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A

COLLECTION

OF

STATE-PAPERS.

[Price Two Shillings.]




A

COLLECTION

OF

STATE-PAPERS,

Relative to the First Acknowledgment of the

SOVEREIGNTY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

And the Reception of their

Minister Plenipotentiary, by their High Mightinesses the

STATES GENERAL OF THE UNITED NETHERLANDS

To which is prefixed, the Political Character of

JOHN ADAMS,

Ambassador Plenipotentiary from the States of North America, to their
High Mightinesses the States General of the United Provinces of the
Netherlands.

BY AN AMERICAN.

LIKEWISE,

AN ESSAY ON CANON AND FEUDAL LAW,

BY JOHN ADAMS, ESQ;

LONDON:

Printed for JOHN FIELDING, No. 23, Pater-noster-row; JOHN DEBRETT,
opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly; and JOHN SEWELL, No. 32,
Cornhill. 1782.

[Entered at Stationers-Hall.]




INTRODUCTION


As the States General of the United Provinces have acknowledged the
independency of the United States of North America, and made a treaty of
commerce with them, it may not be improper to prefix a short account of
John Adams, Esq; who, pursuing the interests of his country, hath
brought about these important events.

Mr. Adams is descended from one of the first families which founded the
colony of the Massachusets Bay in 1630. He applied himself early to the
study of the laws of his country; and no sooner entered upon the
practice thereof, but he drew the attention, admiration, and esteem of
his countrymen, on account of his eminent abilities and probity of
character. Not satisfied with barely maintaining the rights of
individuals, he soon signalized himself in the defence of his country,
and mankind at large, by writing his admirable Dissertation on the Canon
and Feudal Laws; a work so well worth the attention of every man who is
an enemy to ecclesiastical and civil tyranny, that it is here subjoined.
It showed the author at an early period capable of seconding
efficaciously the formation of republics on the principles of justice
and virtue. Such a man became most naturally an object of Governor
Barnard's seduction. The perversion of his abilities might be of use in
a bad cause; the corruption of his principles might tarnish the best.
But the arts of the Governor, which had succeeded with so many, were
ineffectual with Mr. Adams, who openly declared he would not accept a
favour, however flatteringly offered, which might in any manner connect
him with the enemy of the rights of his country, or tend to embarrass
him, as it had happened with too many others, in the discharge of his
duty to the public. Seduction thus failing of its ends, calumny,
menaces, and the height of power were made use of against him. They lost
the effect proposed, but had that, which the show of baseness and
violence ever produce on a mind truly virtuous. They increased his
honest firmness, because they manifested, that the times required more
than ordinary exertions of manliness. In consequence of this conduct,
Mr. Adams obtained the highest honours which a virtuous man can receive
from the good and the bad. He was honoured with the disapprobation of
the Governor, who refused his admission into the council of the
province; and he met with the applause of his countrymen in general, who
sent him to assist at the Congress in 1774, in which he was most active,
being one of the principal promoters of the famous resolution of the 4th
of July, when the colonies declared themselves FREE AND INDEPENDENT
STATES.

This step being taken, Mr. Adams saw the inefficacy of meeting the
English Commissioners, and voted against the proposition; Congress,
however, having determined to pursue this measure, sent him, together
with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Rutledge, to General Howe's head quarters.
These Deputies, leading with them, in a manly way, the hostages which
the general had given for their security, marched to the place of
conference, in the midst of twenty thousand men ranged under arms.
Whether this military shew was meant to do honour to the Americans, or
to give them an high idea of the English force, is not worth enquiry. If
its object was to terrify the Deputies of Congress, it failed; making no
more impression on them, than the sudden discovery of elephants did upon
certain embassadors of old. The utmost politeness having passed on both
sides, the conference ended, as had been foreseen, without any effect.

