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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0239

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-17

From William Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

I have the honor of your favor of the 6th. instant and perfectly agree with you that Congress must assume a more decided authority to prevent a repetition of such infamy as Arnolds.
In our situation, I look upon a Congress without full authority and respect to its determinations, as a body without a Soul—it is the knot which tyes the union between the States; which if once dissolv'd, may be attended with fatal consequences to the whole.
I wish the Southern States had paid the same attention that the Eastern States have done, to keeping their representation compleat and respectable in that body, we shou'd not now have been in War,1 but I trust that fatal experience will teach them wisdom in future and that the late discovery of Mr. Temples conduct will show them how to treat some similar Characters that have, since last Xmass, been sent from England into the States thro' N. York.2 What think you of the publications of the Enemy, as being genuine peices taken in a Mail said to be intercepted in Connecticut?3
If there is any ground to suspect them Forgeries, it would be well to give the hint of it to some of the Gazetteers.
You are curious to see what will be the behaviour of Britain to the Neutral confederated Powers. 'Tis probable she will silently submit and now endeavor to seduce the Dutch, as they cannot frighten them; but what answer will be given to the unique memorial against the Magistracy of Amsterdam?4
At all events the Bh. Ministry have got into a cleft stick, they must either bring on themselves an irrisistable Host of Foes, or quietly submit to see France and Spain fully supplied with Naval Stores which must increase their superiority at Sea, and finally annihilate that Naval Dominion which G.B. has contended for with such insolence and obstinacy. Shou'd Leslies expedition to Virga. prove insufficient to save Cornwallis in So. Carolina, there is solid ground for expecting general terms of Peace will be profer'd by G. B. before the session of Parliament ends. Surely the Dutch Merchants will have a fleet ready loaded with Naval Stores for France against the signing and ratifying their accession to the Northern Treaty of Neutrality, after which, 'tis supposed, the States General cannot hesitate to grant { 418 } them convoys. To compleat this Northern System the Parties should acknowlege American Independence and send Convoys with their Merchantmen to Ama.
With high regard I have the Honor to remain Dr. Sir Your most Obliged Hble Servt.
[signed] W.L.
P.S. Pray tell me if I am wrong in addressing my letters to you under cover.5
1. Lee's claim that, had the southern delegations acted together, the war might already have ended is questionable, but the South's inability to overcome interstate differences and form a voting bloc, rivaling that centered in New England, is a striking feature of congressional politics prior to 1781. The British invasion of the South in 1780 forced closer cooperation between the southern states, but it was Virginia's 1781 cession of western lands so as to achieve ratification of the Articles of Confederation that removed a major source of conflict and made Lee's hoped for southern bloc a reality (H. James Henderson, Party Politics in the Continental Congress, N.Y., 1974, p. 251–253, 259–264, 288–289).
2. John Temple was a Boston native, son-in-law of James Bowdoin, and former customs official. Temple strongly sympathized with the American cause, but in 1778 had believed that reconciliation short of independence was possible. That, and an exaggerated confidence in his ability to influence his American connections, led him to set out on a confidential mission in support of the Carlisle Commission. Temple was warmly received upon arriving in America and permitted to travel, first to Boston and then to Philadelphia. But as reports of his mission spread and his motives and loyalties became suspect, those whom Temple hoped to influence became wary of him, forcing his return to England in the spring of 1779, convinced that reconciliation was impossible (Lewis Einstein, Divided Loyalties, Boston, 1933, chap. 3). The others to whom Lee refers have not been identified, but it is ironic that the London Morning Post had recently vilified Temple for his longstanding and treasonous support of the American cause (24, 27, 28, 29 Nov.; 1, 7 Dec.; but see also “Cicero to Cataline the Second,” No. 3, London Chronicle, 16–19 Dec.; and Temple's anonymous defense in the London Courant of 6 Dec.).
3. The letters to which Lee refers were those intercepted near Stratford, Conn., on 22 Oct. (Rivington's Royal Gazette, 25 Oct.). Among them were two that appeared in the London Courant and the Morning Post of 4 December. The first was from Gens. Nathanael Greene, Samuel Holden Parsons, John Paterson, John Glover, John Stark, Jedediah Huntington, and Henry Knox to Meshech Weare, President of the Executive Council of New Hampshire; the second was from Alexander Hamilton to Isaac Sears. Both letters complained of Congress' mismanagement of military affairs and the lack of support, financial and otherwise, provided the officers and men of the Continental Army and predicted dire consequences for the American cause if the situation did not change. The Morning Post stated that the letters “proclaim . . . that deplorable state to which the Americans are reduced; and . . . that the perseverance of the present ministry in carrying on the war must . . . be crowned with certain success.” For these letters and others taken at the same time, see the London Chronicle of 2–5 December.
4. For resolutions by the States of Holland and the States General of 23 and 27 Nov., respectively, see JA's letter of 30 Nov. to the president of Congress, note 1 (No. 24, above).
5. Lee's meaning here is not altogether clear, since the address page for this letter is missing, but he may have addressed this letter to Henrich Schorn of Amsterdam, without indicating specifically that it was to JA. See JA's letter of 23 Aug. to Lee (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0240

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-12-18

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I have received your Favour of the 11. The Inclosures I have packed with my Dispatches, and the Duplicate of Mr. Amorys, to go by the first opportunity.1
Sir Joseph will kick, and cuff and pinch this People untill he forces into them a little Spunk. They cry shame upon his last Memorial more than the former.2 However I believe he knows enough of the nature of them, to answer his End, which I take to be to intimidate them from doing any thing more for America and particularly from lending me any Money. Many are apprehensive, that the Prince is at the Bottom of all this, and in Concert with the King of England, or rather with his Ambassador: and that the Intention is, for the King of England to give orders to his ships of War and Privateers, to make Prizes of ships belonging to Amsterdam, in order to ruin the Merchants of that City, and by this means disaffect them to the Regency.
The Body of Merchants, and the Common People are at present, as well affected to the Regency as they ever are. But the Wish of the English Party is to detach them.
The Constitution of the City is Such, that it Seems to me impossible that there should ever be a very Strong Attachment in the Minds of the People to the Burgomasters. The People must consider the Interest and Honour of the Burgomasters, Councillors and Schepins as distinct from their own, and cannot therefore, feel any Thing which touches their Rulers as touching them selves.
I have the Honour to be with great Respect, sir, your most humble sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers). LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Many Letters from me and those of Mr. Jennings were sent by Capt. John Van Nuberg, of the ship Oostrust, who is to Sail 21 of decr. for St. Eustatius.”
1. Neither Jenings' letter of 11 Dec. nor the enclosures have been found, but for John Amory, see Jenings' letter of 20 Nov., and note 4 (above).
2. That is, Yorke's memorials of 10 Nov. and 12 Dec., for which see JA's letters to the president of Congress of 16 Nov., No. 20 (above) and 18 Dec., No. 27 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0241

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-18

To the President of Congress, No. 27


[salute] Sir

War is to a Dutchman the greatest of Evils. Sir Joseph Yorke is so { 420 } sensible of this, that he keeps alive a continual Fear of it by Memorials after Memorials, each more affronting to any Sovereignty of delicate Notions of Dignity, than the former. By this means he keeps up the Panick and while this Panick continues, I shall certainly have no Success at all. No Man dares engage for me—very few dare see me.
On Tuesday last, the twelfth of December, the British Ambassador had a Conference with the President of the States General, and upon that Occasion presented to Their High Mightinesses, the following Memorial.1

[salute] High and Mighty Lords.

The uniform Conduct of the King towards the Republick; the Friendship which has so long subsisted between the two Nations; the Right of Sovereigns, and the Faith of Engagements the most solemn, will without doubt determine the Answer of your High Mightinesses to the Memorial, which the Subscriber presented some time ago,2 by the express Order of his Court. It would be to mistake the Wisdom and the Justice of your High Mightinesses to suppose, that You could ballance one Moment to give Satisfaction demanded, by his Majesty. As the Resolutions of your High Mightinesses of the twenty seventh of November3 were the Result of a Deliberation, which regarded only the interiour of your Government, and it was not then in Question to answer the said Memorial, the only Remark which We shall make upon those Resolutions is, that the Principles which dictated them, prove evidently the Justice of the Demand made by the King. In deliberating upon this Memorial, to which the Subscriber hereby requires, in the Name of his Court, an Answer immediate and satisfactory in all Respects, your High Mightinesses will recollect, without doubt, that the Affair is of the last Importance; that the Question is concerning a Complaint made by an offended Sovereign: that the Offense, of which he demands an exemplary Punishment and a compleat Satisfaction, is a Violation of the Batavian Constitution, whereof the King is the Warranty,4 an Infraction of the public Faith, an Outrage against the Dignity of his Crown. The King has never imagined, that your High Mightinesses would have approved of a Treaty with his Rebel Subjects. This would have been on your Part a Commencement of Hostilities and a Declaration of War. But the Offence has been committed by the Magistrates of a City, which makes a considerable Part of the State, and it is the Duty of the Sovereign Power to punish and repair it. His Majesty, by the Com• { 421 } plaints made by his Ambassador, has put the Punishment and the Reparation into the Hands of your High Mightinesses, and it will not be but in the last Extremity, that is to say, in the Case of a Denial of Justice on your Part, or of Silence, which must be interpreted as a Refusal, that the King will take this Charge upon himself.
Done at the Hague, the 12th. December 1780
[signed] Signed Le Chevalier Yorke5
I have the Honour to be, with the Greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 327–328); docketed: “Letter Decr. 18. 1780 John Adams Read 19 Novr 1781.”
1. This is JA's translation from the French, but it does not differ in any significant way from the numerous other versions published at the time. See, for example, the London Chronicle, 16–19 Dec.; London Morning Post, 20 December.
2. On 10 Nov.; see JA's letter of 16 Nov., No. 20, to the president of Congress (above).
3. For this resolution, see JA's letter of 30 Nov., No. 24, to the president of Congress, note 1 (above).
4. This claim had no basis in fact and caused consternation even among those who might otherwise have sympathized with the British position (Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 151).
5. In 1809, when he published this letter in the Boston Patriot, JA ended it at this point, but then stated that “If the prince's denunciation excited an alarm, and the first memorial of Sir Joseph Yorke a terror, this second memorial corroborated and augmented it to a great degree. For although the Dutch are as brave a people as any in Europe, and have in every period of their history exhibited a courage as cool, patient, persevering and intrepid, as any nation, ancient or modern; nevertheless, a long course of peace and gain, an habitual study of measures of neutrality for near a century, had so established a timorous policy in their minds, that a near prospect of war astonished and confounded them. Some among them, however, felt the indignity as well as the terror” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 306). For William V's “denunciation” of Amsterdam and Engelbert van Berckel for their part in negotiating the Lee-Neufville treaty, see JA's letter of 27 Oct., No. 18, to the president of Congress, and note 3 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0242

Author: McKean, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-18

From Thomas McKean

[salute] Dear Sir

My letter of November 8th. 1779 by John Lowell Esquire in answer to your favor of the 20th. September preceding, did not, I fear, get to hand previous to your departure from Boston. However I hope you have received it.2
Congress have a few days ago appointed Colo: Palfrey,3 late Paymaster General, to be Consul for the United States in France, with considerable powers over their commercial business, in particular to forward all supplies for the army; which have been hitherto unaccountably delayed and neglected. Young Colo: Laurens4 is also just appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of Versailles, with a view to sollicit a loan of about a million sterling, and additional naval aids, { 422 } from our great and good Ally His Most Christian Majesty. I wish them success, tho' I fear we have not fallen upon the most likely way of obtaining the loan; the appointment of an Envoy on this occasion seems to imply a want of confidence in our Minister's attention, abilities or something else; however I hope it may not be construed in that light, but rather considered as an evidence of our earnestness in the business.
We seem to be carrying on a war of finance; the States are therefore jointly and severally entering into it with great zeal, and I do not fear but we shall get the better of our enemies even in this sort of contest. We have a great plenty of every thing but specie, and military stores—We can readily furnish them with provisions and pay, and are pretty well stored with arms and ammunition; cloathing is our principal want. Our friends abroad must assist us <in the payments of the interest of our national debt, and with the articles wanted.> with some money and clothes.
Since General Gates's disappointment at Camden (owing to the then inexperience of the Militia in that Country) our affairs to the Southward wear a more favorable aspect. The Militia afterwards became ashamed, grew almost desperate, and have beaten the Enemy where ever they met them; with equal numbers they attacked a Body of near 1200 under Colo: Ferguson at Kings-Mountain, killed the Colonel and about 250 more and took all the rest prisoners, except about 15, or 20 at the most; Major Weymiss of the British Horse was wounded and taken prisoner, together with 25 of his cavalry, and a number killed, by a party under Brigadier General Sumpter of the Militia of South Carolina; who have since that, it is just reported and believed, attacked Colo: Tarlton's Legion, mortally wounded the Colonel, killed near 100 and taken 112 prisoners.5 All is quiet in the neighbourhood of New-York. The Enemy seem to bend their whole attention and force to the Southward. They had detached 2000 men to Portsmouth in Virginia under General A. Lesley, with a view of forming a junction with Lord Cornwallis; but being totally deceived in that expectation, after staying in the neighbourhood upwards of three weeks, making a small fortification there, burning some churches and dwelling houses according to their custom, they re-embarked on the 23d. last month; intending it is supposed for Cape-Fear in North Carolina, but we have as yet no certain accounts of their landing. So much for news—You should have more, but the Bearer, Mr. John Benezet, purposing to sail early tomorrow morning prevents it.
{ 423 }
Permit me, Sir, to introduce this Gentleman to your acquaintance. He proposes to reside for some time in France, as a Merchant; he is one of a considerable House here, has been a staunch Whig from the first dawn of the contest, and has always bore the character of a sensible and polite Gentleman.
I am, dear Sir, Your most obedient & very humble servant
Be so good as to present my very respectful compliments to Mr: Dana.
Dft (PHi: McKean Papers); notation: “Copy of a Letter to the Honble: John Adams Esquire &c. Decemr. 18th. 1780 By John Benezet Mercht. in Shelalye No. 22.”
1. This is one of several letters, written at Philadelphia about this time, that JA never received. They were carried by either John Benezet, William Bingham's agent and brother-in-law, or Col. William Palfrey, who, on 20 Dec., sailed on the armed ship Shillala, which was lost at sea (Robert C. Alberts, The Golden Voyage, The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752–1804, Boston, 1969, p. 101; John G. Palfrey, Life of William Palfrey, in Jared Sparks, ed., Library of American Biography, 2d ser., 15 vols., Boston, 1834–1848, 7:443). Among these letters are those by Samuel Adams of 17 and 20 Dec. and Thomas Burke, delegate from North Carolina, of 20 Dec. (Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates, 16:454–456, 470–472), and possibly that of 9 Dec. from James Lovell (from Lovell, 14 Dec., and note 1, above). The letters from Adams and Burke cover much the same ground as McKean's, particularly with regard to the military situation in the South. Samuel Adams was very adamant about the need for additional French naval support and his letter of the 17th would have been JA's first notice of Francis Dana's appointment as minister to Russia, although the vote actually occurred on the 19th (JCC, 18:1166).
2. For this letter see vol. 8:283–285. There is no evidence that JA received it.
3. William Palfrey had been appointed on 4 Nov. (JCC, 18:1018).
4. Col. John Laurens had been appointed on 11 Dec. (same, 18:1141).
5. For the battles of Camden and King's Mountain, see James Lovell's letter of 7 Sept., and note 2; and Benjamin Rush's letter of 23 Oct., and note 1 (both above). Gen. Thomas Sumter's defeat and capture of Maj. James Wemyss occurred on 9 Nov. at Fishdam Ford, S.C., and McKean's information reflects that in Gen. Horatio Gates' letter of 14 Nov. that Congress received on 4 Dec. and published (PCC, No. 154, II, f. 315–318; Pennsylvania Gazette, 6 Dec.). Sumter fought Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton on 20 Nov. at Blackstock's Plantation, S.C., but Tarleton was not “mortally wounded” (Horatio Gates to the president of Congress, 26 Nov., PCC, No. 154, II, f. 323–326; Howard H. Peckham, Toll of Independence, Chicago, 1974, p. 77).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0243

