Front Page Titles (by Subject) JAY TO FLORIDA BLANCA. - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 1 (1763-1781)
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JAY TO FLORIDA BLANCA. - 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 TO FLORIDA BLANCA.
Madrid, June 22, 1780.
I received the note your Excellency did me the honour to write on the 20th instant, and I take the earliest opportunity of expressing my thanks for your Excellency’s permission to accept the bills mentioned in it, which I have accordingly done.
Agreeably to your Excellency’s recommendation in the first conference, I have turned my thoughts very seriously to the objects which were the subjects of it, relative to the bills drawn upon me; they were two.
1st. The means of paying these bills.
2dly. The proposed contract with America for light vessels, etc.
With respect to the first, it appeared to me that the principal difficulty was removed by your Excellency’s informing me, “that at the end of the present year it would be in your power to advance twenty-five,thirty, or forty thousand pounds sterling.” Hence I inferred that as much time would be taken up in the sale, negotiation, and transmission of those bills, and as so long a space as six months was assigned for their payment, after being presented, the sums which it would be in your Excellency’s power to advance at the end of the year would probably be equal to the amount of the bills which would then become payable; and that in the meantime such further means might be provided as would obviate difficulties with respect to those that might afterwards become due. When I reflected that I was a stranger to the resources of Spain, and that your Excellency’s acknowledged abilities comprehended all the objects and combinations necessary in determining what supplies they were capable of affording, and the manner and means most proper for the purpose, it appeared to me in the light of presumption to hazard to your Excellency any propositions on the subject.
2dly. On considering the proposed contract, it became important to distinguish between the building these vessels with the money of the United States, or with that of Spain. The latter was very practicable, and I gave your Excellency that opinion in my letter of the 9th instant. The former, on the contrary, appeared to me not to be within the power of the United States, and candour obliged me to make this known to your Excellency in the same letter.
I knew it to be impossible for Congress, consistent with good faith, to contract; that, notwithstanding their great want of money, the injuries of a six years’ war, and their being actually invaded, they would repay immediately the monies lent them, either in ships or otherwise. It is not uncommon for ancient and opulent nations to find it necessary to borrow money in time of war, but I believe it very seldom happens that they find it convenient to pay those debts till the return of peace. If this be the case with powerful and long-established nations, more cannot be expected from a young nation brought forth by oppression, and rising amidst every species of violence and devastation which fire, sword, and malice can furnish for their destruction.
If attentive only to obtaining payment of these bills, and thereby relieving my country from the complicated evils which must result from their being protested, I had entered into the proposed engagements for immediate repayment, by building vessels, etc.,—if I had done this, notwithstanding a full conviction that the contract so made could not be fulfilled, my conduct, however convenient in its immediate consequences, would have been highly reprehensible. This reflection, therefore, will I hope convince your Excellency of the purity of my intentions, and induce you to ascribe my objections to the contract to want of ability, and not to want of inclination, in the United States to perform it. No consideration will ever prevail upon me to practise deception, and I am happy in a persuasion that although truths may sometimes not please, yet that when delivered with decency and respect they will never offend either his Majesty or your Excellency.
Believe me, sir, the United States will not be able to pay their debts during the war, and therefore any plan whatever calculated on a contrary position must be fruitless. I am ready to pledge their faith for repaying to his Majesty, within a reasonable term after the war, and with a reasonable interest, any sums he may be so kind as to lend them. What more can I offer? What more can they do? If there be any services they can do to his Majesty, consistent with their safety and defence, they are ready and will be happy to render them. They respect the King and the nation, and at the very time they are requesting his aid, they are soliciting to be united to him by bonds of perpetual amity and alliance. Against his enemies as well as their own they are now in arms; and the supplies they ask are not for the purpose of luxury or aggrandizement, but for the sole and express purpose of annoying those enemies, and enabling France, Spain, and themselves to obtain a peace honourable and advantageous to each.
Of his Majesty’s kind disposition towards them, they had received not only professions but proofs. Hence they became inspired not only with gratitude, but with confidence in his friendship. Impelled by this confidence, and a particular concurrence of exigencies already explained to your Excellency, they drew the bills in question. The issue of this measure will be highly critical, and followed by a train of consequences very important and extensive. The single circumstance of your Excellency having permitted me to accept the first of these bills will be considered by our enemies as an unfortunate omen. By predicting from it further aids, their ideas of the resources of Spain and the resistance of America will naturally be raised, and their hopes of subduing the one, or reducing the power of the other, will naturally be diminished. They will impute these aids to a plan of the House of Bourbon, wisely concerted and firmly persisted in, to secure themselves and all Europe against the ambition of Britain, by completing the division of her empire, and they will cease to flatter themselves that America thus aided will become destitute of resources to carry on the war. On the other hand, America will derive fresh vigour from this mark of friendship, and their attachment to his Majesty become proportionably more strong. By mutual good offices, friendship between nations, as between individuals, is only to be established; and it is always a happy circumstance when it subsists between those whom nature has placed contiguous to each other. But your Excellency’s time is of too great importance to be engaged by such obvious reflections.
Permit me, Sir, still to indulge the pleasing expectation of being enabled to inform Congress, that his Majesty’s magnanimity and friendship have prompted him, though inconvenient to his own affairs, to secure the credit of their bills; and I am persuaded that the benevolence of your Excellency’s disposition will be gratified in being instrumental in a measure which would make such agreeable impressions on the hearts and minds of so great a number of steadfast friends to the Spanish monarchy.
I have the honour to be, sir, etc.