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Letter from John Adams to Thomas Mifflin
Adams, John, 1735-1826
November 03, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 177-179

HON. JOHN ADAMS TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Auteuil, near Paris, November 3rd, 1784.

Sir:

Doctor Franklin has lately communicated to Mr. Jefferson & me a Letter he has received from the Compt de Vergennes and another from Mr. Grand; the first informed that Mr. Marbois had informed him that upon his application to the Superintendent of Finances he had receivedan answer from Mr. Gouvener Morris that Letters should be written both to Amsterdam and Paris to provide for the payment of the interest of the ten millions of Livres borrowed for the United States in Holland by the King, and reminds the American Minister that other interest is due and the first payment of the Capital will become due next Year. Mr. Grand's Letter informs that he is already in about 50,000 Livres in advance for Loan Office Certificates, Salaries, &c. These Letters the Doctor will no doubt transmit to Congress and as they relate to matters within his department, I might have been excused from mentioning them, if the mention of Amsterdam had not made it probable that Mr. Morris had it in contemplation to draw upon our bankers there for money to discharge this interest. And I cannot excuse myself from observing that if such draughts should be made I am apprehensive they will be protested. France is at present in so much danger of being forced to take part in a War in the Low Countries that I am not surprised at the Compte de Vergennes's attention to matters of revenue and that I cannot see any hope that Doctor Franklin will

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be able to obtain any relief from this Court. It will be remembered that there is a debt of near a million and a half Sterling to France and another debt of more than half a million Sterling in Holland; whose interests are constantly accrueing.

There are also Salaries to Ministers, and there is another call for money which is very pressing. The commerce of the Mediterranean is of great importance to the United States and to every one of them, and this commerce cannot be enjoyed with freedom without treaties with the Barbary powers. It will not be only in vain but detrimental and dangerous to open negotiations with these powers, without money for the customary presents.

How are all these demands for money to be satisfied? If Cash, Bills or produce can be sent to Europe for the purpose it will be happy for us. But I suppose that no man believes it possible and therefore we must not only forego great future advantages but violate contracts already made and faith already pledged; and thereby totally ruin our credit if not expose the property of our Merchants to be seized abroad or we must borrow more money in Europe. Now there is no part of Europe in which we can expect to borrow, unless it be in Holland, and there we may rely upon it, all our hopes will fail us, if effectual measures are not taken to fund our foreign debt. If adequate funds were established for discharging the interest, we may hope for further credit, without them our circumstances are absolutely desperate. It is not for me to enter into the question how this is to be done. So far distant, and so long absent, it would be impossible for me to form a judgement, if the subject were within my provice, which it is not. The ability of our people for this and much greater things cannot be doubted by any man who knows anything of their affairs, and it is a pity that any question about the mode should retard this most necessary provision for the existence of our credit abroad.

I have this moment a Letter from our Bankers at Amsterdam, dated 28th October in which they inform me that they have not received the ratification of my last loan. Perhaps it did not arrive till after the recess of Congress. I must earnestly request that Congress would dispatch it as early as possible after their meetings, because the delay of it may excite an alarm aud dash all our hopes at once. The half million Sterling which we have obtained in Holland has

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been all transmitted to America in Dollars by the way of the Havannah, or paid in redeeming Bills of exchange Sold in America for very advantageous premiums. None of it has been laid in goods and therefore every other consideration calls upon us to be punctual as well as our honor which alone ought to be sufficient.

JOHN ADAMS.