GOUVERNEUR MORRIS TO JAY.
Philadelphia, 10th January, 1784.
I write to acknowledge your letter of the 24th September. Being uncertain where you are, and consequently what course this letter may take, and through what hands it will pass, I shall not say so much as I otherwise might. I will direct to the care of Dr. Franklin.
Your attachment to America, when removed from it, is the old story of travellers; but when it comes from one in whose feelings we feel an interest, decies repetita placebit. Of your health you speak despondingly, yet you say your spirits are good. Believe me, my friend, good spirits will both make and preserve good health. I mean to extend the observation generally, but not universally. Whatever lot betides us, I wish you at least one happy year, and I hope that Heaven will do you the justice to grant a long succession of them. Make my good wishes acceptable to Mrs. Jay, and present me tenderly to your children.
I was lately in New-York, and have the pleasure to tell you that all your friends were well. Things there are now in that kind of ferment which was rationally to have been expected; and I think the superior advantages of our constitution will now appear in the repressing of those turbulent spirits who wish for confusion, because that in the regular order of things they can only fill a subordinate sphere.
This country has never yet been known to Europe, and God knows whether it ever will be so. To England it is less known than to any other part of Europe; because they constantly view it through a medium either of prejudice or of faction. True it is, that the general government wants energy; and equally true it is that this want will eventually be supplied. A national spirit is the natural result of national existence; and although some of the present generation may feel colonial oppositions of opinion, that generation will die away, and give place to a race of Americans. On this occasion, as on others, Great Britain is our best friend; and by seizing the critical moment when we were about to divide, she has shown clearly the dreadful consequences of division. You will find that the States are coming into resolutions on the subject of commerce; which, if they had been proposed by Congress on the plain reason of the thing, would have been rejected with resentment, and perhaps contempt.
With respect to our taste for luxury, do not grieve about it. Luxury is not so bad a thing as it is often supposed to be; and if it were, still we must follow the course of things, and turn to advantage what exists, since we have not the power to annihilate or create. The very definition of luxury is as difficult as the suppression of it.
Do not condemn us till you see us. Do not ask the British to take off their foolish restrictions. Let them alone and they will be obliged to do it themselves. While the present regulation exists, it does us more of political good than it can possibly do of commercial evil. Adieu.
Believe me always yours,
CHARLES THOMSON TO JAY.
Annapolis, Jany. 14, 1784.
I sincerely congratulate you on the return of peace, and it is my most ardent prayer that the United States may improve the opportunity now afforded of becoming a happy people. The treaty was this day ratified, being the first day we have had nine States since the last of October. The ratification is forwarded by Col. J. Harmar, the bearer, whom I beg leave to recommend to your particular attention and civility. Mrs. Thomson desires to be remembered to Mrs. Jay, to whom you will please to make my most respectful compliments.
I am with sincere esteem and regard,
Your most obedient and most humble servant,
CHARLES THOMSON TO JAY.
Annapolis, Jany. 15, 1784.
Though I am sensible that Lieut-Col. D. S. Frank, who is the bearer of this, needs no introduction or recommendation to you, yet I cannot suffer him to go without a line from me. He is intrusted with a triplicate ratification of the definitive treaty, which passed yesterday, the first time we have had nine States represented since Octr. last, and which was done with the unanimous consent not only of every State but of every member in Congress. The proclamation and recommendation of which he carries copies passed also with a like unanimous consent; So that I have strong hopes the treaty will be carried into full effect, and that when the passions of the people are cooled, a spirit of conciliation will prevail. But considering what many have suffered, whose feelings are still alive and whose wounds are not yet closed, and considering that our new established governments have not attained their full tone and vigour, it can hardly be expected that people will in a moment forget what is past and suddenly return to an interchange of friendly offices with those whom for years past they have considered as their most bitter enemies. My apprehensions are greatest from your own State where the people have suffered most, and yet there is such a spirit and vigour in that government, that I trust matters will be conducted with prudence and moderation.
We have had no delegates from that State since the first Monday in November, occasioned, I am informed by a law of the State which prevented the meeting of the Assembly till the City was evacuated. However, as the Assembly is now met we expect delegates will soon be present. There has been a scene for six months past over which I would draw the veil. I may perhaps have an opportunity of explaining myself further. However, the prospect begins to brighten and as I love to indulge a hope which corresponds with my fond wishes, I flatter myself that prudence and good sense will prevail.
SILAS DEANE TO JAY.
London, Jan. 21st, 1784.
