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John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 8 (Letters and State Papers 1782-1799) [1853]

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John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 8. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2106

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About this Title:

A 10 volume collection of Adams’ most important writings, letters, and state papers, edited by his grandson. Vol. 8 contains letters and state papers from 1782 to 1799.

Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

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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.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
lf1431-08_figure_001.jpg
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]
THE WORKS OF JOHN ADAMS, SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: with A LIFE OF THE AUTHOR, NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS,
by HIS GRANDSON CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.
VOL. VIII.
BOSTON:
LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY.
1853.
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by Charles C. Little and James Brown, in the Clerk’s office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

riverside, cambridge:

stereotyped and printed by

h. o. houghton and company.

Edition: current; Page: [v]

CONTENTS OF VOLUME VIII.

  • 1782. November 8. To Secretary Livingston . . . . page 3
  • 11. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 5
  • 12. Henry Laurens to John Adams . . . 10
  • 18. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 11
  • 19. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 13
  • 21. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 14
  • December 3. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 15
  • 4. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 16
  • 6. To Francis Dana . . . . . 17
  • 12. The Commissioners to Francis Dana . . 17
  • 14. The Commissioners to Secretary Livingston . 18
  • 23. J. G. Holtzhey to John Adams . . . 20
  • 26. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 21
  • 1783. January 1. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 22
  • 2. To J. G. Holtzhey . . . . . 23
  • 14. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 24
  • 19. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 25
  • 22. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 25
  • 23. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 26
  • 24. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 29
  • 29. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 30
  • 30. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 31
  • February 4. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 32 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
  • 5. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 33
  • 5. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 40
  • 14. To Richard Oswald . . . . . 41
  • 15. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 41
  • 18. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 42
  • 23. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 43
  • 25. To the Trustees of Dartmouth College . 44
  • 25. B. Vaughan to John Adams . . . . 44
  • March 5. P. J. Van Berckel to John Adams . . . 45
  • 6. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 45
  • 11. To P. J. Van Berckel . . . . . 46
  • 11. B. Vaughan to John Adams . . . . 47
  • 12. To Benjamin Vaughan . . . . 48
  • 12. To Henry Laurens . . . . . 49
  • 16. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . 51
  • 26. Henry Laurens to John Adams . . . 52
  • April 14. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 54
  • 16. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 55
  • 29. The Society of Leeuwarden to John Adams . 55
  • May 1. To Francis Dana . . . . . 56
  • 1. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 57
  • 10. To the Members of the Society of Leeuwarden 58
  • 21. To Robert Morris . . . . . 59
  • 24. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 60
  • 26. William Ellery and Others to John Adams . 61
  • 30. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 64
  • June 1. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . 65
  • 6. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . 67
  • 10. To Edward A. Holyoke . . . . 68
  • M. Vicq D’azyr to John Adams (Inclosed), 3 February 68
  • To M. Vicq D’azyr, 28 February (Inclosed) . . 69
  • M. Lassone to John Adams, 3 June (Inclosed) . . 69 Edition: current; Page: [vii]
  • 16. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 70
  • 23. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 74
  • 27. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 75
  • July 3. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 77
  • 5. To Robert Morris . . . . . 81
  • 7. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 83
  • 9. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 86
  • 10. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 89
  • 10. To Robert Morris . . . . . 91
  • 11. To Robert Morris . . . . . 92
  • 11. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 93
  • 13. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 95
  • 14. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 97
  • 16. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 99
  • 17. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 103
  • 18. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 107
  • 23. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 110
  • 25. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 115
  • 28. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 116
  • 28. To Robert Morris . . . . . 119
  • 29. Francis Dana to John Adams . . . 120
  • 31. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 122
  • August 1. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 126
  • 2. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 128
  • 3. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 130
  • 10. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 132
  • 13. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 135
  • 13. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 138
  • 15. To Secretary Livingston . . . . 141
  • September 5. To the President of Congress . . . 143
  • 8. To the President of Congress . . . 146
  • 8. To the President of Congress . . . 148 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
  • 10. To the President of Congress . . . 150
  • 20. Robert Morris to John Adams . . . 151
  • R. Morris to the Governor of Massachusetts, (Inclosed) 152
  • October 16. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 152
  • November 1. The President of Congress to John Adams . 153
  • 5. Robert Morris to John Adams . . . 154
  • 6. E. A. Holyoke to John Adams . . . 155
  • 9. To the President of Congress . . . 156
  • 12. To William Ellery and Others . . . 157
  • 13. To the President of Congress . . . 158
  • December 2. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 161
  • 5. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 164
  • 7. To John Jay . . . . . . 165
  • 14. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 166
  • 23. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 166
  • 26. Messrs. Van Staphorst to John Adams . . 168
  • 1784. January 24. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 170
  • 29. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 172
  • 31. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 173
  • February 1. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 174
  • 4. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 175
  • 5. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 176
  • 5. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . 176
  • 10. To the President of Congress . . . 177
  • 11. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 179
  • 13. To John Jay . . . . . . 180
  • Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams (without date) 181
  • 14. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 183
  • 28. B. Franklin and John Jay to John Adams . 183
  • Mason Weems to John Adams, (without date) . 184 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
  • March 3. To Mason Weems . . . . . 185
  • 8. The Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . 187
  • 9. To the President of Congress . . . 189
  • 27. To the President of Congress . . . 191
  • 28. To the Marquis de Lafayette . . . 192
  • April 2. To Benjamin Franklin and John Jay . . 193
  • 9. Baron de Thulemeier to John Adams . . 194
  • 9. To Baron de Thulemeier . . . . 195
  • 10. To Benjamin Franklin and John Jay . . 195
  • 10. To the President of Congress . . . 195
  • 16. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . 196
  • 20. To Benjamin Franklin and John Jay . . 196
  • 22. To the President of Congress . . . 197
  • 21. M. de St. Saphorin to John Adams, (Inclosed) . 198
  • Count Rosencrone to M. de St. Saphorin, (Extract inclosed.)
  • To Baron de St. Saphorin . . . . 199
  • 29. B. Franklin and John Jay to John Adams . 199
  • May 5. To Baron de Thulemeier . . . . 200
  • 13. To the President of Congress . . . 200
  • June 7. To the President of Congress . . . 201
  • Observations . . . . . . 202
  • Answer of the King of Prussia . . . 203
  • 16. Robert Morris to John Adams . . . 203
  • 22. To the President of Congress . . . 204
  • 25. The Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . 205
  • 29. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . 206
  • July 4. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . 206
  • 27. To Benjamin Franklin . . . . . 207
  • August 6. Benjamin Franklin to John Adams . . . 208
  • October 25. To Thomas Cushing . . . . . 209
  • November 3. To the President of Congress . . . 211
  • Questions submitted to Mr. Adams . . 213 Edition: current; Page: [x]
  • Answers . . . . . . . 214
  • To M. Dumas . . . . . . 214
  • December 9. To the Maréchal de Castries . . . 215
  • 15. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 217
  • 1785. January 10. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 219
  • 10. To the President of Congress . . . 221
  • 24. Baron de Thulemeier to John Adams . . 222
  • February 2. To Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams 223
  • 13. To Baron de Thulemeier . . . . 224
  • 16. To Messrs. Willink and Others . . . 225
  • March 9. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 226
  • 15. Secretary Jay to John Adams . . . 229
  • 20. To Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson . 229
  • 31. Secretary Jay to John Adams . . . 231
  • April 8. To Dr. Price . . . . . . 232
  • 13. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 233
  • 24. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 236
  • May 3. Baron de Thulemeier to John Adams . . 238
  • 4. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 239
  • 5. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 240
  • 8. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 242
  • 11. To M. Dumas . . . . . . 246
  • 13. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 248
  • 27. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 251
  • 30. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 252
  • June 1. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 254
  • 2. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 255
  • 6. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 259
  • 7. M. Dumas to John Adams . . . . 261
  • 8. The Same to the Same . . . . 263
  • 10. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 265
  • 10. To M. Fagel . . . . . . 266 Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • June 14. M. Fagel to John Adams . . . . 267
  • 17. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 268
  • 26. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 273
  • July 14. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 276
  • 18. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 278
  • 19. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 279
  • 24. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 283
  • 27. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 284
  • Declaration, (Inclosed) . . . . . 285
  • 29. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 286
  • 29. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 288
  • August 6. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 289
  • 7. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 291
  • 8. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 293
  • 10. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 298
  • 18. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 300
  • 23. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 301
  • 25. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 302
  • 26. Secretary Jay to John Adams . . . 310
  • 30. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 310
  • September 16. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 314
  • 18. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 315
  • October 2. The Commissioners to John Jay . . . 316
  • 2-5. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 316
  • 11. Thomas Jefferson to John Adams . . . 318
  • 15. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 320
  • 17. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 322
  • 21. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 325
  • 24. Richard Henry Lee to John Adams . . 333
  • November 1. John Jay to John Adams . . . . 334
  • 4. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 335
  • 5. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 337 Edition: current; Page: [xii]
  • November 11. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 343
  • 24. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 345
  • 24. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 347
  • 26. William White to John Adams . . . 349
  • December 3. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 350
  • 6. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 356
  • A Memorial, (30 November) . . . . 357
  • 9. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 358
  • 1786. January 4. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 360
  • 4. To John Jay . . . . . . 361
  • 12. James Bowdoin to John Adams . . . 363
  • 19. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 365
  • 21. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 368
  • 21. To Count Sarsfield . . . . . 369
  • February 6. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 371
  • 17. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 372
  • 20. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 374
  • 22. The Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . 376
  • 22. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 377
  • 26. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 380
  • 27. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 381
  • 28. To William White . . . . . 382
  • March 2. To Matthew Robinson . . . . 383
  • 7. The Treasury Board to John Adams . . 386
  • 8. To Granville Sharp . . . . . 387
  • April 6. The Treasury Board to John Adams . . 388
  • May 9. To James Bowdoin . . . . . 389
  • 16. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 391
  • 18. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 392
  • 23. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 393
  • 25. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 394 Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
  • 30. Thomas Jefferson to John Adams . . . 397
  • June 2. To James Bowdoin . . . . . 397
  • 3. To Count d’Adhemar . . . . . 399
  • 6. To Thomas Jefferson . . . . . 399
  • 16. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 401
  • 26. David Griffith to John Adams . . . 403
  • Resolve, 24 June, (Inclosed) . . . . 404
  • 28. William White to John Adams . . . 404
  • 28. D. Griffith and Others to John Adams . . 404
  • 29. To John Lamb . . . . . . 405
  • July 3. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 406
  • 9. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 407
  • 30. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 409
  • 31. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 410
  • August 27. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 412
  • September 11. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 414
  • October 27. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 415
  • 31. The Treasury Board to John Adams . . 417
  • November 14. Samuel Osgood to John Adams . . . 418
  • 1787. January 24. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 421
  • 25. To John Jay, (Private) . . . . . 424
  • 25. To the Delegates of Massachusetts in Congress (Private) 425
  • 27. The Commissioners to Secretary Jay . . 425
  • 27. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 426
  • 27. To Sidi Hadji Ben Abdelleck Fennish . . 427
  • February 3. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 428
  • 6. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . 430
  • 20. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . 431
  • 23. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . 432
  • March 1. To T. Jefferson . . . . . 433
  • April 11. To William S. Smith . . . . . 435 Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
  • 19. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 438
  • May 8. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 438
  • 18. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 440
  • June 16. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 441
  • July 10. Thomas Pinckney to John Adams . . . 442
  • 17. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 443
  • 25. The Treasury Board to John Adams . . 444
  • 25. John Jay to John Adams . . . . 445
  • August 25. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 446
  • September 7. The Chevalier de Pinto to John Adams, (Translation) 448
  • 10. To the Chevalier de Pinto . . . . 449
  • 18. The Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . 449
  • 22. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 450
  • 22. To John Jay, (Private) . . . . . 451
  • 22. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 453
  • 23. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 453
  • October 3. To the Marquis of Carmarthen . . . 455
  • 12. The Marquis de Lafayette to John Adams . 456
  • 28. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 457
  • November 15. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 459
  • 30. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 462
  • December 6. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 464
  • 10. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 465
  • 16. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 466
  • 18. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 468
  • 25. Messrs. Willink and Others to John Adams . 469
  • 1788. January 25. To M. Fagel . . . . . . 470
  • Memorial to the Prince of Orange . . 471
  • Memorial to the States General . . . 471
  • February 12. H. Fagel to John Adams, (Translation) . . 472
  • 12. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 473 Edition: current; Page: [xv]
  • 14. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 475
  • 14. Secretary Jay to John Adams . . . 477
  • Resolution of Recall by Congress . . . 477
  • 16. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 478
  • 20. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 479
  • 21. To Secretary Jay . . . . . 480
  • 28. To the Earl of Ailesbury . . . . 481
  • March 6. A Memorial to the States General . . 481
  • Extract from the Resolutions of the States General, (Translation) . . . . 482
  • June 6. J. Avery, Jr., to John Adams . . . 483
  • November 2. To Theophilus Parsons . . . . 483
  • 1789. March 4. Elbridge Gerry to John Adams . . . 484
  • April 21. The Vice-President’s Speech . . . . 485
  • May 10. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 488
  • 17. President Washington to John Adams . . 489
  • 17. The Vice-President’s Answer . . . 491
  • September 1. To James Lovell . . . . . 493
  • 25. To George Walton . . . . . 495
  • 1790. April 20. Thomas Jefferson to John Adams . . . 496
  • August 27. President Washington to John Adams, (Secret) . 496
  • 29. To President Washington . . . . 497
  • 1791. April 25. To A. Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury . 500
  • June 10. Henry Knox to John Adams . . . . 503
  • July 17. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 504
  • 29. To T. Jefferson . . . . . . 506
  • August 30. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 509
  • 1792. January 19. To “A Recluse Man” . . . . . 511
  • June 25. A. Hamilton to John Adams . . . . 514 Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
  • 1794. September 9. A. Hamilton to John Adams . . . . 514
  • January 8. President Washington to John Adams . . 515
  • 1795. February 6. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 516
  • 1796. February 28. T. Jefferson to John Adams . . . . 517
  • July 30. James Sullivan to John Adams . . . 518
  • August 2. To James Sullivan . . . . . 519
  • 1797. February 3. Elbridge Gerry to John Adams . . . 520
  • 13. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 522
  • 15. The Vice-President’s Speech . . . . 525
  • 22. The Senate’s Answer . . . . . 527
  • 23. The Vice-President’s Reply . . . . 529
  • 20. President Washington to John Adams . . 529
  • March 3. Thomas Mifflin to John Adams . . . 530
  • 3. To Thomas Mifflin . . . . . 531
  • 13. P. A. Adet to John Adams . . . . 532
  • 19. Henry Knox to John Adams, (Private) . . 532
  • 30. To Henry Knox . . . . . . 535
  • 31. To J. Q. Adams . . . . . . 537
  • April 6. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 538
  • 14. To the Heads of Department . . . 540
  • May 12. Thomas Mifflin to John Adams . . . 542
  • 22. To Thomas Mifflin . . . . . 544
  • June 2. To J. Q. Adams . . . . . . 545
  • 20. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 546
  • 20. To Uriah Forrest . . . . . 546
  • July 8. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 547
  • 17. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 549
  • August 25. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 550
  • 26. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 551 Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
  • 1797. October 12. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 552
  • October 14. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 553
  • 20. To O. Wolcott, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury 554
  • 26. To O. Wolcott, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury 555
  • 26. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 556
  • 27. To O. Wolcott, Jr., Secretary of the Treasury 558
  • 31. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 559
  • 1798. January 24. To the Heads of Department . . . 561
  • February 4. To James Wilkinson . . . . . 563
  • 6. To J. M. Forbes . . . . . . 565
  • 6. John Sevier to John Adams . . . . 565
  • 16. To William S. Smith . . . . . 566
  • March 2. To William S. Smith . . . . . 567
  • 6. To John Sevier, Governor of Tennessee . . 568
  • 13. To the Heads of Department . . . 568
  • 24. F. de Miranda to John Adams . . . 569
  • April 26. To Thomas Johnson . . . . . 572
  • June 22. To George Washington . . . . 572
  • July 6. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 573
  • 7. To George Washington . . . . 575
  • 7. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 576
  • The Secretary of War to General Washington 576
  • 14. General Washington’s Answer . . . 577
  • August 5. Henry Knox to the Secretary of War . . 578
  • 14. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 580
  • 17. F. de Miranda to John Adams . . . 581
  • 18. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 582
  • 20. To Increase Sumner . . . . . 583
  • 29. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 583
  • No. 1. Pedro Josef Caro to the Secretary of State, (Inclosed) . . . . 584
  • 2. Rufus King to the Secretary of State (Inclosed) 585 Edition: current; Page: [xviii]
  • No. 3. Rufus King to the Secretary of State (Inclosed) 586
  • August 29. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 587
  • 30. To John Jay . . . . . . 590
  • September 3. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 591
  • 4. To Alexander Hamilton . . . . 591
  • 4. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 592
  • 10. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 592
  • 13. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 593
  • 13. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . . 594
  • 13. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 595
  • 14. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 595
  • 16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 596
  • 26. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 597
  • 28. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 598
  • 30. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 598
  • October 1. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 599
  • 3. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 600
  • 9. To George Washington . . . . 600
  • 10. To C. Lee, Attorney-General . . . . 602
  • 14. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 604
  • 15. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 605
  • 15. To T. Pickering, (Private) . . . . 605
  • 16. To Rufus King . . . . . . 606
  • 16. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 606
  • 17. To John Jay . . . . . . 607
  • 17. To Alexander Hamilton . . . . 608
  • 20. Alexander Hamilton to John Adams . . 608
  • 20. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 609
  • 20. Elbridge Gerry to John Adams . . . 610
  • 22. To James McHenry, Secretary of War . . 612
  • 26. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 614
  • 29. To Alexander Hamilton . . . . 614 Edition: current; Page: [xix]
  • October 29. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 614
  • November 2. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 615
  • 5. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams (Private) 616
  • December 15. To Elbridge Gerry . . . . . 617
  • 19. To William S. Smith . . . . . 617
  • 1799. January 3. John Jay to John Adams . . . . 619
  • 15. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 621
  • 18. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams (Private) 621
  • 26. Rufus King to John Adams . . . . 623
  • February 19. To George Washington . . . . 624
  • March 5. Henry Knox to John Adams, (Secret) . . . 626
  • 11. Points, which received the President’s Assent, as ultimata . . . . . . 627
  • 14. C. Lee, Attorney-General, to John Adams . 628
  • 29. To C. Lee, Attorney-General, (Private) . . 629
  • 29. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 629
  • April 7. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 630
  • 13. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 631
  • 13. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 631
  • 16. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 632
  • 17. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 634
  • 22. To Benjamin Adams . . . . . 636
  • 22. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 636
  • 27. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 637
  • 28. U. Forrest to John Adams . . . . 637
  • May 1. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 639
  • 7. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 640
  • 8. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 641
  • Patrick Henry to the Secretary of State, (Inclosed) 641
  • 8. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 642 Edition: current; Page: [xx]
  • May 10. T. Pickering, Secretary of State, to John Adams 643
  • 11. O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, to John Adams . . . . . . . 644
  • 13. To Uriah Forrest . . . . . 645
  • 13. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 646
  • 16. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 647
  • 16. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 648
  • 17. To C. Lee, Attorney-General . . . . 648
  • 17. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 649
  • 17. To A. St. Clair, Governor of the N. W. Territory 649
  • 17. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 650
  • 19. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 650
  • 21. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 651
  • 22. To W. S. Smith . . . . . . 652
  • 25. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 652
  • 28. C. Lee, Attorney-General, to John Adams . 653
  • 28. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 654
  • June 5. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 654
  • 7. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 655
  • 7. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 655
  • 13. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 656
  • 15. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 657
  • 15. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 657
  • 19. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 658
  • 19. To John Davis, District-Attorney of Massachusetts . . . . . . . 658
  • 19. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 659
  • 21. To O. Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury . 660
  • 24. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 660
  • July 2. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 661
  • 3. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 661
  • 7. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 662
  • 8. To Silas Talbot . . . . . . 663 Edition: current; Page: [xxi]
  • July 8. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . page 664
  • 13. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 665
  • 19. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 666
  • 19. To T. Mifflin . . . . . . 667
  • 19. To J. McHenry, Secretary of War . . 667
  • 19. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 668
  • 20. To T. Pickering, Secretary of State . . 668
  • 23. To B. Stoddert, Secretary of the Navy . . 669
  • Appendix W. Vans Murray to John Adams.
    • No. 1. 1 July, 1798 . . . . . . 677
    • 2. 17 July, “ . . . . . . 680
    • C. M. Talleyrand to M. Pichon, 9 July, 1798, (Inclosed) 684
    • 3. 22 July, 1798 . . . . . 685
    • 4. 3 August, “ . . . . . 686
    • 5. 20 “ . . . . . 688
    • Communication Confidentielle, (Inclosed) . 688
    • 6. 7 October, 1798 . . . . . 688
    • M. Talleyrand to M. Pichon, 28 September (Inclosed) 690
Edition: current; Page: [1]

OFFICIAL LETTERS, MESSAGES, AND PUBLIC PAPERS.
CONTINUED.

Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]

PUBLIC PAPERS.
CONTINUED.

John Adams
Adams, John
8 November, 1782
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

In one of your letters you suppose, that I have an open, avowed contempt of all rank. Give me leave to say, you are much mistaken in my sentiments. There are times, and I have often seen such, when a man’s duty to his country demands of him the sacrifice of his rank, as well as his fortune and life; but this must be an epoch, and for an object worthy of the sacrifice. In ordinary times, the same duty to his country obliges him to contend for his rank, as the only means indeed, sometimes, by which he can do service; and the sacrifice would injure his country more than himself. When the world see a man reduced to the necessity of giving up his rank, merely to serve the public, they will respect him, and his opinions will have the more weight for it; but when the same world see a man yield his rank for the sake of holding a place, he becomes ridiculous. This, you may depend upon it, will not be my case.

Ranks, titles, and etiquettes, and every species of punctilios, even down to the visits of cards, are of infinitely more importance in Europe than in America, and therefore congress cannot be too tender of disgracing their ministers abroad in any of these things, nor too determined not to disgrace themselves. Congress will, sooner or later, find it necessary to adjust the rank of all their servants, with relation to one another, as well as to the magistrates and officers of the separate governments.

Edition: current; Page: [4]

For example, if, when congress abolished my commission to the King of Great Britain, and my commission for peace, and issued a new commission for peace, in which they associated four other gentlemen with me, they had placed any other at the head of the commission, they would have thrown a disgrace and ridicule upon me in Europe, that I could not have withstood. It would have injured me in the minds of friends and enemies, the French and Dutch, as well as the English.

It is the same thing with States. If Mr. Jay and I had yielded the punctilio of rank, and taken the advice of the Count de Vergennes and Dr. Franklin, by treating with the English or Spaniards, before we were put upon the equal footing that our rank demanded, we should have sunk in the minds of the English, French, Spaniards, Dutch, and all the neutral powers. The Count de Vergennes certainly knows this; if he does not, he is not even a European statesman; if he does know it, what inference can we draw, but that he means to keep us down if he can; to keep his hand under our chin to prevent us from drowning, but not to lift our heads out of water?

The injunctions upon us to communicate, and to follow the advice that is given us, seem to be too strong and too universal. Understood with reasonable limitations and restrictions, they may do very well. For example, I wrote a speculation, and caused it to be printed in the Courier du Bas Rhin, showing the interest, policy, and humanity of the neutral confederation’s acknowledging American independence, and admitting the United States to subscribe to the principles of their marine treaty. This was reprinted in the Gazette of Leyden, the Politique Hollandais, the Courier de l’Europe, and all the Dutch gazettes. At the same time I caused to be transmitted to England some pieces on the same subject, and further showing the probability that the neutral powers might adopt this measure, and the impolicy of Great Britain, in permitting all the powers of Europe to get the start of her, and having more merit with America than she, by acknowledging her independence first. These pieces were printed in the English papers, in the form of letters to the Earl of Shelburne, and can never be controverted, because they are in writing and in print with their dates. These fears thus excited, added to our refusal to treat on an unequal footing, probably produced his lordship’s resolution, to advise Edition: current; Page: [5] the King to issue the commission, under the great seal, to Mr. Oswald, by which Great Britain has got the start, and gone to the windward of the other European powers. No man living, but myself, knew that all these speculations, in various parts of Europe, came from me. Would it do for me to communicate all this to the French ministers? Is it possible for me to communicate all these things to congress? Believe me, it is not; and give me leave to say, it will not do to communicate them to my friend the Chevalier de la Luzerne, nor my friend M. Marbois. If they should be, long letters will lay all open to the Count de Vergennes, who, I assure you, I do not believe will assist me or anybody else in such measures of serving our country. When the French ministers in America or Europe communicate every thing to us, we may venture to be equally communicative with them. But when every thing is concealed from us more cautiously than it is from England, we shall do ourselves injustice if we are not upon our guard.

If we conduct ourselves with caution, prudence, moderation, and firmness, we shall succeed in every great point; but if congress or their ministers abroad suffer themselves to be intimidated by threats, slanders, or insinuations, we shall be duped out of the fishery, the Mississippi, much of the western lands, compensation to the tories, and Penobscot at least, if not Kennebec. This is my solemn opinion, and I will never be answerable to my country, posterity, or my own mind, for the consequences that might happen from concealing it.

It is for the determinate purpose of carrying these points, that one man, who is submission itself, is puffed up to the top of Jacob’s ladder in the clouds, and every other man depressed to the bottom of it in the dust. This is my opinion. If it is a crime to hold this opinion, let me be punished for it, for assuredly I am guilty.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 November, 1782
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

On my first arrival at Paris, I found my colleagues engaged in conferences with Mr. Oswald. They had been Edition: current; Page: [6] before chiefly conducted by Mr. Jay, Dr. Franklin having been mostly confined for three months by a long and painful illness. At this time, however, he was so much better, although still weak and lame, as to join us in most of the subsequent conferences, and we were so constantly engaged, forenoon, afternoon, and evening, that I had not been out to Versailles nor anywhere else.

On Saturday last, the Marquis de Lafayette called upon me, and told me he had been to Versailles, and the Count de Vergennes had said to him, that he had been informed by the returns of the police that I was in Paris, but not officially, and he should take it well if I would come to see him. I went out to dine with Dr. Franklin the same day, who had just returned from delivering his memorial, and repeated to me the same message. I said to both, I would go the next morning; and accordingly on Sunday, the 9th, I went to make my court to his Excellency.

He received me politely, and asked me questions about our progress. I answered him, that the English minister appeared to me to divide with us upon ostensible points; that I still doubted his intentions to make a universal peace; that the cry of the nation was for something to be done or said with the American ministers, and to satisfy this, the King of Great Britain had been advised to be the third power in Europe to acknowledge our independence. As this was a royal act under the great seal of his kingdom, it could never be denied or revoked; but still it did not render the nation unanimous, and to avoid finally disgusting any great party, the minister would still pursue his usual studied obscurity of policy. Points must be conceded to the Americans, before a complete agreement could be made with them, even on terms to be inserted in the universal peace, which would open the full cry of a powerful party upon him, among which were the refugees. It could not be supposed, that the refugees and Penobscot were such points with the nation or minister, that they would continue the war for them only, if they were ready to strike with France, Spain, and Holland.

The Count then asked me some questions respecting Sagadahoc, which I answered by showing him the records which I had in my pocket, particularly that of Governor Pownall’s solemn Edition: current; Page: [7] act of possession in 1759, the grants and settlements of Mount Desert, Machias, and all the other townships east of Penobscot River, the original grant of James I. to Sir William Alexander of Nova Scotia, in which it is bounded on St. Croix River (this grant I had in Latin, French, and English), the dissertations of Governor Shirley and Governor Hutchinson, and the authority of Governor Bernard, all showing the right of Massachusetts to this tract to be incontestable. I added, that I did not think any British minister would ever put his hand to a written claim of that tract of land, their own national acts were so numerous and so clear against them. The Count said, Mr. Fitzherbert had told him that it was for the masts that a point was made of that tract; but the Count said, Canada was an immense resource for masts. I said, there were so few masts there that this could not be the motive; that the refugees were still at the bottom of this; several of them had pretensions to lands in Sagadahoc, and the rest hoped for grants there.

The Count said, it was not at all surprising that the British ministry should insist upon compensation to the tories, for that all the precedents were in their favor; in the case of the United Provinces with Spain, all were restored to their possessions; and that there never had been an example of such an affair terminated by treaty, but all were restored. He said it was a point well settled by precedents. I begged his Excellency’s pardon for this, and thought there was no precedent in point. A restitution of an estate not alienated, although confiscated to a crown or state, could not be a precedent in point, because, in our case, these estates had not only been confiscated, but alienated by the state, so that it was no longer in the power of the state to restore them. And when you come to the question of compensation, there is every argument of national honor, dignity of the state, public and private justice and humanity, for us to insist upon a compensation for all the plate, negroes, rice, and tobacco stolen, and houses and substance consumed, as there is for them to demand compensation to the tories; and this was so much the stronger in our favor, as our sufferers were innocent people, and theirs guilty ones.

M. Rayneval, who was present, said something about the King and nation being bound to support their adherents. I answered, that I could not comprehend this doctrine. Here was Edition: current; Page: [8] a set of people whose bad faith and misrepresentations had deceived the King and deluded the nation to follow their all-devouring ambition, until they had totally failed of their object, had brought an indelible reproach on the British name, and almost irretrievable ruin on the nation, and yet that nation is bound to support their deceivers and ruiners! If the national honor was bound at all, it was bound still to follow their ambition, to conquer America, and plant the refugees there in pomp and power, and in such case, we all know whose estates would be confiscated, and what compensation would be obtained. All this M. Rayneval said was very true.

The Count asked me to dine, which I accepted, and was treated with more attention and complaisance than ever, both by him and the Countess.

As it is our duty to penetrate, if we can, the motives and views of our allies, as well as our enemies, it is worth while for congress to consider what may be the true motives of these intimations in favor of the tories. History shows that nations have generally had as much difficulty to arrange their affairs with their allies as with their enemies. France has had as much, this war, with Spain as with England. Holland and England, whenever they have been allies, have always found many difficulties, and from the nature of things it must ever be an intricate task to reconcile the notions, prejudices, principles, &c., of two nations in one concert of counsels and operations.

We may well think, that the French would be very glad to have the Americans join with them in a future war. Suppose, for example, they should think the tories men of monarchical principles, or men of more ambition than principle, or men corrupted and of no principle, and should, therefore, think them more easily seduced to their purposes than virtuous republicans, is it not easy to see the policy of a French minister in wishing them amnesty and compensation? Suppose that a French minister foresees that the presence of the tories in America will keep up perpetually two parties, a French and an English party, and that this will compel the patriotic and independent men to join the French side, is it not natural for him to wish them restored? Is it not easy too to see that a French minister cannot wish to have the English and Americans perfectly agreed upon all points, before they themselves, the Spanish, and the Edition: current; Page: [9] Dutch, are agreed too? Can they be sorry then to see us split upon such a point as the tories? What can be their motives to become the advocates of the tories? It seems the French minister at Philadelphia has made some representations to congress in favor of a compensation to the royalists, and that the Count de Vergennes’s conversation with me was much in favor of it. The Count probably knows, that we are instructed against it, and that congress are instructed against it, or rather have not a constitutional authority to make it; that we can only write about it to congress, and they to the States, who may, and probably will, deliberate upon it a year or eighteen months before they all decide, and then every one of them will determine against it. In this way there is an insuperable obstacle to any agreement between the English and Americans, even upon terms to be inserted in the general peace, before all are ready, and indeed after. It has been upon former occasions the constant practice of the French to have some of their subjects in London, and the English some of theirs in Paris, during conferences for peace, in order to propagate such sentiments as they wished to prevail. I doubt not such are there now. M. Rayneval has certainly been there. It is reported, I know not how truly, that M. Gerard has been there, and probably others are there, who can easily prompt the tories to clamor, and to cry that the King’s dignity and the nation’s honor are compromised to support their demands.

America has been long enough involved in the wars of Europe. She has been a football between contending nations from the beginning, and it is easy to foresee, that France and England both will endeavor to involve us in their future wars. It is our interest and duty to avoid them as much as possible, and to be completely independent, and to have nothing to do with either of them, but in commerce. My poor thoughts and feeble efforts have been from the beginning constantly employed to arrange all our European connections to this end, and will continue to be so employed, whether they succeed or not. My hopes of success are stronger now than they ever have been, because I find Mr. Jay precisely in the same sentiments, after all the observations and reflections he has made in Europe, and Dr. Franklin, at last, at least appears to coincide with us. We are all three perfectly united in the affair of the tories and of Sagadahoc, Edition: current; Page: [10] the only points in which the British minister pretends to differ from us.

The inclosed papers will show congress the substance of the negotiation. The treaty, as first projected between Mr. Oswald on one side, and Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay on the other, before my arrival; the treaty as projected after my arrival, between Mr. Oswald and the three American ministers, my Lord Shelburne having disagreed to the first; Mr. Oswald’s letter and our answer; Mr. Strachey’s letter and our answer. Mr. Strachey has gone to London with the whole, and we are waiting his return, or the arrival of some other, with further instructions.

If congress should wish to know my conjecture, it is, that the ministry will still insist upon compensation to the tories, and thus involve the nation every month of the war in an expense sufficient to make a full compensation to all the tories in question. They would not do this, however, if they were ready with France and Spain.1

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry
12 November, 1782
London
John Adams
Adams, John

HENRY LAURENS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

An untoward circumstance had hurried me from Bath, where I had been about a month in the progress of health; I was waiting the determination of this Court, whether I might, upon terms consistent with my honor, return and continue in the same pursuit during the winter months, or be obliged at all hazards to withdraw immediately from the kingdom. In this dilemma, I had this afternoon the honor of receiving your letter of the 6th instant, accompanied by an act of congress of the 17th September.

My country enjoins, and condescends to desire; I must, therefore, also, at all hazards to myself, obey and comply. Diffident as I am of my own abilities, I shall as speedily as possible proceed and join my colleagues.

For the rest, the wound is deep, but I apply to myself the consolation which I administered to the father of the brave Edition: current; Page: [11] Colonel Parker:—“Thank God, I had a son who dared to die in defence of his country.”

My dear friend, adieu,
Henry Laurens.
John Adams
Adams, John
18 November, 1782
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

The instruction from congress, which directs us to pay so strict an attention to the French ministry, and to follow their advice, is conceived in terms so universal and unlimited, as to give a great deal of anxiety to my mind.

There is no man more impressed with the obligation of obedience to instructions; but, in ordinary cases, the principal is so near the deputy as to be able to attend to the whole progress of the business, and to be informed of every new fact and every sudden thought. Ambassadors in Europe can send expresses to their Courts, and give and receive intelligence in a few days with the utmost certainty. In such cases there is no room for mistake, misunderstanding, or surprise. But, in our case, it is very different. We are at an immense distance. Despatches are liable to foul play, and vessels are subject to accidents. New scenes open, the time presses, various nations are in suspense, and necessity forces us to act.

What can we do? If a French minister advises us to cede to the Spaniards the whole river of the Mississippi and five hundred miles of territory to the eastward of it, are we bound by our instruction to put our signature to the cession, when the English themselves are willing we should extend to the river, and enjoy our natural right to its navigation? If we should be counselled to relinquish our right to the fishery on the Grand Bank of Newfoundland, when the British ministry are ready by treaty to acknowledge our right to it, are we obliged to relinquish it? If we are advised to restore and compensate the tories, are we to comply? If we know, or have reason to believe, that things which will have weight upon the minds of the British ministry against us upon some points, will be communicated to them in some way or other, secret or open, if we communicate them to this Court, are we bound to do it?

I cannot think that a construction so literal and severe was ever intended to be put upon it; and, therefore, I see no way of Edition: current; Page: [12] doing my duty to congress, but to interpret the instruction, as we do all general precepts and maxims, by such restrictions and limitations, as reason, necessity, and the nature of things demand.

It may sometimes be known to a deputy, that an instruction from his principal was given upon information of mistaken facts. What is he to do? When he knows, that if the truth had been known, his principal would have given a directly contrary order, is he to follow that which issued upon mistake? When he knows, or has only good reason to believe, that, if his principal were on the spot, and fully informed of the present state of facts, he would give contrary directions, is he bound by such as were given before? It cannot be denied that instructions are binding, that it is a duty to obey them, and that a departure from them cannot be justified; but I think it cannot be denied, on the other hand, that, in our peculiar situation, cases may happen, in which it might become our duty to depend upon being excused (or, if you will, pardoned) for presuming, that if congress were upon the spot, they would judge as we do.

I presume not to dictate, nor to advise, but I may venture to give my opinion, as I do freely, and with much real concern for the public, that it would be better, if every instruction in being were totally repealed, which enjoins upon any American minister to follow, or ask the advice, or even to communicate with any French or other minister or ambassador in the world. It is an inextricable embarrassment everywhere. Advice would not be more seldom asked, nor communication less frequent. It would be more freely given. A communication of information, or a request of counsel, would then be received as a compliment and a mark of respect; it is now considered as a duty and a right. Your ministers would have more weight, and be the more respected through the world. Congress cannot do too much to give weight to their own ministers, for, they may depend upon it, great and unjustifiable pains are taken to prevent them from acquiring reputation, and even to prevent an idea taking root in any part of Europe, that any thing has been or can be done by them. And there is nothing that humbles and depresses, nothing that shackles and confines, in short, nothing that renders totally useless all your ministers in Europe, so much as these positive instructions to consult and communicate Edition: current; Page: [13] with French ministers upon all occasions, and to follow their advice. And I really think it would be better to constitute the Count de Vergennes our sole minister, and give him full powers to make peace and treat with all Europe, than to continue any of us in the service under the instructions in being, if they are to be understood in that unlimited sense which some persons contend for.

I hope that nothing indecent has escaped me upon this occasion. If any expressions appear too strong, the great importance of the subject, and the deep impression it has made on my mind and heart, must be my apology.

With great respect and esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 November, 1782
Paris
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

Your favor of 15th instant is this moment come to hand. M. le Couteulx and Mr. Grand called upon me last evening upon the same subject. I told them both what I now repeat to you:—“That I have no right, power, or authority, whatsoever, to give any orders, directions, or advice in this matter, Mr. Morris alone having the authority of congress to dispose of the money. But if my opinion as a man and a private citizen would give them any satisfaction, it was that M. le Couteulx should draw upon you at present only for one million of florins, and leave the rest, after Mr. Grand shall have drawn out the four hundred thousand livres for the interest of the money borrowed by the King of France in Holland, to pay the drafts of Mr. Morris as they may arrive, or to be paid hereafter to M. le Couteulx or Mr. Grand, according as necessities may appear.

There was no copy of Mr. Morris’s letter inclosed in yours to me. I should be glad if Mr. Dumas would hasten in all the accounts of repairs to the house, and let them be paid off.

I know not when the obstructions to trade will all be removed by a peace. But if the nations of the armed neutrality should all follow the example of the King of Great Britain, in acknowledging our independence, and protect their own ships in going Edition: current; Page: [14] and coming to and from our ports, I think the impediments to trade between Holland and America would be lessened.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
21 November, 1782
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

We live in critical moments. Parliament is to meet, and the King’s speech will be delivered, on the 26th. If the speech announces Mr. Oswald’s commission, and the two houses in their answers thank him for issuing it, and there should be no change in the ministry, the prospect of peace will be flattering. Or if there should be a change in the ministry, and the Duke of Portland, with Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke, should come in, it will be still more so. But if Richmond, Camden, Keppel, and Townshend, should retire, and my Lord North and company come in, with or without the Earl of Shelburne, the appearances of peace will be very unpromising. My Lord North, indeed, cannot revoke the acknowledgment of our independence, and would not probably renounce the negotiations for peace, but ill-will to us is so habitual to him and his master, that he would fall in earnestly with the wing-clipping system; join in attempts to deprive us of the fisheries and the Mississippi, and to fasten upon us the tories; and in every other measure to cramp, stint, impoverish, and enfeeble us. Shelburne is not so orthodox as he should be, but North is a much greater heretic in American politics.

It deserves much consideration what course we should take, in case the old ministry should come in, wholly, or in part. It is certain, at present, that to be obnoxious to the Americans and their ministers is a very formidable popular cry against any minister or candidate for the ministry in England, for the nation is more generally for recovering the good-will of the Americans than they ever have been. Nothing would strike such a blow to any ministry as to break off the negotiations for peace; if the old ministry come in, they will demand terms of us at first, probably, that we can never agree to.

It is now eleven or twelve days since the last result of our conferences was laid before the ministry in London. Mr. Vaughan went off on Sunday noon, the 17th. So that he is, Edition: current; Page: [15] no doubt, before this time, with my Lord Shelburne. He is possessed of an ample budget of arguments to convince his Lordship that he ought to give up all the remaining points between us.1 Mr. Oswald’s letters will suggest the same arguments in a different light, and Mr. Strachey, if he is disposed to do it, is able to enlarge upon them all in conversation.

The fundamental point of the sovereignty of the United States being settled in England, the only question now is, whether they shall pursue a contracted or a liberal, a good-natured or an ill-natured plan towards us. If they are generous, and allow us all we ask, it will be the better for them; if stingy, the worse. That France does not wish them to be very noble to us may be true. But we should be dupes indeed, if we did not make use of every argument with them, to show them that it is their interest to be so. And they will be the greatest bubbles of all, if they should suffer themselves to be deceived by their passions or by any arts to adopt an opposite tenor of conduct.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
3 December, 1782
Paris
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

The moments we live in are critical, and may be improved perhaps to advantage; for which purpose I beg leave to propose to your consideration, whether it is not proper for us to write to Mr. Dana, at Petersburg, acquaint him with the signatures of the preliminaries, inclose to him an authentic copy of them, and advise him to communicate it to the ministers of the Empress and to all the ministers of the neutral powers at her Court, together with a copy of his commission to subscribe to the principles of the armed neutrality. The present seems to me the most proper time for this step.

The United States are as much interested in the marine treaty as any power; and, if we take this step, we may with propriety Edition: current; Page: [16] propose, if not insist, upon an article in the definitive treaty, respecting this matter, which will be as agreeable to France and Spain as to the United Provinces.

I have heretofore mentioned to Mr. Jay a similar proposal; who approved, and I will propose it again to-day to him and Mr. Laurens. If you approve the measure, you will be so good as to order an authentic copy to be made of the preliminary treaty, that we may prepare a letter the first time we meet.

I have the honor to be, &c. &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
4 December, 1782
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

It is with much pleasure that I transmit you the preliminary treaty between the King of Great Britain and the United States of America. The Mississippi, the Western lands, Sagadahoc, and the fisheries are secured as well as we could, and I hope what is done for the refugees will be pardoned.1

As the objects for which I ever consented to leave my family and country are thus far accomplished, I now beg leave to resign all my employments in Europe. They are soon enumerated,—the first is the commission to borrow money in Holland; and the second is my credence to their High Mightinesses. These two should be filled up immediately; and as Mr. Laurens was originally designed to that country, and my mission there was merely owing to his misfortune, I hope that congress will send him a full power for that Court.

The commission for peace I hope will be fully executed before this reaches you. But, if it should not, as the terms are fixed, I should not choose to stay in Europe merely for the honor of affixing my signature to the definitive treaty, and I see no necessity of filling up my place; but if congress should think otherwise, I hope they will think Mr. Dana the best entitled to it.

With great esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [17]
John Adams
Adams, John
6 December, 1783
Paris
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis

TO FRANCIS DANA.

Dear Sir,

You may easily guess from your own feelings what mine may be in communicating to you the intelligence that the preliminary treaty, to be inserted in the definitive treaty, was signed the 30th November by the plenipotentiaries on each side. We have tolerable satisfaction in the Mississippi, the boundaries, and the fisheries, and I hope not much to regret with regard to the tories or any thing else.

Mr. F., Mr. J., and Mr. Laurens, as well as myself, are of opinion that this is the proper time for you to communicate to the ministry, where you are, your mission. But I believe we shall write you a joint letter upon this subject.

Meantime, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Jay
Jay, John
12 December, 1782
Paris
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis

THE COMMISSIONERS TO FRANCIS DANA.

Sir,

We have the honor to congratulate you on the signature of the preliminary treaty of peace between his Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, to be inserted in the definitive treaty when France and Britain shall have agreed upon their terms. The articles, of which we do ourselves the honor to inclose you a copy, were completed on the 30th of last month.

To us, at this distance, the present opportunity appears to be the most favorable for you to communicate your mission to the ministers of the Empress of Russia, and to the ministers of all the other neutral powers residing at her Court; and, if you have no objections, we presume you will wish to be furnished with the inclosed paper to communicate at the same time.

We heartily wish you success, and, if you should inform us of a fair prospect of it, we shall propose an article in the definitive treaty, to secure the freedom of navigation according to the principles of the late marine treaty of the neutral powers.

We have the honor to be, &c. &c.
John Adams.
B. Franklin.
John Jay.
Edition: current; Page: [18]
John Adams
Adams, John
14 December, 1782
Paris

THE COMMISSIONERS TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.1

Sir,

We have the honor to congratulate congress on the signature of the preliminaries of a peace between the Crown of Great Britain and the United States of America, to be inserted in a definitive treaty so soon as the terms between the Crowns of France and Great Britain shall be agreed on. A copy of the articles is here inclosed, and we cannot but flatter ourselves that they will appear to congress, as they do to all of us, to be consistent with the honor and interest of the United States, and we are persuaded congress would be more fully of that opinion, if they were apprised of all the circumstances and reasons which have influenced the negotiation. Although it is impossible for us to go into that detail, we think it necessary, nevertheless, to make a few remarks on such of the articles as appear most to require elucidation.

Remarks on Article 2d, relative to Boundaries.

The Court of Great Britain insisted on retaining all the territories comprehended within the Province of Quebec, by the act of parliament respecting it. They contended that Nova Scotia should extend to the River Kennebec; and they claimed not only all the lands in the western country and on the Mississippi, which were not expressly included in our charters and governments, but also such lands within them as remained ungranted by the King of Great Britain. It would be endless to enumerate all the discussions and arguments on the subject.

We knew this Court and Spain to be against our claims to the western country, and having no reason to think that lines more favorable could ever have been obtained, we finally agreed to those described in this article; indeed, they appear to leave us little to complain of, and not much to desire. Congress will observe, that although our northern line is in a certain part below the latitude of forty-five, yet in others it extends above it, divides the Lake Superior, and gives us access to its western Edition: current; Page: [19] and southern waters, from which a line in that latitude would have excluded us.

Remarks on Article 4th, respecting Creditors.

We had been informed that some of the States had confiscated British debts; but although each State has a right to bind its own citizens, yet, in our opinion, it appertains solely to congress, in whom exclusively are vested the rights of making war and peace, to pass acts against the subjects of a power with which the confederacy may be at war. It therefore only remained for us to consider, whether this article is founded in justice and good policy.

In our opinion, no acts of government could dissolve the obligations of good faith resulting from lawful contracts between individuals of the two countries, prior to the war. We knew that some of the British creditors were making common cause with the refugees and other adversaries of our independence; besides, sacrificing private justice to reasons of state and political convenience, is always an odious measure; and the purity of our reputation in this respect, in all foreign commercial countries, is of infinitely more importance to us than all the sums in question. It may also be remarked, that American and British creditors are placed on an equal footing.

Remarks on Articles 5th and 6th, respecting Refugees.

These articles were among the first discussed and the last agreed to. And had not the conclusion of this business at the time of its date been particularly important to the British administration, the respect, which both in London and Versailles, is supposed to be due to the honor, dignity, and interest of royalty, would probably have forever prevented our bringing this article so near to the views of congress and the sovereign rights of the States as it now stands. When it is considered that it was utterly impossible to render this article perfectly consistent, both with American and British ideas of honor, we presume that the middle line adopted by this article, is as little unfavorable to the former as any that could in reason be expected.

As to the separate article, we beg leave to observe, that it was our policy to render the navigation of the River Mississippi so important to Britain as that their views might correspond with Edition: current; Page: [20] ours on that subject. Their possessing the country on the river north of the line from the Lake of the Woods affords a foundation for their claiming such navigation. And as the importance of West Florida to Britain was for the same reason rather to be strengthened than otherwise, we thought it advisable to allow them the extent contained in the separate article, especially as before the war it had been annexed by Britain to West Florida, and would operate as an additional inducement to their joining with us in agreeing that the navigation of the river should forever remain open to both. The map used in the course of our negotiations was Mitchell’s.

As we had reason to imagine that the articles respecting the boundaries, the refugees, and fisheries, did not correspond with the policy of this Court, we did not communicate the preliminaries to the minister until after they were signed; (and not even then the separate article). We hope that these considerations will excuse our having so far deviated from the spirit of our instructions. The Count de Vergennes, on perusing the articles appeared surprised, (but not displeased),1 at their being so favorable to us.

We beg leave to add our advice, that copies be sent us of the accounts directed to be taken by the different States, of the unnecessary devastations and sufferings sustained by them from the enemy in the course of the war. Should they arrive before the signature of the definitive treaty, they might possibly answer very good purposes.

With great respect, we have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient and most humble servants,

John Adams.
B. Franklin.
John Jay.
Henry Laurens.
Jean George Holtzhey
Holtzhey, Jean George
23 Decembre, 1782
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

J. G. HOLTZHEY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je me trouve honoré de la vôtre du 2e du passé; sensible aux louanges que vous me faites de mon travail, ils Edition: current; Page: [21] m’ont engagé d’en faire une autre médaille, que je prends la liberté de vous envoyer ci-jointe, dans la ferme attente qu’elle ne vous fera pas moins de satisfaction que la précédente. Au reste, monsieur, comme né dans cette ville, dans laquelle demeurent tant de braves gens qui ont vivement desiré l’union de vos États avec les nôtres, j’ai été inspiré à la faire connoître par la postérité.1

Au reste, monsieur, je récommande les médailles à votre bonté pour l’Amérique quand l’occasion se présentera, et je suis, &c. &c.

Jean George Holtzhey.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
26 Decembre, 1782
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Nos amis vous prient d’appuyer de tous vos bons offices possibles la négociation de messieurs les plénipotentiaires de cette république, surtout quant aux dédommagemens qu’ils demandent, ainsi que pour la liberté parfaite et illimitée de leur navigation; afin que ces messieurs aient lieu de faire mention dans leurs dépêches ici de ces bons offices, et que nos amis puissent s’en prévaloir non seulement pour confondre les Anglomanes, mais pour exalter à leurs peuples respectifs les effets de l’amitié fraternelle des Américains pour cette nation. Un petit mot de réponse là-dessus que je puisse leur répéter de la part de votre excellence, leur fera grand plaisir. En attendant je suis chargé de vous présenter leurs respects.

M. Holtzhey m’a envoyé une seconde médaille pour vous, charmante. Je vous l’enverrai, monsieur, par première occasion. En attendant, voici sa lettre et description. L’emblème du coq m’a rappelé un trait, si je ne me trompe, des mémoires de Vargas. L’ambassadeur de France au concile de Trente parlant d’une manière qui déplaisait au ministre du pape, celui-ci l’interrompit en criant, Gallus cantat. L’ambassadeur, sans se déconcerter, répliqua, Utinam Petrus fleret.

Je suis, &c.
Dumas.
Edition: current; Page: [22]
John Adams
Adams, John
1 January, 1783
Paris
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Dear Sir,

Returning this evening from Versailles, where I had been to make the compliments of the season, I found your favors of the 26th and 27th of December. The letters inclosed shall be forwarded, as you desire.

The Dutch ministers here have no occasion for my assistance. Non tali auxilio, &c. I have the honor to be more particularly acquainted with M. Brantzen, who is certainly a very able man, and universally acknowledged to be so by all who know him. The arguments, which I know he has used with the British minister, are such as can never be answered, both upon the liberty of navigation, and the compensation for damages. He is an entire master of his subject, and has urged it with a degree of perspicuity and eloquence, that I know has much struck his antagonists.

Unnecessary, however, as any exertions of mine have been, I have not omitted any opportunity of throwing in any friendly suggestions in my power, where there was a possibility of doing any good to our good friends, the Dutch. I have made such suggestions to Mr. Fitzherbert. But with Mr. Oswald I have had several very serious conversations upon the subject. So I have also with Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Whitefoord. To Mr. Oswald I urged the necessity of Great Britain’s agreeing with the Dutch upon the unlimited freedom of navigation, from a variety of topics, some of which I may explain to you more particularly hereafter. Thus much I may say at present, that I told him it was impossible for Great Britain to avoid it; it would probably be insisted upon by all the other powers. France and Spain, as well as Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, the Emperor, and Portugal, as well as Holland, had already signed the armed neutrality. The United States of America had declared themselves ready to sign, and were ready. The combination being thus powerful, Great Britain could not resist it. But if she should refuse to agree to it with Holland, and the other powers should acquiesce, and Holland should make peace without it (which would never, however, be the case), yet all would be ineffectual, for Holland would forever be able to Edition: current; Page: [23] make use of other neutral bottoms, and would thus enjoy the benefit of this liberty in reality, though denied it by treaty, and in appearance. It would, therefore, be more for the honor and interest of Great Britain to agree to it with a good grace, in the treaty with Holland. Nay, the wisest part she could act would be to set on foot a negotiation immediately for signing herself the treaty of armed neutrality, and then admitting it into the treaty with Holland would be a thing of course. At one of these conversations Dr. Franklin was present, who supported me with all his weight; at another, Mr. Jay seconded me with all his abilities and ingenuity. Mr. Oswald has several times assured me that he had written these arguments and his own opinion in conformity with them, to the King’s ministers in London, and I doubt not they will be adopted.

With respect to the compensation for damages, it is impossible to add any thing to the arguments M. Brantzen has urged to show the justice of it; and if Britain is really wise, she will think it her policy to do every thing in her power to soften the resentment of the Dutch, and regain their good will and good humor.

The rage of Great Britain, however, has carried her to such extravagant lengths, in a cause unjust from beginning to end, that she is scarcely able to repair the injuries she has done. America has a just claim to compensation for all her burnt towns and plundered property, and, indeed, for all her slaughtered sons, if that were possible. I shall continue to embrace every opportunity that presents, of doing all the little service in my power to our good friends the Dutch, whose friendship for us I shall not soon forget. This must be communicated with great discretion, if at all.

My best respects to all, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
2 January, 1783
Paris
Jean George Holtzhey
Holtzhey, Jean George

TO J. G. HOLTZHEY.

Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 23d December, together with the explication of your new medal, in commemoration of the signature of the treaty of commerce, which is equally ingenious with that which celebrates the acknowledgment of American independence. Edition: current; Page: [24] These events are worthy of your ingenuity, sir, and deserve to be remembered by posterity, not only for the blessings which will be derived to the two nations, but by the influence they have had in accelerating the disposition of Great Britain for a general peace. For whether such a peace shall take place this year or not, there is great reason to believe it will happen some years the sooner for those events which you are laboring to immortalize.

Please to accept of my thanks for this fresh instance of your obliging attention to me, and believe me to be,

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
14 Janvier, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

L’incluse pour Philadelphie vous mettra au fait du courant ici. L’honorée vôtre du 1er Janvier est pour moi une vraie et précieuse étrenne de nouvel an. J’ai fait confidence verbale du contenu à Messieurs de Gyselaer, Van Berckel, et Visscher sous le sceau du secret, et à personne autre. Ils en ont été charmés. Du reste, ils étoient bien sûrs d’avance de vos bonnes dispositions, et de celles de messicurs vos collégues, pour cette république. Ce qui leur tient à cœur, c’est que, comme M. Brantzen écrit constamment dans ses dépêches ici, de la part de M. le Comte de Vergennes, le soin qu’il a des intérêts de la république, vous l’autorisassiez de même ministériellement à apprendre à L. H. P. que vous les avez également à cœur. Ces messieurs ici s’appliquent à cet égard le vers de l’école.

“Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter.”

En un mot, ils souhaiteroient que les dites dépêches rendissent ici la justice qui est due à chacun.

M. de Gyselaer a écrit à M. Brantzen pour qu’il pressât de sa part M. le Baron de Linden (ci-devant envoyé de la république en Suede) de revenir au plutôt de Paris où il est depuis quelques mois. Mais il n’a pas fait ouverture à M. Brantzen de son plan, parcequ’il ne voudroit pas que celui-ci en communiquât quelque chose prématurément à quelque relation en ce pays. M. G. vous prie donc, monsieur, d’avoir un entretien avec M. de Edition: current; Page: [25] Linden, et de lui confier de sa part, sous le secret, que son plan est de faire en sorte que M. de Linden soit nommé ministre de cette république auprès des États Unis; et que, pour cet effet, il faut qu’il revienne incessamment ici, pour battre ensemble le fer pendant qu’il est chaud. M. Van Berckel de son côté n’a rien contre ce plan.

La poste, qui va partir, ne me laisse que le moment de finir, avec mon respectueux attachement, &c.

Dumas.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 January, 1783
Paris
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

I have yet to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of the 26th, 27th, 30th, and 31st of December, and 2d of January. Your despatches are sent along as you desire. I hope you are quite recovered from your indisposition.

I can give you no information concerning peace. It is given out that the point will be decided here to-day or to-morrow. Others say that the Duke de la Vauguyon is to make the peace at the Hague.

Inclosed is a copy of our preliminaries, but I must entreat you not to permit them to be published or copied without further information from me. You may communicate them in confidence to our friends, but it is thought best to let the British ministry lay them first before parliament and take their own time for it.

The great points of independence, the fisheries, the Mississippi, and the boundaries, are settled to our satisfaction. But in point of compensation for damages, we must put our hands in our own pockets.

With great regard, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
22 January, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Upon a sudden notification from the Count de Vergennes, Dr. Franklin and myself, in the absence of Mr. Jay and Mr. Laurens, went to Versailles, and arrived at the Count’s office at ten o’clock on Monday, the 20th of this month. At Edition: current; Page: [26] eleven, arrived the Count d’Aranda and Mr. Fitzherbert. The ministers of the three crowns signed and sealed the preliminaries of peace and an armistice, in presence of Doctor Franklin and myself, who also signed and sealed a declaration of an armistice between the Crown of Great Britain and the United States of America, and received a counter declaration from Mr. Fitzherbert. Copies of these declarations are inclosed.

The King of Great Britain has made a declaration concerning the terms that he will allow to the Dutch; but they are not such as will give satisfaction to that unfortunate nation, for whom, on account of their friendship for us, and the important benefits we have received from it, I feel very sensibly and sincerely. Yesterday we went to Versailles again to make our court to the King and royal family upon the occasion, and received the compliments of the foreign ministers.

The Count d’Aranda invited me to dine with him on Sunday next, and said he hoped that the affairs of Spain and the United States would be soon adjusted à l’amiable. I answered, that I wished it with all my heart. The two Floridas and Minorca are more than a quantum meruit for what this power has done, and the Dutch unfortunately are to suffer for it. It is not in my power to say when the definitive treaty will be signed. I hope not before the Dutch are ready; in six weeks or two months at farthest I suppose.

It is no longer necessary for congress to appoint another person in my place in the commission for peace, because it will be executed before this reaches America. But I beg leave to renew the resignation of the credence to the states-general and the commission for borrowing money in Holland, and to request that no time may be lost in transmitting the acceptance of this resignation and another person to take that station, that I may be able to go home in the Spring ships.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
23 January, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

The letters you did me the honor to write on the 6th and 18th of November came safe to hand.

Edition: current; Page: [27]

You do me honor, sir, in applauding the judgment I have formed from time to time of the Court of Britain, and future ages will give me credit for the judgment I have formed of some other courts. The true designs of a minister of state are not difficult to be penetrated by an honest man of common sense, who is in a situation to know any thing of the secret of affairs, and to observe constantly the chain of public events; for whatever ostensible appearances may be put on, whatever obliquities may be imagined, however the web may be woven, or the thread doubled and twisted, enough will be seen to unravel the whole.

My opinions, as you observe, sometimes run counter to those generally received; but the reason of this has generally been, that I have had earlier evidence than the generality, and I have had the satisfaction to find that others have formed the same judgment when they have had the same intelligence. I do not affect singularity, nor love to be in a minority, though truth and justice have sometimes obliged me to be so. You say, that nothing can be more conformable to your wishes than the instructions I transmitted. I am not surprised at this; it is very natural. Had I never been on this side of the Atlantic, I believe I should have been of your mind in this particular. At present I cannot be, and I believe, by this time, the Dutch regret having given them. You will hear enough of the reason of it. I have lived long enough, and had experience enough of the conduct of governments and people, nations and courts, to be convinced that gratitude, friendship, unsuspecting confidence, and all the most amiable passions in human nature, are the most dangerous guides in politics. I assure you, sir, if we had not been more cautious than the Dutch, we should have been worse off than they, and our country would have suffered much more.

Mr. Laurens has been here, and has behaved with great caution, firmness, and wisdom. He arrived so late as only to attend the two last days of the conferences, the 29th and 30th of November. But the short time he was with us, he was of great service to the cause. He has done great service to America in England, where his conversation has been such as the purest and firmest American could wish it, and has made many converts. He is gone again to Bath, and his journey will do as much good to his country as to his health. He will return to the signature of the definitive treaty.

Edition: current; Page: [28]

The ratifications of my contracts have been received.

The release of Captain Asgill was so exquisite a relief to my feelings, that I have not much cared what interposition it was owing to. It would have been a horrid damp to the joys of peace, if we had received a disagreeable account of him.

The difference between Denmark and Holland is of no serious nature. The clue to the whole is, the Queen dowager is sister to the Duke of Brunswick; but there is nothing to fear from Denmark. As to the northern powers, we have nothing to fear from any of them. All of them and all the neutral powers would have acknowledged our independence before now, by receiving Mr. Dana to sign the principles of the armed neutrality, if he had not been restrained from acting. The unlimited confidence of congress has been grossly abused, and we should have been irreparably injured, if we had not been upon our guard. As our liberties and most important interests are now secured as far as they can be against Great Britain, it would be my wish to say as little as possible of the policy of any minister of our first ally, which has not been as we could desire, and to retain forever a grateful remembrance of the friendly assistance we have received. But we have evidence enough to warn us against unlimited confidence in any European minister of state.

I have never drawn upon Dr. Franklin for any money since the end of my two and a half years’ salary; and he tells me he has made no use of the bills. I had received money for my subsistence of Messieurs Willink, and as it will be but a few months more, at farthest, that I shall have to subsist in Europe, I beg leave to proceed to the end in the same way. I shall receive only the amount of my salary, and settle the account with congress on my return.

I hope to be safely landed on my native shore in the month of June; and to this end, I beg that an appointment may be made to the Dutch mission, and the acceptance of my resignation be transmitted to me by the first ships.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [29]
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
24 Janvier, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

La manière subite et imprévue dont on a reçu ici la nouvelle de la signature des préliminaires par toutes les autres puissances belligérantes, sans que celui qui tient le plus à cœur ici ait été fixé, a d’abord consterné nos amis; mais après être revenu de leur première surprise, M. Van Berckel, à la réquisition et sur les instances de M. le grand pensionnaire, dans une conférence secrète, a proposé un moyen, sans doute le plus noble et le plus solide, pour parvenir au but désiré et désirable à tous. M. le grand pensionnaire l’a saisi avec empressement; et l’on est convenu, que M. Van Berckel me prieroit de leur part, de consulter votre excellence en toute diligence sur ce moyen, que voici.

