Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To Robert R. Livingston

To Robert R. Livingston

To Robert Morris, 10 July 1783 Adams, John Morris, Robert
To Robert Morris
Sir, Paris July 10th. 1783.

Upon the receipt of the Dispatches by Barney, I sent off your Letters for Messs. Willinks & Co. and I recd. last Night an Answer to 98the Letter I wrote them upon the Occasion. They have engaged to remit Mr. Grand a Million & an half of Livres in a Month, which has relieved Mr. Grand from his Anxiety.1

This Court has refused to Dr. Franklin any more Money. They are apprehensive of being obliged to take a part in the Northern War, and their own Financiers have not enough of the Confidence of the Public to obtain Money for their own purposes.

Your design of sending Cargoes of Tobacco & other things to Amsterdam to Messs. Willinks & Co. is the best possible to support our Credit there. The more you send, the more Money will be obtained. Send a Minister too—residing there he may promote it much— It is a Misfortune, that I have not been able to be there— But this Post cannot be deserted— Instruct your Minister to enquire, whether the House of Hope could be persuaded to engage with Willink in a new Loan.2 This should be done with Secrecy & Discretion. If that House would undertake it, you would find Money enough for your purpose; for3 I rely upon it the States will adopt a Plan immediately for the effectual payment of Interest. This is indispensible. The foundation of an happy Government can only be laid in Justice; and as soon as the Public shall see, that Provision is made for this, you will no longer want Money.

It is a Maxim among Merchants and monied Men, that “every Man has Credit, who does not want it.”— It is equally true of States. We shall want it but little longer, if the States make Provision for the payment of Interest, & therefore we shall have enough of it. There is not a Country in the World, whose Credit ought to be so good because there is none equally able to pay.

Inclosed is a Pamphlet of Dr. Price for your Comfort.4 You will see by it, that the only Nation we have reason to fear wants Credit so much, that She is not likely to have it always, & this is our Security.

By some hints from Mr. Hartley, he will probably return to London, & not be here again. The present Ministry is so undecided & feeble, that it is at least doubtful, whether they will make the definitive Treaty of Peace.

With great Esteem, I have the honor &c

LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Hon: R. Morris Esqr. / Superintendant of Finances”; notation: “July 11th. delivered to Capt. Barney.”; APM Reel 108.


That is, JA’s letter to the consortium of 5 July and the consortium’s reply of the 7th, both above. The consortium wrote to JA on 10 July (Adams Papers) to inform him that on that day it had remitted ₶417,554.17.3 to Ferdinand Grand. The consortium also noted 99that Morris’ 8 May letter instructed them to pay any drafts drawn on Henry Laurens (Morris, Papers , 8:17–18). They, therefore, enclosed five drafts drawn on 6 July 1780 totaling f2,750.


Hope & Co., a leading Amsterdam banking firm, had been suggested to JA in 1782 as a candidate to undertake the loan that the consortium ultimately raised. For JA’s comments on Hope & Co. in that context, see vol. 12:434–435. But for JA’s reference to a new loan to be raised solely by the Willinks, see his 11 July 1783 letter to Morris, and note 1, below.


From this point to the end of the following paragraph, Morris copied JA’s comments on the necessity for the United States to scrupulously pay its foreign debts and enclosed them with letters to John Hancock of 20 Sept. and Elias Boudinot of 12 Nov. (Morris, Papers , 8:268–269, 533–535, 756–757; MHi: Sedgwick Family Papers). For Morris’ purpose in using this extract and another much longer one from JA’s 11 July 1783 letter, see Morris to JA, 20 Sept., and note 1, below.


Probably Richard Price’s The State of the Public Debts and Finances at Signing the Preliminary Articles of Peace in January 1783; with a Plan for Raising Money by Public Loans, and for Redeeming the Public Debts, London, 1783.