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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13


Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0057-0002

Author: Heefke, Jan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-06-07

Jan Heefke to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Distinguished Sir!

For a long time I have had an ardent and avid desire to be in North America, but never did my wish come true: for three long months it seemed as if I would be able to get there; I asked Mr. Willem Hooft (who knows me) whether this honorable gentleman might help me. This particular gentleman sent me to Mr. Jean de Neufville, who did not only allow me this favor graciously but also promised to help me once I got there. Nonetheless I had to wait two more months before a ship of this honorable gentleman left thereto. But alas! When the two months had gone by he notified me that he had neither ship nor opportunity to help me. So I pondered my problem and tried to think of a solution. In the meantime I found out that there is a gentleman here who has a considerable amount of vacant and uncultivated land in North America for sale, both in Canada and north of Albany on the river which leads to New York, but so far he has not sold anything yet. Part of these lands could well be used by glassblowers. Sadly, I lack the means, for if I had them I would be able in a few years to turn thousands of acres of fallow land into fertile land. I have run a strong business in my country around Mecklenburg, but I had to discontinue it because of a lack of wood; I could run the most beautiful business if only I knew of a way to help my lack of means. Great minister, do not be angry with a man who begs you for a favor. I know that your excellency has a charitable disposition and that you like to make people happy; and I would be greatly helped by your mediation and distinction, and I would be one of the happiest people in the world; I would show that I would know how to get the most from such a piece of land. Thus your excellency would not have to be ashamed of your charity, but you would have nothing but pleasure from it. You can help me in the following way: by mediating, and through your distinction I would be able to pay off in the next few years the gentleman who has his land for sale. It will be good business for him, too. And he could give me a loan, which I would pay off the next two years with ease. The piece of land by the big river that is cut through by a small river would be very suitable for such an enterprise. It amounts to []1 5,000 acres and would cost f12,000 plus the money that would be { 104 } required for such an enterprise, which would amount to f7,000. Because I would need more than thirty glassblowers of whom the tools and transport would be the biggest burden. However, once they would get to work, they would be able to produce 1,000 to 1,200 cases of glass in four years. With the exception of the many thousands of bottles that would be counted as wages, I could in this way (if I charged f10 for every case) save f10,000, which I would use to pay off the land in four years. I would be such a happy man if I could do that! All because of your excellency! I do not need more than upwards of 2,000 florins in hand, and with this I can buy several pieces of decent land, which would be sincere proof of my honest and decent livelihood and existence. The rest could, if you agree with this, be sent or be delivered by an emissary. The same person could henceforth inspect my enterprise. An honest man is not afraid of such inspections. Honorable great minister! Of a happy country! It would be easy for your honorable excellency to help me because you are a man with so much distinction (and you are a man who has been here twelve years and has wrestled with all imaginable adversity). I will not lack in vigilance. With good reason I can flatter myself that I know the economy and the particularities of the land and the cultivation of the land; in addition I understand the various arts.
Once again, great minister, I beg you to make my wish come true. I will accept your decision with resignation. I am your humble servant. Please, your excellency, you can send me your decision in a few words. I beg you to forgive me for these liberties I took.
Your excellency,
In case your excellency honors me with a letter, my address is in care of widow Altinaa at the Achter Burchwal at the Emder or Frisian post office.

[salute] Your humble servant,

[signed] Jan Heefke2
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dutch”; in another hand: “June 7th 1782.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. A symbol at this point could not be read but may possibly be a “2,” making his planned purchase 25,000 acres.
2. JA probably did not reply to this letter, but that did not deter Heefke's plan to establish a glasshouse. In May 1785, Heefke and his partner Ferdinand Walfahrt signed a contract with Leendert de Neufville, Jean de Neufville's son, to establish a glasshouse at Dowesborough (now Guilderland), N.Y., about eight miles from Albany, and by 1787, after workmen had been brought from Germany, production had begun. Unfortunately by 1789 the enterprise was on the brink of failure, and by 1791 it had closed (Helen and George S. McKearin, Two Hundred Years of American Blown Glass, N.Y., 1949, p. 30–31).

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0058

Author: Neufville, Jean de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-06-07

From Jean de Neufville

[salute] Sir

We are honored by your Excelly. Letter of yesterday with the letters we wanted inclosed, the reason we have mentioned in our last our accounts to you, is—that the Honle. Thos. Barclay Esqr. has { 105 } lately mentioned again, the reffering them to you and Dr. Franklin, or At least that he should write both your Excellys. on the subject, and it could not but appear more reasonable to us, that the persons empowered by Congress to settle the business in Europe of that kind, should do it now, in this instance;2 rathan than write to America for directions upon it which we are told can only produce the referring the matter back to themselves, who ought to be the best judges of the matter. With respect to the money advanced to the American Prisoners, and particularly to Capn. Talbot, we are sensible the Dutch Consul went beyond your, or our orders, we have only transmitted him your request in behalf of these men; and he is sensible of it himself, as he acknowledged it by his Letter, and for that reason we sent both letter and account for your perusal; but as your Exy. is not bound by what the consul has done, you will please only tell us, what part, of these charges (if any) you chuse we should pass to your acct—or more properly what part of it we are to discharge from it—having agreeable to yours of 1st. Inst. (which did not object to it) inform'd Mr. F Jarink [Pjasink] that tho' he had exceeded orders, you had not disaproved of what he had done, in favor of Captn Talbot but observed to him at same time, not to go beyond orders in future at any rate we should not have suffered him to be out of pocket on such an occasion, knowing how difficult it is to refuse to relieve distressed Prisonners, particularly when they know the persons that Interest themselves in their behalf, but if we are to pay the whole of this, it will be but a very trifling addition indeed, to the charge we have been at on the same account, before; and we should have taken that of these men also to ourselves, had you not given us a list of them to procure their Liberty, if possible; in that case we Could not hesitate in the propriety of Congress's discharging the disburses of the Consul, by handing it you, rather than in this case, to take that charge to ourselves, but as we said before it can make but a trifling addition to the expence we have been at, and we shall abide by whatever Your Exy. may determine, and have the honor to remain Sir Your most obdt & hum Servt.
[signed] John de Neufville
RC (Adams Papers). Filmed (at [ca. 10 June], Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 357.)
1. This date is supplied with reference to JA's letter of 6 June, above, to which this letter is clearly a reply.
2. With regard to the disposition of the goods left by Alexander Gillon, Barclay wrote to Benjamin Franklin on 17 June (Franklin, Papers, 37:493–494) and to JA on the 28th, 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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/