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C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners: A Translation, 3 July 1778

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners: A Translation

The Hague 3 July 1778


That which I had the honor to note in my last concerning Amsterdam’s borrowing was greatly exaggerated. It is limited to a small loan that the treasurer of the town borrows and repays more or less according to the amount of money in the coffers and is to be used for some vessels. The person from whom I learned this was misinformed. Our friend set me straight on the matter.1

Yesterday I communicated the treaty to both him and Burgomaster Temminck of Amsterdam. These gentlemen were very pleased; they find it to be the best of its kind, with every objection anticipated and all that was defective in previous ones remedied.2

Now all that we have to do is let the peat slowly ignite itself. At my request, Mr. Temminck very kindly granted me permission to come and see him when I go to Amsterdam.

You will see, gentlemen, from the enclosed gazette3 and soon, if you read it, by that of the Lower Rhine (not to mention the Dutch gazettes) that I have started putting to good use the documents you sent me. They have a very positive effect in these provinces, maintaining a high opinion of the Americans while annoying and confounding Yorke and his friends the journalists. Since the Saratoga affair I have consistently rendered my friends the masters of the battlefield here.

This morning the British papers4 brought us the curious news that the expedition of Keppel’s great fleet ended up a wasted venture. After having taken two frigates on station by surprise, started hostilities, and blustered toward Brest, as soon as they saw the French fleet leave Brest to overtake them, they retired and sought safety in the English ports. I hope that, in turn, the French fleet will make a reprisal and find a few British men-of-war to capture, besides what they could get out of the fleets coming back from the two Indies.

I was very happy to see mention, in your account [liste] of the arrival of the Deane because I knew in petto that my dear friend Mr. Carmichael was on board that ship under the command of Captain Nicholson. The English papers of 30 June mention it also.

I pray to God with all my heart that He may bless the arms of the United States and grant them soon the most glorious peace and everlasting happiness. I am, with the most sincere respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant


RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “àLeurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l’Amerique à Paris.”; docketed: “Dumas"; in another hand: “3 July 78"; LbC (Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, Dumas Papers, vol. 1.)

1In the Dumas Letterbook this sentence is followed by a long, canceled passage analyzing the character and actions of Pieter van Bleiswyck, the Grand Pensionary, and giving van Berckel’s opinion of him. Dumas later, with minor changes, inserted this passage in his letter to the Commissioners of 17 July (below).

2A second canceled passage, which marks the end of the Letterbook copy, follows this sentence:

“Ils regrettent seulement que je n’ai pu le laisser à Mr. le G—— P——, conformément a ce que vous lui aviez promis, Messieurs, dans la Lettre que vous lui avez écrite, non seulement parce que cela donne lieu à ceux du parti opposé à semer des soupçons sur cette espece de dédit, et de mystere; mais aussi, parce qu’ils Se serviroient avec plaisir de ce Traité pour encourager et animer les Marchands d’Amsterdam à se lier dès à présent directment avec ceux de l’Amérique pour toutes sortes d’affaires, sans attendre un Traité dans toute les formes, qui viendroit à son aise, et même plutôt qu’autrement. Je leur ai répondu que les termes we shall speedily send &c. n’exprimoient pas plus le temps présent, que celui oil la Lettre fut écrite, et signifioient naturellement l’attente où vous etiez de pouvoir bientot rendre le Traité public; qu’en mon particulier, je n’avois point de raison pour douter qu’il ne le devienne bientot, et que je ne sois enfin autorisé à le remettre à Mr. le G—— P—— et à eux, pour en faire le bon usage qu’ils Se proposoient: qu’en attendant vous aviez fait, Messieurs, ce que vous aviez pu pour qu’ils en eussent une connoissance provisionelle.”


They regretted only that I was unable to leave it with the Grand Pensionary as you promised, gentlemen, in your letter to him. This is not only because it provides the opposition with an opportunity to spread rumors about an apparent and mysterious retraction but also because they could use the treaty profitably to encourage the merchants of Amsterdam to undertake, immediately and directly, all sorts of business deals with those of America without waiting for the formal treaty which could then arrive at leisure and would probably do so sooner than otherwise. I answered that the words we shall speedily send, etc. did not reflect either the present time or that at which the letter was written, but rather your need to wait before making the treaty public. I added that, so far as I was concerned, I had no reason to doubt that this would happen Very soon and that I would, at last, be authorized to present it to both them and the Grand Pensionary so that it could be put to the good use they had intended, and, in the meantime, I stated that you had done your best so that they might have a provisional knowledge of it.

3A supplement to the Gazette de Leyde of 3 July. The paper contained a report on American operations along the Mississippi River and in West Florida; a general order issued at Valley Forge on 25 April concerning the need to reduce the size of the officers’ baggage; a resolution of the congress of 2 March (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 10:213–215) and a letter from the Massachusetts Council of 24 March, both regarding the establishment of a corps of light cavalry; and various items containing European news.

4For this report on Keppel’s fleet, as well as the arrival of the Deane and William Carmichael in America mentioned in the next paragraph, see, for example, the London Chronicle of 27–30 June.

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