I called at your lodgings in November last, but your servant told me you were not within, and that you intended to set out for Bath in a day or two; on which, being exceedingly desirous of an interview with you, I sent you a letter requesting that favour; but going out of town myself a few days after, and having received no answer, I am at a loss what to conclude on, whether my letter might have failed, or that you do not incline to favour me with an interview; and hence I am induced to trouble you with this, and to request that you will simply inform me by a line, if you received my letter of November, and if an interview will be agreeable or not. I wish to obviate and remove any late prejudices which you may have entertained against me, from the most gross misrepresentations of my conduct since my arrival in England; and I submit to you the propriety of giving me an opportunity for doing this; and am, with great respect, Sir,
Your most obedient and very humble Servant,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
New-York, 25th January, 1784
The quiet, which in my last I mentioned to have prevailed here, still continues with very few interruptions; though the imprudence of the tories has, in some instances, given disgust to the warm whigs, particularly in a contest for the government of the church corporation, to the exclusion of those out of the lines, and in appointing Mr. Moore rector, in order to fill the church, a few days before we came in. The Legislature have interposed, and the government of the church is transferred to the whigs.
Our parties are, first, the tories, who still hope for power, under the idea that the remembrance of the past should be lost, though they daily keep it up by their avowed attachment to Great Britain. Secondly, the violent whigs, who are for expelling all tories from the State, in hopes, by that means, to preserve the power in their own hands. The third are those who wish to suppress all violences, to soften the rigour of the laws against the loyalists, and not to banish them from that social intercourse which may, by degrees, obliterate the remembrance of past misdeeds; but who, at the same time, are not willing to shock the feelings of the virtuous citizens, that have at every expense and hazard fulfilled their duty, by at once destroying all distinction between them and the royalists, and giving the reins into the hands of the latter; but who, at the same time, wish that this distinction should rather be found in the sentiments of the people, than marked out by the laws. You will judge to which of these parties the disqualifications contained in our election bill has given the representation, when I tell you that the members for this city and county are Lamb, Harper, Sears, Van Zandt, Mallone, Rutgers, Hughes, Stag, and Willet. I must, however, do all parties the justice to say, that they profess the highest respect for the laws, and that, if we except one or two persons, they have, as yet, by no act contradicted that profession.
You will receive with this a ratification of the treaty. Congress are now convened at Annapolis in consequence of their curious resolution to have two places of residence, of which they are by this time ashamed and tired.
We are very angry here with Great Britain, on account of her West India restrictions (from which, by-the-bye, they suffer greatly), and are fulminating resolutions to prohibit all intercourse with her, which I think will probably be the case ere long.
Thus have I given you a sketch of our politics, which will only be interesting to you if, as I sincerely hope, you mean to return soon to us.
Politics has extended this letter to such an unreasonable length, that I dare not hazard a subject nearer my heart than either, but must, at this time, confine all its dictates to simple assurances of the firm and tender affection with which I am, and ever shall be,
Dear John, your friend,
Robt. R. Livingston.
JAY TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
Paris, 10th February, 1784.
Your letter of the 25th September came to my hands in England on the 8th December last; and since my return, I have received that of the 7th November, which, though containing only three lines, I prefer to most of the others. Perhaps you have forgot it:
It is now within three minutes of the time when the mail is made up and sent off. I cannot, therefore, do more than just to assure you of the continuance of my love. Adieu. Yours,
That this letter was so short I ascribe to procrastination; that it was written at all I ascribe to your heart; your head evidently had no concern in it, for, if consulted, it would have intimated that they who live near a post-office find no good excuse for singular brevity in the mails being to be sent off in a few minutes after they sit down to write, unless, indeed, some circumstance just occurred should make the subject of the letter. But, be that as it may, I would rather receive one little effusion from your heart than twenty from your head, though I hope to derive much pleasure from both. We shall have much to say to each other, and I think both of us will be gainers by it. Why I think so must not be discussed in letters, whose seals will not be respected.
You suppose that ill-health induces me to resign. You are mistaken. It seldom happens that any measure is prompted by one single motive, though one among others may sometimes have decisive weight and influence. Many motives induce me to resign, but of those many there is one which predominates, and that is this: When I embarked in the public service, I said very sincerely that I quitted private life with regret, and should be happy to return to it when the objects which called me from it should be attained. You know what those objects were, and that, on the peace, they ceased to operate. To be consistent, therefore, I must retire. The motive is irresistible. Superadded to this are the education of my son, the attention I owe to the unfortunate part of my family, and the happiness I expect from rejoining my friends. Pecuniary considerations ever held a secondary place in my estimation. I know how to live within the bounds of any income, however narrow, and my pride is not of a nature to be hurt by returning to the business which I formerly followed: but professions of this sort are common, and facts only can give unequivocal evidence of their sincerity.
I have passed between three and four sad months in England. Bad weather and bad health almost the whole time. On my arrival a dysentery and fever brought me low, and a sore-throat, which still plagues me, succeeded. Bath has done me good, for it removed the pain in my breast, which has been almost constant for eighteen months.
