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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13


Descriptive List of Illustrations
Descriptive List of Illustrations

Descriptive List of Illustrations

[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

Descriptive List of Illustrations

 

C. W. F. Dumas, American Agent at The Hague, by Isaak Schmidt, ca. 1783 17

Charles William Frederic Dumas (1721–1796) was a confidant of American statesmen from the time he first corresponded with Benjamin Franklin in 1768 until his death. A German native of French ancestry who resided for most of his life in Switzerland and the Netherlands, Dumas served the United States in many unheralded roles during three tumultuous decades. A correspondence and friendship between Dumas and John Adams endured from 1780 to 1796, during which time Dumas served as advisor, secretary, translator, and negotiator to Adams, and as tutor to John Quincy Adams (Franklin, Papers , 15:178; JA, D&A , 3:8–10; JQA, Diary , 1:174–175).
Dumas was especially helpful during Adams' 1782 residency in the Netherlands. Adams was on such good terms with Dumas that he invited him and his family to share the Hôtel des Etats-Unis after Dumas arranged for the purchase of the building on Adams' behalf (to C. W. F. Dumas, 2 May, below). While in residency there, Dumas' wife, Marie, served as housekeeper and wrote a pair of household inventories which provide insight into the day-to-day material culture of eighteenth-century Europe (see Household Inventories of the U.S. Legation at The Hague, Nos. II and III, 14 May, below).
Amsterdam artist Isaak Schmidt (1740–1818) created this pastel of Dumas, probably in the summer of 1783 at the same time that he did the earliest surviving portrait of John Quincy Adams (see AFC , 5:215). Schmidt, a native of Amsterdam and a founder of the city's drawing academy, soon abandoned portraiture in favor of landscape painting (Andrew Oliver, Portraits of John Quincy Adams and His Wife, Cambridge, 1970, p. 17–19).
Courtesy Iconografisch Bureau, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague.
 

John Adamsn Willink, Amsterdam Banker, by Pieter Frederik de la Croix, 1773 111

A youthful Jan Willink (1751–1826) sat for this pastel by Pieter Frederik de la Croix a decade before his firm joined the consortium of Dutch bankers negotiating American loans with John Adams. Jan and his brother Wilhem (1750–1841) headed the family firm, which joined with two others in negotiating the American loan.
The Willinks were members of a Mennonite family that had resided in Amsterdam for more than a century. Merchant William { 10 } Short said of the Willinks: “Avaricious and indefatigable to an extreme, they value money more and labour less than perhaps any other house here of equal wealth.” Gouverneur Morris offered a similar opinion: “They will make a tight bargain and take care of themselves.” The Willink firm abstained from the political activism practiced by other firms in the consortium. Their lack of identification with foreign powers, a rarity in the industry, allowed them to tap a wider array of investors than other houses involved in the American negotiations. While they were not universally liked in Amsterdam banking circles (perhaps because they had a habit of depressing the money markets by offering loans at lower rates than those favored by less powerful houses), they possessed a sterling reputation. When they joined the consortium arranging loans to the United States, they brought the prestige of an established house to the enterprise (Hamilton, Papers , 7:185; Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment , 1:86–88, 121).
Courtesy Iconografisch Bureau, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague.
 

John Adamscob van Staphorst, Amsterdam Banker, by Edme Quenedey, 1790 115

Banker Jacob van Staphorst (d. 1812) is said never to have walked to the Amersterdam Stock Exchange without throwing coins to children in the street. Jacob and his brother Nicolaas were sons of a bookkeeper and the founders of one of the city's leading banking houses. The firm of Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst prospered from 1772 until the early years of the nineteenth century, during which time the brothers were said to be “ruthlessly ambitious” and to possess a “successful grasp of American business.” In that vein, the Van Staphorsts were early and lifelong supporters of American independence. As an older Nicolaas would tell Alexander Hamilton: “That sacred flame of Liberty, is still glowing in my bosom” (Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment , 1:88–89, 2:771; Hamilton, Papers , 17:304).
When the Van Staphorsts joined other Amsterdam firms in lending the United States five million guilders in June 1782 (see Contract for a Loan with Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, [11 June 1782] , below), it was not their first foray into American finance. They had already given loans to South Carolina to outfit a warship, and they would in later years become involved in the development of lands in upstate New York and western Pennsylvania (Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment , 1:91, 37; Hamilton, Papers , 16:368–369).
An inscription on the portrait reveals that it was made with a physiognotrace, a projection device invented by Frenchman Gilles Louis Chrétien in 1786 and offered in the Paris studio of Edme Quenedey beginning in 1788. Van Staphorst sat for this portrait in 1790 after he had fled the Netherlands for Paris to avoid persecution for his support of the Patriot cause during the 1787 revolution against Stadtholder William V. The firm's business was continued { 11 } by Nicolaas in his brother's absence. After Nicolaas' death in 1801, Jacob retired, having “lost the habit of doing business” (Jefferson, Papers , 12:429, 14:xlii; Hamilton, Papers , 7:185, 17:303; Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment , 2:910).
Courtesy Iconografisch Bureau, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague.
 

