Papers of John Adams, volume 10

From Thomas Digges, 22 December 1780 Digges, Thomas Church, William Singleton JA San, Ferdinand Raymond


From Thomas Digges, 22 December 1780 Digges, Thomas Church, William Singleton Adams, John San, Ferdinand Raymond
From Thomas Digges
Dear Sir 22d Dr./80

I am thankful for your favor and its inclosure of the 15th Instant.1 I hope my parcells go regularly for I never omit to put them in the common conveyance. Let me know if the present rupture will make any alteration. When you write Mr. W.S.C. you are requested not to direct but only mark the letter thus X on the seal part, and put it under a Cover directed to Mr. Stockdale Bookseller Piccadilly London.

The times are going very bad here and we Englishmen seem to feel we can war with all the world. We laugh at and hold you Dutchmen very Cheap. Orders are out for Reprisals and I dare say e'er this some ships are taken. We talk big about seizing immidiately every Dutch ship in our ports, taking all your East and West India Possessions &c. &c.2

I am winding up matters so as to get into a Country less embroild. You will be timely acquainted with my motions for I intend to take the Tour of the North. I beg my Compliments to my friend Mr. De Neufville and am thankfull for his present of news papers and letter. The times and temper of the People at present are against my getting an Answer from a friend whom I have lately wrote much about to the question you last put.3

We begin to talk here now that Mr. L bore a Commission of Plenipotentiary but this I think can be only known by himself. No news but what you will see in the papers.

I am yours &c. &c.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Monsieur Monsieur Ferdinand Raymond San Chez Monsr Hendrick Schorn Amsterdam”; endorsed: “Church”; docketed by CFA: “22d Decr 1780.”

428 1.

This letter has not been found.


What Digges does not indicate here, but which he presumably knew of by the 22d, is that on 20 Dec. George III had issued a Manifesto that constituted a declaration of war against the Netherlands. After recounting British grievances, particularly the States General's refusal to punish Amsterdam for its part in the Lee-Neufville treaty, the Manifesto announced the withdrawal of the British ambassador and declared that Britain would “immediately pursue such vigorous measures as the occasion fully justifies, and our dignity and the essential interests of our people require” (James Brown Scott, ed., The Armed Neutralities of 1780 and 1800, N.Y., 1918, p. 330–334). Also on the 20th, an Order in Council authorizing reprisals against Dutch vessels was promulgated and on 21 Dec. instructions for its implementation were issued (same, p. 334–345). The Manifesto and Order in Council appeared in the London Gazette Extraordinary of 21 Dec. and were reprinted in other London papers on the 22d. JA received the news on 1 Jan. 1781 and immediately sent off copies of the Manifesto and the Order to Congress (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , p. 219–222).


In view of the paragraph that immediately follows, Digges apparently refers here to JA's letter of 19 Nov. (above) in which he asked whether Laurens was commissioned as a minister plenipotentiary or only to raise a loan.