Front Page Titles (by Subject) 24 Jan. 1787: TO SECRETARY JAY. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 8 (Letters and State Papers 1782-1799)
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24 Jan. 1787: TO SECRETARY JAY. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 8 (Letters and State Papers 1782-1799) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 8.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO SECRETARY JAY.
Grosvenor Square, 24 January, 1787.
I must beg the indulgence of congress while I solicit their attention, for a few moments, to some particulars which are very interesting to me personally, and have some relation to the foreign affairs of the United States. It is now in the beginning of the tenth year since I embarked first for Europe, in obedience to the commands of the United States. The various services, to which they have been pleased to destine me, are known to congress by their own records; and the particular details of the execution of their orders, as far as circumstances have permitted, have been transmitted, from time to time, to congress and their ministers of foreign affairs, so that it would be unnecessary to repeat any thing of that kind upon this occasion. The mission, with which they honored me to the United Provinces of the Low Countries, both as public minister and as agent to negotiate a loan of money, is not yet revoked. The commissions to negotiate with the Barbary States, in which I had the honor to be associated with Mr. Jefferson, are still in force. The commission to his Britannic Majesty will expire on the 24th of February, 1788, this day thirteen months, unless sooner revoked. I take this early opportunity of informing congress of my intention to return to America as soon after the expiration of this commission as possible, that measures may be taken in season to complete all the arrangements which that honorable assembly may judge necessary.
I have been a witness of so much respect and affection to the United States of America in the Low Countries, and have there experienced so much candor and friendship to myself, that it is natural for me to wish to take leave of their High Mightinesses with decency, and according to the forms that the usages of nations prescribe. I must, therefore, solicit a letter of recall. It would be a pleasure to me to go over in person to the Hague, in order to present it; but as I have the most candid assurances that a memorial sent from hence would be equally well received, I shall probably avoid the expense of a journey. If congress judge a minister at that Court necessary, they will appoint one of course; and if there is further occasion for borrowing any small sums of money, they will commission a new agent.
Colonel Franks arrived here this morning with the treaty with Morocco, and will be despatched to congress without delay. There is no probability of any further progress or success with the Barbary powers, without further orders from congress, and larger sums of money. If congress should give fresh instructions, and order more money to be appropriated, I must request that they will associate some other person with Mr. Jefferson, if they should not judge it more convenient for that able and excellent minister to conduct it alone, or designate some other single person to the service. It may be the intention of congress to recall me from this Court before the expiration of their present commission; but as this would be a measure of éclat, perhaps they may judge it more prudent to avoid it. If congress determine to send another minister, I hope it will be done in such season that he may arrive before my departure. If no other minister is sent, it will, perhaps, be thought necessary to leave the negotiation in the hands of a chargé d’affaires. Colonel Smith has, at present, only a commission as secretary of legation. I may be permitted, I hope, without presuming too far, to recommend him to this office, and solicit it for him. When he was appointed secretary, he was unknown to me, even by name. He has since formed a connection in my family, which renders it delicate for me to say any thing in his favor. Such a circumstance, however, cannot forfeit his title to justice from me; and it is no more, to say that his conduct, his talents, and his industry merit a much higher station than has yet been assigned him. You know perfectly well, sir, that the office even of a public minister of the second order is a station extremely humiliating at any Court in Europe. At Versailles, at Madrid, at the Hague, and at London, the difference between ambassadors and ministers plenipotentiary or envoys is so immense, that the latter are little more regarded than the maître d’hôtel of a minister of state. This is a fact known to you, but not known to our countrymen; and, therefore, I think it my duty to mention it, that it may be considered. The place of chargé d’affaires is so much below that of minister, and that of simple secretary of legation so much below that of chargé d’affaires, that nothing can reconcile a gentleman, who has commanded in an army through a whole war with reputation, to it, but the most decided determination to sacrifice his feelings to the good, or rather to the sense, of his country. I need not add that, in the present times and circumstances, these things are more intolerable in England than elsewhere.
May I be permitted to request that congress would be pleased to take up this subject as soon as their more important affairs will permit, that their arrangements may be received in Europe in time to despatch the few things, both of a public and private nature, that will remain for me to do? A letter of recall from Holland, and an appointment in my place in the commission to the Barbary States, are of importance to be expedited early. If they do not arrive in season before the expiration of the commission to St. James, I shall presume that it is the intention of congress to take no further arrangement in those affairs, and embark with my family for America in one of the early spring ships in 1788.
With great respect, &c.
TO JOHN JAY.
London, 25 January, 1787.
My Dear Friend,—
I wrote you yesterday, in your ministerial capacity as well as mine, my ultimate determination to revisit my country, this time twelve months. I now write to you this private letter to entreat you, as a friend, to promote, in every way in your power, an arrangement as early as possible, by which I may be permitted to return with decorum. It is not from a desire to stimulate anybody to vote for a new commission, to be sent me to this Court, which may, for what I know, be suspected by some, but from a sincere and unalterable resolution to come home in all events, that I have taken this measure thus early. It would hurt me to come home in disobedience, but in all events I will come home. If congress should send me a new commission, I shall certainly return it unaccepted. This is between you and me, and not intended to offend the feelings of any man whatever. My northern friends may wish me to remain longer in Europe, but I must be excused.
I shall complete, with submission to Providence, my ten years in Europe, and then go home.
My family join with me in affectionate compliments to you and yours. A year will soon come about, and then, or soon after, I may have the pleasure of kissing your hand.
Mean time I am, &c.
TO THE DELEGATES OF MASSACHUSETTS IN CONGRESS.
London, 25 January, 1787.