Charles James Fox, British Foreign Secretary, by Thomas Day, 1787 181

John Adams encountered only “cold formalities” during an initial 1783 meeting with Charles James Fox (1749–1806). The description runs counter to Fox's reputation as a cheerful, convivial, and quick-witted politician. A child of wealth and privilege, Fox entered Parliament in 1768 at the age of nineteen and over a 38-year career rose to the leadership of the Whigs. The eloquent Fox was a strident opponent of British policy toward America during the Revolution and a bitter adversary of George III, who called Fox “as contemptible as he is odious” (JA, D&A , 3:150).
Fox was named foreign secretary under the Marquis of Rockingham on 25 February 1782, and soon agitated for the unconditional recognition of the independence of the United States. When the cabinet favored the more moderate stance of Lord Shelburne and the king refused to give the Whigs a role in the selection of a successor to Rockingham upon his death on 1 July, Fox resigned his post. “Mr Fox has Shewn himself, an able Man,” John Adams wrote to Edmund Jenings on 17 July. “He has at last taken a decided Part, and if he adheres to it, with Fortitude and Constancy, he will carry his Point, make himself Prime Minister and give Peace to his Country and to Europe, upon the best Terms that are attainable by G. Britain. His opinion, against receiving again the Dependence of America, if offered is perfectly just” (below). Although Fox never became prime minister as Adams predicted, he continued as a powerful political force in several capacities until his death ( DNB ).
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
 

William Petty, 2d Earl of Shelburne, British Prime Minister, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, ca. 1764 183

When John Adams first met Lord Shelburne (1737–1805) face-to-face at a French ambassador's ball in March 1786, he sensed a deep-seated tension: “This People cannot look me in the Face,” Adams wrote in his diary. “There is conscious Guilt and Shame in their Countenances, when they look at me. They feel that they have behaved ill, and that I am sensible of it.” The comments likely allude to Shelburne's 1782 stand that he “never would consent under any possible given circumstances to acknowledge the independency of America.” Adams' response is also recorded in his diary: “My Lord Shelburne, in complyance with the Will of his Master, refuses to do what all the World sees to be necessary” (JA, D&A , 3:184, 6; DNB ).
{ 12 }
Shelburne served as prime minister after the death of the Marquis of Rockingham in July 1782, resulting in a power struggle with Charles James Fox. “Lord Shelburnes System is equivocal,” John Adams wrote to Abigail Adams in August. “Fox has seized the right Idea. But the former will run down the latter for sometime. Yet the Plan of the latter must finally prevail. It is deeply laid and well digested. If he has Perseverance he will be the Man to make Peace” ( AFC , 4:360).
Despite Adams' gloom about Shelburne's hard line, a preliminary peace with Britain was signed on 30 November 1782. Shelburne would be out of government when a permanent treaty was signed in September 1783. In February of that year he gave way to a coalition headed by Fox and Lord North. Increasingly unpopular with all parties after his resignation, Shelburne retired to the country and did not hold public office again. This oil by an unknown artist is a 1764 copy of an earlier portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds (JA, D&A , 3:82, 142; DNB ).
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
 