I had many excellent opportunities of writing to my friends from London and Bristol, but I was enjoined to abstain as much as possible from pen and ink.
It is natural that you should expect to find some news in this letter. I will tell you a little, though it is probable that your sagacity has prevented its being unexpected. The institution of the Order of Cincinnatus does not, in the opinion of the wisest men whom I have heard speak on the subject, either do credit to those who formed and patronized or to those who suffered it.
I am indebted to our excellent friend, Robert Morris, for a very obliging letter. He shall soon hear from me. In the meantime let him share with you in this adieu.
GENERAL SCHUYLER TO JAY.
New-York, Feb. 18th, 1784.
By Colonel Hamilton, who made me a visit at Albany on the 26th instant, I had the pleasure of your favour of the 16th September last. Persuaded you never convey sentiments to your friends, which flow merely from the head, and in which the heart does not participate, I have not words to express how pleasingly mine was affected in the perusal.
I think I hear you wish to be advised of what is passing in your native country, at a juncture when the decisions of government must determine the philosophers and politicians of Europe to form their opinion of our wisdom or our folly. Having been exceedingly indisposed, I have not attended until a few days ago, and am consequently, as yet, not in a situation to speak decidedly; but I have reason to apprehend, however, from the complexion of the members, that our conduct will be such as to afford occasion to the friends of mankind to drop a tear on the intemperance of mankind; and to reflect, with pain, that a people who have hardly been emancipated from a threatened tyranny, forgetting how odious oppression appeared to them, begin to play the tyrant, and give a melancholy evidence, that however capable we were of bearing adversity with magnanimity, we are too weak to support, with propriety, the prosperity we have so happily experienced.
I am led to this conclusion from observing that too many, not contented with a peace, glorious and advantageous beyond the expectations of the most sanguine real patriot, and that, too, obtained at a period when the complexion of our national affairs was alarming in the extreme, wish to evade the positive stipulations, few and inconsiderable as they are, in favour of those who adhered to Britain; and carry their views even so far beyond that, as totally to deprive all those who remained within the power of the British troops from the rights of citizens, upon the false conclusion that all who remained in were zealous adherents to the then enemy, and all who were not, disinterested and real patriots. I think you and I could point out some who looked at both sides of the question whilst the contest was doubtful, and who probably did not wish it to terminate as it has done; and yet these are the very characters who are now most vociferous against that set of people, to whom, but a few months before the annunciation of the provisional articles, they still paid court. I hope, however, when the present scramblers for the honours and the emoluments of the States are satisfied, that our affairs will take another turn, and that we shall not irretrievably lose our national character. Among those claimants and scramblers you will not include some whose zeal for the common cause, from the first stage of the contest to the close, are justly entitled to the attention of government—such as Mr. Duane, who has the mayoralty of this city, and some others.
When I assure you that I am anxious for your speedy return to your native country, and that it is more than a selfish wish, I am very sincere; for I believe your influence would tend much to promote its true interest.
Permit me to entreat your lady to participate with you in wishes which come from the heart, for your health and happiness, and for your speedy and safe arrival on these shores, where you will find friends who love and esteem you, and where all ought to revere you who are capable of being penetrated with gratitude for the most eminent services. For my part, I never think of you without emotions too delicate for communication. God bless you.
I am, affectionately and sincerely
Your obedient servant,
JAY TO SILAS DEANE.
Chaillot,near Paris, 23d February, 1784.
Your letter of the 21st of January was delivered to me this morning. It is painful to say disagreeable things to any person, and especially to those with whom one has lived in habits of friendship; but candour on this subject forbids reserve. You were of the number of those who possessed my esteem, and to whom I was attached. To me, personally, you have never given offence; but, on the contrary, I am persuaded you sincerely wished me well, and was disposed to do me good offices.
The card you left for me at Mr. Bingham’s, and also the letter you mention, were both delivered to me, and I cannot express the regret I experienced from the cruel necessity I thought myself under, of passing them over in silence; but I love my country and my honour better than my friends, and even my family, and am ready to part with them all whenever it would be improper to retain them. You are either exceedingly injured, or you are no friend to America; and while doubts remain on that point, all connection between us must be suspended. I wished to hear what you might have to say on that head, and should have named a time and place for an interview, had not an insurmountable obstacle intervened to prevent it. I was told by more than one, on whose information I thought I could rely, that you received visits from, and was on terms of familiarity with General Arnold. Every American who gives his hand to that man, in my opinion, pollutes it.
I think it my duty to deal thus candidly with you, and I assure you, with equal sincerity, that it would give me cordial satisfaction to find you able to acquit yourself in the judgment of the dispassionate and impartial. If it is in your power to do it, I think you do yourself injustice by not undertaking that necessary task. That you may perform it successfully whenever you undertake it, is the sincere wish and desire of, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
JAY TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Paris, 25th February, 1784.
