Front Page Titles (by Subject) JAY'S INSTRUCTIONS TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL. 1 - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 1 (1763-1781)
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JAY’S INSTRUCTIONS TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL. 1 - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 1 (1763-1781) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 1 (1763-1781).
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JAY’S INSTRUCTIONS TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL.1
Cadiz, January 27th, 1780.
You will proceed to Madrid with convenient expedition, and if M. Gerard, with whom you set out, should travel too deliberately, I advise you to go on before him. The propriety of this, however, will depend much on circumstances, and must be determined by your own discretion.
On delivering my letter to M. Galvez, it would be proper to intimate, that I presumed it would be more agreeable to him to receive my despatches from you, who could give him information on many matters about which he might choose to inquire, than in the ordinary modes of conveyance. And it may not be amiss to let him know, that his not receiving notice of our arrival from me by M. Gerard’s courier, was owing to a mistake between that gentleman and me.
Treat the French Ambassador with great attention and candour, and that degree of confidence only which prudence and the alliance between us may prescribe. In your conversations with people about the Court, impress them with an idea of our strong attachment to France; yet, so as to avoid permitting them to imbibe an opinion of our being under the direction of any counsels but our own. The former will induce them to think well of our constancy and good faith; the latter, of our independence and self-respect.
Discover, if possible, whether the Courts of Madrid and Versailles entertain, in any degree, the same mutual disgusts, which we are told prevail at present between the two nations, and be cautious when you tread on this delicate ground. It would also be useful to know who are the King’s principal confidants, and the trains leading to each.
To treat prudently with any nation, it is essential to know the state of its revenues. Turn your attention, therefore, to this object, and endeavour to learn whether the public expenditures consume their annual income, or whether there be any, and what overplus or deficiency, and the manner in which the former is disposed of, or the latter supplied.
If an opportunity should offer, inform yourself as to the regulations of the press at Madrid, and, indeed, throughout the kingdom; and the particular character of the person at the head of that department. Endeavour to find some person of adequate abilities and knowledge in the two languages, to translate English into Spanish with propriety, and, if possible, elegance. I wish also to know which of the religious orders, and the individuals of it, are most esteemed and favoured at Court.
Mention, as matter of intelligence, rather than in the way of argument, the cruelties of the enemy, and the influence of that conduct on the passions of Americans. This will be the more necessary, as it seems we are suspected of retaining our former attachments to Britain.
In speaking of American affairs, remember to do justice to Virginia, and the western country near the Mississippi. Recount their achievements against the savages, their growing numbers, extensive settlements, and aversion to Britain for attempting to involve them in the horrors of an Indian war. Let it appear also from your representations, that ages will be necessary to settle those extensive regions.
Let it be inferred from your conversation that the expectations of America, as to my reception and success, are sanguine; that they have been rendered the more so by the suggestions of persons generally supposed to speak from authority, and that a disappointment would be no less unwelcome than unexpected.
I am persuaded that pains will be taken to delay my receiving a decided answer as to my reception, until the sentiments of France shall be known. Attempts will also be made to suspend the acknowledgment of our independence, on the condition of our acceding to certain terms of treaty. Do nothing to cherish either of these ideas; but, without being explicit, treat the latter in a manner expressive of regret and apprehension, and seem to consider my reception as a measure which we hoped would be immediately taken, although the business of the negotiation might be postponed till France could have an opportunity of taking the steps she might think proper on the occasion.
You will offer to transmit to me any despatches which M. Galvez may think proper to confide to you; or to return with them yourself, if more agreeable to him.
You will be attentive to all other objects of useful information, such as the characters, views, and connections of important individuals; the plan of operations for the next campaign; whether any and what secret overtures have been made by Britain to France or Spain, or by either of them to her, or each other; whether any of the other powers have manifested a disposition to take a part in the war; and whether it is probable that any, and which of them, will become mediators for a general peace, and on what plan. If the war should continue, it would be advantageous to know whether Spain means to carry on any serious operations for possessing herself of the Floridas and banks of the Mississippi, etc., etc., etc.
Although I have confidence in your prudence, yet permit me to recommend to you the greatest circumspection. Command yourself under every circumstance; on the one hand, avoid being suspected of servility, and on the other, let your temper be always even and your attention unremitted.
You will oblige me by being very regular and circumstantial in your correspondence, and commit nothing of a private nature to paper unless in cipher.
[1 ]Jay’s Secretary of Legation.