Front Page Titles (by Subject) FAIR COPY - The Works, vol. 4 (Notes on Virginia II, Correspondence 1782-1786)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
FAIR COPY - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 4 (Notes on Virginia II, Correspondence 1782-1786) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 4.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Commee to whom were referred the petition of Zebulon Butler & others claiming under the state of Connecticut private right of soil within the territory Westward of the Delaware lately formerly in controversy between the said state & that of Pennsylvania and lately determined by a court constituted & appointed agreeably to the 9 Articles of Confederation and perpetual union to be within the jurisdiction of the State of Pennsylvania, complaining that they are disturbed in their said right by others claiming under the said state of Pennsylvania and praying that a court may be instituted under the 9th. article of the Confederation for determining the sd right: Also the resolutions of the General assembly of Connecticut & the letter & proclamation of Govr. Trumbull, desiring in like manner the institution of such a court; and further notifying that the said state of Connecticut claims jurisdiction over all the lands between Pennsylvania & the Misissipi from 41° to 42° 2″ Northern latitude have agreed to the following resolutions
Resolved that a court be instituted according to the said ninth article of the Confederation for determining the private right of soil within the said territory so far as the same is by the sd article submitted to the determination of such a court
Resolved That the 4th Monday in June next be assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents before Congress or the Commee of the states wheresoever they shall be then sitting.
Resolved That the form notice of the assignment of the sd day be given to the parties in the following form
To the claimants of the private right of soil within the territory Westward of the Delaware heretofore in controversy between the states of Connecticut & Pennsylvania and adjudged to the latter by the sentence of a federal court of Pennsylva &c. pronounced at Trenton on the 30th. day of Decemb. 1782.
It is hereby made known that sundry individuals claiming private right of soil under the state of Connecticut within the said territory have made application to Congress stating that they have been disturbed in their said right of soil by others claiming under the state of Pennsylvania & praying for the institution of a court for determining the said private right of soil in pursuance of the 9th. article of Confederation: and that the 4th. Monday in June next is assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents before Congress or a Commee of the states wheresoever they shall be then sitting, to proceed in the premises as by the Confederation is directed. By order of Congress. Charles Thomson, Secretary.
Resolved that the sd notice be transmitted by the Secretary to the Executives of the states of Connecticut & Pennsylvania with a request that they take proper measures for having the same served on the parties interested under their states respectively.
The Commee having not had time to go through so much of the matters referred to them as relates to the claim of the sd state of Connecticut to territory Westward of the state of Pennsylvania beg further time for that purpose.
REPORT ON LETTER FROM JOHN ALLAN1
[January 29, 1784.]
The Commee to whom were referred the letter of John Allen of Dec. 25. 1783 to his Excy the President of Congress and the papers therein inclosed have agreed to the following resolution.
Resolved that a copy of the sd letter be sent to the Governor of Massachusetts with a recommendation that he cause enquiry to be made whether the encroachments therein suggested have been actually made on the territories of the United States of Massachusetts by the subjects of his Britannic Majesty from the government of Nova Scotia and that if he shall find them any such to have been made, that he send a representation thereof to the British Governor of Nova Scotia with a copy of the Proclamation of the United States of the 14th. inst. (which should be inclosed to the Governor of Massachusetts for that purpose) requesting him in a friendly manner and as a proof of that disposition for peace and harmony which should subsist between neighboring states to recall the said from off the said territory of these states the sd subjects of his Britannic Majesty so found to have incroached thereon: and that the Govr. of Massachusetts be requested to inform Congress of his proceedings herein & the result thereof.
DRAFT OF REPORT ON A COMMITTEE OF THE STATES1
[January 30, 1784.]
The Commee to whom was referred a report on the powers with which a Commee of the States should be vested during the recess of Congress and a Motion on the same subject have agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved that the Commee of the states which shall be appointed pursuant to the 9th article of Confederation to sit in the recess of Congress for conducting the business of the United States shall be invested with the powers of directing the determination of controversies concerning the private right of soil in the cases & according to the mode pointed out by the 9th article of the Confederation, regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians not members of any of the states:
Regulating the post offices from one state to another throughout all the United States, appointing officers of the land forces in the service of the United States, except only the commander in chief and regimental officers:
Appointing the officers of the naval forces:
Commissioning all officers whatever in the service of the United States:
Making rules for the governmt. & regulation of the sd land and naval forces, not inconsistent with the articles of war established by Congress: directing the operations of the said land and naval forces:
Building, buying & equipping vessels previously agreed by Congress to be built, bought & equipped:
Making requisitions from the states for their quotas of men & money proportioned on them by Congress.
Superintending all offices appertaining to the United States.
Directing and controuling the application of money in the detail according to the general appropriation previously made by Congress:
Supplying all vacancies by new appointments to continue in force only until Congress shall make the final appointments.
Executing in general the resolutions, orders, and Ordinances of Congress:
[torn] bling Congress at an earlier day than that to which they shall stand adjourned, if the public exigencies shall in their opinion require it.
Provided that in none of these instances they repeal or contravene any Ordinance passed by Congress.
Resolved that nine members shall be requisite to proceed to business: and that no question except for adjourning from day to day, shall be determined without the concurrence of seven votes:
That the President of Congress, if a member of the said Commee, and if not a member, or if absent at any time, then a Chairman to be chosen by themselves shall preside; the President or chairman retaining a right to vote:
That the Secretary & other officers of Congress shall attend the sd. Commee.
That they shall keep an accurate journal of their proceedings to be laid before Congress:
And that in these journals shall be entered the yeas and nays of the members when any one of them shall have desired it before the question be put.
POWERS FROM WHICH THE COMMEE OF THE STATES ARE EXCLUDED.
Engaging in war.
Grantg lres of Marque in time of Peace.
Entering into treaties or alliances.
Regulating its value.
Ascertaing sums necessary for defence or welfare.
Agreeg on number of vessels of war or number of land or sea forces.
Appointing Commander in chief of army or navy.
POWERS FROM WHICH THEY SHOULD BE EXCLUDED.
Sending and receiving Ambassadors.
Establishing rules of decision in cases of captures.
Establishing courts of Appeals in cases of captures.
Deciding disputes between states.
Fixing standard of weights & measures.
POWERS WHICH THEY MAY EXERCISE.
Appointg courts for trial of piracies.
Decidg private right of soil after decision of y General right.
Regulating Indian trade.
Regulating post office.
Appointg military officers & commissioning them.
Making rules for governmt of forces.
Directing operations of forces.
Build, buy or equip vessels agreed on by Congress.
Make requisitions on the States for quotas of men.
POWERS WHICH SHOULD BE GIVEN THEM.
To Execute whatever Congress has determind on.
To superintend all the offices.
To apply Definite sums of money to Definite purposes e. g. expresses, fuel, paper & other contingencies.
To supply all vacant offices till meet of Congress.
To Convoke Congress.
That the Commee of the States be authorized & instructed
To appoint proper persons to enquire into the quantity of pure silver in the Spanish milled dollars of different dates in circulation with us: from the best assays which have been made.
To enquire in like manner into the fineness of all other the coins which may be found in circulation within these States.
To report to the Commee the result of these enquiries by them to be laid before Congress
To appoint also proper persons to enquire what are the proportions between the values of fine gold & fine silver at the markets of the several countries with which we are or probably may be connected in commerce, & what would be a proper proportion here, having regard to the average of their values at those markets & to other circumstances, & to report the same to the Commee by them to be laid before Congress.
To prepare an Ordinance for establishing the Unit of money within these states, for subdividing it, & for striking coins of gold, silver, & copper on the following principles.
That the money Unit of these states shall be equal in value to a Spanish milled dollar containing so much fine silver as the enquiry before directed shall shew to be contained on an average in dollars of the several dates in circulation with us.
That the Unit shall be divided into fractions decimally expressed.
That there shall be a coin of silver of the value of an Unit.
one other of the same metal of the value of one tenth of an Unit.
one other of copper of the value of the Hundredth of an Unit.
That there shall be a coin of gold of the value of ten Units, according to the report before directed & the judgment of the Commee thereon.
That for the convenience of paiment there shall also be a gold coin of 5. Units & silver coins of ½ 2/10 & 5/100 &c.
That the alloy of the sd coins of gold & silver shall be equal in weight to one eleventh part of the fine metal.
That there be proper devices for these coins.
That measures be proposed for preventing their diminution & also their currency & that of any others when diminished.
That the several foreign coins be described & classed in the sd Ordinance, the fineness of each class stated, & it’s value by weight estimated in Units & fractions of Units decimally expressed.
And that the sd draught of an Ordinance be reported to Congress at their next meeting for their consideration & determination.
REPORT ON COMMITTEE OF THE STATES1
The Commee. to whom was referred a report on the powers with which a Commee of the states should be vested during the recess of Congress and a Motion on the same subject have agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved that the Commee. of the states which shall be appointed pursuant to the 9th. article of Confederation and perpetual union to sit in the recess of Congress for transacting the business of the United States shall possess all the powers which may be exercised by seven States in Congress assembled, except those of sending Ambassadors, Ministers, Envoys, resident-Consuls or Agents to foreign Countries or courts: establishing rules for deciding what captures: on land or water shall be legal & in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United States shall be divided or appropriated.
Establishing courts for receiving & determining finally appeals in cases of capture, constituting courts for deciding disputes & differences arising between two or more states: fixing the standard of weights & measures for the United States: changing the rate of postage on the papers passing through the post offices established by Congress, and of repealing or contravening any Ordinance or Act passed by Congress.
Resolved that no question except for adjourning from day to day shall be determined without the concurrence of nine votes. That a chairman to be chosen by the Committee shall preside. That the officers of Congress when required shall attend on the sd. Commee. That the Committee shall keep a journal of their proceedings to be laid before Congress and that in these journals, which shall be published monthly & transmitted to the executives of the several States, shall be entered the yeas & nays of the members when any one of them shall have desired it before the question be put.
TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF FINANCE1 (ROBERT MORRIS)
[February 1, 1784]
A grand Committee of Congress is now engaged in preparing estimates of the necessary federal expenses of the present year from the first to the last day of it inclusive and of the articles of interest on the public debts foreign & domestic which call indispensably for immediate provision while the impost proposed ultimately for their discharge shall be on it’s passage through the states; these estimates are to lead to a new requisition of money from the states, but the commee have hopes that this new requisition may be lessened if not altogether dispensed with provided a full compliance can be obtained with the former requisitions of Nov. 2. 1781 for 8 millions of dollars & of Octob. 10 1782 for 2 millions of dollars. They suppose that the requisn of 8 millions was greater than all the objects of it did in event require. They suppose further that some of these objects have been transferred to other funds. Of course there will be a surplus remaining after all the demands against this requisition which have been paid & payable out of this fund. In like manner 2 m having been part of 6 millns estimated on a war establmt and peace taking place immediately after, they expect a surplus may remain on this also after all paiments made & to be made out of it. These surplusses which will be reached by no former appropriation & which are therefore fairly open to be newly appropriated they ask of you to estimate according to the best of your information, that they may see how far an enforcement of them will go toward supplying the demands of the current year: but that they may know how to call on the several states to pay up their deficiencies, it will be necessary also for you to inform them what proportion of these requisitions had been paid up by each state to the 1st day of Jan. 1784.
Another object claimed the attention of the Commee. By a vote of Sept. 4, 1782, 1,200,000 Dollars were required from the states for the special purpose of paying interest, with a permission to them to pay first out of their quotas the interest on loan office certificates and other liquidated debts, loaned or contracted in their own states, so that the balance only was to be remitted to the Continental Treasury. Have any such balances been remitted, or have you any information how far the several states have proceeded, in compliance to comply with this requisition by paimt of interest within their own state? Or loan office certificates? If you have we shall be obliged to you for it.
A former commee had been appointed to revise the civil list and to adapt it to the change of circumstances which peace has induced. They have gone through that work & reported except so far as it relates to the department of Finance, by which I mean to include the establishments of in the several offices of the Superintendt., Comptroller, Auditor, Register, Treasurer, & the Commers. for settling the accts in the several states, and the accts of the Staff departments. They hope from your letter in answer to one written you by Dr. Williamson their chairman that you are turning your attention to this subject and that you will be so kind as to inform them whether any of the offices or officers may be dispensed with under present circumstances so as to lessen it’s expenses without endangering more substantial loss, a true & laudable œconomy being their object. I take the liberty of mentioning this subject to you only because the Grand Commee under whose instructions I write to you, will of course be delayed in their estimates till the other commee shall have made a full report on the civil list.
With you I know it is unnecessary to urge as early an answer as is practicable and have therefore only to add assurances of the sincere respect & esteem with which I have the honor to be, &c.
TO JAMES MADISON
Annapolis, Feb. 20. 1784.
—Your favour of the 11th inst. came to hand this day. I had prepared a multitude of memons of subjects whereon to write you, but I will first answer those arising from your letter. By the time my order got to Philadelphia every copy of Smith’s history of New York was sold. I shall take care to get Blair’s lectures for you as soon as published, and will attend to your presumed wishes whenever I meet with anything rare & of worth. I wish I knew better what things of this kind you have collected for yourself, as I may often doubt whether you have or have not a thing. I know of no objections to the printing the revisal; on the contrary I think good will result from it. Should this be decided I must make a short trip to Virginia, as from the loss of originals I believe my copies must often be wanting.1
I had never met with the particular fact relative to the grinders of the incognitum found in Brasil & Lima & deposited in the British Museum, which you mention from Dr. Hunter. I know it has been said that in a very few instances such bones have been found in S. America. You will find a collection of these in 2. Buff. Epoq. de la Nature, 187. But they have been so illy attested, so loosely & ignorantly described, and so seldom even pretended to have been seen, that I have supposed their identity with the Northern bones, & perhaps their existence at all not sufficiently established. The authority of Hunter is respectable: but if this be the only well attested instance of those bones brought from S. Amera, they may still be believed to have been first carried there either previous to the emigration of the Spaniards when there was doubtless a communication between the Indns. of the two continents, or after that emigration, when an intercourse between the Spaniards of N. & S. Amera took place. It would be unsafe to deny the fact; but I think it may well be doubted. I wish you had a thermometer. Mr. Madison of the college & myself are keeping observations for a comparison of climate. We observe at sunrise & at four o’clock P. M., which are the coldest & warmest points of the day. If you could observe at the same time it would show the difference between going North & Northwest on this continent. I suspect it to be colder in Orange or Albemarle than here.
I think I informed you in my last that an attempt had been made to ratify the Definitive treaty by seven states only, and to impose this under the sanction of our seal (without letting our actual state appear) on the British court. Reade, Williamson & Lee were violent for this, and gave notice that when the question should be put they would call the yeas & nays, & shew by whose fault the ratification of this important instrument should fail, if it should fail. I prepared the enclosed resolution by way of protest & informed them I would place that also on the journals with the yeas & nays as a justification of those who opposed the proposition. I believe this put a stop to it. They suffered the question to rest undecided till the 14th of Jan. when 9 states appeared & ratified. Colo. Harmer & Colo. Franks were immediately dispatched to take passage to Europe with copies of the ratification. But by the extraordinary severity of the season, we know they had not sailed on the 7th. inst. The ratification will not therefore arrive in time. Being persuaded I shall be misrepresented within my own state, if any difficulties should arise, I inclose you a copy of the protest containing my reasons. Had the question been put there were but two states who would have voted for a ratification by seven. The others would have been in the negative or divided.—I find Congress every moment stopped by questions whether the most trifling money propositions are not above the powers of seven states as being appropriations of money. My idea is that the estimate for the year & requisition grounded on that, whereon the sums to be allowed to each department are stated, is the general appropriation which requires 9 states, & that the detailing it out provided they do not go beyond these sums may be done by the subordinate officers of the federal government or by a Congress of 7 states. I wish you to think of this & give me your thoughts on the subject.—We have as yet no Secy. of Foreign affairs. Lee avows himself a candidate—The plan of Foreign affairs likely to take place is to commission Adams, Franklin & Jay to conclude treaties with the several European powers, and then to return, leaving the field to subordinate characters. Messrs. Adams & Jay have paid a visit to the court of London unordered & uninvited. Their reception has been forbidding. Luzerne leaves in August. Whether recalled or on his own request is not known. This information comes from himself, tho’ is not as yet known [?] of publickly. Lee finding no faction among the 737 here, entered into that among the 864. 737. which rages to a very high degree. A trial being appointed by the one party on a certain 761, he undertook to 792 one, and fixed it on precisely the same 761. This of course has placed him in the midst of the mud. He is 80. 302. 885. 409. 941 a 312. 730. 784. 561. 727. of 551. 675 and of 655. 320. 187 expectation. I have no doubt from some conversations with him, that there is a design agitating to sever the western 1090. 278 and add it to this state. He supported in conversation with me the propriety & necessity of such a general measure, to wit, of enlarging the small states to interest them in the 1104. 162. 130. He deserves to be well switched in our state. He is extremely soured with it, and is not cautious in betraying his hostility against it. We cannot make up a Congress at all. There are 8 states in town 6 of which are represented by two members only. Of these two members of different states are confined by the gout, so that we cannot make a house. We have not sat above 3 days I believe in as many weeks. Admonition after admonition has been sent to the states, to no effect. We have sent one to-day. If it fails, it seems as well we should all retire. There have never been 9 states on the floor but for the ratification of the treaty and a day of two after.—Georgetown languishes. The smile is hardly covered now when the federal towns are spoken of. I fear that our chance is at this time desperate. Our object therefore must be if we fail in an effort to remove to Georgetown to endeavor then to get to some place off the waters of the Chesapeak where we may be ensured against Congress considering themselves as fixed. My present expectations are, that as soon as we get a Congress to do business, we shall attend to nothing but the most pressing matters, get through them & adjourn, not to meet again till November, leaving a Commee of the States. That Commee will be obliged to go immediately to Philadelphia to examine the offices & of course they will sit there till the meeting in November. Whether that meeting will be in Philadelphia or Trenton will be the question and will in my opinion depend on the vote of New York [?]. Did not you once suppose in conversation with me that Congress had no authority to decide any cases between two differing states, except those of disputed territory? I think you did. If I am not mistaken in this, I should wish to know your good sense of the words which describe those cases which may be submitted to a federal court. They seem to me to comprehend every cause of difference.
We have received the act of our assembly ceding the lands north of Ohio & are about executing a deed for it. I think the territory will be laid out by passing a meridian through the western cape of the mouth of the Gr. Kanhaway from the Ohio to L. Erie, and another through the rapids of Ohio from the same river to Michigan & crossing these by the parallels of latitude 37° 39° 41° &c, allowing to each state an extent of 2° from n. to south. On the Eastern side of the meridn. of Kanhaway will still be one new state, to wit, the territory lying between that meridian, Pennsylva, the Ohio & L. Erie. We hope N. Carola will cede all beyond the same meridian of Kanhaway & Virginia also. For God’s sake push this at the next session of assembly. We have transmitted a copy of a petition from the people of Kentucky to Congress praying to be separated from Virginia. Congress took no notice of it. We sent the copy to the Governor desiring it to be laid before the Assembly. Our view was to bring on the question. It is for the interest of Virginia to cede so far immediately, because the people beyond that will separate themselves, because they will be joined by all our settlements beyond the Alleghany if they are the first movers. Whereas if we draw the line, those at Kentucky having their end will not interest themselves for the people of Indiana, Greenbriar &c. who will of course be left to our management, and I can with certainty almost say that Congress would approve of the meridian of the mouth of the Kanhaway and consider it as the ultimate point to be desired from Virginia. I form this opinion from conversation with many members. Should we not be the first movers, and the Indianians & Kentuckians take themselves off and claim to the Alleghany I am afraid Congress would secretly wish them well. Virginia is extremely interested to retain to that meridian. 1. because the Gr. Kanhaway runs from north to south across our whole county, forming by its waters a belt of fine land, which will be thickly seated & will form a strong barrier for us. 2. Because the country for 180 miles beyond that is an absolute desart, barren & mountainous, which can never be inhabited, & will therefore be a fine separation between us & the next state. 3. Because the government of Virginia is more convenient to the people on all the upper parts of Kanhaway than any other which will be laid out. 4. Because our lead mines are in that country. 5. Because the Kanhaway is capable of being made navigable and therefore gives entrance into the western waters to every part of our latitude. 6. Because it is not now navigable & can only be made so by expensive works, which require that we should own the soil on both sides. 7. Because the Ohio, and it’s branches which head up against the Patowmac affords the shortest water communication by 500 miles of any which can ever be got between the western waters & Atlantic, & of course promises us almost a monopoly of the western & Indian trade. I think the opening this navigation is an object on which no time is to be lost. Pennsylva is attending to the Western commerce. She has had surveys made of the river Susquehanna and of the grounds thro’ which a canal must pass to go directly to Philadelphia. It is reported practicable at an expense of £200,000 and they have determined to open it. What an example this is! If we do not push this matter immediately they will be beforehand with us & get possession of the commerce. And it is difficult to turn it from a channel in which it is once established. Could not our assembly be induced to lay a particular tax which should bring in 5 or 10,000£ a year to be applied till the navigation of the Ohio & Patowmac is opened, then James river & so on through the whole successively. Gen’l Washington has that of the Patowmac much at heart. The superintendance of it would be a noble amusement in his retirement & leave a monument of him as long as the waters should flow. I am of opinion he would accept of the direction as long as the money should be to be emploied on the Patowmac, & the popularity of his name would carry it thro’ the assembly. The portage between Yohogania & the N. branch of Patowmac is of 40 or 50 miles. Cheat river is navigable far up. It’s head is within 10 miles of the head of the North branch of Patowmac & I am informed offers the shortest & best portage.—I wish in the next election of delegates for Congress, Short could be sent. His talents are great & his weight in our state must ere long become principal. I see the best effects produced by sending our young statesmen here. They see the affairs of the Confederacy from a high ground; they learn the importance of the Union & befriend federal measures when they return. Those who never come here, see our affairs insulated, pursue a system of jealousy & self interest, and distract the Union as much as they can. Gen’l Gates would supply Short’s place in the council very well, and would act. He is now here. What will you do with the council? They are expensive, and not constantly nor often necessary: yet to drop them would be wrong. I think you had better require their attendance twice a year to examine the Executive Department, & see that it be going on rightly, advise on that subject the Governor, or inform the legislature as they shall see occasion. Give them 50 guineas each for each trip, fill up only 5 of the places, and let them be always subject to summons on great emergencies by the Governor, on which occasions their expences only should be paid. At an expence of 500 guineas you will then preserve this member of the constitution always fit for use. Young & ambitious men will leave it & go into the Assembly, but the elderly & able who have retired from the legislative field as too turbulent will accept of the offices.—Among other legislative subjects our distresses ask notice. I had been from home four months & had expended 1200 Dollars before I received one farthing. By the last post we received about seven week’s allowance. In the meantime some of us had had the mortification to have our horses turned out of the livery stable for want of money. There is really no standing this. The supply gives us no relief because it was mortgaged. We are trying to get something more effectual from the treasury, having sent an express to inform them of our predicament. I shall endeavour to place as much in the Philadelphia bank as will repay your kindness, unless you should alter your mind & chuse to take it in the Virginia treasury.—I have hunted out Chatellux journal & had a reading of it. I had never so falsely estimated the character of a book. There are about six sentences of offensive bagatelles, which are all of them publicly known, because having respected individual characters they were like carrion for the buzzard curiosity. All the rest of the book (and it is a 4to of 186 pages) is either entertaining, or instructive & would be highly flattering to the Americans. He has visited all the principal fields of battle, enquired minutely into the detail of the actions, & has given what are probably the best accounts extant of them. He often finds occasion to criticise & to deny the British accounts from an inspection of the ground. I think to write to him recommend the expunging the few exceptionable passages & publication of the rest.—I have had an opportunity here of examining Bynkershoek’s works. There are about a fourth part of them which you would like to have. They are the following tracts. Questiones juris publici—de lege Rhodeâ—de dominio maris—du fuge conopetent des Ambassadeurs. for this last if not the rest has been translated into French with notes by Barbeyrae. I have had from Boirod & Gaillard a copy of Mussenbroeck’s cours de Physique. It is certainly the most comprehensive & most accurate body of Natl. Philosophy which has been ever published. I would recommend to you to get it, or I will get that and any other books you want from Boirod or elsewhere. I hope you have found access to my library. I beg you to make free use of it. Key, the steward is living there now & of course will be always in the way. Monroe is buying land almost adjoining me. Short will do the same. What would I not give [if] you could fall into the circle. With such a society I could once more venture home & lay myself up for the residue of life, quitting all it’s contentions which grow daily more and more insupportable. Think of it. To render it practicable only requires you to think it so. Life is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the most valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind, sweetens the temper, chears our spirits, and promotes health. There is a little farm of 140 as. adjoining me, & within two miles, all of good land, tho’ old, with a small indifferent house on it, the whole worth not more than £250. Such a one might be a farm of experiment & support a little table & household. It is on the road to Orange & so much nearer than I am. It is convenient enough for supplementary supplies from thence. Once more think of it, and Adieu.
DRAFT OF DEED OF CESSION OF NORTHWEST TERRITORY1
[March 1, 1784.]
To all who shall see these presents we [here name the delegates] the underwritten delegates for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Congress of the United States of America send greeting.
Whereas the general assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia at their sessions begun on the 20th. day of Octob. 1783, passed an Act entituled ‘An act to authorise the delegates &c.’—in these words following to wit ‘Whereas the Congress &c.’ [reciting the act verbatim.]
And whereas the sd General Assembly by their Resolution of June 6th. 1783, had constituted & appointed us the sd A. B. C. &c. delegates to represent the sd Commonwealth in Congress for one year from the first Monday in November then next following, which resolution remains in full force.
Now therefore know ye that we the sd A. B. C. &c. by virtue of the power & authority, committed to us by the act of the sd. General Assembly of Virginia before recited, and in the name & for & on behalf of the sd Commonwealth do by these presents convey, transfer, assign, & make over unto the United States in Congress assembled for the benefit to the sd States, Virginia inclusive, all right, title & claim as well of soil as of jurisdiction which the sd. Commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Virginia charter, situate, lying & being to the Northwest of the river Ohio to and for the uses & purposes and on the conditions of the sd recited act.
In testimony whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names and affixed our seals in Congress the day of in the year of our lord 1784, and of the independance of the United States the eighth.
Signed, sealed and
delivered in presence of
REPORT ON GOVERNMENT FOR WESTERN TERRITORY1
[March 1, 1784.]
The Committee appointed to prepare a plan for the temporary Government of the Western territory have agreed to the following resolutions:
Resolved that the territory ceded or to be ceded by Individual States to the United States whensoever the same shall have been purchased of the Indian Inhabitants & offered for sale by the U. S. shall be formed into distinct States bounded in the following manner as nearly as such cessions will admit, that is to say; Northwardly & Southwardly by parallels of latitude so that each state shall comprehend from South to North two degrees of latitude beginning to count from the completion of thirty-one degrees North of the Equator, but any territory Northwardly of the 47th. degree shall make part of the state—next below, and Eastwardly & Westwardly they shall be bounded, those on the Mississippi by that river on one side and the meridian of the lowest point of the rapids of Ohio on the other; and those adjoining on the East by the same meridian on their Western side, and on their eastern by the meridian of the Western cape of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway. And the territory eastward of this last meridian between the Ohio, Lake Erie & Pennsylvania shall be one state.
That the settlers within the territory so to be purchased & offered for sale shall, either on their own petition, or on the order of Congress, receive authority from them, with appointments of time and place for their free males of full age to meet together for the purpose of establishing a temporary government, to adopt the constitution & laws of any one of these states, so that such laws nevertheless shall be subject to alteration by their ordinary legislature, and to erect, subject to a like alteration counties or townships for the election of members for their legislature.
That such temporary government shall only continue in force in any state until it shall have acquired 20,000 free inhabitants, when, giving due proof thereof to Congress, they shall receive from them authority with appointments of time and place to call a Convention of representatives to establish a permanent Constitution & Government for themselves.
Provided that both the temporary & permanent Governments be established on these principles as their basis. 1, That they shall forever remain a part of the United States of America 2, That in
their persons, property & territory, they shall be subject to the Government of the United States in Congress assembled and to the articles of confederation in all those cases in which the original states shall be so subject. 3, That they shall be subject to pay a part of the federal debts contracted or to be contracted to be apportioned on them by Congress, according to the same common rule and measure by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other states. 4, That their respective Governments shall be in republican forms, and shall admit no person to be a citizen, who holds any hereditary title. 5, That after the year 1800 of the Christian æra, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty.
That whenever any of the sd states shall have, of free inhabitants as many as shall then be in any one the least numerous of the thirteen original states, such state shall be admitted by it’s delegates into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the said original states: After which the assent of two thirds of the United States in Congress assembled shall be requisite in all those cases, wherein by the Confederation the assent of nine States is now required. Provided the consent of nine states to such admission may be obtained according to the eleventh of the Articles of Confederation. Until such admission by their delegates into Congress, any of the said states, after the establishment of their temporary Government, shall have authority to keep a sitting Member in Congress, with a right of debating, but not of voting.
That the territory Northward of the 45th. degree, that is to say of the completion of 45° from the Equator & extending to the Lake of the Woods, shall be called SYLVANIA:
That of the territory under the 45th. & 44th. degrees that which lies Westward of Lake Michigan shall be called MICHIGANIA, and that which is Eastward thereof within the peninsula formed by the lakes & waters of Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie, shall be called CHERRONESUS, and shall include any part of the peninsula which may extend above the 45th degree.
Of the territory under the 43d. & 42d. degrees, that to the Westward thro’ which the Assenisipi or Rock river runs shall be called ASSENISIPIA, and that to the Eastward in which are the fountains of the Muskingum, the two Miamis of Ohio, the Wabash, the Illinois, the Miami of the lake and Sandusky rivers, shall be called METROPOTAMIA.
Of the territory which lies under the 41st. & 40th. degrees the Western, thro which the river Illinois runs, shall be called ILLINOIA; that next adjoining to the Eastward SARATOGA, and that between this last & Pennsylvania & extending from the Ohio to Lake Erie shall be called WASHINGTON.
Of the territory which lies under the 39th. & 38th. degrees to which shall be added so much of the point of land within the fork of the Ohio & Missisipi as lies under the 37th. degree, that to the Westward within & adjacent to which are the confluences of the rivers
Wabash, Shawnee, Tanisse, Ohio, Illinois, Missisipi & Missouri, shall be called POLYPOTAMIA, and that to the Eastward farther up the Ohio otherwise called the PELISIPI shall be called PELISIPIA.
That the preceding articles shall be formed into a charter of Compact, shall be duly executed by the President of the U. S. in Congress assembled under his hand and the seal of the United States, shall be promulgated, and shall stand as fundamental constitutions between the thirteen original States, & those now newly described unalterable but by the joint consent of the U. S. in Congress assembled and of the particular state within which such alteration is proposed to be made.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (BENJAMIN HARRISON)
Annapolis, Mar. 3. 1784.
—Mr. Hardy’s illness & Colo. Mercer’s absence deranged the order in which the office of corresponding member was to pass: so that mr Lee exercised it for January, Colo. Monroe for Feb. and mr Hardy takes it for the present month. I mention this that my own correspondence as an individual may not at any time be mistaken as having passed the sanction of the delegation. On receiving the act of assembly for the Western cession, our delegation agreed on the form of a deed; we then delivered to Congress a copy of the act, and the form of the deed we were ready to execute whenever they should think proper to declare they would accept it. They referred the act & deed to a committee, who reported the act of assembly to comport perfectly with the propositions of Congress, and that the deed was proper in its form, and that Congress ought to accept the same. On the question to agree to the report of the Committee 8 states being present, Jersey was in the negative & S. Carolina & Pennsylvania divided (being represented each by 2 members). Of course there were 5 ayes only & the report fell. We determined on consultation that our proper duty was to be still, having declared we were ready to execute, we would leave it to them to come forward and tell us they were ready to accept. We meddled not at all therefore, & shewed a perfect indifference. N. Hampshire came to town which made us 9 states. A member proposed that we should execute the deed & lay it on the table, which after what had been done by Congress would be final, urging the example of N. York which had executed their deed, laid it on the table, where it remained 18 months before Congress accepted it. We replied, no, if the lands are not offered for sale the ensuing spring, they will be taken from us all by adventurers, we will therefore put it out of our power by the execution of a deed to sell them ourselves, if Congress will not. A member from Rhode Island then moved that Congress should accept. Another from Jersey proposed as an amendment a proviso that it should not amount to an acknowledgement of our right. We told them we were not authorised to admit any conditions or provisions, that their acceptance must be simple, absolute & unqualified or we
could not execute. On the question there were 6 ayes, Jersey no, S. Carolina & Pennsylvania divided. The motion dropped & the house proceeded to other business. About an hour after the dissenting Pennsylvania asked & obtained leave to change his no, into aye, the vote then passed & we executed the deed. We have desired an exemplification of it under the seal of the states which we shall transmit you by the post if no safer opportunity occurs. This shows the wisdom of the assembly in not tacking any new conditions, which would certainly have defeated their accomodating intentions.
