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    Adams sends news that "the Sovereignty of the United States of America has been Acknowledged" by the Dutch

    John Adams Autograph Letter Signed "J. Adams." Two pages, 7.25" x 8.5" (sight), Amsterdam; April 30, 1782. A letter from Adams, then serving as minister to the Netherlands, to John Bondfield, an American commercial agent in Bordeaux, France. The letter reads:

    Yours of 13 is duely recd: I congratulate you, on Gillons Success and hope that his Prizes, and those he may make hereafter will defray the enormous Expence of that outfit. All his Patience Activity and Perseverance, were necessary, to carry that affair through: and the Cost was immense.

    I am not able to answer your Question, concerning the fate of a Vessell of yours, which should be carried into England by a Privateer: because I am not able to comprehend nor to penetrate the System of the New Ministry. Perhaps it may, devellope itself, soon.

    It is with Pleasure I am able to inform you, that, the Sovereignty of the United States of America has been Acknowledged, in the most Solemn, unanimous and glorious manner, by the Bodies of Artisans, Merchants, Professions Citizens, and Colledges, by the Cities Provinces, States General, Prince and Princess of orange. A more manly and decided Honour has never yet been done to our Country.

    I need not entertain you with a detail, of the Difficulties, Discouragements, and Mortifications, through which We have had the good Fortune to arrive at this honourable Result. I should be Sorry to tell them to the present Age, and think it almost a Pity they should be known to Posterity.

    Whatever the World may Say, this nation has great Qualities. They lie deep it is true: but when an occasion presents which calls them forth, they show themselves with great Eclat.

    With much Esteem, I have the Honour to be Sir your most obedient humble sert

    J. Adams

    Adams is responding to an April 13, 1782 letter from Bondfield in Bordeaux, in which the latter informed Adams of what he learned of American General Nathanael Greene's movements against British troops in Charleston, South Carolina, and the capture of several British ships by Commodore Alexander Gillon of the South Carolina Navy. Bondfield also asked Adams about the possibility of reclaiming one of his ships from the British ministry if carried to England by a privateer or commissioned vessel. In his letter, Adams does not refer to the military news from South Carolina but he does congratulate Bondfield on Gillon's success and hopes that his captures or prizes will alleviate the financial affairs of the colony. Adams regrets that he cannot answer Bondfield's questions concerning England's response if one of Bondfield's ships should be captured by a privateer and taken to the British port. The last three paragraphs of Adams' letter refer to the Dutch Republic's recognition of the sovereignty of the United States and the personal difficulties he went through to achieve that objective.

    In the summer of 1780, Adams travelled to the Dutch Republic, thinking that it might be sympathetic to the American cause. He hoped to secure a financial loan that would enhance American independence from France and pressure Britain into peace. When he arrived in the Dutch Republic, Adams had no official status; it was not until July 1780 that he was named ambassador, taking up residence in Amsterdam in August. At first, Adams found it rough going. Fearing retaliation from Great Britain, the Dutch refused to meet Adams. By early 1781, Adams was angry and frustrated. Although he was finally invited to present his credentials to the Dutch in April 1781, he received no promise of financial assistance. In August of that year, Adams fell seriously ill in what might have been a nervous breakdown. The following November, however, news of the American forces' victory over British troops at Yorktown turned the tide on behalf of European support for the American cause. In January 1781, Adams demanded a decision from the Dutch government. While he waited for a response, he took his cause to the people, successfully capitalizing on popular pro-American sentiment to push for recognition of American independence. Finally, Adams achieved success. On April 19, 1782, the States General in The Hague formally recognized American independence and acknowledged Adams as ambassador. Later in June, Adams negotiated a loan of five million guilders, and in October, he negotiated with the Dutch a treaty of amity and commerce. After negotiating the loan with the Dutch, Adams was appointed as one of the American commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war.

    John Bondfield was a merchant in Quebec at the beginning of the American Revolution. He was an ardent supporter of the American invasion of Canada, supplying American troops in their retreat at the end of the Canadian campaign. As a result, he was forced to flee Quebec, settling for a time in Philadelphia before he went to France, where he established a mercantile firm in Bordeaux. After France officially recognized American independence on February 6, 1778, the Continental Congress appointed Bondfield a commercial agent in March of that year. This was the first known American diplomatic station in the world. Bondfield hoped for an appointment to the post of United States consul at Bordeaux when consular appointments were made in 1790, but the post went instead to Joseph Fenwick.

    Alexander Gillon (1741-1794) was an American merchant, seaman, and politician from Charleston, South Carolina. He represented South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1793 and 1794.
    This is an important letter in which Adams exults in his success with the Dutch Republic on behalf of American independence. The letter is framed with an engraving of Adams; the frame has a hinged display that allows for viewing of both sides of the letter. The frame measures 27" x 16".

    Condition: Gently toned, with flattened folds. A tiny tear (less than a quarter inch in length) is visible along the left margin near the bottom.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
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