Author: President of Congress
Author: Huntington, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-18

From the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

You will receive herewith enclosed, a Duplicate of my Letter of the 30th of July, with a List of the original Letters and Duplicates which I have had the Honor to receive from you since that Time.1
The Pleasure and Satisfaction which I have received from the Perusal of those Letters, especially that of the 26th of June with the Despatches accompanying it, makes me lament the Want of Leisure { 424 } to answer your Correspondence. But Necessity compells me to confide in the Committee of foreign Affairs to give you the needful and particular Intelligence from this Part of the World. It is expected a Secretary for foreign Affairs will soon be established,2 and constantly devoted to the Business proper for such Department; which will remedy many Disadvantages we at present labour under.
I have the Honor to be with every Sentiment of Esteem & Respect sir your most obedient & most humble Servant
[signed] Sam. Huntington
1. The enclosed copy of the 30 July letter is with this letter in the Adams Papers, but the list of JA's letters has not been found.
2. The office of secretary for foreign affairs was established on 10 Jan. 1781, but the first secretary, Robert R. Livingston, was not appointed until 10 Aug. (JCC, 19:43–44; 21:851–852).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0244

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-19

From James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

Having wrote you so often and so fully1 I presume you would readily Excuse me if I omitted this Opportunity more especially as I am at a distance from the Capital, and have no certain News to hand you, but that Admiral de Ternay died a few days ago of a fever after a few days Illness, which perhaps may have been Occasioned by Chagrin and disappointment.2 It is also reported here that Cornwallis with 4000 Men have been surrounded by our Troops in Carolina and taken Prisoners.3 If this should prove true, it will be a great Stroke, and damp the Joy in England on the Acquisition of Charlestown.
Our New Goverment has been Ushered in with Great Splendor. Balls, Assemblies, Entertainments and Feasts equal to any thing you can tell of in Europe. The silly feelings of Compassion for the distresses of the Country, and the wants and sufferings of the Army have little to do in the Capital. The whirl of pleasure and Amusement has taken into its Vortex the Deacons and the other good People who seldom used to be seen in public but at their Devotions. Whether you will find good Deacon I——rs and good Mr. Scol——y in the dancing or drawing room at a Game of Whist or leading down a Country Dance is uncertain, but if the present G——r is in office on your return you may possibly find them in one or the other.4
We are Trying to get an Army for the war or 3 years.5 I hope to succeed. I shall write you more by the next Conveyance.6 Permit me to trouble you with the Inclosed Letter, and to Ask you to tell me how my Son does, and if his Conduct meets your Approbation. Accept { 425 } Mrs. Warren's regards, & believe me to be Your Sincere Friend & Humbl. Servt.
[signed] J Warren
1. Warren's last letter was of 22 Nov. (above).
2. Ternay had died on 15 Dec. at Newport (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 222). Warren's comment regarding his death probably refers to the fact that since its arrival at Newport in July, Ternay's fleet had undertaken no offensive action.
3. Warren's source for this erroneous report is unknown.
4. Warren here continues his criticism of John Hancock's gubernatorial administration and the events surrounding its inauguration. “Deacon I—rs” remains unidentified; “Mr. Scol—y” is presumably John Scollay, Boston merchant and selectman.
5. Warren hoped that Massachusetts would fulfill the General Court's resolve of 2 Dec. to raise 4,240 men to supply the Commonwealth's quota for the Continental Army, each soldier to serve for three years or the duration of the war (Mass., Acts and Laws, 1:190–201).
6. James Warren apparently did not write again until 4–19 June 1781 (Adams Papers); see JA's letter to Warren of 9 Dec., note 5 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0245-0001

Author: Mandrillon, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-20

From Joseph Mandrillon

[salute] Monsieur

Monsieur Le Professeur Henners à Utrecht vient de m'ecrire que Le libraire Wild a fait emprisonner Mr. Cerisier Sous le pretexte qu'il veut qu'il acheve son ouvrage à Utrecht et non à Amsterdam, ce procedé Est indigne comme il est injuste, comme je ne peux sortir avant midi je me hâte de vous en informer J'ecris La même chose à Monsr. de Neufville obligez-moi, Monsieur, d'agir de concert avec ce Monsr. Et par vos crédit auprès des Magistrats d'ici d'obtenir la liberté de Mr. Cerisier.1 J'ai L'honneur dEtre en hâte et avec une Considération distinguèe Votre très humble ob serv
[signed] Jh. Mandrillon

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0245-0002

Author: Mandrillon, Joseph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-20

Joseph Mandrillon to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

Professor Henners in Utrecht has written to inform me that the bookseller Wild has imprisoned Mr. Cerisier under the pretext that he can only do his work at Utrecht, not at Amsterdam. This proceeding is as undignified as it is unjust. As I cannot leave at mid-day, I have written hastily to inform Mr. de Neufville of the same thing. Oblige me, sir, by acting in concert with him and, through your credence with the magistrate here, obtain Mr. Cerisier's freedom.1 I have the honor to be in haste, with a distinguished consideration, your very humble obedient servant.
[signed] Jh. Mandrillon
{ 426 }
1. The bookseller Bartholomé Wild employed Antoine Marie Cerisier as a writer, principally to work on his as yet uncompleted Tableau de l'histoire générale des Provinces-Unies, 10 vols., Utrecht, 1777–1784. When Cerisier left Utrecht for Amsterdam and thereby threatened the Tableau's completion, Wild took action (Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence, p. 125–126). Whether JA played any part in obtaining Cerisier's release or resolving his dispute with Wild is unknown, but when Cerisier wrote JA on 15 April 1781 (Adams Papers), he was at Amsterdam at work on his periodical, Le politique hollandais.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0246

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-21

To the President of Congress, No. 28

[salute] Sir

The Sentiments and Affections of a People, may be learned from many little Circumstances, which few Persons attend to. The Poets and orators, are generally considered as the Surest Repositories of popular Ideas both in ancient and modern nations. The Clergy may be classed among the latter: and it is very certain that most publick Preachers, accommodate both their Sermons and their Prayers, in Some degree to the general Taste of their Hearers, and avoid every Thing, which will unnecessarily give them offense. At Rotterdam, there are Several English Churches. The Presbyterian Church which would be the least likely, one Should think, to be bigotted to England, I attended. The Parson, after petitioning Heaven in his Prayer, for the States of Holland and West Friesland, the States General and Council of State, and for the Prince of Orange their hereditary Statholder and Governor, &c. added a Petition for England, for the King Queen and Royal Family, for their Health, Long Life and Prosperity, and Added, with peculiar Emphasis, that he might tryumph over all his Ennemies, in the four Quarters of the Globe.
At Amsterdam I have attended both the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches and heard Similar Supplications to Heaven, in both.
At Utrecht, I attended the Presbyterian Church and there heard a Prayer for the English, with more fervour Still, and in greater details. The Parson was quite transported with his Zeal, and prayed that the Rebellion which had So long prevailed, might be Suppressed, and hide its Head in Shame.
At Leyden there is another English Church. The Parson I am told is a Tory, but prudently omits Such Kind of Prayers.
This is a Work of Supererogation in these Reverend Zealots, and is therefore a Stronger Proof, that Such Sentiments are popular. The English, who are numerous in all these Cities, are universally in favour of the British Ministry: but there are so many Dutch Families, who understanding the English Language, worship in these { 427 } Churches, that the Clergy would not give them offence, if such Prayers were offensive.
This is the more remarkable, as the Religion of North America, is more like that of this Republick, than like that of England. But Such Prayers recommend the Parsons to the Prince of Orange and the English Party, and no other Party or Person has Influence or Courage enough to take offence at them.
I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 329–331); docketed: “Letter Decr. 21 1780 John Adams Read 19 Novr. 1781.”

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0247

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: San, Ferdinand Raymond
Date: 1780-12-22

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dear Sir

I am thankful for your favor and its inclosure of the 15th Instant.1 I hope my parcells go regularly for I never omit to put them in the common conveyance. Let me know if the present rupture will make any alteration. When you write Mr. W.S.C. you are requested not to direct but only mark the letter thus X on the seal part, and put it under a Cover directed to Mr. Stockdale Bookseller Piccadilly London.
The times are going very bad here and we Englishmen seem to feel we can war with all the world. We laugh at and hold you Dutchmen very Cheap. Orders are out for Reprisals and I dare say e'er this some ships are taken. We talk big about seizing immidiately every Dutch ship in our ports, taking all your East and West India Possessions &c. &c.2
I am winding up matters so as to get into a Country less embroild. You will be timely acquainted with my motions for I intend to take the Tour of the North. I beg my Compliments to my friend Mr. D[e] N[eufvill]e and am thankfull for his present of news papers and letter. The times and temper of the People at present are against my getting an Answer from a friend whom I have lately wrote much about to the question you last put.3
We begin to talk here now that Mr. L bore a Commission of Plenipotentiary but this I think can be only known by himself. No news but what you will see in the papers.
I am yours &c. &c.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Monsieur Monsieur Ferdinand Raymond San Chez Monsr Hendrick Schorn Amsterdam”; endorsed: “Church”; docketed by CFA: “22d Decr 1780.”
{ 428 }
1. This letter has not been found.
2. What Digges does not indicate here, but which he presumably knew of by the 22d, is that on 20 Dec. George III had issued a Manifesto that constituted a declaration of war against the Netherlands. After recounting British grievances, particularly the States General's refusal to punish Amsterdam for its part in the Lee-Neufville treaty, the Manifesto announced the withdrawal of the British ambassador and declared that Britain would “immediately pursue such vigorous measures as the occasion fully justifies, and our dignity and the essential interests of our people require” (James Brown Scott, ed., The Armed Neutralities of 1780 and 1800, N.Y., 1918, p. 330–334). Also on the 20th, an Order in Council authorizing reprisals against Dutch vessels was promulgated and on 21 Dec. instructions for its implementation were issued (same, p. 334–345). The Manifesto and Order in Council appeared in the London Gazette Extraordinary of 21 Dec. and were reprinted in other London papers on the 22d. JA received the news on 1 Jan. 1781 and immediately sent off copies of the Manifesto and the Order to Congress (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., p. 219–222).
3. In view of the paragraph that immediately follows, Digges apparently refers here to JA's letter of 19 Nov. (above) in which he asked whether Laurens was commissioned as a minister plenipotentiary or only to raise a loan.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0248-0001

Author: Capellen tot den Pol, Joan Derk, Baron van der
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-24

From Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol

[salute] Monsieur

J'aurois deja eu le plaisir de repondre de bouche a votre honnorée du 9 de ce mois Si la gelée m'avoit permis de m'embarquer Mardi passé, comme je l'avoir projetté. Je prendrai la liberté d'en Suivre le fil dans celle cÿ.
Si Gouverneur Pownall peut avoir eu dessein d'allarmer cette Republique et peut etre d'autres Nations il eût été plus prudent de ne pas publier La brochure en François Sans quelque antidote en forme de note Sur les passages les plus dangereux.1 Vous vous rappellerez, Monsieur, que cela a été mon opinion lorsque j'eus lhonneur de Vous en parler a Amsterdam.
Pour ce qui est du credit de l'Amerique; j'avois pris la liberté de vous tracer dans ma derniere cumulativement toutes les causes, qui coöperent a Son abaissement actuel. L'invasion de la Georgie et de la Caroline Meridionale; la prise de Charlestown; la perte des fregates Continentales; la defaite de Gates; l'inaction des flottes Combinées de Guichen et de Solano; la Superiorité decidée des Anglois aux Isles et a N: York meme; la defection d'Arnold; le mecontentement de l'armée et la jalousie entre elle et le Corps politique; l'etat toujours fluctuant de Monsieur Necker et l'incertitude de la durée du phenomene d'une bonne administration en France et enfin ce qui est plus que tout cecÿ et que j'avois oublié par megarde d'ajouter a ma precedente, la depreciation monstrueuse des papiers Americains; depreciation qui ne peut qu'aboutir a une banqueroute nationale Si le Congress ne trouve pas le moien de les Sauver par de la monnoie { 429 } Sonnante. Tout cecÿ, Monsieur, ne sont nullement des Tales. Ce Sont des faits qui influent Sur la Nation en general; qui meme font trembler les Amis de l'Amerique, parmi lesquels j'en connois de tres eclairés, qui apprehendent beaucoup les Suites d'une annihilation totale du cours des papiers. Ils craignent que l'Angleterre ne Saisisse les momens ou l'armée faute de paÿe n'existera plus ou Sera fort affoiblie; ou la Milice pour la meme raison ne Sera pas assemblée en nombre Suffisant; Ils redoutent les troubles, les derangemens, la confusion que doit occasionner une banqueroute nationale dans toutes les Classes du Peuple, et ils tremblent a la perspective, qu'a la fin ce Peuple se lassera de Soutenir une guerre qui entraine avec elle des calamités qu'aucun peuple n'a jamais eprouvées Savoir un manque total despeces et tout ce qui resulte d'une Si terrible Situation. Il en coute moins de verser son Sang pour Sa patrie, que de Souffrir a la longue l'indigence pour l'amour d'Elle. Si le Peuple Americain trouve encore dans Sa vertu et dans Son patriotisme une ressource contre cette epreuve, Surement c'est un Peuple encore unique a cet egard comme il l'est a bien d'autres. Vous concevez, Monsieur, que toutes ces inquietudes ne Sont pas les miennes. C'est la facon dont ma Nation envisage les affaires de l'Amerique que je vous depeins.
Tout Credit Soit d'un peuple Soit d'un particulier, depend uniquement de deux choses, Savoir de l'opinion que l'on a de la bonne foi de l'emprunteur et de la possibilité ou il se trouve de faire face a ses engagemens. Quant a l'Amerique: le premier article n'est jamais revoqué en doute; mais je Suis mortifié de ne pas pouvoir en dire autant du Second, et je puis vous assurer, Monsieur, que, selon la Nature de la chose, ce ne Sera que par des informations authentiques du veritable état des affaires dans le nouveau Monde que vous reûssirez a persuader les Capitalistes du Vieux de lui preter leur argent. N attendez pas qu'on le fasse par principes. Une telle generosité Surpasseroit les bornes de la vertu du gros des hommes. Cependant je puis vous assurer que la grande pluralité de ma Nation, certainement plus de 4/5 parties aime les Americains et leur Souhaite une bonne reûssite. Etant du Paÿs, parlant sa langue, frequentant toutes les classes de mes concitoÿens, je Suis plus a meme de former un jugement juste la dessus, que ceux, qui Sont privés de ces moiens d'information. Ce n'est que les gens attachés a la Cour que l'on ne gagnera jamais, mais, graces a Dieu, ce ne sont pas les Seuls; ce Sont meme les moindres de ceux de qui l'on a quelque chose a esperer. Je Vous conjure pour cela Monsieur de ne pas donner a vos Seigneurs { 430 } et Maitres une idée de la Situation des affaires dans ce Paÿs et sur tout de la façon de penser de ses habitans en general, laquelle, a la fin, pourroit ne pas Les trouver justifiée par l'evenement, et occasionner des mesures, qui eloigneroient de plus en plus les deux Republiques faites l'une pour l'autre et que je Souhaiterois ardemment de voir plus en plus S'unir. La votre est dans une violente crise, d'ont en bonne politique avant de se determiner on doit absolument attendre l'issue, qui peut tourner du bon coté. Une guerre avec les Anglois me paroit inevitable. S'ils ne la cherchoient pas ils ne hasarderoient pas de nous pousser a bout par des outrages, qui ne leur sont utiles a rien; que jamais peuple n'a avalé, ni enduré Si longtems que nous avons été contraints de le faire. C'est bien dommage dans ces circonstances que la Saisie des Papiers de Monsieur Laurens a fourni aux Anglois un pretexte Specieux a maletraiter la Republique ou plustot la Ville d'Amsterdam que l'on veut perdre a tout prix et de qui je crains que l'influence de la C——r n'empeche les autres membres de l'E——t de prendre la defence. Mais quoiquil arrive la lumiere peut naitre des tenebres memes. L'Amerique ne peut Se tirer d'affaires Sans notre argent. Il faut donc pour lui favoriser ses interets attendre patiemment et Saisir avec addresse le moment favorable pour l'attraper. Tot ou tard il se presentera, peut etre plus tot que l'on S'ÿ attend. On doit prendre les hommes comme ils Sont.
J'ai reçu par le Canal de son Exc: John Jaÿ une lettre du gouverneur Livingston du 15 Mars. Elle me renvoie pour des details a la lettre du gouverneur Trumbull (qui paroitra dans peu) et ne contient d'ailleurs aucune nouvelle, n'etant proprement que l'accusation de la reception de la mienne. The Chief difficulty we have now to Struggle with (ce Sont les paroles du Gouverneur) is the depreciation of our currencÿ; but as Congress has lately most assiduously applied to financing I hope theÿ will discover Some waÿ to extricate us out of that perplexitÿ.2
Je crois que jamais Ces papiers ne Seroient tombés Si bas; je crois meme quils se Seroient parfaitement Sousemis, Si, a chaque emission, le Congress avoit pu imposer des taxes proportionelles; dans ce cas les papiers auroient circulé; l'Etat les recevant toujours au juste prix les particuliers n'auroient pas osé ou pû les refuser ce pari, et ces taxes les auroient tour a tour fait rentrer dans la caisse de l'Etat qui par ce moien la auroit pû trouver les nouvelles Sommes d'ont i[l auroi]t besoin en empruntant Sous interets les papiers deja en circulation au lieu detre dans la necessité de faire toujours de nouvelles emissions et d'augmenter plus quil ne falloit la quantité de ces { 431 } papiers. Il y a moins d'argent dans le monde que l'on ne pense. La meme piece se represente et pour ainsi dire se reproduit plusieurs fois et l'Amerique ne me paroit pas avoir besoin de 200 millions de dollars pour Suffire a tous ses objets de guerre ou de Commerce interieur.
J'assure de mes respects Messrs. Searle, Gillon, Dena et le Gentilhomme que jai eu lhonneur de Voir Souvent chez Vous sans pouvoir me rappeller son nom; et jai lhonneur d'etre avec une profonde Veneration Monsieur en tres grande hate Votre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur,
[signed] C——n de P——l

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0248-0002

Author: Capellen tot den Pol, Joan Derk, Baron van der
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-24

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

[salute] Sir

I should already have had the pleasure of replying in person to your esteemed letter of the 9th of this month had the cold weather allowed me to embark this past Tuesday, as I had planned. I shall take the liberty of pursuing the thread of your letter in this one.
If governor Pownall intended to alarm this republic and possibly other nations, it would have been more prudent not to publish the pamphlet in French without some antidote in the form of a note on the more dangerous passages.1 You will recall, sir, that that was my opinion when I had the honor to discuss the matter with you in Amsterdam.
In reference to the credit of America, I took the liberty in my last letter of tracing one after another all the causes that conspire to bring about its current abasement. The invasion of Georgia and South Carolina; the capture of Charleston; the loss of the Continental frigates; the defeat of Gates; the inaction of the combined fleets of Guichen and Solano; the decisive superiority of the English in the Isles and even New York; the defection of Arnold; the discontent of the army and the jealousy between it and the body politic; the still fluctuating position of Monsieur Necker and the uncertain duration of the phenomenon of a good administration in France and finally what is more than all this and which I inadvertently forgot to include in my last letter, the monstrous depreciation of American paper; depreciation that cannot but end in national bankruptcy if Congress does not find a way to preserve the paper with metal coin. These, sir, are by no means tales. They are facts that influence the nation in general; that even make the friends of America tremble, among whom I know some very enlightened gentlemen who are greatly apprehensive about the consequences of a total annihilation of the value of paper. They fear that England may seize the moment when the army for want of pay will either no longer exist or be greatly weakened; when the militia for the same reason will not be assembled in sufficient number; they fear the turmoil, disturbances, and confusion that a national bankruptcy must occasion in all classes of the people, and they tremble at { 432 } the prospect that in the end this people will tire of supporting a war that brings with it calamities of which no people has ever approved, to wit, a total absence of currency and everything that may result from such a dreadful situation. It costs less to shed one's blood for one's country than to suffer a long time in indigence for love of it. If the American people continue to find a resource against this trial in its virtue and patriotism, then surely it is a people unique in this respect as it is in so many others. Please understand, sir, that not all these worries are mine. This is how my nation envisages the affairs of America that I have described.
All credit, whether of a people or a private individual, depends solely on two things, namely, the opinion people have of the borrower's good faith and the possibility he has of keeping his commitments. As for America: the first article has never been open to doubt; but I am mortified at being unable to say the same for the second, and I can assure you, sir, that, by the nature of the case, it is only with authentic information concerning the veritable state of affairs in the New World that you will succeed in persuading the capitalists of the Old World to lend you their money. Do not expect them to lend on principle. Such generosity would surpass the limits of virtue in most men. Nevertheless, I can assure you that a vast plurality of my nation, certainly more than 4/5 parts, likes the Americans and hopes for their complete success. Being from the country, speaking its language, frequenting all classes of my fellow citizens, I am in a better position to form a correct judgment of the matter than those who are deprived of such sources of information. The only people who will never be won over are those attached to the court, but, thanks to God, they are not the only ones; they are even the least of those from whom something is to be hoped. I therefore urge you, sir, not to give your lords and masters an idea of the state of affairs in this country and especially of the thinking of its inhabitants in general, which might prove in the end unjustified by events, and occasion measures, which would more and more estrange two republics which are made for each other and which I ardently wish to see more closely united. Yours is in the midst of a violent crisis, whose outcome must as a matter of good policy be awaited before setting a course, for things may turn out well. A war with the English seems to me inevitable. If they did not seek it, they would not risk pushing us to the limit with insults, which are in no way useful to them; which no people has ever put up with, or endured as long as we have been obliged to do. It is truly a pity in these circumstances that the seizure of Monsieur Laurens' papers provided the English with a specious pretext for mistreating the republic or rather the city of Amsterdam whose ruin is desired at all cost and I fear that the influence of the court may prevent other members of the state from coming to its defense. Whatever happens, however, light may issue from darkness itself. America cannot overcome its difficulties without our money. To further its interests, therefore, one must wait patiently and shrewdly seize the propitious moment to capture those funds. Sooner or later that moment will arrive, perhaps sooner than one expects. One must take men as they are.
{ 433 }
I have received via the channel of his Excellency John Jay a letter from Governor Livingston dated 15 March. For details it refers me to the letter of Governor Trumbull (which will soon appear), besides which it contains no news, being essentially an acknowledgment of receipt of my letter. The chief difficulty we have now to struggle with (these are the words of the governor) is the depreciation of our currency; but as Congress has lately most assiduously applied to financing I hope they will discover some way to extricate us out of that perplexity.2
I believe that these paper notes would never have fallen so low; I even believe that they would have remained perfectly regular, if, with each issue, Congress had been able to impose proportional taxes, in which case the paper notes would have circulated; the state receiving them always at the just price, private individuals would not have dared or been able to refuse this wager, and these taxes would in turn have caused them [the paper notes] to return to the state treasure, which in this way would have been able to come up with the new sums needed by borrowing at interest paper notes already in circulation rather than being compelled always to issue new notes and thereby increase even more the amount of this paper. I think there is only so much money in the world. Each coin represents and as it were reproduces itself several times over, and America does not seem to me to need 200 million dollars to meet all its objectives in war and internal commerce.
I send my respects to Messrs. Searle, Gillon, Dana, and the gentleman I had the honor to see frequently at your house whose name I cannot recall; and I have the honor to be with a profound veneration, sir, in very great haste, your most humble and obedient servant.
[signed] C——n de P——l
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Son Excellence John Adams Plenipotentiaire des Etats Unis de L'Amerique. Sous Couvert.”; endorsed: “The Baron Van der Capellen”; by John Thaxter: “Baron Van der Capellen 24th. Decr. 1780.” Slight damage to the text where the seal was torn away.
1. Clearly van der Capellen did not think that Jean Luzac's preface to Pensées was sufficient to allay Dutch fears of American commercial competition, although that is precisely what Luzac sought to do. See Luzac's letter of 14 Sept., and note 2 (above).
2. This is an exact quotation from Gov. William Livingston's letter to van der Capellen of 15 March 1780, but the letter from Gov. Jonathan Trumbull mentioned by Livingston has not been found (The Papers of William Livingston, ed. Carl E. Prince and others, 5 vols., New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–1988, 3:331–333).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0249

