FRANCIS HOPKINSON TO JAY.
Philada., Januy 12, 1785.
Confiding in the place I flatter myself I hold in your good opinion I take the liberty of suggesting an idea which many of my friends have urged to me, viz. that I might be proposed as one of the Commissioners for building the Federal City of Congress. I have indeed no great technical knowledge in Architecture, but as I have a good deal of leisure, some little taste and a talent for contrivance I think I could be of some use. I am the more induced to this application, as I am determined to purchase a lot to build and fix my Residence under this new jurisdiction; and have already taken some preparative steps for enabling me to do so. I look forward to this City as an Asylum from the rage and rancour of party, and as the seat of polite arts in America.
Excuse this liberty, and whether my present inclination shall be gratified nor not, be assured that I shall think myself honour’d by your esteem and future correspondence, and that I am,
Your sincere friend and very humble servant,
JAY TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
New York, 19th January, 1785.
It was not before this morning that I was informed that the bearer of this letter was going to France, and to sail to-morrow; and business and company have not till now (late in the evening) permitted me to sit down to write to you. I cannot, however omit this opportunity of sending you a few lines, which, though not very interesting, will nevertheless evince my attention to a correspondence, from which I promise myself much pleasure as well as much information. The removal of Congress to this place necessarily occasioned a suspension of business, and delayed their maturing several matters which they had under consideration. They have, within a few days past, made a house, and as they possess both talents and temper, there is reason to presume that the Union will derive advantage from their measures.
Advices from Kentucky inform us that they are threatened with an Indian war; and there is some room to conjecture that such an event would not be disagreeable to our western neighbours, who, if they do interfere, will certainly be more cunning than wise. That settlement increases with a degree of rapidity heretofore unknown in this country, and increase it will, notwithstanding any attempt of anybody to prevent it.
Federal ideas begin to thrive in this city, and I suspect in a few days to communicate to you a circumstance which will strongly manifest it.
Although we cannot be immediately interested in the war, which it is thought will take place between the emperor and the Dutch, yet we may be affected by its consequences, and, therefore, must wish to know who will, and who will not, probably take sides with this or that party, in case of a rupture.
Have we any reason to flatter ourselves that you will encourage us to drink your wines, by permitting your islands to eat our bread? or will Bordeaux (as is said) constrain Versailles to patronize a provincial monopoly at the expense of a more liberal policy? Commercial privileges, granted to us by France, at this season of British ill-humour, would be particularly grateful; and afford conclusive evidence against its being the plan of the two kingdoms to restrain our trade to the islands. We know how uneasy we are under these restraints, and we confide fully in your exertions to remove them. I write very freely, but you are my fellow-citizen, and therefore it does not appear to me necessary to attempt to dress my ideas à la mode de Paris.
Believe me to be, dear sir, with great regard and esteem, your most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO DR. BENJAMIN RUSH.
New York, 24 March, 1785.
Such has been the state of my official business and of that which arose from my long neglected private affairs, that ever since the removal of Congress to this place I have been obliged to trespass on my usual punctuality in private correspondences. Hence it happened that I have so long denied myself the pleasure of replying to your friendly letter of the 16th January. Accept my warmest acknowledgments for the kind and very obliging manner in which you mention my services abroad; and permit me to congratulate you on the success of the application to Congress on behalf of Dickenson College, which you appear zealously to patronize. I consider knowledge to be the soul of a republic, and as the weak and the wicked are generally in alliance, as much care should be taken to diminish the number of the former as of the latter. Education is the way to do this, and nothing should be left undone to afford all ranks of people the means of obtaining a proper degree of it at a cheap and easy rate.
I thank you for the pamphlet you sent me; there is good sense and just reasoning in it. I wish to see all unjust and all unnecessary discriminations everywhere abolished, and that the time may soon come when all our inhabitants of every colour and denomination shall be free and equal partakers of our political liberty. I am, sir, with great respect and esteem, your most obedient servant,
JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
31st March, 1785.
I have the honour of transmitting to you herewith enclosed a certified copy of an act of Congress of the 21st instant, instructing you to communicate to Mr. St. Saphorin the high sense the United States, in Congress assembled, entertain of the liberal decision made by his Danish Majesty, on the question proposed to his minister by you, respecting the ordination of American candidates for holy orders in the Episcopal Church, commonly called the Church of England.
Congress has been pleased to order me to transmit copies of your letter, and the other papers on this subject, to the executives of the different States; and I am persuaded they will receive with pleasure this mark of your attention, and of his Danish Majesty’s friendly disposition.
I have the honour to be, with great respect and esteem, dear sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO MR. GRAND.
New York, 28th April, 1785.
I received last evening the two letters you did me the honour to write on the 8th February last, and congratulate you sincerely on the birth of your grandson.
I have accepted the office which Congress was pleased to offer me, and shall be much obliged to you for such intelligence from time to time as you may think useful for me to receive, and prudent for you to communicate. As a public man, I shall always remember your attachment and services to the United States; and as a private one, it will always give me pleasure to acknowledge the friendly attention which has so long marked your conduct towards me and my family. In both capacities, therefore, I shall be happy to give you better evidence of my esteem and regard, than compliments or professions can possibly afford.
Mr. Morris’ resignation is a great loss to this country, and yet I am not without hopes that the department of finance will become properly arranged. The nature of our governments, as well as the circumstance of their being new. exposes our operations to delay, and renders the best systems slow in forming, as well as slow in executing. In my opinion, one superintendent or commissioner of the treasury is preferable to any greater number of them; indeed, I would rather have each department under the direction of one able man than of twenty able ones. All things, however, in this world have their bright as well as their dark sides; and there are few systems so imperfect as not to have some conveniences. Many reasons induce me to disapprove of committing the treasury to the management of three persons; and yet one very great convenience results from it, viz., that our jealous republicans will have more confidence in three gentlemen coming from different parts of the continent than they would place in any one single man. Confidence, you know, is always followed by credit, and credit is the forerunner of money.
