Benjamin Franklin Papers

Engelbert François van Berckel to the American Commissioners, [23 September 1778]: résumé

Engelbert François van Berckel to the American Commissioners1

Copy:2 American Philosophical Society

<[Amsterdam, September 23, 1778], in French: The undersigned, counsellor pensionary of Amsterdam, informs the commissioners that the burgomasters of the city authorize the following declaration: assuming Congress will not enter into any agreement with the English commissioners that would be harmful or prejudicial to Dutch trade in Europe either directly or indirectly, the burgomasters will work to facilitate a treaty of friendship between the Netherlands and the United States as soon as England recognizes American independence. The burgomasters authorize the use of this statement where it is deemed appropriate, not doubting this will be done with all the necessary precautions.3>

1Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VII.

2In Dumas’ hand and enclosed in his letter of Oct. 2.

3The editors of the Adams Papers speculate that van Berckel’s declaration on behalf of the burgomasters was designed as a rationalization for the action taken at Aix-la-Chapelle by their representative Jean de Neufville. A covering letter from van Berckel to Dumas of Sept. 23 defended the burgomasters from the accusation of making their own foreign policy.

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