Papers of John Adams, volume 14

Sir Hamburg, 14 February 1783

On the 31st of last month I had the honor of sending you a letter for Mr. Harras, whom I had the pleasure of meeting when he passed through this town.1

This young man arrived here at the end of November accompanied by Mr. Chapman, first officer of the American ship Grace, Captain George Mitchell, which had the misfortune to be shipwrecked off the coast of Jutland.2 I thought it my duty to help both gentlemen in any way I could, since they were allies. Accordingly I did not hesitate to provide Mr. Chapman with what he needed to travel to Amsterdam, and lent him the sum of 25 Dutch ducats; for which he gave me a note on his captain at Tisted in Jutland, which will probably be paid. Mr. Harras stayed on in this town for about three weeks, being in a state of exhaustion and thus unable to leave with his traveling companion. On his recovery he came to ask if I could arrange for his departure too. Since I had proof that he was the nephew of President Morris in Philadelphia, I did not hesitate to pay for his journey to Hamburg, as well as for his trip from here to Amsterdam; this amounted to 50 Dutch ducats, for which he gave me a letter of exchange on you, sir, assuring me that you would certainly honor it. His good manners, together with my eagerness to assist the allies of my master the king, gave me every confidence in his word. However, to my great astonishment, his letter of exchange was returned to me today, and I am told that payment is refused. May I under the circumstances appeal to your kindness, and point out how unjust it would be if I lost this sum, which I only put forward to assist two penniless Americans in a foreign country? I believe too strongly in your 264fairness to worry about repayment of my loan, and it is in this firm confidence that I have taken the liberty of presenting for the second time the letter of exchange in question, begging you either to honor it or to indicate how I should set about recovering this sum.

Allow me to take advantage of this opportunity to renew the tribute of deep respect with which I have the honor to be, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant

Lagau Chargé d’Affaires of the Consulate General of France at Hamburg