John Adams to Richard Cranch
The Hague April 3. 1784
My dear Brother
Your kind Letter of 20 Jany. I received Yesterday. Mr. Tylers Letter inclosed is here answered.1 Your Opinion has great Weight with me. I hope to See Mrs. and Miss Adams before this reaches you. I have as yet received no Letters from them by this Vessell. They may be on the Way.
By a quiet Life, riding on Horse back and constant Care I am somewhat better, but I shall never be a Strong Man. Yet I am determined to be easy, for the future, whatever may be my Lot.
Mr. Dana and Mr. Thaxter are happy. If my two Girls arrive, I will be happy too, in the Hague or Paris, I dont care which, for another Year. I find a Man may get Sick in Paris as well as in Amsterdam, and when I was in London I had no Reason to think that healthier than either. Nothing will keep me in Health in either, but a more quiet Mind, than I have had, and this I thank God is now in my own Power.
Where have I been? What have I seen! What have I felt! in the last ten Years? Ask the Ocean and the Mountains, and the Fens, and Ask Kings Princes and Ministers of State. And all of these together cannot tell the whole, even if they would acknowledge all they know.
But my political Career is run. I will wind off as decently as I can, and notwithstanding my family is coming to Europe, I hope in another Year to imitate the General in the only Thing perhaps in which I am capable of imitating him, in Retreat.2
Mr. Morris drew Bills at a Venture, for a great sum, which obliged me to come over to Holland in one of the worst Seasons ever known, and I underwent Such severe hardships in Packet Boats, Boors-waggons and Iceboats as again endangered my Health and my Life. It was a long time, before I could See the least hopes, but at last I succeeded and have obtained the Money to save our Credit once more.3
When Madam comes I shall take her to Paris and shew her that fine City, there perhaps I may Stay, untill with my Colleagues We have executed our Orders, then I may remove to the Hague, and there arrange my Affairs to go home. In a Year I hope to do this, and in the Month of May 1785 embark for Boston. This is my Plan, but Plans are easily dashed. And therefore I dont intend to attach myself much to any. I am employed at present in arranging a commercial Treaty with Prussia, at the Invitation of the King by his Minister here the Baron de Thulemeier. The King of Prussia I believe is the Second Monarch who has made Advances.4
My Love to sister and the Children. Your faithful Frd & Brother
RC (Private owner, New York, 1957); endorsed: “Letter from his Exy. Jno Adams Apl 3d 1784.”
2. George Washington had resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army on 23 Dec. 1783, and returned to private life at Mt. Vernon.
3. JA and JQA had interrupted their visit to England just after New Year’s Day when they received word that bills of exchange, many of them drawn by Robert Morris on behalf of Congress, were being protested for insufficient funds remaining in the first Dutch loan to the United States. To avoid default, JA set out on 2 Jan. for Holland to try to secure a second loan for which, according to his bankers, there was little likelihood of success. With his health not at its best and the winter weather at its most severe, JA undertook the dangerous North Sea crossing with JQA, landed on an island in Zeeland, and walked several miles to the nearest town. There they learned that they would have to proceed by iceboat, which they reached by traveling in a peasant’s wagon (Boorswaggon). Next, in crossing a partially frozen inlet from the sea, the passengers walked whenever the crew dragged the iceboat along ice thick enough to bear its weight, and reboarded whenever there was thin ice or open water. JA reached The Hague on 12 Jan., and promptly began negotiations with Dutch bankers. He concluded the second Dutch loan, for two million guilders, on 9 March; Congress ratified it on 1 Feb. 1785. This loan extended the credit of the United States until 1787. JA later wrote a full account of his harrowing winter journey to Holland, dated 17 Feb. 1812, for the Boston Patriot (9, 13, 16 May 1812); it is reprinted 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 , 3:151–154.
4. The Baron von Thulemeyer proposed a commercial treaty to JA on 19 Feb., at The Hague (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 , 6:784–785). JA expressed interest and promptly consulted with Franklin and Jay at Paris, and with Congress, to begin preparations for the necessary negotiations. On 9 April, von Thulemeyer presented JA with a 27-article plan, in French, which JA promptly sent to Congress (9–10 April, Adams Papers, copy in JA’s hand). The United States and Prussia finally concluded their commercial treaty on 10 Sept. 1785, with von Thulemeyer, Franklin, Jefferson, and JA signing it at different dates, in different cities (Miller, ed., Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, 1931–1948; 8 vols. description ends , p. 162–184).
The first monarch to seek a commercial treaty with the United States was the king of Sweden. Von Thulemeyer suggested to JA that the treaty with Sweden of April 1783 could serve as a model for a Prussian-American treaty (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 , 6:782–783).