Papers of John Adams, volume 16


“Once more after an Interruption of ten Years, I pronounce myself a happy Man, and pray Heaven to continue me so.”1 Thus wrote John Adams in late August 1784 after the arrival of his wife, Abigail, and daughter, Nabby. He, his wife, and two eldest children were again united and living in the pleasant Paris suburb of Auteuil. There Adams was joined with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in a new joint commission to negotiate commercial treaties with the nations of Europe and North Africa. He found the commission’s work satisfying and his colleagues congenial. He was happy to be associated again with Jefferson, and he remarked of Franklin that “I never Saw him in such apparent good Humour, and I shall certainly do nothing to disturb it.”2

Volume 16 of the Papers of John Adams chronicles fourteen months of Adams’ diplomatic career, from February 1784 through March 1785. It differs from the immediately preceding volumes of Adams’ public papers because John Adams was finally content with his situation; except for the financial emergency of early 1784, there were no crises to manage, urgent negotiations to conclude, or even individuals, nations, or institutions worthy of his indignation. For virtually the first time since embarking on his initial diplomatic mission in 1778, John Adams was engaged in normal diplomacy.

John Adams’ letters again display a candor unmatched by those of any of his colleagues, and his commentary on events and individuals remains incisive and relevant. But they are also less abrasive and confrontational, and they exhibit less vanity than those in the immediately preceding volumes. This change in tone owes much to the more agreeable and less stressful situation in which he found himself. It also reflects the warnings he received, notably from xx Massachusetts’ members of Congress Elbridge Gerry and Samuel Osgood. Their letters provided Adams with detailed accounts of events in Congress and of the influence of factions within the body.3 Those from Osgood amounted to a congressional history spanning several years, and John Adams remarked that he had “never received So much Information, concerning the Spirit of the times.”4 But Gerry and Osgood also cautioned Adams of the ill effects of the openness and vanity displayed in his letters, and Adams, uncharacteristically, was unsure how to respond. On 9 April he drafted two replies to Osgood but sent neither. On 30 June he tried again, drafting replies to both Osgood and Gerry, but they too went unsent. Almost nine months passed before he could respond. He wrote to Gerry that “I have never answered particularly, your most friendly & instructive Letters, nor those of Mr: Osgood. I really could not do it,” and to Osgood Adams wrote that he had “written and burnt five or Six Answers,” and while “no Letters I ever received let me so deeply into the Politicks of Congress … I could not write a Letter upon the subject that upon a review I thought it prudent to send.”5 Adams’ newfound prudence may have had the tangible effect of smoothing the way for his long-sought appointment as minister to Great Britain in February 1785, for Gerry wrote that it had been Adams’ previous writings which had fueled the opposition to his selection for the post.6

This is not to say that volume 16 is devoid of significant events or that John Adams’ correspondence, both public and private, is less crucial to understanding the period. Adams’ negotiation of a new Dutch loan saved the United States from financial ruin. The negotiation of the Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce indicated that European nations were beginning to take the United States seriously. Congress’ creation of a joint commission to negotiate treaties with the nations of Europe and North Africa in May 1784 was a departure from its complacent, even dismissive attitude toward foreign relations in the wake of the Anglo-American peace. Adams’ appointment as minister to Great Britain in February 1785 showed that Congress recognized that it must deal directly with the nation central to its foreign policy, and even to its long-term xxi survival. Moreover, many of the letters that Adams received, particularly from correspondents in the United States, provided him with significant intelligence on the critical state of Anglo-American relations. What John Adams drew from those letters would be of critical importance in shaping his representations to the British government following his May 1785 arrival in London to assume his duties as the American minister to the Court of St. James.