I had yesterday the honor of writing to congress my desire and intention to return to America at the expiration of my commission to this Court. I know not the sentiments of my friends in congress, and possibly some of them may wish me to remain longer in Europe. But I beg leave, gentlemen, to signify to you, in this private manner, my fixed resolution to return in all events. Candor requires that I should inform you of this, to prevent you, gentlemen, from compromising yourselves and our state, as well as me. It would expose me to an odium, and do no honor to any member of congress who should vote for me to remain longer in Europe, if I should come home against orders, or without permission.
Let me therefore request the favor of you, gentlemen, and of all the friends I have in congress, to promote my recall, according to the decent plan I have proposed to congress.
I hope the measure will be adopted with perfect unanimity. To be explicit, I am determined to come home, though I should be compelled to do it in an ungracious manner; but I hope this will not be made necessary.
With great respect, &c.
THE COMMISSIONERS TO SECRETARY JAY.
London, 27 January, 1787.
We had the honor of transmitting to congress copies of the commission and instructions which, in pursuance of the authority delegated to us, were given to Mr. Barclay to conclude a negotiation with Morocco.
Mr. Barclay has conducted that business to a happy conclusion, and has brought with him testimonials of his prudent conduct, from the Emperor of Morocco and his minister, so clear and full, that we flatter ourselves Mr. Barclay will receive the approbation of congress.
Mr. Barclay has received somewhat more than four thousand pounds sterling for the expenses of presents and all other things.
Colonel Franks, who accompanied Mr. Barclay in his tedious journeys and difficult negotiations, in the character of secretary, will be despatched to congress, and will have the honor of delivering this letter, together with the treaty, the Emperor’s letter to congress, and a variety of other papers relative to this mission, a schedule of which is annexed.
The resolution of congress, vacating Mr. Lamb’s commission and instructions, has been forwarded to him, and we have repeatedly advised him to return to New York. That gentleman has received somewhat more than three thousand pounds sterling of the public money, for which he is accountable to congress.
We beg leave to recommend Mr. Barclay and Colonel Franks to the favorable consideration of congress.
It is no small mortification not to be able to communicate any intelligence concerning the treaty with Portugal. The Chevalier de Pinto is equally uninformed. His own confidential domestic, despatched to Lisbon last spring, has been constantly waiting on the minister for an answer, but has obtained none, and has not yet returned to London. The treaty between France and England has probably excited parties and surprise in Portugal, and the system of men and measures is not yet settled. The apologies are, the Queen’s absence in the country, and the prime minister’s indisposition.
The article of money is become so scarce and precious, that we shall be obliged to suspend all further proceedings in the Barbary business, even for the redemption of prisoners, until we shall be honored with fresh instructions from congress.
With great respect, &c.
TO THE MARQUIS OF CARMARTHEN.
London, 27 January, 1787.
Last night I received the card your Lordship did me the honor to write me yesterday, inclosing a petition to the right honorable the lords commissioners of his Majesty’s treasury, from John Hales, relative to sixteen Chinese seamen who are alleged to have informed Mr. Hales that they came from India in the Hyder or Hydrœa, Captain Clark, belonging to the United States of America, to Ostend, where they were discharged and caused to take passage to London, in hopes of obtaining a passage to their own country.
All these allegations, my Lord, are very surprising to me; having no knowledge of any such ship as the Hyder or Hydrœa, or of any such person as Captain Clark. Humanity, my Lord, requires that the unhappy men should not be left to suffer; but as I have no knowledge, information, or instructions concerning them, I have no authority to do any thing for their relief.
There is reason to apprehend, my Lord, that there is some mystery in this business, which it will be for the interest and honor of both countries to clear up; for which reason, I shall do myself the honor to transmit your Lordship’s note and the memorial to congress, that the truth of the facts may be searched to the bottom, and such measures taken as the interests of humanity, as well as the honor and interests of both countries require.
With great respect, &c.
TO SIDI HADJI BEN ABDELLECK FENNISH.
London, 27 January, 1787.
We have received, with high satisfaction, the letter which your Excellency, by the command of his Majesty the Emperor of Morocco, did us the honor to write us on the first day of the blessed month Ramadan, 1200, and transmitted to us by the Honorable Thomas Barclay, who was sent to your Court in order to negotiate an amicable treaty of peace and commerce between his Majesty the Emperor of Morocco, and all his dominions, and those of the United States of America. We are happy to learn that this matter has been fortunately concluded, to the satisfaction of all parties. The contents of the treaty we have learned from the said envoy, the Honorable Thomas Barclay, to whom his Imperial Majesty delivered it, with a letter to the United States.
It is with the most respectful satisfaction that we learn from your Excellency, that the conduct of our said envoy, the Honorable Thomas Barclay, has the entire approbation of his Imperial Majesty, and that he has behaved with integrity and honor since his arrival in his Imperial Majesty’s dominions; and, above all, that his Imperial Majesty has been graciously pleased to give him two honorable, favorable, and unparalleled audiences, signifying his Majesty’s perfect satisfaction at his conduct.
We pray your Excellency, if you think proper, to express to his Imperial Majesty the high sense we entertain of his Majesty’s friendship to the United States of America, and of his goodness to the said Honorable Mr. Barclay. And we request of your Excellency to accept of our sincere thanks for the kind assistance you have given to the said envoy in the course of these negotiations.
With much pleasure, we learn that your Excellency is charged, by his Imperial Majesty, with the affairs of our country at his Court, and doubt not that your Excellency will do all that lies in your power to promote the friendly intercourse that is so happily begun.
We shall transmit, without delay, to the honorable the congress of the United States an account of all these proceedings, and entertain the fullest assurance that they will receive, in due time, the approbation of that august assembly.
May the providence of the one Almighty God, whose kingdom is the only existing one, protect your Excellency!
We have the honor to be, &c.
TO SECRETARY JAY.