We have just received from the Superintendant of finance a report of the paiments made and the arrears still due on the requisition of Octo. 30. 1781 for 8 millions of dollars. This statement comes down to Jan. 1. 1784.
Colo. Harmer with the ratification of the Definative treaty which was executed in Congress Jan. 14th. got on board the French packet at N. York on the 20th. of Jan. Colo. Frank took his passage on another vessel a few days after. Neither sailed till the 17th of Feb. being blocked up by the ice. They have then not got to Paris to exchange them this day as had been stipulated. In right this can make no difference. We executed the ratification in time, and its passage across the Atlantic was prevented by circumstances not under our controul. The accomodation of the Turks and Russians, leaving Europe in Peace and France of course at liberty, keeps us safe. This accomodation is said to have been effected by the interposition of France & Prussia. This does not come from our ministers, from whom we have had no late intelligence on this subject, but is told me by Monsr. Marbois who sais he has it from good information. We are still farther insured against any ill effect from this accident if the news of the day be true. An English vessel, arrived at N. York, brings papers which say that Ld. North & mr Fox carried their E. India bill triumphantly by ⅔ of the voices through the house of commons, but lost it in the lords, when they resigned; and that mr Pitt & his friends would be at the head of the administration. The Prince of Wales voted against the bill & received a repremand from the King—so far the papers. The change would be fortunate for us, as L. North’s hostility is notorious, and Pitt rather well disposed to us. The movements of the K. of Prussia to emancipate the navigation of the Vistula, and of the emperor to free that of the Scheld do not I believe threaten the peace of Europe. On the contrary they indicate that they have no great work on hand. This assertion then of the natural right of the inhabitants of the upper part of a river to an innocent passage through the country below is rather pleasing to us. It tends to establish a principle favorable to our right of navigating the Missisipi.
We are now engaged in making an estimate of the expences of the current year. It appears that the commissioners sent to the several states to settle their accounts add so unreasonable a proportion to the expences of the Finance department, that it is my opinion Congress will recall them after some not very distant day. I mention this that your Excellency may keep an eye over the progress of the state-settlement with mr Turner & push it unremittingly to avoid the being obliged to send the vouchers, accounts &c to Philadelphia for such parts as shall not be completed before the recall.
REPORT ON REDUCTION OF CIVIL LIST1
[March 5, 1784.]
The committee appointed to consider what reductions may be made in the civil list have agreed to the following resolutions:
Resolved that the following offices be discontinued, to wit,
Resolved that the following salaries may be reduced by taking from the allowances heretofore established the following sums.
Resolved that instead of the annual salary heretofore allowed the Judges of the Court of Appeals they be allowed on every special occasion wherein they shall be called on, the sum of 14 Dollars each for every day they shall sit in court, and the same for every day necessarily employed in travelling to & from Court.
Resolved that after the day of the following offices may be discontinued.
Resolved that the duties of Agent of Marine be performed by the Secretary at War, who for his assistance therein shall retain a Secretary of Marine heretofore allowed in the office of the Agent of Marine.
A view of the civil list as proposed to be reduced, (stated for the satisfaction of the house but not made a part of the report.)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR NEGOTIATING WITH INDIANS.1
[March 5, 1784.]
The Committee appointed to revise the 4th. & 5th. of the instructions of Oct. 15, 1782, given to the Commissioners for negotiating a treaty with the Indians have agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved that the said 4th. article be repealed &, that instead thereof the following be substituted: 4thly. that a meridian line passing through the lowest point of the Rapids of Ohio to the Northern boundary of these United States, shall be proposed as the comprehending all the lands between the sd. boundary on the North the Ohio on the South the sd meridian on the West and Pennsylvania on the East, or so much thereof as they nation having title thereto. may be inclined to con yield sent etc. shall be added to the United States shall be agreed on as the dividing line of and possession thereof or of any parts thereof to be given to the U. S. at such times as may be agreed upon in the Treaty. division between the several Indian Tribes nations & these states, so that all the lands comprehended between the sd boundary on the North, the Ohio on the South, the sd meridian on the West and Pennsylvania on the East, or so much thereof as the tribes having title thereto, may be induced to part with, shall be ceded to the United States.
Resolved that the said 5th. Article be repealed & that instead thereof the following be substituted: 5thly., the interests & happiness of the Indians as well as of the inhabitants of the United States requiring that every circumstance should be avoided which may lead to hostile dispositions between them, and the meeting of several tribes nations in at one council having a tendency to generate combinations for the purposes of War the said commissioners are instructed, as far as they shall be in their power find it convenient to treat with the several nations every tribe at different times & places; & where necessity shall oblige them to bring two or more tribes nations together, that they are still to keep their treaties & conferences as destinct; as may be that they make known to the Shawanese & Delawares that these United States consider them as independent Nations & will protect them as such: that they countenance every disposition in any one of the six nations to treat & act separately & independently of their confederacy; and that in general they discourage every coalition & consultation which might tend to involve them or your tribes in the contests which any one of them may enter into with these United States any one tribe nation in the Wars of the other.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON
Annapolis, Mar. 6. 1784.
—Your favor of the 3rd. is this moment put into my hands, and as the post does not usually stay here above an hour, it leaves me time to scribble a few lines only, scarcely admitting them to be prefaced with an acknowledgement of the pleasure it will give me to be permitted to communicate with you occasionally. We received dispatches from Europe yesterday by Capt. Barney. There is no news but in one from Dr. Franklin of Dec. 25 and another from the Marquis Fayette of Dec. 26. The Doctor tells us only of the movements of our ministers, that Mr. Laurens was about sailing from England for America, Mr. Adams about setting out from England to the Hague, and Mr. Jay at Bath. He gives a picture of the disposition of England towards us: he observes that tho’ they have made peace with us, they are not reconciled to us nor to the loss of us. He calls to our attention the numerous royal progeny to be provided for, the military education giving to some of them, the ideas in England of the distraction among ourselves, that the people here are already fatigued with their new governments, the possibility of circumstances arising on the Continent of Europe which might countenance the wishes of Gr. Britain to recover us, and from thence inculcates a useful lesson to cement the friendships we posses in Europe. The Marquis tells us the Turks & Russians will be kept apart for a while, probably for another year, but that they must in the end come to decision. That Mr. Fox & Ld. North were both out of the Ministry, & this by a maneuvre of the King’s, who got them compromitted fairly with their E. India bill, & contrived to get it rejected in the Lords; & that Mr. Pitt & E. Temple would come in. The Marquis himself will sail for America in the spring.
The present hurry forbids me to write to you on a subject I have much at heart, the approaching & opening the Navigation of the Ohio & Patowmac. I will trouble you by the next post. De Witt’s petition happens to be in my possession as member of a committee who have not yet reported on it. I was happy to learn from you something of the man.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON
Annapolis Mar. 15. 1784.
—Since my last nothing new has occurred, I suppose the crippled state of Congress is not new to you. We have only 9 states present, 8. of whom are represented by two members each, and of course, on all great questions not only an unanimity of States but of members is necessary. An unanimity which can never be obtained on a matter of any importance. The consequence is that we are wasting our time & labour in vain efforts to do business.—Nothing less than the presence of 13. States, represented by an odd number of delegates will enable us to get forward a single capital point. The deed for the cession of Western territory by Virginia was executed & accepted on the 1st. instant. I hope our country will of herself determine to cede still further to the meridian of the mouth of the great Kanhaway. Further she cannot govern; so far is necessary for her own well being. The reasons which call for this boundary (which will retain all the waters of the Kanhaway) are 1. That within that are our lead mines. 2. This river rising in N. Carola traverses our whole latitude and offers to every part of it a channel for navigation & commerce to the Western Country, but 3. It is a channel which can not be opened but at immense expense and with every facility which an absolute power over both shores will give. 4. This river & it’s waters forms a band of good land passing along our whole frontier, and forming on it a barrier which will be strongly seated. 5. For 180 miles beyond these waters is a mountainous barren which can never be inhabited & will of course form a safe separation between us & any other State. 6. This tract of country lies more convenient to receive it’s government from Virginia than from any other State. 7. It will preserve to us all the upper parts of Yohogany & Cheat rivers within which much will be done to open these which are the true doors to the Western commerce. The union of this navigation with that of the Patowmac is a subject on which I mentioned that I would take the liberty of writing to you. I am sure it’s value and practicability are both well known to you. This is the moment however for seizing it if ever we mean to have it. All the world is becoming commercial. Was it practicable to keep our new empire separated from them we might indulge ourselves in speculating whether commerce contributes to the happiness of mankind. But we cannot separate ourselves from them. Our citizens have had too full a taste of the comforts furnished by the arts & manufactures to be debarred the use of them. We must then in our defence endeavour to share as large a portion as we can of this modern source of wealth & power. That offered to us from the Western Country is under a competition between the Hudson, the Patowmac & the Missisipi itself. Down the last will pass all heavy commodities. But the navigation through the gulf of Mexico is so dangerous, & that up the Missisipi so difficult & tedious, that it is not probable that European merchandize will return through that channel. It is most likely that flour, lumber & other heavy articles will be floated on rafts which will be themselves an article of sale as well as their loading, the navigators returning by land or in light batteaux. There will therefore be a rivalship between the Hudson & Patowmac for the residue of the commerce of all the country Westward of L. Erie, on the waters of the lakes, of the Ohio & upper parts of the Missisipi. To go to N. York, that part of the trade which comes from the lakes or their waters must first be brought into L. Erie. So also must that which comes from the waters of the Missisipi, and of course must cross at some portage into the waters of the lakes. When it shall have entered L. Erie it must coast along it’s Southern Shore on account of the number & excellence of it’s harbours, the Northern, tho’ shortest, having few harbours & these unsafe. Having reached Cuyahoga, to proceed on to N. York will be 970 miles from thence & five portages, whereas it is but 430 miles to Alexandria, if it turns into the Cuyahoga & passes through that, Big beaver, Ohio, Yohogany (or Monongahela & Cheat) & Patowmac, & there are but two portages. For the trade of the Ohio or that which shall come into it from it’s own waters or the Missisipi, it is nearer to Alexandria than to New York by 730 miles, and is interrupted by one portage only. Nature then has declared in favour of the Patowmac, and through that channel offers to pour into our lap the whole commerce of the Western world. But unfortunately the channel by the Hudson is already open & known to practice; ours is still to be opened. This is the moment in which the trade of the West will begin to get into motion and to take it’s direction. It behoves us then to open our doors to it. I have lately pressed this subject on my friends in the General assembly, proposing to them to endeavor to have a tax laid which shall bring into a separate chest from five to ten thousand pounds a year, to be employed first in opening the upper waters of the Ohio & Patowmac, where a little money & time will do a great deal, leaving the great falls for the last part of the work. To remove the idea of partiality I have suggested the propriety & justice of continuing this fund till all the rivers shall be cleared successively. But a most powerful objection always arises to propositions of this kind. It is that public undertakings are carelessly managed and much money spent to little purpose. To obviate this objection is the purpose of my giving you the trouble of this discussion. You have retired from public life. You have weighed this determination & it would be impertinence in me to touch it. But would the superintendence of this work break in too much on the sweets of retirement & repose? If they would I stop here. Your future time & wishes are sacred in my eye. If it would be only a dignified amusement to you, what a monument of your retirement would it be! It is one which would follow that of your public life and bespeak it the work of the same great hand. I am confident that would you either alone or jointly with any persons you think proper be willing to direct this business, it would remove the only objection the weight of which I apprehend. Tho’ the tax should not come in till the fall, it’s proceeds should be anticipated by borrowing from some other fund to enable the work to be begun this summer. When you view me as not owning, nor ever having a prospect of owning one inch of land on any water either of the Patowmac or Ohio, it will tend to apologize for the trouble I have given you of this long letter, by showing that my zeal in this business is public & pure. The best atonement for the time I have occupied you will be not to add to it longer than while I assure you of the sincerity & esteem with which I have the honour to be Dr. Sir Your most obedient & most humble servt.
P. S. The hurry of time in my former letter prevented my thanking you for your polite & friendly invitation to Mount Vernon. I shall certainly pay my respects there to Mrs Washington & yourself with great pleasure whenever it shall be in my power.
TO JAMES MADISON1
Annapolis, Mar. 16. 1784.
—I received yesterday by Mr. Maury your favor of Feb. 17. That which you mention to have written by post a few days before is not yet come to hand. I am induced to this quick reply to the former by an alarming paragraph in it, which is that Mazzei is coming to Annapolis. I tremble at the idea. I know he will be worse to me than a return of my double quotidian head-ach. There is a resolution reported to Congress by a Committee that they will never appoint to the office of minister, chargé des affaires, consul, agent, &c. (describing the foreign emploiments) any but natives. To this I think there will not be a dissenting vote: and it will be taken up among the first things. Could you not by making him acquainted with this divert him from coming here? A consulate is his object, in which he will assuredly fail. But his coming will be attended with evil. He is the violent enemy of Franklin, having been some time at Paris, from my knowledge of the man I am sure he will have employed himself in collecting on the spot facts true or false to impeach him. You know there are people here who, on the first idea of this will take him to their bosom & turn all Congress topsy turvy. For God’s sake then save us from this confusion if you can.
We have eight states only & 7 of these represented by two members. Delaware & S. Carolina we lost within these two days by the expiration of their powers. The other absent states are N. York, Maryland & Georgia. We have done nothing and can do nothing in this condition but waste our time, temper, & spirits in debating things for days & weeks & then losing them by the negative of one or two individuals.
We have letters from Franklin & the Marq. Fayette of the 24th and 25th of Dec. They inform us that North & Fox are out, Pitt & Temple coming in, that whole nation extremely indisposed towards us, & as having not lost the idea of reannexing us, the Turks and Russians likely to be kept quiet another year, the Marquis coming to America this spring, Mr. Laurens then about sailing for America, Mr. Adams leaving England for the Hague, Mr. Jay at Bath, but returning to Paris. Our ratification tho on board two different vessels at N. York in the hands of officers as early as the 20th of Jan. did not sail thence till the 17th of Feb. on account of the ice.—I will attend to your desire about the booksellers. I am considerably mended in my health & hope a favorable change in the weather which seems to be taking place will re-establish me.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (BENJAMIN HARRISON)
v. s. a.
Annapolis Mar. 18. 1784
—In my letter of the 3d. inst I mentioned to you the gazette account of a change in the British Ministry. Just in the moment of the departure of the post we received a letter from the Marquis Fayette confirming the account of the change, and rectifying that of the vote of the Prince of Wales, the letter which had come here supposed the king a friend to the E. India bill & that the Prince voted against it. The Marquis said that the king by a special maneuvre got Fox & North committed on the fate of their bill which they carried through the commons, but his practices were disappointed in the Lords, in which latter stage the Prince voted for the bill, in opposition to his father.
Dr. Franklin’s letter containing an interesting paragraph I have copied it & take the liberty of inclosing it.1 We have had no post since that which carried my letter of the 3d. nor are we certain when to expect one. I am therefore obliged to have letters in readiness, to send the moment of his coming as he does not tary above an hour here. Hence it happens that my letters are sometimes a week or a fortnight old before they leave the post office.
P. S. The Marquis Fayette is coming out this spring. Mr. Laurens is supposed to be on his way to America, Mr. Adams left England for the Hague & Mr. Jay at Bath but about to return to Paris.
RESOLVES ON EUROPEAN TREATIES1
Resolved that treaties of Amity & commerce with the European nations ought not to be refused on our part until those nations will send ministers to negotiate them within these states: nor ought they to be delayed until they shall have previously been submitted to the several legislatures & received their approbation.
1. Because it is not to be expected that the nations of Europe, antient & established as they are, will cross the Atlantic to treat with us on our own ground:
2. Because a refusal to treat with them in Europe amounts to a refusal to treat with them at all; to the suppression of every effort for the admission of our citizens into their ports on an equal footing with those of other countries; to a continuance of the occlusion of the West Indian markets against the produce of these states; loses a crisis of favourable disposition in the European powers in general to enter into connections of amity and commerce with us; endangers the loss of a proffered treaty from the Emperor of Morocco who has made us friendly advances whose honour will be touched and resentment kindled by our declining to meet them; and whose power & connections may, in our present unarmed state, shut to us the ports of the Mediterranean, oblige us to send our commodities to them in foreign bottoms, or to seek them in our own at the risk of consigning our citizens to perpetual slavery & chains.
3. Because the federal constitution does not require that treaties, before their conclusion, should be communicated to the thirteen legislatures, and should receive all their several approbations, and such a delay in the present instance would be unseasonable & injurious to them; would protract the negotiations to a length indefinite both in time & expence; would leave our citizens in the mean time exposed to all the evils before stated; would be more distressing to these states, whose channels of commerce are yet to be opened, than to the nations constituting the other parties, who may in the mean time pursue their antient & long established trade; and might suffer opportunities finally to pass by which might never be recalled.
REPORT OF GOVERNMENT FOR THE WESTERN TERRITORY1
[March 22, 1784.]
The Committee to whom was recommitted the the report of a plan for a temporary government of the Western territory have agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved, that so much of the territory ceded or to be ceded by individual states to the United States as is already purchased or shall be purchased of the
Indian inhabitants & offered for sale by Congress, shall be divided into distinct states, in the following manner, as nearly as such cessions will admit; that is to say, by parallels of latitude, so that each state shall comprehend from South to North two degrees of latitude beginning to count from the completion of thirty-one degrees North of the Equator; and by meridians of longitude, one of which shall pass thro’ the lowest point of the rapids of Ohio, and the other through the Western Cape of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway, but the territory Eastward of this last meridian, between the Ohio, Lake Erie, & Pennsylvania shall be one state, whatsoever may be its comprehension of latitude. That which may lie beyond the completion of the 45th. degree between the sd. meridians shall make part of the state adjoining it on the South, and that part of the Ohio which is between the same meridians coinciding nearly with the parallel of 39° shall be substituted so far in lieu of that parallel as a boundary line.
That the settlers on any territory so purchased & offered for sale shall, either on their own petition, or on the order of Congress, receive authority from them with appointments of time & place for their free males of full age, within the limits of their state to meet together for the purpose of establishing a temporary government, to adopt the constitution and laws of any one of the original states, so that such laws nevertheless shall be subject to alteration by their ordinary legislature; & to erect, subject to a like alteration, counties or townships for the election of members for their legislature.
That such temporary government shall only continue in force in any state until it shall have acquired 20,000 free inhabitants, when giving due proof thereof to Congress, they shall receive from them authority with appointment of time & place to call a convention of representatives to establish a permanent Constitution & Government for themselves. Provided that both the temporary & permanent governments be established on these principles as their basis. 1. That they shall forever remain a part of this confederacy of the United States of America. 2. That in their persons, property & territory they shall be subject to the Government of the United States in Congress assembled, & to the articles of Confederation in all those cases in which the original states shall be so subject. 3. That they shall be subject to pay a part of the federal debts contracted or to be contracted, to be apportioned on them by Congress, according to the same common rule & measure, by which apportionments thereof shall be made on the other states. 4. That their respective Governments shall be in republican forms and shall admit no person to be a citizen who holds any hereditary title. 5. That after the year 1800 of the Christian æra, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the sd states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been convicted to have been personally guilty.
That whensoever any of the sd states shall have, of free inhabitants, as many as shall then be in any one of the least numerous, of the thirteen original states, such state shall be admitted by it’s delegates into the Congress of the United States on an equal footing with the said original states: provided nine States agree to such admission according to the reservation of the 11th. of the articles of Confederation, and in order to adapt the sd articles of confederation to the state of Congress when it’s numbers shall be thus increased, it shall be proposed to the legislatures of the states originally parties thereto, to require the assent of two thirds of the United States in Congress assembled in all those cases wherein by the said articles the assent of nine states is now required; which being agreed to by them shall be binding on the new states. Until such admission by their delegates into Congress, any of the said states after the establishment of their temporary government shall have authority to keep a sitting member in Congress, with a right of debating, but not of voting.
That the preceding articles shall be formed into a charter of compact, shall be duly executed by the president of the United States in Congress assembled, under his hand & the seal of the United States, shall be promulgated & shall stand as fundamental constitutions between the thirteen original states and each of the several states now newly described, unalterable but by the joint consent of the United States in Congress assembled, & of the particular state within which such alteration is proposed to be made.
That measures not inconsistent with the principles of the Confedn. & necessary for the preservation of peace & good order among the settlers in any of the said new states until they shall assume a temporary Government as aforesaid, may from time to time be taken by the U S in C. assembled.
REPORT ON CESSION OF WESTERN TERRITORY.1
March 22, 1784.
The Report of a Committee on the Subject of Western territory having been referred to the Grand committee they have had the same under their consideration and agreed to the following report.
Congress by their resolution of Sep. 6. 1780, having thought it adviseable to press upon the states having claims to the Western country a liberal surrender of a portion of their territorial claims, by that of the 10th. of Oct. in the same year having fixed the conditions to which the Union should be bound on receiving such cessions: and having again proposed the same subject to those states in their address of April 1783, wherein, stating the National debt & it’s annual interest, they recommended for the discharge of the interest the plan of an impost on commerce now under consideration with the states, with such subsidiary funds as they might judge most convenient, & for the discharge of the principal & expressing some their reliance for its discharge on other resources but chiefly on the prospect of vacant territory, in aid of other resources, they, for that purpose, as well as to obviate disagreeable controversies & confusions included in the same recommendation a renewal of those of Sep. the 6th. & of Oct. the 10th. 1780. which several recommendations have not yet been finally complied with.
Resolved, that the same subject be again presented to the attention of the said states, that they be urged to consider that the war being now brought to a happy termination by the personal services of our souldiers, the supplies of property by our citizens, & loans of money from them as well as from foreigners, these several creditors have a right to call for a precise designation of the funds expect that funds shall be provided on which they are to may rely for indemnification; that Congress still consider vacant territory as the a capital resource; that this too is the time when our Confederacy with all the territory included within it’s limits should assume it’s ultimate and permanent form; & that therefore the sd states be earnestly pressed by immediate & liberal cessions to forward these necessary ends, & to remove those obstacles which disturb the harmony of the Union, which embarrass it’s councils & obstruct its operations.
REPORT OF THE ARREARS OF INTEREST1
[March 22, 1784]
The Grand Committee consisting of appointed to prepare and report to Congress the arrears of interest on the National debt, together with the interest and expences for the year 1784 from the first to the last day thereof inclusive and a requisition of Money on the States for discharging the same, have agreed to the following report.
Resolved that there will be wanting for arrears of interest, and for the interest & services of the present year 1784, from the first to the last day thereof inclusive, the following sums expressed in Dollars, tenths and hundredths of Dollars.
The Committee were apprized that the resolutions of Congress of Apr. the 18th. 1783. had recommended to the several states the raising an annual revenue by the establishment of certain imposts for the purpose of discharging the national debt, principal and interest. But it occurred to them that those recommendations were still before several of the legislatures; that however desirable a compliance therewith is for the preservation of our faith, & establishment of a National Credit, yet as time had already elapsed, and more must elapse before their final confirmation can be hoped at; after it shall be obtained time will also be requisite to advance the plan to the term of actual collection, good faith requires that in the mean while other measures should be resorted to for the purpose of discharging the growing interest.
In the statement of the interest due at the close of the year 1782, the Committee have supposed its amount lessened by 1,200,000 dollars required & apportioned by the resolutions of Congress of Sep. the 4th. and 10th. 1782, & appropriated to the sole purpose of paying the interest of the public debt. This requisition gave license to the states to apply so much as should be necessary of their respective quotas of it, to the payment of interest due on certificates issued from the loan office of their own states, & other liquidated debts of the United States contracted therein. Hence they suppose it has happened that the actual payment of these quotas have been uncommunicated to the office of finance for the United States. The Committee are of opinion that the states should be desired to communicate to the Superintendant of finance the payments they have made under this requisition, & where they have been incomplete to hasten their completion as the means still relied on by Congress for the discharge of that part of the interest of the public debt. And while on this subject they beg leave to add that from the representation to Congress by the Minister of France, referred to this Committee they learn that in some of the states a discrimination has taken place between the citizens of their own & subjects or citizens of other Countries, which was not authorized by the said resolution: they are of opinion that such states should be requested to revise & reform their proceedings herein; and to extend the benefits of this provision equally and impartially to all persons within it’s description.
Your Committee came then to consider in what way it would be best to call for the sums requisite for the services before stated. And they thought it their duty in the first place to enquire whether no surpluses might remain on former requisitions of Congress after effecting fully the purposes were effected to which they were originally appropriated; under an assurance that it would be both the duty and sense of Congress to apply such surpluses, in every instance, towards lessening the next requisitions on the states. They found in fact that such a surplus would remain on the requisition of Oct. 30. 1781, for eight millions of Dollars for the services of the ensuing year; and that this surplus would be great from the following circumstances. That requisition was estimated on supposition that the Continental army would be completed by the states to it’s full establishment, and that cloathing, subsistence & other necessaries for such an army must of course be provided. The states were far short of producing such an army. Hence the calls for money were proportionably abridged. It was estimated too on the further supposition that we might be disappointed in the endeavors we were then exerting to borrow money both at home & abroad, and of course that the whole must be supplied by taxes. Loans however were obtained and the surplus increased by this second cause. A third circumstance has further enlarged it. The payments on this requisition have been small & slow. Hence, instead of money, those who served & supplied the United States have received certificates only that money is due to them, and these debts have been transferred to the fund proposed to be raised by way of impost. So that tho’ the debts exist, they are removed from this to another fund. To know then the amount of this surplus, the Committee extended their enquiries to the sums actually received under this requisition, the purposes to which they have been applied, and the anticipations thereof still unsatisfied. They found that 1,486,511.71 only of the eight millions of Dollars had been received at the treasury at the close of the year 1783: that these had been applied to the services of the years 1782. & 1783: and that for other services of the same years debts were contracted to the amount of about one million of dollars more, which depend for their discharge on further receipts under this requisition. Your Committee then are of opinion that a surplus of 5,513,488.28 Dollars will remain of this requisition after answering all the demands which actually rose against it, which were not answered by other Means, nor transferred to other funds: and that this surplus ought to be applied so far as it will go, to the common purposes of the United States, so as to prevent new requisitions on them till the old shall have been exhausted, and to shew to those who may have paid their whole quota of any requisition that they will not be called on anew till all the other states shall in like manner have paid up their quotas.
Your Committee found also that there was a requisition of Congress of Oct. 16, 1782. for 2. Millions of Dollars for the Services of the year 1783, on which some small payments had been tendered, but that the Superintendant of finance had found it better to receive and credit them as part of the eight millions. They are accordingly comprehended in the sum before stated to have been paid in under that head.
Having thus stated the demands existing against the states, the Committee would have performed but half their duty had they passed over unnoticed their condition to pay them. Their abilities must be measured in weighing their burthens. Their creditors themselves will view them, just relieved from the ravages of predatory armies, returning from an attendance on camps to the culture of their fields, beginning to sow, but not having reaped, exhausted of necessaries & habitual comforts and therefore needing new supplies out of the first proceeds of their labour. Forbearance then, to a certain degree will suggest itself to them. Those entrusted with the dispensation of justice between them will suppose both parties desirous that their mutual situations should be considered & accommodated. Your Committee are of opinion that if the whole balances of the two requisitions of eight and of two millions should be rigorously called into payment within the course of the present year, a compliance with such call would produce much distress; and that some term short of this should be fixed on, within the reach of the least as well as of the most able states. They propose therefore that the states be required to furnish within the course of the present year such part of their deficiencies under the requisitions of 8 millions, as, with their payments to the close of the last year, will make up three fourths of their original quota thereof: and that these payments be appropriated to the services of the present year 1784, in conformity with the statement in the first part of this report, giving generally, where accommodation cannot be effected among the several objects, a preference according to the order in which they are arranged in the sd statement.
But while this proportion of the former deficiencies is of necessity called for under the pressure of demands which will admit neither denial nor delay, the Committee must acknowledge that even the punctual compliance expected from all the states will not effect completely all the purposes of their preceding statement. To accomplish these perfectly; to enable the federal administration to fulfil the whole of those just & desirable objects, they wish earnestly & warmly to encourage the abler states to go as far beyond this proposition as their happier situation will admit, under an assurance that their further contributions will be applied towards reducing the interest & principal of the public debt, & will be placed to their credit in the next requisitions, with interest thereon from the time of payment.
Individual states have at times thought it hard that while, in their own opinion, they were in advance for the United States on accounts existing & unsettled between them, they should yet be called on to furnish actual contributions of Money. Your The Committee observe in answer to this, first, that almost every state thinks itself in advance: and secondly that it has been the constant wish of Congress that these accounts should be settled, & the contributions of each be known & credited. They have accordingly put it in the power of the states to effect these settlements: and as a further encouragement to hasten this desirable work, the Committee are of opinion Congress should declare that so soon as these accounts shall be all settled, and it shall appear in favor of what states balances arise, such states shall have credit for the same in the requisitions next ensuing.
But it will be necessary also to remind the states that no materials have yet been furnished to enable Congress to adjust the ultimate ratio in which the expenditures of the late war shall be apportioned on the states. The Confederation directs that this shall be regulated by the value of the lands in the several states with the buildings & improvements thereon. Experiments made however since the date of that instrument for the purposes of ordinary taxation had induced doubts both as to the practicability of this rule of apportionment and of it’s equality apportionable. Yet Congress thought it their duty to give it fair trial, and recommended to the several states on the 17th of Feb. 1783. to furnish an account of their lands buildings & number of inhabitants, whereon they might proceed to estimate their respective quotas. But apprehending the incompetence of the rule would immediately shew itself, and desirous that no time should be unnecessarily lost, they followed it with another recommendation of the 18th. of Apr. 1783. to substitute in lieu of that article in the Confederation another which should make the number of inhabitants, under certain modifications, the measure of contribution for each state. Both these propositions are still under reference to the several legislatures; the latter accompanied by the earnest wishes & preference of Congress, under full conviction that it will be found in event the most as equal, the most more satisfactory, & most more easy of execution: the former only pressed if the other should be rejected. The Committee is informed that the states of Connecticut New Jersey, Pennsylvania & S. Carolina have acceded to the alteration proposed; but have no evidence that the other states have as yet decided thereon. As it is necessary that the one or the other measure should be immediately resorted to, they are of opinion it should be recommended to the legislatures which have not yet decided between them, to come to decision at their next meeting.
In order to present to the eye a general view of the several existing requisitions & of the payments made under them, the Committee has subjoined them in the form of a table, wherein the 1st. column enumerates the states: the 2d. the apportionment of the D1.200.000: the 3d. that of the 8. millions: the 4th. that of the 2. millions: the 5th. the sums paid by the several states in part of their respective quotas to the last day of the year 1783: and the 6th. the sums now required to made up three fourths of their respective quotas of the 8. millions expressd. in Dollrs. 10th. & 100th. of Doll.
