In mid-March 1781, John Adams received his commission and instructions as minister to the Netherlands and embarked on the boldest initiative of his diplomatic career. Disappointed by the lack of interest shown by Dutch investors in his efforts to raise a loan for the United States, Adams changed his tactics, and in a memorial made a forthright appeal to the States General of the Netherlands for immediate recognition of the United States. Published in Dutch, English, and French, it offered all of Europe a radical vision of the ordinary citizen’s role in determining political events. In this volume, for the first time, the circumstances and reasoning behind Adams’s bold moves in the spring of 1781 are presented in full.
In July the French court summoned Adams, the only American in Europe empowered to negotiate an Anglo–American peace, to Paris for consultations regarding an offer made by Austria and Russia to mediate the Anglo–French war. In his correspondence with France’s foreign minister, the Comte de Vergennes, Adams passionately insisted that the United States was fully and unambiguously independent and sovereign and must be recognized as such by Great Britain before any negotiations took place. This volume shows John Adams to be a determined and resourceful diplomat, unafraid to go beyond the bounds of traditional diplomacy to implement his vision of American foreign policy.
The heart of the matter, quite simply, is John Adams—fussing, fuming, stretching his mind to its widest effort, using his eyes to detect everything visible and supposable about the human comedy and tragedy of which he is an event-making part.
These volumes [11 and 12] are elegantly produced and contain many helpful features… No reference library of note should be without a complete set of the Papers of John Adams, and no historian of the American Revolution in general, or the diplomacy of this era in particular, should fail to use these volumes extensively.
In the Papers of John Adams, the superb standard of editorial scholarship that has been the hallmark of the Adams papers remains evident. It is all there: scrupulous care in presenting the texts; thorough, judicious, and insightful annotation; and the detailed analytic system of indexing that makes it possible to consult the published Adams papers so efficiently… As a result, the new volumes interlock closely with the old so as to enhance the utility of each part of the entire group.
The modern craft of documentary editing—which these superb volumes illustrate at its best—is facing a crisis of funding and of confidence… Volumes such as these and the cumulative insight that they give us as scholars and as a people into the origins of our national institutions are a powerful argument for continuing to invest in the scholarship that produces them.
The high quality of production that readers have come to expect from The Adams Papers has been maintained by the Belknap Press. The editors are to be congratulated for so capably continuing publication of this comprehensive and useful documentary edition.
[Former editor-in-chief of the Adams Papers] Mr. [L. H.] Butterfield brought to the immense project the high scholarly and literary standards that have distinguished it to this day, as publication of the Papers continues in one splendid volume after another.
- 568 pages
- 6-1/2 x 9-5/8 inches
- Belknap Press
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