Dedication of Verzameling van de Constitutien to John Adams, 1782 237

“As to the Compliment You propose to me, I am obliged to You for it, and shall consent to it,” John Adams wrote to Herman van Bracht on 3 May, accepting Van Bracht's proposal that the second volume of his Verzameling van de Constitutien . . . van Amerika be dedicated to Adams. Van Bracht was returning a favor to Adams, who had lent him a copy of the Continental Congress' 1781 publication The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America to be translated into Dutch and published as Verzameling van de Constitutien . . . van Amerika (Dordrecht, 2 vols., 1781–1782). The first volume had been dedicated to Engelbert François van Berckel (to Van Bracht, 3 May, and from Van Bracht, 12 Aug., both below).
The publication of the translation, Van Bracht had written Adams on 26 January 1782, would ensure that “all Netherlanders would be able to know on what a beautiful and pure basis the aforementioned government and liberty of America has been established.” Adams himself had in 1780 convinced Congress to publish the compilation of American constitutions, writing that “this Work would be read by every Body in Europe, who reads English, and could obtain it, and Some would even learn English for the sake of reading it. It would be translated into every Language of Europe, and would fix the Opinion of our Unconquerability, more than any Thing could, except driving the Ennemy wholly from the united States” (vols. 12:219; 10:176).
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library.
 

Gerard Brantsen, Dutch Envoy, by Benjamin Wolff, 1803 245

“The States General have chosen Mr Brantzen Minister to negotiate for Peace,” John Adams wrote to John Jay on 17 August 1782. { 13 } “Yesterday he did me the honour to dine with me. He is represented to me to be a good Man and well fixed in the true System.” A day later, Adams communicated the same news to Henry Laurens, adding of Brantsen: “Blessed are the Peace makers. Dont you wish yourself one?” (both below).
The good reports Adams had heard about Gerard Brantsen (1735–1809) were borne out during the negotiations. “I have the Honour to be more particularly acquainted with Mr. Brantzen, who is certainly a very able Man, and universally acknowledged to be So by all who know him,” Adams wrote to C. W. F. Dumas five months later. “The Arguments which I know he has used with the British Minister, are such as can never be answered, both upon the Liberty of Navigation and the Compensation for Damages. He is an entire Master of his Subject, and has urged it with a Degree of Perspicuity and Eloquence that I know has much struck his Antagonists” (1 Jan. 1783, LbC , Adams Papers).
Brantsen was burgomaster of Arnhem in 1760 and had represented Gelderland in the States General before his 1782 peace mission to France. This oil portrait by Benjamin Wolff (1758–1825) is now owned by the Brantsen van de Zyp Foundation and hangs in the Brantsen ancestral home, the House Zypendaal in Arnhem, a museum administered by the Gelderland Trust ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek ; Johan Carel Bierens de Haan, Gelderse Gezichten: Drie Eeuwen Portretkunst in Gelderland, 1550–1850, Zwolle, 2002, p. 165–168).
Courtesy of the Brantsen van de Zyp Foundation, in loan to the Gelderland Trust, House Zypendaal, Arnhem; and the Iconografisch Bureau, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague.
 

Final Text of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, [ante 6 September 1782] 347

After signing the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce on the afternoon of 8 October 1782, John Adams reflected on the effect of the alliance in a letter to Robert Livingston. “Upon the whole, I think the Treaty is conformable to the Principles of perfect Reciprocity, and contains nothing that can possibly be hurtfull to America, or offensive to our Allies, or to any other Nation, except Great-Britain, to whom it is indeed, without a speedy peace, a mortal blow” (The Negotiation of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 22 Aug.–8 Oct. 1782, Nos. VIII and XI, below).
John Thaxter reported to Abigail Adams that the treaty had been signed, adding that “It has been a long, tedious and troublesome Negotiation, and fortunately for our Country in very good Hands.” John Adams followed with a letter to Abigail on 12 October. In it he lamented that he barely had time to savor the accomplishment before heading to Paris for peace negotiations with Great Britain. “I dont know whether in future Job should be reckoned 'The patient Man.' It Seems to me, that I have had rather more Tryals that { 14 } [than] he, and have got thro them. I am now going to Paris, to another Furnace of Affliction. Yet I am very gay, more so than usual. I fear nothing. Why should I. I had like to have Said nothing worse can happen. But this is too much. Heaven has hitherto preserved my Country and my Family” ( AFC , 5:8, 15).
From the original in the Adams Papers.
 