“Pour accélérer la négociation de la paix générale, et pour prévenir les discussions ultérieures entre L. H. P. et la Grande Bretagne sur le point de la navigation libre et illimitée, on demande à M. Adams, s’il se trouve assez autorisé de la part du congrès, pour accéder au traité de la neutralité armée déjà conclu entre quelques puissances belligérantes de l’Europe, ou pour entrer dans une pareille négociation avec l’Espagne, la France, et les Pays-Bas Unis.

Dans l’un et l’autre cas, L. H. Puissances pourroient faire la même proposition à la France et à l’Espagne, afin de prévenir les discussions sur le point de la liberté des mers, qui pourroient arrêter la paix générale; et pour mettre la république en état de faire sa paix avec la Grande Bretagne, qui pourroit être retardée par des difficultés que pourroient rencontrer des stipulations particulières, ou des arrangemens à faire avec l’Angleterre sur ce point.

Le traité définitif entre l’Angleterre et la république pourroit alors se faire sous la réserve du droit primitif de toutes les nations, qui se trouvent dans l’exercice de ce droit, à moins qu’ils ne s’en soient départis par des traités particuliers au sujet de contrebandes reconnues pour telles par les contractans respectifs.

M. Adams est prié instamment de communiquer ses idées sur ce point le plutôt possible, et d’y ajouter ses réflexions sur les moyens d’avancer une telle négociation et d’acheminer la paix Edition: current; Page: [30] générale. Car il paroît qu’en attendant la république pourroit accéder à l’armistice qui devra résulter de la signature des préliminaires de paix entre les autres puissances belligérantes, et traiter avec l’Angleterre sur tous les autres points en question.”

Vous êtes le maître, monsieur, si vous le jugez à propos, de conférer aussi là-dessus ministériellement avec M. Brantzen.

Il ne me reste plus, que de vous présenter les complimens et tout ce qui se peut penser de plus cordial de la part de M. Van Berckel, qui vient de me quitter, pour me laisser écrire tout ce que dessus.

Je suis, &c.
Dumas.
John Adams
Adams, John
29 January, 1783
Paris
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

Upon receiving the letter, which you did me the honor to write me on the 24th, late last evening, I went immediately to consult with my colleague, Mr. Jay, and we agreed to go this morning to Dr. Franklin. Accordingly to-day we went together to Passy, and communicated your letter to him, and after recollecting the powers we have received, we all agreed that I should make you the following answer.

You will readily recollect the resolutions of congress, which I did myself the honor two years ago to communicate to the President of their High Mightinesses, and to the ministers of Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, at the Hague. The letter to the President was sent “au greffe,” and there may, perhaps, be now found. These resolutions contained the approbation of congress, of the principles of the declaration of the Empress of Russia, and authorized any of the American ministers in Europe, if invited thereto, to pledge the faith of the United States to the observance of them.

Some time after this, congress sent Mr. Dana a commission with full power to accede to the principles of the marine treaty between the neutral powers, and he is now at Petersburg, vested with these powers, and, according to late intelligence received from him, has well-founded expectations of being soon admitted.

It is the opinion of my colleagues, as well as my own, that no commission of mine to their High Mightinesses contains authority Edition: current; Page: [31] to negotiate this business; and we are all of opinion, that it is most proper that Mr. Dana should negotiate it.

But as there has been no express revocation of the power given to all or any of us, by the first resolutions, and if the case should happen, that Mr. Dana could not attend in season, on account of the distance, for the sake of accelerating the signature of the definitive treaty of peace, we should not hesitate to pledge the faith of the United States to the observance of the principles of the armed neutrality. I wish it were in my power to give you a more satisfactory answer, but candor will warrant no other.

With great respect to the gentlemen, as well as to you,

I have the honor to be, sir, &c.
John Adams.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
30 Janvier, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Les lettres que j’ai eu l’honneur de vous écrire Vendredi 24e et Mardi 28e ne sont que l’expression fidèle des sentimens de nos républicains. Je n’y ai rien mis du mien; au contraire, j’ai adouci tant que j’ai pu. Si l’on ne trouve à raccommoder la chose de la manière que je l’ai proposée, c’en est fait pour toujours du crédit ici de la France. Voici la copie promise de la lettre; et d’une autre de la même main reçue ce matin. La France et nos républicains, depuis tous ces jours, sont l’objet des sarcasmes et des railleries amères des malintentionnés; et nos républicains, sans avoir perdu courage vis-à-vis de leurs antagonistes internes, sont outrés, et n’ont plus aucune confiance en ce qui leur est dit ministériellement de la part de la France, pour colorer ce qui vient de se passer, ou pour leur faire faire quelque démarche ultérieure. Ils plaignent personnellement M. le Duc de la Vauguyon, et disent que M. le Comte de Vergennes le sacrifie, et lui fait perdre d’un coup de plume tout le fruit de ses sages, infatigables et brillans travaux ici. Du reste ils déclarent qu’ils ne veulent être dominés ou influés, ou menés à la lisière, ni par l’Angleterre ni par la France; et que quoiqu’on leur propose de la part de la France, ils ne le porteront plus devant leurs villes que moyennant des sûretés suffisantes en poche.

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Si vous pouvez faire réussir, monsieur, ce que j’ai proposé, je crois que ce sera une opération politique importante, un coup de partie pour l’honneur et l’avantage des États Unis, parce-qu’elle établira leur crédit, leur dignité et leur gloire ici pour toujours. Votre jugement profond et profonde pénétration, monsieur, n’a pas besoin que j’entre dans de plus longs raisonnemens là-dessus. Il suffit que cette affaire sera également avantageuse à tous, puisque tous y participeront et se l’assûreront.

M. le Comte de Llano m’a fait prier ce matin, de lui communiquer les préliminaires dont M. l’ambassadeur lui a dit que j’avois copie. Mais il s’est contenté de mes raisons pour ne pouvoir lui donner qu’une idée verbale des dits préliminaires. J’ai cru pouvoir et devoir faire le même plaisir à M. d’Asp.

Vous connoissez toute la vérité, &c.
Dumas.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
4 Fevrier, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

L’honorée vôtre du 29e a pleinement satisfait ces Messieurs; et M. Van Berckel, au nom de tous, m’a chargé de vous en remercier, et de vous assurer que c’est précisément ce qu’il leur falloit, ce qu’ils espéroient pouvoir se faire de votre part et de celle de messieurs vos collègues, et que vous pouvez compter sur eux, comme ils comptent sur vous, en allant agir conséquemment. J’ai été la communiquer aussi à M. le grand pensionnaire, qui m’a paru penser comme eux, et que l’on m’a dit confidemment, de plus d’une bonne part, avoir à désirer, autant que la France, que le parti Anglais ne prédomine plus ici.

J’ai à vous présenter les respects de tous. Je suis charmé, monsieur, qu’il y ait eu moyen de les contenter à si bon marché; car il me paroît que ce qu’ils demandent n’est autre chose que ce qui est stipulé dans les traités de l’Amérique, tant avec cette république qu’avec la France. Du reste ils sont déterminés à ne signer que lorsque cet article de la navigation sera en règle de la manière proposée, et à ne point perdre non plus Négapatnam; et l’on craint que si M. le Comte de Vergennes ne trouve pas quelque remède à cela, la confiance et l’inclination de cette Edition: current; Page: [33] nation pour la France ne soit étouffée dans sa renaissance; elle importoit cependant plus à la France que Tabago.

M. de Vergennes, pour s’excuser de la précipitation avec laquelle on a signé, a dit aux ministres de la république à Paris, entre autres, que d’un côté l’Amérique, qui se disoit epuisée, craignoit un soulèvement, si l’on devoit imposer de nouvelles taxes, demandoit par M. Franklin vingt millions pour la campagne prochaine si elle avoit lieu, enfin, qui vouloit jouir de la paix et de son traité plutôt que de hazarder une prolongation de guerre qui pouvoit altérer l’accomplissement; et de l’autre, l’Espagne, qui, également epuisée, réclamoit absolument cette conclusion,—avoient mis la France dans la nécessité de signer si précipitamment; mais que cela n’empêchoit pas l’intention ferme de sa Majesté de ne point terminer sans que L. H. P. soient comprises dans la paix générale, et contentes. Dieu le veuille!

Il paroît que M. l’ambassadeur et M. le grand pensionnaire ont reçu, chacun par son courier, les mêmes assurances. Ce dernier cependant n’a pas encore dit le même de sa dépêche à nos autres amis.

Je suis persuadé que dans les lettres confidentielles que je vous ai écrites, monsieur, depuis l’officielle du 24e, vous avez gardé par devers vous seul ce qui (contre mon intention, qui est pure) pourroit faire de la peine à d’autres, et me nuire, quoiqu’à tort, dans leur esprit. J’ai voulu et dû être avec vous un historien fidèle.

Daignez faire agréer mes respects à Messrs. Franklin et Jay, et être assuré du bon aloi de celui, &c.

Dumas.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 February, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

The resolution of congress of the 12th of July, 1781, “That the commission and instructions, for negotiating a treaty of commerce between these United States and Great Britain, given to the Honorable John Adams, on the 29th day of September, 1779, be, and they are hereby revoked,” was duly received by me in Holland; but no explanation of the motives to it, or the reasons on which it was founded, was ever transmitted to Edition: current; Page: [34] me by congress, or the committee of foreign affairs, or any individual member; nor has anybody in Europe or America ever once attempted, that I know of, to guess at the reason. Whether it was intended as a punishment to me, or with a charitable design not to lead me into temptation; whether it was intended as a punishment to the English for their insolence and barbarity; whether it was intended to prevent or remove suspicions of allies, or the envy and green-eyed jealousy of copatriots, I know not. Of one thing, however, I am fully satisfied, that congress had reasons, and meant well; but whether those reasons were founded on true or mistaken information, I know not.

When I recollect the instructions, which were given and revoked with that commission, I can guess, and only guess, at some considerations, which might, or might not, operate with congress. In these instructions, congress determined,

1st. That the common right of fishing should in no case be given up.

2dly. That it is essential to the welfare of all these United States, that the inhabitants thereof, at the expiration of the war, should continue to enjoy the free and undisturbed exercise of their common right to fish on the Banks of Newfoundland, and the other fishing banks and seas of North America, preserving inviolate the treaties between France and the said States, &c.

3dly. “That our faith be pledged to the several States, that without their unanimous consent no treaty of commerce shall be entered into, nor any trade or commerce whatever carried on with Great Britain, without the explicit stipulation hereinafter mentioned. You are, therefore, not to consent to any treaty of commerce with Great Britain, without an explicit stipulation on her part, not to molest or disturb the inhabitants of the United States of America, in taking fish on the Banks of Newfoundland, and other fisheries in the American seas, anywhere excepting within the distance of three leagues of the shores of the territories remaining to Great Britain at the close of the war, if a nearer distance cannot be obtained by negotiation. And in the negotiation you are to exert your most strenuous endeavors to obtain a nearer distance in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and particularly along the shores of Nova Scotia; as to which latter we are desirous, that even the shores may be occasionally used Edition: current; Page: [35] for the purpose of carrying on the fisheries by the inhabitants of these States.”

These instructions are very decisive in favor of our indubitable right to the fisheries; and it is possible, that congress might be of opinion, that commerce would be the strongest inducement to the English to make peace, and at the same time, that there was something so naval in the fisheries, that the dread of acknowledging our right to them would be the strongest obstacle in the way of peace. They might think, too, that peace was of more importance to the United States, than a British acknowledgment of our right to the fisheries, which, to be sure, would have been enjoyed by our people in a good degree without it.

Reasonings like these might influence congress to revoke the commission and instructions in question. But whatever probability there might appear in them at that time, experience has since shown, that they were not well founded. On the contrary, arguments have been found to convince the British ministers themselves, that it was the interest of their King and country, not only to acknowledge the American right to the fisheries, but to encourage the unrestrained exercise of it. These considerations, therefore, can be no longer of any weight against a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, or against accrediting a minister to the Court of St. James. Nor can I conceive of any motive now existing against these measures. On the contrary, so many advantages present themselves to view, that I think it my duty to recommend them to congress as proper to be adopted without loss of time. If there are in congress any of those gentlemen, with whom I had the honor to serve in the years 1775 and 1776, they may possibly remember, that in arguing in favor of sending ministers to Versailles, to propose a connection with that Court, I laid it down as a first principle, that we should calculate all our measures and foreign negotiations in such a manner, as to avoid a too great dependence upon any one power of Europe—to avoid all obligations and temptations to take any part in future European wars; that the business of America with Europe was commerce, not politics or war; and, above all, that it never could be our interest to ruin Great Britain, or injure or weaken her any further than should be necessary to support our independence, and our alliances, and that, as soon as Great Britain should be brought to a temper to acknowledge Edition: current; Page: [36] our sovereignty and our alliances, and consent that we should maintain the one, and fulfil the others, it would be our interest and duty to be her friends, as well as the friends of all the other powers of Europe, and enemies to none.

We are now happily arrived, through many tremendous tempests, at that period. Great Britain respects us as sovereign States, and respects all our political engagements with foreign nations; and as long as she continues in this temper of wisdom, it is our duty to respect her. We have accordingly made a treaty with her and mutually sworn to be friends. Through the whole period of our warfare and negotiations, I confess I have never lost sight of the principles and the system, with which I set out, which appeared to me to be the sentiments of congress with great unanimity; and I have no reason to believe that any change of opinion has taken place; if there has not, every one will agree with me, that no measure we can pursue will have such a tendency to preserve the government and people of England in the right system for their own and our interest, and the interest of our allies too, well understood, as sending a minister to reside at the Court of London.

In the next place, the Court of London is the best station to collect intelligence from every part, and by means of the freedom of the press to communicate information for the benefit of our country, to every part of the world. In time of peace, there is so frequent travelling between Paris, London, and the Hague, that the correspondence of our ministers at those Courts may be carried on by private hands, without hazarding any thing from the infidelity of the posts, and congress may reasonably expect advantages from this circumstance.

In the third place, a treaty of commerce with Great Britain is an affair of great importance to both countries. Upon this occasion I hope I shall be excused if I venture to advise, that congress should instruct their minister not to conclude such a treaty, without sending the project to them for their observations and fresh instructions; and I think it would not be improper, on this occasion, to imitate the Dutch method, take the project ad referendum, and transmit it to the legislatures of all the States for their remarks, before congress finally resolve. Their minister may be authorized and instructed, in the mean time, to enter into a temporary convention for regulating the present trade for Edition: current; Page: [37] a limited number of months or years, or until the treaty of commerce shall be completed.

In the fourth place, it is our part to be the first to send a minister to Great Britain, which is the older, and as yet the superior state. It becomes us to send a minister first, and I doubt not the King of Great Britain will very soon return the compliment. Whereas if we do not begin, I believe there will be many delicacies at St. James’s about being the first to send. I confess I wish a British minister at Philadelphia, and think we should derive many benefits from his residence there. While we have any foreign ministers among us, I wish to have them from all the great powers with whom we are much connected. The Corps Diplomatique at every Court is, or ought to be, a system representing at least that part of the system of Europe, with which that Court is most conversant.

In the same manner, or at least for similar reasons, as long as we have any one minister abroad at any European Court, I think we ought to have one at every one to which we are most essentially related, whether in commerce or policy; and, therefore, while we have any minister at Versailles, the Hague, or London, I think it clear we ought to have one at each, though I confess I have sometimes thought that, after a very few years, it will be the best thing we can do to recall every minister from Europe, and send embassies only on special occasions.

If, however, any members of congress should have any delicacies, lest an American minister should not be received with a dignity becoming his rank and character at London, they may send a commission to make a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, to their minister at Madrid, or Versailles, or the Hague, or St. Petersburg, and instruct him to carry on the negotiation from the Court where he may be, until he shall be invited to London, or a letter of credence may be sent to one of these, with instructions to go to London, as soon as the King shall appoint a minister to go to Philadelphia.

After all, however, my opinion is, that none of these manœuvres are necessary, but that the best way will be to send a minister directly to St. James’s, with a letter of credence to the King, as a minister plenipotentiary, and a commission to treat of a treaty of commerce, but with instructions not to come to any irrevocable conclusion, until congress and all the States have an Edition: current; Page: [38] opportunity to consider of the project, and suggest their amendments.

There is one more argument in favor of sending a minister forthwith; it is this. While this mission lies open, it will be a source of jealousy among present ministers, and such as are or may be candidates to be foreign ministers, a source of intrigue and faction among their partisans and adherents, and a source of animosity and division among the people of the States. For this reason, it is a pity, that the first choice had not been such as congress could have continued to approve, and the first measure such as congress could have constantly persevered in. If this had been the case, the door of faction would have been kept shut. As this, however, was once my department, by the voice of eleven States in twelve present, and as I will be answerable, at any hazard, it will never be the department of any one by a greater majority, there seems to be a propriety in my giving my advice concerning it, on taking leave of it, if such is the will of congress, as I have before done in this letter, according to the best of my judgment. And if it should not be thought too presumptuous, I would beg leave to add, what is my idea of the qualifications necessary for an American foreign minister in general, and particularly and above all to the Court of St. James.

In the first place, he should have had an education in classical learning, and in the knowledge of general history, ancient and modern, and particularly the history of France, England, Holland, and America. He should be well versed in the principles of ethics, of the law of nature and nations, of legislation and government, of the civil Roman law, of the laws of England and the United States, of the public law of Europe, and in the letters, memoirs, and histories of those great men, who have heretofore shone in the diplomatic order, and conducted the affairs of nations, and the world. He should be of an age to possess a maturity of judgment, arising from experience in business. He should be active, attentive, and industrious; and above all, he should possess an upright heart and an independent spirit, and should be one who decidedly makes the interest of his country, not the policy of any other nation, nor his own private ambition or interest, or those of his family, friends, and connections, the rule of his conduct.

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We hear so much said about a genteel address and a facility in speaking the French language, that one would think a dancing master and a French master the only tutors necessary to educate a statesman. Be it remembered, the present revolution, neither in America nor Europe, has been accomplished by elegant bows, nor by fluency in French, nor will any great thing ever be effected by such accomplishments alone. A man must have something in his head to say, before he can speak to effect, how ready soever he may be at utterance. And if the knowledge is in his head, and the virtues are in his heart, he will never fail to find a way of communicating his sentiments to good purpose. He will always have excellent translators ready, if he wants them, to turn his thoughts into any language he desires.

As to what is called a fine address, it is seldom attended to after a first or second conversation; and even in these, it is regarded no more by men of sense of any country than another thing which I once heard disputed with great vivacity among the officers of the French frigate, the Sensible. The question was, what were the several departments of an ambassador and a secretary of legation. After a long and shrewd discussion, it was decided by a majority of votes, “that the secretary’s part was to do the business, and that of the ambassador to keep a mistress.” This decision produced a laugh among the company, and no ideas of the kind will ever produce any thing else among men of understanding.

It is very true, that it is possible, that a case may happen, that a man may serve his country by a bribe well placed, or an intrigue of pleasure with a woman. But it is equally true, that a man’s country will be sold and betrayed a thousand times by this infamous commerce, where it will be once served. It is very certain that we shall never be a match for European statesmen in such accomplishments for negotiation, any more than, I must and will add, they will equal us in any solid abilities, virtues, and application to business, if we choose wisely among the excellent characters with which our country abounds.

Among the ministers who have already crossed the Atlantic to Europe, there have been none exceeding Mr. Jay and Mr. Dana in all the qualifications I have presumed to enumerate; and, I must say, that if I had the honor to give my vote in congress for a minister at the Court of Great Britain, provided that Edition: current; Page: [40] injustice must be finally done to him, who was the first object of his country’s choice, such have been the activity, intelligence, address, and fortitude of Mr. Jay, as well as his sufferings in his voyage, journeys, and past services, that I should think of no other object of my choice than that gentleman. If congress should neglect all their old ministers, and send a fresh one from America, they cannot be at a loss, for there are in that country great numbers of men well qualified for the service. These are most certainly better known by name to congress than to me; and, therefore, I shall venture no further, but conclude, by wishing this arduous business well settled, and by assurances to congress and to you, sir, of my warmest attachment and respect.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 February, 1783
Paris
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

I received last night your favor of 30th of January, with the copies of letters inclosed. I am not at all surprised at the sentiments expressed in those copies, nor am I able to give any satisfactory answer to the pungent questions which I read there. I feel very sincerely afflicted for our friends, without being now able, and without having ever been able, to do them any service. I could tell you a very true story, which would convince you that the United States run a great risk of as bad a peace as that of Holland, and that there is no thanks to the minister that your correspondent thinks hard of, that we had not a worse. Unsuspecting confidence is ever dangerous in negotiations. The states-general should have had a minister in London as soon as M. Rayneval went there, and instead of being instructed to trust so much to another, they should have been instructed to conduct their affairs wholly themselves. You know the situation I am in, and therefore I rely upon your honor to communicate nothing of this to the Duke de la Vauguyon. You know I never liked the French minister of foreign affairs. I had great reasons to distrust him which you know not, but the world may one day see.

As to the proposed negotiation for the freedom of navigation, Mr. Dana has full power to treat. And if France and Spain Edition: current; Page: [41] will come into a treaty with Holland upon the subject, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens, and myself will treat whilst waiting for Mr. Dana. But, between you and me, I doubt whether the French minister will be for such a treaty. This is merely from conjecture, not knowledge, so that no dependence can be placed upon it. If the English are cunning, they will make a merit with Holland of agreeing to the liberty of navigation; and I suspect this is their intention, if they get Negapatnam.

With great esteem,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
14 February, 1783
Paris
Richard Oswald
Oswald, Richard

TO RICHARD OSWALD.

Sir,

We have expected you here every day for a long time, and begin to be apprehensive you do not design to return, which will be a disappointment to me, because I wish to have the pleasure of finishing the work of peace with a gentleman who has conducted it hitherto with so much advantage. If this satisfaction is not to be obtained, I wish the service in the hands of some one equally possessed of the only system which can ever conduct it to a right conclusion for the prosperity of your country or mine. Of one thing I am well persuaded,—that no man will ever be found with better qualifications or dispositions.

If you should not return here, it is not very probable we shall meet again. But whether together or asunder, I shall carry with me at all times the most entire esteem and respect for Mr. Oswald.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
15 Février, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Ce que vous me dites, dans la vôtre du 5, ou plutôt ce que vous ne m’y dites pas, me fait désirer avec impatience votre retour ici, c’est à dire, la conclusion finale du traité définitif de paix générale; car je ne vois pas d’apparence à avoir cette satisfaction plutôt.

Il me tarde extrêmement d’apprendre ce qu’il peut y avoir de Edition: current; Page: [42] pire que le tour joué à nos amis. Il regne un froid à glacer, pas entre eux et moi (au contraire), mais entre eux et certain caractère dont ils plaignent pourtant la personne; et s’il en faut croire ce qu’on se dit ici à l’oreille, il est à plaindre, après toutes les peines qu’il s’est données pour bien servir, et tout le succès qu’ont eu ses peines.

Nous sommes fort curieux ici de savoir le rôle et les allures à Paris et à Versailles de M. de H., le chambellan du Prince.

Je suis, &c.
Dumas.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
18 Février, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Nos amis sont très contents de la déclaration réitérée que je leur ai faite de votre part, &c., et vont agir en conséquence auprès de la cour de France, compris celle d’Espagne, et auprès de vos excellences. Ils me paroissent persuadés que la mesure peut et doit réussir. Cependant, à tout événement, ils me chargent de proposer encore la question suivante, pour obtenir là-dessus une réponse, favorable s’il se peut, qui achèveroit de les mettre à l’aise, et de les tranquilliser.

“Q. Lorsque L. H. P. auront fait la proposition à la France, de signer conjointement avec l’Espagne, l’Amérique et les Pays-Bas Unis une convention fondée sur les principes de la neutralité armée pour le maintien de la liberté de la navigation; au cas que la France et l’Espagne parussent vouloir reculer et différer une telle convention, ou s’y refuser avant la conclusion ou signature du traité définitif; M. Dana, et pendant son absence M. Adams, soit seul et comme ministre des États Unis auprès de cette république, ou avec messieurs ses collègues, seroient ils prêts à signer une telle convention provisionelle, lorsqu’elle leur seroit proposée de la part de L. H. P., entre les États Unis et les Pays-Bas Unis?

“On est persuadé ici, que sans un traité pareil, soit entre la France, l’Espagne, les États Unis et les Pays-Bas Unis, ou, à défaut des deux premières, au moins entre les deux dernières puissances, rien ne sauroit prévenir ni excuser la honte du traité définitif pour cette république, qui n’est entrée en guerre que Edition: current; Page: [43] pour la liberté des mers, et qui en a fait une conditio sine quâ non dans ses préliminaires de paix.”

Il est fort à souhaiter que l’un de ces deux arrangemens soit faisable à défaut de l’autre, parceque cela applaniroit tout d’un coup le chemin au traité définitif. Il ne resteroit du moins d’autre difficulté que celle de Négapatnam et de la navigation par les Moluques, sur lesquelles je viens de lire le rapport des 17 directeurs de la compagnie, qui opposent les raisons les plus fortes à la cession de l’un et de l’autre.

Mon opinion est, sauf toujours votre meilleur avis, que votre acquiescement à la demande de ces messieurs peut se fonder sur ces trois choses. 1o. Sur la résolution des États Unis du 5 Octobre, 1780, communiquée par vous-même à L. H. P. par lettre du 8 Mars, 1781; et sur ce que vous m’avez marqué, que vos pouvoirs à cet égard n’ont point été révoqués. 2o. Sur ce que L. H. P. sont une des parties de la neutralité armée, à laquelle Mr. Dana attend qu’il plaise à une autre des parties d’admettre les États Unis. 3o. Sur ce qu’il ne s’agit, ce me semble, que de se garantir réciproquement ce que vous avez déjà signé dans le traité d’amitié et de commerce conclu avec L. H. P.

Je suis, &c.
Dumas.
John Adams
Adams, John
23 February, 1783
Paris
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

In answer to the questions in yours of the 18th, I beg leave to inform you, that, in my opinion, Mr. Dana is the only proper person in Europe to treat with anybody in Europe, about the armed neutrality and the liberty of navigation. It is true our former power is not expressly revoked, but I consider Mr. Dana’s commissions in form to be an implicit and tacit revocation of ours; so that I dare not take upon me, and, from friendship and delicacy to Mr. Dana, I ought not, to enter into any conferences upon this subject alone. In company with my colleagues in the commission for peace, I would not refuse to enter into conferences, waiting Mr. Dana. But whether my colleagues would enter into this negotiation without France and Spain, at least France, I doubt; and have not time now to consult them, who are at a distance from me.

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I think the proper method for our friends to take, is to open a negotiation with Mr. Dana and with all the neutral powers, and with France and Spain at the same time. We, who are now in and about Paris, might negotiate with the ministers of France, Spain, and Holland, or at least confer, if they will admit us, waiting Mr. Dana. Mr. D. can enter into negotiation with Holland and all the other powers who have signed the armed neutrality.

Believe me, your friend,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
25 February, 1783
Paris

TO THE TRUSTEES OF DARTMOUTH COLLEGE.

Gentlemen,

Your favor of 24th September recommending your worthy president, Dr. Wheelock, and his designs, gave me much pleasure and does me great honor.

It is to American seminaries of learning that America is indebted for her glory and prosperity, and, therefore, no man can be more usefully employed than in affording them every countenance and assistance in his power.

Dr. Wheelock, after remaining a few days in Paris, set off with his brother for the Hague and Amsterdam. I gave him letters to several persons of consideration in those cities, such as will be most likely to forward his designs, but what success he will have, I am not able to say.

With the greatest respect,
John Adams.
Benjamin Vaughan
Vaughan, Benjamin
25 February, 1783
London
John Adams
Adams, John

B. VAUGHAN TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Extract.)

Dear Sir,

Mr. Laurens, whom you inquire after, I presume is just arrived in London; and Mr. Oswald was about to return to Paris; but what this distracted state of parties will produce, I cannot yet inform you. The event of the peace, and the reception it meets in parliament, will tell you who were America’s best friends. They were those who made least profession and had most understanding. It is unnecessary to hint more to you. All ranks are satisfied with peace, but the great are not Edition: current; Page: [45] satisfied with a minister who had so few of them in his train. They therefore say we might have had a better peace. You are one of those that know, and I ask your opinion, about the fact of a better peace being easy, without more war, or even with it.

I mean to put you up some pamphlets of the worst sort; for our better are only preparing. Hereafter, the peace will probably be well understood, and then you shall have other pamphlets in another style.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Benjamin Vaughan.
P. J. Van Berckel
Van Berckel, P. J.
5 Mars, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

P. J. VAN BERCKEL TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Puisque j’ai la satisfaction d’être élu par leurs hautes puissances pour aller résider auprès du congrès des États Unis de l’Amérique en qualité de ministre plenipotentiaire de notre république, je n’ai pu me dispenser de vous en informer. Mais encore je me fais cette occasion de vous écrire à profit, et je la saisis pour vous témoigner que l’honneur de cette commission me flatte extrêmement, parceque j’ai toujours senti le désir le plus vif d’en être chargé, afin de trouver les moyens de mettre au jour les sentimens d’estime et d’amour que mon cœur nourrit pour cette nouvelle république; ce que je ferai d’autant plus facilement parce que le service de ma patrie exige que je porte tous mes soins à serrer le plus étroitement ces noeuds, qui doivent lier ces deux soeurs de façon qu’elles ne se séparent jamais.

Permettez moi en même temps de solliciter votre amitié et votre bienveillance. Elles me sont chères, et me peuvent être de très grande utilité. J’en conçois tout le prix, et je ne manquerai pas de faire tout le possible pour vous engager à les accorder à celui qui se nomme avec la plus parfaite estime, monsieur, &c.

P. J. Van Berckel.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
6 Mars, 1783
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Extract.)

Monsieur,

Vous devez avoir reçu actuellement, messieurs, ainsi que les ministres de France et d’Espagne, par ceux de la république à Paris, l’ouverture d’entamer la négociation pour un Edition: current; Page: [46] traité de garantie réciproque de la liberté des mers. Ces messieurs comptent à cet égard, et principalement, sur les promesses réitérées que vous m’avez autorisé de leur faire, sûrs que vous ne vous laisserez point influer ni diriger par Shelburne & Co.; qui s’entendent, disent ils, comme larrons en foire. Vous n’aurez pas de peine à comprendre l’allusion. Si cette convention pouvoit se faire avant la signature du traité définitif, ce seroit le triomphe ici de nos républicains. Quelqu’un m’ayant objecté que l’Angleterre pourroit en prendre ombrage si ce traité se faisoit avant l’autre; et depuis quand, ai-je répliqué, la France a-t-elle recommencée à avoir peur de donner ombrage à l’Angleterre?

Je suis, &c.
Dumas.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 March, 1783
Paris
P. J. Van Berckel
Van Berckel, P. J.

TO P. J. VAN BERCKEL.

Sir,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 5th of this month, and am happy to receive this confirmation of the news of your appointment as minister plenipotentiary to the United States of America. Your name, connections, and character are sufficient pledges of your attachment to your own country as well as ours, and cannot fail to be as pleasing in America as they seem to be in Europe. A friendship between our countries is so natural, that I think you will have little difficulty in succeeding to your wishes.

M. Dumas desires me to inform you what furniture it will be proper to carry with you. In my opinion, you will be able to purchase at Philadelphia whatever you may have occasion for, as cheap and as good as you can have them in Europe. Linens and other light articles you may carry with you, but it is unnecessary to incumber yourself with heavy ones.

It will by no means be necessary to make a public entry. There has as yet been no example of it, and as such splendid ceremonies are much out of fashion in Europe, it will never be necessary to introduce them into America. You will have no occasion therefore for any carriage but one of a common kind, which may be made in Philadelphia or Boston with as much elegance and convenience as in Paris, Amsterdam, or London.

My advice would be to land at Boston, and take the journey Edition: current; Page: [47] to Philadelphia, while you send your frigate round by sea to that city. This will give you an opportunity of seeing a great part of the United States, and of becoming acquainted with many principal characters. I will be answerable for your cordial reception everywhere.

His Excellency, the Governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Hancock, and his Honor, the President of the Senate, Mr. Samuel Adams, will receive you at Boston. Governor Trumbull, at Connecticut; General Washington and Governor Clinton, at New York; Governor Livingston, at New Jersey. I would, by all means, advise you to pass through New York and New Jersey, where you will find multitudes charmed at the sight of a Dutch minister more than any other in the world.

I wish you a pleasant voyage and journey. If you take your departure at any time before the middle of June, your voyage can scarcely fail to be agreeable. After that, it may be long and tedious.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Vaughan
Vaughan, Benjamin
11 March, 1783
London
John Adams
Adams, John

B. VAUGHAN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I do not learn that we have yet fixed our ministry, which does not at all concern me, provided we could fix our principles. I am happy, however, to find, notwithstanding the factions in parliament, that the people of England are not at all averse to a proper footing with America, provided they could be assured of America’s disposition to be reciprocal in the matter of advance. So far they are right, that no public overtures from thence have yet arrived at their knowledge; in which I think you gentlemen at Paris might nevertheless assist us. Perhaps I may truly affirm that the boldness of my friend has done more towards advancing manly opinions than any thing I have yet experienced in this country. Happy I am to find, notwithstanding this clamor, that he retains all his old American sentiments, and repents of nothing. Some of his friends only lament that he did not corrupt the votes of some who never vote but by corruption; and in truth it would have secured the business.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Benjamin Vaughan.
Edition: current; Page: [48]
John Adams
Adams, John
12 March, 1783
Paris
Benjamin Vaughan
Vaughan, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN.

Dear Sir,

I thank you for the pamphlets, which are an amusement in this place, how little soever there is in them of sense or candor. The refugees, however, seem to judge right in their own affair,—sensible that they have no claim at all upon America for compensation, they demand it of Great Britain, upon whom the pretensions of some of them may be very just. But why has no man dared to mention tens of thousands of sufferers in America, as innocent, as meritorious at least, as any of the refugees? Who is to make restitution and compensation to these?

Those who say you might have had a better peace, speak from conjecture, not from knowledge. They reason from a false comparison of the forces of the belligerent powers. Their imaginations magnify the finances and military power of Great Britain, and diminish those of France, Spain, Holland, and America, and then they reason from this delusive comparison, that the peace is inadequate to the relative situations. I am afraid that the vote to this purpose will be an unhappy one for Great Britain. Will it not nourish a continual discontent in your nation, and a continual jealousy in all the powers that have been at war with you?

I will answer you with great sincerity. I do not believe you could possibly have obtained a better treaty with America. On the contrary, the least delay would have lost you some advantages which you now have. What conditions might have been obtained from France and Spain, I know not. France appears in the treaty with great moderation in the eyes of Europe, and her aversion to continue the war could arise from no other motive. Spain appears to have conquered her predilection for Gibraltar. If, therefore, instead of wasting the force of forty or fifty ships to guard that rock, she had acted with France in the West Indies, or against New York, or both, with twenty-five, twenty, or even only fifteen Dutch ships in the North Seas or the channel, where would have been your hopes? Surely only in the defensive. Admitting what is very extravagantly improbable, that you could have defended all another year at an expense Edition: current; Page: [49] of twenty millions, would you have been then able to demand better terms, or your adversaries disposed to grant them? I trow not. On the contrary, their courage and pretensions would have advanced.

America did you a very kind turn, you may depend upon it, when she rapidly hastened on the signature of the provisional treaty. Think of it as you will, you would have had no peace at this hour, but for this able seizure of the moment of the tide in the affairs of men, for which you are indebted to Mr. Oswald and his principals. Without this, the negotiations would have dreamed on until D’Estaing had sailed from Cadiz, and then, Voilà une autre campagne!

I should be very glad to see the better sort of pamphlets you mention, and particularly some to show the policy and the necessity of an immediate evacuation of New York and Penobscot.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
12 March, 1783
Paris
Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry

TO HENRY LAURENS.

Dear Sir,

Appearances on the side where you are do not please me more than you; but I hope the weather will clear up, and that we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing you and Mr. Oswald here to put the last hand to the peace.

It is not worth while for any noble lord to “boast of his art” in obtaining the provisional treaty, without the knowledge of our great and good ally. It was not owing to “his art.” But how does he know what knowledge was communicated to our ally? As to getting “John Adams & Co. hanged,” this would be no more than a Hillsborough, Germaine, or Sandwich would have done, if they could. This would be no feat for a whig minister to boast of.1

Edition: current; Page: [50]

This same “hanging” is, however, a grave business, and perhaps the aforesaid company may have reflected upon the nature of it more seriously than his Lordship, unless it has struck him lately. But I cannot think our country will hang her ministers merely for their simplicity in being cheated into independence, the fisheries, and half the great lakes. Our countrymen love buckskins, beaver-skins, tom-cod, and pine trees too well, to hang their ministers for accepting them, or even for purchasing them by a little too much “reciprocity” to the tories.

Be it as it may, if a French minister and an English minister should form a coalition as curious as that of the fox and the geese, to get J. A. hanged, he is pretty well prepared for this, or to be recalled, or censured, or flattered, or slandered, just as they please.

I wish I could see more serious preparations for evacuating New York and Penobscot. Our people will not feel like freemen in friendship with Great Britain, till this is done. If any one thinks that keeping possession of New York will help the refugees, he deceives himself. Great Britain’s misfortunes have arisen from the ignorance in her rulers of the American character. If ministers are incapable of learning it, they never will succeed in addressing themselves to it. If they think that fear will work for the refugees, they will find it operate against them.

But why is the definitive treaty delayed? Congress will not take the preliminaries into consideration, till they have the definitive treaty. There can be no ratification, until congress have that; and, in my opinion, the States, after the ratification and recommendations, will take none of them into consideration, until the United States are evacuated by the troops. In this I may be mistaken.

My respects to your good family, and believe me, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [51]
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis
16 March, 1783
St. Petersburg
John Adams
Adams, John

FRANCIS DANA TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Yours of the 22d of February has come to hand this moment, and has given me much satisfaction. I always admired the noble and independent spirit of my friend, but I now see cause to admire it still more. You have conferred additional obligations upon, or to express myself otherwise, you have rendered additional services to your country, by breaking to pieces chains forged to hold it in a state of subserviency to the interests of others. God and your country will approve the measure. But there is nothing gives me more real pleasure than your determination to return to America. I have only one request to make to you,—that you will not decline a moment taking a seat in congress after your arrival there. They want only proper information to lead them into proper measures. The turn of thinking there must be changed, and I know no man better calculated on every account to bring this about than yourself. I beseech you, therefore, never to decline such an occasion. By my last letter, you will find my intention is, if not to accompany you, at least to follow you soon to America.

As to your advice to me, to communicate my mission to the minister of the Emperor and the ministers of all the other Courts which have acceded to the armed neutrality, I think at present it is not advisable to make this communication on that occasion; for, first, I have no authority to make any commercial treaty with the Emperor; and as to that part of my commission which respects the armed neutrality or neutral confederation, I have long since, upon consideration, given it to congress as my opinion, that America could not become a party in it or accede formally to the marine convention so long as she continued a belligerent power; and also, that that convention, from its terms and nature, was limited to the duration of the war. But, if I should be mistaken in this last point, I think it is not worth while for America at this time to pay near five thousand pounds sterling to the ministers of this Court for the liberty of acceding to the marine convention; and, if it were, I have not the money at my disposal. The communication, you are sensible, must be general to all the parties to that confederation, and of course to Edition: current; Page: [52] this Court. To make the communication, which would amount to a proposition on my part to accede to the convention, and not to be able to do it for want of what I know is essential to the end, would be only to expose the honor of the United States without the prospect of any advantage. It is quite enough to pay five thousand pounds sterling for a treaty of commerce with this empire. I think it my duty, therefore, to keep the marine convention out of sight as long as possible, and to confine myself to the treaty of commerce, into which I have adopted the leading principles of the marine convention, and shall endeavor to conclude both points in one treaty. If I fail in this, I must fail in both, and shall immediately quit this Court. I must exercise my discretion in some things, and, as you have done, submit my conduct to the judgment of those whose right it is to decide upon it. If they furnish me not with the means, they must not expect the accomplishment of my mission. I pray you to give me your advice upon these matters with the utmost freedom, and as soon as possible. Though I have ventured not to follow it in this particular case, yet I give you my reasons for not doing it, that you might judge upon them, and I am not the less obliged to you for your advice.

I have not received an answer in form to my letter communicating my mission to the vice-chancellor, but only a verbal message in excuse of the delay for a time entirely past. I do not like this delay. The immediate assurances mentioned in my letter in which I informed you of this communication, came from a member of her Majesty’s private cabinet, who sought an interview with me for that occasion. But I refer you to a passage in my last letter,—“I am sick, &c.”—God send me speedily a happy deliverance from them.

Adieu, my dear sir, yours,
Francis Dana.
Henry Laurens
Laurens, Henry
26 March, 1783
London
John Adams
Adams, John

HENRY LAURENS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I was yesterday honored by the receipt of your letter of the 12th inst.

That the “noble lord” did boast is beyond all doubt; but I Edition: current; Page: [53] had the good fortune to give a check to his success, by propounding a question almost in terms with that which you have put. How does his Lordship know whether we conferred with, or what we communicated to, our ally? but, admitting the fact, which I do not admit, what then? Be assured that a disappointed and mortified Shelburne, maugre all pretensions to whiggism, has as good a stomach for such a “feat” as even a Hillsborough, a Germaine, or the other secretary, Sandwich had.

I coincide exactly in your opinion on the delay of the definitive treaty, the evacuation of New York, the tories, recommendations, &c.; and it is probable I have given a damp to the third edition “for the provisional establishment and regulation of trade, &c.” by framing a counter-bill supposed to be pending in each of the United States, for regulating the British trade, which I held up as a mirror to a noble lord and a few of the most eminent commoners. The picture alarmed them, and, if I judge right, a lead will be laid upon their bill.

“You cannot think our country will hang their ministers for being cheated into independence, fisheries, &c., &c.” I fancy not; but, be as grave as you please upon the subject, believe me, his Lordship boasted of having “cheated” us into those great benefits, and flattered himself with hopes that, upon the same ground, he would be able to “cheat” us out of them again. I hope his wings will be clipt. If the proper ministry should succeed, I have every reason to expect an honest and liberal proceeding with respect to us will immediately ensue. My opinion is founded upon the most explicit assurances from the very best hands. The tories, nicknamed loyalists, are execrated by the circle in which I sometimes move, and yet they say they must “make some provision for some of the poor devils for national honor’s sake.” I reply, make what provision you will, it would be impertinent in me to interfere in that business; but you must not attempt to cram them down our throats. It is time you should know that America will not be taxed without her own consent. I have uniformly discouraged all attempts to trade with the United States, until the definitive treaty shall be concluded, and the British forces by land and sea effectually withdrawn. The reasonings which I have urged, particularly personating the State of New York, have been acknowledged invincible; but some of the merchants are nevertheless mad, Edition: current; Page: [54] and will send their ships. Let them be mad. I trust the United States will be wise.

I am, dear sir, &c.
Henry Laurens.
John Adams
Adams, John
14 April, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

You may easily imagine our anxiety to hear from America, when you know that we have no news to this hour, either of your reception of the news of peace, or of that of the treaty with Holland, four copies of which I put on board different vessels at Amsterdam, in October.

We have been in equal uncertainty about the turn which affairs might take in England. But by letters from Mr. Laurens we expect him every day, and Mr. David Hartley with him, in order to complete the definitive treaty. It would have been more agreeable to have finished with Mr. Oswald. But the present ministry are so dissatisfied with what is past, as they say, though nobody believes them, that they choose to change hands.

It will be proposed, I believe, to make a temporary arrangement of commercial matters, as our powers are not competent to a durable one, if to any. Congress will, no doubt, soon send a minister with full powers, as the treaty of commerce with Great Britain is of great importance, and our affairs in that country require an overseer.

It is confidently asserted, in letters from Holland, that M. Markow, the minister plenipotentiary from the Empress of Russia, has received from his mistress a full power to come to Paris, to the assistance of the Prince Bariatinski, at a congress for a general pacification. There is, as yet, no answer received from the Emperor. If the two Imperial Courts accept of the mediation, there will be a congress; but I suppose it will relate chiefly to the affairs of Holland, which are not yet arranged, and to the liberty of neutral navigation, which is their principal point. I wish success to that republic in this negotiation, which will help to compose their interior disorders, which are alarming. I know not whether it will be insisted or expected that we should join in the congress, nor do I know what we have to do in it, unless it be to settle that point as far as it relates to Edition: current; Page: [55] us. There is nothing in difference between us and Great Britain which we cannot adjust ourselves without any mediation.

A spring passage to America is so great an object, that I should be very sorry to have the negotiations spun out to such a length as to oblige me to lose it; and I take it for granted, I shall now receive the acceptance of my resignation by the first ships.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 April, 1783
Paris
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

In answer to the inquiry of M. Fagel, you will please to inform him that the letters of credence of M. Van Berckel should be addressed,—“To the United States of America in Congress assembled.” “Friends and Allies.”

The King of France, indeed, has added the word “great.” “Great friends and allies.” But I think it would be much better to leave out the word great and all other epithets. Congress have never assumed any other style; and I hope they never will assume or receive any other.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
W. Wopkens
Wopkens, W.
V. Cats
Cats, V.
29 Avril, 1783
Leeuwarde
John Adams
Adams, John

THE SOCIETY OF LEEUWARDEN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Nous avons enfin la satisfaction de voir achevée la médaille que nous avions projeté et dédié aux nobles et puissants seigneurs, les États de Frise. Votre Excellence est instruite du but et du contenu de cette médaille par notre requête du 8 Mai de l’année dernière, dont votre Excellence a eu la bonté d’insérer la traduction dans le recueil de pièces concernant l’Amérique Septentrionale, que votre Excellence a publié.1

Nous prions respectueusement votre Excellence de nous permettre de lui présenter deux de ces médailles, l’une pour servir au cas que votre Excellence pût trouver bon de la présenter au congrès des treize États Unis de l’Amérique.

Edition: current; Page: [56]

Nous sommes en attendant charmés de voir, que les États des autres provinces, et consequemment la république entière, ont, à l’exemple des États de Frise, reconnu la liberté et l’indépendance de l’Amérique; reconnoissance, qui, jointe aux bons offices que votre Excellence a employé, a déjà eu cette heureuse suite, qu’il a été conclu entre les deux états un traité d’amitié et de commerce, et qu’on a établi par là même, une base de bien-être et de prospérité réciproques. Nous avons l’honneur de féliciter votre Excellence de cet événement, et de souhaiter du fond de nos cœurs, que les travaux importants de votre Excellence dans les conférences actuelles pour la paix, puissent avoir une issue non moins heureuse; afin que la grande et courageuse nation qui honore votre Excellence de sa confiance, puisse obtenir dans peu pour prix de sa valeur et de sa constance une paix glorieuse et durable, et qu’elle croisse ensuite tellement en gloire et en puissance, qu’elle puisse être l’effroi des usurpateurs et des tyrans, et un refuge toujours assuré aux opprimés. Veuille le Dieu tout puissant répandre sa bénédiction sur ces souhaits et sur ces prières!

Nous prenons la liberté de nous recommander à la bienveillance de votre Excellence, et d’être avec le plus profond respect, monsieur, &c.

Les Membres de la Société Bourgeoise
établie à Leeuwarde sous la devise,Par liberté et par zèle.
Et pour tous,
W. Wopkens.
V. Cats.
John Adams
Adams, John
1 May, 1783
Paris
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis

TO FRANCIS DANA.

Sir,

I have received your favor of the 16th of March, and in answer to it, I do assure you that I do not intend to decline taking a seat in congress, if any State in the confederation should think it worth while to offer me one. I am grown very ambitious of being a limb of that sovereign. I had rather be master than servant, on the same principle that men swear at Highgate,—never to kiss the maid when they can kiss the mistress. Edition: current; Page: [57] I should be very happy to sit alongside of you upon one of those seats, and rise up now and then, and tell stories of our peregrinations, and of the robbers we have met with in the highway. But you must not quit, till you have made your treaty.

I beg you would consider what I write to you as hints, not as advice. The reasons that you give, for not taking some I gave you, are very conclusive, and had not occurred to me. The first vessel will, I hope, bring you elucidations upon those points.

Mr. Hartley is to finish with us, and we are making preparations; but cannot say how much time will be necessary. They talk of a congress and mediation, and Mr. Markow is coming; but there is no need of either on our affairs. Yet we may be invited to join it; and who would not be ambitious of sitting in such a council of the celestials? Or rather, who would not be curious “to know by what sort of men this world is governed.”

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
1 May, 1783
Paris
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

In answer to yours of the 25th ultimo, I can only say that I have no information of the United States having acceded to the armed neutrality. On the contrary, I have reasons to doubt it.

Is it not astonishing that we have no news from America? I cannot say when I shall be able to see you, because I know not when the definitive treaty will be signed. If we should have a congress to attend, it is impossible to foresee how long we shall be detained; for the delicacies, etiquette, and ceremonies of so many diplomatic sages, will not glide away with such rapidity as the provisional treaty with Mr. Oswald did. When men meet upon business, forenoon, afternoon, and evening, every day, they do a great deal, and do it well. But when they meet only two hours in a morning, once a week, they forget what was done at one meeting before another occurs.

I find that making treaties is very easy work when one has full powers, not too much shackled with instructions, and when there is but one minister on each side. If I were a king, which Edition: current; Page: [58] I would not be for a world, or a congress, a member of which I hope to be, I would not send more than one minister upon any one piece of service, nor confine him by any instructions which should not be absolutely necessary.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 May, 1783
Paris

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY ESTABLISHED AT LEEUWARDEN, UNDER THE DEVICE, “BY LIBERTY AND ZEAL.”

Gentlemen,

I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 29th day of last month, and the friendly sentiments it contains towards the United States of America deserve my warmest acknowledgments.

The resolutions of the States of Friesland, taken in the assemblies of February and April, 1782, do honor to that Province. The acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the United States of America, and the refusal of a separate peace by their High Mightinesses, the states-general, was one of those critical decisions which sometimes turn the tide of the affairs of men, and produce the unravelling of great scenes among nations. It seemed to open the eyes of the British nation, and to determine the fluctuating opinions of the whole world, and, consequently, contributed very much to accelerate the peace.

The medals you did me the honor to present me with this letter, are struck in great perfection, and express with a beautiful simplicity the two great events they were intended to commemorate. You will please to accept of my thanks for them. The first favorable opportunity shall be taken to present one of them to congress, as you desire.

Your republic, I am persuaded, will have no cause to repent of the part she has taken in favor of America; and may the friendship, correspondence, and alliance between the two nations be perpetual.

Permit me to add my best wishes for the prosperity of your society, and the felicity of your persons and families.

With great esteem and respect, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [59]
John Adams
Adams, John
21 May, 1783
Paris
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert

TO ROBERT MORRIS.

Sir,

I am just now honored with yours of the 19th of January, by the way of London. We have not yet had the happiness to receive, as we should be disposed to do with open arms, our excellent old friend Jefferson, and begin to fear that the news of peace has determined him not to come.

I thank you, sir, for your polite congratulations; when the tide turned, it flowed with rapidity, and carried the vessel, as I hope, into a safe harbor.

As to the loan in Holland, I have never troubled you nor any one else in America with details of the vexations of various kinds which I met with in the negotiation of it; indeed, I never thought it prudent or safe to do it. If I had told the whole truth, it could have done no good, and it might have done infinite mischief. In general, it is now sufficient to say, that private interest, party spirit, factions, cabals, and slanders have obstructed, perplexed, and tortured our loan in Holland, as well as all our other affairs, foreign and domestic. But as there has been a greater variety of clashing interests,—English, French, Stadtholderian, Republican, and American,—mixing in the affair of our loan in Holland, it has been more puzzled than any thing else. If, in the bitterness of my soul, I had described the fermentation, and mentioned names, and drawn characters, I might have transmitted a curious tale; but it would have only served to inflame old animosities and excite new ones.

A great many things are said to me, on purpose that they may be represented to you or to congress. Some of these I believe to be false, more of them I suspect, and some that are true would do no good. I think it necessary, therefore, to employ a little discretion in such cases.

Messrs. Willink & Co. will write you from time to time, as they tell me they have done, the state of the loan. Mr. Grand wants all the money, but they wait your orders. The loan has been and will be damped by transmitting the money to France; but your necessities were so urgent, that you could not avoid it.

In my opinion, if you had a minister at St. James’s, and he were authorized to borrow money generally, in England or elsewhere, Edition: current; Page: [60] it would serve you greatly, by causing an emulation even in Holland, besides the money you would procure in London, which would not be a trifling sum.

I wish I were in congress, that I might assist you in persuading our countrymen to pay taxes and build ships.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 May, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose copies, to be laid before congress, of several papers. 1st. Mr. Hartley’s full powers of May 14th. 2dly. The order of the King of Great Britain in council, for regulating the American trade, of May 14th. 3dly. Articles proposed by the American ministers to Mr. Hartley, April 29th. 4thly. Mr. Hartley’s observations left with us May 21st. And 5thly. Mr. Hartley’s proposition of the same day. This proposition, however, upon inquiry, we find Mr. Hartley does not incline to subscribe to, before he sends it to his Court for their orders; so that we have not yet given him our opinion of it. He has sent a courier to London, before whose return we hope to have further intelligence from Philadelphia.

The present British ministry discover an indecision and timidity which indicate instability. Some persons from England imagine that my Lord Shelburne will come in again. The change would produce a longer delay, but I think would be no disadvantage to America. If he had continued in power, I think we should have finished, or been ready to finish, before now, with Mr. Oswald. Mr. Hartley’s dispositions, however, are very good, and, if left to his own judgment, would be liberal and fair.

The idea of reviving the trade, upon the plan of the laws of Great Britain before the war, although those laws were calculated so much for the advantage of that country, and so little for the advantage of ours, might be admissible for a few months, until ministers could be appointed on both sides to frame a treaty of commerce; provided no advantage should be ceded by it, in the negotiation of such treaty, and provided that such a Edition: current; Page: [61] temporary convention for trade should neither delay nor influence the definitive treaty. It is much to be wished that the definitive treaty of peace and a permanent treaty of commerce could be signed at the same time. This, however, seems now to be impossible; and, therefore, some temporary regulation of commerce seems unavoidable. But we are as yet too uncertain of the sentiments of the Court of St. James to be able to foresee whether we shall agree with them. Mr. Hartley has been here four weeks, and nothing has been done, although he was very sanguine, before he left London, that he should send home a convention in less than half of four days.

Congress will see by Mr. Hartley’s commission, that they are become the “good friends” of the King of Great Britain. Mr. Hartley, on his first arrival here, communicated to us in form an invitation from the ministers, with the knowledge and consent of the King, to all the American ministers to go to London, with the assurance that we should be there presented at Court, and treated in all respects like the ministers of any other sovereign state. He also communicated the desire of his Court, that the two powers should interchange ministers as soon as possible. I hope that the first ship will bring a minister for that Court, or a commission to some one to go there, because I think it would have been useful to us to have had one there three months ago, and that it would not be less useful now. The permanent treaty of commerce, nevertheless, should not be hastily concluded, nor before congress shall have had an opportunity to judge of the project, suggest their amendments, and transmit their orders.

No preliminaries are yet signed with the Dutch, and I am very anxious for their lot.

With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
William Ellery
Ellery, William
Henry Marchant
Marchant, Henry
Robert Stevens
Stevens, Robert
William Channing
Channing, William
26 May, 1783
Newport
John Adams
Adams, John

WILLIAM ELLERY AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Permit us, the Committee of the Second Congregational Church in Newport, to call your attention for a few moments from the weighty affairs of politics, in which you are so honorably and so usefully engaged, to a matter which respects Edition: current; Page: [62] a religious society, to whose constitution we consider you as a friend.

The early and active part which our congregation took in the opposition to the arbitrary and oppressive measures of Great Britain you may be acquainted with; but you may not be acquainted with our consequential sufferings. Our spirited conduct made us the object of ministerial and parliamentary vengeance. Sensible of the danger to which we were exposed, and finding that the British intended to take possession of Rhode Island, to avoid their implacable fury, and that we might be able to continue our exertions, both the minister and a great part of this society quitted the island. The British took possession of it in December, 1776, and held it until October, 1779, during which time our meeting-house and ministry-house were converted into barracks and hospitals; and afterwards, when the French army made a garrison of the town of Newport, those buildings were occupied in the same manner, and of course were left in a state of ruin; besides this, many of our houses were demolished or greatly damaged by the British army.

At our return, finding the town impoverished, nearly a third of its buildings destroyed, its commerce annihilated, and ourselves unable to sustain the expense of repairing our religious houses and resettling the congregation, we cast our eyes on our sister States; but many of their towns and places of public worship having suffered like injuries, no relief could be drawn from them. In this deplorable situation, we have been compelled to look to our foreign protestant brethren for assistance, and among them have thought it would not be improper to address the reformed churches in France.

Conscious of your attachment to religious liberty, in which our society is founded, and of your disposition and capacity to support that glorious cause, as well as the civil liberties of mankind, we have ventured to inclose that address to your patronage and care; and we request that you will be pleased to place it in the hands of such of the principal pastors of the reformed, as you shall think will be best disposed to circulate subscriptions and otherwise make collections for the purpose of repairing our ministry and meeting-house, and towards a ministerial fund. We would also request, that you appoint a proper person to receive the donations which may be made, and to transmit them Edition: current; Page: [63] to William Channing and Robert Stevens, Esquires, in Newport, and assign to him thereout such commission as you shall judge reasonable.

We should have made our address to the good people in France at large; but we were not sure that such an address would be well received by them or by government. But as our houses, devoted to religion, were used in the manner that hath been mentioned, by the French as well as British troops, and considering the kind reception the former met with in Newport, perhaps Generals Rochambeau, Chattelux, Count Noailles, and other French officers might countenance our address. The Marquis de Lafayette, who well deserved, and hath obtained all the honors the United States could confer upon him, who hath done service in Rhode Island, and whose generous spirit and principles forever prompt him to benevolent actions, we do not doubt would contribute to our relief. We have ventured this hint, as we have our address, and leave it entirely with you to do as you judge proper. We would only add here, that the general assembly of this State, at a late session, repealed an old law which excluded Roman Catholics from the privileges of citizenship.

Hoping to derive some assistance from our brethren in Holland, we have drawn an application to the ministers and churches of the reformed in Holland, which, as we are not acquainted with the proper mode of address, we have taken the liberty to send open to you, and would be much obliged to you, if you would cover it, address, and transmit it.

We would attempt an apology for thus intruding and interrupting a train of thinking employed upon more extensive subjects; but we are sure we shall find a powerful apologist in your generous breast.

We most sincerely congratulate you on your successful negotiations in the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and on the share you have had in procuring preliminaries of peace so agreeable and so advantageous to the United States of America; and, heartily wishing you may enjoy a long, uninterrupted series of health and prosperity, we are, with the highest sentiments of respect, &c. &c.

William Ellery.
Henry Marchant.
Robert Stevens.
William Channing.
Edition: current; Page: [64]
John Adams
Adams, John
30 May, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

On the 28th of this month, I received the letter which you did me the honor to write me on the 13th of February, which arrived at the Hague, inclosed with the ratification of the treaty with their High Mightinesses, which will be exchanged by M. Dumas, as the conferences here for the definitive treaty will not admit of my taking so long a journey at this time.

This arrival, in season to exchange the ratifications before the departure of M. Van Berckel, which will be in three weeks, is fortunate. I hope that the first ships from America will bring my letter of recall from that republic, and another minister, or credence to some one now in Europe to take my place.

I am happy to find that any letters of mine in September last contained information that you think of consequence, although, not having my letter-book here, I am not able to recollect the subject. The final completion of the negotiation with Holland gives me a pleasure which will not be equalled but by that of the definitive treaty of peace, which languishes at present for want of decisive instructions from Mr. Hartley, in such a manner as gives cause to suspect that the present ministry are not firm in their seats.

The presence of a minister in Holland would encourage your loan of money there, but it would be quickened still more by your sending a minister to London with power to borrow money there. Emulation is the best spring; or call it rivalry or jealousy, if you will, it will get you money, if you put it in motion.

I have received two ciphers from you, sir,—one beginning with No. 1, and ending with No. 1011; the other beginning with Amsterdam, and ending with Provinces.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [65]
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis
1 June, 1783
St. Petersburg
John Adams
Adams, John

FRANCIS DANA TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

By the last post I sent an open letter for Mr. Livingston, under cover to you, to give you what further information I had received relative to the memorial. The week is past, and nothing more has yet taken place. This, considering how affairs are conducted here, is not really unexpected. Patience, much patience, indeed is necessary. If I was sure congress would support me in it, I would take another step, of the propriety of which I have personally no doubt. But, to support it, congress must resolve not to send another minister here, when I quit the ground. If half a score of such geniuses as you were there, I would infallibly take it at every hazard, if I have not a satisfactory answer to my memorial.

Touching the gentleman’s1 doubt, whether the credit was necessary, he may be assured I should not have written for it, if I had not been certain of the custom. It is a matter of too much consequence to be taken upon slight information. The sum to be paid is six thousand roubles for each signature, and there are generally four appointed on their part, which sum falls short of the credit I asked for, more or less, as the exchange varies. It will not go beyond it. I thought it advisable to have enough, as whatever remained might be carried by me to the credit of the United States. This is so settled a custom, that every power which has acceded to the neutral confederation has paid it. Thus much to clear up scruples. We should not have heard so much about the armed neutrality in this quarter, if the case had been otherwise. I have a curious tale to tell of this matter. It would be a very proper place to tell that and some other things in, where you wish now and then to “throw out some stories about our peregrinations, robbers, &c.” Neither you nor they know the real state of matters here, nor will they till my return, if then, which will depend upon contingencies. I fear only the effects of delusion.

It is a great satisfaction to me to find the reasons I have assigned for not making the communication you spoke of, are thought by you to be conclusive. Yet, for the weighty reason Edition: current; Page: [66] above mentioned, there is a design to keep the bubble up. It appears to be absolutely necessary for us to concern ourselves about it. This is my clear opinion; and if I was in that same place, I would give my reasons at large for it. Fear not, I will never engage you in any affair on account of your advice given as a friend to me. Where I ask it officially, and expressly so, the case is different. Your hints are always serviceable; if I do not follow them, they put me upon reflecting on the subject of them with more deliberation.

Mr. Hartley, you say, is to finish with you. Do you mean by this, as I suppose, to conclude the definitive treaty? The world tells us, and Mr. Fox seems to support it, that his business is a commercial treaty. I am ignorant, if you have such powers. I doubt it from what you last wrote me upon that subject. The West India trade, as tendered by Mr. Pitt’s bill, at least, must be secured. In this quarter of the world I see the whole importance of it. I wrote to Mr. Livingston upon that subject early last winter, and proposed the same plan to him, with this difference, that we should have full liberty to export the West India commodities to all parts of the world; by which means we should gain a most important commerce with Europe. The same duties only must be paid as their own subjects pay upon exportation to Great Britain. This is absolutely necessary to secure the advantage of a direct commerce with Europe. Without it, they might enhance the price of the commodities upon us, ad libitum.

