Adams Papers

Engelbert François van Berckel to John Adams: A Translation, 8 August 1782

Engelbert François van Berckel to John Adams: A Translation

Amsterdam, 8 August 1782


I have the pleasure and honor to communicate to you that tomorrow Amsterdam’s deputies to the States of Holland will receive the Amsterdam council’s resolution made today,1 regarding the treaty of amity and commerce between their High Mightinesses and the United States of America. This council’s resolution contains very precise orders to conform with Holland’s report of 18 July,2 with which all the other assembly members have already conformed, and orders not to delay the conclusion of this great work for any reason. Also, they must reject the addition of the words, In Europe, in the second, third, and other articles of the treaty concerning most favored nations. After being considered, this addition or limitation was deemed only a novelty for which there has been no example and which would cause great inconveniences. Moreover, our stock exchange has suggested some remarks be added to our council’s resolution, not to propose any essential change to your excellency that could slow down deliberations, but rather remarks that must be communicated to their High Mightinesses in order to add them to notes already made by their committees in the margins of your excellency’s plan delivered to the states general. And for that, they must be the subject of a meeting with your excellency to come to an agreement, on the condition that the business be placed ad referendum; and that the commission of their High Mightinesses have ultimate authority for the final version, with the alterations agreed upon between the two contracting parties. As for the comments made by the stock exchange, they are very simple suggestions that serve to clarify the text by adding or omitting essential points. I have the honor of writing to you about these details in order to prevent any surprises, and so that your excellency, in case some proposal is made that is not in line with what was stated here, can ask me for any necessary clarifications. I am very obliged, sir, for the information in your last letter regarding the stranger.3 I have not received any news of him since that time. I was very surprised that everything I wrote to you regarding Mme. d’Hogendorp was a mystery to you. I can show you her letter stating that her son introduced the stranger to your excellency. This was before I wrote to you about him.

I have the honor to be with the highest esteem and consideration, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant

E. F. Van Berckel

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Van Berckel 8 Aug. ans 11. 1782.” This letter has a black border around it, for which see Van Berckel’s letter of 22 July, descriptive note, above.

1In the Adams Papers, dated 9 Aug., is a printed copy of Amsterdam’s observations on the treaty. As JA indicates in his reply of 10 Aug., below, he was very happy to learn of Amsterdam’s action regarding the treaty because, as the largest and most important city in the Netherlands, its comments regarding the draft treaty were of great significance, and its failure to act presumably was the principal reason for the four-month delay from the time that JA submitted his draft in April until negotiations began in late August. The importance of these proposals for additions or changes can be seen from the fact that they form the substance of the handwritten additions to the printed Dutch text of the draft treaty with its accompanying proposals for revisions in the text. It is not known when JA received this printed copy of Amsterdam’s comments, but it likely was before negotiations formally began. For their inclusion as part of the Dutch proposals for a final treaty and JA’s comments regarding them, see The Negotiation of the Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 22 Aug. – 8 Oct., Nos. II and III, below.

2See JA’s letter to Van Berckel of 23 July, note 3, above.

3Of 23 July, above.

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