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Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0016-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-09-09

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

Yesterday I met twice with the Grand Facteur and twice with our friend.
Here is what happened in the Assembly of Holland yesterday morning. Amsterdam presented its proposal, to be inserted in the acts of the republic, opposing an increase in the size of the army, adding that since it would be printed for the use of each member who could then read it at leisure, it seemed unnecessary to try the patience of the Assembly by reading it aloud at the present time. The Grand Pensionary insisted, however, that because it would be inserted, it should be read and that he would do so in his own capacity. They responded that if it did not fatigue either the reader or the audience it would certainly not tire the originators of the proposal. The Grand Pensionary read it and could not refrain from indicating, by violent contortions on his chair, the frequent passages that displeased him. The Corps of Nobility listened sullenly and declared that in addition to the proposal it had already inserted, which was sufficient ne quid respublica detrimenti capiat, 1 &c., it intended to introduce another against that of Amsterdam. Dort2 then spoke and invoked its prerogative to oppose the introduction of such a counter-proposal as being contrary to the Constitution, and to permit only the insertion of a new proposal on the same issue, but not as against the proposal of another member of the State. Harlem, in its turn, declared that, without caring to pronounce itself either for or against this formality, it agreed with the substance of Amsterdam's proposal. Finally, the proposal from Amsterdam was inserted as planned. It will be printed and distributed to all the members. There will be a hundred extra copies, of which I will have one that I will translate and send you, gentlemen, in due time.3
Our friend is both delighted by this success and irritated at the Grand Pensionary. He told me that the Grand Pensionary's conduct was not, as we had previously thought, that of a statesman and shrewd courtier4 and that if he had wished to play the latter role while being in actual agreement with the Republican party, they would have aided him in his effort. But he has lost the trust of Amsterdam, which is now convinced that he is doing and will do everything out of complaisance for &c.5 He added that if one had any doubts about it, all that I had to do was to go and ask him what would be his answer to your letter,6 gentlemen, and I would see what he told me. I said that I had no orders that could be produced or even alleged in order to do so. Well, he said, go on your own behalf. I made him to understand that I could not thus commit myself without compromising you too. He observed, smilingly, that I would, therefore, have to believe him. I immediately reported this conversation to the Grand Facteur, who agreed with me.
I have the honor, gentlemen to confirm my letter of the 4th of this month and await your reply. The part of the Regency of Amsterdam { 20 } that our friend intends to approach is the entire council of the city, having until now limited himself to the burgomasters. If he succeeds, important deliberations and démarches may follow. The party with which you will, through me, have increasing contact, gentlemen, is, as in England, the whig or republican party, but with this advantage over its British counterpart: that in regard to the principal subject now dividing the parties, the plurality of suffrages can do nothing against it. We are, therefore, now proceding down the only route that can succeed in alienating this state from your enemies and, little by little, draw it closer to France and America.
I will add, for the historical record, that Harlem and Dort have for Pensionaries Messrs. Van Zeeberg and Boschart, two very capable men, good republicans, and friends of our friend.
I am, with respectful devotion, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant.
RC (MH-H: Lee Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Paris.”
1. That the state suffer no harm.
2. That is, Dordrecht, located on the southern boundary of the province of Holland, almost directly south of Amsterdam.
3. Dumas reported on the progress of the translation in his letter of 27 Oct., but it was not ready for transmission to the Commissioners until he wrote on 2 Dec. (both below).
4. See Dumas to the Commissioners, (17 July) vol. 6:298–304.
5. Presumably the Stadholder and his party.
6. That of 28 April from the Commissioners to the Grand Pensionary (vol. 6:61–62).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0017

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de
Date: 1778-09-10

The Commissioners to Caron de Beaumarchais

[salute] Sir

In a Letter We have received from the Committee of Commerce of the 16 May1 We are informed that they had <>ordered Several Vessells lately to South Carolina for Rice, and directed the Continental Agents in that state to consign them to <y>our Address.<>
In the Letter from Mr. Livingston to Us dated Charlestown So. Carolina 10. June 1778 he has Subjected the Cargo of the Theresa [Thérèse] to our orders.2
In your Letter to Us dated Passi 8. September 1778,3 you “demand that the Cargo arrived in your own proper Vessell should be sold and the Money remitted to you in Part for a Discharge of what is due to you by the Congress.”
We are at a Loss to know how you claim the Therese as your proper Vessell, because Mr. Monthieu claims her as his, produces a written { 21 } contract for the Hire and demurrage of her, part of which We have paid and the Remainder he now demands of Us.
However, sir, We beg Leave to state to you, the Powers and Instructions We have received from Congress, and to request your Attention to them as soon as possible, and to inform you that We are ready to enter upon the Discussion of these Matters at any Time and Place you please.
But untill the Accounts of the Company of Roderique Hortalez and Co. are settled for what is passed, and the Contract proposed, either ratified by you and Us, or rejected by one Party: We cannot think We should be justified in remitting you the Proceeds of the Cargo of the Therese.
We will however give orders to our Agent4 for the sale of the Cargo, and that the Proceeds of Sale be reserved, to be paid to the House of Roderique Hortalez and Co. or their Representative, as soon as the Accounts shall be settled or the Contract ratified.
The Powers and Instructions alluded to above are as follow.5
By a Copy of a Contract between a Committee of Congress, and Mr. Francy dated the 16th of April last, We perceive that the seventh Article,6 respecting the annual Supply of Twenty four Millions of Livres, shall not be binding upon either of the Parties, unless the same shall be ratified by Roderique Hortalez and Company, and the Commissioners of the United States at Paris.
We take this opportunity to inform you, sir, that We are ready to confer with Roderique Hortalez and Company, or any Person by them authorized for this Purpose, at any Time and Place that they or you shall appoint.
We have the Honour to be, sir, your most obedient and most humble servants.
1. Vol. 6:127–128. Except for the change from “your” to “our,” made necessary because this letter was by the Commissioners, the last part of the sentence is an exact quotation from the letter of 16 May.
2. Livingston's letter has not been found, but following this sentence in the Letterbook is a large space, perhaps originally intended for the insertion of a quotation from that letter.
3. Actually, Beaumarchais' letter was dated 5 Sept. and, although docketed by JA , was to Benjamin Franklin (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). The Thérèse, referred to in that letter and below, was one of the vessels that John Joseph Montieu, in a contract of 15 Oct. 1776 between himself, Silas Deane, and Roderigue Hortalez & Cie., had agreed to provide in order to carry merchandise supplied by Beaumarchais to America ( Naval Docs. Amer. Rev. , 7:691–692; JCC , 6:690). Beaumarchais also provided surety for the vessels to the extent of advancing one-half the cost of shipping the goods. According to his letter to Silas Deane of 14 Oct. 1776, Beaumarchais' participation { 22 } was necessary to obtain the ships ( Deane Papers , 1:316–318). The question for the Commissioners was whether the goods shipped in the Thérèse and other vessels were the gift of the French government or were purchased from Roderigue Hortalez & Cie., that is, Beaumarchais. In the latter case Beaumarchais' claim on the cargo of the Thérèse would have substance under the terms of the contract between the congress and his agent, Francy, approved on 7 April and signed on 16 April 1778, but not yet implemented by the Commissioners ( JCC , 10:316–318, 356).
4. See the Commissioners to J. D. Schweighauser, 13 Sept. (below).
5. At this point is the note: “see the Letter to Count Vergennes.” This is the Commissioners' letter of the 10th (below). Presumably that letter or the portion of it containing the “Powers and Instructions” was to be inserted here in the recipient's copy.
6. See JCC , 10:317–318.