My Good Friend:
Your favour of the 4th November last found me in England, where, though I suffered much sickness, I left the pain in my breast; but a sore-throat I caught there still remains obstinate and troublesome.
The resolution of Congress of 1st October last did not reach me until in December. On my return here last month, I wrote in pursuance of it to Mr. Carmichael to come here without delay with the books and vouchers. I daily expect to hear from him, and shall be happy to see that business settled before I embark, which I hope will be in April, but from or to what port, and in what vessel, is as yet uncertain.
There is no doubt but that you have had much to struggle with, and will have more. Difficulties must continue inseparable from your office for some time yet, and they will be the means either of increasing or diminishing your reputation. In my opinion you must go on. Success generally attends talents and perseverance, and these thorns will in due season probably bear flowers, if not fruit.
There are parts of your letter on which, though I concur with you in sentiment, I forbear to make remarks, because this may not pass to you uninspected. I hope we shall meet in the course of a few months more, and then reserve will cease to be necessary.
What you say of Gouverneur accords with my opinion of him. I have never broken the bands of friendship in my life, nor when once broken have I ever been anxious to mend them. Mine with him will, I hope, last as long as we do, for though my sentiments of mankind in general are less favourable than formerly, my affection for certain individuals is as warm and cordial as ever.
Mrs. Jay presents her affectionate compliments to you and Mrs. Morris, to whom we join in sincerely wishing all the happiness with which amiable merit should be ever blesed. Tell Gouverneur I long to take him by the hand, and believe me to be, my dear sir, with constant attachment, your affectionate friend and servant,
JAY TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.
Chaillot,near Paris, 21st March, 1784.
The violence of your political storm seems to have abated, but I should not be surprised if you should frequently have March weather.
Accounts from America lead me to suspect that your commercial negotiations with us will not be facilitated by delay; and I should not be surprised if a system should then be adopted which would render European proclamations of very little importance to that country. It appears more probable that England will outwit herself. There is a tide in human affairs which, like other tides, turns only to run in an opposite direction.
I am preparing to go to New York by the first good vessel that may sail for that port. I more than wish to see you there. They who know the nature of man expect perfection nowhere. There are certain degrees in refinement and arts, which are more favourable than others to those principles and manners which wise men prefer. In this, as well as in some other circumstances, we have the advantage of other countries. Various causes conspire to give every man his weight, and I believe the old maxim of “quisque suæ faber est fortunæ” has fewer exceptions in America than elsewhere. They who bring with them ideas borrowed from the regions of fancy and romance will be disappointed. The golden age will not cease to be a fable until the millennium; until that period for separating life from death, pleasure from pain, virtue from vice, and wisdom from folly, every society and country will continue to partake more or less of the heterogeneous and discordant principles, which seem to be the seeds both of moral and natural evil.
Were I in your situation, I would see for myself, and then determine. To avoid mistakes, it is necessary to see things as being what they really are. Minutiæ are often omitted, or imperfectly drawn in representations. Great part of the good within our reach depends on minutiæ; they merit more attention than many apprehend.
Be pleased to present my respectful compliments to Lord and Lady Shelburne. I hope his gout has left him. Remember me also to our patriot friend, Doctor Price.
Adieu, my dear sir,
JOHN WITHERSPOON TO JAY.
London, March 27, 1784.
I had some expectations of seeing you before this in Paris, which was the cause of my not writing since my arrival in London. Suffer me to inform you that the trustees of our College [Princeton] very much contrary to my judgment were induced by some things they had heard to suppose that this would not be an improper time to solicit benefactions for the College which is known to have suffered so much by being seated in the centre of the theatre of the late War. They therefore insisted upon my accompanying Gen. Reed to Europe, giving us a joint commission to make application for this purpose both in England and France.
There is little or no prospect of success here, and though I should be well pleased to visit Paris for my own satisfaction I am somewhat unwilling to add to the charge unless there be some reason to hope it may be useful. I have letters of introduction to the Comte de Vergennes and the Comte de Sanfield from the Minister of France with us and also other letters from Mr. Marbois and Genl. Washington. Those letters, however, I suppose are general and not relating to the purpose above mentioned. What I would particularly request of you is to give your opinion freely and candidly whether in case of my going to Paris it would be at all proper to make application to any persons for the College either as to subscriptions, books, or apparatus. I will be governed in this matter by your opinion and that of Dr. Franklin to whom I have also written, and will either not go to Paris at all, or when there, be entirely silent on this business and only gratify my curiosity and pay my compliments where they are due.
Though I did not trouble you with a letter of thanks, I have ever retained a grateful sense of your friendship and attention to my son John who sailed with you from America. He has made frequent mention of it, and also spoke much of the propriety and fortitude of Mrs. Jay’s conduct on your disastrous voyage.
