John Thaxter to John Adams
Amsterdam 20th. April 1782
I have the honor to congratulate You on the final Resolution of the Generality, the News of which I received last Evening.1 This Step makes an agreable Impression here, and they pride themselves in the Unanimity and Rapidity, and I may add Velocity with which it has been carried thro’. It will indeed make a memorable Epocha in the Annals of this Country, and stand as an eternal Monument that the Vox Populi is the——.
I shall be extremely happy to hear that the Credentials are delivered. If You have time to drop hint You will oblige me exceedingly and many Friends. I received a Letter last Evening from Mr. Jenings for You, and he thinks very justly of the present Ministry, that is, that they are as wise and as good as their Predecessors. He professes that he is ashamed of them.2 You will do me a favor in acquainting me whether that tumor in your Neck is less troublesome than when You left me. Mr. Barclay desires his Respects to You, and is rejoiced with the News.3
I am with an invariable Attachment, Sir, &c.,
Compts. to Mr. D. and Family.
RC (Adams Papers).
1. The “final Resolution of the Generality” was the action of the States General of the United Provinces, 19 April 1782, one year from the day JA had signed his original Memorial to that body. A MS in Dutch, signed by Willem Boreel as president of the week and attested by Hendrik Fagel, as griffier or secretary of the States General, is in Adams Papers. An English text is printed in JA’s Collection of State-Papers, 1782 description begins JA, comp., A Collection of State-Papers, Relative to the First Acknowledgement of the Sovereignity! of the United States of America, and the Reception of Their Minister Plenipotentiary, by Their High-Mightinesses the States-General of the United Netherlands, The Hague, 1782. description ends , p. 92, and reads as follows:
“Deliberated by Resumption, upon the Address and the ulteriour Address, made by Mr. Adams the 4 May 1781, and the 9 January of the currant year to Mr. the President of the Assembly of their HighMightinesses, to present to their HighMightinesses his Letters of Credence in the name of the United States of North-America; and by which ulteriour Address the said Mr. Adams hath demanded a categorical answer, to the end to be able to acquaint his Constituents thereof; it hath been thought fit and resolved, that Mr. Adams shall be admitted and acknowledged in quality of Ambassador of the United States of North-America to their High-Mightinesses, as he is admitted and acknowledged by the present.”
Two days later this was followed by a further resolution reporting the reception of JA with his credentials as minister plenipotentiary to the States General in “a Letter from the Assembly of Congress, written at Philadelphia the first of January 1781.... Upon which, having deliberated, it hath been thought fit and resolved, to declare by the present: ’That the said Mr. Adams is agreable to their High-Mightinesses; that he shall be acknowledged in quality of Minister Plenipotentiary; and that there shall be granted to him an Audience, or assigned Commissioners, when he shall demand it.’” This resolve was signed by W. van Citters, president of the week, and likewise attested by Fagel. MS in Dutch (Adams Papers); English translation printed in Collection of State-Papers description begins JA, comp., A Collection of State-Papers, Relative to the First Acknowledgement of the Sovereignity! of the United States of America, and the Reception of Their Minister Plenipotentiary, by Their High-Mightinesses the States-General of the United Netherlands, The Hague, 1782. description ends , p. 93.
This same day, 22 April, JA “was introduced by the Chamberlain to his most Serene Highness the Prince of Orange.” No one else was present, and at JA’s request they spoke in English. JA voiced the proper formal sentiments, and the Stadholder answered “in a Voice so low and so indistinctly pronounced, that I comprehended only the Conclusion of it, which was, that “he had made no Difficulty against my Reception.’” However, some “familiar Conversation ... about indifferent things” followed, and the audience passed agreeably enough. So JA told R. R. Livingston in a letter written before the day was over (PCC, No. 84, IV, printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 5:319–320; LbC, Adams Papers, printed in JA, Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 7:571–572).
Next day, 23 April, JA met with President van Citters and presented a brief memorial proposing a treaty of amity and commerce between the two powers. He was then introduced to “a grand committee” of the States General and laid before it the project of such a treaty, which was taken under consideration (and was to bear fruit six months later). See JA to Livingston, 23 April (PCC, No. 84, IV, printed in Wharton description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 5:325; LbC, Adams Papers, printed in Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 7:572–573). But meanwhile, as he told Livingston in the letter just cited, “The greatest Part of my Time for several Days has been taken up in recieving and paying of Visits from all the Members and Officers of Government, and of the Court, to the Amount of one hundred and fifty or more.” There is a partial listing of these in JA’s Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:1–3; and although JA did not keep daily entries in his diary at this period, his correspondence during the following days and weeks is crowded with references to ceremonial and social events growing out of his public recognition. See also Sister Mary Briant Foley, The Triumph of Militia Diplomacy, Loyola Univ. doctoral dissertation, 1968, p. 244 ff.
3. Thomas Barclay (1728-1793), a Philadelphia merchant who had recently come to Europe to serve as American consul (later consul general) in France. He was in Amsterdam endeavoring to make a settlement for the goods abandoned by Alexander Gillon. JA was to be a guest in Barclay’s house at Auteuil when ill in the fall of 1783, and Barclay later served as an American diplomatic agent in Morocco. See a documented sketch of him in JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:120.