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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0280

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-04-20

From Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

I hope your Excellency received the Copy of our Instructions which I sent by the Courier from Versailles some Weeks since. I wrote to you on the 13th. to go by Capt. Smedly and sent a Pacquet of Correspondence with Mr. Hartley. Smedly did not leave Paris so soon as I expected; but you should have it by this time.1 With this I send a fresh Correspondence which I have been drawn into, viz: 1. A Letter I sent to Lord Shelburne before he was Minister. 2. His Ansr. since he was Minister by Mr Oswald. 3. A Letter from Mr Lawrens. 4. My Letter to M. de Vergennes. 5 My Ansr to Lord Shelburne. 6. My Answer to Mr Lawrens, 7th Copy of Digges’s Report.2 These Papers will inform you pretty well of what pass’d between me and Mr Oswald, except that in a Conversation at parting I mention’d to him, that I observed they spoke much in England of obtaining a Reconciliation with the Colonies; that this was more than a mere Peace; that the latter might possiby be obtained without the former; that the cruel Injuries wantonly done us by burning our Towns &ca. had made deep Impressions of Resentment which would long remain; that much of the Advantage to the Commerce of England from a Peace Would depend on a Reconciliation; that the Peace without a Reconciliation would probably not be durable; that after a Quarrel between Friends, nothing tended so much to conciliate, as Offers made by the Aggressor, of Reparation for Injuries done by him in his Passion. And I hinted that if England should make us a Voluntary Offer of Canada expressly for that purpose it migh have a good Effect. Mr Oswald liked much the Idea, said they were too much straiten’d for Money to make us pecuniary Reparation, but he should endeavour to persuade their doing it in this Way.3 He is furnish’d with a Passport to go and return by Calais, and I expect him back in ten or twelve Days.4 I wish you and Mr Lawrens could be here when he arrives; for I shall much want your Advice, and cannot act without your Concurrence. If the present Crisis of your Affairs prevents your coming, I hope at least Mr Lawrens will be here,5 and { 433 } we must communicate with you by Expresses, for your Letters to me per Post are generally open’d. I shall write pr. next Post requesting Mr Jay to be here also as soon as possible.6
I received your Letter advising of your Draft on me for a Quarter’s Salary, which will be duly honour’d.7

[salute] With great Esteem, I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Sert.

[signed] B Franklin
If Mr Laurens has left Holland, please to seal his Letter with a Wafer and let it follow him.8
I shall be glad to have again all the Papers of this and the former Packet; but you can keep Copies of any you may think worth the Trouble.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dr Franklin. 20. April 1782 ansd May 2. recd May 1.”
1. JA acknowledged receiving the instructions and the packet containing Franklin’s correspondence with David Hartley in his reply of 2 May (LbC, Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:545–546).
2. Nos. 1–6—Franklin to Lord Shelburne, 22 March; Shelburne’s reply of 6 April; Henry Laurens to Franklin, 7 April; Franklin to the Comte de Vergennes, 15 April; Franklin to Shelburne, 18 April; and Franklin to Laurens, 20 April—are entered in Franklin’s journal in which he chronicled his participation in preliminary discussions of peace initiated by the new British ministry (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:535–543). The final item on Franklin’s list presumably is Thomas Digges’ memorandum to Lord Shelburne, for which see Digges to JA, 2 April, note 1, above.
3. Franklin’s account of this conversation with Richard Oswald agrees substantially with the account in his journal (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:540–542).
4. Richard Oswald returned on 4 May (same, 5:547).
5. In his letter to Shelburne of 18 April, Franklin specifically requested that the charges against Laurens be dropped so that he could participate in peace negotiations (same, 5:539). Shelburne notified Laurens on 26 April that he was free (Laurens, Papers, 15:494).
6. Franklin wrote to Jay on 22 April (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:320–321).
7. Not found.
8. JA gave Franklin’s letter to Laurens of 20 April to Henry Laurens Jr. to deliver to his father (to Franklin, 2 May, same, 5:545–546).

