your friend and servant,
LETTER CXIX.—TO DR. FRANKLIN, October 5,1785
TO DR. FRANKLIN.
Paris, October 5,1785.
A vessel sailing from Havre to Philadelphia, furnishes the Messrs. Fitzhughs with a passage to that place. To them, therefore, I confide a number of letters and packets which I have received for you from sundry quarters, and which, I doubt not, they will deliver safe. Among these is one from M. Du Plessis. On receipt of your letter, in answer to the one I had written you, on the subject of his memorial, I sent to M. La Motte, M. Chaumont, and wherever else I thought there was a probability of finding out Du Plessis' address. But all in vain. I meant to examine his memoir, as you desired, and to have it copied. Lately, he came and brought it with him, copied by himself. He desired me to read it, and enclose it to you, which I have done.
We have no public news worth communicating to you, but the signing of preliminaries between the Emperor and Dutch. The question is, then, with whom the Emperor will pick the next quarrel. Our treaty with Prussia goes by this conveyance. But it is not to be spoken of till a convenient time is allowed for exchanging ratifications.
Science offers nothing new since your departure, nor any new publication worth your notice. All your friends here are well. Those in England have carried you captive to Algiers. They have published a letter, as if written by Truxen, the 20th of August, from Algiers, stating the circumstances of the capture, and that you bore your slavery to admiration. I happened to receive a letter from Algiers, dated August the 24th, informing me that two vessels were then there, taken from us, and naming the vessels and captains. This was a satisfactory proof to us, that you were not there. The fact being so, we would have gladly dispensed with the proof, as the situation of our countrymen there was described as very distressing.
Were I to mention all those who make inquiries after you, there would be no end to my letter. I cannot, however, pass over those of the good old Countess d'Hoditot, with whom I dined on Saturday, at Sanois. They were very affectionate. I hope you have had a good passage. Your essay in crossing the channel gave us great hopes you would experience little inconvenience on the rest of the voyage. My wishes place you in the bosom of your friends, in good health, and with a well grounded prospect of preserving it long, for your own sake, for theirs, and that of the world.
I am, with the sincerest attachment and respect, Dear Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXX.—TO SAMUEL OSGOOD, October 5, 1785
TO SAMUEL OSGOOD.
Paris, October 5, 1785.
It was with very sincere pleasure I heard of your appointment to the board of treasury, as well from the hope that it might not be disagreeable to yourself, as from the confidence that your administration would be wise. I heartily wish the States may, by their contributions, enable you to re-establish a credit, which cannot be lower than at present, to exist at all. This is partly owing to their real deficiencies, and partly to the lies propagated by the London papers, which are probably paid for by the minister, to reconcile the people to the loss of us. Unluckily, it indisposes them, at the same time, to form rational connections with us. Should this produce the amendment of our federal constitution, of which your papers give us hopes, we shall receive a permanent indemnification for a temporary loss.
All things here promise an arrangement between the Emperor and Dutch. Their ministers have signed preliminary articles, some of which, however, leave room for further cavil. The Dutch pay ten millions of florins, yield some forts and territory, and the navigation of the Scheldt to Saftingen. Till our treaty with England be fully executed, it is desirable to us, that all the world should be in peace. That done, their wars would do us little harm.
