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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0302

Author: Hodshon, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-04-26

To John Hodshon

Mr. Hodshon is desired to make the necessary Enquiries, and as soon as he will give me under his hand his Engagement to furnish { 462 } Congress with four or five Millions of Guilders, by the last day of July next, so that I may write forthwith to Congress that they may draw for that Sum, I will agree to his Opening the Loan upon the Terms, We have agreed on.1
[signed] J. Adams
LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers).
1. For the terms to which JA and John Hodshon & Zoon agreed, see Hodshon & Zoon’s proposal, 25 April, above. Hodshon acted immediately by announcing the terms of the loan and soliciting investors (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, 1:84–85).
Years later, JA recalled that the announcement of the loan initially was well received, but soon criticism of Hodshon led JA to try to form a consortium of firms, including Hodshon’s, to participate in the loan. In a letter to the Boston Patriot, JA wrote that the day after the loan was announced, Hodshon “received the customary congratulations from the principal merchants and capitalists, and I thought I was very happy in so solid a connection. Mr. Hodshon undertook to remove my family and furniture from Amsterdam to the Hague, and every thing was done with an order, punctuality and exactness that could not be exceeded; and his charges for every thing he did and furnished were extremely moderate” (Boston Patriot, 24 April 1811). JA’s household goods were moved to The Hague in early May. He took up residence in the Hôtel des Etats Unis on 12 May (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:321, 322, 323–324).
The letter to the Boston Patriot continues,
“Mr. Hodson had visited me from the beginning and had uniformly treated me with as much repect and civility as any of the other gentlemen who had traded to America. Neither myself nor my country were under any obligations to any other house that I know of, more than to his. He was very rich, worth many millions, entirely free from debt, his credit equal to any house unless that of Hope, was to be excepted, and even that, though possessed of immense resources, was much in debt and lately in the great turn of affairs much embarrassed. Mr. Hodshon had several brothers and many other relations in various parts of the republic who were very rich capitalists; so that he could have commanded a very respectable loan in spite of all the opposition that could have been made.
“Not many days passed however, before a clamour arose upon change in the city and pretty extensively in various parts of the republic. Mr. Van Berckel told me Mr. Hodshon was envied. There seemed to be a conspiracy of English and French emissaries, of Stadtholderians and patriots, of the friends and connections of Mr. De Neufville, Fizeau & Grand, Van Staphorts, De la Lande & Fynje and many others, to raise a cry against Mr. Hodshon. He was ‘anglomane;’ he ‘was a Stadtholderian;’ he ‘was an enemy to America,’ &c. &c.—not one word of which was sufficiently well founded to make any reasonable objections against his employment in this service. However, I saw that there was a settled plan to make it a party affair, if not an engine of faction. I said nothing, but determined to let the bubble burst of itself. When I was attacked, as I sometimes was, pretty severely, in company, for the choice I had made of an house for my loan, I justified every step of my conduct in it, by such facts and reasons as not one man ever attempted to contradict or confute.
“Nevertheless, in a few days Mr. Hodshon came to me and said, ‘You cannot be ignorant sir, that an uneasiness has been excited in the city and country against yourself and me, on account of the American loan.’ I answered, that I had heard and felt enough of it, but that having experienced much more formidable popular clamours in my own country, and seen that they soon subsided, I had not laid this much to heart. It had not shaken my confidence in him or in his contract. Mr. Hodshon said ‘the opposition that was made, could not prevent him from obtaining a considerable sum of money; but it might prevent so large a loan as he and I wished, and as congress expected, and that it might expose me to reflections and misrepresentations in America, as well as in Holland, and even in England as well as France;’ and { 463 } added, ‘if you have the least inclination to be disengaged, or if you have the smallest probablility of doing better for your consituents, I will readily release you from your contract.’ I thanked him for his generosity, and added, that I was very willing to risque all the consequences of perseverance, and had no doubt we should succeed as well at least as I could hope to do, in any other connection I could form. But if he pleased, I would make some further enquiries. He wished I would—he was advanced in years, was infirm in his health, easy in his circumstances, perfectly clear and unembarrassed in his business and wished for repose rather than to engage in squabbles: but he would not forsake me. If I could not do better, he would proceed. We agreed to consider and enquire” (Boston Patriot, 24 April 1811).
It was probably at this point that JA wrote his letter to Fizeaux, Grand & Co. and others, 30 April, below.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0303

Author: Vernon, William Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-04-26

From William Vernon Sr.

[salute] Sir

You have long since known, that the American Navy is reduced to Two Ships only, viz The Alliance John Barry Commander, now in France and the Deane Samll Nicholson Comr. that sailed on a Cruise to the Southward, about seven weeks past, no intelligence from her since her departure.1
This low state of our Navy, has caused the dissolution of the Admiralty and Navy boards, by resolve of Congress on the 7th of Sepr. last,2 devolving the whole business of the Marine department upon the Honorable Robt. Morris Esqr., until an Agent shall be appointed for that purpose, by Congress. All those boards, was immediatly closed, except ours, which was continued, until the above Ships (then in this Harbour) were compleated for Sea, then to terminate and finally end, with the delivery of all the remaining Stores, Papers, Books &c &c, in the possession of the Navy Board Eastn Dept. to the Order of the Superintendant of Finances.
This requisition has been made by John Brown Esqr. late Clerk to the Admiralty Board appointed by Mr M— to receive the same, leaving our numerous Debts unpaid, subjecting us to litigious Law suits and perplexities, disgraceful to the Office, and highly degradeing to the Servants of the Public, conceiveing ourselves subjected to reproach and every evil, that injured Creditors are but too apt to through out, we have refused to comply with, until Congress shall point out the mode of exonerating our Office with honor, and reputation, thereby freeing us from the perplexities that we must unavoidably be involved in. It is uncertain wheather my Son, returns to America this Year, or remains in Europe,3 I am perswaded Sir, in every instance he will receive such favors from you, as his conduct { 464 } and behavior may merit, more I would not wish to ask. I am with perfect esteem, The honor to be Sr. Your most Obedt. Humble servt.
[signed] Wm Vernon
1. The Boston Independent Chronicle of 23 May reported the return of the Deane from a nine week cruise, during which it had taken five prizes. Shortly thereafter, because of Silas Deane’s apparent treachery, the Deane’s name was changed to the Hague, presumably in honor of Dutch recognition of American independence (Morris, Papers, 5:337–338).
2. JCC, 21:943.
3. Despite the efforts of his father, who ultimately disowned him, William Vernon Jr. did not return to America until 1797 (Richard A. Harrison and others, eds., Princetonians: A Biographical Dictionary, 5 vols., Princeton, 1976–1991, 3:120–126).
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/