Papers of John Adams, volume 6

From J. P. Mercklé, 27 April 1778 Mercklé, Johannes P. JA From J. P. Mercklé, 27 April 1778 Mercklé, Johannes P. Adams, John
From J. P. Mercklé
Sir Amsterdam 27th April 1778

I have the honor to note yours and Mr. Franklin Joint favour of the 13th Instant, but before I enter into particulars permit me to Congratulate you on your safe Arrival in Europe.

I think, Sir, 'tis a duty I owe to you as also to my own Interest to make you Acquainted with the Purport of several letters I have had the honor to Address to Messrs. Deane and Franklin on the subject of a Number of Musketts I bought up at this place (by Contract) for the Congress, as also to point out to you in a true light in what manner your business is transacted in this City, by the house of Hornica fils & Co.1 I am fully persuaded, Sir, that had it not been for this house; this last parcell of Musketts would have been forward long are this; but those Gentlemen have taken upon them to say that they were Unmerittable and would not Answer the end intended. The Reason they give for this is the most frivilous Immaginable vizt. that the Musketts have not been proved. Happily, I have it in my power to Convince you to the Contrary, which many very respectable Merchants here would Attest provided their Evidence was Necessary. I am fully pursuaded there never was or has been better Musketts or better Work Shipped since the Commencement of this War, or at a more reasonable price,—however, I very plainly preceive the intention of Mess. Hornica & Co. in giving their Negitive to my forwarding them to France on your Account. As they Immagine 'twould be taking a Commission and Business out of their hands. This, Sir, was never my Intention or desire; 60and my Sole reason in being so desirous and urgent to the Commissioners before your arrival at Paris, Arose from the Embarras I was So unexpectly thrown into for the payment of the Musketts. I am sorry to say I have been Arrested for the Amount, and was Obliged Against my Intention and Interest to take up money to discharge the Same, at a very unreasonable discount. In reallity 'tis very hard that this Loss should fall on my Shoulders, as my only reason in doing the same, was to Assist the Honble. Congress and the American States—whose interest I have ever had at heart. But for the benifit of America, and to Avoid future disputes, I have detirmined to take them at my own risque, for which reason I shall Ship them onboard the first Vessell that sails for Curacoa. I would with the greatest pleasure have put them onboard my own Vessell, but by the last treaty between England and these States, such Merchandiz is prohibited. This Should not have Prevented me from doing it, was not my expedition from hence very Considerable (Say £30,000 Sterling) and these Articles might be the Means of my Ships being brought up in England, and Occasion a detention, which detention in Loss of time &c., would be Attended with more Expences than the real Value of the Musketts. This Sir is a true state of the Affair and which has caused my long stay here. I Cannot Conclude this long letter without Observing that the House of Hornica has treatened me in a Most unpresedented manner, nearly to an exclosure of my present expedition to Sir Jos: Yorke2 at the Haye. I'll not trouble you any longer on this head, but leave it to yourself to Judge what kind of people you have in this City to transact Your business. I could make many other Observation here, but Immagined have already tired your patience. I shall therefore Conclude, wishing you all health and happiness, and believe Me to be Dr Sir Your very Obedt. servant

Joh. Ph. Mercklé

RC (Adams Papers)


The Amsterdam mercantile firm through which most American business, including the abortive American loan of 1778, was transacted (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution , p. 78; see also the Commissioners to Horneca, Fizeaux, & Co., 31 Aug., below; Horneca, Fizeaux, & Co. to the Commissioners, 7 Sept., PPAmP: Franklin Papers; and 17 Sept., LbC, Adams Papers). With the death of Horneca in 1779, a new firm was formed by Henri Fizeaux and Georges Grand: Fizeaux, Grand & Co. Grand (1716–1793), an Amsterdam banker and the older brother of Ferdinand Grand, was usually referred to as Sir George Grand (DLC: Holker Papers, vol. 3, f. 520; Herbert Lüthy, La banque protestant en France, Paris, 1961, 2:336–338; see also JA's description of Grand in Diary and Autobiog-61raphy , 4:64–65).


Sir Joseph Yorke (1724–1792) served as the British representative at The Hague from Dec. 1751 to Dec. 1780. The most difficult part of his service began with the outbreak of the Revolution as he sought to preserve a Dutch neutrality favorable to Britain ( DNB ).

