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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0246

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Capellen tot den Pol, Joan Derk, Baron van der
Date: 1782-04-06

To Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol

[salute] Monsieur Le Baron

Upon my Return to Town, to day I found your Favour of the 5th. instant: that of 31. Ult I had recd before.
{ 389 }
Am curious to know what Use will be made in the States of overyssell of the Memorial of the Russian Ministers. Will it be used as a Pretext for delay? It is really a Serious Thing, that great affairs should be thus obstructed by little ones. This Memorial promises more than Mr Fox’s Letter authorizes. The armistice proposed is but a proposal of a Breach of Faith already pledged to France.1
Will this Republick abandon France and america, and throw themselves alone upon the Mercy of England? Is there one Regent in the Republick that would advise it?
As to the affair of your Friend Valk, I can only Say that I should be happy to have it in my Power to serve, any Man upon your Recommendation: but in this Case I have no Power.
If a Treaty should be made, I presume Congress will send a Consul to this Republick: but that Consul will be an american. This I take to be the fixed Resolution of Congress, to Send as Ministers and Consuls abroad her own Sons and she expects to receive from her allies as Ministers and Consuls, their own native Citizens. This, you will readily agree is the best Policy on both Sides, and indeed the only Policy that can give mutual Satisfaction. Congress will not certainly multiply Agents, and will have no occasion, probably for more than one Consul, in this Republick. This Consul may have occasion for a correspondent in each maritime City, but the Choice will lie with him, and it will necessarily be Sometime before he is appointed and can arrive. But alass are We not Speculating before the Time. An Ecclesiastical order, which is a Non Entity, can delay the Measures that are judged necessary by the Cities and Nobles in Utrecht. The Nobles, perhaps in overyssell may delay matters there. A Single City, or a first Noble in Zealand, may obstruct the Decision of that Province. And of Groningen We hear nothing at all.
Patience upon Patience is necessary. When a Resolution appears upon the Point of being taken, Some new Device appears to throw all aback. But when one Magazine of Patience is exhausted We must open a new one, untill the last fails.2

[salute] With great Respect I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant

[signed] J. Adams
RC (Algemeen Rijksarchief, Papers of van der Capellen, No. 29A, p. 278).
1. On 29 March, Charles James Fox informed the Russian ambassador at London that Britain was willing to agree “to an immediate cessation of hostilities” with the Netherlands and negotiate a peace treaty based “on free navigation according to the treaty of 1674.” This effort to separate the Dutch from the French represented a reversal of the British policy toward the League of Armed Neutrality. The Russian ambassador immediately wrote to Gallitzin and Markov, his colleagues at The Hague, and on 3 April { 390 } the two men submitted a memorial to the States General that contained the new British offer. Fox’s proposal failed because the French opposed a separate Anglo-Dutch peace and because the offer was made on the day the States of Holland voted to recognize the United States. By the time Fox renewed the offer in May, the States General had made the recognition official (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780 , p. 387–388, 396–397; Edler, Dutch Republic and Amer. Rev. , p. 200; Dumas to Robert R. Livingston, 10 May, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:408–410).
2. When JA published this letter in the Boston Patriot of 13 March 1811, he inserted the following note:
“N. B. in 1810. I heard a gentleman in the Senate Chamber ask my friend Mr. Izzard, who upon some occasion was somewhat impetuous, ‘have you no patience?’ Izzard replied, very quickly, “I believe I have a great deal for I have never used any of it.”
“I am somewhat apprehensive that posterity will think the reverse of this true with regard to me: and that I had occasion for so long a course of years to draw so largely on my magazine, that in the latter part of my public life it became scarce and almost exhausted.”

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0247

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de
Date: 1782-04-06

To the Marquis de Lafayette

[salute] My dear General

I am just honored now with your’s of 27th. March. All things were working rapidly together for our good, untill on the 3d. instant, the Russian Ministers at the Hague presented the Memorial which You have seen in the Gazettes. This will set twenty little Engines to work, to embroil and delay: but I believe that in the Course of four or five Weeks We shall triumph over this which I take to be the last hope of the Anglomanes. The Voice of this Nation was never upon any occasion declared with more Unanimity, and the numerous Petitions have already done an honor and a Service to the American Cause, that no Artifice can retract or diminish.
As to the Visit, Mr. Franklin is informed of the whole.1 It is nothing. The new British Ministry are in a curious Situation. There is but one sensible Course for them to take, and that is to make the best Peace they can with all <Europe> their Enemies. We shall see whether they have Resolution and Influence enough to do it.
As to Credit here, I am flattered with hopes of it, provided a Treaty is made, not otherwise. Whether that will be done and when I know not. I can never foresee any thing in this Country, no not for one day, and I dare not give the smallest hopes.
Your confidential Letter had better be sent by the Comte de Vergennes’s Express to the Duke de la Vauguyon. I hope We shall have a good Account soon of Jamaica.
I am extreamly sorry, that Mr. Jay meets with so much delay in Spain. The Policy of it is totally incomprehensible.2
Am happy to find that your Sentiments correspond with mine, { 391 } concerning what We ought to do, and have no doubt that all will be well done in time. What is there to resist the French and Spanish Force in the West Indies? or in the Channel? or in N. America? or in the E. Indies? If my Dutchmen fairly concert Operations with France and Spain, and the Seas are kept with any Perseverance, all the Commerce of G. Britain is at stake. Yet your Caution not to be too sanguine is very good. Spain does not yet seem to be sufficiently awake, and the English Admirals under the new Ministry will do all they can.
I fancy they will try the last Efforts of Despair this Summer, but their Cause is desperate indeed. Never was an Empire ruined in so short a time, and so masterly a manner. Their Affairs are in such a state, that even Victories would only make their final Ruin the more compleat.

[salute] With great Affection & Esteem, I have the honor to be &ca3

LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers).
1. For Thomas Digges’ visit, see JA to Franklin, 26 March, above.
2. When JA published this letter in the Boston Patriot of 13 March 1811, he inserted the following note at this point: “N.B. In 1810—i.e. ‘Incomprehensible,’ upon any equitable, candid and honorable principles of a common interest among the allies—but very comprehensible upon the principles of pedlars and jockeys, on which the Comte de Vergennes too often acted in American affairs.”
3. In the Boston Patriot, JA inserted the following note at this point: “N.B. in 1810—The affection and esteem expressed in this letter to the marquis were sincere. I believed him to be a gallant and honorable youth, sincerely attached to America. I knew his connections, the Duke de Mouchy, the Duke de Ayen, the Prince de Poix, the Viscount de Noailles, and in short the whole family of Noailles, which contained six Marshals of France, as I was told: in a few words the whole family of Bourbon had not so much real influence in France as this family of Noailles. I was then fully convinced that this letter would be communicated to the court. I have reason to believe it was communicated to the King in person, for the Marquis wrote me, that the king had expressed to him a high esteem of me.” On 7 May, Lafayette wrote to JA that “I was the other day, pleased to Hear the king of france Speack of You to me in terms of the Highest Regard” (Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790, ed. Stanley J. Idzerda and others, Ithaca, N.Y., 5 vols., 1977–1984, 5:36–37).