It remained lastly to consider whether no facilities might be given to the paiment of these sums by the several states. The Committee observed that of the purposes for which money is wanting, about a moiety can be answered by nothing but money itself; but that the other moiety, consisting of interest on our domestic debt, may be effected by procuring a discount of the demand in the hands of the holder; an operation which will be shorter & less impoverishing to the state. And however, in times of greater plenty, the accuracy of fiscal administration might require all transactions to be in actual money, at the treasury itself; yet till our constituents shall have had some respite from their late difficulties, it behoves us to prefer their easement. The Committee are therefore of opinion that the several legislatures may be admitted so to model the collection of the sums now called for as that, the one half being paid in actual money, the other may be discharged by procuring discounts of interest with our domestic creditors; only taking care that the collection of money shall proceed at least in equal pace with the operations of discount. And to ascertain the evidence of discount which shall be receivable in lieu of money, the holders of loan office certificates shall be at liberty to carry them to the office from which they issued; and the holders of certificates of other liquidated debts of the United States, to carry the same to the loan office of that State wherein the debt was contracted and to have the interest due thereon settled & certified to the last day of the year 1783; for which interest the loan officer shall give a certificate in such form, and under such cautions & instructions as the Superintendant of finance shall transmit to him; which certificates of interest, being parted with by the holder of the principal, shall be deemed evidence that he has received satisfaction for the same, & therefore shall be receivable from the bearer, within the same State, in lieu of money in the proportion before stated. And where loan office certificates, issued after the 1st. day of Mar. 1778, shall be presented to the loan officer, they shall be reduced to their specie value according to the resolutions of Congress of June 28, 1780. that specie value expressed on some part of the certificate, & the interest thereon settled & certified as in other cases.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON
Annapolis, Mar. 31, 1784.
—Your servant delivered me your favor this morning; Capt. Barney is gone to Philadelphia and his vessel to Baltimore, having left with me one of your packages only. The persons who brought this could give me no certain account of the other package which you suppose to have been brought. This your servant now receives.
Being obliged to seize a moment in Congress of writing you these few lines, I can only mention to you that late advices from Europe mention another revolution in the British ministry, Mr. Pitt & his friends having resigned. No new ministry was formed. This does not come however authentically.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA1 (BENJAMIN HARRISON.)
Annapolis, Apr. 2, 1784.
—We have received no foreign intelligence through any authentic channel since the letter of Dr. Franklin of Dec. 25, an extract from which I formerly did myself the honour of enclosing to you. Through different ways however, such as to merit belief, we have information that the utmost confusion prevails in the British government. The House of Commons on the 16th of January came to a vote that the ministry (Mr. Pitt & his associates) neither possessed nor ought to possess the confidence of the nation. One account sais that on this Mr. Pitt resigned. Another that he had not resigned and that the doubt was whether the King would dissolve the parliament or part with his ministry. The error in the composition of the administration seems to have been the filling it from the house of lords, and taking in not enough of the men of interest and talents in the house of commons. Matters on the continent are quiet. The Emperor & Dutch have appointed commissioners to settle their differences. Whether his object was to have opened the Scheld, or whether the dispute arose about contested territory seems not very clear. I should have added to the above intelligence that the city of London were warm for Mr. Pitt and had addressed the King to continue his favor to him.—Your letter from Mount Vernon came safely to hand. We have eleven states in Congress, and are applying ourselves solely to the important subjects. I am not without hopes that we shall be able by the first of May to adjourn till November. Nothing could prevent it but the loss of votes sometimes by divisions of the states, 8 of the 11 being represented by two members only, any three of the sixteen members can still defeat our endeavors, and your knowledge of men will suggest to you the possibility of 3 dissenting voices out of 16 on any question. Mr. Mercer, the corresponding member for the month will perhaps be able to supply any intelligence which may escape me.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON
Annapolis, Apr. 6, 1784.
—I am obliged to you for your query as to the distance from New York to Cuyahoga, as it occasioned my re-examination of that matter & detection of an error of 150 miles. The distances from New York to Niagara I collect from information as follows
From Niagara to Cuyahoga 140 this last distance I collect by measuring on Hutchin’s map & reducing that proportionably by the known distance from Niagara to Detroit which is 250 miles.
The public papers confirm the resignation of Mr. Pitt & his friends. A ship arrived here, & some others in Philadelphia have brought us a riddle without a key. They received their bounties & drawbacks on clearing out from London as they used to do while we were colonies without any public act authorizing it being visible. The Custom house officers tendered them, & they were not so rude as to refuse them. The prohibitory proclamation they say is eluded & connived at by government. We have 11 states in Congress & hope by the middle of May to adjourn to November. If anything prevents this it will be the representation of 8. states of the 11. by 2 members each, who frequently dividing retard business extremely.—The inclosed letter was put into my hands with a request to forward it to you.—This will be delivered you by Monsr. de Hogendorff, a relation of Mr. Van Berchel’s. A very particular acquaintance with him here has led me to consider him as the best informed man of his age I have ever seen. Nature & application seem equally to have concurred in fitting him for important business. He returns to Holland, his native country, in the summer, and cannot deny himself the satisfaction of paying his tribute of respect to you.
P. S. The Minister of France arrived here to-day. I believe he is on a tour through Virginia, but I have not yet learned when he sets out. Since writing this I learn that the Minister has declined his tour through Virginia, but thinks to go as far as your house: perhaps within a fortnight.
NOTES ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A MONEY UNIT, AND OF A COINAGE FOR THE UNITED STATES1
In fixing the Unit of Money, these circumstances are of principal importance.
I. That it be of convenient size to be applied as a measure to the common money transactions of life.
II. That its parts and multiples be in an easy proportion to each other, so as to facilitate the money arithmetic.
III. That the Unit and its parts, or divisions, be so nearly of the value of some of the known coins, as that they may be of easy adoption for the people.
The Spanish Dollar seems to fulfill all these conditions.
I. Taking into our view all money transactions, great and small, I question if a common measure of more convenient size than the Dollar could be proposed. The value of 100, 1000, 10,000 dollars is well estimated by the mind; so is that of the tenth or the hundredth of a dollar. Few transactions are above or below these limits. The expediency of attending to the size of the money Unit will be evident, to any one who will consider how inconvenient it would be to a manufacturer or merchant, if, instead of the yard for measuring cloth, either the inch or the mile had been made the Unit of Measure.
II. The most easy ratio of multiplication and division, is that by ten. Every one knows the facility of Decimal Arithmetic. Every one remembers, that, when learning Money-Arithmetic, he used to be puzzled with adding the farthings, taking out the fours and carrying them on; adding the pence, taking out the twelves and carrying them on; adding the shillings, taking out the twenties and carrying them on; but when he came to the pounds, where he had only tens to carry forward, it was easy and free from error. The bulk of mankind are schoolboys through life. These little perplexities are always great to them. And even mathematical heads feel the relief of an easier, substituted for a more difficult process. Foreigners, too, who trade and travel among us, will find a great facility in understanding our coins and accounts from this ratio of subdivision. Those who have had occasion to convert the livres, sols, and deniers of the French; the gilders, stivers, and frenings of the Dutch; the pounds, shillings, pence, and farthings of these several States, into each other, can judge how much they would have been aided, had their several subdivisions been in a decimal ratio. Certainly, in all cases, where we are free to choose between easy and difficult modes of operation, it is most rational to choose the easy. The Financier, therefore, in his report, well proposes that our Coins should be in decimal proportions to one another. If we adopt the Dollar for our Unit, we should strike four coins, one of gold, two of silver, and one of copper, viz.:
Compare the arithmetical operations, on the same sum of money expressed in this form, and expressed in the pound sterling and its division.
A bare inspection of the above operations will evince the labor which is occasioned by subdividing the Unit into 20ths, 240ths, and 960ths, as the English do, and as we have done; and the ease of subdivision in a decimal ratio. The same difference arises in making payment. An Englishman, to pay £8, 13s. 11d. 1–2 qrs., must find, by calculation, what combination of the coins of his country will pay this sum; but an American having the same sum to pay, thus expressed $38.65, will know, by inspection only, that three golden pieces, eight units or dollars, six tenths, and five coppers, pay it precisely.
III. The third condition required is, that the Unit, its multiples, and subdivisions, coincide in value with some of the known coins so nearly, that the people may, by a quick reference in the mind, estimate their value. If this be not attended to, they will be very long in adopting the innovation, if ever they adopt it. Let us examine, in this point of view, each of the four coins proposed.
1. The golden piece will be 1–5 more than a half Joe, and 1–15 more than a double guinea. It will be readily estimated, then, by reference to either of them; but more readily and accurately as equal to ten dollars.
2. The Unit, or Dollar, is a known coin, and the most familiar of all, to the minds of the people. It is already adopted from South to North? has identified our currency, and therefore happily offers itself as a Unit already introduced. Our public debt, our requisitions, and their appointments, have given it actual and long possession of the place of Unit. The course of our commerce, too, will bring us more of this than of any other foreign coin, and therefore renders it more worthy of attention. I know of no Unit which can be proposed in competition with the Dollar, but the Pound. But what is the Pound? 1547 grains of fine silver in Georgia; 1289 grains in Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire; 1031 1–4 grains in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; 966 3–4 grains in North Carolina and New York. Which of these shall we adopt? To which State give that pre-eminence of which all are so jealous? And on which impose the difficulties of a new estimate of their corn, their cattle, and other commodities? Or shall we hang the pound sterling, as a common badge, about all their necks? This contains 1718 3–4 grains of pure silver. It is difficult to familiarize a new coin to the people; it is more difficult to familiarize them to a new coin with an old name. Happily, the dollar is familiar to them all, and is already as much referred to for a measure of value, as their respective provincial pounds.
3. The tenth will be precisely the Spanish bit, or half pistereen. This is a coin perfectly familiar to us all. When we shall make a new coin, then, equal in value to this, it will be of ready estimate with the people.
4. The hundredth, or copper, will differ little from the copper of the four Eastern States, which is 1–108 of a dollar; still less from the penny of New York and North Carolina, which is 1–96 of a dollar; and somewhat more than the penny or copper of Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, which is 1–90 of a dollar. It will be about the medium between the old and the new coppers of these States, and will therefore soon be substituted for them both. In Virginia, coppers have never been in use. It will be as easy, therefore, to introduce them there of one value as of another. The copper coin proposed will be nearly equal to three-fourths of their penny, which is the same with the penny lawful of the Eastern States.
A great deal of small change is useful in a State, and tends to reduce the price of small articles. Perhaps it would not be amiss to coin three more pieces of silver, one of the value of five-tenths, or half a dollar, one of the value of two-tenths, which would be equal to the Spanish pistereen, and one of the value of five coppers, which would be equal to the Spanish half-bit. We should then have five silver coins, viz.:
1. The Unit or Dollar:
2. The half dollar or five-tenths:
3. The double tenth, equal to 2, or one-fifth of a dollar, or to the pistereen:
4. The tenth, equal to a Spanish bit:
5. The five copper piece, equal to .5, or one-twentieth of a dollar, or the half-bit.
The plan reported by the Financier is worthy of his sound judgment. It admits, however, of objection, in the size of the Unit. He proposes that this shall be the 1440th part of a dollar: so that it will require 1440 of his units to make the one before proposed. He was led to adopt this by a mathematical attention to our old currencies, all of which this Unit will measure without leaving a fraction. But as our object is to get rid of those currencies, the advantage derived from this coincidence will soon be past, whereas the inconveniencies of this Unit will forever remain, if they do not altogether prevent its introduction. It is defective in two of the three requisites of a Money Unit. 1. It is inconvenient in its application to the ordinary money transactions. 10,000 dollars will require eight figures to express them, to wit, 14,400,000 units. A horse or bullock of eighty dollars value, will require a notation of six figures, to wit, 115,200 units. As a money of account, this will be laborious, even when facilitated by the aid of decimal arithmetic: as a common measure of the value of property, it will be too minute to be comprehended by the people. The French are subjected to very laborious calculations, the Livre being their ordinary money of account, and this but between 1–5th and 1–6th of a dollar; but what will be our labors should our money of account be 1–1440th of a dollar? 2. It is neither equal, nor near to any of the known coins in value.
If we determine that a Dollar shall be our Unit, we must then say with precision what a Dollar is. This coin, struck at different times, of different weights and fineness, is of different values. Sir Isaac Newton’s assay and representation to the Lords of the Treasury, in 1717, of those which he examined, make their values as follows:
The Financier states the old Dollar as containing 376 grains of fine silver, and the new 365 grains. If the Dollars circulating among us be of every date equally, we should examine the quantity of pure metal in each, and from them form an average for our Unit. This is a work proper to be committed to mathematicians as well as merchants, and which should be decided on actual and accurate experiment.
The quantum of alloy is also to be decided. Some is necessary to prevent the coin from wearing too fast; too much, fills our pockets with copper, instead of silver. The silver coin assayed by Sir Isaac Newton, varied from 1 1–2 to 76 pennyweights alloy, in the pound troy of mixed metal. The British standard has 18 dwt.; the Spanish coins assayed by Sir Isaac Newton have from 18 to 19 1–2 dwt.; the new French crown has in fact 19 1–2, though by edict, it should have 20 dwt., that is 1–12.
The taste of our countrymen will require, that their furniture plate should be as good as the British standard. Taste cannot be controlled by law. Let it then give the law, in a point which is indifferent to a certain degree. Let the Legislature fix the alloy of furniture plate at 18 dwt., the British standard, and Congress that of their coin at one ounce in the pound, the French standard. This proportion has been found convenient for the alloy of gold coin, and it will simplify the system of our mint to alloy both metals in the same degree. The coin, too, being the least pure, will be the less easily melted into plate. These reasons are light, indeed, and, of course, will only weigh, if no heavier ones can be opposed to them.
The proportion between the values of gold and silver is a mercantile problem altogether. It would be inaccurate to fix it by the popular exchanges of a half Joe for eight dollars, a Louis for four French crowns, or five Louis for twenty-three dollars. The first of these would be about the Spanish proportion between gold and silver; the second, the French; the third, a mere popular barter, wherein convenience is consulted more than accuracy. The legal proportion in Spain is 16 for 1; in England, 15 1–2 for 1; in France, 15 for 1. The Spaniards and English are found, in experience, to retain an over-proportion of gold coins, and to lose their silver. The French have a greater proportion of silver. The difference at market has been on the decrease. The Financier states it at present, as at 14 1–2 for one. Just principles will lead us to disregard legal proportions altogether; to enquire into the market price of gold, in the several countries with which we shall principally be connected in commerce, and to take an average from them. Perhaps we might, with safety, lean to a proportion somewhat above par for gold, considering our neighborhood, and commerce with the sources of the coins, and the tendency which the high price of gold in Spain has, to draw thither all that of their mines, leaving silver principally for our and other markets. It is not impossible that 15 for 1, may be found an eligible proportion. I state it, however, as a conjecture only.
As to the alloy for gold coin, the British is an ounce in the pound; the French, Spanish, and Portuguese differ from that, only from a quarter of a grain, to a grain and a half. I should, therefore, prefer the British, merely because its fraction stands in a more simple form, and facilitates the calculations into which it enters.
Should the Unit be fixed at 365 grains of pure silver, gold at 15 for 1, and the alloy of both be one-twelfth, the weight of the coins will be as follows:
The quantity of fine silver which shall constitute the Unit, being settled, and the proportion of the value of gold to that of silver; a table should be formed from the assay before suggested, classing the several foreign coins according to their fineness, declaring the worth of a pennyweight or grain in each class, and that they shall be lawful tenders at those rates, if not clipped or otherwise diminished; and, where diminished, offering their value for them at the mint, deducting the expense of re-coinage. Here the Legislatures should co-operate with Congress, in providing that no money be received or paid at their treasuries, or by any of their officers, or any bank, but on actual weight; in making it criminal, in a high degree, to diminish their own coins, and, in some smaller degree, to offer them in payment when diminished.
That this subject may be properly prepared, and in readiness for Congress to take up at their meeting in November, something must now be done. The present session drawing to a close, they probably would not choose to enter far into this undertaking themselves. The Committee of the States, however, during the recess, will have time to digest it thoroughly, if Congress will fix some general principles for their government. Suppose they be instructed,
To appoint proper persons to assay and examine, with the utmost accuracy practicable, the Spanish milled dollars of different dates, in circulation with us.
To assay and examine, in like manner, the fineness of all the other coins which may be found in circulation within these States.
To report to the Committee the result of these assays, by them to be laid before Congress.
To appoint, also, proper persons to enquire what are the proportions between the values of fine gold, and fine silver, at the markets of the several countries with which we are, or probably may be, connected in commerce; and what would be a proper proportion here, having regard to the average of their values at those markets, and to other circumstances, and to report the same to the Committee, by them to be laid before Congress.
To prepare an Ordinance for establishing the Unit of Money within these States; for subdividing it; and for striking coins of gold, silver, and copper, on the following principles:
That the Money Unit of these States shall be equal in value to a Spanish milled dollar containing so much fine silver as the assay, before directed, shall show to be contained, on an average, in dollars of the several dates in circulation with us.
That this Unit shall be divided into tenths and hundredths; that there shall be a coin of silver of the value of a Unit; one other of the same metal, of the value of one-tenth of a Unit; one other of copper, of the value of the hundredth of a Unit.
That there shall be a coin of gold of the value of ten Units, according to the report before directed, and the judgment of the Committee thereon.
That the alloy of the said coins of gold and silver, shall be equal in weight to one-eleventh part of the fine metal.
That there be proper devices for these coins.
That measures be proposed for preventing their diminution, and also their currency, and that of any others, when diminished.
That the several foreign coins be described and classed in the said Ordinance, the fineness of each class stated, and its value by weight estimated in Units and decimal parts of Units.
And that the said draught of an Ordinance be reported to Congress at their next meeting, for their consideration and determination.
The preceding notes having been submitted to the consideration of the Financier, he favored me with his opinion and observations on them, which render necessary the following supplementary explanations.
I observed, in the preceding notes, that the true proportion of value between gold and silver was a mercantile problem altogether, and that, perhaps, fifteen for one, might be found an eligible proportion. The Financier is so good as to inform me, that this would be higher than the market would justify. Confident of his better information on this subject, I recede from that idea.1
He also informs me, that the several coins, in circulation among us, have been already assayed with accuracy, and the result published in a work on that subject. The assay of Sir Isaac Newton had superseded, in my mind, the necessity of this operation as to the older coins, which were the subject of his examination. This latter work, with equal reason, may be considered as saving the same trouble as to the latter coins.
So far, then, I accede to the opinions of the Financier. On the other hand, he seems to concur with me, in thinking his smallest fractional division too minute for a Unit, and, therefore, proposes to transfer that denomination to his largest silver coin, containing 1000 of the units first proposed, and worth about 4s. 2d. lawful, or 25–36 of a Dollar. The only question then remaining between us is, whether the Dollar, or this coin, be best for the Unit. We both agree that the ease of adoption with the people, is the thing to be aimed at.
1. As to the Dollar, events have overtaken and superseded the question. It is no longer a doubt whether the people can adopt it with ease; they have adopted it, and will have to be turned out of that, into another tract of calculation, if another Unit be assumed. They have now two Units, which they use with equal facility, viz., the Pound of their respective State, and the Dollar. The first of these is peculiar to each State: the second, happily, common to all. In each State, the people have an easy rule of converting the pound of their State into dollars, or dollars into pounds; and this is enough for them, without knowing how this may be done in every State of the Union. Such of them as live near enough the borders of their State to have dealings with their neighbors, learn also the rule of their neighbors; thus, in Virginia and the Eastern States, where the dollar is 6s. or 3–10 of a pound, to turn pounds into dollars, they multiply by 10 and divide by 3. To turn dollars into pounds, they multiply by 3, and divide by 10. Those in Virginia who live near to Carolina, where the dollar is 8s. or 4–10 of a pound, learn the operation of that State, which is a multiplication by 4, and division by 10, et e converso. Those who live near Maryland, where the dollar is 7s. 6d. or 3–8 of a pound, multiply by 3, and divide by 8, et e converso. All these operations are easy, and have been found, by experience, not too much for the arithmetic of the people, when they have occasion to convert their old Unit into dollars, or the reverse.
2. As to the Unit of the Financier; in the States where the dollar is 3–10 of a pound, this Unit will be 5–24. Its conversion into the pound then, will be by a multiplication of 5, and a division by 24. In the States where the dollar is 3–8 of a pound, this Unit will be 25–96 of a pound, and the operation must be to multiply by 25, and divide by 96, et e converso. Where the dollar is 4–10 of a pound, this Unit will be 5–18. The simplicity of the fraction, and of course the facility of conversion and reconversion, is therefore against this Unit, and in favor of the dollar, in every instance. The only advantage it has over the dollar, is, that it will in every case express our farthing without a remainder; whereas, though the dollar and its decimals will do this in many cases, it will not in all. But, even in these, by extending your notation one figure further, to wit, to thousands, you approximate to perfect accuracy within less than the two-thousandth part of a dollar; an atom in money which every one would neglect. Against this single inconvenience, the other advantages of the dollar are more than sufficient to preponderate. This Unit will present to the people a new coin, and whether they endeavor to estimate its value by comparing it with a Pound, or with a Dollar, the Units they now possess, they will find the fraction very compound, and of course less accommodated to their comprehension and habits than the dollar. Indeed the probability is, that they could never be led to compute in it generally.
The Financier supposes that the 1–100 part of a dollar is not sufficiently small, where the poor are purchasers or vendors. If it is not, make a smaller coin. But I suspect that it is small enough. Let us examine facts, in countries where we are acquainted with them. In Virginia, where our towns are few, small, and of course their demand for necessaries very limited, we have never yet been able to introduce a copper coin at all. The smallest coin which anybody will receive there, is the half-bit, or 1–20 of a dollar. In those States where the towns are larger and more populous, a more habitual barter of small wants, has called for a copper coin of 1–90, 1–96, or 1–108 of a dollar. In England, where the towns are many and populous, and where ages of experience have matured the conveniences of intercourse, they have found that some wants may be supplied for a farthing, or 1–208 of a dollar, and they have accommodated a coin to this want. This business is evidently progressive. In Virginia, we are far behind. In some other States, they are further advanced, to wit, to the appreciation of 1–90, 1–96, 1–108 of a dollar. To this most advanced state, then, I accommodated my smallest coin in the decimal arrangement, as a money of payment, corresponding with the money of account. I have no doubt the time will come when a smaller coin will be called for. When that comes, let it be made. It will probably be the half of the copper I suppose, that is to say, 5–1000 or .005 of a dollar, this being very nearly the farthing of England. But it will be time enough to make it, when the people shall be ready to receive it.
My proposition then, is, that our notation of money shall be decimal, descending ad libitum of the person noting; that the Unit of this notation shall be a Dollar; that coins shall be accommodated to it from ten dollars to the hundredth of a dollar; and that, to set this on foot, the resolutions be adopted which were proposed in the notes, only substituting an inquiry into the fineness of the coins in lieu of an assay of them.
Annapolis May 9, 1784
MOTION ON STEUBEN.1
[April 13, 1784]
Congress having been made sensible that Major Genl. Baron de Steuben when he left Europe to enter into the service of America, independantly of other sacrifices, relinquished offices of very considerable income & honour and that unless he can receive the Monies due to him from these states, his return from their service will be to a Situation distressing to himself dishonourable to them & discouraging to others in future.
Resolved that the proper officers proceed to the liquidation of the Monies due from these states to Majr. Genl. Baron de Steuben: that the financier paid to him dollars in part thereof that he Superintendant of finance report to Congress his opinion of the most speedy & practicable efficacious means of procuring & paying the same either here or in Europe; that Baron Steuben be assured that Congress will adopt these or such others, as shall appear most proper and effectual for doing him that justice which the peculiarity of his case authorise for his own accommodation in the mean time he be presented with ten thousand dollars for the immediate delivery of which the financier will take order
NOTES ON THE PERMANENT SEAT OF CONGRESS.1
[April 13, 1784]
North River—recommended for the permanent seat of Congs. chiefly by its security against foreign danger.
Falls of Potomac—By 1. geographical centrality—2. proximity to Western Country already ceded—3. inducement to further cessions from N. C. S. C. & Georgia. 4. remoteness from the influence of any overgrown commercial city.
Falls of Delaware—By 1. centrality with regard to number of inhabitants. 2. centrality as to no. of States & of Delegates. 3. facility of obtaining intelligence from sea.
Temporary seat of Congress—
Princeton—in favor of it, 1. its neighbourhood to the Permanent seat, 2. inconveniency of a removal. 3. beneficial effect of a frugal situation of Congs. on their popularity throughout the States. 4. the risque in case of removal from Princeton of returning under the commercial & corrupt influence of Philada.—against it—1—unfitness for transacting the public business—2. deficiency of accomodation, exposing yemembers attending members to the danger of indignities & extortions, discouraging perhaps the fitest men from undertaking the services & amounting to a prohibition of such as had families from which they would not part. 3
Trenton. argts. in favor & agst. it similar to those respecting Princeton. It was particularly remarked that when the option lay between the President & committee between Trenton & Princeton the latter was preferred as least unfit to receive Congs. on their removal from Philada.
Philada. In favor of it. 1. its infinite unrivaled conveniency for transacting the public business, & accomodating Congress. 2 its being the only place where the all the public offices, particularly that of Finance could be kept under the inspection & controul of, & proper intercourse with Congs. 3 its conveniency for F. Ministers, to which, cæteris paribus, some regard would be expected. 4 the circumstances which produced a removal from Philada. which rendered a return expedient as soon as the insult had been expiated, expedient for supporting in the eyes of foreign nations the appearance of internal harmony, and preventing an appearance of resentment in Congs. agst. the state of Pa. or city of Philada. an appearance which was very much strengthened by some of their proceedings at Princeton—particularly by an unnecessary & irregular declaration not to return to Phia. In addition to these overt reasons, it was concluded by sundry of the members who were most anxious to fix Congs. permanently at Georgeto the falls of Potowmac that a temporary residence in Philada. would be most likely to endeavor prepare a sufficient number of votes in favor of Philadep for that place in preference to the Falls of Delaware for the permanent, and to produce a reconsideration of the vote in favor of the latter agst. Philada. were alleged. 1. the difficulty & uncertainty of getting away from it at the time limited. 2 the influence of a large comercial & wealthy city on the public councils. In addition to these objections, the hatred agst. Mr. M. and hope of accelerating his final resignation were latent motives with some, as perhaps envy of the prosperity of Philada. might be and dislike of the support of Pa. to obnoxious recomendations of Congs. were with others.
Annapolis. In favor of it, 1st. its capacity for accommodating Congs. and its conveniences for the public business. 2. the soothing tendency of so Southern a position on the temper of the S. States. Agst. it, 1st. the preposterousness of taking a temporary station so distant from the permanent seat fixed on, especially as better accomodations were to be passed by at Philada. which was not less than ⅘ths of the distance from the Permanent Seat 2d. the peculiar force such a step would give to the charge agst. Congs. of being swayed by improper motives. Besides these considerations it was the opinion of some that way a removal of Congs. to Annapolis would inspire Maryland with hopes that wd. prevent a co-operation in favor of Georgetown, & favor the commerce of that State at the expence of Virginia.
1. It requires 9 states to appropriate money, and only 7 to adjourn. There cannot therefore be buildings erected at Georgetown without the concurrence of 9 states, a number which I fear we shall never obtain. Yet if the buildings were erected, 7 could adjourn us there, & this number is within hope, but not within certainty.
Obj. It is then but a speculation by which the state may throw away 15000 Dollars.
Answ. True. But this is the extent of their loss.
Their possible advantages will be
RESOLUTIONS FOR THE LEGISLATURES OF MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA.1
[April 13, 1784]
Resolved that the Governor be desired to propose to the state of Maryland to concur with this Commonwealth in erecting buildings for the immediate accomodation of the Congress of the United States on the lands on Potowmac offered to be ceded to them by these two states, & particularly on such parts of them as they shall have reason to believe will be most agreeable to the Congress, the expence of which buildings with the purchase of the ground shall not exceed thirty thousand dollars to be advanced from time to time, as it shall be wanting, by the said states in equal portions: which advances on the part of this Commonwealth the Treasurer is hereby authorized & required to make on warrants from the Auditors according to the established forms of his office.
Resolved that three Commissioners be appointed by joint balot of both houses of Assembly, to act with Commissioners or other persons appointed or to be appointed on the part of the state of Maryland, who shall have powers to purchase sufficient ground to agree on the buildings necessary to be erected, to have them erected without delay, to call for & to apply Monies by way of paiment or of advance for the same, and to tender the said buildings to Congress for the sole purpose of their general & of their personal accomodation.
Resolved that to prevent any difficulties or delays which might be produced by doubts in what manner the said Commissioners when assembled shall vote, it be proposed to the State of Maryland that they shall proceed to business always with an equal number (not less than two) from each state, that, so constituted, they shall be considered as forming one Committee, every member whereof shall have one vote and no more and that if at any time they shall be divided on any question which may be likely to delay the said work, they shall state the same in writing to the delegates of the two states, in Congress, who concurring by a Majority of their respective members present shall decide the same.
RESOLVE ON CONTINENTAL CONGRESS
[April 14, 1784?]
1. Resolved that the object of the several states in appointing delegates to meet in General Congress, being that they may therein proceed transact for the good of their states several of the Union in general and their state in particular, those matters which the Confederation has submitted to the direction of Congress, the said delegates ought to be invested in the place where they may be sitting with such privileges and exemptions immunities as will leave them in cover them from molestation and disturbance, and leave them in freedom & tranquility to apply their whole time and attention to the objects of their delegation.
2. That territory and exclusive jurisdiction in & about the place of their session is not necessary to attain these ends and would subject them to avocations from their proper objects.
3. That the legations which have been practised among long experience has led the civilized nations of Europe have led to a long course of experience to an ascertainment of those privileges and immunities which are necessary for the free exercise of their functions which may enable the representative of an independent nation exercising high functions within another that they may to do the same unawed and undisturbed and that therefore the privileges and immunities annexed by the law and usage of nations to such characters to these legations should be allowed to the Congress of the United States collectively and to their members individually by the laws of the states in and adjacent to which they may be sitting, and should be secured in their continuance by sufficient sanctions.
4. That legal provision should also be made for protecting and vindicating those privileges and immunities to which foreign ministers & others attending on Congress are entitled by the law of nations.
5. That Congress will rely on the honour and affection of the states in and adjacent to which they may be sitting as a security that measures shall always be provided for preventing violations of their rights when foreseen before stated in general and duly punishing them when arising too suddenly for prevention.
6. That the United States should be made capable of acquiring & holding in perpetuum such grounds and buildings in and about the place of their session of Congress as may be necessary for the transaction of business by their own for their body, their committees & officers for the transaction of business and that each state should be made capable of acquiring and holding in perpetuum such grounds and buildings as they may at any time think proper to acquire & erect for the personal accomodation of their delegates: and that all these grounds and buildings before mentioned so long as they shall be so long as Congress or a Commee of the states shall be resident at such place shall should be exempt from taxation.
7. That as in time of war the enemies of these states might employ emissaries and spies to discover the views & proceedings of Congress Congress that body should have authority within a certain distance of the place of their session to arrest and deal with as they shall think proper, all persons, not being citizens of any of these states nor entitled to their protection, whom they shall have cause to suspect to be spies.
8. That as the United States in Congress assembled represent the sovereignty of the whole Union, their body collectively and their President individually should on all occasions have precedence of all other bodies & persons.
9. That during the recess of Congress the Committee of the states being left to pursue the same objects & under the same circumstances their body, their members & their President, or chairman should respectively be placed on the same footing with the body the members & the President of Congress respectively.
TO GEORGE WASHINGTON
Annapolis, Apr 16. 1784.
