LADY JULIANA PENN TO JAY.
Spring Garden, London,
Nov. 23, 1782.
You will be surprised that I take the liberty of addressing you on my affairs; but the general character of your benevolence, still more confirm’d to me by a friend of mine now in the house with me, encourages me to claim your protection and assistance in recovering my rights and those of an unfortunate family. They never had or could have done any thing to offend the State which has hitherto treated them with rigor. But that rigor I trust may cease through your kind interposition. I therefore conjure you, Sir, in the present Settlement of Affairs to interest yourself with that goodness and philanthrophy which you are known to possess in so eminent a degree, in the restoring us to our just dues, and to that happiness and prosperity, which the descendants of William Penn have reason to expect, and cannot fail to experience if you will undertake their cause. Certain that you will not refuse me your protection, I already subscribe myself, Sir,
Much obliged and Obedient humble Servant,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Philadelphia, November 23d, 1782.
I have before me your letters of the 25th and 28th of June. I congratulate you on your safe arrival at Paris, where I venture to hope your residence will on many accounts be more agreeable than it was at Madrid. Nothing can be more pleasing to us than your determination to write very frequently, since I am sorry to say, that we have not yet been favored with such minute information on many points of importance, as we have reason to expect. Both Dr. Franklin and yourself dwell so much in generals in your last letters, that had it not been for a private letter of the Marquis to me, Congress would have remained ignorant of points, which they have thought sufficiently important to make them the foundation of those resolutions, which are herewith transmitted to you.
You need be under no apprehensions, that Commissioners from the Court of Great Britain will be allowed to negotiate with Congress; their sentiments on this subject are sufficiently manifested in the resolutions, that are sent to you and Dr. Franklin with this. And the case of Mr. Burgess, which you will find in one of the papers of last week, and in my letter to Dr. Franklin, will afford you some evidence of the extreme caution of particular States on this head.
That in the mass of our people, there is a great number, who though resolved on independence, prefer an alliance with England to one with France, must be a mere speculative opinion, which can be reduced to no kind of certainty. If we form our judgment from acts of government, we would suppose that no such sentiment prevailed; they all speak a different language. If from the declarations of individuals, we must entertain the same opinion, since independence and the alliance with France, connect themselves so closely together, that we never speak of them separately. The mass of the people here are not so ignorant of the common principles of policy as to prefer an alliance with a nation whose recent pretensions, and whose vicinity renders them mutual enemies, to that of a Prince who has no claims upon them, and no territory in their neighborhood, at least till the principles of his government shall be changed, and he gives evident proofs of the want of justice and moderation.
I think it unnecessary to repeat to you what I have already written to Dr. Franklin, presuming that you communicate with freedom to each other. Mr. Jefferson will afford, I dare say, a very acceptable aid to your commission; I have not yet learned from him whether he will take the duties upon him.
Mr. Barlow, a poet of New England, has requested me to transmit you his proposals for printing, by subscription, a poem of which he is the author. I can give no character of the work, but what you will get from the specimen enclosed, which is all I have seen of it. The enclosed resolution informs you of Mr. Boudinot’s advancement to the Presidentship. For other intelligence I refer you to my letter to Dr. Franklin, and the papers that accompany this.
I am, Dear Sir, &c.
Robert R. Livingston.
JAY TO LADY JULIANA PENN.
Paris, 4th December, 1782.
I shall always be exceedingly happy, my Lady, in every opportunity of confirming the favourable opinion with which your Ladyship and the amiable friend to whom I believe you allude, have been impressed. The misfortunes incident to war are always to be regretted, and humanity will not cease to sympathize with those, on either side, who, without deserving, have experienced its rigors. It gives me pleasure to inform your Ladyship that, according to the preliminaries agreed to between Great Britain and America, Congress will recommend in a very benevolent manner to the reconsideration of the different States the measures they have taken against certain individuals. The nature of our government rendered every other mode of revising those cases improper, and as some persons might have much, others little, and many no reason to complain, it was the most eligible and obvious method of ascertaining the merits of each. There is also reason to expect that whatever undue degrees of severity may have been infused into our laws, by a merciless war and a strong sense of injuries, will yield to the influence of those gentler emotions which the mild and cheerful season of peace and tranquillity must naturally excite.
Your Ladyship will therefore see the necessity, as well as propriety, of applying after the war to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, for a reconsideration of the act respecting your family. For my part I believe that justice will be done to all, and I hope that clemency and reconciliation will be refused only to the faithless and the cruel. The same magnanimity which has distinguished the conduct of America in times of danger and distress will doubtless enable her to receive prosperity with dignity and gratitude, and to use it with moderation and philanthropy.
I have the honour to be, with perfect respect,
Your Ladyship’s most obedient and most humble servant,
STEPHEN SAYRE TO JAY.
Bordeaux, 10th Decr., 1782.
