would retard the Departure of that interesting Vessell, if I were to go now, and it is of much Some Importance to the Publick that I should compleat my dispatches to go to Congress by her; I am also unfortunately involved in a good deal of Business in accepting and discharging Bills of Exchange, a Course of Business which would be put into Some Confusion, if I were to go immediately, and the general Affairs of Congress in this Republick might suffer Some what by my absence. But notwithstanding all, if I were informed that it is any Thing respecting a general Pacification, or an Invitation of this Republick to acceed to the Alliance between France and the United States1 or any other Affair of Sufficient Weight to justify, my quitting this Post immediately I would do it. Otherwise, it would, as I humbly 364conceive, be more for the public Interest that I should wait, untill some of the Business that lies upon me here is dispatched, and the rest put into a better order. Let me beg the favour of your sentiments, sir.2

Whenever I go, I must beg the Favour of you to furnish me with a Pasport.

I have the Honour to be, with very great Respect, sir, &c.

LbC (Adams Papers). Two copies of this letter, in French, are in the Koninklijk Huisarchief. Marked “En chiffre” in the left margin. The two documents may derive from Bérenger's translation of JA's letter that was enciphered and sent off to Paris, but which the Dutch intercepted, deciphered, and read.


The preceding seventeen words regarding a triple alliance were interlined.


For the Duc de La Vauguyon's response, see Dumas' letter of 25 June, and note 1, below.