—I received your favor of Apr. 8. by Colo. Harrison. The subject of it is interesting, and, so far as you have stood connected with it, has been matter of anxiety to me; because whatever may be the ultimate fate of the institution of the Cincinnati, as in it’s course it draws to it some degree of disapprobation, I have wished to see you standing on ground separated from it, and that the character which will be handed to future ages at the head of our revolution may in no instance be compromitted in subordinate altercations. The subject has been at the point of my pen in every letter I have written to you, but has been still restrained by the reflection that you had among your friends more able counsellors, and, in yourself, one abler than them all. Your letter has now rendered a duty what was before a desire, and I cannot better merit your confidence than by a full and free communication of facts & sentiments, as far as they have come within my observation. When the army was about to be disbanded, & the officers to take final leave, perhaps never again to meet, it was natural for men who had accompanied each other thro’ so many scenes of hardship, of difficulty and danger, who in a variety of instances must have been rendered mutually dear by those aids & good offices to which their situations had given occasion; it was natural I say for these to seize with fondness any proposition which promised to bring them together again at certain & regular periods. And this I take for granted was the origin & object of this institution; & I have no suspicion that they foresaw, much less intended, those mischiefs, which exist perhaps in the forebodings of politicians only. I doubt however whether, in it’s execution, it would be found to answer the wishes of those who framed it, and to foster those friendships it was intended to preserve. The members would be brought together at their annual assemblies no longer to encounter a common enemy, but to encounter one another in debate & sentiment. For something I suppose is to be done at these meetings, & however unimportant, it will suffice to produce difference of opinion, contradiction & irritation. The way to make friends quarrel is to put them in disputation under the public eye. An experience of near twenty years has taught me that few friendships stand this test, & that public assemblies, where every one is free to act & speak, are the most powerful looseners of the bands of private friendship. I think therefore that this institution would fail in it’s principal object, the perpetuation of the personal friendships contracted thro’ the war.
The objections of those who are opposed to the institution shall be briefly sketched. You will readily fill them up. They urge that it is against the confederation—against the letter of some of our constitutions;—against the spirit of all of them—that the foundation on which all these are built is the natural equality of man, the denial of every preeminence but that annexed to legal office, & particularly the denial of a preeminence by birth; that however, in their present dispositions, citizens might decline accepting honorary instalments into the order, a time may come when a change of dispositions would render these flattering, when a well directed distribution of them might draw into the order all the men of talents, of office & wealth, and in this case would probably procure an ingraftment into the government; that in this they will be supported by their foreign members, & the wishes & influence of foreign courts; that experience has shewn that the hereditary branches of modern governments are the patrons of privilege & prerogative, & not of the natural rights of the people whose oppressors they generally are: that besides these evils, which are remote, others may take place more immediately; that a distinction is kept up between the civil & military, which it is for the happiness of both to obliterate; that when the members assemble they will be proposing to do something, & what that something may be will depend on actual circumstances; that being an organized body under habits of subordination, the first obstructions to enterprize will be already surmounted; that the moderation & virtue of a single character has probably prevented this revolution from being closed as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish; that he is not immortal, & his successor, or some of his successors, may be led by false calculation into a less certain road to glory:
What are the sentiments of Congress on this subject, & what line will they pursue, can only be stated conjecturally. Congress, as a body, if left to themselves, will in my opinion say nothing on the subject. They may however be forced into a declaration by instructions from some of the states, or by other incidents. Their sentiments, if forced from them, will be unfriendly to the institution. If permitted to pursue their own path, they will check it by side blows whenever it comes in their way, &, in competitions for office, on equal or nearly equal ground, will give silent preferences to those who are not of the fraternity. My reasons for thinking this are 1. The grounds on which they lately declined the foreign order proposed to be conferred on some of our citizens. 2. The fourth of the fundamental articles of constitution for the new states. I inclose you the report. It has been considered by Congress, recommitted & reformed by a committee according to sentiments expressed on other parts of it, but the principle referred to, having not been controverted at all, stands in this as in the original report. It is not yet confirmed by Congress. 3. Private conversations on this subject with the members. Since the receipt of your letter I have taken occasion to extend these; not indeed to the military members, because, being of the order, delicacy forbade it; but to the others pretty generally; and among these I have as yet found but one who is not opposed to the institution, & that with an anguish of mind, tho’ covered under a guarded silence, which I have not seen produced by any circumstance before. I arrived at Philadelphia before the separation of the last Congress, & saw there & at Princetown some of its members not now in delegation. Burke’s piece happened to come out at that time, which occasioned this institution to be the subject of conversation. I found the same impressions made on them which their successors have received. I hear from other quarters that it is disagreeable generally to such citizens as have attended to it, & therefore will probably be so to all when any circumstance shall present it to the notice of all.
This, Sir, is as faithful an account of sentiments & facts as I am able to give you. You know the extent of the circle within which my observations are at present circumscribed, & can estimate how far, as forming a part of the general opinion, it may merit notice, or ought to influence your particular conduct.
It remains now to pay obedience to that part of your letter which requests sentiments on the most eligible measures to be pursued by the society at their next meeting. I must be far from pretending to be a judge of what would in fact be the most eligible measures for the society. I can only give you the opinions of those with whom I have conversed, & who, as I have before observed, are unfriendly to it. They lead to these conclusions. 1. If the society proceeds according to it’s institution, it will be better to make no applications to Congress on that subject or any other in their associated character. 2. If they should propose to modify it, so as to render it unobjectionable, I think this would not be effected without such a modification as would amount almost to annihilation; for such would it be to part with it’s inheritability, it’s organization, & it’s assemblies. 3. If they shall be disposed to discontinue the whole, it would remain with them to determine whether they would chuse it to be done by their own act only, or by a reference of the matter to Congress which would infallibly produce a recommendation of total discontinuance.
You will be sensible, Sir, that these communications are without all reserve. I supposed such to be your wish, & mean them but as materials with such others as you may collect, for your better judgment to work on. I consider the whole matter as between ourselves alone, having determined to take no active part in this or anything else, which may lead to altercation, or disturb that quiet & tranquillity of mind to which I consign the remaining portion of my life. I have been thrown back by events on a stage where I had never more thought to appear. It is but for a time however, & as a day labourer, free to withdraw, or be withdrawn at will. While I remain I shall pursue in silence the path of right, but in every situation, public or private, I shall be gratified by all occasions of rendering you service, & of convincing you there is no one to whom your reputation & happiness are dearer.
TO JAMES MADISON
Annapolis, April 25, 1784.
—My last to you on the 16th of March, as was the latest I have received from you. By the proposition to bound our country to the westward I meant no more than the passing an act declaring that that should be our boundary from the moment that the people of the Western country & Congress should agree to it. The act of Congress now inclosed to you will shew you that they have agreed to it, because it extends not only to the territory ceded, but to be ceded, and shews how and when they shall be taken into the union. There is nobody then to consult but the people to be severed. If you will make your act final as to yourselves, as soon as those people shall have declared their assent in a certain manner to be pointed out by the act, the whole business is settled. For their assent will follow immediately. One of the conditions is that they pay their quota of the contracted. Of course no difficulty need arise on this head: as no quota has been fixed on us unalterably. The minuter circumstances of selling the ungranted lands will be provided in an ordinance already prepared but not reported. You will observe two clauses struck out of the report, the 1st respecting hereditary honors, the second slavery. The 1st was done not from an approbation of such honors, but because it was thought an improper place to encounter them. The 2nd was lost by an individual vote only. Ten states were present. The 4 Eastern states N. York, and Penns., were for the clause. Jersey would have been for it, but there were but two members, one of whom was sick in his chambers. South Carolina, Maryland, and !Virginia! voted against it. N. Carolina was divided, as would have been Virginia, had not one of its delegates been sick in bed.
The place at which Congress should meet in Nov. has been the subject of discussion lately. Alexandria, Philadelphia, & Trenton were proposed. The first was negatived easily. Trenton had the 4 Eastern states, N. Y., N. J., & Penns. We expect Georgia & Delaware shortly, in which case it will become possible that Phila. may be determined on. The question is put off to be considered with the establishment of a com. of the states, which, to my astonishment, would have been negatived when first proposed had not the question been staved off. Some of the states who were against the measure, I believe, because they had never reflected on the consequences of leaving a government without a head, seem to be come over.
Dr. Lee is appointed an Indian com. He is not present, but is known to have sought it, & of course will accept. This vacates his seat here. I wish Short could be sent in his room. It is a good school for our young statesmen. It gives them impressions friendly to the federal government instead of those adverse which too often take place in persons confined to the politics of their state.
I like the method you propose of settling at once with Maryland all matters relative to Potowmac. To introduce this more easily, I have conversed with Mr. Stone (one of their delegates) on the subject & finding him of the same opinion, have told him I would by letters bring the subject forward on our part. They will consider it therefore as originated by this conversation.
Mercer is 604 ing a very 590. or 745 part. He is a candidate for the 188 [secretary?] ship of foreign 575 [affairs?] and tho he will not get the vote of one state I believe he expects the appointment. He has been endeavoring to defeat all foreign treaties to force the nations of Europe to 400. 255 treat here that he may have the execution of 238. 789. 243. 926. 523. this 467. 364 tho he 960. not 374 the vote of his state. He intrigued with a 312. 730 1017 ol from wes 66 & an old one from New York 890 424 [?] them to divide their state by voting in the 1095 and there being but 586 states present one of which was 728 before to be divided the 467 set of 99 were re 921. 278. 539. 359 tho approved by twenty-one out of twenty-five members the 467 364 has been in the 895. 565. for a month and whether it can be resumed & 835 depends on the uncertainty of 160 or 343 coming on. Vanity & ambition [?] seem to be the 398 ing passion of this 312 730. man and as his 898 are in 818. re as also are his mean intrigue is a principal one on 820 47 as party attachment is in the able his 6 now about one 760 of the time of Congress to himself & in conversations with Read, 651, 746, 776. 14. 364. inconceivable that 823. the 794 is col 66 & no otherwise of Ken[tucky?] than as by his vote 24 can divide his state.
The more I reflected on your proposition for printing the Revisal, the more I have liked it. I am convinced too from late experiments it cannot be passed in the detail. One of the Eastern States had their laws revised and then attempted to pass them through their legislature, but they got so mangled that all consistence was destroyed, & I believe they dropped them altogether. Should this be printed, I will ask you to send me half a dozen copies wherever I shall be.
Would it not be well for Virginia to empower persons privately to buy up her quota of old Continental Money. I would certainly advise this were I not afraid that the possession of her quota on such easy terms would tempt her to refuse justice to the other states on this matter. For surely there would be no justice in wiping off her part of this debt by so much smaller a contribution than the others. If she would avail herself of it only to shield herself against injustice and to enable her from a high ground to declare & do what is right, I should much wish to see her adopt secret measures for the purchase. I think some other states will do thus & fear with unjust views. You know that many gentlemen of this state had money in the hands of merchants in England. I am well informed that these merchants have uniformly refused to pay them interest, saying the money was always ready if they would have called for it. This adds another to the many good reasons we had before against paying interest during the war. * * *
Congress hope to adjourn by the last of May. The estimate and requisitions for the year, the arrangements for the land office, and foreign treaties, are subjects they will endeavor to complete. Vermont is pressed on them by New York, and a day declared beyond which they will await no interposition, but assert their right of government. The Chevalier Luzerne has taken his leave of us. He makes a tour to the lakes before he leaves the continent. Marbois acts as chargé des affaires till the arrival of a successor. * * *
April 30. A London ship is arrived here which left that port the 25th March. Pitt was still in place, supported by the King, lords, and nation in general, the city of London enthusiastically in his favor. Still there was a majority of twelve in favor of Fox, who was supported by the Prince of Wales. It was thought that parliament would be dissolved. Congress has determined to adjourn on the 3d June to meet in November at Trenton. Adieu.
REPORT ON MERCER1
[April 27, 1784.]
The commee &c. having agreed to the following resolution.
Resolved that the Superintendant of finance be directed to take order for the paiment of 333⅓ Dollars to the guardian of Hugh Mercer son of the late General Mercer for one year’s education & maintenance.
DRAFT OF “AN ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING A LAND OFFICE FOR THE UNITED STATES”2
[April 30, 1784.]
Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, that the territory ceded by individual States to the United States, when the same shall have been purchased of the Indian inhabitants, & laid off into States, shall be disposed of in the following manner. It shall be divided into Hundreds of ten geographical miles square, each mile containing 6086 feet and four tenths of a foot, by lines to be run & marked due North & South, & others crossing these at right angles, the first of which lines, each way, shall be at ten miles distance from one of the corners, of the State within which they shall be. But if the Indian purchase shall not have included any one of the corners of the state, the lines shall then be run at the termination of integral miles as measured from some one of the corners, but shall be extended, by actual marks, only so far as the purchase extends. These Hundreds shall be subdivided into lots of one mile square each, or 850 acres and four tenths of an acre by marked lines running in like manner due North & South and others crossing these at right angles.
For laying off the said territory, Surveyors shall be appointed by Congress, or the Committee of the States, who shall proceed forthwith, under the direction of the Register hereafter to be mentioned, to divide the same into hundreds, by lines in the directions, & at the intervals before mentioned, which lines shall be measured with a chain, shall be plainly marked by Chops, or marks on the trees & shall be exactly described on the plat, whereon shall be noted at their proper distances, all watercourses, mountains & other remarkeable & permanent things over or near which such lines shall pass.
The Hundreds being laid off and marked, nine of them shall be assigned as a district to each surveyor, who shall then proceed to divide each Hundred of his district into lots as before directed, beginning with the Hundreds most in demand, and measuring, marking & platting the said dividing lines thereof in the manner before directed for the Hundreds, save only that the lines of the lots shall be distinguished by a single mark on each tree, and those of the hundreds by three marks. And that the sd lots may be capable of more accurate description and distinction from each other, those in every Hundred shall be designated by the numbers in their order from 1. to 100, beginning at the Northwestern lot of the Hundred & applying the numbers from 1 to 10. to the lots of the first row from West to East successively, those from 11 to 20, to the lots of the second row from West to East & so on. The surveyors shall pay due & constant attention to the variation of the magnetic meridian, & shall run & note all lines by the true meridian, certifying with every plat what was the variation at the time of running the lines thereon noted.
A Register shall be appointed by Congress for each of the states within which the said territory shall lie, who shall keep his office within the said state, be resident at it himself & provide a seal for authenticating it’s acts, to him returns shall be made by the several surveyors on the last days of March & August in every year, of the plats of all lines, measured & marked by them in the preceeding half year, to be by him collated, and reduced into a general map of the whole state for which he acts. He shall annually, to wit, on the first Monday in November of every year, deliver, or cause to be delivered to the Secretary of Congress, a copy of such portions of the said general map as shall have been formed, or further filled up, during the preceeding year, retaining one in his own office for the use thereof. He shall have power to suspend any surveyor for negligence or malversation, making report thereof to Congress, or a Committee of the states, that they may direct a proper enquiry.
Each Register shall cause to be printed under such devices, difficult of imitation, as he shall think best, warrants, each of which shall give right to one lot of a mile square described as before directed: and other warrants for each of the said states which shall give right, each of them, to one of the Hundreds of ten mile square as before described. These warrants shall have blanks for names & dates, shall be numbered and signed by the Register, sealed with the seal of his office & shall be cut with indentures from a book, the margin of which shall be numbered in correspondence with the warrant cut therefrom, & which shall be preserved in the office as a further check. The sd warrants shall be deposited in the Treasury of the United States, and the Treasurer thereon debited with them, from thence they shall be sent in such numbers as the Register issuing them shall direct, to the Commissioner of the loan office for the United States in each of the states with in the Union, the Treasurer countersigning them on parting therewith & having a credit duly entered in his own account with the United States, & a debit against the loan officer to whom they are sent.
Any person, chusing to become a purchaser of lands within the said territory & paying to the Treasurer or loan officer, the sum of dollars, shall receive in lieu thereof one of the sd smaller warrants entitling him to a lot, on paying dollars, shall receive in lieu thereof one of the said larger warrants entitling him to a whole Hundred within the State from which the warrant issued; the Treasurer or loan officer inserting the name of the purchaser in the proper blank, filling up the date, & attesting the warrant by his own subscription. Loan Office certificates, reduced to their specie value by the scale of depreciation on certificates of liquidated debts of the United States, shall be receivable for the sd. warrants in lieu of money; and evidences of military rights to lands herein after to be described, shall be receivable instead of the price itself of so much land.
These warrants shall pass by descent or decree as real property.
These warrants shall pass as lands, by descent or devise, but not by assignment nor by survivorship.
The owner of any warrant proceeding to locate the same, shall deliver it to the Surveyor of the district, wherein his location is to be, describing to him the particular lot on which he places it, or the Hundred, if it be a warrant for a hundred, by a designation of some point, either natural or artificial, within the said lot or Hundred, so singular & certain as may be adapted to no other lot or Hundred or by reference to the position of the Hundred, or number of the lot, which description the surveyor shall immediately enter in a book well bound, with the date of the entry describing the warrant located thereon by its number, date, signatures & name of the original owner and leaving no blank space or leaf between that & the preceeding entry, nor any margin by its side. If the location be made before the lot or hundred be yet laid off by lines actually new & marked, the Surveyor shall retain the warrant in his hands until the Hundred, if it be for a Hundred, or until all the lots of the Hundred, if it be for a lot, shall be actually laid off by marked lines: and then, or at the time of the entry, if the lines were marked before the entry was made, having satisfied himself by proper evidence or by his own inspection & examination, on what particular lot, or on what Hundred the location is, and that there has been no previous location on the same he shall give to the party a certificate, describing the lot or Hundred so specially as that it may be known from all others, by particular marks or circumstances, natural or artificial by stating the order or position of the Hundred relatively to the boundaries of the State, and specifying the lot by it’s number: with which certificate he shall return the warrant also to the party. These being delivered to the Register, & the warrant examined, & found genuine by him, he shall give a receipt for the same, and in due time proceed to execute a grant of the land in the following form. “A. B. register of the land office of the United States within the State of — to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting. Know ye that for good consideration there is granted by the United States of America unto C. D. a certain lot [or Hundred of land as the case shall be, describing it from the certificate] within the said State of — to have & to hold the said lot, [or Hundred] of land, with its appurtenances, to him the sd C. D. & his heirs for ever. In witness whereof the sd A. B. register of the land office of the sd State hath hereunto set his hand, and caused the seal of this office to be affixed, this — day of — in the year — and of the independance of the United States the — which grant shall be entered of record, at full length, in good, well bound, books to be provided for that purpose, at the expense of the United States, & kept by the Register, and being so entered, shall be certified to have been registered, & then be delivered to the party or his order. Different lots adjoining side by side within the same Hundred, may be included & passed by the same grant; but separate lots & lots in different Hundreds, as also different Hundreds, shall be passed by different grants, no fractions of a lot shall be granted, unless where such fractions are occasioned by the boundary of the State, or of the Indian conveyance, until a temporary Government shall be established in any State according to the resolutions of Congress of April — 1784. The lands therein shall pass, in descent & dower according to the customs known in the common law by the name of Gavelkind; and shall be transferrable by deed or will proved by two witnesses, but so soon as a temporary Government shall be so established they shall become subject to the laws of the State, & shall never after, in any case, revert to the United States. Where a grant shall be made out to the heir or devisee of the person in whose name the warrant was originally issued, he shall be named in the sd grant as heir or devisee.
For preventing hasty, & surreptitious titles, the Register shall execute no grant for lands until the warrant & certificate delivered him for the same shall have remained in his office months, at any time within which period any person, claiming the same lands under a prior location, shall be at liberty, to enter a caveat, with the Register, against the execution of any grant to the other, setting forth in the entry a copy of the location under which himself claims. The Register shall thereupon issue a Summons, reciting the entry made with him & calling the defendant to appear at a certain time & place, in defence of his right, which Summons being served, & the parties appearing he shall refer the decision to three arbitrators to be chosen by them, or if they cannot agree, then to three intelligent honest & indifferent persons to be named by himself; which arbitrators being first sworn to do justice between the parties according to the best of their knowledge and abilities by the Register who is hereby authorized to administer such oath, shall proceed thereon, at such times & places, as they shall appoint, giving notice thereof to the parties, & their award being rendered, the Register shall execute a grant to the plaintiff or defendant, conformably therewith. The party whose location is annulled shall be authorized to receive again his warrant, & to locate it on other lands. If the defendant, being summoned, or the plaintiff, fails to appear by himself or another before the Register on the day appointed the Register may give a further day, or in his descretion may proceed on the evidence before him to execute a grant to the party having the right. If the defendant fails to appear, & there be no sufficient proof that the Summons has been served, the Register shall issue a new Summons, unless it shall be proved that he hath been sought at the usual place of his dwelling & hath not been found in which case the Summons shall be advertised three times in some gazette of the State wherein he then resides or last was known to reside giving a new day of appearance, which shall not be within less than months after the date of the last third publication, and on his failing to appear at that day, the Register shall proceed to decision. But in case of a decision against the defendant, where there was no actual service of the Summons, he shall be allowed at any time, within one year after such decision a rehearing before arbitrators to be appointed & qualified as directed in the case of an appearance. But on such rehearing the mere right alone shall be tried.
The Register together with the map before directed to be delivered annually to the Secretary of Congress, shall report a Calendar of all grants executed by him, stating in different columns thereof the date, grantee, quantity, how much of that was for military service, the Hundred, & Lot. The monies arising from the sale of warrants shall be applied to the sinking such part of the principal of the National debt as Congress shall from time to time direct & to no other purpose whatsoever.
The Register, before he enters on the duties of his office, shall give such bond & security for the faithful discharge thereof as Congress, or the Committee of the states, shall approve, and shall be entitled to receive, for the execution of every grant, dollar, for every Lot the same shall contain or dollars if it be for a whole Hundred; which shall be paid at the time he receives the warrant & certificate, & shall be deemed satisfaction for all the services & expenses of his office, except the purchase of books for registering grants & of the seal of his office.
Every Surveyor shall also, before he enters on the duties of his office give such bond and security for the faithful discharge thereof as Congress, or the Committee of the states shall approve & shall be entitled to receive for every Lot located with him dollars and dollars for a whole Hundred which shall be paid at the time of location, & shall be deemed satisfaction for all the services & expences of his office. But where he shall have admitted more location than one on the same land he shall restore the fees received from the party whose location shall be set aside.
A surveyor desiring to locate lands for himself shall make such location with the Register.
And whereas Congress by their resolutions of Sep. 16. 1776 & Aug. 12, 1780 stipulated grants of land to the officers & souldiers who should engage the service of the United States, and continue therein to the close of the war or until discharged by Congress & to the representatives of such officers & souldiers as should be slain by the enemy, in the following proportions, to wit, to a Major General 1100 acres, to a Brigedier 850, to a Colonel 500, to a Lt. Colonel 450, to a Major 400, to a Captain 300, to a Lieutenant 200, to an Ensign 150, & to a noncommissioned officer or souldier 100. For complying therefore with such stipulation, & for ascertaining the evidence of rights accruing under the same which shall be receivable instead of money, it is ordained that the evidence to be required from commissioned officers shall be a certificate from the War office of their rank and continuance in service to the end of the war & from non commissioned officers & souldiers a certificate from the captain of their Company, countersigned by the officer who commanded commanding officer of their regiment at the time of their discharge, that they were enlisted into the service of the United States, during the war, & continued therein to the close of it to wit, to the day of 1783 & from the representatives of such officers & souldiers as were slain by the enemy, a certificate, from the same authority of the rank, or term of enlistment of the deceased, & that he was slain by the enemy, together with satisfactory affidavits that they are his representatives: which evidences shall be receivable by the treasurer Loan officer of the United States in the state to the line of which he belonged, or by the Treasurer if he belonged to the line of no state: and on the warrant issued shall be an endorsement signed by the Treasurer or Loan officer declaring the proportion thereof which was satisfied by military service; and in the same proportion shall all fees be abated to which that warrant would otherwise be subject. The proceedings on it in all other respects shall be the same as on a warrant issued wholly for money.
Saving and conforming always to all Officers & souldiers entitled to lands on the Northern side of the Ohio, by donation or bounty from the commonwealth of Virginia & to all persons claiming under them all rights to which they are so entitled by the laws of the said state & the acts of Congress accepting the cession of Western territory from the sd state.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (BENJAMIN HARRISON)
v. s. a.
Annapolis Apr. 30: 1784
—I do myself the honor of inclosing you an act of Congress on the subject of Western territory as passed a few days ago. The Ordinance for opening the land office so soon as our purchases are made from the Indians is not yet passed. I also inclose a copy of the estimate & requisitions of the year as they passed Congress. This however you will shortly receive from the President officially. Congress have determined that they will adjourn on the 3d. of June to meet at Trenton in November. Virginia, Maryland & Pennsylvania gave each certain powers to Congress to enable them to counteract the British commercial measures. But these powers were all different. A recommendation is therefore now under consideration proposing to the states to give a uniform power for a given term of years which may enable Congress to make it the interest of every nation to enter into equal treaties with us. This I think will be ready by the next post. The Chevalr. Luzerne has notafied his leave to return home & that Monsr. de Marbois will act as chargé des affaires till a successor arrives. We begin to hope that the bills of the financier threatened with protest have been taken up. The ground of our hope is the length of time elapsed without hearing of their ultimate protest. A vessel arrived here two days ago which left London the 25th. of March. She brings papers to the 20th. Pitt was still in place, supported by the king, H. of Lords, the city of London, E. India Company & the nation in general, who were sending addresses from all parts of the Crown in his favor. The Grocers Company having presented him with the freedom of their body & given him an entertainment, the city was illuminated, and the windows of the opposition who would not illuminate were broken. Still the opposition returned a majority of 12 in the H. of Commons who kept all the wheels of government suspended. It was in Mr. Pitt’s power to secure himself at any time by admitting a coalition but this would seem to shift him on the very ground which had shaken his adversaries. It was believed that parliament would be dissolved. They had continued the king’s power over our commerce six months longer.
TO HORATIO GATES1
Annapolis, May 7th, 1784.
—I received by the last post your favor of the 27th Ult. and am obliged for the communication therein. The ferment on the subject of your society seems just becoming general. They write us from Virginia that it works high there, and that the division is precisely into civil and military. We will not presume to send foreign news from Annapolis to Philadelphia. Congress expects to adjourn on the 3d of June. They have passed the estimate and requisitions for the year, and some recommendations to the states to vest Congress with such much power over their commerce as will enable them to retaliate on any nation who may wish to grasp it on unequal terms; and to enable them if it should be found expedient to pass something like the British navigation act. You say [sic] in the public papers a report of a committee, erroneously said to be an act of Congress, for dividing the Western country into new states. That report was recommitted, the paragraphs of names struck off, the principles of government somewhat varied & the act then passed. Foreign treaties of commerce occupy us at present. I am not yet fixed as to the time of my coming to Philadelphia, tho’ think it will not be long [after the] first.
REPORT ON CONTINENTAL BILLS OF CREDIT1
[May 7, 1784.]
The Grand Committee. To whom was referred a Letter of the Governor of Massachusetts of the 28th. of October 1783 relative to the Continental Bills of Credit of the old Emissions, submit the following.
That all sums of Continental bills of credit paid by or to any State on account of the United States shall be credited or debited in account according to the specie value of such bills at the time of paiment, as settled by the legislature of the same state in their table of depreciation formed for the use of their state: and where none such has been formed, an average shall be taken from those of the states adjoining wherein such tables have been formed, on which paiments an interest shall be allowed at the rate of 6 per centum per annum from the time of paiment.
That all such bills now in the Treasury of any state shall be credited to such state at the value they bore in specie at the time they were received by the state, which value shall be settled by a table of depreciation as directed in the preceding resolution for all the period of time comprehended in such depreciation table and if the sd bills were received after the last day to which such table descends they shall then be credited at the rate at which they were actually purchased or received, or if not purchased or received at any particular rate, then at the market value of such bills within the state at the time, to be estimated on the best evidence which may be obtained, on which sums also a like interest of 6 per cent per annum from the time of receipt shall be allowed, and the affidavit of the Treasurer receiving the sd bills shall be evidence of the time and rate at which they were received.
That all such bills now in the hands of individuals shall be redeemed at the same rates prescribed for those in the Treasury of their state. That the holders of such bills shall be at liberty to carry them to the loan officer of the U. S. within their state who shall give them in exchange for the same a certificate expressing the sum in specie which the U. S. owe in lieu thereof & the time from which it bears interest, which time shall be the 1st. day of April 1781, where the sd bills were received before that day, & when received afterwards the time of their actual receipt. The loan officer shall require from the holder the best evidence of the time of his receiving them which the nature of the case will admit, viz. that of circumstances & disinterested persons where to be had, and where not to be had to his satisfaction, then resorting to the examination of the party himself on oath, & giving thereto so much credit as in his conscience he shall think it deserves: and in all cases of importance & difficulty shall associate to himself two honest & able persons to assist him in the examination & judgment. These certificates shall be funded & paid as the other debts of the U. S., but no certificate shall be issued for a less sum than twenty specie dollars.
That the Superintendent of finance direct the form & mode of issuing the aforesd certificates, & take order for destroying the Continental bills of credit brought in.
Passed in Commee May. 7. 1784.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (BENJAMIN HARRISON)
v. s. a.
Annapolis May 7, 1784
—The duty of correspondence for the Month being devolved on me, and no authentic intelligence from abroad having been received, I have it in my power to communicate to you only what we get through the channel of the public papers. The inclosed will present to you some of the late debates of the H. of Commons, their address to the king & his answers. These seem to exclude the prospect of accomodation. In my last I inclosed you a copy of the estimate & requisitions for the year, and the act for the division of the Western territories as they had ultimately passed Congress, since that, the resolutions have been passed which have been forwarded to you by the President recommending to the legislatures to invest Congress with certain powers in some cases of commerce. The principles on which treaties of commerce are to be formed with foreign powers, occupy the attention of Congress at this time. These will then remain for discussion before their adjournment. 1. The opening of their land office. 2. Indian affairs. 3. The Western posts. 4. A proposed arrangement of the treasury on the resignation of Mr. Morris is expected. & 5. A definition of the powers of the Committee of the states.
In your favour of the 23d. of Apr. you ask at what rate the Loan-office debt is to be discharged? The resolutions of June 28. 1780 which fix the rate of depreciation, declare that the principal of the loans shall be discharged in Spanish dollars according to those rates.
We have had information of the adoption of the impost by every state except Georgia, N. Carolina, New York, Connecticut & Rhode Island. From the three first there is no reason to apprehend any opposition. Connecticut declares itself opposed unless the Commutation can be separated from it. The firmness of Congress on this head will exclude her from every hope of that, and I am informed it is probable she will yield that point & adopt the measure. I have frequently heard the gentleman of Rhode island, to whom the opposition of that state has been generally imputed, declare that Rhode island would never come into the measure of the impost as long as any other state would hold off. That if every other acceded however, she would not solely oppose the will of the whole union, but in that case would yield. The probability is therefore that the measure will get through all the legislatures in the course of this summer.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (BENJAMIN HARRISON)
v. s. a.
Annapolis, May 7, 1784
—Since my letter of this morning the post has arrived and brought us a letter from Dr Franklin of Mar. 9. He had received a letter from Congress informing him of the reasons of delaying our ratification. He apprehends no difficulty from this circumstance, & the rather as he had received a letter from Mr Hartley dated Mar. 2. (the day before the exchange should have taken place) desiring him he would inform him when the American ratification should arrive, & he would then apply for the British & attend the exchange. Letters this moment received from Holland inform us that the protested bills will be taken up: but by pushing a plan of loan on terms most ruinous and disgraceful: yet less so than nonpaiment would have been. This shows the necessity of doing something effectual in the business of supplies.
P. S. Mr Hardy desires me to present his compliments and to inform you that the want of anything material to be added to the intelligence I have communicated prevents him troubling you with a letter.
INSTRUCTIONS TO THE MINISTERS PLENIPOTENTIARY APPOINTED TO NEGOTIATE TREATIES OF COMMERCE WITH THE EUROPEAN NATIONS1
May 7, 1784.
Whereas, instructions bearing date the 29th day of October, 1783, were sent to the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the Court of Versailles, empowered to negotiate a peace, or to any one or more of them, for concerting drafts or propositions for treaties of amity and commerce with the commercial powers of Europe:
Resolved, That it will be advantageous to these United States to conclude such treaties with Russia, the Court of Vienna, Prussia, Denmark, Saxony, Hamburg, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Genoa, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, Venice, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Porte.
Resolved, That in the formation of these treaties the following points be carefully stipulated:
1st. That each party shall have a right to carry their own produce, manufactures, and merchandise, in their own bottoms to the ports of the other, and thence the produce and merchandise of the other, paying, in both cases, such duties only as are paid by the most favored nation, freely, where it is freely granted to such nation, or paying the compensation where such nation does the same.
