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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0302

Author: Hodshon, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-04-26

To John Hodshon

Mr. Hodshon is desired to make the necessary Enquiries, and as soon as he will give me under his hand his Engagement to furnish { 462 } Congress with four or five Millions of Guilders, by the last day of July next, so that I may write forthwith to Congress that they may draw for that Sum, I will agree to his Opening the Loan upon the Terms, We have agreed on.1
[signed] J. Adams
LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers).
1. For the terms to which JA and John Hodshon & Zoon agreed, see Hodshon & Zoon’s proposal, 25 April, above. Hodshon acted immediately by announcing the terms of the loan and soliciting investors (Pieter J. van Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment, 1780–1805, With an Epilogue to 1840, transl. James C. Riley, 2 vols., N.Y., 1977, 1:84–85).
Years later, JA recalled that the announcement of the loan initially was well received, but soon criticism of Hodshon led JA to try to form a consortium of firms, including Hodshon’s, to participate in the loan. In a letter to the Boston Patriot, JA wrote that the day after the loan was announced, Hodshon “received the customary congratulations from the principal merchants and capitalists, and I thought I was very happy in so solid a connection. Mr. Hodshon undertook to remove my family and furniture from Amsterdam to the Hague, and every thing was done with an order, punctuality and exactness that could not be exceeded; and his charges for every thing he did and furnished were extremely moderate” (Boston Patriot, 24 April 1811). JA ’s household goods were moved to The Hague in early May. He took up residence in the Hôtel des Etats Unis on 12 May ( Adams Family Correspondence , 4:321, 322, 323–324).
The letter to the Boston Patriot continues,
“Mr. Hodson had visited me from the beginning and had uniformly treated me with as much repect and civility as any of the other gentlemen who had traded to America. Neither myself nor my country were under any obligations to any other house that I know of, more than to his. He was very rich, worth many millions, entirely free from debt, his credit equal to any house unless that of Hope, was to be excepted, and even that, though possessed of immense resources, was much in debt and lately in the great turn of affairs much embarrassed. Mr. Hodshon had several brothers and many other relations in various parts of the republic who were very rich capitalists; so that he could have commanded a very respectable loan in spite of all the opposition that could have been made.
“Not many days passed however, before a clamour arose upon change in the city and pretty extensively in various parts of the republic. Mr. Van Berckel told me Mr. Hodshon was envied. There seemed to be a conspiracy of English and French emissaries, of Stadtholderians and patriots, of the friends and connections of Mr. De Neufville, Fizeau & Grand, Van Staphorts, De la Lande & Fynje and many others, to raise a cry against Mr. Hodshon. He was ‘anglomane;’ he ‘was a Stadtholderian;’ he ‘was an enemy to America,’ &c. &c.—not one word of which was sufficiently well founded to make any reasonable objections against his employment in this service. However, I saw that there was a settled plan to make it a party affair, if not an engine of faction. I said nothing, but determined to let the bubble burst of itself. When I was attacked, as I sometimes was, pretty severely, in company, for the choice I had made of an house for my loan, I justified every step of my conduct in it, by such facts and reasons as not one man ever attempted to contradict or confute.
“Nevertheless, in a few days Mr. Hodshon came to me and said, ‘You cannot be ignorant sir, that an uneasiness has been excited in the city and country against yourself and me, on account of the American loan.’ I answered, that I had heard and felt enough of it, but that having experienced much more formidable popular clamours in my own country, and seen that they soon subsided, I had not laid this much to heart. It had not shaken my confidence in him or in his contract. Mr. Hodshon said ‘the opposition that was made, could not prevent him from obtaining a considerable sum of money; but it might prevent so large a loan as he and I wished, and as congress expected, and that it might expose me to reflections and misrepresentations in America, as well as in Holland, and even in England as well as France;’ and { 463 } added, ‘if you have the least inclination to be disengaged, or if you have the smallest probablility of doing better for your consituents, I will readily release you from your contract.’ I thanked him for his generosity, and added, that I was very willing to risque all the consequences of perseverance, and had no doubt we should succeed as well at least as I could hope to do, in any other connection I could form. But if he pleased, I would make some further enquiries. He wished I would—he was advanced in years, was infirm in his health, easy in his circumstances, perfectly clear and unembarrassed in his business and wished for repose rather than to engage in squabbles: but he would not forsake me. If I could not do better, he would proceed. We agreed to consider and enquire” (Boston Patriot, 24 April 1811).
It was probably at this point that JA wrote his letter to Fizeaux, Grand & Co. and others, 30 April, below.