Papers of John Adams, volume 11

To Philippe André Joseph de Létombe

To Francis Dana

To Jean de Neufville & Fils, 11 March 1781 JA Neufville, Jean de, & Fils (business)


To Jean de Neufville & Fils, 11 March 1781 Adams, John Neufville, Jean de, & Fils (business)
To Jean de Neufville & Fils
Sir Leyden March 11. 17811

I received this Morning your Favour of Yesterday with the Inclosures.2 You Seem to think that the Loan has been opened too Soon: but I am not of that opinion. Better too Soon than too late. If it had been too late, you See, the time would have been pass'd and could never be recalled. But if it is only too Soon, there is nothing wanting but a little patience, to wait, and the true Time will come in its course.

I Should be obliged to you, to Send along the Obligations as Soon as convenient, that I may Sign them, and dispose of them. I can find persons in my travels who will take them, and give me the Money for them. I think to Stand my own Broker, Undertaker, and Banker. I Should be obliged to you if you would counter Sign, Some of the Obligations before you Send them to me, because there are persons ready to take Some of them. Dont be amused. The Mediation of Russia, cant interrupt or retard our Affair. If that Mediation produces nothing, and the War goes on, it will not effect our Loan.

If that Mediation produces, an Acknowledgment of American Independence, and an Acknowledgment of the Rights of neutral Vessels, as it is given out that it will, Surely this will not retard our Loan.3 In all cases be not deceived. I will not. My Business is to try the 195Experiment, and to know whether We have Credit and Friends or not? If We find We have not, there is no harm done. Every one in that case will follow his own Taste, which you know there is no disputing.

I have the Honour to be, your most respectfull and obedient humble Servant

LbC (Adams Papers).


When he published this letter in the Boston Patriot, JA followed it with a commentary on the Neufville firm and the fate of the loan. “I found by experience, that there was in Holland a public and a secret doctrine among the merchants, capitalists and brokers, like those of the ancient Egyptian priests: and I am afraid there is something too much like it in all countries, and in all ages in society, which sometimes greatly embarrasses honest men and sincere enquirers after truth. A very respectable gentleman told me, 'If, sir, you were to write me a letter and ask my opinion whether Mr. De Neufville's house is a solid house, and Mr. De Neufville's credit a solid credit, I should answer you in the affirmative. Yes, a very solid house, and a very solid credit. Nevertheless I caution you, in confidence, to have a care.' Mr. De Neufville was generally, and I believe justly, reputed an honest, well meaning man: but the knowing ones thought he had not a clear head, and remembered various injudicious speculations in which he had been engaged, which had proved very disadvantageous to him. Such, however, was his public reputation, that I still flattered myself he would obtain something to help me discharge my American bills, and lessen the burden on the court of France, and in this I was encouraged by Mr. Luzac, Mr. Dumas, and several others of my friends, which occasioned my writing as I did in this letter. Again there was an ambitious burgomaster in Amsterdam, Mr. Rendorp, secretly in the interest of the stadtholder and the English, who found means upon this occasion and upon several others, to insinuate discouragement to Mr. De Neufville. And at this time he began to find by experience, that he should dispose of very few, if any, of my obligations, and was very desirous that I should impute his ill success, to the hopes of peace held out by a confused rumor which began to spread in Europe, of an intended mediation of the two imperial courts. After all, whatever was the cause, my hopes were blasted, as well as those of Mr. De Neufville. I obtained only the three thousand guilders which Mr. Luzac had promised me; and Mr. De Neufville obtained only two thousand among all his friends” (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot , p. 399–400).


No letter of 10 March from Neufville & Fils has been found.


The Gazette de Leyde of 9 March reported that the two points JA listed were Catherine II's preconditions for the Russian mediation of the Anglo-Dutch war. Catherine, however, offered her mediation so that she could avoid assisting the Dutch, whose cause she abandoned when the British rejected the mediation proposal (De Madariaga, Armed Neutrality of 1780 , p. 302–309).