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-25

To the President of Congress, No. 29

[salute] Sir

The Dispute between Great Britain and the United Provinces is now wrought up to a Crisis. Things must take a new Turn, in the Course of a few Days; but whether they will end in a War, or, in the Retractation of one Party or the other, Time alone can determine.
I have before transmitted to Congress, the two Memorials of Sir { 434 } Joseph York, against Mr. Van Berkel and the Burgomasters of Amsterdam.2 The Language of both is conformable to that domineering Spirit, which has actuated the Councils of St. James's, from the Beginning of this Reign, and they have committed the Honour and Dignity of the King, and engaged the Pride of the nation So far, that there is no Room left for a Retreat, without the most humiliating Mortification.
On the other Hand there is authentick Information, that the States, proceeding in their usual Forms, have determined, to refer the Conduct of Amsterdam to a Committee of Lawyers, who are to consider and Report, whether the Burgomasters have done any Thing, which they had not by Law and the Constitution, Authority to do. It is universally known and agreed, that the Report must and will be, in Favour of the Burgomasters. This Report will be accepted and confirmed by the States, and transmitted to all the neutral Courts, in order to shew them that neither the Republick in general, nor the City of Amsterdam in particular, have done any Thing, against the Spirit of the armed Neutrality. The States have also determined to make an Answer to the British Ambassadors Memorials, and to demand Satisfaction of the King his Master, for the Indignity offered to their Sovereignty, in those Memorials. In this Resolution the States have been perfectly unanimous, the Body of Nobles for the first time, having agreed with the Generality.3
The Question then is, which Power will recede. I am confidently assured, that the States will not: and indeed, if they Should, they may as well Submit to the King and Surrender their Independance, at once. I am not however, very clear what they will do. I doubt whether they have Firmness, to look a War, in the Face.
Will the English recede, if the Dutch do not? If they Should, it would be contrary to the Maxims, which have invariably governed them, during this Reign. It will humble the insolent, overbearing Pride of the nation; it will expose the Ministry to the Scoffs, and Scorn of Opposition: it will elevate the Courage of the Dutch, the Neutral Powers, and the House of Bourbon; not to mention the great Effect, it will have in America, upon Whigs and Tories—Objects which the British Court never looses Sight of.
This Republick is certainly, and has been for several Weeks, in a very violent Struggle. It has every Symptom of an Agony, that usually preceeds a great Revolution. The Streets of the City Swarm with Libels of Party against Party. Some masterly Pamphlets have been written in favour of the Burgomasters. Thousands of extravagant and { 435 } incredible Reports are made and propagated.4 Many new Songs appear among the Populace, one particularly adapted for the Amusement of the Sailors, and calculated to inspire them with proper Sentiments of Resentment towards the English. A Woman who Sung it, in the Streets, the day before Yesterday, Sold Six hundred of them, in an Hour, and in one Spot. These are Symptoms of War. But it is not easy to conquer the national Prejudices of an hundred years Standing, nor to avoid the Influence of the statholder, which is much more formidable.
In this Fermentation the People can think of nothing else, and I need not Add that I have no Chance of getting a Ducat of Money,5 but I think Congress will see the Necessity of having here, in these critical Times, more ample Powers.
I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 337–339); docketed: “Letter Decr. 25. 1780 John Adams Read 19 Novr. 1781;” and on the first page “2”. LbC (Adams Papers).
1. This is the first of the three letters of 25 Dec. in the Letterbook and is designated “No. 29.”
2. See JA's letters of 16 Nov., No. 20, and 18 Dec., No. 27, to the president of Congress (above).
3. For the responses by the States of Holland and the States General to Sir Joseph Yorke's memorial of 10 Nov., see JA's letter of 30 Nov., No. 24, to the president of Congress, and note 1 (above). Yorke found both to be unsatisfactory, but his memorial of 12 Dec. fared no better. On 21 and 22 Dec. the States of Holland and the States General resolved only to refer the matter of the Lee-Neufville treaty to the courts of Holland, which in March 1781 acquitted van Berckel, but found Amsterdam guilty of criminal conduct (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 164, 168). By then, however, Britain and the Netherlands were at war and the decision could only justify, after the fact, Britain's ostensible reason for going to war: Amsterdam's negotiating the Lee-Neufville treaty. But the whole exercise was meaningless, for as JA well knew in December (see his second letter of this date, No. 30, below), it would not be an abortive treaty negotiated in 1778 that sparked an Anglo-Dutch war, but the Dutch decision of 20 Nov. to accede to the armed neutrality (to the president of Congress, 25 Nov., No. 22, note 2, above).
4. In the Letterbook this sentence was interlined.
5. In the Letterbook the remainder of this sentence was crowded into the limited space at the bottom of the page and marked for insertion at this point.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0250

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-25

To the President of Congress, No. 30

[salute] Sir

It is very difficult to discover, with Certainty the secret springs which actuate the Courts of Europe, but whatever I can find with any degree of Probability, I Shall transmit to Congress, at one Time or another.
The Prince of Orange is himself of the Royal Family of England: his Mother was a Daughter of King George the Second, and this { 436 } Relation is no doubt one, among the Several Motives, which attach the statholder to England.
His Princess, is a Niece of the King of Prussia, and it is believed is not perfectly agreed with his most Serene Highness, in his Enthusiasm for the English Court. The King of Prussia has a great Esteem and Affection for his Niece with whom he frequently corresponds. In Some of his Letters he is Supposed to have expressed his sentiments freely, upon the Princes Conduct, intimating that his Highness would take too much upon himself, and make himself, too responsible, if he persevered in a resolute opposition to the Armed Neutrality.
The Empress of Russia, who possesses a masterly Understanding, and a decided Inclination for America, is thought too, to have expressed Some Uneasiness, at the Princes political system.
The King of Sweeden, who was lately at the Hague, is reported to have had free Conversation, with the Prince upon the Same Subject.
All these Intimations together, are believed to have made his most serene Highness, hesitate a little, and consider, whether he was not acting too dangerous a Part, in exerting all his Influence in the Republick, to induce it to take a Part, in opposition to the general sense and Inclination of the People, and to all the maritime Powers of Europe.
The English Court is undoubtedly informed of all this. They dread the Accession of the Dutch to the Armed Neutrality more, than all the other Branches of that Confederation, because of the Rivalry in Commerce, and because the Dutch will assist the Royal Marines of France and Spain more than all the others. The present Conduct of the English indicates a design to go to War with the Dutch, on Pretence of an Insult to their Crown, committed two years ago, by a Treaty with America, in Hopes that they will not be Supported in this quarrel by the confederated neutral Powers. But they will be mistaken. The Artifice is too gross. The confederated Powers will easily see, that the real Cause of Offence is the Accession to the armed Neutrality, and the Conduct of Amsterdam, in projecting a Treaty with America, only a Pretence.
I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, sir, your most obedient and most humble servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 333–335); docketed: “Letter Decr 25. 1780 John Adams Read Novr 19. 1781;” and on the first page “N 1.” LbC (Adams Papers)
1. This is the second of the three letters of 25 Dec. in the Letterbook and is designated “No. 30.”

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0251

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-25

To the President of Congress, No. 31

[salute] Sir

Affairs are Still in Suspence. This Day being Chrismas and Yesterday a sunday, there was no publick Exchange held, on either. But Business, and especially, Stock Jobbing goes on, without ceasing, being done at the Coffee houses, on Sundays and holy days, when it cannot be held upon Change.
The English Mail which had been interrupted by contrary Winds, for three Posts, arrived on Saturday. The English Gazettes of the 19th, announced, that Sir Joseph York, was recalled and a Dutch War inevitable. Private Letters informed that the Comte de Welderen was about leaving the British Court, and that an Embargo was laid on all Dutch ships in Great Britain: that the Stocks had fallen two Per Cent, and that a War was inevitable.
The Stockjobbers, Englishmen and others, at the Coffee houses had melancholly Countenances and uncommon Anxiety. News was also propagated from the Hague, that sir Joseph York was gone. Others said he had received his orders to go. As there was no Exchange the publick Judgment is not yet made up, whether there will be War or not.
Some Gentlemen of Knowledge and Experience, think all this a Farce concerted at the Hague, between Sir Joseph and his Friends there, and the Ministry in England, in order to Spread an Allarm, intimidate the States into an Answer, which may be accepted with a Colour of Honour &c, or to do something worse i.e. raise a Spirit among the Mobility against the Burgomasters2 of Amsterdam.
I cannot however but be of Opinion that there is more in this, and that the Ministry will carry their Rage to great Extremities. They have gone too far to look back, without emboldening their Ennemies, and confounding their Friends, and exposing themselves to the Contempt and Ridicule of both.
A few Hours, however, will throw more light upon this important Subject. The Plot must unravel immediately.3
I have the Honour to be, most respectfully your Excellencys most obedient and most humble sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 1, f. 173–175); docketed: “Letter Decr. 25. 1780 John Adams Read Nov 19 1781;” and on the first page “3.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. This is the third letter to the president of Congress to be entered in JA's Letterbook under this date. This letter may have been written on the 26th and predated to the 25th. The { 438 } Letterbook copy has the same altered date and its second sentence begins “<Yesterday> This Day, being Christmas, and <the day before> Yesterday Sunday.” If JA did predate the letter it was probably because, just after writing it early on the 26th, he saw “The public Papers of this Morning” mentioned in his letter of 26 Dec. to the president of Congress (No. 32, below). The new information made that in this first letter of the 26th obsolete, but rather than altering or not sending the letter, JA redated it.
2. In the Letterbook this sentence ended here, but when JA copied this letter in 1809 for publication in the Boston Patriot, he expanded the sentence to read “and Mr. Van Berckel, (or in other words, to expose them to the fate of Barneveldt, the De Witts, and Grotius)” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 312).
3. In 1809, when he published this letter in the Boston Patriot, JA ended it at this point, but then stated that
“I cannot pass this letter without an observation upon it. This conduct of the court of London, and the court of Holland, was very skilfully adapted to the constitution and the state of society in the United Provinces. The sovereignty, by the constitution, is a pure aristocracy, residing in the regencies, which consist of about four thousand persons. The common sense, or rather the common feelings, of human nature, had instituted, or rather forced up by violence, an hereditary stadtholder, to protect the common people, or democracy, against the regencies, or aristocracy. But as the stadtholdership was always odious to the aristocracy, there had been frequent disputes between them, which must have terminated in the expulsion of the house of Orange, and the abolition of the stadtholdership, if it had not been for the interposition of the commons, the common people. These having no house of commons, no house of representatives to protect them, or even to petition, had no mode of interposing but by mobs and insurrections. This kind of democracy has always been dreadful, in all ages and countries. Accordingly Barneveldt had been sacrificed at one time, the De Witts at another, and in 1748, more sacrifices would have been made, if the aristocracy had not learned some wisdom by tragical experience, and given way in some degree to the popular enthusiasm. If there is any credit to be given to history or tradition, there has never existed on this globe a character more pure, virtuous, patriotic or wise, than John De Witt, or a greater hero than Cornelius. Yet these two citizens were murdered by their fellow citizens at the Hague, with circumstances of cruelty and brutality too shocking to describe. Yet the most savage of these assassins is universally believed in Holland, to have received a pension for life, from our great deliverer king William.
“The apprehension, at this time, was very general, that Mr. Van Berckel, and one or two of the burgomasters, Hoofdt at least, were to be immolated like the De Witts; and not a few expected that the American ambassador would not escape. I do not accuse, nor will I suspect that the two courts wished to proceed to such bloody extremities, as in the case of De Witt; but that they expected to excite insurrections that should compel the republic to submit to the English policy, there can be little doubt” (same, p. 312–313).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0252

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-26

To the President of Congress, No. 32


[salute] Sir

The public Papers of this Morning inform Us, that Sir Joseph Yorke left the Hague on the Morning of the twenty fourth, without taking Leave of any body, and bent his Course to London by the Way of Antwerp and Ostend.
Sometime in the Month of April last, a certain British Ambassador, who had an Inclination to take a few of the Pleasures of Paris in his Way to Germany, said in that City, where I recieved the Information { 439 } in the time of it, “To be sure the Americans will carry their Point, and establish their Independence, for there will infallibly be a War between England and Holland before Christmas.”1
If the War is considered to commence from the Departure of the Ambassador, Sir Joseph went off exactly in time to accomplish the Prophecy.
Since the Departure of Sir Joseph has been generally known, the City has been in a Fermentation. The English Ministry are cursed here as heartily as any where in general: Things are said by our Friends to be in a very good Situation: but I never know what to believe. The English are very bold I think—they are very enthusiastical—they are sure of the Assistance of Providence—as sure of Success against all their Enemies, as the old Lady was of Relief from Want, and making her Fortune by drawing a Prize in the Lottery. But have You bought a Ticket, Mamma, said her Daughter? No my Child, said the old Lady, I have no Ticket, but Providence is Almighty, and therefore I am sure of the highest Prize. Ticket or no Ticket.
I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 345–347); docketed: “Letter Decr. 26. 1780 John Adams Read 19 Novr 1781.” LbC (Adams Papers).
1. In the Letterbook this passage reads: “To be Sure the Americans will carry their Point, and establish their Independence; <but> for <(with a Curse, which altho it would Sound with as much Grace from the Mouth of a British Ambassador as from a British Sailor, would not be proper for an American to repeat) why should they wish to rip open our Belly? the Belly of their Mother? I answered that their pious Child would never attempt to hurt the Belly, if the Mother did not attempt to “dash the Brains out. The Same Ambassador Added,> there will infallibly be a War between England and Holland before Christmas.”
When JA copied this letter out of his Letterbook in 1809 for publication in the Boston Patriot, he restored, with some changes, the canceled passage and inserted the following observation regarding the British diplomat's comments: “This, however, was but one of a thousand of the bitterest expressions which I have heard from Englishmen, relative to the connection between Holland and America. Nothing ever galled them so much. They could never keep their tempers when they spoke or thought of it, and although they blustered and quarrelled, nothing ever brought them to a serious sense of their situation and danger” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 314).
The 1780 and the 1809 versions should be compared with the somewhat different version of this anecdote that appeared in JA's letter of 28 March to Edmund Jenings (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0253

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-26

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dear Sir

I have had a sight of yours of the 15th, 17, and 18th Instant and am thankful for their inclosures.1 Whenever any publications worth { 440 } notice, come to Your hands, send them in like manner and they will find immediate insertion here. The Courant being now the most generally read paper for early American intelligence, I constantly give the American papers to the publisher of that paper, and at any time, missing of me, You may have occasion to send any thing worth republication You have only to cut out of the papers the articles and inclose them To Mr. Cooper No. 134 Drury Lane London.2 They will be very thankfully received and will be usefull to us folks here.
Before this reaches You, the accounts of our Cabinet proceedings with regard to Hostilities and war with Holland will be publickly known. We Englishmen seem in general to be much Elated at the rupture, and have already taken all the Dutch homeward bound fleets, their spice Islands, St. Eustatia &ca. &ca. &ca. The wise ones about the Ministry say there will be no war and that the Cabinet only act in this bullying manner to make the Mynheers truckle to and cry piccavi. They boast much of disunion in Holland, that there will be an insurrection of the people, that the other Cities of Holland are divided from Amsterdam, one province from the other &ca. &ca. &ca. This is the old American tune that they are playing, and will I guess have as little effect upon the Mynheers as upon the Yankees. If an insurrection is effected I guess the purpose will be to make a King of an insignificant Statholder.
We have no News from the Continent of Ama. A Frigate is arrived from Barbadoes with a most dismal account of losses sustaind in several of the Islands in the W. Indies in a storm which lasted from the 10 to 18th Octor.3 Barbadoes has sufferd most, 4,000 Inhabitants lost their lives, the principal part of Bridge Town destroyd and all the vessels in that Harbour. Antigua sufferd little—St. Kitts considerably in the shipping and Craft as well as Stores near the Water. Guadaloupe escapd tolerably well. Martinico very much, all the ships being blown out to Sea and several transports with Troops—St. Lucia, Domenica and Grenada (particularly the latter) felt a great share of distress. St. Eustatia sufferd exceedingly. As the dispatches are but just got to London no correct account can be given and you must be referrd to the papers of tomorrow.

