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Thomas Boylston Adams to John Quincy Adams

11 Dec. 1795

My dear Brother. The Hague 11 December 1795.

Your favor of the 18. ulto: came to hand the 4th currt: I had before been relieved from my apprehensions respecting your personal safety by information from several quarters of your arrival; your letter however was still more satisfactory as a confirmation of that intelligence.

I can easily conceive that you miss my services in a degree, but I can assure you, that the want of your advice & assistance has occasioned me, since your departure, not only trouble, but much anxiety. The duty of a principal agent, I have found much greater & more laborious than my former experience as a subordinate, had led me to anticipate, and the sudden transition I was obliged to undergo from a mere mechanical machine to a thinking animal, tended perhaps to embarrass, more by its novelty, than its magnitude.

Two days after your departure from Helvoet I received the answer of the Bankers at Amsterdam, informing that they would authorize Mr: DeWolf to value upon them for the Antwerp interest—I immediately informed him of the circumstance, & he made his dispositions accordingly; though the Bankers allowed him to draw upon them, only at two months sight, which postponed the payment of Bills upon them until the 16 & 19 of January. The Bills however were immediately negotiable, & the payment at Antwerp was probably commenced in season, though from a letter received from Mr: DeWolf I was led to suppose that some delay had taken place there.

On the 3d: instt: I received a letter from the Gentlemen at Amsterdam requiring me to furnish them with provision for the approaching payment of ƒ270.000 Interest falling due the first of January; and to employ for that purpose those "other means", which you had assured them, were in your power, to provide for the Antwerp interest in case they had failed to assume it, and which they presumed were left in my hands. They preface this call, by informing that Mr: Monroe has received the amount of the Bill on Messrs: Dallarde Swan & Co for 120.000 dollars in specie, but that, "owing to a delay in obtaining the permission of the French Government to send them the same," it has not yet reached them; & as this delay still exists, they have as little prospect as ever of receiving the Silver.

I answered them; that I was possessed of no funds whatever to answer their call, and as to the employment of other means, I did not conceive myself at Liberty to do it, until I should be convinced, that the provision already made, and in the hands of Mr: Monroe, for that payment would prove ineffectual. I further observed, that when you assured them, that in case of their refusal to furnish Mr DeWolf, you had other means, which you were bound to use, to ensure a punctual discharge of his interest, it was only in the last extremity, that you thought yourself at liberty to put them in force.

Their reply to this, expresses great surprize, that I should continue to view the bill on Dallarde & Swan, as provision for the January payment, after all the correspondence, that has passed between them and you upon the subject. They submit a new statement of their Acct: currt: with the United States, up to the 1st: instt: by which it appears that including the Antwerp interest, & crediting the ƒ300,000 expected from Paris, they are still in advance of ƒ427,000. They add. "It therefore cannot be expected, situated as we are at this moment with the United States &ca that we should augment our actual claim of ƒ427.000 with the further advance of the January interest—270,000

And thus assume the enormous advance of ƒ697,000

After this statement they summon me to furnish those other means, for answering their call, which in case of the provision in the hands of Mr: Monroe proving insufficient, I should feel myself at liberty to furnish.

I again declined upon the principle that the Bill on Paris was expressly appropriated for the discharge of interests as they should become due, & insisted that I was bound to consider the balance of that Bill after deducting the Antwerp interest, as in part a provision for the approaching payment at Amsterdam, because that after the United States should be credited for all the remittances hitherto made, the balance in the Acct: currt: would be very small against them, supposing the produce of those remittances to equal, what the Secretary of the Treasury had a right to expect at the time he made them. I did not view the money in Mr: Monroe’s hands as a surplus of the Bankers claims upon the Treasury, but an express appropriation to a particular object. In one of their letters to you they observed that in the arrangements made to effect the reimbursement of one Million florins, they had assumed out of their own means the value of one third of the 535.000 Dls six percent Stocks, selling in England. I took it for granted, that those stocks would be a set off against this anticipation, & would gradually refund their advance. I repeated, therefore that in case the money reached them from Paris, I could not furnish any other resource.

Their next letter commences thus. "After carefully perusing your favor of the 6 Instt: teeming with many & very capital misconceptions of the State of the Accounts between the Treasury of the United States & us, as the most likely way to root them out, we shall develope & explain to you the whole of their situation with us, accurately & comprehensively as in our power."

"Allow us however, first to lay down as a fixed principle, that our confidence in the ability & good will of the Government of the United States to fulfill punctually all its engagements, being entire & unbounded, it is perfectly equal and indifferent to us, to be without any remittances at all, as to possess only such, as are not susceptible of a certain realization, or of entering into our Coffers, only after the expiration of many months. Thus the remittance of Mr: Monroe for the Bill of $120.000 becoming more and more precarious in our opinion, as its expedition is delayed Since 10th: Augt last, & the receipt of the balance of the proceeds of the $535.000 Stocks consigned us, for sale, being at a very great distance. These objects are not, cannot be deemed by us, to be efficient operative Remittances, because they do not tend to strengthen our Cash, & that the security for our advances afforded by the latter, is of no avail whatsoever, our trust in our debtor being only limited by our means, which however great they may be, are subjected to the pressure of the political & Commercial events of the times we live in."

