The mission of the John Adams Institute is to provide a window onto the United States for Dutch audiences. Our main way of carrying this out is by bringing notable Americans--novelists, politicians, historians, scientists, screenwriters, poets--to the Netherlands, and having them talk about their work and their insights.
We believe in discussion and debate. We believe in words. And we believe in the power and value of real-life encounters. We don’t see ourselves as a “patriotic” organization, which waves a little American flag and tries to promote America. Rather, we believe that the United States is so big, so teeming, so powerful, so complex, so full of life and creativity and violence and confusion, that everyone--Americans included--needs to continually study what it is.
Further, there is a unique connection between the United States and the Netherlands. For it was the Dutch who founded a colony, based on Manhattan Island, which gave rise to New York. The Dutch melting pot of the seventeenth century spawned New York City and also the American melting pot. America, therefore, has Dutch roots. And America’s most vital elements--its mixed society and its free trade ethic--come from those Dutch beginnings. It is all the more valuable, then, that, with immigration, diversity, and national identity being central topics of debate in the Netherlands, we bring American perspectives to the Dutch. For we believe that America’s immigrant society can offer some insights to the land that helped give rise to it.
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The Stichting John Adams Instituut is a Algemeen Nut Beogende Instelling (ANBI)
The West-Indisch Huis A tradition continues
Two great institutions owe their existence to Amsterdam's historic West Indisch Huis - the city of New York and the John Adams Institute! It was here in the headquarters of the Dutch West Indisch Huis that two irreversible decisions came to pass: the establishment of a Dutch trading base in the New World on the island of Manhattan and, centuries later, the creation of an institution dedicated to transatlantic cultural exchange. After stints as an orphanage, retirement home and warehouse, the West Indisch Huis was renovated in the 1980s, in 1987 it became the home and symbol of our newly founded institute.
John Adams was co-author of the Declaration of Independence, the first ambassador to the Netherlands, the second US president - inaugurated in 1797, and a great lover of culture and scholarship. A cultured man, an ardent reader, and a book collector, Adams laid an enduring foundation for Dutch-American friendship by signing the Treaty of Amity and Trust with the Dutch in 1782 and securing a loan of 5 million guilders from Amsterdam merchants and bankers to help fund his fledgling nation.
Keizersgracht 529 Amsterdam
Before being elected the second President of the United States, Adams resided in the Netherlands from 1780-1782 as an envoy and advocate for the American colonies, which were then waging a brutal war for independence against the British. Living in the heart of the city of Amsterdam, at Keizersgracht 529, he actively sought contact with the social-economic elite, befriending bankers, politicians, and other influential persons who could help contribute to support the fledgling republic. The long history of friendship between America and the Netherlands was cemented by Adams and the Netherlands became the second country in the world, after France, to recognize America's independence.
John Adams's biography
Massachusetts Historical Society
MHS has been collecting and preserving materials relating to the history of our commonwealth and our nation. The holdings of the MHS encompass millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history.