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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3

This note contained in document ADMS-01-03-02-0001-0001-0001
1. From Lb/JA/19 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 107), a letterbook bound in parchment-covered boards, on the front cover of which JA wrote: “Holland France England / 1782.3.4.5.”
Though JA dated two of the headings in the present document in May 1782, the whole memorandum unquestionably belongs to April in that year, immediately after the States General of the United Netherlands voted, 19 April, to receive his credentials as minister plenipotentiary from the United States. On 23 AprilJA wrote to R. R. Livingston: “The greatest Part of my Time for several Days has been taken up in receiving and Paying of Visits, from all the Members and officers of Government, and of the Court, to the Amount of 150 and more” (LbC, Adams Papers). It is impossible to suppose that these ceremonial visits were repeated a month later, and there is other evidence (see note 5) indicating that the memorandum applies to April rather than May.
Soon after JA had left Amsterdam for Paris in July 1781, JQA had departed for St. Petersburg to serve as a companion, private secretary, and French interpreter for Francis Dana on his mission to the Russian court. See JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 570–571; JQA, Diary, July–Aug. 1781. Early in August CA, who was miserably homesick and had been otherwise ill, sailed in the South Carolina, Capt. Alexander Gillon, supposedly for the United States, though he did not arrive there until late in Jan. 1782, and then in the Cicero, a privateer owned by the Cabots of Beverly, from Bilbao (letters of William Jackson to JA, Aug.Nov. 1781; JA to AA, 2 Dec. 1781; Isaac Smith to JA, 23 Jan.1782; all in Adams Papers). After his family broke up, JA himself fell ill with what he called “a nervous Fever,” and during September maintained his correspondence only through John Thaxter (JA to Franklin, 4 Oct. 1781, LbC, Adams Papers).
In June 1781 Congress had revoked JA's powers to treat for peace with Great { 4 } Britain by appointing him first among five joint commissioners—the others being Franklin, Jay, Laurens, and Jefferson— to act in that capacity. Their instructions, later famous—or notorious—for the stipulation that the Commissioners were “to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or truce without [the] knowledge and concurrence” of the ministers of their “generous ally, the King of France,” were dated the same day (JCC, 20:651–654). JA received these papers on 24 August. On 16 Aug. Congress had added to his other commissions “further powers ... to form a treaty of alliance” among France, the United Provinces, and the United States, contingent on Dutch recognition of American independence (same, 21:876–880). These powers arrived late in November, together with news of Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown. This event put a different face on American affairs, and by steady insistence JA obtained from the French government at the end of the year a rather guarded permission to press for recognition at The Hague. On 9 Jan. he presented a verbal address to Van den Santheuvel, current president of the States General, requesting “a categorical Answer” to his Memorial which had been under ad referendum consideration since the preceding May, and the President assured him that he would “make Report to their high Mightinesses” (JA to Congress, 14 Jan. 1782, incorporating the text of the address, LbC, Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:97–100). In the following days JA reinforced his appeal for action by calling at the headquarters in The Hague of the eighteen cities of Holland represented in that province's assembly, and was cordially received (same; see also Dumas to Congress, 7, 15 Jan. 1782; same, 5:86, 102–103). In aid of his campaign JA's friends got up petitions in Leyden, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and elsewhere, and compared with the way such affairs usually proceeded in the Netherlands, the results were surprisingly fast in coming in. On 26 Feb. the Provincial States of Friesland voted to instruct their deputies in the States General to recognize the United States. On 28 March the States of Holland voted likewise, and the other five provinces fell rapidly into line during the next two to three weeks. At last on 19 April, one year precisely after JA had finished and signed his Memorial of 1781, the States General of the United Netherlands resolved “that Mr. Adams shall be admitted and acknowledged in Quality of Envoy of the United States of North America to their High Mightinesses, as he is admitted and acknowledged by the present” (JA to Livingston, 19 April 1782, LbC, Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:315–319). Many of the petitions, together with all the provincial resolves and the final act of accreditation, were gathered and soon afterward printed by JA, in English, in an anonymous publication entitled A Collection of State Papers, Relative to the First Acknowledgment of the Sovereignity [sic] of the United States of America, and the Reception of Their Minister Plenipotentiary, by Their High Mightinesses the States-General of the United Netherlands, The Hague, 1782. Three days after the States General's action JA was granted an audience by Willem V, Prince of Orange and Stadholder of the United Netherlands (JA to Livingston, 22 April, LbC, Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:319–320).
In anticipation of these events JA purchased, through Dumas and on behalf of the United States, “an house at the Hague, fit for the Hotel des Etats Unis, or if you will L'hotel de nouveau Monde. It is in a fine Situation and there is a noble Spot of Ground” (JA to Francis Dana, 15 March 1782, MHi: Dana Papers). Its cost was 15,207 guilders; it was bought from the Comtesse de Quadt Wykeradt neé Baronne de Wyhe (according to her own signature, though the name is found in innumerable forms), and was situated on the Fluwelen Burgwal, on a site now occupied by the Netherlands Government Printing Office (Dumas to JA, 23 Feb., Adams Papers; JA to Livingston, 27 Feb., 7 Sept., both PCC, No. 84, IV; notarial record of agreement, 24 April, and bill of sale, 27 May, in The Hague Gemeente-Archief [photostats in Adams Papers Editorial Files]). JA moved in about mid-May. This, the first building acquired by the United States as a foreign { 5 } legation, stood until sometime in the 1820's; a print of about 1830 of the Fluwelen Burgwal and the canal that then traversed it shows only a one-story wall and doorway on the site.
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, 2017.