C. W. F. Dumas to John Adams: A Translation
The Hague, 15 February 1781
Honoured & Dear Sir
Without wanting to disagree with any of the good reasons you gave me in your letter of the 12th regarding the prompt publication of the resolution of Congress, I would, however, have wanted it to be postponed for at least another day, for all the reasons which I have had the honor to tell you. The printed copy that you have was a sufficient guarantee of the démarche that I could have made in order for you to form a liaison at the present time with a minister, and through him, with his court. I believe your commission will lead you to this liaison sooner or later. As for the present, nothing is happening here that is worth your attention. A courier is expected here near the end of the month, with a response to the reclamation that the republic sent by courier on the 12th of January regarding the captured vessels and the stipulated relief.1 I think this courier will bring dispatches preparatory for peace or for continued war with England, depending on whether or not that power seems reasonable or stubborn.
I have been using a cipher with the committee for foreign affairs since the beginning of my correspondence with Congress. If Mr. Lovell uses that one, I would be able to decipher any letter that he sends to you if you send me the letter or a copy.2
In the East Indies British affairs are in a bad state. Hyder Ali Kahn has taken Mahé for France. The Mahrattas fought them at Arcot. Their forces there consist of only three ships of the line and some frigates. The French called in by Hyder Ali Kahn, arrived there five ships of the line strong.3
I hope, sir, that, for greater security in case of accident, you have sent or will send a duplicate and triplicate of your letter written to Congress on my behalf.4
I remain at your service, be it at Leyden, here, or at Amsterdam, and with great respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
RC (Adams Papers).
2. Dumas’ cipher bore no resemblance to that used by James Lovell in his correspondence with JA (Weber, Codes and Ciphers description begins Ralph E. Weber, United States Diplomatic Codes and Ciphers, 1775–1938, Chicago, 1979. description ends , p. 23–25, 580–587).
3. Dumas refers to the outbreak of the Second Mysore War in July 1780. The source of his information is unknown; detailed accounts of the opening battles between the army of Hyder Ali, Sultan of Mysore, and the forces of the British East India Company did not reach England until late March (from Edmund Jenings, 4 April, and note 3, below). Nor was the information provided altogether accurate. The British took Mahé and the other French possessions in India by early 1779 and retained them throughout the war with France. In addition, the French naval force in Indian waters undertook no significant operations in support of Hyder Ali or against the British in either 1780 or 1781 (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence description begins Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774–1787, Princeton, 1975. description ends , p. 124; B. Sheikh Ali, British Relations with Haidar Ali, 1760–1782, Mysore, India, 1963, p. 244–246; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence description begins Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Major Operations of the Navies in the War of American Independence, Boston, 1913. description ends , p. 235– 236, 239–240).