London, 3 February, 1787.
I wrote a few days since, by Colonel Franks, who embarks in the French packet from Havre de Grace with the Morocco treaty. There is no further intelligence of the Portugal business, nor any better prospect or more agreeable disposition in this country, whatever artifices may be employed in America to keep up delusive hopes.
Parliament opened with an uncommon gloom, and has been sitting in a mournful silence. Nobody dares oppose the French treaty, yet nobody seems to have any confidence in it. It seems truly a forced plant; something to appease France and amuse the people. The revenue is found to be greatly deficient. A new loan and fresh taxes are expected. A dead taciturnity prevails about America.
The gazettes are employed, and every coffee-house and bookseller’s shop filled with talkers, to keep up the spirits of the people, at any expense of truth. The holding of our frontier posts is found to cost government more money annually than the whole trade is worth, nay, than the whole capital employed in it.
Mr. Pitt’s plan for the session is not yet developed. They are skirmishing about Hastings and Rodney, who, I suppose, have nearly all the scribblers enlisting for or against them; yet Hastings must be acquitted, and I suppose Rodney remunerated, right or wrong; such is the state of this nation.
Inclosed is a copy of the convention between France and England, which was sent me yesterday by Lord Carmarthen, and a letter from Mr. Hales relative to the East India ship which it is supposed was made an American bottom, a practice which congress will, no doubt, judge proper to discountenance. As the politics of parliament shall open to view, I shall do myself the honor to transmit you still further accounts of them.
By Colonel Franks I had the honor to convey to congress my intention to return home at the expiration of my commission to this Court. A duplicate will go by this opportunity; a life so useless to the public, and so insipid to myself, as mine is in Europe, has become a burden to me, as well as to my countrymen. By the first packet or convenient merchant-ship in the spring of 1788, I shall embark with my family, if my life and health, enough to make the voyage, remain to me, unless congress should see fit to recall me sooner, which would be so much the more agreeable. It will be necessary that arrangements should be made as early as possible, and the pleasure of congress signified, whether the secretary of legation is to return with me, or remain longer here.
With great respect and esteem, &c.
T. JEFFERSON TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, 6 February, 1787.
Your favors by Colonel Franks have come safely to hand. He will set out from hence the 8th instant, the packet being to sail from Havre the 10th. I inclose you the copy of a letter from Mr. Barclay, and of the paper it inclosed. In a letter from Mr. Carmichael is a postscript, dated 25th December, in the following words:—“Since writing the preceding, the Portuguese ambassador has pressed me to hint that the present moment is favorable to push our treaty with his Court.” In the body of the letter he says, “The Comte d’Expilly has promised me to continue his attention to our prisoners during his stay at Algiers, and I have also engaged the Consul of Spain, who remains there on his return, to take care of them. Advances have been made for their support, which ought to be refunded.” I suppose that these advances have been made by order of Mr. Lamb, and that, his powers being at an end, it will be incumbent on us to take measures on that subject. The Comte de Vergennes is extremely ill; his disease is gouty; we have for some days had hopes it would fix itself decidedly in the foot. It shows itself there at times, as also in the shoulder, the stomach, &c. M. de Calonne is likewise ill; but his complaints are of a rheumatic kind, which he has often had before. The illness of these two ministers has occasioned the postponement of the assembly of the notables to the 14th, and probably will yet postpone it. Nothing is yet known of the objects of that meeting. I send you a pamphlet, giving a summary account of all the meetings of a general nature which have taken place heretofore. The treaty between Russia and this country is certainly concluded; but its contents are not yet known.
I shall set out for the waters of Aix on the 15th instant, so that I am unable to say when and whence I shall have the honor of addressing you again; but I take measures for the conveying to me on my road all letters, so that, should any thing extraordinary require it, I can at all times be recalled to Paris in a fortnight. I shall hope to hear from you at times, as if I were in Paris. I thank you much for the valuable present of your book.1 The subject of it is interesting, and I am sure it is well treated. I shall take it on my journey, that I may have time to study it. You told me once you had had thoughts of writing on the subject of hereditary aristocracy. I wish you would carry it into execution. It would make a proper sequel to the present work. I wish you all possible happiness; and have the honor to be, &c.
T. JEFFERSON TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, 20 February, 1787.
I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of January 25th. Col. Franks sailed in the packet of this month from Havre for New York. This arrangement of the packets opens a direct communication between Paris and America; and if we succeed, as I expect we shall, in getting Honfleur made a free port, I hope to see that place become the deposit for our whale oil, rice, tobacco, and furs, and that from thence what is not wanted in this country may be distributed to others. You remember giving me a letter of credit on Messrs. Willink & Staphorst for one thousand guineas, to pay for the swords and medals. When the swords were finished, I drew on the Van den Yvers, with whom the money was deposited, for 6,500 livres to pay for the swords. They paid it. A medal is now finished, and others will very soon be; but these gentlemen say they must have fresh orders. In the mean time, the workmen complain. Will you be so good as to draw in favor of Mr. Grand on Willink & Co. for the balance of the thousand guineas (which is about the sum that will be necessary), and send the bill to Mr. Grand, who, in my absence, will negotiate it, and pay the workmen? I inclose you Van den Yver’s answer. The meeting of the notables on Thursday, and the necessity of paying my court to our new minister, will detain me till Friday, and perhaps till Tuesday next. Nothing is known yet of the objects of this assembly. I inclose you two new pamphlets relative to it, and will inform you of whatever I can discover relative to it during my stay.
