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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

This note contained in document ADMS-06-12-02-0124
1. For the address in English, see the address to the president of the States General, [ante 9 Jan.], above. C. W. F. Dumas accompanied JA and on 15 Jan. reported to the president of Congress that “his excellency having made his requisition, I repeated it, that the president might understand it exactly, in the same terms as are to be seen in the Leyden Gazette, here sent, where I have got them inserted” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:102–103). The address appeared in the Gazette de Leyde of 15 Jan., under the heading “De La Haie, le 12 Janvier.” The Gazette identifies JA as “Ministre-Plenipotentiaire des Etats-Unis,” a significant distinction.
Reports of JA’s initiative, together with the text of his address, soon appeared in London newspapers. “In general it is agreed, that the step taken by the American Minister could not have been better timed. For, in fact, the capture of Eustacius raises obstacles to the project of a particular peace with England, which are very favourable to the forming of political connections with a State with which we bear such a strong resemblance, and can contract the strongest ties of interest” (Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, 22, 23, 24 Jan.; London Evening Post, 19–22, 22–24 Jan.; London Chronicle, 22–24 Jan.; London Packet; or, New Lloyd’s Evening Post, 21–23 Jan.).
The address was also published by Antoine Marie Cerisier in Le politique hollandais on 21 January. In the issue of 28 Jan., Cerisier effusively praised JA as a man unwavering in his opposition to Britain and untiring in his labors to establish American independence and forge a Dutch-American alliance, which similarities in history, interests, and institutions made a natural one. To show JA’s standing, even among Britons, Cerisier cited Francis Blackburne’s Memoirs of Thomas Hollis (2 vols., London, 1780), quoting a passage praising JA that is so similar to one in Edmund Jenings’ letter of 17 Sept. 1781 (vol. 11:485–490) that it seems possible that JA supplied him with Jenings’ letter. Cerisier followed his selection from the Memoirs with a brief biography of JA.
The effort in Le politique hollandais of 21 and 28 Jan. to promote JA was continued in later issues. It, however, was not received with universal acclaim. Benjamin Franklin received an anonymous letter signed “W.R.,” dated 31 Jan. at Amsterdam, that sharply criticized JA (Franklin, Papers, 36:499–501). Although “W.R.” was a pseudonym used by Thomas Digges, the letter received by Franklin is not in Digges’ hand and there is no reason to believe that he sent the letter. The author wrote that he had once thought that JA’s propaganda efforts in the French press in the Netherlands would have a good effect and still would “if he had not lost sight of his plan the end of wch. he now defeats, particularly in his number [of Le politique hollandais] of this week which distressd me prodigiously on his account! Good god what can he mean? Others as well as myself almost from the first appearance of the poulitique hollandais, heard it as no secret that all that concern’d America in that paper was litterally translated from his own writing, and he was not sorry then the world should know him to be the author! What can then possess him now? Has his late fever impaired his intellects.” The author concluded that JA wholly lacked the qualities possessed by Franklin that were necessary to succeed with { 191 } the Dutch and to take advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves. Two copies of this letter, one in JA’s hand, are in the Adams Papers, but there is no indication as to when he learned of it.
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.