In February 1784 John Adams and John Quincy Adams, who served as his father’s secretary, were once again at the American legation at The Hague. They would remain there until August, when they moved to the Paris suburb of Auteuil upon the arrival in Europe of Adams’ wife, Abigail, and daughter, Nabby. The sojourn in the Netherlands was not at their own volition. In December 1783 the Amsterdam bankers charged with raising the 1782 Dutch-American loan had demanded Adams’ presence to forestall a financial crisis threatening to ruin American credit in Europe. In consequence the Adamses had made in January a difficult journey from London to The Hague, an ordeal made necessary by events in the United States. Robert Morris had been unable to convince the states to agree to an impost to finance the central government, and an army mutiny had forced Congress to flee Philadelphia. These events led Dutch investors to lose confidence in the new nation’s ability to govern itself and pay its bills. This, in turn, meant that Adams’ 1782 5-million-florin loan failed to be fully subscribed. Unaware of the loan’s shortfall, Robert Morris issued bills of exchange in an amount far exceeding the funds available for their redemption. For the preservation of American credit it was crucial that the bills not be protested on their arrival. For the bankers, and ultimately for Adams, the only viable option was a new loan. In 1784, however, the United States could seek only 2 million florins and at a much higher cost than in 1782.7 Adams initially despaired of obtaining additional funding “without agreeing to Terms so disadvantageous as to be little better than the final Protest of the Bills.— indeed it is Still improbable that I can obtain it, upon any Terms at all.— Money is Scarce as well as our Credit feeble.”8


The letters exchanged by Adams and the loan consortium carry the reader into the arcane world of eighteenth-century finance and contemporary perceptions of national solvency. Amazingly, although Congress was unable under the Articles of Confederation to authorize a source of funds independent of the states that would permit it to unequivocally service its foreign debt, the new loan was soon filled, and in the process investor interest in the 1782 loan was revived.9 This made it possible to pay Morris’ bills, and by early January 1785 the loan consortium could report that the United States had a balance of almost a million florins in its favor.10 John Adams had rescued American credit, and he was proud of his success, but his letters to America continued to emphasize that the ultimate goal must be that the United States put its financial house in order.

In mid-February 1784, even as he dealt with America’s financial plight, John Adams was presented with a new opportunity. His friend the Baron Friedrich von Thulemeier, Prussian minister to the Netherlands, visited Adams and announced that he had been authorized to negotiate a Prussian-American commercial treaty. Adams was honored by the Prussian offer, and, after consulting his colleagues at Paris, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, he encouraged the Prussian initiative.11 Thus it was that in April Thulemeier presented a draft treaty based on the recently concluded Swedish-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

Thulemeier’s draft was, for the most part, favorable to the United States and acceptable to Adams and his colleagues. But the Americans’ ability to conclude a treaty was limited. They lacked plenipotentiary powers and could accept only proposals for submission to Congress for its consideration. Thus, with minor changes suggested by the Americans, the draft was sent to Congress. But by the time the treaty reached New York, Congress was in recess, and the proposed agreement was never acted upon. The Committee of the States that met during Congress’ recess had no power to act. Also, in early May a new joint commission was created that did have plenipotentiary powers, and the Prussian-American negotiations were referred to its purview. In November the negotiations would begin again, this time with a positive result.


The new loan and the Prussian-American treaty were not the only matters with which John Adams concerned himself while at The Hague. Mason Locke Weems, later known for his hagiography of George Washington, was in 1784 an Anglican divinity student seeking ordination without having to take the required oath of allegiance to the king of England. Adams, to whom Weems wrote seeking assistance, took up the young American’s cause and through his diplomatic contacts at The Hague applied to the church in Denmark. Congress approved of Adams’ efforts on Weems’ behalf, which led to a vote of thanks to the Danish diplomats to whom Adams had applied.12 As minister to Great Britain John Adams would again be drawn into the split between the American Episcopal Church and the Church of England when the American church appealed to him to facilitate the ordination of its own bishops.13 Adams also brought to a successful conclusion his effort, begun in the fall of 1783, to obtain the publication in the Netherlands and England of the Abbé de Mably’s Observations sur le gouvernement et les loix des États-Unis d’Amérique, which took the form of four letters addressed to Adams himself.14 In addition, Adams offered advice regarding the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, answered a request from a German almanac publisher for information regarding American government and politicians, and even responded to a request for his assistance in obtaining a patent from Congress for a perpetual motion machine.15

