As a diplomat seeking foreign aid for the newly established nation, he had a thorny career. Appointed (1777) to succeed Silas Deane as a commissioner to France, he accomplished little before going home (1779) to become a major figure in the Massachusetts constitutional convention. He then returned (1779) to France, where he quarreled with Vergennes and was able to lend little assistance to Benjamin Franklin in his peace efforts. His attempts to negotiate a loan from the Netherlands were fruitless until 1782.
Adams was one of the negotiators who drew up the momentous Treaty of Paris (1783; see Paris, Treaty of) to end the American Revolution. After this service he obtained another Dutch loan and then was envoy (1785–88) to Great Britain, where he met with British coldness and unwillingness to discuss the problems growing out of the treaty. He asked for his own recall and ended a significant but generally discouraging diplomatic career.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.