The Complete Diplomat in The Hague
The Hague draws cries of admiration from all visitors.
GEORG CHRISTOPH LICHTENBERG
OTHING is left of the house, not a stone or a picture of any kind. The archives have been ransacked without result. We know no more about the first American embassy established anywhere in the world than what we find in the contemporary descriptions. We shall probably never know what the HU+0F4tel des Etats-Unis, as it was called, actually looked like. We might be tempted to say with the Psalmist that the place thereof shall know it no more, but it would not be true: the thorough searches of the best Adams scholar, the editor of the great modern edition of his works, Dr. Lyman H. Butterfield, have at least thrown some light on the problem. He came to the Netherlands in 1959 to collect materials, and in his very first letter he wrote: "By six o'clock I had made some progress. Among other things I found the site of J. A.'s house." But that was all, a house number on the street called the Fluwelen Burgwal in The Hague. The only picture we have dates from 1844; it is a lithograph showing a canal, since filled in, and a low wall where Adams's house had stood until it had been demolished twenty years earlier. The editor, at his wit's end, nonetheless used it as an illustration in reprinting John Adams's diary. 1
We must be content with the written sources, and they at least are ample. On 23 February 1782, Dumas wrote to Adams that he had completed his task: Since the previous evening the house had belonged to him; it was transferred into his hands in the presence of the notary for the sum of 14,052 guilders ten cents free and clear, and he could enter into possession on 1 May. Dumas would handle the remaining practical details; he had bargained for the best possible price, he wrote Adams, and hoped for a quick reply "that you are satisfied with me." From this letter it is evident that Adams had already seen the house and that he was in