The Dutch Republic and American Independence

By Jan Willem Schulte Nordholt; Herbert H. Rowen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7
John Adams Arrives in Holland

I am very pleased with Holland.
It is a Singular Country.
It is like no other.
It is all the Effect of Industry and the Work of Art.

JOHN ADAMS

ATHERS in the eighteenth century probably wanted their children to grow up faster than we do in our day; in any event, they exposed them sooner to the instructive dangers of life. When John Adams had to begin the great journey across the Atlantic for the second time in the fall of 1779 and had to say good-bye to his family, he solved the painful dilemma of whether or not to take them with him by leaving his wife at home with the two daughters but taking both sons along. They were still quite young lads--John Quincy was thirteen years of age and Charles was ten--but who knew how much they would benefit by such a "grand tour" in the Old World? We shall attempt to answer that question more specifically when we discuss their experiences in Dutch schools. The boys must have already been toughened by life, for they went through the whole journey across the ocean, through Spain, over the Pyrenees in the dead of winter, and then to France. Now they were going to another country, another strange world.

On 21 July the father recorded in his diary: "Setting off on a Journey with my two Sons to Amsterdam." They traveled by way of Compiègne and Valenciennes to Brussels, where they stayed the night. "This Road is through the finest Country I have any where seen," Adams set down in his diary, with his usual predilection for superlatives. What he, as a true man of the countryside, found so fine was the profusion of crops growing in the fields and the immense numbers of livestock. As good tourists, they visited the cathedral in Brussels (it was Sunday), but the enlightened American reacted with extravagant annoyance at the piety of the people,

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