The Dutch Republic and American Independence

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

CHAPTER II
Raising a Dust

Mr. Adams seems to think a little apparent Stoutness and greater air of Independence and Boldness in our Demands will procure us more ample Assistance.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

HE new year at once brought Adams what he wanted. On 1 January Congress decided to name him plenipotentiary minister, the official envoy of the United States to the government of the Dutch Republic. He still had to obtain diplomatic recognition, of course, and that would not come easily. But at least he had taken a small step forward on the rocky path that led to recognition.

News of his appointment was rushed off to him at once, but it was the end of February before he received it, and the credential letters did not come for almost another month. It was an ordeal for such a quicktempered man as Adams to live in a time of slow communications. He could barely stick it out. Even before he received the report of the appointment, he chafed impatiently to begin to do something, although he was not quite sure what. He sounded out his friends. Would it be prudent, he wrote to Dumas on 15 January, to attempt to make contacts with the Dutch government by being presented, for example, to the grand pensionary or members of the States General? Certainly the time was ripe now.

But Dumas, taught wisdom by his own many disappointments and imbued with the notion that the Dutch, like peat, were slow to catch fire, warned him against it. Hopes were still held in The Hague, he said, for aid from the League of Armed Neutrality, and there were those too who still desired a reconciliation with England. England, Dumas went on, would no longer accept reconciliation, and then the empress of Russia would have to come to the aid of the Dutch. That would be the time for Adams to act.

But, Adams wrote back hurriedly in a letter that, with full self-knowl-

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