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This note contained in document ADMS-06-07-02-0134-0002
3. That is, if the Netherlands did not require Great Britain to observe the treaties of 1674–1675, particularly those articles declaring that free ships made free goods, France would rescind its regulation of 26 July 1778 concerning neutral commerce insofar as it applied to Dutch ships. The first article of that regulation, which could be revoked in six months if Britain did not grant the same privileges, permitted neutral ships to trade unmolested to or from an enemy port not blockaded, except in contraband. Even then the neutral ship would not be seized unless the contraband made up three-fourths or more of its cargo (Martens, ed., Recueil des principaux traités d'alliance, 4:198; English translation of the regulation in vol. 2 of Almon's Remembrancer for 1778, London, 1779, p. 355–357; see also Dumas' letter of 13 Sept., note 5).
France's primary objective was to have neutral nations do what it could not achieve with its own limited naval resources, that is, to force Britain to permit relatively unrestricted trade with France, particularly in naval stores, which were not included in the French list of contraband (Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 138–139). In the case of the Netherlands this came down to the demand that the States General provide unrestricted convoys or, in other words, convoys from which vessels carrying naval stores, particularly ships timbers, would not be excluded. This was a step that, except for Amsterdam, even the Assembly of Holland, much less the States General, was reluctant to take because of the inevitable Anglo-Dutch naval confrontation that it would produce. For the application of pressure by Britain and France in support of their respective positions and its impact on the deliberations of the Assembly of Holland and the States General, see Dumas' later letters, particularly that of 16 Jan. 1779 (below).
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, 2018.