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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2

This note contained in document ADMS-01-02-02-0011-0003-0001
1. This fragment is the sole entry in an account book (M/JA/2; Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 181) apparently purchased for use during JA's hurried visit to Paris in the summer of 1781. The volume is a small quarto bound in parchment; the leaves are ruled lengthwise for double-entry accounts, but all except the first two facing pages are blank. On the back cover is a notation in JA's hand: “1781 / Peace.”
On 12 March 1781 the States General of the United Provinces at last issued a counter-manifesto to the British denunciation (21 Dec. 1780) of the Anglo-Dutch alliance. JA embodied the counter-manifesto in his letter to Huntington of 18 March (PCC, No. 84, III; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:306–313). Now that the long and intense debate over war or submission was finished, JA could consider the timing and method of announcing his powers to treat for an alliance between the United States and the Netherlands —which would require as an antecedent condition Dutch recognition of American sovereignty and would in itself be a necessary antecedent, it was now clear to JA, to raising a substantial loan among the Amsterdam bankers. In consequence he spent the last part of March and the early part of April quietly in Leyden drafting a memorial which emphasized the historical ties between the two nations and the advantages that would flow from close commercial relations between them. This paper, which was to become famous, went through successive drafts and was completed and signed on 19 April, the sixth anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord. On this very day JA went to The Hague and began a series of interviews with La Vauguyon, the French ambassador, who, under instructions from Vergennes, did everything in his power to dissuade JA from his purpose but did not succeed. The account of his tussle with La Vauguyon in JA's Correspondence in the Boston Patriot (p. 431–434) is, or at least deserves to be, a classic piece of diplomatic narrative; it is reprinted in a long note in JA, Works, 7:404–406. In the first days of May, after copies and translations had been prepared, JA first submitted his memorial to Van Bleiswyck, grand pensionary of Holland, which was by far the most powerful of the seven provinces and the one most inclined to be sympathetic to JA's appeal; and next to Baron Lynden van Hemmen, president of the week of the States General. Neither dignitary would receive it officially, but the latter reported his interview with JA to the body over which he presided, and copies of the paper were called for by the deputies to refer to their provincial assemblies. During their interview JA had informed Lynden van Hemmen that he would feel it his duty to have the memorial printed; no objection was raised; and JA's man-of-all-work in The Hague, C. W. F. Dumas, arranged for its publication and distribution in Dutch, French, and English throughout the Netherlands. It was also widely reprinted in Dutch and other newspapers. See JA to Huntington, 3, 7 May 1781, PCC, No. 84, III, printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:398–399, 401–403; also Dumas to Huntington, 1 May–13 July 1781, same, p. 393–397. Contemporary printings of the memorial in Dutch, French, and English are listed in W. P. C. Knuttel, comp., Catalogus van de pamflettenverzameling berustende in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, 1889–1916, Nos. 19506, 19506a, 19507; English texts will be found in JA's Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 439–448; Works, 7:396–404; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:370–376.
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.