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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0010-0007-0001

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1780-08 - 1780-09

[Miscellaneous Memoranda in Amsterdam, August–September 1780.]1

H. Grotius, de Jure Belli ac Pacis.2
C. van Bynkershoek
G. Noodt Opera
Apologeticus eorum qui Hollandiae praefuerunt ab H. Grotio Considerations sur 1'Etude de la Jurisprudence par M. Perrenot. Janiçon Republik der Vereenigde Nederlanden3 Ploos Van Amstel, the first Lawyer of Holland. Mr. Calkoen the next.
Heerens Gragt, pres Vissel Straat. Burgomaester Hooft.
Q. A Society or Academy for the dutch Language, in Germany, Russia, Sweeden, Denmark. The Italian Academy.
2000 Plants and Trees, many Americans.
38,000 florins for the Seat, 216 Acres of Land, between 30 and 40 thousand Vessells pass in a Year in Sight. Velserhooft.
Muyden. Sluices
Weesop. G in Hogs.4
De Geen. [Fine?] Seats
{ 449 }
Hofrust. Muyderberg. Mr. Crommelin.
Mr. Crommelin Op de Keyzers Gragt, over de Groenlandse Pakhuyzen. On the Keyzers Gragt opposite the Greenland Warehouses.
M. Van Berckel. Upon the Heerens Gragt, by de Konings Plein.
M. Bicker. Opposite.
M. Hooft—op de Heerens Gragt, by de Vyselstraat.
M. Vanhasselt at M. Wm. Hoofts on the Keysers Gragt, near the Amstel.
M. John Gabriel Tegelaar op de nieuwe Maart.
M. Nicholas Vanstaphorst, op de Cingel, about 50 doors from Jacob.
De La Lande & Fynje—op de Cingel.5
Questions. Is it necessary, or expedient to make any Representation, Communication, or Application to the Prince? or States General?
2. Is it prudent to apply to the City of Amsterdam, their Regency or any Persons, concerned in the Government?
3. To what Persons is it best to make the first Communication of my Commission? To Mr. Hooft, Mr. Vanberckel?
4. What House would you advise me to choose? or Houses?
5. Whether it is probable that any Number of Houses would unite in this Plan? and what Houses?
6. Whether any Number of Houses, might be induced, to become responsable for the punctual Payment of the Interest?
7. How much per Cent Interest must be given?
8. How much per Cent Commission to the Banker, or Bankers, House or Houses?
9. Whether it will be necessary to employ Brokers? What Brokers, and what Allowance must they have?
Jan and Dirk van Vollenhoven. Sur le meme Canal avec M. Berckel.
un Courtier. Maakalaar.6
Gulian Crommelin; at Mr. John Gasquet on the Rookin opposit the New Chapel.7
The Theatre of the War in N. America with the Roads and Tables of the superficial Contents, Distances &c. by an American. Annexed a compendious Account of the British Colonies in North America.
Van Arp. Maakalaar. Next to Mr. Matthes, op de Verweelé Burgwal, over de Lombard
{ 450 }
What is the manner of doing Business with the Brokers?
What must be given them?
2100 Guilders, double Rect. to receive for one, 400 Ducats8
Monitier & Merckemaer. Brokers in Loans9-13
Mandrillon.
Messrs. Curson & Gouvernieur Cont[inenta]l Agents at St. Eustatia9-13
Monitier & Merckemaer Brokers in Loans.
In het Rondeel op de hoek van de doele Straat9-13
Demter dans le Pijlsteeg9-13
Daniel Jan Bouwens, op de Heeregragt, by de Reguliersgragt.9-13
Reguliers Gragt
<Verlam> Printer. Verlem in de graave Straat. Printer of the North holland Gazette.
Daniel Jan Bowens, op de Heeregragt, bij de reguliers Gragt over de hoofd Officier.
In 1708  
La Gueldre   4   1/2  
La Hollande   55   1/2  
La Zelande   13   1/2  
   Utrecht   5   3/4  
LaFrise   11   1/2  
L'Overyssell   2   3/4  
