Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To Robert R. Livingston, 24 June 1783 Adams, John Livingston, Robert R.
To Robert R. Livingston
Sir Paris June 24. 1783

The Gazettes of Europe Still continue to be employed as the great Engines of Fraud and Imposture, to the good People of America. Stock Jobbers are not the only People, who employ a Set of Scribblers to invent and publish Falshoods for their peculiar Purposes. British and French, as well as other Politicians entertain these Fabricators of Paragraphs, who are Stationed about in the various Cities of Europe and take up each others Productions in such a manner, that no sooner does a Paragraph appear, in a french or Dutch or English Paper but it is immediately Seized on, and reprinted in all the others.— This is not all.

In looking over the American Papers, I observe that nothing is seized on with so much Avidity by the American Novellists, for Republication in their Gazettes as these political Lyes.— I cannot attribute this merely to the Credulity of the Printers, who have generally more discernment than to be deceived. But I verily believe there are Persons in every State employed, to select out these Things and get them reprinted.

Sometimes the Invention is so Simple as really to deceive.— Such I doubt not will be, that of a long series of Paragraphs in the English Papers, all importing that Mr Hartley had made a Treaty of Commerce with Us, or was upon the Point of concluding one.1


Nothing is farther from the Truth.— We have not to this hour agreed upon one Proposition, nor do I see any probability that We shall at all, respecting Commerce.— We have not indeed as yet agreed upon one Point respecting the definitive Treaty. We are waiting for those Instructions which you mention to me, in yours of 14. April, which have not yet arrived.2

Americans Should be cautious of European Newspapers, as well as of their own. more so indeed, because they have not so much Knowledge and so good opportunities to detect the former as the latter.

There are great Numbers of Persons in Europe who insert Things in the Papers in order to make Impressions in America. Characters are in this Way built up and pulled down without the least Consideration of Justice: and merely to answer Sinister Purposes sometimes extreamly pernicious to the United States.

With great Respect I have the Honour / to be, Sir, your most obedient & / humble servant

John Adams

RC (DLC:Boudinot Papers); internal address: “Secretary Livingstone.”; endorsed: “His Exccy John Adams / June 24 1783.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.


JA’s concern was that virtually all references in the London newspapers to discussions between David Hartley and the commissioners at Paris were to negotiations for an Anglo-American commercial treaty, not to those for the completion of the definitive treaty. For example, on 14 April Parker’s General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer reported that Hartley was going to Paris to negotiate a commercial treaty. More dangerous from JA’s viewpoint was a report in the Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser of 9 May that “letters from Paris mention, that Mr. Hartley had succeeded in concluding a commercial treaty with America, and would shortly return to England.”


Vol. 14:407–410.

From C. W. F. Dumas, 24 June 1783 Dumas, C. W. F. Adams, John
From C. W. F. Dumas
Monsieur, Lahaie 24e. Juin 1783

L’Echange des Ratifications se fit hier entre Mr. le Greffier & votre serviteur; & il en fait aujourd’hui son rapport en conséquence à Leurs H. P.1 Il m’a chargé de ses complimens pour V. Exce. Je garde sous la Clef les deux Actes, écrits sur parchemin, munis du grand Sceau de la Rep. dans deux boetes d’argent, pour vous les remettre selon vos ordres,2 & suis avec grand respect / De Votre Excellence / Le très-humble & très- / obéissant serviteur

C.w.f. Dumas
Sir The Hague, 24 June 1783

The exchange of ratifications was carried out yesterday between the greffier and your servant, and as a result today he is making his report to their High Mightinesses.1 He asked me to send his compliments to your excellency. I am keeping under lock the two documents, written on parchment, affixed with the great seal of the Republic in two silver boxes, in order to send them to you according to your instructions.2 I am with great respect for your excellency, your very humble and very obedient servant

C.w.f. Dumas

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “A Son Excellence Mr. Adams M. P.”


In a letter to Robert R. Livingston of 23 June, very similar to this one to JA, Dumas indicated that the exchange had occurred at one o’clock that afternoon (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:502). In his unofficial capacity as chargé d’affaires, Dumas wrote to Hendrik Fagel on 5 June to announce that he was ready, in JA’s absence, to exchange the ratifications of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Convention on Recaptures. Fagel replied on 19 June that the exchange would take place on Monday the 23d (PCC, No. 93, II, f. 337, 341; IV, f. 119, 122). Dumas enclosed with his letter of 11 July, below, copies of his 5 June letter to Fagel and Fagel’s 24 June report to the States General on the exchange. On 26 July 1788, Dumas obtained another copy of Fagel’s 24 June 1783 report to the States General and sent it to John Jay enclosed in a letter of the same date. Dumas sought to use the report, which explicitly recognized him as chargé d’affaires, to obtain an official commission as such from the new Congress under the Constitution ( Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 3:620–623).


One set of the treaty and convention ratified by Congress on 23 Jan. can be found in the Adams Papers. No letter from JA requesting that Dumas send JA the Dutch ratifications has been found. This may mean that JA intended to obtain them when he visited the Netherlands in late July. The documents received from Hendrik Fagel, with the two silver boxes, have not been found, but see Miller, Treaties , 2:89.