Papers of John Adams, volume 12

Contents

Introduction

William V and Wilhelmina, the Prince and Princess of Orange, by J. F. A. Tischbein, 1789 442 [page] [image] , 444 [page] [image]

William V (1748–1806) became the last stadholder of the Dutch Republic in 1751 and assumed the powers of his office in 1766. The following year he married Wilhelmina (1751–1820), princess of Prussia. His personal position and his office were undermined by the increasingly bitter conflict between the Orangist and Patriot parties. The States General’s recognition of the United States on 19 April 1782, an action vehemently opposed by William V, the nephew of George III, was largely the result of that conflict and the rise of the Patriot party.

Because Dutch sovereignty resided in the States General, William V and Wilhelmina had no choice but to accept the decision of Their High Mightinesses. On 22 April John Adams had an audience with William V to present his letter of credence as minister from the United States. According to Adams, the prince received him politely, allowed him to deliver his address in English, and “then xiv fell into familiar Conversation with me and asked me many Questions about indifferent things, as is the Custom of Princes and Princesses on such Occasions” (to Robert R. Livingston, 22 April, below). Two days later Adams met with Wilhelmina, who “promised to do what depended upon her to render my Residence at the Hague agreable to me, and then asked me several Questions similar to those of his most Serene Highness” (to Livingston, 24 April, below). Adams had no illusions as to the court’s attitude toward him. On 4 September, Adams provided the secretary for foreign affairs with a lengthy description of his relations with other members of the diplomatic corps, noting that “the ministers from Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, Sardinia, and Liege I see every week at court, where I sup regularly when the others do, though it is very visible that I am not the guest the most favored by the prince” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:691).

Courtesy of the House of Orange-Nassau Historic Collections Trust, The Hague.