Front Page Titles (by Subject) INSTRUCTIONS TO THE MINISTERS PLENIPOTENTIARY APPOINTED TO NEGOTIATE TREATIES OF COMMERCE WITH THE EUROPEAN NATIONS 1 - The Works, vol. 4 (Notes on Virginia II, Correspondence 1782-1786)
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INSTRUCTIONS TO THE MINISTERS PLENIPOTENTIARY APPOINTED TO NEGOTIATE TREATIES OF COMMERCE WITH THE EUROPEAN NATIONS 1 - 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.
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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.
[1 ]Cf. Secret Journals of Congress, May 7, 1784.