I learn, with real pain, the resolution you have taken of quitting Europe. Your presence on this side of the Atlantic gave me a confidence that, if any difficulties should arise within my department, I should always have one to advise with, on whose counsels I could rely. I shall now feel bewidowed. I do not wonder at your being tired out by the conduct of the Court you are at. But is there not room to do a great deal of good for us in Holland, in the department of money? No one can do it so well as yourself. But you have taken your resolution, I am sure, on mature consideration; and I have nothing to offer, therefore, but my regrets. If any thing transpires from the notables, before my departure, worth communication, you shall yet hear from me. In the mean time, believe me, &c.
T. JEFFERSON TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, 23 February, 1787.
The notables met yesterday. The King opened the assembly with a short speech, wherein he expressed his inclination to consult with them on the affairs of his kingdom, to receive their opinions on the plans he had digested, and to endeavor to imitate the head of his family, Henry IV., whose name is so dear to the nation. The speech was affectionate. The garde des sceaux spoke about twenty minutes, complimented the clergy, the noblesse, the magistrates, and tiers état. The comptroller-general spoke about an hour. He enumerated the expenses necessary to arrange his department when he came to it; he said, his returns had been minutely laid before the King; he took a review of the preceding administrations, and more particularly of M. Neckar’s. He detailed the improvements which had been made; he portrayed the present state of the finances, and sketched the several schemes proposed for their improvement. He spoke on a change in the form of the taxes, the removal of the interior custom-houses to the frontiers, provincial administrations, and some other objects. The assembly was then divided into committees. To-day there was to be another grand assembly, the plans more fully explained, and referred to the discussion of the committees. The grand assembly will meet once a week, and vote individually. The propriety of my attending the first audience day of Count Montmorin, which will not be till the 27th, retards my departure till then.
I have read your book with infinite satisfaction and improvement. It will do great good in America; its learning and its good sense will, I hope, make it an institute for our politicians, old as well as young. There is one opinion in it, however, which I will ask you to reconsider, because it appears to me not entirely accurate, and not likely to do good. Page 362.1 “Congress is not a legislative, but a diplomatic assembly.” Separating into parts the whole sovereignty of our States, some of these parts are yielded to congress. Upon these I should think them both legislative and executive, and that they would have been judiciary also, had not the confederation required them, for certain purposes, to appoint a judiciary. It has, accordingly, been the decision of our courts, that the confederation is a part of the law of the land, and superior in authority to the ordinary laws, because it cannot be altered by the legislature of any one State. I doubt whether they are at all a diplomatic assembly. On the first news of this work, there were proposals to translate it. Fearing it might be murdered in that operation, I endeavored to secure a good translator. This is done, and I lend him my copy to translate from. It will be immediately commenced, to prevent others attempting it. I am, with sincere esteem and respect, &c.
TO T. JEFFERSON.
London, 1 March, 1787.
I am much obliged to you for your favors of February 20th and 23rd, by Mr. Carnes, and the curious pamphlets.
Opening a direct communication between Paris and America will facilitate the trade of the two countries very much, and the new treaty between France and England will promote it still more. John Bull does not see it, and if he does not see a thing at first, you know it is a rule with him ever afterwards to swear that it does not exist, even when he does both see it and feel it.
I have this moment written to Messrs. Willink and Van Staphorst to remit to you, or Mr. Grand, in your absence, what remains to be received to make up the thousand guineas for the swords and medals, you having before drawn for 6,500 livres tournois as part of them.
My resolution of quitting Europe has been taken upon mature deliberation; but really upon motives of necessity, as much, at least, as choice. Congress cannot, consistently with their own honor and dignity, renew my commission to this Court; and I assure you, I should hold it so inconsistent with my own honor and dignity, little as that may be, that, if it were possible for congress to forget theirs, I would not forget mine, but send their commission back to them, unless a minister were sent from his Britannic Majesty to congress. As to a residence in Holland, that climate is so destructive to my health, that I could never bear it; and I am sure it would be fatal to her, on whom depends all the satisfaction that I have in life. No consideration would tempt me to think of removing to that country with my family. For a man who has been for thirty years rolling like a stone, never three years in the same place, it is no very pleasant speculation to cross the seas, with a family, in a state of uncertainty what is to be his fate, what reception he shall meet at home, whether he shall settle down in private life to his plough, or push into the turbulent scenes of sedition and tumult; whether he be sent to congress, or a convention, or God knows what. If it lay in my power, I would take a vow to retire to my little turnip-yard, and never again quit it. I feel very often a violent disposition to take some resolution, and swear to it; but upon the whole, it is best to preserve my liberty to do as I please, according to circumstances.
The approbation you express in general of my poor volume, is a vast consolation to me. It is a hazardous enterprise, and will be an unpopular work in America for a long time. When I am dead, it may be regretted that such advice was not taken in the season of it. But as I have made it, early in life and all along, a rule to conceal nothing from the people which appeared to me material for their happiness and prosperity, however unpopular it might be at the time, or with particular parties, I am determined not now to begin to flatter popular prejudices and party passions, however they may be countenanced by great authorities. The opinion you object to, page 362, that “congress is not a legislative, but a diplomatic assembly,” I should wish to have considered as a problem rather for consideration, than as an opinion; and as a problem, too, relative to the confederation as it now stands, rather than to any other plan that may be in contemplation of the states. It is a most difficult topic, and no man at a distance can judge of it so well as those in America. If the book should be translated into French, I wish you to insert this in a note. You have laid me under great obligation, by taking the trouble to secure a good translator; if the thing is worth translating at all, it will not surely bear to lose any thing by the translation. But will not the government prohibit it? If I should get well home, and spend a few years in retirement, I shall pursue this subject somewhat further; but I hope never to be left again to publish so hasty a production as this.
