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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0139-0002

Author: Bracht, Herman van
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-01-26

Herman van Bracht to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Dear Sir

It is now about a year ago that Mr. Dana was so kind as to satisfy my curiosity by sending me from Paris the French edition of the collected constitutions of the American states: Some friends, as well as myself, all well-wishers and with a high opinion of those people, thought it a good idea that that work be translated, so that all Netherlanders would be able to know on what a beautiful and pure basis the aforementioned government and liberty of America has been established; Mr. Wanner, a bookseller in this place, undertook the work; but when the piece was practically fully printed, we learned that the honorable Congress had had a complete collection of its constitutions and tracts published; for this reason the printer was obliged to alter the title of his Dutch edition, and to have that piece appear as the first volume, in the hope to get hold of the missing volume eventually, and then to offer that truly beautiful work to his countrymen completely.1
Now because the honorable Congress only had 200 copies printed, and the work is unobtainable except through those to whom the honorable { 220 } Congress has sent it, for that reason I take the liberty to turn to your honor directly about this, with the earnest request, that your honor might approve of entrusting a copy to me for several months, for the achievement of the aforementioned goal. To see this work completely translated into Dutch can only be useful both for America and also for these provinces, everyone who desires can see the beautiful and firm foundation on which America’s freedom steadfastly rests. I think also that it will encourage many more to support America more and more, because there are still very many in this country who as yet have no concept of the agreeable constitution of America, and nonetheless are not without influence on our government.
Do not hold it against me, your honor, that in this request I have turned to you; your well-known politeness will forgive me that I have made you lose some moments of your time, which you need for much more important activities.
Praying the Almighty, that He bless your honor’s attempts, and that soon it may be permitted to me and others, to the benefit of both countries, to address your honor as his Excellency the minister of the free states of America accredited by our sovereign, which is heartily desired by him who has the honor, with the offer of his sincere service, to call himself, honorable sir, your honor’s obedient servant,
[signed] Herman van Bracht
1. The two collections are Recueil des loix constitutives des colonies angloises, confédérées sous la dénomination d’Etats-Unis de l’Amérique-Septentrionale . . . , Paris, 1778, and The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of America; . . . , Phila., 1781. For their translation and publication by van Bracht as Verzameling van de Constitutien . . . van Amerika, . . . , 2 vols., Dordrecht, 1781–1782, see Jean Luzac’s letters to JA of 6 Sept. (vol. 11:475–477) and 10 Dec. 1781, above; and JA’s reply to Luzac of 13 Dec., above.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0140

Author: Greene, Nathanael
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-01-28

From Nathanael Greene

[salute] Dear Sir

Our correspondence has been long broken off. I had the honor of a line from you by the Count de Noel; but I was at a loss to tell whether I was indebted to you or to him for it.1 However in that letter you express a wish to renew our correspondence. I should have readily complied with your desire, but as the correspondence had droped from your disinclination and not mine, and as my situation at the time I was favored with your letter could not make my correspondence more valuable, or of more importance than it ever had been, I was [resolved not to open] one, untill I could do it to [more { 221 } advantage on] my side that I might [convince you of m]y esteem and regard. I [was well informed y]ou had let in some prejudices to my disadvantage, such as my being more influenced by men than measures and that in the field I had neither activity or enterprise. However mortifying these things were, my pride would not permit me to undeceive you; and such was my situation at that time that it would have been difficult, if not impracticable had I attempted it. That I have a very great respect to men, I readily confess, but politically, no further than they are necessary to measures. The good of my country has ever been my first and great object, and I defy malice itself, to fix upon a single instance wherein I have departed from this line in consideration of private attachments. I honor virtue where ever I find it, wh[ether in civil or] military life. I love [my Friends but I] have been taught to be[leive no Man is at] liberty to sacrifice the pub[lick good to private] friendship.
My military conduct must speak for itself. I have only to observe that I have not been at liberty to follow my own genius ’till lately, and here I have had more embarrassments than is proper to disclose to the world. However the american arms have gained some advantages. My public letters will have given you some idea of it; but the previous measures which led to important events and the reasons for these measures must lay in the dark, untill a more leisure hour. Let it suffice to say that this part of the United States have had a narrow escape. I was seven months in the field without taking my cloths off one night. We have now compleat [possession of t]he country and the in[habitants in]finitely more determined [to free themse]lves from british [Dominatio]n than ever they have been. The advantages we have gained here added to the capture of the british in virginia we flatter ourselves will work some important advantages for us in Europe, and we are impatiently waiting to hear of the effect should we be disappointed the people are determined to defend themselves from age to age rather than give up their independence.
If you still feel the same inclination that you expressed in your letter by Count de Noel I shall be happy to correspond with you and I shall take a pleasure in communicating every thing important from this department.2

[salute] I am [&c.]

[signed] N Gr[eene]
FC (MiU-C:Greene Papers). LbC (DLC:Greene Papers). A corner of the FC is missing, resulting in the loss of a considerable amount of text, which has been supplied from the LbC.
{ 222 }
1. JA’s letter of 18 March 1780 was carried by the Vicomte de Noailles (vol. 9:62–63).
2. This is the last letter known to have passed between Adams and Greene. The absence of a recipient’s copy in the Adams Papers may indicate that JA never received it. Greene sent the letter to James Lovell, instructing him to forward it to JA. Lovell wrote to Greene on 2 April 1782 and promised to send the letter to JA (Greene, Papers, 10:587), but no letter from Lovell enclosing Greene’s letter has been found.
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/