I did myself the honor of writing to your Excellency by the last post, requesting the favor of bearing the Preliminaries of Peace to Congress, since which we have assurances that they are absolutely signed. If so it is my duty to inform you that the ship Minerva, Capn. Hallet, now in this port, will be ready to sail for Philadelphia before my despatches can arrive; but as she is freighted by Mr. Brush and myself, she waits your Excellency’s orders.
If, however, she carries no public papers, we hope you will not delay to furnish us such certificates, relative to Peace, as may enable her to depart instantly under the advantages of peace. I should presume you will find it a good opportunity of sending duplicates. Please to address your answer under cover to Messrs. V. P. French & Nephew here. I should have wrote to Mr. Franklin also, but suppose he would not immediately reply. Our particular circumstances require an answer, and I hope you will suppose it of some consequence, and do us that favor.
I am most respectfully your Excellency’s
Most obedient and humble servant,
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Paris, December 12, 1782.
I have already written a long letter to you by this vessel, and should have continued the details of our subsequent proceedings, had my health admitted of the necessary application.
You will receive from us a joint letter with a copy of the preliminaries. I shall therefore omit making any remarks on them.
Before I left Spain, and by letters since my arrival here, I desired Mr. Carmichael to make out and transmit the public accounts. Our negotiations with that Court are at a stand. The Count d’Aranda either has not, or does not choose to show me a commission to treat. He is exceedingly civil and frequent visits pass between us.
It gives me pleasure to inform you that perfect unanimity has hitherto prevailed among your Commissioners here; and I do not recollect that since we began to negotiate with Mr. Oswald there has been the least division or opposition between us. Mr. Adams was particularly useful respecting the eastern boundary, and Dr. Franklin’s firmness and exertions on the subject of the tories did us much service. I enclose herewith a copy of a letter he wrote about that matter to Mr. Oswald. It had much weight and is written with a degree of acuteness and spirit seldom to be met with in persons of his age.
I have the honour to be, with great regard and esteem, dear sir, etc.
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Paris, 14th December, 1782.
From our preliminaries and the King’s speech, the present disposition and system of the British Court may, in my opinion, be collected. Although particular circumstances constrained them to yield us more than perhaps they wished, I still think they meant to make (what they thought would really be) a satisfactory peace with us. In the continuance of this disposition and system too much confidence ought not to be placed, for disappointed violence and mortified ambition are certainly dangerous foundations to build implicit confidence upon; but I cannot forbear thinking that we ought not, in the common phrase, to throw cold water upon it by improper exultation, extravagant demands, or illiberal publications; should such a temper appear, it would be wise to discountenance it. It is our policy to be independent in the most extensive sense, and to observe a proper distance towards all nations, minding our own business, and not interfering with, or being influenced by, the views of any, further than they may respect us.
Some of my colleagues flatter themselves with the probability of obtaining compensation for damages. I have no objections to a further trial, but I confess I doubt its success, for Britain has no money to spare, and will think the confiscations should settle that account, for they do not expect that retribution will be made to all.
Our affairs have a very promising aspect, and a little prudence will secure us all that we can reasonably expect. The boundaries between the States should be immediately settled, and all causes of discord between them removed. It would be imprudent to disband the army while a foreign one remains in the country; and it would be equally unwise to permit Americans to spill the blood of our friends, in the islands, for in all of them there are many who wish us well. The sale of the continental lands would, if properly regulated and appropriated to that purpose, form a fund on which we might borrow money, especially if foreigners could see good reason to rely on our good faith, which, by being in certain instances violated, has lost much of its credit. I allude particularly to the interest on loan-office certificates, and the publications in our papers on that subject, which do us harm in Europe. Adieu.
I am, dear Robert, your friend,
JAY TO STEPHEN SAYRE.
Paris, 15th December, 1782.
I have been favoured with your letter of the 10th inst., and also with the one mentioned in it.
Preliminary articles for a peace are agreed upon between Britain and America, but at present the two countries are as much at war as ever; for America neither ought nor is disposed to make a separate peace.
It is not possible therefore to send you the certificates you desire, nor is it necessary for you to detain your vessels for our despatches, more early opportunities having offered and been embraced. We are nevertheless much obliged to you for this mark of attention.
I am, sir,
Your most humble and obedient servant,
EXTRACT FROM JAY’S DIARY.