I am, dear sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO JAMES LOWELL.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
10th May, 1785.
I have been favoured with your obliging letter of the 18th of March, and should sooner have thanked you for it had not a variety of matters concurred in constraining me to postpone that pleasure till now. My endeavours I assure you shall not be wanting to put the affair of Mr. Saderstrom in such a train as that it may be terminated to the satisfaction both of that gentleman and of his creditors. The report on his case was entirely dictated by public considerations; for considering the feeble state of our federal government it appeared to me highly expedient that its tone should not only be prevented from becoming more relaxed, but that it should be invigorated in every manner and degree which our union and general interest might require, and a due regard to our constitutions and equal rights permit. It is my first wish to see the United States assume and merit the character of one great nation, whose territory is divided into countries and townships for the like purposes. Until this be done the chain which holds us together will be too feeble to bear much opposition or exertion, and we shall be daily mortified by seeing the links of it giving way and calling for repair one after another. Accept my sincere acknowledgments for the very obliging terms in which you mention my appointment to the office I now hold, and be assured of the esteem and regard with which I am, dear sir, your most obedient and humble servant,
ROBERT MORRIS TO JAY.
Philadelphia, May 19, 1785.
On my return here I found your obliging letter of the 13th, which arrived during my absence. Our ship from China does tolerably well for the concerned; she has opened new objects to all America. A mandarin signs a passport for all European ships, directed to the commanders of two of the emperor’s forts on the river of Canton, nearly in the following words:—“Permit this barbarian boat to pass; she hasNA guns and NAmen, consequently can do the emperor no harm.” If the government of America could concentrate the force of the country in any one point when occasion required, I think our mandarins might grant similar passports to the rest of the world.
I beg my compliments to the ladies, and am, with warm attachment,
Your obedient and humble servant,
SAMUEL SHAW TO JAY.
New York, 19th May, 1785.
The first vessel that has been fitted out by the inhabitants of the United States of America for essaying a commerce with those of the empire of China, being, by the favour of Heaven, safe returned to this port, it becomes my duty to communicate to you, for the information of the fathers of the country, an account of the reception their Citizens have met with, and the respect with which their flag has been treated in that distant region; especially as some circumstances have occurred which had a tendency to attract the attention of the Chinese towards a people of whom they have hitherto had but very confused Ideas, and which serve in a peculiar manner, to place the Americans in a more conspicuous point of view, than has commonly attended the introduction of other Nations into that ancient and extensive Empire.
The Ship employed on this occasion is about three hundred and sixty tons burthen, built in America and equipped with forty-three persons, under the command of John Green, Esq. The subscriber had the honor of being appointed agent for their Commerce by the Gentlemen, at whose risk this first experiment has been undertaken.
On the 22 of Feby., 1784, the Ship sailed from New York, and arrived the 21 March at St. Iago, the principal of the Cape de Verd islands. Having paid our respects to the Portuguese viceroy, and with his permission taken such refreshments as were necessary, we left those islands on the 27th and pursued our voyage. After a pleasant passage, in which nothing extraordinary occurred, we came to anchor in the straits of Sunda on the 18th July. It was no small addition to our happiness on this occasion to meet there two ships belonging to our good allies the French. The commodore, Monsieur D’Ordelin, and his officers, welcomed us in the most affectionate manner; and as his own ship was immediately bound to Canton, gave us an invitation to go in company with him. This friendly offer we most cheerfully accepted, and the commodore furnished us with his signals by day and night, and added such instructions for our passage through the Chinese seas as would have been exceedingly beneficial had any unfortunate accident occasioned our separation. Happily, we pursued our route together. On our arrival at the island of Macao, the French consul for China, Monsieur Vieillard, with some other gentlemen of his nation, came on board to congratulate and welcome us to that part of the world; and kindly undertook the introduction of the Americans to the Portuguese governor. The little time that we were there was entirely taken up by the good offices of the consul, the gentlemen of his nation, and those of the Swedes and Imperialists who still remained at Macao. The other Europeans had repaired to Canton. Three days afterward we finished our outward-bound voyage. Previous to coming to anchor, we saluted the shipping in the river with thirteen guns, which were answered by the several commodores of the European nations, each of whom sent an officer to compliment us on our arrival. These visits were returned by the captain and supercargoes in the afternoon; who were again saluted by the respective ships as they finished their visit. When the French sent their officers to congratulate us, they added to the obligations we were already under to them, by furnishing men, boats, and anchors to assist us in coming to safe and convenient moorings. Nor did their good offices stop here; they insisted further that until we were settled, we should take up our quarters with them at Canton.
The day of our arrival at Canton, August 30, and the two following days, we were visited by the Chinese merchants, and the chiefs and gentlemen of the several European establishments. The Chinese were very indulgent towards us. They styled us the new people; and when by the map we conveyed to them an idea of the extent of our country, with its present and increasing population, they were highly pleased at the prospect of so considerable a market for the productions of theirs.
The situation of the Europeans at Canton is so well known as to render a detail unnecessary. The good understanding commonly subsisting between them and the Chinese was in some degree interrupted by two extraordinary occurrences; of which I will, with your permission, give a particular account.
The police at Canton is at all times extremely strict, and the Europeans residing there are circumscribed within very narrow limits. The latter had observed with concern some circumstances which they deemed an encroachment upon their rights. On this consideration they determined to apply for redress to the hoppo, who is the head officer of the customs, the next time he should visit the shipping. Deputies accordingly attended from every nation, and I was desired to represent ours. We met the hoppo on board an English ship, and the causes of complaint were soon after removed.
The other occurrence, of which I beg leave to take notice, gave rise to what was commonly called the Canton war, which threatened to be productive of very serious consequences. On the 25th November an English ship in saluting some company that had dined on board, killed a Chinese, and wounded two others in the mandarin’s boat alongside.
