Papers of John Adams, volume 16

The Baron von Thulemeier to the American Commissioners, 4 March 1785 Thulemeier, Friedrich Wilhelm, Baron von American Commissioners
The Baron von Thulemeier to the American Commissioners
Messieurs, à la Haye le 4. Mars 1785.1

Les Ordres du Roi dont je me trouve actuellement muni, me mettent à même de répondre plus amplement à la lettre dont Vous m’avez. honoré, Messieurs, en dernier lieu, et dont je Vous ai accusé l’entrée par la mienne du 11. Fevrier.2 Sa Majesté Se persuade que l’établissement d’un ou de deux ports francs seroit absolument inutile, d’après la réflexion très juste que Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires Américains ont faite, que les Articles 2. et 3. du Contre-Projet accordent réciproquement aux deux Nations, dans tous les ports où ils voudront faire le commerce, les avantages dont jouissent les nations les plus favorisées. Cette observation épuise la question, d’autant plus que les intentions du Roi ne sont aucunement de borner le commerce des Citoyens de l’Amérique Confédérée à l’un ou l’autre de Ses ports. Dans le cas où l’établissement d’un port franc paroîtroit cependant de quelque utilité, on s’y prêteroit sans beaucoup de difficulté quant à Emden, mais plusieurs raisons s’opposeroient à une pareille concession à l’égard du port de Stettin. La lettre 541 de Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires ayant été écrite avant l’entrée des Observations sur le dernier Contre-Projet dont la mienne du 24. Janvier de l’année courante étoit accompagnée, il est à présumer que des éclaircissemens ultérieurs paroîtroient plus ou moins inutiles. Je me flatte que la première lettre que j’aurai l’honneur, Messieurs, de recevoir de Votre part, me facilitera les moyens de donner de concert avec Vous à la négociation qui a fait l’objet de nos soins communs, la consistance désirée. Le succès de cette transaction répondra, tant à mes voeux, qu’à l’intérêt commun de nos deux Nations.

J’ai l’honneur d’être avec la considération la plus distinguée, / Messieurs, / Vôtre très humble et très obéissant Serviteur

de Thulemeier
Gentlemen The Hague, 4 March 17851

The orders of the king with which I am now supplied enable me to respond more amply to the last letter with which you honored me, gentlemen, and the receipt of which I acknowledged in my letter of 11 February.2 His Majesty is convinced that the establishment of one or two free ports would be absolutely useless, after the very cogent remark made by the American plenipotentiaries that Articles 2 and 3 of the counterproject reciprocally grant to the two nations, in all the ports where they would like to engage in trade, all the advantages enjoyed by the most favored nations. This observation exhausts the question, all the more as the intentions of the king are not in the least to limit the commerce of the citizens of the American confederation to one or the other of his ports. In case the establishment of a free port would seem, however, to be of some use, the one that would lend itself to that without much difficulty would be Emden, but several reasons would prevent a similar concession with regard to the port of Stettin. The letter of the plenipotentiaries having been written before the arrival of the observations on the last counterproject, which accompanied my letter of 24 January, it is supposed that the latest clarifications would appear more or less useless. I flatter myself that the first letter that I have the honor of receiving from you, gentlemen, will make it easy for me to work with you to give the treaty, which has been the object of our common care, the desired coherence. The success of this transaction will fulfill my own wishes as well as the common interest of the two nations.

I have the honor of being with the greatest respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant

de Thulemeier

RC (PCC, No. 86, f. 195–198); internal address: “Messieurs Adams, Franklin et Jefferson, / Ministres Plénipotentiaires des Etats / Unis de l’Amérique à la Cour de 542 S. M. T. C. à Paris.”; endorsed: “Hague March 4. 1785 / from / The Baron de Thulemeier.— ”


This letter was enclosed with Thulemeier’s 4 March letter to JA (Adams Papers), in which he thanked JA for his letter of 13 Feb., commented on the progress of the Prussian-American treaty, and expressed his hope that JA would soon be returning to The Hague. For JA’s 13 Feb. letter, see the Negotiation of the 10 September 1785 Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 10 Nov. 1784 – 14 March 1785, No. VII, above.


