Papers of John Adams, volume 13

To Robert R. Livingston, 15 June 1782 JA Livingston, Robert R. To Robert R. Livingston, 15 June 1782 Adams, John Livingston, Robert R.
To Robert R. Livingston
No. 13. The Hague June 15. 1782 Sir

This Morning, I made a Visit to the Grand Pensionary Mr Van Bleiswick, and had a long Conference with him concerning the Plan of a Treaty of Commerce, which is now under Consideration, and endeavoured to remove some of his objections, and to explain to him the Grounds and Reasons of certain Articles which have been objected to by others—particularly the Article which respects France and that which respects Spain.1 He made Light of most of the Objections which had been Stated to the Plan and thought it would be easy to agree upon it but there must be time for the Cities to deliberate.

I asked him, if they did not intend to do us the Honour, Soon of Sending an Ambassador to Congress? and Consuls, at least to Boston and Philadelphia.2 He thought it would be very proper—but Said they had some difficulty in finding a Man, who was suitable, and at 127the Same time willing to undertake so long a Voyage. I asked him, if it would not be convenient to send a Frigate to America, to carry the Treaty, their Ambassador and Consuls all together, when all should be ready? He Said he could not Say whether a Frigate could be Spared.

Very well, says I Smiling, and pointing to the Prince's Picture, I'le go and make my Court to His Highness and pray him to send a Frigate to Philadelphia, with a Treaty an Ambassador and two Consuls, and to take under her Convoy all Merchant Vessells ready to go. Excellent says he, Smiling, I wish you good Luck.

We had a great deal of Conversation too concerning Peace, but as I regard all this as idle, it is not worth while to repeat it. When a Minister shall appear, at Paris or elsewhere with Full Powers from the King of England to treat with the United States of America, I shall think there is Something more than Artifice to raise the Stocks and lay Snares for Sailors to be caught by Press Gangs.

I have the Honour to be.

LbC (Adams Papers).


These were Arts. 22 and 23 of JA's draft. For the controversy over them and its ultimate resolution, see The Negotiation of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 22 Aug. – 8 Oct., below.


Pieter Johan van Berckel, first Dutch minister to the United States, was appointed in May 1783 (vol. 12:229). Not until Sept. 1784 did the States General appoint consuls to reside at Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, Charleston, and Boston (PCC, No. 99, f. 203–210, 219–221, 223–225, 233–235).

To James Warren, 17 June 1782 JA Warren, James To James Warren, 17 June 1782 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
The Hague June 17. 1782 dear Sir

Broken to Pieces and worn out, with the Diseases engendered by the tainted Atmosphere of Amsterdam operating upon the Effects of fatiguing Journeys dangerous Voyages, a Variety of Climates and eternal Anxiety of Mind, I have not been able to write you so often as I wished:1 But now I hope the fine Season and the pure Air of the Hague, will restore me. Perhaps You will say that the Air of a Court is as putrid as that of Amsterdam. In a moral and political sense perhaps, but I am determined that the bad Morals and false Politicks of other People shall no longer affect my Repose of Mind, nor disturb my Physical Constitution. What is it to me, after having done all I can to set them right whether other People go to Heaven or to the Devil? I may howl and weep but this will have no Effect. I may then just as well Sing and laugh.


Pray how do you like your new Allies the Dutch? Does your Imagination rove into futurity and Speculate and combine, as it used to do? It is a pretty Amusement to play a Game with Nations, as if they were Fox and Geese—or Corns upon a Checkerboard—or the Personages at Chess, is it not? It is however, the real Employment of a statesman to play such a Game sometimes, a sublime one truly, enough to make a Man serious, however Addicted to sport. Politicks are the divine Science after all. How is it possible that any Man should ever think of making it Subservient to his own little Passions, and mean private Interests? Ye base born sons of fallen Adam! Is the End of Politicks a Fortune a Family, a gilded Coach, a Train of Horses a troup of Livery servants—Balls at Court—Splendid Dinners and suppers? Yet the divine Science of Politicks is at length in Europe reduced to a mechanical system composed of these Materials—what says the Muse Mrs Warren?2

What is to become of an independent Statesman? One, who will bow the Knee to no Idol? who will worship nothing as a Divinity, but Truth, Virtue and his Country? I will tell you, he will be regarded more, by posterity than those who worship Hounds and Horses, and although he will not make his own Fortune he will make the Fortune of his Country. The Liberties of Corsica, sweeden and Geneva may be over turned, but neither his Character can be hurt nor his Exertions rendered ineffectual. Oh Peace, when wilt thou permit me to Visit Penshill Milton Hill and all the Blue Hills? I love every Tree and every Rock upon all those Mountains. Roving among these and the Quails Partridges squirrells &c that inhabit them shall be the amusement of my declining Years God willing. I wont go to Vermont.3 I must be within the Scent of the sea.

I hope to send along a Treaty in two or three Months. I love the Dutchmen with all their Faults. There is a strong Spirit of Liberty among them, and many excellent Qualities. Next year, their Navy will be so strong as to be able to do a great deal. They may do some thing this.

I am going to Court to sup with Princes, Princesses and Ambassadors. I had rather sup with you at one of our Hills, though I have no Objection to Supping at Court. Adieu.

RC (MB); endorsed: “Mr J A Letter June 17. 82.”


JA's last known letter to Warren was of 9 Dec. 1780 (vol. 10:404).


For Mercy Otis Warren's response, see her letter of 25 Oct., below.


A reference to AA's plan to purchase land in Vermont as a retreat for JA, for which see AFC , 4:257–258, 293, 315–317.