I find myself under difficulties here, which I will take the liberty of explaining to you as a friend. Mr. Carmichael lately drew a bill on Mr. Grand for four thousand livres, I suppose for his salary. Mr. Grand said, he was not used to accept drafts but by the desire of Dr. Franklin, and rested it on me to say, whether this bill should be paid or not. I thought it improper, that the credit of so confidential a person, as Mr. Carmichael, should be affected by a refusal, and therefore advised payment. Mr. Dumas has drawn on me for twenty-seven hundred livres, his half year's salary, informing me he always drew on Dr. Franklin. I shall advise the payment. I have had loan-office bills, drawn on the commissioners of the United States, presented to me. My answer has been, 'These are very old bills. Had they been presented while those gentlemen were in Europe, they would have been paid. You have kept them up till Dr. Franklin, the last of them, has returned to America; you must therefore send them there, and they will be paid. I am not the drawee described in the bill.' It is impossible for me to meddle with these bills. The gentlemen who had been familiar with them, from the beginning, who kept books of them, and knew well the form of these books, often paid bills twice. But how can I interfere with them, who have not a scrip of a pen on their subject, who never saw a book relating to them, and who, if I had the books, should much oftener be bewildered in the labyrinth, than the gentlemen who have kept them? I think it, therefore, most advisable, that what bills remain out, should be sent back to America for payment, and therefore advise Mr. Barclay to return thither all the books and papers relative to them. There, is the proper and ultimate deposite of all records of this nature. All these articles are very foreign to my talents, and foreign also, as I conceive, to the nature of my duties. Dr. Franklin was obliged to meddle with them, from the circumstances which existed. But, these having ceased, I suppose it practicable for your board to direct the administration of your monies here, in every circumstance. It is only necessary for me to draw my own allowances, and to order payment for services done by others, by my direction, and within the immediate line of my office; such as paying couriers, postage, and other extraordinary services, which must rest on my discretion, and at my risk, if disapproved by Congress. I will thank you for your advice on this subject, and if you think a resolution of your board necessary, I will pray you to send me such a one, and that it may relieve me from all concerns with the money of the United States, other than those I have just spoken of. I do not mean by this to testify a disposition to render no service but what is rigorously within my duty. I am the farthest in the world from this; it is a question I shall never ask myself; nothing making me more happy than to render any service in my power of whatever description. But I wish only to be excused from intermeddling in business, in which I have no skill, and should do more harm than good.
Congress were pleased to order me an advance of two quarters' salary. At that time, I supposed that I might refund it, or spare so much from my expenses, by the time the third quarter became due. Probably, they might expect the same. But it has been impossible. The expense of my outfit, though I have taken it up on a scale as small as could be admitted, has been very far beyond what I had conceived. I have, therefore, not only been unable to refund the advance ordered, but been obliged to go beyond it. I wished to have avoided so much, as was occasioned by the purchase of furniture. But those who hire furniture, asked me forty per cent, a year for the use of it. It was better to buy, therefore; and this article, clothes, carriage, &c. have amounted to considerably more than the advance ordered. Perhaps it may be thought reasonable to allow me an outfit. The usage of every other nation has established this, and reason really pleads for it. I do not wish to make a shilling; but only my expenses to be defrayed, and in a moderate style. On the most moderate, which the reputation or interest of those I serve would admit, it will take me several years to liquidate the advances for my outfit. I mention this, to enable you to understand the necessities which have obliged me to call for more money than was probably expected, and, understanding them, to explain them to others. Being perfectly disposed to conform myself decisively to what shall be thought proper, you cannot oblige me more, than by communicating to me your sentiments hereon, which I shall receive as those of a friend, and govern myself accordingly.
I am, with the most perfect esteem, Dear Sir,
your friend and servant,
LETTER CXXI.—TO JOHN JAY, October 6, 1785
TO JOHN JAY.
Paris, October 6, 1785.
My letter of August the 30th acknowledged the receipt of yours of July the 13th. Since that, I have received your letter of August the 13th, enclosing a correspondence between the Marquis de la Fayette and Monsieur de Calonne, and another of the same date, enclosing the papers in Fortin's case. I immediately wrote to M. Limozin, at Havre, desiring he would send me a state of the case, and inform me what were the difficulties which suspended its decision. He has promised me, by letter, to do this as soon as possible, and I shall not fail in attention to it.
