Papers of John Adams, volume 11

From John Jay

From Francis Dana

Plan for the Negotiation of a Dutch Loan, 24 February 1781 JA


Plan for the Negotiation of a Dutch Loan, 24 February 1781 Adams, John
Plan for the Negotiation of a Dutch Loan
ca. 24 February 1781 1

Plan of a Negotiation to the Amoúnt of One Million Gilders. at the Charge of the United States of North America.

His Excellency John Adams Esqr. Minister Plenipotentiary of the Said States of North America, &ca. &ca. &ca.

Specially aúthorized to make this Loan, shall distribúe One Thoúsand obligations, each of Thoúsand Gilders, at the intrest of five per Cent per Annúm, to be paid on Coupons of f25 at every Six Month.2

The reimbursement shall take place at the end of the Tenth Year and at every of the Four Years following, each Year a fifth part or two hundred Obligations, by the way of Lottery, to be made thereof in time.

For púnctúal payment of the intrest, and restitution of the principall the Said States will be engaged jointly, and each of them in Solidúm for the Whole.

The Obligations and Coupons will be sign'd by his Excellency John Adams Esqr. and Coúntresigned by Messrs. John de Neufville & Son, and prothocolled by the Notary Anthony Myliús, at whome the aúthenticq translation of the power, will be to be seen, and the ratification will be deposited.


The subscription will be at the hoúse of the mention'd John de Neufville & Son at the first of March 1781. which will be the date of the Obligations.3

MS (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Plan of a Loan.” Filmed at [1781–1782] (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 355). This document is in the same hand as others received from Jean de Neufville & Fils.


This date derives from a notice in the Gazette de Leyde of 27 Feb. announcing a loan issued by Jean de Neufville & Fils. Dated 24 Feb. at Amsterdam, it followed almost exactly the points made in this document. The only significant addition was the final sentence: “La ponctualité, avec laquelle l'Amérique-Unie a payé les intérêts de l'Emprunt qu'elle a fait ici il y a trois ans, & la bonne-foi scrupuleuse avec laquelle elle remplit tous ses engagemens, malgré les difficultés qu'elle a à combattre, ne peuvent qu'encourager le Public à prendre part à un Emprunt aussi avantageux.” Translation: The punctuality with which the United States has paid the interest on the loan that it made here three years ago and the scrupulous good faith with which it has fulfilled all its engagements, despite the difficulties that it has had to overcome, can only encourage the public to take part in a loan so advantageous.


Note that the florin and guilder are interchangeable.


The announcement was intended to place the loan in the most favorable light, but two of its assertions deserve some comment. Its unqualified reference to JA as minister plenipotentiary, which is repeated in the loan contract of 1 March , below, implies that JA was minister plenipotentiary to the Netherlands. In fact, the allusion was to JA as minister plenipotentiary to negotiate Anglo-American treaties of peace and commerce. That this was the intended interpretation seems clear from JA's qualification of his status in his letters of 8 March, communicating Congress' resolution of 5 Oct. concerning the armed neutrality, to the members of the neutral confederation. To Prince Dmitri A. Gallitzin, below, Baron Gustaf Johan Ehrensvärd (LbC, Adams Papers), and Armand François Louis de Mestral de Saint Saphorin (LbC, Adams Papers), the Russian, Swedish, and Danish envoys to the Netherlands, JA wrote that he was “one of their Congress' ministers plenipotentiary.” In his memorial of 8 March to the States General, below, he declared that he was “a minister plenipotentiary from the United States of America.” JA did not receive his commission as minister to the Netherlands until 25 Feb. (to Hendrik Bicker, 1 March, below), and did not officially refer to himself in that capacity until his memorials of 19 April to the States General and William V, both below, in which he called for Dutch recognition of the U.S.

It is also significant that the quote from the Gazette de Leyde (see note 1) refers to the “ponctualité” with which the U.S. paid the interest on, rather than to the overall success of, the loan made by the American Commissioners in 1778 with Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. That loan was intended to raise 205,000 guilders, but brought in only 51 thousand. At an annual interest rate of 5 percent, this meant the yearly expenditure was 2,550 guilders, to which a commission was added. The United States could pay with such “punctualité” because there was so little to pay.

The London newspapers also took note of the proposed loan. The London Chronicle of 8–10 March contained an English translation of the notice. Dated 27 Feb. at Amsterdam, it omitted both JA's title—referring to him as “Esq.”—and the final sentence appealing for investors. In its issue of 6–8 March, the Chronicle included an item dated 27 Feb. at The Hague, reporting that “the new negotiation for a loan of a million of florins, in favour of the Americans, which is to be opened on the 1st of March, at the house of the widow Neufville and son, causes no little sensation at the Hague, though it is not generally thought the said loan will be so speedily filled as Congress and its partizans may wish.” The reference to “the widow Neufville” may indicate a translation problem, the French text reading “Mrs. Messieurs Jean de Neufville & Fils.” Finally, in its issue of 17–20 March, the London Chronicle announced that “by the last letters from Amsterdam, it appears, Mr. John Adams, has got his first loan of one million of florins filled.” For Benjamin Franklin's reaction to this report, see his letter of 7 April, below.