Papers of John Adams, volume 10

To Benjamin Franklin

To Jean Luzac

To the President of Congress, No. 24, 30 November 1780 JA President of Congress Huntington, Samuel


To the President of Congress, No. 24, 30 November 1780 Adams, John President of Congress Huntington, Samuel
To the President of Congress, No. 24
Duplicate Sir Amsterdam November 30th 1780

The State of Parties in this Republick is still critical. Many anonymous Pamphlets appear on both Sides. Those which proceed from the English Party, are virulent against Mr. Van Berkel.

The Republick itself wavers, according to Events and Causes which are impenetrable. A few days ago, the Plan appeared to be to acceed to the armed Neutrality, in order to satisfy one Party, and to disavow the Conduct of Amsterdam, in forming with Mr. Lee the Project of a Treaty, in order to appease the other. Fifteen Cities, even in the Province of Holland, have disavowed this Measure: Haerlem and Dort are the only two, which have approved it. The Grand Pensionary of Holland has sent after the Courier, who had been dispatched to the Plenipotentiaries at Petersbourg, and brought him back to the 386Hague. What Alteration is to be made is unknown.1 It is now given out, that they have determined to increase the Fortifications of the Maritime Towns, and augment their Garrisons.

I see every day more and more of the inveterate Prejudices of this Nation in favour of the English, and against the French, more and more of the irresistible Influence of the Stadtholder, and more and more of the Irresolution, Uncertainty and Confusion of the Nation. How the whole will conclude I know not.

One thing however is certain, that Congress can depend upon no Money from hence. I have, confiding in the Assurances of Dr. Franklin, accepted all the Bills drawn upon Mr. Laurens, which have yet been presented to me, amounting to thirty four thousand, three hundred and fifty eight Guilders: but I have no prospect of discharging them, or even of deriving my own Subsistence from any other Source than Passy. Congress will therefore I presume desist from any further draughts upon Holland, at least until they recieve certain Information, that Money has been borrowed, of which I see no present prospect.

I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.

Dupl in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, II, f. 317–320); docketed: “Letter Novr. 30. 1780 John Adams Read 19 Novr 1781.”


JA need not have worried about a change in the States General's resolution of 20 Nov. providing for the accession of the Netherlands to the armed neutrality. The courier was recalled to receive a copy of the resolution adopted by the States of Holland on 23 Nov., which condemned Amsterdam for its part in the Lee-Neufville negotiations. When the courier resumed his mission, he was ordered to wait at the town of Voorschoten for a similar resolution adopted by the States General on 27 November. Although adopted in response to Sir Joseph Yorke's memorial of 10 Nov., neither resolution provided for the punishment of Engelbert van Berckel and thus failed to meet the conditions set down by Yorke as necessary to avoid punitive measures by Great Britain (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution , p. 159–160).