John Adams’ correspondence while at The Hague was extensive, most notably with Henry Laurens, Edmund Jenings, the Marquis de Lafayette, and Thomas Barclay. The correspondence with Laurens and Jenings is significant because the two men ended their exchanges with Adams. In Laurens’ case this was probably owing to accumulated grievances, including Adams’ assumption of his role as minister to the Netherlands during Laurens’ imprisonment in the Tower of London and what the South Carolinian saw as Adams’ insincere offer to relinquish the post following Laurens’ release. But Laurens believed that Adams was responsible for his absence from xxiv the signing of the Anglo-American definitive peace treaty and likely was unhappy at Adams’ continued refusal to support him in his dispute with Edmund Jenings over a series of anonymous letters seeking to create divisions among the commissioners.16 Jenings’ decision to cease his correspondence with Adams may be owing to Adams’ disinclination to involve himself in the Laurens-Jenings dispute, particularly after Jenings, in a letter to Edward Bridgen, challenged Bridgen and Laurens to duels, but it had the effect of depriving Adams of a prolific source of intelligence on events in England.17 It should be noted that Adams never believed that Jenings was the author of the anonymous letters, and in one of his 9 April draft letters to Samuel Osgood, Adams for the first time identified the writer as a clerk in the Amsterdam banking firm of Jean de Neufville & fils.18

The Marquis de Lafayette wrote regarding the Society of the Cincinnati. As the leading member of the Society’s French chapter, Lafayette was responding to what he saw as Adams’ unfair and ill-informed criticism. John Adams believed that the organization, with its hereditary membership, threatened American liberties and ultimately the accomplishments of the Revolution. In this Adams echoed the views of many of his correspondents in the United States and others, such as Matthew Ridley, in Europe. Lafayette defended the institution, arguing that it posed no threat and even proposing to modify its constitution to eliminate its hereditary nature if that would make it more acceptable.19 The two men failed to resolve their differences and, probably wisely, let the matter drop.

Thomas Barclay, the American consul in France, also exchanged numerous letters with John Adams. Part of the correspondence was official, stemming from Barclay’s role as Congress’ agent to settle European accounts. But the consul’s presence in Paris made him an excellent source of intelligence from there, and as the arrival of Adams’ wife and daughter neared, Barclay proved invaluable in negotiating the lease for the house that the Adamses would occupy at Auteuil, which was Barclay’s former residence.20


John Adams was assisted at The Hague by his son John Quincy and C. W. F. Dumas, the American agent. The younger Adams served as his father’s secretary, even drafting in French two memorials to the States General requesting passports for the importation of books and other property into the Netherlands.21 On one occasion, in John Quincy’s absence, Dumas too acted as Adams’ secretary,22 but his real value was evident after Adams’ move to Auteuil, when he assumed the role of American chargé d’affaires. In that capacity he performed routine diplomatic business such as issuing sea letters for ships trading with the United States and obtaining information on Dutch dealings with the Barbary States.23 Dumas also kept Adams informed of political events in the Netherlands, particularly the ongoing Austro-Dutch quarrel over the reopening of the Scheldt River and the ever-present conflict between the factions supporting and opposing the prerogatives and power of William V, the stadholder.

John Adams left The Hague on 4 August, traveling to London to join Abigail, Nabby, and John Quincy Adams. He returned to The Hague only for short visits in 1786, 1787, and 1788, but that was not his original intention.24 He expected that when the Adams women reached Europe they would join him in the Netherlands and reside in the American legation. Indeed, an unfounded expectation of their imminent arrival led to John Quincy’s being sent to England in May to meet and escort them to The Hague. When they failed to appear the younger Adams returned to the Netherlands, only to go back to London upon receiving Abigail’s 23 July letter announcing her arrival, again with the expectation of returning with his mother and sister to the legation. But circumstances changed, for almost simultaneously with his wife’s arrival, John Adams received news of the new joint commission and the impending arrival of Thomas Jefferson, who would join him and Benjamin Franklin. This meant that Adams had a new mission. He and his family, in a new carriage purchased by John Quincy Adams in London, set off for Paris and Auteuil.25