It is a maxim of the Chinese law that blood must answer for blood; in pursuance of which they demanded the unfortunate gunner. To give up this poor man was to consign him to certain death. Humanity pleaded powerfully against the measure. After repeated conferences between the English and the Chinese, the latter declared themselves satisfied, and the affair was supposed to be entirely settled. Notwithstanding this, on the morning after the last conference (the 27th), the supercargo of the ship was seized while attending his business, thrown into a sedan-chair, hurried into the city, and committed to prison.
Such an outrage on personal liberty spread a general alarm; and the Europeans unanimously agreed to send for their boats, with armed men from the shipping, for the security of themselves and property until the matter should be brought to a conclusion. The boats accordingly came, and ours among the number; one of which was fired on, and a man wounded. All trade was stopped, and the Chinese men-of-war drawn up opposite the factories. The Europeans demanded the restoration of Mr. Smith, which the Chinese refused, until the gunner should be given up.
In the mean while the troops of the province were collecting in the neighborhood of Canton—the Chinese servants were ordered by the magistrates to leave the factories—the gates of the suburbs were shut—all intercourse was at an end—the naval force was increased—many troops were embarked in boats, ready for landing—and every thing wore the appearance of war. To what extremities matters might have been carried, had not a negotiation taken place, no one can say. The Chinese asked a conference with all the nations except the English. A deputation (in which I was included for America) met the Fuen, who is the head magistrate of Canton, with the principal officers of the province. After setting forth, by an interpreter, the power of the emperor and his own determination to support the laws, he demanded that the gunner should be given up within three days, declaring that he should have an impartial examination before their tribunal, and if it appeared that the affair was accidental, he should be released unhurt.
In the mean time he gave permission for the trade, excepting that of the English, to go on as usual; and dismissed us with a present of two pieces of silk to each, as a mark of his friendly disposition. The other nations, one after another, sent away their boats under protection of a Chinese flag, and pursued their business as before. The English were obliged to submit, the gunner was given up, Mr. Smith was released, and the English, after being forced to ask pardon of the magistracy of Canton in presence of the other nations, had their commerce restored.
On this occasion I am happy that we were the last who sent off our boat, and that without a Chinese flag; nor did she go till the English themselves thanked us for our concurrence with them, and advised the sending her away. After peace was restored, the chief and four English gentlemen visited the several nations (among whom we were included), and thanked them for their assistance during the troubles. The gunner remained with the Chinese, his fate undetermined.
Notwithstanding the treatment we received from all parties was perfectly civil and respectful, yet it was with peculiar satisfaction that we experienced on every occasion from our good allies the French the most flattering and substantial proofs of their friendship. “If,” said they, “we have in any instance been serviceable to you, we are happy; and we desire nothing more ardently than further opportunities to convince you of our affection.”
We left Canton the 27th December, and on our return refreshed at the Cape of Good Hope, where we found a most friendly reception. After remaining there five days, we sailed for America, and arrived in this port on the 11th instant.
To every lover of his country, as well as to those more immediately concerned in commerce, it must be a pleasing reflection that a communication is thus happily opened between us and the eastern extremity of the globe; and it adds very sensibly to the pleasure of this reflection, that the voyage has been performed in so short a space of time, and attended with the loss only of one man. To Captain Green and his officers every commendation is due, for their unwearied and successful endeavours in bringing it to this most fortunate issue, which fully justifies the confidence reposed in them by the gentlemen concerned in the enterprise.
Permit me, sir, to accompany this letter with the two pieces of silk presented to me by the Fuen of Canton, as a mark of his good disposition towards the American nation. In that view I consider myself as peculiarly honoured, in being charged with this testimony of the friendship of the Chinese, for a people who may in a few years prosecute a commerce with the subjects of that empire under advantages equal, if not superior, to those enjoyed by any other nation whatever.
I have the honour to be,
With the most perfect respect, sir,
Your most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
19 May, 1785.
It is well known that these countries prior to the late war carried on a valuable trade with Honduras and Campeachy, and employed above one hundred vessels in exchanging, at the English settlements, beef, pork, and other kinds of provision for logwood, mahogany, sarsaparilla, etc.
It being the policy of Spain to keep other nations at a distance from their American dominions, she beholds these settlements with pain and jealousy. The uneasiness which subsists at present between those two nations on that subject seems to offer us an opportunity of negotiating with the English for a participation in their right to cut logwood, or at least to trade with them there as formerly. It is not improbable that they may consent to strengthen their footing in those parts by interesting us in the advantages resulting from their continuing to maintain it. To sound their ministry in the first instance informally and inexplicity on the subject can cost us little.
If Congress should think proper to take this matter into consideration, and instruct their ministers or permit me to write to them about it, secrecy will, I think, be particularly necessary; for there is reason to apprehend that Spain and France would not consider our obtaining that object to be so consistent with their views as it appears to me to be with our interest.
I have the honour to be with great respect, your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble servant,
GENERAL SCHUYLER TO JAY.
Albany, May 30, 1785.
