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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0011-0001-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1781-01-13

13 Saturday.

Returned to Amsterdam, having dined at Haerlem, at the Golden Lion. Went in the Evening to see Ingraham and Sigourney1 and C[ommodore] Gillon.
Chez la V[euv]e Wynen, dans le premier Wezelstraat, à main gauche. Address of Cerisier.2
1. “There are three Gentlemen, in the Mercantile Way, Mr. Sigourney, Mr. Ingraham and Mr. Bromfield, who are now in this City, and propose to reside here and establish a mercantile House. These Gentlemen are very well known in the Massachusetts, and therefore it is unnecessary for me to say any Thing about their Characters” ( JA to the Massachusetts Board of War, 16 Jan. 1781, LbC , Adams Papers). The three established themselves promptly in business, { 454 } for in a series of letters in April JA commissioned them to rent and furnish a house in Amsterdam suitable for his residence as minister plenipotentiary; see note on entry of 28 Feb., below.
2. Antoine Marie Cerisier (1749–1828), a French publicist and historical writer who had resided for some time in the Netherlands and was active in the Patriot movement (Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Générate ). Quite possibly his journalistic activities were subsidized by the French government. JA later said that after reading one of Cerisier's works on Dutch history he traveled to Utrecht to meet the author and found him an agreeable and learned man, at home in French, Dutch, and English, and deeply interested in American affairs. Cerisier moved to Amsterdam, apparently at just this time (early in 1781), “and proposed to publish a periodical paper, with a view to serve our cause. I encouraged this very cordially, and he soon commenced the work, under the title of Le Politique Hollandais, or the Dutch Politician. In this he inserted every thing that he thought would do honor to America, or promote our reputation and interest. His paper was much read, and had a great effect. He was always ready to translate any thing for me into French or Dutch, or out of Dutch into French or English” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot , p. 256). In short, Cerisier became one of JA 's principal coadjutors in his press campaign to win support for America. In a letter to R. R. Livingston, 16 May 1782, JA commended Cerisier in the warmest terms to the generosity of Congress ( LbC , Adams Papers; Works , 7:589–590). JA 's copies of Le politique hollandais survive in the Boston Public Library, and a number of contributions by JA to this journal have been identified. A study of Le politique hollandais by W. P. Sautyn Kluit is illuminating on Dutch journalism at this period but not adequate on Cerisier's career (Handelingen en mededeelingen van de Maatschappij der Nederlandsche Letterkunde te Leiden over het jaar 1882, p. 3–36). From documents in the Adams Papers it now appears that Cerisier was also the author of the principal statement of the Patriot party's program, a learned and influential work in two volumes entitled Grondwettige herstelling van Nederlands staatswezen, Amsterdam, 1784–1786, though his authorship was a secret long and well kept in the Netherlands (Cerisier to JA , 10 Aug. 1786, laid in a presentation copy of the second volume of the Herstelling among JA 's books in the Boston Public Library; see also JA to John Jay, 3 Oct. 1786, LbC , Adams Papers, printed in Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, 2:676–677). When the Prussian army invaded the Netherlands in the fall of 1787 and crushed the Patriots' hopes and efforts, Cerisier fled to Paris (letter to JA , 3 Nov. 1787, Adams Papers).