Papers of John Adams, volume 12

From John Hodshon, 20 April 1782 Hodshon, John JA


From John Hodshon, 20 April 1782 Hodshon, John Adams, John
From John Hodshon
Amsterdam the 20th april 1782 1 His Excellency

It is with an Infinite Satisfaction I presúme To Take The Liberty to adres yoúr Excellency These Few Lines as a duty Imposed on me, to congratulate yoúr Excellency on The most Happy resolution Taken by their H: M: to acknowledge the Independence of the united States of North America in So open and Respectable manner and to Receive yoúr Excellency as Minister Plenepotentiary from congres. Sincerely wish it may Tend to the Intrest and Prosperity of 434both nations and be The means of a Trúe and permanent Friendship being Establishd, and Welfare of both countrys, and your Excellencys name who laid The Foundation To this great and Important matter may be ever preserved in The annales to The Latest posterity.

Permit me Sir to assure yoú Shal ever Think my self happy to be usefull to contribute any Thing For The advantage of the common wealth and recomend my Self in yoúr Excellencys respectable benevolence and believe me to be unalterable and most devotedly His Excellency Yoúr Excellencys most obedient & much obliged Servant

John Hodshon2

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr John Hodshon ansd 22d April 1782.” Filed with this letter are three documents in the same hand. A comparison of the paper on which they were written and their fold lines with Hodshon’s letter of 20 April indicates, however, that they were not enclosures. One appears to be an extract from a letter Hodshon received from an American correspondent commenting on the U.S. economy and the progress of the war. The other two resemble the first and second parts of the draft loan contract with Hodshon & Zoon, 25 April, below, and are likely early drafts of that contract. There is no indication as to when or how JA received the three documents.


JA also received a letter of this date from John Hodshon Jr. who, like his father, congratulated JA on the recognition of U.S. independence and his admission as minister plenipotentiary (Adams Papers).


Dutch recognition of the United States dramatically improved prospects for an American loan and JA quickly entered into negotiations with the Amsterdam mercantile firm of John Hodshon & Zoon to raise the loan (see Hodshon’s proposal for a loan, 25 April, below). Hodshon, whom JA first met in 1780, was deeply involved in trade with America and was known to AA’s cousin Isaac Smith (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:444; Adams Family Correspondence , 3:285, 349; 4:84–85). JA’s choice was greeted with a storm of protest by merchants of the Patriot party, the people most supportive of JA’s efforts in the Netherlands, who accused Hodshon of being pro-British and wanting to undermine the loan. See for example, John Thaxter to JA, 22 April, below. While Hodshon was an Orangist, he had always been apolitical in his commercial dealings (Pieter J. van Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment, 1780–1805, With an Epilogue to 1840, transl. James C. Riley, 2 vols., N.Y., 1977, p. 82–83).

The Adams Papers contain a substantial documentary record of JA’s successful effort to raise a Dutch loan in 1782. But it is necessarily incomplete because JA’s negotiations with John Hodshon, and then with the consortium of bankers that replaced him, occurred during face-to-face meetings of which no record was kept. Missing is any contemporary account by JA of the reasons that made Hodshon & Zoon his first choice or how he resolved the resulting controversy. Almost thirty years passed before he offered an explanation and then it was in a letter dated 24 Sept. 1810 that appeared in the Boston Patriot of 20 and 24 April 1811.

According to these reminiscences, JA was prompted to approach Hodshon when

“an American captain of a ship by the name of Grinnel happened to dine with me, and conversing on our want of a loan, he asked me if I had consulted Mr John Hodshon? The answer was in the negative. I had not supposed that Mr Hodshon, so easy as he was, and such a millionary, would be willing to accept it, or even to advise me in it. Grinnel replied that Mr. Hodshon had been so long and so extensively engaged in American commerce, had so many correspondents in America and so general an acquaintance with Americans in Europe, that he thought it very probable he would assist me, at least with his advice. He added, that if I would give him leave he would converse with Mr. 435Hodshon upon the subject. He did so, and brought so favorable an answer that I agreed to meet Mr. Hodshon. In several interviews, he entered very freely and candidly into conversation; said that as our Independence was now acknowledged, a loan was an object of importance and might be of utility to both countries. He doubted not that the most substantial houses in the republic might be induced to favor it, even the house of Hope. If Mr Hope would undertake it or countenance it, success would be certain. No opposition would be made to it from any quarter. I thought Mr Hodshon knew less than I did concerning Mr Hope’s sentiments of American affairs. However, I have reason to think he did sound Mr Hope and received from him only such observations as I had heard reported from him several times before, viz: That America was too young to expect to borrow money at any ordinary interest, or at any interest less than the Batavian republic had been obliged in her infancy to give: i.e. ten or twelve per cent. However this might be, Mr Hodshon said no more about Mr Hope’s assistance or countenance. He undertook the loan himself, and after adjusting all the terms, we mutually executed a contract in form, and the plan was made public” (Boston Patriot, 24 April 1811).

For more of JA’s reminiscences about negotiating the loan, see to from Franklin, 21 April, note 2; and to Hodshon, 26 April, note 1, both below.