Papers of John Adams, volume 15

From C. W. F. Dumas, 22 September 1783 Dumas, C. W. F. Adams, John
From C. W. F. Dumas
Monsieur, Lahaie 22e. 7be. 1783.

Ma Lettre ne partira que demain, mais je l’écris ce matin pour la faire mettre à la poste, parce que je me propose, avant d’aller à Amsterdam, d’aller à Dort, entretenir notre Ami, non seulement sur la matiere de l’Emprunt, mais aussi, sur celle du Com̃erce entre les deux Rep., de la perfection duquel sur un plan en grand, j’ai obtenu depuis peu des notions importantes, que je lui communiquerai, ainsi qu’à Mr. Van Berckel.1

Voici une Lettre, reçue d’Angleterre dans ce moment Le papier des deux côtes du cachet s’est trouvé déchiré. Je l’ai raffermi avec des brins d’oubli; & vous verrez par le filet de papier, qui est encore 303entier, sous le cachet, qu’il y a du moins apparence que la Lettre n’a pas été ouverte.2

J’ai o[ublié], Monsieur, de vous parler d’une que Mr. D[ana] a fait l’honneur de m’écrire de Petersb. en date du [8 Août] il me dit

“I expect to [ta]ke my departure in about 12 days by a convenient opportunity now offering directly from this port for Boston— I pray you to present my regards to Mr. J. Q. Adams, and to acquaint him, that I shall take his Books, &c. with me to America.— Mr. Allen returns by this opportunity also.”3

Je pense com̃e vous, Monsieur, sur l’amélioration des affaires de la Rep. par la derniere guerre: & une preuve de cela, c’est que le parti rep., par-tout, & notam̃ent en Frise & à Utrecht, loin de se rallentir, vires acquirit eundo.4 J’entrerai une autre fois dans un plus grand détail là-dessus.

Mr. De Linde, par une Résolution de Zélande du 15e., est sûr à présent d’être proposé, & par conséqt. nécessairement nom̃é, Envoyé de la rep. en Angle., dès que les ratifications du Traité entre les 2 puissces. seront échangées, & il m’a permis de vous l’apprendre, en vous présentant ses complimens, avec l’espoir dont il se flatte de vous revoir à Londres.5

Aujourd’hui la jurisdiction Militaire & l’abolition du Haut Conseil de Guerre se décide à la pluralité des 6 Villes en Zélande, contre le Pce. qui y a la 7e. voix.6 C’est singulier de voir com̃e la révolution Américaine a exalté les têtes phlegmatiques de ce pays. Je pourrois vous en citer une anecdote curieuse & interessante en preuve: mais il n’est pas temps encore de la prone[r.] Je ne veux pas avoir à me reprocher d’avoir eventé leurs mines.

Je suis avec grand respect, de Votre Exce. / le très-humble & très-humble / serviteur

C.w.f. Dumas
Sir The Hague, 22 September 1783

My letter will not leave until tomorrow, but I am writing it this morning in order to have it taken to the post office, because I am offering my services, before I go to Amsterdam, to go to Dordrecht to have a discussion with our friend not only on the subject of the loan but also about commerce between the two republics, concerning the perfection of which, in the grand scheme of things, I recently gathered important ideas that I will communicate to him as well as to Mr. Van Berckel.1

Here is a letter just this minute received from England. The paper on 304both sides of the seal was torn. I closed it again with doubled strands, and you will see from the grain of the paper, which is still whole under the seal, that there is at least the appearance that the letter was not opened.2

I forgot, sir, to tell you about a letter that Mr. Dana did me the honor of writing from St. Petersburg, dated 8 August. He tells me:

“I expect to [ta]ke my departure in about 12 days by a convenient opportunity now offering directly from this port for Boston— I pray you to present my regards to Mr. J. Q. Adams, and to acquaint him, that I shall take his Books, &c. with me to America.— Mr. Allen returns by this opportunity also.”3

I agree with you, sir, about the improvement of the affairs of the republic by means of the last war, and one proof of that is that the republican party, notably in Friesland and Utrecht, far from slowing down, vires aquirit eundo.4 I will give more details on this at another time.

Mr. De Linde, by a resolution of Zeeland on the 15th, is certain to be nominated and consequently definitely named the republic’s envoy to England as soon as the treaty ratifications are exchanged between the two powers, and he has permitted me to notify you, while sending his compliments, with the hope that he will be fortunate enough to see you at London.5

Today the military jurisdiction and the abolition of the High Council of War was decided by the plurality of the six towns of Zeeland against the prince, who had the seventh vote.6 It is remarkable to see how the American revolution has stirred up the phlegmatic leaders of this country. I could cite for you a curious and interesting anecdote as proof, but this is not yet the time to trumpet it. I do not want to have to rebuke myself for having laid bare their veins of ore.

With great respect, I am your excellency’s very humble and very humble servant

C.w.f. Dumas

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Paris à S. Exce. Mr. Adams Mine. Plenipo:.” Text lost where the seal was removed has been supplied from the letterbook copy of Francis Dana’s [19 Aug.] letter to Dumas (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784).