[salute] I am Yours &ca. &ca. &ca.

[signed] W.C
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Church”; docketed by CFA: “26th Decr 1780.”
1. Of the three letters, only that of 17 Dec. (above) has been found and the enclosures remain unidentified.
2. This is Joseph Cooper, printer of the London Courant. The address is that given at the bottom of the last page of each issue for the submission of “Letters, Advertisements, and Intelligence.”
{ 441 }
3. The following is a summary of the reports from Antigua and St. Lucia of the massive hurricane that devastated the West Indies in October. The reports appeared in the London Gazette of 26 Dec. and were reprinted in the other London newspapers on the 27th. But the disaster's full impact was not clear until reports arrived from Jamaica, the site of the major British West Indian naval base, about 2 Jan. 1781 (London Gazette, 2 Jan.). The destruction of the dockyard and the loss of ships to the storm meant that the British naval effort would be considerably curtailed in 1781. In fact, of the 33 ships of the line that Britain had assembled in the West Indies prior to the storm, only 13 remained available for anything more than convoying in its aftermath (Mackesy, War for America, p. 380–381; Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence, p. 192).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0254

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-27

From William Lee

[salute] Dear Sir

Your favor of the 20th came to hand last Post.1 I have been confidently assured that the British Ministers, at least the greater part of them, are greatly anxious for a Peace, as they find the difficulties of carrying on the War, almost insurmountable, but the obstinacy of the King prevails and will do so, until some heavy blow frightens him and enables the Ministers to bring forward propositions of Peace, without offending their Master and loosing their Places.
Many therefore cast an anxious eye to the South and hope that some capital blow to Cornwallis or Leslie may help them out of their present dilemmas. In wise Policy the Dutch shou'd not loose a moment in sending a convoy with Naval Stores to France, which would be the most effectual method to defeat the evident design of the English in presenting the two last most extraordinary memorials to their H. M. but for the reason above mention'd it will not be surprising if they proceed to extremitys because the more their affairs are embarrassed, the sooner will the King be compell'd to agree to Peace. For two years past I have very often warn'd the Dutch to secure well their possessions in the E. Indias, which I hope they have done, and then they may bid defiance to their Enemies.
This moment I hear that Sir J. Yorke has quitted the Hague and that an Embargo is layed on all Dutch Vessels in England.
Surely in this case we must have Peace in the course of a year, and in that pleasing contemplation I heartily bid you adieu.
With high Esteem & Respect I have the honor to be Dear Sir Your most Obliged & Obedt. Hble Servt.
[signed] W: Lee
Private Letters from London by the Mail of the 19th. mention that they were greatly dejected by the last advices from Ama., that the Germans at N.Y. deserted by hundreds at a time and that there was also great desertion from the British Troops.
{ 442 }
1. JA's letter of 20 Dec. has not been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0255

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-28

To the President of Congress, No. 33


[salute] Sir

The Dutch say that the English are acting the part of the Sailor, having quarrelled with three others as stout as himself, and got his Bones broke and his Eyes beat out in the Squabble, challenged four more to fight him at the same time, that he might have it in his Power to make it up with all seven, with Honour.
If the English are not actuated by the same blind and vindictive Passions, which have governed them so many Years, it is impossible to see through their Policy. I think it is impossible they should be ignorant of the Articles of Confederation of the Neutral Powers: these Articles, as I am informed, warrant to all the Neutral Powers their Treaties with England, and stipulate that if either is attacked after the twentieth of November last it shall be made a Common Cause.
If the English should issue Letters of Marque against the Dutch, the States General will not immediately issue Letters of Marque in return; but will represent the Facts to the Congress at Petersbourg and demand the benefit of the Treaty of Armed Neutrality, and all the Powers who are Parties to that Confederation will join in demanding of England Restitution, and, in Case of Refusal, will jointly issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal.2
The political Machine, that is now in Motion, is so vast, and comprehends so many Nations, whose Interests are not easy to adjust, that it is perhaps impossible for the human Understanding to foresee what Events may occur to disturb it. But at present there is no unfavourable appearance from any Quarter. We are in hourly Expectation of interesting News from the English, French and Spanish Fleets, from Petersbourg, from London and the Hague, and especially from North America. Every Wheel and Spring in the whole political System of Europe, would have its Motions rapidly accelerated by certain News from America of any decisive Advantage obtained over Cornwallis in South Carolina, so true it is that America is the very Centre and Axis of the whole.
The Death of the Empress Queen,3 it is generally thought, will make no Alteration in the System of Europe: yet it is possible that { 443 } after some time there may be Changes—none, however, which can be hurtfull to Us.
I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 349–351); docketed: “Letter Decr. 28. 1780 John Adams Read Novr. 19. 1781.”
1. The original of this letter was intercepted and printed in the New York Mercury extraordinary of 19 April 1781, and then was reprinted in other papers, including the Pennsylvania Gazette of 2 May and the Boston Gazette of 28 May 1781. For AA's comments on this letter as printed in the Boston Gazette, see her letter of 28 May to JA (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:141–142).
2. JA's hope, expressed in this and the preceding paragraph, that the threat of sanctions by the League of Armed Neutrality would be sufficient to preserve Dutch neutrality had already been overtaken by events. With its Manifesto of 20 Dec., Britain had declared war. While it blamed the outbreak of hostilities on Amsterdam's negotiation of the Lee-Neufville treaty, the war directly resulted from the Dutch decision of 20 Nov. to accede to the armed neutrality. With regard to reprisals, JA states the general sense of the conventions establishing the armed neutrality that Russia had already concluded with Denmark and Sweden. But it was one thing for the Dutch to appeal for assistance as a neutral, and quite another to do so as a belligerent, even a reluctant one. After 20 Dec. any concerted effort by the neutral powers—Sweden and Denmark, but most importantly, Russia—to use their naval forces to protect Dutch commerce against British depredations under the terms of the armed neutrality would result in a naval war with Britain. That was an outcome for which those powers were not prepared (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780, p. 289–293, 307–312; but see also JA's letter to the president of Congress, 25 Nov., No. 22, and note 2; and from Thomas Digges, 22 Dec., and note 2, both above).
3. Maria Theresa of Austria had died on 29 Nov. (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0256

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-28

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I Had written to your Excellency a long Letter on the State of Affairs, which the Attention, I had the pleasure of paying to Mr. Dana, who staid here four or five days, prevented me Sending, and which is now Swallowed up by what has I am told, passed between the Courts of London and the Hague.
Never surely did a Nation seek for the Enmity of Mankind with more eagerness, than the English do at this Time. Have they not Ennemies enough, that they shoud seek for more? How can we Account for their proceedings? I saw with Astonishment the Memorial of the 12th Instant. I saw in it a Conduct, that Confounded me, but it is plain, that orders have been long since sent to Act offencively Against the Dutch in the East and West, and that the present procedure is meant to warrant that Violence. One would Imagine, that England well Knew what She was About in this business, if we did not See, that She had been long Acting Contrary to all Knowledge { 444 } for many years in every Transaction with Us. Does She mean to Confound her Ennemies by the Boldness of her Conduct as I have read is Sometimes a good Rule of Policy? But Surely she ought rather to Confound her former Ennemies by direct Attacks on them, rather than Create new ones, which will take off Her force from the first, to be exerted against the last. This Conduct will certainly not Astonish, but please her former Ennemies. Is she induced to war with the Dutch by the Hopes of Plunder, which the Easy Capture of the Dutch Ships may Afford? Does She propose to take the Cape of Good Hope and Conquer Batavia, what can be her Object? Is Holland insulted and attacked on the Same Principle, that America was, i.e., that it is Easy to Subdue—I am weary of Conjectures, But Dutch Fury is Equal to American Bravery and this Measure may be productive of the greatest Evil to Her. However a Dutch War and the Armed Neutrallity, if it Comes to any thing, may require that France Should Keep a greater Number of Ships in Europe, than is Consistent with the Essential Object of our War. It may be difficult perhaps to Convince the Dutch, that the Independancy of America is particularly their Interest, as it will for Ever prevent their Rival from treating them with Insult and Insolence in future, or that at least, America being freed from her present Embarrassements by the Expulsion of the Ennemy, will Act with Astonishing Vigor against the Common Foe; France at least ought to see it, and make the proper Efforts. Nothing ought to prevent Her from sending a decided Superiority of Naval Force to the States of America. That Measure alone will secure Europe from future Insult.
Does your Excellency think that England has any Dependance on the Emperor? He has got his Brother Maximilian declared Coadjuter of the Bishoprick of Munster and Cologne, which effects Holland on one Side, while the Low Countries border on the other. He has an Eye on the Bishoprick of Liege and it is said, that Matter is settled to his wish. This cannot but be alarming to the Dutch should He take a part against them. It is likewise alarming to France, nor Can the King of Prussia be Easy at such an increase of Influence and Power in the Emperor.1 There is much Appearance of the War becoming general. The Fear of it however may make a Peace, which I pray to God may be to the Honour and Advantage of our Country.
I cannot express to your Excellency the Pleasure, that I have had in Mr. Danas Company. I wish our Country had many such.
I have received from London a Pamphlet intitled, a Short View of the Lord High Admirals Jurisdiction and of the several Acts for { 445 } regulating and restraining the Trade of the british Plantations and of the Commissions of Vice Admiralty Courts there, together with the Heads of a Bill for the better regulating the same, printed 1775. This is, I believe, the Book your Excellency wanted, if so, I will send it by the first Opportunity.2
I have read Lord Howes Narrative and Galloways Answer, they are both Excellent for Us. They ought to be read Universally.
I wish your Excellency and the Young Gentlemen Many happy Years.
I am Sir your Excellencys Most Faithful & Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] Edm: Jenings
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jennings. ansd. 31. Decr. 1780.”
1. Joseph II's appointment of his brother Maximilian as coadjutor significantly increased the Hapsburg influence in the Imperial Diet. Its net effect, however, was to cause the minor German princes to gravitate toward Frederick II and Prussia and, in 1785, join together in the Fürstenbund, which effectively blocked Joseph's aspirations for the domination of Germany (Cambridge Modern Hist., 8:313).
2. JA had first asked Jenings to procure him a work on admiralty law in his letter of 26 April (above). As JA indicates in his reply of 31 Dec. (below), however, this volume, published in London and for which Jenings gives the exact title, was not the one he wanted.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0257

