Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To C. W. F. Dumas, 10 September 1783 Adams, John Dumas, C. W. F.
To C. W. F. Dumas
Dear Sir Paris Septr. 10. 1783

It has ever been my intention to come in Person to the Hague, and take Leave of their High Mightinesses, with all the Respect in my Power, before my departure for America. it is still my design. If it is the usage of their High Mightinesses, as you Say it is, to make a Present of a Chain upon the occasion, it will be very agreable to me to accept it, and in the Language of my Countrymen I hope it will prove the Chain of perpetual Peace and invariable Friendship, and brighten more and more with Time.

We have recd this Week a Resolution of Congress by which it appears that Your Servant, Dr Franklin & Mr Jay, are to be associated in a new Commission to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great 275Britain, which will be a Work of Some time and oblige Us all perhaps to go to London. I cannot expect therefore to embark for America this Year, perhaps not before next sum[er,] This is a little Triste, to me, but I must make the [best] of it.—

I Shall probably be continued in my Pos[t at] the Hague, untill there is a general settlement in Co[ngress,] of our foreign Affairs.— Perhaps We may have all [Liberty] to return home next Year, afte[r W]e shall have finished off, a few Things which remain, but as it is unsettled as yet, I may be still destined to remain at the Hague.— I can take no Resolution nor form any Plan while Things remain at home so loose. I could do more in America in a Month towards settling Things than I can do here in four Years. Yet I cannot go home without orders or rather against orders, when Things of so much Importance remain in Europe to be finished entrusted in Part to my Care.— I may yet bring my Family to the Hague and become a Dutchman for what I know, or I may go home in the Month of March. I can form no Guess.—

I congratulate you, on the final Conclusion of the Peace and I think I may congratulate our Friends too.— They have gained in their domestic Liberties, they have gained in their national Independence among the Powers of Europe, and they have opened to themselves American Commerce, although they have lost a little Territory and a Point or two by the War.1 The Damages done to their Trade, and all their Expences, make [a] small figure in Comparison of those of France & England. [So] that I think We may say they are the better for the War [alt]hough not so much so as they might and ought to [ha]ve been.

Let me beg of you, to make all the Inquiries concerning [ou]r Loan, which you can in Prudence, and write to Congress or Mr Morris upon the subject.—2 You would do well to turn the most of your Though[ts this] Way for there is nothing now of so much Importance to Us.

I am Surprized that the late Proceedings of the Army and the difference of Sentiment between Congress and the states instead of lessening the Credit of America, do not increase it. Are there not the manifest symptoms of a brave, enlightened and high Spirited People, jealous of every danger to their Liberties, and determined to support them against every Error in Judgment, even of their own Army their own General and their own Congress. dont you see that all these are obliged to give Way before the superiour Understanding of the Body of the People.?


My Respects to your good Family, and believe me your / Friend and humble servant

John Adams

RC (DLC:Dumas Papers); addressed: “Monsieur / Monsieur C. W. F Dumas / à l’hotel des Etats Unis de l’Amerique / La Haye”; endorsed: “Paris 10e. 7ber. 1783 / E. Mr. J. Adams.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106. Text lost due to a torn manuscript has been supplied from the LbC.


JA likely had not seen the text of the Anglo-Dutch preliminary peace treaty, which he received as an enclosure in a 12 Sept. letter from Gerard Brantsen (to the president of Congress, 13 Sept., calendared, below). But he knew generally of its provisions, most notably the loss of the Dutch East India Company’s establishment at Negapatam (now Nagapattinam) on India’s Coromandel Coast. The Dutch blamed lack of French support for the loss (vol. 14:235–238).


For Dumas’ efforts regarding the loan, see his letter of 18 Sept., and note 2, below.

To Elbridge Gerry, 10 September 1783 Adams, John Gerry, Elbridge
To Elbridge Gerry
My dear Friend, Paris Septr. 10th. 1783.

As to the Trade with the West Indies, I do not think we can hope to revive it upon more favorable Terms than those before the War. If we can be admitted to carry Cargoes to G. Britain & Ireland, or G. Britain alone from the Islands, giving Bonds with Sureties to land them in some Port of those Kingdoms, it will be all we can expect. If Congress, are of the same Mind, they had better empower Us to conclude upon those Terms— To admit Us to carry Sugars and all the produce of the West Indies to other parts of Europe or to North America, without restriction, would indeed be giving up all their West India Trade in a manner.

I beg you would make a point of putting Jay and me into the Commission for treating with Denmark, Portugal and the two Empires— Place Franklin at the head of the Commission if you will. It was perfectly right to put me first in the two Commissions, in which I came out to Europe sole— But it will be now right to put Franklin first in this Commission, provided he is chosen first, or has most Votes, according to your common Rule. As the Reason, which placed me foremost in two Commissions, now ceases, it will not be amiss to follow the rule of Seniority of Ministers— If you had pursued your plan of confiding one business to one Minister, all would have been well—but as you have broke the rule, & joined a Number in two Commissions, you ought to join them in all which are to be executed in the same place. None will have a right to complain, and any other rule has ill effects in Europe and America.1

But this is not all. This method of smuggling Treaties into 277Franklin’s Hands alone, is contrived by Vergennes on purpose to throw slights upon Jay and me, & to cheat you out of your Carrying Trade.

I beg it may be considered, that it ought to be insisted on by Us, with Portugal, Denmark, Germany & Russia, that American Productions, imported into their Dominions in American Vessels, navigated by American Seamen, ought to pay no higher Duties than if imported in the Ships of those Countries. This will never be insisted on, unless you put Jay & me into the Commission, or give it as a positive Instruction.

But you ought to have some Sympathy for the feelings of your Ministers, and more for their Reputations: This is hint enough for you. I beg you to write me. Our Affairs will all end extremely well, if we are supported— But if Franklin is suffered to go on with that low Cunning, and mean Craft, with which he has always acted, & by which he has done so much Mischief, the public will suffer.

your Friend.

John Adams.2

RC in John Thaxter’s hand (MHi:Hoar Autograph Coll.); internal address: “Mr. Gerry.”; endorsed: “10 Sepr 83.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.


See JA’s earlier, less-detailed comments regarding the order of names in past and future commissions, in his first letter of 8 Sept. to the president of Congress, above.


In JA’s hand.