As to the congress and mediation which you say are talked of, I agree fully with you, that there is no need of either on our affairs. But how are you to be invited to join it, if there was, when objections are raised here by one of the mediators against the reception of a minister from the United States? It would be a curiosity, indeed, if it should happen, and yet it would not surprise me, if it should. When we once depart from fixed principles there are no inconsistencies and absurdities we may not fall into. Besides, I should not be surprised if the other part of the business than what you mention, should be thrown into the hands of 121. For I know there is an extreme jealousy entertained by the 134. 57.1 about the treaty I have in contemplation. Edition: current; Page: [67] I have been told, more than once, we can have nothing in particular here that would render a treaty worth the expense of it. Indeed, there might be some advantage in a political connection. But this will be general to all nations. The only difference, by having a treaty, would be the paying of duties in the money of Russia instead of rix-dollars, and the expense would far exceed this advantage. I have constantly favored these ideas, and answered, congress are desirous of having a commercial treaty with this empire. They must be gratified, and it is my business to make it. If it cost them more than it is worth, it is none of my fault. Judge you, my friend, from this, and the confidential intelligence which I communicated to you in my letter by your son, upon some circumstances which may have fallen under your knowledge.

Yours, &c.
Francis Dana.
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis
6 June, 1783
St. Petersburg
John Adams
Adams, John

FRANCIS DANA TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I yesterday received a letter from your son, dated Hague, May 12th, containing some account of his route from hence to Stockholm. The matter contained in my confidential letter which you will receive from him, I pray you most earnestly to keep a secret, even after your arrival in America or in congress. I have most substantial reasons for making this request.

I have additional reasons for thinking that jealousy, of which I have spoken towards the close of my last letter but one, exists in full force. Yesterday I was there upon a previous appointment, relative to my main matter; yet the same kind of conversation which you will find in that letter was renewed almost word for word. It was entered into indeed more minutely than ever. Nor is this all. 165. 37. who we had agreed should be invited to the consultation upon the main matter, evidently supported the same sentiments with all his ingenuity. However, they have not yet had my real sentiments upon the subject, nor shall they have them. I know, I flatter myself, the interests of our country, as well as they do, at least. I declare to you, at the same time, that very possibly the hare would not be worth hunting in the common course. I have long had in contemplation Edition: current; Page: [68] some special views in this business grounded in local knowledge. Whether I should be able to succeed in them is not certain. If I should not to a certain degree, it is always in my power to wave the whole business. It is kind in our friends to take so serious a concern in our interests, however.

I have not yet received any answer to my memorial; but I was yesterday informed, by my private friend, that I should have it on Monday or Tuesday next. By this delay, I am inclined to think they wait only for the accounts of the conclusion of the definitive treaty, when the idea of mediation will be done away. This is daily expected. The other objections may be then waved, and thus the matter be compounded. It would, perhaps be thought to be too humiliating to give them all up.

A safe voyage to you, &c.
Francis Dana.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 June, 1783
Paris
Edward A. Holyoke
Holyoke, Edward A.

TO EDWARD A. HOLYOKE.

Sir,

Upon an intimation from my friend, Dr. Tufts, of Weymouth, that the Medical Society, of which you are president, desired to extend its connections in Europe, I ventured to apply to the chiefs of the Royal Society of Medicine, at Paris, and met with a more complaisant reception than I expected.

Inclosed, are copies of letters which have passed upon the occasion, and of the diploma, which is the result of them. The originals I shall bring with me, or send by a careful hand.

I hope the Medical Society will pardon my presumption, in going so far without their authority. But the proposition once hinted at, was received with so much earnestness, that I could not recede.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
M. Vicq D’azyr
D’azyr, M. Vicq
3 Février, 1783
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

(Three Letters inclosed in the Preceding.)
M. VICQ D’AZYR TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

La Société Royale de Médecine après s’être empressée de contracter une association de correspondance avec Edition: current; Page: [69] le collége de Boston (association qui la flatte infiniment) m’a chargé de vous adresser le diplôme qui constate l’union de ces deux compagnies. Elle vous prie de vouloir bien le faire parvenir aux membres illustres qui composent le collége de Boston.

Parmi le petit nombre d’exemplaires du Journal de Médecine militaire dont elle peut disposer, elle en a réservé un pour la Bibliothèque du Collége de Boston. Elle a désiré que je vous l’adresse pour cette compagnie, et elle la prie de l’agréer comme une marque de sa déférence et de son attachement. Je le joins ici. Cet exemplaire est le premier cahier pour l’année 1783. Les quatre premiers cahiers pour 1782 n’ont été données à la société qu’en nombre à peine suffisant pour ses membres résidens à Paris.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, &c.
Vicq D’Azyr.
John Adams
Adams, John
28 February, 1783
Paris
M. Vicq D’azyr
D’azyr, M. Vicq

TO M. VICQ D’AZYR.

Sir,

I have received the diploma of the royal society of Medicine, and the first part of the second volume of the Journal of Military Medicine, which you have addressed to me. I have the honor to thank you for them. I shall transmit both to the Medical College of Boston, the members of which will feel highly flattered by an association with this celebrated society, making them participate in its renown as well as in the benefits of its labors. They will find in its works the aid of which they stand in need, and the means of coöperating with its salutary purposes. They will be very earnest the moment they know all that has been done for them, to signify their gratitude and their respectful regard. In the interval, before they have the power of communicating their sentiments, I pray you, sir, to beg permission for me to assure the society of the respect with which I am, &c., &c.

John Adams.
M. Lassone
Lassone, M.
3 Juin, 1783
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

M. LASSONE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je me suis trouvé à la séance de la Société Royale de Médecine lorsque M. Vicq d’Azyr nous a fait part du désir que vous lui avez témoigné de voir établir une correspondance Edition: current; Page: [70] entre le Collége de Médecine de Boston et cette compagnie. Cette proposition étoit trop flatteuse pour la société pour qu’elle ne s’empressa point de vous en témoigner sa reconnoissance, par l’intermède de son secrétaire, comme j’apprends avec plaisir par votre lettre du 20 Décembre dernier, qu’il a eu soin de s’en acquitter. Soyez persuadé, monsieur, que la Société Royale, qui saisit toutes les occasions de rendre ses recherches plus généralement utiles par les liaisons qu’elle aime à contracter et à entretenir avec les différentes compagnies savantes, nationales et étrangères, ne laissera échapper aucune circonstance dans laquelle elle croira pouvoir donner au Collège de Médecine de Boston des preuves de son amitié et de son dévouement.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, &c.
Lassone.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 June, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Yesterday afternoon the duplicate of your letter of the 14th of April, No. 16, was brought in to me with the postmark “Brest” upon it. As soon as I had read it, I went out to Passy, in hopes that other despatches had arrived there, but I found none. While I was there, a packet of newspapers addressed to us all was brought in, with the postmark of Brest on it. I still hope and believe that other despatches by the same conveyance will appear in a few days; but whether they are still in the post-office, or whether the Duc de Lauzun intends to bring them in person, is uncertain.

I think, sir, there is no room to doubt the justice of your opinion, that the latitude of the Canaries is meant, and, consequently, that hostilities ceased on the whole coast of the United States on the 3d of March.

I am well aware that a variety of questions may be started upon the provisional articles. The great points of sovereignty, limits, and fisheries, are sufficiently clear. But there are too many other things in much obscurity. No one of us alone would ever have put his hand to such a writing. Yet there is no one to blame. It must be confessed that it was done in haste, but that haste was inevitable. The peace depended absolutely upon the critical moment, when that treaty was Edition: current; Page: [71] signed. The meeting of parliament was so near, and the state of the ministry so critical, that if that opportunity had been lost there would have been at least another campaign. There were never less than three of us, and there were finally no less than three to be consulted on the other side. These inaccuracies are much to be lamented, but they were quite unavoidable. We shall endeavor to explain them in the definitive treaty, but I fear without success.

I hope, sir, you will excuse me, if I think your expressions fall short of the real merit of the Dutch. If they had accepted the Russian mediation for a separate peace, we should have seen a very formidable difference. The vast weight of the Dutch in the East Indies, being added to that of France, has influenced the minds of the natives in such a manner, as to turn the scale against England. The Cape of Good Hope was indispensable to France, and we are not yet informed what proportion of the expense of French operations in the East Indies is to be borne by the Dutch East India Company, at whose solicitations, by their agents, sent early to Versailles, they were undertaken. From twelve to fifteen British ships of the line, in the best condition, with the best officers and men, have been kept almost constantly in the North Seas to watch the Dutch, a momentous diversion which made the balance more clear in favor of the allies in the East and West Indies, as well as in the channel; and, it may be added, and that with strict truth, the battle of Doggerbank imprinted more terror on the imaginations of the British navy and nation than all the other sea engagements of the war.

Your observations of their unfortunate situation are, however, very just; and their exertions have not been such as they might and ought to have been. But this was the fault of the enemies of France in Holland, not of her friends; and, unhappily, those enemies are to be gratified by the terms of peace prescribed to that power, and those friends mortified. And this misfortune probably arises from the instructions in question, by which they made themselves of no importance, instead of acting the part of a sovereign, independent, and respectable power. If they had held their own negotiation in their own hands, they would probably have obtained better terms. I could mention many facts and anecdotes of much importance; but these have been communicated Edition: current; Page: [72] to me in confidence, and as this is a discussion that concerns us only indirectly, and as our instructions were parallel to theirs, although the execution of them was different, and the event different, I shall wave any further observations upon the subject.

We are happy to learn that congress have ratified the treaty, imperfect as it is, and that each side has released its prisoners. Mr. Hartley communicated to us officially, two days ago, that orders were gone to New York to evacuate the United States.

Dr. Franklin has never made any use of the bills for my salary, and I have never received any part of them. I shall easily settle that matter when I get home, which your letter encourages me to hope will be very soon. The connections I have formed in Holland may be of use to the public wherever I may be, in America or elsewhere, as well as even in that country itself. Those connections will readily become those of any minister congress may send there. It cost me all my happiness, and had very nearly cost me my life to form them; it cost me more; it has left me in an ill state of health which I never shall fully repair. I shall carry Holland in my veins to my grave. It will cost no man any thing to go there now. His mind will be at ease, and he will have spirits necessary to take care to preserve his health. To me it has become physically necessary, as well as a moral and religious duty, to join my family. This can be done only by going to them, or bringing them to me; and to bring them to Holland is what I cannot think of, both because that on account of my own health, as well as theirs, and on other considerations, I should not choose to live among those putrid lakes, and because I think I can do my country more and better service at home than there.

I will not disguise another motive, which would be altogether insurmountable, if it were alone. I do not think it consistent with the honor of the United States, any more than with my own, for me to stay in Holland, after the appointment of any other minister whatsoever to the mission upon which I came to Europe, and which has been taken from me without assigning any reasons. Congress are the sovereign judges for themselves and the public of the persons proper for all services, excepting that every citizen is a sovereign judge for himself. I have never adopted the principle, that it is a citizen’s duty to accept of any Edition: current; Page: [73] trust that is pointed out to him, unless he approves of it. On the contrary, I think it a right and a duty, that no law of society can take away, for every man to judge for himself, whether he can serve consistently with his own honor, and the honor and interest of the public.

When the existence of our country and her essential interests were at stake, it was a duty to run all risks, to stifle every feeling, to sacrifice every interest; and this duty I have discharged with patience and perseverance, and with a success that can be attributed only to Providence. But, in time of peace, the public in less danger abroad than at home, knowing I can do more good at home, I should do a very wrong thing to remove my family to stay in Holland, merely for the sake of holding an honorable commission, making and receiving bows and compliments, and eating splendid suppers at Court.

There is one piece of advice I beg leave to offer to the minister who may go to Holland, respecting a future loan of money. It is, to inquire whether the house of Hope would undertake a loan for us, either in conjunction with the houses who have the present one, or with any of them, or alone. In my private opinion, which ought to be kept as secret as possible, we might obtain a large loan in that way, and that we cannot in any other. The people in that interest have the money. I am not personally known to that house, nor any one of them to me; but I know they are all powerful in money matters, and I believe they would engage.

The happy turn given to the discontents of the army by the General, is consistent with his character, which, as you observe, is above all praise, as every character is whose rule and object are duty, not interest, nor glory; which I think has been strictly true with the General from the beginning, and I trust will continue to the end. May he long live, and enjoy his own reflections and the confidence and affections of a free, grateful, and virtuous people.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [74]
John Adams
Adams, John
23 June, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

The British nation and ministry are in a very unsettled state; they find themselves in a new situation, and have not digested any plan. Ireland is in a new situation; she is independent of parliament, and the English know not how to manage her. To what an extent she will claim a right of trading with the United States, is unknown. Canada, too, and Nova Scotia are in a new situation; the former, they say, must have a new government. But what form to give them, and, indeed, what kind of government they are capable of, or would be agreeable to them, is uncertain. Nothing is digested.

There is a party, composed probably of refugees, friends of the old hostile system, and fomented by emissaries of several foreign nations, who do not wish a cordial reconciliation and sincere friendship between Great Britain and the United States, who clamor for the conservation of the navigation act and the carrying trade. If these should succeed so far as to excite parliament or the ministry to adopt a contracted principle, to exclude us from the West India trade, and from trading with Canada and Nova Scotia, and from carrying freely in vessels belonging to any one of the thirteen States, the production of any other to Great Britain, the consequences may be to perplex us for a time, may bind us closer to France, Spain, Holland, Germany, Italy, and the northern nations, and thus be fatal to Great Britain, without being finally very hurtful to us.

The nations of Europe, who have islands in the West Indies, have at this moment a delicate part to take. Upon their present decisions, great things will depend. The commerce of the West India Islands is a part of the American system of commerce. They can neither do without us, nor we without them. The Creator has placed us upon the globe in such a situation, that we have occasion for each other. We have the means of assisting each other, and politicians and artful contrivances cannot separate us. Wise statesmen, like able artists of every kind, study nature, and their works are perfect in proportion as they conform to her laws. Obstinate attempts to prevent the islands and the continent, by force or policy, from deriving from each Edition: current; Page: [75] other those blessings which nature has enabled them to afford, will only put both to thinking of means of coming together. And an injudicious regulation at this time may lay a foundation for intimate combinations between the islands and the continent, which otherwise would not be wished for or thought of by either.

If the French, Dutch, and Danes have common sense, they will profit of any blunder Great Britain may commit upon this occasion. The ideas of the British cabinet and merchants at present are so confused upon all these subjects, that we can get them to agree to nothing. I still think that the best policy of the United States is, to send a minister to London to negotiate a treaty of commerce, instructed to conclude nothing, not the smallest article, until he has sent it to congress, and received their approbation. In the mean time, congress may admit any British or Irish ships that have arrived, or may arrive, to trade as they please.

For my own part, I confess I would not advise congress to bind themselves to any thing that is not reasonable and just. If we should agree to revive the trade upon the old footing, it is the utmost that can, with a color of justice or modesty, be requested of us. This is not equal, but might be borne. Rather than go further, and deny ourselves the freight from the West Indies to Europe, at least to Great Britain, especially rather than give away our own carrying trade, by agreeing that the ships of one State should not carry to Great Britain the produce of another, I would be for entering into still closer connections with France, Spain, and Holland, and purchase of them, at the expense of Great Britain, what she has not wisdom enough to allow us for her own good.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 June, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Yesterday, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and myself, met to prepare the definitive treaty, and made so much progress in it, that to-morrow we shall be ready to communicate to Mr. Hartley Edition: current; Page: [76] the result. But I have small hopes of obtaining any thing more by the definitive treaty.

The Duke of Manchester and Count d’Aranda have arranged every thing between England and Spain, and are ready to finish for their two courts. France, I presume, waits only for Holland, or perhaps for some other negotiation with the Imperial Courts. If all the other parties were now to declare themselves ready, we should be puzzled. In such a case, however, I am determined (and I believe, but do not know, that my colleagues would join me) to declare myself ready to sign the provisional treaty, totidem verbis, for a definitive treaty.

From all I can learn, I am persuaded we shall gain nothing by any further negotiation. If we obtain any thing by way of addition or explanation, we shall be obliged to give more for it than it is worth. If the British minister refuses to agree to such changes as we may think reasonable, and refuses to sign the provisional articles as definitive ones, I take it for granted, France will not sign till we do. If they should, we are still safe; for the provisional articles are to constitute the treaty as soon as France has made peace, and I should rather leave it on that footing than make any material alteration.

I have put these several cases, because I should be surprised at nothing from the present British ministry. If they have any plan at all, it is a much less generous one towards America than that of their immediate predecessors. If Shelburne, Townshend, Pitt, &c., had continued, we should have had every thing settled long ago, to our entire satisfaction and to the infinite advantage of Great Britain and America, in such a manner as would have restored good humor and affection, as far as in the nature of things they can now be restored.

After the great point of acknowledging our independence was got over, by issuing Mr. Oswald’s last commission, the Shelburne administration conducted themselves towards us like men of sense and honor. The present administration has discovered neither understanding nor sincerity. The present British administration is unpopular, and it is in itself so heterogeneous a composition, that it seems impossible it should last long. Their present design seems to be not to commit themselves by agreeing to any thing. As soon as any thing is done, somebody will clamor. While nothing is done, it is not known what to clamor Edition: current; Page: [77] about. If there should be a change in favor of the ministry that made the peace, and a dissolution of this profligate league, which they call the coalition, it would be much for the good of all who speak the English language. If fame says true, the coalition was formed at gambling tables, and is conducted as it was formed, upon no other than gambling principles.

Such is the fate of a nation which stands tottering on the brink of a precipice, with a debt of two hundred and fifty-six millions sterling on its shoulders; the interest of which, added to the peace establishment only, exceeds by above a million annually all their revenues, enormously and intolerably as they are already taxed. The only chance they have for salvation is in a reform, and in recovering the affection of America. The last ministry were sensible of this, and acted accordingly. The present ministry are so far from being sensible of it, or caring about it, that they seem to me to be throwing the last dice for the destruction of their country.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
3 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

On the last ambassador’s day, which was last Tuesday, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and myself waited on M. de Vergennes, who told us he thought he had agreed with the Duke of Manchester, but that his Grace had not yet received the positive approbation of his Court. The Count advised us to make a visit all together to the ambassadors of the two Imperial Courts. Accordingly, yesterday morning, we went first to the Count de Mercy Argenteau, the ambassador of the Emperor of Germany and King of Hungary and Bohemia. His Excellency was not at home, so we left a card.

We went next to the Prince Bariatinski, Minister Plenipotentiary from the Empress of Russia; our servant asked if the Prince was at home, and received for answer, that he was. We were shown into the Prince’s apartment, who received us very politely. While we were here, Mr. Markow came in. He is also a minister plenipotentiary adjoined to the Prince in the affair of the mediation. I told him we proposed to do ourselves the honor Edition: current; Page: [78] of calling on him. He answered, “As you are an old acquaintance, I shall be very happy to see you.” Whether this was a turn of politeness, or whether it was a political distinction, I know not. We shall soon know, by his returning or not returning the visit. The Prince asked me where I lodged, and I told him. This indicates an intention to return the visit.

We went next to the Dutch ambassador’s, M. Lestevenon de Berkenrode. He was not at home, or not visible. Next, to the Baron de Blome, Envoy Extraordinary of the King of Denmark; not at home. Next, to M. Markow. The porter answered, that he was at home. We alighted, and were going to his apartment, when we were told that he was not come in. We left a card, and went to the other Dutch ambassador’s, M. Brantzen, who was not at home; en passant, we left a card at the Swedish minister’s, and returned home, the heat being too excessive to pursue our visits any further.

Thus, we have made visits to all the ministers who are to be present at the signature of the definitive treaty. Whether the ministers of the Imperial Courts will be present, I know not. There are many appearances of a coldness between France and Russia, and the Emperor seems to waver between two opinions, whether to join in the war that threatens, or to avoid it. Perhaps the ministers of the Imperial Courts will write for instructions, whether to return our visit or not.

Although in your latest letters you say nothing of my resignation or the acceptance of it, I expect to receive it soon, and then I shall have an opportunity to settle the affair of my salary at Philadelphia.

After reading your letters to me, I went out to Passy to see those addressed to us all. Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and myself (Mr. Laurens being still in England) read them all over together. We shall do all in our power to procure the advantages in the definitive treaty to which we are instructed to attend. The state of parties is such in England, that it is impossible to foresee when there will be a ministry who will dare to take any step at all. The coalition between Lord North and his connections, and Mr. Fox and his, is a rope of sand. Mr. Fox, by pushing the vote in the house of commons, disapproving the peace, and by joining so many of the old ministers in the new administration, has justly excited so many jealousies of his Edition: current; Page: [79] sincerity, that no confidence can be placed in him by us. I am extremely sorry that the most amiable men in the nation,—Portland and the Cavendishes,—should have involved themselves in the same reproach.

In short, at present, Shelburne, Pitt, Townshend, and the administration of which they were members, seem to have been the only ones who for a moment had just notions of their country and ours. Whether these men, if now called to power, would pursue their former ideas, I know not. The Bible teaches us not to put our trust in princes, and a fortiori in ministers of state.

The West India commerce now gives us most anxiety. If the former British ministry had stood, we might have secured it from England; and, in that case, France would have been obliged to admit us to their islands, se defendendo. The first maxim of a statesman, as well as that of a statuary or a painter, should be to study nature; to cast his eyes round about his country, and see what advantages nature has given it. This was well attended to in the boundary between the United States and Canada, and in the fisheries. The commerce of the West India Islands falls necessarily into the natural system of the commerce of the United States. We are necessary to them, and they to us; and there will be a commerce between us. If the governments forbid it, it will be carried on clandestinely. France can more easily connive at a contraband trade than England. But we ought to wish to avoid the temptation to this. I believe that neither France nor England will allow us to transport the productions of their islands to other parts of Europe.

The utmost we may hope to obtain, would be permission to import the productions of the French islands into France, giving bond to land them in some port of that kingdom, and the productions of the English islands into some port of Great Britain, giving bonds to land them there. It must, however, be the care of the minister who may have to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, to obtain as ample freedom in this trade as possible.

While I was writing the above, my servant announced the imperial ambassador, whom I rose to receive. He said, he was happy that the circumstances of the times afforded him an opportunity of forming an acquaintance with me, which he hoped would be improved into a more intimate one. I said, Edition: current; Page: [80] his Excellency did me great honor, and begged him to sit, which he did, and fell into a conversation of an hour. We ran over a variety of subjects, particularly the commerce which might take place between the United States and Germany, by the way of Trieste and Fiume and the Austrian Netherlands, and the great disposition in Germany to migration to America. He says he knows the country round about Trieste very well, having an estate there; that it is a very extensive and a very rich country which communicates with that maritime city, and that the navigation of the Adriatic Sea, though long, is not dangerous. I asked him what we should do with the Barbary powers. He said, he thought all the powers of the world ought to unite in the suppression of such a detestable race of pirates, and that the Emperor had lately made an insinuation to the Porte upon the subject. I asked him, if he thought France and England would agree to such a project, observing that I had heard that some Englishmen had said, “if there were no Algiers, England ought to build one.” He said, he could not answer for England.

It is unnecessary to repeat any more of the conversation, which turned upon the sober, frugal and industrious character of the Germans, the best cultivators in Europe, and the dishonorable traffic of some of the German princes in men, a subject he introduced and enlarged on himself. I said nothing about it. Rising up to take leave, he repeated several compliments he had made when he first came in, and added, “the Count de Vergennes will do me the honor to dine with me one of these days, and I hope to have that of your company. We will then talk of an affair upon which the Count de Vergennes will speak to you beforehand.”

This shows there is something in agitation, but what it is I cannot conjecture; whether it is to induce us to make the compliment to the two Imperial Courts to sign the definitive treaty as mediators, whether there is any project of an association for the liberty of navigation, or whether it is any other thing, I cannot guess at present, but I will write you as soon as I know. Whatever it is, we must treat it with respect, but we shall be very careful how we engage our country in measures of consequence, without being clear of our powers, and without the instructions of congress.

Edition: current; Page: [81]

I went out to Passy, and found from Mr. Jay, that he had made his visit there in the course of the day, but had said nothing to Dr. Franklin or him about the dinner with the Count de Vergennes. In the course of the day, I had visits from the Prince Bariatinski and M. de Markow, the two ministers of the Empress of Russia. The porter told these gentlemen’s servants that I was at home; but they did not come up. They only sent up their cards. While I was gone to Passy, Monsieur de Blome, Envoy Extraordinary from the King of Denmark, called and left his card. Thus the point of etiquette seems to be settled, and we are to be treated in character by all the powers of Europe.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 July, 1783
Paris
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert

TO ROBERT MORRIS.

Sir,

Your favors of the 12th and 29th of May were delivered to me on the 3d of this month by Captain Barney. Every assistance in my power shall be given to Mr. Barclay. Mr. Grand will write you the amount of all the bills which have been paid in Holland, which were accepted by me. You may banish your fears of a double payment of any one bill. I never accepted a bill without taking down in writing a very particular description of it, nor without examining the book to see whether it had been accepted before. I sent regularly, in the time of it, copies of these acceptances to Dr. Franklin, and I have now asked him to lend them to me, that I may copy them and send them to you. The doctor has promised to look up my letters, and let me have them. The originals are at the Hague, with multitudes of other papers, which I want every day.

Among the many disagreeable circumstances attending my duty in Europe, it is not the least, that instead of being fixed to any one station, I have been perpetually danced about from “post to pillar,” unable to have my books and papers with me, unable to have about me the conveniences of a housekeeper, for health, pleasure, or business, but yet subjected in many articles to double expenses.

Edition: current; Page: [82]

Mr. Livingston has not informed me of any determination of congress upon my letter to you of the 17th of November, which distresses me much on Mr. Thaxter’s account, who certainly merits more than he has received, or can receive, without the favor of congress.

I thank you, sir, most affectionately, for your kind congratulation on the peace. Our late enemies always clamor against a peace, but this one is better for them than they had reason to expect after so mad a war. Our countrymen, too, I suppose, are not quite satisfied. This thing and that thing should have been otherwise, no doubt. If any man blames us, I wish him no other punishment than to have, if that were possible, just such another peace to negotiate, exactly in our situation. I cannot look back upon this event without the most affecting sentiments. When I consider the number of nations concerned, the complication of interests extending all over the globe, the characters of actors, the difficulties which attended every step of the progress, how every thing labored in England, France, Spain, and Holland, that the armament at Cadiz was upon the point of sailing, which would have rendered another campaign inevitable, that another campaign would have probably involved France in a continental war, as the Emperor would in that case have joined Russia against the Porte, that the British ministry was then in so critical a situation, that its duration for a week or a day depended upon its making peace, that if that ministry had been changed, it could have been succeeded only either by North and company or by the coalition, that it is certain that neither North and company, nor the coalition, would have made peace upon any terms that either we or the other powers would have agreed to, and that all these difficulties were dissipated by one decided step of the British and American ministers, I feel too strongly a gratitude to heaven for having been conducted safely through the storm, to be very solicitous whether we have the approbation of mortals or not.

A delay of one day might, and probably would, have changed the ministry in England, in which case all would have been lost. If, after we had agreed with Mr. Oswald, we had gone to Versailles to show the result to the Count de Vergennes, you would have been this moment at war, and God knows how or when you would have got out. What would have been the course? Edition: current; Page: [83] The Count de Vergennes would have sprinkled us with compliments, the holy water of a court. He would have told us, “you have done, gentlemen, very well for your country. You have gained a great deal. I congratulate you upon it, but you must not sign till we are ready; we must sign altogether here in this room.” What would have been our situation? We must have signed against this advice, as Mr. Laurens says he would have done, and as I believe Mr. Jay and I should have done, which would have been the most marked affront that could have been offered, or we must have waited for France and Spain, which would have changed the ministry in England, and lost the whole peace as certainly as there is a world in being. When a few frail vessels are navigating among innumerable mountains of ice, driven by various winds and drawn by various currents, and a narrow crevice appears to one, by which all may escape, if that one improves the moment and sets the example, it will not do to stand upon ceremonies, and ask which shall go first, or that all may go together.

I hope you will excuse this little excursion, and believe me to be, with great respect and esteem, &c.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
7 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

We cannot as yet obtain from Mr. Hartley or his principals an explicit consent to any one proposition whatever. Yet England and France, and England and Spain are probably agreed, and Holland, I suppose, must comply. Our last resource must be to say, we are ready to sign the provisional treaty, totidem verbis, as the definitive treaty.

I think it is plain that the British ministry do not intend to sign any treaty till parliament rises. There are such dissensions in the cabinet, that they apprehend a treaty laid before parliament, if it did not obtain advantages, of which they have no hopes, would furnish materials to overthrow them. A new administration is talked of, under Lord Temple.

The West India commerce is now the object that interests us the most nearly. At dinner, with the Duc de la Vauguyon, Edition: current; Page: [84] on Saturday last, he told me that he believed the commerce between the French West India Islands and the United States would be confined to ships built in France, and navigated by French seamen. “So then, M. le Duc,” said I, laughing, “you have adopted the ideas of the British navigation act. But what if the United States should adopt them, too, and make a law, that no commerce should be carried on with any West India Islands,—French, English, Spanish, Dutch, or Danish,—but in ships built in America, and navigated with American seamen? We can import sugar from Europe. But give me leave to tell you, that this trade can never be carried on by the French; their vessels are all large and navigated by a great number of seamen, and your navigators are too slow. The trade itself was only profitable to us as a system; and little vessels, with a few hands, run away at any season of the year, from any creek or river, with a multitude of little articles collected in haste. Your merchants and mariners have neither the patience to content themselves with much and long labor, and dangerous voyages for small profits, nor have they the economy, nor can they navigate vessels with so few hands.” “Ay, but we think,” said the Duke, “if we do not try, we shall never learn to do these things as well and as cheap as you.” The Duke told me he had had, some days before, a great deal of conversation with the Count de Vergennes, and he found he had a great many good ideas of commerce. The Count himself told me, a few weeks ago, “in our regulations of the commerce between our islands and you, we must have regard to our shipping and our nurseries of seamen for our marine; for,” said he, smiling politely enough, “without a marine, we cannot go to your succor.”

In short, France begins to grow, for a moment, avaricious of navigation and seamen. But it is certain, that neither the form of government nor the national character can possibly admit of great success in it. Navigation is so dangerous a business, and requires so much patience, and produces so little profit among nations who understand it best, and have the best advantages for it, where property is most secure, lawsuits soonest and cheapest ended, and by fixed, certain laws, that the French can never interfere much with the Dutch or Americans in ship building or carrying trade. If any French merchants ever begin to carry on this commerce between America and the islands, they will break Edition: current; Page: [85] to pieces very soon, and then some new plan must be adopted. The English, for aught I know, will make a similar law, that the communication between us and their islands shall be carried on in British built ships, or ships built in Canada or Nova Scotia, and navigated by British seamen. In this case, we must try what we can do with the Dutch and Danes. But the French and English will endeavor to persuade them to the same policy; for the Duc de la Vauguyon told me that he thought it a common tie (lien commun). In this they will not succeed, and we must make the most we can of the Dutch friendship, for luckily the merchants and regency of Amsterdam had too much wit to exclude us from their islands by the treaty. Happily, congress will have a Dutch minister with whom they may consult upon this matter, as well as many others; but I should think it would not be convenient to invite an English or French minister to be present at the consultation.

I am at a loss, sir, to guess what propositions made to us congress have been informed of, which they had not learned from us. None have been made to us. The Dutch ambassadors did once propose a meeting to us, and had it at my house. Dr. Franklin came, but Mr. Jay did not, and Mr. Laurens was absent. The ambassadors desired to know, whether we had power to enter into any engagements, provided France, Spain, and Holland should agree to any, in support of the armed neutrality. We showed them the resolution of congress, of the 5th of October, 1780, and told them that Mr. Dana had been since vested with a particular commission to the same effect. We never heard any thing further about it. Not seeing at the time any probability that any thing would come of this, nor intending to do any thing of any consequence in it, if we should hear further of it, without the further orders of congress, we did not think it necessary to write any thing about it, at least till it should put on a more serious appearance. If the Count de Mercy’s dinner, to which we are to be invited, with the Count de Vergennes, should produce any insinuations on this subject, (which I do not, however, expect) we shall inform you, and request the orders of congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [86]
John Adams
Adams, John
9 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Since the dangerous fever I had in Amsterdam, two years ago, I have never enjoyed my health. Through the whole of the past winter and spring, I have suffered under weaknesses and pains which have scarcely permitted me to do business. The excessive heats of the last week or two have brought on me a fever again, which exhausts one in such a manner as to be very discouraging, and incapacitates one for every thing. In short, nothing but a return to America will ever restore my health, if even that should do it. In these circumstances, however, we have negotiations to go through, and your despatches to answer.

The liberal sentiments in England, respecting the trade, are all lost for the present, and we can get no answer to any thing. It is the same thing with the Dutch. One of the Dutch ambassadors told me yesterday, at Versailles, that now, for five weeks, the English had never said one word to them, nor given them any answer. These things indicate that the ministry do not think themselves permanent.

The Count de Vergennes asked Dr. Franklin and me, yesterday, if we had made our visits. We answered, that we had, and that they had been promptly returned. “The thing in agitation,” said the Count, “is for you to determine whether your definitive treaty shall be signed under the mediation of the two Imperial Courts, or not. Ours and the Spanish treaty with England are to be so finished, and if you determine in favor of it, you have only to write a letter to the ministers of the Imperial Courts who are here.” I told him, in the present case, I did not know what a mediation meant. He smiled, but did not seem to know any better than I; at least, he did not explain it. We told him we would determine upon it soon.

How we shall determine, I cannot say. For my own part, I see no harm in accepting the mediation, nor any other good, than a compliment to the two empires. In Europe it may be thought an honor to us, and, therefore, I shall give my voice, as at present informed, in favor of it, as it seems rather to be the inclination of the Count de Vergennes that we should.

Edition: current; Page: [87]

Your late despatches, sir, are not well adapted to give spirits to a melancholy man, or to cure one sick with a fever. It is not possible for me, at present, to enter into a long detail in answer to them. You will be answered, I suppose, by all the gentlemen jointly. In the mean time, I beg leave to say to you a few words upon two points.

1st. The separate article never appeared to me of any consequence to conceal from this Court. It was an agreement we had a right to make; it contained no injury to France or Spain. Indeed, I know not what France has, or ever had, to do with it. If it had been communicated to this Court, it would probably have been by them communicated to Spain, and she might have thought more about it than it was worth. But how you could conceive it possible for us to treat at all with the English upon supposition that we had communicated every, the minutest thing, to this Court, when this Court were neither obliged, nor thought proper to communicate any thing whatever to us, I know not. We were bound by treaty no more than they to communicate. The instructions were found to be absolutely impracticable. That they were too suddenly published is very true.

2dly. A communication of the treaty to this Court, after it was agreed upon, and before it was signed, would have infallibly prevented the whole peace. In the first place, it was very doubtful, or rather, on the contrary, it is certain, the English minister never would have consented that we should communicate it. We might, it is true, have done it without his consent or knowledge; but what would have been the consequence? The French minister would have said, the terms were very good for us, but we must not sign till they signed; and this would have been a continuance of the war for another year, at least. It was not so much from an apprehension that the French would have exerted themselves to get away from us terms that were agreed on, that they were withheld. It was then too late; and we have reason to apprehend that all of this kind had been done which could be done. We knew they were often insinuating to the British ministers things against us, respecting the fisheries, tories, &c., during the negotiation, and Mr. Fitzherbert told me that the Count de Vergennes had “fifty times reproached him for ceding the fisheries, and said it was ruining the English and French commerce both.” It was not Edition: current; Page: [88] suspicion, it was certain knowledge, that they were against us on the points of the tories, fisheries, Mississippi, and the western country. All this knowledge, however, did not influence us to conceal the treaty. We did not in fact conceal it. Dr. Franklin communicated the substance of it to the Count and M. de Rayneval. So did I. In a long conversation with the Count and M. de Rayneval together, I told them the substance of what was agreed upon, and what we further insisted on, and the English then disputed.

But the signing before them is the point. This we could not have done, if we had shown the treaty, and told them we were ready. The Count would certainly have said to us, you must not sign till we sign. To have signed after this would have been more disagreeable to him and to us too. Yet we must have signed or lost the peace. The peace depended on a day. Parliament had been waiting long, and once prorogued. The minister was so pressed, he could not have met parliament and held his place, without an agreement upon terms at least with America. If we had not signed, the ministry would have been changed, and the coalition come in, and the whole world knows the coalition would not have made peace upon the present terms, and, consequently, not at all this year. The iron was struck in the few critical moments when it was of a proper heat, and has been moulded into a handsome vessel. If it had been suffered to cool, it would have flown in pieces like glass. Our countrymen have great reason to rejoice that they have obtained so good a peace, when, and as they did. With the present threatening appearances of a northern war, which will draw in France, if our peace was still to be made, we might find cause to tremble for many great advantages that are now secured. I believe the Count himself, if he were now to speak his real sentiments, would say he is very glad we signed when we did, and that without asking his consent.

The Duc de la Vauguyon told me and M. Brantzen together, last Saturday, “if you had not signed when you did, we should not have signed when we did.” If they had not signed when they did, D’Estaing would have sailed from Cadiz, and, in that case, nobody would have signed to this day. It is not possible for men to be in more disagreeable circumstances than we were. We are none of us men of principles or dispositions to take Edition: current; Page: [89] pleasure in going against your sentiments, sir, much less those of congress. But, in this case, if we had not done it, our country would have lost advantages beyond computation.

On Monday, sir, we pursued our visits, and to-day we finish. Yesterday, at Court, all the foreign ministers behaved to us without reserve, as members of the corps diplomatique, so that we shall no longer see those lowering countenances, solemn looks, distant bows, and other peculiarities, which have been sometimes diverting and sometimes provoking for so many years.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

In the present violent heat of the weather and feverish state of my health, I cannot pretend to sit long at my pen, and must pray you to accept of a few short hints only.

To talk in a general style of confidence in the French Court, &c., is to use a general language which may mean almost any thing or almost nothing. To a certain degree, and as far as the treaties and engagements extend, I have as much confidence in the French Court as congress has, or even as you, sir, appear to have. But if by confidence in the French Court is meant an opinion, that the French office of foreign affairs would be advocates with the English for our rights to the fisheries, or to the Mississippi River, or our western territory, or advocates to persuade the British ministers to give up the cause of the refugees, and make parliamentary provision for them, I own I have no such confidence, and never had. Seeing and hearing what I have seen and heard, I must have been an idiot to have entertained such confidence; I should be more of a Machiavelian, or a Jesuit, than I ever was or will be, to counterfeit it to you or to congress.

M. Marbois’ letter is to me full proof of the principles of the Count de Vergènnes. Why? Because I know (for it was personally communicated to me upon my passage home, by M. Marbois himself) the intimacy and confidence there is between these two. And I know further, that letter contains sentiments Edition: current; Page: [90] concerning the fisheries diametrically opposite to those which M. Marbois repeatedly expressed to me upon the passage, namely: “That the Newfoundland fishery was our right, and we ought to maintain it.” From whence I conclude, M. Marbois’ sentiments have been changed by the instructions of the minister. To what purpose is it where this letter came from? Is it less genuine, whether it came from Philadelphia, Versailles, or London? What if it came through English hands? Is there less weight, less evidence in it for that? Are the sentiments more just or more friendly to us for that?

M. de Rayneval’s correspondence, too, with Mr. Jay. M. de Rayneval is a chef de bureau. But we must be very ignorant of all courts not to know that an under secretary of state dares not carry on such a correspondence without the knowledge, consent, and orders of the principal.

There is another point now in agitation, in which the French will never give us one good word. On the contrary, they will say every thing they can think of, to persuade the English to deprive us of the trade of their West India Islands. They have already, with their emissaries, been the chief cause of the change of sentiments in London, on this head, against us. In general, they see with pain every appearance of returning real and cordial friendship, such as may be permanent, between us and Great Britain. On the contrary, they see with pleasure every seed of contention between us. The tories are an excellent engine of mischief between us, and are therefore very precious. Exclusion from the West India Islands will be another. I hold it to be the indispensable duty of my station not to conceal from congress these truths. Do not let us be dupes under the idea of being grateful. Innumerable anecdotes happen daily to show that these sentiments are general. In conversation, a few weeks ago, with the Duc de la Vauguyon, upon the subject of the West India trade, I endeavored to convince him that France and England both ought to admit us freely to their islands. He entered into a long argument to prove that both ought to exclude us. At last, I said the English were a parcel of sots to exclude us; for the consequence would be, that in fifteen or twenty years we should have another war with them. Tant mieux! tant mieux! je vous en félicite,” cried the Duke, with great pleasure. “Tant mieux pour nous,” said I; because Edition: current; Page: [91] we shall conquer from the English, in that case, all their islands, the inhabitants of which would now declare for us, if they dared. But it will not be the better for the English. They will be the dupes, if they lay a foundation for it. “Yes,” said the Duke, “I think you will have another war with the English.” And in this wish he expressed the vows of every Frenchman upon the face of the earth. If, therefore, we have it in contemplation to avoid a future war with the English, do not let us have too much confidence in the French that they will favor us in this view.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 July, 1783
Paris
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert

TO ROBERT MORRIS.

Sir,

Upon the receipt of the despatches by Barney, I sent off your letters for Messrs. Willink & Co., and I received last night an answer to the letter I wrote them upon the occasion. They have engaged to remit Mr. Grand a million and a half of livres in a month, which has relieved Mr. Grand from his anxiety.

This Court has refused to Dr. Franklin any more money. They are apprehensive of being obliged to take a part in the northern war, and their own financiers have not enough of the confidence of the public to obtain money for their own purposes.

Your design of sending cargoes of tobacco and other things to Amsterdam, to Messrs. Willink & Co., is the best possible to support our credit there. The more you send, the more money will be obtained. Send a minister, too; residing there, he may promote it much. It is a misfortune that I have not been able to be there; but this post cannot be deserted. Instruct your minister to inquire, whether the house of Hope could be persuaded to engage with Willink in a new loan. This should be done with secrecy and discretion. If that house would undertake it, you would find money enough for your purpose; for, I rely upon it, the States will adopt a plan immediately for the effectual payment of interest. This is indispensable. The foundation of a happy government can only be laid in justice; and as soon as the public shall see that provision is made for this, you will no longer want money.

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It is a maxim among merchants and moneyed men, that “every man has credit who does not want it.” It is equally true of states. We shall want it but little longer, if the States make provision for the payment of interest, and, therefore, we shall have enough of it. There is not a country in the world whose credit ought to be so good, because there is none equally able to pay.

Inclosed is a pamphlet of Dr. Price for your comfort. You will see by it, that the only nation we have reason to fear, wants credit so much, that she is not likely to have it always, and this is our security. By some hints from Mr. Hartley, he will probably return to London, and not be here again. The present ministry is so undecided and feeble, that it is at least doubtful whether they will make the definitive treaty of peace.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 July, 1783
Paris
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert

TO ROBERT MORRIS.

Sir,

In my letter to you of yesterday, I hinted in confidence at an application to the house of Hope. This is a very delicate measure. I was induced to think of it, merely by a conversation which M. Van Berckel (who will soon be with you, as he sailed the 26th of June from the Texel,) had with M. Dumas. It would be better to be steady to the three houses already employed, if that is possible. You will now be able to converse freely with that minister upon the subject. I should not advise you to take any decisive resolution at Philadelphia, but leave it to your minister to act as shall appear to him best upon the spot. The houses now employed are well esteemed, and, I hope, will do very well. But no house in the republic has the force of that of Hope.

All depends, however, upon the measures to be taken by congress and the States for ascertaining their debts, and a regular discharge of the interest. The ability of the people to make such an establishment cannot be doubted; and the inclination of no man who has a proper sense of public honor can be called in question. The thirteen States, in relation to the discharge of the debts of congress, must consider themselves as one body, Edition: current; Page: [93] animated by one soul. The stability of our confederation at home, our reputation abroad, our power of defence, the confidence and affection of the people of one State towards those of another, all depend upon it. Without a sacred regard to public justice, no society can exist; it is the only tie which can unite men’s minds and hearts in pursuit of the common interest.

The commerce of the world is now open to us, and our exports and imports are of so large amount, and our connections will be so large and extensive, that the least stain upon our character in this respect will lose us in a very short time advantages of greater pecuniary value than all our debt amounts to. The moral character of our people is of infinitely greater worth than all the sums in question. Every hesitation, every uncertainty about paying or receiving a just debt, diminishes that sense of the moral obligation of public justice which ought to be kept pure, and carefully cultivated in every American mind. Creditors at home and abroad, the army, the navy, every man who has a well-founded claim upon the public, have an unalienable right to be satisfied, and this by the fundamental principles of society. Can there ever be content and satisfaction, can there ever be peace and order, can there ever be industry or decency without it? To talk of a sponge to wipe out this debt, or of reducing or diminishing it below its real value, in a country so abundantly able to pay the last farthing, would betray a total ignorance of the first principles of national duty and interest.

Let us leave these odious speculations to countries that can plead a necessity for them, and where corruption has arrived at its last stages; where infamy is scarcely felt, and wrong may as well assume one shape as another, since it must prevail in some.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

As there are certain particulars in which it has appeared to me that the friendship of a French minister has been problematical at least, or rather, has not existed at all, I have freely mentioned Edition: current; Page: [94] them to congress; because I hold it to be the first duty of a public minister, in my situation, to conceal no important truth of this kind from his masters.

But ingratitude is an odious vice, and ought to be held in detestation by every American citizen. We ought to distinguish, therefore, between those points for which we are not obliged to our allies and those in which we are.

I think, then, we are under no particular obligations of gratitude to them for the fisheries, the boundaries, exemption from the tories, or for the progress of our negotiations in Europe.

We are under obligations of gratitude for making the treaty with us at the time when they did, for those sums of money which they have generously given us, and for those even which they have lent us, which I hope we shall punctually pay, and be thankful still for the loan, for the fleet and army they sent to America, and for all the important services they did. By other mutual exertions, a dangerous rival to them, and I may be almost warranted in saying, an imperious master both to them and us, has been brought to reason, and put out of the power to do harm to either. In this respect, however, our allies are more secure than we. The house of Bourbon has acquired a great accession of strength, while their hereditary enemy has been weakened one half, and incurably crippled.

The French are, besides, a good-natured and humane nation, very respectable in arts, letters, arms, and commerce, and, therefore, motives of interest, honor, and convenience join themselves to those of friendship and gratitude, to induce us to wish for the continuance of their friendship and alliance. The Provinces of Canada and Nova Scotia, in the hands of the English, are a constant warning to us to have a care of ourselves, and, therefore, a continuance of the friendship and alliance of France is of importance to our tranquillity, and even to our safety. There is nothing which will have a greater effect to overawe the English, and induce them to respect us and our rights, than the reputation of a good understanding with the French. My voice and advice will, therefore, always be for discharging, with the utmost fidelity, gratitude, and exactness, every obligation we are under to France, and for cultivating her friendship and alliance by all sorts of good offices. But I am sure that, to do this effectually, we must reason with them at times, enter into particulars, Edition: current; Page: [95] and be sure that we understand one another. We must act a manly, honest, independent, as well as a sensible part.

With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Yesterday, Colonel Ogden arrived with the originals of what we had before received in duplicates by Captain Barney. The ratification of the Dutch treaty had been before received and exchanged. The ratification of their High Mightinesses is in the safe custody of M. Dumas, at present at the Hague.

I believe we shall accept of the mediation of the two Imperial Courts at the definitive treaty, as it is a mere formality, a mere compliment, consisting wholly in the imperial ministers putting their names and seals to the parchment, and can have no ill effect. The inclination of the Count de Vergennes seems to be, that we should accept it; and, as he calls upon us to decide in the affirmative or negative, I believe we shall give an answer in the affirmative.

The Empress has promised to receive Mr. Dana as soon as the definitive treaty shall be signed, and he has prepared a treaty of commerce which will be valuable, if he can obtain it.

The Emperor of Germany has caused to be intimated several ways his inclination to have a treaty of commerce with us; but his rank is so high, that his house never makes the first formal advance. I should think it advisable that we should have a treaty with that power for several reasons.

1st. Because, as Emperor of Germany, and King of Bohemia and Hungary, he is at the head of one of the greatest interests and most powerful connections in Europe. It is true it is the greatest weight in the scale, which is, and has been, from age to age, opposite to the house of Bourbon. But, for this very reason, if there were no other, the United States ought to have a treaty of commerce with it, in order to be in practice with their theory, and to show to all the world that their system of commerce embraces, equally and impartially, all the commercial states and countries of Europe.

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2dly. Because the present Emperor is one of the greatest men of this age. The wisdom and virtue of the man, as well as of the monarch, his personal activity, intelligence, and accomplishments, his large and liberal principles in matters of religion, government, and commerce, are so much of kin to those of our States (perhaps, indeed, so much borrowed from them, and adopted in imitation of them), that it seems peculiarly proper we should show this respect to them.

3dly. Because, that if England should ever forget herself again so much as to attack us, she may not be likely to obtain the alliance or assistance of this power against us. A friendship once established in a treaty of commerce, this power would never be likely to violate, because she has no dominions near us, and could have no interest to quarrel with us.

4thly. Because the countries belonging to this power upon the Adriatic Sea and in the Austrian Flanders are no inconsiderable sources of commerce for America. And if the present negotiations between the two Imperial Courts and the Porte should terminate in a free navigation of the Danube, the Black Sea, and the Archipelago, the Emperor’s hereditary dominions will become very respectable commercial countries.

5thly. Because, although we have at present a pleasant and joyful prospect of friendship and uninterrupted alliance with the house of Bourbon, which I wish may never be obscured, yet this friendship and alliance will be the more likely to continue unimpaired, for our having the friendship and commerce of the house of Austria. And (as in the vicissitudes of human affairs all things are possible) if, in future times, however unlikely at present, the house of Bourbon should deal unjustly by us, demand of us things we are not bound to perform, or any way injure us, we may find in the alliance of Austria, England, and Holland, a resource against the storm. Supernumerary strings to our bow, and provisions against possible inconveniences, however improbable, can do us no harm.

If we were not straitened for money, I should advise congress to send a minister to Vienna. But, as every mission abroad is a costly article, and we find it difficult at present to procure money for the most necessary purposes, I should think it proper for congress to send a commission to their minister at Versailles, London, Madrid, Petersburg, or the Hague, who might communicate Edition: current; Page: [97] it to the Court of Vienna by means of the imperial ambassador. The Emperor, in such a case, would authorize his ambassador at that Court to prepare and conclude a treaty, and in this way the business may be well done without any additional expense.

M. Favi, Chargé des affaires of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Emperor’s brother, has called upon me so often to converse with me upon this subject, that I doubt not he has been employed, or at least knows that it would be agreeable to his Court and their connections, although he has never made any official insinuations about it. This gentleman has been employed by the Republic of Ragusa to consult American ministers upon the subject of commerce, too. I have told him that the American ports were open to the Ragusan vessels, as well as to all others, and have given him the address by which they propose to write to congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
14 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

A jealousy of American ships, seamen, carrying trade, and naval power, appears every day more and more conspicuous. This jealousy, which has been all along discovered by the French minister, is at length communicated to the English. The following proclamation,1 which will not increase British Edition: current; Page: [98] ships and seamen in any proportion as it will diminish those of the United States, will contribute effectually to make America afraid of England and attach herself more closely to France. The English are the dupes, and must take the consequences.

This proclamation is issued in full confidence that the United States have no confidence in one another; that they cannot agree to act in a body as one nation; that they cannot agree upon any navigation act which may be common to the thirteen States. Our proper remedy would be, to confine our exports to American ships, to make a law that no article should be exported from any of the States in British ships, nor in the ships of any nation which will not allow us reciprocally to import their productions in our ships. I am much afraid there is too good an understanding upon this subject between Versailles and St. James’s.

Perhaps it may be proper for congress to be silent upon this head, until New York, Penobscot, &c., are evacuated. But I should think that congress would never bind themselves by any treaty built upon such principles. They should negotiate, however, without loss of time, by a minister in London. A few weeks’ delay may have unalterable effects.

One of the most remarkable things in this proclamation is, the omission of salt fish, an article which the islands want as much as any that is enumerated. This is, no doubt, to encourage their own fishery and that of Nova Scotia, as well as a blow aimed at ours. There was, in a former proclamation concerning Edition: current; Page: [99] the trade between the United States and Great Britain, an omission of the articles of potash and pearlash. These omissions discover a choice love for New England. France, I am afraid, will exclude fish too, and imitate this proclamation but too closely; if, indeed, this proclamation is not an imitation of their system, adopted, as I believe it is, upon their advice and desire.

These, however, are important efforts. Without saying, writing, or resolving any thing suddenly, let us see what remedies or equivalents we can obtain from Holland, Portugal, and Denmark. Let us bind ourselves to nothing, but reserve a right of making navigation acts when we please, if we find them necessary or useful. If we had been defeated of our fisheries, we should have been wormed out of all our carrying trade, too, and should have been a mere society of cultivators, without any but a passive trade. The policy of France has succeeded, and laid, in these proclamations, if persisted in, the sure source of another war between us and Great Britain.

The English nation is not, however, unanimous in this new system, as congress will see by the inclosed speculations,1 which I know to have been written by a confidential friend of my Lord Shelburne; I mean Mr. Benjamin Vaughan. This minister is very strong in the house of lords, and Mr. Pitt, in the house of commons, has attached to him many members in the course of this session. If that set should come in again, we shall have a chance of making an equitable treaty of commerce. To this end a minister must be ready; and I hope, in mercy to our country, that such an opportunity will not be lost by delays, in compliance to our allies.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Yesterday we waited on the Count de Vergennes at Versailles, and showed him the project of a letter to the ministers of the two Imperial Courts, which he read and approved. Edition: current; Page: [100] We told him that we were at a loss what might be the effect of the mediation; possibly we might be involved in difficulties by it; possibly the British ministers might persuade the mediators to offer us their advice upon some points, respecting the royalists, for example, which we could not comply with. The Count said, that he had told them that as soon as he had fully agreed with England upon all points, their mediation should be accepted, and they should sign the treaty as such; and we might agree to it in the same manner. He said we were not obliged to this, but as they were to be present and sign one treaty, it would look better to sign both. It would be a very notorious, public, and respectable acknowledgment of us, as a power, by those Courts. Upon this footing we left the letter with him to be shown to the imperial ministers.

We asked the Count if he had seen the British proclamation of the 2d of July. He answered, that he had. I asked him, if the King had determined any thing on the subject of salt provisions and salt fish, whether we might import them into his islands. He said, we might depend upon it, they could not supply their islands with fish; that we had two free ports in their islands,—St. Lucia and a port in Martinique. By the thirty-second article of the treaty of commerce, these free ports are secured to us; nothing, he said, was determined concerning salt beef and pork, but the greatest difficulty would be about flour. I told the Count, that I did not think it would be possible either for France or England to carry on this commerce between the islands and continent; it was profitable to us only as it was a part of a system; that it could not be carried on without loss in large vessels, navigated by many seamen, which could sail only at certain seasons of the year, &c. Upon the whole, I was much pleased with this conversation, and conclude from it, that we shall do very well in the French West India Islands; perhaps the better in them, the worse we are treated by the English.

The Dutch and Danes will, I doubt not, avail themselves of every error that may be committed by France or England. It is good to have a variety of strings to our bow; and, therefore, I wish we had a treaty of commerce with Denmark, by which a free admission of our ships into their ports in the West Indies might be established. By means of the Dutch, Danes, and Pertuguese, Edition: current; Page: [101] I think we shall be able to obtain finally proper terms of France and England.

The British proclamation of the 2d of this month is the result of refugee politics; it is intended to encourage Canada and Nova Scotia and their fisheries, to support still the ruins of their navigation act, and to take from us the carriage even of our own productions. A system which has in it so little respect for us, and is so obviously calculated to give a blow to our nurseries of ships and seamen, could never have been adopted but from the opinion that we had no common legislature for the government of commerce.

All America, from the Chesapeake Bay to St. Croix, I know love ships and sailors; and those ports to the southward of that bay have advantages for obtaining them when they will; and, therefore, I hope the thirteen States will unite in some measures to counteract this policy of Britain, so evidently selfish, unsocial, and, I had almost said, hostile. The question is, what is to be done? I answer, perhaps it will be most prudent to say little about it at present, and until the definitive treaty is signed, and the States evacuated. But, after that, I think, in the negotiation of a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, congress should tell them that they have the means of doing justice to themselves. What are these means? I answer, let every State in the Union lay on a duty of five percent. on all West India articles imported in British ships, and upon all their own productions exported in British ships. Let this impost be limited in duration, until Great Britain shall allow our vessels to trade to their West Indies. This would effectually defeat their plan, and encourage our own carrying trade more than they can discourage it.

Another way of influencing England to a reasonable conduct is, to take some measures for encouraging the growth in the United States of West India articles; another is to encourage manufactures, especially of wool and iron, among ourselves. As tilt-hammers are now not unlawful, and wool may be water-borne, much more may be done now than could have been done before the war. But the most certain method is, to lay duties on exports and imports by British ships. The sense of a common interest and a common danger, it is to be hoped, will induce a perfect unanimity among the States in this respect. There Edition: current; Page: [102] are other ways of serving ourselves and making impressions upon the English to bring them to reason. One is, to send ships immediately to China. This trade is as open to us as to any nation, and if our natural advantages at home are envied us, we should compensate ourselves in any honest way we can.

Our natural share in the West India trade, is all that is now wanting to complete the plan of happiness and prosperity of our country. Deprived of it, we shall be straitened and shackled in some degree. We cannot enjoy a free use of all our limits without this; with it, I see nothing to desire, nothing to vex or chagrin our people, nothing to interrupt our repose or keep up a dread of war.

I know not what permission may be expected from Spain to trade to the Havana, but should think that this resource ought not to be neglected.

I confess I do not like the complexion of British politics. They are mysterious and unintelligible. Mr. Hartley appears not to be in the secret of his Court. The things which happen appear as unexpected to him as to us. Political jealousies and speculations are endless. It is possible the British ministers may be secretly employed in fomenting the quarrel between the two Imperial Courts and the Porte, and in secretly stirring up the French to join the Turks in the war. The prospect of seeing France engaged in a war, may embolden them to adopt a system less favorable to us. The possibility of these things should stimulate us, I think, to form, as soon as possible, treaties of commerce with the principal powers, especially the Imperial Courts, that all our questions may be decided. This will be a great advantage to us, even if we should afterwards be involved in a war. I put this supposition with great reluctance. But, if England should, in the course of a few years or months, have the art to stir up a general war in Europe, and get France and Spain seriously involved in it, which is at least a possible case, she may assume a tone and conduct towards us which will make it very difficult for us to avoid taking a part in it. If such a deplorable circumstance should take place, it will be still a great advantage to us, to have our sovereignty explicitly acknowledged by those powers against whom we may be unfortunately obliged to act. At present, they are all disposed to it, and seem desirous of forming connections with us, that we may be out of the question.

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The politics of Europe are such a labyrinth of profound mysteries, that the more one sees of them, the more causes of uncertainty and anxiety he discovers.

The United States will have occasion to brace up their confederation, and act as one body with one spirit. If they do not, it is now very obvious that Great Britain will take advantage of it in such a manner as will endanger our peace, our safety, and even our very existence. A change of ministry may, but it is not certain that it will, give us better prospects.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
17 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Last evening Mr. Hartley spent two hours with me, and appeared much chagrined at the proclamation, which had never been communicated to him by his principals. He has too much contempt of the commercial abilities of the French, and consequently said that the French could derive but little benefit from this step of his Court; but he thought the Dutch would make a great advantage by it. I endeavored to discover from him, whether he suspected that his Court had any hand in stirring up the two Imperial Courts to make war upon the Turks. I asked him, what was the state of their Mediterranean trade and Levant trade. He said, it was dead, and that their Turkey company was dead, and, therefore, he did not think his Court cared much about either, or would ever do any thing to prevent the Empires. He thought it possible that they might rather encourage them.

I am quite of Mr. Hartley’s mind, that the Dutch will profit by all the English blunders in regulating the West India trade, and am happy that M. Van Berckel will be soon with congress, when its members and ministers may communicate through him any thing they wish to their High Mightinesses. They may inquire of him, What are the rights of the East and West India Companies? To what an extent our vessels may be admitted to Surinam, Curaçoa, Demerara, Essequibo, Berbice, St. Eustatia? What we may be allowed to carry there? and what bring Edition: current; Page: [104] from thence to the United States or to Europe? Whether we may carry sugars, &c., to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, &c.? There are at Rotterdam and Amsterdam one hundred and twenty-seven or eight refineries of sugar. How far these may be affected, &c.?

I lay it down for a rule, that the nation which shall allow us the most perfect liberty to trade with her Colonies, whether it be France, England, Spain, or Holland, will see her Colonies flourish above all others, and will draw proportionally our trade to themselves; and, I rely upon it, the Dutch will have sagacity to see it; and as they are more attentive to mercantile profit than to a military marine, I have great hopes from their friendship. As there will be an interval before the signature of the definitive treaty, I propose a journey of three weeks to Amsterdam and the Hague, in hopes of learning in more detail the intentions of the Dutch in this respect. I am in hopes, too, of encouraging the loan, to assist our superintendent of finance. The Dutch may be a great resource to us in finance and commerce. I wish that cargoes of produce may be hastened to Amsterdam, to Messrs. Willink & Co., for this will give vigor to the loan, and all the money we can prevent England and the two empires from obtaining in Holland, will not only be nerves for us, but, perhaps, be useful too to France in her negotiations.

I have spent the whole forenoon in conversation with the Duc de la Vauguyon. He thinks that England wishes to revive her trade to the Levant, to Smyrna, Aleppo, &c., and her carrying trade in Italy; and although she might be pleased to see France involved in a war with the Emperor and Empress, yet he thinks her funds are not in a condition to afford subsidies to either, and, therefore, that she will be perfectly neutral. Quære, however, whether, if by a subsidy or a loan of a million or two a year, she could make France spend eight or ten millions, she would not strive hard to do it? The Duke thinks that France will proceed softly, and endeavor, if possible, to avert the furious storm that threatens, and to compose the disputes of the three empires, if possible; but she will never suffer such a usurpation as the conquest of the Turkish Provinces in Europe. France will certainly defend Constantinople. He thinks, that the Empress of Russia has not revenues, and cannot get cash to march and subsist vast armies, and to transport great fleets, and that the Emperor has not revenues to support a long war.

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This is, however, a serious business, and France lays it so much to heart, and looks upon the chance of her being obliged to arm, as so probable, that I presume this to be the principal motive of her refusal to lend us two or three millions of livres more.

As to our West India questions, the Duke assures me that the French ministry, particularly the Count de Vergennes, are determined to do every thing they can consistent with their own essential interests, to favor and promote the friendship and commerce between their country and ours. That they, especially the Count, are declared enemies of the French fiscal system, which is certainly the most ruinous to their commerce, and intend to do every thing they can to make alterations to favor commerce; but no change can be made in this, without affecting their revenues, and making voids, failures, and deficiencies which they cannot fill up. They must, therefore, proceed softly. That France would favor the commerce between Portugal and America, because it would tend to draw off that kingdom from her dependence on England. That England, by her commercial treaty with the Portuguese, in 1703, has turned them into an English Colony, made them entirely dependent, and secured a commerce with them of three millions value. France would be glad to see this, or as much of it as possible, turned to America.

The Duke agrees fully with me in the maxim, that those colonies will grow the most in wealth, improvement, population, and every sort of prosperity, which are allowed the freest communication with us, and that we shall be allowed to carry lumber, fish, and live stock to their islands; but that the export of their sugars to us, he thinks, must be in their own ships, because they are afraid of our becoming the carriers of all their commerce, because they know and say that we can do it cheaper than they can. These sentiments are different from those which he mentioned to me a few days ago, when he said the West India trade with us must be carried on in French bottoms.