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-28

From Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Sir

Mr. Warren directed to you only one week since by Capt. Cazneau bound to Amsterdam,1 therefore has now left it to me to write one time asking your Care of the inclosed, to a Son for whose Welfare,2 a Heart so Replete as yours with all the parental affections will not wonder I am Exceedingly solicitous.
We have not heard from him since He Embarked at N Foundland on Board the Vestal Frigate, in which we Learn Your Friend, the Honble. Mr. Laurens, was sent to England, and it is Reported here, was immediatly Confine'd to the tower. I hope this Worthy Man will receive no personal injury, nor the Bussiness on which He went be Materially affected by his Detention.
Will not the Ministry be at a Loss how to dispose of one in the Character he bears. It will be Humiliating to acknowledge him in the Rank of an Ambassador. It will be trifling and Ridiculous to deny it. It will be mean, ungenerous and Base to treat him in any manner beneath the distinction due to a public Envoy.
How much beyond the line Marked out in a letter to you, have this Good Gentlemans perigrinations Extended, before He Retires to Learn to die.
{ 446 }
But some need not—nor do others wait for such Favourable Circumstances to preceed the Grand Exit.
The Late sudden Death of a Certain Great Officer at N port,3 is Matter of Speculation here—Time must Develope the Characters of Men, and unravel the Intrigues of princes. While the Innocent may Weep for the unfortunate And the Vulgar Gaze at the fall of Greatness, as suddenly brought low as the Meanest of his own Class. But often a Coincidence of Circumstances may occasion the Vague Suspition, and an imputation of Guilt may for a time Light on the Head of those who Least deserve it.
Happy is the Man who has Equanimity and Virtue Enough to Govern the Reins of Ambition, and preventing the Furious Courser from Rushing into forbidden tracks, has true Greatness of soul to bear him above the Disappointments of Life, whither occasioned by the Common accidents of Time or by the Villany of others.
The political situation, the state of Commerce, and the Military opperations, of Your Country is a Field I dare not Enter. They are subjects too much above the Delineation of my pen. The state of parties, the Rapid Groth of Idolitry, the Worship of the pageant, the Mimic Greatness of Monarchy in Embrio,4 are too much below Its Exertions to describe. Nor will I for your sake Even make the Attempt.5
Mrs. Adams will not write by this Conveyance as it is an unexpected one by way of N port. But she was well a few days since.
If a youth I have Named before is in the same City with you, the highest mark of your Friendship will be that advice I know you sir, to be Capable of Giveing to the young and Inexperienced stranger. Nor am I less Confident of your Readiness to assist the Laudable Wishes of the son of your Friend, (if He Deserves it), by that influance which Flows from a polite and Generous Heart. And that He will not Fail to make himself Worthy of your Warmest Recommendations, is the most Flattering hope of his Mother who Subscribes with the usual Respect and Esteem. But sir, before she adds her Name, pray Remind my Young Friends that all Health & Happiness is Sincerely Wished them by
[signed] M Warren6
Mr. Warren Intends writing by the first opportunity from Boston, desires Best Regards to yourself and Mr. Dana, nor is Mr. Thaxter forgoten by his American Friends.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mrs. Warren Decr. 28th. 1780.” Tr (MHi: Mercy Warren Letterbook). Significant differences between the recipient's { 447 } copy and the transcript are indicated below, but for a description of this Letterbook, which is not in Mercy Warren's hand and was done years later from copies not now extant, see Mercy Warren's letter of 15 Oct. 1778, and descriptive note (vol. 7:141–144).
1. Of 19 Dec. (above).
2. From this point to the beginning of the final sentence of the following paragraph the transcript reads:
“I am extremely solicitous.
“A father whose heart is replete with every parental sentiment, cannot wonder at my anxiety for a beloved son. We have not heard from him for some time, he was taken by Admiral Edwards, and carried to Newfoundland, and young as he is, he voluntarily pledged himself as an hostage for the liberation of hundreds of his country men, suffering on board the prison ships there.
“He was treated with all possible politeness by the Admiral and the British officers on that station; but we have not heard from him since he embarked in the Vestal Frigate with design to visit England on his way to France. If he has arrived there, and should be in the same city with you, the highest mark of friendship to his parents, will be an attention to a son worthy of the warmest recommendations.
“I understand the honourable Mr. Laurens was a prisoner with him, and asked the Admiral to permit this young gentleman to accompany him in the ship in which he was sent to England. This was refused, I know not for what reason, as he was immediately told by the Admiral that he was at liberty to embark for England, the West Indies, or America in four hours after Mr. Laurens's departure.”
The transcript's account of Winslow Warren's captivity at Newfoundland and passage to England, indicating that he did not sail with Henry Laurens, is more accurate than contemporary accounts including that in the recipient's copy, and in Thomas Digges' letter of 3 Oct., note 1; see also Digges' letter of 17 Nov., note 1 (both above).
3. The Chevalier de Ternay, see James Warren's letter of 19 Dec., and note 2 (above).
4. In the transcript this word was followed by an asterisk referring to a note at the bottom of the page: “Governour Hancock of Massachusetts.”
5. In the transcript the remainder of the letter is replaced by the following paragraph:
“If it was consistent with your happiness and present situation, I should wish for your speedy return to your own native shore. Your example might do good, and your abilities might be as useful here, as in any department you can fill in Europe. We need the steady influence of all the old republicans, to keep the principles of the revolution in view, and to prevent the giddy multitude, from throwing away their public advantages in pursuit of private interest, the glare of folly, and the theory of liberty instead of an adherence to the manners that would secure their freedom.”
6. No reply by JA to this letter has been found. Mercy Otis Warren apparently did not write again to JA until 24 Oct. 1782 (Warren-Adams Letters, 2:179–181).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0258

Author: Huntington, Samuel
Author: President of Congress
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-29

Instructions Respecting a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the Netherlands

[salute] Sir

Instructions to the honble. John Adams

You will herewith receive a commission authorising you to negotiate a treaty of Amity and Commerce with the United Provinces of the low countries.
You will also receive a plan, in articles which you are to adopt in whole or without any essential alteration, being always cautious not to admit anything inconsistent with the treaties already concluded { 448 } between these United States and France, and being particularly attentive to the ninth, tenth and seventeenth articles of our treaty of Amity and Commerce with France numbered as they were finally ratified.2
In settling regulations respecting contraband you will regard not only the enumeration made in our treaty with France, but conform to such regulations as shall be agreed Upon by the Congress of the northern powers concerning which we have expressed our Intentions by resolves passed the fifth day of October last and herewith transmitted.3
Done at Philadelphia this twenty ninth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty and in the fifth year of our Independence by the Congress of the United States.
[signed] Saml. Huntington President
[signed] Attest Chas. Thomson Secy.
MS (MHi: John Adams, Embassy MSS, 1779–1785); endorsed: “Instructions for a Treaty with Holland”; by John Thaxter: “President of Congress 29th. Decr. 1780.”
1. Adopted on the same day that JA was appointed minister to the Netherlands (JCC, 18:1204, 1206), these instructions were sent under a covering letter of 1 Jan. 1781 from the president of Congress (Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:224). That letter, which reached JA on or about 19 March 1781 (same, 4:313), also contained JA's commission and a proposed Dutch-American treaty (both below), and a congressional resolution of 5 Oct. (see note 3). JA's appointment was occasioned most immediately by Henry Laurens' capture, but see also JA's letters to Congress of 24 and 25 Sept. (Nos. 9 and 10, above), and particularly note 3 to the latter.
2. That is, the ratified treaty of 31 articles. Art. 9 prohibited either party from fishing in areas held by the other, while Art. 10 confirmed French fishing rights on the Grand Banks and the coast of Newfoundland set down in the Treaty of Utrecht. Art. 17 permitted France or the United States to bring prizes into each other's ports without the receiving party taking cognizance of the prize's legality, but prohibited either France or the United States from allowing an enemy of one party to bring into its ports a prize taken from the other (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:9–11, 16–17, 32–34).
3. The resolution of 5 Oct. attested to Congress' willingness to abide by the principles of maritime commerce set down by Catherine II in her Declaration of Armed Neutrality and empowered the ministers of the United States to accede to the armed neutrality if invited (JCC, 18:905–906). The resolution had important results. On 27 Nov., Congress defined contraband according to Art. 24 of the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce and adopted new instructions for the commanders of American warships that required that neutral vessels be permitted free navigation unless they were carrying contraband, thereby firmly establishing the principle that free ships made free goods (JCC, 18:1097–1098; Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:21–23). On 19 Dec., Congress appointed Francis Dana minister to Russia with full power to accede to the armed neutrality and conclude a Russo-American treaty of amity and commerce (JCC, 18:1166–1173).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0259

Author: Huntington, Samuel
Author: President of Congress
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-29

Commission to Conclude a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the Netherlands

The United States of America in Congress Assembled

To all who shall see these Presents send Greeting.

Whereas an Intercourse between the Citizens of the United Provinces of the Low Countries and the Citizens of these United States founded on the principles of Equality and Reciprocity may be of mutual Advantage to both Nations, Know Ye therefore that We confiding in the Integrity, Prudence and Ability of the Honourable John Adams late Commissioner of the United States of America at the Court of Versailles, late Delegate in Congress from the State of Massachusetts Bay and Chief Justice of the said State, have nominated constituted and appointed, and by these Presents do nominate constitute and appoint him the said John Adams our Commissioner, giving full Power general and special to act in that Quality, to confer, treat, agree and conclude with the Person or Persons vested with equal Powers by the States General of the said United Provinces of and concerning a Treaty of Amity and Commerce: And whatever shall be so agreed and concluded for Us and in our Name to sign and thereupon make such Treaty, Conventions and Agreements as he shall judge conformable to the Ends We have in view. Hereby promising in good Faith that We will accept, ratify and execute whatever shall be agreed concluded and signed by our said Commissioner.2
In Witness whereof We have caused these Presents to be given in Congress at Philadelphia the twenty ninth day of December in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty and in the fifth Year of our Independence.
[signed] Samuel Huntington President
[signed] Attest Charles Thomson Secy.
FC in John Thaxter's hand (ScHi); notation: “Leyden April 19. 1781. A true Copy attest. John Adams.”
1. For the adoption and transmission of this commission, see JA's instructions of [29 Dec.], note 1 (above).
2. Except for its specific references to JA, this commission is identical to that issued to Henry Laurens on 1 Nov. 1779 (JCC, 15:1235–1236).
{ 450 } | view

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0260

Author: Continental Congress
Author: Thomson, Charles
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-12-29