Please to make my respectful compliments to Mrs. Jay. Her father was one of the last persons I saw in America, and left him very well. I have the honor to be,
Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant,
JOHN ADAMS TO JAY.
The Hague, April 2d, 1784.
My Dear Friend:
I blush to acknowledge that I received your favour of the 6th February, in its season, and in good condition, and that I have not answered it.
By leading a quiet life, and by great care and regular exercise, I have happily recovered a little health, and if you think it necessary, I might now venture on a journey to Paris. But I should be glad to wait here six weeks longer, that I may increase my stock of strength a little more, if possible, provided you will give me leave. I should be glad to know what you have upon the carpet, and how advanced, in brief, if you please.
The money for the payment of Mr. Morris’s bills is happily secured, but we were a long time in bringing the loan to bear.
I have received several letters from Boston and Philadelphia, from very good hands, which make very honourable and affectionate mention of you. You have erected a monument to your memory in every New England heart. My regards to your good family, and believe me,
Your sincere friend,
JAY TO JOHN WITHERSPOON.
Chaillot,near Paris, 6th April, 1784.
I had last evening the pleasure of receiving your favour of the 27th ult. I congratulate you on your safe arrival, and sincerely wish that the same good fortune may attend your return.
While our country remained part of the British empire, there was no impropriety in soliciting the aid of our distant brethren and fellow-subjects for any liberal and public purposes. It was natural that the younger branches of the political family should request and accept the assistance of the elder. But as the United States neither have, nor can have, such relations with any nations in the world; as the rank they hold, and ought to assert, implies ability to provide for all the ordinary objects of their government; and as the diffusion of knowledge among a republican people is and ought to be one of the constant and most important of those objects, I cannot think it consistent with the dignity of a free and independent people, to solicit donations for that or any other purpose, from the subjects of any prince or state whatever.
The public, with us, are, in my opinion, so deeply interested in the education of our citizens, that universities, etc., ought no longer to be regarded in the light of mere private corporations. The government should extend to them their constant care; and the State treasuries afford them necessary supplies.
The success which might attend such applications in this country can only be matter of conjecture. The raising money by subscription has not been so customary in France as in Britain, and my opinion is that you would collect very little. If indeed the court should set the example, and really wish to promote it, the thing would then become fashionable; and I am inclined to think that even the fashion of giving would have a great run for a few weeks. As to books, the consideration that every American student who in a long lapse of years might open those books would read the name of the donor, added to the vanity of authors, and others who may be zealous to extend the reputation of French literature, would probably procure you some. As to apparatus, the best instruments and machines are made in England; and the greater as well as better part of those used here are, I am told, brought from thence. I am much mistaken if Europe, in general, does not wish that we were less knowing than we are already. But if it was probable that such applications would be attended with ever so great success, yet, as I think they can be properly made only in the United States, I could not prevail upon myself to advise the experiment.
If, however, you should visit Paris, I assure you it will give me great pleasure to see you, and to be instrumental in rendering it agreeable to you. We have been fellow-labourers in the same field, and if you come, we will rejoice together in celebrating “harvest home.”
With respect to the disagreeable voyage in which your son shared with us, I won’t say jubes renovare dolorem, because I am habituated to reflect on events of that sort with tranquillity. It was one of those, however, which tried all who were concerned in it; and I must do your son the justice to say that none of us preserved more equanimity and good-humour throughout the whole than he did, and he had a full share of unpleasant circumstances, as well as some others of us. I am, dear sir,
Your most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO KITTY LIVINGSTON.
Chaillot,near Paris, 7th April, 1784.
My Good Friend:
It gave me pleasure to receive your obliging letter of the 30th December, and the more so as the one to Sally which accompanies it contains agreeable accounts of your health. Accept my thanks for the kind wishes which the season gave you occasion to offer. In your sincerity I have full confidence, and in your happiness I feel that interest which long-confirmed esteem and attachment never fails to create.
If the ensuing summer should bring us all together in health and spirits, I shall think the day of my arrival one of the most fortunate of my life. After having passed so many years in scenes of trouble and difficulty of various kinds, I look forward with emotion not to be described to that peaceful circle of my friends and family, where I again expect to meet the enjoyments which have so long deserted me. God only knows what futurity may have in store for us, or what adverse events may still continue to teach us lessons of resignation. It is happy for us, however, that hope is our constant companion, and that new expectations constantly succeed the disappointment of preceding ones.
Having expected that Mr. Carmichael would have arrived with the public accounts in time to have them settled before the April packet engaged her passengers, I had taken steps for going in her; but he did not reach Paris till the 27th ult., and Mr. Barclay, who is to settle them, being then and still absent, I must necessarily be detained here till in May. I hope, but am not sure, that I shall then embark. In matters which do not depend upon myself, or people like you, I dare not be sanguine. Such of our baggage as is not in immediate use is already packed up.
