Amsterdam honours John Adams

20th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 September 2004, AMSTERDAM — Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam unveiled a plaque Monday to honour Amsterdam statesman John Adams who secured Dutch recognition for the fledgling and independent United States of America in 1782.

20 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — Mayor Job Cohen of Amsterdam unveiled a plaque Monday to honour Amsterdam statesman John Adams who secured Dutch recognition for the fledgling and independent United States of America in 1782.

Current US ambassador Clifford Sobel was among the dignitaries who attended the ceremony at Keizersgracht 529, the upmarket canal side house where Adams lived for most of the time he was in Amsterdam.

The Netherlands was the second country after France to recognise the US. After many months of tough negotiations following his arrival, Adams also managed to negotiate a loan from Dutch bankers for the US government which was virtually bankrupt at the time.

Adams (1735-1826) is celebrated in the US as one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence. After his time in Europe, he returned to the US to serve two terms as vice-president under George Washington before becoming president in 1797.

The unveiling of the name plate was organised by the John Adams Institute in the Netherlands as part of its programme to honour the man who became the second president of the US.

The institute's celebrations are mainly focused on next year, the 225th anniversary of Adams' arrival in Amsterdam from France.

Director Monique Knapen said that while Adams was highly regarded in the US, few people in the Netherlands were aware of the important role he played in cementing US-Dutch relations.

She said American tourists had for years made a point of coming to see the Keizersgracht house and it was now time for Amsterdam and the Netherlands to recognise the landmark as well. 

Dutch theatre director Carel Aphenaar gave a public reading of a letter Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on taking up residence on the Keizersgracht.

The house, Adams wrote, was "as fine as any of the great houses of Europe" and as "commodious and elegant as my position requires".

He said it was a fitting location for the US embassy, or as he described it, "hotel des États-Unis d'Amérique". Keizersgracht 529 currently houses an estate agent's office.

Adams had first taken rooms near the Wallen, Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District and he complained to his wife that people had claimed the "obscure" location had hampered his effectiveness.

He surmised the whispering campaign had been started by "English spies". Hence, his relocation to the more refined Keizersgracht.

Mayor Cohen told the gathering on Monday that he had just returned from New Amsterdam — better known these days as New York — where he was studying how the American city deals with criminality.

Comparing New York and Amsterdam, Cohen said he could feel during his visit that the "genes and bones of New York were the same as the genes and bones of Amsterdam".

The John Adams Institute's celebrations continue on 21 September as writer David McCullough, John Adams biographer, gives the first John Adams Lecture in de Aula of the University of Amsterdam.

The John Adams Lecture is to become an annual event featuring American speakers eminent in their field.

The celebrations continue in 2005 with a further lecture and debate about US-Dutch relations. The institute is also publishing a book of John Adam's letters next year and there will be an exhibition about his time in the Dutch capital in the Amsterdam Historic Museum.

For more details, see the John Adams Institute website.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news, John Adams

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