The Duke said, the English had been trying to deceive us, but were now developing their true sentiments. They pretended for a while to abolish the navigation act and all distinctions, to make one people with us again, to be friends, brothers, &c., in hopes of drawing us off from France, but not finding Edition: current; Page: [106] success, they were now showing their true plan. As to the pretended system of Shelburne, of a universal, free commerce, although he thought it would be for the good of mankind in general, yet, for an English minister, it was the plan of a madman, for it would be the ruin of that nation. He did not think Shelburne was sincere in it; he only meant an illusion to us. Here I differ from the Duke, and believe that the late ministry were very sincere towards us, and would have made a treaty with us, at least to revive the universal trade between us upon a liberal plan. This doctrine of ruin, from that plan, to the English, has been so much preached of late in England by the French and the American refugees, who aim at establishments in Canada and Nova Scotia, and by the old Butean administration and their partisans, that I do not know whether any ministry could now support a generous plan. But if Temple, Thurlow, Shelburne, Pitt, &c., should come in, I should not despair of it. It is true, the Shelburne administration did encourage the ideas of cordial, perfect friendship, of entire reconciliation of affections, of making no distinction between their people and ours, especially between the inhabitants of Canada and Nova Scotia and us, and this, with the professed purpose of destroying all seeds of war between us. These sentiments were freely uttered by Fitzherbert, Oswald, Whitefoord, Vaughan, and all who had the confidence of that ministry; and in these sentiments they were, I believe, very sincere. And they are, indeed, the only means of preventing a future war between us and them; and so sure as they depart from that plan, so sure, in less than fifteen years, perhaps less than seven, there will break out another war. Quarrels will arise among fishermen, between inhabitants of Canada and Nova Scotia and us, and between their people and ours in the West Indies, in our ports, and in the ports of the three kingdoms, which will breed a war in spite of all we can do to prevent it. France sees this and rejoices in it, and I know not whether we ought to be sorry; yet I think we ought to make it a maxim to avoid all wars, if possible, and to take care that it is not our fault, if we cannot. We ought to do every thing which the English will concur in, to remove all causes of jealousies, and kill all the seeds of hostility, as effectually as we can; and to be upon our guard to prevent the French, Spaniards, and Dutch, from sowing Edition: current; Page: [107] the seeds of war between us; for, we may rely upon it, they will do it, if they can.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
18 July, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

There is cause to be solicitous about the state of things in England. The present ministry swerve more and more from the true system, for the prosperity of their country and ours. Mr. Hartley, whose sentiments are at bottom just, is probably kept here, if he was not sent at first, merely to amuse us, and to keep him out of the way of embarrassing the coalition. We need not fear that France and England will make a common cause against us, even in relation to the carrying trade to and from the West Indies. Although they may mutually inspire into each other false notions of their interests, at times, yet there can never be a concert of operations between them. Mutual enmity is bred in the blood and bones of both, and rivals and enemies at heart they eternally will be.

In order to induce both to allow us our natural right to the carrying trade, we must negotiate with the Dutch, Danes, Portuguese, and even with the empires; for the more friends and resources we have, the more we shall be respected by the French and English; and the more freedom of trade we enjoy with the Dutch possessions in America, the more will France and England find themselves necessitated to allow us.

The present ministers in England have very bad advisers; the refugees, and emissaries of various other sorts; and we have nobody to watch, to counteract, to correct or prevent any thing. The United States will soon see the necessity of uniting in measures to counteract their enemies, and even their friends. What powers congress should have for governing the trade of the whole, for making or recommending prohibitions or imposts, deserves the serious consideration of every man in America. If a constitutional, legislative authority cannot be given them, a sense of common danger and necessity should give to their recommendations all the force upon the minds of the people which they had six years ago.

Edition: current; Page: [108]

If the union of the States is not preserved, and even their unity, in many great points, instead of being the happiest people under the sun, I do not know but we may be the most miserable. We shall find our foreign affairs the most difficult to manage of any of our interests; we shall see and feel them disturbed by invisible agents and causes, by secret intrigues, by dark and mysterious insinuations, by concealed corruptions of a thousand sorts. Hypocrisy and simulation will assume a million of shapes; we shall feel the evil, without being able to prove the cause. Those whose penetration reaches the true source of the evil will be called suspicious, envious, disappointed, ambitious. In short, if there is not an authority sufficiently decisive to draw together the minds, affections, and forces of the States, in their common, foreign concerns, it appears to me, we shall be the sport of transatlantic politicians of all denominations, who hate liberty in every shape, and every man who loves it, and every country that enjoys it. If there is no common authority, nor any common sense to secure a revenue for the discharge of our engagements abroad for money, what is to become of our honor, our justice, our faith, our universal moral, political, and commercial character? If there is no common power to fulfil engagements with our citizens, to pay our soldiers and other creditors, can we have any moral character at home? Our country will become the region of everlasting discontents, reproaches, and animosities, and instead of finding our independence a blessing, we shall soon become Cappadocians enough to wish it done away.

I may be thought gloomy, but this ought not to discourage me from laying before congress my apprehensions. The dependence of those who have designs upon us, upon our want of affection to each other, and of authority over one another, is so great, that, in my opinion, if the United States do not soon show to the world a proof that they can command a common revenue, to satisfy their creditors at home and abroad that they can act as one people, as one nation, as one man, in their transactions with foreign nations, we shall be soon so far despised, that it will be but a few years, perhaps but a few months only, before we are involved in another war.

What can I say in Holland, if a doubt is started, whether we can repay the money we wish to borrow? I must assure them, Edition: current; Page: [109] in a tone that will exclude all doubt, that the money will be repaid. Am I to be hereafter reproached with deceiving the money-lenders? I cannot believe there is a man in America who would not disdain the supposition, and, therefore, I shall not scruple to give the strongest assurances in my power. But, if there is a doubt in congress, they ought to recall their borrowers of money.

I shall set off to-morrow for Holland, in hopes of improving my health, at the same time that I shall endeavor to assist the loan, and to turn the speculations of the Dutch merchants, capitalists, and statesmen towards America. It is of vast importance that the Dutch should form just ideas of their interests, respecting the communication between us and their islands and other colonies in America. I beg that no time may be lost in commencing conferences with M. Van Berckel upon this subject, as well as that of money; but this should not be communicated to the French nor the English, because, we may depend upon it, both will endeavor to persuade the Dutch to adopt the same plan with themselves. There are jealousies on both sides the pas de Calais, of our connections and negotiations with the Dutch. But while we avoid as much as we can to inflame this jealousy, we must have sense, and firmness and independence enough not to be intimidated by it from availing ourselves of advantages that Providence has placed in our power. There ever have been, and ever will be, suspicions of every honest, active, and intelligent American, and there will be, as there have been, insidious attempts to destroy or lessen your confidence in every such character. But, if our country does not support her own interests and her own servants, she will assuredly fall. Persons who study to preserve or obtain the confidence of America by the favor of European statesmen or courts, must betray their country to preserve their places.

For my own part, I wish Mr. Jay and myself almost anywhere else but here. There is scarce any other place where we might not do some good. Here, we are in a state of annihilation.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [110]
John Adams
Adams, John
23 July, 1783
The Hague

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

On Saturday last I left Paris, and arrived here last night. This morning I sent M. Dumas to M. Van Berckel and M. Gyselaer, to inform them of my arrival, and to desire a conversation with them upon the subject of the commerce between the United States and the Dutch establishments in the West Indies.

M. Van Berckel told M. Dumas, “that St. Eustatia and Curaçao were open to the vessels of all nations and to the commerce of all the world; but that it was not the interest of the West India Company alone, but that of the whole State, that obliged them to confine the commerce of their sugars to themselves, because of the great number of their refineries of sugar. That all their own sugars were not half enough to employ their sugar-houses, and that at least one half of the sugars refined in Holland were the production of the French West India Islands.”

I suppose that some of these sugars may have been carried first to St. Eustatia, and brought from thence to Holland, and some others may have been purchased in the ports of France, and imported raw from thence. I do not know that Dutch vessels are permitted to purchase sugars in the French islands, and export them from thence. This matter deserves to be examined to the bottom. If France has not sugar-houses for the refinement of her own sugars, but is obliged to carry them, or to permit their being carried, to Amsterdam and Rotterdam for manufacture, why should she not be willing that the same sugars should be carried by Americans to Boston, New York, and Philadelphia? Surely France has no predilection for Holland rather than America. But, what is of more weight, all the sugars which America takes, will be paid for in articles more advantageous to the islands and to France than the pay that is made by the Dutch. If any sugars refined in Holland are afterwards sold in France, surely it would be more for the interest of France, or rather less against her interests, to have the same sugars refined in America, and afterwards sold in France, because the price of them would be laid out by us in France. Edition: current; Page: [111] There is this difference between us and the Dutch and all other nations,—we spend in Europe all the profits we make, and more; the others do not. But if the French sugars, refined in Holland, are afterwards sold in other parts of Europe, it would be just as well that we should sell them. We have sugar-houses as well as the Dutch, and ours ought not to be more obnoxious to French policy or commerce than theirs.

Sugars are a great article. There is a great consumption in America. It is not the interest of any nation that has sugars to sell, to lessen the consumption there. All such nations should favor that consumption, in order to multiply purchasers and quicken the competition, by which the price is raised. None of these nations, then, will wish to prevent our having sugar, provided we offer as high, or a higher price. How they will be able to arrange their plans, so that we may have enough for our own consumption, without having more, without having some for exportation, I do not know.

We have now St. Eustatia and Curaçao, St. Lucia and Martinique, St. Thomas and St. Martin’s, no less than six free ports in the West Indies; and perhaps England may be induced, necessitated indeed, to add two more to the number, and make eight. At these free ports it will be hard if we cannot find sugars, when we carry thither all our own productions in our own ships. And, if the worst should happen, and all the nations who have sugar islands should forbid sugars to be carried to America in any other than their own bottoms, we might depend upon having enough of this article at the free ports, to be brought away in our own ships, if we should lay a prohibition or a duty upon it in foreign ships. To do either, the States must be united, which the English think cannot be. Perhaps the French think so, too, and, in time, they may persuade the Dutch to be of the same opinion. It is to be hoped we shall disappoint them all. In a point so just and reasonable, when we are contending only for an equal chance for the carriage of our own productions and the articles of our own consumption, when we are willing to allow to all other nations even a free competition with us in this carriage, if we cannot unite, it will discover an imperfection and weakness in our constitution which will deserve a serious consideration.

M. Visscher, Pensionary of Amsterdam, who came in to visit Edition: current; Page: [112] me, when I had written thus far, showed me a list of the directors of the West India Company, and referred me to M. Bicker, of Amsterdam, as one of the most intelligent of them. He says, that the colonists of Surinam, Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara have been in decay, and obliged to borrow money of the merchants at home, and have entered into contracts with those merchants to send them annually all the productions of their plantations, to pay the interest and principal of their debts; that this will make it difficult to open the trade.

Soon after M. Visscher went out, M. Van Berckel came in. I entered into a like conversation with him, and told him, that I thought the decay of their plantations in the West Indies had been owing to the rivalry of other nations, especially the English, whose islands had greater advantages, from a freer communication with North America; and I thought it might be laid down as a rule, that those islands would flourish most in population, culture, commerce, and wealth, which had the freest intercourse with us, and that this intercourse would be a natural means of attracting the American commerce to the metropolis. He thought so too.

I then mentioned to him the loan; and asked him, if he thought that the states-general, the States of Holland, or the regency of Amsterdam would be likely in any way to aid us? He said, no; that the country was still so much divided, that he could not depend upon any assistance in that way; that the council of Amsterdam was well enough disposed, but that the burgomasters were not so; that M. Temminck, M. Huygens, and M. Rendorp were not to be depended on in such an affair; that, therefore, our only resource was, to endeavor to gain upon the public opinion and the spirit of the nation, and that, in this respect, he would do me all the service in his power. He thought that the present uncertainty about the definitive treaty and the fate of the Republic would be an obstacle; but, the definitive treaty once signed, he thought our loan would succeed very well. I asked him, whether he thought that the junction of three houses in my loan was any obstruction to it? and whether any one of them, or whether any other house would do better? I told him what his brother (now I hope in Philadelphia) had said to M. Dumas, namely,—that the house of Wilhem and Jan Willink alone would succeed sooner than the three. I Edition: current; Page: [113] asked him, whether he thought the house of Hope, either alone, or in conjunction with that of the Willinks or any other, would undertake it. He said, this might well be, and that if they saw their interest in it they would, for those mercantile houses had no other object in view. He promised me to make inquiry into this matter, and let me know the result.

Upon this occasion, I must inform congress that it is absolutely necessary they should send another minister to this republic, without loss of time; because our three present houses, before they would undertake the loan, extorted a promise from me not to open another with any other house until the five millions should be full. This engagement I took for myself alone, however, and expressly premised that congress should not be bound by it, that congress should be perfectly free, and that any other minister they might send here should be perfectly free to open another loan, when and with whom they pleased. A new minister, therefore, may open a loan when he will, with Hope, Willink, or whom he will, and I am persuaded it would succeed to a good amount.

I made visits to-day, the 25th of July, to the grand pensionary, the Secretary Fagel, the president of the week, and M. Gyselaer; and returned visits to M. Van Berckel and M. Visscher. M. Gyselaer says, that at present there is no ready money (argent comptant) in the Republic, but in two months there will be, and the loan will go very well.

At noon I went to the house in the Grove, to make my court to the Prince and Princess of Orange.

The Prince either happened to be in a social humor, or has had some political speculations lately, for he thought fit to be uncommonly gracious and agreeable. He made me sit, and sat down by me, and entered into familiar conversation about the negotiations of peace. He asked many questions about it, and the probability of a speedy conclusion of the definitive treaty. At length he asked me, if Dr. Franklin was left alone. I answered, that Mr. Jay was with him. He asked, if I returned before the signature. I answered, that such was my intention. He asked, whether Dr. Franklin was an ambassador. I answered, that he was a minister plenipotentiary only. He asked, if none of us were ambassadors. I answered, that we all had the same rank of ministers plenipotentiary, and that congress Edition: current; Page: [114] had never yet made an ambassador. He said, he was astonished at that; that he had a long time expected to hear that we had displayed the character of ambassadors. I asked his Highness what reason he had for this, and what advantage there was in it. “Why,” said he, “I expected that your Republic would early assert her right to appoint ambassadors. Republics have been generally fond of appointing ambassadors, in order to be upon a footing with crowned heads. Our Republic began very early. We had eight ambassadors at the peace of Munster, one for each province, and one supernumerary. And we always choose to appoint ambassadors, for the sake of being upon an equality with crowned heads. There are only crowned heads, republics, and the electors of the empire, who have a right to send ambassadors; all others can only send envoys and ministers plenipotentiary. Princes cannot send ambassadors. I cannot, as stadtholder, nor as prince, nor in any other quality, send a minister of any higher order than an envoy or minister plenipotentiary.” He asked me, what was the reason the congress had not made use of their right. I answered his Highness, that really I did not know. It was a subject I had never much reflected on. Perhaps congress had not; or they might think it a matter of ceremony and of show, rather than substance; or might think the expense greater than the advantage. He said, it was very true the dignity of the rank must be supported; but he thought the advantage worth more than the expense.

I am utterly at a loss for his Highness’s motives for entering so minutely into this subject. Whether M. Van Berckel, before his departure, had mentioned it; whether he thought he should please me by it; whether he thought to please congress by it; whether he affected to interest himself in the honor of the United States; or whether any of the politicians of this or any other country have put him upon it, or whether it is mere accident, I know not. They are the words of a prince, and I have reported them very exactly.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [115]
John Adams
Adams, John
25 July, 1783
The Hague

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

It is the general opinion here, both among the members of the States and at the Hôtel de France, that the delays of the definitive pacification are contrived by the Court of London, in order to set all their instruments at work in this Republic, to induce it to renew its ancient connections with Great Britain, particularly their alliance offensive and defensive, by which each power was bound to furnish the other, if attacked, a certain number of ships and troops. Against this the patriotic party is decided, and they are now very well satisfied with the grand pensionary, Bleiswyck, because he openly and roundly takes their side; and the Court is said to be discontented with him for the same reason. There is, no doubt, an intelligence and correspondence between the two Courts of London and the Hague to bring about this point. The grand pensionary told me yesterday that the Court of London desired it, and there were persons here who desired it, and he knew very well who they were; but that most certainly they would not carry their point. Van Berckel, Visscher, and Gyselaer all assured me of the same, and added, that the fear of this had determined them not to send a minister to London, but to go through with the negotiation at Paris, although they were all highly dissatisfied with the conduct of France, and particularly with that of the Count de Vergennes.

They all say he has betrayed and deserted them, played them a very bad trick (tour), and violated his repeated promises to them. They do not in the least spare M. Berenger and M. Merchant, who conduct the French affairs here in the absence of the Duc de la Vauguyon, but hold this language openly and freely to them. These gentlemen have sometimes found it hard to bear, and have winced, and sometimes even threatened; but their answer has been more mortifying still: “Do as you please. Drive the Republic back into the arms of England, if you will. Suppress all the friends of France, if you choose it.” And some of them have said, “we will go to America.” They all say that France had the power to have saved them; that the acquisition of Tobago was no equivalent to France for the loss Edition: current; Page: [116] of the Republic, &c., &c., &c. They are all highly pleased with the conduct of their own ambassador, Brantzen, with his activity, intelligence, and fidelity. They all say that they would send a minister to London to negotiate there, if they were sure of being able to carry an election for a man they could depend upon. But the Court here would have so much influence in the choice, that they would run a risk of sending a man who would insensibly lead them into a revival of the old ties with England, which, they say, is enslaving the Republic to that kingdom.

I learn here, from all quarters, a confirmation of what I had learned before at Paris from M. Brantzen and the Duc de la Vauguyon, namely,—that the Duke of Manchester had given them no answer, nor said a word to them for six weeks, in answer to the propositions they had made; among which was an offer of an equivalent for Negapatnam. They offered some establishments in Sumatra and Surat. Lately, the Duke of Manchester has received a courier, and has given an answer, that a real equivalent might be accepted. No answer is given to any other point, and this is vague; so that another courier must go to London and return. Parliament is now up, and perhaps the ministers may now be more attentive and less timorous.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
28 July, 1783
Amsterdam

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

I find, upon inquiry, that there are in this Republic, at Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Dort, near one hundred and thirty sugar-houses. The whole of the raw sugars produced in Surinam, Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara, are wrought in these houses; and, besides, raw sugars were purchased in Bordeaux and Nantes, after being imported from the French islands in French bottoms. Raw sugars were also purchased in London, which went under the general name of Barbadoes sugars, although they were the growth of all the English islands, and imported to London in British bottoms. I have learnt further, that great quantities of raw Brazil sugars were purchased in Lisbon, and that these were cheaper than any of the others. All these raw sugars were imported into Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Dort, Edition: current; Page: [117] and there manufactured for exportation. We must endeavor to obtain a share in this trade, especially with Lisbon or the Western Islands.

Since it is certain that neither Portugal, France, nor England, has been able to manufacture all its raw sugars, but each of them sold considerable quantities to the Dutch, I suppose that we may undoubtedly purchase such sugars in future in Lisbon, Bordeaux, Nantes, London, and perhaps Ireland, and carry them where we please, either home to America, or to Amsterdam, or to any part of Europe, and there sell them, and in this way promote our own carrying trade, as well as enable ourselves to make remittances. I cannot see why the English or French should be averse to their sugars going to America directly; and if they insist upon carrying them in their own ships, we may still have enough of them. The Dutch have the most pressing commercial motives to bring home their West India produce; yet they would really gain the most by opening a free communication with us, because they would the most suddenly make their colonies flourish by it.

Molasses and rum we shall have, probably, from all the islands,—English, French, and Dutch,—in our own bottoms, unless the three nations should agree together to keep the whole trade of their islands in their own ships, which is not likely.

I have made all the inquiries I could, and have sown all the seeds I could, in order to give a spur to our loan. Three thousand obligations have been sold, and the other two thousand are signed; but at this time there is a greater scarcity of money than ever was known. The scarcity is so great, that the agio of the bank, which is commonly at four or five per cent., fell to one and a half. The directors at length shut up the bank, and it continues shut. The English omnium, which at first was sold for eight or ten per cent. profit, fell to one and a half. The scarcity of money will continue until the arrival of the Spanish flotilla at Cadiz. Seven eighths of the treasures of that flotilla will come here, and make money plenty. Then we may expect that my obligations will sell.

In the mean time, I have great pleasure in assuring you, that there is not one foreign loan open in this Republic which is in so good credit, or goes so quick as mine. The Empress of Russia opened a loan of five millions about the same time that I Edition: current; Page: [118] opened mine. She is far from having obtained three millions of it. Spain opened a loan with the house of Hope at the same time for two millions only, and, you may depend upon it, it is very far from being full. Not one quarter part of the loan of France upon life-rents, advantageous as it is to the lender, is full. In short, there is not one power in Europe whose credit is so good here as ours. Russia and Spain, too, allow of facilities to undertakers and others, in disposing of their obligations, much more considerable than ours; yet all does not succeed. You will see persons and letters in America that will affirm that the Spanish loan is full, and that France and Spain can have what money they please here. Believe me, this is all stockjobbing gasconade. I have made very particular inquiries, and find the foregoing account to be the truth. Of all the sons of men, I believe the stockjobbers are the greatest liars. I know it has been given out that the Spanish loan which was opened at Hope’s was full the first day. This I know has been affirmed in the hearing of Americans, with a confidence peculiar, and with a design, I suppose, that it should be written or reported to congress. But I am now assured that it is so far from being true, that it is not near full to this hour. Let me beg of you, sir, to give Mr. Morris an extract of this, because I am so pressed for time that I cannot write to him.

Upon further inquiry concerning sugars, I find that the Dutch were used to purchase annually considerable quantities of the raw sugars of Spain, as well as of France, England, and Portugal. Some of these they obtained by a clandestine trade between Curaçao and Havana and St. Domingo; but the greater part were purchased at Cadiz. I suppose our merchants and masters of vessels will be as adroit at inventing and executing projects of illicit trade as others. But this is a resource that congress and the States cannot depend on, nor take into their calculations. Illicit trade will ever bear but a small proportion to that which is permitted. And our governments should take their measures for obtaining, by legal and honorable means, from Spain, Portugal, France, England, Holland, and Denmark, all the productions which our people may want for consumption, for manufacture, and for exportation.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [119]
John Adams
Adams, John
28 July, 1783
Amsterdam
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert

TO ROBERT MORRIS.

Sir,

Upon inquiry of those who best know, I see no probability of success from any application to authority in this country, for reasons which I have explained to our minister of foreign affairs. Our only resource is in the public opinion and the favor of the nation.

I know of nothing which would operate so favorably upon the public as the arrival of a few vessels with cargoes of American produce, addressed to your bankers, and appropriated to the payment of interest. The report of such an event would greatly augment our credit, by spreading the opinion of our ability and disposition to pay.

It would be presumption in me, at this distance, to undertake to advise you, who are upon the spot, and much better informed. But I beg leave to suggest the question, whether an application of congress to the States would not succeed. Suppose congress should represent to the States the necessity of an exertion, in order to obtain a loan at present, to enable you to satisfy the most urgent demands of the army and other public creditors, until the States can agree upon some permanent establishment, and should recommend to each State to furnish a cargo of its produce, in proportion to its rate upon the list. For example, South Carolina and Georgia a quantity of rice or indigo; Virginia and Maryland, of tobacco; Pennsylvania, of wheat or flour; and the northern States, of fish or any other thing. Suppose these cargoes, which need not be expensive for the thirteen States, should be sent to Amsterdam or anywhere else in Europe, the proceeds of sale to be remitted to Amsterdam to your bankers. The reputation of this, if well planned, adopted, and executed, would give a strong impulsion to your loan here.

I am but just arrived, and have not yet seen our bankers. Saturday and Sunday are usually spent at country seats. But before I leave this place, I shall be able to inform you more precisely, whether you may depend on any thing from hence. No pains of mine shall be spared. The British stocks are so low, that we may hope for something. If a minister is sent to London, you should give him a commission to borrow money. If Edition: current; Page: [120] he conducts the matter with secrecy and caution, he may probably obtain a considerable sum there. There are moneyed men in that country who wish us well. There are others who may easily be inspired with more faith in our funds than they can rationally have in their own. If, upon advising with proper persons, he should not judge it prudent to open a loan there, he might easily put things in a train for some individuals to purchase obligations in your loan in Amsterdam. So dismal are the prospects in England, that many men are on the wing to fly, and some would be willing to transfer their property across the Atlantic.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Francis Dana
Dana, Francis
29 July, 1783
St. Petersburg
John Adams
Adams, John

FRANCIS DANA TO JOHN ADAMS.

My Dear Sir,

’Tis done. The bolt of your Vulcan has hit its aim. The idea you mentioned to me some time since, relative to the use of the credit I had asked for, and which in reply I told you was not new to me, that the same had been repeatedly thrown out here by persons, whom to suspect of sinister or interested views would be deemed by some a most damnable, political heresy, has crossed the Atlantic, and gotten possession of congress. I am told, they will not buy a treaty at this day. But pray remark what I have said in my letter to you of the 21st of last May, relative to this subject, particularly in the last paragraph of it, beginning thus,—“Besides, I should not be surprised.”1 You may turn also to my letter of the 26th of the same month. But, contemptible beyond all contempt (pardon the expression) is the construction upon my instructions. Would it not put a pettifogger out of countenance to be detected in such a miserable thing? Pray, my friend, are you sufficiently versed in the diplomatic science to develop the whole meaning of the term “communicate,” and of the double &c.? These, Lord Coke observes, are very pregnant oftentimes. And that gentleman has read Lord Coke, and must, therefore, be an excellent commentator. But, lest he should Edition: current; Page: [121] not have read the text through, when he made his comment, I have laid it out at its full length before him. He may now comment upon it at leisure. I have thought it too plain to need any of mine.

Do not imagine, my friend, that I am angry, shall I say, at this Dutch commentator. No. I have other feelings respecting him and our much abused country. I recollect the cause of the instruction we received, relative to the fishery, at our departure. I recollect the fatal revocation of your power to conclude a commercial treaty with Great Britain. I call it fatal, because, if I am not deceived, we have lost forever the most important advantages of a free commerce with the British West Indies by that measure. We might have obtained every thing at the conclusion of our preliminary treaty, if our commissioners had had that power. This is evident from the bill of Mr. Pitt, the chancellor of the exchequer. This last stroke, I think, tops the system. A more favorable moment for negotiating a commercial treaty here, will, in all probability, never happen. The present views of Great Britain give us many advantages to draw forth convenient concessions. Can Russia see, with indifference, Great Britain holding out special favors for the encouragement of our naval stores? But I need not enter into particulars with you on these subjects, who have surveyed them on all sides. I send you inclosed my letter to Mr. Livingston.

I have several times acquainted congress of my wish and intention to return to America as soon as I had concluded a commercial treaty with her Imperial Majesty. In consequence of this, they have, by resolution, approved of my returning, “provided I should not be engaged in a negotiation with this Court at the time of receiving the resolution, in which case it is the desire of congress, that I should finish such negotiation before I return.” I am not engaged in any, as I have not yet had my audience; and to communicate, but not to sign, is beyond my comprehension, and, I believe, would surpass theirs also.1 If I should break through this cobweb, I should find myself stopped short by the other matter, which is essential. Edition: current; Page: [122] What is to be done in such circumstances? I answer, the wisest part it appears to me is to get out of them as soon as possible. But for this last difficulty, I would demand my audience as soon as the definitive treaty is concluded, enter immediately upon the negotiation of a treaty of commerce, and, maugre all comments, sign, ah, and seal, too, “the form and terms of a treaty” I should agree upon with her Majesty’s ministers. As it is, I say to myself, begone. I will be gone. And God grant, I may soon have the pleasure of meeting you in our country, and all friends well.

Yours, &c.
Francis Dana.
John Adams
Adams, John
31 July, 1783
The Hague

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

The last evening, at Court in the house in the Grove, where all the foreign ministers supped, the Count Montagnini de Mirabel, the minister plenipotentiary from the King of Sardinia, took an opportunity to enter largely into conversation with me. As he and I were at a party of politics, while the greatest part of the company were at cards, for two or three hours, we ran over all the world; but nothing occurred worth repeating, except what follows.

The Count said, that his advice to congress would be, to write a circular letter to every power in Europe, as soon as the definitive treaty should be signed, and transmit with it a printed copy of the treaty. In the letter, congress should announce, that on the 4th of July, 1776, the United States had declared themselves a sovereign State, under the style and title of the United States of America; that France, on the 6th of February, 1778, had acknowledged them; that the states-general had done the same on the 10th of April, 1782; that Great Britain, on the 30th of November, 1782, had signed with them a treaty of peace, in which she had fully acknowledged their sovereignty; that Sweden had entered into a treaty with them on the 5th of February, 1783; and that Great Britain had concluded the definitive treaty under the mediation of the two empires, if that should be the fact, &c. Such a notification to all the other powers would be a regular procedure, a piece of politeness which would be very well received, and the letter would be Edition: current; Page: [123] respectfully answered by every power in the world, and these written answers would be explicit and undeniable acknowledgments of our sovereignty. It might have been proper to make this communication in form, immediately after the declaration of independence; it might have been more proper to do it after the signature of the provisional treaty; but that it was expected it would be done after the definitive treaty; that these circular letters might be transmitted to your ministers for peace, or such of them as may remain, or to any of your ministers in Europe, to be by them delivered to the ministers at the Court where they are, or transmitted any other way; that congress must be very exact in the etiquette of titles, as this was indispensable, and the letters could not be answered nor received without it; that we might have these titles at the Count de Vergennes’s office with precision, &c.

The Count then proceeded to commerce, and said, that all the cabinets of Europe had lately turned their views to commerce, so that we should be attended to and respected by all of them. He thought we should find our account in a large trade in Italy, every part of which had a constant demand for our tobacco and salt fish at least. The dominions of the King, his master, could furnish us in exchange, oranges, citrons, olives, oil, raisins, figs, anchovies, coral, lead, sulphur, alum, salt, marble of the finest quality and gayest colors, manufactures of silk, especially silk stockings twenty per cent. cheaper than France, hemp, and cordage. He said, we might have great advantages in Italy in another respect. We had it in our power to become the principal carriers for the people of Italy, who have little skill or inclination for navigation or commerce. The (cabotage) carrying trade of Italy had been carried on by the English, French, and Dutch; the English had now lost it, the French had some of it, but the Dutch the most, who made an immense profit of it; for, to his knowledge, they sold in the Baltic, and even in Holland, many Italian productions at a profit of five or six for one; that we should have the advantage of them all. By bringing our tobacco and fish to Italy, we might unload at some of their ports, take in cargoes upon freight for other ports of Italy, and thus make coasting voyages, until we had made up our cargoes for return, or we might take in cargoes on freight for Edition: current; Page: [124] Germany or the Baltic. The Dutch, he said, would be the greatest losers by this rivalry, but as long as the Italians and Americans would be honestly gainers, neither need be anxious for that; that there was a very good port in his master’s dominions, which was perfectly free, where we might go in and out at pleasure, without being subject to duties, searches, or visits.

We then made a transition to Turkey. The Count could not, for his part, blame the Emperor for wishing to open the navigation of the Danube; his kingdom of Hungary was one of the finest countries in the world; it was one of the most fertile, producing in great abundance wines of various sorts, all excellent, though Tokay was the best; grains of every sort, in great quantities, metals of all sorts,—gold, silver, copper, iron, quicksilver; yet all these blessings of nature were rendered in a manner useless by the slavery of the Danube. The Emperor was very unfortunate, in having the Danube enslaved on one side, and the Scheldt on the other; and, in this age, when the liberty of navigation and commerce was the universal cry, he did not wonder at his impatience under it. He did not think that England would meddle in the dispute, as her trade to the Levant had declined. The Dutch had some still, but France had now the greatest part of it to Smyrna, Alexandria, Aleppo, in short, to all the trading towns of Turkey in Asia, for this is what is understood by the Levant trade. France, he thought, could not venture to engage in the war in earnest, in the present state of her finances.

I have learned, since I came here, that France is desirous that this Republic should declare herself concerning this Turkish war. But she will avoid it. Unhappily, France has lost much of her influence here. Her friends fear that the odium of losing Negapatnam will fall upon them, among the people. The English and the stadtholderians are endeavoring to detach the Republic entirely from France, and to revive the ancient connections, particularly the ancient alliance offensive and defensive, in the treaty of 1674. A Mr. Shirley, at Paris, has lately proposed to M. Boers and M. Van der Pere, two agents of the Dutch East India Company, who have been a year or two at Paris, and are reputed to be in the stadtholder’s interest, that England had the best dispositions towards the Republic, and would give them ample satisfaction, if they would treat distinctly Edition: current; Page: [125] from France, and renew the ancient, cordial friendship, and proposed an interview with the Dutch ambassadors upon this subject. The agents proposed it, but Brantzen refused, to the great satisfaction of the principal republicans. Yet M. Berenger tells me, that some of the republican members begin to be afraid, and to think they shall be obliged to fall in with the English.

Upon conversing with many people in government and out of it, in Amsterdam as well as the Hague, they all complain to me of the conduct of France. They all confess that the Republic has not done so much in the war as she ought; but this is the fault of the friends of England, they say, not those of France, and the worst evils of all, that befall the latter, are the reproaches of the former, who now say insultingly, “this comes of confiding in France; we always told you that you would be cheated,” &c. France ought, they say, to have considered this, and not have imputed to the Republic the faults of her enemies, because the punishment falls wholly on her friends.

I mention these things to you, because, although we are not immediately interested in them, they may have consequences which may affect us; and, therefore, you ought to know them. I think, however, upon the whole, the Republic will stand firm, and refuse to revive the alliance, though they sacrifice Negapatnam. France wishes to win the Republic into an alliance, but feels an awkwardness about proposing it, and, indeed, I doubt whether she would now succeed; she might have succeeded heretofore. But, in plain English, sir, the Count de Vergennes has no conception of the right way of negotiating with any free people or with any assembly, aristocratical or democratical. He cannot enter into the motives which govern them; he never penetrates their real system, and never appears to comprehend their constitution. With empires and monarchs and their ministers of state he negotiates aptly enough.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
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John Adams
Adams, John
1 August, 1783
The Hague

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

I had last evening some conversation with D. Joas Theolonico de Almeida, the envoy extraordinary of Portugal, who desired to meet me to-day at any hour at his house or mine. I promised to visit him at twelve, which I did.

He said, he had heard that the French minister had proposed to the Duke of Manchester, at Versailles, to reduce the duties upon French wines in England to the level of those upon Portugal wines, and begged of me to inform him if it were true, because, if it were, Portugal must endeavor to indemnify herself by opening a trade with America, or some other way, for such a project would be ruinous to the sale of their wines in England, which was their only market. I answered, that I had heard of such a project among multitudes of others in private conversation, but knew no authenticity for it. We have a treaty, said he, made in 1703, by which we have stipulated with the English, to permit the importation of their cloths, upon condition that they allow the importation of Portugal wines upon paying one third of the duty upon French wines; if they violate the treaty, we shall be rid of it.

I asked him, if his Court permitted the English or any other nation to go to the Brazils. In the last century, said he, between 1660 and 1670, we did agree with Charles II., who married a daughter of Portugal, that the English should go to the Brazils, and, after that, the Dutch sued for permission to go there too, and we granted it. But we found it inconvenient, and, in 1714 or 1715, at the treaty of Utrecht, we agreed upon an article with Spain, to exclude all nations from the Brazils, and as the English ambassadors were there, we have since held that nation bound, and have confiscated their vessels, as well as the Dutch, which ventured there. The English have sometimes made strong remonstrances, but we have always told them, if we admit you, we must admit the Dutch, too, and such has been their jealousy of the Dutch, and dread of their rivalry, that this has always quieted them, choosing rather to be excluded themselves, than that the Dutch should be admitted. So that this commerce has been a long time carried on in Portuguese ships only, and directly between the Brazils and Lisbon.

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I asked him, whether we might not have free communication with all their Western Islands, and whether one or all of them might not be made a depot for the produce of the Brazils, so that Portuguese ships might stop and deposit cargoes there, and American vessels take them. He said he would write about it to his Court by the next post. At present, Brazil communicated only with Lisbon, and, perhaps, it might be difficult for government to secure the duties at the Western Islands. I asked, if there were any refineries of sugar at Lisbon. He said, none. Their sugars had all been brought here by the Dutch for refining; that all their carrying trade with other parts of Europe had been carried on by the English and Dutch; that their mercantile navigation (marine marchande), before this war, had been upon a very poor footing, but it was now much changed, and they began to carry on their trade in their own vessels. I observed, if their trade should continue to be carried on by others, it must be indifferent to them, whether it were done in English, Dutch, or American vessels, provided it was done to their equal advantage. But, if they should persist in the desire to conduct it in their own vessels, they might purchase ships ready built in America cheaper than they could build them or buy them elsewhere. All this, he said, was true. That they could supply us with sugars, coffee, cocoa, Brazil wood, and even with tea, for they had an island called Macao, near China, which was a flourishing establishment, and sent them annually a good deal of tea, which the Dutch usually bought very cheap at Lisbon to sell again.

He asked, whether Portugal wines had been much used in America. I answered, that port wines, common Lisbon, and Carcavallos had been, before the war, frequently used, and that Madeira was esteemed above all other wine; that it was found equally wholesome and agreeable, in the heats of summer and the colds of winter, so that it would probably continue to be preferred, though there was no doubt that a variety of French wines would now be more commonly used than heretofore. He said, they should have occasion for a great deal of our fish, grain, and perhaps ships or ship-timber, and naval stores and other things, and he thought there was a prospect of a very beneficial trade with us, and he would write largely to his Court upon it. I replied, that I wondered his Court had not Edition: current; Page: [128] sent a minister to Philadelphia, where the members and ministers of congress, and even the merchants of the city, might throw much light upon the subject, and assist in framing a treaty to the greatest possible advantage for both countries. He said, he would write for a commission and instructions to negotiate a treaty with me. I told him, that I believed his Court had already instructed their ambassador at Versailles to treat with Dr. Franklin; but that I thought that Philadelphia or Lisbon was the most proper place to treat, and that I feared mutual advantages might be lost by this method of striking up a bargain in haste in a distant country, between ministers who could not be supposed to have made of commerce a study.

In a letter from Paris yesterday, I am informed that a project of a treaty with Portugal, and another with Denmark, are to go home by Captain Barney. These projects have never been communicated to me nor to Mr. Jay. I hope that congress will not be in haste to conclude them, but take time to inform themselves of every thing which may be added, to the mutual advantage of the nations and countries concerned. I am much mistaken, if we have not lost advantages by a similar piece of cunning in the case of Sweden.

With great respect and esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
2 August, 1783
The Hague

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

M. Berenger, the secretary of the French legation, has this moment left me. He came in to inform me of the news. The Empress of Russia has communicated to the King of Prussia a treaty of alliance between the Emperor of Germany and her, defensive against the Christian powers, and offensive against the Turk. The King of Prussia has answered her, “that he is very sensible upon this communication, as one is upon the communication of things of great importance.” Thus wrapped up in an impenetrable reserve is this great warrior and statesman. We may discern by this answer, what all the world would know without it, namely,—that his Majesty has no joy in this new alliance. Still he expresses no sorrow, and maintains a Edition: current; Page: [129] perfect liberty to take which side he will, or neither, at his pleasure, and the same reserve he will probably hold to the end of the war.

M. Berenger says, if Prussia is neutral, France must be so, too, for she cannot cope by land with the two Empires; that this Republic is desired to declare, but does not choose it; that they are dissatisfied, and the republicans murmur a good deal, and are wavering, and that the other party will do nothing; that England, hitherto, has favored an accommodation between Russia and the Turk; that the British ambassador at Constantinople has coöperated with the French to bring about an accommodation; that the Turks have offered Russia the free navigation of the Black Sea and passage of the Dardanelles, and the same, with a free navigation of the Danube, to the Emperor, but they will not accept it, but are determined to drive the Turks from Europe; that France has determined to put her army upon a war footing, because it has been much neglected during the late war; that he believes France and Spain will shut the Mediterranean against a Turkish fleet, as Russia, Sweden, and Denmark excluded warlike vessels from the Baltic in the last war; that this state of things gives him great pain, and must embarrass the Count de Vergennes. It is a great and difficult question, whether France should take a side. If she does not, and the Empires should prevail, it will be an immense aggrandizement of the house of Austria, which, with Russia, will become two great maritime powers; that England will act an insidious part, pretend to favor peace, secretly foment war, and join in, at the end, if she sees a favorable opportunity to crush France. These are sensible observations of M. Berenger, who added, that a new difficulty in the way of the definitive treaty had arisen between England and Spain, respecting the Musquito shore, so that more couriers must go and return.

I confess myself as much in pain at this state of things as M. Berenger, and, therefore, I wish most ardently, that we may omit no proper means of settling our question with every Court in Europe, and especially our plan of commerce with Great Britain. If this is too long left in uncertainty, the face of things may soon change, so as to involve us in the complicated, extensive, and long war which seems to be now opening.

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My advices from England are, that Lord Sheffield, with his friends,—Deane, Arnold, Skene, and P. Wentworth,—are making a party unfriendly to us; that the ministry adopt their sentiments and measures; that Fox has lost his popularity, and devoted himself to North, who has the King’s ear, and disposes of places; that Burke is mad with rage and passion; that the honest men are much disgusted that there is no parliamentary reform, the merchants that commerce does not revive, the moneyed men at their wit’s end on account of the conduct of the bank, and the army and navy disbanding in a spirit of revolt; that it is much to be feared that in a year there will be a convulsion in the State, and public credit ruined; that the present ministry cannot stand to the meeting of parliament, for that nothing has been or can be done by them.

The prospect of returning to Paris, and living there without my family, in absolute idleness, at a time when so many and so great things want to be done for our country elsewhere, is very disagreeable. If we must live there, waiting for the moving of many waters, and treaties are to be there negotiated with the powers of Europe, or only with Denmark and Portugal, I pray that we may all be joined in the business, as we are in the commission for peace, that, at least, we may have the satisfaction of knowing what is done, and of giving a hint for the public good, if any one occurs to us, and that we may not be made the sport and ridicule of all Europe, as well as of those who contrive such humiliations for us. I declare, I had rather be door-keeper to congress, than live at Paris as I have done for the last six months.

With the greatest respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
3 August, 1783
The Hague

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

The fiscal systems of the powers of Europe have such an ill influence on commerce, that they deserve the serious attention of congress and their ministers, whenever they have under consideration a treaty with any foreign power. In conversation yesterday with M. d’Asp, the chargé des affaires of Sweden, I inquired of him what imposts were payable in their ports upon the importation and exportation of merchandises, and Edition: current; Page: [131] observed to him, that I had lately seen in the gazettes that the King had taken off certain duties upon the importation of merchandises from America, in Swedish ships. He agreed that such a thing had been done. This ought to alarm us. All the powers of Europe who are called neutral, have felt a sudden increase of their navigation in the course of the late war, and the profits they have made have excited a desire to augment it still further. If they should generally exact duties of our ships, and none of their own, upon the importation of our produce, this will be as great a discouragement to our navigation as it will be an encouragement to theirs. Whether this has been attended to in the treaty with Sweden, I know not, for I have not seen it. But it ought to be carefully considered by those who negotiate the treaties with Denmark and Portugal, the Emperor and Empress, and all other powers. We have a good right to insist that no distinction shall be made in their ports between their ships and ours; that we should pay in their ports no higher duties than they pay in ours.

I should think it, therefore, advisable for congress to instruct their negotiators, to endeavor to obtain equity in this respect. This is the time for it, if ever. If we cannot obtain it by negotiation, we must think and talk of doing ourselves justice by making similar distinctions, in our own ports, between our vessels and theirs. But here again comes in the difficulty of uniting our States in such measures; a difficulty which must be surmounted, or our commerce, navigation, and marine will still be ruined, notwithstanding the conservation of the fisheries. It deserves to be considered by whom this new method of huddling up treaties at Paris is contrived, and for what purposes. It may well be conjectured, that it is done with the secret intention of preventing these things from being attended to; for there are persons who had rather that any other people should have navigation than the Americans. I have good reasons to believe that it was known at Versailles, that Mr. Dana had well digested his thoughts upon this subject, which was reason enough for some people to endeavor to take Sweden out of his hands, in whose department it was. Their success is much to be lamented.

I had, yesterday and the day before, long conversations with the Baron Van der Capellen de Pol and M. Gyselaer. They both complain to me, in the most pathetic terms, of the cruel situation Edition: current; Page: [132] of the friends of America and France in this Republic. They both say, that they are looking round every way like drowning men for support. The Province of Friesland, their great dependence, wavers, and many of their fellow-laborers are discouraged. They both inquired of me, very earnestly, if closer connections could not be formed with us; if we could not agree to warrant to each other the liberty of navigation, or enter into an alliance offensive and defensive. They see they shall be obliged to make a shameful peace, and that the blame of it will fall upon them, which will give a triumph to the Court, and put their persons even in danger. They say, the King of France, by his ambassador, in July, 1782, gave them a positive assurance that he would never separate his cause from theirs. In consequence of this, they had instructed their ambassadors never to separate their cause from his. On their part, the agreement had been sacredly observed, but not on the other. With Great Britain enraged against them, with a formidable party in the Republic furious against them, with the King of Prussia threatening them, and abandoned by France, their prospects are, they say, as disagreeable as can be conceived.

There are many appearances of designs to excite the people to seditions, and I think it probable that the Court of London studies delays of the definitive treaty in this hope. I still believe, however, that the people will be wise, and the Republic firm, and submit to the immense losses of the war, and that of Negapatnam, rather than renew their old submission to the Court and to England.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 August, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

On the 6th I left the Hague, and last night arrived here. I had several interviews on some of the last days at the Hague, which I had not time to give you an account of, as a great part of my time was taken up with visits to take leave of the Court, the president, the grand pensionary, greffier, &c., ceremonies which must be repeated at every coming and going, and upon many other occasions, to the no small interruption of business of more importance.

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I asked the Count de Sanafée, the Spanish minister, with whom I have always lived upon very good terms, whether it might not be possible to persuade his Court, that it would be good policy for them to allow to the citizens of the United States of America a free port, in some of their islands at least, if not upon the continent of South America. He said, he did not know; that he thought, however, his Court would be afraid of the measure, as free ports were nests of smugglers, and afforded many facilities of illicit trade (le commerce interlope).

I asked him further, whether measures might not be taken at Madrid, to the end that the sugars, coffee, cocoa, &c., of their Colonies might be carried to the free ports of France, Holland, and Denmark, in the West Indies, or one of them, in Spanish vessels, that they might be there purchased by Americans. He said, he was not able to foresee any objection against this. I asked him again, what objections there could be to admitting American vessels to the Spanish islands of Cuba and Hispaniola, to carry their produce and purchase molasses, as they did in the French and Dutch Colonies. Such a commerce would be useful and profitable both to them and to us. He said, that he could not pretend to give any opinion upon any of these points; but that we must negotiate them at Madrid. I hope congress will instruct their minister at the Court of Madrid to propose all these things, and endeavor to obtain them.

The Portuguese envoy, Don Almeida, returned my visit, and brought with him a copy of the treaty between Spain and Portugal, made at Utrecht, in 1715. This treaty was signed under the warranty of Great Britain, and one article of it is, that each nation shall confine the commerce with its possessions in America to its own subjects. I had much satisfaction in the conversation of this minister, who, though a young man, appears possessed of more than common intelligence, and a desire to inform himself of every thing which can affect his nation. He is, as he told me, a nephew of the present prime minister at the Court of Lisbon. He says, that the King, his master (a style which they continue to use, although the Queen is the sovereign, and her husband is but her subject) allows but sixty thousand Dutch guilders a year to his ambassador at Versailles, which not being sufficient for his expenses at that Court, he is continued there because he is very rich; but that he is not a man of business.

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He again enlarged upon the subject of Portuguese navigation, which has been prettily increased (très joliment augmentée) during the late war, and would have been still doubled, if the war had continued another year; that their merchants and mariners had pushed their navigation with more spirit than skill; had sent their wines and other things in prize vessels purchased in France and Spain, all over Europe; but that their seamen not being experienced, many vessels had been lost, so that the price of insurance was ten per cent. with them, when it was not more than three or four with other neutral nations; that the profits had nevertheless been so considerable, as to excite a strong inclination still to increase their shipping and carrying trade. These observations are worth repeating to congress, because all the other neutral powers have felt a like advantage. The commerce of the northern powers was so increased, and had turned the course of business that way to such a degree, as occasioned to the Danish minister, at Versailles, for example, a loss of forty per cent. upon his salary. So much was exchange affected.

The late belligerent powers having observed this sudden increase of the commerce of the neutrals, and that it was owing to the sudden growth of their navigation, are alarmed. So that the attention of all the commercial nations is now turned to navigation, carrying trade, coasting trade, &c., more than ever. We should be apprised of this, and upon our guard. Our navigation and carrying trade is not to be neglected. We have great advantages for many branches of it, and have a right to claim our natural share in it.

This morning I went out to Passy, and found, from Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay, that nothing farther had been done since my departure, but to deliver to Mr. Hartley a fair copy of the project of a definitive treaty which I had left with my colleagues; that Mr. Laurens had been here in my absence, and returned to England; that he was of opinion, the present British ministry would not remain a fortnight; that Mr. Hartley had been seven weeks without a letter from his principals, and then received only an apology for not having written, a promise to write soon, and authority to assure the American ministers that all would go well. These last are words of course. There are but three ways in which I can account for this conduct of the British ministry. 1. The fact is, that they foresee a change Edition: current; Page: [135] and do not choose to commit themselves, but wish to reserve every thing for the foundation of a future opposition, that they may attack the definitive treaty which may be made by a future ministry, as they attacked the provisional and preliminary one, made by the last. 2. That they are exciting secretly and insidiously the troubles in the north, in hopes of involving France, and then assuming a higher tone. 3. That they are in expectation that seditions may be excited in Holland, and the Dutch induced to renounce France, and renew the ancient alliance with England.

I see no more appearance of the definitive treaty than I have done these six months. Mr. Hartley, I am told by Mr. Jay, thinks that the French Court wish to delay the signature; that they do not wish to see the peace finished between England and America, while matters are uncertain in the north. There are so many considerations on both sides of the question, whether the French minister wishes to finish soon or not, that it is hard to decide it. Neither Court possibly is very zealous to finish, while so great a scene as the northern war lies under so much obscurity.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 August, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Yesterday I went to Court with Dr. Franklin, and presented to the Count de Vergennes our project of a definitive treaty, who told us he would examine it, and give us his sentiments upon it.

It was ambassadors’ day, and I had conversations with a number of ministers, of which it is proper I should give you an account.

The Dutch ambassador, Berkenrode, told me, that last Saturday the Count de Vergennes went to Paris, and dined with the imperial ambassador, the Count de Mercy, in company with the Duke of Manchester, the Count d’Aranda, the Prince Bariatinski, and M. Markow, with their secretaries; that, after dinner, the secretaries, in presence of all the ministers, read over, compared, and corrected the definitive treaties between France and Great Britain, and between Spain and Great Britain, and finally Edition: current; Page: [136] agreed upon both. So that they are now ready for signature by the ministers of Great Britain, France, and Spain, as principals, and by those of the two Imperial Courts as mediators.

The Duke of Manchester told me, that Mr. Hartley’s courier, who carried our project of a treaty, arrived in London last Saturday, and might be expected here next Saturday on his return.

In the evening, on my return from Versailles, Mr. Hartley called upon me at my house, and informed me, that he had just received a courier from Westminster, who had brought him the ratification of our provisional treaty, under the King’s own hand, and under the great seal of the kingdom, inclosed in a silver box, ornamented with golden tassels as usual, which he was ready to exchange to-morrow morning. He informed me, farther, that he had received very satisfactory letters from the Duke of Portland and Mr. Fox, and the strongest assurances that the dispositions of his Court were very good to finish immediately, and to arrange all things upon the best footing; that he had farther received plenary authority to sign the definitive treaty to-morrow or to-night, if we pleased; that he had received a draft ready formed, which he would show us.

We agreed to go together in the morning to my colleagues; and this morning we went out in Mr. Hartley’s carriage, exchanged the ratifications, and he produced to us his project of a definitive treaty. It is the provisional treaty in so many words, without addition or diminution. It is only preceded with a preamble, which makes it a definitive treaty. And he proposed to us, that all matters of discussion, respecting commerce or other things, should be left to be discussed by ministers, to be mutually appointed to reside in London and Philadelphia.

We told him, that it had been proposed to us, that the ministers of the two Imperial Courts should sign the treaty as mediators, and that we had answered that we had no objection to it. He said, he had unanswerable ones. First, he had no authority, and could not obtain any, certainly under ten days, nor probably ever. For, secondly, it would, he thought, give great offence to his Court, and they never would agree that any nation should interfere between them and America. Thirdly, for his part, he was fully against it, and should write his opinion Edition: current; Page: [137] to his Court. If he was about to marry his daughter, or set up a son in the world, after he was of age, he would never admit any of his neighbors to intervene, and sign any contract he might make, as mediators. There was no need of it.

We told him there was no need of warmth upon the occasion, or any pretence for his Court to take offence; that it had been proposed to us that the imperial ministers should sign as mediators. Our answer had been, that we had no objections; that we were willing and ready to consent to it, or even to request it. His Court had a right to consent or dissent, as it thought proper. To be sure, the mediation could not take place without their consent. That he might write to his Court the proposition, and if he received orders to consent or dissent, it would be equally well. In the mean time, we were ready to sign the definitive treaty, either with or without the mediation, whenever the other parties were ready to sign, according to his project just received from his Court, that is, simply a repetition of the provisional treaty.

We have agreed to this, because it is plain that all propositions for alterations in the provisional articles will be an endless discussion, and that we must give more than we can hope to receive. The critical state of things in England and at the Court of Versailles, and in all the rest of Europe, affords pressing motives to get this business finished.

Mr. Hartley told us from his Court, that they had expected an American minister at St. James’s these three months, and that all further matters might be there discussed. He also announced to us the birth of another princess, the fifteenth child of the Queen, upon which event he received our congratulations, which I hope congress will approve, and repeat by their minister in London; for these personal and family compliments are more attended to in courts, and have greater effects, than may be imagined.

I lament very much that we cannot obtain an explanation of the article respecting the refugees, and that respecting debts; but it is plain we must give more than they are worth for such explanations; and what is of more decisive importance, we must make a long delay, and put infinitely greater things at hazard by this means.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [138]
John Adams
Adams, John
13 August, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

Yesterday, at Versailles, the Baron de Walterstorff came to me, and told me he had delivered to Dr. Franklin a project of a treaty between the Court of Denmark and the United States, and asked me, if Dr. Franklin had shown it to me. I answered him, that I knew nothing of it. He said, he wondered at that; he presumed it was because of my absence at the Hague, for that it had been shown to Mr. Jay. There, by the way, he was misinformed; for, upon my return from Versailles, I called upon Mr. Jay, on purpose to ask him, and he assured me he had not seen it. I asked Walterstorff, if his orders were to propose his project to us all. He said, no; this Court had been informed, that Dr. Franklin was the minister authorized and empowered by congress to treat with all the powers of Europe, and they had for this reason sent him orders to deliver the project to Dr. Franklin, but he supposed Dr. Franklin would consult his colleagues. The same information, I doubt not, has been given to the Court of Portugal and every other Court in Europe, namely,—that Dr. Franklin is alone empowered to treat with them; and, in consequence of it, very probably, propositions have been, or will be made, to him from all of them, and he will keep the whole as secret as he can from Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens, Mr. Dana, and me.

Now I beg to be informed by congress, whether he has such authority or not. Having never been informed of such powers, I do not believe he has them. I remember there was, seven years ago, a resolution of congress, that their commissioners at Versailles should have power to treat with the other powers of Europe; but, upon the dissolution of that commission, this authority was dissolved with it; or, if not, it still resides in Mr. Deane, Mr. Lee, and myself, who were once in that commission, as well as Dr. Franklin. And if it is by virtue of this power he acts, he ought at least to communicate with me, who alone am present. I think, however, that neither he nor I have any legal authority, and, therefore, that he ought to communicate every thing of this kind to all the ministers here or hereabout; Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens, and myself, at least.

Edition: current; Page: [139]

It is not from the vain wish of seeing my poor name upon a treaty, that I write this. If the business is well done, it is not of much importance in itself who does it. But my duty to my country obliges me to say, that I seriously believe this clandestine manner of smuggling treaties is contrived by European politicians on purpose that Mr. Jay and I may not have an opportunity of suggesting ideas for the preservation of American navigation, transport trade, and nurseries of seamen. But, in another point of view, it is of equal importance. This method reflects contempt and ridicule upon your other ministers. When all Europe sees that a number of your ministers are kept here as a kind of satellites to Dr. Franklin in the affair of peace, but that they are not to be consulted or asked a question, or even permitted to know the important negotiations which are here going on with all Europe, they fall into contempt. It cannot be supposed that congress mean to cast this contempt upon us, because it cannot be supposed they mean to destroy the reputation, character, influence, and usefulness of those to whom in other respects they intrust powers of so much consequence; and, therefore, I am persuaded that congress is as much imposed on by it as the Courts of Europe are.

I asked the Baron, what was the substance of the treaty. He said, his Court had taken for a model my treaty with Holland. I said nothing to him in answer to this, but I beg leave to say to congress, that the negotiation with Holland was in very different circumstances. We were then in the fiercest rage of the war. A treaty with that Republic was at that time of as much weight in the war as the captivity of Burgoyne or Cornwallis. A treaty with any power was worth a battle or a siege, and no moments of time were to be lost, especially in a country so divided, that, unanimity being necessary, every proposition was dangerous. At present, the case is altered, and we may take time to weigh and inquire. The Baron tells me that St. Thomas and St. John, two of their islands, are free ports, but that St. Croix, which is of more importance than both, is not; that foreign vessels, our vessels, are permitted to bring our produce and carry away half the value in sugar, &c. The island produces, communibus annis, twenty thousand hogsheads of sugar, and their molasses is better than that of the French, because Edition: current; Page: [140] they make only “sucres brutes.” He says, they have some sugar-houses at Copenhagen. But, notwithstanding this, I think it is worth while for congress to try if they cannot, by the treaty, obtain a right to take away cargoes to the full value of those they bring. It is worth while to try, too, if we cannot obtain a tariff, to ascertain the duties to be paid on exportation and importation. It is worth while, too, to endeavor to get the duties ascertained in the Danish ports in Europe, at least that we may not pay in their ports more than they pay in ours; or that our vessels may not be obliged to pay more than theirs, especially when we import our own produce. I pretend not to be a master of these commercial subjects, but I think that Dr. Franklin has not studied the subject more than myself; that both of us need the advice of Mr. Laurens and Mr. Jay, and that all of us want that of American merchants, and especially of congress. I am, therefore, against this secret and hasty method of concluding treaties, at this time, when they may be more maturely reflected on.

I know very well to what ill-natured remarks these reflections are liable, but they shall not hinder me from doing my duty. I do seriously believe, there are clandestine insinuations going about to every commercial nation in the world, to excite them to increase their own navigation and seamen at the expense of ours, and that this smuggling of treaties is one means of accomplishing the design, although Dr. Franklin may not be let into the secret of it. For, from long experience and observation, I am persuaded that one minister at least and his dependents would prefer that the navigation of any nation in the world, even that of the English, should grow, rather than ours. In the last Courier de l’Europe, it is said that all the commercial powers are concerting measures to clip the wings of the eagle, and to prevent us from having a navy. I believe it. That is to say, I believe measures are taken with them all to bring them into this system, although they are not let into the secret design, and do not know from whom the measures come, nor with what views promoted.

With great regard, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [141]
John Adams
Adams, John
15 August, 1783
Paris

TO SECRETARY LIVINGSTON.

Sir,

France, England, Spain, and America are all agreed; but Mr. Hartley is sanguine that the treaty will not be signed, because, he says, the Count de Vergennes does not mean to sign it. His reasons for this opinion I know not, and I think he is mistaken. It is very certain, however, that the French minister is embarrassed, and would not, perhaps, be sorry to find good reasons for postponing the signature for some time.

Congress may judge in some degree of the situation of things, by the following conversation which I had this morning with M. Brantzen, the ambassador extraordinary from the States-General, to whom I returned the visit he made me yesterday, when I was abroad.

He told me, “that he was as far, and indeed farther than ever, from an agreement with the Duke of Manchester. He had given up, he said, all pretensions to a compensation for the unjust damages of the war, and he had in a manner waved his claim of the restitution of Negapatnam. But the Duke of Manchester now insisted peremptorily upon, not only all the ancient salutations from the Dutch flag to the English, but an unlimited liberty of navigation in all the seas of the East Indies. He had despatched an express to the Hague the day before yesterday, who would arrive to-day; but the grand pensionary was sick, and the states of Holland not sitting; so that there must be some time before he could have an answer. Concerning the salutes to the flag, there would be different opinions, but they would be all of a mind against the liberty of navigation in the Indies. He could not, therefore, expect from their High Mightinesses permission to sign, and the Count de Vergennes would be embarrassed. All the other powers were ready, and to make them wait would raise a cry.

“To sign without Holland would raise a terrible storm in Holland against the Count, and no small one in France. And even if the States should authorize him to sign a shameful peace, this would raise no less clamor in Holland and France against the Count. He will, therefore, not know what to do, and will seek to postpone; for the parties of the Marquis de Edition: current; Page: [142] Castries and of M. de Breteuil will take advantage of every clamor against the Count, as these parties wish M. de Breteuil in his place. I am persuaded, therefore, that the Count himself looks upon his own situation as very hazardous. It has been so a long time. It was his instability in his place that made him sign the preliminaries, for money to carry on the war could not be obtained without M. Necker, and M. Necker would not come in with the Count, as they were and are sworn enemies to each other. He was, therefore, reduced to the dilemma to make peace or go out. I have good reasons to believe that the Maréchal de Castries disapproves of the Count’s conduct towards our Republic. He certainly deceived me. The states-general did very wrong to bind me to leave so much to the French minister; but I thought him an honest man, and that I could trust him; so I left things to him, according to my instructions, depending on his word, and at last I found myself the dupe. No, not a dupe, for I am always upon my guard not to be a dupe. But he deceived me; and when one whom I have reason to believe an honest man deceives me, I cannot call myself a dupe, for I can do no other than believe an honest man, when he gives me his word.”

In several of your letters, sir, you have insisted on my reciting to you my conversations with foreign ministers. You must not esteem them infallible oracles. They are often mistaken in their facts, and sometimes wrong in their reasonings. But these sentiments of M. Brantzen are of so much importance, that I thought proper to recite them. It will, indeed, be necessary for your foreign ministers to be more inquisitive than we have been, and to transmit to congress more information concerning the intrigues of courts than we have done. If the Maréchal de Castries and M. de Breteuil, who is now in the council, and M. Necker, are not friends to the Count de Vergennes, and all the world here agree they are not, congress ought to know it. Although I would have so much respect to the Queen, as not to name her Majesty upon unnecessary occasions, yet, upon this, when she is sister to the Emperor, and the question at Court is, whether there shall be a war with her brother, it is obviously a matter of so much importance, as to make it a duty to communicate to congress her sentiments, which all men here agree are favorable to de Castries and Breteuil, but Edition: current; Page: [143] not partial to the present minister of foreign affairs. I said, in a former letter, if this minister continues, there will be war; but I am told by some, if there is war, he cannot continue; for neither he nor his friends can raise the money. M. de Rayneval, however, affirmed positively to Mr. Hartley, that nothing but death could remove the Count.1

All these things show the critical and uncertain constitution of this Court, and the uncertainty when the definitive treaty will be signed, notwithstanding that four powers are agreed, and, therefore, I can give congress no clear information upon that head. This is a great chagrin to me, both on account of the public and myself, because I am as uncertain about my own destiny as that of the public.