2. That with the nations holding territorial possessions in America, a direct and similar intercourse be admitted between the United States and such possessions; or if this cannot be obtained, then a direct and similar intercourse between the United States and certain free ports within such possessions; that if this neither can be obtained, permission be stipulated to bring from such possessions, in their own bottoms, the produce and merchandise thereof to their States directly; and for these States to carry in their own bottoms their produce and merchandise to such possessions directly.
3. That these United States be considered in all such treaties, and in every case arising under them, as one nation, upon the principles of the federal constitution.
4. That it be proposed, though not indispensably required, that if war should hereafter arise between the two contracting parties, the merchants of either country, then residing in the other, shall be allowed to remain nine months to collect their debts and settle their affairs, and may depart freely, carrying off all their effects, without molestation or hinderance, and all fishermen, all cultivators of the earth, and all artisans or manufacturers, unarmed and inhabiting unfortified towns, villages or places, who labor for the common subsistence and benefit of mankind, and peaceably following their respective employments, shall be allowed to continue the same, and shall not be molested by the armed force of the enemy, in whose power, by the events of war, they may happen to fall; but if anything is necessary to be taken from them, for the use of such armed force, the same shall be paid for at a reasonable price; and all merchants and traders, exchanging the products of different places, and thereby rendering the necessaries, conveniences, and comforts of human life more easy to obtain and more general, shall be allowed to pass free and unmolested; and neither of the contracting powers shall grant or issue any commission to any private armed vessels empowering them to take or destroy such trading ships, or interrupt such commerce.
5. And in case either of the contracting parties shall happen to be engaged in war with any other nation, it be further agreed, in order to prevent all the difficulties and misunderstandings that usually arise respecting the merchandise heretofore called contraband, such as arms, ammunition and military stores of all kinds, that no such articles, carrying by the ships or subjects of one of the parties to the enemies of the other, shall, on any account, be deemed contraband, so as to induce confiscation, and a loss of property to individuals. Nevertheless, it shall be lawful to stop such ships and detain them for such length of time as the captors may think necessary, to prevent the inconvenience or damage that might ensue, from their proceeding on their voyage, paying, however, a reasonable compensation for the loss such arrest shall occasion to the proprietors; and it shall be further allowed to use in the service of the captors, the whole or any part of the military stores so detained, paying the owners the full value of the same, to be ascertained by the current price at the place of its destination. But if the other contracting party will not consent to discontinue the confiscation of contraband goods, then that it be stipulated, that if the master of the vessel stopped, will deliver out the goods charged to be contraband, he shall be admitted to do it, and the vessel shall not in that case be carried into any port; but shall be allowed to proceed on her voyage.
6. That in the same case, when either of the contracting parties shall happen to be engaged in war with any other power, all goods, not contraband, belonging to the subjects of that other power, and shipped in the bottoms of the party hereto, who is not engaged in the war, shall be entirely free. And that to ascertain what shall constitute the blockade of any place or port, it shall be understood to be in such predicament, when the assailing power shall have taken such a station as to expose to imminent danger any ship or ships, that would attempt to sail in or out of the said port; and that no vessel of the party, who is not engaged in the said war, shall be stopped without a material and well-grounded cause; and in such cases justice shall be done, and an indemnification given, without loss of time to the persons aggrieved, and thus stopped without sufficient cause.
7. That no right be stipulated for aliens to hold real property within these States, this being utterly inadmissible by their several laws and policy; but when on the death of any person holding real estate within the territories of one of the contracting parties, such real estate would by their laws descend on a subject or citizen of the other, were he not disqualified by alienage, then he shall be allowed reasonable time to dispose of the same, and withdraw the proceeds without molestation.
8. That such treaties be made for a term not exceeding ten years from the exchange of ratification.
9. That these instructions be considered as supplementary to those of October 29th, 1783; and not as revoking, except when they contradict them. That where in treaty with a particular nation they can procure particular advantages, to the specification of which we have been unable to descend, our object in these instructions having been to form outlines only and general principles of treaty with many nations, it is our expectation they will procure them, though not pointed out in these instructions; and where they may be able to form treaties on principles which, in their judgment, will be more beneficial to the United States than those herein directed to be made their basis, they are permitted to adopt such principles. That as to the duration of treaties, though we have proposed to restrain them to the term of ten years, yet they are at liberty to extend the same as far as fifteen years with any nation which may pertinaciously insist thereon. And that it will be agreeable to us to have supplementary treaties with France, the United Netherlands and Sweden, which may bring the treaties we have entered into with them as nearly as may be to the principles of those now directed; but that this be not pressed, if the proposal should be found disagreeable.
Resolved, That the treaties of amity, or of amity and commerce, be entered into with Morocco, and the Regencies of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, to continue for the same term of ten years, or for a term as much longer as can be procured.
That our Ministers, to be commissioned for treating with foreign nations, make known to the Emperor of Morocco the great satisfaction which Congress feel from the amicable disposition he has shown towards these States, and his readiness to enter into alliance with them. That the occupations of the war, and distance to our situation have prevented our meeting his friendship so early as we wished. But the powers are now delegated to them for entering into treaty with him, in the execution of which they are ready to proceed, and that as to the expenses of his Minister, they do therein what is for the honor and interest of the United States.
Resolved, That a commission be issued to Mr. J. Adams, Mr. B. Franklin, and Mr. T. Jefferson, giving powers to them, or the greater part of them, to make and receive propositions for such treaties of amity and commerce, and to negotiate and sign the same, transmitting them to Congress for their final ratification; and that such commission be in force for a term not exceeding two years.
TO JAMES MONROE
Philadelphia May. 21, 1784.
—Your favor of the 14th came duly to hand. It enabled me to give to Col Humphries the first intimation of his appointment and to see that he received real pleasure from it. He was before unknown to me; but our future connection in business has occasioned me to inquire into his character with which I am much pleased. We have taken arrangements for passing the Atlantic together. Short is not yet arrived. But had he not been coming, the servant whom I ordered to join me here would have been with me before now. I wait for time & for our commissions & instructions. The moment these arrive I shall set out for Boston, where a passage will be provided.—Is there a commission for an additional treaty with France? The instructions made this necessary, and without it we shall be at Paris but private citizens, unprotected by the laws of nations, and liable to the jurisdiction of the country. A very disagreeable affair has happened here which will give you trouble probably both on this & the other side the water. It is an assault by a very worthless Frenchman on Mr Marbois, for refusing to give the attestations of the consulate to some falsehoods which he wished to establish. I mean to make myself acquainted with the affair & will write you particularly on it before I leave this place. Genl. Knox went on from hence two days ago to receive the orders of Congress as to the western posts. The mouth of the Illinois is the interesting post for Virginia, because it will open a trade up the Missouri & Missisippi. The spot there is advantageous for defence according to Hutchins’ pamphlet, & Genl. Washington’s letter on the peace establishment. Michillimacinac is very important for the United States in general: it is interesting to Virginia on the expectation that she may open the navigation from lake Erie to Patowmac. Detroit is a place of Consequence, but so strongly settled that I doubt whether any force need be kept there. The N. Yorkers will wish a force at Niagara or Oswego. I should yield to them as far as necessity requires; but the further north that post is the better for Virginia, were it even pushed to the intersection of the Cataraqui with the 45th degree. It might then leave a possibility of drawing the six nations to F.Pitt. Mr Thomson’s counsel on this subject will probably be useful, the interests of Pennsylva & Virginia being united as to all these posts. We shall not begin to scramble for the trade till we have brought it to F. Pitt. To the Southward it would be our interest to have an agency kept up with the Overhill Cherokees, & Martin the agent. If S. Carola & Georgia would then be contented with one other agency, & could agree on it’s situation it would be well. I had thought of the head of Mobile river because there is a very short portage from there to the waters of the Tenissee which would give us access to it, but Mr Reid thought it too distant from the inhabited country. I am to thank you for your care of my baggage which is come safely to hand. Mr Hopkinson had sent on under cover to me a draught from mr Morris for 233⅓ Dollars for me, and for the amount of mr Hardy’s bill. My part was intended for mr Jenifer. I hope you will have been so good as to dispose of both parts according to their destination. Boirod & Gaillard had also forwarded by the stage some of the books you desired. I have not yet received their bill & will transmit it to you as soon as received. The stage having ceased to pass between Baltimore & Annapolis, possibly these books may remain at the former place. I believe there is sometimes too a stoppage at Susquehanna by a change of interest in the proprietors of the stage. Should this have happened, your enquiries must come that far.—I have had the pleasure of seeing three balons here. The largest was of 8.f. diameter & ascended about 300 feet. I shall write to you again from this place & afterwards in the course of my Northern progress. I shall be obliged to you to continue your letters as long as they can reach Boston by the 15th of June. A particular detail of Congressional proceedings, and of the communications from or concerning your foreign ministers will be most acceptable. Hopkinson tells me he had mentioned in his letter to me that the office of Director or master of the mint would be acceptable. He was therefore uneasy when I told him that I had left a request with a friend to open my letters. But I satisfied him perfectly on that head, and that you would render him any service which the duties of your situation would permit. He is a man of genius, gentility & great merit, & at the same time poor & the father of a numerous family. He holds a little office here, more respectable than profitable, for he can but barely live. He is as capable of the office as any man I know & the appointment would give general pleasure, because he is generally esteemed.—Messrs. Boirod & Gaillard will be glad to receive the Prospectus of the Encyclopedia. Foreseeing that if I turn over the leaf I shall plague you with another page full I will here bid you adieu.
TO CHARLES THOMSON1
Philadela, May 21, 1784.
—I received your favor of the 16th last night. I was out when it was delivered, so knew not how it came, a circumstance no otherwise important than as I am at a loss how or where to inquire for the packet which should have accompanied it, containing the Commissions, Instructions, etc. I shall immediately, however, make the enquiry. I am obliged to you for the order for the journal. I shall make use of it to procure those of 1779–1783, and part of 1784 which my set wants. My matter in the printing way is dropped. Aitken had formerly told me he would print it for £4 a sheet. He now asks £5 10s., which raises the price from £48 to £66; but what was a more effectual and inseparable bar was that he could not complete it under three weeks, a time I could not wait for it. Dunlap happened to be out of town, so I relinquished the plan. Perhaps I may have a few copies struck off in Paris if there be an English Printer. If I do you shall assuredly have one. I shall take the liberty of adding some of your notes—those which were mendatory merely will have their effect on the body of the work. I left all the papers belonging to the Grand Committee in the hands of Mr. Blanchard. Among these were the papers relating to Vermont. My reason for not delivering them to you as I did the others was, that the Committee was to sit that morning. There are vessels arrived here which left London as late as the 14 of April. Nothing important, however, has yet been communicated from them. The principal interesting occurrence here is a very daring insult committed on Mr. Marbois by a Frenchman, who calls himself the Cheval. De Longchamps, but it is in fact, the nephew of the Minister’s Steward’s wife. He obliged him in his own defence to box in the street like a porter. He is demanded by the Minister to be delivered up by the Executive here to be sent to France for punishment. They are plodding over the case. Whether he be a citizen of America or not is not yet decided. I shall endeavor to make myself acquainted with the facts because it will probably be the cause of something disagreeable here, and perhaps on the other side of the water. I think there is a desire in the Executive to give every satisfaction they can, but whether it is in the syllables and letters of the Law that a Frenchman committing an outrage may be delivered up to his master for punishment is matter of dubiety. You will hear enough of it, as it comes to Congress, of course; so I will add no more than my respectful compliments to Mrs Thomson and assurances to yourself that I am, with much esteem, Dr Sir, your friend and servant.
P. S. I find your Letter came by post, but no packet with it. The arrival of so late a vessel is now contradicted.
TO JAMES MADISON
Philadelphia, May 25, 1784.
—* * * I could not get my notes printed here & therefore refer it till I shall cross the water when I will have a few copies struck off and send you one—The assembly of N. York have made Payne, the author of Common sense a present of a farm. Could you prevail on our assembly to do something for him. I think their quota of what ought to be given him would be 2000 guineas, or an inheritance with 100 guineas a year. It would be peculiarly magnanimous in them to do it; because it would shew that no particular & smaller passion has suppressed the grateful impressions which his services have made on our minds. * * * I am obliged to put a period here to my letter being desired to assist in a consultation on a very disagreeable affair. A Frenchman of obscure & worthless character having applied to Mr. Marbois to give him the Consular attestations to a falsehood and being refused, attacked him in the streets a day or two after and beat him much with his cane. The minister has taken up this daring insult & violation of the law of nations in the person of the Secretary to their embassy & demands him to be given up (being a subject of France) to be sent there for punishment. I doubt whether the laws of this state have provided either to punish him sufficiently here, or to surrender him to be punished by his own sovereign; and the —1 of this state is so indecisive that no defects of law will be supplied by any confidence of his in the justification of his assembly when they shall meet. They have not yet declared what they can or will do & the scoundrel is going at large on bail, sending anonymous letters to the minister & Marbois with threats of assassination &c if the prosecution be not discontinued. The affair is represented to Congress who will have the will but not the power to interpose. It will probably go next to France & bring on serious consequences. For god’s sake while this instance of the necessity of providing for the enforcement of the law of nations is fresh on men’s minds, introduce a bill which shall be effectual & satisfactory on this subject. Consuls you will always have. Ministers may pass occasionally through our country. Members of Congress must pass through it. Should Congress sit in or near the state, frequent instances of these & public ministers entering the state may occur. I wish you every possible felicity & shall hope to hear from you frequently.
TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN1
Boston, 19 June, 1784.
—Supposing that Congress would communicate to you directly the powers committed to yourself, Mr. Adams and myself, I have delayed from day to day the honor of writing to you, in hopes that every day would open to me a certainty of the time and place at which I might sail. A French packet will leave New York early in the month. By her I mean to take my passage, and may therefore expect, in the ordinary course of things, to have the pleasure of joining you at Paris in the middle or latter part of August, and of communicating the commissions and instructions under which we are to act. The latter are more special than those heretofore sent. I shall then also have the pleasure of giving you more particular information of the situation of our affairs than I could do by letter; in general, I may observe to you that their aspect is encouraging.
Congress, understanding that Mr. Jay was probably on his passage to America, appointed him their Secretary for Foreign affairs. It would give me peculiar pleasure to meet with him before my departure, and to know that he will act in an office with which we shall be so immediately connected. Congress adjourned on the 3rd of June, to meet at Trenton on the first Monday of November, leaving a committee of the States at the helm during their recess.
I have the pleasure to inform you that Mrs. Bache and her family were well when I left Philadelphia, which was about three weeks ago. In hopes of joining you nearly as soon as you will receive this letter, I subscribe myself, with very sincere esteem and regard, dear sir, your most affectionate humble servant.
TO JAMES MADISON
Boston, July 1, 1784.
—After visiting the principal towns through Connecticut, Rhode Island, this state, & New Hampshire in order to acquire what knowledge I could of their commerce and other circumstances I am returned to this place, and shall sail the day after to-morrow in the Ceres bound for London: but my purpose is to get on shore in some boat on the coast of France & proceed directly to Paris. My servant being sent off today, & much on hand to prepare for my voyage I have no time for any particular communications. Indeed there are few I should have to make, unless I were to enter into a detail which would be lengthy, as to the country and people I have visited. The lower house of this state have passed a bill giving Congress the powers over their commerce which they had asked. It had had two readings with the senate, and meets with no opposition. I find the conviction growing strongly that nothing can preserve our confederacy unless the band of union, their common council, be strengthened. * * *
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA1 (BENJAMIN HARRISON)
Paris, Aug. 20, 1784.
—A few days after my arrival here Colo. Le Maire, writer of the enclosed letter called & asked me to forward it to you with such explanations as I could give. As to his commission, having lost the original as he therein mentions, he asks an authenticated copy of it, which he thinks will enforce some application he is making to this government. As to lands, I remember the gift of 2000 acres, & think the entry of it will be found in the minutes of the council some time in the summer or autumn of 1779. A letter was written to Colo. Shelby or to Maj Martin, (the Cherokee agent) to locate the warrant on the best lands possible; and I believe it was meant that every expence should be borne by the state so that Le Maire should receive an actual grant clear of all charges & trouble. But of these things the minutes & letters of the Executive will give more certain information; or if these should have been lost, Mr. Blair will probable recollect the circumstances.
TO JAMES MADISON.
Paris, 11 November, 1784.
I am obliged to you for your information as to the prospects of the present year in our farms. It is a great satisfaction to know it & yet it is a circumstance which few correspondents think worthy of mention. I am also much indebted for your very full observations on the navigation of the Mississippi. I had thought on the subject, & sketched the anatomy of a memorial on it, which will be much aided by your communications.—You mention that my name is used by some speculators in western land jobbing, as if they were acting for me as well as for themselves. About the year 1776 or 1777 I consented to join Mr. Harvey and some others in an application for lands there; which scheme, however, I believe he dropped on the threshold, for I never after heard one syllable on the subject. In 1782 I joined some gentlemen in a project to obtain some lands in the western part of North Carolina. But in the winter of 1782 and 1783, while I was in expectation of going to Europe, and that the title to western lands might possibly come under the discussion of the ministers, I withdrew myself from this company. I am further assured that the members never prosecuted their views. These were the only occasions in which I ever took a single step for the acquisition of western lands, & in these I retracted at the threshold. I can with truth therefore declare to you, & wish you to repeat it on every proper occasion, that no person on earth is authorized to place my name in any adventure for lands on the western waters, that I am not engaged in any but the two before mentioned. I am one of eight children to whom my father left his share in the loyal company, whose interests, however, I never espoused, and they have long since received their quietus. Excepting these, I never was nor am I now interested in one foot of land on earth off the waters of James river.
I shall subjoin the few books I have ventured to buy for you. I have been induced to do it by the combined circumstances of their utility and cheapness. I wish I had a catalogue of the books you would be willing to buy, because they are often to be met on stalls very cheap, and I would get them as occasion should arise. The subscription for the Encyclopædia is still open. Whenever an opportunity offers of sending you what is published of that work (37 vols.) I shall subscribe for you and send it with the other books purchased for you.
Whatever money I may lay out for you here in books, or in anything else which you may desire, may be replaced crown for crown (without bewildering ourselves in the exchange) in Virginia by making payments. * * *
Colonel Le Maire, whom you know, is the bearer of this; he comes to Virginia to obtain the two thousand acres of land given him for his services in procuring us arms, and what else he may be entitled to as having been an officer in our service; above all things, he wishes to obtain the Cincinnatus eagle, because it will procure him here the order of St. Louis, and of course a pension for life of one thousand livres; he is so extremely poor that another friend and myself furnish him money for his whole expenses from here to Virginia. There I am in hopes the hospitality of the country will be a resource for him till he can convert a part of his lands advantageously into money; but as he will want some small matter of money, if it should be convenient for you to furnish him with as much as ten guineas from time to time on my account, I will invest that sum in books or anything else you may want here by way of payment. He is honest and grateful, and you may be assured that no aid that you can give him in the forwarding his claims will be misplaced. * * *
TO JAMES MONROE
Paris Nov. 11, 1784.
—Your journey to the Westward having prevented my writing to you till now that a letter may probably find you at Congress I shall resume the correspondence discontinued since I left Boston. My passage was remarkably short, being only 19 days from land to land, & I suffered little by sickness. Having very thick weather when we approached the coast of Europe, we fell in with no vessel which could take me & put me on the French coast as I had intended. I therefore went ashore at Portsmouth where I was detained three or four days by a fever which had seized my daughter two days before we landed. As soon as she was clear of it I hired a vessel to carry me over to Havre, from whence I came on to this place, thro’ a country than which nothing can be more fertile, better cultivated & more elegantly improved. It was at the time when harvest was beginning, & it is principally a farming country.
I informed you from Boston that before I had received your letters of May 25 & June 1, I had packed up our cypher and therefore could not there make out the passages which were put into cypher. I have tried it here & find that by some unfortunate mistake, probably in the young gentleman who wrote the cypher, it will not explain a single syllable. He has arranged all the numbers in their regular order, and then placed against each the words, syllables &c in alphabetical order. You can judge whether this was the plan of it. The want of the cypher would have restrained me from mentioning some things were I not assured of the fidelity of the bearer hereof Colo. Le Maire.
I am to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of Aug. 9. from New York, but not of the previous one therein mentioned to be sent by Mr. Short, he being not yet come, nor any tidings of him.
The die is thrown here & has turned up war. Doubts whether an accommodation may not yet take place are still entertained by some, but I hold it impossible. Probably the Emperor will encourage negociations during the winter, while no warlike operations may go on, in order to amuse his adversary & lessen their preparations. It is believed the campaign will open on the Scheld. How the other nations of Europe will conduct themselves seems very doubtful. The probability is that France, Prussia, & the Porte will take an active part with the Dutch & Russia with the Germans. It is presumed that England will endeavor to keep out of the scrape. 1. Because she cannot borrow money to take part in it. 2. Because Ireland is likely to give her disturbance. 3. Because her disputes with us are not settled by a full execution of the articles of the treaty, and the hatred of her people towards us has arisen to such a height as to prepare their minds for a recommencement of hostilities should their government find this desirable. Supposing we are not involved in a new contest with Great Britain, this war may possibly renew that disposition in the powers of Europe to treat with us on liberal principles, a disposition which blazed out with enthusiasm on the conclusion of peace, but which had subsided as far below the just level in consequence of the anarchy, & depravation of principle which the British papers have constantly held forth as having taken place among us. I think when it shall become certain that war is to take place, that those nations at least who are engaged in it will be glad to ensure our neutrality & friendly dispositions by a just treaty. Such a one, or none is our business. With England nothing will produce a treaty but an enforcement of the resolutions of Congress proposing that there should be no trade where there is no treaty. The infatuation of that nation seems really preternatural. If anything will open their eyes it will be an application to the avarice of the merchants who are the very people who have opposed the treaty first meditated, and who have excited the spirit of hostility at present prevailing against us. Deaf to every principle of common sense, insensible to the feelings of man, they firmly believe they shall be permitted by us to keep all the carrying trade and that we shall attempt no act of retaliation because they are pleased to think it our interest not to do so. A gentleman immediately from England dined the other day at the same house with an American. They happened to sit next each other at table and spoke on the subject of our commerce. He had the air of a man of credibility. He said that just before his departure from England he had a conversation with Mr. Pitt, in which Mr. Pitt assured him the proclamation of which we complain would be passed into an act at the next session of parliament.—In the despatches we send to Congress you will see a great interval between the Spanish Ambassador’s answer to us & our reply to him. The reason of our keeping back was the hope that in the meantime he would get an answer from his Court which would save us the difficulty of answering him. I have had a hint that they may agree to make New Orleans a free port for our vessels coming down the Missisipi but without permission to us to export our produce thence. All the inadequacies of this to our purpose strike me strongly. Yet I would wish you to sound your acquaintances on this subject & to let me know what they think of it; and whether if nothing more can be obtained this or no treaty, that is to say, this or war would be preferred.—Can nothing be done for young Franklin. He is sensible, discreet, polite, & goodhumored, & fully qualified as a Secretaire d’Ambassade. His grandfather has none annexed to his legation at this Court. He is most sensibly wounded at his grandson’s being superseded. Should this war take place it would certainly be acceptable to Congress to receive regular, early, & authentic intelligence of it’s operations. In this view would it not be worth while to continue the agency of Dumas. His intelligence has all these qualities. He is undoubtedly in the confidence of some one who has a part in the Dutch government, & who seems to allow him to communicate to us.—Before my arrival here Mr. Barclay in consequence of the powers given him by his commission had made an appointment or two of Consuls for some of the ports of this country: particularly of Franks for Marseilles. He is very anxious to be continued in it & is now there in the exercise of his office. If I have been rightly informed his services & sacrifices during the war have had their merit and I should suppose Congress would not supersede him but on good grounds. I promised him that I would communicate his wishes to some of my friends that his pretensions might not be set aside for want of being known.—There is an idea here of removing the packets from L’Orient to Havre. This latter may be considered as the port of Paris itself, because the transportation between them is down the Seine in boats & makes scarcely a greater addition to the price than in transportation from a warehouse to the waterside. Paris is the only place at which all the productions & manufactures of France are brought to a point. Mr. Tracy, who is here from Boston has carefully examined into all their manufactures, and finds them of almost every kind, as good as in England, & cheaper generally. This truth once known, & our ships coming hither for those articles which England thinks she alone can furnish us will advantage us first in opening to us double markets, & secondly in the shock it will communicate across the Channel. L’Orient is convenient in war & therefore should be left as it is, a free port. But conveyances from hence thither are by land, long, precarious, & expensive. I think our merchants will turn their views on Havre.—There is here some Frenchman from Philadelphia (perhaps Perée) who has drawn up a visionary scheme of a settlement of French emigrants, 500 in number on the Ohio. He supposes Congress, flattered by the prospect of such an addition to our numbers, will give them 400,000 acres of land, & permit them to continue French subjects. My opinion has been asked, & I have given it, that Congress will make bargains with nobody, that they will lay down general rules, to which all applicants must conform themselves by applying to the proper offices & not perplexing Congress with their visions: that they are sufficiently assured that the land office will absorb all their certificates of public debt, beyond which they have no object but to provide that the new governments shall admit an easy & firm union with the old; & that therefore I did not think they would encourage a settlement in so large a body of strangers whose language, manners & principles were so heterogeneous to ours.—I shall subscribe for you to the Encyclopedia Methodique. It will be in about 60 vols, & will cost 751 livres equal to 30 English guineas. If you should not chuse to take it, it will be only a sacrifice of the subscription money, which is a guinea & half. The subscription is daily expected to be closed. There is about two fifths of the work now ready to be delivered amounting to about 300 livres.—We have taken some pains to find out the sums which the nations of Europe give to the Barbary States to purchase their peace. They will not tell this: yet from some glimmerings it appears to be very considerable: and I do expect that they would tax us at one, two, or perhaps three hundred thousand dollars a year. Surely our people will not give this. Would it not be better to offer them an equal treaty. If they refuse, why not go to war with them? Spain, Portugal, Naples, France & Venice are now at war with them. Every part of the Mediterranean therefore would offer us friendly ports. We ought to begin a naval power, if we mean to carry on our own commerce. Can we begin it on a more honorable occasion, or with a weaker foe? I am of opinion Paul Jones with half a dozen frigates would totally destroy their Commerce: not by attempting bombardments as the Mediterranean states do wherein they act against the whole Barbary force brought to a point, but by constant cruising & cutting them to pieces by piecemeal.—I must say a word on my own affairs because they are likely to be distressed. All the ministers who came to Europe before me, came at a time when all expences were paid and a sum allowed in addition for their time. Of course they all had their outfit. Afterwards they were put on fixed salaries: but still these were liberal. Congress in the moment of my appointment struck off 500 guineas of the sallary, and made no other provision for the outfit but allowing me to call for two quarters’ salary in advance. The outfit has cost me near a thousand guineas; for which I am in debt, and which, were I to stay here seven years, I could never make good by savings out of my salary: for be assured we are the lowest & most obscure of the whole diplomatic tribe. When I was in Congress I chose never to intermeddle on the subject of salary, first because I was told the eyes of some were turned on me for this office; & secondly because I was really ignorant what might be it’s expences. The latter reason ceases; the former which presents me as an interested person shall still keep me silent with all the world but yourself, to whose secrecy & delicacy I can trust. I live here about as well as we did at Annapolis. I keep a hired carriage & two horses. A riding horse I cannot afford to keep. This still is far below the level. Yet it absorbs the whole allowance, and return when I will to America, I shall be the outfit in debt to Congress. I think I am the first instance in the world where it has not been given. I mention these circumstances to you that if you should think the allowance reasonable and any opportunity should occur while you are in Congress wherein it can be decently obtained, you would be so good as to think of it. I would wish it could be done on some general occasion. The article of houserent in Mr. Adams’ account in Holland and in Dr. Franklin’s here may perhaps afford an occasion of touching on this article as to myself. Mr. A. lived at the Hague in a house belonging to the U. S. The question is whether you will charge him rent. Dr. F. has lived in a house the rent of which (6000 livres per. ann.) has been always charged to the U. S. The question on that is whether you will reject that & make him pay eight or nine years rent. If these articles pass it will of course add houserent to the salaries, which will be some aid but not an adequate one for the ministers in general. When this matter shall be considered the difference which has taken place between them & me as to the article of outfit may perhaps be mentioned & redressed: otherwise, as I have before mentioned, I shall return that much in debt & be obliged to sell to pay it: a circumstance which I shall think hard. I ask nothing for my time: but I think my expences should be paid in a stile equal to that of those with whom I am classed.—I must ask the favor of you on behalf of Mr. Adams as well as myself to explain the following transaction to our Commissioners of the treasury. Congress you know directed the financier to advance me two quarters salary. He gave me a letter of credit to Mr. Grand. Relying on the effect of this I had ordered furniture for a small hotel which I rent: & had entered into engagements for paying part of the rent in advance. A little before the parties were to call on me for the money I applied to Mr. Grand: but our funds were out & I found he was not disposed to advance the money. Nothing could equal my distress. In this situation Mr. Adams thought himself justifiable in drawing in my favor on the fund in Holland for 6000 florins: knowing of the order of Congress in my favor, of the failure of the funds here and that it could not be important to Congress from what part the money came. It was unlucky I did not know of the failure here before I had contracted the debt because I could have hired furniture for one third or one half of its worth annually. But this was such miserable economy, amounting to from 33⅓ to 50 per cent per ann. for the use of money, as induced me to buy. I wish this to be explained to the Commissioners to save Mr. Adams from censure.
Address your letters “A Monsr. Monsr. Jefferson Ministre plenipotentiaire des etats unis de l’Amerique a Paris Cul-de-sac Tetebout.”
TO CHARLES THOMSON1
Paris, Nov. 11th, 1784.
— * * * There has been a lamp called the cylinder lamp lately invented here. It gives a light equal as is thought, to that of six or eight candles. It requires olive oil, but its consumption is not great. The improvement is produced by forcing the wick into a hollow cylinder so that there is a passage for the air through the hollow. The idea had occurred to Doctor Franklin a year or two before, but he tried his experiment with a rush, which not succeeding he did not prosecute it. The fact was the rush formed too small a cylinder; the one used is of an inch diameter. They make shade candlesticks for studious men, which are excellent for reading; these cost two guineas. I should have sent you a specimen of the phosphoric matches, but that I am told Mr. Rittenhouse has had some of them. They are a beautiful discovery and very useful, especially to heads which like yours and mine cannot at all times be got to sleep. The convenience of lighting a candle without getting out of bed, sealing letters without calling a servant, of kindling a fire without flint, steel, punk, &c., are of value. Will you subscribe for the Encyclopedie Methodique? The subscription is as yet open; about two-fifths of the work is published; the whole will cost to subscribers 751 livres. I know of no other work here lately published or now on hand which is interesting. I must pray you send me a complete copy of the journals from Nov. 1, 1783 downwards. The few sheets I had I sent when in Philadelphia to Dunlap to complete, and he never returned them or any others to me. I have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Norris sometimes. I am in hopes he is discreet and that you need not fear the corruption of his morals; he is well at present. There is one danger at his age which some other instances have proved real—that of forming a connection, as is the fashion here, which he might be unwilling to shake off when it shall be proper for him to return to his own country, and which might detain him disadvantageously here. I have not the smallest intimation that he is disposed to do this, but it is difficult for young men to refuse it where beauty is a begging in every street. Indeed, from what I have seen here I know not one good purpose on earth which can be affected by a young gentleman coming here. He may learn indeed to speak the language, but put this in the scale amongst other things he will learn and evils he is sure to acquire and it will be found too light. I have always disapproved of a European education for our youth from theory; I now do it from inspection.
TO JAMES MADISON
Paris, 8 December, 1784.
