ADAMS, JOHN, President. Autograph letter signed ("J. Adams") as U.S. Minister to the Netherlands, TO ELBRIDGE GERRY, a fellow Signer of Massachusetts, Amsterdam, 16 June 1781. One page, 4to, neatly laid down on another sheet.
"YOU MUST NOT ENTERTAIN THE MOST DISTANT IDEA OF PEACE WHILE THERE IS ONE BRITISH SOLDIER ALIVE AND AT LIBERTY IN AMERICA"
A fine letter to his good friend, expressing his opinion of the League of Armed Neutrality, gloating over the American alliance with France and concluding with particularly fierce anti-British sentiments. "Mr. Le Roy the Bearer of this, is a young American educated in Amsterdam where he has good Connections. He wants mercantile Connections in America. I wish he could give you hopes of any usefull Connections between our Country and this, if he can, it is more than I am able to do.
"The armed Neutrality turns out little better than a Bubble. But as We have little to hope from it, We have nothing to fear. France has settled every Thing this year, better than ever, and much to the Satisfaction of America as I hope and believe. But you must not entertain the most distant Idea of Peace while there is one British Soldier alive and at Liberty in America. I am my dear sir your Friend J. Adams."
Adams forcefully deprecates the concept of Armed Neutrality which had been formulated by Russia, Sweden and Denmark, in hopes of ensuring the safe movement of merchant vessels in spite of the state of war between America, France and England. Certain principles ("free ships, free goods") had been agreed upon (France and Spain had immediately voiced their agreement with them) and a League of Armed Neutrals proposed. To Adams's regret the Dutch had agreed to and ratified the Treaty in January 1781, in spite of the fact that Britain had already declared war on them and seized the important Dutch port of St. Eustatius, in the West Indies. Great Britain, unable to agree to all the terms proposed, simply chose to disregard them. Hence Adams' reference to it as a "Bubble." In the end, Armed Neutrality accomplished so little that Catherine the Great herself termed it "Armed Nullity." Adams, who had succeeded Henry Laurens as American Minister in the Netherlands, was able to secure Dutch recognition of American independence the following April, and several important loans.