They go on to recapitulate the state of the Acct Current. The whole Net proceeds of the $535.000 Six per Cents, they estimate at about ƒ1,150,000, which is ƒ187.500 less than par upon the whole sum. Of this estimated product the United States are Credited for ƒ1.058.043.–5. Remains to be received ƒ91.956.–15. after which the claim of the Bankers is ƒ625,000, and supposing the Specie to arrive from Paris ƒ300.000. they after the Receipt of all the remittances of the United States, will be in real effective advance ƒ325,000. which they say is very widely different from the very small balance I presumed would be due to them on a final adjustment of their account, &ca They conclude by consenting to add the January payment to their other advances, should the silver reach them before that day.

I had before informed them of the means left in my hands to be used in case of necessity for Mr DeWolf’s payment, which they discovered so much anxiety to get at. Their opinion is that they would have proved unsuccessful because the demand for Bills on America is very rare, & for limited sums.

"Do you Sir, but point out to us purchasers for our Bills on the Treasury of the United States at ƒ27 per Dollar, & we will chearfully assume to furnish same, for the amount of our Advance, Confident, nay certain such drafts would meet the full & unqualified approbation of the Secretary of the Treasury." They renew their request for other means, if such are within my power.

In my reply, yesterday, I thank them for the trouble they have taken to rectify & remove my misconceptions of the State of their Accts. with the Treasury; adding that since I perceive, all the remittances hitherto made them, to be passed to the credit of the United States; that so large a portion of the Stocks has been anticipated, as to leave but a small balance to be yet received; & that a very considerable sum will be still due upon a final adjustment, I must cease to regard the money in Mr: Monroe’s hands as an effectual provision for the approaching payment. Nevertheless, as they consent to pay the January interest, should the specie seasonably arrive, I shall communicate to them Mr: Monroe’s answer to my letter of the 4th: currt: wherein I took the liberty to urge him, to use every exertion in his power, to obtain permission from the French Government, in order that the money might be forwarded to the Bankers at Amsterdam prior to the first of next month. In case a further delay shall appear inevitable from his answer, it will be necessary to resort to the Bill upon Lubbert & Dumas, as a provision contemplated by the Secretary of the Treasury, a substitute in default of the remittance from Paris.

I did not consent to the propriety of their fixed principle, because I am bound to consider the remittances hitherto made by the Treasury Department as sufficient for all the objects to which they were appropriated, until their absolute inefficacy is demonstrated, & if they eventually are not, it is owing to unforeseen and accidental causes. Further, their opinion that the means would have been unsuccessful, could not, I conceived enlarge my authority to use others. It is presumable that fresh supplies will shortly arrive from the Treasury Department, and as I dare not assume the responsibility of authorizing a new Loan, after your instructions with regard to Antwerp, there is no other resource for punctual payment at Amsterdam, as the Bankers affirm, than the arrival of the Specie from Paris.

I have stated this business at large, that I may have the advantage of your advice, with respect to my future conduct. For unless new remittances come to hand before the first of February, it is more than probable that the Summons for other means will be renewed from Amsterdam.

The general authority given to you by the Secretary of the Treasury, to interfere in case of necessity, to prevent any delay in payment of Interest, may perhaps induce you to suggest some new provisional expedient,to be resorted to, only in case of a failure of remittances, for the payments to be made in January, February & March.

I have felt some embarrassment in this affair, & wish if possible to be relieved from future occasions from the above source. Knowing with whom I had to deal, my mind was perhaps less open to conviction, from the apprehension of being frightened by a Summons or an imputation of very capital errors, \in/to the commission of others, for which I should have found less apology in my own opinion. After the means were know, the appetite for them, which had been so greedy and ungovernable while they remained concealed, seems to be much allayed. The prospect or the hope, of obtaining new commissions upon a fresh Loan, had wrought up the imagination almost to a pitch of frenzy, which nothing could calm but an absolute conviction that they could not get at the power to authorize that step. It is doubtless of the first importance that there should be no departure from the accustomed punctuality at Amsterdam, but not greater that I know of, than punctuality at Antwerp; I therefore could not think myself to possess a greater latitude of authority in one case than the other. Your instruction will prove how far this sentiment is well founded.

Excuse this tedious detail. If to you it be irksome in perusal, it has been much more so to me in the compilation. Should the Gentleman who will bear this, be detained a day or two longer, you shall hear from me upon a different topic.

For the present, I enclose you a treat, this day received from your mother. The Centinels sent by Dr: Welsh & the Minerva by Charles have come to hand. They contain the political speculations upon the Treaty, referred to in the within letter. I have not yet read them, & however great my desire to do it, would send them to you, if they did not form a packet too unwieldy to pay cost of transportation. If a private hand shall offer again I will forward them to you.

Parker sent me a few days since from Utrecht, where he has established himself for a time, the enclosed device—hoping it would meet your approbation.

The enclosed list, you will be good enough to let Tilley take to its address, and if you will charge me with the Bill of them, & forward the packet to me when you can, it will confer an obligation upon one of my friends & upon me.

I can only add, that all friends are well; divers desire their remembrance, particularly Mr: Dumas. With great affection I am / your brother

Thomas B Adams.

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).
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