The Dutch Republic and American Independence

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

CHAPTER 8
Three Friends

But your endeavour to do good will not be in vain. Neither your letters nor mine will be lost.

JOHN ADAMS to Van der Kemp

WE Dutch have become accustomed these days to having one or another rebel or representative from an improbable nation somewhere in Africa appear in our country in order to find support for what for him is the holy cause of its freedom. He does not easily obtain a hearing in The Hague, where the departments of government are, or at least were, the soul of caution. Still he has his opportunities: the journalists are ready for him; he appears in pictures and interviews in the newspapers, and often on television. He finds the response he has been looking for not in The Hague, the city of government, but in Amsterdam, among the news- gatherers, the restless, and the dissatisfied.

That is exactly what happened with John Adams. When he came to The Hague to seek support for his nation's cause, he found the doors closed, at least for the time being, but in Amsterdam he found them open. There he found the sympathizers for whom he yearned, people who were eager to learn more about the American rebellion. Their enthusiasm flowed easily to the new nation and to the dream of liberty which it proclaimed, but they knew very little about it. There were indeed people there who were curious about the war and knew something about the rise of the United States, he wrote home in September, but they were very few. Even in Amsterdam, where there existed the most attention for American affairs and the most favor toward the Americans, there were only a small number who did not view the American resistance as "a desultory rage of a few enthusiasts, without order, discipline, law, or government." And there was scarcely anyone who really had some knowledge of America and its growing population and trade. 1

We have already seen how the Amsterdammers, Burgomaster Hooft, Pensionary Van Berckel, the bankers Van Staphorst, De Neufville, and

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