Truce Chamber, The Hague, by Jan Caspar Philips, before 1774 391

John Adams signed the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce in a hall that had been used for such occasions for almost a century. In his diary entry for 8 October 1782, Adams wrote that “At twelve went to the State House, was received as usual, at the head of the Stairs by Mr. De Santheuvel, and Mr. De Linden, Deputies from Holland and Zealand, and conducted into the Truce Chamber where We signed and sealed the Treaty of Commerce and the Convention concerning Recaptures” (JA, D&A , 3:16).
The Truce Chamber, or Trêveszaal, is located in the Binnenhof, a count's castle that dates in part to the thirteenth-century founding of The Hague. The room is named for negotiations at the castle that led to the Twelve Years' Truce of 1609 to 1621, a temporary break during eighty years of hostilities between Spain and the Netherlands. Ornamentation in the chamber dates to 1697, when the States General hired French architect Daniel Marot to decorate the hall for diplomatic events. On the walls are portraits of Stadholders of the House of Orange-Nassau who served prior to 1650. The ceiling was painted by Theodoor van der Schuer and depicts seven female figures representing the seven provinces of the Netherlands. A figure in the center holds a banner with an inscription that translates to “Strength through unity” (www.minaz.nl, 5 July 2005).
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
 

Medal Commemorating Dutch Recognition of the United States, by Jean George Holtzhey, 1782 538

“Your nation's independence has inspired me to immortalize this great and noteworthy event in a medal commemorating its liberty,” Amsterdam medalist Jean George Holtzhey (1729–1808) wrote to John Adams on 20 October 1782. Adams was pleased with the 28.9-gram silver medallion, which Holtzhey had struck upon the Netherlands' 19 April recognition of the United States. “The Influence of this Event upon many Nations, upon France, Spain Great Britain, America and all the Neutral Powers, has already been so great, and in the future Vicissitudes of things will be so much greater, that I confess every Essay of the fine Arts to commemorate and celebrate it, gives me pleasure,” Adams wrote to Holtzhey on 2 November (from Holtzhey, 20 Oct., below; to Holtzhey, 2 Nov. 1782, LbC , Adams Papers; Leonard Forrer, Biographical Dictionary of Medallists, 8 vols., London, 1904–1930, 2:536).
{ 15 }
The face of the medal declares “Libera Soror,” or “A Free Sister,” and depicts Holland on the left as an armed woman and the United States on the right as a Native American woman. Holland uses a staff to place a Phrygian Cap upon America's head, while America holds a shield bearing thirteen stars and rests a foot upon the head of a chained lion. The reverse (which is also shown in this composite illustration) features the unicorn of the arms of England, prostrate with its horn broken against a rock cliff. The inscription reads, “Tyrannis virtute repulsa / sub Galliae auspiciis,” which translates to “Tyranny repelled by valor / under the auspices of France” (Charles Wyllys Betts, American Colonial History Illustrated by Contemporary Medals, New York, 1894, p. 290–291).
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
 

Cipher, Francis Dana, 18 October [29 October N.S.] 1782 549

After a wintertime journey of six months from St. Petersburg to The Hague, sixteen-year-old John Quincy Adams arrived on 21 April 1783 carrying a packet of sensitive papers. The packet included a letter to John Adams from U.S. Minister to Russia Francis Dana dated 15 October [26 October N.S.] 1782, and it probably also included this cipher, which is dated three days later. John Quincy reported to his father that Dana attached great importance to the papers, “which he enjoined me to deliver into your hands myself” (JQA, Diary , 1:153–175; AFC , 5:130).
John Adams found the use of ciphers to be cumbersome and frustrating. A year earlier he had lamented to Dana that he had been unable to read a coded letter from James Lovell. “I have Letters from the President and from Lovell—the last unintelligible—in Cyphers—but inexplicable by his own Cypher—some dismal Ditty about my Letters of 26th. July—I know not what” (vol. 11:195–196).
The cipher Dana offered in October 1782 was relatively easy to use, yet difficult to crack because it assigned three revolving numerical stand-ins to each letter of the alphabet, as well as to each of eighty key names and terms. Most words were rendered as a series of numbers from 1 to 27, which the reader would match to individual letters and the ampersand. When any number higher than 27 appeared, however, the reader was to decode the whole word it represented and then shift to the next set of revolving numerical stand-ins. In that way, Dana's cipher made use of the best features of codes of the era (Ralph E. Weber, United States Diplomatic Codes and Ciphers 1775–1938, Chicago, 1979, p. 31, 36, 560–563).
From the original in the Adams Papers.