John Adams remained in Europe after the September 1783 signing of the Anglo-American definitive peace treaty only because he received news that in May Congress had resolved to create a joint commission to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty. That resolution was adopted largely at Adams’ urging, but no commission was ever issued. By July 1784, his patience exhausted, Adams wrote Congress, calling upon it to act on his previously submitted resignation as minister to the Netherlands so that he might return home.26 That letter was never sent, probably because he reconsidered in view of Abigail and Nabby’s expected arrival, but it indicates his mood at that time. It is no wonder, therefore, that his spirits improved markedly with the arrival of Congress’ 7 May 1784 resolution creating a joint commission with the requisite commissions and instructions.27

The new joint commission was charged with negotiating treaties with 23 nations of Europe and North Africa and was enacted only after much debate. The principal reason why the May 1783 resolution had never been implemented was because members of Congress were undecided, then and well into 1784, about exactly what American policy should be toward Europe. Were commercial treaties needed? If they were, should the negotiations take place in Europe or America? Some even doubted that the United States should maintain any European diplomatic establishment at all. The creation of the joint commission answered those questions but did not indicate that Congress or many Americans looked upon the nation’s diplomatic endeavors with great favor, for even as it named the new commission, Congress voted to cut the salaries of its diplomats in Europe, a circumstance commented on acerbically by both Adams and Franklin.28

The commissioners met and did their work at Benjamin Franklin’s residence in Passy, a mile’s walk from John Adams’ home in Auteuil. Adams wrote to Elbridge Gerry that this was because “Dr Franklin has the Stone, which confines him to his House and now and then a Walk of a mile round it.” He added that Congress’ “late xxvii Arrangement has done him [Franklin] much good” because it “has obliged him to Subdue or conceal those Passions, which have tormented him and others for many Years.”29 Thus it was that by early September Adams and his colleagues were hard at work in apparent harmony.

The commissioners’ first task was to send off letters announcing their new plenipotentiary powers to the countries named in Congress’ resolution with the exceptions of the Ottoman Empire, the Barbary States, Hamburg, and the Netherlands.30 The replies they received were generally polite acknowledgments of the receipt of the commissioners’ letter, with a promise to send it on to their governments. Other responses, from Tuscany, Portugal, and Denmark, indicated a willingness to negotiate treaties, but only the response from the Baron von Thulemeier actually resulted in a treaty. Writing in early October from The Hague, Thulemeier proposed that the earlier, abortive negotiations for a Prussian-American treaty be re-opened. The commissioners agreed, but rather than resuming negotiations on Thulemeier’s earlier draft, they offered, on 10 November, a new draft for his consideration. It was founded on a model treaty prepared by Thomas Jefferson, which was based on existing agreements between the United States and France, the Netherlands, and Sweden. It also contained an innovative provision reflecting Benjamin Franklin’s long-held belief that the “Cultivators of the earth” and fishermen should be exempted from the rigors of war. Because the commissioners were at Paris and Thulemeier was at The Hague, the negotiations were conducted entirely through correspondence. Still, they proceeded expeditiously. Thulemeier also carried on a private correspondence with John Adams and as the negotiations neared completion asked Adams to inform his colleagues that the provisions agreed to by Prussia represented its final position, and substantial changes by the commissioners might doom the treaty. By March the terms of the treaty were complete, and it remained only to obtain the final approval of the foreign ministry in Berlin and to produce engrossed copies of the treaty in French and English for signing, which took place in the summer of 1785.31

