Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Adams, 6 December 1781

From John Adams9

LS:1 American Philosophical Society

Amsterdam Decr. 6th. 1781.


I have delivered your Excellency’s Letter to Mr. de Neufville, and have written to him myself, making the proposals contained in your Letter to me. He answers me, that he thinks the proposals reasonable: but insists upon it, that he has not the commanding Interest in the Concern, and that nothing can be done but by the Owners at large, or by Mr. Van Harp as Ship’s Husband.2 He seemed alarmed at the Intention of stopping Payment, and will write You upon it. Mr. de Neufville the Son is set off this morning for Paris.

A single Bill of 550 Guilders was brought me yesterday drawn on Mr. Laurens, 6th. July 1780— it is No. 61. I have asked time to write to your Excellency about it, and hope for an Answer by the Return of Post. All the remaining Numbers of the Bills drawn upon me have been presented, and these I have accepted. There are not more than three or four.

The States General have unanimously guaranteed the five Millions,3 and I hope to have the honor before long of demanding an Answer to my former Memorial, and proposing another Matter of more Consequence still, according to a Paper which I transmitted You on the 26th,4 which I hope You have recieved. A Triple or Quadruple Alliance would probably accelerate the Negotiation for a Congress at Vienna—at least it would render the War more easy and secure.

I have the Honor to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant

J. Adams.

His Excelly. Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

Notation: Adams Dec 6. 1781.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Who had recently received letters from America accusing BF of responsibility for the reduction of JA’s powers as peace commissioner (for which see our annotation of Livingston’s Nov. 26 letter). JA’s answer to his wife, written just four days before the present letter, makes clear his fury at what he believed was BF’s “malicious” behavior: Adams Correspondence, IV, 230, 249–51.

1In Thaxter’s hand except for the last eight words of the complimentary close, which is in JA’s hand.

2A copy of this letter, from Neufville & fils to JA, Dec. 5, may have been enclosed; a copy in Thaxter’s hand with L’Air de Lamotte’s notation is also at the APS. Jean de Neufville claims to have asked Van Arp to call a meeting of the ships’ owners. “Husband” is used in its archaic sense as a synonym for “manager.” For Van Arp & Co. see P. J. Van Winter, Het aandeel van den Amsterdamschen handel aan den opbouw van het Amerikaansche Gemeenebest (2 vols., The Hague, 1927–33), I, 43.

3See Dumas to BF, Dec. 7. Unfortunately most of the 5,000,000 f. was needed to repay French advances; on Jan. 28, 1782, La Luzerne wrote Robert Morris that only 4,000,000 l.t. remained for American use: Edler, Dutch Republic, p. 214; Morris Papers, IV, 127–8.

4His authorization to conclude a treaty of amity and commerce.

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