Papers of John Adams, volume 12

From C.W.F. Dumas

To the President of Congress

Translation , 3 December 1781 Dumas, Charles William Frederic JA Translation , 3 December 1781 Dumas, Charles William Frederic Adams, John
C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams: A Translation
Sir The Hague, morning of 3 December 1781

I intended to write to you this evening to inform you of the unanimous resolution that took place this morning at the States General for the loan guarantee by Their High Mightinesses for 5 million florins for France to lend to the United States. But instead, the two enclosed letters1 were just now brought in to me, by way of Ostend, where I suppose an American ship has recently arrived. I did not hesitate to pay the postage for them and even added a small gratuity for the letter carrier. He seemed to recall that there is another letter for you at the post office, which he promised to look for and bring to me, if it is still there. As for these letters, I will hasten to send them to you on today’s merchant boat. I hope you will be pleased with their content and will inform me of any good news contained in them. You will see, when opening them, that one of the cover letters was damaged. It seems to me, however, that it was neither opened nor read.2

The ambassador of France told me that you received new instructions from Congress to insist that this republic give you a response to last April’s demarche,3 and to concert the negotiations with the French minister here. He is waiting for the resolution I mentioned above before he leaves for Versailles, where, among other things, he will confer on this matter with the foreign minister. He will write to you subsequently and I will pass the letter on to you. As for me, I told you that as soon as the Dutch assembly adjourns, which will be in nineteen days or three weeks, I would like the honor of spending the holidays with you. In my absence, if anything should arrive from him, my wife will forward it to me.

Last time, I had the honor of writing you a short letter from Leyden on the subject of the glorious Burgoynization of Cornwallis. The assembly110 here is only concerned with the affair of the Duke; but because of the manner in which it is being treated, it will be a long time before any decision is made. If I wrote to you about all the day to day details on this subject, the letter would fill twenty pages. There are, however, some interesting points that I will relate to you in future conversations in Amsterdam.

My wife and daughter send you their regards and I have the honor to be with very great respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant Dumas

LbC (Adams Papers).


Not identified.


The last two sentences of the paragraph were interlined.


This is the first mention of JA’s intention to seek an unequivocal r esponse from the States General to his memorial of 19 April (vol. 11:272–282) that he had presented on 4 May. JA’s instructions of 16 Aug. (vol. 11:454–456), which authorized him to conclude either a Dutch-American alliance or a wider alliance that included France and possibly Spain, did not direct him to demand a response to his memorial of 19 April to the States General. Congress was unaware that he had presented it until early October when it received C. W. F. Dumas’ account of the presentation (from Robert R. Livingston, 20 Nov., and note 2, above). Such an initiative, however, was implicit in the third of three proposals for opening discussions with the States General that JA included in his letter of 25 Nov. to La Vauguyon, above. Those proposals probably formed the basis of his conversation with La Vauguyon on the 24th, and JA likely thought that his instructions, if only by inference, required such an initiative if he was to achieve the objective that the Congress desired. For the genesis of JA’s address to the president of the States General on 9 Jan. 1782, and his communication with the French ambassador about it, see Dumas’ letter of 15 Dec., and note 1; JA to La Vauguyon, 20 Dec.; and La Vauguyon’s reply of 30 Dec., and note 1, all below.