* * * I thank you very much for the relation of the proceedings of assembly. It is the most grateful of all things to get those details when one is so distant from home. I like to see a disposition increasing to replenish the public coffers, and so far approve of the young stamp act. But would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects, and pass the money through so many new hands? Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual, but I do not see that the sale of his land is an evidence of his ability to spare. One of my reasons for wishing to centre our commerce at Norfolk was that it might bring to a point the proper subjects of taxation and reduce the army of tax-gatherers almost to a single hand. The simplest system of taxation yet adopted is that of levying on the land and the labourer. But it would be better to levy the same sums on the produce of that labour when collected in the barn of the farmer; because then if through the badness of the year he made little, he would pay little. It would be better yet to levy only on the surplus of this product above his own wants. It would be better too to levy it not in his hands, but in those of the merchant purchaser; because tho’ the farmer would in fact pay it, as the merchant purchaser would deduct it from the original price of his produce yet the farmer would not be sensible that he paid it. This idea would no doubt meet its difficulties & objections when it should come to be reduced to practice: yet I suspect it would be practical & expedient. Our tax-gatherers in Virginia cost as much as the whole civil list besides. What a comfort to the farmer to be allowed to supply his own wants before he should be liable to pay anything, & then only pay on his surplus—The proposition for a Convention has had the result I expected. If one could be obtained I do not know whether it would not do more harm than good. While Mr. Henry lives another bad constitution would be formed & forever on us. What we have to do I think is devotedly to 252.746. for his death in the meantime to 203. 925. 243. 719 the 896.755 that the present is but an 851 & to 268. 661. the 872. of the 312. 730. 737. I am glad the 1005. 83 953. 735. 380. 945 have again shewn their teeth & fangs. The 777.400 had almost forgotten them.
I still hope something will be done for Paine. He richly deserves it; and it will give a character of littleness to our state if they suffer themselves to be restrained from the compensation due for his services by the paltry consideration that he opposed our right to the western country. Who was there out of Virginia who did not oppose it? Place this circumstance in one scale, and the effect his writings produced in uniting us in independence in the other, and say which preponderates. Have we gained more by his advocation of independence than we lost by his opposition to our territorial right? Pay him the balance only. I look anxiously to the approaching and improving the navigation of the Potomac and Ohio; the actual junction of the Big Beaver and Cuyahoga by a canal; as also that of Albemarle Sound and Elizabeth through the Dismal. These works will spread the field of our commerce westwardly and southwardly beyond anything ever yet done by man.
I once hinted to you the project of seating yourself in the neighborhood of Monticello, and my sanguine wishes made me look on your answer as not absolutely excluding the hope. Monroe is decided in settling there, and is actually engaged in the endeavor to purchase. Short is the same. Would you but make it a “partie quarrée,” I should believe that life had still some happiness in store for me. Agreeable society is the first essential in constituting the happiness, and, of course, the value of our existence. And it is a circumstance worthy great attention when we are making first our choice of a residence. Weigh well the value of this against the difference in pecuniary interest, and ask yourself which will add most to the sum of your felicity through life. I think that, weighing them in this balance, your decision will be favorable to all our prayers. Looking back with fondness to the moment when I am again to be fixed in my own country, I view the prospect of this society as inestimable. I find you thought it worth while to pass the last summer in exploring the woods of America, and I think you were right. Do you not think the men and arts of this country would be worth another summer? You can come in April, pass the months of May, June, July, August, and most of September here, and still be back to the commencement of real business in the assembly following, which I would not have you absent from. You shall find with me a room, bed, and plate, if you will do me the favor to become one of the family; as you would be here only for the summer season, I think your outfit of clothes need not cost you more than 50 guineas, and perhaps the attendance on the theatres and public entertainments, with other small expenses, might be half a guinea or three quarters a day. Your passage backward and forward would, I suppose, be 60 or 70 guineas more. Say that the whole would be 200 guineas. You will for that have purchased the knowledge of another world. I expect Monroe will come in the spring, and return to congress in the fall. If either this object, or the one preceding, for settling you near Monticello, can be at all promoted by the use of the money which the assembly have given me for my share in the revisal, make use of it freely, and be assured it can in no other way be applied so much to my gratification. The return of it may wait your perfect convenience. * * *
TO JAMES MONROE
Paris, Dec. 10, 1784.
—I wrote you the 11th of Nov. by the last packet. Since that I have received by Mr. Short your’s of July 20 inclosing the Cypher. I hope that the establishment of a port on each river will end in the final success of one or of two only. Actual circumstances will prevent York & Tappahanoc from being any thing in spite of any encouragement. The accumulation of Commodities at Norfolk & Alexander will be so great as to carry all purchasers there, & York & Tappahanoc will find it their interest to send their Commodities to the same places in order to have the benefit of a competition among a great mass of purchasers. It is not amiss to encourage Alexandria because it is a rival in the very bosom of Baltimore.
I know of no investigation, at the instance or any nation, of the extent of the clause giving the rights of the most favoured nation but from the import of the words themselves, & from the clause that a privilege granted to any other nation shall immediately become common, freely where freely granted, or yielding the compensation1 where a compensation is given, I have no doubt that if any one nation will admit our goods duty free in consideration of our doing the same by them, no other nation can claim an exception from duties in our ports without yielding us the same in theirs. The abolition of the monopoly of our tobacco in the hands of the Farmers General will be pushed by us with all our force. But it is so interwoven with the very foundations of their system of finance that it is of doubtful event. I could not get my answer to the queries on Virginia printed in Philadelphia; but I am printing it here, & will certainly ask your acceptance of a copy. Can you employ the succeeding summer better than by coming here? Suppose Congress rises in time for you to sail by the first of April, you may pass May, June, July, August, & September here, & still be at the meeting of the ensuing Congress. You shall find with me a room, bed, & plate with a hearty welcome: & I do not think the other expences of your passage coming & going, out-fit of clothes, attending the theatres & other public places, will exceed 200 guineas. I have recommended the same measure to Mr. Madison. Perhaps you can make the voyage together.
I wrote you in my last that there would probably be war. The common belief is now that the matters will be accomodated. These who are not in the secrets of the Cabinet can only judge from external circumstances. Every movement of the two parties indicate war. I found much too on the character of the Emperor, whose public acts speak him much above the common level. Those who expect peace say also that they have in view the Emperor’s character which they represent as whimsical and eccentric & that he is especially affected in the Dog days. We shall not know what will be done till the spring admits the movement of troops into the field. I see no probable event which may divert the Emperor from his object but the health of the empress of Russia, which at present is very precarious. Any accident to her might possibly cripple the projects of Vienna. By this packet congress will receive the British ambassador’s letter to us. It appears extraordinary, when in our letter to him we had informed him that we (three in number) had full powers to treat, that his court should propose in answer as a previous stipulation that congress should send a person with full powers to London. I cannot suppose they have any personal objections: and therefore believe they only want to gain time in order to see how their schemes will work without a treaty. We shall bring them to an issue. I suppose it will probably end in our going to London. I think that after this we shall be obliged to go to Madrid & probably to some of the other more important courts. As it is impossible for us whenever we leave Paris to give up out homes (in which are our furniture & whatever we do not carry with us) and to find others in the instant of our return, & to remove into them, it is visible that during these journeys we are subject to double expences for a confidential servant must be left to take care of the house. And as during our travels the daily expences will be much greater than at Paris where we are settled, it will shew the reasonableness of Congress allowing house rent in the cases formally mentioned to you of Mr. Adams and Doctor Franklin & of course to me. I write on this subject to you alone & would not to you were it not 701 from circumstances explained in a former letter. I am like to be distressed in the article of house rent. My case will of course rest on a common bottom with the other gentlemen, indeed theirs being to be previously settled, mine will follow of course and I would not have the article of the outfit mentioned if it should be like to excite with an 340. 766. present with thought as to me. It appears to me not subject to the 359. 650. 75. 27. of an attack [?] to desire to have my expences paid or I would have surpressed the first thought of it.
There are great complaints of the stoppage of letters in New York, as well those which are coming from America to France, as those from France to America. If a letter is sent from hence for S. Carolina, for instance it is deposited at N. York till the French postage is paid. If one is sent from S. Carolina to France, it is deposited at N. Y. till the American postage is paid. Every person then in France or America, who ever expects to receive a letter by post, must keep an agent & a little bank in New York. In Europe this matter is so arranged that letters pass from one country to another without the least difficulty. France has a convention for this purpose with almost every country in Europe. She had such a one with England till the late war, & they are now proposing to renew it. Would it not be well for Congress to send us an instruction & power to form conventions to facilitate the passage of letters with those powers with whom we form treaties, or at least with some of them. It is certainly material with France, Holland, Gr. Br. Spain & Portugal & perhaps the Italian states.
Be so good as to present my compliments to your collegues. I think Mr. Hardy promised to write to me sometimes. I shall take great pleasure in an exchange of information with him.
P. S. I hope you will not desist from your plan of settlement in Albem. Short will join us, & I hope Mr. Madison. Can you inform me if letters to & from us are free of postage in America?
TO HORATIO GATES1
Paris, Dec. 13, 1784.
—I duly received the letter you were so good as to write me from New York. We have here under our contemplation the future miseries of human nature, like to be occasioned by the ambition of a young man, who has been taught to view his subjects as his cattle. The pretensions he sets up to the navigation of the Scheld would have been good, if natural right had been left uncontrolled but it is impossible for express compact to have taken away a right more effectually than it has the Emperor’s. There are numbers here (but not of the cabinet) who still believe he will retract, but I see no one circumstance on which to found such a belief. Nothing had happened but what he must have forseen and calculated on. And in fact all his movements indicate war. The Dutch are truly animated and ready to place their existence on the stake now contended for. The spring which brings general happiness to all other beings will probably open the sluices of calamity on our wretched fellow creatures on this side of the Atlantic. France, Holland, Prussia & Turkey against the two empires I think will be an overmatch. England will be neuter from interest as well as importance. The disposition of her inhabitants is very unfriendly to us. It remains to see whether their ministers suffer themselves to be led by passions also. I think it probable we shall go over there for a short time. An American vessel (a Virginia), has been lately taken by a frigate of the emperor of Morocco, who has five of them cruising on the Atlantic. The brig had just left Cadiz. Our trade to Portugal, Spain, & the Mediteranean is annihilated unless we do something decisive. Tribute or war is the usual alternative of these pirates. If we yield the power, it will require sums which our people will feel. Why not begin a navy then & decide on war? We cannot begin in a better cause nor against a weaker foe. You will have heard that the E. of Shelburne is made Marquis of Lansdown & Lord Temple Marquis of Buckingham. There is no appearance however of the former coming into the ministry which seem absolutely firm.
TO NATHANAEL GREENE1
Paris, Jan. 12, 1785.
—Everything in Europe is quiet, & promises quiet for at least a year to come. We do not find it easy to make commercial arrangements in Europe. There is a want of confidence in us. This country has lately reduced the duties on American whale oil to about a guinea & a half a ton, and I think they will take the greatest part of what we can furnish. I hope therefore that this branch of our commerce will resume its activity. Portugal shews a disposition to court our trade, but this has for some time been discouraged by the hostilities of the pyratical states of Barbary. The Emperor of Morocco who had taken one of our vessels, immediately consented to suspend hostilities, & ultimately gave up the vessel, cargo & crew. I think we shall be able to settle matters with him, but I am not sanguine as to the Algerines. They have taken two of our vessels, and I fear will ask such a tribute for the forbearance of their piracies as the U. S. would be unwilling to pay.—When this idea comes across my mind my faculties are absolutely suspended between indignation & impotence.—I think whatever sums we are obliged to pay for freedom of navigation in the European seas, should be levied on European commerce with us, by a separate impost, that these powers may see that they protect these enormities for their own loss.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (PATRICK HENRY)
v. s. a.
Paris, Jan. 12. 1785.
—The letter of July 20. 1784 with which your Excellency was pleased to honour me & which inclosed the resolution of assembly for the statue of Gen’l Washington came to my hands on the 29th of Nov. by Mr. Short: & a few days afterwards I received a duplicate of it. As it was not practicable to get the business into any train before the sailing of the December packet, I omitted acknowledging its receipt till the packet of this month should sail. There could be no question raised as to the Sculptor who should be employed; the reputation of Monsr. Houdon of this city being unrivalled in Europe. He is resorted to for the statues of most of the sovereigns in Europe. On conversing with him Doct’r Franklin & myself became satisfied that no statue could be executed so as to obtain the approbation of those to whom the figure of the original is known, but on an actual view by the artist. Of course no statue of Genl. Washington, which might be a true evidence of his figure to posterity, could be made from his picture. Statues are made every day from portraits: but if the person be living, they are always condemned by those who know him for a want of resemblance, and this furnishes a conclusive presumption that similar representations of the dead are equally unfaithfull. Monsr. Houdon, whose reputation is such as to make it his principal object, was so anxious to be the person who should hand down the figure of the General to future ages, that without hesitating a moment he offered to abandon his business here, to leave the statues of kings unfinished, & to go to America to take the true figure by actual inspection & mensuration. We believe, from his character, that he will not propose any very considerable sum for making this journey; probably two or three hundred guineas, as he must necessarily be absent three or four months & his expences will make at least a hundred guineas of the money. When the whole merit of the piece was to depend on this previous expenditure, we could not doubt your approbation of the measure; and that you would think with us that things which are just or handsome should never be done by halves. We shall regulate the article of expence as œconomically as we can with justice to the wishes of the world. This article, together with the habit, attitude, devices &c. are now under consideration, & till they be decided on, we cannot ultimately contract with Monsr. Houdon. We are agreed in one circumstance, that the size shall be precisely that of life. Were we to have executed a statue in any other case, we should have preferred making it somewhat larger than life; because as they are generally a little elivated, they appear smaller, but we think it important that some one monument should be preserved of the true size as well as figure, from which all other countries (and our own at any future day when they shall desire it) may take copies, varying them in their dimensions as may suit the particular situation in which they wish to place them. The duty as well as the glory of this presentation we think belongs peculiarly to Virginia. We are sensible that the eye, alone considered, will not be quite as well satisfied; but connecting the consideration that the whole, & every part of it presents the true size of the life, we suppose the beholders will receive a greater pleasure on the whole. Should we agree with Monsr. Houdon, he will come over in the April packet & of course may be expected in Virginia about the last of May. His stay with the General will be about a month. This will be employed in forming his bust of plaister. With this he will return to Paris, & will then be between two & three years in executing the whole in Marble. I have thought it my duty to detail to your Excellency our ideas on the subject as far as they are settled, that if in any point we are varying from the wishes of the Executive or legislature, we may be set right in time. I conjecture that you will receive this about the latter end of February and as Monsr. Houdon will not set out till about the 12th. or 14th. of April there may be time to receive your pleasure in the mean while. We think that the whole expence of the journey & execution of the figure will be within the limits conjectured by your excellency; but of this we cannot be certain as yet.
TO JAMES MONROE
—You were informed by my letters of Nov. 11. & Jan. 14. that the cypher established between us would not explain a syllable of your letters.—Those of Nov. 1. & Dec. 14. having rendered me extremely desirous of deciphering them, I set to work with a resolution to effect it if possible. I soon found that they were written by your first cypher. To this, therefore, I applied myself and after several days spent on it I was able to set to rights the many errors of your copyist, whose inattention alone had inducted those difficulties. I found the numbers in my copy & yours to correspond as follows.
From 1–153 was right.
154. in yours corresponded to 185 in mine.
From 156 to 205 in yours corresponded to from 186 to 235 in mine.
From 206 to 236 in yours corresponded to from 154 to 184 in mine.
From 237 to 248 in yours corresponded to from 236 to 247 in mine.
From 268 to 352 in yours corresponded to from 266 to 350 in mine.
From 359 to 454 in yours corresponded to from 356 to 451 in mine.
From 456 to 551 in yours corresponded to from 452 to 547 in mine.
From 558 to 989 in yours corresponded to from 553 to 984 in mine.
994 in yours corresponded to 988, 989 in mine.
996, 997 in yours corresponded to 01. 02 in mine.
02. 03. 04. 05. 06. 07. 08. 09. in yours corresponded to 06. 07. 08.09. 009. 008. 007. 006. in mine.
006. 002. 017. 016. 060. 050. 032. 041. 042. in yours corresponds to 002. 017. 013. 012. 020. 021. 036. 045. 046.
The remaining numbers of the cypher either did not enter into your letters at all, or not often enough to detect the errors. I have now therefore completely deciphered your letters of June 1. June 25. Nov. 1. and Dec. 14. At present my only uneasiness is about my letters which have gone to you in cypher. That of Nov. 11. must have been in the 1st cypher. For this reason I have noted to you the differences in our copies as above that you may translate my numbers into yours. As I received the 2d cypher the 29th of Nov., I think it probable that my letters of Dec. 10. & Jan. 14. were written by that. If they were, I am in hopes you will have understood them. If they were written by the 1st. you will now be able by translating the numbers to understand them also; and thus this comedy of errors will be cleared up. Since writing so far I have made out a table adjusting the numbers in my copy to those in yours, which will enable you to translate with ease. Our business goes on very slowly. No answers from Spain or Britain. The backwardness of the latter is not new. Perhaps Mr. Jay or Mr. Laurens who have been at that court since the present ministry has been in place may have been able to account for this on better grounds than we can. The English Parliament, Irish Parliament and Irish Convention sitting together will surely bring their disputes to a crisis. Scotland too seems to be stepping in as a third party with her difficulties, and their affairs in the East Indies are in a wretched situation. The opposition have opened their campaign on the East India regulations, the proceedings with Ireland, & the late taxes. The minister having declared he will propose a plan of parliamentary reform, they have taken the contrary side of course on that question. I am anxious to see whether the parliament will take any and what steps as to our commerce. The effecting treaties with the powers holding positions in the West Indies, I consider as the important part of our business. It is not of great consequence whether the others treat or not. Perhaps trade may go on with them well enough without. But Britain, Spain, Portugal, France are consequent, and Holland, Denmark, Sweden may be of service too. We have hitherto waited for favorable circumstances to press matters with France. We are now about to do it tho I cannot say the prospect is good. The merchants of this country are very clamorous against our admission into the West Indies and ministers are afraid for their places. The pamphlet which I sent you is approved by the sensible people here and I am in hopes has been of some service. There are warm ones written against it. Our affairs with the pyratical states are distressing. It is impossible I fear to find out what is given by other countries. Either shame or jealousy makes them wish to keep it secret. Several of their ministers to whom we have applied have promised to procure information. These pyrates are contemptibly weak. Morocco who has just dared to commit an outrage on us owns only four or five frigates of 18 or 20 guns. There is not a port in their country which has more than 13 feet water. Tunis is not quite so strong (having 3 or 4 frigates only, small and worthless) is more mercantile than predatory, and would easily be led to treat either by money or fear. Tripoli has one frigate only. Algiers alone possesses any power, & they are brave. As far as I have been able to discover she possesses about 16 vessels from 22 up to 52 guns, but the vessels of all these powers are wretched in the last degree, being mostly built of the discordant pieces of other vessels which they take and pull asunder, their cordage & sails are of the same kind, taken from vessels of different sizes & powers, seldom any two guns of the same bore, & all of them light. These States too are divided, & jealous of each other, & especially of Algiers the most powerful. The others would willingly see her reduced. We have two plans to pursue. The one to carry nothing for ourselves, & thereby render ourselves invulnerable to the European states, the other (which our country will be for) is to carry as much as possible. But this will require a protecting force on the sea. Otherwise the smallest power in Europe, every one which possesses a single ship of the line, may dictate to us, and enforce their demands by captures on our commerce. Some naval force then is necessary if we mean to be commercial. Can we have a better occasion of beginning one? or find a foe more certainly within our dimensions? The motives pleading for war rather than tribute are numerous & honorable, those opposing them are mean & short sighted. However if it be decided that their peace shall be bought it shall engage my most earnest endeavours.—it is as uncertain as ever whether we are to have war or peace. The ministers of this country intimate peace and Monst. de Maillebois who is to command the Dutch army is not set out. I should consider his departure as an indication of war.
I must pray you to send your letters by the French packet. They come by that conveyance with certainty, having first undergone the Ceremony of being opened & read in the post office which I am told is done in every country in Europe. Letters by the way of England are sometimes months getting from London here. Give me fully always the Congressional news, & by every letter if you please the journals of Congress.
I would make an additional observation or two as to the pyratical states. If we enter into treaty there, a consul must be kept with each to recover our vessels taken in breach of their treaty. For these violations they practise constantly against the strongest nations & the vessels so taken are recovered with trouble & always some loss & considerable delay. The attempts heretofore made to suppress these powers have been to exterminate them at one blow. They are too numerous and powerful by land for that. A small effort, but long continued, seems to be the only method. By suppressing their marine & trade totally and continuing this till the present race of seamen should be pretty well out of the way & the younger people betake themselves to husbandry for which their toil & climate is well fitted, these nests of banditti might be reformed. I am not well enough acquainted with the present disposition of the European courts to say whether a general confederacy might be formed for suppressing these Pyracies. Such as should refuse would give us a just right to turn pyrates also on their West India trade, and to require an annual tribute which might reimburse what we may be obliged to pay to obtain a safe navigation in their seas. Were we possessed even of a small naval force what a bridle would it be in the mouths of the West Indian powers and how respectfully would they demean themselves towards us. Be assured that the present disrespect of the nations of Europe for us will inevitably bring on insults which must involve us in war. A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
Be so good as to present one of the pamphlets with my esteem to Mr. Gherry & let him know he is a letter in my debt.
TO JAMES MADISON
Paris Mar. 18. 1785.
—My last to you was dated Dec. 8. Since that yours of Feb. 1, has come to hand; and I am in hopes I shall shortly receive from you the history of the last session of our assembly. I will pray you always to send your letters by the French packet which sails from N. York the 15th of every Month. I had made Neill Jamieson my post master general there, who will always take care of my letters and confide them to passengers when there are any worthy of confidence. Since the removal of Congress to that place, you can chuse between N. Jamieson & our delegates there, to which you would rather address my letters. The worst conveyances you can possibly find are private hands, or Merchant ships coming from Virginia directly to France. Those letters either come not at all, or like the histories of antient times they detail to us events after their influence is spent.
Your character of the 446. magistrate1 is precisely agreeable to the idea I had formed of him. I take him to be of unmeasured ambition but that the men he uses are virtuous. He is re. 476. ed fraught with affection to 375. and dispose merchants to render every 1071. service. Of the cause which separated the com. of the states we never have had. 945. 578. 394. 957. 421. 574. 1040. 130. 421 and 360. 561. 164. 400. 597. From newspapers & private letters have excited without satisfying our curiosity. As your cipher is safe pay 792. me a de 13 of it. The navigation of the Scheld had for a great while agitated the politics of Europe & seemed to threaten the involving it in a general war. All of a sudden another subject, infinitely more interesting is brought on the carpet. There is reason to believe that the Emperor has made an exchange of territories with the Elector of Bavaria, & that while the Scheld has been the ostensible, Bavaria has been the real object of his Military preparations. When the proposition was communicated to the King of Prussia it is said he declared qu’il Moverroit le cul sur le selle rather than see it take effect. The 895. 421. 1009. it is thought would be secretly 1070. 495. 359. with it. And some think that certain 8 said to be 564. 333. 719. 359. By the Emperor on the 781. 763. 561. of 103. are meant to be given to the latter for her acquiescence. I am attending with anxiety to the part she will act. On this occasion I shall change my opinion of her system. Of policy if it be not executable. If the Dutch escape war, they seem still to be in danger of internal revolution. The Stadholder & aristocracy can carry their differences no further without an appeal to the sword. The people are on the side of the 185. The conduct of the aristocracy in pushing their measures to such extremity is inexplicable but on the supposition that 103. has promised to support them which it is 39. 543. was 971. 359. to do before they would enter into the late treaty. We hear nothing from England. This circumstance, with the passage of their N. F. land bill thro’ the house of commons, & the sending a Consul to America (which we hear they have done) sufficiently prove a perseverance in the system of managing for us as well as for themselves in their connection with us. The administration of that country are governed by the people, & the people by their own interested wishes without calculating whether they are just or capable of being effected. Nothing will bring them to reason but physical obstruction, applied to their bodily senses. We must show that we are capable of foregoing commerce with them, before they will be capable of consenting to an equal commerce. We have all the world besides open to supply us with gew-gaws, and all the world to buy our tobacco, for in such an event England must buy it from Amsterdam, l’Orient or any other place at which we should think proper to deposit it for them. They allow our commodities to be taken from our own ports to the W. Indies in their vessels only. Let us allow their vessels to take them to no port. The transportation of our own produce is worth 750.000 £ sterl. annually, will employ 200.000 tonnage of ships, & 12.000 seamen constantly. It will be no misfortune that Gr. Br. obliges us to exclude her from a participation in this business. Our own shipping will grow fast under the exclusion, & till it is equal to the object the Dutch will supply us. The commerce with the Eng. W. I. is valuable & would be worth a sacrifice to us. But the commerce with the British dominion in Europe is a losing one & deserves no sacrifice. Our tobacco they must have from whatever place we make it’s deposit, because they can get no other whose quality so well suits the habits of their people. It is not a commodity like wheat, which will not bear a double voyage. Were it so, the privilege of carrying it directly to England might be worth something. I know nothing which would act more powerfully as a sumptuary law with our people than an inhibition of commerce with England. They are habituated to the luxuries of that Country & will have them while they can get them. They are unacquainted with those of other countries, and therefore will not very soon bring them so far into fashion as that it shall be thought disreputable not to have them in one’s house or on their table.—It is to be considered how far an exemption of Ireland from this inhibition would embarrass the councils of Engld. on the one hand, and defeat the regulation itself on the other. I rather believe it would do more harm in the latter way than good in the former. In fact a heavy aristocracy & corruption are two bridles in the mouths of the Irish which will prevent them from making any effectual efforts against their masters. We shall now 406. 643. call for decisive answer to certain points interesting to the 826. and unconnected with the general treaty which they have a right to decline. I mentioned to you in a former letter a very good dictionary of universal law called the Code d’humanité in 13 vols 4to. Meeting by chance an opportunity of buying a copy, new & well bound for 104 livres I purchased it for you. It comes to 8 livres a volume which is a fraction over a dollar & a half, & in England costs 15/sterl. a volume. I shall have an opportunity of sending this & what other books I have bought for you in May. But new information throws me all into doubt what to do with them. Late letters tell us you are nominated for the 80. of Spain.1 I must depend on further intelligence therefore to decide whether to send them or to await your orders. I need not tell you how much I shall be pleased with such an event. Yet it has it’s displeasing sides also. I sent in the 170. 110. and also in 730. Yet we cannot have 312. 378. 823 485. We must therefore be contented to have 312. 485. 312. 1009. 638. Adieu, yours affectionately &c.
TO JAMES MONROE
Paris Mar. 18. 1785.
—I wrote you by the packet which sailed from hence in Feb. and then acknowledged the receipt of yours of Dec. 14. which came by the packet arriving here in Jan. That which sailed from N. Y. in Jan. & arrived here in Feb. brings me no letter from any body except from Mr Jay to Mr Adams, Dr. F. & myself jointly. Since my last the rumor of an exchange proposed between the Emperor & El. of Bavaria has proved to have some foundation. What issue it will be permitted to have is doubtful. The K. of Prussia will risk his own annihilation to prevent it. The Dutch would rather be pleased with it; and it is thought by some that it will not be disagreeable to France. It has even been said that certain places are reserved by the emperor on the borders of France to give to this court by way of trust money. I am watching with anxiety the part which this court will act. If the sordid one suspected by some, I shall renounce all faith in national rectitude, and believe that in public conduct we are not yet emerged from the rascality of the 16th century. There are great numbers of well enlightened men in this nation. The ministry is such. The King has an honest heart. The line of policy hitherto pursued by them has been such as virtue would dictate and wisdom approve, relying on their wisdom only I think they would not accept the bribe suppose it would be to relinquish that honorable character of disinterestedness and new faith which they have acquired by many sacrifices and which has put in their hands the government as it were of Europe. A wise man, if nature has not formed him honest, will yet act as if he were honest: because he will find it the most advantageous & wise part in the long run. I have believed that this court possesses this high species of wisdom even if it’s new faith be ostensible only. If they trip on any occasion it will be warning to us. I do not expect they will, but it is our business to be on the watch. The Dutch seem to be on the brink of some internal revolution, even if they escape being engaged in war, as appearances at present seem to indicate. The division between the Stadholder and the aristocracy cannot be greater & the people are on the side of the former. The fury with which the aristocracy drive their measures is inexplicable but on the supposition that France has promised to support and this I believe she did to induce them to the late treaty. We hear nothing from England. This circumstance, with the passage of their N. F. land bill through the H. of Commons and the sending a Consul to America (which we hear they have done) sufficiently prove a perseverance in the system of managing for both sides in their connection with us. Our people and merchants must consider their business as not yet settled with England. After exercising the self denial which was requisite to carry us thro’ the war, they must push it a little further to obtain proper peace arrangements with them. They can do it the better as all the world is open to them; and it is very extraordinary if the whole world besides cannot supply them with what they may want. I think it essential to exclude them from the carriage of American produce. We wait the arrival of the packet which left you in Feb. in expectation of some instructions on the subject of England. Should none come, we shall immediately press them for an answer on those subjects which were unconnected with a treaty of commerce.—It is to be considered how far an exception in favor of Ireland in our commercial regulations might embarrass the councils of England on the one hand, & on the other how far it might give room to an evasion of the regulations.—Mr Carmichael has obtained the interference of the court of Madrid for the vessel & crew taken by the Emperor of Morocco: & I understand there is a prospect of their being restored. A letter on this subject is come to Doctr. Franklin. I have not yet seen it & I doubt whether it will be in time to be copied & communicated by this packet, the post being near it’s departure. On the arrival of the packet now expected here, whether she brings us new instructions or not as to those states, we shall proceed to act for the best on the ground before marked out for us. The Marquis Fayette has arrived here in good health, and in the best dispositions towards us. I have had a very bad winter, having been confined the greatest part of it. A seasoning as they call it is the lot of most strangers: & none I believe have experienced a more severe one than myself. The air is extremely damp, and the waters very unwholesome. We have had for three weeks past a warm visit from the sun (my almighty physician) and I find myself almost reestablished. I begin now to be able to walk 4 or 5 miles a day, & find myself much better for it. If the state of our business will permit I wish much to take a tour through the South of France for three or four weeks. The climate & exercise would I think restore my health.—I have used the second cypher in this letter. Either by a gentleman who will go to America in the April packet, or by young Mr Adams who will go in May, I will send you a new cypher which I have prepared on a large & commodious plan. This young gentleman is I think very promising. To a vast thirst after useful knowledge he adds a facility in acquiring it. What his judgement may be I am not well enough acquainted with him to decide: but I expect it is good, & much hope it, as he may become a valuable & useful citizen.—I sent you by the former packet the Pour and Contre for the emancipation of the French W. I. Trade. I now send you the answer to it. The mass of the nation is with the latter. Adieu.
TO JAMES MONROE
Paris, Apr. 15. 1785.
—We wrote a public letter to Mr. Jay the day before yesterday. We were induced to hasten it, because young Mr Chaumont was to set out yesterday for l’Orient to go to N. York in the packet, & a private conveyance is alone to be depended on for secracy. I have put off writing any letters as long as I could, expecting the arrival of the packet. She is arrived as the packet of the last month did without bringing a scrip of a pen public or private to any American here. This perplexes us extremely. From your letter of Dec. 14. and from one written at the same time by Mr Jay to Dr Franklin we have reason to believe congress have done some thing in the affairs with England and Spain. We also thought something would be said to us on the subject of the barbary state. We therefore deferred moving lest we should have to change our move which is always dishonorable. We particularly expected instructions as to the posts still held by the English. We shall do the best we can under our old instructions. The letter from the duke of Dorset will dare say surprise you all. It is a folly above the highest that could have been expected. I know from one who saw his instructions that he softened them much in the letter to us. The following paragraph is from a letter I received from Doctor Price about ten days ago. “There is, I fancy no probability that Britain can be brought to consent to that reciprocity in trade which the United States expect. This is bad policy for Britain but it may turn out to be best for America and should the issue be our exclusion from the American ports we may be ruined but I do not see that trade would suffer in it’s true interest. The fixed conviction however is that we are able to employ America on so much better terms than any other country that do what we will we must have its trade.” It is dated March twenty. He is said to be in great intimacy with Mr. Pitt, and I verily believe this paragraph contains the genuine creed of the nation and ministry. You will observe that the 4th article of our original draught of a treaty transmitted to the several courts was contrary to a right reserved by the states in the confederation. We shall correct it in every instance.