A work upon the subject you mention, nobility in general, which I once hinted to you a wish to see handled at large, would be too extensive and splendid for my means and forces. It would require many books which I have not, and a more critical knowledge, both of ancient and modern languages, than at my age a man can aspire to. There are but two circumstances which will be regretted by me when I leave Europe; one is, the opportunity of searching any questions of this kind in any books that may be wanted; and the other will be, the interruption of that immediate correspondence with you, which is one of the most agreeable events in my life. There are four or five persons here, with whom I hold a friendly intercourse, and shall leave with some degree of pain; but I am not at home in this country.
With every affectionate and friendly sentiment, I am,
TO WILLIAM S. SMITH.
London, 11 April, 1787.
Congress, by their resolutions of February the 3d, 1787, determined that the letter to the Queen of Portugal herewith delivered you, should be transmitted to her Faithful Majesty by your hands. You will, therefore, prepare yourself as soon as conveniently may be, and proceed to Lisbon. In your way, as you pass through France and Spain, you will of course pay your respects to the ministers of the United States residing at those Courts, and to the ministers of foreign affairs of those sovereigns, and endeavor to collect intelligence of any kind, commercial or political, in which the United States may be interested. When you shall arrive at Lisbon, you will make your court to the minister of foreign affairs, and communicate to him the object of your mission, and take his advice concerning the delivery of the letter to her Most Faithful Majesty. If it should not be judged advisable to desire an audience, the minister himself will deliver the letter to his mistress.
In whatever country, or at whatever Court, you will remember to make your court to the ambassadors of all those sovereigns with whom the United States are in alliance, France, Holland, Sweden, Prussia. To all ministers, consuls, agents of these powers, you will pay a particular regard, while you show a respectful politeness to all others.
In all places, you will endeavor to collect information concerning the Barbary powers, and the situation of our unfortunate countrymen in captivity at Algiers, especially from Mr. Carmichael and Mr. Barclay in Spain, if you should chance to meet the latter.
At Lisbon, you will inform yourself particularly of the state of the war between Portugal and those piratical states; that of Venice with the same and Naples, and whether there is a prospect of peace; the force of the Algerines; the probability of their coming out of the straits this summer; the force of the Portuguese that is to cruise against them.
You will also inform yourself particularly of the state of the commerce between the United States and Portugal, and by what means it might be extended, improved, and increased, to the mutual advantage of both nations. You will make particular inquiries concerning sugars, the prices and qualities of Brazil sugars, raw or manufactured, to satisfy yourself whether our countrymen might not purchase those sugars to advantage, even for manufacture and exportation; an experiment has been made in France of a purchase of raw sugars for Boston, and it is suspected might be made to greater advantage in Lisbon, for Philadelphia and New York, as well as Boston.
You will please to inquire whether the treaty, which was signed last May, between the American ministers and the Chevalier de Pinto, has been agreed to by his Court; and if not, what are the objections, and whether there is a prospect of a renewal of the negotiation. You will inquire particularly whether rice and indigo may be expected to obtain admission to Portugal from Carolina and Georgia, as they did before the late war; whether flour has any chance to be admitted; and what is the state of the trade of salt fish. As the whole of the negotiations with Portugal, as well as with the Barbary powers, for the last two years, have passed under your eye, and indeed through your hands, you are already acquainted with every particular, which renders any further instructions in detail unnecessary.
The languages of Europe are now become of much importance to us, and every gentleman employed under the United States, in the diplomatic department, ought to take all reasonable methods to acquaint himself with them. You will have, in this journey, a great opportunity of perfecting yourself in French, and of improving yourself in Spanish and the Portuguese, which is but a dialect of the Spanish, and in the Italian.
In the article of expenses, you will observe as much economy as possible, consistent with the comfort of your journey, the decency of your character, and the honor of your country. You will transmit your account to congress, or the Board of Treasury, or Mr. Barclay; and you will neglect no opportunity of writing to the secretary of foreign affairs. I know very well that the situation of your family, as well as your attention to the public service, will be motives sufficient to induce you to lose no time unnecessarily, and to return with as much expedition as the execution of the design of your journey will admit. The interest, the honor, and dignity of the United States will never be out of your thoughts; nor will any opportunity to promote either be neglected.
I wish you as pleasant a journey as the season promises, and a happy return to your friends and your services at this Court.
With great regard, &c.
TO SECRETARY JAY.
London, 19 April, 1787.
I do myself the honor to inclose the new act of parliament for regulating the trade between the territories of the United States of America and the dominions of the King of Great Britain, by which congress will see that the same system continues, and is fortified with fresh provisions. Provisions and lumber, the growth or production of the United States, are now prohibited from any foreign island. The West India planters and merchants complain to no purpose.
The Canada merchants give out that there is some negotiation on foot between Lord Dorchester and Vermont, the object of which is to give vent to the productions of that territory through Canada and the river St. Lawrence, that the West Indies may derive some assistance from that source.
Inclosed is another very curious bill that was moved in the House of Lords by one chancellor and seconded by another, Thurlow and Bathurst; but the Lords had honor enough to reject it. The project is said to have originated in General Arnold. The whole transaction shows the spirit of the present ministry. The chance of passing such a bill would have been greater in the House of Commons, where the ministers have a clearer majority. Some persons are of opinion that the present set cannot hold the reins much longer; but if they are not mistaken, there is little chance of a change for the better. What effect the changes in France may have, cannot be foreseen; but they cannot but be favorable to America.
With great regard, &c.
TO SECRETARY JAY.
Grosvenor Square, London, 8 May, 1787.
I am honored with your letter of April 2d, and am happy to receive the resolutions of congress inclosed in it, especially those of the 21st of March, 1787.
The convention at Philadelphia is to consist of members of such ability, weight, and experience, that the result must be beneficial to the United States.
