A Flood of Petitions
It is strange to see how the American Revolution has excited these phlegmatic Dutchmen.
WE can see from the varying instructions given to Adams how wobbly and changeable the attitude of the American Congress was in the summer before Yorktown rang down the curtain on the last act of the Revolution. Where he had been put sharply in his place in June, with his powers strictly limited, a new set of instructions was sent to him in August specifically for what he should do in the Dutch Republic. The debates in Congress were extensive, and from one day to the next opinions shifted and Adams's powers were increased. What finally resulted on 16 August was orders to Adams to conclude if possible an alliance with the Dutch government, preferably as part of a triple alliance with France as the third partner. A precondition for this alliance would be the Republic's recognition of American independence. Both parties would be required to continue fighting until this independence was officially recognized in a peace treaty. It was emphatically prescribed that Adams maintain close contact with the French ambassador in all his negotiations.
This may not have been the fulfillment of all that Adams desired, but he was pleased nonetheless when he received the new instructions at the end of November, together with the news of Cornwallis's capitulation at Yorktown. If French supervision would be annoying, at least he had approval for going ahead with his own aggressive diplomacy. Furthermore he was still on good terms with La Vauguyon and therefore hoped that he would succeed. He at once informed the duke of his new instructions, but sought Dumas's advice in an optimistic letter: "My new instructions are very well timed, and we shall make it do to get an answer I hope, and to cement a triple or quadruple alliance in time, which may set all the fools in Europe at defiance."1
La Vauguyon responded very favorably. He wrote Adams that he too believed that the moment had come for taking the big step. On 18 De-