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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0136-0002

Author: Capellen tot den Pol, Joan Derk, Baron van der
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-16

Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

Having learned that Congress has given you the same powers it had given Colonel Laurens, whose sad fate grieves me, and that one of your mission's objectives is to raise a loan for the United States, I take the liberty of asking you to please send me its terms as soon as possible; a relative2 of mine having voiced interest in investing 20,000 Dutch florins in the project.
If you seek a correspondent in Rotterdam, I can recommend my friend Adriaan Valck,3 a merchant who lives, if I am not mistaken, on the Leuvenhaue. He merits your entire confidence and is very zealous for the good cause. The honorable Tegelaar4 is known by you, as is my intimate friend Van der Kemp.5 The latter could be of great use to Congress in the future. He has many connections and a rectitude and boldness one would not expect in a Mennonite preacher.
In addition, sir, if I can be of any use in my own little sphere, rest assured that it is with a perfect devotion to the American cause, and with the highest esteem for you, that I have the honor to be, sir, your very humble and obedient servant.
[signed] J D van der Capellen6
P.S. The last packet I received from Governor Trumbull must have been sent to me by his son the Colonel. However, I received it via Ostend. Could you, sir, send me news of the Colonel, for I am beginning to worry about him.7
1. A town on the Maas River approximately fifty miles southeast of Amsterdam and ten miles west of Nijmegen.
2. Van der Capellen's relative remains unidentified.
3. Valck unsuccessfully sought to become an American commercial agent and in 1783 emigrated to the United States (Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 255–256).
4. Jan Gabriel Tegelaar, an Amsterdam merchant active in the Patriot movement and the editor of an anti-Orangist paper, was on JA's list of people to consult in Amsterdam (Pieter J. Van Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment, 1780–1805, transl. James C. Riley, N.Y., 1977, 2 vols., 1:71; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:444).
5. JA apparently did not meet Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, who became one of his closest friends and advisors, until late Feb. 1781, during a visit to Leyden (JA, Diary and
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6. In 1780, Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol was the most prominent Dutchman openly in favor the American Revolution. A nobleman and a major figure in the Patriot or anti-Stadholder movement, van der Capellen had corresponded with prominent Americans from the onset of the Revolution and copies of letters from him to Benjamin Franklin and Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut were among the papers seized with Henry Laurens (Davies, ed., Docs. of the Amer. Rev., 1770–1783, 16:424). He advised the Americans on appointing a minister to the Netherlands, raising a loan, and the general conduct of Dutch-American relations. Although his reputation as a radical severely limited his influence with the Dutch government, van der Capellen's connections within the Patriot movement and his enthusiasm for the American cause made him a valuable friend and advisor to JA. For assessments of van der Capellen's activities and influence, particularly as to the breadth and depth of his radicalism, see Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 21–30; and Simon Schama, Patriots and Liberators, N.Y., 1977, p. 64–67.
7. Van der Capellen likely received the packet from Gov. Jonathan Trumbull in late June or early July, for his son, Col. John Trumbull, visited JA in Paris at about that time. By the date of this letter, John Trumbull was studying art with Benjamin West in London, where, in November, he was arrested for high treason, reportedly in retaliation for the execution of Maj. John André (to Vergennes, 16 June, note 2, above; DAB; see also Thomas Digges' letter of 22 Nov., and note 6, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0137