Even as they negotiated with Prussia, the commissioners were xxviii forced to turn their attention to the Barbary States. This was owing to the emperor of Morocco’s seizure of the American vessel Betsy because of his frustration at the United States’ failure to respond to his previous offers of a treaty.32 The seriousness of the situation was underscored in a letter to Adams from the imprisoned captain of the Betsy and in letters that the commissioners received from William Carmichael, the acting American chargé d’affaires at Madrid. But negotiations with the North African states presented unique problems, which is why the commissioners had not notified them of their new powers at the same time that they had informed the nations of Europe. The chief difficulty was that negotiations with the Barbary States would almost certainly have to be conducted on site. The commissioners, for a variety of reasons, could not go to North Africa, but neither did they have the power to appoint an agent to conduct the negotiations in their stead. Even if they could have appointed an agent, they lacked the funds to pay him or to provide the gifts or tribute traditionally required for a treaty with the Barbary States. The commissioners informed Congress of the situation and sought its guidance. They also appealed to France and the Netherlands for assistance under the terms of their treaties of 1778 and 1782.33 Relief was at hand, however, for in March 1785 Congress modified its position regarding negotiations with the Barbary States, issued new commissions, permitted the commissioners to appoint agents to conduct the negotiations, and, most importantly, provided funds to make the treaties possible.34 The new policy was implemented later in 1785 when Thomas Barclay was sent to Morocco and John Lamb set off for Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli.

In February 1785 Congress made significant changes to its European diplomatic establishment. It finally named John Adams minister to Great Britain, a post for which he had lobbied over the years, even to the extent of sending to Congress a description of the ideal minister that could be mistaken for no one other than John Adams.35 It also approved Benjamin Franklin’s return to the United States and appointed Thomas Jefferson the new minister to xxix France.36 The responsibilities of the joint commission remained unchanged, although it had only two members following Franklin’s departure from France in the summer of 1785.


John Adams’ labors as minister to the Netherlands and as joint commissioner were important, but looming over everything that either he or the commissioners did was the specter of Anglo-American relations. A peace treaty had been signed, but its implementation by both parties remained in question. Anglo-American trade had returned to its traditional channels and regained its importance as a force driving both economies. But Britain increasingly regulated its trade with America, while the United States found itself unable to effectively manage its trade with Britain. It is not surprising, therefore, that much of John Adams’ correspondence, public and private, deals in one way or another with the consequences of the peace treaty and the burgeoning Anglo-American trade. These letters take on added importance in view of Adams’ 24 February 1785 appointment as minister to Great Britain.

The Americans’ most immediate concern was the implementation of the peace treaty. Letters from Tristram Dalton and Samuel Adams described the anger in Massachusetts over the peace treaty’s provisions regarding the loyalists and the General Court’s actions in response.37 Thomas Cushing wrote concerning the peace treaty’s ambiguous definition of the boundary between Massachusetts and Nova Scotia and requested clarification from Adams.38 Other letters dealt with Britain’s failure to evacuate the posts on the frontier, the payment of prewar debts, and the transport of slaves and other property from the United States by the British Army. Even the issue of when the war ended was in doubt, for Adams received a petition signed by seventy merchants complaining that their ships had been seized contrary to any rational reading of the February 1783 proclamations of the cessation of hostilities.39

Equally frustrating to Americans was the state of Anglo-American xxx trade. Letters complained that while British ships and manufactures had free access to the American market, American vessels and produce were denied access to the British market by the Navigation Act, Orders in Council, and alien duties. Adams approved of reports that the states might grant Congress the power to regulate trade, but his hopes went unrealized because of the lack of a unified government. From Nantucket Adams received a letter indicating that British duties on American whale oil threatened to destroy the Massachusetts whaling industry and force the island’s whaling families to move to Nova Scotia or other British possessions in order to have access to the British market.40 But the most incisive analysis of the dynamics of Anglo-American commerce came in a letter from the Massachusetts merchant Stephen Higginson who made clear the consequences for the United States if a commercial agreement was not concluded with Great Britain or the new nation proved unable to unilaterally regulate its trade.41

Responsibility for resolving the outstanding issues between the United States and Great Britain lay first with the joint commissioners. They were charged with negotiating a commercial treaty with Britain, and their instructions from Congress were explicit regarding the nature of such a treaty as well as the need to finally settle the issues arising from the definitive peace treaty.42 The commissioners wasted no time attempting to execute their orders. In exchanges with David Hartley, former British peace commissioner, and the Duke of Dorset, the British ambassador to France, they laid out the issues and even offered to go to London for negotiations.43 But the Pitt ministry made no substantive response to the commissioners’ overtures beyond assurances that it was amenable to exchanging ministers. The apparent British indifference to Anglo-American negotiations was partly due to Britain’s decision in 1783 to regulate trade with the United States by parliamentary statute and Orders in Council, making a commercial treaty with the United States largely irrelevant. But it also reflected British doubts over the ability of the United States under the Articles of Confederation to conclude a xxxi commercial treaty that would be binding on the individual, sovereign states.44 If that were not enough, rumors circulated in London, partially the result of a letter from John Adams to a friend in London, Charles Sigourney, that it was the commissioners who refused to negotiate, not the British government.45

