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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Date: 1795-11-02

John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

[salute] My Dear Brother.

The letter from Charles enclosed in yours of yesterday, accompanies as he says the bills, which may therefore be expected { 52 } immediately for acceptance.1 As they are at thirty days sight, it will perhaps be necessary to pay the money before the close of the year.
The sum of f. 7,500. will just about absorb that for which I have a right to draw upon the bankers at Amsterdam, untill the last of December: I must therefore request you to economize with what money you have, so as not to draw for any more, on my account, untill the commencement of the new year.
A few days before Charles’s bills shall be payable, let the bankers know, that you shall have occasion for ƒ7,500 on my account, and request them, if they think that sum will exceed what they are authorized to pay me, by the orders of the Secretary of State, to inform you how much of it they will pay. Then for the amount of the difference between that, and the sum necessary to discharge the bills, sell one or more of my Dutch Obligations, as there may be occasion.
I would not call for a stuiver beyond my rigorous demand, because an accident may terminate my claim upon the United States for my salary, expences &c. and because the possibility of such an accident, deserves additional consideration, at a moment when I am in expectation of crossing the water.
I might indeed consider the last ƒ. 1000 I received, as a charge upon my present expedition, as most of it will really be, and that would entirely save the necessity of selling any of the Obligations; but in cases where public money is concerned, I hold it better, to stop certainly a mile short of the mark, than incur the chance of stepping an inch beyond it.
If you can however arrange the business so as that Charles’s bills shall be punctually paid without overdrawing on the bankers, and without selling any Obligations, it will best accomodate me.
Should an answer from the State Department to my letter of July 3d. be received and allow the charge which I therein requested permission to make, my right to draw on the bankers would in that case exceed considerably the ƒ. 7,500.— As it is, the deficiency will be so small, that I think it cannot necessitate the sale of more than one bond.2
Your transactions respecting Cowing’s affair are approved.3 You will find in my letter to your father sent you yesterday, my opinion that approbation is the highest reward due, or at least to be expressed, for the proper conduct of a young public servant, like you and me. My father’s last eulogium was really oppressive; and the more so because in him, I know it was sincere.4 Of his judgment, I { 53 } have the highest reverence, insomuch that when it regards myself I am afraid of forgetting that it is the judgment of a Parent.
I sent you a small packet from hence on the 28th: ulto: and another on the 29th: As the last contained Captain Barney’s letter and my advice upon Cowing’s business, your letter of yesterday implies the receipt of it. The former you do not mention.—5 Nor have you said any thing on the subject of enquiries whether I could obtain a flag to go from Scheveling, as Count Löwenhielm did some time since, to send.6 As I likewise wrote you yesterday, I hope to hear from you again to-morrow. I am not certain that I shall want the flag, but the difficulties to go from hence rather multiply than diminish. I am nearly determined not to go with Graham, but hope to have one other chance, before I decide upon returning to the Hague.7 At any rate, I wish you to answer this Letter. The Post-Master here will doubtless at my request send back to you, any Letter for me which may arrive subsequent to my departure.
You will find your personal convenience in my getting away; for I shall then not trouble you with so many Letters to copy into the books.— Here are now two more. That for my joint friends you will forward or deliver as you may have an opportunity.8
Ay! Charles has got the start of me, to be sure. I was not so restive under correction, and submitted to sacrifice my chance. God bless him, his wife, and all their posterity to come! If you should follow his example, and get into a snug corner of matrimonial enjoyment, while I continue to be buffeted about the world in solitary celibacy, you may be assured of having the same cordial good wishes of your / affectionate brother
[signed] John Q. Adams.
[signed] Novr: 3. 10. A.M.
