Adams Papers
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To John Adams from C. W. F. Dumas, 6 February 1783

From C. W. F. Dumas

Lahaie 6e. fev. 1783.

Monsieur,

Mrs. Jn. De Neufville & fils d’Amsterdam m’écrivent ce qui suit

“Nous vous prions de nous procurer un Passeport, pour le Brig. Américain le Firebrand de Boston, d’environ cent quarante toñeaux com̃andé par le Capne. Phoenix Frazier, qui desire profiter aussitot que possible de la cessation d’hostilités. Et les Vaisseaux de Nantes & de l’Orient obtenant des Passeports sur la requisition qui en est faite aux Ministres, s’il n’est pas de votre ressort d’en accorder, nous vous prions pour le susdit Capitaine d’en obtenir un de Paris, pour le garantir de tous inconvénients en cas de mauvaises rencontres.”1

Je suis avec les respects de ma famille, joints au mien, Monsieur, de Votre Excellence / le très-humble & très obéis- / sant serviteur

Dumas

Demain se prendra aux Et. d’hollde. la résolution finale de poursuivre criminellement la désobéissance quant à la sortie de l’Escadre pour Brest2

Le reglemt de la jurisdiction militaire est tonjours sérieusemt. sur le tapis de L. N. & Gr. P. Ce sera le croc en jambe du Haut Conseil de Guerre. La Mémoire là-dessus de Mr. Van Berkel, fait & rejeté il y a 10 ans, est adopté par les Etats d’Hollde. & inséré dans leurs registres. Quel triomphe pour l’Auteur!

Translation

The Hague, 6 February 1783

Sir

Jean de Neufville & Fils of Amsterdam writes to me as follows:

“Please would you obtain for us a passport for the American brigantine Firebrand of Boston, approximately 140 tons, commanded by Capt. Phoenix Frazier, who would like to take advantage as soon as possible of the cessation of hostilities. Since ships from Nantes and Lorient obtain passports by requesting them from ministers, if it is not in your power to grant this, we ask that you obtain one from Paris for the said captain as a safeguard in the event of hostile encounters.”1

I am, with the respects of my family joined to my own, sir, your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant

Dumas

Tomorrow the States of Holland will pass a final resolution to prosecute criminally the disobedience regarding the sortie of the squadron for Brest.2

The administration of military justice is still seriously on the agenda of their Noble and Great Mightinesses. It will be the Achilles heel of the High Council of War. Mr. Van Berckel’s memorandum on this subject, written and rejected ten years ago, has been adopted by the States of Holland and inserted into their registers. What a triumph for the author!

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Paris à Son Exce. M. Adams M. P.”

2Dumas refers to the controversy over naval preparedness that had been festering since the previous autumn and that he had first described in his serial letter to Livingston of 27 Sept. to 22 Oct. 1782. In early Oct. 1782 a Dutch squadron of ten ships commanded by Vice Admiral Hartsinck was to have sailed for Brest to join the French fleet in operations against the British. The admiral and his subordinates refused to sail, however, citing the lack of provisions and the poor condition of their vessels (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, ed. Francis Wharton, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 5:776–778; Gazette d’Amsterdam, 15 Oct.). The failure of the squadron to sail provoked the States of Holland and West Friesland to demand that William V, in his capacity as admiral general, explain the Dutch Navy’s unpreparedness and its consequent failure to take effective action against the British. For the resolution adopted by the States of Holland and West Friesland on 7 Feb. and that province’s correspondence with William V leading to it, see the Gazette d’Amsterdam of 18 February. For the stadholder’s response of 13 Feb., see the Gazette of 11, 14, 18, and 21 March. In fact, while the questions of naval preparedness and William V’s competence as admiral general fueled the ongoing dispute between stadholder and anti-stadholder factions, the issue had been rendered moot by the inclusion of the Netherlands in the armistice that resulted from the signature of the preliminary treaties between Britain, France, and Spain on 20 January.

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