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TREATY OF 1782 WITH THE NETHERLANDS.
Second power to make a Treaty with United States-War between
United Provinces and England Causes-Lee, failing at Berlin, enters secretly into a correspondence with the Regency of Amsterdam
- not suspected by Sir Joseph Yorke-Lee agrees, at Aix La Cha. pelle, on a Treaty with Neufville-Secret discovered by capture of Laurens-Amsterdam richest City in Europe-Laurens chosen to Holland—Subsequently Adams-States General very dilatory in recognizing Independence- Three classes of Treaties— Remarks on National Law-Neutral Rights badly defined—Mr. Adams concludes a Treaty, and makes Loans--Van Berckel appointed Minister to United States--Holland fell in '94--Changes in Government-Great Trade with this Country-King Louis well disposed--Compelled to abdicate-Confiscation of American Property.
The government of the United Netherlands,* was the second power in Europe, that made a treaty with the United States. The treaty was not actually signed, till the year 1782, to
* The reader will observe, that this kingdom, as now constituted, did not exist, until the year 1814; it is one of the creations of the treaties of Paris, and of Vienna. The treaty of Paris, of May of that year, assigned to Holland, placed under the government of the House of Orange Nassau, an addition of territory. To this dominion, the Allied Sovereigns, at the time they were in London, in the summer of 1814,
wards the close of the revolution; but with the exception of France, America derived more aid from Holland, in the shape of military stores, and money, and by obtaining protection for her vessels in the Dutch West Indies, than from any
other state in Europe.
The connexion of Holland with America,—the severity with which England exercised her great power on the ocean, in relation to convoys, contrabands, and the privileges of the neutral flag, in the beginning of the contest with the colonies,-produced a feeling of extreme irritation and jealousy ; and ultimately led, in 1780, to a declaration of hostilities, on the part of the latter government. An English writer has explained, in a full and able manner, the cause of this war, an event, in which the United States were, at the time, greatly interested. We cannot do better than extract a portion of his remarks; though a proper allowance should be made, for the warmth with which the author vindicates the acts of his government, and the principles of English maritime law :
66 At the commencement of hostilities between Great Britain and her colonies, Holland, in conformity with the conduct of other European powers, forbad the export of ammunition and stores for one year; but, when the success of the colonists, and the declaration of independence, afforded flattering hopes of acquiring a portion of that commerce, which the English had hitherto monopolized, Holland began to grasp at the advantage, and encouraged an illicit trade with America. Every motive, arising from long and beneficial alliance, similarity in religion, and political interests, combined to deter Holland from a mode of conduct, repugnant from the interests of Great Britain ; but a faction, in the French interest, and inimical to the Stadtholder, influenced all the proceedings of government. The open encouragement, afforded to
annexed Belgium.--(Schoell, vol. X. p. 534.) The limits of this kingdom were afterwards defined, in the 2d article of the treaty of Vienna, of May, 1815.—(Recueil des Pieces Officilles, &c. vol. viii. p. 309.) In the time of the American Revolution, Belgium, (la Belgique,) a modern French name, (Belgica Gallia,) for what was called, in English geo-, graphy, the Netherlands, or the Low Countries, was divided into French, Dutch and Austrian Flanders, and did not exist as a separate government. The treaty of 1782 was made with that part of the present kingdom of the Netherlands, called, in the treaty of Paris of 1814, Holland. It is well known, in history, by the title of the States General, or Seven United Provinces of Holland,
, American privateers, in the Dutch West India islands, occasioned a long correspondence, which terminated in the delivery of a spirited memorial by Sir Joseph Yorke, the British ambassador at the Hague. The States General returned an humble and complying answer, denying an intention to recognize the independence of America, and consenting to the recall of Van Graaf; but they complained of the harsh terms in the memorial,--and, as a mark of indignation, ordered Count Walderen, their envoy extraordinary in London, not to correspond, on the occasion, with Sir Joseph Yorke, or Lord Suffolk, the secretary of state, but to deliver his memorial to the King in person.”—“ Sir Joseph Yorke had resided in Holland 27 years, was thoroughly acquainted with the state and temper of parties, and knew the preponderance of French interest, and the fatal supineness of the Stadtholder. He vindicated, in an able memorial, the conduct of Great Britain ; and, while he displayed the moderation of the King, in not plunging Holland into a war, by demanding the succours, stipulated in the treaties of 1678 and 1716, proposed to discuss the grievances in a conference,-prefacing the offer with an assurance, that the prevention of contraband trade should, in the mean time, be subject to no interpretation, unwarranted by the rules of equity, and the practice of perfect generosity. This proposal occasioned violent exertions among the French party.
