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2. The declaration by the burgomasters of Amsterdam was, at its heart, an exercise in self-defense against the possible consequences of the Lee-Neufville treaty signed at Aix-la-Chapelle on 4 Sept. (see Dumas to the Commissioners, 4 Sept., note 2
, above). Unable to deny its existence, the burgomasters sought to define the agreement as merely an effort to prepare the ground for the eventual conclusion of a treaty after the formal recognition of American independence by Great Britain.
This intention is even more clearly expressed in the letter of 23 Sept. from van Berckel to Dumas (PPAmP
: Franklin Papers), which Dumas also copied and enclosed in his letter to the Commissioners of 2 Oct. There van Berckel stated that the burgomasters' declaration made it clear that they did not intend to conclude an agreement separately from the States General, but only to make advance preparations for a treaty when an opportunity presented itself. He also noted that the States General could not conclude a treaty without Amsterdam's consent and approval of the draft. To save time, however, such a draft could be examined even before Britain recognized American independence.
Van Berckel closed his letter by suggesting that the preliminary work might be accomplished by using the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce as a model. That document could be submitted to experienced Amsterdam merchants, who would then suggest what changes were necessary.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2007.