Papers of John Adams, volume 14


To Mercy Otis Warren

To C. W. F. Dumas, 29 January 1783 Adams, John Dumas, C. W. F.
To C. W. F. Dumas
Sir, Paris. 29th. January. 1783—

Upon receiving the letter you did me the honor to write me on the 24th. late last evening, I went immediately to consult with my Colleague, Mr: Jay—and we agreed to go this morning to Dr: Franklin. Accordingly we went today to Passy & communicated your letter to him & after recollecting the Powers we have received, we all 218agreed that I should make you the following answer—

You will readily recollect the Resolutions of Congress which I did myself the honor, two years ago, to communicate to the President of their High-Mightinesses, & to the Ministers of Russia, Sweden & Denmark, at the Hague. The letter to the President was sent “au Greffe”—and there may perhaps be now found. These Resolutions contained the approbation of Congress of the Principles of the Declaration of the Empress of Russia, and authorised any of the American Ministers in Europe, if invited thereto, to pledge the faith of the United-States to the observance of them—1

Sometime after this, Congress sent Mr: Dana a Commission, with full power, to accede to the Principles of the Marine Treaty between the Neutral Powers; and he is now at Petersburg, vested with those Powers; and, according to late Intelligence from him, has wellfounded Expectations of being soon admitted—2

It is the opinion of my Colleagues as well as my own, that no Commission of mine, to their High-Mightinesses, contains authority to negotiate this business, and we are all of opinion, that it is most proper that Mr: Dana should negotiate it—

But, as there has been no express revocation of the Power, given to all or any of us, by the first Resolutions, and, if the Case should happen that Mr: Dana could not attend in Season, on account of the Distance, for the sake of accelerating the Signature of the Definitive Treaty of Peace We should not hesitate to pledge the faith of the United-States to the observance of the Principles of the Armed-Neutrality— I wish it were in my power to give you a more satisfactory answer, but Candor will warrant no other—3

With great respect to the Gentlemen, as well as to you, I have the honor to be, Sir, / Your humle: Servt.

John Adams.

RC in Charles Storer's hand (PHC: Charles Roberts Autographs Coll.); internal address: “Mr: C: W: F: Dumas.” endorsed: “Paris 29e. Janv. 1783 / S. E. Mr. J. Adams / 29e reçue par Courier de Mr. l’Ambr. / de Fce. la 1er. Fevr. au matin vers midi / rep. le 4 fevr.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.


For JA's memorial to the States General of 8 March 1781, which Dumas presented to its president on the 10th, see vol. 11:185; and for his letters of the same date to the diplomatic representatives of Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, as well as to the pensionaries of Amsterdam, see same, p. 182–184. JA's letters proposed that the United States accede to the principles of the Armed Neutrality under the terms of Congress’ resolution of 5 Oct. 1780 ( JCC , 18:905–906). JA's 1780 initiative came to nothing because the United States was then a belligerent and not recognized by any of the members of the Armed Neutrality, including the Netherlands. JA apparently assumed that since the memorial was sent “au Greffe” or “to the secretary,” it could be found in the office of Hendrik Fagel, the secretary of the States General.


Francis Dana's commission empowering 219him to act as indicated here was of 19 Dec. 1780 ( JCC , 18:1166–1168).


Though JA does not mention it in any of his correspondence for this period, he and Benjamin Franklin apparently met with Dutch negotiators Gerard Brantsen and Mattheus Lestevenon van Berkenrode at JA's residence and conveyed to them the information contained in this letter. The meeting was likely the result of Dumas’ 24 Jan. letter authorizing JA to confer “ministerially” on the subject, above, and is described in JA's 7 July letter to Robert R. Livingston (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:518).