Adams Papers

To John Adams from Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, 16 October 1783

From Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje

Amsterdam the 16th: Octb. 1783.


Some time having elapsed since we had the honor of addressing your Excellency we now take the liberty of informing you Sir, of our having received Letters from Mr. Morris giving us Intelligence of certain Drafts, which he had partly already made on us and which he Should yet make, tho’ the total Amount together was much more than we now have in Cash for the United States of America.

His Excellency is in the Idea, that before this Time we Should have provided for that which Mr. Grand may have occasion, tho’ not exactly knowing what that may be, we have given the necessary advice to Mr. Grand, that he must place no Reliance upon being furnished by us and we thought it advisable also to give your Excellency the Same notice.

It is exceedingly painfull for us in being obliged to Say, that the Success of the Loan Since the month of August is not Such as we had reason to expect, when in the Summer we had the honor of conversing with your Excellency. Besides the uncommon Scarcity of money, a principle cause of the Loans not Succeeding is the great Number of Accounts received of Disputes in America between the particular States & Congress. It is true this Intelligence is mostly communicated by the English News papers and is worthy of little or no Credit, even as we our selves look upon it, but it makes more impression upon the money Lenders, who always incline to mistrust without cause, especially at a time when thro’ a great concurrence of Loans they are not at a loss with their money. We are constantly hoping we Shall be able by receiving direct Intelligence from America to evince the Falshood of the English Accounts, or that your Excellency or the other ministers would do it, but to this time is this Hope not realized. If your Excellency was in possession of Authentic Intelligence upon this matter, we think the Publication of it would do much Service in procuring a better Success to our continual Endeavours for Selling of the Bonds.1

In Sentiments of the greatest Respect we have the honor to be / Sir! / Your Excellency’s / most obedt & hble. Servs:

Wilhem & Jan Willink

Nichs. & Jacob van Staphorst

de la Lande & fynje

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Messrs Willinks & Co. / 16. Oct. 1783.”

1The letters from Robert Morris to the consortium cannot be identified with certainty, but by October virtually any demand from the “financier” for funds was viewed by the bankers as excessive and necessarily brought an appeal to JA. The consortium’s letter, its only extant communication to JA since [ca. 19] Aug., above, was also the first substantive report that JA had received on the progress of the Dutch-American loan since his visit to the Netherlands in late July and early August. At that time, after visiting the bankers, he observed “that there is not one foreign Loan, open in this Republick which is in so good Credit, or goes so quick as mine” (to Robert R. Livingston, 28 July, above). JA’s confidence seemed justified because from the opening of the loan in 1782 through July 1783, f3,137,000 had been raised, although most of that sum had been remitted to bankers in Paris, leaving the consortium with very little cash with which to meet any new demands. The problem was that as late as 5 Nov. Morris was apparently using the consortium’s success through July as the basis for estimating how much would be raised in the future. However, during the next three months the situation changed drastically, with only f105,000 being subscribed: f70,000 in Aug., f25,000 in Sept., and only f10,000 in Oct. (DNA:RG 39, Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, Microfilm, Reel 1, f. 293; vol. 14:72; Morris, Papers description begins The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784, ed. E. James Ferguson, John Catanzariti, Elizabeth M. Nuxoll, Mary A. Gallagher, and others, Pittsburgh, 1973–1999; 9 vols. description ends , 8:735; to Robert Morris, 10 July, above). The consortium ascribed this decline, probably with justification, to the appearance in Dutch newspapers of troubling reports from America concerning dissension in the army, the impost and commutation controversies, and the June mutiny at Philadelphia that resulted in Congress’ flight from the city (Gazette d’Amsterdam, 11, 18, and 22 July, 22, 26, and 29 Aug., and 19 Sept.). No response by JA has been found. Certainly he would have been troubled by the discouraging news. It provided him with his first inkling of the deteriorating situation in the Netherlands. For JA’s decision to journey to the Netherlands in early 1784 after receiving even more dire reports, see the letters from the consortium of 2 and 23 Dec., Benjamin Franklin of 10 Dec., and Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst of 26 Dec., all below.

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