Wind as fair as it can blow; but no prospect of sailing this day.9
RC (private owner, 1957); internal address: “T. B. Adams Esqr”; endorsed: “J Q Adams Esqr: / 2–3 Novr: 1795. / 4 Recd: / Do answd.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 128.
1. Neither letter has been found, but see JQA’s two letters to CA of 4 Nov., below, for JQA’s response.
2. JQA wrote to Edmund Randolph on 3 July to submit his accounts to the government. He particularly highlighted a credit owed him of over $1,300 due to an expense he had covered on behalf of the United States, for which see JA to AA, 31 Jan. 1796, and note 5, below (LbC, APM Reel 127).
A letter from TBA to the Amsterdam bankers on the subject of the 7,500 florins has not been found, nor has a report from TBA to JQA on the subject, but JQA’s 5 Nov. 1795 letter to TBA indicates that the bankers agreed to pay the amount (LbC, APM Reel 128).
JQA received a salary of $4,500 per year plus $4,500 for his outfit (vol. 10:192). Each year on or around 1 July, JQA submitted his accounts to the U.S. government. Copies of { 54 } those of 1 July 1795, 1 July 1796, and 1 July 1797 are in the Adams Papers at those dates.
3. Joshua Barney (1759–1818), a former U.S. naval officer now working with the French, had first written to JQA on 30 July 1795 regarding the case of Charles Cowing, an American sea captain arrested by the Dutch in Flushing, Zeeland, ostensibly for bringing British spies into the Netherlands. Cowing disputed the charges, and Barney was attempting to gain assistance for the imprisoned captain. JQA initially responded to Barney on 9 Aug. suggesting that the Dutch were justified in making the arrest owing to Cowing’s lack of appropriate papers. But a follow-up letter from Barney on 25 Oct. giving further details—including his assertion that he himself had examined Cowing’s papers and that the whole situation appeared to be an attempt to extort money from Cowing by the mayor of the town—convinced JQA to take action. In his 28 Oct. letter to TBA, he instructed TBA to present the contents of Barney’s letters to the Dutch government. “I have no doubt,” JQA wrote, “but that this will be sufficient to obtain either the liberation of the man, or the regular justice of the Country in his behalf.” Accordingly, TBA wrote to the States General on 2 Nov. informing them that Cowing was an American citizen unjustly detained and requesting that they insure either that Cowing’s case be properly examined or that he be released. TBA’s first request failed to yield results, so he wrote a second time on 6 Feb. 1796 again seeking assistance. On 20 Feb. TBA received word of Cowing’s release (DAB; Adams Papers; LbC’s, APM Reels 128, 129; Nationaal Archief, The Hague:Staten General, no. 7131, Part I, p. 62, 63; Part V, p. 462, 463; M/TBA/2, APM Reel 282).
4. See JQA to JA, 31 Oct. 1795, and JA to JQA, 25 Aug., both above.
5. In his letter to TBA of 28–29 Oct., JQA again complained about the delays he was encountering in crossing the English Channel. He also sent letters to TBA regarding Charles Cowing’s situation, for which see note 3, above, and requested TBA handle various other tasks in JQA’s absence (LbC, APM Reel 128).
6. Carl Axel Löwenhielm (1772–1861), the illegitimate son of King Charles XIII, later became a leading Swedish diplomat, serving as Swedish ambassador to St. Petersburg from 1812 to 1819 and as a representative to the Congress of Vienna in 1815 (T. K. Derry, A History of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, Minneapolis, 1979, p. 214; Repertorium, 3:411, 415).
7. JQA had originally planned to sail to England with a Capt. Graham but after numerous delays at Hellevoetsluis, switched his passage to the Aurora, Capt. Benjamin Fernald (D/JQA/24, 21, 27–29 Oct., 2, 9 Nov. 1795, APM Reel 27).
8. JQA’s joint letter to Nathan Frazier Jr. and John Gardner of 2 Nov. lamented that JQA had missed seeing his two friends at The Hague and hoped that they would find a way to meet up while all were still in Europe (private owner, 2002; LbC, APM Reel 128). The second letter was presumably JQA’s to TBA, which TBA copied into the Letterbook immediately preceding that to Frazier and Gardner.
9. Additionally, JQA wrote to TBA from Hellevoetsluis on 1 and 5 Nov. and two letters on 8 Nov., all while waiting for an opportunity to cross the English Channel. The letters intersperse a mix of business requests with expressions of frustration at the various delays and the lack of news available to him there (MHi:Adams Papers, All Generations; LbC, APM Reel 128; MBBs).