Plan for a Treaty of Amity and Commerce

Plan of a treaty of amity and commerce between the United States of America and the United Provinces of the low Countries.
The parties being willing to fix in a permanent and equitable manner the rules to be observed in the commerce they desire to establish between their respective countries have judged that the said end cannot be better obtained than by taking the most perfect equality and reciprocity for the basis of their agreement, by leaving each party at liberty to make such interior regulations respecting commerce and navigation as it shall find most convenient and by founding the advantage of commerce on reciprocal utility and the just rules of free intercourse. On these principles the parties after mature deliberation have agreed to the following articles.
Art. I. There shall be a firm, inviolable and universal peace and sincere friendship between their High Mightinesses the states of the seven United provinces of the low countries and the united states of North America, and the subjects and people of the said parties, and between the countries, islands, cities and towns situated under their respective jurisdictions, and the people and inhabitants thereof, of every degree without exception of persons or places.
Art. II. The subjects of the said states of the low countries shall pay in the ports, havens, roads, countries, islands, cities or towns of the united states of North America or any of them no other or greater duties or imposts of what nature so ever they may be or by what name so ever called, than those which the nations most favoured are or shall be obliged to pay. And they shall enjoy all the rights, liberties, privileges, immunities and exemptions in trade, navigation and commerce whether in passing from one port in the said States to another or in going to and from the same from and to any part of the world, which the said nations do or shall enjoy.
Art. III. The converse of article second.
Art. IV. There shall be a full perfect and entire liberty of Conscience allowed to the subjects of each party and to their families as to matters of religion and a full and entire liberty to worship in their own way without any kind of molestation. Moreover liberty shall be given to the subjects of either party who die in the territories of the other to be interred in convenient and decent places to be appointed { 452 } for that purpose as occasion shall require; neither shall the dead bodies of those who are buried be any wise molested.
Art. V. Their High Mightinesses the states of the seven United provinces of the low countries shall endeavour by all the means in their power to protect and defend all vessels and other effects belonging to the citizens, people or inhabitants of the said united states of America or any of them, being in their ports havens or roads or on the seas near to their countries, islands cities or towns; and to recover and cause to be restored to the right owners, their agents or attornies all such vessels and effects as shall be taken within their jurisdiction: And their ships of war or any convoys sailing under their authority shall upon all occasions take under their protection all vessels belonging to the subjects, people or inhabitants of the said United States of America or any of them, holding the same course or going the same way and shall defend such vessels as long as they hold the same course or go the same way against all attacks, force and violence in the same manner as they ought to protect and defend vessels belonging to the subjects of their said high Mightinesses.
<Ar. VI> A reciprocal Stipulation.
Art. VI It shall be lawful and free for merchants and others being subjects, either of the said seven united provinces of the low countries or of the said united states of America by will, or any other disposition made either during the time of sickness or at any other time before or at the point of death to devise or give away to such person or persons as to them shall seem good their effects, merchandizes, money, debts or goods moveable or immoveable which they have or ought to have at the time of their death or at any time before within the countries, islands, cities towns or dominions belonging to either of the said contracting parties. Moreover whether they die having made their wills or intestate their lawful heirs executors or administrators residing in the dominions of either of the contracting parties or coming from any other part although they be not naturalised and without having their right contested or impeded under pretext of any rights or prerogatives of provinces, cities or private persons shall freely and quietly receive and take possession of all the said goods and effects whatsoever according to the laws of each country respectively in such manner however that the wills and right of entering upon the inheritances of persons dying intestate must be proved according to the law in those places where each person may happen to die as well by the subjects of one as of the other contract• { 453 } ing party, any law statute edict, custom ordinance or right whatsoever notwithstanding.
Art. VII. It shall be lawful and free for the subjects of each party to employ such advocates, attornies, notaries, solicitors or factors as they shall think fit, to which end the said advocates and others above mentioned may be appointed by the ordinary judges if it be needful and the judges be there unto required.
Art. VIII. Merchants, masters of ships, owners mariners men of all kinds ships and vessels and all merchandize and goods in general and effects of one of the confederates or of the subjects thereof shall not be seized or detained in any of the countries lands islands cities towns ports havens shores or dominions whatsoever of the other confederate for public use warlike expeditions or the private use of any one by arrests violence or any colour thereof. Moreover it shall be unlawful for the subjects of either party to take any thing or to extort it by force from the subjects of the other party without the consent of the person to whom it belongs: which however is not to be understood of that seizure and detention which shall be made by the command and authority of justice and by the ordinary methods on account of debt or crimes in respect whereof the proceedings must be by way of law according to the forms of justice.
Art. IX. It is further agreed and concluded that it shall be wholly free for all merchants commanders of ships and other subjects of their High Mightinesses the states of the seven United provinces of the low countries in all places subject to the dominion and jurisdiction of the said United states of America to manage their own business themselves or to employ whomsoever they please to manage it for them nor shall they be obliged to make use of any interpreter or broker nor to pay any salary or fees unless they chuse to make use of them. Moreover masters of ships shall not be obliged in loading or unloading their ships to make use of those workmen that may be appointed by public authority for that purpose, but it shall be entirely free for them to load or unload their ships by themselves or to make use of such persons in loading or unloading the same as they shall think fit without paying any fees or salary to any other whomsoever. Neither shall they be forced to unload any sort of merchandizes either into other ships or to receive them into their own or to wait for their being loaded longer than, they please. And all and every the citizens people and inhabitants of the said United States of America shall reciprocally have and enjoy the same privileges and liberties in all { 454 } places whatsoever subject to the dominion and jurisdiction of their high Mightinesses the states of the seven United provinces of the low countries.
Art. X. The merchant ships of either of the parties which shall be making into a port belonging to the enemy of the other ally and concerning whose voyage and the species of goods on board her there shall be just grounds of suspicion shall be obliged to exhibit as well upon the high seas as in the ports and havens not only her passports but likewise certificates expressly shewing that her goods are not of the number of those which have been prohibited as contraband.
Art. XI. If by exhibiting the above said certificates the other party discover there are any of those sort of goods which are prohibited and declared contraband and consigned for a port under the obedience of his enemy it shall not be lawful to break up the hatches of such ship or to open any chest coffers, packs, casks or any other vessels found therein or to remove the smallest parcel of her goods whether such ship belongs to the subjects of their high Mightinesses the states of the United provinces of the low countries or the citizens or inhabitants of the said United states of America unless the lading be brought on shore in the presence of the officers of the court of admiralty and an inventory thereof made, but there shall be no allowance to sell, exchange or alienate the same in any manner until after that due and lawful process shall have been had against such prohibited goods and the court of admiralty shall by a sentence pronounced have confiscated the same saving always as well the ship itself as any other goods found therein which are to be esteemed free; neither may they be detained on pretence of their being as it were infected by the prohibited goods much less shall they be confiscated as lawful prize: but if not the whole cargo but only part thereof shall consist of prohibited or contraband goods and the commander of the ship shall be ready and willing to deliver them to the captor, who has discovered them, in such case the captor having received those goods shall forth with discharge the ship and not hinder her by any means freely to prosecute the voyage on which she was bound. But in case the contraband merchandizes cannot be all received on board the vessel of the captor, then the captor may notwithstanding the offer of delivering him the contraband goods carry the vessel into the nearest port agreeably to what is above directed.
Art. XII On the contrary it is agreed that whatever shall be found to be laden by the subjects and inhabitants of either party on any ship belonging to the enemies of the other or to their subjects the { 455 } whole although it be not of the sort of prohibited goods may be confiscated in the same manner as if it belonged to the enemy except such goods and merchandizes as were put on board such ship before the declaration of war or even after such declaration if so be it were done without knowledge of such declaration so that the goods of the subjects and people of either party, whether they be of the nature of such as are prohibited or otherwise, which as is aforesaid were put on board any ship belonging to an enemy before the war or after the declaration of the same without the knowledge of it shall no wise be liable to confiscation but shall well and truly be restored without delay to the proprietors demanding the same but so as that if the said merchandizes be contraband it shall not be any ways lawful to carry them afterwards to any ports belonging to the enemy. The two contracting parties agree that the term of two months being passed after the declaration of war their respective subjects from whatever part of the world they come shall not plead the ignorance mentioned in this article.
Art. XIII And that more effectual care may be taken for the security of the subjects and people of either party that they do not suffer any injury by the men of war or privateers of the other party all the commanders of the ships of war and the armed vessels of the said states of the seven united provinces of the low countries and of the said united states of America and all their subjects and people shall be forbid doing any injury or damage to the other side and if they act to the contrary they shall be punished and shall more over be bound to make satisfaction for all matter of damage and the interest thereof by reparation under the pain and obligation of their persons and goods.
Art. XIV All ships and merchandize of what nature soever which shall be rescued out of the hands of any pirates or robbers on the high seas shall be brought into some port of either state and shall be delivered to the custody of the officers of that port in order to be restored entire to the true proprietor as soon as due and sufficient proof shall be made concerning the property thereof.
Art. XV. If any ships or vessels belonging to either of the parties, their subjects or people shall within the coasts or dominions of the other stick upon the sands or be wrecked or suffer any other damage all friendly assistance and relief shall be given to the persons ship wrecked or such as shall be in danger thereof and letters of safe conduct shall likewise be given to them for their free and quiet passage from thence and the return of every one to his own country.
{ 456 }
Art. XVI In case the subjects or people of either party with their shipping whither public and of war or private and of merchants be forced through stress of weather, pursuit of pirates or enemies or any other urgent necessity for seeking of shelter and harbour to retreat and enter into any of the rivers creeks bays havens roads ports or shores belonging to the other party they shall be received and treated with all humanity and kindness and enjoy all friendly protection and help and they shall be permitted to refresh and provide themselves at reasonable rates with victuals and all things needful for the sustenance of their persons or reparation of their ships and they shall no ways be detained or hindered from returning out of the said ports or roads but may remove and depart when and whither they please without any let or hindrance.
Art. XVII. For the better promoting of commerce on both sides it is agreed that if a war should break out between the said two nations six months after the proclamation of war shall be allowed to the merchants in the cities and towns where they live for selling and transporting their goods and merchandizes and if anything be taken from them or any injury be done to them within that term by either party or the people or subjects of either full satisfaction shall be made for the same.
Art. XVIII. No subjects of their high mightinesses the states of the seven United provinces of the low countries shall apply for or take any commission or letter of marque for arming any ship or ships to act as privateers against the said united states of America or any of them or the subjects people or inhabitants of the said united states or any of them or against the property of the inhabitants of any of them from any prince or state with which the said united states of America shall happen to be at war nor shall any citizen subject or inhabitant of the said United states of America or any of them apply for or take any commission or letters of marque for arming any ship or ships to act as privateers against the subjects of their said high mightinesses or any of them or the property of any of them from any prince or state with which the said State shall be at war and if any person of either nation shall take such commission or letters of marque he shall be punished as a pirate.
Art. XIX. The ships of the subjects and inhabitants of either of the parties coming upon any coast belonging to either of the said allies but not willing to enter into port or being entered into port and not willing to unload their cargoes or break bulk they shall be treated { 457 } according to the general rules prescribed or to be prescribed relative to the object in Question.
Art. XX. The two contracting parties grant to each other mutually the liberty of having each in the ports of the other consuls vice consuls agents and commissaries of their own appointing whose functions shall be regulated by particular agreement whenever either party chuses to make such appointment.
Art. XXI. It is agreed between the two contracting parties that no clause article matter or thing herein contained shall be taken or understood either in present or future contrary to the clauses articles covenants and stipulations in a treaty between the said United states of America and the most Christian King executed at Paris on the sixth day of February one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight or any of them but the same shall be taken and understood consistently with and conformably to the said treaty.
Cha Thomson secy.
MS (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Plan of a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, between the U.S. and the U.P.” The undated manuscript was assigned the date of [1781–1782] and filmed at that point (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 355). Dft (PCC, No. 25, I, f. 251–262); endorsed: “N. 3. Report of the comee. Appointed to prepare instructions for the Commissioner appointed to negotiate a treaty of Commerce with the United provinces of the low Countries Read Novr. 16. 1779 reported as amended Decr. 6. 1780 Agreed to Decr. 29. 1780.”
1. For the dispatch of this plan, see JA's instructions of [29 Dec.], note 1 (above). This proposed treaty was the work of a committee appointed on 26 Oct. 1779 to prepare a commission and instructions for the as yet unnamed commissioner to the Netherlands. On 1 Nov. 1779 Congress appointed Henry Laurens and approved the committee's draft commission, but resolved to defer any instructions until Laurens reached his post and could advise it on the proper terms for a treaty. It therefore took no action when the committee reported its treaty plan on 16 Nov. 1779. Not until 6 Dec. 1780, as Congress prepared for a new appointment, was the treaty plan revived and then, with only minor changes, approved on 29 Dec. (JCC, 15:1210–1211, 1232–1236, 1278, note 1; 18:1204–1217).
The treaty plan was derived from the Lee-Neufville treaty of 4 Sept. 1778 (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:789–798; see also vol. 7:5–6), which in turn drew heavily on the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 6 Feb. 1778 (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:3–29). Moreover, many of its articles appear virtually unchanged in the Dutch-American treaty that JA negotiated in 1782 (same, 2:59–88). In contrast to those three documents, however, the plan does not define contraband or, although it is implied in Arts. 16 and 17, explicitly state the principle that free ships make free goods. This is significant because the differing neutral and belligerent views of contraband and of the principle that free ships make free goods lay at the heart of the Anglo-Dutch conflict as it developed in 1780, and were the ostensible reason for Catherine II's Declaration of Armed Neutrality. The editors have not determined Congress' reason for omitting such articles in 1779. Its failure to do so in 1780, however, may reflect JA's instructions of [29 Dec.] (above) that require him to follow the lead of the armed neutrality and the provisions of the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The omission makes it likely that, rather than using this plan as his sole guide in negotiations with the Dutch, JA supplemented it with either his own copy of { 458 } the Lee-Neufville treaty (MS, Adams Papers) or the numerous printed copies of that treaty put in circulation when the British made public the documents captured with Henry Laurens. See, for example, vol. 1 of John Almon's Remembrancer for 1781 (p. 30–37).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0261