The person, at present in the chair of Government, so evidently strives to maintain his popularity at the expense of good Government, that it has given real concern to many, as well as to myself, both here and in the Southern part of the state. Not only the lowest but the most unworthy characters are countenanced by him and thro’ his influence placed in offices of trust. Great part of the magistracy of this and the adjacent Western and Northern Counties are wretches that would disgrace the most despicable of all governments,—these serve his turn; and he abets a faction (privately as he thinks, but sufficiently notorious to those who have taken some pains to be informed) which wishes to destroy both public and private Credit, and whose sole aim is to rise into importance on the ruin of others. Happily the spirit of this and the County of Montgomery has been called forth and crushed some of the leaders of the faction at the late election. Indeed they were not able to carry a single Candidate. But notwithstanding this check it is conceived how that the business of a reform in a government cannot be accomplished unless Mr. Clinton is ousted, and it is therefore determined to attempt a change and almost every character of respectability and indeed a great majority of all ranks will support the attempt. But who is to be the person? It is agreed that none have a chance of succeeding but you, the Chancellor or myself. The second on account of the prejudices against his family name, it is believed would fail. With respect to me, altho’ I should carry a majority of at least fifteen hundred voices in this and Montgomery County and some in Washington, yet I am so little known in the Southern part of this state that I should fail there. Besides this reason, which suffices with my friends here as well as myself, there is another arising from my great and many bodily infirmities which render me incapable of that attention which the office requires. I therefore could not accept of it even if unanimously offered. Hence the wishes of me and my friends are directed to you, and we have not only sanguine but well founded hopes, that you will obtain a great majority. Those in this quarter will all decide for you who would otherwise vote for me. In Ulster, Dutchess and Orange there will probably be such a diversity of opinion as nearly to balance between you and Mr. Clinton. In Westchester we believe you will generally carry it and so with Richmond. How Long Island will stand we cannot form any opinion of. From New York we have been privately sounded and it was justly observed that if both you and I were held up both would fail, and I afforded satisfaction in declining for reasons above stated. As the party in the Metropolis who wish you is respectable we have reason to believe that you would have a very considerable majority there and from the high estimation you stand in with all ranks it is not improbable but that you would obtain almost all the suffrages there. But, My Dear Sir, to succeed in a mission of this kind, time must be improved; every day is of importance and we therefore wish you to communicate to me, in the confidence of sacred friendship whether you will accede to our wishes or whether you would, rather than risk any thing, permit the chair to be filled as it is at present; for unless you can be opposed to him, it will be needless to attempt a change. Even if it would be carried in my favor, I am wholly incapable of the burthen. That we most earnestly wish and intreat you to be the man I hope you will entertain no doubt of. Let me then conjure you not to hesitate in opening yourself to me; not a word shall transpire, that those impressed with the highest sense of propriety, can condemn, not a step taken but what prudence, and the most sacred attention to your reputation shall justify.
Adieu. I am Dear Sir affectionately and sincerely your obedient servant,
JAY TO WILLIAM BINGHAM.
New York, 31 May, 1785.
I have been favoured with yours of the 12th February, containing a copy of 16th October last, for which accept my cordial thanks.
Your observations in France respecting a certain event coincide exactly with what I expected on that subject. Indeed, the many interesting remarks spread through your letter appear to me to have weight.
Our last accounts give us reason to suppose there will be no war between the Emperor and the Dutch, so that the continuance of a general peace begins again to appear probable.
Our frontier posts still have British garrisons, and we are impatient to hear why they are not evacuated. Mr. Adams, I suppose, is by this time in London; his letters will remove our suspense on that head.
The African States have alarmed us, but we hope peace with them may be obtained. Your attention to that subject is commendable, and you may do good by communicating the result of your inquiries to Mr. Adams.
Our affairs are settling by degrees into order. If power be given to Congress to regulate trade and provide for the payment of their debts, all will be well. Difficulties on those points still exist, but several ideas daily gain ground. The people of Boston resent British restrictions, and if the same spirit should become general it will probably influence the States to enable Congress to retaliate and extend their powers accordingly. The Empress of China has made a fortunate voyage and it is said many are preparing to embark in that commerce. The spirit of enterprise and adventure runs high in our young country, and if properly directed by a vigorous and wise government would produce great effects.
A rage for emigrating to the western country prevails, and thousands have already fixed their habitations in that wilderness. The Continental Land Office is opened, and the seeds of a great people are daily planting beyond the mountains.
Mrs. Jay desires me to assure you of her regard. Make our best compliments to Mrs. Bingham, and believe me to be, dear sir, with great esteem and regard,
Your most obedient servant,
JAY TO GENERAL SCHUYLER.
New York, 10th June, 1785.
What you say on a certain subject argues a degree of confidence and friendship which excites my warmest acknowledgments, and which shall always be returned on my part.
I sincerely and frankly declare to you that my being and having long been employed by Congress, whose attachment and attention to me as been uniform, and who, in my absence and without my knowledge or desire, gave me the place I now fill, will not permit me to quit their service, unless their conduct towards me should change, or other circumstances occur which might render such a step consistent with my ideas of propriety. This is my deliberate and mature opinion: a servant should not leave a good old master for the sake of a little more pay or a prettier livery. Were I at present to accept the government if offered, the world would naturally be led to say, and to believe, that I did it from some such paltry motives.
Although I apprehend that this my answer will not correspond with the wishes which your friendly partiality for me suggests, yet when you put yourself in my stead, and consider what you would do on such an occasion, I think the same reasons which operate upon me would have a similar influence upon you. The conduct of men is so generally (and so often with reason) imputed to interest or ambition that they who are actuated by neither must expect such imputations, whenever circumstances expose their principles of action to doubt and question; the present case strikes me in that point of light. The place I hold is more laborious, requires more confinement and unceasing application, and is not only less lucrative but also less splendid than that of the government. To exchange worse for better does not seem very disinterested; and when professions and facts give opposite evidence, it is easy to foresee which will obtain the most credit.
If the circumstances of the State were pressing, if real disgust and discontent had spread through the country, if a change had in the general opinion become not only advisable but necessary, and the good expected from that change depended on me, then my present objections would immediately yield to the consideration that a good citizen ought cheerfully to take any station which, on such occasions, his country may think proper to assign him, without in the least regarding the personal consequences which may result from its being more or less elevated; nor would there then be reason to fear that Congress might consider my leaving their service as being inconsistent with that degree of delicacy and gratitude which they have a right to expect, and which respect for myself as well as for them demands from me.
With sentiments of great and sincere regard, I am, dear sir,
Your obliged and affectionate friend,
JAY TO THE GOVERNORS OF THE STATES.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
14 June, 1785.
I have the honour of informing your Excellency that Congress have received a letter from His Most Christian Majesty, dated the 27th of March last, announcing the birth, on that day, of a prince, whom he had named Duke of Normandy.
As this event adds to the happiness of a king and a people who have given many important proofs of friendship for our nation, it must naturally excite that pleasure which generous minds always derive from the prosperity of their friends and benefactors.
