's most comprehensive statements on the memorial of 19 April
, may be found in his letters of 19
Feb. 1782 to the secretary for foreign affairs. In those letters
mounted a spirited defense of his memorial to the States General and argued that
Joseph II's 1781 abrogation of the Barrier Treaty of 1715 justified his decision to
present a memorial, as well as its timing (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev.
, 5:185–189, 192–199; and 25 Feb. 1782 to James Lovell,
, Adams Papers
During the negotiations to end the War of the Spanish Succession three Barrier Treaties,
each guaranteed by Great Britain, were negotiated to protect the Netherlands against
invasion by France. The third, which superseded the others and was signed on 15 Nov.
1715, allowed the Dutch to garrison fortresses in the Austrian Netherlands at the
towns of Namur, Tournay, Menen, Furnes, Warneton, Ypres, and Knokke, and, with Britain,
maintain a joint force at Dendermonde. The outbreak of the Anglo-Dutch war in 1780
meant that Britain had neither the power nor the inclination to meet its obligations.
As a result, Joseph II unilaterally abrogated the Barrier Treaty and demanded that
the Dutch garrisons depart, which they did in November. Joseph II's ability to demand
and enforce the evacuation, and France's unwillingness to oppose the humiliation of
a potential ally, exposed the weakness of the Netherlands and was a severe blow to
Dutch pride (
Cambridge Modern Hist.
, 5:459; Orville Murphy, Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes: French Diplomacy in the Age of Revolution
, 1719–1787, Albany, 1982, p. 405– 414; Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution
, p. 203; vol. 9:286