In a 23 Sept. letter to Sir James Jay, Dumas indicated that he planned to meet with Cornelis de Gyselaar at Dordrecht and perhaps with Engelbert François van Berckel at Amsterdam. They would discuss Jay’s ideas about Dutch-American commerce that he had shared with Dumas in a letter of the 14th (not found). An abstract of that letter by Dumas shows that Jay credited the success of British merchants in America to their large capital, which allowed them to finance substantial stocks of goods, far-flung retail networks, and long-term credit. He suggested that Dutch merchants take the same approach and expand their presence in the United States by combining their resources in companies or societies. Dumas wrote again to Jay on 3 Oct. to report that Gyselaar had taken up Jay’s proposal with a member of the Dutch mercantile community, but the response afforded little prospect that Dutch merchants would heed Jay’s advice (Nationaal Archief:Dumas Papers, Microfilm, Reel 2, f. 585–586, 588–589; Reel 4, f. 209–212).


This letter has not been identified.


In addition to the portions from the letter of [19 Aug.] related by Dumas, Dana indicated that he had received permission 305from Congress to return to America and was availing himself of the opportunity to return rather than “waiting for the conclusion of the definitive Treaties of Peace, and taking an Audience of Her Imp: Majesty.” He also indicated to Dumas that “if I mistake not, busy & calamitous scenes are about to open upon this Continent. May the New-World be long preserved in Peace, and in the uninterrupted enjoyment of all the blessings of Liberty” (MHi:Francis Dana Letterbooks, Private, 1782–1784). For what Dana left unsaid with regard to his departure, see his letters to JA of [6 June], and note 4, and [29 July], both above.


It acquires strength by going (Virgil, Aeneid, Book IV, line 175).


Britain and the Netherlands had signed a preliminary peace treaty on 2 Sept. but would not conclude the definitive treaty until 20 May 1784. The two nations ratified the peace on 10 and 15 June, respectively, and exchanged the ratifications on the 19th (Edler, Dutch Republic and Amer. Rev., p. 244; London Gazette, 26–29 June). Baron Dirk Wolter Lynden van Blitterswyck did not present his credentials as Dutch minister until 10 Nov. ( Repertorium , 3:264).


On 22 Sept. 1783 the States of Zeeland, citing breaches of ordinary justice under the fundamental laws of the province, resolved to limit military jurisdiction to purely military offenses. On the same day the States instructed its deputies to the States General to pursue the abolition of the High Council of War and the creation of a committee to report on the proper exercise of military jurisdiction under the fundamental laws of the Netherlands (Gazette d’Amsterdam, 10, 14 Oct.).

From John Thaxter, 22 September 1783 Thaxter, John Adams, John
From John Thaxter
My dear Sir, L’Orient 22d. Septr. 1783.

I expected at this date to have been at Sea; but the violent Winds from the West & N. West render it absolutely impossible to leave the Port. The Vessel that is to carry me is completely fitted & ready, & has been so ever since the 19th. instant, she having been prepared in thirty six hours after my Arrival— I am infinitely indebted to the Zeal & Activity of Monsr. Thevenard, who has done every thing for me, & treated me with the utmost Attention & Politeness, as he does every American— No Man is more beloved by our Countrymen than him, & their Attachment appears to be indeed well founded.

Mr. Le Comte de Breugnon, the President of the Council of War here, did me the honor to invite me to dine with him to day, & I am just returned from thence— A great part of the Council was present—

I am much concerned at being detained here by bad Winds—but knowing that the Packet Boat cannot have made any great progress since her Departure, I am a little consoled— ’Twas reported this morning, that She had returned to the Isle de Grais—but ’twas a mistake— The Commandant sent an Express Boat off immediately to know the Truth of it, with orders to detain her for me—but it proved to be another Vessel.—1 All I can do is to hold myself in readiness, as I do, at a Moment’s warning—


I thôt it prudent to write the inclosed Letter, as I came by the Orders of the Ministers for Peace— You will please to shew it to the Gentlemen, if you think it proper.2

With the sincerest Respect & Attachment, / I have the honor to be, / Sir, / your most Hble Servt.

J Thaxter.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excelly. / Mr. Adams.”


Thaxter refers to the Isle de Groix off the harbor mouth at Lorient, but his information concerning the packet was mistaken, for which see Zachariah Loreilhe’s letter of 24 Sept., below.


Thaxter’s letter to the commissioners was dated 20 Sept. (LbC-Tr, APM Reel 103) and is very similar to his 18 Sept. letter to JA, above. Copied into the Letterbook with the 20 Sept. letter and enclosed with the 18 Sept. letter was the same brief note of the 18th to the Comte de Thévenard. That the letter to the commissioners and enclosure were copied into the Letterbook prepared for them by Benjamin Franklin’s secretary Jean L’Air de Lamotte indicates that JA shared the documents with his colleagues.