War and peace still doubtful. It rather seems that the peace may continue a while yet but not very long. The Emperor has a head too combustible to be quiet. He is an eccentric character, all enterprise, without calculation, without principle, without feelings. Ambitious in the extreme but too unsteady to surmount difficulties. He had in view at one time to open the Scheld, to get Maestricht from the Dutch, to take a large district from the Turks, to exchange some of his Austrian Dominions for Bavaria, to create a ninth electorate, to make his nephew King of the Romans, and to change totally the Constitution of Hungary. Any one of these was as much as a wise prince would have undertaken at any one time. Quod ault, valde ault, sed non diu ault.
I send you Voltaire’s legacy to the K. of Prussia, a libel which will do much more injury to Voltaire than to the King. Many of the traits in the character of the latter to which the former gives a turn satyrical & malicious, are real virtues. I should remind you that two packets have now come without bringing me a letter from you, and should scold you soundly, but that I consider it as certain evidence of your being sick. If this be so, you know you have my sincere prayers for better health, but why has no body else written to me? Is it that one is forgotten as soon as their back is turned? I have a better opinion of men. It must be either that they think that the details known to themselves are known to every body & so come to us thro’ a thousand channels, or that we should set no value on them. Nothing can be more erroneous than both those opinions. We value those details little & great, public & private in proportion to our distance from our own country: and so far are they from getting to us through a thousand channels, that we hear no more of them or of our country here than if we were among the dead. I have never received a tittle from any member of Congress but yourself & one letter from Dr. Williamson.—The D. de Rochefoucault is kind enough to communicate to us the intelligence which he receives from Mr. St John, & the M. de la F. what he gets from his correspondents. These have been our only sources of intelligence since the middle of December.
There are particular public papers here which collect and publish with a good deal of accuracy the facts connected with political arithmetic. In one of these I have just read the following table of the proportion between the value of gold & silver in several countries. Germany 1. to 14 11/71. Spain 1. to 14 3/10. Holland 1. to 14¾. England 1 to 15½. France 1 to 14 42/100. Savoy 1. to 14⅗. Russia 1 to 15. The average is 1. to 14⅝. As Congress were on this subject when I left them & I have not heard of their having finished it, I thought this worth your notice.
Since the warm weather has set in I am almost perfectly re-established. I am able now to walk six or eight miles a day which I do very regularly. This must supply the place of the journey I had meditated into the South of France. Tho’ our business does not afford constant occupation, it is of such a nature one does not know when our presence may be wanted. I need add no signature but wishing you every happiness bid you adieu.
TO JAMES MADISON
Paris, May 11, 1785.
—Your favor of Jan. 9 came to my hands on the 13th of April. The very full and satisfactory detail of the proceedings of Assembly which it contained, gave me the highest pleasure. The value of these communications can not be calculated at a shorter distance than the breadth of the Atlantic. Having lately made a cypher on a more convenient plan than the one we have used, I now transmit it to you by a Monsr. Doradour, who goes to settle in Virginia. His family will follow him next year. Should he have occasion of your patronage I beg leave to solicit it for him. They yesterday finished printing my notes. I had 200 copies printed, but do not put them out of my own hands, except two or three copies here & two which I shall send to America, to yourself & Colo Monroe, if they can be ready this evening, as promised. In this case you will receive one by Monsr. Doradour. I beg you to peruse it carefully, because I ask your advice on it & ask no body’s else. I wish to put it into the hands of the young men at the college, as well on account of the political as physical parts. But there are sentiments on some subjects which I apprehend might be displeasing to the country, perhaps to the assembly or to some who lead it. I do not wish to be exposed to their censure; nor do I know how far their influence, if exerted, might effect a misapplication of law to such a publication were it made. Communicate it then in confidence to those whose judgments & information you would pay respect to, & if you think it will give no offence I will send a copy to each of the students of W. M. C. and some others to my friends & to your disposal, otherwise I shall only send over a very few copies to particular friends in confidence & burn the rest.—Answer me soon & without reserve. Do not view me as an author & attached to what he has written. I am neither. They were at first intended only for Marbois. When I had enlarged them, I thought first of giving copies to three or four friends. I have since supposed they might set our young students into a useful train of thought, and in no event do I propose to admit them to go to the public at large. A variety of accidents have postponed my writing to you till I have no further time to continue my letter. The next packet will sail from Havre. I will then send your books & write more fully. But answer me immediately on the preceding subject.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (PATRICK HENRY)
v. s. a.
Paris, June 16, 1785.
—I had the honor of receiving the day before yesterday the resolution of council of Mar. 10, and your letter of Mar. 30, and shall with great pleasure unite my endeavours with those of the M. de la Fayette and Mr. Barclay for the purpose of procuring the arms desired. Nothing can be more wise than this determination to arm our people as it is impossible to say when our neighbors may think proper to give them exercise. I suppose that the establishing a manufacture of arms to go hand in hand with the purchase of them from hence is at present opposed by good reasons. This alone would make us independent for an article essential to our preservation, and workmen could probably be either got here, or drawn from England to be embarked hence.
In a letter of Jan. 12, to Govr. Harrison I informed him of the necessity that the statuary should see Genl. Washington, that we should accordingly send him over unless the Executive disapproved of it, in which case I prayed to receive their pleasure. Mr. Houdon being now re-established in his health, and no countermand received, I hope this measure meet the approbation of the Executive; Mr. Houdon will therefore go over with Dr. Franklin some time in the next month.
I have the honour of inclosing you the substance of propositions which have been made from London to the Farmers general of this country to furnish them with the tobaccoes of Virginia & Maryland which propositions were procured for me by the M. de la Fayette. I take the liberty of troubling you with them on a supposition that it may be possible to have this article furnished from those two States to this country immediately without its passing through the entrepot of London, & the returns for it being made of course in London merchandise. 20,000 hhds of tobō a year delivered here in exchange for the produce and manufactures of this country, many of which are as good, some better, & most of them cheaper than in England, would establish a rivalship for our commerce which would have happy effects in all the three countries. Whether this end will be best effected by giving out these propositions to our merchants, & exciting them to become candidates with the farmers general for this contract or by any other means, your Excellency will best judge on the spot.
TO JAMES MONROE1
Paris, June 17. 1785.
—I received three days ago your favor of Apr. 12. You therein speak of a former letter to me, but it has not come to hand, nor any other of later date than the 14th of December. My last letter to you was of the 11th of May by Mr. Adams who went in the packet of that month. These conveiances are now becoming deranged. We have had expectations of their coming to Havre which would infinitely facilitate the communication between Paris & Congress: but their deliberations on the subject seem to be taking another turn. They complain of the expence, and that their commerce with us is too small to justify it. They therefore talk of sending a packet every six weeks only. The present one therefore, which should have sailed about this time, will not sail until the 1st of July. However the whole matter is as yet undecided. I have hoped that when Mr. St. John arrives from N. York he will get them replaced on their monthly system. By the bye what is the meaning of a very angry resolution of Congress on this subject? I have it not by me and therefore cannot cite it by date, but you will remember it, and will oblige me by explaining it’s foundation. This will be handed you by Mr. Otto who comes to America as Chargé des Affaires in the room of Mr. Marbois promoted to the Intendancy of Hispaniola, which office is next to that of Governor. He becomes the head of the civil as the Governor is of the military department. I am much pleased with Otto’s appointment. He is good humored, affectionate to America, will see things in a friendly light when they admit of it, in a rational one always, and will not pique himself on writing every trifling circumstance of irritation to his court. I wish you to be acquainted with him, as a friendly intercourse between individuals who do business together produces a mutual spirit of accommodation useful to both parties. It is very much our interest to keep up the affection of this country for us, which is considerable. A court has no affections, but those of the people whom they govern influence their decisions even in the most arbitrary governments.—The negociations between the Emperor & Dutch are spun out to an amazing length. At present there is no apprehension but that they will terminate in peace. This court seems to press it with ardour and the Dutch are averse considering the terms cruel & unjust as they evidently are. The present delays therefore are imputed to their coldness & to their forms. In the mean time the Turk is delaying the demarcation of limits between him and the emperor, is making the most vigorous preparations for war, and has composed his ministry of war-like characters deemed personally hostile to the emperor. Thus time seems to be spinning out both by the Dutch & Turks, & time is wanting for France. Every year’s delay is a great thing to her. It is not impossible therefore but that she may secretly encourage the delays of the Dutch & hasten the preparations of the Porte while she is recovering vigour herself and, in order to be able to present such a combination to the emperor as may dictate to him to be quiet. But the designs of these courts are inscrutable. It is our interest to pray that this country may have no continental war till our peace with England is perfectly settled. The merchants of this country continue as loud & furious as ever against the Arret of August 1784, permitting our commerce with their islands to a certain degree. Many of them have actually abandoned their trade. The Ministry are disposed to be firm, but there is a point at which they will give way, that is if the clamours should become such as to endanger their places. It is evident that nothing can be done by us, at this time, if we may hope it hereafter. I like your removal to N. York, and hope Congress will continue there and never execute the idea of building their federal town. Before it could be finished a change of Members in Congress or the admission of new states would remove them somewhere else. It is evident that when a sufficient number of the Western states come in they will remove it to George town. In the mean time it is our interest that it should remain where it is, and give no new pretensions to any other place. I am also much pleased with the proposition to the states to invest Congress with the regulation of their trade, reserving its revenue to the states. I think it a happy idea, removing the only objection which could have been justly made to the proposition. The time too is the present, before the admission of the Western states. I am very differently affected towards the new plan of opening our land office by dividing the lands among the states and selling them at vendue. It separates still more the interests of the states which ought to be made joint in every possible instance in order to cultivate the idea of our being one nation, and to multiply the instances in which the people shall look up to Congress as their head. And when the states get their portions they will either fool them away, or make a job of it to serve individuals. Proofs of both these practices have been furnished, and by either of them that invaluable fund is lost which ought to pay our public debt. To sell them at vendue, is to give them to the bidders of the day be they many or few. It is ripping up the hen which lays golden eggs. If sold in lots at a fixed price as first proposed, the best lots will be sold first. As these become occupied it gives a value to the interjacent ones, and raises them, tho’ of inferior quality, to the price of the first. I send you by Mr. Otto a copy of my book. Be so good as to apologize to Mr, Thomson for my not sending him one by this conveiance. I could not burthen Mr. Otto with more on so long a road as that from here to l’Orient. I will send him one by a Mr. Williams who will go ere long. I have taken measures to prevent it’s publication. My reason is that I fear the terms in which I speak of slavery and of our constitution may produce an irritation which will revolt the minds of our countrymen against reformation in these two articles, and thus do more harm than good. I have asked of Mr. Madison to sound this matter as far as he can, and if he thinks it will not produce that effect, I have then copies enough printed to give one to each of the young men at the college, and to my friends in the country.
I am sorry to see a possibility of A. L.’s1being put into the Treasury. He has no talents for the office, and what he has will be employed in rummaging old accounts to involve you in eternal war with R. M.2 and he will in a short time introduce such dissensions into the Commission as to break it up. If he goes on the other appointment to Kaskaskia he will produce a revolt of that settlement from the U. S. I thank you for your attention to my outfit. For the articles of household furniture, clothes, and a carriage, I have already paid 28,000 livres and have still more to pay. For the greatest part of this I have been obliged to anticipate my salary from which however I shall never be able to repay it. I find that by a rigid economy, bordering however on meanness I can save perhaps $500 a month, at least in the summer. The residue goes for expences so much of course & of necessity that I cannot avoid them without abandoning all respect to my public character. Yet I will pray you to touch this string, which I know to be a tender one with Congress with the utmost delicacy. I had rather be ruined in my fortune, than in their esteem. If they allow me half a year’s salary as an outfit I can get through my debts in time. If they raise the salary to what it was, or even pay our house rent & taxes, I can live with more decency. I trust that Mr. A.’s house at the Hague & Dr. F.’s at Passy the rent of which had been always allowed him will give just expectations of the same allowance to me. Mr. Jay however did not charge it. But he lived œconomically and laid up money. I will take the liberty of hazarding to you some thoughts on the policy of entering into treaties with the European nations, and the nature of them. I am not wedded to these ideas, and therefore shall relinquish them cheerfully when Congress shall adopt others, and zealously endeavor to carry theirs into effect. First as to the policy of making treaties. Congress, by the Confederation have no original and inherent power over the commerce of the states. But by the 9th. article they are authorized to enter into treaties of commerce. The moment these treaties are concluded the jurisdiction of Congress over the commerce of the states springs into existence, and that of the particular states is superseded so far as the articles of the treaty may have taken up the subject. There are two restrictions only on the exercise of the power of treaty by Congress. 1st. that they shall not by such treaty restrain the legislatures of the states from imposing such duties on foreigners as their own people are subject to. 2dly. nor from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any particular species of goods. Leaving these two points free, Congress may by treaty establish any system of commerce they please. But, as I before observed, it is by treaty alone they can do it. Though they may exercise their other powers by resolution or ordinance, those over commerce can only be exercised by forming a treaty, and this probably by an accidental wording of our Confederation. If therefore it is better for the states that Congress should regulate their commerce, it is proper that they should form treaties with all nations with whom we may possibly trade. You see that my primary object in the formation of treaties is to take the commerce of the states out of the hands of the states, and to place it under the superintendence of Congress, so far as the imperfect provisions of our constitution will admit, and until the states shall by new compact make them more perfect. I would say then to every nation on earth, by treaty, your people shall trade freely with us, & ours with you, paying no more than the most favoured nation, in order to put an end to the right of individual states acting by fits and starts to interrupt our commerce or to embroil us with any nation. As to the terms of these treaties, the question becomes more difficult. I will mention three different plans. 1. that no duties shall be laid by either party on the productions of the other. 2. that each may be permitted to equalize their duties to those laid by the other. 3. that each shall pay in the ports of the other such duties only as the most favoured nations pay. 1. Were the nations of Europe as free and unembarrassed of established system as we are, I do verily believe they would concur with us in the first plan. But it is impossible. These establishments are fixed upon them, they are interwoven with the body of their laws & the organization of their government & they make a great part of their revenue; they cannot then get rid of them. 2. The plan of equal imposts presents difficulties insurmountable. For how are the equal imposts to be effected? Is it by laying in the ports of A. an equal percent on the goods of B. with that which B. has laid in his ports on the goods of A.? But how are we to find what is that percent? For this is not the usual form of imposts. They generally pay by the ton, by the measure, by the weight, & not by the value. Besides if A. sends a million’s worth of goods to B. & takes back but the half of that, and each pays the same percent, it is evident that A. pays the double of what he recovers in the same way with B. This would be our case with Spain. Shall we endeavour to effect equality then by saying A. may levy so much on the sum of B.’s importations into his ports, as B. does on the sum of A’s importations into the ports of B.? But how find out that sum? Will either party lay open their custom house books candidly to evince this sum? Does either keep their books so exactly as to be able to do it? This proposition was started in Congress when our institutions were formed, as you may remember, and the impossibility of executing it occasioned it to be disapproved. Besides who should have a right of deciding when the imposts were equal. A. would say to B. my imposts do not raise so much as yours; I raise them therefore. B. would then say you have made them greater than mine, I will raise mine, and thus a kind of auction would be carried on between them, and a mutual imitation, which would end in anything sooner than equality, and right. 3. I confess then to you that I see no alternative left but that which Congress adopted, of each party placing the other on the footing of the most favoured nation. If the nations of Europe from their actual establishments are not at liberty to say to America that she shall trade in their ports duty free they may say she may trade there paying no higher duties than the most favoured nation. And this is valuable in many of these countries where a very great difference is made between different nations. There is no difficulty in the execution of this contract, because there is not a merchant who does not know, or may not know, the duty paid by every nation on every article. This stipulation leaves each party at liberty to regulate their own commerce by general rules; while it secures the other from partial and oppressive discriminations. The difficulty which arises in our case is, with the nations having American territory. Access to the West Indies is indispensably necessary to us. Yet how to gain it, when it is the established system of these nations to exclude all foreigners from their colonies. The only chance seems to be this, our commerce to the mother countries is valuable to them. We must endeavor then to make this the price of an admission into their West Indies, and to those who refuse the admission we must refuse our commerce or load theirs by odious discriminations in our ports. We have this circumstance in our favour too, that what one grants us in their islands, the others will not find it worth their while to refuse. The misfortune is that with this country we gave this price for their aid in the war, and we have now nothing more to offer. She being withdrawn from the competition leaves Gr. Britain much more at liberty to hold out against us. This is the difficult part of the business of treaty, and I own it does not hold out the most flattering prospect.—I wish you would consider this subject and write me your thoughts on it. Mr. Gherry [sic] wrote me on the same subject. Will you give me leave to impose on you the trouble of communicating this to him? It is long, and will save me much labour in copying. I hope he will be so indulgent as to consider it as an answer to that part of his letter, and will give me his further thoughts on it.
Shall I send you so much of the Encyclopedia as is already published or reserve it here till you come? It is about 40 vols. which probably is about half the work. Give yourself no uneasiness about the money. Perhaps I may find it convenient to ask you to pay trifles occasionally for me in America. I sincerely wish you may find it convenient to come here. The pleasure of the trip will be less than you expect but the utility greater. It will make you adore your own country, it’s soil, it’s climate, it’s equality, liberty, laws, people & manners. My God! how little do my country men know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself. While we shall see multiplied instances of Europeans going to live in America, I will venture to say no man now living will ever see an instance of an American removing to settle in Europe & continuing there. Come then & see the proofs of this, and on your return add your testimony to that of every thinking American, in order to satisfy our countrymen how much it is their interest to preserve uninfected by contagion those peculiarities in their government & manners to which they are indebted for these blessings. Adieu, my dear friend. Present me affectionately to your collegues. If any of them think me worth writing to, they may be assured that in the epistolary account I will keep the debit side against them. Once more adieu.
June 19. Since writing the above we receive the following account. Mons. Pilatre de Rosiere, who has been waiting some months at Boulogne for a fair wind to cross the channel, at length took his ascent with a companion. The wind changed after a while & brought him back on the French coast. Being at a height of about 6000 f. some accident happened to his baloon of inflammable air. It burst, they fell from that height & were crushed to atoms. There was a Montgolfier combined with the baloon of inflammable air. It is suspected the heat of the Montgolfier rarified too much the inflammable air of the other & occasioned it to burst. The Montgolfier came down in good order.
TO MRS. JOHN (ABIGAIL) ADAMS
Paris, June 21 .
— I have received duly the honour of your letter and am now to return you thanks for your condescension in having taken the first steps for settling a correspondence which I so much desired; for I now consider it as settled and proceed accordingly. I have always found it best to remove obstacles first. I will do so therefore in the present case by telling you that I consider your boasts of the splendour of your city and of it’s superb hackney coaches as a flout, and declaring that I would not give the polite, self-denying, feeling, hospitable, good-humoured people of this country & their amability in every point of view, (tho’ it must be confessed our streets are somewhat dirty, & our fiacres rather indifferent) for ten such races of rich, proud hectoring, swearing, squibbling, carnivorous animals as those among whom you are; and that I do love this people with all my heart, and think that with a better religion, a better form of Government and their present governors their condition & Country would be most enviable. I pray you to observe that I have used the term people and that this is a noun of the masculine as well as feminine gender. I must add too that we are about reforming our fiacres, and that I expect soon an ordnance that all their drivers shall wear breeches unless any difficulty should arise whether this is a subject for the police or for the general legislation of the country to take care of.
We have lately had an incident of some consequence, as it shews a spirit of treason, and audaciousness which was hardly thought to exist in this Country. Some eight or ten years ago a Chevalr. was sent on a message of state to the princess of—of— of (before I proceed an inch further I must confess my profound stupidity. For tho’ I have heard this story told fifty times in all it’s circumstances, I declare I am unable to recollect the name of the Ambassador, the name of the Princess & the nation he was sent to; I must therefore proceed to tell you the naked story, shorn of all those precious circumstances) some chevalier or other was sent on some business or other to some princess or other. Not succeeding in his negociation, he wrote on his return the following song:
This song run thro all companies and was known to everybody. A book was afterwards printed with a regular license, called “Les quatres saisons litteraires,” which being a collection of little things, contained this also, and all the world bought it or might buy it if they would, the Government taking no notice of it; it being the office of the Journal de Paris to give an account and criticism of new publications, this book came in turn to be criticised by the redacteur, and he happened to select and print in his Journal this song as a specimen of what the collection contained. He was seized in his bed that night and has been never since heard of. Our excellent Journal de Paris then is suppressed and this bold traitor has been in jail now three weeks, and for ought any body knows will end his days there. Thus you see, madam, the value of energy in Government; our feeble republic would in such a case have probably been wrapt in the flames of war & desolation for want of a power lodged in a single hand to punish summarily those who write songs. The fate of poor Pilatre de Rosiere will have reached you before this does, and with more certainty than we yet know it. This will damp for a while the ardor of the Phaetons of our race who are endeavoring to learn us the way to heaven on wings of our own. I took a trip yesterday to Saunois and commenced an acquaintance with the old Countess d’ Hocquetout. I received much pleasure from it and hope it has opened a door of admission for me to the circle of literati with which she is environed. I heard there the nightingale in all its perfection: and I do not hesitate to pronounce that in America it would be deemed a bird of the third rank only, our mocking bird, & fox-coloured thrush being unquestionably superior to it.—The squibs against Mr. Adams are such as I expected from the polished, mild tempered, truth-speaking people he is sent to. It would be ill policy to attempt to answer or refute them, but counter-squibs I think would be good policy. Be pleased to tell him that as I had before ordered his Madeira Frontignac to be forwarded, and had asked his orders to Mr. Garvey as to the residue, which I doubt not he has given, I was afraid to send another order about the Bourdeaux lest it should produce confusion. In stating my accounts with the United States, I am at a loss whether to charge house rent or not. It has always been allowed to Dr. Franklin. Does Mr. Adams mean to charge this for Auteuil & London? Because if he does, I certainly will, being convinced by experience that my expenses here will otherwise exceed my allowance. I ask this information of you Madam, because I think you know better than Mr. Adams what may be necessary & right for him to do in occasions of this class. I will beg the favor of you to present my respects to Miss Adams. I have no secrets to communicate to her in cypher at this moment, what I write to Mr. Adams being mere commonplace stuff, not meriting a communication to the Secretary.
I have the honor to be with the most perfect esteem Dr. Madam. Your most obedient & most humble servt.
TO JAMES MONROE
Paris, July 5, 1785.
—I wrote you by Mr. Adams, May 11, and by Mr. Otto June 17. The latter acknowledged the receipt of yours of Apr. 12, which is the only one come to hand of later date than Dec. 14. Little new has occurred since my last. Peace seems to shew herself under a more decided form. The emperor is now on a journey to Italy, and the two Dutch plenipotentiaries have set out for Vienna; there to make an apology for their state having dared to fire a gun in defence of their invaded rights; this is insisted on as a preliminary condition. The emperor seems to prefer the glory of terror to that of justice; and to satisfy this tinsel passion, plants a dagger in the heart of every Dutchman which no time will extract; I enquired lately of a gentleman who lived long at Constantinople, in a public character, and enjoyed the confidence of that government, insomuch as to become well acquainted with it ’s spirit & it ’s powers, what he thought might be the issue of the present affairs between the emperor & the porte. He thinks the latter will not push matters to a war; and if they do they must fail under it. They have lost their warlike spirit, and their troops cannot be induced to adopt the European arms. We have no news yet of Mr. Lambe; of course our Barbary proceedings are still at a stand. This will be br. you by Master Franklin. He has a separate letter of introduction to you. I have never been with him enough to unravel his character with certainty. Seems to be good in the main, but 640. I see sometimes an attempt to keep himself unpenetrated, which perhaps is the effect of the old lesson of his grandfather; his understanding is good enough for common use, but not great enough for uncommon ones. However, you will have better opportunity of knowing him. The Doctor is extremely wounded by the inattention of Congress to his application for him. He expects something to be done as a reward for his service. He will present 587. 8. a determined silence on this subject in future. Adieu. Yours affectionately.
P. S. Europe fixes an attentive eye on your reception of Doct. Franklin. He is infinitely esteemed. Do not neglect any mark of your approbation which you think 639. 1543. or proper. It will honor you here.
TO MRS. SPROWLE
Paris, July 5, 1785.
—Your letter of the 21st of June has come safely to hand. That which you had done me the honour of writing before has not yet been received. Having gone by Dr. Witherspoon to America, which I had left before his return to it, the delay is easily accounted for.
I wish you may be rightly informed that the property of Mr. Sprowle is yet unsold. It was advertised for sale so long ago as to found a presumption that the sale has taken place. In any event, you may go safely to Virginia. It is in the London newspapers only that exist those mobs and riots which are fabricated to deter strangers from going to America. Your person will be sacredly safe, & free from insult. You can best judge from the character and qualities of your son whether he may be an useful coadjutor to you there. I suppose him to have taken side with the British before our declaration of independence; and if this was the case, I respect the candour of the measure, tho I do not it’s wisdom. A right to take the side which every man’s conscience approves in a civil contest is too precious a right and too favourable to the preservation of liberty not to be protected by all it’s well informed friends. The Assembly of Virginia have given sanction to this right in several of their laws, discriminating honourably those who took side against us before the declaration of independence, from those who remained among us and strove to injure us by their treacheries. I sincerely wish that you & every other to whom this distinction applies favourably, may find in the Assembly of Virginia the good effects of that justice & generosity which have dictated to them this discrimination. It is a sentiment which will gain strength in their breasts in proportion as they can forget the savage cruelties committed on them, and will I hope in the end induce them to restore the property itself wherever it is unsold, and the price received for it where it has been actually sold. I am Madam Your very humble servt,
TO MRS. JOHN (ABIGAIL) ADAMS
Paris, July 7, 1785.
—I had the honor of writing you on the 21st of June, but the letter being full of treason, has waited a private conveiance. Since that date there has been received for you at Auteuil a cask of about 60 gallons of wine. I would have examined its quality, & have ventured to decide on it’s disposal, but it is in a cask within a cask, and therefore cannot be got at but by operations which would muddy it and disguise its quality. As you probably know what it is, what it cost, &c., be so good as to give me your orders on the subject & they shall be complied with.
Since my last I can add another chapter to the history of the redacteur of the Journal de Paris. After the paper had been discontinued about three weeks it appeared again, but announcing in the first sentence a changement de domicile of the redacteur, the English of which, is that the redaction of the paper had been taken from the imprisoned culprit, and given to another. Whether the imprisonment of the former has been made to cease, or what will be the last chapter of his history I cannot tell. I love energy in Government dearly,—it is evident it was become necessary on this occasion, & that a very daring spirit has lately appeared in this country, for notwithstanding the several examples lately made of suppressing the London papers, suppressing the Leyden Gazette, imprisoning Beaumarchais, & imprisoning the redacteur of the Journal, the Author of the Mercure of the last week has had the presumption, speaking of the German newspapers, to say ‘car les journaux de ce pays—la ne sont pas forcés de s’en tenir à juger des hemistiches ou à annoncer des programes academiques.’—Probably he is now suffering in a jail the just punishments of his insolent sneer on this mild Government tho’ as yet we do not know the fact.
The settlement of the affairs of the Abbie Mably is likely to detain his friends Arnoud & Chault in Paris the greatest part of the summer. It is a fortunate circumstance for me, as I have much society, with them.—What mischief is this which is brewing anew between Faneuil hall and the nation of God-demmees? Will that focus of sedition be never extinguished? I apprehend the fire will take thro’ all the states and involve us again in the displeasure of our Mother Country.
TO RICHARD HENRY LEE
Paris, July 12, 1785.
—I was honoured two days ago with yours of May 16. and thank you for the intelligence it contained, much of which was new to me. It was the only letter I received by this packet except one from Mr. Hopkinson on philosophical subjects. I generally write about a dozen by every packet, & receive sometimes one, sometimes two, & sometimes n’er a one. You are right in supposing all letters opened which come either thro’ the French or English channel, unless trusted to a passenger. Yours had been evidently opened, and I think I never received one through the post office which had not been. It is generally discoverable by the smoakiness of the wax & faintness of the reimpression. Once they sent me a letter open, having forgotten to reseal it. I should be happy to hear that Congress thought of establishing packets of their own between N. York and Havre. To send a packet from each port once in two months, the business might possibly be done by two packets, as will be seen by the following scheme, wherein we will call the two packets A. and B.
Jan. A. sails from New York, B. from Havre.
Mar. B. New York. A. Havre.
May A. New York. B. Havre.
July B. New York. A. Havre.
Sep. A. New York. B. Havre.
Nov. B. New York. A. Havre.
I am persuaded this government would gladly arrange this matter with us, and send their packets in the intermediate months, as they are tired of the expence. We should then have a safe conveiance every two months, & one for common matters every month. A courier would pass between this & Havre in twenty-four hours. Could not the surplus of the Post office revenue be applied to this? This establishment would look like the commencement of a little Navy, the only kind of force we ought to possess. You mention that Congress is on the subject of requisition. No subject is more interesting to the honour of the states. It is an opinion which prevails much in Europe that our government wants authority to draw money from the states, & that the states want faith to pay their debts. I shall wish much to hear how far the requisitions on the states are productive of actual cash. Mr. Grand informed me the other day that the Commissioners were dissatisfied with his having paid to this country but 200,000 livres of the 400,000 for which Mr. Adams drew on Holland, reserving the residue to replace his advances & furnish current expenses. They observe that these last objects might have been effected by the residue of the money in Holland which was lying dead. Mr. Grand’s observation to me was that Mr. Adams did not like to draw for these purposes, that he himself had no authority, and that the Commissioners had not accompanied their complaint with any draught on that fund, so that the debt still remains unpaid while the money is lying dead in Holland. He did not desire me to mention this circumstance, but should you see the Commissioners it might not be amiss to communicate it to them, that they may take any measures they please, if they think it proper to do anything in it. I am anxious to hear what is done with the states of Vermont & Franklin. I think that the former is the only innovation on the system of Apr. 23, 1784, which ought ever possibly to be admitted. If Congress are not firm on that head, our several states will crumble to atoms by the spirit of establishing every little canton into a separate state. I hope Virginia will concur in that plan as to her territory South of the Ohio & not leave to the Western country to withdraw themselves by force & become our worst enemies instead of our best friends. Europe is likely to be quiet. The departure of the Dutch deputies for Vienna, is a proof that matters are arranged between the Emperor & Dutch. The Turks shew a disposition to rally against the pursuits of the Emperor: but if this country can preserve the peace she will do it. She is not ready for war, and yet could not see peaceably any new accession of power to him. A lover of humanity would wish to see that charming country from which the Turks exclude science & freedom, in any hands rather than theirs, & in those of the native Greeks rather than any others. The recovery of their antient language would not be desperate, could they recover their antient liberty. But those who wish to remove the Turks, wish to put themselves in their places. This would be exchanging one set of Barbarians for another only.—I am sorry to hear your health is not yet established. I was in hopes a change of climate would have effected it. Perhaps the summer of N. York may have produced that good effect.
This will be handed you by Monsr. Houdon. The letter which I give him to our delegation will apprise you of his character and mission, as well as of the object he would propose with Congress. I will here only add my request to you personally to render him such civilities as may be convenient, and to avail him of those opportunities which are in your power of making him acquainted with the members of Congress and of disposing them in his favour. He will well merit their notice.
TO THE VIRGINIA DELEGATES IN CONGRESS
Paris, July 12, 1785.
—In consequence of the orders of the Legislative & Executive bodies of Virginia, I have engaged Monsr. Houdon to make the Statue of Genl. Washington. For this purpose it is necessary for him to see the General. He therefore goes with Doctr. Franklin, & will have the honor of delivering you this himself. As his journey is at the expence of the State according to our contract, I will pray you to favor him with your patronage & counsels, and to protect him as much as possible from those impositions to which strangers are but too much exposed. I have advised him to proceed in the stages to the General’s. I have also agreed, if he can see General Greene & Gates, whose busts he has a desire to make, that he may make a moderate deviation for this purpose, after he is done with General Washington.