The settlement of so many great controversies, such as those between the Massachusetts and New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, New York and Vermont, &c., shows that the union has great weight in the minds of the people. It is, indeed, an object of such magnitude, that great sacrifices ought to be made to its preservation. The consequences of a division of the continent cannot be foreseen fully, perhaps, by any man; but the most short-sighted must perceive such manifest danger, both from foreign powers and from one another, as cannot be looked upon without terror. The navigation of the Mississippi in the south, and the fisheries in the north, have ever appeared to me objects without which the union cannot be preserved; and therefore, whether the free use of them be obstructed for a time or not, it has ever appeared a dangerous policy to cede the right even for a moment.
Inclosed is a letter from our unfortunate countrymen in captivity at Algiers, which must be sent in the original, as there is not time to transcribe it.
I hope, sir, ere long to receive your orders, in consequence of the resolutions of congress, preparatory to my return home in the next spring. The conduct of this Court, in so imprudently, as well as uncivilly, neglecting to send a minister to America, renders it impossible for congress, consistently with their own dignity, to renew my commission. When the American minister shall leave this country, they will begin to think it necessary to send one of their own to New York. They may, for what I know, wish in this way to get rid of one whom they have not been able to mould to their views, in hopes of obtaining another of a more ductile temper. Let them try the experiment; I dare say they will be disappointed; for, if congress appoints another, he will not be found more to their taste. This country is in a shocking situation; its royal family, its administration, and its opposition, are all such as will never seduce an American from his duty. He will only be shocked at the sight, and confirmed in his natural principles and feelings.
With great respect, &c.
MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.
Amsterdam, 18 May, 1787.
Agreeably to what we had the honor to acquaint your Excellency the 15th instant, we have exerted ourselves to procure money for payment of the interest due the 1st proximo by the United States. A matter very difficult to be accomplished, as we had against us the late news from America, no immediate flattering prospects, and an excessive scarcity of money here at present. We have, however, been successful enough to persuade the undertakers to subscribe to a new loan for one million of florins, upon the following conditions.
One thousand bonds for one thousand guilders each, to be issued on the same conditions as the preceding loan of five per centum, the interest commencing the first of June.
Of which thousand bonds, two hundred and forty to be immediately negotiated to the subscribers; the one half of their amount to be paid upon the delivery of the bonds. The undertakers reserving to themselves the faculty of taking one month’s credit for payment of the remaining half.
The surplus seven hundred and sixty bonds are to remain in our custody, subject to be delivered to the undertakers, each one in proportion to his subscription, at the same rate of those actually negotiated; at the expiration of which period, those on hand will be at the free disposal of congress.
Congress shall not be at liberty to make any further money negotiations in this country until the surplus seven hundred and sixty bonds shall be placed, or before the end of the eighteen months they are to lie at the choice of the undertakers to purchase them.
Such are the best conditions we have been able to obtain; and although the money will cost the United States eight per cent., including premium, our commission, brokerage, and charges, we deem ourselves fortunate to have been thus able to face the June interest; an object your Excellency justly views of the highest importance to the credit and interest of the United States.
By this arrangement, we shall be obliged to advance part of the interest, until the undertakers shall have completed payment for the engaged bonds; upon which advances we do not doubt the United States will most readily admit our charge of interest.
We endeavored all in our power that the money should be received by us in récépissés, and thus leave you the time to visit this country at your conveniency, to pass the bonds. But the undertakers have insisted, as an absolute condition, that they should be liable to pay only on receipt of the bonds signed and perfected by you; so that there is an indispensable necessity for your Excellency’s setting out for this country, with the full power you have from congress, by the packet which will leave Harwich next Wednesday, or at latest on Saturday, the 26th instant, when we will have everything ready, that your Excellency may be able to return by the next or following packet.
We request your Excellency to be assured nothing in our power was left untried to spare you this jaunt so suddenly; but since the payment of the June interest entirely depends upon this exertion of your Excellency, we are confident it will be undertaken with alacrity; and, upon this conviction, we have assumed to advertise the payment of the interest on the first of June, which is in all our newspapers of this day.
We are respectfully, &c.
Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nic. and Jacob Van Staphorst.
TO SECRETARY JAY.
Grosvenor Square, London, 16 June, 1787.
Inclosed is a copy of the translation, from the Dutch into the English, of the contract entered into by me, in behalf of the United States, by virtue of their full power, for a million of guilders. This measure became absolutely necessary to prevent the total ruin of their credit, and the greatest injustice to their former creditors, who are possessed of their obligations: for the failure in payment of the interest, but for one day, would, in Holland, cause those obligations to depreciate in their value like paper money.
It is of great importance that this contract should receive a prompt ratification in congress, and be retransmitted to Amsterdam as soon as possible. Whether this loan may not enable congress, or their Board of Treasury, to raise the credit of their own paper at home, in some degree, is for them to consider; and whether the Board of Treasury may not purchase produce to advantage, and contract to have it delivered free of all risk and charges at Amsterdam, and pay for it in bills of exchange, I know not. If they do this, I should advise them to send one cargo to the house of Willinks, and another to the house of Van Staphorst, instead of consigning the whole jointly to both houses. This would not only excite an emulation between the two houses to make the most advantage for the interest of the United States, but would prevent delays and other inconveniences, which must arise from two houses meeting to consult and dispose of a vessel and cargo.
As the brokers or money-lenders were pleased to insist upon my signature to all the obligations, I was obliged to make a tour to Amsterdam for that purpose, and happened to enter the city the day after the first riots, which continued two nights while I was there. The proceedings of the Prince of Orange have at last brought on a crisis; and the English are holding out an appearance as if they thought it possible they might be obliged to take a part in it. If no foreign power interferes, the patriotic party is so much stronger than the other, that I think the prince must give way in the principal points in controversy. If any one foreign power interferes, many others must follow the example. This being well known, and France and England weary of war for the present, I hope the Dutch will be left alone to settle their own disputes.