With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 September, 1783
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

On Wednesday, the 3d day of this month, the American ministers met the British minister at his lodgings at the Hôtel de York, and signed, sealed, and delivered the definitive treaty of peace between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain. Although it is but a confirmation or repetition of the provisional articles, I have the honor to congratulate congress upon it, as it is a completion of the work of peace, and the best that we could obtain. Nothing remains now to be done, but a treaty of commerce; but this, in my opinion, cannot be negotiated without a new commission from congress to some one or more persons. Time, it is easy to foresee, will not be likely to render the British nation more disposed to a regulation of commerce favorable to us, and, therefore, my advice is, to issue a commission as soon as may be.

There is another subject on which I beg leave to represent to congress my sentiments, because they seem to me of importance, Edition: current; Page: [144] and because they differ from many sanguine opinions, which will be communicated to the members of that assembly from partisans both of England and France.

In the late deliberations concerning an acceptance of the mediation of the Imperial Courts, the British minister refused it, and in the conferences we had with the Count de Vergennes upon this subject, it was manifest enough to me that he was not fond of our accepting it; for, although he maintained a perfect impartiality of language, neither advising us for nor against the measure, yet, at last, when it was observed that Mr. Hartley was averse to it, he turned to Dr. Franklin, and said that we must agree with Mr. Hartley about it, with such a countenance, air, and tone of voice (for from these you must often collect the sentiments of ministers) as convinced me he did not wish the mediation should take place.

It was not a subject which would bear insisting on, either way. I therefore made no difficulty. But I am, upon recollection, fully of opinion that we should have done wisely to have sent our letter to the imperial ministers, accepting the mediation on our part. The signature of these ministers would have given us reputation in Europe and among our own citizens. I mention these, because I humbly conceive that congress ought, in all their proceedings, to consider the opinion that the United States or the people of America will entertain of themselves. We may call this national vanity or national pride, but it is the main principle of the national sense of its own dignity, and a passion in human nature, without which nations cannot preserve the character of man. Let the people lose this sentiment, as in Poland, and a partition of their country will soon take place. Our country has but lately been a dependent one, and our people, although enlightened and virtuous, have had their minds and hearts habitually filled with all the passions of a dependent and subordinate people; that is to say, with fear, with diffidence, and distrust of themselves, with admiration of foreigners, &c. Now, I say, that it is one of the most necessary and one of the most difficult branches of the policy of congress to eradicate from the American mind every remaining fibre of this fear and self-diffidence on one hand, and of this excessive admiration of foreigners on the other.

It cannot be doubted one moment that a solemn acknowledgment Edition: current; Page: [145] of us by the signature of the two Imperial Courts would have had such a tendency in the minds of our countrymen. But we should also consider upon every occasion how our reputation will be affected in Europe. We shall not find it easy to keep up the respect for us that has been excited by the continual publication of the exploits of the war. In the calm of peace, little will be said about us in Europe unless we prepare for it, but by those who have designs upon us. We may depend upon it, every thing will be said in Europe and in the gazettes which anybody in Europe wants to have repeated in America, to make such impressions upon the minds of our citizens as he desires. It will become us, therefore, to do every thing in our power to make reasonable and just impressions upon the public opinion in Europe. The signature of the two Imperial Courts would have made a deep and important impression in our favor upon full one half of Europe, as friends to those Courts, and upon all the other half, as enemies.

I need not explain myself further. I may, however, add, that Americans can scarcely conceive the decisive influence of the governments of Europe upon their people. Every nation is a piece of clockwork, every wheel is under the absolute direction of the sovereign as its weight or spring. In consequence of this, all that moiety of mankind that are subject to the two Imperial Courts and their allies, would, in consequence of their mediation, have been openly and decidedly our friends at this hour, and the other half of Europe would certainly have respected us the more for this. But, at present, the two Imperial Courts, not having signed the treaty, all their friends are left in a state of doubt and timidity concerning us. From all the conversations I have had with the Count de Mercy and M. Markow, it is certain that the two Courts wished, as these ministers certainly were ambitious, to sign our treaty. They and their sovereigns wished that their names might be read in America, and there respected as our friends. But this is now past. England and France will be most perfectly united in all artifices and endeavors to keep down our reputation at home and abroad, to mortify our self-conceit, and to lessen us in the opinion of the world. If we will not see, we must be the dupes; we need not, for we have in our own power, with the common blessing, the means of every thing we want. There is but one Edition: current; Page: [146] course now left to retrieve the error, and that is, to send a minister to Vienna with power to make a treaty with both the Imperial Courts. Congress must send a minister first, or it will never be done. The Emperor never sends first, nor will England ever send a minister to America until congress shall have sent one to London.

To form immediate commercial connections with that half of Europe which ever has been, and with little variations ever will be, opposite to the House of Bourbon, is a fundamental maxim of that system of American politics which I have pursued invariably from the beginning of this war. It is the only means of preserving the respect of the House of Bourbon itself; it is the only means in conjunction with our connections with the House of Bourbon, already formed, to secure us the respect of England for any length of time, and to keep us out of another war with that kingdom. It is, in short, the only possible means of securing to our country that peace, neutrality, impartiality, and indifference in European wars, which, in my opinion, we shall be unwise in the last degree, if we do not maintain. It is, besides, the only way in which we can improve and extend our commercial connections to the best advantage.

With great respect, I am,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 September, 1783
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Yesterday morning, Mr. Jay informed me, that Dr. Franklin had received, and soon after the Doctor put into my hands the resolution of congress of the 1st of May,1 ordering a commission and instructions to be prepared to those gentlemen and myself for making a treaty of commerce with Great Britain. This resolution, with your Excellency’s letter, arrived Edition: current; Page: [147] very seasonably, as Mr. Hartley was setting off for London with information from us that our powers were executed.

I am very sensible of the honor that is done me by this resolution of congress, and of the great importance of the business committed to our care; and shall not, therefore, hesitate to take a part in it. I can attend to this business, and at the same time have some care of your affairs in Holland; and in case the present loan should be full in the course of the next winter, I can open a new one, either by going to Amsterdam, or by having the obligations sent to me in Paris to be signed. In this way there will be no additional expense to the public, as I have informed M. Dumas that there must be no expense made at the Hague on my account, or on account of congress, but that all his expenses must be borne by himself, or he must at least settle them with congress. I have so much regard for this gentleman, and such an opinion of his worth and merit, that I cannot but recommend him upon this occasion to congress, for the commission of secretary of that legation; but as economy is and ought to be carefully attended to, I presume not to point out the salary which will be proper. There are so many ways of pillaging public men in Europe, that it will be difficult for congress to conceive the expenses which are unavoidable in these countries.

If the principle of economy should restrain congress from sending ministers to Vienna, Petersburg, Copenhagen, and Lisbon, they will probably send a commission to Paris to negotiate treaties there, because I think it will appear to be of great importance, both in a political and commercial light, to have treaties with those powers. If this should be the case, as three of us will be now obliged to attend at Paris the tedious negotiation with England, we can all at the same time, and with the same expense, attend to the negotiations with the other powers, which will afford to all an opportunity of throwing in any hints which may occur for the public good, and will have a much better appearance in the eyes of Europe and America. I do not hesitate, therefore, to request, that if such a commission or commissions should be sent, all your ministers in Europe may be inserted in it. If the arrangement should make any difficulty in America, it will make none with me; for, although I think there was good reason for the order Edition: current; Page: [148] in which the names stand in the new commission for peace, and in the resolution for a new commission for a treaty of commerce, that reason will not exist in any future commission.

Mr. Hartley’s powers are sufficient to go through the negotiation with us, and I suppose it will be chiefly conducted at Paris; yet we may all think it proper to make a tour to London, for a few weeks, especially in case any material obstacle should arise. We are told that such a visit would have a good effect at Court and with the nation; at least, it seems clear it would do no harm.

With the greatest respect and esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 September, 1783
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

As the resolution of congress of the 1st of May has determined it to be my duty to remain in Europe at least another winter, I shall be obliged to say many things to your Excellency by letter, which I hoped to have had the honor of saying upon the floor of your house. Some of these things may be thought at first of little consequence, but time, and inquiry, and consideration, will show them to have weight. Of this sort is the subject of this letter.

The views and designs, the intrigues and projects of courts, are let out by insensible degrees, and with infinite art and delicacy, in the gazettes. These channels of communication are very numerous, and they are artificially complicated in such a manner, that very few persons are able to trace the sources from whence insinuations and projects flow. The English papers are an engine by which every thing is scattered all over the world. They are open and free. The eyes of mankind are fixed upon them. They are taken by all courts and all politicians, and by almost all gazetteers. Of these papers, the French emissaries in London, even in time of war, but especially in time of peace, make a very great use; they insert in them things which they wish to have circulated far and wide. Some of the paragraphs inserted in them will do to circulate through all Europe, and some will not Edition: current; Page: [149] do, in the Courier de l’Europe. This is the most artful paper in the world; it is continually accommodating between the French and English ministry. If it should offend the English essentially, the ministry would prevent its publication; if it should sin against the French unpardonably, the ministry would instantly stop its circulation; it is, therefore, continually under the influence of the French ministers, whose underworkers have many things translated into it from the English papers, and many others inserted in it originally, both to the end that they may be circulated over the world, and particularly that they may be seen by the King of France, who reads this paper constantly. From the English papers and the Courier de l’Europe many things are transferred into various other gazettes,—the Courier du Bas Rhin, the Gazette de Deux Ponts, the Courier d’Avignon, and the Gazette des Pays Bas. The gazettes of Leyden and Amsterdam are sometimes used for the more grave and solid objects, those of Deux Ponts and Avignon for popular topics, the small talk of coffee-houses, and still smaller and lower circles.

All these papers and many others discover a perpetual complaisance for the French ministry, because they are always in their power so entirely, that if an offensive paragraph appears, the entrance and distribution of the gazette may be stopped by an order from Court, by which the gazetteer loses the sale of his paper in France, which is a great pecuniary object. Whoever shall hereafter come to Europe in any public employment, and take in the papers above enumerated, will acknowledge his obligations to me for mentioning them. He will find them a constant source of amusement, and sometimes of useful discoveries. I may hereafter possibly entertain congress with some curious speculations from these gazettes, which all have their attention fixed upon us, and very often honor us with their animadversions, sometimes with their grave counsels, but oftener still, with very subtle and sly insinuations.

With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [150]
John Adams
Adams, John
10 September, 1783
Paris

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

As I am to remain in Europe for some time longer, I beg leave to take a cursory view of what appears necessary or expedient to be further done in Europe; for I conceive it to be not only the right, but the duty of a foreign minister, to advise his sovereign, according to his lights and judgment, although the more extensive information and superior wisdom of the sovereign may frequently see cause to pursue a different conduct.

With Spain, no doubt, congress will negotiate by a particular minister, either the present one or another, and perhaps it would be proper that the same should treat with Naples. With the two Empires, Prussia, Denmark, Portugal, Sardinia, and Tuscany, I humbly conceive, it might be proper to negotiate, and perhaps with Hamburg; but there are other powers with whom it is more necessary to have treaties than it ought to be; I mean Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli.

I presume that congress will not think it expedient to be at the expense of sending ministers to all these powers, if to any. Perhaps in the present state of our finances, it may not be worth while to send any. Yet the present time is the best to negotiate with all. I submit it to consideration, then, whether it is not advisable to send a commission to such ministers as you judge proper, with full powers to treat with all, to the ministers now in Paris, or to any others. But I humbly conceive, that if powers to treat with all or any of these States are sent to any of your ministers now here, it would be for the public good, that they should be sent to all. If congress can find funds to treat with the Barbary powers, the ministers here are the best situated, for they should apply to the Court of Versailles and their High Mightinesses in the first place, that orders should be sent to their consuls, according to treaties, to assist us. Ministers here may carry on this negotiation by letters, or may be empowered to send an agent, if necessary. I have no private interest in this business. My salary will be the same, my expenses more, and labor much increased by such a measure. But, as it is of public importance, I think that no unnecessary Edition: current; Page: [151] delicacies should restrain me from suggesting these hints to congress. Whatever their determination may be, it will be satisfactory to me.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect,

Your Excellency’s, &c.
John Adams.
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert
20 September, 1783
John Adams
Adams, John

ROBERT MORRIS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have been duly honored with your Excellency’s favors of the 5th, 10th, and 11th of July.1 I have taken the liberty to make some extracts from the two latter, which are transmitted in a letter to the Governor of Massachusetts, a copy whereof is inclosed. Permit me, sir, to give my feeble approbation and applause to those sentiments of wisdom and integrity which are as happily expressed as they are forcibly conceived. The necessity of strengthening our confederation, providing for our debts, and forming some federal constitution, begins to be most seriously felt. But, unfortunately for America, the narrow and illiberal prejudices of some have taken such deep root, that it must be difficult and may prove impracticable to remove them.

I agree with you, sir, in opinion, that the late peace was not, all circumstances considered, a bad one for England. It is, undoubtedly, a peace equally glorious to, and necessary for, America. All ranks of men in this country feel, as well as perceive, the benefits of it, and the fault-finders (for such men there always will be) are borne down by the general torrent of applause.

I was happy to learn, by the Washington packet, that you intended a short trip to Amsterdam for the purpose of urging on the loan. I hope you may have met with the success due to your zeal and abilities; I shall ask no greater.

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
Robert Morris.
Edition: current; Page: [152]
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert
20 September, 1783

(Inclosed.)
ROBERT MORRIS TO THE GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS.

Sir,

I should do injustice to my own feelings, if I did not inclose you the extracts of letters I have lately received under date of the 10th and 11th July, from a wise and virtuous citizen of your State. The sentiments on public credit, contained in these letters, so just and forcible in themselves, must receive a double weight from the consideration, that Mr. Adams, during his late important negotiations, has been in a situation to see, feel, and know the importance of the subject on which he writes, and to search, scrutinize, and examine it to the bottom.

I am, sir, &c.
Robert Morris.
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan
16 October, 1783
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Some time having elapsed since we had the honor of addressing your Excellency, we now take the liberty of informing you, sir, of our having received letters from Mr. Morris, giving us intelligence of certain drafts which he had partly already made on us, and which he should yet make, though the total amount together was much more than we now have in cash for the United States of America. His Excellency is in the idea that before this time we should have provided that for which M. Grand may have occasion, though, not exactly knowing what that may be, we have given the necessary advice to M. Grand, that he must place no reliance upon being furnished by us; and we thought it advisable, also, to give your Excellency the same notice.

It is exceedingly painful for us to be obliged to say that the success of the loan, since the month of August, is not such as we had reason to expect, when in the summer we had the honor of conversing with your Excellency. Besides the uncommon scarcity of money, a principal cause of the loan not succeeding Edition: current; Page: [153] is the great number of accounts received of disputes in America between the particular States and congress. It is true, this intelligence is mostly communicated by the English newspapers, and is worthy of little or no credit, even as we ourselves look upon it; but it makes more impression upon the money-lenders, who always incline to mistrust without cause, especially at a time when, through a great concurrence of loans, they are not at a loss with their money. We are constantly hoping we shall be able, by receiving direct intelligence from America, to evince the falsehood of the English accounts, or that your Excellency or the other ministers would do it but to this time is this hope not realized. If your Excellency was in possession of authentic intelligence upon this matter, we think the publication of it would do much service in procuring a better success to our continual endeavors for selling of the bonds.

In sentiments of the greatest respect, &c.
Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nich. and Jacob Van Staphorst,
De la Lande and Fynje.
Elias Boudinot
Boudinot, Elias
1 November, 1783
Princeton
John Adams
Adams, John

THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have the honor of acknowledging the receipt of your several public letters, under the dates of June the 23d to July the 18th inclusive, by Captain Barney. Nothing is done, in consequence of these letters, but what is contained in the instructions inclosed in my official letter by this opportunity to the commissioners jointly.

Congress have not come to any further determination on your last letters relative to your resignation, on account of the peace arrangement not being yet settled. Perhaps there will be but very few ministers employed in Europe, and these in the character of residents or simply ministers.

The conduct of Great Britain does not appear yet very conciliating, and her measures on this side the water have rather tended to irritate than otherwise. Congress will not be in a hurry to send a minister to the Court of London till they see Edition: current; Page: [154] how the definitive treaty will end. We have an account this day from Colonel Ogden, that it was signed on the 3d of September, and that Mr. Thaxter is on his way with it, whom we long to see.

Your letters on the subject of our credit abroad, and the strengthening and cementing the union at home, came at a happy moment, and have had a very good effect. Your countrymen were running wild on this subject, but your observations and opinion have helped to check them, and the legislature of Massachusetts have passed the five per cent. impost recommended by congress.

M. Van Berckel is arrived, and yesterday received his first public audience of congress. His address and our answer I send to the commissioners jointly. He appears to justify the high opinion we had formed of the wisdom of the states of the United Netherlands. Their choice of a minister so consonant to the temper and manners of the citizens of these States, shows their judgment and prudence. We are much pleased with this gentleman, and, as far as I can judge from present appearances, I may venture to predict that he will cement the union of the two Republics.

I shall leave the chair of congress on Monday, and return to private life at Elizabethtown, after almost eight years spent in the service of my country. I rejoice to have seen the end of all our labors so happily accomplished, and shall ever revere those great men who have lent a helping hand to the glorious work. In private or public life, I shall be always glad of the honor of a line from you, sir, if but to announce your health and welfare.

I have the honor to be, &c.
Elias Boudinot.
Robert Morris
Morris, Robert
5 November, 1783
John Adams
Adams, John

ROBERT MORRIS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I am honored with your Excellency’s favor of the 28th of July, from Amsterdam, for which I pray you to accept my acknowledgments. I am perfectly in sentiment with you, that it is best to avoid government interference in the affair of our loan. If there were no other reason, I should not like the demand of grateful acknowledgment which would be erected Edition: current; Page: [155] on that foundation. We hear enough already of our national obligations, and I most heartily wish, for my own part, that we could at once acquit them all, even to the uttermost farthing; for I seriously believe that both nations and individuals generally prove better friends, when no obligations can be charged, nor acknowledgments and retributions claimed on either side.

I am also very strongly in opinion with you, that remittances from this country would greatly uphold our credit in Europe, for, in mercantile life, nothing vivifies credit like punctuality and plenteousness of remittance. The plan you propose to obtain them, might also be attended with some good consequences; but there are impediments in the way of its success, which it would be tedious to detail, and which indeed you could not be so perfectly master of without being on the spot. I shall not, therefore, go into that matter at present, and the more especially as we have now good hopes that the plan of congress will be adopted by the States. Last evening I received advice that Massachusetts had acceded, and I have a double pleasure in announcing this to you, as they certainly would not have come in but for the sentiments contained in your letters.

Let me then, my dear sir, most heartily congratulate you on those virtuous emotions which must swell your bosom at the reflection that you have been the able, the useful, and, what is above all other things, the honest servant of a Republic, indebted to you in a great degree for her first efforts at independent existence. That you may long live to enjoy those pleasing reflections which flow from the memory of an active and beneficial exercise of time and talents, is the sincere wish of your most obedient and humble servant,

Robert Morris.
Edward A. Holyoke
Holyoke, Edward A.
6 November, 1783
Salem
John Adams
Adams, John

E. A. HOLYOKE TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Your Excellency’s favors done to the Massachusetts Medical Society call for their most grateful acknowledgments;1 and it is at their desire I now inclose to your Excellency the copy of a vote from their records, expressive of the gratitude Edition: current; Page: [156] they feel and the obligations they are under to your Excellency for your kind attention to their interests, and for the honor done them by introducing them to an acquaintance with so respectable a body as the Société Royale de Médecine at Paris, to which, permit me, sir, to add my own personal thanks; and as while we continue to prosecute the ends of our institution, we are promoting the cause of science and humanity, so we shall still hope for the continuance of your Excellency’s good offices.

I have the honor to be, &c.
E. A. Holyoke.
N. W. Appleton
Appleton, N. W.
October 15, 1783
Boston

(Inclosure.)

At a meeting of the Massachusetts Medical Society in Boston, October 15, 1783,—

Voted, unanimously, that the thanks of this Society be returned to his Excellency John Adams, Minister Plenipotentiary for the United States of America, for his early attention to the interests and honor of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and for his assiduous endeavors to introduce the institution to the notice of the Royal Society of Medicine at Paris.

A true copy from the records.
N. W. Appleton, Secretary.
John Adams
Adams, John
9 November, 1783
London

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

About the 14th of September I was seized at Paris with a fever, which proved to be a dangerous one, and brought me very low, so that I was unable to attend to any business for some time. On the 20th of October, in pursuance of the advice of my friends, I set out from Auteuil, a village in the neighborhood of Passy, for London, which city I reached by slow journeys the 26th. I found my strength increase as I advanced, and my health is so much improved that I am persuaded the last sickness has been of service to me, having never enjoyed, since my great sickness at Amsterdam, so good health as at present. Mr. Jay had set off for London about ten days before me, and, since my arrival, we have been much together, and have found every thing agreeable, notwithstanding the Edition: current; Page: [157] innumerable and incessant lies and nonsense of the newspapers.

As I came here in a private capacity altogether, I have not visited any one of the ministers, nor any one of the foreign ambassadors, and I am inclined to think, upon the whole, that I shall not, unless we should receive the commission to treat of commerce which congress resolved on the 1st of last May, while I stay here.

The whig part of the present administration are much embarrassed with the tory part and their refugees; so that the spirit of the present administration, I must in duty say, is not so friendly to the United States as it ought to be; for want of powers, however, we can reduce nothing to a certainty. We expect every day to receive our commission and instructions.

Mr. Hartley thinks himself empowered to finish the business with us by his former commission. The ministry are of the same opinion; and it is no doubt true; so that as soon as our commission and instructions arrive we shall enter upon the conferences. But whether we shall go to Paris, or Dr. Franklin will come here, at present I know not. The negotiation, I am persuaded, would succeed better here than at Paris.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
12 November, 1783
London
William Ellery
Ellery, William

TO WILLIAM ELLERY AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

I duly received the letter you did me the honor to write me on the 26th of May,1 with two addresses inclosed,—one to the ministers and churches of the reformed in Holland, the other to those in France,—and it should have been answered sooner, had not a long sickness prevented. I am duly sensible of the honor you do me, gentlemen, by confiding this benevolent office to my care; and it would give me great pleasure to be able to give you encouragement to hope for success.

But solicitations of this kind are considered so differently in America and in Europe, that an appointment which would be Edition: current; Page: [158] considered as very honorable in the former, is regarded in the latter in a different light. This diversity of sentiment is so real and so serious, that, in the opinion of others, as well as in my own, it is inconsistent with the public character I have at present the honor to hold under the United States, for me to accept of this. It is agreed on all hands, that my name appearing in this business would do a great injury to the loan of which I have the care in Holland, so that I must beg the favor of you, gentlemen, to make my apology to the Second Congregational Church in Newport for declining a trust which my regard to their constitution, as well as their welfare and my personal respect for you, would have induced me to accept with pleasure, had it been compatible with my duty.

On occasion of a great fire in Charlestown formerly, and of the application of Dartmouth College lately, I have seen that there is such a degree of ridicule attends such solicitations of benevolence in Europe, that I cannot advise you to expect any relief this way. If you were to send an agent on purpose, in my opinion, he would not obtain enough to pay his expenses.

With great respect and esteem,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 November, 1783
London

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

If any one should ask me what is the system of the present administration, I should answer, “to keep their places.” Every thing they say or do, appears evidently calculated to that end, and no ideas of public good, no national object, is suffered to interfere with it.

In order to drive out Shelburne, they condemned his peace, which all the whig part of them would have been very glad to have made, and have gloried in the advantages of it. In order to avail themselves of the old habits and prejudices of the nation, they now pretend to cherish the principles of the navigation act, and the King has been advised to recommend this in his speech, and the lords have echoed it in very strong terms.

The coalition appears to stand on very strong ground; the lords and great commoners, who compose it, count a great majority of members of the house of commons who are Edition: current; Page: [159] returned by themselves, every one of whom is a dead vote. They are endeavoring to engage the Bedford interest with them, in order to strengthen themselves still more, by persuading Thurlow to be again chancellor, and Mr. Pitt, whose personal popularity and family weight with the nation are very desirable for them, is tempted with the place of chancellor of the exchequer, which Lord John Cavendish, from mere aversion to business, wishes to resign.

While they are using such means to augment their strength, they are manifestly intimidated at the sight of those great national objects which they know not how to manage. Ireland is still in a state of fermentation, throwing off the admiralty, post-office, and every other relic of British parliamentary authority, and contending for a free importation of their woolen manufactures into Portugal, for the trade to the East Indies, to the United States of America, and all the rest of the world, in as ample manner as the English enjoy these blessings. The Irish volunteers are also contending for a parliamentary reform, and a more equal representation in their house of commons, and are assembling, by their delegates, in a congress at Dublin, to accomplish it. This rivalry of Ireland is terrible to the ministry; they are supposed to be at work to sow jealousies and divisions between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.

The East Indies exhibit another scene which will be formidable to the ministers. Here centre the hopes of England; and it is certain that no system can be pursued which will give universal satisfaction. Some require the government to take that whole country into their own hands; others demand aids in cash, and troops to the company. Opposition will be first formed probably upon Indian affairs.

Public credit is the greatest object of all. The necessary annual expense, comprehending the interest of the whole national debt, funded and unfunded, and the peace establishment, will amount to near seventeen millions. The annual receipts of taxes have never yet amounted to thirteen millions. Here will be a deficiency, then, of near four millions a year, which will render an annual loan necessary, until the debt will be so increased, and the stocks so sunk, that no man will lend his money. The judicious will call upon ministers for a remedy, and will embarrass them with their reproaches; but the stockjobbers are Edition: current; Page: [160] more numerous than the judicious, and more noisy. These live upon loans, and as long as ministers borrow twelve millions a year, and employ the stockjobbers to raise it, however certainly the measure tends to ruin, their clamors will be for ministers. An enormous loan is the most popular thing a statesman can undertake; so certain is the bankruptcy of this country! Opposition will declaim upon this topic, but will make no impression.

The United States of America are another object of debate. If an opposition should be formed and concerted, I presume that one fundamental of it will be a liberal conduct towards us. They will be very profuse in professions of respect and esteem and affection for us; will pretend to wish for measures which may throw a veil over the past, and restore, as much as possible, the ancient good will. They will be advocates for some freedom of communication with the West Indies, and for our having an equitable share of that carrying trade, &c. Administration, on the other hand, I am confident, will with great difficulty be persuaded to abandon the mean, contemptible policy which their proclamations exhibit.

In my humble opinion, the only suitable place for us to negotiate the treaty in, is London. Here, with the most perfect politeness to the ministry, we may keep them in awe. A visit to a distinguished member of the opposition, even if nothing should be said at it about public affairs, would have more weight with ministers than all our arguments. Mr. Jay is, I believe, of the same opinion. But we shall not conduct the negotiation here, unless Dr. Franklin should come over. Indeed, if congress should join us in a commission to treat with other powers, in my opinion, we might conduct the business better here than in Paris. I shall, however, cheerfully conform to the sentiments of my colleagues. The delay of the commission is to me a great embarrassment; I know not whether to stay here, return to Paris or the Hague; I hope every moment to receive advices from congress which will resolve me.

I received yesterday a letter from Mr. Hartley, with the compliments of Mr. Fox, and that he should be glad to see me, proposing the hour of eleven to-day, which I agreed to. Mr. Jay saw him one day this week. Mr. Jay made him and the Edition: current; Page: [161] Duke of Portland a visit on his first arrival; they were not at home. But he never heard from them until my arrival, ten days or a fortnight after. Informed of this, I concluded not to visit them, and did not; but after a very long time, and, indeed, after Mr. Hartley’s return from Bath, messages have been sent to Mr. Jay and me, that Mr. Fox would be glad to see us. It is merely for form, and to prevent a cry against him in parliament for not having seen us, for not one word was said to Mr. Jay of public affairs, nor will a word be said to me.

The real friendship of America seems to me the only thing which can redeem this country from total destruction. There are a few who think so here, and but a few, and the present ministers are not among them; or at least, if they are of this opinion, they conceal it, and behave as if they thought America of small importance. The consequence will be, that little jealousies and rivalries and resentments will be indulged, which will do essential injury to this country as they happen, and they will end in another war, in which will be torn from this island all her possessions in Canada, Nova Scotia, and the East and West Indies.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan
2 December, 1783
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

The relation in which we have the honor to stand with your Excellency, concerning the American loan, makes it our duty to inform your Excellency of the following circumstances.

We received, some time since, a letter from Mr. Morris, dated 5th August, by which he advised us, that he had determined to value upon us by his drafts till the amount of half a million florins. We calculated, at that time, that the balance we had in hands, with the net proceeds of the cargo of tobacco of the ship Sally, would not be sufficient to pay those drafts; and that in case we should have no opportunity to sell one or two hundred bonds at least, we were exposed to a disbursement of about the amount of that value. Notwithstanding this, we took the resolution to honor the mentioned drafts, and determined that we should advance the deficient money, if, at the time of their payment, Edition: current; Page: [162] we should not have so much cash. We did not hesitate to give assurances of this in our answer to Mr. Morris, exposing, however, at the same time, the very disagreeable circumstances in the business of the loan. This our letter to Mr. Morris was dated 11 July, and we hope he will have received the same speedily. Our next and following letters were no less discouraging, because, notwithstanding our repeated endeavors, we could not make an engagement, nor dispose of any quantity of bonds.

When this happened in Europe, Mr. Morris must, at the same time, have been in the best expectation about the business, since he advises us by his letter of the 1st October that he was informed (though through an indirect channel) that your Excellency’s journey to Holland had given a new spring to the American credit, and that the loan was going on well. This being the case, he determined to value on us to the amount of half a million more, which, together with the other half million, makes a whole million of florins, for payment of which we have only in cash (the net proceeds of the sold tobacco included) near four hundred thousand florins.

We received this advice last Sunday, and assembled in the afternoon to agree with one another what we should do in those circumstances. We were very much mortified about it, apprehending that those drafts might soon be offered for acceptance, and knowing the very little appearance, or almost impossibility, of a better success in the loan, within the time when the drafts will become due. And we are sorry to inform your Excellency that our apprehensions were but too well founded, since already, the next day, about two hundred thousand florins were offered.

In this disagreeable position, we determined to send immediately an express to his Excellency B. Franklin, at Paris, with a letter, whereby we informed him of what was going on, and desired that he should inform, whether perhaps M. Grand had a balance in favor of the United States, and that he should order that balance kept at our disposal. But if there should be no balance in the hands of M. Grand, or if the balance should not be of such a large sum, then we desired that Mr. Franklin should give his ministerial word to provide us, or to do honor to our drafts to the amount of, half a million of florins, in case we Edition: current; Page: [163] should come into the necessity to make use of such an operation, which will very likely, or almost certainly, be unavoidable. The express went the same evening, and we take the liberty to send your Excellency here inclosed a copy of our letter to Mr. Franklin for your perusal.

We are very sorry that Mr. Morris gives so much credit to an indirect advice, the authenticity of which we are ignorant of, because it is certain that thereby he exposes the whole American credit in Europe. For in case the answer of Mr. Franklin should not be quite satisfactory, and that, by consequence, we should be put to the necessity of declining the acceptance of the drafts, we fear it will cause a great cry and give a discredit to America. We hope it will not happen; and that in the mean time your Excellency and congress will look upon our offer to Mr. Franklin to honor Mr. Morris’s drafts upon his promise and guaranty, and also upon the expediting of the express, as proofs of our zeal and endeavors to remove every thing that might do any mischief to the American credit.

We have the honor to remain, &c.
Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nic. and Jacob Van Staphorst,
De la Lande and Fynje.

P. S. After having written our letter to your Excellency, the greatest part of the holders of Mr. Morris’s drafts, being Jews, whom it doth not suit to wait for the acceptance of their remittances, have determined to make them protested, which we could not prevent. We have given for answer, that we had not received the advice, and that we desired the bills should be offered again for payment when due, which we thought to be the best answer to preserve the credit of the drafts as much as we possibly could. The amount of those protested bills is about one hundred and seventy thousand florins.

We are sorry to observe a second time, that Mr. Morris promised not to distribute his drafts till some time after the advice, and that, a few days after, they come up. The first time was by his letter of 5 August, when he had determined to draw two hundred thousand florins, or perhaps till five hundred thousand, but he would only dispose of the bills as occasion might require, which must have been soon after, as we observed by the appearance Edition: current; Page: [164] of the bills. Now, by his letter of 1 October, the bills for the amount of the second half million of that date were lying in his hands to be disposed of during that month and the succeeding, or even perhaps in December, and by the numbers of the bills we presume that almost the whole sum must have been disposed of before the 26 of October, which, as far as we know, is the date of the last letters from Philadelphia. This is very disagreeable to us, and it seems but reasonable, that Mr. Morris should have waited some time longer, after his advice, with the distribution of his drafts, by which means it might have been possible to make some arrangement here in Europe, and to prevent the misfortune to which he has now exposed his drafts.

We have again the honor, &c.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 December, 1783
London
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

Commodore Jones is just arrived from Philadelphia with despatches. Those directed to the ministers I opened. One contained nothing but newspapers and proclamations. The other contained a letter “to the commissioners” and a set of instructions. The letter bears date the 1st of November; the instructions, the 29th of October. A remaining packet is directed to you alone, but probably contains a commission to us all to treat of commerce with Great Britain.

Mr. Jay and Mr. Laurens are at Bath, and the bearer is inclined to go on to Paris. I shall send on the despatches, and depend upon your sending us the earliest intelligence, if you find a commission, in the packet to you, in pursuance of the resolution of the 1st of May last, because that parliament must do something before they rise respecting the trade, and their proceedings may probably be somewhat the less evil for knowing beforehand that there is in Europe a power to treat.

I shall wait with some impatience to hear from you, because, if there is no commission under cover to you, in which I am named, I shall go to the Hague, and there take up my abode for some time. I have just received a letter from Willink & Co., which shows that money is exhausted, and credit too. He Edition: current; Page: [165] incloses me his letter to you, but I fear you will not be able to assist him.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
7 December, 1783
London
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.

Dear Sir,

The night before last, Commodore Jones arrived with despatches from congress. Two packets were directed to “the ministers,” and one larger one to Dr. Franklin. The two first I opened; one of them contained nothing but newspapers, the other contained a private letter from the president, and a set of instructions to the ministers for peace. These I copied, and sent on the originals to Passy, together with the packet to Franklin unopened. If it is found to contain a commission to us in conformity to the resolution of the 1st of last May, the Doctor will inform us by the first post, if not by express.

In the mean time, I wish to consult with you, if it were possible, upon our new instructions, which chalk out some new business for us. I would send you a copy of them, if I were not afraid of ministerial curiosity. Mr. Bingham makes me think you will soon be here.

I inclose herewith a letter from the president to you, and another to Mr. Laurens, which I must beg the favor of you to deliver to him, as I do not know his address.

Mifflin is the new president, and congress have adjourned to Annapolis, and are to sit, after some time, one year at Georgetown on Potomac, and one year on the Delaware. Colonel Ogden had arrived with the news of the signature of the definitive treaty, but Thaxter had not in the first week in November.

Barney’s destination is Havre-de-Grace, and his orders are positive to sail in three weeks for Philadelphia.

Mr. Morris has drawn so many bills upon my bankers in Amsterdam, that a number have been protested for non-acceptance; so that if Mr. Grand cannot assist in preventing the protest for non-payment, the catastrophe must now come on. This you will not mention at present.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [166]
John Adams
Adams, John
14 December, 1783
London
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

I have received your letter of the 2d of December, and am extremely sorry to learn that a number of Mr. Morris’s bills have been protested.

You did very prudently in writing immediately to Mr. Franklin, to inquire if M. Grand could afford you any assistance. I hope you have received a favorable answer. I am waiting for answers from Mr. Franklin to letters written to him, to determine whether I am to return to Paris or the Hague. But I do not know that I could be of any service to you, if I were in Holland.

With much esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan
23 December, 1783
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

We do ourselves the honor, in answer to your Excellency’s esteemed favor of 14 December, to hand you copies inclosed of the letters both of Dr. Franklin and M. Grand, by which you will be pleased to observe that the contents are by no means favorable to our purpose.

By the Washington packet, we have again been favored with his Excellency Robert Morris’s letters, with advice of new drafts to the amount of seven hundred and fifty thousand florins, which is nothing less than an augmentation of the difficulties we labor under to dispose the undertakers and moneylenders to take obligations, which is all to no purpose, since they seem informed that the Emperor and Russia, after the example of Sweden, will augment the interest; which expedient France actually sets on foot with its loan to open in January, of one hundred million of livres. This has already induced us to offer them some higher premium, to which we thought ourselves fully authorized by the circumstances and the drafts of Mr. Morris. To prevent their being protested (when due) for non-payment, which his Excellency writes us to prevent at all events, we have taken into consideration, whether it was not proper to apply to the regency of our city to obtain for Edition: current; Page: [167] the undertakers some facilities, by which means we might move them to take obligations enough to enable us to do due honor to all the drafts of the superintendent of finance. We are, therefore, sorry to see your Excellency is uncertain whether you will come to Holland, since we suppose that a proper application made in your especial quality to our regency might prove not unsuccessful.

However, as no time can be lost, to leave space to our regency for deliberating on this subject, and to have their resolution before the bills become due, we take the liberty to pray your Excellency, in case you are not to come here very soon, to favor us with a letter in your public capacity, for our pensionary, Van Berckel, by which you pray him to dispose favorably of the request we present to the regency, to promote the course of the loan, which condescension will be looked upon by congress as a real proof of our city of their friendship to the United States, who will not fail to put the right value on the same.

If this expedient should not prove successful by this application to the magistrate, there remains one way left, and the only one; that your Excellency be pleased to authorize us to make a new loan of four millions of florins, of which the interest comes out to six per cent. per annum, in which case we should not be destitute of hopes of succeeding. But, without doubt, we fear to be obliged to allow to the undertakers some more premium, which we shall not do, except from the greatest necessity, and with particular economy.

And as Mr. Morris mentions to us that he pays said interest in America, we venture to suppose that he can have no objection to allow us the same here; and the more, as not only all his drafts would be honored by it, and a considerable sum over become at his disposal, whilst there is no prejudice to credit in augmenting the interest. This is only following the example other powers have given, and to which our state, admiralties, East India Company will be obliged to come, to find money for the large loans they stand in need to make. Hence we conclude that those powers who resolve the first to augment the interest will succeed, and leave it very uncertain for those who follow to be equally happy.

In case your Excellency approve of our ideas, and judge it proper to send us at all events an authorization, we pray to add Edition: current; Page: [168] an assurance to it, that the loan done in consequence will be duly approved and ratified by congress. We shall inform his Excellency Mr. Morris, of this our application to your Excellency, and hope to convince hereby both you and him of our uninterrupted endeavors for the interest of congress.

We have the honor to be, &c.
Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nic. and Jacob Van Staphorst,
De la Lande and Fynje.
Jacob Van Staphorst
Van Staphorst, Jacob
26 December, 1783
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. VAN STAPHORST TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

At the beginning of this week, having many letters to despatch relating to the business of the United States, we agreed together upon their contents, and every one of us charged himself with part of the work. Mr. Willink promised to write a letter to your Excellency, and a short time before the departure of the mail, he sent it to the other houses for signing. We observed, he had not been very fortunate in the expression of our common ideas; however, there being no time for composing another letter, we put our names under his composition.

But, being in doubt whether your Excellency will sufficiently understand the meaning, and the matter being very interesting for the United States, we hope your Excellency will excuse us if we endeavor to supply the defect of that letter. If the matter was of less importance, we would not do it, for reasons which will be very apparent to your Excellency; but we presume that those reasons ought to be postponed, when there is danger that, by too much delicacy, the interests of the United States might suffer. We venture this step without the knowledge of our companions, in the intent only to serve your Excellency; we depend, therefore, upon your friendship, that you will do us the favor not to mention any thing about this address in your letters to the three houses.

Your Excellency is informed, that, by the present situation concerning the loan, and the dispositions of the treasurer, we have been in the very disagreeable necessity to decline the acceptance of half a million guilders, and again of seven hundred Edition: current; Page: [169] and fifty thousand guilders. We are informed, that if the last mentioned sum should return through want of payment, congress is not to pay any charges upon the return, in consequence of an agreement made with the houses who took the bills. But we presume, that, notwithstanding this, it will be a great advantage to the States, if we are able to pay them; and we know that the expenses attending the return of the half million, and the disappointment resulting from it, will be of such consequences, that we do not doubt but we are not only authorized to exert our utmost endeavors to dispose of a quantity of bonds, but even to allow some more remedium to the undertakers than we stipulated at the beginning with your Excellency. It is almost impossible at this time to obtain an engagement with these gentlemen, unless we should make such stipulations, which, however, we look upon as very prejudicial.

Considering this, and besides, that the not paying of the drafts would occasion a stagnation of commerce in the spring, because several bills are remitted to certain people, who are to send out goods for their amount, we thought it merited the attention of our government, and we have therefore mentioned the matter to a couple of very patriotic members of our magistracy, and desired their assistance for such encouragements as might facilitate the business. We had the satisfaction to find that they were fully convinced of the fatal consequences of the return of the bills, and that they promised to assist us in a further application, which, on this assurance, we have determined to make. We are in hopes it will be effectual, but we believe, at the same time, that your Excellency being present and approving of our idea, would give a great weight to our address; and, therefore, we should wish that, in case your other important business would permit that step, your Excellency would make a trip to this country. However, considering the present season, and that perhaps other important things concerning the United States may make it impossible for your Excellency to comply with our desire, we request you will write a letter to M. Van Berckel, Pensionary of this city, to recommend the business, and we have reason to think this will do very well.

Mr. Willink has added another scheme of a new loan for four millions at six per cent. It is true that the interests of loans Edition: current; Page: [170] are rather augmented since the time you opened the loan for the United States, and we do not decline that plan, in case we should have the misfortune of a disappointment from the magistracy. However, we, for our private opinion, should prefer first to complete the former loan at five per cent. Besides, we think it necessary to inform your Excellency, that whenever you shall give the preference to this scheme, and authorize us to put it in execution, it will not be done without granting a remedium to the undertakers.

We have the honor to be, &c.
Nic. and Jacob Van Staphorst.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 January, 1784
The Hague
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

Desirous of doing all in my power to save Mr. Morris’s bills, I determined to go to Amsterdam, and accordingly set off the beginning of this month from London in a season too rigorous for pleasure. At Harwich we were obliged to wait several days for fair weather, which, when it arrived, brought us little comfort, as it was very cold, and the wind exactly against us. The packets were obliged to put to sea, and I embarked in one of them. We were more than three days in advancing thirty-three leagues, with so unsteady a course, and such a tossing vessel, that we could not keep a fire, the weather very cold, and the passengers all very sea-sick. As we could not, on account of the great quantities of ice upon the coast, reach Helvoet, we were put on shore on the island of Goree, whence we got a boor’s wagon to carry our baggage, and we walked about six miles to the town of Goree; not finding iceboats here, we were obliged to go in open boors’ wagons across the island to Midel-Harnis. Here we were detained several days in very bad lodgings, unable to find boats to carry us over the arm of the sea to Helvoet. At length ice-boats appeared, and we embarked amidst a waste of ice which passed in and out every day with the tide; and, by the force of oars and boathooks, sometimes rowing in the water, and sometimes dragging on the ice, which would now and then break and let us down, in the course of the day we got over; and we thought ourselves Edition: current; Page: [171] lucky, as the last boat which passed got stuck in the ice, and was carried out with the tide and brought in again, so that it was out from nine in the morning to one o’clock the next night before it reached the opposite shore. We could not reach Helvoet, but landed on the dike about two miles from it, and took boors’ wagons again for the Brille, which we reached at night. Next morning, we took ice-boats again to cross another water obstructed by ice as before, and then a third, the Maese, which we found sufficiently frozen to walk over. Another boor’s wagon carried us to Delft, and from thence a coach to the Hague. After the rest of a day or two, I went to Amsterdam. Our bankers had applied to the regency, and I offered to enter into any reasonable contract, and to pledge the faith of the United States for the performance of it. But all in vain. The gentlemen of the regency seemed very desirous of doing something for us, if they could. But, as usual, they are so afraid of making a precedent, and that other powers, as much distressed for money as we, should take advantage and demand the same favor, that they dare not; and our bankers were advised to take back their application, to avoid a certain decision against us. Yesterday, I returned to the Hague.

I should look back with less chagrin upon the disagreeable passage from London, if we had succeeded in obtaining the object of it; but I find I am here only to be a witness that American credit in this Republic is dead never to rise again, at least until the United States shall all agree upon some plan of revenue, and make it certain that interest and principal will be paid. There has scarce an obligation been sold since the news of the mutiny of soldiers in Philadelphia, and the diversity of sentiments among the States about the plan of impost.

I have no information from congress or Mr. Morris, but I am told by our bankers there are bills to the amount of thirteen hundred thousand guilders, which must be sent back; a terrible disappointment to great numbers of people! Some of the bills become payable the beginning of March, and the rest, being much the greatest part, in May.

At Amsterdam, I received the honor of yours of 3d of this month.

John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [172]
John Adams
Adams, John
29 January, 1784
The Hague
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

When I left Amsterdam, I despaired of doing any thing to prevent the bills of exchange from being sent back. It is possible, however, that something may have since happened to give us better hopes. I should be obliged to you, if you would inform me, whether there is yet any ground to expect aid from the venerable regency of your city or not. The commerce of the city is much interested in it, and the city has a right to do what it will with its own; and, therefore, no other power can take advantage of the precedent, since we are not demanding a right, but requesting a favor. Surely, if the city sees, that, without hurting itself, it can confer a favor on a friend, and thereby greatly promote its own commerce, it has a right to do it, without fearing that other powers differently circumstanced should claim a like indulgence.

Since my return to the Hague, I have reflected, as maturely as I can, upon the proposition of a new loan on a different plan, suggested in one of your letters to me in London. It would be with great reluctance that I should consent to raise the interest, but yet I would do it, rather than the bills should go back. I therefore request of you, gentlemen, to consider of this matter, and consult with the undertakers, and if you can be sure of obtaining the cash to save the bills, by a new plan, I would agree to it. But yet I could not, I think, go beyond six per cent., including your commissions, the two per cent. to the undertakers, and, in short, including interest and all charges.

It is neither your fault nor mine, if we cannot succeed, yet I should wish to do every thing in our power, and I request your sentiments upon the subject. It would be imprudent to talk of a new plan, if we were not previously certain of success in obtaining the money.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [173]
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan
31 January, 1784
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

We are favored with the honor of your Excellency’s letter of the 29th of this month, which should have appeared yesterday with us.

Mr. W. Willink did himself the honor to wait on your Excellency the night before your departure, to inform you of the unsuccessfulness of all our repeated endeavors. Notwithstanding the favorable dispositions of our regency, considerations of so much importance with them opposed their good intentions, that they could not be prevailed upon to dispose favorably of our request.

We have, however, not been quiet since, but are daily occupied in conference with the undertakers, and offer them an extraordinary premium on the remainder of the two millions. As they will meet with us Monday morning to make some demands, we should wish to receive in answer to this your Excellency’s orders, as to whether we should conclude with them in case we could succeed, by a sacrifice of four to five per cent. on that amount, for all the extraordinary gratifications and allowances. We suppose this course preferable in this juncture to an attempt to negotiate a new loan against six per cent. interest, which last, however, your Excellency seems to consider (as we surely have always done) preferable to the return of the bills. Should we, however, after receiving your Excellency’s authority for the first mentioned proposals, not succeed with them, it would be well that you consent to our consulting with the undertakers about a new loan, with whom we shall by no means do any thing except on security of getting the money.

But we wish to observe to your Excellency, that the interest of six per cent. is in favor of the money-lenders, and can by no means bear the charges on the loan; and not only these must be paid, besides the interest, but we are in real apprehension, that, instead of being four and a half per cent. in all, they would, by reason of this juncture of time, amount to six per cent. altogether, to which it would be necessary to submit. Hence we should rather allow the extraordinary premium of four to five per cent. on the remaining obligations in our hands; but we Edition: current; Page: [174] submit, with respect, our judgment to your Excellency’s more enlightened understanding.

We press the undertakers the more seriously, because we have got information that the Bank of Philadelphia stopped payment on account of false bank notes put in circulation, which circumstance occasioned confusion there; and if it should become public before we are able to conclude the matter, we are really fearful all our endeavors will entirely miscarry. We therefore consider, on account of this fatal event, the sooner we can conclude, the better, without standing on a trifle of a per cent., more or less. All which we submit to your Excellency’s consideration, and beg the favor of your advice, if any thing of this circumstance should be known to you, as we may yet doubt the correctness of this advice, dated 9 December.

We have the honor, &c.
Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nic. and Jacob Van Staphorst,
De la Lande and Fynje.
John Adams
Adams, John
1 February, 1784
The Hague
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

I have just received your favor of yesterday, and thank you for the promptitude with which you answered mine of the 29th ult.

I have been informed particularly by the two worthy pensionaries, Van Berckel and Visscher, as well as by your letter, of the difficulties of succeeding with your venerable regency, and, therefore, see no hopes of saving the bills, but in the plan of a new loan, or in that which you propose, which, I fully agree with you, is much better for many reasons.

Your judgment in these things is much better than mine, and, therefore, if we cannot do better, in your opinion, I will agree with you to the sacrifice of four to five per cent., for all the extraordinary gratifications and allowances.

I have not yet received from any quarter, before I received your letter, the least intimation that the Bank of Philadelphia had stopped payment on account of false notes in circulation. And I cannot credit such a report, because, if it were true, it Edition: current; Page: [175] would have been most industriously spread in Europe, with all its details and evidence, by the many enemies we have among the stockjobbers in England and elsewhere.

With esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan
4 February, 1784
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

We have received your Excellency’s esteemed favor of 1st February, by which we see you are pleased to consent to an extraordinary sacrifice, on which we pleaded with the undertakers, but could by no means prevail on them; and at last they declared against it finally. These displeasing circumstances brought us into the necessity to take their opinions on a new loan against six per cent. interest, as your Excellency judged perfectly right, that it was much preferable to do it, than to get the bills protested. We, in consequence, have proposed to them the inclosed scheme, on which, Sunday or Monday next, they jointly have promised an answer. In case we can offer to them a reasonable premium and gratification, some of them seem inclined to hearken to the proposal; and we stipulate the ready payment of so many hundred thousand guilders this month, that the bills falling due at the end, to such an amount, should all be paid. We want, therefore, to pray your Excellency to authorize us to conclude, on this footing, with six per cent. allowance for all the premiums, brokerage, gratifications, notary seals, obligations, commission, and every expense besides. In case we can be happy enough to bring it to consistency, we shall directly draw up the obligation for your Excellency to sign, and direct further matters in the most regular way and order.1

Desiring your answer hereon for our government,

We remain, &c.
Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nic. and Jacob Van Staphorst,
De la Lande and Fynje.
Edition: current; Page: [176]
John Adams
Adams, John
5 February, 1784
The Hague
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

I have received your favor of the 4th, and considered its contents. I am very sorry to find there is no hope of obtaining the money upon the old obligations, with an additional gratification. The credit of the United States must be very low indeed, in this Republic, if we must agree to terms so exorbitant as those in the plan you have inclosed to me, in order to obtain about two hundred thousand pounds sterling. The news of it will cause such an alarm, and give such disgust in America, that the effect of it will be positive orders to borrow no more. This, indeed, would be no evil in America. However, since the bills are drawn, to avoid the mischiefs which would follow the final protest of them, I will agree to the new plan you propose, provided you cannot obtain the money upon more moderate and reasonable terms. But I must entreat you, gentlemen, to use your utmost endeavors to obtain some diminution of the gratification, if it is possible. I am well persuaded of your disposition to do this business as advantageously for the United States as you can, and, therefore, it is unnecessary for me to use any arguments with you upon the occasion.

I beg leave to recommend to you, that the subscription should be opened at only one house, Messrs. Willink’s, for example, as this method is more convenient for the subscribers, and not less beneficial for the other houses.

You will be pleased to make it an indispensable condition, that the money be furnished for the payment of all the bills, for I am determined, if any of them go back protested, they shall all share the same fate.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
5 February, 1784
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me the 24th past. You have had a terrible passage indeed, taking it altogether, from London to Amsterdam. The season Edition: current; Page: [177] has been, and continues uncommonly severe, and you must have suffered much. It is a pity that the good purpose of your voyage, to save, if possible, the credit of Mr. Morris’s bills, could not be accomplished by your obtaining a loan from the regency. I do not wonder at their declining it, nor at the stop you mention as put to the general loan by the news of the diversity of sentiments among the States about the plan of impost. I hope these mischievous events will at length convince our people of the truth of what I long since wrote to them, that the foundation of credit abroad must be laid at home. When the States have not faith enough in a congress of their own choosing to trust it with money for the payment of their common debt, how can they expect that that congress should meet with credit, when it wants to borrow more money for their use from strangers?

Your Excellency saw in England the instructions brought to us by Captain Jones from the congress, and which you forwarded to me. Expecting your and Mr. Jay’s speedy return hither, I took no step in consequence of them. Mr. Jay is now returned. And we are both desirous of knowing whether it is your intention to join us again here, in order to execute these instructions; because, in that case, we should wait your arrival.

I have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 February, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I had scarcely finished my despatches to go by Mr. Thaxter with the definitive treaty, when I was taken down with a fever at Paris, and reduced so low as to be totally unable to attend to any business for a long time. When I grew so much better as to be able to ride, I was advised to go to England. As I had nothing to do at Paris, and an attempt to reside in Holland would probably have thrown me into a relapse, I took the advice, and after a few weeks of gentle exercise and relaxation from care, with a change of air and of diet, I found myself so much better as to venture over to Holland, though in a very rigorous season, to see if I could do any thing to save the public credit. I have done my utmost to no purpose. Edition: current; Page: [178] Mr. Van Berckel and Mr. Visscher, who are very well disposed to serve us, have frankly told me that there was no hope of obtaining the least assistance from the regency. I went to Amsterdam, and spent eight or ten days there, but could do nothing. The bills of exchange must, for any thing I see, go back, and the credit of the United States will never revive, until they have established a certain revenue for the payment of interest.

A long course of journeys and voyages, a variety of climates, and continued application of mind have so wrecked my constitution, which was never very firm, and produced these repeated attacks of the fever, that it is high time for me to take a little repose; and as Mr. Jay will be with Dr. Franklin, at Paris, it will be unnecessary for me to go thither to execute the last instructions of congress, and I shall accordingly remain here until further orders.

Peace is made between Russia and the Porte, and the definitive treaty between England and Holland is expected to be soon signed. May the world continue at peace! But if it should not, I hope we shall have wisdom enough to keep ourselves out of any broil. As I am quite in sentiment with the Baron de Nolken, the Swedish ambassador at St. James’s, who did me the honor to visit me, although I had not visited him. “Sir,” said he, “I take it for granted, that you will have sense enough to see us in Europe cut each other’s throats with a philosophical tranquillity.” This minister requested Governor Pownall to introduce him to me. He did so. The ambassador told me he had been twenty years at that Court, and had seen the rise, progress, and end of the dispute with America; that he had lived much with the British ministers, and had often ventured to give them his sentiments; that he had constantly foretold the issue; “but,” said he, “although I was upon good terms with them, they had no confidence in me; and in this they were right; for no court ought ever to have confidence in a foreign minister.” I mention this, because it is a maxim with all old nations, and I think it high time it should become the maxim of our young one.

Governor Pownall told me that he meditated a voyage to America, but was afraid of jealousies and suspicions, and asked if I thought he might be well received. I told him I did Edition: current; Page: [179] not doubt he would be received respectfully in every part of America; that he had always been considered, so far as I knew, as friendly to America, and that his writings had been useful to our cause.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 February, 1784
The Hague
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

Last night I received your obliging favor of the 5th of this month.

Your Excellency’s sentiment, “that the foundation of credit abroad must be laid at home,” is perfectly just, and accords with the general sentiment of the money-lenders, undertakers, and brokers in this country, whose universal cry is, “we should choose to see some certain method agreed on and established for the payment of interest, before we adventure farther in the American loan.”

I am glad to hear of Mr. Jay’s safe return to Paris, and hope his health is confirmed. As the instructions may be executed by any one or more of the ministers for the peace, residing at the Court of Versailles, it seems to me to be more for the benefit of the public service, that I should remain here for some time, rather than go to Paris. I have not given over all endeavors to obtain the money for the bills, although the best friends we have inform me there is no hope at all from the public. We are endeavoring to discover, if it is possible, by any new plan of a loan, to obtain the money of the undertakers. Yet, by all I can learn, I despair of obtaining it, without agreeing to terms so disadvantageous as to be little better than the final protest of the bills. Indeed, it is still improbable, that I can obtain it, upon any terms at all. Money is scarce, as well as our credit feeble. The loan of the East India Company, warranted by the states of Holland, does not fill; a case unknown in this country.

Your Excellency, with Mr. Jay, may proceed to execute these instructions without me; and I hereby entreat that you would, without waiting at all for me. It is not likely there will be any difference of opinion between your Excellencies, concerning any Edition: current; Page: [180] of those instructions, in which case alone it would be necessary for me to attend, if Mr. Laurens does not.

It is probable we may soon learn something from congress, in answer to our letter with the definitive treaty, which will determine whether it is necessary I should join you at Paris or not. It would be very inconvenient to me, in the present tender state of my health, to make a journey to Paris without a necessity, at least until this formidable winter breaks up, although I should be ambitious enough of the honor of joining in the execution of those orders.

I wish your Excellencies a happy year, and much pleasure in the enjoyment of peace, as well as success in your negotiations, whether joined or not by your most obedient and most humble servant,

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 February, 1784
The Hague
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.

Dear Sir,

I have received a letter from Mr. Gerry, at Philadelphia, 23 November. Thaxter arrived there the night before. I presume he has written by Mr. Reed, and that his letter is gone to you, as he probably addressed his letter to us all.

Mr. Morris has drawn afresh by this vessel. Let me beg of you and the Doctor to advise him to stop his hand. If I can possibly save those already drawn, which, however, I still despair of, it will be upon terms so enormously avaricious, that it will raise a tremendous clamor in America. It is ruinous to borrow money in Europe upon such terms, but it will be more ruinous to let the bills go back.

My situation is very disagreeable. It is not for me to judge of the propriety of the drafts. I am only in a ministerial capacity, and ought to procure the money, if possible, upon any terms within my instructions, but to be obliged to go to the utmost extent of them, when I know that such numbers will blame me for it, because they will not believe the necessity of it, is unpleasant.

There is a despotism in this country, in the government of loans, as absolute as that of the grand signior; five or six people Edition: current; Page: [181] have all the money under their command, and they are as avaricious as any Jews in Jews’ Quarter. This country revenges itself in this way, upon the powers of Europe, for the insults it receives from them in wars and negotiations.

I think I could not justify going to Paris while the fate of these bills is depending. You will be so good as to go on with the doctor in execution of the last instructions. If there is any point upon which you wish for my opinion, I will give it you with pleasure at any time by letter. Has Mr. Laurens declined acting? How is the doctor’s health? And how is Mrs. Ridley?

If a commission should come to us all to treat with England, as it will be a thorny work, and likely to produce discontent and clamors, it is not my intention to withdraw my shoulders from any part of the burden. You will pardon me for suggesting, that we ought to obtain, if we can, from every power we treat with, an article that American produce imported into their ports in American bottoms, shall pay no more duties, than if imported in vessels of the subjects of those powers.

Mr. Gerry desires his respects and affections to you, in very strong and high terms; thinks the removal of congress has strengthened the Union, and that the British proclamations have had the same effect.

Will Denmark stipulate that both her islands in the West Indies shall be free ports to us?

Yours, &c.
John Adams.
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Without Date.)

Sir,

We have had the honor to receive your most esteemed favor of the day before yesterday, and observe with pleasure that your Excellency agrees to the alteration which we have proposed by our last in the plan of a new loan.

We had this morning a conference with the brokers, which was proposed for to have the answer of the undertakers, and in which we expected the matter should be quite regulated. But it is with a great displeasure that we were obliged to remit the conclusion till next Monday, and that we are in the necessity to Edition: current; Page: [182] give you again such a disagreeable account. The undertakers agree with us in the opinion, that the loan will have a very good success by a public subscription, but they do not incline to run the risk of it for the whole amount. They only offer to engage to a million or something more; but we could not possibly succeed to determine them to double the sum; and because it is your absolute order, that either all the bills must be paid, or all return, we could not accept their offers; and, in case your Excellency do not incline in this situation to accommodate yourself to the circumstance, we fear all our endeavors will tend to no purpose. We feel how disagreeable it is to your Excellency, but we beg to submit to your consideration, that the engagement for a million will furnish us the money to pay the first drafts, and that we have a good prospect that the loan will be carried to the whole capital of two millions, or at least to such an amount, that, before the other drafts become due, we shall have money to pay them all. However, in case this should not answer our wishes, you will please to consider, that for a sum of seven hundred and fifty thousand guilders which were drawn at one hundred and fifty days’ sight, and which by consequence must be paid in the month of May, Mr. Morris took an arrangement, that, in case they might return unpaid, congress should not pay any charges attending the return, and that, by consequence, whenever this should be the case, which we flatter ourselves will not happen, the disappointment will be less fatal.

In these circumstances, we venture to advise your Excellency to give us orders by your answer to this, that we may Monday accept the offer of the undertakers for a million, or so much more as they then will engage, and to open the loan for two millions upon the plan which you have approved, and then we will be certain to pay the first drafts, and have a good prospect likewise to pay the following, notwithstanding we have not the satisfaction to have the same certitude about it.

We beg to give us your answer upon these proposals by the morrow evening post, and have the honor to remain, very respectfully, sir, your most humble, &c.

Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nic. and Jacob Van Staphorst,
De la Lande and Fynje.
Edition: current; Page: [183]
John Adams
Adams, John
14 February, 1784
The Hague
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

I have just received your letter of yesterday as I suppose, though without a date, and have maturely considered its contents. I have weighed your reasons, and considered your advice, and, upon the whole, I think it most prudent to agree upon the terms you propose, the undertakers engaging for a million; but yet I would pray you to endeavor to persuade them to engage for at least fourteen hundred thousand guilders, as this will cover all the bills already drawn, which you have received advice of. I will not insist finally, however, for more than a million, if you cannot obtain an engagement for more.

It is painful to me to agree to such high terms, I own, because I know that great numbers of people in America will blame me for it, and think that I had better have suffered the bills to go back protested. It is my duty, however, to do the best I can, and between two evils to choose the least; upon which principle it is that I agree with you in sentiment, and follow your advice upon this occasion.

With esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Jay
Jay, John
28 February, 1784
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND JOHN JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

We had the honor of receiving your favor of the 20th instant,1 and are persuaded that the communication of the friendly disposition of his Prussian Majesty made to you by the Baron de Thulemeier will give great pleasure to congress. The respect with which the reputation of that great Prince has impressed the United States, early induced them to consider his friendship as a desirable object; and we are happy in being authorized to assure his Majesty that they will, most cheerfully, enter into such a commercial treaty with him, as being founded Edition: current; Page: [184] on principles of reciprocity, may be productive of equal benefits to both countries. Although we have no commission to conclude such a treaty, yet our instructions from congress enable us to join with the King’s minister in preparing a draft of such treaty, which being sent to congress, they would, together with a commission to conclude the treaty, give us pointed instructions on the subject, and much time might be thereby saved. If you are of this opinion, and his Majesty should be pleased to approve such a measure, we think the articles may be discussed between you and the Baron in the first instance, on the principles which govern in the treaties you mention, both of which have been approved and ratified. That being done, we might confer together, and write a joint letter to congress on the subject; we shall, nevertheless, make this communication a part of our next despatch to congress.

We have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin,
John Jay.
Mason Weems
Weems, Mason
John Adams
Adams, John

MASON WEEMS TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Without Date.)

Though I have not the honor of being personally acquainted with you, I flatter myself this will not be deemed an intrusion as it is a measure which necessity and the advice of my friends (Messrs. Johnson and Chase) have recommended. The particulars of my case, Mr. Johnson informs me, he communicated to you, during your short stay in London, but as I have not the vanity to imagine they were of consequence enough to merit a place among the infinitely more important matters which engage your attention, I beg leave to recapitulate them.

I am a native of America and a student of divinity; two years ago I came over to complete my studies and take orders. My first application was to the great Lowth, Bishop of London, who flatly refused because I intended to return to America, a thing unprecedented in the annals of sacred history Watson, Bishop of Landaff, gave me a gentler reception, condescended to sympathize with me on the distressed situation of Edition: current; Page: [185] our church, and even gave me to hope that a letter from his Excellency the Governor of Maryland (my native State) would gain me admission into the sacred vineyard. His Excellency wrote me a very polite letter, which I immediately carried to the bishop. His Lordship received me very courteously, but told me that he could do nothing without the permission of the archbishop. To the archbishop I went, and have had three conferences with him on the subject, the result of which is, that his Grace, though very willing, cannot ordain me. Parliament, it seems, must take it in hand. A law must be passed to enable him to ordain young Americans, without putting them to the pain of swallowing the oaths of supremacy and allegiance. Thus, sir, you see the condition I am in, after a loss of time, money, and patience, sufficient to distract a stoic.

I was with Mr. Chase this morning. He thinks it probable that the bishops in Holland, Sweden, or Germany, would ordain me without requiring the oath of allegiance. He is of opinion I cannot take it with safety. I have no decided opinion of my own on the subject, but I know many ingenuous people who differ from Mr. Chase. If you will be so very kind as to give me your opinion on the subject, and to let me know by the first post or opportunity, whether I can be ordained on the continent, I will repair there immediately, and consider it as an everlasting obligation conferred on your Excellency’s

Most obedient servant,
Mason Weems.
John Adams
Adams, John
3 March, 1784
The Hague
Mason Weems
Weems, Mason

TO MASON WEEMS.

Sir,

I have received the letter you did me the honor to write me under the cover of my friend, Mr. Johnson; and however dangerous it may be for an American minister of state to intermeddle in a matter of religion, especially without orders from his superiors, I think I can neither transgress nor give offence by rendering you any service in my power, as a private citizen, in a matter of so serious concern.

In the United Provinces of the low countries there are no diocesan bishops, nor any higher order of clergy than presbyters. The Dutch church is wholly Presbyterian, and, therefore, you Edition: current; Page: [186] cannot obtain ordination by coming here. In Sweden and Denmark there are Lutheran bishops, but what articles of faith it may be necessary to subscribe, or what liturgy to adopt, I am not informed. I believe that consubstantiation at least, is among their creeds. By what laws or usages of their country these Protestant bishops may be bound, I know not.

His Excellency, the Baron de Nolken, Ambassador of the King of Sweden to the Court of St. James, I believe would very readily inform you; and Governor Pównall, who is well acquainted with that minister, has so much humanity and friendship for America as to introduce you to him if you desire it. I believe I may venture to give you leave to make use of my name to either of those personages. If you were here, I would introduce you to the Baron Schultz von Ascheraden, the envoy of his Swedish Majesty to their High Mightinesses; but I think it would save you the expense and trouble of travelling, to apply to the Swedish ambassador in London for information. It is a matter of importance, delicacy, and difficulty, and I should advise you to write to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay upon the subject, if you cannot obtain satisfaction in London. They may consult the Swedish and Danish ministers at Versailles. I could do the same with those of the same powers at the Hague, but as congress have joined Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, and myself together on most of their affairs in Europe, I should not think it prudent in me to take any step but in concert with those ministers.

I think the advice of my friend, Mr. Chase, against taking the oaths of allegiance, prudent, at least until the members of the church in America shall have digested some plan for their future government. Perhaps parliament may authorize some bishop in England to ordain American candidates without administering the oaths. The Bishop of St. Asaph, I believe, would give you the best advice, and perhaps Mr. Benjamin Vaughan could procure you an introduction to his Lordship. I have not the honor to be known to his Lordship. But Mr. Vaughan, if you show him this letter, will, I flatter myself, be of service to you.

With much respect,
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [187]
Marquis De Lafayette
De Lafayette, Marquis
8 March, 1784
Paris
John Adams
Adams, John

THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO JOHN ADAMS.

My Dear Sir,

Before I had a pointed reason to write, my friendship for you, and our common zeal for the public, had dictated it. But I must begin with the article that, in my mind, creates some uneasiness.

It is written from Amsterdam, that Mr. John Adams is very violent against the Society of the Cincinnati, and calls it a French blessing; and that he says, although I have long announced an intention to go to America, I never fulfil it, which seems to hint a want of zeal to comply with the desire of my American friends.

Was I to take the matter up as a Frenchman, I might tell you that the French Court had not, that I know of, dreamed of the Society before Count de Rochambeau was written to by General Washington. And I might add, that orders, titles, and such other foolish tokens of vanity are not more valued in France, nor even so much, as they are in Germany, Russia, Spain, and Great Britain. But, as it is as an American that I engaged, bled, negotiated, fought, and succeeded in our noble cause, I only want to mark out my conduct to you whom I esteem, and whose esteem, in point of republicanism particularly, I hold in the greatest value.

The institution in itself I do not examine. It is worth paying attention to it. Should it be dangerous, it must not subsist. Should some parts be exceptionable, amendments must be made. In case it is quite harmless, the American officers might be indulged in that, as the country is not a little indebted to them. Opinions must be collected, because opinions of honest men may differ. Lee was the hero of some; Washington was mine; and so on.1 I do not enter into the merits or demerits of the Society. I only want to acquaint you with the part I have taken.

The Society’s letters, respecting the French army, were directed to their generals and admirals. The permitting of it Edition: current; Page: [188] has been considered at Versailles as a compliment paid to a large and meritorious body of Americans, as a badge of union between the two countries; and I had no part to act in the business. The part I acted, was, 1stly, to accept for myself, and deliver the marks of the Society to American officers pointed out by General Washington; 2dly, after it was accepted by the French officers, to deliver it to them in a polite and brotherly manner. And, when I acted so, I was led by two motives,—the one, because, independent of the affectionate and dutiful regard that binds me to our gallant, patriotic army, independent of what can be said in favor of that freemasonry of liberty, it has ever been my duty and inclination to set up in the best light every thing that is done by a body of Americans. And when wrong measures, such as are sometimes taken in county or town meetings, have been by me disputed for in foreign companies, I will be still more desirous to see a proper respect paid to the measures of such a respectable body as the American officers. My second motive is, that, independent of any propriety of the institution in itself, had I amendments to propose, it should be in America and not in Europe; and that, on the moment the Society is unpopular, a two words resolve from an assembly may entirely destroy it, when, if danger is feared, I heartily would consent to the destruction.1

I have not entered into the merits of the association. Your opinion and mine on the subject are not to have effect in Europe. Let us reserve it for America, where it may be of use. I only wanted my conduct not to be misrepresented to you; and as to my democratic principles, let it be remembered, that, at a time when your situation was at the worst, and my disobeying this Court might be ruinous, I went over a volunteer in the cause from which others could not recede unless they were deserters.

As to my going to America, you know I came with an intention to settle a plan of coöperation. Count de Grasse’s misfortune postponed it. Negotiations came on, and you thought I should stay. Count d’Estaing was employed, and you thought I should go with him. I did not set off before the affair of the six millions was settled, as you well know. When peace was Edition: current; Page: [189] made I returned through Spain. The minister and consul wanted free ports, wished to have Lorient, and had no instructions to act officially. Instead of two that were promised, four have been given,—Dunkirk, Lorient, Bayonne, and Marseilles. That affair will be soon concluded, and, before the end of May, I shall set out for America. Many reasons of delay might be pleaded; but they did not so much weigh with me as to retard the intended visit.

This confidential letter I consider as a personal mark of esteem for you, and respect for your opinion. Although we have differed in a few points, our fundamental principles are the same. It is not to the great man I write, because my popularity, thank God, is established in the kind, liberal hearts of the American nation at large. It is to the honest man, because, although your opinion sometimes has seemed to me wrong, your principles have ever been right, and I greatly value your esteem.

Adieu, my dear sir. Let me hear sometimes from you, and believe me,

Affectionately, yours,
Lafayette.
John Adams
Adams, John
9 March, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

On the 18th day of February, the Baron de Thulemeier, Envoy Extraordinary to their High Mightinesses from the King of Prussia, did me the honor of a visit; but, as he found I had company, he soon took his leave, and as I accompanied him to the head of the stairs, he told me he had something to propose to me from the King, and desired to know when he might call again. I offered to return his visit at any hour he pleased. He chose to call upon me, and named eleven the next day, at which hour he came, and told me, “that the King, who honored him with a personal correspondence, and was acquainted with my character, had directed him to make me a visit, and to say to me, that, as his subjects had occasion for our tobacco and some other things, and as we had occasion for Silesia linens and some other productions of his dominions, he thought an arrangement might be made between his Crown Edition: current; Page: [190] and the United States which would be beneficial to both;” and the Baron desired to know my sentiments of it.

I answered him, “that I was very sensible of the honor done by his Majesty, but that I had singly no authority to treat or enter into conferences, officially, upon the subject; that congress had been pleased to confer upon their ministers at the late peace, authority to enter into conferences; that I could do nothing but in concurrence with Mr. Franklin and Mr. Jay, who were at Paris; but I thought I could answer for the good dispositions of those ministers, as well as my own, for forming an arrangement between the two powers which might be beneficial to both; that I would write to those ministers an account of what had passed. He desired I would, and said he would write by the first post to the King, and inquire if his Majesty had any thing in particular to propose, would inform him of my answer, and wait his further orders, which probably he should receive as soon as I should have an answer from Paris.

I wrote the next day, and on Saturday last received an answer from Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay, in which they say, that they “are persuaded that the communication of the friendly disposition of his Prussian Majesty made to you by the Baron de Thulemeier will give great pleasure to congress,” &c.1

Yesterday, meeting the Baron at Court, on occasion of the Prince of Orange’s birth-day, he told me he had received another letter from the King, and would call upon me in the evening, which he did, and informed me that the King had written to him that he was collecting all necessary papers, and would soon send them to him, with his further propositions to be made to me. I showed him my letter from Paris, with which he was well satisfied.

He added, that the King had directed him to mention rice and indigo as articles in demand in his ports of Embden and Stettin; and that a large quantity of Virginia tobacco had been this year purchased in those ports for the Baltic market; and that the excellent porcelain of Saxony might be a desirable article for the Americans.

I beg leave to submit to congress, whether the model of the treaty with Holland or Sweden may not, in general, be convenient Edition: current; Page: [191] for one with Prussia; as also the propriety of sending a full power to their ministers at the late peace, or one or more of them, to conclude this business.

With a great deal of difficulty, and at a dear rate, I have at last obtained money to save Mr. Morris’s bills which are payable this month, from going back. Messrs. Willink & Co. will transmit the contract for the ratification of congress. It is much to be lamented that we are obliged to agree to so high terms, but there was absolutely no other alternative but this or protesting the bills. This business has hitherto necessarily prevented me from joining my colleagues at Paris in the execution of our instructions.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 March, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose copies of three notes from the Prussian minister, the Baron Thulemeier, by which congress will see that the King has agreed to take our treaty with Sweden for a model, reserving to each party the right of suggesting such alterations as shall appear to him convenient. My request to congress is, that they would be pleased to send instructions, at the same time when they send a commission, what articles of the treaty with Sweden they would have expunged, and what new ones inserted, if any. I mention the sending of a commission, because I suppose it is the intention of congress to send one. The instructions already received are not a full power under which any sovereign can conclude, nor regularly even treat; we can only confer. There will be some difficulty about the signature, since his Majesty chooses the negotiation should be conducted by M. de Thulemeier. If congress send the commission to their ministers at the late peace as they did the instructions, M. de Thulemeier must take a journey to Paris, or a majority of the American ministers must be at the Hague.

It is a great pleasure to me to be able to inform congress that I have obtained the promise of a sum sufficient upon the new loan to save the honor of the financier’s bills. Although I regret the severity of the terms, they were the most moderate which Edition: current; Page: [192] would obtain the money. I hope for the approbation of congress, and their ratification of the contract, as soon as may be. Money is really so scarce, and there are so many loans open on even higher conditions, that it will not be possible, I fear, to obtain more money here on more reasonable ones. An impost once laid on to pay the interest, whether by the authority of congress, if that should be agreed to, or by that of the several States, would soon give us better credit here. But, in order to keep up our reputation, upon which our credit depends, there should be somebody constantly residing here to publish illustrations of our affairs, and to confute the calumnies of our enemies of all denominations.

With great and sincere respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
28 March, 1784
The Hague
Marquis De Lafayette
De Lafayette, Marquis

TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.

Sir,

I did not receive your letter of the 8th until the day before yesterday. That I have not seen with pleasure, approbation, or indifference, the introduction into America of so great an innovation as an order of chivalry, or any thing like one, or that has a tendency to one, is very true. That I have been violent against it, is not so. I am not a violent man. I have disapproved of this measure with as much tranquillity and self-recollection, and phlegm, if you will, as if I had been a native, full-blooded Dutchman. It is not more than two or three times that I have had occasion to say any thing about it, and then it was not I who introduced the subject, and I said very little.

It is not my intention to discuss the question. It is too ample a field. But this is not done by the sovereigns of our country. What would be said in any nation of Europe, if a new order were instituted by private gentlemen, without consulting the sovereign? It is against our confederation, and against the constitutions of several States, as it appears to me. It is against the spirit of our governments and the genius of our people. Well may our government be weak, if the sovereign, the confederation, and constitutions are thus neglected! It has introduced, and it will, undoubtedly, introduce contests and dissensions, than which nothing is more injurious to republican States, Edition: current; Page: [193] especially new ones. I sincerely hope our officers, whose merits no man is more willing to acknowledge and reward than I am, in any way consistent with our principles, will voluntarily, after a little reflection, lay it aside. I have written nothing to America upon the subject.

I see no motive of reason or prudence for making a mystery of our sentiments upon this subject in Europe or America, or for reserving them for America. It is a public thing, about which every man has a right to think for himself, and express his thoughts.

As to your going to America, surely I have no objection against it. Being asked whether you were going, I answered that you talked of it, but I questioned whether you would go, as the war was over, and I knew of no particular motive you might have to go. If you go, I wish you a pleasant voyage and a happy sight of your friends.

With much respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
2 April, 1784
The Hague
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Jay
Jay, John

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND JOHN JAY.

Gentlemen,

I duly received the letter you did me the honor to write me on the subject of a treaty with Prussia, and communicated it to the Baron de Thulemeier. The King agrees to take the treaty with Sweden for a model, and if your Excellencies have any alterations to propose, I should be obliged to you for the communication of them. The Baron waits the further instructions of the King before he proposes any additions or subtractions. I should be obliged to your Excellencies for a copy of the treaty with Sweden, as I am so unlucky as not to have one here.

Inclosed is a copy of a petition to congress, transmitted me from Boston, by which it appears that the Britons in New York have condemned many vessels taken after the commencement of the armistice. This judgment seems to me to amount to this,—that a parallel of latitude is not a circle which surrounds the globe. If your opinion, gentlemen, is clear upon this head, as I doubt not it is, I think it would be a public service to write it to congress, as this will at least determine the Edition: current; Page: [194] sufferers to pursue their rights by appeal to England. There can be no dispute about it in England, I think.

With great regard,
John Adams.
Baron De Thulemeier
De Thulemeier, Baron
9 April, 1784
The Hague
John Adams
Adams, John

BARON DE THULEMEIER TO JOHN ADAMS.
(Translation.)

Sir,

I have the honor to send you herewith, in the original, the project1 of a treaty of commerce to be concluded on between his Prussian Majesty and the United States of America, just as the King has sent it to me, requesting of you to return it to me as soon as you shall have caused it to be copied. It will be infinitely agreeable to me, sir, to conduct, in concert with you, and to the mutual satisfaction of our masters, this negotiation to the desired point. If to-morrow, between seven and eight o’clock in the evening, you could grant me a moment’s conversation, I shall, with great earnestness, call on you to know your sentiments.

I have added, sir, a description of Silesian linens, which hitherto have been in great demand by your countrymen; that is to say, if the Silesian merchant who furnished it to me be rightly informed.

I have the honor to be, &c.
De Thulemeier.

Description of the principal articles of Silesian linens which have been sent hitherto to the United Provinces of North America by the Sieur John Godfrey Linckh, merchant and manufacturer at Hirschberg:—

  • 1. Hamburg Lawns,
  • 2. Long Lawns,
  • 3. Pistol Lawns,
  • 4. Single Silesias,
  • 5. Tandem double Silesias,
  • 6. Tandem quadruple Silesias,
  • 7. Brown quadruple Silesias,
  • 8. Estopilles Unies.
Edition: current; Page: [195]
John Adams
Adams, John
9 April, 1784
The Hague
Baron De Thulemeier
De Thulemeier, Baron

TO BARON DE THULEMEIER.

Monsieur le Baron,

I have received the letter you did me the honor to write me this morning, with the original proposition of a treaty of commerce to be concluded between his Prussian Majesty and the United States. As soon as a copy can be made, the original shall be returned. I shall be happy to have the honor of receiving you to-morrow evening, as you propose.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 April, 1784
The Hague
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Jay
Jay, John

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND JOHN JAY.

Gentlemen,

Inclosed is a copy of a letter from the Baron de Thulemeier, and a copy of a project of a treaty transmitted to me by order of the King of Prussia. I should be glad if your Excellencies would examine it, and write me your objections, and proposals of alterations, which I shall immediately communicate to his Majesty through his minister. I presume, too, that your Excellencies will transmit it to congress, that when they send a commission to conclude, they may send their instructions concerning any changes to be made in the project. Your Excellencies, I flatter myself, will think with me, that we should execute the treaty in our own, as well as in the French or German language.

I am, gentlemen, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 April, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose to congress a copy of a letter from the Baron de Thulemeier, and a copy of a project of a treaty transmitted to me by the order of the King of Prussia. I should hope it might be examined in congress, or by a committee, and that instructions may be sent concerning any changes to be made in the articles, together with a commission to treat Edition: current; Page: [196] and conclude, to such person or persons as congress shall please to appoint.

With the greatest respect, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
16 April, 1784
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

We duly received (Mr. Jay and I) the letters you did us the honor of writing to us the 27th of March and the 2d instant. We shall transmit, as you desire, the recommendation of Mr. Browne to congress; and inclosed we send a copy of the treaty with Sweden.

We expect Mr. Hartley here very soon to exchange the ratifications of the definitive treaty, when we shall endeavor to obtain an explanatory article relating to the limits and term of captures. The form used in the last treaty is precisely the same that has been used in all the treaties of peace since that of Nimeguen; and I therefore imagined that cases must have arisen at the end of every war, in which it was necessary to decide on the meaning of that form of words wherein the Canary Islands are mentioned; and I desired Mr. Barclay, when he went to London, to procure from the records of the admiralty court some of those cases as decided there; but he tells me none are to be found. May there not be some in Holland? I should suppose they must have been adjudged by the parallel of latitude of those islands; and I should be glad to have such a decision to produce to Mr. Hartley.

With great respect, &c.
B. Franklin.
John Adams
Adams, John
20 April, 1784
The Hague
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Jay
Jay, John

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND JOHN JAY.

Gentlemen,

I have just now received the letter which Dr. Franklin did me the honor to write me on the 16th, with the copy of the treaty with Sweden. I have before inclosed the King of Prussia’s project of a treaty, prepared, as I am assured by his minister, with his own hand, in his private cabinet.

I believe it has been reserved to the present age, when the Edition: current; Page: [197] subtleties of Aristotle and the schools are transferred from theology to politics, to discover room for a doubt in the construction of the armistice, and, therefore, we shall search in vain in any admiralty for a precedent. The words are,—“Le terme sera d’un mois depuis la manche et les mers du nord, jusqu’aux isles Canaries, inclusivement, soit dans l’océan, soit dans la Méditerranée.” This limit is to extend to the southernmost point of the southernmost Canary island, from the channel. This is the extent from north to south. What is to be the extent from east to west? Is it to have none? Is it to be confined to a mathematical line, running from the middle of the channel to the remotest part of the remotest Canary? or is it to be a space as wide as the channel, running from it to that Canary? or is it to be as wide as that island? If none of these constructions have common sense in them, what can we suppose to have been the meaning of the contracting parties? They have ascertained the space very exactly from north to south, and as they have left the extent from east to west without limits, it is very clear they intended it should be unlimited, and reach all round the globe, at least where there is any ocean or mediterranean.

I have the honor, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
22 April, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I received some time since a letter from an American gentleman, now in London, a candidate for orders, desiring to know if American candidates might have orders from Protestant bishops on the continent, and complaining that he had been refused by the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury, unless he would take the oaths of allegiance, &c.

Meeting soon afterwards the Danish minister, I had the curiosity to inquire of him, whether ordination might be had in Denmark. He answered me, that he knew not; but would soon inform himself. I heard no more of it till to-day, when the secretary of his embassy, Mr. de Rosenkrantz, made me a visit, and delivered me the papers, copies of which are inclosed.

Thus it seems, that what I meant as current conversation Edition: current; Page: [198] only, has been made the subject of deliberation of the government of Denmark and their faculty of theology, which makes it necessary for me to transmit it to congress. I am happy to find the decision so liberal.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
M. de St. Saphorin
de St. Saphorin, M.
21 April, 1784
The Hague
John Adams
Adams, John
(Inclosed.)

M. DE ST. SAPHORIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

(Translation.)

M. de St. Saphorin has the honor to communicate to Mr. Adams the answer he has received from his Excellency, the Count de Rosencrone, Privy Counsellor and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of his Danish Majesty, relative to what Mr. Adams desired to know. He will be happy, should this answer be agreeable to him, as well as to his superiors, and useful to his fellow-citizens. He has the honor to assure him of his respect.

de St. Saphorin.

(Extract Inclosed.)

Sir,

“The opinion of the theological faculty having been taken on the question made to your Excellency by Mr. Adams: If the American ministers of the church of England can be consecrated here by a bishop of the Danish church? I am ordered by the King to authorize you to answer, that such an act can take place according to the Danish rites; but, for the convenience of the Americans, who are supposed not to know the Danish language, the Latin language will be made use of on the occasion. For the rest, nothing will be exacted from the candidates, but a profession conformable to the articles of the English church; omitting the oath called test, which prevents their being ordained by the English bishops.”

Edition: current; Page: [199]
John Adams
Adams, John
Baron De St. Saphorin
De St. Saphorin, Baron

TO BARON DE ST. SAPHORIN.

Mr. Adams has the honor to present his compliments to the Baron de St. Saphorin, and his sincere thanks for his note of yesterday’s date, and for the copy of the despatch of his Excellency, the Count de Rosencrone, Minister of the Council of State, and Secretary of State for the Department of Foreign Affairs, of his Majesty the King of Denmark. Mr. Adams will have the honor of transmitting these papers to congress by the first opportunity, and they cannot fail to be considered in a very friendly and favorable light by a considerable number of respectable people in each of the thirteen States, who are materially interested in them. He begs M. de St. Saphorin to accept the assurances of the great respect with which he has the honor to be, &c.

John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
John Jay
Jay, John
29 April, 1784
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND JOHN JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

We received the letter you did us the honor of writing to us the 10th instant, with the project of a treaty that had been transmitted to you by the Baron de Thulemeier, which we have examined, and return herewith, having made a few small additions or changes of words to be proposed, such as citoyens for sujets, and the like, and intimated some explanations as wanted in particular paragraphs. The sooner a copy, with such of these changes as shall be agreed to by your Excellency and the Prussian minister, is forwarded to congress for their approbation, the better. With regard to the language of treaties, we are of opinion, that if the ministers of the nation we treat with insist on having the treaty in their own language, we should then insist on having it also in ours, both to be signed at the same time. This was done in our treaties with France; but if both parties agree to use a language that is particular to neither, but common to both, as the Latin or the French, as Edition: current; Page: [200] was done in our treaty with Sweden, we then think it not necessary to have it also signed in English.

With great respect, &c.
B. Franklin,
John Jay.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 May, 1784
The Hague
Baron De Thulemeier
De Thulemeier, Baron

TO BARON DE THULEMEIER.

Monsieur le Baron,

I have the honor to inclose your project of a treaty with a few corrections and proposals of explanations made by my colleagues, Messrs. Franklin and Jay, which I have the honor to agree with them in submitting to your consideration. The alterations are soon made, and are so inconsiderable, that if you and I can arrange them, which may be done in half an hour, I will transmit the whole to congress by the earliest opportunity, as a plan approved by the ministers on both sides.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 May, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Since my last arrival in Holland, I have not transmitted to congress the details of the politics of this Court and nation, nor of the neighboring Courts which are exciting disputes with it. Mr. Dumas has been in the habit and train of that history, and I have not thought fit to interrupt him; but, if I should reside here regularly, the whole business of the mission will of course go through my hands. I therefore wish to know in what light I am to consider this gentleman, and what relation he is to stand in to me. I wish it for the government of my own conduct, and still more from regard to him, whom I esteem as a very worthy man, and one who has, for a course of years, been indefatigable in the service of the United States, and who is not adequately rewarded or supported by the pittance which is allowed him. But what is more disagreeable, he has never had any character or commission from congress, Edition: current; Page: [201] and one knows not what to call him, whether secretary or agent. I cannot ask him to act as my private secretary, which is really much beneath him, although he is ever ready to assist me in all things. I should be happy to know the pleasure of congress in this respect, and to receive their instructions from time to time in all things which relate to the United Netherlands, which I shall endeavor to execute to the best of my power.

Inclosed is another copy of the project of a treaty with Prussia, which I transmitted to Paris, to Messrs. Franklin and Jay, and have received back again from them, with their approbation, excepting the few corrections and inquiries marked upon it by those ministers. The King will send a full power, probably, to M. de Thulemeier, and I should be happy to know the pleasure of congress.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
7 June, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Some weeks ago the Baron de Thulemeier called upon me and delivered me the paper, a copy of which is inclosed, marked 1. It is a letter written by the Envoy to the King.

Last evening the Baron called upon me again, and delivered me the answer of the King contained in the paper, a copy of which is inclosed, marked 2.

I have heretofore transmitted to congress, by different opportunities, copies of the project of a treaty, and the papers herein transmitted complete the negotiation, and the treaty is ready for signature, unless congress have other alterations to propose.

As his Majesty seems to choose that this business should be conducted by his envoy here, who is also desirous of finishing it, perhaps congress may not judge it too much complaisance, in framing their commission, to give authority to any one to conclude this treaty, in case they should name more than one, as it would be impossible for M. Thulemeier to go to Paris. It is not every ambassador, however high his rank, or numerous his titles, or magnificent his appointments, who arrives at the honor of concluding any treaty. It is a distinction which is made an object of ambition, and is much desired, so that the Edition: current; Page: [202] Baron’s inclinations, I suppose, will not be thought inexcusable.

I should hope that congress might despatch their instructions and authority to some one or more, to conclude this affair with as little delay as possible.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.

OBSERVATIONS.
(Translation.)

1st. Instead of expressing through the course of the treaty the denomination of the United States of North America, simply the United States of America.

2d. Instead of respective subjects, so far as regards the United States of America, the word citizens.

3d. Article III. In like manner, to the merchandises of America, add productions, manufactures, and merchandises.

4th. Article VII. And no one shall be molested on account of his religion, provided he submit to the public demonstrations enjoined by the laws of the country. On this head a more explicit article is desirable, such as the fourth of the treaty concluded between the United States of America and the Republic of the United Provinces. “Entire and perfect liberty of conscience shall be granted to the subjects and inhabitants of each party and their families, and no one shall be molested on account of his religion, provided he submit, as regards the public demonstrations thereof, to the laws of the country. Liberty shall, moreover, be granted, on the death of the subjects or inhabitants of either party in the territory of the other, to inter them in the usual burial grounds, or in decent or suitable places appointed for the purpose; and the bodies of the interred shall in no wise be molested, and the two contracting powers shall provide, each within its respective jurisdiction, that the respective subjects and inhabitants may hereafter obtain the requisite certificates in case of death, when they may be interested therein.”

5th. Article XV. Until the cargo has been landed in the presence of officers appointed for the purpose, and that the opening has been made.

N. B. Instead of opening, inventory.

Edition: current; Page: [203]

6th. The twenty-first article may require some alteration, since it is found to be contradictory to the seventeenth article of the treaty of amity and commerce between his most Christian Majesty and the United States of America, which is expressed as follows: “And, on the contrary, no shelter or refuge shall be given in their ports or harbors to such as shall have made prizes of the subjects of his Majesty or said United States, and if they are forced to enter by distress of weather or the danger of the sea, they shall be obliged to leave it again as soon as possible.” After the declaration of this article, it appears that in case of a war between Prussia and France, it would not be admissible for the United States of America to derogate from antecedent treaties concluded with the most Christian King, in favor of a more recent obligation contracted with his Prussian Majesty.

ANSWER OF THE KING OF PRUSSIA.

1st. May be changed without any difficulty.

2d. The same.

3d. Granted, the rather, as the general term of merchandises comprehends alike productions that grow, and manufactures.

4th. This article can be minuted as is desired in the observations.

5th. Granted.

6th. This article may be minuted in the following manner: “The armed vessels of one of the contracting parties shall not conduct the prizes they shall have taken from their enemies into the ports of the other, unless they are forced to enter therein by stress of weather or danger of the sea. In this last case, they shall not be stopped nor seized, but shall be obliged to go away as soon as possible.”

Robert Morris
Morris, Robert
16 June, 1784
John Adams
Adams, John

ROBERT MORRIS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I have not any letters from your Excellency which are unanswered, except those of the 21st of May and Edition: current; Page: [204] 14th of September in the last year, both of which arrived very long after their dates. I have learnt from the gentlemen to whom the management of the loan in Holland was committed, the various good and ill success which they have met with. And now that I am about to leave this office, let me return to your Excellency my sincere thanks for the assistance which has at different times been derived from the exertion of your industry and talents. I pray you also to believe, that, when in private life, I shall continue to feel that esteem and respect with which

I have the honor to be, sir, &c.
Robert Morris.
John Adams
Adams, John
22 June, 1784
The Hague

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

If my memory does not deceive me, I have heretofore transmitted to congress the advice of some of the foreign ministers here, that the United States in congress assembled should write a letter to each of the sovereigns of Europe, informing them of the complete establishment of their independence.

Lately, in separate conversations with the ministers of the two empires and the King of Sardinia, they all repeated this advice. They say that this is the rule, the practice, and that the precedents are uniform. The Empress of Russia did it lately, when she ascended the throne. They add, that this is the precise point of time, now that the ratifications of the definitive treaty of peace are exchanged, which is most proper to make the communication, and that their Courts expect it from congress.

Congress, no doubt, will write an elegant letter upon the occasion, but it would, in substance, be sufficient to say, that, on the 4th of July, 1776, they found it necessary to declare themselves a sovereign State; that they have since entered into treaties with several powers of Europe, particularly a treaty of peace with the King of Great Britain, wherein that crown has acknowledged formally and solemnly their sovereignty, and that it is their desire to live in good intelligence and correspondence with the sovereigns of Europe and of all other parts of the world, and with the one in particular, and that there may be friendship and harmony between their respective citizens Edition: current; Page: [205] and subjects. These letters may be transmitted to all or any of your ministers in Europe, to be by them communicated through the foreign ministers at the court where they reside, or they may be transmitted directly. If congress are at a loss for the titles of any sovereign, they may leave a blank, to be filled by the minister to whom the letter is sent for communication.

The answers which will be respectively given to these letters will prevent many questions, discussions, and chicaneries, because that orders will then be given to all ambassadors, governors, generals, admirals, &c., to treat all American citizens of the United States according to their characters.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
Marquis De Lafayette
De Lafayette, Marquis
25 June, 1784
Lorient
John Adams
Adams, John

THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE TO JOHN ADAMS.

My Dear Sir,

At the very instant of sailing for America, I stop to send you the new-modelled regulations of the Cincinnati. My principles ever have been against heredity, and while I was in Europe disputing about it with a few friends, my letters to the assembly, and still more particularly to the president, made them sensible of my opinion upon that matter. Until heredity was given up, I forebore mentioning in Europe what sense I had expressed. But Mr. Jay being in Paris, I once explained my conduct to him, and he appeared very well satisfied. The value I have for your esteem is the reason why I mention those particulars, and, so far as respects me, it is for you that I write this minute account.

Mr. Jay is named a minister for foreign affairs, with John Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, appointed a committee to make treaties with European powers.

With every sentiment of an affectionate regard, &c.
Lafayette.

Whatever has been thought offensive, you see the Cincinnati have given it up. Now the new frame must be examined. In every circumstance, my dear sir, depend upon it, you will find me what I have ever been, and perhaps with some éclat, a warm friend to the army, a still warmer advocate for the cause of Edition: current; Page: [206] liberty; but those two things, when the army is put to the proof, you will ever acknowledge to agree with each other.

John Adams
Adams, John
29 June, 1784
The Hague
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

The Baron de Reishach has several times said to me that his Court expected that congress would announce formally their independence; and he has asked me if any step of that sort had been taken. That I may be able to give him an answer, I must request of your Excellency to inform me, whether you have made the annunciation directed in the first article of the instructions of the 29th of October, 1783, and what is the answer.

I have the pleasure to learn, by report only, however, that Mr. Jay is appointed minister of foreign affairs, and that Mr. Jefferson is appointed to Madrid, and that Mr. Johnson has received and transmitted to your Excellency a packet which probably contains an authentic account, as it seems to be posterior to the appointment, by being addressed only to your Excellency and to me. I should be glad to know whether there is any thing else of consequence, and whether it appears to be the design and expectation of congress that I should join you where you are.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
4 July, 1784
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

I have received the letter your Excellency did me the honor of writing to me the 29th past.

The annunciation directed by the instruction you mention, has not yet been made; some circumstances and considerations not necessary to particularize at present, occasioned the delay here; but it may now be done immediately by your Excellency, if you think proper, to the imperial minister at the Hague; or I will do it to Count Mercy, by presenting him a copy of the instruction itself.

I hope the report that Mr. Jay is appointed minister of foreign Edition: current; Page: [207] affairs will prove true. Such an officer has long been wanted, and he will make a good one. It is said here that Mr. Jefferson was talked of to succeed me, of which I shall be glad on all accounts; but I have no letter, nor the least hint from any one of the congress relating to these matters. I wrote to you a few days since, and sent you a copy of the last despatch, and the only one I have received since January. Mr. Hartley, who has been here more than two months, is in a similar situation. He has expected instructions by every late courier to treat with us on commercial points; but they do not arrive. He thinks the delay occasioned by the report of the committee of council on the subject not having been ready to lay before parliament. The moment he is ready to treat I shall acquaint your Excellency with it; for I make no doubt of its being the design and expectation of congress that we should join in that transaction.

Montgomery of Alicant appears to have acted very imprudently in writing to Morocco, without the least authority from congress or any of their ministers. It might be well, however, to treat with that Prince, if we were provided with the proper and necessary presents; in which case, this Court would assist our negotiations, agreeable to their treaty with congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 July, 1784
The Hague
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

Sir,

I embrace the opportunity by Mr. Bingham, to inclose to your Excellency a copy of a letter from Mr. Jefferson, by which it appears that we are joined in some affairs which will give me the occasion to visit Paris once more, and reside there for some little time at least.

As Mr. Jefferson will not probably arrive before the latter end of August, and nothing can be done before he comes, I shall wait at the Hague for my wife and daughter, who are happily arrived in London, and endeavor to go with them in time to meet your Excellency and Mr. Jefferson upon his arrival at Paris.

The philosophers are speculating upon our constitutions, and, I hope, will throw out hints which will be of use to our countrymen. Edition: current; Page: [208] The science of government, as it is founded upon the genuine principles of society, is many centuries behind that of most other sciences, that of the fine arts, as well as that of trades and manufactures. As it is the first in importance, it is to be hoped it may overtake the rest, and that mankind may find their account in it. The Berlin academician1 has set an example, which, if liberally followed, may produce great effects; for I do not believe that many will find with him, upon examination, that despotism, or even monarchy, is the best possible form of government.

They have sent me from Amsterdam copies of a translation of the Abbé de Mably’s Letters, made by an English Episcopal clergyman at Amsterdam, whom I do not know. I inclose one to your Excellency; and have the honor to be, &c.

John Adams.
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
6 August, 1784
Passy
John Adams
Adams, John

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Mr. Bingham sent me last night from Paris your Excellency’s letter of the 27th past, inclosing a copy of one from Mr. Jefferson. I had before sent you a copy of one from the same to me, which I hope you received. I inclose herewith copies of a letter from Mr. Thomson, some new instructions, and one of the commissions. The other two are in the same words, except, that, instead of the words the United Netherlands, there is in one France, and in the other Sweden. These came by Monsieur de la Luzerne, but it was not before Wednesday last that I received them. You will see that a good deal of business is cut out for us,—treaties to be made with, I think, twenty powers in two years,—so that we are not likely to eat the bread of idleness; and that we may not surfeit by eating too much, our masters have diminished our allowance. I commend their economy, and shall imitate it by diminishing my expense. Our too liberal entertainment of our countrymen here, has been reported at home by our guests, to our disadvantage, and has given offence. They must be contented for the future, as I am, with plain beef and pudding. The readers of Connecticut newspapers Edition: current; Page: [209] ought not to be troubled with any more accounts of our extravagance. For my own part, if I could sit down to dinner on a piece of their excellent salt pork and pumpkin, I would not give a farthing for all the luxuries of Paris.

I am glad to hear that your family are safely arrived at London, and that you propose to bring them here with you. Your life will be more comfortable.

I thank you much for the translation of the Abbé de Mably’s letters. The French edition is not yet published here. I have as yet only had time to run over the translator’s preface, which seems well written. I imagine Mr. Sowden to be a Presbyterian minister, as I formerly corresponded with one of that name in Holland, who, I suppose, might be his father. I have not seen the piece you mention of a Berlin academician. I should not object to his enjoyment of the discovery he has made, that despotism is the best possible form of government, by his living under it as long as he pleases. For I admire the decision of his Prince in a similar case, the dispute among his clergy concerning the duration of hell torments.

With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
B. Franklin.
John Adams
Adams, John
25 October, 1784
Auteuil
Thomas Cushing
Cushing, Thomas

TO THOMAS CUSHING.

Dear Sir,

Within a few days I have received your favor of the 16th of August, with the resolve of the general court of the 6th and 7th of July.

The line between Massachusetts and Nova Scotia gave me much uneasiness at the time of the negotiation of the provisional articles, and still continues to distress me. I knew that the French in former times had a practice of erecting a holy cross of wood upon every river they had a sight of, and that such crosses had been found on the banks of all the rivers in that region, and that several rivers, for this reason, were equally entitled with any one, to the appellation of St. Croix. St. John’s River had a number of those crosses, and was as probably meant in the grant to Sir William Alexander, and in the charters of Massachusetts, as any other. I would accordingly have insisted on St. John’s as the limit. But no map or document Edition: current; Page: [210] called St. John’s St. Croix, nor was there one paper to justify us in insisting on it. The charters, the grant to Alexander, all the maps and other papers agreed in this, that St. Croix was the line between Massachusetts and Nova Scotia. My colleagues thought they could not be justified in insisting on a boundary which no record or memorial supported, and I confess I thought so too, after mature reflection; especially as the British ministers insisted long on Kennebec, and to the last moment on Penobscot, and we found their instructions upon this point were so rigorous, that they would not have agreed to St. John’s without sending another courier to England, a loss of time which would not only have hazarded, but finally lost the whole peace for that year, as I fully believe.

We had before us, through the whole negotiation, a variety of maps; but it was Mitchell’s map, upon which was marked out the whole of the boundary lines of the United States; and the river St. Croix which we fixed on was, upon that map, the nearest river to St. John’s; so that, in all equity, good conscience, and honor, the river next to St. John’s should be the boundary. I am glad the general court are taking early measures, and hope they will pursue them steadily, until the point is settled, which it may be now amicably; if neglected long, it may be more difficult.

It is reported here that the Indians are at war with the English, which is the excuse given out for the neglect of evacuating the posts upon our frontier near the lakes. Sir John Johnson’s conference may be intended to make peace, in order to the evacuation, which could not easily be performed in sight of hostile Indians. I cannot believe that the British ministry mean to violate the treaty in this point, because it must bring on a war which none of them would be willing to take upon himself at present.

I was once upon a committee with Mr. Bowdoin, and drew a state of the claim of the Province to the lands now called Vermont; and I learn, by a letter from Mr. Dalton, that the report, in my handwriting, has been lately before the general court. It contains all I ever knew upon the subject, and much more than I now remember.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [211]
John Adams
Adams, John
3 November, 1784
Auteuil

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

Dr. Franklin has lately communicated to Mr. Jefferson and me a letter he has received from the Count de Vergennes, and another from M. Grand. The first informs that M. Marbois had informed him, that, upon his application to the superintendent of finances, he had received an answer by Mr. Gouverneur Morris, that letters should be written both to Amsterdam and Paris, to provide for the payment of the interest of the ten millions of livres borrowed for the United States in Holland by the King; and reminds the American minister that other interest is due, and that the first payment of the capital will become due next year. M. Grand informs, that he is already about fifty thousand livres in advance for loan-office certificates, salaries, &c. These letters the doctor will, no doubt, transmit to congress; and as they relate to matters within his department, I might have been excused from mentioning them, if the mention of Amsterdam had not made it probable that Mr. Morris had it in contemplation to draw upon our bankers there for money to discharge this interest; and I cannot excuse myself from observing, that, if such drafts should be made, I am apprehensive they will be protested. France is at present in so much danger of being forced to take part in a war in the low countries, that I am not surprised at the Count de Vergennes’ attention to matters of revenue, and that I cannot see any hope that Dr. Franklin will be able to obtain any relief from this Court.

It will be remembered that there is a debt of near a million and a half sterling to France, and another debt of more than half a million sterling in Holland, whose interests are constantly accruing. There are also salaries to ministers, and there is another call for money which is very pressing; the commerce of the Mediterranean is of great importance to the United States and to every one of them, and this commerce cannot be enjoyed with freedom, without treaties with the Barbary powers. It will be not only in vain, but dangerous and detrimental to open negotiations with these powers, without money for the customary presents. How are all these demands for money to Edition: current; Page: [212] be satisfied? If cash, bills, or produce can be sent to Europe for the purpose, it will be happy for us; but I suppose that no man believes it possible; and, therefore, we must not only forego great future advantages, but violate contracts already made, and faith already pledged, and thereby totally ruin our credit, if not expose the property of our merchants to be seized abroad, or we must borrow more money in Europe. Now there is no part of Europe in which we can expect to borrow, unless it be in Holland, and there, we may rely upon it, all our hopes will fail us, if effectual measures are not taken to fund our foreign debt. If adequate funds were established for discharging the interest, we may hope for further credit; without them, our circumstances are absolutely desperate.

It is not for me to enter into the question how this is to be done; so far distant and so long absent, it would be impossible for me to form a judgment, if the subject were within my province, which it is not. The ability of our people for this and much greater things cannot be doubted by any man who knows any thing of their affairs, and it is a pity that any questions about the mode should retard this most necessary provision for the existence of our credit abroad.

I have this moment a letter from our bankers at Amsterdam, dated the 28th of October, in which they inform me that they have not received the ratification of my last loan; perhaps it did not arrive, until after the recess of congress. I must earnestly request that congress would despatch it as early as possible after their meeting, because the delay of it may excite an alarm and dash all our hopes at once. The half a million sterling which we have obtained in Holland, has been all transmitted to America in dollars, by the way of the Havana, or paid in redeeming bills of exchange, sold in America for very advantageous premiums. None of it has been laid out in goods, and, therefore, every other consideration calls upon us to be punctual, as well as our honor, which alone ought to be sufficient.

Inclosed are copies of papers received from M. Dumas, with my answers. I cannot forbear recommending this gentleman to congress upon this occasion, as the critical circumstances in the low countries at this time will render his intelligence very interesting, and his services at the Hague perhaps indispensably necessary.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
Edition: current; Page: [213]

(The following Questions, submitted by their High Mightinesses to M. Dumas, were by him transmitted to Mr. Adams, whose Answers are appended.)

(Translation.)
QUESTIONS.

1. On proof of a transfer in good and due form, the property of a vessel to be American, can the necessary sea-letters be obtained at the Hague?

2. Is it necessary that the purchaser should be a citizen of some town belonging to one of the thirteen States, or will it suffice that he is settled there, though only since the acknowledgment of the independence of America? Has a citizen greater claims to the protection of congress than an inhabitant?

3. The property of a vessel being proved American (agreeably to the first question), is it indifferent in what port she is, and to what port she is destined, or is this confined to a certain port in Europe, and to a certain port in America, and vice versâ?

4. Is it necessary that the captain of such vessel should be an American citizen, or will it answer if he has been born in a city, town, or village actually dependent on congress?

5. In case of purchasing a vessel on account of an American, for which there is immediate employment, may she not be commanded by a captain of another nation, supposing that at the time no American captain could be found who might be intrusted with the command?

6. Should a vessel sold and transferred to a citizen or inhabitant of the continent, be taken by the enemy, sailing under foreign colors, could a reclamation by congress be expected?

7. In case such vessel should be bound from a port in Europe or America for a Mediterranean port, or should actually be at some port in the Mediterranean, and elsewhere destined, what means are to be taken, and what papers are to be shown, to obtain the necessary Turkish passports to navigate that sea?

Edition: current; Page: [214]

ANSWERS.

1. There is no man at present in Holland legally authorized by the United States in congress assembled to issue sea-letters.

2. Both citizens and inhabitants have a right to protection. But every stranger who has been in the United States, or who may be there at present, is not an inhabitant. Different States have different definitions of this word. The domicil and the “animus habitandi” is necessary in all.

3. All vessels bonâ fide the property of American citizens or inhabitants have a right to protection.

4. American citizens and inhabitants have a right to navigate their vessels by captains and seamen of any nation.

5. Undoubtedly. But let the parties look to themselves, that the translation be bonâ fide and clearly proved.

6. The evidence of this must be very clear. The United States will scarcely interfere in such a case, if there is a doubt of the fact, or a suspicion of collusion.

7. The United States have not yet a treaty with the Turks or Barbary powers, and, therefore, no such papers are to be had.

John Adams
Adams, John
3 November, 1784
Auteuil
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

I have received your favor of the 26th of October with the seven questions inclosed. I have answered these questions to the best of my judgment, believing it to be my duty to give to my inquiring countrymen all the satisfaction in my power upon such occasions. I should wish, too, to gratify the Dutch merchants and all others as far as I can in character. But we must, above all things, have the utmost caution that we do not involve the United States in quarrels which are not their own. We can give no countenance, whatever, to any kind of fraud or collusion, or to any false or suspicious papers. The United States will protect their own flag, and the rights, liberties, and properties of their own citizens, but they can go no farther. If we could assist any man in Europe in this way, we ought surely to do it for Messrs. Willink, and if we refuse it to them, Edition: current; Page: [215] certainly no others can complain. Although these gentlemen are in so high a trust under the United States, I cannot think them entitled to the character of citizens or inhabitants, and, therefore, should not think myself safe in giving them American papers for their vessels.

I hope the certificate you have given to Captain Veder may answer the end; and in the present, unexpected circumstances of the war, or at least danger of war, I should not venture to advise you not to give others in clear cases. They may do much good, and save to merchants and masters of vessels much trouble and expense; and I cannot foresee any evil they can do. But if any such certificate should be disputed and examined, it will be found null. You will continue to write all to congress; and you will soon, I hope, receive their commands.

With great esteem, I have the honor to be, dear sir,

Yours, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
9 December, 1784
Auteuil
Maréchal De Castries
De Castries, Maréchal

TO THE MARÉCHAL DE CASTRIES.

Monsieur le Maréchal,

According to your desire, I have committed to writing the two or three observations on the business of masts, yards, and bowsprits, which I had last Tuesday the honor of making in conversation with your Excellency at Paris.

The eastern parts of the Massachusetts, particularly the counties of York, Cumberland, and Lincoln, and more especially the lands lying near the four great rivers, which meet in Merry-meeting Bay, and flow together under the name of Kennebec River into the sea, are the spot upon which grow the best pine trees for masts which are found in America, and from whence the English government, before the Revolution, procured their masts for large ships, unless perhaps they obtained a few from some parts of New Hampshire. By the charter of Massachusetts, pine trees were reserved to the Crown; and various acts of parliament were made, from time to time, forbidding, upon severe penalties, private persons to cut such trees. The King had an officer, under the title of surveyor-general of the woods, Edition: current; Page: [216] who had under him a great number of deputy-surveyors for the inspection and conservation of these trees. Mr. Wentworth, the last royal governor of New Hampshire, was the last surveyor-general, at whose request the subscriber commenced and prosecuted a great number of libels in the court of admiralty at Boston, against transgressions of those acts of parliament, so that he thinks himself well warranted to say that those acts of parliament, instead of containing any proof of the bad quality of American pine trees, as your Excellency was pleased to say you had been informed, contained the best proof of their excellence, and of the high esteem in which the parliament held them.

There was a considerable number of large vessels which were called mast ships, constantly employed in transporting from Kennebec and Piscataqua Rivers pine trees for masts, spars, and bowsprits for the royal navy. And the trees of thirty-six inches diameter which the English were very fond of for their large ships, were only to be found in America.

There are upon the territory before described a number of families whose whole occupation has been to cut, draw, and prepare this kind of trees for the royal navy of England. It is a difficult, laborious, and hazardous business, and not very profitable; but being educated to this employment from their infancy, knowing perfectly the country and the lands where the trees are, the proper seasons for the business, and having their tools and machines, as well as their teams of cattle, always ready, and knowing all the most frugal ways of saving expenses and making advantages, they were able to live by the business, when other persons, without these advantages, would have ruined themselves. These people were commonly called mastmen, and they are so valuable a set of men, that whoever first engages them, whether the French or the English, will obtain an advantage. The English are said to have sent an agent to Boston; and there is no doubt that they will exert themselves to secure these mastmen, unless your Excellency, by seizing a favorable opportunity of contracting with some of the Americans now here, engage them beforehand.

Your Excellency will permit me to say, that I apprehend all surveys and experiments made upon the masts and spars now on board of the French ships, which were procured in America, Edition: current; Page: [217] will not only be useless, but illusory. It will not be a fair trial, because, on the breaking out of hostilities between Great Britain and America, the whole system of the masting business and commerce was broken up. The mastmen, like the fishermen, not finding their usual employment, went into others, sold their cattle, and laid aside their tools; so that the pine timber furnished to the French ships, although the best then and there to be had, was only such as was left by the English, or obtained by hazard in improper places, and in a green, unseasoned state. It is no wonder, then, if the wood is found to shrink, for the wood of the pine tree is of such a nature, that when cut and used green, it always shrinks, whether it grows in America or in Sweden, Norway, or Russia.

I am well informed that the most intelligent officers of the British navy attributed the loss of the great number of the capital ships by bad weather in the late war, a loss unprecedented in any former war, wholly to the want of American masts. The ministry ordered their expedition to Penobscot, in the view of obtaining masts, but they found themselves disappointed. They found there pine trees, it is true, but no mastmen, no sufficient teams of cattle, no proper machines for the business. All these were without their lines. So that they obtained no masts of any value.

There is not in America, at least within my knowledge, a merchant more intelligent, or any way more capable of giving your Excellency full information upon the subject, nor more worthy of confidence, than Mr. Tracy and Mr. Jackson, who are now in Paris, and to them I beg leave to refer.

With great and sincere respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
15 December, 1784
Auteuil
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

I venture to address myself to you as minister of foreign affairs, because I sincerely hope that you have accepted that important office.

The Emperor of Morocco sent an ambassador last winter to Holland to demand materials for some frigates, and as none of the great maritime powers have the courage or the will to refuse Edition: current; Page: [218] such requisitions, obtained them. It now appears probable that they have been employed in corsairs against American trade, and one Virginia vessel appears to have been taken and carried to Tangiers. This has spread an alarm, and raised the insurance on American vessels, and rendered it necessary that something should be soon done.

There is danger of our making mistakes upon this occasion. Some are of opinion that our trade in the Mediterranean is not worth the expense of the presents we must make the piratical states to obtain treaties with them. Others think it humiliating to treat with such enemies of the human race, and that it would be more manly to fight them. The first, I think, have not calculated the value of our Mediterranean trade, in which every one of our States is deeply interested. But this is not all. The piratical corsairs will go all over the ocean, and will even raise the insurance upon all our commerce so high, as to cost us more in this single article than all the presents exacted would amount to. The last have more spirit than prudence. As long as France, England, Holland, the Emperor, &c., will submit to be tributary to these robbers, and even encourage them, to what purpose should we make war upon them? The resolution might be heroic, but would not be wise. The contest would be unequal. They can injure us very sensibly, but we cannot hurt them in the smallest degree. We have, or shall have, a rich trade at sea exposed to their depredations; they have none at all upon which we can make reprisals. If we take a vessel of theirs, we get nothing but a bad vessel fit only to burn, a few guns and a few barbarians, whom we may hang or enslave if we will, and the unfeeling tyrants, whose subjects they are, will think no more of it than if we had killed so many caterpillars upon an apple-tree. When they take a vessel of ours, they not only get a rich prize, but they enslave the men, and, if there are among them men of any rank or note, they demand most exorbitant ransoms for them. If we could even send a force sufficient to burn a town, their unfeeling governors would only insult and deride. Unless it were possible, then, to persuade the great maritime powers of Europe to unite in the suppression of these piracies, it would be very imprudent for us to entertain any thoughts of contending with them, and will only lay a foundation, by irritating their passions, and increasing Edition: current; Page: [219] their insolence and their demands, for long and severe repentance. I hope, therefore, we shall think of nothing but treating with them.

But how? where is the money? France calls upon us to fulfil our engagements with her, both for interest and principal, and our creditors in Holland, who are very numerous, will soon be uneasy, unless something is done for their security. Holland is the only place where we can borrow money, and there it will be impracticable, unless our European debt at least be consolidated.

If congress, therefore, think of borrowing in Holland, they must begin by laying duties at home to pay the interest.

I have not time to enlarge at present on any subject. This is the most pressing, and deserves the immediate attention of congress and their ministers, of whom I hope you are one, as I am very sure no man is better qualified or better disposed; but if, unfortunately, you should not be in office, let me pray you to transmit the substance of this letter to congress.

With great and sincere respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 January, 1785
Auteuil
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

I have received with much pleasure your letters of the 20th and 30th of December. Give me leave to congratulate you on the flourishing state of your treasury, which furnishes a very good proof that the credit of the United States has much ameliorated since January, 1784, when I was obliged to undertake and undergo all the hardships and inconveniences of a winter voyage and journey in packet-boats, iceboats, and boors’ wagons, in extreme cold weather, to prevent Mr. Morris’s bills from being protested. It is a great satisfaction to me to reflect that I have been able, with your assistance, to obtain in Holland a loan of money for my country of near seven millions of guilders, a sum very nearly equal to all that was ever lent us by France. Our debt to France is thirty-four millions of livres, ten millions of which were borrowed in Holland on the warranty of the states-general. You see, therefore, that the whole national debt of the United States in Europe is less than two Edition: current; Page: [220] millions sterling. If a capitalist in Holland compares this with the national debt of England or France, or any other power, and at the same time considers the number of inhabitants, the extent and fertility of territory, the advantages for trade, and, above all, the rapid increase of population, industry, agriculture, commerce, and fisheries, he will soon think his money safer in the hands of the United States, and American stocks superior to any other.

For my own part, I confess I wish that congress would borrow money in Holland to pay off their debt to France, that they might not owe a shilling anywhere but in Holland. This, however, I say without authority; and it is certain that congress will not borrow money upon higher terms than they pay at present in France, to pay off the French debt.

I wait to know how many obligations you have on hand. I have no orders from congress to open a new loan, and I fancy I shall never have any to open another upon any other, at least higher terms, than the first five millions. But I should be glad to know your sentiments, whether there is a good prospect of success.

There is one subject which concerns myself personally, which I beg leave to propose to your consideration. My salary at present is so low, that it is with the utmost difficulty I can live upon it in any kind of proportion to the public character I sustain, and, therefore, I cannot afford to pay a commission of one per cent. of M. Van den Yver in Paris, and Mr. Puller in London, as those bankers have heretofore charged; and congress may perhaps be displeased to be charged with such a commission, merely for my convenience of receiving my money in London or Paris. You know, gentlemen, that of all the immense sums that I have borrowed upon my signature for the United States, not one farthing of benefit accures to me; and you know how parsimonious I have been of orders for money, even for necessary public services. So that I should be obliged to you for your advice, whether there is not any method by which I may receive my salary and disbursements in Paris or London, as may be most convenient to my affairs, or whether it will not be better for me to draw bills upon you in favor of bankers or merchants in London or Paris.

I accept with a sensible pleasure, gentlemen, your kind compliments Edition: current; Page: [221] of the season, and, in return, my family joins with me, in wishing you and your families all health, wealth, and honor, not only for the year ensuing, but for a long course of years after it.

I remain, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 January, 1785
Auteuil

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Sir,

I have the satisfaction to inform congress, that, by a letter from our bankers in Amsterdam, I am informed they have in hand near a million of guilders, and, consequently, that the two loans I have opened, amounting in the whole to seven millions of guilders, are almost full. This is a full proof of an amelioration of our credit since January, 1784, when I was obliged, in a very tender state of convalescence, and an uncommonly rigorous season, to undergo the hardships and dangers of a voyage and journey in packet-boats, ice-boats, and bo[Editor: illegible letters] wagons, to obtain money to save Mr. Morris’s bills from being protested.

This is a very fortunate circumstance for us at this time, both as it furnishes us the means of treating with the Barbary powers, if congress should authorize us to make the necessary presents, upon which points we wait their instructions, and as it will enable congress to pay the interest of their debt to France.

Four letters upon the subject of this interest have been communicated to his colleagues by Dr. Franklin, one from the Count de Vergennes, and three from M. Grand, and no doubt transmitted to congress.

Dr. Franklin has sounded me several times, to know if I was willing to pay the salaries of the ministers, and Mr. Carmichael’s salary, Mr. Dumas’ salary, and Colonel Humphreys’. In short, there is no money in Europe at present, but what has been obtained in Holland by my signature, and is supposed to be under my inspection. I shall, therefore, be very soon embarrassed, as there will be many applications to me for money, and I shall not dare to advance it without orders. I therefore pray for the explicit instructions of congress upon this subject. Your ministers in Europe must not starve on the one hand, and I must not, on the other, presume to appropriate money, unappropriated by congress, without necessity. If it should be the Edition: current; Page: [222] pleasure of congress that I should draw for necessary moneys upon the certificate of their ministers here, or that they should draw upon my bankers in Amsterdam, this would relieve me from a great anxiety. At all events, it is absolutely necessary that congress should communicate to me their commands.

I wish also to know whether it is the expectation of congress that I should open a new loan, as one of the old ones is full, and the other is very near it.

I confess it grieves me to put my hand to an obligation, as it always brings home to my heart the reflection that I am burdening the industry and labor of my fellow-citizens and countrymen with a heavy load; and when demands are laid before me for millions of livres, for interest already due, I cannot help wishing that I might never have occasion to sign another obligation. It will, nevertheless, be absolutely necessary, as I believe, to borrow somewhat more; but it behoves the people to consider the necessity they are under of exerting themselves in season to provide for the payment of their foreign debt, and especially to avoid as much as possible the necessity of increasing it. They will find it very impoverishing to send annually out of their country such large sums for the payment of interest; an enormous bulk of the produce of the country must go to make up these sums, and we shall find the drain very exhausting to our patience, if not to our strength.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
Baron De Thulemeier
De Thulemeier, Baron
24 Janvier, 1785
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

BARON DE THULEMEIER TO JOHN ADAMS.

Vous recevrez, monsieur, par un courier Hollandais, adressé à Messieurs de Berkenrode et Brantzen, un paquet sous votre enveloppe et celle de Messieurs Franklin et Jefferson. Il renferme les observations du roi sur le contre-projet du traité de commerce, qui m’a été remis de votre part, au mois de Novembre de l’année dernière. Agréez qu’en qualité de votre ancien collègue, toujours reconnaissant de l’amitié que vous m’avez témoignée pendant votre séjour à la Haie, je prenne la liberté de vous parler avec quelque franchise. Les observations sur les articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, et 12, du contre-projet, sont envisagées à Berlin, Edition: current; Page: [223] comme trop essentielles, pour qu’on puisse se départir des changemens et additions proposés. Je ne vous dissimulerai point même, monsieur, qu’à en juger par mes instructions, la conclusion du traité en dépendra, selon toute apparence. Les remarques postérieures contribueront uniquement à donner plus de clarté et de précision à quelques articles.

Daignez, monsieur, envisager tout ceci, non comme une déclaration ministérielle, mais simplement comme un témoignage de ma confiance, et du désir dont je suis animé d’assurer le succès de nos soins communs, et d’éloigner tout ce qui pourrait faire naître des obstacles trop essentiels pour que je puisse espérer de les surmonter. Un mot de réponse de votre part me feroit grand plaisir.

Agréez les assurances, &c.
De Thulemeier.
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan
2 February, 1785
Amsterdam
John Adams
Adams, John

MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Sir,

Last week we received your much esteemed favor of 10 January, and observed with much pleasure your satisfaction on the flourishing state of the treasury of the United States in our hands. Your Excellency desires our opinion, whether the prospect of making new loans for the congress would be favorable. In answer to this, we heartily wish that we may not very soon be charged to try it, and that before it may become necessary, congress may be put in a situation, by a unanimous consentment of all the American States of the confederation, to point out a sufficient fund for the punctual payment of the capital and interest, which, as you know, has not been the case with the two first loans, and which at present would absolutely be required, because people in this country know that the States have not agreed upon this capital point. This circumstance certainly occasions that the credit of the United States cannot be carried to the point which we believe it deserves in consequence of the inward solidity and promising prospect of the sources of her welfare. Besides this, we are daily questioned about the ratification of the last loan, and we are at a loss what we shall answer, having not received any letters from the office of finance since the time when Mr. Morris resigned.

