Papers of John Adams, volume 12

To Robert R. Livingston, 27 February 1782 JA Livingston, Robert R.


To Robert R. Livingston, 27 February 1782 Adams, John Livingston, Robert R.
To Robert R. Livingston
No. 3. Duplicate Amsterdam Feby. 27th 1782 Sir

Friesland has at last taken the Provincial Resolution to acknowledge the Independence, of which United America is in full Possession.1


It is thought that several Cities of Holland will soon follow their Example, and some say it will be followed forthwith by the whole Republick. The first Burgomaster of this City has said within a few days past, that in six Weeks at furthest, the Independence of America would be acknowledged by all Seven of the United Provinces: but I have no Expectation of such Haste.2 This Government does nothing with such Celerity.

By what I hear and read of their Speculations, it seems to me that the general Sense is at present not to shackle themselves with any Treaties either with France or Spain, nor to make any Treaty of Alliance, nor to make even a Treaty of Commerce with America as yet for a considerable Time, but for the several Members of the Sovereignty one after another to acknowledge the Independence of America in the manner that Friesland has done; and for the States, the Prince and the Admiralties to exert themselves in preparing a Fleet to command the North Sea, and wash out some of the Stains in their Character, which the English have so unjustly thrown upon it, in their Blood. There is a loud Cry for Vengeance, a stern demand of a Fleet and a Battle with the English, and if the Court contrive to elude it, the Stadholder will run a great Risque of his Power.

Sensible and candid Men tell me, We wait for Spain and We wait for Russia. We wont make any Treaty with You. It is of no great Importance to Us or to You. We see there is a tremendous Power arising in the West. We cant meddle much: but We will at all Events be your good Friends. Whoever quarrels with You, We will not.

In short I expect no Treaty. I dont expect that our Independence will be acknowledged by all the Provinces for a long Time. Nevertheless, it appears to me of indispensible Importance that a Minister should reside constantly here vested with the same Powers from Congress, with which they have honoured me: for which Reason, having the Offer of a large and elegant House in a fine Situation on a noble Spot of Ground at the Hague, at a very reasonable Rate, I have, in pursuance of the Advice of Mr. Barclay, Mr. Dumas and other Friends, purchased it and shall remove into it on or before the first of May. In Case I should be recalled, or obliged to go away upon other Services, any Minister that Congress may appoint here in my Room will find an House ready furnished at the Hague ready for him.

The Negotiation for the Purchase was conducted secretly: but when it came to be known, I am informed it gave a great deal of Satisfaction in general.

276 image 277

To pay for it, I have applied all the Money I had of Mr. de Neufville’s Loan, and some Cash of my own which I brought with me from America, and for the second Payment I must borrow of a Friend, if Dr. Franklin cannot furnish the Money, for which indeed I dont love to ask him, he has so many Demands upon him from every Quarter. The House, including Purchases and Charges &c will amount to about sixteen thousand Guilders ten thousand of which I paid yesterday. I have been obliged to take the Title in my own Name, but shall transfer it to the United States as soon as they are acknowledged, and the Account can be settled, provided Congress approve of the Transaction, otherwise I shall take the Risque upon myself and sell it again. I shall live hereafter at a smaller Rent than I ever did before, tho’ in an House much superior.

RC (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 13–16); endorsed: “Letter Feby 27. 1782 John Adams Read May 31” and “Letter from Mr Adams Amsterdam 27th. Feby 1782.”


See the Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 5, above.


Presumably either Egbert de Vrij Temminck or Joachim Rendorp, probably the former in view of JA’s suspicions about Rendorp (to the president of Congress, 14 Jan., note 4, above). It was only a little over seven weeks later, on 19 April, that the States General recognized the United States.

From Benjamin Mends, 27 February 1782 Mends, Benjamin JA


From Benjamin Mends, 27 February 1782 Mends, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Mends
Plymo Feby. 27th/82

Doubt not but the tender-feelings of humanity your Excellency possesses will render an apology needless for addressing you on a subject wch so nearly concerns all who are friends to the poor American Prisoners. I have fail’d not to visit them as often as their hard hearted Jaylor wd permit, and have done all in my power to alleviate their miseries. The money your Excellency was so kind as to remit I have given wch were 5 guineas one to each for wch they were extremly thankful. But their returning exegence have urged them to send you the inclos’d Petition wch was deliver’d to me to be forwarded to your Excellency wch hope will come safe.1 It is a great pity there is not a private Agent appointed here for their relief and particularly those discharged fm the ships as not being found in Arms many of those poor men are dischargd in a strange Country without money, Clothes or Friends wch a few here have been generous unto and sent them off in Nutral Vessels. Coll Richardson promisd to us to effect this laudable design, and spoke to his Excellency B. Frankling and as he cd not succed wrote me fm Parris that278 he shall lay it before Congress wch hope will have the desired success2 what ever yr Excellency may think proper to remit at any time shall be cherfully appli’d by your Excellency Most Obedient Humble st

B Mends3

RC (Adams Papers).


The enclosed petition was probably from Edward Savil, Bryant Newcomb, Samuel Curtis, Job Field, and Jeriah Bass, 14 Feb., above. The five men also had written to JA on 8 Sept. 1781 (vol. 11:483).


Col. William Richardson, formerly with the 5th Maryland regiment, and his son were captured on the brig Talbot in 1780 and released on parole in November of that year (Heitman, Register of the Continental Army ; Marion and Jack Kaminkow, Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 161). There is no evidence that he presented Congress with a proposal to appoint a private agent for prisoners, but for additional information regarding his conversation with Benjamin Franklin on the subject, see C. Mends to JA, 2 May (Adams Papers).


Nothing is known of Benjamin Mends other than what is stated in this letter and one dated 2 May from his father, C. Mends (Adams Papers).