In the north east corner of Grosvenor Square is a little-known and unique piece of American history. Here is the home of the 1st American Minister to Great Britain! You may not immediately know who that was? He was later to become the 2nd President of the United States. It is John Adams. He fulfilled this role of American Ambassador to Great Britain from this house between May 1785 and March 1788.
John Adams sought to increase foreign recognition of the United States. This was achieved and there were fifteen foreign ministers based in the United States by 1788 – a diplomatic success. However his real objects were the British evacuation from the western outposts, the settlement of American debts to British creditors (for work contracted before the war) and a treaty of commerce between the two nations. But these knotty problems were never fully achieved during his tenure.
Take a moment to appreciate (and imagine) the political events and entertainment that took place in this building during this formative stage of the United States. From the outside in the street, one can peer into the state dining room. The main drawing room is on the first floor. Bedrooms were on the third floor and eight servants occupied the top floor – necessary for the entertainment of the whole diplomatic corps, supportive members of the British establishment and aristocracy and foreign ministers wooed to recognise the United States. Major political and diplomatic effort that would go on into the small hours. (By the way, it was Adams’ daughter, Abigail, who found the property and later married an officer of the Revolutionary Army on Washington’s staff in the building).
It’s amusing that during Adam’s stay, Lord North, the British Prime minster during the War of Independence, also lived on Grosvenor square – but on the opposite side.
With this early foothold, Grosvenor Square would become central to the political, commercial and military operations of the United States in Great Britain and Europe – even being called Eisenhowerplatz during World War II. With the recent move of the US Embassy to Battersea another chapter has commenced!
Location: 9 Grosvenor Square, London