Papers of John Adams, volume 12
I was duly honor’d with your favor of the 20th,1 and its Contents gave me sincere pleasure, and its Injunctions shall be observed.
Mr. J. Van Staphorst has called upon me this Afternoon, and acquainted me with his great distress respecting the House engaged for the Loan:2 that the Man is an Anglomane or at least very lately converted: that he has within these six Weeks indulged himself in very indecent Expressions against America: that it makes a Noise in the American Society and upon the Exchange, that a Man of his Character should be preferred to old experienced Friends—that it will do much Injury on both Sides, and be a disservice to the Cause: that if it is possible, he hopes that House may be prevented from opening it: that many well-wishers and Friends are astonished and could hardly have believed it: that he has recieved a Letter from the Baron3 upon the Subject, who would not write his Opinion to You unasked: that it gives great Uneasiness to several of the—&ca &ca &ca. I observed to him, I could make no Answer, having nothing to do in the Business, and prayed him to communicate his sentiments to You. He declined and requested me to mention them to You, which I have done in substance. He would esteem it an Honor most certainly to be employed, but would never open his Lips if a House was engaged which was known to have been uniformly friendly to America. He hinted as if Messr. Hope might be behind the Curtain—it was a Conjecture only. He thinks the Loan will not succeed with honor and Reputation, as it now stands, and that You will find his Sentiments as I have given them above to be well grounded upon Enquiry.
It is not my Business to make any Comment, nor express any Sentiment but Sorrow if all this is true, as I must believe.
Jacob and Nicolaas van Staphorst repeated their complaints about John Hodshon and JA’s initial decision to place the loan with his firm in a letter to John Jay dated 24 Nov. 1785 (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 4, f. 684–699). In their letter, which indicates they met personally with JA, the van Staphorsts wrote that they informed JA that conditions favored opening a loan, to which JA replied that he was negotiating with John Hodshon on the matter. The van Staphorsts continued, “We took the Liberty to tell him, this was another impolitic Measure; as this Gentleman altho’ a Rich and able Merchant and a Person well qualified for the Direction of a Loan, was not looked upon in a good Light by this Nation and especially by the Patriotic Part to whom this Loan was to owe its Support and Success. This had no Weight with Mr. Adams, and while he pretended to believe Our Counsel proceeded from Self-Interest, We had the Mortification to hear from him, that in his Opinion John Hodshon was as good a Republican and as great a Lover of Freedom as ourselves.” JA obstinately “thought fit in spite of the Counsel of his best Friends, and among others of the Pensionary Van Berckel, to have the Loan opened publicly by Mr. Hodshon, With no other Effect than that he raised from the Well Affected to the American Cause great Complaints against his Proceedings, And finally after the Loss of a great deal of precious time, he was forced to withdraw the Order from Mr. Hodshon.” For more comments by the van Staphorsts, see JA to Fizeaux, Grand & Co., 30 April, note 1, below. See also vol. 11:103, note 4, for the van Staphorsts’ criticism of JA’s attempt in 1781 to raise a loan through Jean de Neufville & Fils.
Since Thaxter refers only to “the Baron,” he probably means Joan Derk van der Capellen tot den Pol. The editors have no evidence, however, that van der Capellen opposed Hodshon’s role in raising the loan. Indeed, on 2 May he wrote to JA of his intention to subscribe to Hodshon’s loan (Adams Papers). This may have reflected his desire to support the American cause, regardless of who was raising the loan.