Your accounts of my dear boy please me. Tell him his endeavours to gain knowledge and practise virtue will increase and secure my affection for him.
Remember me to all the family, and believe me to be, dear Kate,
Your affectionate friend and brother,
JAY TO CHARLES THOMSON.
Chaillot,near Paris, 7th April, 1784.
On the 5th inst. Mr. Norris gave me your obliging letter of the 26th September last. I regret that he did not come here sooner, for it will always give me pleasure to have opportunities of evincing my esteem and regard for you by attention to those who possess yours. Mr. Carmichael, whom I had long expected with the public accounts, did not arrive until the 27th ult., when Mr. Ridley had just gone to England, and Mr. Barclay, who had been long there, was and still is absent. Nothing but the settlement of those accounts now detains me here, and a mortifying detention it is, considering that the best season for being at sea is passing away. While I stay, Mr. Norris shall perceive that he could have brought few recommendations to me so acceptable as yours, and those amiable qualities for which you commend him. I wish he may return as uncorrupted as he came. Paris is a place better calculated for the improvement of riper years; and, in my opinion, very young men should not visit it. Our country has already sent some here, who will return the worse for their travels. I hope your young friend may escape. If he should, you may congratulate him on having made the choice of Hercules, for he will be tempted. On the 1st instant I received your favour of January last by Colonel Harmer. I flatter myself that the delays attending the ratification of the treaty will not occasion difficulties, especially as one of the ministers who made the peace is now at the head of the British administration. If European commercial restrictions produce unanimity and tend to raise a national spirit in our country, which probably will be the case, I shall think them blessings. It is time for us to think and act like a sovereign as well as a free people, and by temperate and steady self-respect to command that of other nations. It is but too much the fashion to depreciate Congress, and I fear that, as well as many other of our new fashions, will cost us dear.
Be pleased to present our compliments to Mrs. Thompson. With great and sincere regard and esteem, I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,
CHARLES THOMSON TO JAY.
Philadelphia, June 18, 1784.
. . . . . . . .
I have the pleasure to inform you that on the 7th of May Congress elected you Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I do not know how you will be pleased with the appointment, but this I am sure of—that your country stands in need of your abilities in that office. I feel sensibly that it is not only time, but highly necessary for us to think and act like a sovereign, as well as a free, people; and I wish this sentiment were more deeply impressed on the members of every State in the Union. The opportunities you will have of corresponding not only with the executives but with the several legislatures, in discharging the duties of your office, will I trust greatly contribute to raise and promote this spirit; and this is a reason why I wish you were here to enter on the business.
On the same day that you were elected to the Office for Foreign Affairs, Congress appointed Mr. Jefferson, in addition to Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Franklin, for the purpose of negotiating commercial treaties with the powers of Europe.
. . . . . . . .
I am, Dear Sir, Yours Affectionately,
OFFICIAL CONGRATULATIONS FROM NEW YORK CITY TO JAY.
To the honourableJohn Jay,Esquire, late one of the ministers plenipotentiary of the United States of America for negotiating a peace.
Be pleased to accept the congratulations of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the city of New-York, on your safe return to the place of your nativity.
The revolution, which hath secured our liberties and independence, will not be more celebrated for the illustrious events which have marked its progress, than for the roll of statesmen and heroes by whose wisdom and valour, under the Divine favour, it hath been established on the most solid basis.
Among these worthy patriots you, sir, are highly distinguished. In our own convention, in our first seat of justice, as a member and as president of the United States in Congress assembled, and as a minister plenipotentiary both in Spain and France,—you have executed the important trusts committed to you with wisdom, firmness, and integrity, and have acquired universal applause.
While you thus possess the national confidence and esteem for a series of eminent services, we, your fellow-citizens, feel a singular pleasure in embracing this opportunity to present you with the freedom of your native city, as a public testimony of the respectful sentiments we entertain towards you, and as a pledge of our affection, and of our sincere wishes for your happiness.
[July 24, 1784.]
JAY TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, July 25, 1784.
Having waited until the settlement of the public accounts was completed, I left Paris the 16th of May last, and on the 1st of June embarked with my family at Dover, on board the ship Edward, Captain Couper, in which we arrived here yesterday. Mr. Barclay has transmitted, or will soon transmit, to Mr. Morris a state of the above-mentioned accounts; and as it will thence appear that some of the bills drawn upon me have been twice paid, it becomes necessary for me to inform your Excellency of the particular and cautious manner in which that business was transacted on my part. Soon after the arrival of the first bills, I directed Mr. Carmichael to prepare and keep a book, with the pages divided into a number of columns, and to enter therein the dates, numbers, and other descriptive particulars of every bill that might be presented to me for acceptance, and to which on examination he should find no objection. I made it an invariable rule to send every bill to him to be examined and entered previous to accepting it; and from that time to the day I left Spain, I never accepted a single bill until after it had been inspected and sent to me by him to be accepted. Further, to avoid mistakes and frauds, I also made it a constant rule that every bill presented for payment should undergo a second examination by Mr. Carmichael, that if he found it right he should sign his name to it, and that the bankers should not pay any bill unless so signed.
