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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13


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Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0072

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1782-06-15

To Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear sir

The ill Health, contracted in Amsterdam, which began with a violent nervous Fever, last August, and which left me with Gout and Scurvy, and a complication of Disorders, which are scarce yet cured, have prevented me from Writing to my Friends so often as I wished.
It was necessary that I Should take my Station, at Amsterdam, in the Time of it, for the Sake of the Society of my Countrymen, and for the Convenience of free Conversation with those Persons, who were able And desirous to promote the American Cause. But my Residence in that City has given a terrible shock to my delicate and feeble frame.
What Say you, to the alliance of the first Commercial Power in Europe,1 next to England a Republican and a Protestant Power? Is it an Event of any Importance or no? There are who dispute it. The two Houses of orange and Brunswick have heretofore acted Sublime Parts in favour of the Cause of Liberty. They have lately acted too much in Concert against it.2 That of orange must now return to its old System and Principles. I confess I felt a great Pleasure to be introduced to that Court, where William the first and William the third, accomplished Such great Things, in favour of the Protestant Religion and the Rights of Mankind, and to their hereditary successors. This Country appears to me, more a Home, than any other that I have Seen. I have often been to that Church in Leyden where the Planters of Plymouth worshiped So many years, and felt a kind of Veneration for the Bricks and Timbers.
Pray how does your Constitution work? How does the privy Council play its Part? Are there no Inconveniences found in it? It is the Part which I have been most anxious about, least it should become unpopular and Gentlemen should be averse to serve in it.3 This Form of Government has a very high Reputation in Europe, and I wish it may be as well approved in Practice as it is in Theory.
The great Work of Peace advances but slowly. Our excellent Friend Mr Laurens, has declined acting in the Commission on account of his ill Health, an Excuse that I might alledge, perhaps with equal Reason, for transmitting a Resignation of all my Employments, for I really am in a very feeble State. I have returned { 126 } to my old Phisician a Saddle Horse and if his Skill does not restore me, I shall certainly try the Air of the blue Hills.
This moment comes in an Invitation to Mr Adams to Sup with the Prince and Princess of orange, at his Country Seat which they call the Maison du Bois, this Evening. All this is very right. The Sons of Liberty have the best right of any People under Heaven to dine and sup, with this Family. I wish you could be of the Party. I always think of you when I see any of the Portraits of this Family. William the first looks much like you.
I will make a Visit to day to his Highness and pray him to send an Ambassador to Congress. I have a right to Speak to him upon this subject, as he is a Member of the States General, tho as statholder it is not in his Department.

[salute] Adieu

RC (NN: George Bancroft Coll.); endorsed: “Letter from JA Hague June 15. 82 Copied & ExC.”
1. The following three words were interlined.
2. Regarding the House of Orange, JA presumably contrasts both William I's leadership during the Dutch revolt against Spain and William III's assumption of the British throne after the Glorious Revolution with William V's opposition to recognizing the United States.
3. A reference to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, which JA had drafted in 1779, and specifically to the governor's council (vol. 8:228–271). Samuel Adams was currently president of the state senate.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0073

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Livingston, Robert R.
Date: 1782-06-15

To Robert R. Livingston

No. 13.

[salute] Sir

This Morning, I made a Visit to the Grand Pensionary Mr Van Bleiswick, and had a long Conference with him concerning the Plan of a Treaty of Commerce, which is now under Consideration, and endeavoured to remove some of his objections, and to explain to him the Grounds and Reasons of certain Articles which have been objected to by others—particularly the Article which respects France and that which respects Spain.1 He made Light of most of the Objections which had been Stated to the Plan and thought it would be easy to agree upon it but there must be time for the Cities to deliberate.
I asked him, if they did not intend to do us the Honour, Soon of Sending an Ambassador to Congress? and Consuls, at least to Boston and Philadelphia.2 He thought it would be very proper—but Said they had some difficulty in finding a Man, who was suitable, and at { 127 } the Same time willing to undertake so long a Voyage. I asked him, if it would not be convenient to send a Frigate to America, to carry the Treaty, their Ambassador and Consuls all together, when all should be ready? He Said he could not Say whether a Frigate could be Spared.
Very well, says I Smiling, and pointing to the Prince's Picture, I'le go and make my Court to His Highness and pray him to send a Frigate to Philadelphia, with a Treaty an Ambassador and two Consuls, and to take under her Convoy all Merchant Vessells ready to go. Excellent says he, Smiling, I wish you good Luck.
We had a great deal of Conversation too concerning Peace, but as I regard all this as idle, it is not worth while to repeat it. When a Minister shall appear, at Paris or elsewhere with Full Powers from the King of England to treat with the United States of America, I shall think there is Something more than Artifice to raise the Stocks and lay Snares for Sailors to be caught by Press Gangs.

[salute] I have the Honour to be.

1. These were Arts. 22 and 23 of JA 's draft. For the controversy over them and its ultimate resolution, see The Negotiation of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 22 Aug. – 8 Oct., below.
2. Pieter Johan van Berckel, first Dutch minister to the United States, was appointed in May 1783 (vol. 12:229). Not until Sept. 1784 did the States General appoint consuls to reside at Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Charleston, and Boston (PCC, No. 99, f. 203–210, 219–221, 223–225, 233–235).