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-30

To the President of Congress, No. 34


[salute] Sir

The Province of Zealand having been opposed to the other Provinces in so many Instances and having lately protested against the Resolutions of the States General, which begin to be thought spirited, it may be useful to explain to Congress the Causes which influence that Province to a Conduct, which is generally thought to be opposite to the true Interest of the Republic in general.1
In the States of Zealand there are only five Voices, three of which are absolutely in the Discretion of the Prince of Orange, who has one Voice as Stadtholder of the Province, another as Marquiss of Veere, and a third as first Noble. The Stadtholder is therefore absolute in this Province, which accounts at once for its Conduct upon every Occasion. The Friends however of the Prince, of England and of Zealand are not willing that the World should believe, that the Princes Power in this Province and his Attachment to England, are the sole Causes of its Conduct upon every Occasion, and therefore they enlarge upon several Topicks as Apologies and Excuses for a Behaviour, which cannot wholly be justified. The Arguments in Justification or Excuse of Zealand are drawn from four principal Sources. First, the Situation of the Islands which compose the Province: Secondly, the Interest of its particular Commerce: Thirdly, the Weakness of its interiour Forces: Fourthly, the State of its Finances. 1. The Territory of Zealand consists of five or six Islands, two of which are moderately large, and the rest very small. These Islands are formed in the Mouth of the (Escaut) Scheld by the Sea, or by the different Branches of the Scheld itself. In case of a sudden Invasion, these Islands seperated from the Province of Holland, by an Arm of the Sea, are too unconnected to recieve any immediate Assistance. Such an Invasion is so much the more easy for the English, as Zealand is very near them. They may invade this Province even before a Suspicion should be concieved, that the Project had been formed. Who shall oppose their Enterprise? Shall it be the French who are now friendly? Dunkirk it is true is near enough: but what Forces are there at Dunkirk? The only Naval Force there consists of a few { 459 } Privateers, who could neither oppose an Armament escorted by British Men of War, nor venture to transport Troops to oppose it, even supposing the Invasion was not made by Surprise. Shall the Zealanders themselves make a Resistance to the English? But seperated from one another by Waters which would necessarily retard their Junction, the Island of Walcheren, the principal of all, would be in possession of the Enemy, before they could put themselves in a Posture to repel Force by Force. It is moreover not only possible, but easy, to make a Descent upon Zealand by so many Places, that the Zealanders with their own Forces alone could not defend effectually all the Passages. Eight thousand English, or even a smaller Number, would force the Zealanders every where, because there is no where a Fortress capable of holding out twelve Hours. The Ports of Flushing and Veere are the only ones which have any Defence: but they are very far from the State in which they ought to be, to stop an Enemy determined upon Pillage, animated by Revenge, and whom the Pleasure of doing mischief instigates forcibly. It is conceded, that the English descended in Zealand, would be constrained to abandon it very soon: that they might and would be driven from it in a few Days: that the Figure which they would make would be neither glorious nor honourable, and that their Temerity would cost them dear: but the Disorder caused by an Invasion remains after the Expulsion of the Invaders. The People invaded are always the Victims of the Evils which they have suffered, and these Evils, always considerable to the Individuals, are seldom compensated entirely. When an Incendiary has burned my House, whether he is punished or not, my House is consumed and lost to me. The Exactions, the Pillage, and all the Abominations which follow the Coups de Main of an unbridled Soldiery, would be cruelly felt by the unfortunate Zealanders, even after the Perpetrators, should be driven out, or sacrificed to this public Resentment.
In 1761 fifteen thousand English landed in the Neighbourhood of the Village of St. Ka, situated on the Northern Coast of Brittanny: from thence they extended themselves to the Village of Kankale, in the Neighbourhood of the former.2 They pillaged the Houses of the Inhabitants; they broke their Furniture: took away their Provisions and their Cattle: they violated their Wives and Daughters. Six Soldiers ripped open with a Knife a Woman big with Child, and after having satiated one after another their Brutality. In a Word, the English gave a free Course to their Cruelty, and indulged themselves in all Sorts of Excesses, which the Laws of War reprobate as well as { 460 } those of Nature. The Massacre of the pregnant Woman of Brittany may be put in parallel with that of the unfortunate Women, whom the Savages under the Command of General Burgoyne Scalped in America. These Acts of Cruelty prove at least, to what Excesses the Fury of the English Army may proceed. But it is asked, if it can be said, that all the Disorders committed in Brittany were repaired, when the ten thousand French ran to the Assistance of these unfortunate Britons, and had killed, taken and drowned the whole English Army? No: the miserable Inhabitants of St. Ka and of Kankale were not the less ruined: their Wives and Daughters were not the less dishonoured, and in one Word, the English Fury did not remain the less deeply imprinted on this Part of Brittany with Characters of Blood. In Truth, England lost fifteen thousand Men, without deriving the smallest Advantage from her Temerity: but the French employed against the English at St. Ka did nothing but avenge the Honour of their Nation. France, in one Word, only made her Rival feel, how dangerous it is to insult the Firesides of her Subjects. This Lesson may have intimidated the English, but it is not certain that it has corrected them. A Sheep-fold situated upon the Borders of a Forest is always exposed to be ravaged by the Wolves, if the Shepherd cannot watch all the Avenues. If the Wolves enter it, and tear a Part of the Flock, the Shepherd will have lost the Sheep that are devoured, and after having killed some of these carnivorous Animals, the Skin of the Wolf will not indemnify the loss of the Sheep.
2. The peculiar Commerce of Zealand. This Province has no other than that small Commerce which is known by the name of Coasting Trade. This kind of Trade is considerable in the Provinces of Holland, North Holland and Friesland. The Number of Vessels employed in these three Provinces in this kind of Trade, is inconcievable, and the greatest Part of them is destined for the Service of France. All which France recieves from Foreigners, and all which it furnishes to Foreigners, is carried in these Holland Vessells, and if there was no other than the Freight for the Masters and Owners of these Vessels, this Profit would still be of the greatest Consideration. Thus it is not surprising that the Province has taken such strong Measures in favour of France: its particular Commerce would naturally determine it this Way. On the contrary, Zealand employs the small Number of her Merchant Ships in a Commerce with England, a Commerce so much the more lucrative, as it is almost entirely contraband or smuggled.
The Profits to be made on Brandy, and other spirituous Liquors { 461 } imported clandestinely into England, are very considerable; and it is Zealand that makes these Profits, because they are her Subjects who entertain a continual Correspondence with the English Smugglers. The Proximity of the Coasts of Zealand to those of England renders this Commerce, which is prohibited to English Subjects, sure for the Inhabitants of Zealand. Fishing Barks are Sufficient to carry it on, and these Barks are rarely taken, whether it is that they are difficult to take, or whether there is not much desire to take them. These Barks arrived upon the Coasts of England find others, which come to take what they bring. The Place where this Traffick is held is generally some Creek upon the Coast of England, where the Vessel may be loaded and unloaded in Secrecy. Moreover those, whom the English Ministry appoint to prevent this Commerce at Sea, are those who favour it. We know very well the decided Inclination of the English in general, and above all of their Seamen for strong Liquors. Zealand concurring openly in the Measures, which the Republick is now taking against England, or if You will, against the Powers at War, would draw upon itself particularly the Hatred, Anger and Vengeance of a Nation, without which it is impossible to sustain its Trade; and this Province would by this means deprive a great Number of its Subjects of a Source of Gain, which places them in a Condition to furnish the Imposts which they have to pay. Is it not then the Part of Prudence in the States of Zealand, to avoid with Care every thing, that might embroil them, particularly with England? Is it not also the Wisdom of the States General to have a Regard to the critical Situation of one of the seven Provinces, which compose the Union?
3. The Weakness of her internal Forces. Zealand is open on all Sides to the English. To set them at Defiance, She ought to have in herself Forces capable of intimidating Great Britain. But where are such Forces to be found? In the Garrisons which the Republick maintains there? Two or three Thousand Men dispersed at Flushing, at Veere, and in some other Cities, are but a feeble Defence against a Descent of six or seven thousand English well determined. Will these Troops of the Republick be Supported by armed Citizens? Suppose it—their Defeat will be not less certain. These Citizens, who have never seen a loaded Musket discharged, are more proper to carry an empty Fusee to mount Guard at a State House, which is never to be attacked, than to march to the Defence of a Coast threatened with a Descent, or to present themselves upon the Parapet of a Fort battered with Machines that vomit forth Death. These Citizens, or rather these Soldiers of a Moment, would carry Disorder into the Ranks, and do more { 462 } Injury than Service, by giving Countenance to the Flight of those brave Warriours, who make it a Point of Honour to combat with a stedfast foot. Moreover, who are these Citizens which might be joined to the regular Troops? Are they the principal Inhabitants? those who have the most to lose? those to whom Birth and Education have given Sentiments of Honour and Glory? No—these have, by paying Sums of Money, Exemptions which excuse them from taking Arms, to defend the Country in time of Peace. Is it credible that in the most critical Moment, they will generously renounce these Exemptions? It will be then the Citizens of the second Order, the Artisans, or People who have little or nothing to lose, who will serve for the Reinforcement to the Veterans. Experience demonstrates what Dependence is to be placed at this day, upon such Militia. It would be in vain to oppose to this the Time of the Revolution, those Times of the Heroism of the Ancestors of the Dutch. The Cause is not the same: they attack at this day in a different fashion, and perhaps the Defence too would be made in a very different manner. It might be otherwise, if the Coasts of Zealand were fortified with good Forts, or if the Cities of Flushing and Veere were in a Condition to sustain a Seige of some months, and with their little Garrisons stop the Assailants, until the Arrival of Succours. But one must be very little informed not to know, that the English, although they should be incommoded in their Landing, would nevertheless effect it with little loss.
4. The State of her Finances. Zealand, of all the seven Provinces, is that which costs the most for the Maintenance of her Dykes—more exposed than all the others to be drowned by the Sea—her Coasts require continual Repairs. These Reparations cannot be made but at great Expence. Unprovided with Wood suitable for the Construction of Ramparts, capable of stopping the Waves which beat upon her continually, she is obliged to import from Foreigners these numberless and enormous Timbers, which Art substitutes in place of those Rocks, which Nature has granted to other Countries for holding in the Ocean and restraining its Fury. It is necessary therefore that a great part of the public Revenue of the Province should go to Foreigners. She must moreover, furnish her Quota to the general Treasury of the Republick: from whence it follows, that She cannot expose herself to the indispensable Necessity of increasing her Imposts, to furnish the new Expences which an extraordinary Armament would bring upon all the State. More than once in Time of Peace, the public Coffers of the State have been obliged to furnish to the Province of Zealand the Succours which She could not find at home without { 463 } reducing her Subjects to the most horrible distress. To what Condition then would these Subjects be reduced, if in the progress of the Armed Neutrality; such as is proposed, or in a War with England, they should be Still obliged to pay new Contributions? All the World agrees that Zealand is poor; it must be acknowledged then, that She will be plunged in the lowest Indigence, if the Expences of the Country are augmented, although there are many Individuals in Zealand, who are very rich and grand Capitalists, and Luxury among the great, is carried to an Excess as immoderate as it is in Holland.
Zealand has so long embarrassed the Republic in all their Deliberations concerning the Armed Neutrality, and lately concerning the serious Quarrel that England has commenced against her, that I thought it would at least gratify the Curiosity of Congress, to see the Causes, which have governed, laid open, as I find them explained in Conversation and in public Writings. Zealand's Reasons seem to be now overruled and the Prince's absolute Authority there of little Avail. To all Appearances the English must recede, or contend with a bitter Enemy in this Republick. Old Prejudices seem to wear off, and it is now said publickly that the Friendship between the English and Dutch has been like the brotherly Love between Cain and Abel: yet I can never depend upon any thing here until it is past, I have been so often disappointed in my Expectations.
I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 1, f. 185–192); endorsed: “Letter Decr. 30 1780 John Adams Read Nov 19. 1781.” The text of the original copy in JA's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 353–358; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:214–218) varies very little from that of the duplicate. LbC (Adams Papers).
1. Zeeland had agreed only conditionally to the Dutch accession to the armed neutrality. See JA's letter of 25 Nov., No. 22, to the president of Congress, and note 2 (above).
2. St. Cast and Cancale are located, respectively, ten miles west and five miles east of St. Malo on the coast of Brittany. JA's account, however, is a combination of three raids on the French coast in 1758 that were part of Pitt's effort to draw French troops away from Prussian operations in Germany. The first raid against St. Malo began with a landing at Cancale on 2 and 3 June. Although the British burned numerous ships and large amounts of naval stores, they could not take St. Malo and the troops re-embarked on 12 June. On 6 Aug. Britain mounted a second raid against the naval base at Cherbourg on the Normandy coast. While the naval facilities and fortifications were severely damaged the troops had also become drunk and uncontrollable, so that by 16 Aug., when they re-embarked amidst rumors of an impending French attack, they had thoroughly terrorized the populace. The third raid began on 3 Sept. and was again aimed at St. Malo, but again Britain was unable to take it. The expedition ended disastrously on 11 Sept. when, as re-embarkation began at St. Cast, the French attacked and killed or captured approximately 1,000 of the 7,000 troops originally landed (Lawrence Henry Gipson, The British Empire before the { 464 } American Revolution, 15 vols., Caldwell, Idaho, and N.Y., 1936–1970, 7:132–137; see also Stanley Ayling, The Elder Pitt, N.Y., 1976, p. 224–229, 235).

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0262

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1780-12-31

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I have the Honour of yours of the 28. We have no Letters or Papers from London later than the 19 or 20, which leaves Us in the dark. There has been a Fermentation, here, which indicates War, the Apprehension of which is born by the Dutch at this time with more Firmness than I expected. The Motive of England, is to pick a quarrell upon a Pretext of an offence different from the armed Neutrality. But the Dutch will demand the Rights of that Treaty. The Parties to which cannot be duped by So flimsy and Pretence. In such a Case England may have a War with seven, Eight or Nine Nations at once. This will be glorious indeed! For We all know they must be Conquerors. Omnipotence must be tryumphant.1
I believe they will exert themselves to gain the Emperor, and as far as I know or can see, I dont much care if they succeed. The Emperor will be a costly Ally. They must lend or give him Several Millions of Guineas in a Year. If they raise no more Money than last Year, this subsidy will be a defalcation. We know how much they have been able to do with a Loan of twelve Millions. Let them borrow twenty Millions. This is nothing to England, whose Wealth is infinite.
As to the Policy of England, either she is out in her Politicks, or all the rest of the World are out in theirs. Time must determine. No Body but herself can account for her Conduct.
I have every personal Motive, which can influence the human Heart to wish for Peace. But I can patiently give up my private Wishes for Peace and Interest in it, while War is necessary for the publick Good. I know the Unanimity and Firmness of our Countrymen, So well, that I am under no Apprehensions of Danger or Division from the Continuance of War, whatever may be said or thought by weak or wicked Englishmen or others.
The Dutch have an Understanding peculiar to themselves. They dont think like other Men upon any Thing. If they go to War with England, I doubt whether they will make a Treaty with Us. They must be odd and unaccountable. They will trade with Us, notwithstanding, as ravenously as possible. They think themselves profound Politicians but they are the most short sighted I ever saw. They are not even Sagacious to get Money. It is Patience and Industry alone that acquires it here.
{ 465 }
I dont See why the armed Neutrality and a Dutch War should oblige France to keep more ships in Europe. I should think the contrary, that she might Spare more ships to America and the West Indies, as the Dutch and the Armed Neutrality are not hostile to France.
Let me beg you to give me every Information concerning the Motions of France and the Emperor, towards Each other.
I should also be obliged to you, for as much of the News from England as possible because it will be interrupted often this Way.
Am glad my Friend2 has Spent some time with you. He is a very valuable Character. I shall send you another in a few days.3
The Book I wanted is intituled the Laws of the Admiralty or Admiralty Law—in two Volumes octavo—in the Preface is an History of former Negotiations concerning the Principle Free ships free Goods. The Book you mention is not it.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “His Excelleny J Adams Esqr Decr. 31. 1780.”
1. For a more expansive view of the causes and consequences of an Anglo-Dutch war, see JA's letter of 31 Dec. to the president of Congress, No. 35 (below).
2. Francis Dana.
3. Probably James Searle whom JA indicated, in his letter to Jenings of 3 Jan. 1781 (Adams Papers), would visit Jenings in a few days.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0263

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1780-12-31

To the President of Congress, No. 35


[salute] Sir

It will scarcely be believed in Congress, that at a Time when there are the strongest Appearances of War, there has not been a Newspaper nor a Letter recieved in this City from London since the nineteenth or twentieth of the Month.
There are Symptoms of a more general War. If Britain adheres to her Maxims, this Republick will demand the Aid of Russia, Sweeden, Denmark and Prussia, in pursuance of the Treaty of Armed Neutrality. Those Powers will not be duped by the Artifice of the British Court, and adjudge this War not a Casus Foederis, when all the World agrees that the Accession of the Republick to the Armed Neutrality is the real Cause of it, and the Treaty between Mr. Lee and Mr. De Neufville only a false Pretence. If the Armed Neutral Confederacy takes it up, as nobody doubts they will, all these Powers will be soon at War with England, if She does not recede. If the Neutral Powers { 466 } do not take it up, and England proceeds, She will drive this Republick into the Arms of France, Spain and America.1 In this possible Case, a Minister here from Congress would be useful. In Case the Armed Neutrality takes it up, a Minister authorised to represent the United States to all the Neutral Courts might be of use.
The Empress Queen is no more. The Emperor has procured his Brother Maximilian to be declared Co Adjutor of the Bishoprick of Munster and Cologne, which affects Holland and the Low Countries.2 He is supposed to have his Eye on Liege. This may alarm the Dutch, the King of Prussia and France. The War may become general, and the Fear of it may make Peace, that is it might, if the King of England was not the most determined Man in the World. But depressed and distracted and ruined as his Dominions are, he will set all Europe in a Blaze before he will make Peace. His Exertions however against Us3 cannot be very formidable. Patience, Firmness and Perseverance are our only Remedy: these are a sure and an infallible one;4 and with this Observation I beg Leave to take my Leave of Congress for the Year 1780, which has been to me the most anxious5 and mortifying Year of my whole Life. God grant that more Vigour, Wisdom and Decision may govern the Councils, Negotiations and Operations of Mankind in the Year 1781.
I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 361–363); docketed: “Letter Decr. 31 1780 John Adams Read 19 Novr. 1781.” MS (PHi: Sprague Coll.). LbC (Adams Papers). JA drafted this letter in his Letterbook and it was from the LbC that Thaxter copied the Duplicate. When JA copied out the MS, the intended recipient's copy, from the Letterbook, however, he made two additions to the text that are indicated in notes 3 and 5.
1. See JA's letter of 28 Dec., No. 33, to the president of Congress, note 2 (above).
2. See Edmund Jenings' letter of 28 Dec., note 1 (above).
3. In the MS, JA added “how violent soever his thrusts.”
4. JA originally ended the LbC at this point and then added the remaining text.
5. In the MS, JA added “humiliating” here.
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.