The bills twice paid, or rather the different numbers of the same set, stand entered in different places in the book above mentioned; and I can only regret that the entries of the numbers first presented and accepted were not observed by him, either at the time when the subsequent ones were offered for acceptance, or at the time when they were afterwards brought for payment.
It gives me pleasure to inform your Excellency that the British and American ratifications of the treaty of peace were exchanged a few days before I left Paris. The day of my departure I received, under cover from Dr. Franklin, a copy of the British ratifications, which I have the honour to transmit herewith enclosed.
With great respect and esteem, I have the honour to be, etc.
P. S.—I shall send with this letter to the post office, several others which were committed to my care for your Excellency.
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Claremont, 30th July, 1784.
Permit me, my dear friend, to congratulate you on your return to your native shore, and to the friendly embraces of those who love you in every situation in which you have been or can be placed. My impatience to see you led me to New-York about three weeks since, where, from the time you had set for sailing, I thought it probable that you must have arrived before this. An unfortunate accident which has happened to my eldest daughter, who a few days ago broke her arm, obliges me to send you these cold expressions of my friendship, rather than comply with my wishes in offering them and receiving yours, in person. Having, as I hope, concluded my political career, I have no other wish left but that of spending the remainder of my life with those who have contributed so much to the happiness of its gayest period. Whether you entertain the same moderate wishes, whether you content yourself with the politics of this State, or whether you will engage in the great field that Congress have again opened to you, I shall still have the consolation to reflect that seas do not roll between us, that I may sometimes see you, and frequently hear from you. If you are not cured of your ambition, you have every thing to hope for both in the State and Continental line. I need not tell you, that I only wish to know your objects that I may concur in them.
Believe me, dear John,
Most sincerely and warmly your friend,
R. R. Livingston.
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
New York, August 18, 1784.
Your kind letter of the 30th ult. was delivered to me yesterday by Mr. Lewis. I thank you very sincerely for your friendly congratulations on my return, and assure you that among the pleasures I have long promised myself from it, that of renewing our former intercourse and correspondence is not the least. I lament the unfortunate accident which has happened to your oldest daughter, and which has deprived me of the satisfaction of meeting you here.
I have had, and have, so many applications about papers and business, respecting causes in which I was formerly concerned, that I shall be obliged to pass a fortnight or three weeks here. When it will be in my power to pay you a visit is uncertain. I consider it as a pleasure to come, and shall endeavour to realize it as soon as possible.
When I resigned my appointments in Europe, I purposed to return to the practice of the law; what effect the unexpected offer of Congress (of which I was ignorant until after my arrival here) may have on that design as yet remains undecided. How far either of us have been, or may be, under the influence of ambition are questions which, however clear to ourselves, must necessarily be less so to others.
Present my affectionate compliments to your mother and Mrs. Livingston. Remember me to all the family.
JAY TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.
New York, 2d September, 1784.
The far greater part of my time since my arrival has been passed in the country, so that several vessels have lately gone to Europe without letters from me to our friends there.
The health of my family and myself is better than usual, and I begin to flatter myself that if you and Mrs. Vaughan could enjoy this country in only half the degree that I do you would not greatly regret leaving Old England. I am more contented than I expected. Some things, it is true, are wrong, but more are right. Justice is well administered, offences are rare, and I have never known more public tranquillity or private security. Resentments subside very sensibly, though gradually. I have met with whigs and tories at the same table. The spirit of industry throughout the country was never greater. The productions of the earth abound. Prices have fallen since my arrival, though still much higher than formerly, especially the wages of mechanics and labourers, which are very extravagant. House-rent is more than double what it was before the war.
MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO JAY.
Albany, October 7, 1784.
My Dear Sir:
I am very unfortunate in my attempts to meet you, but I hope at last to have better success, and sincerely wish it to happen about the middle of next month, when I hope to wait upon Congress at their next meeting.
Until a few days ago, I had no doubt but to hear you had accepted the appointment conferred upon you. My fears, however, have been raised, and with my usual frankness I assure you that your refusal could not but be attended with very bad circumstances. Setting compliments apart, I am sensible of the great injury such a denial would cause to the public, not only on account of the loss made by the United States in your person, but also for other motives. I hope you will accept; I know you must; but in case you are not determined I had rather change my plans than not to see you before I write to Congress. I wish much to hear from you at New-York, where I expect to be about the 22nd. My most affectionate respects wait upon Mrs. Jay. With every sentiment of regard & attachment, I have the honour to be your sincere friend,
WILLIAM BINGHAM TO JAY.