Mr. Adams having been fifteen months one of the Commissioners of the War
department, and a principal suggestor of the terms to be offered to
France, for forming treaties of alliance and commerce, he was sent to
the court of Versailles, as one of the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the
United States. After continuing some time invested with this important
trust, he returned to America; where he no sooner appeared, than he was
called upon by the State of Massachusets Bay, to assist in forming a
system of government, that might establish the rights of all on clear,
just, and permanent grounds. He was never employed in a business more
agreeable to himself; for, the happiness of his Fellow-Citizens is his
great object. He sought not honour in this arduous undertaking, but it
fell ultimately upon _Him_. He has gained it all over Europe. If he
endeavoured to obtain by it the esteem and love of his countrymen, he
has succeeded; for they know they are chiefly indebted to him for the
constitution of the State of Massachusets Bay, as it stands at this day.

This important business being completed to the satisfaction of all, he
came back to Europe, with full powers from Congress to assist at any
conferences which might be opened for the establishment of peace; and
had sent him, soon after, other powers to negociate a loan of money for
the use of the United States; and to represent them, as their Minister
Plenipotentiary, to their High Mightinesses the States General of the
United Provinces. Such important trusts shew, in what estimation he is
held by his country; and his manner of executing them, that confidence
is well placed.

On his arrival in Holland, nothing could have been more unpromising to
the happy execution of his mission, than were the affairs of that
country. The influence of the Court of St. James's over a certain set of
men, the interest that many had in the funds and commerce of England,
and the dread of her power, which generally prevailed throughout the
Provinces, obliged him to act with the utmost circumspection. Unknown,
and at first unnoticed, (at least but by a few) he had nothing to do but
to examine into the state of things, and characters of the leading men.
This necessary knowledge was scarcely acquired, when the conduct of the
British Ministry afforded him an opportunity of shewing himself more
openly. The contempt, insult and violence, with which the whole Belgic
nation was treated, gave him great advantages over the English
Embassador at the Hague. He served himself of his rivals rashness and
folly with great coolness and ability; and, by consequence, became so
particularly obnoxious to the prevailing party, that he did not dare to
go to a village scarcely a day's journey from his residence, but with
the utmost secrecy: the fate of Dorislaus was before his eyes. Having
been therefore under the necessity of making himself a Burgher of
Amsterdam, for protection against the malice of the times, he soon
gained the good opinion of the Magistrates by his prudent conduct as a
private Citizen. The bad policy of England, enabled him to step forward
as a public character. As such he presented to the States General his
famous Memorial, dated the 19th of April, 1781, wherein the declaration
of the independency of America on the 4th of July, 1776, was justified;
the unalterable resolution of the United States to abide thereby
asserted; the interest that all the powers of Europe, and particularly
the States General, have in maintaining it, proved; the political and
natural grounds of a commercial connection between the two Republics
pointed out; and information given that the Memorialist was invested
with full powers from Congress to treat with their High Mightinesses for
the good of both countries.

The presenting this Memorial was a delicate step; Mr. Adams was
sensible, that he alone was answerable for its consequences, it being
taken not merely from his own single suggestion, but contrary to the
opinion and advice of some of great weight and authority. However,
maturely considering the measure, he saw it in all its lights, and
boldly ventured on the undertaking. The full and immediate effect of it
was not expected at once. The first object was, that the nation should
consider the matter thoroughly; it being evident, that the more it was
ruminated on, the more obvious would be the advantages and necessity of
a connection between the two countries. When, therefore, the Memorial
was taken by the States General _ad referendum_, the first point was
gained; the people thought of, and reasoned on the matter set before
them; many excellent writings appeared, and they made the greatest
impression; a weekly paper in particular, entitled Le Politique
Hollandois, drew the attention of all, on account of its information,
the soundness of its argument, and its political judgment and
patriotism. At length the time came when the work was to be compleated:
the generality of the people of Holland, seeing the necessity of opening
a new course to their trade, which the violent aggression of England,
and the commercial spirit of other nations tended to diminish, demanded
an immediate connection with the United States of America, as a means of
indemnifying themselves for the loss which a declared enemy had brought
on them, and the rivalship of neighbouring nations might produce.

Mr. Adams seized the occasion which the public disposition afforded him,
and presented his Ulteriour Address of the 9th of January, 1782;
referring therein to his Memorial of the 19th of April, 1781, and
demanding a categorical answer thereto.



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