Papers of John Adams, volume 12

From John Thaxter

To Robert R. Livingston

To Robert R. Livingston, 23 April 1782 Livingston, Robert R. JA


To Robert R. Livingston, 23 April 1782 Livingston, Robert R. Adams, John
To Robert R. Livingston
No. 9 Hague April 23d. 1782 Sir

On the 23d. of April I had the Honor of a Conference with Mr. Van Citters, President of their High Mightinesses, to whom I presented the following Memorial.1

Hauts & Puissants Seigneur A la Haye 23. Avril 1782

Le Soussigné, Ministre Plenipotentiaire des Etats Unis d’Amerique a l’honneur d’informer Vos Hautes Puissances, qu’il est chargé par les Instructions de son Souverain, de proposer aux Etats Généraux des Provinces Unies des Pays Bas, un Traité d’Amitié et de Commerce, entre les deux Républiques, fondé sur le Principe d’un Avantage égal et reciproque, et compatible avec les Engagemens déjà pris par les Etats Unis avec leurs Alliés, ainsi qu’avec tels autres Traités qu’ils ont l’intention de former avec d’autres Puissances. En Consequence, le Soussigné a l’honneur de proposer à Vos Hautes Puissances de nommer quelque Personne ou Personnes, avec pleins pouvoirs de conferer et traiter avec lui sur cet important Sujet.2


Their High Mightinesses on the same day appointed a grand Committee to treat, to whom I was introduced with great Formality by two Noblemen,3 and before whom I laid a Project of a Treaty, which I had drawn up conformable to the Instructions of Congress. I prayed the Gentlemen to examine it, and propose to me their Objections, if they should have any, and to propose any further Articles, which they should think proper. It has been examined, translated, printed and sent to the Members of the Sovereignty.4

The greatest Part of my Time for several Days has been taken up in recieving and paying of Visits, from all the Members and Officers of Government, and of the Court, to the Amount of one hundred and fifty or more.5

I have the Honor to be,6 with great Respect, sir your most obedient & most humble servant J. Adams

RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 75–76).


There is no copy of the memorial that JA presented to the States General in the Adams Papers nor is it certain that the copy that JA handed to Willem van Citters is extant. In the archives of Hendrik Fagel, griffier or clerk of the States General, there is a “Copie” in C. W. F. Dumas’ hand that is signed by JA (Algemeen Rijksarchief). The address is printed in the Resolutiën van de Hoogh Mogende Heeren Staten Generaal der Vereenigde Nederlandsche Provinciën, 129 vols., The Hague, 1677–1796, vol. 1782, p. 362–363.

Lb/JA/16 contains what may be an untitled and undated draft of this address (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 104, f. 353–354). While substantively the same, the draft is more flowery than the address. JA wrote the draft in French, except one canceled passage in English that is followed by a French translation.


When JA published this letter in the Boston Patriot of 6 April 1811, he provided the following translation: “The undersigned minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, has the honor to inform your high mightinesses that he is charged by the instructions of his sovereign, to propose to the States General of the United Provinces of the low countries, a treaty of amity and commerce between the two republics, founded on a principle of equal and reciprocal advantage, and compatible with the engagements already taken by the United States with their allies, as well as with such other treaties as they have an intention to form with other powers. In consequence, the undersigned has the honor to propose to your high mightinesses to name some person or persons with full powers to confer and treat with him upon this important subject.”


Baron Derk Jan van Heeckeren van Brandsenburg and Baron Charles Bigot, deputies to the States General from Utrecht and Friesland respectively (Gazette de Leyde, 30 April).


No copy of the English text of the treaty JA presented to the committee of the States General has been found, although research in the Algemeen Rijksarchief at The Hague indicates that the States General received an English version. A printed extract of the draft treaty in Dutch, dated 26 April, from the Resolutiën van de Hoogh Mogende Heeren Staten Generaal der Vereenigde Nederlandsche Provinciën, in broadside form, is in the Fagel Coll. (Algemeen Rijksarchief). Since no further action regarding the treaty took place in April, it will be dealt with in detail in vol. 13 at 22 Aug. when the Dutch formally presented JA with the changes that they desired in the treaty’s text and substantive negotiations began. The treaty was signed on 8 Oct. (Miller, ed., Treaties , 2:59–88).


For JA’s memorandum of visits made and received during this period, see Diary and Autobiography , 3:1–3.


The remainder of the closing and the signature are in JA’s hand.