Paris, Oct. 16th, 1784.
I have just heard that a French packet is on the point of departure for New York.
I cannot permit it to sail without forwarding you a few lines expressive of the pleasure I received on hearing of your safe arrival.
The services you have rendered your country will naturally secure you a very welcome reception. The only circumstance that can be productive of disagreeable sensations is the situation of your State, exposed to such political convulsions. However, I hope it will soon be restored to harmony and good-temper.
I hope your public appointment will prove an agreeable surprise to you on your arrival, and that you will be able to reconcile the acceptance of it to every consideration of private interest and convenience, as well as public duty.
The British seem to recede every day more and more from the paths of conciliation. A certain nation, to whom we are indebted for political favours will endeavour to cherish this disposition, as she is sure to benefit by such growing feuds and divisions.
From the observations I have made since my arrival here, I can discover the necessity of very complying conduct on the part of those Americans who have public business to transact with this Court. Such conformity to the opinions of others is not easily reconcilable to the feelings and manly deportment of republicans.
No one is better acquainted than you are with the system of this Court, and no one is more jealous of their country’s honour, in essential points. You may well imagine, then, that your appointment was not regarded with satisfaction, nor will the congratulations that you will receive on it from certain persons be sincere.
With great esteem and regard, believe me to be, dear sir, your sincere friend and obedient humble servant,
JAY TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.
Philadelphia, 30th November, 1784.
A sufficient number of members to form a Congress not having arrived at Trenton, I passed on to this place ten days ago, to visit my friends. I found your family well, and am happy in this opportunity of cultivating their acquaintance.
Your obliging letter of the 5th August lately came to hand. Accept my thanks for it, and for the pamphlets enclosed with it.
The policy of Britain respecting this country is so repugnant to common sense that I am sometimes tempted to think it must be so; and the old adage of quos Deus, etc., always occurs to me when I reflect on the subject.
The India business never appeared to me a difficult one. Do justice, and all is easy. Cease to treat those unhappy natives as slaves, and be content to trade with them as with other independent kingdoms. On such an event, advantageous though fair treaties might be made with them, and you might leave, with their consent, force sufficient in circumscribed limits to secure the benefit and observance of them. Your tribute, indeed, would be at an end, but it ought not to have had a beginning; and I wish it may ever prove a curse to those who impose and exact it in any country.
Our affairs are in such a state as, all circumstances considered, might naturally have been expected; far better than many represent them, though not so well as they ought to be.
Congress is convened at Trenton, and I join them to-morrow. In the course of six or eight weeks a judgment may be formed of their prevailing sentiments and views.
It is certain that we are trading at a wild rate; and it is no less true that your people are giving most absurd credits to many, who neither have or ought to have any at home. This delirium cannot last. Adieu, my dear sir.
JAY TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
Trenton, 13th December, 1784.
The Marquis de Lafayette is so obliging as to take charge of this letter. He has seen much of our country since his arrival, and having had many opportunities of knowing our true situation, will be able to give you full information on the subject. I think he is (and has reason to be) convinced that the attachment of America to him has not been abated by the peace, and that we are now as little disposed to break friendship with France as we were during the war. This is a most favourable season for her to relax the severe commercial restrictions which oppose our trade to her islands. Her liberality would be contrasted to British ill-humour, and unavoidably produce correspondent impressions.
The present Congress promises well. There are many respectable members here. Federal ideas seem to prevail greatly among them, and, I may add, a strong disposition to conciliation and unanimity. Your letter on the subject of leave to return is, with a variety of foreign papers, referred to a committee. They have as yet made no report, and, therefore, I can give you no satisfactory intelligence on that head. I lately saw Mrs. Bache in good health and spirits at Philadelphia, and I am persuaded no less anxious for your return than you can be. Mrs. Jay and our little family are at Elizabethtown, and her last letters in form me they were all well. Be pleased to make my compliments to your grandsons.
I am, dear sir,
Your obliged and obedient servant,
Closing up his affairs connected with the Treaty of Peace, and settling his public accounts with Mr. Barclay, special agent appointed by Congress, Mr.Jay left Paris in the latter part of May, 1784, and sailed for America, from Dover, on the first day of June. Upon his arrival at New York, July 24th, he was feelingly greeted by his fellow-citizens, and the Corporation presented him the above address of welcome, accompanied by the “freedom of the City” enclosed in a gold box. In one of his first letters after landing, he wrote: “At length, my good friend. I am arrived at the land of my nativity; and I bless God that it is also the land of light, liberty, and plenty. My emotions cannot be described.”