Adams Papers

From John Adams to C. W. F. Dumas, 19 March 1781

To C. W. F. Dumas

Leyden 19. March 1781

Dear Sir

The inclosed Extracts, are of So much Importance, that I send them to you, for your opinion whether it is prudent to communicate them to the Russian Minister, or not.1

The Intelligence is such that I can make no official Communication. If you think it will do any good, and no harm or at least more good than harm, you may communicate it in Confidence to Friends.

Mr. Dana’s Commission, which perhaps is to treat with any or all the northern Powers, is to come by Coll. Palfrey and Duplicates by young Coll. Laurens, as I conjecture.

I have read the Manifesto with Pleasure, because it is a reasonable and a manly Performance. It would have been better perhaps without the last Clause, which will be taken both by Freinds and Ennemies as a Sigh for Peace with England, but much may be Said in Excuse of it. I wish too they had left out their Disapprobation of Amsterdam. It was not necessary, and it never did their high mightinesses any honour, at least I venture to think so.2


John Adams

RC and enclosure (DLC: C. W. F. Dumas Papers); endorsed: “Leide 19e. Mars 1781 Mr. J. Adams.” For the enclosure, see note 1.

1The extracts refer to Francis Dana’s appointment as minister plenipotentiary to Russia. The first was from Elbridge Gerry’s letter of 10 Jan., above. The second extract was from James Lovell’s letter of 6 Jan. to Dana, a copy of which Dana enclosed with his letter of 6 March to JA, above. Lovell wrote “I will prove to you in a private Way that I have much Esteem for you, and desire to promote your Reputation, in your Commission, either the old or the new.” The “old” commission was probably that of 20 June 1780, empowering Dana to act in JA’s place if he could not undertake the negotiation of a Dutch loan (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774– 1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 17:537). Below the extracts, JA wrote, “My Letter came Via Cadiz, from Marble head. Mr. Danas, by a Lugger from Philadelphia to L’orient.”

2In the final paragraph of the countermanifesto, the States General expressed their hope that Britain would soon return to its former moderate and equitable sentiments and their determination to effect a reconciliation with their former friend and ally when such should transpire. Earlier in the document the States General provided a lengthy explanation and defense of their actions with regard to the Lee-Neufville treaty of 1778, which centered on its disavowal of Amsterdam’s action and its referral of the matter to the provincial courts of Holland (to the president of Congress, 18 March, calendared above).

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