Adams Papers

John Adams to James Sullivan, 20 April 1784

To James Sullivan

The Hague April 20. 17841


I am very much obliged by your Favour of the 21. of December.2 it is a great Pleasure to learn that the Treaty of Peace gives Satisfaction. The Preservation of the Fishery, is the more prescious, as it appeared for Several Years together to be in great danger. In danger I mean of being given up, by the United States themselves, for the Sake of Peace.— it is not in our Power to do any Thing towards Securing a Market for the Fish, unless We have Authority, and Congress have not yet thought proper to Send any Commission to any Body for that Purpose. I confess myself, totally astonished at the Delay. But I ought to Suppose that Congress have Reasons which I am not aware of.—

If the 36 millions you mention, have not been accounted for why is not an Account insisted on.— You know who borrowed the Money, and who Spent it, and it is for him to shew that he Spent it for the Publick.3

Every Suggestion or Suspicion, of Bribery, from French or English or Dutch or any foreign nation excites Horror.— There must not be a Suspicion of this. But there may be an Interest and an Influence, which may mix itself with local Prejudices and Party Disputes which may be as dangerous, and which ought to teach Us to make all foreign Powers and Ministers keep their Distances and know their Places.— This is so well known in Europe, that it is the Maxim of every Court, never to have Confidence in a foreign Minister. The whole Corps diplomatique is ever viewed with a Jealous Eye, and nothing in general would destroy the Confidence of an Ambassadors own Court, So soon as a Parade of Confidence in him made by the Court to which he is Sent.4

Dft (Adams Papers).

1The presence of this letter in the Adams Papers as an incomplete draft makes it unlikely that it was sent.

2Vol. 15:428–432.

3Sullivan referred to 36 million livres borrowed from France that were unaccounted for. JA is presumably referring to Benjamin Franklin.

4For JA’s earlier use of this “Maxim,” which he attributed to Sweden’s envoy to Britain, Gustaf Adam, Baron von Nolcken, see his 10 Feb. letter to the president of Congress, and note 2, above.

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