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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0124-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-03-07

C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have the honor to communicate to you, through the enclosed letter to Congress, what I read to you from my short note.1
After much reflection on our conversation, I persist in the idea of not using the phrase of the armed neutrality being a consequence of the American revolution, even in your letter to those here.2 They are well aware of it and their anglomanes will think it a crime. It is better to use this idea in the next letter, but in the first attempt, I believe it is best to keep it simple. Besides, sir, you always do what you judge to be appropriate and I will deliver your letters, when you send them to me, in the order that we find agreeable.
I will send the remaining notebooks to your son very shortly.
I have the honor to be with great respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
1. This is Dumas' letter of 5 March to the president of Congress (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:273–274). Dumas noted that JA visited him on 4 March and informed him of the December dispatches that he received from Congress. Dumas was eager to assist JA and hoped that his efforts would be successful. When Dumas' letter reached Congress, James Lovell copied the paragraph and sent it to AA in a letter of 26 June (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:162–164).
2. Dumas' rendering of this passage in English makes it likely that it appeared in a draft announcement of Congress' resolution of 5 { 182 } Oct. regarding U.S. accession to the armed neutrality. No such announcement has been found, but see JA's memorial to the States General of 8 March, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0125

Author: Neufville, Jean de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-03-07

From Jean de Neufville

[salute] Honourd Sir

May we begg leave to address yoúr Excellency again, as yesterday we chose to do it by the scoot for Safety;1 and now we may be something more explicit, as oúr Letter may go intirely Safe by Mr. Taxton, who we heard just now from yoúr Sr. John to be in town.2 If we had known this we Certainly would have shown them the required notice.
Then what we had the Honoúr to mention, was the oúvertúre of a plan which had been made to ús very particularly, and which very near agreed with that I had the honoúr to propose in ruff already; and I wishd to súbmitt more plain to yoúr Excellencys júdgement; this cannot be done So well in writing; and after confronting the intelligences yoúr Excellency will have gatherd already, and those we may be able to give; she will be able to proceed to such measúres as she will think the most Convenient.
Secrecy is a great point, where for as yoúr Excellency proposed a travelling way of life, and only intended a little excúrsion, I was less anxioús in desiring her to honoúr ús with another visit, to which however the time is not so exceedingly pressing as I suppose bútt Yoúr Excellency should dispose there of to the utmost convenience; which we shall be glad to know, as it will direct ús in keeping or sending the bonds, for a great quantity of which we are sorry to say we do not foresee Yett Such a great haste as we had wished, bútt we are still in hopes it may come in Coúrse. With all devoted regard I have the honoúr to be Honourd Sir Yoúr Excellencys most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] John de Neufville
1. Neither the letter of 6 March nor any reply by JA either to that letter or this one of 7 March has been found. It is impossible, therefore, to know the nature of the “oúvertúre” noted in the second paragraph as having been mentioned in the letter of 6 March.
2. Presumably John Thaxter and JQA.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0126

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Date: 1781-03-08

To C. W. F. Dumas

[salute] Dear Sir

I Send you the Letters.1 If any Thing is necessary to be added to the Memorial before the Signature, you will be So good as to add it. { 183 } I should be obliged to you for a Line by the Bearer, in Return, and the News, if any. My first Demarch you See, is on the Princes Birth day, which is no doubt a good omen both to his Highness and your servant.2 You will please to put a Wafer under the Seals.
[signed] John Adams
LbC (Adams Papers). Upon receiving his commission as minister to the Netherlands on 25 Feb., JA immediately began a new Letterbook (Lb/JA/16; Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 104), which he designated “Holland Vol. 2.” The first three documents copied were his commission of 29 Dec., the letter of 1 Jan. from the president of Congress, above, and Congress' resolution of 5 Oct. concerning the armed neutrality. These were followed, in the order given, by the seven documents mentioned in note 1. They, in turn, were followed by this letter of transmittal to C. W. F. Dumas.
1. The letters enclosed constituted JA's first démarche as minister plenipotentiary to the Netherlands, although, as the documents show, he did not refer to himself in that capacity. His purpose was to request Russia, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands to permit the U.S. to accede to the armed neutrality as proposed in Congress' resolution of 5 Oct. 1780. The seven documents comprising the démarche were all dated 8 March and included JA's first memorial to the States General, below, and letters to Prince Gallitzin, the Russian minister, below; Baron Ehrensvärd, the Swedish envoy; M. de Mestral de Saint Saphorin, the Danish envoy; the Duc de La Vauguyon, below; Engelbert François van Berckel, pensionary of Amsterdam; and Carel W. Visscher, soon to replace van Berckel as pensionary of Amsterdam. For the four letters not printed, all LbC's, Adams Papers, see the notes to the Gallitzin and La Vauguyon letters. The initiative failed for very practical reasons, namely that the U.S. was a belligerent rather than a neutral and for the signatories to permit the accession of the U.S. to the armed neutrality they must recognize U.S. independence and thereby become involved in a war with England. Nevertheless, it represented an uniquely American view of the armed neutrality as serving the long term interest of the U.S. to remain neutral in future European wars. This is clear from the letters to the diplomats as well as from the memorial to the States General, in all of which JA refers to the armed neutrality as reflecting a “reformation in the maritime law of nations.” For Catherine II's declaration of an armed neutrality on 10 March 1780 and a discussion of its provisions and the U.S. view of them, see vol. 9:121–126.
2. William V, Prince of Orange, was born 9 March 1748. Dumas intended to deliver the letters and the memorial on William's birthday, but in a letter of 9 March (Adams Papers) he explained that he had been frustrated by the absence of a “principal personnage,” probably the president of the States General, and postponed the execution of JA's orders until the 10th. That Dumas enjoyed the role assigned him is clear from JA's comments immediately preceding this letter in the Boston Patriot. JA wrote that “These papers I sent to Mr. Dumas, at the Hague, to be all delivered with his own hand, an office with which he was extremely delighted, because as he said it enabled him 'á commencer á jouer un Rêe public'” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 395). Presumably Dumas was happy because he could finally act openly in his capacity as an American agent.
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.