Papers of John Adams, volume 13

Jacob Roorda to John Adams: A Translation

To Benjamin Franklin

108 To Robert R. Livingston, 9 June 1782 JA Livingston, Robert R.


To Robert R. Livingston, 9 June 1782 Adams, John Livingston, Robert R.
To Robert R. Livingston
Amsterdam June 9. 1782 Sir

The Admiralty have reported to their High Mightinesses their Remarks upon the Plan of a Treaty of Commerce, which I had the Honour to lay before them; together with Such Additions and Alterations as they propose. This Report has been taken ad Referendum by all the Provinces, except Overyssel, which has determined to vote as Holland Shall vote, this being the principal maritime Province, and the other inland. The Forms of Proceeding, according to this Constitution, are So circuitous that I dont expect this Treaty, will be finished, and Signed in less Time than three months, though Some of the most active members of the Government tell me, they think it may be Signed, in Six Weeks.1 I have not yet proposed the Treaty of Alliance, because I wait for the Advice of the Duke de la Vauguion. His Advice will not be wanting, in the Season for it for his Excellency is extreamly well disposed.

I have, after innumerable vexations, agreed with three Houses which are well esteemed here, to open a Loan. The extream Scarcity of Money, will render it impossible to Succeed to any large Amount. I dare not promise any Thing, and cannot advise Congress to draw. I Shall transmit the Contract for the Ratification of Congress as Soon as it is finished, and then I hope to be able to say, at what Time, and for how much Congress may draw.

This Nation is now very well fixed in its System, and will not make a Seperate Peace. England is So giddy, with Rodneys late Success in the West Indies, that I think She will renounce her Ideas of Peace for the present. The Conduct of Spain is not at all changed. This is much to be lamented on public Account, and indeed on Account of the Feelings of my Friend Mr Jay: for I perfectly well know, the cruel Torment of Such a Situation, by Experience, and I know too, that he has done as much and as well, as any Man could have done, in that Situation.

The late President Laurens, made me a Visit, at the Hague, last Week, in his Way to his Family, in France. He informed me, that he had written from ostend to Dr Franklin, declining to Serve in the Commission for Peace.2 I had great Pleasure in Seeing my old Friend, perfectly at Liberty, and perfectly just in his political opinions. Neither the Air of England, nor the Seducing Address of 109her Inhabitants, nor the Terrors of the Tower, have made any change in him.3

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

J. Adams

P.S. I hope Congress will receive a Collection of all the Resolutions of the Provinces and the Petitions of the Merchants, Manufacturers &c respecting the Acknowledgement of American Independence, and my Reception, as Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, by their High Mightinesses. I shall transmit Duplicates and Triplicates of them as soon as Health will permit. But Mr Thaxter has been Sick of a Fever, and myself with the “Influenza,” ever Since, our Removal, from Amsterdam to the Hague. This Collection of Resolutions and Petitions, is well worth printing together in America. It is a compleat Refutation of all the Speculations of the Small half toryfied Politicians among the Americans and of the malevolent Insinuations of Anglomanes, through the World against the American Cause. The Partisans of England, Sensible of this have taken great Pains to prevent an extensive Circulation of them.4

RC (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 85–88); endorsed: “A Letter from Mr Adams June 9th. 1782.” LbC (Adams Papers); notation immediately following the postscript: “11 June 1782 drew an order for 8 ducats in favour of William Alcock an American Prisoner escaped on M. M. Willinks &c and desired them to take 3 Notes to President of Congress to serve for one.” See also Allcock's letter of 9 July, below. When copying the duplicate of this letter (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel 1, f. 204–211), JA apparently inadvertently included the notation but then crossed it out.


On 26 April the States General issued a printed Dutch translation of JA's draft treaty of amity and commerce for submission to the admiralties of the various provinces for their comments and proposals for changes. On 21 May a new copy of the draft was printed, this time with the text of the draft in the left column and the proposals for changes or additions in the right column. The 21 May printing was intended for submission to the States of the various provinces for their consideration. For these documents and the draft treaty as submitted to JA on 22 Aug. and the ensuing negotiations, see The Negotiation of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 22 Aug. – 8 Oct., below. It should also be noted that at this time a French translation of the draft treaty, the source of which is unknown, was appearing in the Gazette d'Amsterdam (28, 31 May; 4, 7, 11, 14 June). There is no indication that JA had any role in the appearance of the draft in the Gazette, but it is ironic in view of his refusal to allow Herman van Bracht to publish the draft treaty in his Verzameling van de Constitutien . . . van Amerika, 2 vols., Dordrecht, 1781–1782 (to Van Bracht, 3 May, above).


JA and Laurens probably met on 5 June, the date on which JA wrote a letter introducing Laurens to Edmund Jenings, above. For Laurens' letter, variously dated 16 or 17 May, to Benjamin Franklin declining the commission, see Laurens, Papers , 15:501–504; Franklin, Papers , 37:377–380.


In the duplicate of this letter, JA placed this paragraph after the closing.


In this paragraph JA likely refers to his letter of 19 April, which contained English translations of the resolutions of the seven 110Dutch provinces and States General recognizing the United States and JA as its minister to the Netherlands (vol. 12:420–428). Livingston received that letter on 11 Sept. and on the 14th reported its arrival to Congress, which immediately resolved that the letter should be published (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 41; JCC , 23:580–581; see also Livingston's letter of 15 Sept., below). The letter appeared in various newspapers, including the Pennsylvania Gazette of 18 Sept. and the Boston Gazette of 7 October.