Henry Laurens's Papers
It looks as if England would force the Dutch into the War: but if they take a Part it will certainly be for us--Oh, that Laurens was there.-- Oh, that Laurens was there!
WHEREAS the said Henry Laurens has, by unavoidable accidents, been hitherto prevented from proceeding on his said agency; we therefore reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, ability, conduct, and fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you, the said John Adams . . . our agent for and on behalf of the said United States, to negotiate a loan with any person or persons, bodies politic or corporate, promising in good faith to ratify and confirm whatever shall by you be done in the premises, or relating thereto." With these words, Adams had been authorized in June to borrow money in Amsterdam.
By the time Adams received the report in September, Laurens had sailed, been caught up by fate, and was already locked up in the Tower of London. The provisional American agent in Holland could not yet know that, and he took up his task with his usual energy. He went to work at once, he wrote to Congress; he could not give the names of the persons with whom he was in contact but they deserved the confidence of Congress. They had told him bluntly that he was badly informed; there was not as much money available as he thought, and concluding loans was not easy either. Nor did America have as many friends as he had believed. They found it strange, Adams added, that Congress should send an envoy to conclude a loan without at the same time empowering him to reach a political agreement and conclude a trade treaty. He suggested that Congress send a plenipotentiary to The Hague to present himself to the Prince of Orange and the States General -- that would make a loan far easier. 1
Thus Adams's enthusiasm ran aground immediately upon the caution of the Amsterdam bankers. They considered him a friend and treated him