By March 1785 John Adams was convinced that the commissioners at Paris could not resolve the issues roiling Anglo-American relations. Only a minister residing in London offered any possibility for success. He wrote to Francis Dana that “I think a Minister should be sent to London according to the polite Invitation of the Court of St James’s, and if he does not Succeed, the States must pass Acts of Reciprocity, I will not call them Retalliation.”46 Adams knew that whoever was named as minister would have neither “a lucrative Employment nor a pleasant occupation.”47 When he reached London in May 1785 as minister to the Court of St. James, Adams discussed the issues with the Pitt ministry and even submitted a draft Anglo-American treaty. The British government listened and observed the diplomatic niceties but was no more willing to enter into substantive negotiations with him than it had been with the commissioners. True to Adams’ expectation his new post was not “a pleasant occupation,” and it was made even less so when the United States proved unable to retaliate against Britain to support John Adams’ representations on its behalf.


Once again the editors are grateful to John Adams for keeping letterbook copies of his correspondence, both public and private. It often permits them to include both sides of a correspondence even when a recipient’s copy of a letter by Adams has been lost. In the fourteen months chronicled by volume 16, Adams used only Letterbook 19, which corresponds to reel 107 of the Adams Papers Microfilms, and which was fully described in a previous volume.48 Most of the copies that are not in John Adams’ hand are by John Quincy Adams, who acted as his father’s secretary following the xxxii departure of John Thaxter and Charles Storer. Three letters are in the hand of C. W. F. Dumas, the only known instances in which he acted as Adams’ secretary.49 There are also numerous others in AA2’s hand, the first of which is that to Charles Sigourney of 17 February 1785. In all cases where a letterbook copy is mentioned in a descriptive note or the annotation, the microfilm reel containing the letterbook is indicated.


There have been no substantive changes in the editorial method since 2007, when the editors undertook a comprehensive review of the project’s editorial practices that resulted in significant changes. For a statement of the policy as then determined, see the Papers of John Adams, 14:xxix–xxxvii. Those interested in following the evolution of the editorial method from the beginnings of the editorial project should consult the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, 1:lii–lxii, and the Papers of John Adams, 1:xxxi–xxxv; 9:xx–xxiii; 11:xx–xxi.


The Massachusetts Historical Society continues its efforts to make Adams family materials available to scholars and the public online. Four digital resources of particular interest to those who use the Papers of John Adams volumes are the Adams Papers Digital Editions; The Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive; The Diaries of John Quincy Adams: A Digital Collection; and the Online Adams Catalog. All are available through the Historical Society’s website at

The Adams Papers Digital Editions, cosponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University Press, and the Massachusetts Historical Society, provides searchable text files of the 38 Adams Papers volumes published prior to 2007 (excluding the portraits volumes). The Adams Papers volumes are supplemented by a cumulative index prepared by the Adams Papers editors. The digital edition is intended not to replace the letterpress edition but xxxiii rather to supplement it by widening the access of scholars and the public to the wealth of Adams material included therein.

The Adams Family Papers Electronic Archive contains images and text files of all of the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society as well as John Adams’ diaries and autobiography. The files are completely searchable and can also be browsed by date.

The Diaries of John Quincy Adams Digital Collection provides images of John Quincy Adams’ entire 51-volume Diary, which he kept for nearly seventy years. The images can be searched by date or browsed by diary volume.