But, sir, whenever our wishes in these points should be fulfilled, Edition: current; Page: [224] which certainly would strengthen greatly the American credit, we should not advise to try another loan for some time, because we know that a great number of bonds of both of the former remain still in the hands of the undertakers, which, as you know, is the second hand, and there is no great prospect that they will sell their shares so soon, on occasion that we have every day new loans opened here, as, for instance, one of seven millions in favor of the East India Company, one of twelve hundred thousand florins for the States of Zealand, one of two millions for Sweden, and we expect every day a loan for our Province; added to this, large sums are employed in the French loan, and you will easily conclude that money becomes very scarce, which we hope will not be the case next year; and if then congress might wish to pay off the loans in France, and raise the money in this country, it would give us much pleasure to give her again satisfaction with our endeavors, and at the same time to observe an unlimited confidence with our countrymen.

We observe, sir, what you are pleased to mention about the commission which our bankers charge upon the sums, which they pay you on account of your salary. It is our opinion, that properly this commission should be bonified by congress, and even that they should indemnify your Excellency for the trouble and hardships you had on their behalf, would not be amiss. But it being out of our line to decide any thing of that kind, we will only say, that, in case the said commission is charged by congress to your account, we will in future give such orders that you will have no reason to complain about it.

We beg to return our compliments to your worthy family, and remain, &c.

Wilhem and Jan Willink,
Nich. and Jacob Van Staphorst,
De la Lande and Fynje.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 February, 1785
Auteuil
Baron De Thulemeier
De Thulemeier, Baron

TO BARON DE THULEMEIER.

Sir,

Your favor of the 24th of January did not reach me until two days ago. I communicated the observations inclosed Edition: current; Page: [225] in it immediately to my colleagues, who will transmit you our answers as soon as health and other circumstances will admit, I have communicated to them also your personal and confidential observations to me. They will have great weight, as they ought to have.

I am weary of the slow motions of other courts and states, as much as I admire the despatch, intelligence, and decision of that of Berlin, and as much as I am charmed to find the King do us the honor to agree to the platonic philosophy of some of our articles, which are at least a good lesson to mankind, and will derive more influence from a treaty ratified by the King of Prussia, than from the writings of Plato or Sir Thomas More.

You may depend upon it, I will do every thing in my power to bring this treaty to a speedy conclusion, and to conform in every thing, as far as I can consistently with my instructions, to his Majesty’s observations.

This answer, you perceive, is not ministerial, any more than your letter. But I hope to have the honor of signing the treaty with you, if I should not have that of residing near you at the Hague, which I wish, in a short time.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
16 February, 1785
Auteuil
Jan Willink
Willink, Jan

TO MESSRS. WILLINK AND OTHERS.

Gentlemen,

I have received your favor of the 6th of January and that of the 2d of February, and am much obliged to you for the particular account of the state of the cash and obligations in your hands. By all that I have learned from your letters, as well as by inquiry in conversation, it seems to be so possible, and indeed so probable, that the United States might be exposed to a loss of several hundred thousand guilders by a sudden fall of the agio, that I have not been able to resolve upon giving you directions to put the cash on hand into the bank, especially as I have every day expected, and still expect, not only the ratification of the last loan, but orders from congress or their commissioners of the treasury what to do with the whole sum. I still expect every moment to receive the orders of congress, and, therefore, shall not venture as yet to give Edition: current; Page: [226] orders for putting the money into the bank. But, as you are on the spot, and are better informed than I am, I must leave it to your judgments to do what you shall think most for the interest of the United States, either by putting the whole, or a part, or none of the money into the bank. But, gentlemen, let me, above all things, recommend it to you, to keep the congress constantly informed of the state of their affairs in your hands. You may address your letters either to the president, his Excellency Richard Henry Lee, or to the office of finance. Perhaps it would be best to address duplicates; one to the president, and the other to the commissioners of the treasury.

I thank you, gentlemen, for what you say about my salary. But would it not be a saving for me to draw bills upon you and sell them here? As to an indemnification to me for “my troubles and hardships,” I have no idea of asking, or even wishing for such a thing. Exclusive of all these, it would require a larger sum perhaps than you imagine, to indemnify me for my losses. This, too, I neither expect nor desire. Indeed, while the war continued, and all was at stake, I never thought about trouble, hardships, losses, or savings. But as peace is made, and danger to the public is no more, I should think myself bound to economy for the sake of my family, if I were not necessitated to it in order to pay my daily expenses, as I literally am at present.

With much esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
9 March, 1785
Auteuil
Secretary Jay
Jay, Secretary

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

Permit me to congratulate the United States upon the acquisition of a minister of foreign affairs whose long services have so justly acquired their confidence, and whose experience, as well as his talents, so fully qualify him for this important trust.

The joint despatches of their ministers here will inform congress of the slow progress of the negotiations intrusted to their care. These delays are owing to the ordinary character of the deliberations of courts, and are in no measure occasioned by any inattention or inactivity on our part, and, as they are irremediable, must be submitted to with patience.

Edition: current; Page: [227]

I must beg leave to repeat a request mentioned in several of my late letters, that congress would be pleased to transmit the ratification of my last loan, which I opened a year ago in Holland, and is long since full. The delay of the ratification has an ill effect. Congress will be pleased too to give orders, if it is not yet done, as I hope it has been, concerning near a million of guilders, which remain in the hands of their bankers at Amsterdam, as appears by some extracts of letters inclosed.

I have lately inquired of the Baron de Stael, the Swedish ambassador, and of M. d’Asp, the Swedish chargé d’affaires, an old acquaintance at the Hague, who has been lately removed to this Court, concerning the presents given by their Court to the Barbary powers. Both very obligingly promised to write to Stockholm for full information upon this subject. I have written to Mr. Dumas to apply to Mr. Bisdom and Mr. Van der Hope to learn the sums given by the Republic. The answers of those gentlemen I have communicated to my colleagues, and copies of them will be transmitted to congress by Mr. Humphreys in the joint despatches. If we can avoid this humiliating tribute, I should wish it with all my heart, but am afraid we must sooner or later submit to it. I cannot find it in my heart to wish ill-success to the two empires, if they really have, as they are suspected to have, the project of driving wholly out of Europe the Turkish empire, because the Barbary powers and their hateful piracies would probably come to an end at the same time. We wait for orders relative to those States, thinking it dangerous saying a word to Morocco before we are ready to treat with all.

There is at this time so intimate a connection between France, Sweden, and Holland, that I fancy we shall scarcely persuade either of the latter to agree to any supplementary treaties, unless the former should set the example, which we cannot expect, considering the opposition the ministry meets with from the merchants of the seaport towns, and even from some sovereign Courts. The ordinance of 30th August, 1784, which moderates the rigor of the letters-patent of October, 1727, and admits foreigners to the commerce of the Colonies under certain restrictions, has excited remonstrances from the merchants of Marseilles, Bordeaux, Rochelle, Nantes, St. Maloes, and Havre de Grace, and the parliament of Bordeaux has remonstrated, Edition: current; Page: [228] and that of Bretagne was very near it. The Marshal de Castries is yet unmoved, but this opposition will, I fear, discourage him from going further.

These remonstrances attack every part of the first article; they oppose the free ports or entrepôts; they oppose the liberty to strangers to import timber, coal, even live stock, but especially salt beef, saltfish, rice, Indian corn, vegetables, leather tanned or in the hair, pitch, tar, turpentine; they are eager for reviving the regulations of 1727, and totally excluding all foreigners from their islands. In short, I see that French merchants consider their Colonies and colonists as English merchants considered us twenty years ago. It is true that all have not been equally extravagant; some have gone in their remonstrances no farther than against salt beef and salt fish.

Merchants, whether French, English, or Dutch, are very bad rulers of colonies at a distance, and their mistakes, if not firmly corrected by their governments, will make a serious common cause between Americans, northern and western.

The French fisheries, in consequence of the extension of their limits by the treaty of peace, upon the island of Newfoundland, and the free communication between the United States and St. Peters and Miquelon, have succeeded the last year in a remarkable manner. Marseilles, Bordeaux, and Rochelle, and many other places, have engaged in the Newfoundland fishery with a new ardor and uncommon profit. This is one striking advantage, arising wholly from their alliance with us, and they ought to be too sensible of it, to wish so soon to exclude us wholly from their islands. The government and more enlightened part of the nation are so, and will not give way to the interested clamors of those who see no further than their own private profit.

Nothing is more extravagant than the confident pretensions of French and English merchants, that they can supply their own islands. It is whimsical, but it is true, that the mercantile spirit should be the most hostile to the freedom of commerce; governments the most disposed to favor it are continually solicited by bodies of merchants, from partial views and private interests, to restrain and shackle it.

England, it is plain, will never treat with us here; and it is for congress to determine, whether they will accept the proposition Edition: current; Page: [229] of the Court of St. James, and send a minister there, or renounce all thoughts of treating with it upon any thing. Spain seems equally averse to treating here; but if Mr. Gardoqui has arrived, who has full powers, congress may treat with him at New York.

The general state of Europe is critical, but the claims of the Emperor are so directly against treaties which interest so essentially all Europe, that I do not believe he will urge on a war that must embroil all the world, and end not at all to his advantage or honor.

With very great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Jay
Jay, John
15 March, 1785
New York
John Adams
Adams, John

SECRETARY JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

The inclosed extracts from the Journal of congress will inform you of your appointment to go as minister to the Court of London, and of Mr. Smith being elected secretary of legation.1

I congratulate you on this event. It argues the confidence reposed in you by the United States, and, I am persuaded, will redound to your advantage as well as to your reputation.

The necessary papers are preparing, and Mr. Smith will carry them to you by the next packet.

With great respect, &c.
John Jay.
John Adams
Adams, John
20 March, 1785
Auteuil
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin, Benjamin
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Gentlemen,

According to your desire, I went early this morning to Versailles, and finding the Count de Vergennes unembarrassed with company, and only attended by his private Edition: current; Page: [230] secretaries. I soon obtained the honor of a conference, in which I told him that my colleagues were very sorry that indisposition necessarily prevented their paying their respects to him in person, and obliged them to request me alone to wait on him, and ask his advice upon a thorny question we had with the Barbary powers. He asked what it was; and I put into his hand all the letters upon the subject, in French, Spanish, Italian, and English, all of which he read very attentively, and observed that it was obvious what was wanted, and what had piqued the Emperor of Morocco, namely,—that congress had not written to him, nor sent him a consul with the customary presents; for that he was the most interested man in the world, and the most greedy of money. He asked whether we had written to congress and obtained their instructions. I answered, that we had full powers to treat with Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and the rest; but that it was impossible for us to go there, and that we had not a power of substitution. He said, then, we should write to the Emperor. I asked, if he would do us the favor to convey a letter for us through the French consul. He said he could not do this himself, because it was not in his department; but if we would make an office of it, he would communicate it to the Marshal de Castries, and return us his answer.

I told him, that in looking over the treaties between the several Christian powers and the Barbary States, we found that the treaty between the Crown of France and Algiers of the 25th of April, 1684, was expired, or near expiring, and we were desirous of knowing (if the question was not indiscreet) whether it had been renewed. He smiled upon this, and said it was true their treaty was upon the point of expiring, but he could not tell me whether it were renewed, as it was not in his department; but if we should insert this inquiry in our office, he would endeavor to obtain the Marshal de Castries’s answer.

I told him that, in order to lay before congress all the information we could, and to enable them to judge the better what other orders to give us, or what other course to take, we had obtained authentic information from Mr. Bisdom and Mr. Van der Hope, concerning the presents annually given by their High Mightinesses, and that we should be very glad to know (if it was not improper) what was the annual amount of the presents made by his Majesty to each of those States, and in what articles Edition: current; Page: [231] they consisted. He said, the king never sent them any naval or military stores, but he sent them glasses and other things of value; but that as it was not in his department, he could not give me particular information, but that we might put this into our office, with the other things.

I asked if there was not a considerable trade and frequent intercourse between parts of this kingdom and the coast of Barbary. He said there was, from Marseilles and the other ports upon the Mediterranean; but he thought, if we had presents to send, it would be more convenient to send them from Cadiz.

I then asked the favor of his advice, whether, in our letter to the Emperor of Morocco, we should leave it to his option to send here a minister to treat with us, or to wait until we could write to congress, and recommend it to them, to send a consul. He said he would by no means advise us to invite the Emperor to send a minister here to treat with us, because we must maintain him here and bear all the expenses of his voyages and journeys, which would be much more costly than for congress to send a consul.

But the Count concluded the whole conference by observing that every thing relative to this business was out of his department, and that we must state to him in writing all we desired to know or to have done, and he would convey it to the minister of the marine, and communicate to us his answer, and that we might depend upon it, that whenever we thought proper to make any office to him, it should be carefully attended to.

He added very particular inquiries concerning the health of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson, which I answered to the best of my knowledge, and took my leave.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Jay
Jay, John
31 March, 1785
John Adams
Adams, John

SECRETARY JAY TO JOHN ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

I have the honor of transmitting to you, herewith inclosed, a certified copy of an act of congress of the 21st instant, instructing you to communicate to Mr. St. Saphorin the high sense the United States in congress assembled entertain of the Edition: current; Page: [232] liberal decision made by his Danish Majesty on the question proposed to his minister by you, respecting the ordination of American candidates for holy orders in the Episcopal church, commonly called the Church of England.

Congress has been pleased to order me to transmit copies of your letter, and the other papers on this subject, to the executives of the different States; and I am persuaded they will receive with pleasure this mark of your attention and of his Danish Majesty’s friendly disposition.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Jay.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 April, 1785
Auteuil
Dr. Price
Dr. Price

TO DR. PRICE.

Sir,

Some time since I received from Dr. Franklin a copy of the first edition of your Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, and lately a copy of the second. I am much obliged to you, sir, for your kind attention to me, and for these valuable presents.

I think it may be said in praise of the citizens of the United States, that they are sincere inquirers after truth in matters of government and commerce; at least that there are among them as many, in proportion, of this liberal character, as any other country possesses. They cannot, therefore, but be obliged to you, and any other writers capable of throwing light upon these objects, who will take the pains to give them advice.

I am happy to find myself perfectly agreed with you, that we should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions consistent with morals and property, shall enjoy equal liberty, property, or rather security of property, and an equal chance for honors and power, and when government shall be considered as having in it nothing more mysterious or divine than other arts or sciences, we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society. But at what an immense distance is that period! Notwithstanding all that has been written from Sidney and Locke down to Dr. Price and the Abbé de Mably, all Europe still believes sovereignty to be a divine right, except a few men of letters. Edition: current; Page: [233] Even in Holland their sovereignty, which resides in more than four thousand persons, is all divine.

But I did not intend to enter into details. If you will permit, I should be glad to communicate with you concerning these things.

John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 April, 1785
Auteuil
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

I have written by the late packets for the orders of congress concerning near a million of guilders in the hands of Messrs. Willink & Co. in Amsterdam, and requesting the ratification of my last loan and other subjects. By the February packet, hourly expected, I hope to have the honor of letters from you, with the pleasure of congress relative to these matters.

Our joint despatches will show all the information we have yet obtained concerning the power of the Barbary States, and the costliness of their friendship. We must proceed slowly and cautiously. I often hear the trade of the Mediterranean and of the Levant slightly spoken of, and represented as of small value to the United States. I think very differently, with an absolute certainty that time will demonstrate me in the right. But the rise of insurance on all of our trade is to be added to the full value of the trade we may have in the Mediterranean and the Levant; and, what is worse, we have the cries of our countrymen in captivity, in chains, and exposed to many cruelties, to consider. It is not the loss of property which has induced any nation to become tributary to them, but this inhuman practice of enslaving captives. France, England, and Holland have avoided stipulating in treaties to pay a tribute; but Sweden and Denmark have not. I hope we shall not imitate the example of these last. If we are directed to negotiate, we shall probably negotiate through the French consul; but it will be necessary, finally, for congress to send consuls to sign the treaties and to make the presents. We have collected some information which will be useful to our country respecting these powers. I wish we were able to do as much under our commission Edition: current; Page: [234] to Spain. That Court will not treat here, and for us to go to Madrid is a dangerous measure; we know not how much time the negotiation there may require, and if we go and return without success, it will be industriously spread by all the diplomatic corps, and will hurt the reputation of our country in Europe, and elate the English beyond measure; inconveniences which may be avoided by your conducting the negotiation with Mr. Gardoqui at New York, or by congress sending a minister to Madrid. This, I know, is much desired by the Spanish Court and by this Court, as many symptoms have indicated, particularly a conversation between the Duke de la Vauguyon and me a few days before his departure for Madrid. A minister at Madrid would be useful to us in conducting this business with the Barbary powers, and is, in all respects, as far as I can see, a desirable measure. The expense of maintaining three ministers is the same, whether they reside at Auteuil, Passy, and Paris, or at Madrid, Versailles, and the Hague; and I am sure we could not do less separately than we are likely to do together.

You remember, sir, that one of the first things Mr. Hartley said to us, was, to propose, in the name of the King his master and his minister Mr. Fox, that ministers should be exchanged immediately between congress and St. James’s. You have received before now the formal proposition from the Marquis of Carmarthen, transmitted to us through the Duke of Dorset, to the same effect. The appointment of Mr. Temple as consulgeneral, is a still stronger indication of a real wish in the ministry that this measure may be pursued, and of a secret consciousness that they shall be obliged to treat. In their refusal to treat here, they would be justified by all the courts and diplomatic bodies in the world. I make no scruple, no hesitation to advise that a minister may be sent, nor will I be intimidated from giving this advice by any apprehension that I shall be suspected of a design or desire of going to England myself. Whoever goes will neither find it a lucrative nor a pleasant employment, nor will he be envied by me. I know that for years, if he does his duty, he will find no personal pleasure or advantage. But the measure of sending a minister to England, appears to me the corner stone of the true American system of politics in Europe; and, if it is not done, we shall have cause to repent it for a long Edition: current; Page: [235] time, when it will be too late. Every thing is calculated, as it appears to me, to involve us in a war with England. Cries and prejudices are fomented in England and America, which have no other tendency but to involve us in a war long before we shall be ready. Ten or fifteen years hence we shall have nothing to fear from a war with England, if they should be mad enough to force us upon it. At present, it would distress us extremely, although it would ruin England. My system is a very simple one; let us preserve the friendship of France, Holland, and Spain, if we can, and in case of a war between France and England, let us preserve our neutrality, if possible. In order to preserve our friendship with France and Holland and Spain, it will be useful for us to avoid a war with England. To avoid a war with England, we should take the regular diplomatic steps to negotiate, to settle disputes as they rise, and to place the intercourse between the two nations upon a certain footing; then we may understand one another, avoid deceits and misrepresentations. It is so much the interest of England that we should be neutral in a future war, that I am persuaded cool and candid reasoning with their ministers upon the subject would convince them of it. The force of truth is greater, even in the minds of politicians, than the world in general is aware of. England is now mad with the hope of our having a war with Spain, and even France in consequence of the family compact, and of our courting them to become our allies and undertake our defence. Surely it would not be difficult for an American minister to convince a British one that this is chimerical, and that the only thing they ought to expect from America is neutrality. The real thing the English have to fear is our joining their enemies against them in a future war. She has no alliance to hope from us, unless Spain should force us into a war; and, even then, we ought not to ask or accept aid from England, if we could avoid it, unless France, from the family compact, should join Spain.

This reasoning and this system, you see, goes upon the supposition that we are independent of France, in point of moral and political obligation. But if the sentiments of America are otherwise, and those principles are general, which you and I once heard delivered with great formality and energy, namely,—“That America ought to join France against England in two Edition: current; Page: [236] future wars; one to pay the debt of gratitude already contracted, and the other to show ourselves as generous as France had been,”—I confess myself all wrong, and to be so totally ignorant of the rights, duties, and interests of my country, as to be altogether unfit for any share in their public affairs, foreign or domestic.

At any rate, our negotiations in this place have not answered the ends proposed by congress and expected by the people of America, nor is there now scarcely a possibility that they should. I am very happy in my friend Mr. Jefferson, and have nothing but my inutility to disgust me with a residence here. But I presume congress will not think it expedient to renew the commissions, or attempt any longer to carry on negotiations with the rest of the world in this place. If they should, however, I hope they will think of some other gentleman in my place, as it is my desire to return home at the expiration of the term of the present commissions.

With great respect and sincere esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 April, 1785
Auteuil
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

The letter you did me the honor to write me on the 11th of February last, containing the ratification of my last loan of two millions of guilders, having been properly addressed to me as minister at the Hague, by a mistake of the post-office at Paris, was sent to Holland, from whence it returned to me last night. This loan is long since full, as my first loan of five millions of guilders is nearly so; I must, therefore, solicit the further instructions of congress, whether I am to open any new loan or not.

Your letter to Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jefferson, and me, of the 14th of January, has been duly received and answered.

If I had known a few weeks sooner that congress had resolved to send a minister to London, it would have saved you the trouble of a letter upon the subject which you will receive by the packet. It has appeared to me for some time to be an important and a necessary measure; and although the gentleman who may be sent there, whoever he may be, will probably find himself Edition: current; Page: [237] in a thicket of briars, from which he will hardly get free without tearing his flesh, yet I am persuaded that the appearance of an American minister at the British Court will have good effects upon our affairs, even in France and Spain, and the nations in alliance with them, as well as in the courts and nations in the opposite scale of the balance; but especially upon the British and American nations.

Will it be foreign to the purpose upon this occasion, or improper for me, to observe, that the people in America, and their legislatures in the several States, should prepare the way for their minister in England to require a faithful execution of treaties, by setting the example of a punctual execution on their part? If we establish the principle, that we have a right to depart from the treaty in one article, because they have departed from it in another, they will certainly avail themselves of the same principle, and probably extend it as much farther, as their sense of justice is less, and their opinion of their own power, however ill-founded, is greater. It cannot, I think, be too often nor too earnestly recommended to our countrymen to consider the treaty as sacred, and to fulfil it in all its parts, according to its real spirit and intention, in good conscience. In that most delicate point of all, respecting the refugees, I even wish that the people could conquer their natural feelings and suppress their just resentments. This, I am confident, is the best revenge that can be taken, and will most effectually disarm even those among them who are most distinguished for their enmity. If we have any thing to fear from Canada and Nova Scotia, or for our whale fishery, it arises, and will arise, from our own severity to these people; and the same observation may be applied to the fur trade, and the posts upon the frontier.

Your desire, sir, to hear from me frequently, and to have my poor opinion on the affairs of your department, does me great honor, and shall be complied with to the utmost of my power; but I shall much oftener have occasion for your advice in such affairs as are intrusted to me. I think myself extremely happy, in common with our countrymen, that I have to correspond with a gentleman to whom our foreign affairs are very familiar by long experience, who knows where our difficulties and dangers lie, and who has proved himself, upon all occasions, superior to them.

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I am sorry to learn that the French chargé des àffaires has demanded Monsieur Longchamps to be delivered up, and am the more surprised, because I had understood from such sources as I thought authentic, that the punishment to which he has been sentenced was satisfactory at Court. It may not, however, be amiss for the French government to keep up a claim which may be a standing restraint to their own subjects in all foreign countries. But it cannot be doubted that the French ministry know our right to refuse, as well as theirs to demand, as there is no positive stipulation between the two powers that criminals shall be mutually given up, and surely it is no perfect right by the law of nations, nor is it a common practice; so far from it, that it will be difficult to show an example of it where there is no convention.1

Your packet for Mr. Carmichael shall be delivered to the Spanish ambassador to go by his courier, as you desire.

With the utmost respect and esteem, &c.
John Adams.
Baron De Thulemeier
De Thulemeier, Baron
3 Mai, 1785
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

BARON DE THULEMEIER TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je ressens une véritable satisfaction en mettant aujourd’hui la dernière main à un ouvrage qui a commencé d’être entrepris à la Haie sous vos auspices, et que vous avez favorisé, monsieur, de votre mieux. Vous verrez par la lettre cijointe, que j’ai l’honneur de vous adresser en commun avec messieurs vos collègues, que le roi n’a rien laissé à désirer aux États de l’Amérique. Il s’agit actuellement que vous ayez la bonté de faire mettre au net un exemplaire du traité dont nous sommes convenus. J’en ferai autant, de mon côté. Quelque puisse être le plaisir que je me permettrais dans une entrevue, en renouvelant notre ancienne connoissance, je crains cependant que, les affaires du roi m’attachant à la Haie, S. M. ne préfère que l’échange se fasse par une voie sûre, telle que le paquet des ambassadeurs de L. H. P.

Edition: current; Page: [239]

Daignez m’accorder constamment une place dans votre souvenir, et agréez les assurances de l’attachement inviolable, &c.

De Thulemeier.
John Adams
Adams, John
4 May, 1785
Auteuil
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

The day before yesterday I received the letter you did me the honor to write me on the 18th of March, inclosing a commission, instructions, and letter of credence to the Court of Great Britain, and a duplicate of your letter of February 11th, with the ratification of the loan in Holland.

The appointment to the Court of Great Britain demands my most grateful acknowledgments to congress, and the utmost care and diligence in the execution of it.

I am happy to see, by the resolution of March 7th, that a minister is to be appointed to succeed me at the Hague; both because a minister will be necessary there, and because that the minister in London will find employment for all his time, and should devote himself wholly to the duties of that mission. As no letter of recall is as yet arrived to me, I am a little perplexed. I have been a witness of so much friendship to the United States, and have experienced so much kindness to myself, in Holland, that I ought not finally to quit that country without taking leave of their High Mightinesses, even if established forms had not rendered such a ceremony indispensable.

There is no time to be lost unnecessarily in executing the instructions of congress; but you are very sensible, sir, of the necessity of taking leave of this Court and of the foreign ministers here, and of the time which such a formality takes up. It will, therefore, be longer before I can be in London than you may wish, perhaps five or six weeks; in the mean time, Colonel Smith, I hope, will arrive with the additional information, and I may take such measures as I can to prepare the way before us. The Duke of Dorset has offered me all the service in his power, and professes to wish me success. It may not be useless for me to see Mr. Harris at the Hague.

The instructions are perfectly agreeable to my own inclinations; but it would be my duty to carry them into punctual Edition: current; Page: [240] execution to the utmost of my power, if they were not so. It is not the first time that a public trust of some importance has been committed to me, but I do not know that any ever made a deeper impression upon my spirits, or gave me more serious reflections. To do my duty to our country and her allies, and to reconcile the Americans and English upon principles and terms which may give satisfaction to all, is no easy task. I can promise nothing but industry; the prospect of success is far from being encouraging. The measure of sending a minister had become indispensable. Congress will have tried the experiment, and done all that, in the opinion of the world, was incumbent on them; and if the English nation perseveres in obstinacy and delusion, the United States will be fully informed of it, and have it undoubtedly in their power to do themselves justice. The resolutions of New York and Rhode Island, the former laying heavier duties upon British ships and merchandises, and the latter adopting the impost of five per cent., if the public papers inform us truly, are symptoms of a spirit rising in America which will either make the English friendly to us, or their enmity a blessing.

The Count d’Aranda told me yesterday that your packet to Mr. Carmichael was gone to Madrid.

I forgot to mention in its place your letter of March 15th. The confidence you express is mutual, which I esteem one of the happiest circumstances in my whole life. I have not the honor to be personally known to Mr. Smith, but he shall receive from me all the regard which becomes the relation between us.

With sincere esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
5 May, 1785
Anteuil
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

The Britons boast that all the prophecies of the loss of the American trade from the independence of the United States have proved false; that the experiment has been tried, and the contest decided; that there was at the peace a competition of the commercial nations of Europe for the prize; that the superior abilities of the British manufacturers, and the greater capitals of their merchants, have enabled them to give Edition: current; Page: [241] our traders better bargains and longer credit than any others in Europe; that, as we love our interests and have small fortunes, we must come to them who can furnish us with goods of the best qualities, at the cheapest rates, and allow us the longest time to pay; that Britain has monopolized our trade beyond credibility; that all the foreign merchants,—French, Dutch, and even Spanish and Portuguese,—who had engaged in our trade have failed, while few of theirs have suffered.

While, on the one hand, it is certain that in all this there is much exaggeration, it must be confessed, on the other, that there is too much truth; and the success of your mission to London will depend very much upon the researches of congress and the States into this subject, and the measures they may take in consequence of their inquiries. You will negotiate for reciprocities in commerce to very little purpose, while the British ministers and merchants are certain that they shall enjoy all the profits of our commerce under their own partial regulations.

It behoves the whole people of America, then, to turn their attention to this subject. It would be presumption in me to discuss the question, whether it is necessary that the States should give to congress a plenary power to govern the commerce of the whole confederation. I have been too long absent, and at too great a distance, to be able to form a judgment, even to my own satisfaction. But I can see numberless mischiefs and inconveniences arising from the want of unity and system, in the direction of such complicated interests, and every State will find itself necessitated frequently to apply to congress for their interposition, either by recommendations or decisions.

You will give me leave, then, to inquire, whether it may not be proper for congress to call upon the States, in such manner as they may judge constitutional, to furnish them with authentic accounts of all the exports and imports of every State since the peace, of the vessels which have entered or cleared out, the nation to which they belong, and all other particulars which may be thought proper. It should seem impossible that the Union can be preserved without some such general repository of the commercial interests and knowledge. The information to be derived from it would bring the States to act in concert, by showing the necessity of it to all, and congress or the States Edition: current; Page: [242] might take such measures as would insure them justice against the English; from such a view, they might lay such discouragements on British ships and manufactures, and procure such advantages to their own, as would be beneficial to our country, while it would show the English their own weakness; heavy duties might be laid upon articles of luxury wrought in England and imported from thence, which would discourage the extravagant use of them among ourselves, place other nations upon as good or a better footing than the English, and raise a revenue for the public out of that enthusiasm for England which has been, and is still, so unwise in itself, and so hurtful to our country. Such measures as these would discover to the English that we know our own strength and their weakness, and would have probably a greater tendency to influence the ministry, by preparing the nation, than any reasoning which can be used. It is a diplomatic axiom, “that he always negotiates ill who is not in a condition to make himself feared;” but measures for this purpose must be taken by the people of America. Our army will be no terror to them, because they think at present they shall never send an army to fight us in our own country, and they do not believe that ours will go abroad to attack them; they are too proud of their own navy, and have too much disregard of ours, to dread us upon the sea, although experience should have taught them that their commerce might be much endangered by our cruisers. So that we have no means to make an impression on them but by commercial regulations, which the vulgar may see strike essentially at their interests without injuring our own.

With great and sincere esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 May, 1785
Auteuil
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

In executing the instructions of congress of the 7th of March last, as well as all former orders which concern the Court of Great Britain, the ministry will, no doubt, find my commission and letter of credence sufficient authority. But you will see, by a letter from the Duke of Dorset, which your ministers here some time since transmitted, that the British cabinet have Edition: current; Page: [243] conceived doubts, whether congress have power to treat of commercial matters, and whether our States should not separately grant their full powers to a minister. I think it may be taken for granted, that the States will never think of sending separate ambassadors, or of authorizing directly those appointed by congress. The idea of thirteen plenipotentiaries meeting together in a congress at every court in Europe, each with a full power and distinct instructions from his State, presents to view such a picture of confusion, altercation, expense, and endless delay, as must convince every man of its impracticability. Neither is there less absurdity in supposing that all the States should unite in the separate election of the same man, since there is not, never was, and never will be, a citizen whom each State would separately prefer for conducting the negotiation. It is equally inconceivable that each State should separately send a full power and separate instructions to the ministers appointed by congress. What a heterogeneous mass of papers, full of different objects, various views, and inconsistent and contradictory orders, must such a man pull out of his portefeuille, from time to time, to regulate his judgment and his conduct! He must be accountable, too, to thirteen different tribunals for his conduct; a situation in which no man would ever consent to stand, if it is possible, which I do not believe, that any State should ever wish for such a system. I suppose, too, that the confederation has already settled all these points, and that congress alone have authority to treat with foreign powers, and to appoint ambassadors and foreign ministers, and that the States have separately no power to do either. Yet it is plain, from the Duke of Dorset’s letter, that the British cabinet have conceived a different opinion. This is to be accounted for, only by conjecturing that they have put an erroneous construction on the limitation, restriction, or exception in the article of our confederation, which gives to congress the power of appointing ambassadors and making treaties. This limitation is confined to treaties of commerce; all others congress have full power to make. From this limitation, however, will probably arise a great deal of difficulty and delay to me. If the British ministry wish and seek for delays, this will be their pretext. But even if they should wish for despatch, which is not likely, they may have propositions to make which will fall within the limitation, and, Edition: current; Page: [244] in such case, it will not be in my power to agree with them. I can only transmit the proposition to congress, who will perhaps transmit them to the States, and no man can foresee when the answers will be received, so that the business can be brought to a conclusion.

It is a long time that congress have appeared to be aware of these obstructions in the way of our prosperity; but it does not yet appear that the States have been sufficiently attentive to them to remove them. It is not to be supposed that congress will ever frame any treaty of commerce with any foreign power, which shall be unequal and partial among the States, or oppressive upon any one of them; and it is very clear, from the situation and circumstances of the country, that no such treaty can ever be carried into execution or last long. If the States should be unwilling to confer upon congress a power to make treaties of commerce unlimited in point of time, it should seem that time alone might be a sufficient restriction; or the limitation might be to a particular nation, as the English for example, for a certain time, although it must be always remembered that we cannot favor the English with any thing which will not become common to other nations,—the French, the Dutch, and Swedes, at least.

It is very possible that the cabinet of St. James may decline even entering into any conferences at all upon the subject of a treaty of commerce, until the powers of congress are enlarged. If they should, the people of America cannot be too soon informed of it, and turn the deliberations in their assemblies to this object.

In this case, the only present hope of your minister will be, in obedience to his orders, to convince the British ministry of the necessary tendency of their restrictions on our trade, to incapacitate our merchants in a certain degree to make remittances to theirs; to urge the surrender of the posts, the restitution of the negroes, the explanation respecting the debts, and those other matters pointed out in his instructions, in which the right and power and equity are too clear to leave any plausible pretences for delay; and to transmit, by the earliest opportunities, to congress full and true accounts of his proceedings.

On the 30th of April, 1784, congress recommended to the legislatures of the States to vest them for fifteen years with the power to prohibit any merchandises from being imported or Edition: current; Page: [245] exported in vessels belonging to, or navigated by, the subjects of any power with whom we shall have no treaties of commerce; and to prohibit the subjects of any foreign State, unless authorized by treaty, from importing into the United States any merchandises which are not the produce or manufacture of the dominions of the sovereign whose subjects they are; provided that the assent of nine States be necessary.

To suppose that the British cabinet intended, by the doubts of our powers, expressed in the Duke of Dorset’s letter, to assist congress in obtaining from the legislatures a compliance with those recommendations, would be more charitable than their conduct in any other instance would justify. I rather think it was a mere excuse for delay, but it ought to operate upon the minds of the people of the States, and their assemblies, as a powerful incentive to compliance. But it may be still a question, whether a compliance of all the States will satisfy the British cabinet; and they may require an express vote of unlimited authority to congress, for a certain term at least, from each State, to enter into a treaty of commerce with them.

I have not yet been able to learn with certainty how many and which of the States have agreed to those recommendations of congress. It will now be necessary for me to be very attentive to this, and to request of you, sir, the earliest and most minute intelligence of every proceeding of congress and the States relative to it.

The last year must have been a prosperous period in the United States. The high prices of their produce, and the low prices of foreign merchandises, are a demonstration of it. Yet our shipping, our seamen, our carrying trade, have been discouraged. Present ease, and even wealth, should not be our only object.

We ought to attend to considerations of strength and defence. Our situation is different from some of the powers of Europe who have neglected their own defence. Switzerland is situated so, that if she should be attacked by one neighbor, she would infallibly be defended by two others. If attacked by Sardinia, she would be defended by France and the Emperor; if by the Emperor, France and Sardinia would support her; and if by France, the Emperor and Sardinia would unite to protect her. This is so fully known to her and all her neighbors, that she Edition: current; Page: [246] fears nothing, and is at no expense. Holland, if attacked by France, found a friend in England; when attacked by England, France supports her; when the Emperor threatened her, she found a friend in France, too, and she will forever be sure that neither of these three great powers can ever suffer her to fall a prey to any of the others. She has relied so much upon this, as to neglect her defence, to her great regret at present. But what are Switzerland and Holland,—small powers limited by nature, so that they never can be great,—to the United States of America, destined beyond a doubt to be the greatest power on earth, and that within the life of man? This is so well known, that, instead of being overlooked among the powers, like Holland and Switzerland, we shall be more an object of jealousy than any other upon earth. All the powers know that it is impossible for any, the proudest of them, to conquer us; and, therefore, if we should be attacked by any one, the others will not be fond of undertaking our defence; knowing we can defend ourselves, they will leave us to do it, and, if they assist us at all, it will not be until we have done the work, and then it will be feebly, and only with a view of deriving more benefit and reputation from it than they do us good. They will be pleased to see us weakened, and our growth a little retarded. It behoves the United States, then, to knit themselves together in the bands of affection and mutual confidence, search their own resources to the bottom, form their foreign commerce into a system, and encourage their own navigation and seamen, and to these ends their carrying trade; and I am much afraid we shall never be able to do this, unless congress are vested with full power, under the limitations prescribed of fifteen years, and the concurrence of nine States, of forming treaties of commerce with foreign powers.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
11 May, 1785
Auteuil
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.

TO M. DUMAS.

Sir,

I received yesterday your favor of the 3d. I have received the orders of congress to go to London, according to the article you read in an English newspaper, which appears to have been copied from a gazette of New York. I have received Edition: current; Page: [247] too a commission and letters of credence as minister plenipotentiary from the United States of America to the King of Great Britain; and Mr. William Smith, formerly aid-de-camp of General Washington, is secretary of legation. Congress have resolved, too, that it will be expedient to appoint a minister to their High Mightinesses to succeed me. At first, I concluded to go to the Hague, and take my leave of their High Mightinesses and of the nation, with all that respect, affection, and gratitude which is due from me to them; but, as I have not received a letter of recall, and my successor is not arrived, I cannot yet take leave according to the forms. I learn that Colonel Smith was to embark in the packet for Falmouth, so that he may be expected by this time; and I must see him as soon as possible, to receive from him some additional papers, amongst which may possibly be my letter of recall; so that I have concluded to go to London first. Upon the arrival of my letter of recall, or of my successor, I shall go over to the Hague, if possible. But if I should chance to be engaged in business for the public which I cannot leave, I shall take leave of their High Mightinesses and of his Most Serene Highness by a respectful letter. In this case, however, I will not lose the pleasure of a visit to Holland, and of seeing my friends there, but will take a journey there with Mrs. Adams as soon as the public service will admit.

Whether this mission to St. James’s is a subject of felicitation or not, I know not. One thing I know. I quit the situation in Europe the most to my taste and the most for my health, for one that will probably be agreeable to neither. I exchange a quiet, cheerful mind, for an anxious one, and a life of ease for a scene of perplexity, confusion, and fatigue. If the public, however, should derive any benefit from it, I shall not regret it.

Dr. Franklin has leave to return, and talks of embarking next month. Mr. Jefferson is minister plenipotentiary at Versailles in his stead. Our commissions to negotiate commercial treaties remain in force, and we shall continue that business, Mr. Jefferson and I, as usual. We shall concert all affairs by letter, and meet together to sign, in London or Paris, as may be convenient, or sign the treaties separately, if we cannot meet. The communication between the Hague and London will be short and more frequent, and I hope to hear from you often.

Edition: current; Page: [248]

My family send their respects to yours. My son is to take leave of us to-morrow morning, and may heaven’s blessings attend him. Remember him and his father to all our good friends, whom you know very well.

With great respect,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
13 May, 1785
Auteuil
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

We meet, as you know very well, so often with foreign ministers, at Court and at other places, and have so many transient conversations upon subjects in which America is more or less concerned, that I scarcely know when it is worth while to transmit them to you and when it is not. There is danger on one hand of degenerating into minuteness, and on the other, of omitting something which may be of consequence.

The Duke of Dorset has been, in general, very civil to Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jefferson, and me, and, I believe I may say with exact truth, that he has shown us as much respect and attention as he has to the ministers of any power whatever; but since the English papers, from the gazettes of New York, have published my appointment to his Court, he has been more assiduous, if I may use that expression, than ever.

He congratulated me, at Court, very politely, on my appointment, and said if he could be of any service to me, in public or private, by writing to Mr. Pitt or Lord Carmarthen, or to any of his private friends, it would give him pleasure to do it. I thanked his Grace in general terms, and said it was very possible he might be of service to me, and to his own country, too, as well as mine, if his Grace and his humble servant thought alike upon certain points. He thought then, as well as I, that it was proper we should compare notes; and said he would come out to Auteuil and see me on Saturday at twelve. Accordingly he came, and, repeating his professions of good will and his offers of service, I told his Lordship I did not mean to give him the trouble of any official representations, but, as he was willing to enter into private conversation with me upon affairs, I might ask what could be the reason why the posts upon our frontiers were not evacuated. He said, he could not Edition: current; Page: [249] tell. I added, there had undoubtedly been full time, and it could not but be considered as inconsistent with the treaty; that he might well imagine it must be a tender point with us, and that jealousies and apprehensions would be very justly kept alive among all our people until the treaty was fulfilled in this particular. He seemed wholly at a loss upon this subject, and did not incline to compromise himself by hazarding any opinion.

I then mentioned the debts, and said it was certainly for the mutual advantage of both sides that we should come to an explanation upon that article; that to let loose the law, and perhaps the inflamed passions of some creditors upon the debtors and their estates, might ruin the latter without paying the former; that if execution was served upon the person of a debtor for want of estate, by the ancient as well as modern laws, he might, in a stated period, obtain his liberty upon his oath, and then the debt would be lost. If execution should be levied upon estate, it must be sold at vendue, and, in the present scarcity of money, would not be sold for half its value, so that the creditor might lose as well as the debtor; that it would surely be better for both countries, as well as for creditor and debtor, that the latter should be allowed time to turn himself, and make the most of his property. The Duke replied, that if the matter should be represented in this light, and made appear to be so, perhaps the ministry and the creditors might be satisfied; but, he added, interest should be paid. I answered, that the question concerning interest would not be changed at all by a delay; it would be the same, whether the principal were paid now or some time hence. But I found his Lordship here again unwilling to hazard any opinion of his own.

I then mentioned the negroes, and asked why the treaty was so little attended to in this article. He asked, whether any considerable number had been carried off. I answered, a very great number; and not only against the treaty, but confessedly so, for that Sir Guy Carleton had, at the time of his carrying them away, acknowledged it to be against the treaty; but alleged that their treaties with the negroes obliged them to do it, and, therefore, they must pay for them. I added, that this made it still harder upon the American debtors, and, indeed, made it perfectly just for them to withhold payment, because Edition: current; Page: [250] that the property of many of them was thus wrongfully withheld from them; property by which they might have been enabled to pay at least much of their debts. But I found that either his Grace had not thought much upon these subjects, or that his prudence restrained him from speaking freely, and he chose to wave particulars, by repeating offers of his service. I replied, that I did not think it was proper for me to desire his Grace to make any official representations, because my first address of that kind should be made to Lord Carmarthen; but that noblemen and gentlemen of high rank were often here and in company with his Grace, and as conversation turned often upon American affairs, it might be in his Grace’s power to rectify many mistakes relative to these subjects. It would be still more in his power by his private correspondences. I could not, however, obtain any specific promises; but he concluded by more general assurances, that he sincerely wished that all questions might be settled to mutual satisfaction, and entire harmony and affection restored, &c. &c.

A few days after, the Duke came out a second time to see me at Auteuil, and brought me some letters to the custom-house at Dover, which he believed would save me any troublesome visits of those gentry, and said he had written to Mr. Pitt, to desire him to send an order to the custom-house which would certainly answer the end.

He then told me, I must be in London time enough to pay my respects to the King on the 4th of June, his birthday; that to that end I must carry over from hence a fine new coat, ready made, for that it was a rule of etiquette there for everybody who went to Court to have new clothes upon that day, and very rich ones, and that my family must be introduced to the Queen. I told him I was sorry to hear that, but that I hoped it was not indispensable, for that as at the Court of Versailles the families of ambassadors only were required to be presented, and ministers plenipotentiary and envoys had their option, my family had chosen to avoid it here for many reasons. He said it was true, that here the etiquette required only the presentation of ambassadresses; but in England it was otherwise, and the ladies and daughters of all ministers must be presented to the Queen.

I hope, sir, you will not think this an immaterial or a trifling conversation, when you consider that the single circumstance of Edition: current; Page: [251] presenting a family to Court will make a difference of several hundred pounds sterling in my inevitable annual expenses. This is not the first serious lecture that I have had upon the subjects of etiquette, and even dress. I have formerly related to you in conversation another much more grave, which I had five years ago from the Count de Vergennes. I believe I have also repeated to you similar exhortations made to me, even by the best patriots in Holland. There is a certain appearance in proportion to rank, which all the courts of Europe make a point of exacting from everybody who is presented to them.

I need not say to you, sir, because you know it perfectly well, that American ministers have never yet been able to make this appearance at any court. They are now less able to do it than ever. I lament this necessity of consuming the labor of my fellow-citizens upon such objects, as much as any man living; but I am sure that the debasing your ministers so much below their rank will one day have consequences of much more importance to the husbandman, artisan, and even laborer.

With the most cordial esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 May, 1785
London
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

I found that either the Duke of Dorset’s letter, to the premier had produced an order at Dover, or that his Grace’s letter to the custom-house office had had as good an effect, for I was allowed to pass without molestation, and, indeed, I received marks of particular respect.

We arrived yesterday in the afternoon, and, as fortune would have it, Colonel Smith arrived the night before. We soon met. I wrote a card to the Marquis of Carmarthen, at nine at night, acquainting his Lordship of my arrival, and desiring an hour to wait on him. This morning I had an answer, that his Lordship would be glad to see me at one at his house, or at four at his office, as I chose. I replied, that I would have the honor to wait on him at one. Colonel Smith went with me. We were admitted in an instant, and politely received. I laid before him my commission, and left him a copy. Colonel Smith did the same with his. I consulted his Lordship about the etiquette of Edition: current; Page: [252] my letter of credence, and he gave me the same answers as the Comte de Vergennes gave you. His Lordship then said, that on Wednesday next, after the levee, I should be presented to his Majesty, in his closet, and there deliver my letter of credence; and that, on the next levee-day, Colonel Smith would be presented. This, he said, was according to usage.

I have since seen the Dutch minister, who inquired of every particular, step by step, and then said I was received precisely upon the same footing with all the other ministers. I learned from the Dutch minister, too, another particular which gave me pleasure, namely,—that the usage here is directly contrary to that in Holland and France. Here the new minister receives the first visit from all the foreign ministers; whereas, in France and Holland, the new minister makes the first visit to all the foreign ministers, and notifies formally to them his reception. This saves me from an embarrassment, and we shall now see who will and who will not. We shall see what will be done by imperial ministers, &c.

With the most cordial esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
30 May, 1785
London
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

I have redeemed a moment from a multitude of avocations at this critical time, to acknowledge the receipt by Colonel Smith of your letters of the 31st of March, with the resolutions of congress inclosed of the 21st of March. As M. de St. Saphorin is many months ago recalled from the Hague, I shall make inquiry after him, and, if I cannot find where he is, I shall communicate a copy of the resolution to the Danish minister here, by whom it will be transmitted to his Court, which I suppose will be an execution of my instructions as near the spirit of them as it is now practicable. The liberal decision of his Danish Majesty, respecting the ordination of American candidates for holy orders in the Episcopal church, called the Church of England, as soon as it was known in England, produced a more liberal spirit and decision here than had prevailed before, so that I hope that respectable body of our fellow-citizens Edition: current; Page: [253] who are interested in it have derived a benefit from it. I am much obliged to congress for this instance of their approbation, and for the honor they have done me in transmitting an account of it to the executives of the States.1

I have received, too, your letter of 13th of April, 1785, with the resolve of congress of 14th of February, 1785, empowering your ministers to apply a sum not exceeding eighty thousand dollars to the use of treating with Morocco, &c. But I have heard nothing of Captain Lamb, or the papers by him. What my colleagues will judge proper to do I cannot say; but the advice of the French Court was conformable to the opinion of us all,—that it will be indispensable for congress to send a consul with full powers.

I received at Auteuil my commission, instructions, and letter of credence to the Court of Great Britain, and have now received by Colonel Smith the papers sent by him.

I received at Auteuil the ratification of the last loan in Holland, which I transmitted immediately to Amsterdam, where it has been received, registered, and communicated to the lenders of the money, and has given them satisfaction, since which I have received from you, sir, duplicate and triplicate of the same ratification. The cipher is received, and shall be attended to.

Your ministers have written monthly an account of their proceedings. Not one packet has been missed; but when I left Auteuil we had no certain evidence that any one of our letters had been received. We supposed that this was because congress had not completed their instructions upon any of them; but I must beg the favor of you, sir, barely to mention the receipt of my letters, and their dates, although you may not be prepared to answer them. Without this one loses the chain of correspondence.

I have been visited by some gentlemen, who, I suppose, had seen the ministers, and learned from them what to say to me. They said that the ministry and the King considered the appointment of a minister as a proof of a conciliating disposition; that it was a relief to them from an anxiety, &c., and that they were fully determined to receive me in all respects like all the other foreign ministers. This, I believe is Edition: current; Page: [254] true; but we must be cautious what consequences we draw from it. It by no means follows that they are determined to do what their honor and their public faith oblige them to do according to our ideas of their obligations. It by no means follows that they will surrender the posts, restore the negroes, relieve the debtors, or make any equitable treaty of commerce. I hope they will do all these things; but I can ascertain nothing until my character is acknowledged by a public reception and audience of his Majesty, I have made my visits to his ministers, and have had time to enter into a candid discussion of these questions. You shall be punctually informed from step to step.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.

P. S. This morning Sir Clement Cottrell Dormer, master of the ceremonies, called upon me to inform me that he was ordered to attend me to Court on Wednesday, as he did on all foreign ministers at their first presentation, to show them the way through the apartments, &c.

John Adams
Adams, John
1 June, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

In my letter of the 29th ultimo, I inclosed copies of the letters which had passed between the secretary of state and myself, wherein this day was fixed upon for my introduction to his Majesty. Agreeable to that arrangement, the master of ceremonies waited on me at one, and accompanied me to the secretary’s office, from whence Lord Carmarthen accompanied me to the palace. I was in a very short time introduced to the King’s closet, where, with the usual ceremony, I presented my letter of credence to his Majesty, and, after a few minutes’ conversation, retired. I have only time to observe, sir, that I was introduced with every necessary formality, and received with some marks of attention.

The door being now opened, I may perhaps soon have it in my power to form some opinion respecting the general disposition Edition: current; Page: [255] of the King and his ministers, relative to the objects of my mission, of which you may expect the earliest communication.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
2 June, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

During my interview with the Marquis of Carmarthen, he told me that it was customary for every foreign minister, at his first presentation to the King, to make his Majesty some compliments conformable to the spirit of his letter of credence; and when Sir Clement Cottrell Dormer, the master of the ceremonies, came to inform me that he should accompany me to the secretary of state and to Court, he said that every foreign minister whom he had attended to the Queen had always made a harangue to her Majesty, and he understood, though he had not been present, that they always harangued the King.

On Tuesday evening, the Baron de Lynden called upon me, and said he came from the Baron de Nolken, and they had been conversing upon the singular situation I was in, and they agreed in opinion that it was indispensable that I should make a speech, and that that speech should be as complimentary as possible. All this was conformable to the advice lately given by the Count de Vergennes to Mr. Jefferson; so that, finding it was a custom established at both these great Courts, and that this Court and the foreign ministers expected it, I thought I could not avoid it, although my first thought and inclination had been to deliver my credentials silently and retire.

At one, on Wednesday, the master of ceremonies called at my house, and went with me to the secretary of state’s office, in Cleveland Row, where the Marquis of Carmarthen received me, and introduced me to his under secretary, Mr. Fraser, who has been, as his Lordship told me, uninterruptedly in that office, through all the changes in administration for thirty years, having first been appointed by the Earl of Holderness. After a short conversation upon the subject of importing my effects from Holland and France free of duty, which Mr. Fraser Edition: current; Page: [256] himself introduced, Lord Carmarthen invited me to go with him in his coach to Court. When we arrived in the antechamber, the æil de bæuf of St. James’s, the master of the ceremonies met me and attended me, while the secretary of state went to take the commands of the King. While I stood in this place, where it seems all ministers stand upon such occasions, always attended by the master of ceremonies, the room very full of ministers of state, lords, and bishops, and all sorts of courtiers, as well as the next room, which is the King’s bedchamber, you may well suppose I was the focus of all eyes. I was relieved, however, from the embarrassment of it by the Swedish and Dutch ministers, who came to me, and entertained me in a very agreeable conversation during the whole time. Some other gentlemen, whom I had seen before, came to make their compliments too, until the Marquis of Carmarthen returned and desired me to go with him to his Majesty. I went with his Lordship through the levee room into the King’s closet. The door was shut, and I was left with his Majesty and the secretary of state alone. I made the three reverences,—one at the door, another about half way, and a third before the presence,—according to the usage established at this and all the northern Courts of Europe, and then addressed myself to his Majesty in the following words:—

Sir,—The United States of America have appointed me their minister plenipotentiary to your Majesty, and have directed me to deliver to your Majesty this letter which contains the evidence of it. It is in obedience to their express commands, that I have the honor to assure your Majesty of their unanimous disposition and desire to cultivate the most friendly and liberal intercourse between your Majesty’s subjects and their citizens, and of their best wishes for your Majesty’s health and happiness, and for that of your royal family. The appointment of a minister from the United States to your Majesty’s Court will form an epoch in the history of England and of America. I think myself more fortunate than all my fellow-citizens, in having the distinguished honor to be the first to stand in your Majesty’s royal presence in a diplomatic character; and I shall esteem myself the happiest of men, if I can be instrumental in recommending my country more and more to your Majesty’s royal benevolence, Edition: current; Page: [257] and of restoring an entire esteem, confidence, and affection, or, in better words, the old good nature and the old good humor between people, who, though separated by an ocean, and under different governments, have the same language, a similar religion, and kindred blood.

“I beg your Majesty’s permission to add, that, although I have some time before been intrusted by my country, it was never in my whole life in a manner so agreeable to myself.”

The King listened to every word I said, with dignity, but with an apparent emotion. Whether it was the nature of the interview, or whether it was my visible agitation, for I felt more than I did or could express, that touched him, I cannot say. But he was much affected, and answered me with more tremor than I had spoken with, and said:—

Sir,—The circumstances of this audience are so extraordinary, the language you have now held is so extremely proper, and the feelings you have discovered so justly adapted to the occasion, that I must say that I not only receive with pleasure the assurance of the friendly dispositions of the United States, but that I am very glad the choice has fallen upon you to be their minister. I wish you, sir, to believe, and that it may be understood in America, that I have done nothing in the late contest but what I thought myself indispensably bound to do, by the duty which I owed to my people. I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to the separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power. The moment I see such sentiments and language as yours prevail, and a disposition to give to this country the preference, that moment I shall say, let the circumstances of language, religion, and blood have their natural and full effect.”

I dare not say that these were the King’s precise words, and, it is even possible, that I may have in some particular mistaken his meaning; for, although his pronunciation is as distinct as I ever heard, he hesitated some time between his periods, and between the members of the same period. He was indeed Edition: current; Page: [258] much affected, and I confess I was not less so, and, therefore I cannot be certain that I was so cool and attentive, heard so clearly, and understood so perfectly, as to be confident of all his words or sense; and, I think, that all which he said to me should at present be kept secret in America, unless his Majesty or his secretary of state, who alone was present, should judge proper to report it. This I do say, that the foregoing is his Majesty’s meaning as I then understood it, and his own words as nearly as I can recollect them.

The King then asked me whether I came last from France, and upon my answering in the affirmative, he put on an air of familiarity, and, smiling, or rather laughing, said, “there is an opinion among some people that you are not the most attached of all your countrymen to the manners of France.” I was surprised at this, because I thought it an indiscretion and a departure from the dignity. I was a little embarrassed, but determined not to deny the truth on one hand, nor leave him to infer from it any attachment to England on the other. I threw off as much gravity as I could, and assumed an air of gayety and a tone of decision as far as was decent, and said, “that opinion, sir, is not mistaken; I must avow to your Majesty, I have no attachment but to my own country.” The King replied, as quick as lightning, “an honest man will never have any other.”

The King then said a word or two to the secretary of state, which, being between them, I did not hear, and then turned round and bowed to me, as is customary with all kings and princes when they give the signal to retire. I retreated, stepping backward, as is the etiquette, and, making my last reverence at the door of the chamber, I went my way. The master of the ceremonies joined me the moment of my coming out of the King’s closet, and accompanied me through the apartments down to my carriage, several stages of servants, gentlemen-porters and under-porters, roaring out like thunder, as I went along, “Mr. Adams’s servants, Mr. Adams’s carriage, &c.” I have been thus minute, as it may be useful to others hereafter to know.

The conversation with the King congress will form their own judgment of. I may expect from it a residence less painful than I once expected, as so marked an attention from the King will silence many grumblers; but we can infer nothing from all this concerning the success of my mission.

Edition: current; Page: [259]

There are a train of other ceremonies yet to go through, in presentations to the Queen, and visits to and from ministers and ambassadors, which will take up much time, and interrupt me in my endeavors to obtain all that I have at heart,—the objects of my instructions. It is thus the essence of things is lost in ceremony in every country of Europe. We must submit to what we cannot alter. Patience is the only remedy.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
6 June, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

Colonel Smith, on the 3d of this month, informed me that Colonel Forrest had been with him, in behalf of two gentlemen of Glasgow,—Mr. Colquhoun, Provost of that city, and Mr. Alexander Brown,—who were deputed by the merchants of that place who had debts in America, to confer with the creditors in London concerning an application to ministry and parliament to obtain their interposition for the recovery of their claims, but that, having heard of the appointment of a minister to this Court, and of my arrival, they were desirous of seeing me. I desired Colonel Smith to inform them that I should be glad to see them the next morning. Accordingly, on the 4th, they came, and Mr. Colquhoun informed me of his errand, and said he was very glad that congress had appointed a minister, because he hoped that the article of debts would now be accommodated to mutual satisfaction, without any application on their part, and he should be glad to return to Scotland without making any, provided he could be furnished with a reasonable account to give of himself to his constituents.

I told him I was obliged to him for having given me an opportunity to see him; that the merchants of Glasgow must be sensible we were but just emerged from an impoverishing war, in which there had been a great interruption of agriculture and commerce, and a still greater destruction of property, which rendered it difficult for any debtor, and impossible for many, to discharge their debts forthwith; that I was persuaded there was a general disposition to discharge the debts as fast as it could Edition: current; Page: [260] be done, but that time and patience were as much for the interest of the creditors as the debtors; that if there had been any interposition of the governments in America, it had been, as I presumed, solely with a view of giving time to negotiate an explication of the article of the treaty, and to prevent the imprudence of hasty creditors from hurting themselves as well as the debtors, to no good end; that one principal object of my mission was to negotiate this affair with the minister, and, although I was not authorized by the debtors, and could not be impowered by congress to treat with the merchants of London and Glasgow, they might depend upon my devoting a full proportion of my time to this subject with the ministry, and should be always ready to hear any proposals, explanations, or arguments, even from individuals, and to transmit them to congress, if they were such as merited attention; that it was thought very hard and unreasonable in America, that interest should be insisted on during the war, and that if the creditors could be brought to consent to relinquish it, and that a reasonable time should be allowed, I thought the whole might be arranged to mutual benefit and satisfaction; that creditors should consider that there was a great demand for clothing, stock, and utensils, to repair the waste of war, and to put estates into a condition to produce, and to set commerce in motion; that this, together with the zeal to pay as much of their debts as possible, had already raised the interest of money even to an alarming height; that it must be better to allow the debtor time to turn himself, that he might pay all, rather than press him suddenly, so that he might not be able to pay more than a part; that if property were seized upon now, it might not produce half its value, whereas, left in the hands of the present possessor, it would enable him to employ it to such advantage as to pay his debts in time.

Mr. Colquhoun made no particular reply to the subject of interest, but said the merchants of Glasgow were fully sensible of the circumstances I had mentioned, and were very willing to wait, and they were desirous of entering into some agreement that the debts should be paid in five years by instalments, one fifth in a year; but they were alarmed at the spirit of migration into the wilderness of America; they thought it wrong to be restrained from arresting the person or attaching property of Edition: current; Page: [261] a debtor whom they saw about to remove to Kentucky and other places, where they could never be come at. I told him, that this was new to me; but that Kentucky and all other new settlements were under the laws and jurisdiction of some State, as I supposed, and, therefore, the debtor and his property would be within the reach of the creditor as much as if he remained in the cities and old settlements; and, as those removals commonly advanced the fortune of the emigrant, it might be rather a benefit to his creditors, by increasing the ability to pay. I subjoined that there were two things which fell very hard upon the debtors in the States of Virginia and New York (for he had mentioned these particularly). One was, the great number of negroes which had been carried away. If these negroes had been restored according to the treaty, they would have been at work to earn money to pay their master’s debts, but the carrying them off was a double loss to the owner; and the holding possession of the posts upon the frontiers had kept out of our hands a valuable trade, which would have gone a great way to enable us to pay our debts.

He said he thought it a very foolish thing to hold possession of the posts, &c.; that he would venture to return to Scotland, and would take no more measures about applying to parliament, which he was sensible must excite a clamor; and he hoped the merchants of Glasgow would be contented to wait. He seemed to be well pleased with the conversation, and took his leave in good humor, so that I think it very lucky that so noisy a business as a petition to parliament should be so easily diverted at this critical moment.

But I am unfortunate in another respect, as my Lord Carmarthen is ill of a fever, so that I shall not, I fear, be able to commence conferences with him upon business so soon as hoped. No time shall be lost by me.

With great and sincere esteem, &c.
John Adams.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
7 Juin, 1785
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je me vois honoré des vôtres du 11, 18, et 29 Mai. Je sens l’incongruité qu’il y auroit à venir prendre congé Edition: current; Page: [262] sans lettres de rappel, et j’ai soin de la faire sentir aussi à tous ceux qui m’en parlent. J’espère que M. Franklin conservera autant de vigueur de corps, qu’il en montre d’esprit en s’embarquant à 80 ans.

Je serois bien aise que vous eussiez la bonté de me marquer la conduite que vous désirez, monsieur, que je tienne avec Sir James Harris quand il reviendra ici. Lorsqu’il vint déployer son caractère, il fit annoncer son arrivée à tous, grands et petits; mais il ne fit rien dire ni à l’hôtel des États Unis ni chez moi. J’en conclus alors, que nous devions être comme deux paralleles qui, étant prolongées dans une même direction, ne se touchent jamais. Mais comme ceci ne regarde que le besoin personnel que nous ne pouvons avoir l’un de l’autre, je suis prêt, toutes les fois que le service des États Unis en profiteroit, à aller chez lui lorsque vous le souhaiterez.