Author: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-10-17

From Antoine Marie Cerisier

[salute] Sir

I was an ardent partisan of the noble cause of America, only on account of my great love for liberty. But, since I have the honour of Knowing you, I have another motive of loving America, seeing that it produces so worthy and so brave Gentlemen. When occasion has occurred, I have never been backward in serving it with my pen, the feeble but the only help which I could bring. And when this terrible war appears to last long yet, perhaps shall I contribute with my own person, to a liberty, whose fruits I hope enjoy when it is firmly established. I hope that the last action, which Lord Cornwallis has so pompously described, will have no bad consequences. But, will you give me leave to observe that this last battle appears to be a proof that undisciplined milices [militias] are not a match for European regular troops? The very same have I Observed in the wars of Netherlands. The first insurgents have been always defeated, as long as they could oppose to the Spaniards only new and undisciplined milicies.
I do not believe that France entertains hopes of recovering Canada, as it is spread. It should be, according to my opinion, a very unpolitic step: they could lose the whole fruit of this war. The French shou'd be obnoxious neighbours to you: and the least dispute could bring you to cast your looks towards England, if not for dependance, at least for a strict alliance. It should be also a very unpolitic step in the colonies to yield Canada to France in order that it should be a { 275 } match for the English in Georgia and Carolina. You must never lay down the arms, before your whole continent is free from European Yoke. Powerful neighbours at your both sides should make your independency very precarious. I shall not conceal you that my private interest prompts me to desire the independency of Canada, because it is a french settlement. I wish also that Acadia or New Scotland could be peopled, as before, with french Colonists. My greatest desire should be to live in a country where the french language and liberty should be dominant: and was I to be the [. . . gers?] of these countries, I would not that they were less free than Massachusets Bay.
I have, since my arrival, made some reflections upon the debt of America. I beg leave asking you: as not the congress in delivering the paper money made it accepted to its creditors for the very Sum which is marked. I know that the primitive value has diminished in the hands of private people: I have been Assured that now Sixty dollars paper money are worth no more than one ready money. I think there are means of annihilating and giving credit to this paper-money in the same time and by the same operation. There could be a Law to pay the public taxes, one part in ready money and the other in paper-money. All the paper-money brought to custom-houses should be torn to pieces and the congress, obliged to create new ones in order to answer the demands of citizens, Should have, by that mean, a great and inexhaustible treasure and Subsidy to supply its own Wants.
I have many other ideas on the same Subject. I propose to explain them on another ocasion, hoping that my liberty shall not displease you and that you could be so good as to accept of the testimonies of my Respect and veneration your most obedient Servant
[signed] A M Cerisier1
Je vous prie de me pardonner la petite vanité d'avoir tenté d'écrire dans une langue que je parle mal et que j'ai apprise trop tard pour pouvoir jamais la posséder à fond. Une autrefois je vous écrirai dans ma propre langue. If my expressions are barbarous in a language which I never write, and seldom have occasion to speak, I hope you shall only reguard my sentiments which <are sincere and warm> never shall change. My best compliments to your amiable young sons.
Je profite de l'occasion de Mr. Wild2 qui vous envoye toutes les nouveautés politiques, vous priant de faire remettre chez Mr. Mandrillon3 celles que vous ne prendrez pas, avec la procedure de Lord Howe4 que vous avez promis de me prêter.5
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RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Guillaume Adams demeurant sur l'Agter-burgwal près de l'Eglise francoise à Amsterdam”; endorsed: “M. A. M. Cerisier ansd. 23. Oct. 1780.” In his next letter, Cerisier used JA's correct first name.
1. Antoine Marie Cerisier, a French-born writer, was active in the Patriot cause and author of Tableau de l'histoire générale des Provinces-Unies, 10 vols., Utrecht, 1777–1784, two sets of which are in JA's library at the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library). Sometime prior to the date of this letter, and after reading the six published volumes of Cerisier's work, JA visited him at Utrecht and was impressed by the author's enthusiasm for the American cause. Cerisier played a key role in JA's efforts in the Netherlands, particularly after he moved to Amsterdam in 1781 and established Le politique hollandais, a major conduit for JA's dissemination of pro-American and anti-British propaganda in the Netherlands. For accounts of Cerisier and his relationship with JA, see JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 255–257; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:454; Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 125–126.
2. For Bartholomé Wild, a bookseller in Utrecht and Cerisier's landlord and employer, see his letter of 20 Oct. (below); and JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 257.
3. Joseph Mandrillon was a bookseller in Amsterdam, active in the Patriot cause (Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 128).
4. Probably The Narrative of Lieut. Gen. Sir William Howe . . ., London, 1780. Cerisier later translated the pamphlet and had it published in 1781 at Rotterdam and elsewhere as Campagnes militaires du Lieutenant Général Sir William Howe, en Amérique . . ., a copy of which is in JA's library (from Cerisier, 15 Nov., below; T. R. Adams, American Controversy, 2:716; Catalogue of JA's Library).
5. Translation: Let me take advantage of this occasion to ask that any unwanted political pamphlets, sent to you by Mr. Wild, be returned to Mr. Mandrillon, along with Lord Howe's narrative that you promised to lend me.
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.