To Henry Laurens
The Hague August 15. 1782
By a certain anonimous Letter you have had a Specimen of the infernal Arts which have been and are practised, to create Misunderstandings among American Ministers. There has been an uninterupted succession of them ever since I have been in Europe. Whether they are to be attributed to Inventions of Our Ennemies or to Still baser Intrigues of pretended Friends, or to impudent Schemes of interested Candidates and Competitors for the little favours which American Ministers have Sometimes to bestow, or to all of these to gether I know not. The latter Supposition is most probable.1 Enough of this however.
It Seems that your Friend Oswald2 is Still at Paris and Fitzherbert has taken the Place of Grenville. He is Said to be authorised to treat with the four Powers at War with G. B.3 Pray what is your Opinion of this? Ought We to accept of Such Powers? Can We, consistently, treat with any Man who has not full Powers to treat with the Ministers of “the United States of America.”?4 I have one Thing to propose to you, Sir, in Confidence. It is, if you approve it, to endeavour to get Mr Jennings appointed Secretary to the Commission for Peace. I wish Congress would appoint him.5
I can give you no News from hence, except that I have been happy enough to obtain a little Money for Congress So that <
by Christmas> they may draw immediately as soon as they Send their Ratification of my Contract, for about Thirteen or Fourteen hundred Thousand Guilders. This, you may mention to Congress, or to any body else in America if you write. They Money is in hand of Messrs Willinks &c but cannot be drawn out, but by Congress, after the Receipt of the Ratification.
The Treaty of Commerce, will probably pass the States of Holland this day.
With invariable Esteem and Respect, I have the Honour to be, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble sert
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “chez Madame Babut et Labouctiere a Nantes.”
1. For the anonymous letters, see that of 20 May, that JA received from Monitor and note 1, above; also, compare JA’s suspicions as to the source of the letters expressed here with those in his letter of 7 June to Edmund Jenings, above.
2. Henry Laurens and Richard Oswald were longtime business associates, and Oswald had been of assistance during Laurens’ captivity in the Tower of London (Laurens, Papers description begins The Papers of Henry Laurens, ed. Philip M. Hamer, George C. Rogers Jr., David R. Chesnutt, C. James Taylor, and others, Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003; 16 vols. description ends , 15:478–480).
3. See this report in the Gazette d’Amsterdam of 13 August.
5. That is, JA wanted Jenings appointed rather than Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, William Temple Franklin, the person who ultimately served in that capacity.