The Online Adams Catalog represents a fully searchable electronic database of all known Adams documents at the Massachusetts Historical Society and other public and private repositories. This digital conversion of the Adams Papers control file was supported by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Massachusetts Historical Society, and was initiated by Packard Humanities Institute funds in 2009. The Online Adams Catalog allows the public online access to a database of over 110,000 records of documents related to the Adams family. Cross-reference links are supplied for at least 30 percent of the records in the catalog to the online, printed, and microfilm editions, or websites of the appropriate repository, including the Adams Papers Digital Editions, the Adams Family Papers Electronic Archive, and 608 reels of Adams Papers microfilm. Each record contains information on the author, recipient, date of the document, and the location of the original, if known.

Also of value to users of the Papers of John Adams is the online catalog of the John Adams Library at the Boston Public Library. The catalog includes a record of the marginalia entered by John Adams in his books as well as a growing number of digitized volumes. For additional information, see

The letters printed in this volume recount John Adams’ final months at The Hague; his move to Auteuil outside Paris; and his service, with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, as one of the three joint commissioners to negotiate commercial treaties with the nations of Europe and North Africa. But it is not the only documentary source for Adams’ life and times. The 352 documents printed and the 176 items omitted should be used in conjunction with the 115 documents for the period appearing in the Adams Family xxxiv Correspondence (5:302–485; 6:1–78). These letters are particularly important because they chronicle Abigail and Nabby’s voyage to Europe, the relocation of the Adams family to Auteuil, and the life they led in their new home. It also includes the correspondence between John and John Quincy Adams during the younger Adams’ two journeys to London to meet his mother and sister. Attention should be paid as well to John Quincy Adams’ Diary (1:207–242), which contains an account of the family’s journey from London to Paris and Auteuil and describes his interaction with many of the people mentioned in John Adams’ letters. John Adams’ Diary and Autobiography (3:154–175) is useful for it contains Abigail Adams’ diary of her voyage to England and John Adams’ intermittent entries covering his journey from The Hague to London to meet his wife and daughter and his activities as joint commissioner.

Gregg L. Lint June 2011

C. W. F. Dumas, 25 Aug. 1784, below.


To Elbridge Gerry, 9 Sept. 1784, below.


Elbridge Gerry’s letters were of 23 Nov. 1783 and 14 Jan. 1784, while Samuel Osgood’s were of 7 Dec. 1783 and [14 Jan. 1784], vol. 15:369–376, 398–414, 447–450, 452–455.


Draft Letters to Samuel Osgood, 9 April 1784, No. I, below.


To Elbridge Gerry, 12 Dec. 1784; to Samuel Osgood, 13 Dec., both below.


From Elbridge Gerry, 14 Feb. 1785, below.


To Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, 1 Feb. 1784, note 1, below.


To Benjamin Franklin, 11 Feb. 1784, below.


See, for example, the schemes for a loan enclosed with letters from the loan consortium of 4 Feb. 1784, and from Wilhem & Jan Willink of 4 and 16 Feb., and the contract for the second Dutch loan, [9 March], all below.


From Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, 6 Jan. 1785, below.


To Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, 20 Feb. 1784, below.


From Mason Locke Weems, [ca. 27 Feb. 1784], 14 May; to Weems, 3 March; to the president of Congress, 22 April, and note 2, all below.


From the president of Congress, 24 Oct. 1785; from John Jay, 1 Nov.; from William White, 26 Nov., all Adams Papers, JA, Works , 8:333–335, 349–350.


From Antoine Marie Cerisier, 21 Feb., 3 March 1784; from J. F. Rosart & Co., 21 March; from Edmund Jenings, 7 May; to Cerisier, 22 Feb., all below. See also Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 6, above.


From Daniel Crommelin & Sons, 24 March 1784; from Charles Spener, 28 Feb.; to Crommelin & Sons, 26 March; to Spener, 24 March; to A. Le Jeune, 21 Feb., all below.


From Henry Laurens, 3 Feb. 1784; to Laurens, 11 Feb., both below.


From Edmund Jenings, 7 May, and enclosure, and 23 June 1784; to Jenings, 13 May, all below.


Draft Letters to Samuel Osgood, 9 April 1784, No. I, and note 7, below.


