Benjamin Franklin Papers

Charles-Guillaume-Frédéric Dumas to the American Commissioners, 3 July 1778: résumé

Charles-Guillaume-Frédéric Dumas to the American Commissioners3

ALS: American Philosophical Society; AL (draft):4 Algemeen Rijksarchief

<The Hague, July 3, 1778, in French: What I said in my last about Amsterdam’s borrowing5 was much exaggerated; my informant was mistaken, and our friend van Berckel set me straight. Yesterday I communicated the treaty to him and to the Burgomaster of Amsterdam, and they were pleased with it;6 now we have only to let the peat slowly catch fire. You will see, by the enclosed gazette and others, that I am using the material you sent me; it is having a positive effect. Ever since Saratoga I have given our friends here control of the battlefield. We learned this morning from the British papers that Keppel’s fleet did nothing but take two frigates, begin hostilities, and then retire before the French coming out of Brest.7 It was good to hear of the arrival of the Deane because I knew that my friend Carmichael was on board.8>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3This letter from the Congressional agent in the Netherlands is published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VI, 251–3.

Dumas’ cast of characters is so varied, and in his quest for secrecy and mystery he uses such various names and abbreviations that we believe it useful to introduce the figures who will appear with frequency in his correspondence. They are: Pieter van Bleiswijk, Grand Pensionary of Holland, functionally Dutch foreign minister, abbreviated as G—— P——; Engelbert François van Berckel, Pensionary of Amsterdam, proponent of trade between Amsterdam and America, called “notre ami,” our friend; William V, Prince of Orange and Stadholder of the Netherlands, referred to as the Stadholder, the Prince, the Grand Personnage; the duc de la Vauguyon, French Ambassador to the Dutch Republic codenamed by Dumas the Grand Facteur or G—— F——; Laurent Bérenger, French chargé d’affaires in La Vauguyon’s absence, called “le substitut”; Jean de Neufville, an Amsterdam financier who negotiates an agreement with William Lee, occasionally called only “le Marchand”; the States General, Their High Mightinesses, Leurs Hautes Puissances or only LL.HH.PP.; William Lee, often mentioned as Mr. L.

4With significant differences from the ALS: Taylor, Adams Papers, VI, 253 n.

5See XXVI, 692.

6The treaty of amity and commerce between France and the United States, whose communication to the Dutch government was the subject of much discussion in our vol. XXVI.

7Keppel’s battle with the frigate Belle-Poule and capture of her sister ships Licorne and Pallas marked the beginning of Anglo-French hostilities. Keppel’s fleet returned to Portsmouth after the incidents; actually the French fleet at Brest did not put to sea until July 8: XXVI, 680; Dull, French Navy, 118–20.

8The American frigate Deane, carrying William Carmichael and other passengers, reached New England at the beginning of May: XXV, 494 n.

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