Adams Papers

From Thomas Boylston Adams to Joseph Pitcairn, 21 May 1798

Berlin 21 May 1798

Dear Sir.

I thank you for your favor of the 19th: instt: and for the information as to the orders you have given respecting my books, of which I desired you to take charge. The said books are however, as I am lately informed, now in the hands of Mr: Bourne at Amsterdam, who will transmit them to you by the first opportunity.

The period for converting foreign loans into domestic debt of the United States at [. . .] pr ct more interest than the loan bore, was originally limited to 18 months from the time of proposal; it has already expired, and no renewal to our knowledge has taken place, because the creditors of our foreign loans, at the time this proposal was made, did not choose to accept it; though it was judged beneficial to them, especially if the U.S. should be involved in a war.

The Dutch & Antwerp loans are upon similar principles, & the Creditors in each hold, as evidence of the debt, what are termed obligations, which are transferable by sale in open market. The obligations are for ƒ[H.Cy.] 1000 each, bearing different rates of interest according to the nature of the contract. The purchasor of an obligation stands precisely in the shoes of the original holder—I know not exactly how the prices are now of obligations in the 5 pr ct loan, but about the middle of February last, they were at 93 3/4 à 94 1/4 those at 4 pr ct interest were 83 1/2 à 84 &ca—Probably, from the prices these obligations usually bear, no great quantity could be purchased at a time without raising the price very considerably, but as to the facility of transferring or converting the loan into domestic debt, the permission would probably on application to the head of our Treasury, be renewed, provided the sum to be converted were considerable—

What will be the policy of our Government in case of a war with France, towards their Creditors in Holland & Antwerp I know not. You know what that of the British has been, towards all Countries in which the french fraternity has prevailed by force of arms. I should conjecture, that if Holland takes no share in a war with us & France, our Creditors there will be paid as punctually as possible.

The attack of the french on the Rocks of Marçou was new to us, the fate of [. . .] was in the English papers—The expedition against England is I rather think defer’d to a more convenient opportunity—it will be a misfortune if they should prove so wise.

Our letters from Philada. are to March 18—but from England we hear that a message is sent by the President of the U.S. on the 19 of same month relative to the contents of the dispatches from our Commissioners in France; this recommends very strongly further [provision] for defence, union, & dispatch in the measures to be adopted &ca: The Representatives want to the dispatches at large, and probably will be gratified, at least so far as proper.

There is here no news, except the arrival of the Russian mediator, Prince [Repnin] The Spring Reviews have begun here this day & I have been to see the finest troops in Europe, foot & cavalry about 25,000, pass before the young king, who is himself a soldier in [. . .] Fine fellows they would be, if champagne had not made them drunk.

I enclose an original & duplicate for America and would like to know if any vessels will shortly depart.

With much esteem I am dear Sir / your friend & servt:

T. B. Adams

OCHP: Pitcairn Papers.

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