22d December, 1782.—Between 7 and 8 o’clock this morning I visited Mr. Oswald. After some general conversation he took occasion to say that Lord Mount Stuart, the son of Lord Bute, had dined with him to-day, and that he had also seen his brother Col. Stuart, who had served the whole war in America. He spoke of the Colonel’s aversion to the American war, and the account he gave of the want of discipline and the disorder which prevailed in the British army there. He passed several encomiums on the Colonel’s character; sometimes of the father and then of the son’s, observing how unlike they were to what the father was supposed to be; though for his part he believed that more sins were laid on his back than he had ever committed. He said that Lord Mount Stuart execrated the American war, and had shown him to-day several letters written by him at Turin (where he was Ambassador) to Lord Hillsborough on that subject. Mr. Oswald asked me if I remembered what he had told me of Mr. Pultney’s information about the propositions of Count Vergennes, to divide America with Britain. I told him I did. “Well,” says he, “the same kind of proposition was made to Lord Mount Stuart. His lordship brought with him here to dinner his letter-book, which he did not choose to leave with his charge d’affaires, and in which he showed me his letters written with his own hand, (for he would not confide it to his secretary) to Lord Hillsborough; and the first letter was dated in the month of September, 1780; from which it appears that a Mr. Malley, who had formerly travelled with Lord Mount Stuart, and is an honorary professor at Geneva, and is employed to write the history of Hesse, etc., for which he receives annuities; a man, in short, well known among men of letters, was employed by Mr. Neckar to make overtures to Lord Mount Stuart, about putting an end to the war, by dividing America between Britain and France, the latter to have the eastern part.
Mr. Oswald also says that Lord Mount Stuart went to Geneva on the occasion, where he conversed with Mr. Malley, and that his lordship read to him out of his letter-book French letters from this Mr. Malley to his lordship on the subject, after his return to Turin; that this correspondence contains a very curious and particular account of French intrigues, particularly that Neckar wished for peace, because his system could only raise money enough to provide for old arrears and for current expenses; and were he obliged to sustain the expenses of the war, he must break in upon it, and perhaps be disgraced; it also mentioned the intrigues to get De Sartine out of the marine department; and Mr. Oswald says that the overtures about America were conducted with a variety of precautions for secrecy, and with a stipulation or condition that both parties, in case they did not agree, should be at liberty to deny all that passed. He told me that my lord wrote strongly to Lord Hillsborough against the American war, and that the latter in answer told him it was a subject out of his line, and with which it was not proper for him to interfere. Lord Mount Stuart was offended with the minister for this, and he brought his letter-book with him to Mr. Oswald to show him the full state of the matter. Mr. Oswald said, that as he had told me the affair of Mr. Pultney, he could not forbear mentioning this also, for it was a little strange that so extraordinary a matter should come so circumstantial and correspondent from such different and unconnected quarters. He desired me to consider this communication as very confidential, adding that he could say more, but that it would not be proper for him at present to enter into a detail of further particulars.
MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO JAY.
Cadiz, December the 26th, 1782.
My letters to Dr. Franklin have hitherto acquainted you with every thing that related to me. I have been with the army as far as Cape St. Mary, and then I came in a frigate to this port. On my way I have despatched a vessel to General Washington, and have communicated particulars of our situation as well as proposals for Military Operations.
The convoy I came with is coming in. A good number of French and Spanish ships are getting ready. The French division at Gibraltar is going to embark, so that we intend to sail with a powerful reinforcement.
On my arrival at this place, I have been told that our American preliminaries are agreed upon for which I heartily rejoice with you . . . but it becomes necessary to go on with Military Operations. I very much hope they will be successful.
In the first moments I saw Count d’Estaing. He asked for my opinion upon the present political situation of our affairs. It appears that the Spanish Court, and Count de Montmorin himself wanted him to take those ——— [?] My answer was that America had made treaties and would stand by them; that her Steadiness was equal to her Spirit, but that unless they give Money, no efforts could be expected. Upon this Money affair I was very urging. Count d’Estaing has wrote a private letter which is to be laid before the Spanish Court. I have wrote one to Carmichael by post which is to be opened by Count de Florida Blanca. I have so far Conquered my hatred to Count O’Reilly as to speak freely with him upon this matter. I do not expect much from the Attempt, but as no American plenipotentiary was committed, as limits and every political idea was out of the way, I have thought there was nothing improper in seizing the present Opportunity to tempt them into an offer to send us Money from the Havanna. I do not believe it will succeed but there is no harm in the trial.
You will greatly oblige me, my dear Sir, to keep me Acquainted with every thing that is interesting to America. My heart is in it you know, and your Communications will be very welcome. I live with Mr. Hamilton and am very happy in his Acquaintance, but your letters had better be sent to Mde. de Lafayette with a particular recommendation.
Be pleased to remember me most Affectionately to Mr. Franklin, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Laurens, and let them know any thing in this letter that appears worth Communicating. My Best Compliments wait upon Doctor Bancroft. I request, my dear Sir, you will be so kind as to present my best respects to Mrs. Jay and to receive the hearty assurance of the high and affectionate regard I have the Honor to be with,
William Penn’s daughter-in-law. The greater part of the proprietary estates of the family had been confiscated during the Revolution by the State of Pennsylvania, and the descendants were now seeking to recover them.
See Extracts under date June 23 and October 21, 1782.