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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0011-0001-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1781-01-13

13 Saturday.

Returned to Amsterdam, having dined at Haerlem, at the Golden Lion. Went in the Evening to see Ingraham and Sigourney1 and C[ommodore] Gillon.
Chez la V[euv]e Wynen, dans le premier Wezelstraat, à main gauche. Address of Cerisier.2
1. “There are three Gentlemen, in the Mercantile Way, Mr. Sigourney, Mr. Ingraham and Mr. Bromfield, who are now in this City, and propose to reside here and establish a mercantile House. These Gentlemen are very well known in the Massachusetts, and therefore it is unnecessary for me to say any Thing about their Characters” (JA to the Massachusetts Board of War, 16 Jan. 1781, LbC, Adams Papers). The three established themselves promptly in business, { 454 } for in a series of letters in April JA commissioned them to rent and furnish a house in Amsterdam suitable for his residence as minister plenipotentiary; see note on entry of 28 Feb., below.
2. Antoine Marie Cerisier (1749–1828), a French publicist and historical writer who had resided for some time in the Netherlands and was active in the Patriot movement (Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Générate). Quite possibly his journalistic activities were subsidized by the French government. JA later said that after reading one of Cerisier's works on Dutch history he traveled to Utrecht to meet the author and found him an agreeable and learned man, at home in French, Dutch, and English, and deeply interested in American affairs. Cerisier moved to Amsterdam, apparently at just this time (early in 1781), “and proposed to publish a periodical paper, with a view to serve our cause. I encouraged this very cordially, and he soon commenced the work, under the title of Le Politique Hollandais, or the Dutch Politician. In this he inserted every thing that he thought would do honor to America, or promote our reputation and interest. His paper was much read, and had a great effect. He was always ready to translate any thing for me into French or Dutch, or out of Dutch into French or English” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 256). In short, Cerisier became one of JA's principal coadjutors in his press campaign to win support for America. In a letter to R. R. Livingston, 16 May 1782, JA commended Cerisier in the warmest terms to the generosity of Congress (LbC, Adams Papers; Works, 7:589–590). JA's copies of Le politique hollandais survive in the Boston Public Library, and a number of contributions by JA to this journal have been identified. A study of Le politique hollandais by W. P. Sautyn Kluit is illuminating on Dutch journalism at this period but not adequate on Cerisier's career (Handelingen en mededeelingen van de Maatschappij der Nederlandsche Letterkunde te Leiden over het jaar 1882, p. 3–36). From documents in the Adams Papers it now appears that Cerisier was also the author of the principal statement of the Patriot party's program, a learned and influential work in two volumes entitled Grondwettige herstelling van Nederlands staatswezen, Amsterdam, 1784–1786, though his authorship was a secret long and well kept in the Netherlands (Cerisier to JA, 10 Aug. 1786, laid in a presentation copy of the second volume of the Herstelling among JA's books in the Boston Public Library; see also JA to John Jay, 3 Oct. 1786, LbC, Adams Papers, printed in Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, 2:676–677). When the Prussian army invaded the Netherlands in the fall of 1787 and crushed the Patriots' hopes and efforts, Cerisier fled to Paris (letter to JA, 3 Nov. 1787, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0011-0001-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1781-01-14

1781. Sunday. Jan. 14.

Questions.—How many Ships of War, are determined to be equipped? How much Money have the States General granted for the Navy? Have the States General resolved to issue Letters of Marque? Are the Letters issued? Is there a Disposition to demand them? Will there be many Privateers? How many? Will the Manifesto be published? When? How many Troops are ordered to Zealand? Have the States General taken any Sweedish or Danish Men of War, into their Service? How many? On what Terms?
When will the Decision of the Court of Holland, be made, upon the Conduct of Amsterdam? Will it be this month or next? Who knows what it will be? Why is the decision delayed? What are the { 455 } Reasons, Causes, Motives, End and design? Is it not the Influence of the English Party, that still obstructs and retards?
Has Zealand, proposed, or advised, to open a Negotiation, to make up the Quarrel? When. What measures does she propose?1
The B. V. Capellen came in.2 He fears that the Prince and the Proprietors of English Funds will unite, in endeavours to make it up, by a dishonourable Peace.—Mr. V. B. persists that there will be no war. Says it is a Rhodomontade, a Bombino of the English &c. That some Persons have underwritten upon Vessells, on the Faith of Mr. Van berkel, &c.
This Evening call'd upon M. V. Berkel, who was alone, among a Multitude of Papers, obliged to go out at 5 upon Business, made many polite Excuses, and invited me to call the Day after tomorrow, at 4 o clock, being engaged tomorrow. I agreed. I asked him however, whether the States General had resolved to grant Letters of Mark, and he said Yes.—If they were distributed? and he hesitated, as if uncertain. I then excused myself from staying longer, and prayed him to keep his Chamber, but according to the Dutch Fashion he would accompany me to the Door, and make me all the Bows, which the Custom demands, which obliged me to return him, as many.
Q. Is it certain that the Empress of Russia is well inclined towards America? Who has such Information? Has there been any deliberation or Consultation, between the maritime Powers in forming the armed Neutrality, concerning the American Question?
1. The Province of Zeeland, where the Stadholder's influence was stronger than anywhere else in the country, continued to hold out for pacification instead of war with England; see JA's short treatise on Zeeland in a letter to Congress, 30 Dec. 1780, PCC, No. 84, II, printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:214–218; also JA to Congress, 15 Jan. 1781, PCC, No. 84, III, printed in same, p. 232, and in JA, Papers, (vol. 11:50).
2. Joan Derk, Baron van der Capellen tot den Pol (1741–1784), of Zwolle in Overyssel, philosophical leader of the Patriot party in the United Provinces, reformer, and friend of America (Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek, 1:578–581). Van der Capellen had been in correspondence with Gov. Jonathan Trumbull for several years, had in 1779 proposed that an American minister be sent to The Hague, and proved an encouraging friend and faithful adviser to JA throughout his Dutch mission. Virtually all of their correspondence has been published in Van der Capellen's Brieven, ed. W. H. de Beaufort, Utrecht, 1879.
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/