I have the honour to be, with great respect,
Your Excellency’s most obedient servant,
JAY TO DON DIEGO GARDOQUI.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
21st June, 1785.
I have received the letter you did me the honour to write on the 2d June instant.
The etiquette which will be observed on your reception by Congress is as follows, viz.: At such time as may be appointed by Congress for a public reception the Secretary for Foreign Affairs will conduct you to the Congress Chamber, to a seat to be placed for you, and announce you to Congress, the President and members keeping their seats and remaining covered. Your commission and letters of credence are then to be delivered to the Secretary of Congress, who will read a translation of them, to be prepared by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs from the copies to be left with the President. You will then be at liberty to speak (and if you please deliver to the Secretary of Congress in writing) what you may think proper to Congress, who will take what you may say into consideration, and through the Secretary for Foreign Affairs will communicate whatever answer they may resolve upon. When you retire you will be reconducted by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs. A visit will be expected by every member of Congress, as well those who may be in town, as others who may afterwards arrive during your residence here.
I hope the state of your health will soon be such as to admit of your coming on to this city before the heats of summer render travelling disagreeable. It will give me great pleasure to take you by the hand and to assure you in person of the esteem and regard with which I am, dear sir,
Your most obedient and very humble servant,
- To Señor Don Diego Gardoqui,
- The Plenipotentiary of His Catholic Majesty,
- charged with his affairs at the United
- States of America in Congress assembled.
DR. RICHARD PRICE TO JAY.
Newington Green,near London,
July 9th, 1785.
I hope you will excuse the liberty I take in introducing to you the bearer of this letter, Mr. Curtauld. He and his Mother and Sisters have for several years made a part of my congregation at Haukney, and his character is unexceptionable. He has converted his little property into money which he intends to employ in purchasing land in some of the interior parts of America with no other view than to occupy it himself and to become an industrious farmer. Any information or assistance which you may be so good as to give him will confer an obligation upon me as well as upon him. The United States must be in some danger from needy and worthless adventurers who will be often going over to them from Europe. There is, in the present instance, no danger of this kind, for Mr. Curtauld’s views are laudable, and he will, I am fully persuaded, make an honest and useful member of the United States.
I directed to you in autumn last some copies of my pamphlet on the American Revolution.
This was an effort of my zeal to promote, according to the best of my judgment, the improvement and happiness of mankind in general and of the United States in particular. The recommendations in it of measures to abolish gradually the Negro-trade and Slavery and to prevent too great an inequality of property have I find offended some of the leading men in South Carolina; and I have been assured from thence that such measures will never be encouraged there. Should a like disposition prevail in many of the other States, it will appear that the people who have struggled so bravely against being enslaved themselves are ready enough to enslave others; the event which had raised my hopes of seeing a better state of human affairs will prove only an introduction to a new scene of aristocratical tyranny and human debasement; and the friends of liberty and virtue in Europe will be sadly disappointed and mortified.
I rely, Dear Sir, on your candour and goodness to excuse the liberty I now take with you. I am afraid that the acquaintance which I had the happiness to commence with you when in London is not sufficient to warrant it. With every good wish and great respect for your character, I am,
Your most obedient and humble servant,
JAY TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
15th July, 1785.
Accept my thanks for your interesting letter of the 19th March, which was immediately communicated to Congress. I consider it as a new proof of that constant and useful attention to our affairs, from which the United States have so often derived both pleasure and advantage. Let me request the continuance of your correspondence, and be assured that it will always give me pleasure to communicate to you such intelligence respecting American occurrences as may appear interesting.
Don Diego Gardoqui is arrived, and has been received so much in the spirit of friendship, that I hope his master and himself will be well pleased. Our negotiations with him will soon commence, and I sincerely wish that the issue of them may be satisfactory to both countries. To prepare for war, and yet be tenacious of peace with all the world, is, I think, our true interest. I wish Mr. Gardoqui’s instructions may be sufficiently extensive to admit of a settlement of our boundaries, etc., on principles which alone can create and perpetuate cordiality.
The British show no disposition to evacuate our frontier posts. What their real designs are can at present be only inferred and conjectured from appearances; and present appearances induce a suspicion that they mean to hold them. The letters we expect from Mr. Adams will probably remove all doubts on that head. It is certain that they pay great attention to the Indians, and give great encouragement to emigrants from us. Their expectations from the latter circumstance will fail them. I wish that every acre of ground they hold in America was settled by natives of the United States. They would transplant their love of liberty, their spirit of enterprise, and their attachment to republicanism into countries in which it is our interest that such plants should be propagated and flourish; in time they will bear fruit.
The commercial class of our people sensibly feel the restraints on our trade, and look up to Congress for a remedy. Good will come out of evil; these discontents nourish federal ideas. As trade diminishes, agriculture must suffer; and hence it will happen that our yeomen will be as desirous of increasing the powers of Congress as our merchants now are. All foreign restrictions, exclusions, and unneighbourly ordinances will tend to press us together, and strengthen our bands of union.
I send you herewith a number of gazettes, from which you will discern something of the spirit which prevails.
Congress go on doing business with great concord, temper, and harmony. I enclose a copy of the ordinance for regulating the Land Office. They are now on the subject of requisitions; and I flatter myself, that as the highest respect for good faith prevails in the House, exertions will be made by the States to preserve the public credit.
Governor Livingston was appointed for the Hague, but declining that place, Governor Rutledge has been elected for it. His answer has not yet reached.
When, my dear sir, will your court send us a minister? Our having one at Versailles affords reason to expect one from thence. The report of Mons. De Montiers’ coming over in that capacity dies away. From the little I saw of him in Paris, I am inclined to think he would be an agreeable as well as an able minister.
I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,
JAY TO THE MARCHIONESS DE LAFAYETTE.
New York, 13th August, 1785.
I have received the letter which you did me the honour to write on the 15th April last. Few circumstances could have given me more pleasure than such evidence of my having a place in the remembrance and good opinion of a lady, whose esteem derives no less value from her discernment than from the delicacy of her sentiments.
