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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11


Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0270

Author: Bérenger, Laurent
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-06-08

To Laurent Berénger

[salute] Sir

I have received the Letter which you did me, the Honour, to write me, on the fifth of this month, informing me, that you have received a Letter from the Compte de Vergennes, by which his Excellency directs you to tell me, that the Interests of the United States require my Presence at Paris, and that he should desire that I would go there, as soon as my Affairs in Holland, will permit me.
I should be extreamly obliged to you, Sir, if you would confide to me the Nature of the Business that requires me at Paris, that I might be able to form Some Judgment, whether it is of So much Importance and So pressing as to make it necessary for me to go forthwith.
His Excellency Dr. Franklin, and Coll. Laurens, have arranged Affairs in such a manner, that the Accounts of the Indian are to be produced to me and I am to draw Bills to discharge them, So that it would retard the Departure of that interesting Vessell, if I were to go now, and it is of <much> Some Importance to the Publick that I should compleat my dispatches to go to Congress by her; I am also unfortunately involved in a good deal of Business in accepting and discharging Bills of Exchange, a Course of Business which would be put into Some Confusion, if I were to go immediately, and the general Affairs of Congress in this Republick might suffer Some what by my absence. But notwithstanding all, if I were informed that it is any Thing respecting a general Pacification, or an Invitation of this Republick to acceed to the Alliance between France and the United States1 or any other Affair of Sufficient Weight to justify, my quitting this Post immediately I would do it. Otherwise, it would, as I humbly { 364 } conceive, be more for the public Interest that I should wait, untill some of the Business that lies upon me here is dispatched, and the rest put into a better order. Let me beg the favour of your sentiments, sir.2
Whenever I go, I must beg the Favour of you to furnish me with a Pasport.
I have the Honour to be, with very great Respect, sir, &c.
LbC (Adams Papers). Two copies of this letter, in French, are in the Koninklijk Huisarchief. Marked “En chiffre” in the left margin. The two documents may derive from Bérenger's translation of JA's letter that was enciphered and sent off to Paris, but which the Dutch intercepted, deciphered, and read.
1. The preceding seventeen words regarding a triple alliance were interlined.
2. For the Duc de La Vauguyon's response, see Dumas' letter of 25 June, and note 1, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0271

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Huntington, Samuel
Date: 1781-06-11

To the President of Congress

Amsterdam, 11 June 1781. RC in John Thaxter's hand PCC, No. 84, III, f. 197–205. printed: Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:487–491.
John Adams included English translations of a petition to the city of Antwerp by its merchants and inhabitants and of an essay by Antoine Marie Cerisier, both without date. The petition requested that the Scheldt River, closed to commerce by the 1648 Treaty of Münster, be reopened. Cerisier opposed reopening the Scheldt because Antwerp's rebirth as a port would destroy the trade of Ostend and Nieuport and create an important rival to Amsterdam in the Austrian Netherlands. Most importantly, Cerisier argued, the Dutch would lose, control of the forts at the mouth of the Scheldt if the river was opened for trade. For Britain's 1780 proposal to reopen the Scheldt, see vol. 9:282–283.
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 197–205). printed: (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 4:487–491.)

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0272

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-06-11

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

Mr. Grand has communicated to me a Letter from your Excellency to him, relating to certain Charges in your Account, on which you seem to desire to have my Opinion.1
As we are all new in these Matters, I consulted when I was making up my Accounts, one of the oldest Foreign Ministers here, as to the Custom in such Cases. He informed me, that it was not perfectly uniform with the Ministers of all Courts; but that in general where a Salary was given for Service and Expences, the Expences understood were merely those necessary to the Man, such as House keeping, Clothing and Coach: But that the Rent of the Hotel in which { 365 } he dwelt, the Payment of Couriers, the Postage of Letters, the Salaries of Clerks, the Stationary for his Bureau, with the Feasts and Illuminations made on public Occasions, were esteemed Expences of the Prince or State that appointed him, being for the Service or Honour of his Prince or Nation; and either entirely or in great Part, Expences that as a private Man he would have been under no Necessity of incurring: These therefore were to be charged in his Accounts. He remark'd that it was true the Minister's House keeping as well as his House, was usually and in some sort necessarily more expensive than those of a private Person; but this he said was considered in his Salary, to avoid Trouble in Accounts: But that where the Prince or State had not purchased or built a House for their Minister, which was sometimes the Case, they always paid his House Rent. I have stated my own Accounts according to these Informations, and I mention them, that If they seem to you reasonable, we may be uniform in our Charges by your charging in the same Manner; or if Objections to any of them occur to you, you would communicate them to me for the same Reason.
Thus you see my Opinion that the Articles you mention of Courtage, Commission, and Ports de Lettres, are Expences that ought to be borne, not by you, but by the United States. Yet it seems to me more proper that you should pay them, and charge them with the other Articles abovementioned, than that they should be paid by me; who not knowing the Circumstances, cannot judge (as you can) of the Truth or Justice of such an Account when presented; and who besides have no Orders to pay more on your Account than your Net Salary.
With Regard to that Salary, tho' your Receipts to Fitzeau & Grand shown to me, might be quite sufficient to prove they had paid you the Sums therein mentioned. Yet as these are Vouchers for them, and which they have a right to retain, I imagine that it will be clearest if you draw upon me agreable to the Order of Congress; and if this is quarterly it will be most convenient to me.
With great Regard, I have the honour to be Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient & most humble Servant
[signed] B Franklin
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Exy John Adams Esqr Amsterdam To the Care of Mess. Fizeaux & Grand.”; endorsed: “Dr Franklins Letter concerning, Charges and Expences.”; by John Thaxter: “June 11th. 1781 A. 4th. Oct. 1781.”
1. JA to Ferdinand Grand, 19 May, 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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/