James Moylan to the Commissioners, 27 April 1778 Moylan, James First Joint Commission at Paris JA James Moylan to the Commissioners, 27 April 1778 Moylan, James First Joint Commission at Paris Adams, John
James Moylan to the Commissioners
Honorable Gentlemen L'Orient 27th. April 1778

I have only time to inform you that I have just received an account from Brest of the arrival in that port of the prize Ship Lord Chatham of 250 Tons loaded with Beer and Gran. taken by the Ranger Frigate about five leagues from Cape Clear.1

I will advise you more particularly in my next regarding this matter, not having at present any other account from Brest, than the above.2 I am very respectfully Honorable Gentlemen Your most obt. sert.

James Moylan3

RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “A Messieurs Messieurs les Ministeres Plenipotentiaires des Eatats unis de L'Amerique”; docketed in an unknown hand: “Jas. Moylan Apr: 27th. 78.”


The southernmost point on the Irish coast.


Here was the first news to reach the Commissioners of the progress of John Paul Jones' foray into the Irish Sea that began on 10 April and culminated in a raid on the town of Whitehaven on the English coast. Jones and the Ranger returned to Brest on 8 May. For his account of the expedition, see his letters to the Commissioners of 9 and 27 May (both below).

On 1 May, Moylan wrote a second letter to the Commissioners (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) concerning the Lord Chatham and the problems that would attend its sale because of the power Jones had given to the Admiralty authorities over its disposition. Moylan's prediction of difficulties proved accurate, for it was not until mid-August that the vessel was sold (Morison, John Paul Jones , p. 166–167; Jones to Jonathan Williams, 23 Aug., Cal. Jones Manuscripts , p. 48).


Moylan, a merchant, was the American commercial agent at Lorient (“Letters of Mrs. Ann Biddle Wilkinson from Kentucky, 1788–1789,” ed. Thomas Robson Hay, PMHB , 56:53, note 5 [Jan. 1932]).

The Commissioners to Pieter van Bleiswyck, 28 April 1778 First Joint Commission at Paris JA Franklin, Benjamin Lee, Arthur Bleiswyck, Pieter van The Commissioners to Pieter van Bleiswyck, 28 April 1778 First Joint Commission at Paris Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Lee, Arthur Bleiswyck, Pieter van
The Commissioners to Pieter van Bleiswyck
Sir Paris, 28th. April 17781

We have the Honour of acquainting your Excellency, that the United States of North America, being now an Independant Power, and acknowledged as such by this Court, a Treaty of Amity and Commerce is compleated between France and the Said States, of which we shall speedily send your Excellency a Copy, to be communicated if you think proper to their High Mightinesses, for whom, the United States, have the greatest 62Respect, and the Strongest Desire that a Good Understanding may be cultivated, and a mutually beneficial Commerce established between the People of the two Nations, which, as will be seen, there is nothing in the above mentioned Treaty to prevent or impede. We have the Honour to be with great Respect, Your Excellency's most obedient humble Servants

(Signet) B. Franklin Arthur Lee John Adams Plenipotentiaries from the United States of North America.

MS (Koninklijk Huisarchief, The Hague); with notes at the top of the first page: “Remis à S. A. le Prince d'orange d'original per Mr. le Conseiller Pens: de Bleiswyk, ce 14. May 1778 Copie:”; on the reverse: “(Adresse) A son Excellence M. P. van Bleyswyk. Grand Pensionaire d'Holande et de Westfrise, &c. &c. à La Haye.”


This letter is identical to the draft enclosed in the Commissioners' letter to Dumas of 10 April (calendared above). It was sent to Dumas in a letter of 30 April, which reached him on 5 May. On 14 May the letter was presented to the Grand Pensionary, the delay being caused largely by the apprehensions of La Vauguyon, the “Grand Facteur” (see Dumas to the Commissioners, 5, 7 May, both below).

Neither the RC nor the covering letter has been found, this despite the existence of the RC, at least, in 1866. In a letter to CFA of 20 Feb. 1866 (Adams Papers), A. Fischel enclosed a transcript of the RC, which he stated had been copied during his examination of Dutch diplomatic correspondence for the period of the American Revolution.