Accept, therefore, madam, of my sincere and cordial acknowledgments for honouring me with a place among your correspondents, which was the more obliging as you were to afford more pleasure by than you could expect to receive from it. You know it is an old observation, that ladies write better letters than gentlemen, and therefore, independent of other considerations, a correspondence between them is always so far on unequal terms.
I can easily conceive that you, whose predilection for your husband was always conspicuous, should experience so much satisfaction on seeing him return from this, his field of glory, with additional honours; and I can, with equal ease, form an idea of his emotions when, on that as on former occasions, those honours promoted him to higher rank in your estimation.
Your remarks on the Marquis’ affection for his children, and the value you set on domestic enjoyments, must be pleasing to those who are capable of feeling their force.
I assure you I rejoice in the prospect you have of extending, through your branch, the reputation of both your families; and you have my best wishes that the latest historian may say of your descendants that all the men were as valiant and worthy as their ancestor, who will probably be distinguished by the appellation of Americanus, and all the women as virtuous and amiable as his lady.
If you were not what you are I would not encourage the desire you express of accompanying the Marquis on his next visit to this country, for I am sure you would be disappointed.
We have few amusements to relieve travellers of that weight of time and leisure which oppresses many of them. Our men, for the most part, mind their business, and our women their families; and if our wives succeed (as most of them do) in “making home man’s best delight,” gallantry seldom draws their husbands from them.
Our customs, in many respects, differ from yours, and you know that, whether with or without reason, we usually prefer those which education and habit recommend. The pleasures of Paris and the pomp of Versailles are unknown in this country, and their votaries must unavoidably experience a certain vacuity or blank here, which nothing but good sense, moderate desires, and a relish for less splendid, less various, but not less innocent or satisfactory enjoyments can supply. Though not a Frenchman, I should, nevertheless, be too polite to tell these things to those whom they might restrain from visiting us. On you they will have a contrary effect. It would gratify the friends of the Marquis, viz., the citizens of the United States, to have the honour of a visit from you. I flatter myself that consideration will afford a strong additional inducement.
My little family is well. Mrs. Jay desires me to assure you of her remembrance and regard; and permit me to add that I am, with sincere esteem and respectful attachment,
Madam, your most obedient and
Very humble servant,
JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
6th September, 1785.
The frequent solecisms, observable for some years past in the politics of the Court of London, render it exceedingly difficult to divine how they will think and act under almost any given circumstances.
It is manifestly as much their interest to be well with us as it is ours to be well with them; and yet the gratification of resentments, occasioned by disappointment, seems to take the lead of more elevated and useful principles of action.
They expect much from the trade of America, and yet they take pains to cut off every source within their reach by which we may make remittances. It is strange that they should wish us to buy, and yet be so industrious to put it out of our power to pay. Such a system must cause loss of money to their merchants and loss of reputation to ours. I wish most sincerely that credit was at an end, and that we could purchase nothing abroad but for ready money. Our exportations would then be equally profitable, and as our importations would be diminished, we should have less to pay. Domestic manufactures would then be more encouraged, and frugality and economy become more prevalent.
What impression the conduct of Captain Stanhope may make on the minister to me appears uncertain. Certain however it is, that mutual civility and respect must, in the nature of things, precede mutual benevolence and kindness. The manner of your reception and treatment indicates their attention to this consideration, and yet the detention of the posts, the strengthening their garrisons in our neighbourhood, the encouragement said to be given to settlers in those parts, and various other circumstances speak a language very different from that of kindness and good-will.
They may hold the posts, but they will hold them as pledges of enmity; and the time must and will come when the seeds of discontent, resentment, and hatred, which such measures always sow, will produce very bitter fruit.
I am well informed that some of the loyalists advise and warmly press the detention of the posts. It is strange that men, who for ten years have done nothing but deceive, should still retain any credit. I speak of them collectively; among them there are men of merit: but to my knowledge some of the most violent, the most bitter and implacable, and yet most in credit, are men who endeavoured to play between both parties, and vibrated from side to side as the appearance of success attracted them. Nay, the very accounts of losses which many of them have presented afford conclusive evidence of their inattention to truth and common decency. Such, however, has been the infatuation of British counsels, that what was manifest to others was problematical, if not entirely dark, to them.
As to their present minister, he has neither been long enough in administration, nor perhaps in the world, for a decided judgment to be formed either of his private or public character. He seems to possess firmness as well as abilities, and if to these be added information, and comprehensive as well as patriotic views, he may be worthy of his father. England will probably be either much the better or much the worse for him.
We are anxious to receive letters from you on the subject of the posts, that in either event we may be prepared. In the one case, I should think it very justifiable in Congress to take a certain step, that would be longer and more sensibly felt by Britain than the independence of these States.
Mr. Arthur Lee has been elected to the vacant place at the Board of Treasury.
Governor Rutledge declines going to Holland. The affair of Longchamps is adjusted; he stays where he is.
With great respect and esteem, I am
Your very obedient and very humble servant,
GENERAL WASHINGTON TO JAY.
Mount Vernon, 27th Sept. 1785.
Mr. Taylor presented me the honour of your favour of the 25th ult., and gave me the pleasure of hearing that Mrs. Jay and yourself were well when he left New-York.
Upon your safe return to your native country, after a long absence, and the important services you have rendered it in many interesting negotiations, I very sincerely congratulate you and your lady.
It gave me great pleasure to hear of your appointment as secretary of the United States for the department of foreign affairs; a happier choice in my opinion could not have been made, and I shall always rejoice at any circumstance that will contribute either to your honour, interest or convenience.
It will always give me pleasure to hear from you. Mrs. Washington joins me in respectful compliments to, and best wishes for Mrs. Jay and yourself.
I am, dear sir,
Your most obedient and most humble servant,
JAY TO DR. RICHARD PRICE.
New York, 27th September, 1785.