But the most important object with him is to be employed to make General Washington’s equestrian statue for Congress. Nothing but the expectation of this could have engaged him to have undertaken this voyage. The pedestrian statue for Virginia will not make it worth the business he loses by absenting himself. I was therefore obliged to assure him of my recommendations for this greater work. Having acted in this for the state, you will I hope think yourselves in some measure bound to patronize & urge his being employed by Congress. I would not have done this myself, nor asked you to do it, did I not see that it would be better for Congress to put this business into his hands, than those of any other person living, for these reasons: 1. he is without rivalship the first statuary of this age; as a proof of which he receives orders from every other country for things intended to be capital: 2. he will have seen General Washington, have taken his measures in every part, and of course whatever he does of him will have the merit of being original, from which other workmen can only furnish copies. 3. He is in possession of the house, the furnaces, & all the apparatus provided for making the statue of Louis XV. If any other workman is employed, this will all be to be provided anew and of course to be added to the price of the statue, for no man can ever expect to make two equestrian statues. The addition which this would be to the price will much exceed the expectation of any person who has not seen that apparatus. In truth it is immense. As to the price of the work it will be much greater than Congress is aware of, probably. I have enquired somewhat into this circumstance, and find the prices of those made for two centuries past have been from 120.000 guineas down to 16.000 guineas, according to the size. And as far as I have seen, the smaller they are, the more agreeable. The smallest yet made is infinitely above the size of the life, and they all appear outrée and monstrous. That of Louis XV. is probably the best in the world, and it is the smallest here. Yet it is impossible to find a point of view from which it does not appear a monster, unless you go so far as to lose sight of the features and finer lineaments of the face and body. A statue is not made, like a mountain, to be seen at a great distance. To perceive those minuter circumstances which constitute its beauty you must be near it, and, in that case, it should be so little above the size of the life, as to appear actually of that size from your point of view. I should not therefore fear to propose that the one intended by Congress should be considerably smaller than any of those to be seen here; as I think it will be more beautiful, and also cheaper. I have troubled you with these observations as they have been suggested to me from an actual sight of works in this kind, & supposed they might assist you in making up your minds on this subject. In making a contract with Monsr. Houdon it would not be proper to advance money, but as his disbursements and labour advance. As it is a work of many years, this will render the expence insensible. The pedestrian statue of marble is to take three years. The equestrian of course much more. Therefore the sooner it is begun the better.
TO THE GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA (PATRICK HENRY)
v. s. a.
Paris, July 15.
—Mr Houdon’s long & desperate illness has retarded till now his departure for Virginia, and we had hoped from our first conversations with him that it would be easy to make our terms, and that the cost of the statue and expence of sending him would be but about a thousand guineas but when we came to settle this precisely, he thought himself obliged to ask vastly more. Insomuch that at one moment we thought our treaty at an end. But unwilling to commit such a work to an inferior hand, we made him an ultimate proposition on our part. He was as much mortified at the prospect of not being the executor of such a work, as we were, not to have it done by such a hand. He therefore acceded to our terms, tho’ we are satisfied he will be a considerable loser. We were led to insist on them because in a former letter to the Governor I had given the hope we entertained of bringing the whole within 1000 guineas. The terms are 25,000 livres or 1000 English guineas (the English guinea being worth 25 livres) for the statue & pedistal. Besides this we pay his expences going & returning, which we expect will be between four and five thousand livres: and if he dies in the voyage we pay his family 10,000 livres. This latter proposition was disagreeable to us. But he has a father, mother & sisters who have no resource but in his labour: and he is himself one of the best men in the world. He therefore made it a sine qua non, without which all would have been off. We have reconciled it to ourselves by determining to get insurance on his life made in London, which we expect can be done for 5 per cent, so that it becomes an additional sum of 500 livres. I have written to Mr Adams to know for what per cent the insurance can be had. I inclose you for a more particular detail, a copy of the agreement. Dr Franklin being on his departure did not become a party to the instrum’t, tho it has been concluded with his approbation. He was disposed to give 250 guineas more, which would have split the difference between the actual terms & Mr Houdon’s demand. I wish the state, at the conclusion of the work may agree to give him this much more, because I am persuaded he will be a loser, which I am sure their generosity would not wish. But I have not given him the smallest expectation of it, chusing the proposition should come from the state which will be more honourable. You will perceive by the agreement that I pay him immediately 8333⅓ livres, which is to be employed in getting the marble in Italy, it’s transportation &c. The package & transportation of his stucco to make the moulds will be about 500 livres. I shall furnish him with money for his expences in France & I have authorised Dr Franklin when he arrives in Philadelphia to draw on me for money for his other expences going, staying & returning. These draughts will have been made probably & will be on their way to me before you receive this, & with the paiments made here will amount to about 5000 livres more than the amount of the bill remitted me. Another third, of 8333⅓ will become due at the end of the ensuing year. Dr Franklin leaves Passy this morning. As he travels in a litter, Mr Houdon will follow him some days hence and will embark with him for Philadelphia. I am in hopes he will not stay in America more than a month.
TO N. AND J. VAN STAPHORST1
Paris, July 30, 1785.
—I received yesterday your favor of the 25th. Supposing that the funds which are the object of your enquiry are those which constitute what we call our Domestic debt, it is my opinion that they are absolutely secure: I have no doubt at all but that they will be paid with their interest at six per cent. But I cannot say that they are as secure and solid as the funds which constitute our foreign debt; because no man in America ever entertained a doubt that our foreign debt is to be paid fully; but some people in America have seriously contended that the certificates & other evidences of our domestic debt ought to be redeemed only at what they have cost the holder; for I must observe to you, that these certificates of Domestic debt having as yet no provision for the payment either of principal or interest, and the original holders being mostly needy, they have been sold at a very great discount. When I left America (July 1784) they sold in different states at from 15/ to 2/6 in the pound, and any amount of them might then have been purchased. Hence some thought that full justice would be done if the public paid the purchasers of them what they actually paid for them, & interest on that. But this is very far from being a general opinion; a very great majority being firmly decided that they shall be paid fully. Were I the holder of any of them, I should not have the least fear of their full paiment. There is also a difference between different species of certificates, some of them being receivable in taxes, others having the benefit of particular assurances, &c. Again some of these certificates are for paper money debts. A deception here must be guarded against. Congress ordered all such to be re-settled by the depreciation tables, and a new certificate to be given in exchange for them expressing their value in real money. Yet all have not yet been resettled. In short this is a science in which few in America are expert, and no person in a foreign country can be so. Foreigners should therefore be sure that they are well advised before they meddle with them, or they may suffer. If you will reflect with what degree of success persons actually in America could speculate in the European funds which rise and fall daily, you may judge how far those in Europe may do it in the American funds, which are more variable from a variety of causes.
I am not at all acquainted with Mr. Daniel Parker, but as having once seen him in Philadelphia. He is of Massachusetts (I believe) and I am of Virginia. His circumstances are utterly unknown to me. I think there are few men in America, if there is a single one, who could command a hundred thousand pounds sterling’s worth of these notes, at their real value. At their nominal amount this might be done perhaps with 25.000£ sterling, if the market price of them be as low as when I left America.
TO JOHN ADAMS1
Paris, July 31, 1785.
—I was honoured yesterday with yours of the 24th instant. When the 1st article of our instrns of May 7. 1784, was under debate in Congress, it was proposed that neither party should make the other pay in their ports greater duties than they paid in the ports of the other. One objection to this was it’s impracticability, another that it would put it out of our power to lay such duties on alien importation as might encourage importation by natives. Some members much attached to English policy thought such a distinction should actually be established. Some thought the power to do it should be reserved in case any peculiar circumstances should call for it, tho under the present or perhaps any probable circumstances they did not think it would be good policy ever to exercise it. The footing gentis amicissimæ was therefore adopted as you see in the instruction. As far as my inquiries enable me to judge France and Holland make no distinction of duties between aliens and natives. I also rather believe that the other states of Europe make none, England excepted, to whom this policy, as that of her navigation act, seems peculiar. The question then is, should we disarm ourselves of the power to make this distinction against all nations in order to purchase an exception from the alien duties in England only; for if we put her importations on the footing of native, all other nations with whom we treat will have a right to claim the same. I think we should because against other nations who make no distinction in their ports between us & their own subjects, we ought not to make a distinction in ours. And if the English will agree, in like manner to make none, we should with equal reason abandon the right as against them. I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty. I remember this proposition to put foreigners and natives on the same footing was considered; and we were all three Dr. F. as well as you & myself in favor of it. We finally however did not admit it partly from the objection you mention, but more still on account of our instructions. But tho’ the English proclamation had appeared in America at the time of framing these instructions I think it’s effect as to alien duties had not yet been experienced & therefore was not attended to. If it had been noted in the debate I am sure that the annihilation of our whole trade would have been thought too great a price to pay for the reservation of a barren power which a majority of the members did not propose ever to exercise tho they were willing to retain it. Stipulating for equal rights for foreigners & natives we obtain more in foreign ports than our instructions required, and we only part with, in our own ports, a power of which sound policy would probably forever forbid the exercise. Add to this, that our treaty will be for a very short term, and if any evil be experienced under it, a reformation will soon be in our power. I am therefore for putting this among our original propositions to the court of London. If it should prove an insuperable obstacle with them, or if it should stand in the way of a greater advantage, we can but abandon it in the course of the negotiation,
In my copy of the cypher, on the alphabetical side, numbers are wanting from “Denmark” to “disc” inclusive, and from “gone” to “governor” inclusive. I suppose them to have been omitted in copying. Will you be so good as to send them to me from yours by the first safe conveyance?
TO DR. RICHARD PRICE
Paris, Aug. 7, 1785.
—Your favor of July 2. came duly to hand. The concern you therein express as to the effect of your pamphlet in America, induces me to trouble you with some observations on that subject. From my acquaintance with that country I think I am able to judge with some degree of certainty of the manner in which it will have been received. Southward of the Chesapeak it will find but few readers concurring with it in sentiment on the subject of slavery. From the mouth to the head of the Chesapeak, the bulk of the people will approve it in theory, and it will find a respectable minority ready to adopt it in practice, a minority which for weight & worth of character preponderates against the greater number, who have not the courage to divest their families of a property which however keeps their conscience inquiet. Northward of the Chesapeak you may find here & there an opponent to your doctrine as you may find here & there a robber & a murderer, but in no greater number. In that part of America, there being but few slaves, they can easily disencumber themselves of them, and emancipation is put into such a train that in a few years there will be no slaves northward of Maryland. In Maryland I do not find such a disposition to begin the redress of this enormity as in Virginia. This is the next state to which we may turn our eyes for the interesting spectacle of justice in conflict with avarice & oppression: a conflict wherein the sacred side is gaining daily recruits, from the influx into office of young men grown & growing up. These have sucked in the principles of liberty as it were with their mother’s milk; and it is to them I look with anxiety to turn the fate of this question. Be not therefore discouraged. What you have written will do a great deal of good: and could you still trouble yourself with our welfare, no man is more able to give aid to the labouring side. The college of William & Mary in Williamsburg, since the remodelling of it’s plan, is the place where are collected together all the young men (of Virginia) under preparation for public life. They are there under the direction (most of them) of a Mr. Wythe one of the most virtuous of characters, and whose sentiments on the subject of slavery are unequivocal. I am satisfied if you could resolve to address an exhortation to those young men, with all that eloquence of which you are master, that it’s influence on the future decision of this important question would be great, perhaps decisive. Thus you see that, so far from thinking you have cause to repent of what you have done, I wish you to do more, and wish it on an assurance of it’s effect. The information I have received from America of the reception of your pamphlet in the different states agrees with the expectations I had formed. Our country is getting into a ferment against yours, or rather has caught it from yours. God knows how this will end; but assuredly in one extreme or the other. There can be no medium between those who have loved so much. I think the decision is in your power as yet, but will not be so long. I pray you to be assured of the sincerity of the esteem & respect with which I have the honour to be Sir your most obedt humble servt.
TO JOHN JAY
Paris Aug 23 1785.
—I shall sometimes ask your permission to write you letters, not official but private. The present is of this kind, and is occasioned by the question proposed in yours of June 14. “whether it would be useful to us to carry all our own productions, or none?” Were we perfectly free to decide this question, I should reason as follows. We have now lands enough to employ an infinite number of people in their cultivation. Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independant, the most virtuous, & they are tied to their country & wedded to it’s liberty & interests by the most lasting bonds. As long therefore as they can find employment in this line, I would not convert them into mariners, artisans or anything else. But our citizens will find employment in this line till their numbers, & of course their productions, become too great for the demand both internal & foreign. This is not the case as yet, & probably will not be for a considerable time. As soon as it is, the surplus of hands must be turned to something else. I should then perhaps wish to turn them to the sea in preference to manufactures, because comparing the characters of the two classes I find the former the most valuable citizens. I consider the class of artificers as the panders of vice & the instruments by which the liberties of a country are generally overturned. However we are not free to decide this question on principles of theory only. Our people are decided in the opinion that it is necessary for us to take a share in the occupation of the ocean, & their established habits induce them to require that the sea be kept open to them, and that that line of policy be pursued which will render the use of that element as great as possible to them. I think it a duty in those entrusted with the administration of their affairs to conform themselves to the decided choice of their constituents: and that therefore we should in every instance preserve an equality of right to them in the transportation of commodities, in the right of fishing, & in the other uses of the sea. But what will be the consequence? Frequent wars without a doubt. Their property will be violated on the sea, & in foreign ports, their persons will be insulted, imprisoned &c. for pretended debts, contracts, crimes, contraband, &c., &c. These insults must be resented, even if we had no feelings, yet to prevent their eternal repetition, or in other words, our commerce on the ocean & in other countries must be paid for by frequent war. The justest dispositions possible in ourselves will not secure us against it. It would be necessary that all other nations were just also. Justice indeed on our part will save us from those wars which would have been produced by a contrary disposition. But to prevent those produced by the wrongs of other nations? By putting ourselves in a condition to punish them. Weakness provokes insult & injury, while a condition to punish it often prevents it. This reasoning leads to the necessity of some naval force, that being the only weapon with which we can reach an enemy. I think it to our interest to punish the first insult; because an insult unpunished is the parent of many others. We are not at this moment in a condition to do it, but we should put ourselves into it as soon as possible. If a war with England should take place, it seems to me that the first thing necessary would be a resolution to abandon the carrying trade because we cannot protect it. Foreign nations must in that case be invited to bring us what we want & to take our productions in their own bottoms. This alone could prevent the loss of those productions to us & the acquisition of them to our enemy. Our seamen might be employed in depredations on their trade. But how dreadfully we shall suffer on our coasts, if we have no force on the water, former experience has taught us. Indeed I look forward with horror to the very possible case of war with an European power, & think there is no protection against them but from the possession of some force on the sea. Our vicinity to their West India possessions & to the fisheries is a bridle which a small naval force on our part would hold in the mouths of the most powerful of these countries. I hope our land office will rid us of our debts, & that our first attention then will be to the beginning a naval force of some sort. This alone can countenance our people as carriers on the water, & I suppose them to be determined to continue such.
I wrote you two public letters on the 14th inst., since which I have received yours of July 13. I shall always be pleased to receive from you in a private way such communications as you might not chuse to put into a public letter.
TO JAMES MONROE1
Paris Aug. 28, 1785.
—I wrote you on the 5th of July by Mr. Franklin & on the 12th of the same month by Monsr. Houdon. Since that date yours of June 16. by Mr. Mazzei is received. Everything looks like peace here. The settlement between the Emperor & Dutch is not yet published, but it is believed to be agreed. Nothing is done as yet between him & the Porte. He is much wounded by the Confederation of several of the Germanic body at the head of which is the King of Prussia, & to which the King of England as elector of Hanover is believed to accede. The object is to preserve the constitution of that empire. It shews that these princes entertain serious jealousies of the ambition of the Emperor, and this will very much endanger the election of his nephew as King of the Romans. A late arret of this court against the admission of British Manufactures produces a great sensation in England. I wish it may produce a disposition there to receive our commerce in all their dominions on advantageous terms. This is the only balm which can heal the wound that it has received. It is but too true that that country furnishes market, three fourths of the exports of the eight northern most states. A truth not proper to be spoken of, but which should influence our proceedings with them. How that negotiation advances you are probably better informed than I am. The infidelity of the post offices rendering the communication between Master Adams and myself difficult. The improvement of our commerce with France will be advanced more by negotiation at Saint James than at Versailles.
The July French packet being arrived without bringing any news of Mr Lambe. If the English one of the same month be also arrived without news of him, I expect Mr Adams will concur with me in sending some other person to treat with the Barbary states. Mr. Barclay is willing to go, & I have proposed him to Mr. Adams but have not yet received his answer. The peace expected between Spain & Algiers will probably not take place. It is said the former was to have given a million of dollars. Would it not be prudent to send a minister to Portugal? Our commerce with that country is very important. Perhaps more so than with any other country in Europe. It is possible too that they might permit our whaling vessels to refresh in Brazil or give some other indulgence in South America. The lethargic character of their ambassador here gives a very unhopeful aspect to a treaty on this ground. I lately spoke with him on the subject and he has promised to interest himself in obtaining an answer from his court. I have waited to see what was the pleasure of Congress as to the secretaryship of my office here; that is, to see whether they proposed to appoint a secretary of legation, or leave me to appoint a private secretary. Colo. Humphrey’s occupation in the dispatches & record of the matters which relate to the general commissions does not afford him leisure to aid me in my office, were I entitled to ask that aid. In the meantime the lengthy papers which often accompany the communications between the ministers here & myself, & the other business of the office absolutely require a scribe. I shall therefore on Mr. Short’s return from the Hague appoint him my private secretary till Congress shall think proper to signify their pleasure. The salary allowed Mr. Franklin in the same office was 1000 Dollars a year. I shall presume that Mr Short may draw the same allowance from the funds of the N. T. here as soon as I shall have made this appointment. I shall give official notice of it to Mr. Jay, that Congress may, if they disapprove of it, say so.
I am much pleased with your land ordinance, & think it improved from the first in the most material circumstances. I had mistaken the object of the division of the lands among the states. I am sanguine in my expectations of lessening our debts by this fund, and have expressed my expectations to the Minister & others here. I see by the public papers you have adopted the dollar as your money unit. In the arrangement of coins I had proposed, I ought to have inserted a gold coin of 5. dollars, which being within 2/ of the value of a guinea will be very convenient.—The English papers are incessantly repeating their lies about the tumults, the anarchy, the bankruptcies & distresses of America, these ideas prevail very generally in Europe. At a large table where I dined the other day, a gentleman from Switzerland expressed his apprehensions for the fate of Doctr. Franklin as he said he had been informed he would be received with stones by the people, who were generally dissatisfied with the revolution & incensed against all those who had assisted in bringing it about. I told him his apprehensions were just, & that the People of America would probably salute Dr. Franklin with the same stones they had thrown at the Marquis Fayette. The reception of the Doctor is an object of very general attention, and will weigh in Europe as an evidence of the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of America with their revolution. As you are to be in Williamsburgh early in November, this is the last letter I shall write you till about that time; I am with very sincere esteem Dr. Sir Your friend and servt.
TO DAVID HARTLEY
Paris Sep 5, 1785.
—Your favour of Apr 15, happened to be put into my hands at the same time with a large parcel of letters from America, which contained a variety of intelligence. It was then put where I usually place my unanswered letters, & I from time to time put off acknoleging the receipt of it till I should be able to furnish you American intelligence worth communicating. A favourable opportunity, by a courier, of writing to you occurring this morning, what has been my astonishment & chagrin on reading your letter again to find there was a case in it which required an immediate answer, but which, by the variety of matters which happened to be presented to my mind at the same time had utterly escaped my recollection. I pray you to be assured that nothing but this slip of memory would have prevented my immediate answer, & no other circumstance would have prevented it’s making such an impression on my mind as that it could not have escaped. I hope you will therefore obliterate the imputation of want of respect, which under actual appearances must have arisen in your mind, but which would refer to an untrue cause the occasion of my silence. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the proceedings of the New York Assembly to say with certainty in what predicament the lands of Mr. Upton may stand. But on conferring with Colo Humphreys, who being from the neighboring state was more in the way of knowing what passed in New York, he thinks that the descriptions in their confiscation laws were such as not to include a case of this nature. The first thing to be done by Mr. Upton is to state his case to some intelligent lawyer of the country, that he may know with certainty whether they be confiscated, or not; & if not confiscated, to know what measures are necessary for completing & securing his grant. But if confiscated, there is then no other tribunal of redress but their general assembly. If he is unacquainted there, I would advise him to apply to Colo Hamilton (who was aid to Genl. Washington) and is now very eminent at the bar, and much to be relied on. Your letter in his favor to Mr. Jay will also procure him the benefit of his council.
With respect to America I will rather give you a general view of its situation, than merely relate recent events. The impost is still unpassed by the two states of New York & Rhode Island; for the manner in which the latter has passed it does not appear to me to answer the principal object, of establishing a fund, which, by being subject to Congress alone, may give such credit to the certificates of public debt as will make them negotiable. This matter then is still suspended.
Congress have lately purchased the Indian right to nearly the whole of the land lying in the new state bounded by lake Erie, Pennsylvania & the Ohio. The northwestern corner alone is reserved to the Delawares & Wiandots. I expect a purchase is also concluded with other tribes for a considerable proportion of the state next to this on the north side of the Ohio. They have passed an ordinance establishing a land office, considerably improved I think on the plan of which I had the honor of giving you a copy. The lands are to be offered for sale to the highest bidder. For this purpose portions of them are to be proposed in each state, that each may have the means of purchase carried equally to their doors, & that the purchasers may be a proper mixture of the citizens from all the different states. But such lots as cannot be sold for a dollar an acre are not to be parted with. They will receive as money the certificates of public debt. I flatter myself that this arrangement will very soon absorb the whole of these certificates, & thus rid us of our domestic debt, which is four fifths of our whole debt. Our foreign debt will then be a bagatelle.
I think it probable that Vermont will be made independant, as I am told the state of New York is likely to agree to it. Le-Maine will probably in time be also permitted to separate from Massachusetts. As yet they only begin to think of it. Whenever the people of Kentucky shall have agreed among themselves, my friends write me word that Virginia will consent to their separation. They will constitute the new state on the South side of Ohio, joining Virginia. North Carolina, by an act of their assembly, ceded to Congress all their lands Westward of the Alleghany. The people inhabiting that territory thereon declared themselves independant, called their state by the name of Franklin, & solicited Congress to be received into the Union. But before Congress met, N. Carolina (for what reasons I could never learn) resumed their cession. The people however persist; Congress recommended to the state to desist from their opposition, & I have no doubt they will do it. It will therefore result from the act of Congress laying off the Western country into new states, that these states will come into the union in the manner therein provided, & without any disputes as to their boundaries.
I am told that some hostile transaction by our people at the Natchez against the Spaniards has taken place. If it be fact Congress will certainly not protect them, but leave them to be chastised by the Spaniards, saving the right to the territory. A Spanish minister being now with Congress, & both parties interested in keeping the peace I think, if such an event has happened, it will be easily arranged.
I told you when here of the propositions made by Congress to the States to be authorized to make certain regulations in their commerce; & that from the disposition to strengthen the hands of Congress, which was then growing fast, I thought they would consent to it. Most of them did so, & I suppose all of them would have done it, if they have not actually done it, but that events proved a much more extensive power would be requisite. Congress have therefore desired to be invested with the whole regulation of their trade, & forever: & to prevent all temptations to abuse & all fears of it, they propose that whatever monies shall be levied on commerce, either for the purpose of revenue or by way of forfeitures or penalty, shall go directly into the coffers of the state wherein it is levied without being touched by Congress. From the present temper of the states & the conviction which your country has carried home to their minds that there is no other method of defeating the greedy attempts of other countries to trade with them on equal terms, I think they will add an article for this purpose to their confederation. But the present powers of Congress over the commerce of the states under the Confederation seems not at all understood by your ministry. They say that body has no power to enter into a treaty of commerce; why then make one? This is a mistake. By the 6th art. of the confederation the states renounce individually all power to make any treaty of whatever nature with a foreign nation. By the 9th article they give the power of making treaties wholly to Congress, with two reservations only. 1. That no treaty of commerce shall be made which shall restrain the legislatures from making foreigners pay the same imposts with their own people: nor 2, from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of merchandize which they might think proper. Were any treaty to be made which should violate either of these two reservations, it would be so far void. In the treaties therefore made with France, Holland, &c. this has been cautiously avoided. But are these treaties of no advantage to those nations? Besides the advantages expressly given by them, there results another of great value. The commerce of those nations with the U. S. is thereby under the protection of Congress, & no particular state, acting by fits & starts, can harass the trade of France, Holland, &c. by such measures as several of them have practiced against England by loading her merchandize with partial impost, refusing admittance to it altogether, excluding her merchants, &c. &c. For you will observe that tho by the 2d. reservation before-mentioned they can prohibit the importation of any species of merchandize, as for instance tho’ they may prohibit the importation of wines in general, yet they cannot prohibit that of French wines in particular. Another advantage is that the nations having treaties with Congress can & do provide in such treaties for the admission of their consuls, a kind of officer very necessary for the regulation & protection of commerce. You know that a Consul is the creature of treaty. No nation, without an agreement, can place an officer in another country with any powers or jurisdiction whatever. But as the states have renounced the separate power of making treaties with foreign nations, they cannot separately receive a consul; & as Congress have by the Confederation no immediate jurisdiction over commerce, as they have only a power bringing that jurisdiction into existence by entering into a treaty, till such treaty be entered into Congress themselves cannot receive a Consul. Till a treaty then there exists no power in any part of our government, federal or particular, to admit a Consul among us; & if it be true as the papers say that you have lately sent one over, he cannot be admitted by any power in existence to an exercise of any function. Nothing less than a new article to be agreed to by all the states would enable Congress or the particular states to receive him. You must not be surprised then if he be not received.
I think I have by this time tired you with American politics & will therefore only add assurances of the sincere regard & esteem with which I have the honour to be dr Sir your most obedient humble servt.
TO MARY JEFFERSON1
Paris, Sept. 20th, 1785.
My Dear Polly,
—I have not received a letter from you since I came to France If you knew how much I love you and what pleasure the receipt of your letters gave me at Philadelphia, you would have written to me, or at least have told your aunt what to write, and her goodness would have induced her to take the trouble of writing it I wish so much to see you, that I have desired your uncle and aunt to send you to me. I know, my dear Polly, how sorry you will be, and ought to be, to leave them and your cousins; but your sister and myself cannot live without you, and after a while we will carry you back again to see your friends in Virginia. In the meantime you shall be taught here to play on the harpsichord, to draw, to read and talk French, and such other things as will make you more worthy of the love of your friends; but above all things by our care and love of you, we will teach you to love us more than you will do if you stay so far from us I had no opportunity since Colonel Le Maire went, to send you anything; but when you come here you shall have as many dolls and playthings as you want for yourself, or to send to your cousins whenever you shall have opportunities. I hope you are a very good girl, that you love your uncle and aunt very much, and are very thankful to them all for their goodness to you; that you never suffer yourself to be angry with any body, that you give your playthings to those who want them, that you do whatever any body desires of you that is right, that you never tell stories, never beg for anything, mind your books and your work when your aunt tells you, never play but when she permits you, nor go where she forbids you; remember, too, as a constant charge, not to go out without your bonnet, because it will make you very ugly, and then we shall not love you so much. If you always practice these lessons we shall continue to love you as we do now, and it is impossible to love you any more. We shall hope to have you with us next summer, to find you a very good girl, and to assure you of the truth of our affection for you. Adieu, my dear child. Yours affectionately.
TO MRS JOHN (ABIGAIL) ADAMS
Paris Sep. 25. 1785.
—Mr. Short’s return the night before last availed me of your favor of Aug. 12. I immediately ordered the shoes you desired which will be ready tomorrow. I am not certain whether this will be in time for the departure of Mr. Barclay or of Colo. Franks, for it is not yet decided which of them goes to London. I have also procured for you three plateaux de dessert with a silvered ballustrade round them, and four figures. Of Biscuit the former cost 192#, the latter 12# each, making together 240. livres or 10. Louis. The merchant undertakes to send them by the way of Rouen through the hands of Mr. Garvey & to have them delivered in London. There will be some additional expenses of packing, transportation & duties here. Those in England I imagine you can save. When I know the amount I will inform you of it, but there will be no occasion to remit it here. With respect to the figures I could only find three of those you named, matched in size. These were Minerva, Diana, and Apollo, I was obliged to add a fourth, unguided by your choice. They offered me a fine Venus; but I thought it out of taste to have two at table at the same time. Paris & Helen were represented. I conceived it would be cruel to remove them from their peculiar shrine. When they shall pass the Atlantic, it will be to sing a requiem over our freedom & happiness. At length a fine Mars was offered, calm, bold, his faulchion not drawn but ready to be drawn. This will do, thinks I, for the table of the American Minister in London, where those whom it may concern may look and learn that though Wisdom is our guide, and the Song and Chase our supreme delight, yet we offer adoration to that tutelar God also who rocked the cradle of our birth, who has accepted our infant offerings & has shown himself the patron of our rights & avenger of our wrongs. The group then was closed, and your party formed. Envy & malice will never be quiet. I hear it already whispered to you that in admitting Minerva to your table I have departed from the principle which made me reject Venus: in plain English that I have paid a just respect to the daughter but failed to the mother. No Madam, my respect to both is sincere. Wisdom, I know, is social. She seeks her fellows, but Beauty is jealous, and illy bears the presence of a rival.—But, Allons, let us turn over another leaf, & begin the next chapter, I receive by Mr. Short a budget of London papers, they teem with every horror of which human nature is capable, assassinations, suicides, thefts, robberies, &, what is worse than assassination, theft, suicide, or robbery, the blackest slanders! indeed the man must be of rock, who can stand all this; to Mr Adams it will be but one victory the more. It would have illy suited me. I do not love difficulties. I am fond of quiet, willing to do my duty, but irritable by slander & apt to be forced by it to abandon my post. These are weaknesses from which reason & your counsels will preserve Mr. Adams. I fancy it must be the quantity of animal food eaten by the English which renders their character insusceptible of civilization. I suspect it is in their kitchens & not in their churches that their reformation must be worked, & that Missionaries of that description from hence would avail more than those who should endeavor to tame them by precepts of religion or philosophy. But what do the foolish printers of America mean by retailing all this stuff in our papers? As if it was not enough to be slandered by one’s enemies without circulating the slanders among his friends also.
To show you how willingly, I shall ever receive & execute your commissions, I venture to impose one on you. From what I recollect of the diaper & damask we used to import from England I think they were better & cheaper than here, you are well acquainted with those of both countries, if you are of the same opinion I would trouble you to send me two sets of tablecloths & napkins for 20 covers each, by Colo. Franks or Mr. Barclay who will bring them to me, but if you think they can be better got here I would rather avoid the trouble this commission will give. I enclose you a specimen of what is offered me at 100 livres for the tablecloth & 12 napkins. I suppose that, of the same quality, a table cloth. 2 aunes wide &. 4 aunes long & 20 napkins of 1 aune each, would cost 7. guineas.—I shall certainly charge the publick my houserent & court taxes. I shall do more. I shall charge my outfit. Without this I can never get out of debt. I think it will be allowed. Congress is too reasonable to expect, where no imprudent expenses are incurred, none but those which are required by a decent respect for the mantle with which they cover the public servants that such expences should be left as a burthen on our private fortunes.—But when writing to you I fancy myself at Auteuil, and chatter on till the last page of my paper awakes me from my reverie, & tells me it is time to assure you of the sincere respect & esteem with which I have the honor to be Dear Madam,
Your most obedient & Most humble servt.
P.S. The cask of wine at Auteuil, I take chearfully. I suppose the seller will apply to me for the price. Otherwise, as I do not know who he is, I shall not be able to find him out.