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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0111

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hanson, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1781-12-29

To the President of Congress

Amsterdam, 29 December 1781. RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 446–450). printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:77–79. This letter consists of English translations of a brief note announcing Austria’s accession to the armed neutrality and the formal act of accession signed at Vienna on 9 Oct. that Baron von Reischach, the Austrian minister to the Netherlands, presented to the States General on 11 December. The act reaffirmed the principles of Catherine II’s original declaration of 10 March 1780 (vol. 9:121–126) and indicated the joint measures that Austria and Russia would take to maintain a strict neutrality and to protect their merchant vessels from undue interference by the belligerent powers. In comments at the end of the letter, JA called particular attention to article 5, which stated that Austria and Russia would inform all the powers actually at war of their joint undertaking. On 30 Oct., in a document almost identical to Joseph II’s, Catherine accepted the Austrian accession (Scott, ed., Armed Neutralities of 1780 and 1800 , p. 406–409).
JA ended his letter with an evaluation of the Austro-Russian action. He wrote that
“By the 5th. Article the two Imperial Courts ought to notify this to Congress, for it is most certain that the United States are one of the Powers actually at War. Whether they will or no time must discover: but by the Articles, to serve as a Basis of Peace at the proposed Congress at Vienna, these two Courts have certainly acknowledged the American Colonies to be a Power at War, and a Power sufficiently free to appear at Vienna, and make Peace with Great Britain.
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“The Confederation, for the liberty of Navigation of neutral Nations, is now one of the most formidable that ever was formed in the World. The only Question is, whether it is not too complicated and various to be managed to effect. The Conduct of the Empress of Russia towards this Republick, and especially in offering her Mediation for a seperate Peace between England and Holland, has excited some Jealousies of her Sincerity or her Constancy. But I think it will appear in the End, that She intends that Holland shall enjoy the full benefit of this Confederation, which will effectually deprive England of that Sovereignty of the Sea, which She so presumptuously claims and boasts. But if it should appear, which I do not expect, that the Empress should advise the Dutch to give up the right of carrying naval stores, after the example of Denmark, her Glory will suffer no small diminution, and I presume that Holland, humble as She is, will not submit to it, but make immediately common Cause with the Enemies of her Enemy.”
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 446–450). printed : (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:77–79).

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0112

Author: Barclay, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-12-29

From Thomas Barclay

[salute] Sir

I shou’d have waited on you myself, but seeing some Carriages at your door I Concluded you were engaged. I have seen Mr. Van Arp, who says there is no other way of your giving a Guarrentee, that will have any force in it, but doing it before a Notary and Evidences. I am of opinion that to remove all shaddow of objection you had better do it in their own way; and if you think with me, the Notary will wait on you at any hour you please to appoint. If you incline to see me in the Meantime please to let me know. When the papers are signed and witness’d, I think they had better remain with you untill I get them from you. I have the honor to be with great respect your Excellencys most obed sert.
[signed] Thos Barclay
I send you inclosed the original paper, with the two Copy’s drawn by the Notary.1
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Barclay 29th. Decr. 1781 respecting Con. Goods.”
1. Presumably a reference to an agreement, dated 27 Dec., written and signed by JA on behalf of the United States “to indemnify Messieurs Van Arp and Company as Directors and Part owners of the ships the Liberty and Aurora, and all the other owners of the Said, ships from all Claims and Demands whatsoever which may be made on them, on Account of the Delivery of the Goods Specified . . . to the Honourable Thomas Barclay . . .” (PHi: Dreer Coll.). No notarized copies of this document have been found.
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