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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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3755. HOLLAND, Prince of Orange and.—
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3755. HOLLAND, Prince of Orange and.—

The treasonable perfidy of the Prince of
Orange, Stadtholder and Captain General of the
United Netherlands, in the war which England
waged against them, for entering into a treaty
of commerce with the United States, is known
to all. As their executive officer, charged with
the conduct of the war, he contrived to baffle
all the measures of the States General, to dislocate
all their military plans, and played false
into the hands of England against his own
country on every possible occasion, confident
in her protection, and in that of the King of
Prussia, brother to his Princess. The States
General, indignant at this patricidal conduct,
applied to France for aid, according to the
stipulations of the treaty concluded with her
in 1785. It was assured to them readily and
in cordial terms. * * * The object of the
Patriots was to establish a representative and
republican government. The majority of the
States General were with them, but the majority
of the populace of the towns was with
the Prince of Orange; and that populace was
played off with great effect by the triumvirate
of[Sir James] Harris, the English ambassador,
afterwards Lord Malmesbury, the Prince of
Orange, a stupid man, and the Princess as
much a man as either of her colleagues, in
audaciousness, in enterprise and in the thirst
of domination. By these the mobs of the
Hague were excited against the members of the
States General; their persons were insulted and
endangered in the streets; the sanctuary of
their houses was violated and the Prince, whose
function and duty it was to repress and punish
these violations of order, took no steps for that
purpose. The States General for their own


Page 408
protection were, therefore, obliged to place their
militia under the command of a committee.
The Prince filled the courts of London and
Berlin with complaints at this usurpation of
his prerogatives and, forgetting that he was
but the first servant of a republic, marched
his regular troops against the city of Utrecht,
where the States were in session. They were
repulsed by the militia. His interests now became
marshalled with those of the public enemy
and against his own country. The States,
therefore, exercising their rights of sovereignty,
deprived him of all his powers. The
great Frederic had died in August, 1786. He
had never intended to break with France in
support of the Prince of Orange. During the
illness of which he died, he had, through the
Duke of Brunswick, declared to the Marquis
de Lafayette, * * * that he meant not to
support the English interest in Holland; that he
might assure the government of France his only
wish was that some honorable place in the
Constitution should be reserved for the Stadtholder
and his children, and that he would take
no part in the quarrel unless an entire abolition
of the Stadtholderate should be attempted.
But his place was now occupied by Frederic
William, his great nephew, a man of little understanding,
much caprice and very inconsiderate;
and the Princess, his sister, although her
husband was in arms against the legitimate authorities
of the country, attempting to go to
Amsterdam for the purpose of exciting the
mobs of that place, and being refused permission
to pass a military post on the way, he put
the Duke of Brunswick at the head of twenty
thousand men, and made demonstrations of
marching on Holland. The King of France
hereupon declared, by his Chargé des Affaires
in Holland, that if the Prussian troops continued
to menace Holland with an invasion, his
Majesty, in quality of Ally, was determined to
succor that province. In answer to this Eden
gave official information to Count Montmorin,
that England must consider as at an end, its
convention with France relative to giving notice
of its naval armaments and that she was
arming generally. War being now imminent.
Eden, since Lord Auckland, questioned me on
the effect of our treaty with France in the case
of a war, and what might be our dispositions.
I told him frankly and without hesitation that
our dispositions would be neutral, and that I
thought it would be the interest of both these
powers that we should be so; because it would
relieve both from all anxiety as to feeding their
West India islands; that England, too, by suffering
us to remain so, would avoid a heavy
land war on our continent, which might very
much cripple her proceedings elsewhere; that
our treaty, indeed, obliged us to receive into
our ports the armed vessels of France, with
their prizes, and to refuse admission to the
prizes made on her by her enemies that there
was a clause also by which we guaranteed to
France her American possessions, which might
perhaps force us into the war, if these were
attacked. “Then it will be war,” said he,
“for they will assuredly be attacked.” Liston,
at Madrid, about the same time, made the same
inquiries of Carmichael. The government of
France then declared a determination to form
a camp of observation at Givet, commenced
arming her marine, and named the Bailli de
Suffrein their generalissimo on the ocean. She
secretly engaged also in negotiations with Russia,
Austria and Spain to form a quadruple
Alliance. The Duke of Brunswick, having advanced
to the confines of Holland, sent some
of his officers to Givet to reconnoitre the state
of things there, and report them to him. * * * Finding that there was not a single company
there, he boldly entered the country, took
their towns as fast as he presented himself before
them, and advanced on Utrecht. The
States had appointed the Rhingrave of Salm
their Commander-in-Chief, a Prince without
talents, without courage and without principle.
He might have held out in Utrecht for
a considerable time, but he surrendered the
place without firing a gun, literally ran away
and hid himself, so that for months it was not
known what had become of him. Amsterdam
was then attacked and capitulated. In the
meantime the negotiations for the quadruple alliance
were proceeding favorably, but the secrecy
with which they were attempted to be conducted
was penetrated by Fraser, Chargé des
Affaires of England at St. Petersburg, who instantly
notified his court, and gave the alarm
to Prussia. The King saw at once what would
be his situation between the jaws of France,
Austria and Russia. In great dismay he besought
the court of London not to abandon
him, sent Alvensleben to Paris to explain and
soothe, and England, through the Duke of
Dorset and Eden, renewed her conferences for
accommodation. The Archbishop, who shuddered
at the idea of war, and preferred a peaceful
surrender of right to an armed vindication
of it, received them with open arms, entered
into cordial conferences and a declaration and
counter-declaration were cooked up at Versailles
and sent to London for approbation. They
were approved there, reached Paris at one
o'clock of the 27th, and were signed that night
at Versailles. It was said and believed at
Paris that M. de Montmorin literally “pleurait
comme un enfant”
when obliged to sign this
counter-declaration, so distressed was he by the
dishonor of sacrificing the Patriots after assurances
so solemn of protection and absolute
encouragement to proceed. The Prince of
Orange was reinstated in all his powers, now
become regal. A great emigration of the Patriots
took place; all were deprived of office,
many exiled, and their property confiscated.
They were received in France and subsisted for
some time on her bounty. Thus fell Holland,
by the treachery of her Chief, from her honorable
independence to become a province of
England; and so, also, her Stadtholder from
the high station of the first citizen of a free
Republic, to be the servile Viceroy of a
foreign sovereign. And this was effected by a
mere scene of bullying and demonstration; not
one of the parties, France, England or Prussia
having ever really meant to encounter actual
war for the interest of the Prince of Orange.
But it had all the effect of a real and decisive
Autobiography. Washington ed. i, 73. Ford ed., i, 101.