Groningue & les Ommelandes   6   1/214  
8 feet long.
[9?] Inches diameter of the Mirour.
L'Angle aggrandit 300 fois, the least.
Jacobus van de Wall, over de laaste molen op de Overtoomseweg15
Mr. Ploos van Amstel Makelaar
B[ . . . ] te Amsterdam
In de Kalverstraat bij Intema & Tiboel boekverkoper. Een Frans en Duits [ . . . ], van het werk door Ploos v. Amstel
Agterburgwal by de Hoogstraat16
Mr. Wilmart Prince Gragt.
Mr. McCreery lodges, a Pension
Searle17
{ 451 }
1. These memoranda are undated and are probably not in chronological order. The “Questions” must have been formulated after JA received, 16 Sept., his temporary commission of 20 June to procure a loan in the Netherlands; see also note 8. A number of the entries, indicated by notes below, were written by persons other than JA, no doubt at his request when he wished to get unfamiliar names, addresses, and other information correctly recorded.
2. This and the following three entries are in an unidentified hand, perhaps Hendrik Calkoen's. For works by the eminent legal writers Hugo Grotius, Cornelis van Bynkershoek, and Gerard Noodt eventually acquired by JA, see Catalogue of JA's Library under their respective names.
3. JA later acquired an edition in French of Janiçon's Etat present de la république des Provinces-Unies ..., 4th edn., The Hague, 1755; 2 vols. (Catalogue of JA's Library).
4. Thus in MS. What JA meant by it is unknown to the editors.
5. The firm of De la Lande and Fynje was the third of the three Amsterdam banking houses (the others being the Van Staphorsts and the Willinks) that joined to raise the first Dutch loan to the United States in 1782.
6. Courtier (French) and makelaar (Dutch) are equivalent to the English word broker.
7. This entry is in an unidentified hand.
8. This entry can be explained and precisely dated from an isolated entry in LbJA/14 reading: “1780 Septr. 21. Reed, of Messrs. Fizeau Grand & Co. Four hundred Ducats or Two Thousand one hundred Guilders, for which I gave a double Rect. to serve as one. This I reed, on Account of M. F. Grand at Paris.”
9-13. These entries are in various unidentified hands.
14. This table, on a page by itself, doubtless represents the proportions of revenue paid into the common treasury by the seven provinces of the United Netherlands in 1708.
15. This and the following four entries are in various unidentified hands.
16. This was JA's own address, written down for him by someone who knew how to spell it, from mid-August 1780 to Feb. 1781. The Agterburgwal was a street on a canal “behind the city wall,” and JA lived on it “near High Street.” His landlady was “Madame La Veuve du Mr. Henry Schorn” (JA to Francis Dana, 18 Jan. 1781, LbC, Adams Papers). In his letters to the Boston PatriotJA remembered that there had been some “remarks” and “whisperings” among the Dutch and among Americans in Amsterdam “that Mr. Adams was in too obscure lodgings,” but he considered that these originated with “English spies” (Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 346). Whatever it may have been then, this section of Amsterdam, near the harbor and railroad station, is anything but respectable now, being on the edge of the area reserved for licensed prostitution. The most prominent landmark nearby is the Oude Kerk.
17. James Searle of Philadelphia, a member of the Continental Congress, who arrived in Europe in Sept. 1780 to try to obtain a foreign loan for Pennsylvania. See Mildred E. Lombard, “James Searle: Radical Business Man of the Revolution,” PMHB, 59:284–294 (July 1935).

