John Adams’ Commission to Negotiate a Loan with the Netherlands
The United States of America in Congress assembled.
To the Honble. John Adams Esquire Greeting.
Whereas by our commission to the Honble. Henry Laurens Esqr. bearing date the thirtieth day of October in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine,2 we have constituted and appointed him the said Henry Laurens during our pleasure, our Agent for and on behalf of the said United States to negotiate a loan with any person or persons bodies politic and corporate: And Whereas the said Henry Laurens has by unavoidable Accidents been hitherto prevented from proceeding on his said Agency; We therefore reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism Ability, conduct and fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you the said John Adams until the said Henry Laurens or some other person appointed in his stead shall arrive in Europe and undertake the execution of the aforesaid commission, our Agent for and on behalf of the said United States to negotiate a Loan with any person or persons bodies politic and corporate, promising in good faith to ratify and confirm whatsoever shall by you be done in the premisses or relating thereunto. Witness His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esqr. President of the Congress of the United States of America at Philadelphia the twentieth day of June in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty, and in the fourth year of our Independence.3
Saml. Huntington President
Attest Chas. Thomson Secy.
MS (Adams Papers;) endorsed by Francis Dana: “J. Adams’s provisional Appointment to negotiate a Loan.” This document was enclosed in a letter of 11 July from the Committee for Foreign Affairs (Adams Papers) and was filmed under that date (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 352).
1. Although voted by Congress on 20 June, the commission was not sent off until 11 July as one of three enclosures in a letter of that date from the Committee for Foreign Affairs (Adams Papers). The other two enclosures contained Congress’ resolutions of 21 and 26 Oct. 1779 regarding Laurens’ commission and those of 20 June 1780 relating to JA’s appointment. (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 15:1198, 1210; 17:534–537). The committee’s letter of 11 July and several other letters were entrusted to James Searle, former delegate from Pennsylvania, who was going to Europe as Pennsylvania’s agent to raise a loan. In early September Searle reached Paris and gave the letters from Congress to Francis Dana who delivered them to JA at Amsterdam on 17 Sept. (from Dana, 16 Sept.; to William Churchill Houston, 17 Sept., both below).
2. Except for the references to Henry Laurens, JA’s commission is identical to that voted for Laurens in 1779 (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 15:1230).
3. Francis Dana received a nearly identical commission empowering him to act in the event that JA was unable to exercise his commission (same, 17:537; MHi: Dana Papers).