Front Page Titles (by Subject) JAY TO EDMUND RANDOLPH. - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 4 (1794-1826)
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JAY TO EDMUND RANDOLPH. - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 4 (1794-1826) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 4 (1794-1826).
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JAY TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.
London, 19th November, 1794.
The long-expected treaty accompanies this letter; a probability of soon concluding it has caused the packet to be detained for more than a week. The difficulties which retarded its accomplishment, frequently had the appearance of being insurmountable; they have at last yielded to modifications of the articles in which they existed, and to that mutual disposition to agreement which reconciled Lord Grenville and myself to an unusual degree of trouble and application. They who have levelled uneven grounds, know how little of the work afterwards appears.
Since the building is finished, it cannot be very important to describe the scaffolding, or go into all the details which respected the business. Explanatory remarks on certain articles might be useful, by casting light on governing principles, which, in some instances, are not so obvious as to be distinctly seen on first view. Feeling the want of leisure and relaxation, I cannot undertake it in this moment of haste. I must confine myself to a few cursory observations, and hope allowances will be made for inaccuracies and omissions.
My opinion of the treaty is apparent from my having signed it. I have no reason to believe or conjecture that one more favourable to us is attainable.
Perhaps it is not very much to be regretted that all our differences are merged in this treaty, without having been decided; disagreeable imputations are thereby avoided, and the door of conciliation is fairly and widely opened by the essential justice done, and the conveniences granted to each other by the parties.
The term limited for the evacuation of the posts could not be restricted to a more early day; that point has been pressed. The reasons which caused an inflexible adherence to that term, I am persuaded, were these, viz.: That the traders have spread through the Indian nations goods to a great amount; that the return for those goods cannot be drawn into Canada at an earlier period; that the impression which the surrender of all the posts to American garrisons will make on the minds of the Indians cannot be foreseen. On a former occasion it was intimated to them (not very delicately) that they had been forsaken, and given up to the United States; that the protection promised them on our part, however sincere, and however, in other respects, competent, cannot entirely prevent those embarrassments which, without our fault, may be occasioned by war; that, for these reasons, the traders ought to have time to conclude their adventures, which were calculated on the existing state of things; they will afterward calculate on the new state of things; but that in the meantime, the care of government should not be withdrawn from them.
The third article will, I presume, appear to you in a favourable light; a number of reasons which, in my judgment, are solid, support it. I think they will, on consideration, become obvious. It was proposed and urged that the commercial intercourse opened by this article ought to be exempted from all duties on either side. The inconveniences we should experience from such a measure were stated and examined. It was finally agreed to subject it to native duties. In this compromise, which I consider as being exactly right, that difficulty terminated; but for this compromise the whole article would have failed, and every expectation of an amicable settlement been frustrated. A continuance of trade with the Indians was a decided ultimatum; much time and paper, and many conferences were employed in producing this article; that part of it which respects the ports and places on the eastern side of the Mississippi, if considered in connection with the ——— article in the treaty of peace, and with the article in this treaty which directs a survey of that river to be made, will, I think, appear unexceptionable.
In discussing the question about the river St. Croix, before the commissioners, I apprehend the old French claims will be revived. We must adhere to Mitchell’s map. The Vice-President perfectly understands this business.
The 6th article was sine qua non, and is intended as well as calculated to afford that justice and equity which judicial proceedings may, on trial, be found incapable of affording. That the commissioners may do exactly what is right, they are to determine according to the merits of the several cases, having a due regard to all the circumstances, and as justice and equity shall appear to them to require.
It is very much to be regretted that a more summary method than the one indicated in the seventh article could not have been devised and agreed upon for settling the capture cases; every other plan was perplexed with difficulties, which frustrated it. Permit me to hint the expediency of aiding the claimants, by employing a gentleman, at the public expense, to oversee and manage the causes of such of them as cannot conveniently have agents of their own here; and whether in some cases pecuniary assistance might be proper. I do not consider myself at liberty to make such an appointment, nor to enter into any such pecuniary engagements. It would probably be more easy to find a proper person on your side of the water than on this. Here there are few fit for the business, and willing to undertake it, who (having affairs of their own to attend to) would not be tempted to consider the business of the claimants in a secondary light. Several objections to giving him a fixed salary are obvious. In my opinion a moderate commission on the sums to be recovered and received, would be a more eligible method of compensating him for his services. Our consul here talks, and, I believe, in earnest, of returning to America, or I should expect much advantage from his zeal and endeavours to serve such of the claimants as might commit their business to his management.
