C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams: A Translation
The Hague, 3 July 1781
I was mortified to find that you had just left your inn, when I came to call on you after having met with some patriots. I hope we can make up for it on your next trip here. Meantime, I hasten to give you the enclosed, not only for you to be so kind as to forward it, with your dispatches, but also so that you may read it.
Everything it contains is as reliable as it is interesting. The third article is more directly important for America, and for you personally, because of your commission as minister plenipotentiary for a general peace. I held the dispatch in my hands and read it in its entirety, of which mine gives a summary.1 As far as it is concerned, you can rely on me. Besides, I do not know if the belligerent courts have agreed on certain preliminaries with the imperial courts, or if it is still only a negotiation initiated by these last two only. Time will tell.
My respects, if you please, to Messrs. Dana, Searle, Gillon and Jenings. I am with great respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
P.S. My compliments, sir, on Mr. Grasse’s victory against Hood near Martinique.2 How Rodney is mortified. That brigand deserves it. But isn’t there anyone in America who can capture and hang the felon Arnold?
I take the liberty of asking you, sir, for twenty ducats, payable to Messrs. Neufville, for the publication cost of the memorial in three languages. This fee is indicated on the bill that you will have found in the package they sent to you containing 150 English copies.3
RC (Adams Papers).
1. The enclosure was almost certainly a copy of Dumas’ letter of 4 July to the president of Congress (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 2, f. 433–436). In the third paragraph of that letter Dumas refers to a dispatch from the Dutch minister at St. Petersburg that he had been shown on 3 July. Dumas indicated that the Russian government believed that although its offer to mediate the Anglo-Dutch war had been rejected, it might still be possible to settle the conflict at a general peace conference to be held at Vienna under the mediation of Russia and Austria. It would be advantageous, therefore, if the States General approved such a course of action so that efforts in pursuit of a peace settlement could proceed expeditiously. Dumas included the full text of this proposal as an enclosure in his letter of 10 July to the president of Congress (same, f. 440–442). He sent a copy of that letter as an enclosure in his letter to JA of 11 July (not found), which John Thaxter indicated on 18 July that he had copied and forwarded to JA at Paris (PCC, No. 101, II, f. 202).
2. On 29 April fleets commanded by Samuel Hood and the Comte de Grasse engaged in a battle off Martinique. It was a French victory in the sense that Grasse was able to protect his transports and get them into harbor unscathed. But as a fleet action it was indecisive (Mackesy, War for America description begins Piers Mackesy, The War for America, 1775–1783, Cambridge, 1965. description ends , p. 417; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence description begins Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence, Boston, 1913. description ends , p. 163–168).
3. Thaxter replied to this letter on 5 July and indicated that he had written to JA in Paris concerning the twenty ducats (PCC, No. 101, II, f. 201). Thaxter’s letter to JA has not been found.