Quant aux affaires de la République externes, elles continuent de traîner en longueur. Les internes sont poussées avec plus de vigueur. Vendredi il y a eu une résolution, quant à Rotterdam, fort désagréable au statdholder et ses créatures, et une proposition d’Amsterdam, rendue tout de suite commissoriale, encore plus alarmante pour lui. Sa commission de capitaine-général lui donne le commandement, mais non la direction, de l’armée. Il s’étoit emparé de la dernière, comme de bien d’autres choses. Il y a tout à parier que dans peu il sera mis ordre à cela. Les affaires dans l’empire sont dans une crise, dont je pourrai peut-être bientôt vous apprendre le développement, &c. &c.

Dumas.

P. S. J’allois faire partir cette lettre, lorsqu’un ami, au sortir de l’assemblée de Leur Hautes Puissances, dont il est membre, est venu amicalement et confidentiellement m’avertir, que L. H. P. ont reçu de Londres la nouvelle de l’audience et présentation de V. E. comme ministre des États Unis près de sa Majesté Brittanique; que cette démarche a étonné et blessé L. H. P.; qu’on a trouvé que ce n’est ni décent, ni dans l’ordre, d’envoyer et accréditer un ministre accrédité près d’une puissance, sans en donner connoissance ni explication à celle-ci, chez une autre puissance; qu’on a cité à cette occasion, dans l’assemblée, un Roi de Suède, qui prit un pareil procédé pour affront et hostilité; Edition: current; Page: [263] que dans les débats que cela a occasionnés, quelques bien intentionnés et modérés (entre autres, l’ami, que je vous ferai connoître dans la suite) ont opiné de charger M. Fagel de m’entretenir là-dessus, et d’ajuster l’affaire avec moi de manière que L. H. P. eussent contentement; mais que le sentiment d’autres, aisés à deviner, a prévalu, savoir, de faire écrire directement à leur ministre à Londres, pour savoir si M. Adams, qui vient d’avoir audience, &c. près de sa Majesté Brittannique, étoit le même qui se trouvoit toujours accrédité chez eux, ou un autre de même nom. On m’a fait part de tout cela expressément pour vous l’apprendre sans délai; et l’on est d’avis que la chose pourroit peut-être se raccommoder encore, sans un éclat désagréable et à V. E. et au congrès, si vous écriviez et faisiez présenter incessamment une lettre à L. H. P. où vous leur exposeriez votre cas, et les raisons propres à disculper le congrès. Je m’acquitte fort à la hâte. De votre excellence le susdit

C. W. F. Dumas.
M. Dumas
Dumas, M.
8 Juin, 1785
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. DUMAS TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

J’ai la satisfaction de pouvoir vous annoncer que tout est à peu près raccommodé. Je dis, à peu près; car il faudra toujours écrire, le plutôt le mieux, a Leur Hautes Puissances la lettre en question, où vous leur exposerez le cas. La résolution avoit passé hier, comme j’ai eu l’honneur de vous le mander. Mais comme la résomption devoit s’en faire aujourd’hui avant d’être arrêtée, on revint un peu à la proposition des modérés, d’avoir une explication avec moi. En conséquence M. Fagel m’a envoyé prier ce matin de passer chez lui a dix heures; ce qu’ayant fait, il m’a exposé la sensibilité de L. H. P., et demandé si M. Adams, accrédité et admis tout récemment auprès de sa Majesté Britannique, étoit le même qui étoit accrédité auprès d’eux. Je l’ai prié de me dire, s’il me faisoit la question comme M. Fagel, ou comme M. le Greffier. Il m’a dit, j’ai ordre de vous le demander de la part de L. H. P. J’ai donc, lui ai je dit, un double et triple motif de vous dire la vérité; la voici en trois mots. C’est le même. J’ai poursuivi, Edition: current; Page: [264] qu’il m’étoit aisé de vous justifier provisionellement, en attendant que vous le fissiez vous-même par lettre à L. H. P.; et làdessus je lui ai lu ce que vous m’avez fait l’honneur de me dire sur ce sujet dans vos lettres de Paris du 11 et du 18 Mai. Il a été très content de la manière dont vous exprimez votre embarras dans les deux passages, en ajoutant; “J’ai bien dit que M. Adams étoit honnête, et incapable de manquer à L. H. P. Je vous prie de lui faire mes complimens, et de l’assurer de mes sentimens d’estime et d’amitié pour lui.” Je lui ai lu ensuite ce qu’il convenoit de la minute de mon susdit postscrit, qu’il a approuvé. Il m’a dit alors, qu’il avoit écrit hier provisionellement à M. de Linde, de s’informer; mais que L. H. P. avoient trouvé bon, au lieu d’arrêter une résolution, de prendre la chose ad notam; en d’autres termes, de la rendre commissoriale, si les explications que je pourrai donner se trouvoient satisfaisantes; ce dont il ne doutoit pas, si je voulois lui donner extrait de ces lettres, pour le produire immédiatement à l’assemblée. Comme le temps étoit court, et qu’il n’y avoit rien d’ailleurs dans les deux lettres, qui ne pût être vu d’un chacun, j’ai pris le parti de lui confier les originaux (ce que M. de Verac, à qui je l’ai raconté, a approuvé). Il me les renverra.

J’ai couru delà à un autre bout de la ville, instruire l’ami d’hier, qui alloit sortir pour se rendre à l’assemblée. Mon attention lui a fait plaisir. Après diner j’ai appris que la prise ad notam a eu lieu. M. Fagel m’a dit aussi, que le Roi de Suède en question étoit celui d’aujourd’hui; le ministre dont il se croyoit offensé, M. de Linde actuellement à Londres; et celui qui cita ce trait hier à l’assemblée, M. son père, de Blitterswyck. Il m’a dit aussi que quelques têtes chaudes avoient opiné de rappeler M. Van Berckel.

La proposition d’Amsterdam, dont je vous ai parlé, et un terrible mémoire de M. le Comte de Maillebois, qui l’a suivie de près, vont, selon toute apparence, produire l’établissement d’un département militaire, qui diminuera prodigieusement certaine influence.

La crise en Allemagne continue de mûrir. Je viens de déchiffrer une lettre interessante là-dessus. Mais ceci fort entre nous.

P. S. du 10e Juin. M. le Greffier Fagel, en me rendant ce matin les deux lettres susdites, m’a dit, que l’éponge est passée Edition: current; Page: [265] sur toute cette affaire, et que L. H. P. ont ordonné de la rayer même des notes. Cela vous rendra, monsieur, la lettre de politesse, qu’il est toujours et d’autant plus à propos d’écrire, encore plus aisée.

Permettez, &c.
C. W. F. Dumas.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 June, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

Yesterday, the 9th of the month, I was presented to the Queen by my Lord Ailesbury, her lord-chamberlain, having been attended to his Lordship and introduced to him by the master of the ceremonies. The Queen was attended by her ladies, and I made my compliments to her Majesty in the following words:—

Madam,—Among the many circumstances which have rendered my mission to his Majesty desirable to me, I have ever considered it as a principal one, that I should have an opportunity of making my court to a great Queen, whose royal virtues and talents have ever been acknowledged and admired in America, as well as in all the nations of Europe, as an example to princesses and the glory of her sex. Permit me, madam, to recommend to your Majesty’s royal goodness a rising empire and an infant virgin world. Another Europe, madam, is rising in America. To a philosophical mind, like your Majesty’s, there cannot be a more pleasing contemplation, than the prospect of doubling the human species, and augmenting, at the same time, their prosperity and happiness. It will, in future ages, be the glory of these kingdoms to have peopled that country, and to have sown there those seeds of science, of liberty, of virtue, and permit me, madam, to add, of piety, which alone constitute the prosperity of nations and the happiness of the human race.

“After venturing upon such high insinuations to your Majesty, it seems to be descending too far to ask, as I do, your Majesty’s royal indulgence to a person who is indeed unqualified for courts, and who owes his elevation to this distinguished honor of standing before your Majesty, not to any circumstances of illustrious birth, fortune, or abilities, but merely to an ardent devotion to Edition: current; Page: [266] his native country, and some little industry and perseverance in her service.”

The Queen answered me in these words:—“I thank you, sir, for your civilities to me and my family, and am glad to see you in this country.”

The Queen then asked me if I had provided myself with a house. I answered, I have agreed for one, madam, this morning. She then made her courtesy, and I made my reverence and retired into the drawing-room, where the King, Queen, Princess Royal, and the younger princess, her sister, all spoke to me very obligingly. I attended until the drawing-room was over, and then returned home.

It has been necessary, in order to guard against false reports and malicious fictions, to reduce to writing what was said in my audiences of the King and Queen, and it is the custom of all ministers to transmit these compliments to their Courts. I transmit them to you in cipher, that they may be exposed to as little criticism as possible.

As the Court knew very well that the eyes of all nations were fixed upon these audiences, it may be fairly concluded from them, that it is the intention of the royal family and of ministers to treat America like other foreign powers; but our inferences can go no farther. We cannot infer from this, that they will relax their navigation act for us, any more than for France. We are sure of one thing, that a navigation act is in our power, as well as in theirs, and that ours will be more hurtful to them than theirs to us. In short, it is scarcely possible to calculate to what a height of naval power a navigation act would raise the United States in a few years.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 June, 1785
London
M. Fagel
Fagel, M.

TO M. FAGEL.

Sir,

I have the honor to inform you that I have received from congress a letter of credence to his Britannic Majesty as minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, and Edition: current; Page: [267] that I have had the honor of presenting that letter to his Majesty, and of being received in that character.

I have received, too, authentic information that congress have resolved that it is expedient to appoint a minister to succeed me at the Hague; but I have not received my letter of recall, nor news of the actual appointment of a successor. This, sir, is the only reason why I did not, and could not, come to the Hague, and take a formal leave of their High Mightinesses and of his Most Serene Highness, as I wished. It is still my intention to come, or to take leave, by a respectful letter, whenever my letter of recall shall arrive, or a successor.

My being appointed to other service upon this occasion is no new thing. I was, last August, received at the Court of Versailles, as minister plenipotentiary from the United States of America to his Most Christian Majesty, which was never considered, any more than intended, as any failure of respect to the Republic. For myself and for my country I know that respect, esteem, and affection to the Republic is engraven on all our hearts.

I beg, then, the favor of your advice, if you think it proper and necessary for me to take any farther steps upon this occasion before my letter of recall, or my successor, shall arrive.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
M. Fagel
Fagel, M.
14 Juin, 1785
La Haie
John Adams
Adams, John

M. FAGEL TO JOHN ADAMS.

Monsieur,

Je viens de recevoir la lettre dont vous m’avez honoré le 10 de ce mois. Je considère comme une marque particulière de l’estime que vos merites vous ont acquis, que le congrès vous a nommé pour leur ministre plénipotentiaire auprès de sa Majesté Britannique; et je suis fâché que nous perdons par là la résidence d’une personne, qui s’est rendu très agréable chez nous, et qui par ses manières honnêtes se seroit rendu de plus en plus estimable. Il faut espérer que celui qui vous succedera aura les mêmes bonnes qualités. Je ne saurois vous déguiser qu’on a fait quelques réflexions ici sur ce que vous aviez remis vos lettres de créance au Roi d’Angleterre, avant que d’avoir présenté vos lettres de rappel aux états-généraux. Edition: current; Page: [268] J’ai même été chargé d’en entretenir M. Dumas, votre sécrétaire, qui m’en a donné telle explication, que, sur le rapport que j’en ai fait à l’assemblé, on a cru devoir s’en contenter.

Lorsque vous recevrez vos lettres de rappel, ce ne pourra être que très agréable à leurs Hautes Puissances que vous les présentiez en personne. Si les circonstances de vos affaires ne le permettent point, il suffira de le faire par un mémoire adressé aux états-généraux. Vous pouvez être persuadé, monsieur, que la réponse que leurs H. P. y feront, ne servira qu’a témoigner leur égard pour le congrès, et leur désir de cimenter, de plus en plus, l’union et la bonne intelligence dans laquelle elles ont le bonheur de vivre avec eux.

J’ai l’honneur d’être, &c.
H. Fagel.
John Adams
Adams, John
17 June, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

At three o’clock, according to appointment, I went to the secretary of state’s office in Cleveland Row, St. James’s, and was immediately received by the Marquis of Carmarthen.

His Lordship began the conversation, by saying that he could answer for himself, and he believed for the rest of the King’s servants, that they were sincerely desirous of cultivating the most cordial friendship with America, and of doing every thing in their power for dissipating every little animosity that might remain among individuals. In return, I told his Lordship that I was glad to hear such assurances from him and the other ministers, that I was very confident that the people of the United States had correspondent dispositions, and that I had sanguine hopes that in a short time all remaining difficulties would be amicably settled; that, to this end, I was charged by congress with several particulars which had hitherto given some uneasiness, but which, upon a candid discussion, might be easily accommodated, as I hoped, to mutual satisfaction; that there were six principal points to be discussed with his Lordship. The first, and perhaps the most pressing, was the posts and territories within the limits of the United States, which were still held by British garrisons; the exportation of negroes and other American property, which, by the seventh article of the treaty of peace, was not to be exported; the tendency of the restrictions Edition: current; Page: [269] on our trade to incapacitate our merchants to make remittances to theirs; the losses of our merchants as well as theirs, if we were uneasonably pressed for the payment of debts contracted before the war; the construction of the armistice of 20th January, 1783, and the decision of questions of captures made after the expiration of the month; and the liquidation of the charges of prisoners of war. These were the general heads. The great question of the commerce between the countries, involving so many interests, and those of so important and so permanent a nature, might be attended with the most difficulties, and require the longest time to be adjusted; but all the others appeared to be so clear and easy, that I hoped they might soon be finished; that, however, having barely opened to his Lordship the principal matters of negotiation, I should not enlarge upon all of them at present. That the debts seemed to be a leading point, because they were intimately connected with all the others. The withholding the posts, the exportation of so many negroes, the restrictions on our trade, the misconstruction of the armistice, and the delay of liquidating the charges of prisoners, had all contributed very much to obstruct our merchants in their honest exertions to discharge their debts to the merchants of Great Britain; that it could not be unknown to his Lordship, that the withholding the posts had withheld from our merchants a very profitable fur trade which we justly considered as our right; that the furs which would have been obtained, if the posts had been in our hands, would have come to England in payment of debts to the amount probably of several hundred thousand pounds; and his Lordship must be sensible that one hundred thousand pounds a year more would have gone a great way towards contenting the creditors of this country; that it was impossible to say what a difference had been made by carrying away the negroes which belonged chiefly to the Southern States, and, if the treaty had been observed, would have been at work on their master’s plantations, so that not only their original value, but their labor and the profit upon their labor had been lost, all of which might and ought to have been applied to the payment of debts; that it was well known that a number of valuable vessels had been taken upon the coast of America, after the expiration of the month, and as yet withheld from the owners, who were Edition: current; Page: [270] all probably debtors, which had incapacitated them so far to pay; that there was supposed to be a large balance in our favor in the account of the charges of prisoners, which being withheld, operated still to disable us on that account to do as we desired to do; that from all that I might be supposed to know of the character of the people of the United States, and from all the intelligence I could gather from all parts of them, I was persuaded that nothing lay with greater weight upon their minds than the payment of their debts; that they thought their moral characters, and their reputations as men, as well as their credit as merchants, concerned in it; that their zeal to make remittances had been such as to raise the interest of money to double its usual standard, to advance the price of bills of exchange to eight or ten per cent. above par, and to raise even the prices of the produce of the country to almost double its usual standard; that his Lordship well knew we had no other mines of gold and silver than our lands and seas; that large sums of the circulating cash we had, had been remitted to England in specie, and as much produce as could be purchased at almost any rate, but that this produce lay in magazines in London, because it would not fetch the price that was given for it in America; that the people of America were, nineteen twentieths of them, farmers; that these had sold their produce dearer, and purchased the manufactures of Europe cheaper, since the peace, than ever; but that the situation of the merchants both in America and in England, had been, and continued to be, very distressing. No political arrangements having been made, they had all expected that the trade would return to its old channels, and nearly under the same regulations; but they had been disappointed; British merchants had made large advances, and American merchants contracted large debts, both depending upon remittances in the usual articles and upon the old terms, but both had found themselves disappointed, and it was much to be feared that the consequence would be numerous failures; that the cash and bills had been chiefly remitted to the great loss and damage to the country; that remittances could not be made as heretofore, by reason of obstructions, restrictions, and imposts laid by Great Britain on our exports to Great Britain; that neither rice, tobacco, pitch, tar, turpentine, ships, oil, nor other articles, the great sources of Edition: current; Page: [271] remittances formerly, could now be sent as heretofore, and the trade of the West Indies, formerly a vast source of remittance, was now obstructed; that, under all these circumstances, if the debtor should be immediately pressed by his British creditor, it would be a certain loss to both; that it was apprehended, among a number of creditors, there might be some, perhaps many, influenced by strong passions, by keen avidity, or by personal resentment, who might rashly make use of the law to the ruin of the debtor, without being able, however, to recover much of his debt.

Here his Lordship interrupted me, and said, I have seen one remarkable instance of the violence and unreasonableness of private resentment, when Mr. Chase was here from Maryland, in one of the trustees of the Maryland stock. Mr. Chase produced from the legislature of Maryland authority to make full compensation to a relation of that trustee for an estate that had been confiscated, but he would not accept it, though I told him he would not be able to prevent the claim of Maryland, but would probably hurt his own interest, or that of his relations. I told his Lordship I had yesterday received a letter from Mr. Paca, the governor of Maryland, relative to the claim of that State, and should be glad to do them any service with his Lordship or elsewhere, respecting that affair; that if his Lordship gave their full weight to all these considerations, he must see the motives and the necessity of restraining the impetuosity of creditors. His Lordship then read me, from a late petition to him from the merchants, an account of a bill lately brought into the assembly of Virginia, for paying the debts by instalments, which he understood had been lost by a sudden storm or frost. The merchants complained of the cutting off the interest during the war, for the long term of seven years, and of the restraint from preventing the alienation of property, or removal of debtors into the wilderness.

His Lordship heard me very attentively, and said that he hoped we should be able with patience and time to adjust all these things; that we should probably meet with many rubs in our way; that passion and private interest would sometimes be in our way on both sides; but while the ministers on both sides could keep right, he should think we might succeed; for his part, he was for attending to every consideration, and giving it Edition: current; Page: [272] its just weight, and he desired me to give him in writing something to begin upon. He thought the affair of the posts the most pressing, and wished I would begin with that. I told his Lordship that I would let him know, between him and me, that I had instructions to require the evacuation of the posts and surrender of all our territory, but I wished to conduct the business with all the delicacy that was possible, and, therefore, I wished rather to inquire of his Lordship what were the intentions of his Majesty’s ministers, and whether they had already expedited orders for the evacuation of the posts, &c. His Lordship said I must give him my inquiries in writing, that he might have a ground for making those inquiries himself, as it was an affair in another department. I agreed accordingly to make an office of it.

I shall at first confine myself to decent inquiries concerning the orders given or to be given, and if I receive positive assurances that explicit orders are gone to the governor and commander-in-chief in Canada to evacuate all the posts and territories, I shall content myself to wait; but if I do not obtain such explicit assurances, I shall think it my duty to present a memorial with a decent but firm requisition. I shall transmit to you, sir, every step of my progress; but I find it very tedious, and fear you will find it more so, to transmit particular circumstances in detail; when one looks over again a letter in which he has attempted it, he finds a multitude of things omitted, or but half represented.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.

P. S. I forgot one circumstance of some consequence. His Lordship said he had seen in the gazettes some proceedings at Boston which he was very sorry to see. I answered that I had seen them in the same gazettes, as I supposed, and had no more authentic account of them; that I had no authority to say any thing officially about them, but, as an individual, I might say that the observations I just had the honor to make to his Lordship, concerning the state of the commerce between the two countries, would be sufficient to explain to his Lordship the motives to those proceedings, and to convince his Lordship of the probability of such sentiments and proceedings becoming general throughout the United States, and alienating the commerce Edition: current; Page: [273] of that country from this, either by increasing manufactures in America, or opening new channels of commerce with other countries, which might easily be done, unless some arrangements were made which might facilitate remittances. It was so obviously the true policy of this country to facilitate remittances from America, and to encourage every thing we could send (as the Americans think), that when they find remittances discouraged, impeded, and even prohibited, it was natural to expect they would be alarmed, and begin to look out for other resources; that my fellow-citizens were very confident they had the power in their own hands to do themselves justice, as soon as they should find it denied them here; but I hoped the difficulties would all be removed here.

The whole conference was conducted with perfect good humor, and, on the part of his Lordship, with perfect politeness.

J. A.
John Adams
Adams, John
26 June, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

By the ninth article of the confederation, the United States, in congress assembled, have the sole and exclusive right and power of entering into treaties and alliances, provided that no treaty of commerce shall be made whereby the legislative power of the respective States shall be restrained from imposing such imposts and duties on foreigners as their own people are subjected to, or from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of goods or commodities whatsoever.

I have ventured, sir, in some former letters to you, notwithstanding the delicacy of tampering with the confederation, to suggest to your consideration, whether it may not be necessary for the States to reconsider this proviso, and give to congress unlimited authority to enter into treaties of commerce with foreign powers, at least for a limited term of years. I have also inquired, whether it might not be necessary for the States to confer upon congress authority to regulate the external commerce of all the members of the confederation for a like term of years.

If the States should hesitate at this, I am persuaded they Edition: current; Page: [274] would readily comply with recommendations of congress to this effect. For example, if congress should recommend to the legislatures of the States to lay duties, heavy duties, upon all British vessels entering into or clearing out of their ports, especially upon all vessels coming from or bound to the West India Islands, Nova Scotia, Canada, or Newfoundland, and upon all merchandises imported from, or exported to, any part of the British dominions, I can scarcely doubt that every legislature would immediately comply; and by this means our own navigation would be encouraged, and the British discouraged to such a degree as to compel the British government to enter into an equitable treaty; nay, I cannot doubt the readiness of the States to comply with a recommendation of congress wholly to prohibit British vessels and merchandises.

Although I have been received here, and continue to be treated, with all the distinction which is due to the rank and title you have given me, there is, nevertheless, a reserve, which convinces me that we shall have no treaty of commerce until this nation is made to feel the necessity of it. I am every day astonished at the ignorance of all ranks of people of the relation between this country and ours. “Cui bono?” they cry, “to what end a treaty of commerce, when we are sure of as much American trade as we have occasion for, without it? The experiment has been tried, and the Americans have found that they cannot supply themselves elsewhere; there must be quīd pro quo; and what have the United States to give in exchange for the liberty of going in their own ships to our sugar colonies and our colonies upon the continent?” These smart reasoners are answered, “The Americans allow Britons to come in their own vessels to all their ports in the United States, and this is more than a quid for your quo. This is the true reciprocity; and while we allow you this liberty, we have a right to demand it in return.”

“But,” replies the Briton, “you cannot avoid this; you have no government; you cannot agree to prohibit our ships and goods, or to lay duties on them.” “Then,” says the American, “you give up the argument of reciprocity; you confess that you are not willing to allow us a quid for your quo, and that you are disposed to take advantage of our supposed disunion to get unequal benefits from us; but you will find yourselves disappointed in this disunion that you build so much upon. Nothing but Edition: current; Page: [275] too much good nature to you, and too high an opinion of your wisdom, has prevented the States hitherto from uniting in a reciprocal discouragement of your ships and goods; but when the Americans find themselves deceived, you will soon see them too much united for your purposes.”

Such have been the dialogues in conversation for a year or two, and these ignorant sophisms of the Britons will never be confuted to any effect, until vigorous measures are taken by all the States in concert. Whatever measures are taken, I should recommend them to be taken upon this express proviso, to continue in force only until things shall be otherwise settled by a treaty of commerce.

I receive sometimes unexpected visits from persons, who, I suppose, are sent on purpose to say things to me, which they wish no doubt to have transmitted to you. Since the appearance of the resolutions of the merchants, traders, and mechanics of Boston, I have several times fallen into company with persons, whose connections I knew, and who have assumed very grave faces, and inquired about the disturbances at Boston, as they call them, and given very sage hints of their fears, that those proceedings would obstruct my success. A few days since, my servant announced Lord Hood would be glad to see me, if I was at leisure. I desired his Lordship might walk up. I was surprised, that among so many visits of ceremony, his Lordship should not be content with leaving his card. But in the year 1768, I had appeared before him, then Commodore Hood, in a special court of admiralty, for the trial of four sailors for killing Lieutenant Panton in defending themselves from his press-gang; his Lordship took advantage of this very transient acquaintance of seventeen years standing, to make me a friendly visit; he soon began a conversation about the Boston proceedings; it is not necessary to repeat what was said, as it was of no consequence for you to know, excepting that his Lordship was very sorry to see the account of those proceedings; was very much afraid they would obstruct the return of friendship, and prove a bar to what he wished to see,—a good treaty of commerce. I told his Lordship that those proceedings were prefaced with, “whereas there is no treaty of commerce,” and, as I understood them, they were not to be in force any longer than there should be no treaty of commerce. His Lordship concluded Edition: current; Page: [276] by saying, that the sooner such a treaty was made, the better. I had no doubt, then, and have been confirmed by others since in the opinion, that his Lordship did not come of his own head.

All parties are upon the reserve respecting American affairs; they are afraid of each other; and it is my clear opinion, that it is congress and the States, and they alone, who can enable me to do any thing effectual; I may reason till I die, to no purpose. It is unanimity in America in measures, which shall confute the British sophisms and make them feel, which will ever produce a fair treaty of commerce.

With great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
14 July, 1785

TO THE MARQUIS OF CARMARTHEN.

My Lord,

The twenty-second article of the preliminary treaty of peace between Great Britain and France, signed on the 20th of January, 1783, is in these words, namely—“In order to prevent all causes of complaint and dispute which may arise on account of prizes that may be taken at sea, after the signing of these preliminary articles, it is reciprocally agreed that the vessels and effects which may be taken in the channel and in the north seas, after the space of twelve days, to be computed from the ratification of those preliminary articles, shall be restored on each side. That the term shall be one month from the channel and the north seas, as far as the Canary Islands inclusively, whether in the ocean or in the Mediterranean; five months from the said Canary Islands as far as the said equinoctial line or equator; and, lastly, five months in all other parts of the world, without any exception or any other distinction more particular of time and place.”

In the preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain and Spain, a cessation of hostilities was stipulated in the same manner. On the same 20th of January, it was agreed between the minister plenipotentiary of his Britannic Majesty on the one part, and the ministers plenipotentiary of the United States of America on the other, that the subjects, citizens, and possessions Edition: current; Page: [277] of both powers should be comprised in the suspension of arms above mentioned, and that they should consequently enjoy the benefits of the cessation of hostilities at the same periods and in the same manner as the three crowns aforesaid, and their subjects and possessions respectively. It appears, however, that many vessels which were taken after the expiration of one month from the 3d of February, 1783, the day of the ratification of the said preliminary articles, within that part of the ocean which lies between the channel and north seas and the Canary Islands, have not been restored; but, on the contrary, in some instances, such vessels have been condemned as lawful prizes, upon an opinion that the words “as far as,” said to be used in the preliminary articles, meant the distance from Paris to the southernmost part of the Canaries.

It must be obvious to your Lordship, that this construction is extremely foreign from the intention of the contracting parties, who never had Paris in contemplation as a boundary of the region of one month, nor as any limit of a measure of distance; the channel and north seas being expressly marked as the northern boundary, and the southernmost Canary as the southern, and every part of the ocean, from the channel and north seas, up to the Canary Islands, inclusively, is comprehended.

Indeed, the words “as far as,” are scarcely a proper translation of the words “jusqu’aux,” in the article of the treaty. The original words are “depuis la Manche et les Mers du nord jusqu’aux Isles Canaries,” and not “depuis Paris jusqu’aux Isles,&c., &c.

The intention of the contracting parties is so clear, and their expression so plain, that it is not easy to account for the misinterpretation of them; but, as many lawsuits are depending upon the point, and several Americans are now in London waiting the decision of them, I do myself the honor to propose to your Lordship a particular convention to determine all these controversies on both sides, by inserting the words “jusqu’à la latitude des Isles Canaries,” instead of “jusqu’aux Isles Canaries,” and also the words “depuis la latitude des dites Isles Canaries,” instead of “depuis les dites Isles Canaries,” it being apparent from the mention of the Mediterranean, as in the same stage of one month between the channel and north seas on the north, and the Canaries on the south, and of the equinoctial line as the next Edition: current; Page: [278] stage, that the line of latitude of the southern Canary was intended.

I have the honor to be, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
18 July, 1785
London
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

Your favors of June 22 and July 7 and 11, are before me.1 The delay of Mr. Lamb’s arrival is unfortunate; but I think with you, that the sooner a project of treaties is prepared, the better, and I will give the earliest attention to it whenever you shall send it. I shall go this morning to Stock-dale, to talk with him about sending you the newspapers and pamphlets through the channel of Cleveland Row; that is, Lord Carmarthen’s office.

I agree with pleasure to the appointment made by the Doctor and you, of Mr. Short, to carry the treaty through London to the Hague, and in joining Dumas with him in making the exchange. A letter to him, and another to Mr. Dumas, signed by you and me, as the Doctor is gone, would be sufficient authority. But I should have no objection to giving each of them a more formal commission, under our hands and seals, to be our secretaries, especially pro hâc vice. He must carry our original commission to show to the Baron de Thulemeier, and a copy of it attested by Colonel Humphreys to deliver him; and Mr. Dumas and he should see the Prussian commission, and receive an attested copy of that. I do not think of any other papers necessary.

I have given to Lord Carmarthen, long ago, an explanation of the power of congress to form treaties of commerce, exactly conformable to that which you gave the English gentleman; but I did not extend it to the case of consuls. He asked me no questions concerning consuls, and I did not think it proper for me to say any thing on that subject, not having any instructions. But I am not easy on that head. Mr. Temple talks of going out in three or four weeks, but I am very apprehensive he will meet with the difficulties you foresee.

Edition: current; Page: [279]

(The rest in Cipher, and kept secret.)

I do not like the symptoms. Galloway, Deane, Chalmers, Watson, are too much in favor. The lottery for the tories, although perhaps in part inevitable, has been introduced with such pompous demonstrations of affection and approbation as are neither wise nor honest. There is too much attention to the navy; and there is another step which alarms my apprehensions. Hanover is joining Prussia, against the views of the two Imperial Courts, at least in Bavaria. Keep this as secret as the grave, but search it to the bottom among the foreign ministers where you are. Does this indicate a doubt whether our business with De Thulemeier may be delayed? Does it indicate a design in the British cabinet to be neutral, in order to be more at leisure to deal with us? Can it be a secret understanding between St. James’s and Versailles? The design of ruining, if they can, our carrying trade, and annihilating all our navigation and seamen, is too apparent.

Yours, most sincerely,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
19 July, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

Give me leave to propose for your consideration, and to request you to submit to the decision of congress, whether it would not be proper that some measures should be taken to furnish your ministers abroad with the laws of the several States, and more especially with such laws as may have a relation to external commerce or any other foreign affair.

Information of this kind will be wanted at every Court, but more particularly here, and at this critical period. Our fellow-citizens here, from all the States, have been very civil to me, in furnishing me with all the lights in their power, and this will ever be the case, it is to be hoped, wherever you have a minister; yet all the lights which individuals abroad can furnish, will be imperfect, though ever so carefully collected by a minister, without the continual assistance of congress and the States. I have been lately obliged to a fellow-citizen, Captain C. Miller, for the laws of New York, of the second meeting of the eighth session of the legislature, among which, to my great satisfaction, Edition: current; Page: [280] I find the United States in congress assembled vested for fifteen years with powers to prohibit any goods, wares, or merchandise from being imported into, or exported from, any of the United States, in vessels belonging to, or navigated by, the subjects of any power with whom these States shall not have formed treaties of commerce; and also with power of prohibiting the subjects of any foreign state, kingdom, or empire, unless authorized by treaty, from importing into the United States any goods, wares, or merchandise which are not the produce or manufacture of the dominions of the sovereign whose subjects they are.

I read this act with pleasure, because it is very nearly all that is wanting. The legislature of New York have avoided giving to the United States the power of imposing equalizing or retaliating duties, and I cannot say that they are not right in this, although it is very probable such duties will be indispensable. Such duties, if laid by any State, should be laid by all; and if the States will, in such cases, respect the recommendations of congress, this may be sufficient. If we enter into treaty with England, how shall we manage this subject? Shall we stipulate that Britain shall pay in our ports no higher duties than the most favored nations shall pay, in return for her stipulating that Americans shall pay in her ports no higher duties than the most favored nation pays? This would be unequal, because the most favored nation pays in British ports much greater imposts, than the nation the most favored by the United States pays in our ports. If we enter into such a stipulation, the consequence will be, that, in order to form an equality, we must impose enormous duties, not only upon British subjects, but upon all other nations. For example, the most favored nation pays in England upon oil eighteen pounds three shillings sterling per ton. If we attempt to equalize and retaliate, we must lay on the amount of this upon the importation of goods from all other nations, a measure that may be very inconvenient to us. Should we not then endeavor to obtain a stipulation that Americans shall pay, in British ports, no higher duties than British subjects? No doubt, to obtain this, we must stipulate that Britons shall pay, in our ports, no higher duties than our own citizens; and even this will be unequal, because that duties in general are higher in England than in America. This, however, cannot Edition: current; Page: [281] be avoided, and, as it is our felicity, we have less cause to repine at it. But, if the British ministry should refuse to go farther than the mutual privilege of the most favored nation, we shall have no remedy but in equalizing duties, which it will be absolutely necessary to lay on, in order to do ourselves justice; this cannot be done, but by a concert of all the States; if such a concert can be effected by recommendations of congress, so much the better; if it cannot, I see no other remedy but to give congress the power.

This nation relies upon it, that our States can never accomplish such a concert, either by giving congress the power, or by complying with their recommendations. Proofs of this are innumerable. Lord Sheffield’s writings, the constant strain of all the writings in the newspapers, the language of conversation, the report of the committee of council, but above all, the system adopted by the Duke of Portland’s administration, and uniformly pursued by him and his successor, Mr. Pitt, are a demonstration of it. For, although many express a contempt of the American commerce, (and I am sorry to say that even Lord Camden has lately said, that while they had a monopoly of the American trade, it was a valuable thing; but now they had not, he thought very little of it) yet those of the ministry and nations who understand any thing of the subject, know better, and build all their hopes and schemes upon the supposition of such divisions in America as will forever prevent a combination of the States, either in prohibitions or retaliating duties. It is true that the national pride is much inflated at present by the course of exchange, which is much in their favor with all parts of the world, and disposes them to think little of American commerce. They say that the progress of the fine arts in this kingdom has given to their manufacturers a taste and skill, and to their productions an elegance, cheapness, and utility, so superior to any others, that the demand for their merchandises from all parts of Europe is greater than ever; that even Lord North’s prohibitory bill has contributed to this advantage, by occasioning a demand among foreign merchants during the war, for goods to supply America. The knowledge and taste for British manufactures, they say, has been, by this means, spread all over Europe, and the demands for them multiplied, which has turned the balance so much in their favor, and caused such an extraordinary Edition: current; Page: [282] influx both of cash and bills of exchange, into these kingdoms. Those who reflect more maturely upon this, however, see that this advantage is but temporary (if it is one); they say that the long stagnation of business by the war, had filled the country with manufactures; that, upon the peace, extraordinary efforts were made to dispose of them, by sending factors abroad, not only to America, but to all parts of Europe; that these factors have not only sold their goods at a low price, but have sent home cash and bills at a high one, so that their own factors have turned their course of exchange in their favor, in appearance, and for the present moment only, at their expense, for the loss, both upon the sale of goods and the purchase of remittances, is theirs. If these conjectures are right, the present appearance of prosperity will be succeeded by numerous failures and great distress. Be this as it may, the present appearance has produced a self-sufficiency which will prevent for some time any reasonable arrangement with us.

The popular pulse seems to beat high against America. The people are deceived by numberless falsehoods industriously circulated by the gazettes and in conversation, so that there is too much reason to believe that, if this nation had another hundred millions to spend, they would soon force the ministry into a war against us. The Court itself, whatever may be thought of it, appears at present to be the principal barrier against a war, and the best disposed towards us; and whether they are restrained by any thing beside their own poverty may be justly questioned. Their present system, as far as I can penetrate it, is to maintain a determined peace with all Europe, in order that they may war singly against America, if they should think it necessary.

Their attachment to their navigation act, as well as that of all other parties here, is grown so strong, and their determination to consider us as foreigners, and to undermine our navigation, and to draw away our seamen, is so fixed, in order to prevent us from privateering, in case of a war, that I despair of any equal treaty, and, therefore, of any treaty, until they shall be made to feel the necessity of it. It cannot, therefore, be too earnestly recommended to all the States to concur with the State of New York, in giving to congress full power to make treaties of commerce, and, in short, to govern all our external Edition: current; Page: [283] commerce; for, I really believe, it must come to that. Whether prohibitions or high duties will be most politic, is a great question. Duties may be laid, which will give a clear advantage to our navigation and seamen, and these would be laid by the States, upon the recommendations of congress, no doubt, as soon as the principle is admitted, that it is necessary that our foreign commerce should be under one direction.

You will easily infer, from all this, that I have no hopes of a treaty before next spring, nor then, without the most unanimous concurrence of all our States in vigorous measures, which shall put out of all doubt their power and their will to retaliate.

With great esteem, I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
24 July, 1785
London
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

I have a letter from the Baron de Thulemeier of the 19th, and a copy of his letter to you of the same date. I hope now, in a few days, to take Mr. Short by the hand in Grosvenor Square, and to put my hand to the treaty. I think no time should be lost. We will join Mr. Dumas with Mr. Short in the exchange, if you please.

(In Cipher.)

The Briton’s alien’s duty is a very burdensome thing, and they may carry it hereafter as far upon tobacco, rice, indigo, and twenty other things, as they now do upon oil. To obviate this, I think of substituting the words “natural born citizens of the United States,” and “natural born subjects of Great Britain,” instead of “the most favored nation.” You remember we first proposed to offer this to all nations, but, upon my objecting that the English would make their ships French or Swedish or Dutch, &c., to avail themselves of it, without agreeing to it on their part, we altered it to the footing of gentis amicissimæ. But, if the English will now agree to it, we shall secure ourselves against many odious duties, and no ill consequence can arise. It is true the French, Dutch, Swedes, and Prussians, will, of course, claim the advantage; but, as they Edition: current; Page: [284] must in return allow us the same advantage, so much the better. Let me know, if any objection occurs to you.

There is a bill before parliament to prevent smuggling tobacco, in which the restrictions are very rigorous, but cannot be effectual. Two thirds of the tobacco consumed in this kingdom, I am told, is smuggled. How can it be otherwise, when the impost is five times the original value of the commodity? If one pound in five escapes, nothing is lost. If two in five, a great profit is made. The duty is sixteen pence a pound, and tobacco sells for three pence; yet all applications for lowering the duty are resisted.

Yours, most affectionately,
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
27 July, 1785

TO THE MARQUIS OF CARMARTHEN.

My Lord,

Since the letter which I did myself the honor to write to your Lordship, relative to the construction of the armistice, I have received further information from America, which I beg leave to communicate to your Lordship.

The first judgment rendered on a mistaken interpretation of the armistice, appears to have been at New York, where all American vessels taken within the second month were condemned as lawful prize by the judge of admiralty. The fame of these decrees having reached Connecticut and Rhode Island, it is said that similar decrees were rendered by the inferior courts of admiralty there, against British vessels. There is, my Lord, a court of admiralty in each of the United States, but, by our constitution, an appeal lies from all of them to a court appointed by the United States in congress assembled, for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of capture. If the parties interested in the decrees in Connecticut and Rhode Island had appealed to the supreme court, those decrees would certainly have been reversed; because every cause which ever came before that court, upon the point in question, has been decided in favor of the British owner of the vessel; and should a declaration be now made of the true intention of the contracting parties, the British owners, against whom the decrees were rendered in Connecticut and Rhode Island, may still appeal, and have justice, if the time limited is not passed; if it Edition: current; Page: [285] is, by an application to the legislatures of those States, there is no doubt to be made, that an appeal would be granted under the present circumstances, notwithstanding the lapse of time.

The decisions in the court of admiralty of Massachusetts and all other States have been conformable to the judgment of the supreme court of appeals; that is to say, conformable to the true intention of the armistice; and it is with pleasure that I add, that the judgments of his Majesty’s court of admiralty, at Halifax, have been the same way.

The words of the armistice are supposed to be the same which have been constantly used in every treaty of peace for the last hundred years, and it is not known that there ever was, before, any doubt or difference of opinion concerning the construction of them. In order to establish confidence between the two countries, my Lord, it is necessary there should be a mutual confidence in each other’s tribunals of justice, which can hardly exist while such various interpretations are given of so plain a point, by different courts in each nation.

In order to settle all disputes upon this subject upon one principle, I have the honor to propose to your Lordship, that a declaration should be made, in the form inclosed, or to the same effect in any other form, which to your Lordship may appear more proper.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.

DECLARATION.

Whereas, by the first article of the preliminary treaty of peace between the Crown of Great Britain and the Crown of France, signed at Versailles, on the 20th of January, 1783, it was stipulated in these words, namely:—

“As soon as the preliminaries shall be signed and ratified, sincere friendship shall be reestablished between his Most Christian Majesty and his Britannic Majesty, their kingdoms, states, and subjects, by sea and by land, in all parts of the world; orders shall be sent to the armies and squadrons, as well as to the subjects, of the two powers, to stop all hostilities, and to live in the most perfect union, forgetting the past, their sovereigns showing the example; and for the execution of this article, sea-passes shall be given on each side to the ships which shall be despatched to carry the news of it to the possessions of the said powers.”

And by the twenty-second article of the same treaty it was stipulated in these words;—

“In order to prevent all causes of complaint and dispute which may arise on account of prizes that may be taken at sea, after the signing of these preliminary Edition: current; Page: [286] articles, it is reciprocally agreed, that the vessels and effects which may be taken in the channel and in the north seas, after the space of twelve days, to be computed from the ratification of these preliminary articles, shall be restored on each side; that the term shall be one month from the channel and the north seas, as far as the Canary Islands, inclusively, whether in the ocean or in the Mediterranean; two months from the said Canary Islands, as far as the equinoctial line or equator; and, lastly, five months in all other parts of the world, without any exception or any other distinction more particular of time and place.

“And, whereas, on the said 20th day of January, 1783, it was agreed, and, by instruments signed by the minister plenipotentiary of his Britannic Majesty, in behalf of his Majesty, on one part, and by the minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, in behalf of the said United States, on the other, it was mutually declared, that the said United States of North America, their subjects and their possessions, and his Britannic Majesty, his subjects and possessions, should be comprised in the suspension of arms above mentioned, and that they should consequently enjoy the benefit of the cessation of hostilities at the same periods and in the same manner as the crowns aforesaid, and their subjects and possessions respectively; and whereas a doubt has arisen, and a question has been made, concerning the sense and intention of the high contracting parties, by the words “d’un mois depuis la manche et les mers du Nord jusqu’aux Isles Canaries, inclusivement,” and by the words “de deux mois depuis les dites Isles Canaries jusqu’à la ligne equinoxiale;

Now, in order to remove all such doubts and questions, and to the end that the same rule of justice may take place in all courts of justice, in both nations, it is hereby agreed and declared by—in the name and behalf of his Majesty, the King of Great Britain, on the one part, and by—, minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Court of Great Britain on the other, in the name and behalf of the said United States, that the line of latitude of the southernmost Canary Island was intended by the said contracting parties, and that the armistice aforesaid ought to be everywhere understood and construed in the same manner as if the words had been “from the channel and the north seas to the latitude of the Canary Islands inclusively,” and “from the latitude of the said Canary Islands to the equinoctial line;” and that all judgments and decrees of courts of justice of either of the parties to this declaration, rendered upon any different construction of the armistice aforesaid, ought to be reversed.

Done at Westminster, this day of

John Adams
Adams, John
29 July, 1785

TO THE MARQUIS OF CARMARTHEN.

My Lord,

The course of commerce, since the peace, between Great Britain and the United States of America, has been such as to have produced many inconveniences to the persons concerned in it on both sides, which become every day Edition: current; Page: [287] more and more sensible. The zeal of Americans to make remittances to British merchants, has been such as to raise the interest of money to double its usual standard, to increase the price of bills of exchange to eight or ten per centum above par, and to advance the price of the produce of the country to almost double the usual rate. Large sums of the circulating cash, and as much produce as could be purchased at almost any rate, have been remitted to England; but much of this produce lies in store here, because it will not fetch, by reason of the duties and restrictions on it, the price given for it in America. No political arrangements having been made, both the British and American merchants expected that the trade would have returned to its old channels, and nearly under the same regulations, found by long experience to be beneficial; but they have been disappointed. The former have made advances, and the latter contracted debts, both depending upon remittances in the usual articles, and upon the ancient terms, but both have found themselves mistaken, and it is much to be feared that the consequences will be numerous failures. Cash and bills have been chiefly remitted; neither rice, tobacco, pitch, tar, turpentine, ships, oil, nor many other articles, the great sources of remittances formerly, can now be sent as heretofore, because of restrictions and imposts, which are new in this commerce, and destructive of it; and the trade with the British West India Islands, formerly a vast source of remittance, is at present obstructed.

These evils, my lord, as far as they merely affect the United States, should not be offered to your Lordship’s consideration. They are proper subjects for the deliberations of congress and the legislatures of the several States; but, as far as they affect the merchants and manufacturers of Great Britain and Ireland, and as far as they affect the general system of commerce, revenue, and policy of the British empire, your Lordship will, undoubtedly, give them their due weight. There is a literal impossibility, my lord, that the commerce between the two countries can continue long to the advantage of either upon the present footing. The evils already experienced will be much increased and more severely felt, if the causes of them are permitted much longer to operate. It is the desire of the citizens of the United States to cultivate the most friendly Edition: current; Page: [288] intercourse with the King’s subjects, and it will be with regret that they shall see the necessity of searching for other resources, as substitutes for British commerce, either in other countries or in manufactures at home. Whether it is not putting at hazard too material an interest, to risk an alienation from these kingdoms, of the American commerce, or any considerable part of it, for the sake of the advantages that can be obtained by the present restrictions on it, is a question which must be submitted to your Lordship’s consideration.

In order to bring this subject, so momentous to both countries, under a candid discussion, I do myself the honor to inclose to your Lordship, and to propose to the consideration of his Majesty’s ministers, a project of a fair and equitable treaty of commerce between his Majesty and the United States of America, prepared in conformity to the instructions of congress; and submit it entirely to your Lordship to decide, whether the negotiation shall be conducted with your Lordship, or with any other person, to be invested with powers equal to mine, to be appointed for the purpose.

With great respect, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
29 July, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Sir,

I have the honor to inclose a copy of a letter to the Marquis of Carmarthen of the 14th July, another of the 27th, with a project of a declaration concerning the construction of the armistice, and another of this date, with a project of a treaty of commerce. It is high time something should be done to turn the attention of administration to the relation between this country and the United States; and it seemed most advisable to lay the project of a treaty directly before the ministry, rather than first negotiate the appointment of any other minister to treat with me than the Marquis of Carmarthen himself. If I had first proposed the appointment of a minister, they would have procrastinated the business for six months, and perhaps twelve, before I could have communicated any thing to them; now, they can have no excuse. The offer is made, and hereafter they may repent of their error, if they do not accept it, or Edition: current; Page: [289] something nearly like it, immediately. I am very sensible it will greatly embarrass the administration, because most of them, I believe, are sensible that some such treaty must be one day agreed to, and that it would be wise to agree to it now, but they are afraid of oppositions from many quarters. I must not, however, disguise my real sentiments. The present ministry are too much under the influence of Chalmers and Smith, and others of that stamp, and have been artfully drawn into so many manifestations of a determination to maintain their navigation laws, relatively to the United States, and of a jealousy of our naval power, small as it is, that I fear they have committed themselves too far to recede. Their Newfoundland act, as well as their proclamations, and the fourth of their Irish propositions, are in this style. I have no expectation that the proposed treaty will be soon agreed to, nor that I shall have any counter project, or indeed any answer, for a long time. It is very apparent that we shall never have a satisfactory arrangement with this country, until congress shall be made by the States supreme in matters of foreign commerce and treaties of commerce, and until congress shall have exerted that supremacy with a decent firmness.

I am, with great esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
6 August, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

I find the spirit of the times very different from that which you and I saw, when we were here together, in the months of November and December, 1783.

Then, the commerce of the United States had not fully returned to these kingdoms; then, the nation had not digested its system, nor determined to adhere so closely to its navigation acts, relatively to the United States; then, it was common, in conversation, to hear a respect and regard for America professed and even boasted of.

Now, the boast is, that our commerce has returned to its old channels, and that it can follow in no other; now, the utmost contempt of our commerce is freely expressed in pamphlets, Edition: current; Page: [290] gazettes, coffee-houses, and in common street talk. I wish I could not add to this the discourses of cabinet counsellors and ministers of state, as well as members of both houses of parliament.

The national judgment and popular voice is so decided in favor of the navigation acts, that neither administration nor opposition dare avow a thought of relaxing them farther than has been already done. This decided cast has been given to the public opinion and the national councils by two facts, or rather presumptions. The first is, that in all events this country is sure of the American commerce. Even in case of war, they think that British manufactures will find their way to the United States through France, Holland, the Austrian low countries, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, the French and Dutch West Indies, and even through Canada and Nova Scotia. The second is, that the American States are not, and cannot be united. The landed interest will never join with the commercial nor the southern States with the northern, in any measures of retaliation or expressions of resentment. These things have been so often affirmed to this people by the refugees, and they have so often repeated them to one another, that they now fully believe them; and, I am firmly persuaded, they will try the experiment as long as they can maintain the credit of their stocks. It is our part, then, to try our strength. You know better than I do, whether the States will give congress the power, and whether congress, when they have the power, will judge it necessary or expedient to exert it, in its plenitude.

You were present in congress, sir, in 1774, when many members discussed in detail the commercial relations between the United States, then United Colonies, and Great Britain, Ireland, the British West Indies, and all other parts of the British empire, and showed to what a vast amount the wealth, power, and revenue of Great Britain would be affected by a total cessation of exports and imports. The British revenue is now in so critical a situation, that it might be much sooner and more essentially affected than it could be then. You remember, however, sir, that although the theory was demonstrated, the practice was found very difficult.

Britain has ventured to begin commercial hostilities. I call them hostilities, because their direct object is not so much the Edition: current; Page: [291] increase of their own wealth, ships, or sailors, as the diminution of ours. A jealousy of our naval power is the true motive, the real passion which actuates them; they consider the United States as their rival, and the most dangerous rival they have in the world. I see clearly they are less afraid of an augmentation of French ships and sailors than American.

They think they foresee, that if the United States had the same fisheries, the same carrying trade, and the same market for ready built ships, which they had ten years ago, they would be in so respectable a posture, and so happy in their circumstances, that their own seamen, manufacturers, and merchants, too, would hurry over to them.

If congress should enter in earnest into this commercial war, it must necessarily be a long one, before it can fully obtain the victory; and it may excite passions on both sides which may break out into a military war. It is to be hoped, therefore, that the people and their councils will proceed with all the temperance and circumspection which such a state of things requires. I would not advise to this commercial struggle, if I could see a prospect of justice without it; but I do not; every appearance is on the contrary.

I have not, indeed, obtained any direct evidence of the intentions of the ministry, because I have received no answer to any of my letters to Lord Carmarthen; and, it seems to me, to press them at this juncture, with any great appearance of anxiety, would not be good policy. Let them hear a little more news from Ireland, France, and, perhaps, Spain, as well as America, which I think will operate in our favor.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
7 August, 1785
London
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

I am happy to find we agree so perfectly in the change which is made in the project. The die is cast. The proposal is made; let them ruminate upon it. I thought of proposing a tariff of duties, that we might pay no more in their ports than they should pay in ours; but their taxes are so essential to their credit, that it is impossible to part with any of them, and we should not choose to oblige ourselves to lay on Edition: current; Page: [292] as heavy ones. We are at liberty, however, to do it when we please.

If the English will not abolish their alien’s duty, relatively to us, we must establish an alien duty in all the United States. An alien duty against England alone will not answer the end. She will elude it by employing Dutch, French, Swedish, or any other ships, and by Frenchifying, Dutchifying, or Swedishing her own. If the English will persevere in excluding our ships from their West India Islands, Canada, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, and in demanding an alien duty from us in their ports within the realm, and in refusing to American built ships the privileges of British built ships, we must take higher ground,—a vantage-ground. We must do more than lay on alien duties. We must take measures by which the increase of shipping and seamen will be not only encouraged, but rendered inevitable. We must adopt in all the States the regulations that were once made in England (5 Richard II. c. 3), and ordain that no American citizen, or denizen, or alien friend or enemy, shall ship any merchandise out of, or into the United States, but only in ships built in the United States, and navigated by an American captain and three fourths American seamen. I should be sorry to adopt a monopoly; but, driven by the necessity of it, I would not do things by halves. The French deserve it of us as much as the English, for they are as much enemies to our ships and mariners. Their navigation acts are not quite so severe as those of Spain, Portugal, and England (as they relate to their colonies, I mean) but they are not much less so; and they discover as strong a lust to annihilate our navigation as anybody.

Or, might we modify a little? Might we lay a duty of ten per cent. on all goods imported in any but ships built in the United States, without saying any thing about seamen? If we were to prohibit all foreign vessels from carrying on our coasting trade, that is, from trading from one State to another, and from one port to another in the same State, we should do something; for this commerce will be so considerable as to employ many ships and many seamen, of so much the more value to us, as they will always be ready at home for the defence of their country. But, if we should only prohibit importations, except in our own bottoms, or in the bottoms of the country or nation Edition: current; Page: [293] of whose growth or production the merchandises are, we should do nothing effectual against Great Britain. She would desire nothing better than to send her productions to our ports in her own bottoms, and bring away ours in return. I hope the members of congress and the legislatures of the States will study the British acts of navigation, and make themselves masters of their letter and spirit, that they may judge how far they may be adopted by us; and, indeed, whether they are sufficient to do justice to our citizens in their commerce with Great Britain.

There is another inquiry which I hope our countrymen will enter upon, and that is, what articles of our produce will bear a duty on exportation. All such duties are paid by the consumer, and, therefore, are so much clear gain. Some of our commodities will not bear any such duties; on the contrary, they will require encouragement by bounties. But I suspect that several articles will bear a handsome impost. We shall find our commerce a complicated machine, and difficult to manage. And I fear we have not many men who have turned their thoughts to it. It must be comprehended by somebody in its system and in its detail, before it will be regulated as it should be.

I am, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
8 August, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

It would be of little consequence to us, whether there was a union between Great Britain and Ireland, or not, or whether Mr. Pitt’s twenty propositions are accepted or not, provided both these countries should be allowed to trade with the United States upon free and equal terms; but the design is too apparent, at least too suspicious, of drawing Ireland into the shackles of the navigation acts, in order that the three kingdoms may be made to act in concert, in maintaining that system of monopoly against us.

Several speakers in parliament, and many writers, have lately thrown out hints of an union with Ireland, and a certain printer and bookseller is now employed in reprinting Daniel de Foe’s book upon the union with Scotland, to which he has engaged Edition: current; Page: [294] Mr. de Lolme to write an introduction. This is all a ministerial operation, and is intended to be pushed, if Mr. Pitt’s twenty propositions should either be rejected by the Irish parliament, or give too much discontent to the volunteers.

The twenty propositions, and the bill which is grounded on them, betray too clearly the intentions of the ministry.

“Whereas, it is highly and equally important to the interests, both of Great Britain and Ireland, and essential to the objects of the present settlement, that the laws for regulating trade and navigation, so far as relates to securing exclusive privileges to the ships and mariners of Great Britain and Ireland, and the British colonies and plantations, and so far as relates to the regulating and restraining the trade of the British Colonies and plantations, should be the same in Great Britain and Ireland, and that all such laws in both kingdoms should impose the same restraints, and confer the same benefits, on the subjects of both, which can only be effected by the laws to be passed in the parliament of both kingdoms (the parliament of Great Britain being alone competent to bind the people of Great Britain in any case whatsoever, and the parliament of Ireland being alone competent to bind the people of Ireland in any case whatsoever); therefore, be it declared, that it shall be held and adjudged to be a fundamental and essential condition of the present settlement, that the laws for regulating trade and navigation, so far as the said laws relate to the securing exclusive privileges to the ships and mariners of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Colonies and plantations, shall be the same in Great Britain and Ireland, and shall impose the same restraints, and confer the same benefits, on the subjects of both kingdoms.”

“That all privileges, advantages, and immunities which are now granted, or shall, by any law to be passed by the parliament of Great Britain, be hereafter granted, to ships built in Great Britain, or to ships belonging to any of his Majesty’s subjects residing in Great Britain, or to ships manned by British seamen, or to ships manned by certain proportions of British seamen, shall, to all intents and purposes whatever, be enjoyed in the same manner, and under the same regulations and restrictions respectively, by ships built in Ireland, or by ships belonging to any of his Majesty’s subjects residing in Edition: current; Page: [295] Ireland, or by ships manned by Irish seamen, or by ships manned by certain proportions of Irish seamen.”

“That it shall be held and adjudged to be a fundamental and essential condition of the present settlement, that such regulations as are now, or hereafter shall be in force, by law passed or to be passed in the parliament of Great Britain, for securing exclusive privileges, advantages, and immunities as aforesaid, to the ships and mariners of Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Colonies and plantations, shall be established in Ireland, for the same time and in the same manner as in Great Britain, by laws to be passed in the parliament of Ireland, within—months, &c., provided, that the laws so to be passed in the parliament of Great Britain for the purposes aforesaid, shall impose the same restraints, and confer the same benefits, on the subjects of Great Britain and Ireland.”

“That it shall be held and adjudged to be a fundamental and essential condition of the present settlement, that Irish sailcloth shall be deemed British sailcloth within the meaning of 19 G. II., or any other act or acts of parliament, respecting the furnishing of ships with British sailcloth, and that Irish sailcloth shall be entitled to equal preference and advantage as British for the use of the British navy.”

“That it shall be held and adjudged to be a fundamental and essential condition of the present settlement, that all goods of the growth, produce, or manufacture of any British, or of any foreign colony in America, or in the West Indies, or of any of the British or foreign settlements on the coast of Africa, and all peltry, rum, train oil, and whale-fins, being the growth, produce, or manufacture of the countries belonging to the United States of America, or being the produce of the fisheries carried on by the subjects of the United States of America, shall, on importation into Ireland, be made subject to the same duties and regulations as the like goods are, or from time to time shall be subject to, on importation into Great Britain; or, if prohibited from being imported into Great Britain, shall, in like manner, be prohibited from being imported into Ireland.”

These extracts from the bill for finally regulating the intercourse and commerce between Great Britain and Ireland, moved in the house of commons by the chancellor of the exchequer, are sufficient evidence of a design to draw Ireland into a combination against America.

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This jealousy of our ships and mariners, sir, is not peculiar to the English; the French are equally possessed of it; and both are infected with it to such a degree, that I am confident, that each of these nations had rather contribute to the increase of the others’ ships and mariners than those of the United States. It would not surprise me at all, if these two Courts, which can agree in nothing else, should combine together to exclude us from every branch of the carrying trade and every advantage of the whale fishery.

What shall we do to defend ourselves? Shall we confine the exportation of the produce of the United States to the ships and mariners of the United States? To increase the English navy, the statute of the 5 Ric. II. c. 3, enacted that “none of the King’s liege people should ship any merchandise out of, or into the realm, but only in the ships of the King’s liegeance, on pain of forfeiture.” If the United States were able and willing to imitate this statute, and confine all our exports and imports to ships built in the United States, and navigated with American seamen, or three quarters American seamen, or one half, or even one third American seamen, what would be the consequence? We should not have at first enough either of ships or seamen to export the produce, and import what would be wanted from abroad; but we should see multitudes of people instantly employed in building ships, and multitudes of others immediately becoming sailors, and the time would not be long before we should have enough of both. The people of the United States have shown themselves capable of great exertions, and possessed of patience, courage, and perseverance, and willing to make large sacrifices to the general interest.

But are they capable of this exertion? Are they possessed of patience, courage, and perseverance enough to encounter the losses and embarrassments which would, at first, be occasioned by an exclusion of foreign ships? I wish I could know the number of foreign ships which have entered the ports of the United States since the peace, including English, French, Dutch, Italian, and Swedish vessels. The number must be very great. If all these ships and seamen were American, what materials would they furnish for a navy in case of need! How would this be received by foreign nations? Spain and Portugal would say nothing, because they have no ships in our trade; Edition: current; Page: [297] France has few; Italy would have no right to object; nor Germany, Russia, Sweden, or Denmark. It would be laying an axe at the root of the British commerce, revenue, and naval power, however slightly they may think of us. Whether a heavy duty upon all foreign vessels, such as should operate as a decisive encouragement to American ships, would not answer the end as well, I am not able to judge.

The provisions of the act of navigation, 12 Car. II. c. 18, would not be sufficient for our purpose. If the United States should agree in a law, that no goods should be suffered to be imported into the United States in any other than American bottoms (navigated by an American master, and three fourths of the seamen American), or in the ships of that European nation of which the merchandise imported was the genuine growth or manufacture, this would not accomplish our wish, because British and Irish ships would desire no other than to import into our States the manufactures of the British empire, and to export our produce in the same bottoms. Some of the British statutes prohibit foreigners to carry on the coasting trade, that is, to go from one port to another in Great Britain; and this regulation will now be extended to Ireland, if the twenty propositions are accepted. A similar regulation might be adopted by the United States; and this would be a vast encouragement to our navigation, for the intercourse between one State and another, and between one port and another of the same State, will now be so frequent and considerable as to employ many ships and mariners; and in these the greatest strength of a country consists, because they are always at home ready to fight for the defence of their firesides.

If we should get over our aversion to monopolies and exclusions, and adopt the selfish, unsocial principles of the European nations, particularly of France and England, we should astonish the world with a navy in a very few years, not more than eight or ten, equal perhaps to the third maritime power in Europe. This would be amply sufficient for our defence. European statesmen know it better than we do, and dread it more than we desire it, because they think that from that period all the West India Islands, Canada, Nova Scotia, the Floridas and Mexico, too, would be made to join us. Why, then, will England pursue measures which will force us to try experiments Edition: current; Page: [298] against our inclinations? There is no answer to be given to this question, but the same which must be given to another. Why did she force us into independence? The nation îs infatuated, and every successive minister must be infatuated too, or lose his popularity and his place. Nor is France much less infatuated in her system of politics relative to America. The jealousy of our navigation is so strong and so common to both, that I should not be at all surprised, if France should agree that England should carry her point in Ireland, draw her into the navigation monopoly, and agree together to keep peace with one another, and force us, if they can, out of every nursery for seamen. I know that French noblemen are in England, and English gentlemen in France, preaching up to each other a terror of our naval power, and even the late arrêt against British manufactures may be but a blind to cover very different designs; both Courts are capable of such dissimulation, and they are now acting in concert in Germany, so much to the disgust of the two Imperial Courts, that I confess I do not admire this appearance of friendship any more than I can account for it.

It will require all the wisdom and all the firmness of congress and the States to plan and execute the measures necessary to counteract all these wiles.

With great and sincere esteem, &c.
John Adams.
John Adams
Adams, John
10 August, 1785
Westminster
John Jay
Jay, John

TO SECRETARY JAY.

Dear Sir,

The arrêt of the King of France, in his council of the 10th of July, has a preamble which deserves to be well considered in America. The increasing liberality of sentiment among philosophers and men of letters, in various nations,