You will find in the 8th article a stipulation, which, in effect, refers the manner of paying the commissioners very much to our election. I prefer paying them jointly. The objection to it is, that the English pay high. I have always doubted the policy of being penny-wise.
The Lord Chancellor has prepared an article respecting the mutual admission of evidence, etc., which we have not had time fully to consider and decide upon; it contains a clause to abolish alienism between the two countries. His Lordship’s conduct and conversation indicate the most friendly disposition towards us. A copy of his article shall be sent, and I wish to receive precise instructions on that head.
The credit of some of the States having, to my knowledge, suffered by appearances of their being favourable to the idea of sequestrating British debts on certain occasions, the 10th article will be useful. People wishing to invest their property in our funds and banks, have frequently applied to me to be informed whether they might do it without risk of confiscation or sequestration. My answer has been uniform, viz., that, in my opinion, such measures would be improper; and, therefore, that, in my opinion, they would not be adopted. Some pressed me for assurances, but I have declined to give any.
The 12th article, admitting our vessels of seventy tons and under, into the British islands in the West Indies, affords occasion for several explanatory remarks. It became connected with a proposed stipulation for the abolition of all alien duties of every kind between the two countries. This proposition was pressed, but strong objections opposed my agreeing to it. A satisfactory statement on this point would be prolix. At present I cannot form a very concise one, for that would not require less time. The selection and arrangement necessary in making abridgments cannot be hastily performed. The duration of this article is short, but if we meet the disposition of this country to good humour and cordiality, I am much inclined to believe it will be renewed. The duration of the treaty is connected with the renewal of that article, and an opportunity will then offer for discussing and settling many important matters.
The article which opens the British ports in the East Indies to our vessels and cargoes, needs no comment. It is a manifestation and proof of good-will towards us.
The questions about the cases in which alone provisions become contraband, and the question whether, and how far, neutral ships protect enemy’s property, have been the subjects of much trouble, and many fruitless discussions. That Britain, at this period, and involved in war, should not admit a principle which would impeach the propriety of her conduct in seizing provisions bound to France, and enemy’s property on board neutral vessels, does not appear to me extraordinary. The articles, as they now stand, secure compensation for seizures, and leave us at liberty to decide whether they were made in such cases as to be warranted by the existing law of nations; as to the principles we contend for, you will find them saved in the conclusion of the 12th article, from which it will appear that we still adhere to them.
The articles about privateers were taken from the treaty of commerce between Great Britain and France, and the one for treating natives, commanding privateers, as pirates, in certain cases, was partly taken from ours with Holland.
The prohibition to sell prizes in our ports had its use; and we have no reason to regret that your instructions to me admitted of it.
Various subjects which have no place in this treaty, have, from time to time, been under consideration, but did not meet with mutual approbation and consent.
I must draw this letter to a conclusion; Lord Grenville is anxious to dismiss the packet as soon as possible.
There is reason to hope that occasions for complaint on either side will be carefully avoided. Let us be just and friendly to all nations.
I ought not to omit mentioning the acknowledgments due from me to Mr. Pinckney, with whom I have every reason to be satisfied, and from whose advice and opinions I have derived light and advantage in the course of the negotiation. His approbation of the treaty gives me pleasure, not merely because his opinion corresponds with my own, but also from the sentiments I entertain of his judgment and candor.
It is desirable that I should have the earliest advice of the ratification; and be enabled to finish whatever may be expected of me, in season to return in one of the first spring vessels. My health is not competent to a winter’s voyage, or I should be the bearer of the treaty. This climate does not agree with me, and the less so on account of the application and confinement to which it was necessary for me to submit.
I had almost forgotten to mention that, on finishing and agreeing to the draft of the treaty, I suggested to Lord Grenville, as a measure that would be very acceptable to our country, the interposition of his Majesty with Algiers, and other states of Barbary, that may be hostile to us. This idea was favourably received, and it is my opinion that this court would, in good earnest, undertake that business, in case nothing should occur to impeach the sincerity of that mutual reconciliation which it is to be hoped will now take place.
It will give you great pleasure to hear that great reserve and delicacy have been observed respecting our concerns with France. The stipulation in favor of existing treaties was agreed to without hesitation; not an expectation, nor even a wish, has been expressed that our conduct towards France should be otherwise than fair and friendly. In a word, I do not know how the negotiation could have been conducted, on their part, with more delicacy, friendliness, and propriety, than it has been from first to last.
I have the honour to be, etc.,