With great respect, &c.
THOMAS PINCKNEY TO JOHN ADAMS.
Charleston, 10 July, 1787.
I embrace the earliest opportunity of acknowledging your Excellency’s favors of the 21st of April by Mr. Miller, and of the 22d of the same month by Mr. Heyward, which were yesterday handed to me. The intelligence they contain of attempts to counterfeit our paper currency in Great Britain, will, I hope, by putting us on our guard, enable us to repel the threatened mischief.
At the same time that I express the high sense with which I am impressed of your Excellency’s attention to the welfare of this State, give me leave to entreat a continuance of that vigilance and exertion hitherto manifested in this business; and, as it may be essential to the success of our endeavors to oppose the evil in its first stage, that some expense should be incurred in employing proper persons to detect and counteract the intended fraud, in procuring intelligence, and in rewarding those whose services may merit it, I will readily answer your Excellency’s drafts for disbursements on this account, to the amount of £300 sterling. The recess of our legislature constrains me to be thus limited in a business wherein I think expense should not be spared.
We are looking forward with anxious expectation to the result of the deliberations of the federal convention now sitting at Philadelphia. Your Excellency’s Defence of the Constitutions arrived in time to be of utility.
I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S. If any counterfeit bills should come into your Excellency’s possession, it will be of essential service to have them immediately transmitted.
T. JEFFERSON TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, 17 July, 1787.
I have been duly honored with yours of the 10th instant, and am happy to hear of the success of your journey to Amsterdam. There can be no doubt of its ratification by congress. Would to heaven they would authorize you to take measures for transferring the debt of this country to Holland before you leave Europe; most especially is it necessary to get rid of the debt to the officers. Their connections at court are such as to excite very unfavorable feelings there against us, and some very hard things have been said (particularly in the assemblée des notables) on the prospects relative to our debts. The payment of the interest to the officers would have kept them quiet; but there are two years now due to them. I dare not draw for it without instructions; because, in the instances in which I have hitherto ventured to act uninstructed, I have never been able to know whether they have been approved in the private sentiments of the members of congress, much less by any vote. I have pressed on them the expediency of transferring the French debt to Holland, in order to remove every thing which might excite irritations between us and this nation. I wish it may be done before this ministry may receive ill impressions of us; they are at present very well disposed. I send you, by Mr. Appleton, some pamphlets; and have the honor to be, &c.
THE TREASURY BOARD TO JOHN ADAMS.
Board of Treasury, 25 July, 1787.
We are favored with your letter of the 8th of May last, transmitting protests for non-acceptance of the two bills of exchange for 75,000 florins drawn by Constable, Rucker & Co. of New York, by their partner, Mr. John Rucker of London. From the solidity of the house by whom the bill was drawn (being in partnership with Mr. Robert Morris of Philadelphia), we had not the most distant apprehension of any disappointment on this remittance; you may, therefore, judge of our surprise and mortification when, previous to the receipt of your letter, we heard of Mr. Rucker’s arrival in this city. It gives us pleasure to inform you that this gentleman is returned, by direction of Mr. Morris, to take up the bills drawn on him; and that we have the fullest assurance from the house, that effectual measures will be adopted for paying the bills remitted to you when they become due. We are glad you changed your first intentions of transmitting the original bills; you will be pleased to have them presented for payment when at maturity.
Your communications to congress on the subject of the loan you have effected, in consequence of this and other circumstances, for one million of florins, having been referred to this Board, we have agreed on a report, approving of the same, and recommending an immediate ratification; as soon as the determination of congress is made known to us, you shall be acquainted with the result.
We have the honor to be, &c.
JOHN JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
New York, 25 July, 1787.
My Dear Sir,—
It gives me pain to have occasion so often to repeat that the irregular attendance of the members of congress has, for a long time past, prevented their paying a seasonable attention to their foreign affairs; for there have been very few, and those very short intervals, in which nine States were represented in congress this year.
Hence, and from some other affairs deemed more pressing, it has happened that you have been so long kept in suspense on the subject of your public letter of the 24th, and your private one of the 25th, January last. I have regretted that suspense the more, as it might have created in your mind some doubts of my attention. I wished to write to you that the business was done, rather than that I would endeavor to get it done. The probability of this, which, from time to time, flattered and disappointed me, led me on to omit one opportunity after another, in expectation of being able to write satisfactorily by the next. There are now nine States in congress, and I am assured that the necessary acts and instructions shall be despatched in season to accompany this letter by the packet.
Your experience in affairs, your knowledge of characters, and your intimate acquaintance with the concerns and interests of this country, together with other circumstances and considerations, induce me to wish that all questions between us and the Court of London, as well as other affairs in Europe, could be arranged and adjusted before you leave it. The manner, however, in which you mention your intention to return, is decisive; and as the prospect of your doing much good here is fair and promising, perhaps it may upon the whole be best that you should be with us, especially considering the actual situation of our affairs. You have, my good friend, deserved well of your country; and your services and character will be truly estimated, at least by posterity, for they will know more of you than the people of this day.
I have collected your public letters and despatches, and a good clerk has already recorded a large volume of them. It is common, you know, in the course of time, for loose and detached papers to be lost, or mislaid, or misplaced. It is to papers in this office that future historians must recur for accurate accounts of many interesting affairs respecting the late revolution; it is best, therefore, that they should be recorded regularly in books; and, although it will take much time and labor, which some may think unnecessary, I shall nevertheless persevere in the work.