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0011-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1781-01-11

1781 January 11. Thursday.1

Returned from the Hague to Leyden. Was present from 12. to one O Clock, when the Praeceptor gave his Lessons in Latin and Greek to my Sons. His Name is Wenshing.2 He is apparently a great Master of the two Languages, besides which he speaks French and Dutch very well, understands little English, but is desirous of learning it. He obliges his Pupills to be industrious, and they have both made a great Progress for the Time. He is pleased with them and they with him. { 452 } John is transcribing a Greek Grammar of his Masters Composition and Charles a Latin one. John is also transcribing a Treatise on Roman Antiquities, of his masters writing. The Master gives his Lessons in French.
This Day Dr. Waterhouse, Mr. Thaxter and my two Sons dined with me at the Cour de Hollande, and after Dinner, went to the Rector Magnificus, to be matriculated into the University. Charles was found to be too young, none under twelve Years of Age being admitted. John was admitted, after making a Declaration that he would do nothing against the Laws of the University, City or Land.
I wish to be informed concerning the Constitution and Regulations of this University. The Number of Professors, their Characters. The Government of the Students both in Morals and Studies. Their Manner of Living—their Priviledges &c. &c.3
1. This and the following scattered entries in Jan.–Feb. 1781 are from Lb/JA/28 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 116), which since it contains copies of a few of JA's letters in 1793–1794 has long been classed as a letterbook though it was begun as a diary. It is a small quarto-sized gathering of leaves stitched into a cover of marbled paper.
It is extremely unfortunate that JA kept no journal during the last months of 1780 when Anglo-Dutch relations came to a crisis that led to war between the two powers, vitally affected JA's status in the Netherlands, and greatly benefited the American cause. However, JA's long and frequent letters to Pres. Huntington and other correspondents constitute a more or less weekly and sometimes daily record of the events leading up to the rupture. Many of these letters were printed first in JA's self-justifying communications to the Boston Patriot, 1809–1812 (partly gathered and reprinted in his Correspondence in the Boston Patriot); another selection from them was made by CFA in JA's Works, vol. 7; and still another (though largely based on earlier printings) by Wharton in his edition of the Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. 4. Since relatively little use has been made, especially by European historians, of this mass of information and reflection by a lively observer, JA's correspondence will be printed comprehensively in Series III of the present edition.
The explosion in Anglo-Dutch relations was touched off by the capture at sea of Henry Laurens, when he was at last on his way to his post in the Netherlands, by a British ship in Sept. 1780. In a chest which he threw overboard but which was recovered were found papers which the British government considered evidence of unforgivable conduct on the part of Dutch citizens and especially of E. F. van Berckel, pensionary of Amsterdam and sponsor of the proposed treaty agreed upon at Aixla-Chapelle, Sept. 1778, by William Lee representing the United States and Jean de Neufville representing the Regency of Amsterdam. (See JA to Huntington, 27 Oct. 1780, LbC, Adams Papers; JA, Works, 7:320–321. See also Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:787–798.) The texts were dispatched at once to the British minister at The Hague, Sir Joseph Yorke, submitted by him to the Stadholder, and a disavowal of the conduct of the Amsterdam Regency demanded. In the Adams Papers, under date of 20 Oct. 1780, are printed texts, in English and Dutch, of the treaty draft and the other offending papers, and also a printed reply (with an English translation in MS) from the Burgomasters of Amsterdam. The latter defended their conduct against the British charges on the grounds, first, that the treaty was contingent on the United States' gain• { 453 } ing independence, and second, that a commercial treaty with the United States was in the ultimate interest of the whole Dutch trading community. These arguments were not likely to mollify Yorke, who memorialized the States General directly, 10 Nov., demanding that the Amsterdammers be punished for an attempt to violate the sovereignty of the nation and an abrogation of its treaties with England. JA observed that Yorke's action was “outrageous,” that Van Berckel had been singled out “for the Fate of Barnevelt, Grotius or De Wit,” and that the British were treating a sovereign power as if it were a recalcitrant colony of their own—very much as they had treated America in fact (JA to Huntington, 16, 17 Nov., and to Franklin, 30 Nov.; all letterbook copies, Adams Papers; Works, 7:329–330, 331, 338). From this point affairs deteriorated rapidly, but since JA provided a chronology of the climactic events in a letter to Huntington of 5 Jan. 1781 (LbC, Adams Papers; Works, 7:352–353), it is unnecessary to say more than that Yorke left The Hague on Christmas or the day before, without taking leave. The question in January, when JA briefly resumed his Diary, was whether the British threats and attacks on there shipping and colonies would bring the Dutch to an abject surrender. Their own dissensions prevented this, and they drifted into war.
2. Thaxter spells his name “Wensing” (to JA, 22 Dec. 1780, Adams Papers).
3. On 13 Dec. Benjamin Waterhouse, who was studying for a medical degree at Leyden, responded to inquiries from JA about schools, tutors, and accommodations for the Adams boys in that city (Adams Papers; see also JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 572). Encouraged by Waterhouse's reply, JA sent the boys off under Thaxter's care on the 18th (JA to AA, 18 Dec. 1780, Adams Papers). They secured rooms in the house where Waterhouse was living, F. Weller's (or Willer's) on the Langebrug, not far from the Kloksteeg where John Robinson had ministered to his congregation of English Separatists before they sailed to Cape Cod in 1620 (Thaxter to JA, 19 Dec.; JQA to JA, 21 Dec. 1780; both in Adams Papers). As JA notes here, JQA was regularly enrolled as a student in the University early in January; CA was enrolled by special permission on the 29th (Thaxter to JA, 1 Feb. 1781, Adams Papers; Register of Students, MS, Leyden Univ. Libr.). Letters exchanged by JA and JQA in the following months record the older son's progress in his studies, which he found congenial.
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.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/