Papers of John Adams, volume 12

To Benjamin Franklin, 20 February 1782 JA Franklin, Benjamin


To Benjamin Franklin, 20 February 1782 Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin
To Benjamin Franklin
Amsterdam Feb. 20. 1782 Sir

Yesterday I had the Honour of yours of the 12th. and will take an early opportunity to send you all the Lights I can obtain, by Inferences from the Numbers of the Bills. Those already presented I shall accept according to your Advice.

Your office is certainly a disagreable one in many respects, and mine grows every day more and more disgusting to me. I wish myself at home every hour in the 24, and I hope eer long to obtain247 Permission to go. Affairs here are in such a situation that I could not be justified in going untill Congress shall appoint another or recal me, or I would ask leave to return in the alliance. Is Mr Laurens exchanged? If he is and will come over here and take his own Place, I would venture to go home without leave.

The Duke de la Vauguion is returned. I had the honour to make my Compliments to him on Saturday, at the Hague, where I attended Dr McLanes Church on Sunday,1 and the Princes Review upon the Parade afterwards and where I propose in future to Spend more of my time.

You need not be anxious about the Result of my demand of an answer. It was a Measure to which I was advised by the Duke de la Vauguion, and by the Comte de Vergennes, and by several worthy Gentlemen in the Government. It was intended to bring necessarily into deliberation a Connection with France and America, on one Side at the Same time when they considered the Mediation of Russia on the other, in order to prevent their accepting the Mediation without Limitations. The great City has lately faultered very much in Point of Firmness. I cannot but wish that the Proposition for an accession to the alliance between France and America could have been made last Week, the critical Moment, when it would have infallibly I think prevented the acceptation. But France did not think it politick to do any Thing against the Views of Russia.2 But nothing but delay will come of this Mediation. The United States, however Stand here in a more respectable Light than in Spain.3

Here they are openly and candidly demanding an answer. If they receive one in the Negative, it will be no more than the Republick has a right to give, and we shall loose nothing but remain exactly where We were. If they give no answer, for a year to come, the Dignity of the United States is safe. That of the United Provinces will be hurt by the delay, if any. In Spain, the United States have been waiting, in the person of one of their Presidents, now going on three years, and have no answer. Now I Say it is better to be open. Here the Constitution demanded Publicity. In Spain it forbid it. But the Dignity of the United States is injured more than, it would have been if the demand to that Court could have been made Publick. For my own Part I own, as a private Citizen or a publick Man, I would not advise the United States to wait forever either in Spain or Holland. If it dont Suit their affairs to make a Bargain with Us let them tell Us so candidly and let us all go home, that at least We may not be under the Necessity of calling upon your Excellency for248 Water to drink, which had much better quench the Thirst of our army.

I should be very much obliged to you for a Copy of the Replication of the two Imperial Courts, and of the new Proposition of the Court of London of which I have only had a confused Intimation.

The affair of the Goods has been a villainous affair indeed as you observe: but they cannot be entrusted I believe to more prudent Hands than those of Mr. Barclay, where I leave them.

I have &c

LbC (Adams Papers).


Archibald MacLaine, a Presbyterian who had been pastor of the English Church at The Hague since 1747 ( DNB ). JA attended the church regularly after he moved to The Hague in May and appreciated the admirable moral lectures delivered by “one of the best Preachers in Europe” (to Robert R. Livingston, 4 Sept. 1782, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:688).


This sentence is interlined.


The following paragraph was written immediately before the closing and marked for insertion at this point.

To the Marquis de Lafayette, 20 February 1782 JA Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de


To the Marquis de Lafayette, 20 February 1782 Adams, John Lafayette, Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de
To the Marquis de Lafayette
Amsterdam Feb. 20. 1782 My dear General

Yesterday Major Porter, brought me, your kind favour of the first of this month,1 together with some Letters from America, in one of which is a Resolution of Congress of the 23d of November “That the secretary of foreign affairs acquaint the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States, that it is the desire of Congress that they confer with the Marquis de la Fayette, and avail themselves of his Informations relative to the Situation of publick affairs, in the United States.”1 This Instruction is so agreable to my Inclinations, that I would undertake a Journey to Paris, for the Sake of a personal Interview with my dear General, if the State of my Health, and the Situation of affairs, in which I am here engaged did not render it improper.

Permit me, however, to congratulate you, on your arrival with fresh and unfading Laurels, and to wish you all the Happiness, which the Sight of your Family the applause of the Public and the approbation of your Sovereign can afford you.

I Should be extreamly happy in your Correspondence, Sir, and if there is any Thing in this Country which you would wish to know, I should be glad to inform you as far as is in my Power. This Republick is ballancing between an alliance with France and America on one hand, and a Mediation of Russia for a separate Peace on the249 other. The Byass is strong for Peace but they dont see a Prospect of obtaining it, by the Mediation. They are determined however to try the Experiment, but are so divided about it that all is Languor and Confusion. I fancy they will oscillate for Some time, and at last finding the Negotiations for a Separate Peace, an Illusion, they will join themselves to the Ennemies of their Ennemy.

Upon your Return to America, I should be obliged to you, if you would Say to some of the Members of Congress, that if they should think fit to recall me, it is absolutely necessary in my humble opinion that they Should have some other Person here invested with the Same Powers.

With the Sincerest affection and Esteem, I have the honour to be, my dear General, your most obedient and humble sert

LbC (Adams Papers).


Lafayette’s note was a brief covering letter for the enclosures (Adams Papers). Maj. John Porter sailed with Lafayette as an aide on his return to France. JA knew Porter’s father, Rev. John Porter of the North Parish in Bridgewater (now Brockton), Mass., and his family. On 4 March, JA recommended Porter to Jan Gabriël Tegelaar, an Amsterdam merchant, and on the 5th wrote to Tegelaar to vouch for Porter’s integrity in repaying a loan (both LbC’s, Adams Papers). Porter’s reputation had been tarnished when he was relieved of his command after mortally wounding Brig. Gen. Enoch Poor of New Hampshire during an August 1780 duel (Dexter, Yale Graduates , 3:392–393; MHS, Procs. , 19 [1881–1882]:256–261).


JCC , 21:1134–1135. The resolutions regarding Lafayette were enclosed with the letter of 20 Nov. from Robert R. Livingston, and see also note 8 to the same, above.