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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

This note contained in document ADMS-04-04-02-0202
4. What this letter conveyed, more by implication than in so many words, was that the first and chief objective of JA's year of watchful waiting, mixed with strenuous journalistic and diplomatic campaigning, was about to be realized. In the spring of 1781 he had written and, in spite of obstacles strewn in his way, had presented to the States General his Memorial announcing his receipt of powers from Congress as minister plenipotentiary, requesting recognition in that capacity, and arguing the advantages that would flow from an alliance and the opening of commerce between the United Netherlands and the United States. For details see notes on JA to AA, 11 March and 28 April 1781, both above; also JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:457. As he had been taught to expect, the ad referendum process, from the States General to the assemblies of the seven provinces and back again, would take time. At length in December he was advised by La Vauguyon, who under instruction from Versailles was eager to promote the plans of the Dutch Patriots against the pro-English Stadholder, that he might “now assume an higher Tone, which the late Cornwallization will well warrant,” and might begin formal calls upon the great officers of the republic, the several regencies, and especially the deputies of the cities of the Province of Holland, requesting “an Answer to my former Proposition” (JA to Pres. Thomas McKean, 18 Dec. 1781, PCC, No. 84, III; printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:55; La Vauguyon to JA, 30 Dec. 1781, Adams Papers; printed in JA, Works, 7:500–501). On 9 Jan. 1782, accordingly, JA began a round of visits at The Hague to present a “réquisition verbale” demanding “a Categorical Answer” to his request for recognition. An English text of the “réquisition” or “Ulteriour Address” is in JA's Collection of State-Papers, 1782, p. 21; see also JA to McKean, 14 Jan. (PCC, No. 84, III; printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:97–100). Meanwhile JA's friends among the merchants, publishers, and political leaders of the Patriot party, chiefly in the cities of Holland but in some other provinces as well, busied themselves getting up petitions { 305 } favoring recognition of and trade with the United States, some of the results of which have been alluded to in preceding letters in this volume. These had their effect: the first province to instruct its deputies to vote for recognition was Friesland, 26 Feb.; on 28 March, after some last-minute hesitations, the assembly of Holland similarly instructed its deputies. Dumas wrote instantaneously: “La grande oeuvre est accomplie,” adding that he was unable to see more than one or two of the members because they “sont actuellement è célcébrer l'oeuvre en bonne compagnie, et le verre en main” (to JA, 28 March, Adams Papers). Holland's action virtually determined that of the remaining provinces, all five of which announced favorable decisions on or before 17 April. Texts of the provincial resolutions and instructions are in JA's Collection of State-Papers, 1782, p. 79–91. See further, John Thaxter to JA, 20 April, below, and note 1 there.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.