Papers of John Adams, volume 14

From William Lee, 9 March 1783 Lee, William Adams, John
From William Lee
Dear Sir. Bruxelles March 9. 1783

Having been lately on a Journey I cou'd not sooner thank you for your obliging favor of the 23d. Ulto, which I found here on my return home.

In consequence of What you tell me, I shall refer the Emperors Agents to Mr. Dana, at the same time I perfectly coincide with your opinion that we ought not to be in a hurry, now we have Peace, to enter into Coml. Treaties.

I see no reason for changing the Opinion I long since entertain'd, that while the War continued, Ama. shd. have had Ministers or Agents in all the principal Courts in Europe to endeavor to obtain an acknowlegemt. of our Independence, which might have greatly operated in prevailing on G. B. to make Peace with us; but if that point cou'd not be obtain'd, she might be prevented from geting any assistance either in Men or Money to carry on the War; When we have Peace we ought to be on the reserve & let the Powers of Europe court us, for they will certainly receive more benefit from a Com̃erce with us than we shall.

Congress however, has hitherto pursued a line of conduct directly opposite to my Ideas, possibly induced to do so from Versailles or Passy where it was wish'd to confine every thing that related to Ama. which in my opinion was one great leading cause of the War continueing so long as it has done; & I shall not be surprized if a reverse of conduct takes place now, when we may see American Ministers & Treaties as plenty as Blackberries.

A wise Administration will however first consider how the Expence is to be furnish'd & whether the Benefits likely to accrue to Ama. from such Treaties will be equivalent to the expence of making them & of keepg. a Watch to see that they are maintain'd.

At all events, I hope & Trust, that no engagemts. whatever will be enter'd into on the part of Ama. that can in any manner involve us in the disputes that may arise in Europe.

If Mr. Dana enters into Negotiation with the Emperor I suppose he will be well inform'd of the nature of Comerce in this Country, for in many respects a Treaty with the Emperor, to be beneficial to Ama., must differ from that with France.


We are told here, that Congress sent to Dr. Franklin a particular Commission to make a Treaty with Sweeden at the express desire of his Sweedish Majesty. Is this true.

I have the Honor to be with very great / Regard & Respect / Dear Sir / Your most Obedt. & most. / Humble Servt.

W. Lee

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / John Adams Esq. / Paris.—”

To Antoine Marie Cerisier, 10 March 1783 Adams, John Cerisier, Antoine Marie
To Antoine Marie Cerisier
Sir Paris March 10. 1783

Pray be so good as to insert an exact Translation of the inclosed Letter in the Politique Hollandais, without my Name or that of the Abby.1

or if you chose it you may add it to the Essay &c2

It is high Time for Writers to reflect a little upon the Subject before they pretend to write an History of Such an Affair. This will put them on thinking.

Mr Marmontel as Historiographer du Roi is to write it. The Abby de Mably was to write it. as it was given out. The Abby Raynal has written it. But this Letter which has been shewn to both the former, has convinced them that thirteen compleat Revolutions in America, one in France, one in Spain, one in Holland and one in England, not to mention the armed Neutrality, are not so easily described


LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr Cerisier”; APM Reel 110.


This is JA's 15 Jan. letter to the Abbé de Mably on writing a history of the American Revolution (above at 9 Jan.), which Cerisier published in the 24 March edition of Le politique hollandais, p. 83–91. JA used Cerisier's translation when he included the letter to the abbé as a postscript to the first volume of his Defence of the Const., 1:384–392.


The “Essay” was the French translation of “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” which JA had sent to Cerisier with his letter of 15 Feb., and note 1, above.

To Pieter Johan van Berckel, 11 March 1783 Adams, John Berckel, Pieter Johan van
To Pieter Johan van Berckel
Sir, Paris March 11th. 1783.

I have recd. the Letter, which you did me the honor to write me on the 5th. of this Month, & am happy to recieve this Confirmation of the News of your Appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States of America.— Your Name, Connections & Character 323are Sufficient Pledges of your Attachment to your own Country as well as ours, and cannot fail to be as pleasing in America as they seem to be in Europe.

A Friendship between our Countries is so natural, that I think you will have little difficulty in succeeding to your Wishes.—

Mr. Dumas desires me to inform you, what Furniture it will be proper to carry with You— In my Opinion you will be able to purchase at Philadelphia whatever you may have occasion for as cheap and as good as you can have them in Europe— Linnens and other light Articles you may carry with you, but it is unnecessary to encumber yourself with heavy ones.

It will by no means be necessary to make a public Entry— There has as yet been no Example of it, and as Such splendid Ceremonies are much out of Fashion in Europe, it will never be necessary to introduce them into America. You will have no Occasion therefore for any Carriage but one of a common kind, which may be made in Philadelphia or Boston with as much Elegance & Convenience, as in Paris, Amsterdam or London.—

My Advice would be to land at Boston, & take the Journey to Philadelphia, while you send your Frigate round by Sea to that City— This will give you an Opportunity of seeing a great part of the United States, and of becoming acquainted with many principal Charactors. I will be answerable for your cordial Reception every where.

His Excellency the Governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Hancock, and his Honor the President of the Senate, Mr. Samuel Adams, will recieve You at Boston—Governor Trumbull at Connecticut—General Washington and Governor Clinton at New York—Governor Livingston at New Jersey. I would by all means advise You to pass through New York and New Jersey, where You will find Multitudes charmed at the Sight of a Dutch Minister more than any other in the World.

I wish You a pleasant Voyage and Journey— If you take your departure at any time before the middle of June, your Voyage can scarcely fail to be agreable—After that it may be long and tedious.—

I have the honor to be with great Esteem and / Respect, / Sir, &c

LbC in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. Peter John Van Berckel / Minister Plenipotentiary”; APM Reel 108.