A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0136

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Neufville, Jean de, & Fils (business)
Date: 1781-03-11

To Jean de Neufville & Fils

[salute] Sir

I received this Morning your Favour of Yesterday with the Inclosures.2 You Seem to think that the Loan has been opened too Soon: but I am not of that opinion. Better too Soon than too late. If it had been too late, you See, the time would have been pass'd and could never be recalled. But if it is only too Soon, there is nothing wanting but a little patience, to wait, and the true Time will come in its course.
I Should be obliged to you, to Send along the Obligations as Soon as convenient, that I may Sign them, and dispose of them. I can find persons in my travels who will take them, and give me the Money for them. I think to Stand my own Broker, Undertaker, and Banker. I Should be obliged to you if you would counter Sign, Some of the Obligations before you Send them to me, because there are persons ready to take Some of them. Dont be amused. The Mediation of Russia, cant interrupt or retard our Affair. If that Mediation produces nothing, and the War goes on, it will not effect our Loan.
If that Mediation produces, an Acknowledgment of American Independence, and an Acknowledgment of the Rights of neutral Vessels, as it is given out that it will, Surely this will not retard our Loan.3 In all cases be not deceived. I will not. My Business is to try the { 195 } Experiment, and to know whether We have Credit and Friends or not? If We find We have not, there is no harm done. Every one in that case will follow his own Taste, which you know there is no disputing.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, your most respectfull and obedient humble Servant

1. When he published this letter in the Boston Patriot, JA followed it with a commentary on the Neufville firm and the fate of the loan. “I found by experience, that there was in Holland a public and a secret doctrine among the merchants, capitalists and brokers, like those of the ancient Egyptian priests: and I am afraid there is something too much like it in all countries, and in all ages in society, which sometimes greatly embarrasses honest men and sincere enquirers after truth. A very respectable gentleman told me, 'If, sir, you were to write me a letter and ask my opinion whether Mr. De Neufville's house is a solid house, and Mr. De Neufville's credit a solid credit, I should answer you in the affirmative. Yes, a very solid house, and a very solid credit. Nevertheless I caution you, in confidence, to have a care.' Mr. De Neufville was generally, and I believe justly, reputed an honest, well meaning man: but the knowing ones thought he had not a clear head, and remembered various injudicious speculations in which he had been engaged, which had proved very disadvantageous to him. Such, however, was his public reputation, that I still flattered myself he would obtain something to help me discharge my American bills, and lessen the burden on the court of France, and in this I was encouraged by Mr. Luzac, Mr. Dumas, and several others of my friends, which occasioned my writing as I did in this letter. Again there was an ambitious burgomaster in Amsterdam, Mr. Rendorp, secretly in the interest of the stadtholder and the English, who found means upon this occasion and upon several others, to insinuate discouragement to Mr. De Neufville. And at this time he began to find by experience, that he should dispose of very few, if any, of my obligations, and was very desirous that I should impute his ill success, to the hopes of peace held out by a confused rumor which began to spread in Europe, of an intended mediation of the two imperial courts. After all, whatever was the cause, my hopes were blasted, as well as those of Mr. De Neufville. I obtained only the three thousand guilders which Mr. Luzac had promised me; and Mr. De Neufville obtained only two thousand among all his friends” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 399–400).
2. No letter of 10 March from Neufville & Fils has been found.
3. The Gazette de Leyde of 9 March reported that the two points JA listed were Catherine II's preconditions for the Russian mediation of the Anglo-Dutch war. Catherine, however, offered her mediation so that she could avoid assisting the Dutch, whose cause she abandoned when the British rejected the mediation proposal (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780, p. 302–309).

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0137

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1781-03-12

To Francis Dana

[salute] Dear Sir

I dont know whether I have acknowledged yours of the 12th. Feby.: that of the 25th. came to me yesterday. The Letter inclosed was from Mr. I. Smith of 18 Decr.1 He says they were busily employed in raising their Quota for the Army during the War or for three Years, and that the other Provinces were doing the same. He says Mrs. Dana was well a few days before: that Davis had arrived after having thrown { 196 } over his Letters being chased by an American—this is all. I have Letters from the President and from Lovell—the last unintelligible—in Cyphers—but inexplicable by his own Cypher—some dismal Ditty about my Letters of 26th. July—I know not what.2
But my dear Sir, I hasten to the most interesting part of your Letter, your project of a repassage of the Mountains. I shudder at the thoughts of it, when I consider what a bad Traveller You are, and that Robbers by the Way may take You to their Dens. I dont know how to part with You. I want your Advice constantly now every day, yet I think You are doing more good where You are, than You could here. I know that by Conversation with A.Z. ||Congress|| You might do good: but there are so many hazards, that I dare not advise You. I think with You that We shall have nothing to do in our principal Department: yet the Mediations of the Emperor and Empress seem to require Attention from Us, altho' I am persuaded it is only the Artifice of England to embroil all Europe. I will communicate to You a secret—let it be kept so. I have recieved a Commission dated 28th. Decr. for this Republic. I want your Advice; but I can ask it by Letter while You are at Paris. I suppose it was the Intention of Congress that I should employ Dumas, as my Secretary, here, but have no Orders or Hints about it—there is no Commission to him, which makes me think that A.Z. ||Congress|| intended I should be at liberty to employ him or not, as I shall judge proper. I suppose A.Z. ||Congress|| intended to leave the Way open to employ him, by their not sending a Commission to You. Upon the whole, I dont know how to advise You: We will consider of it a little longer if You please.
I can give no Assurances or lively hopes of Money or Friendship in this Country. They are furious for Peace. Multitudes are for Peace with England at any Rate—even at the Expence and Risque of joining them in the War against France, Spain, America and all the rest. They are in a Torpor a Stupor, such as I never saw any People in before: but they cannot obtain Peace with England on any other Terms than joining her in the War, and this they will not because they cannot do. I sometimes think that their Affections would lead them to do it, if they dared.
LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers).
1. The letter from Isaac Smith Sr. has not been found, but JA's reply is dated 11 March (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:91).
2. These letters were of 1 and 6 Jan. respectively, both above.
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.