The American victory at Yorktown in October 1781 and the fall of Lord North’s ministry in March 1782 opened the possibility that John Adams might soon be involved in negotiations to end the war for American independence. To prepare for the occasion, Adams and Benjamin Franklin discussed in their letters the fundamentals for peace. Adams made it clear to the British government that there would be no negotiations without British recognition of the United States as independent and sovereign.
This volume chronicles Adams’s efforts, against great odds, to achieve formal recognition of the new United States. The documents include his vigorous response to criticism of his seemingly unorthodox methods by those who would have preferred that he pursue a different course, including Congress’s newly appointed secretary for foreign affairs, Robert R. Livingston.
In April 1782 the Netherlands recognized the United States and admitted John Adams as its minister. For Adams it was “the most Signal Epocha, in the History of a Century,” and he would forever see it as the foremost achievement of his diplomatic career. The volume ends with Adams, at long last a full-fledged member of the diplomatic corps, describing his reception by the States General and his audiences with the Prince and Princess of Orange.
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.
- 576 pages
- 1-1/2 x 6-1/2 x 9-3/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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