I have had the pleasure of receiving the letter of the 9th of July last which you wrote me by Mr. Curtauld. Your recommendation will be of great use to him and you may rely on my readiness to do him any friendly offices in my power. . . .
I hope my letter, in answer to the one which enclosed a number of your political pamphlets, has reached you by this time. I do not recollect the date, but it went in one of the last vessels.
The cause of liberty, like most other good causes, will have its difficulties, and sometimes its persecutions, to struggle with. It has advanced more rapidly in this than in other countries, but all its objects are not yet attained; and I much doubt whether they ever will be, in this or any other terrestrial state. That men should pray and fight for their own freedom, and yet keep others in slavery, is certainly acting a very inconsistent as well as unjust and, perhaps, impious part; but the history of mankind is filled with instances of human improprieties. The wise and the good never form the majority of any large society, and it seldom happens that their measures are uniformly adopted, or that they can always prevent being overborne themselves by the strong and almost never-ceasing union of the wicked and the weak.
These circumstances tell us to be patient, and to moderate those sanguine expectations which warm and good hearts often mislead even wise heads to entertain on those subjects. All that the best men can do is, to persevere in doing their duty to their country, and leave the consequences to Him who made it their duty; being neither elated by success, however great, nor discouraged by disappointments however frequent and mortifying.
With sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear sir,
Your most obedient servant,
JAY TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
New York, 4 October, 1785.
Your grandson, whom it gave me great pleasure to see, delivered to me a few days ago your kind letter of the 21st of last month.
Your being again with your family, the manner in which the French Court parted with you, the attention you experienced from your English friends, and the reception you met with from your fellow-citizens, are circumstances that must give you great satisfaction.
It strikes me that you will find it somewhat difficult to manage the two parties in Pennsylvania. It is much to be wished that union and harmony may be established there; and if you accomplish it much honour and many blessings will result from it. Unless you do it, I do not know who can, for independent of experience and talents you possess their confidence; and your advice and measures must derive very great weight from the reputation and consideration you enjoy.
Why your letters respecting your grandson have not been more efficacious I cannot explain. The appointment of persons in the foreign department has, in no instance, been referred to me for my advice or opinion. Jealousy of power and influence in individuals as well as bodies seems to characterize the spirit of the times and has much operation both on men and measures.
We are happy to find that you think of visiting New York. By the road from Burlington and Amboy, which is smooth and but short, you might doubtless come with very little inconvenience, especially as you may travel at your leisure and take as many days for it as your ease and the weather may require. Mrs. Jay is exceedingly pleased with this idea, and sincerely joins me in wishing to see it realized. Her attachments are strong, and that to you, being founded in esteem and the recollection of kind offices, is particularly so. I suspect your little friend has forgotten your person—your name is familiar to her, as indeed it will be to every generation.
With the best wishes I am, dear sir, your obliged and affectionate servant,
JAY TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Office for Foreign Affairs,
13th October, 1785.
Your Excellency will find herewith enclosed a letter from Chevalier Jones of 6th August, and a copy of a letter (which is the same that is published in the Philadelphia paper of 11th instant) from Mons. Sontangés, dated 14th July last, to the judges and consuls of Nantes, informing that the Algerines had declared war against the United States.
As their late peace with Spain has rendered their armaments unnecessary against that power, they probably choose to turn them against us to prevent their being useless, and in hopes of acquiring considerable booty. This peace, if the public accounts of it are true, gives those pirates just matter of triumph; and in this moment of their exultation I am inclined to think that an advantageous treaty with them is not to be expected. This war does not strike me as a great evil. The more we are ill-treated abroad the more we shall unite and consolidate at home. Besides, as it may become a nursery for seamen, and lay the foundation for a respectable navy, it may eventually prove more beneficial than otherwise. Portugal will doubtless unite with us in it, and that circumstance may dispose that kingdom to extend commercial favours to us further than they might consent to do if uninfluenced by such inducements. For my own part, I think it may be demonstrated, that while we bend our attention to the sea, every naval war, however long, which does not do us essential injury, will do us essential good.
I have the honour to be, with great respect and esteem, your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble servant,
JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
New York, 14th October, 1785.
. . . I perfectly concur with you in sentiment respecting what ought to be the conduct and policy of the United States, and I am not without hopes that they will gradually perceive and pursue their own interests. There certainly is much temper as well as talent in Congress, and although it is not in their power to do all that should be done, yet they are willing and industrious to do whatever depends upon them. Your letters I am sure are useful; they disseminate those federal ideas which cannot be too forcibly inculcated or too strongly impressed. Our federal government is incompetent to such objects, and as it is in the interest of our country, so it is the duty of her leading characters to co-operate in measures for enlarging and invigorating it. The rage for separation and new States is mischievous; it will, unless checked, scatter our resources, and in every view enfeeble the Union. Your testimony against such licentious, anarchical proceedings would, I am persuaded, have great weight.
Your letters as yet are silent respecting the evacuation of our frontier posts. I do not mean to press you either to do or say any thing unseasonably about it, for there are times and tides in human affairs to be watched and observed. I know your attention, and therefore rest satisfied that we shall hear from you on this interesting subject as soon as you ought to write about it. During the ensuing sessions of the Legislature, I shall watch them each, and endeavour to send you such as may respect the interests of the Union. I find it extremely difficult to collect them. When I first came into this office, I wrote a circular-letter to the Governors requesting them among other things to send me from time to time printed copies of their acts; but whatever may have been the cause, it has so happened that, except in two or three instances, that request has been entirely neglected.
With the newspapers herewith sent, you will find the requisition of Congress; what its success will be cannot yet be determined. The Algerines, it seems, have declared war against us. If we act properly, I shall not be very sorry for it. In my opinion it may lay the foundation for a navy, and tend to draw us more closely into a federal system. On that ground only we want strength, and could our people be brought to see it in that light, and act accordingly, we should have little reason to apprehend danger from any quarter.
