Papers of John Adams, volume 14

Sir The Hague, 28 January 17831

You will have received today, by the French ambassador's courier, who departed after dinner on Saturday the 24th,2 my letter of the 24th. It is of the utmost importance for those on whose behalf I wrote it and who impatiently await your reply, because in their eyes it alone can produce an effect capable of repairing the enormous and unforgivable wrong (that is a polite term for their feelings) that has been committed in abandoning, sacrificing, deceiving, and abusing them. (That is how they speak to the ambassador himself, who would like them to take up the same negotiation directly with the French ministry and promises in that case the desired result; but this they flatly refuse to do.)3 He told me, and them also, that he thought you would have no objection to assuming this task, but that your colleagues, notably Mr. Franklin,4 would probably oppose it. They replied that they saw no reason why Mr. Franklin would be opposed to this measure being taken jointly with the three belligerent powers rather than leaving its advancement or delay to the caprice of one only—that they would certainly regard such opposition as the result of the Comte de 217Vergennes’ influence on Mr. Franklin. They added that it then would be useless to solicit them further for any negotiations, and in that case his excellency himself might in the future approach their High Mightinesses directly, without any longer requiring the involvement of their people and cities.

I thought, sir, that in so grave a matter, I should give you an explicit account of all the circumstances. I shall further state that the nation is outraged by France's latest maneuver, and that the Comte de Vergennes would completely destroy all remaining trust if he conspired to thwart the measure they propose. They seem to have complete confidence in your candor and inclinations.

On Saturday evening, the 25th, I went to show the grand pensionary a copy of my letter of the 24th, which he approved.

Yesterday, the 27th, I visited the grand pensionary again to read him in full the copy of the preliminaries with which you have favored me, and afterward to our other friends. No one shall have a copy until you give permission.5

Mr. Gyselaar, whom I saw this morning, and Mr. Van Berckel and Mr. Visscher, with whom I dined last night, begged me to present their best compliments to your excellency.