The Duke de Vauguyon, ambassador from the court of Versailles, endeavoured to pique the pride and interest of the Dutch, by demanding a clear and explicit determination, to accept or renounce the advantages of commerce, proffered by a decree of the French Council of State, allowing the traffic in naval stores, during the war. The proposition was not, however, accepted; and the French Court repealed the permission given to Holland, of trading with them duty free,-admitting, to the exclusive enjoyment of this privilege, Amsterdam alone, in consideration of the patriotic exertions made by that city, to persuade the republic to procure, from the court of London, the security of that unlimited com,
merce, which belonged to the Dutch flag.'”—The arts and influ. ence of France were, however, more effectual than the remonstrances of England; and, when Spain was added to the hostile combination, the striking partiality of Holland, towards the enemies of Great Britain, rendered more decisive explanations indispensable. Sir Joseph Yorke, therefore, in pursuance of instructions from England, demanded from the States General the succours, stipulated in the several treaties, of which the casus fæderis was fully explained in the separate article of 1716.”. -66 At this juncture, a fresh cause of dispute arose, in consequence of the reception afforded to Paul Jones and his prizes, in the harbours of the republic. Sir Joseph Yorke demanded the detention of the ships and crews; as Paul Jones, though a pretended American, was a native of Scotland, a pirate, rebel, and state criminal. The States General refused compliance, alleging their constant maxim, not to decide on the legality of captures by the vessels of any other country.”- • The state of sullen dissatisfaction, which occasioned the abolition of the ancient connexion between Great Britain and Holland, resolved itself into active hostility; the mystery, which had covered the views and conduct of the Dutch, was dispelled by accident; and the court of Great Britain was impelled to a firm and decisive mode of conduct, as well in resentment of past treachery, as with a view to counteract the effects of the neutral league. The Vestal frigate, commanded by Captain Keppel, took, near the Banks of Newfoundland, a Congress packet. The papers were thrown overboard, but, by the intrepidity of an English sailor, recovered with little damage. They fully proved the perfidy of the Dutch; wbo, before the ex. istence of any dispute, entered into a formal treaty of amity and commerce with the revolted colonies, fully recognizing their independence, and containing many stipulations, highly injurious to England, and beneficial to her enemies, both in Europe and America. Disagreements on some of the arrangements, had occasioned delays in its completion ; but Henry Laurens, late President of the Congress, who was one of the passengers in the captured vessel, was authorized to negotiate definitively, and entertained no doubt of success." This remonstrance also failing, a royal manifesto was issued, declaring hostilities against Holland."
We shall have occasion to remark, under the head of Prussia, that William Lee, of Virginia, was sent by Congress to Berlin, as commissioner, as early as '77; but we have not been able to ascertain, that any person had been directed to proceed to Holland; for the ancient alliances, and friendly treaties, between the provinces and Great Britain, made it extremely unlikely that any assistance could be obtained in that quarter. As the greater part of the Dutch commerce was obliged to pass through the English channel, and as the Dutch navy was in a state of decay, Holland was necessarily under the control, to a great degree, of the English fleets. Mr. Lee was not officially received at Berlin, and met with no success there, in his application for military stores; but he soon entered into a correspondence with the regency of Amsterdam. This intercourse took place as early as August, '78; but it does not appear, that it was ever suspected by the British minister, Sir Joseph Yorke.* Though his letters to the States General abound with complaints and remonstrances, upon almost all topics, touching the neutral character of the Dutch, there is not the most distant allusion to any secret correspondence between any one of the provinces and the American government. He certainly was not aware, that the confederacy had an agent at Amsterdam, or its neighbourhood. The correspondence, however, was confined to the government of one of the principal towns of the United Provinces, well known to have great influence over the whole Dutch confederacy; and there is no reason to suppose, that it was known to the States General. On the 4th of September, '78, Mr. Lee agreed with M. de Neufville, a respectable merchant of Amsterdam, acting by the authority of Francis Van Berckel, pensionary of the city, on the plan of a treaty of commerce and amity between the two countries. These gentlemen met at Aix la Chapelle, for the purpose of secrecy'; and, in that
* Afterwards Lord Doyer.