Mr. De Marbois has left us and is gone to St. Domingo, where he has an intendancy. Mr. Olto succeeds him, and appears well disposed. As yet your place at the Hague is vacant; several gentlemen are in nomination, among whom I hear are Mr. Izard and Mr. Madison.
Dr. Franklin is happy at Philadelphia. Both parties are assiduous in their attentions to him, and it is thought more than probable that he will succeed Mr. Dickinson. I fear, in the language of our farmers that a day so remarkably fine for the season may prove a weather breeder, that is, that he will find it difficult to manage both parties; for if he gives himself up to one, he must expect hostility from the other. I wish he may be able to reconcile them, and thereby restore that State to the degree of strength and respectability which from its population, fertility, and commerce it ought to possess.
I congratulate you on the issue of your discussions with their High Mightinesses. Mr. Dumas gave us an account of it, and we are all pleased to find that it terminated as it did.
With great and sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear sir, your most obedient and humble servant,
WILLIAM T. FRANKLIN TO JAY.
Philada. 16th Oct., 1785.
Mr. Hudon, of whom you have heard me speak, will have the honor of delivering you this. He is lately returned from Virginia where he has been fulfilling the object of his coming to America in modelling the bust of Genl. Washington in which he has been singularly successful.
He is now about returning to France by the way of N. York. I have persuaded him to take with him the Genl’s bust, that he has given us, in order to shew Congress what he is capable of doing, and thereby obtaining the Preference in being employ’d to make the Equestrian Statue voted long since.
I beg leave to recommend M. Hudon to your Civilities and I am persuaded his merit will procure him your good Offices.
I cannot close this, without returning you my sincerest thanks for the many Marks of favor and friendship you gave me lately at York. I have added them to those you formerly conferr’d on me, and shall ever retain a grateful remembrance of both.
Permit me to assure Mrs. Jay of my respect, and to make her my most thankful Acknowledgements for the Civilities and attention she so kindly shew’d me.
With great respect, Esteem and Affection,
I am, Dear Sir,
Your most obedient and obliged humble Servant
W. T. Franklin.
JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.
New York, 1st November, 1785.
My last to you was of the 14th ult. by the ship Betsey, Captain Thomas Watson. Since that time I have had the pleasure of receiving and laying before Congress your dispatches of the 6th, 8th, and 10th of August last.
We concur so perfectly in sentiment, respecting public affairs and what ought to be done, that I find no occasion to enlarge on those heads.
In a late report I have called the attention of Congress to this serious question, viz., whether the United States should withdraw their attention from the ocean and leave foreigners to fetch and carry for them, or whether it is more their interest to look forward to naval strength and maritime importance, and to take and persevere in the measures proper to attain it.
The diversity of opinions on this point renders it necessary that it should be well considered and finally decided. The Eastern and Middle States are generally for the latter system, and though the others do not openly aver their preferring the former, yet they are evidently inclined to it. Hence it is that the most of the leading men in Congress from that quarter do not only not promote measures for vesting Congress with power to regulate trade, but, as the common phrase is, throw cold water on all such ideas.
Having few or no ships of their own, they are averse to such duties on foreign ones as will greatly advance the price of freight; nor do they seem much disposed to sacrifice any present proffer for the sake of their neighbours who have these and wish to have more.
We hear much of the Algerines having declared war against the United States. None of our advices were official, but as the intelligence comes directly from Nantes, Bordeaux, and Orient, there seems to be much reason to fear it is true. The public papers herewith sent will inform you of our common occurrences, and I wish it was in my power to tell you what Congress mean to do respecting many matters on which they are to decide. The representation is at present slender, and will, I suspect, continue so till the new members come on.
JAY TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Office for Foreign Affairs, 24th November, 1785.
Mr. Temple presented me this morning the commission which I have now the honour of transmitting to your Excellency herewith enclosed. It appoints him Consul-General of His Britannic Majesty throughout the United States of America.
Two questions arise on this occasion:
1. Whether he is to be received de jure.
2. Whether it will be expedient to receive him de gratia.
The first question is settled by Vattel in the following paragraph, viz.:
“Among the modern institutions,” etc., page 131.
The second question appears to me to be an important one, for, however determined, interesting consequences will result from its decision. In considering it a secondary question presents itself, viz., whether the rejection or reception of this consul will most dispose his nation to the terms of commercial intercourse which we wish. To this point the fable of the north wind and the sun seems applicable.
It appears to me that the admission of a consul here is not a matter of so much importance to Britain as to induce that nation to purchase or obtain by any compliances which they would not otherwise make. Severity, or summum jus on small points, may irritate, but they very seldom coerce. Retaliatory restrictions on trade and navigation are great objects, and very consistent with the pride and dignity, as well as interest, of a nation; but under such ideas to refuse to receive a consul would, whatever might be the true motives, be generally ascribed to a degree of pique and irritation which, though nations may feel, they ought not expressly or impliedly to declare.
In my opinion, therefore, this consul ought to be received, but in such a manner as to be and to appear as a matter of favour, and not as a matter of course.
Now American Minister to Great Britain.
In a circular letter of the same date, March 31st, to the Governors of the States, Jay informs them that “the Bishops of Denmark will confer holy orders on American Candidates without any tests which (like those insisted on in England) would be improper for Americans to comply with.”
The vessel mentioned by Mr. Morris was the ship Empress, the first ever sent from the United States to China. So important was this enterprise deemed, that an official account of the voyage was addressed by the supercargo to the Secretary, who laid it before Congress, and that body passed a resolution expressing their satisfaction at this successful attempt to establish a direct trade with China.—“Life of Jay,” vol. i., p. 192.
The newly appointed Minister from Spain to the United States. Jay had met him in the course of his negotiations at Madrid.
The Spanish Minister was received by Congress at noon of July 2d. On the previous day Jay wrote to him:
“I shall have the honour of accompanying and introducing you to Congress, and for that purpose we will proceed together from my house in my carriage so near twelve o’clock as to be at the Congress Chamber exactly at the time appointed.”