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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13


Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0227-0002

Author: Cerisier, Antoine Marie
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-01

Antoine Marie Cerisier to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

It has been a long time since I broached the important subject of the admission of the United States of America to the neutrality, but I feel that I do not have arguments strong enough to discuss this issue.1 And as you know, it is better to say nothing at all in such cases than not to say enough. Indeed, I am perplexed as to how to demonstrate that this démarche would not derogate from the principles enunciated by the neutral powers not to hazard anything that could pass as partiality toward any of the belligerent powers. It is true that one could consider the Americans, after the good fortune they have had of chasing the English from their territory, as a nation that Great Britain wants to conquer. But all the belligerent powers, being in a state of being conquered one by the other, can only preserve, each of them, until the date of conquest, the right to be recognized as independent. Therefore, the Americans, who the English see only as a nation they wish to conquer, also have the right to be viewed as independent, even by the neutral powers. But England can always oppose these reasons because it continues to regard the Americans as rebels they wish to punish. So the affair being indecisive as to right, it will be difficult to give satisfactory reasons to the neutral powers to act otherwise. One could respond that England had sufficiently decided by avowing its inability to continue an offensive war,2 without which it has no hope of conquest, and above all by Carleton's letter, of which you surely are aware.3 These are the best arguments in this regard, but it could still prove to be unnecessary to admit the United States into the neutrality; since all things being equal, { 507 } the greatest obstruction to peace, the recognition of America by England, would be lifted. I impatiently await your observations on this subject, for whatever light you can shed on it will enable me to deal with this matter in full knowledge of the facts. I will faithfully adhere to your intentions in any of your letters to be translated from the General Advertiser.4

[salute] I have the honor to be, with all the sentiments of respect and devotion that you have come to know from me, your very humble and very obedient servant

[signed] A M Cerisier
1. Cerisier here addresses the irreconcilable conflict between the desire of the United States to be recognized by and admitted to the League of Armed Neutrality and the incongruity of a league of neutrals admitting a belligerent as one of its members. On 5 Oct. 1780 Congress authorized its diplomats in Europe to accede to the Armed Neutrality (JCC, 18:905–906), and JA pursued that objective from the moment he received the instruction in March 1781 (vol. 11:182–185). He raised the issue again in his A Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe, [ca. 5–8] July, above, which Cerisier printed in Le politique hollandais of 26 August. For Catherine II's original declaration of armed neutrality and the reasons why Americans were drawn to it, see vol. 9:121–126.
2. For the House of Commons' 27 Feb. address to George III, which declared that “he would be highly criminal and an Enemy to his Country who should attempt to carry on an offense War in America against the Sense of the House,” and the king's response of 1 March, see vol. 12:304–305.
3. Probably the letter from the joint peace commissioners, Gen. Sir Guy Carleton and Adm. Robert Digby, of 2 Aug., for which see Arthur Lee's letter of 7 Aug., and note 6, above. A French translation appeared in the Gazette d'Amsterdam of 1 October.
4. Cerisier printed four of the “Letters from a Distinguished American” in Le politique hollandais between 14 Oct. 1782 and 20 Jan. 1783. No. 1 appeared on 14 Oct. and 18 Nov.; No. 2 on 16 Dec. and 6 Jan.; No. 4 on 6 and 13 Jan.; and No. 5 on 13 and 20 Jan. (vol. 9:541–550, 574–578, 571–574).

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0228

Author: Dana, Francis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-01

From Francis Dana

[salute] My dear Sir

I have no time to write you by this post.1 Your Son is in good health, but I fear he will not find an opportunity to leave this terrestial paradise before the first snows. Mr: Thaxter's letter of the 21.7 and 31st. of Augt: has come to hand, but no tidings yet of the picture.2 Pray by whom did you send it? Nothing of importance stirring here. How goes on your negotiation for Peace? Do our Enemies seek it with seriousness? Let me know something about it. If I thought there was not a prospect of a Peace this Winter, I wou'd certainly leave this Country with your Son, and return with all good speed to our own. Remember your Treaty.

[salute] I am my dear Sir, your much obliged & affectionate Friend, and humble Servant

[signed] FRA DANA
{ 508 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “à Son Excellence Mr: Adams Ministre Plenipotentiaire des Etats-Unis à son hotel à la Haïe”; endorsed: “Mr Dana 20 sept. 1782.” Filmed at 20 Sept., Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 358.
1. Although he does not mention it, enclosed with this letter was the original of Dana's letter of 18/29 Sept. to Robert R. Livingston (MHi: Francis Dana Letterbook, Official Letters, 1781–1782). This letter is not in the PCC, and Dana wrote in the margin of the LbC that “This letter is not to be found on the Files of the Office of Foreign Affairs, among my letters.” The letter primarily concerned trade and Dana's efforts to allay fears that an independent America would become a serious commercial rival of Russia. Dana indicated this was an important issue because the possibility of a Russian-American commercial rivalry “was maintained by both Friends and Foes tho' with very different views.” Dana was referring to the French and British and promised to explain himself later, for which see his letters of [4 Oct.] and [26 Oct.] to JA, both below.
2. Dana refers to two letters that he received on 29 September. The first was begun on 21 Aug. and completed on the 27th; the second, dated 31 Aug., was finished and sent on 6 Sept. (MHi: Dana Family Papers). The portion done on 27 Aug. is an account of JA's negotiation of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, and specifically of JA's opposition to the inclusion in the treaty of the Dutch placard of 1756 regulating the entry of prizes into Dutch ports. In the letter he began on 31 Aug., Thaxter indicated that JA wished to know if the miniature of George Washington had arrived yet. For the placard of 1756 and JA's objections to its inclusion, see The Negotiation of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 22 Aug. – 8 Oct., Nos. III and IV, 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/