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Charles
Date: 1795-11-04

John Quincy Adams to Charles Adams

[salute] My dear Brother.

I received at this place by your letter of September 3d: the pleasing intelligence of your marriage, and offer you my warmest congratulations, upon an event so important to your happiness, and thereby to that of your brother.1
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In requesting you to make the assurance of my fraternal affection acceptable to my new Sister, I depend upon your intercession for her permission to add that sentiment to those of respect & esteem, which I have long entertained for her. It is a sentiment the more precious to my heart, because it has hitherto been confined to one Sister, deserving of its utmost tenderness, & because it will henceforth, be shared with the second, without being impaired towards the first.
I have been detained in this little seaport, nearly a fortnight, by adverse winds & boisterous weather, being in expectation of passing some time in London. You will oblige me by taking every convenient opportunity, to write me at that place, and if I shall have returned from thence, before you letters can arrive, as is most likely, they can always in the course of a few days be forwarded to me, at the Hague.
It is not in my power to give you the most recent news, for I am here almost as remote from current intelligence, as I could be in a prison, so that for the last fortnight I have been altogether uninformed, you will however doubtless receive regularly the Gazettes from the Hague, but the situation of this Country is such, that no information can generally be sent from hence to arrive in America, until it has got to be an old story from else where.
The new Constitution of France, the decrees for reelecting two thirds of the Convention as members of the Legislature, the animosity of which that measure was the occasion or the pretext, between the Convention & the City of Paris; The bloody issue of that struggle, and the measures of the Assembly subsequent to their victory, will meet your attention as interesting objects of speculation. These dissentions are afflicting to humanity, but they will continue to be renewed, because the prevalent opinions in that Country, are yet such as naturally tend to produce them. It is often true in the affairs of individuals, but almost universally in those of Nations, that their misfortunes are attributable only to their errors.
The passage of the Rhine by the french armies of Sambre & Meuse and of Rhine & Moselle, followed by their rapid march into the heart of Germany, was known before my departure from the Hague. An obscure rumour has reached this place, that they have been defeated, and obliged at least to repass the Rhine, but the details of the story are wholly unknown to me.2
The state of this Country is in general tolerably quiet & { 56 } peaceable, excepting every now & then, a little irregular usurpation of Sovereignty by Clubs & popular assemblages; hitherto they have not been followed by any tragical event. The dissolution of the Confederation, and the consolidation of all the provinces into a single Republic, by the Convocation of a National Assembly, has been for many months an object of great solicitude, more especially because a difference of opinion has arisen in the different provinces, upon the propriety of the proposed alteration. The Province of Holland almost unanimously, and the popular Societies and Clubs in all the others, have pursued very tenaciously the point upon which they think the permanency of their Revolution will turn; but the majority of the people in most of the smaller Provinces, are strenuously averse to the change, and adhere tenaciously to their federal System. The parties have at length proceeded so far, that the provincial assembly of Holland, has taken a formal resolution, that in case the other Provinces do not unanimously agree, to call the National Assembly by the 25th: of this month, this Province will take the step alone, or together with those that will agree to join it, without waiting any longer for the assent of the remaining members.3
I have been amused, but not surprized, to observe with what zeal the most ardent patriots here, connect in argument, provincial sovereignty & aristocracy, after having seen so many patriots no less ardent in America, labouring with the same industry, to make the essence of Republicanism consist in State Sovereignty. I knew before this that the arguments of a party, are generally urged more for their operation than for their weight.
There has been a report here of a French squadron, having captured a considerable part of the English mediterranean fleet, together with three or four ships of war, that were convoying them. This circumstance if true, will be an encouragement to the French, who have hitherto been uniformly unfortunate at Sea during the present war, and the check may possibly abate a little of the English pretensions, which are very extravagant.4
Farewell! And accept once more the renewal of my fervent good wishes for your personal & domestic happiness & prosperity.
PS. Thomas sent you some time since from Amsterdam a couple of Shanslopers. You will do me the kindness to accept them from me.5
LbC in TBA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Charles Adams Esqr:”; APM Reel 128.
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1. Not found.
2. Beginning in September Gen. Jean Baptiste Jourdan led the French Sambre-Meuse Army across the Rhine, successfully capturing Düsseldorf, while Gen. Charles Pichegru and the Rhine-Moselle Army captured Mannheim. The Austrians counterattacked against Pichegru’s forces, which failed to support Jourdan’s troops. Jourdan and his army were forced to retreat across the Rhine by mid-October, and Pichegru’s forces subsequently surrendered Mannheim on 21 Nov. and retreated further west. An armistice to end the fighting for the winter was agreed to on 15 Dec. and left the Austrians comfortably in control of much of the Rhineland (Ross, Quest for Victory, p. 91–93).
3. In the wake of the Batavian Revolution, the Dutch debated plans for their new government and especially the relative authority of individual provinces versus a popularly elected national legislative body. A number of proposals had been put forth giving varying amounts of power to a new National Assembly and either reducing the authority of or abandoning entirely the States General. A plan suggested on 14 Oct. called for the abolition of the States General upon the formation of a National Assembly, but it limited the new Assembly to legislative—not executive—authority. Executive powers would continue to reside with provincial assemblies. The provinces were given until 25 Nov. to decide to support the proposal, although Holland declared that any provinces failing to act by the deadline would simply be excluded from the new “Republic of the Netherlands.” Three provinces—Friesland, Groningen, and Zeeland—refused to capitulate to Holland’s pressure but were eventually persuaded to join in the new Assembly, which opened on 1 March 1796 (Schama, Patriots and Liberators, p. 237–240, 243, 245).
4. The French Navy had only a limited impact on the British, but a squadron coming out of Toulon did manage to capture some British ships in the Mediterranean in the fall of 1795 (Jonathan R. Dull, The Age of the Ship of the Line: The British & French Navies, 1650–1815, Lincoln, Nebr., 2009, p. 143).
5. A schansloper is a type of heavy coat. TBA noted in his Diary purchasing two for CA on 2 Oct. (M/TBA/2, APM Reel 282).
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.