Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from William Short, 2 December 1790

From William Short

Amsterdam, Dec. 2. 1790.

Dear Sir

Since my arrival here, I have written to you in date of the 25th. and 26th. ulto. One of these letters was sent through our bankers here, the other by the English packet. I write at present to inclose you a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury. As it is committed immediately to the hands of an American who sails immediately from this port for Boston, I have spoken without reserve on several subjects which I could not have ventured to have done if the letter had been committed to other hands or to the post. I take it for granted you will have a communication of it and therefore I say nothing to you respecting it.

I have no information from Paris of any thing having been yet decided concerning the tobacco—or whale-oil. Every thing seems to be quiet there at present. The ecclesiastical sales continue with uncommon success. The King has received the resignation of the Garde des Sceaux, and appointed in his place Duport du Tertre, an obscure advocate, who had been Lieutenant de Maire. He has been forward in the revolution and is brought in entirely by the Marquis de la fayette, who has been for some time trying to effect it. He hopes to do an agreeable thing to the people by bringing into high employment one of an inferior order, but I fear it will excite more envy than satisfaction.

The Austrian troops have taken possession without resistance of the town of Namur and the states have submitted. The Belgick army has retired towards Brussels. Genl. Schoenfeldt has resigned as well as a great number of other foreign officers. Every thing there is in confusion. The Congress and States of Brabant and Hainault seem to be in their agony and yet they excite the people to resist and promise them that their patriotism and exertions will be crowned with success. The Maréchal Bender is expected daily to march and take possession of Brussels which is the center of opposition. The Congress and States sent to him some days ago to ask a truce until the Emperor’s answer could be had to a resolve they had unanimously taken to proclaim his third son Grand Duke of la Belgique. It is not known whether the truce was granted, but it is not supposed by any body it will stop the march of the Austrian troops.—All the democratic party wish for their arrival and desire to accept the terms offered by the Emperor.

This country is marching a considerable number of troops to the frontiers of Brabant. The garrison of this place which has not quitted it since its surrender to the Prussian troops are now under marching orders. It is not apprehended however that it is in consequence of any hostile designs.

We have here as yet no news of the opening of the English Parliament except the King’s speech, which you will certainly receive before this letter. Every thing seems to augur well1 for the Minister. I beg you to be assured of the sentiments of affectionate attachment with which I am, my dear Sir, your friend & servant,

W: Shorth

PrC (DLC: Short Papers); complimentary close and signature lacking, being supplied from TR (DNA: RG 59, DD); at head of text: “No. 49.” Recorded in SJL as received 8 Apr. 1790. Enclosure: William Short to Alexander Hamilton, 2 Dec. 1790 (Syrett, Hamilton description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett and others, New York, 1961—, 15 vols. description ends , vii, 175–87); this long and extraordinarily interesting letter describing Short’s negotiations in Amsterdam may or may not have been communicated to TJ by Hamilton as Short supposed. In it Short reported that he had come to an agreement with the houses of W. & J. Willink and N. & J. Van Staphorst & Hubbard to open a loan for 2,500,000ƒ. at a commission of 4% and interest at 5% but to delay the opening of the loan to a more auspicious time. Both these houses and their brokers convinced Short that “if Congress was in absolute want of the money they would set the loan on foot and had no doubt of having it filled before the expiration of the term generally allowed in these cases—that it was however certain it would at present go on slowly and heavily, and might thus be injurious to the future views of Congress as it appeared from their acts they would have occasion to make a series of loans—that it would therefore be best to postpone opening the loan until the beginning of february at which time such a loan would be desired on the market and greedily sought after—that if any favorable circumstances should turn up sooner, which however they did not foresee, they would in that case give notice of it and advise the loan being brought on the market.” Short’s letter concluded with a frank appraisal of the characteristics of the two houses that had so long served as agents for the United States, and of their standing among Amsterdam bankers.

1PrC ends at this point.

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