Jacob Roorda to John Adams: A Translation
Harlingen, 12 May 1782
According to your wish, I take the liberty of writing this in French, but as this language is not so familiar to me, I will not include everything that I wrote in my preceding letter and have no doubt that you will be so kind as to excuse my many errors.1 Last week, I took the liberty of writing to you with my true feelings regarding the independence of the thirteen American states and also as proof of my gratitude to you for coming here in order to obtain a treaty between your republic and ours, a treaty that will prove advantageous to a happy future, and I wished that you would be successful. And, as the province of Friesland takes glory in being the first to recognize this important event, and as the inhabitants and students of the town of Franeker2 are so overjoyed, there are going to be very beautiful fireworks to see, should you have the desire to come to Friesland. These young people will be very obliged to you if you could attend the celebration to be witness to their recognition of this noble event. Like any good Frieslander, I offer you my home, and I will do everything possible to make your stay here agreeable. This would greatly oblige me.
I flatter myself that you will honor me with a satisfactory reply,3 then I will be able to tell you the exact date of the celebration. Meantime, I wish to remain in your good graces and am with deep respect, sir, your very humble and obedient servant
RC (Adams Papers).
1. Roorda had written on 5 May in Dutch (Adams Papers). JA apparently requested that Roorda write again in French so that he could read it, but no note to Roorda containing such a request has been found. The letter of 5 May was longer and more detailed, indicating, for example, that the fireworks display was expected to take place in early June, but in substance it was virtually the same.
2. Franeker is located in Friesland, five miles east of Harlingen. Its university, which was closed in 1811 under the French occupation, had been founded in 1584 and was a center of patriot support in 1782 (George Edmundson, History of Holland, Cambridge, England, 1922, p. 188; Simon Schama, Patriots and Liberators, N.Y., 1977, p. 78, 619).