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0281

Author: Hodshon, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-04-20

From John Hodshon

[salute] His Excellency

It is with an Infinite Satisfaction I presúme To Take The Liberty to adres yoúr Excellency These Few Lines as a duty Imposed on me, to congratulate yoúr Excellency on The most Happy resolution Taken by their H: M: to acknowledge the Independence of the united States of North America in So open and Respectable manner and to Receive yoúr Excellency as Minister Plenepotentiary from congres. Sincerely wish it may Tend to the Intrest and Prosperity of { 434 } both nations and be The means of a Trúe and permanent Friendship being Establishd, and Welfare of both countrys, and your Excellencys name who laid The Foundation To this great and Important matter may be ever preserved in The annales to The Latest posterity.
Permit me Sir to assure yoú Shal ever Think my self happy to be usefull to contribute any Thing For The advantage of the common wealth and recomend my Self in yoúr Excellencys respectable benevolence and believe me to be unalterable and most devotedly His Excellency Yoúr Excellencys most obedient & much obliged Servant
[signed] John Hodshon2
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr John Hodshon ansd 22d April 1782.” Filed with this letter are three documents in the same hand. A comparison of the paper on which they were written and their fold lines with Hodshon’s letter of 20 April indicates, however, that they were not enclosures. One appears to be an extract from a letter Hodshon received from an American correspondent commenting on the U.S. economy and the progress of the war. The other two resemble the first and second parts of the draft loan contract with Hodshon & Zoon, 25 April, below, and are likely early drafts of that contract. There is no indication as to when or how JA received the three documents.
1. JA also received a letter of this date from John Hodshon Jr. who, like his father, congratulated JA on the recognition of U.S. independence and his admission as minister plenipotentiary (Adams Papers).
2. Dutch recognition of the United States dramatically improved prospects for an American loan and JA quickly entered into negotiations with the Amsterdam mercantile firm of John Hodshon & Zoon to raise the loan (see Hodshon’s proposal for a loan, 25 April, below). Hodshon, whom JA first met in 1780, was deeply involved in trade with America and was known to AA’s cousin Isaac Smith (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:444; Adams Family Correspondence, 3:285, 349; 4:84–85). JA’s choice was greeted with a storm of protest by merchants of the Patriot party, the people most supportive of JA’s efforts in the Netherlands, who accused Hodshon of being pro-British and wanting to undermine the loan. See for example, John Thaxter to JA, 22 April, below. While Hodshon was an Orangist, he had always been apolitical in his commercial dealings (Pieter J. van Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment, 1780–1805, With an Epilogue to 1840, transl. James C. Riley, 2 vols., N.Y., 1977, p. 82–83).
The Adams Papers contain a substantial documentary record of JA’s successful effort to raise a Dutch loan in 1782. But it is necessarily incomplete because JA’s negotiations with John Hodshon, and then with the consortium of bankers that replaced him, occurred during face-to-face meetings of which no record was kept. Missing is any contemporary account by JA of the reasons that made Hodshon & Zoon his first choice or how he resolved the resulting controversy. Almost thirty years passed before he offered an explanation and then it was in a letter dated 24 Sept. 1810 that appeared in the Boston Patriot of 20 and 24 April 1811.
According to these reminiscences, JA was prompted to approach Hodshon when
“an American captain of a ship by the name of Grinnel happened to dine with me, and conversing on our want of a loan, he asked me if I had consulted Mr John Hodshon? The answer was in the negative. I had not supposed that Mr Hodshon, so easy as he was, and such a millionary, would be willing to accept it, or even to advise me in it. Grinnel replied that Mr. Hodshon had been so long and so extensively engaged in American commerce, had so many correspondents in America and so general an acquaintance with Americans in Europe, that he thought it very probable he would assist me, at least with his advice. He added, that if I would give him leave he would converse with Mr. { 435 } Hodshon upon the subject. He did so, and brought so favorable an answer that I agreed to meet Mr. Hodshon. In several interviews, he entered very freely and candidly into conversation; said that as our Independence was now acknowledged, a loan was an object of importance and might be of utility to both countries. He doubted not that the most substantial houses in the republic might be induced to favor it, even the house of Hope. If Mr Hope would undertake it or countenance it, success would be certain. No opposition would be made to it from any quarter. I thought Mr Hodshon knew less than I did concerning Mr Hope’s sentiments of American affairs. However, I have reason to think he did sound Mr Hope and received from him only such observations as I had heard reported from him several times before, viz: That America was too young to expect to borrow money at any ordinary interest, or at any interest less than the Batavian republic had been obliged in her infancy to give: i.e. ten or twelve per cent. However this might be, Mr Hodshon said no more about Mr Hope’s assistance or countenance. He undertook the loan himself, and after adjusting all the terms, we mutually executed a contract in form, and the plan was made public” (Boston Patriot, 24 April 1811).
For more of JA’s reminiscences about negotiating the loan, see tofrom Franklin, 21 April, note 2; and to Hodshon, 26 April, note 1, both below.
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.