Thulemeier’s letter of 11 Feb. 1785 (Jefferson, Papers , 7:649–650) acknowledged the commissioners’ letter of 21 Jan., above. The RC of that letter, not found, apparently was undated, because Thulemeier referred to it as being “au mois de Janvier dernier, sans indication de date particulière.”

John Adams to Tristram Dalton, 5 March 1785 Adams, John Dalton, Tristram
To Tristram Dalton
Dear Sir Auteuil near Paris March 5. 1785.

I had last night the Pleasure of your Letter of Decr: 21. I cannot, indeed Sir flatter myself at present that the Nation will receive, “the greatest Benefits” from any of my Labours in a public Line. It is a Consolation to me under all discouragements, to reflect upon services, which I have now & then had Opportunities of rendering. But such Occasions rarely occur: public Life is like a long Journey, in which we have immense Tracks of waste Countries to pass through, for a very few grand and beautiful Prospects. at present, I scarcely see a possibility of doing any thing for the public worth the Expence of maintaining me in Europe.

England and Spain seem determined, not to treat at all with us in France. The former proposes that we should send a Minister to London to treat there. such a Minister decently supported, would be a Protection to our Countrymen there: would keep up the Countenances of our Friends, and would hold in some degree of awe, our Enemies— Such are the habits of European Minds, that the bare presentaion to the King, and the mere Appearance at Court and among the Diplomatic Body of an american Minister would have a great Effect upon the Sentiments of the Nation. He would be a Center of Union, & would form acquaintances with foreign Ministers, which would have weight at Court, in the City, and in the Country. He would be able to contradict and discredit a Thousand lies with which the public Papers are filled, which prejudice and sour the Minds of the People. In short it appears to me, that we ought to try this Experiment, and if it does not succeed, we cannot be worse. America will probably then unite in measures to do herself Justice; We have the means in our Power. Duties sufficiently 543 high upon even “Gew gaws and Luxuries” would probably answer the end.

At present we hear but one side of the Question. The foreign Ministers at the Court of Versailles, who represent sovereigns, friendly to the House of Bourbon, are the only ones who are in any degree unreserved to the American Ministers. The Ambassadors from all the Courts which are jealous of that House are totally on the Reserve.— The Ambassadors from Sweeden, Prussia, Holland will be sociable but those from the two Empires, and from the most of the States of Germany, are buttoned up. They are afraid of our observing a Look or a Word and communicating it to the French Ministers. An American Minister in London would be in a contrary predicament. and it is there if any where that the other half of Europe would be laid open to Congress. We should preserve our friendship with France, but we may depend upon it, that while we maintain our neutrality, the better Terms, we appear to be upon with the other Powers of Europe, the more friendly to us will both the French and English be.

Congress however are the best Judges of this Measure and they may have reasons against it, that I am not aware of.

I think your apprehensions of the English compleating their Settlements in Nova Scotia so far as to supply their Islands with Fish and Lumber, and themselves with Oil, can never be realized. I have heretofore, and lately had several Conversations with the Marquis and with several other Noblemen on the subject of our Oil, and Pot ash, and Fish, and I doubt not that our Merchants might find a Market here for large Quantities of those Articles if they would open Correspondences. But while the English give Credit, our Merchants look no further. Mr Tracey and Mr: Jackson I believe collected some Information upon these subjects. We are much less in the Power of the English than either they or we imagine, as a little time will show. Why dont our Merchants speculate in Italy, every Port of which would be glad to see them? are they terrified by the Lies told in the English Papers of the Vessels taken by the Algerines?

yours affectionately.

LbC in JQA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Honble: Mr: Dalton.”; APM Reel 107.