Your book circulates and does good. It conveys much information on a subject with which we cannot be too intimately acquainted, especially at this period, when the defects of our national government are under consideration, and when the strongest arguments are necessary to remove prejudices and to correct errors, which, in many instances, design unites with ignorance to create, diffuse, and confirm. If, after all that we have seen and done and experienced in public life, we should yet live to see our country contentedly enjoying the sweets of peace, liberty, and safety, under the protection of wise laws and a well-constructed steady government, we shall have reason to rejoice that we have devoted so many years to her service.
Be assured of my constant esteem; and believe me, &c.
TO T. JEFFERSON.
London, 25 August, 1787.
On my return from an excursion to Devonshire with my family, where we have been to fly from the putrefaction of a great city in the summer heats, I had the pleasure to find your favors of the 17th and 23d July.
A million of guilders are borrowed on a new loan in Holland; and I went over lately to subscribe the obligations, a punctilio which the brokers were pleased to think indispensable, to gratify the fancies of the money-lenders. But, as I had no fresh authority from congress, nor any particular new instructions, I have been and am still under serious apprehensions of its meeting with obstacles in the way of its ratification. If it is ratified, congress may, if they please, pay the interest, and principal too, out of it, to the French officers. I presume that if M. Grand should refuse your usual drafts for your salary, Messrs. Willink and Van Staphorst will honor them to the amount of yours and Mr. Short’s salaries without any other interposition than your letter; but if they should make any difficulty, and if it should be in my power to remove it, you may well suppose I shall not be wanting. To be explicit, I will either advise or order the money to be paid upon your draft, as may be necessary, so that I pray you to make your mind perfectly easy on that score.
Mr. Barclay, I agree with you, took the wisest course when he embarked for America, though it will lay me under difficulties in settling my affairs finally with congress.
The French debt, and all the domestic debt of the United States, might be transferred to Holland, if it were judged necessary or profitable, and the congress or convention would take two or three preparatory steps. All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise, not from defects in their constitution or confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation. While an annual interest of twenty, thirty, and even fifty per cent. can be made, and a hope of augmenting capitals in a proportion of five hundred per cent. is opened by speculations in the stocks, commerce will not thrive. Such a state of things would annihilate the commerce, and overturn the government, too, in any nation in Europe.
I will endeavor to send you a copy, with this letter, of the second volume of the “Defence.” If Frouillé, the bookseller, has a mind to translate it, he may; but it may not strike others as it does Americans. Three editions of the first volume have been printed in America. The second volume contains three long courses of experiments in political philosophy. Every trial was intended and contrived to determine the question whether Mr. Turgot’s system would do. The result you may read. It has cost me a good deal of trouble and expense to search into Italian ruins and rubbish, but enough of pure gold and marble has been found to reward the pains. I shall be suspected of writing romances to expose Mr. Turgot’s system; but I assure you it is all genuine history. The vast subject of confederations remains; but I have neither head, hands, heart, eyes, books, nor time to engage in it; besides, it ought not to be so hasty a performance as the two volumes already ventured before the public.
With perfect esteem, your sincere friend,
THE CHEVALIER DE PINTO TO JOHN ADAMS.
London, 7 September, 1787.
I have received orders from my Court to inform you that, notwithstanding no answer has hitherto been made to the project of a commercial treaty, which we conferred about in London, nevertheless, sir, the inclinations of her most Faithful Majesty are not less ardent, nor less disposed to conclude this same treaty with the United States of America on suitable terms and conditions. And I am, moreover, directed to add, sir, that my Court will not delay to give you the most convincing and immediate proofs thereof.
I am desired, at the same time, to observe to you, that it would be very useful and suitable to appoint ministers as soon as possible on the part of the two powers; and my Court expressly orders me to endeavor to arrange this important point with you, sir, and to agree definitively on the character these ministers are to bear in their missions. It is essential to inform, on this head, that it will be necessary to fix (at least) on the title of resident minister, on account of reception at the Court of Lisbon, which is never granted either to simple agents or to consuls-general; and as soon as this point shall be fixed, I have orders to assure you, sir, that the Court of Lisbon will lose no time to appoint, and send to America, the person that shall be chosen to reside with the congress of the United States.
I have the honor of being, &c.
Le Chevalier De Pinto.
TO THE CHEVALIER DE PINTO.
Grosvenor Square, 10 September, 1787.
I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 7th of this month, and have observed, with great satisfaction, the assurances of her Most Faithful Majesty’s desire to conclude with the United States of America a treaty of commerce upon convenient conditions.
I am very well convinced, sir, of the utility and convenience which would be found in the nomination of ministers between the two powers; and if it depended upon me, I flatter myself there would be no difficulty in concerting with your Excellency both that important point, and the character those ministers should bear in their missions. But as I have neither instructions nor authority from my sovereign to justify me in entering into such negotiations, I can only transmit to congress copies of your Excellency’s letter and of my answer. This I shall have the honor to do, the first opportunity. The earnest desire of the citizens of the United States of America to show their respect for her Most Faithful Majesty, to live in perfect friendship with all her Majesty’s dominions, will undoubtedly induce congress to transmit, as soon as possible, their answer to her Majesty’s friendly proposition.
I have the honor to be, &c.
THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, 18 September, 1787.
My Dear Friend,—
I am very sorry to find that you leave Europe, before I have the pleasure to take you by the hand. Let me, at least, enjoy the satisfaction to wish you and your family a most happy voyage, and to anticipate your feelings on your touching the blessed shores of liberty, and entering our good town of Boston. Be so kind as to remember me very affectionately to all friends. I am sorry I have not yet the printed journals of the assembly of Auvergne, which would at once satisfy you on the objects of your inquiries; but they shall be sent to Boston by the next opportunity. I once more give you joy on your prospect to see, before long, a country, to the liberty and prosperity of which you have so much contributed, and which, in welcoming you, will at once acknowledge place, fortune, and future obligations.
With most sincere affection and regard,