From the Marquis de Lafayette, 8 March, 9 April 1784; Matthew Ridley, 10 Feb.; James Warren, 26 Feb.; Tristram Dalton, 6 April; Samuel Adams, 16 April; John Thaxter, 1 June; to Lafayette, 28 March, all below.


From Thomas Barclay, 18 April 1784, and note 4, below.


Memorial to the States General, 2 July 1784 (2) [(1), (2)] , both below.


To Fizeaux, Grand & Co., 4 May 1784, descriptive note, below.


From C. W. F. Dumas, 26 Oct. 1784, 25 Feb. 1785, below.


JA, D&A , 4:265–266.


AFC , 5:397–399; to Samuel Adams, 13 May 1784, note 2; William Smith, 19 July, note 1; Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, 3 Aug., note 2; and for JA’s account of the journey, see his 25 Aug. letter to C. W. F. Dumas, all below.


Vol. 15:265–266; to the president of Congress, 3 July 1784, below.


Instructions to the American commissioners, 7 May 1784, and note 7; joint commission to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with Great Britain, [12 May], and note 1; from Elbridge Gerry, 16 June, all below.


From Benjamin Franklin, 6 Aug. 1784; to James Warren, 27 Aug.; but see also Elbridge Gerry’s letter of 14 Feb. 1785, all below.


To Elbridge Gerry, 9 Sept. 1784, below.


Commissioners to the Baron von Thulemeier, 9 Sept. 1784, and note 3; commissioners to the president of Congress, 11 Nov., both below.


The Negotiation of the 10 September 1785 Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 10 Nov. 1784 – 14 March 1785, below.


John Jay to the commissioners, 11 March 1785, note 7, below.


Commissioners to the president of Congress, 11 Nov. 1784; to C. W. F. Dumas, 22 Dec., [30] March 1785; from James Erwin, 17 Jan.; to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, 20 March, and note 1; commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes, 28 March, all below.


John Jay to the commissioners, 11 March 1785; joint commission to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with Morocco, [11 March]; American commissioners’ letter of credence to the emperor of Morocco, [11 March], all below.


This is JA’s 5 Feb. 1783 letter to the president of Congress (vol. 14:238–245). For Elbridge Gerry’s comment regarding that letter, see his letter of 24 Feb. 1785, below.


JA’s commission as minister to Great Britain, [24 Feb. 1785]; to Elbridge Gerry, 31 Jan., and note 1; from Gerry, 14 Feb., and note 5, all below.


From Tristram Dalton, 6 April 1784; from Samuel Adams, 16 April, both below.


From Thomas Cushing, 16 Aug. 1784; to Cushing, 25 Oct., both below.


To Benjamin Franklin and John Jay, 2 April 1784; to John Hurd, 20 April; from Franklin, 16 April, all below.


From Alexander Coffin and Peleg Coffin Jr., 5 Feb. 1784, below.


From Jonathan Jackson, 7 June 1784, and note 2, below.


Instructions to the commissioners, 7 May 1784, below.


David Hartley’s memorandum to the commissioners, [16 Sept. 1784]; Thomas Jefferson to JA and Benjamin Franklin, 17 Oct.; the commissioners to the Duke of Dorset, 28 Oct. (2); the commissioners to the president of Congress, 11 Nov.; Dorset to the commissioners, 24 Nov.; the commissioners to Dorset, 9 Dec.; to Samuel Osgood, 13 Dec.; to Cotton Tufts, 15 Dec.; Dorset to the commissioners, 26 March 1785, all below.


Vol. 15:33–34; the Duke of Dorset to the commissioners, 26 March 1785, below.


To Charles Sigourney, 17 Feb. 1785; from Charles Storer, [22] March, both below.


To Francis Dana, 8 March 1785; see also letters to Tristram Dalton, Elbridge Gerry, James Sullivan, and Charles Storer of 5, 9, 11, and 28 March, respectively, all below.


To Jonathan Jackson, 18 March 1785, below.


Vol. 13:xxii–xxiii.


See to Fizeaux, Grand & Co., 4 May 1784, descriptive note, below.