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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11


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).

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0025

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

John Quincy Adams to Charles Adams

[salute] My dear Brother

Your Letter of September 3d. advising your having drawn the preceding day, bills on me in favour of Daniel Ludlow & Co: for ƒ7,500. at thirty days sight, was received by our Brother Thomas at the Hague on the first of this month, and forwarded by him to me, at this place, where it reached me the next day.1 The bills though mentioned by you as accompanying the Letter, were not presented for acceptance with it. Should they be presented during my absence from the Hague, they will be accepted, and paid in my behalf by our brother.
You will find in a letter I have written you since that of May 17th: that besides the thousand Dollars of your own drawn for in these bills, and the other thousand for which you had previously drawn in favour of William Rogers, & which have been paid, I shall still remain accountable to you for one hundred dollars, being the amount of the interest paid last June upon your bonds then in my hands.2 For this sum you will perhaps not think it worth while to draw on me, and I wish you therefore to charge it to me in account. For you { 58 } will in future keep a regular account open with me, and let me know the state of it from time to time.
I shall be well satisfied if you conclude upon accepting the offer which you mention as having been made you for the employment of my property in your hands. It appears to me fully to comply with both the directions contained in my letter, and you doubtless ascertained the validity of the security.
You may if you please draw on me for five thousand florins more, subject to the same employment and directions, and to the same conditions for your agency. You will then have so much of my little all committed to your discretion, that I have no doubt you will be solicitous to take the best possible care of it.
For making the draft hereby authorized, I wish you to take the advantage of a favourable exchange, and if the occasion do not offer at the receipt of this letter, to wait untill it shall. The Security of clear and valuable real estate has in my mind the preference above all other as security; and I shall be content to have the whole amount in this, as in the former case, placed upon the terms, which your letter mentions. But I am particularly attached likewise to the condition of recalling the principal at pleasure, and should wish to have it secured in fact as well as in right. For the latter a stipulation is sufficient, but the former must always depend on the ability & integrity of the borrower. You cannot be responsable for these, but a prudent attention to the principle may frequently prevent delays & vexations.
The reason upon which I am desirous to retain a real command of the money, at any time is this. It often happens in America that transient opportunities occur to employ money with as much safety, and with an infinitely greater profit, than when placed at any interest, public or private; and my intention has been and is, that you should with my property take advantage of any such occasion in my behalf. For the first placing of the money, the legal interest was all I could expect or wish; but I meant to leave it in your power at any time to improve an opportunity for doing better. You will therefore consider my authority for the employment of the money as limited principally by your own discretion. Upon all the principal for which you draw on me by authority, you will take five per cent, and also five per cent upon whatever annual income you shall remit proceeding from it, for your agency. But I shall expect no other charges whatever the securities may be, or however often changed.
The only general instruction I can give you on the subject is, that { 59 } of course I do not mean any illegal risk should be incurred, nor any risk that can possibly involve me personally, or any other part of my property. For your commissions you may pay yourself as you go along, either by the advantage upon the exchange, which will perhaps alone suffise or by the interest when you shall receive it, or if you cannot conveniently wait for that, by drawing on me. You will as I formerly requested, remit to Dr: Welsh on my account, whatever interest may remain beyond the discharge of your own demands on me. If you should at any time have occasion for a power of attorney, you can either procure a substitution from Dr: Welsh, or write to me, and I will send you one.
Although I am persuaded you will give to the transaction of my affairs, all the attention, prudence & diligence that I could myself, it is not my intention to load you with a burden, that shall be altogether without benefit to yourself. If therefore at any time, your situation should become so advantageous, that my concerns would no longer on these terms be an object adequate to the trouble they may give you, I shall wait for notice from you to make such dispositions respecting them as then may be proper. In separating however the man of business from the Brother, I place the fullest confidence in the affection of the latter, as well as in the fidelity of the former.—3 With the most cordial return of that affection I remain / Your Brother
The bills were accepted by our Brother on the 2d: instt: and will be paid at the expiration of their term.4
LbC in TBA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Charles Adams Esqr:; APM Reel 128.
1. Daniel Ludlow (1750–1813), a New York merchant, had trained with the Amsterdam banking firm of Daniel Crommelin & Son, to whom he was related. In the 1770s he established his first partnership in New York, and in 1790 went into business under the name of Daniel Ludlow & Co. (John Austin Stevens Jr., Colonial New York: Sketches Biographical and Historical 1768–1784, N.Y., 1867, p. 147).
2. JQA to CA, 6 July 1795, above. For JQA’s letter to CA of 17 May, see vol. 10:438–441.
3. CA’s letter outlining his plans for JQA’s money has not been found, but see CA to JQA, 24 April 1796, below. JQA’s faith in CA’s abilities would ultimately prove misplaced. On 29 Sept. 1798 JQA wrote to CA complaining that he had had no report from CA in the previous fifteen months and was therefore turning over all of his financial affairs to TBA (FC-Pr, APM Reel 131). To AA, JQA commented concerning the situation, “My brother Charles—I know not what to think of him and his conduct.— To the most urgent sollicitations for an account from him, I can obtain no answer.— All I know is, that he has acted contrary to my most precise instructions, and omitted prescribed payments to Dr: Welsh, long before you wrote to him not to make such payments.— I have required him to account with my brother Thomas, and deliver over to him my securities.” In { 60 } December of that year, AA reported to JQA that CA had confessed to her that he had used JQA’s money to cover one of WSS’s debts and save him from prison, but that CA had been unable to recover the money and was too embarrassed to inform JQA of the situation (8 Oct., 2 Dec. 1798, both Adams Papers).
4. TBA’s letter reporting this news has not been found, but on 5 Nov. 1795 JQA commented in a letter to TBA, “As the Bankers at Amsterdam have agreed to pay the bill for 7.500 florins it will not be necessary to do any thing further on that subject” (LbC, APM Reel 128).
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.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/