Adams Papers
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To John Adams from C. W. F. Dumas, 26 August 1783

From C. W. F. Dumas

Lahaie 26e. Aout 1783.

Monsieur,

En réponse à l’honorée vôtre du 18e., la clef de votre Secretaire S’est heureusement retrouvée sous des Livres; & je suis sûr que personne n’a pu en faire usage, parce que votre appartement n’a jamais été ouvert, depuis votre départ, que par l’un de nous toujours présent. J’ai remis avec les autres celle que vous m’aviez laissée.1

A l’heure où j’écris, les Etats d’hollde. sont à résoudre leur accession au Traité définitif, selon les conditions dictées à la Rep.—2 Samedi dernier il y eut là-dessus, en grand Com̃itté (ou Besogne, com̃e on dit ici) les reproches les plus graves de la Législation au Pouvoir exécutif, d’abord en général, & puis en détail humiliant & sans replique. Le theme étoit, que sans la mauvaise volonté & conduite du dernier, la rep. préfereroit de continuer seule la guerre.— Le jour auparavant, la Résomption de la Résolution de persister dans celles qui concernent l’abolition du Haut Conseil de guerre, & la Com̃ission à nom̃er pour régler la Jurisdiction militaire, passa constitutionnellement, sans égard à la Lettre du St——, & malgré l’opposition de la cabale. Mes informants ajoutent, que le Gd. Pe. a bien fait son devoir pour cette conclusion, & qu’il sera soutenu com̃e il le mérite.

J’écris aujourd’hui à Mr. Franklin, pour savoir com̃ent je dois, avec le plus d’économie, tirer à l’avenir, & jusqu’à-ce que le Congrès ait enfin décidé de mon sort, les 225 Louis d’or, qui me sont alloués par an pour me tirer d’affaires, c’est-à-dire, si je dois tirer, après la fin de cette année, mon salaire dans le Courant de la suivante sur Paris, ou sur Amsterdam, jusqu’aå-ce que le Congrès se soit expliqué; & je le prie en même temps d’en conférer avec vous, Monsieur.3

J’espere que le Coffre de Mr. Storer, expédié selon ses ordres par navire de Rotterdam à Rouen, avec Passeport des Etats Genx. lui est parvenu.

Je suis avec grand respect / De Votre Excellence / le très-humble & très-obéissant / serviteur

C.w.f. Dumas

Translation

The Hague, 26 August 1783

Sir

In response to your esteemed letter of the 18th, the key to your writing desk has luckily been found under some books, and I am sure that no one was able to make use of it, as your apartment has never been opened since you left except with one of us always present. I put back with the others the one you had left for me.1

At the time I write, the States of Holland are deciding whether to accede to the definitive treaty, with the conditions dictated to the republic.2 Last Saturday, in a grand committee (or “Besogne,” as they say here), there were the most serious criticisms of the legislation on executive power, first in general and then in humiliating and unanswerable detail. The theme was that but for the bad faith and conduct of the latter, the republic would prefer to continue the war on its own. The day before, the resumption of the resolution to persist in the abolition of the High Council of War, and the commission to be named to exercise military authority, passed constitutionally, without regard to the letter of the stadholder and despite the opposition of the cabal. My informants add that the grand pensionary did his duty well to make this happen and that he will be continued in office as he deserves.

Today I am writing to Mr. Franklin in order to find out how in the future I might, in the most economical fashion and until Congress has decided my fate, draw on the 224 Louis d’Or that were allotted to me per year in order to tide me over, that is to say, if I should draw, after the end of this year, my salary in the course of the following on Paris or on Amsterdam, until Congress makes itself clear; and I beg Congress at the same time to confer on this matter with you, sir.3

I hope that Mr. Storer has received his trunk, shipped according to his orders by boat from Rotterdam to Rouen, with a passport of the States General.

I am with great respect, your excellency’s very humble and very obedient servant

C.w.f. Dumas

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

1Before JA departed The Hague on 6 Aug., he entrusted Dumas with the key to his writing desk, in which his other keys were locked—or rather, he thought that he did so. Two days later, Dumas was obliged to write to JA to inform him that the key that he had left with Dumas in fact did not belong to the desk (Adams Papers). On 18 Aug. JA replied that the correct key had to be at The Hague as he and JQA had searched for it in Paris without success. JA added “There is now an Appearance, that the definitive Treaty will be signed in Ten days or a fortnight. You know better than I whether, our good Friends the Dutch will be ready” (IEN).

2For the Dutch decision to accept the peace terms offered by the British, see JA’s letter to Robert R. Livingston, 15 Aug., note 1, above.

3C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin, 25 Aug., Nationaal Archief:Dumas Papers, Microfilm, Reel 2, f. 568–569. Congress again set out to determine Dumas’ office and pay only after Pieter Johan van Berckel, Dutch minister to the United States, raised the matter in a conversation with Robert Morris, American superintendent of finance, on 18 Dec. (Morris, Papers description begins The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784, ed. E. James Ferguson, John Catanzariti, Elizabeth M. Nuxoll, Mary A. Gallagher, and others, Pittsburgh, 1973–1999; 9 vols. description ends , 8:822). Following up in a letter the next day, Van Berckel suggested that Dumas’ long service in the American cause, which had left his family in dire straits, entitled him to the generosity of Congress (same, 8:826–829). On the 20th, Morris forwarded Van Berckel’s letter to Congress, and a week later, it was read and referred to committee (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, Gaillard Hunt, John C. Fitzpatrick, Roscoe R. Hill, and others, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 25:841). On 30 Jan. 1784, the committee reported that “the papers in the office of foreign affairs being inaccessible,” they had been unable to ascertain either the terms under which Dumas entered the service of the United States or the sums paid to him toward his salary. The committee recommended that the American ministers plenipotentiary in Europe be directed to determine the amount due to Dumas as “a final compensation.” They further recommended that subjects of other nations not be employed in “Ministerial offices of confidence at Foreign Courts.” Congress adopted neither proposal at that time (same, 26:59–60). On 16 March, however, on the recommendation of another committee, to whom had been referred several pieces of overseas correspondence, including “sundry letters from Mr. Dumas,” Congress resolved that “it is inconsistent with the interest of the United States to appoint any person not a citizen thereof, to the office of Minister, chargé des affaires, Consul, vice-consul, or to any other civil department in a foreign country” (same, 26:143–144). A copy of the resolution was sent to Franklin and JA four days later (Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 description begins The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, from . . . 1783, to . . . 1789, [ed. William A. Weaver], repr., Washington, 1837 [actually 1855]; 3 vols. description ends , 1:55–56).

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