Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: President of Congress
Paris, 13 May 1780.
, No. 84, II, f. 47–49).
in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers
); notation by Thaxter: “NB. May 16th 1780. This day delivered to the Chevr. la Colombe
Nos. 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, & 66—also three packets of News papers.” printed
: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev.
This letter, read in Congress on 20 Sept., opens with a translation of the official
French reply to Catherine II's declaration of an armed neutrality. France declared
its support for the principles set down in the Russian initiative, while noting that
existing French maritime regulations, based as they were on the law of nations, offered
few obstacles to neutral trade. According to Adams, the French declaration's “Simplicity,
Openness, Sincerity, and Truth” was in “striking Contrast to the Dissimulation and
Insincerity” of the corresponding British reply of 23 April, which he inserted in
his letter of 8 May to the president of Congress (No. 60, calendared above). In a
postscript, Adams sent a translation of a Copenhagen newspaper account of 29 April,
which reported the arrival of couriers from St. Petersburg, the rumored accession
of Denmark to the armed neutrality, and the outfitting of two Danish ships of the
line. Finally, Adams included an extract from the instructions of 19 April to British
warships and privateers. A direct result of the Order in Council of 17 April suspending
the Anglo-Dutch treaties (to the president of Congress, 28 April, No. 54, calendared
above), they authorized the seizure of Dutch ships carrying enemy goods and merchandise
designated as contraband under the strict law of nations; that is the law as it applied
to nations with no treaty connection. Adams noted that the British had already seized
five vessels under this new order.