Papers of John Adams, volume 16

From Wilhem & Jan Willink

From Benjamin Franklin

John Adams to the president of Congress, 3 July 1784 Adams, John President of Congress
To the President of Congress
Sir The Hague July 3. 1784.1

Soon after the Signature of the Preliminary Articles of Peace, I requested, of Congress, their Permission to return to America. This Request they did not at that time judge proper to grant, me, but on the contrary resolved that a Commission should be sent to me, Mr: Franklin & Mr: Jay, to make a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain. But as no such Commission has arrived in Europe, the Sentiments of Congress are probably changed.2


It is not my Desire to remain long in Europe, nor ever has been, and it is now my Intention, to return to America as soon as I can with Decency. It would be not so respectfull as I wish to be, either to Congress or to the States General, if I were to return without a Letter of Recall; and as Congress are said to be adjourned to October, such a Letter cannot be dispatched before that Time, so that I must either undergo another Winter Voyage, or wait here untill the Spring.

I now however renew my Request for a Letter of Recall, to their High Mightinesses, as it is my Design to return home as soon as I may decently and conveniently, and as it is my unalterable Resolution, not to remain in Europe, consuming in vain but unavoidable Ostentation, the Labour of my fellow Citizens, any longer than I can see a Probability of being of some use to them.

With great & sincere Esteem &c.

LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “President of Congress.”; APM Reel 107.


This letter may not have been sent. The RC is not in the PCC, and there is no evidence that it was received or acted upon. Compare this letter with that of 5 July to the president of Congress, below, in which JA touches upon some of the same subjects but does not mention his 1782 resignation or desire to be recalled. But that letter exists only as a MS in the Adams Papers and may not have been sent either.


For JA’s resignation of his commissions to the Netherlands and to jointly negotiate the Anglo-American peace, and for Congress’ failure to act on them, see his 4 Dec. 1782 letter to Robert R. Livingston, vol. 14:112–113. And for his initial enthusiasm over Congress’ 1 May 1783 resolution establishing a joint commission to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty, which determined him to remain in Europe, see his two 8 Sept. letters to the president of Congress, vol. 15:265–268.