The Emperor and Dutch have signed preliminaries, which are now made public. You will see them in the papers which accompany this. They still leave a good deal to discussion. However, it is probable they will end in peace. The party in Holland, possessed actually of the sovereignty, wish for peace, that they may push their designs on the Stadtholderate. This country wishes for peace, because her finances need arrangement. The Bavarian exchange has produced to public view that jealousy and. rancor between the courts of Vienna and Berlin, which existed before, though it was smothered. This will appear by the declarations of the two courts. The demarcation between the Emperor and Turk does not advance. Still, however, I suppose neither of those two germs of war likely to open soon. I consider the conduct of France as the best evidence of this. If she had apprehended a war from either of those quarters, she would not have been so anxious to leave the Emperor one enemy the less, by placing him at peace with the Dutch. While she is exerting all her powers to preserve peace by land, and making no preparation which indicates a fear of its being disturbed in that quarter, she is pushing her naval preparations, with a spirit unexampled in time of peace. By the opening of the next spring, she will have eighty ships, of seventy-four guns and upwards, ready for sea at a moment's warning; and the further constructions proposed, will probably, within two years, raise the number to an hundred. New regulations have been made, too, for perfecting the classification of her seamen; an institution, which, dividing all the seamen of the nation into classes, subjects them to tours of duty by rotation and enables government, at all times, to man their ships. Their works for rendering Cherbourg a harbor for their vessels of war, and Dunkirk, for frigates and privateers, leave now little doubt of success. It is impossible that these preparations can have in view any other nation than the English. Of course, they show a greater diffidence of their peace with them, than with any other power.
I mentioned to you, in my letter of August the 14th, that I had desired Captain John Paul Jones to inquire into the circumstances of Peyrouse's expedition. I have now the honor of enclosing you copies of my letter to him, and of his answer. He refuses to accept of any indemnification for his expenses, which is an additional proof of his disinterested spirit, and of his devotion to the service of America. The circumstances are obvious, which indicate an intention to settle factories, and not colonies, at least, for the present. However, nothing shows for what place they are destined. The conjectures are divided between New Holland, and the northwest coast of America.
According to what I mentioned in my letter of August the 30th, I have appointed Mr. Short my secretary here. I enclose to you copies of my letters to him and Mr. Grand, which will show to Congress that he stands altogether at their pleasure. I mention this circumstance, that if what I have done meets with their disapprobation, they may have the goodness to signify it immediately, as I should otherwise conclude that they do not disapprove it. I shall be ready to conform myself to what would be most agreeable to them.
This will be accompanied by the gazettes of France and Ley-den, to the present date.
I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest esteem and respect, Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXII.—TO ELBRIDGE GERRY, October 11, 1785
TO ELBRIDGE GERRY.
Paris, October 11, 1785.
I received, last night, the letter signed by yourself and the other gentlemen, delegates of Massachusetts and Virginia, recommending Mr. Sayre for the Barbary negotiations. As that was the first moment of its suggestion to me, you will perceive by my letter of this day, to Mr Jay, that the business was already established in other hands, as your letter came at the same time with the papers actually signed by Mr. Adams, for Messrs. Barclay and Lambe, according to arrangements previously taken between us. I should, with great satisfaction, have acceded to the recommendation in the letter: not indeed as to Morocco, because, no better man than Mr. Barclay could have been substituted; but as to Algiers, Mr. Lambe being less known to me. However, I hope well of him, and rely considerably on the aid he will receive from his secretary, Mr. Randall, who bears a very good character. I suppose Mr. Adams entitled to the same just apology, as matters were settled otherwise, before he probably received your letter. I pray you to communicate this to the other gentlemen of your and our delegation as my justification.
The peace made between the Emperor and Dutch, leaves Europe quiet for this campaign. As yet, we do not know where the storm, dissipated for the moment, will gather again. Probably over Bavaria or Turkey. But this will be for another year.
When our instructions were made out, they were conceived on a general scale, and supposed that all the European nations would be disposed to form commercial connections with us. It is evident, however, that a very different degree of importance was annexed to these different states. Spain, Portugal, England, and France, were most important. Holland, Sweden, Denmark, in a middling degree. The others, still less so. Spain treats in another line. Portugal is disposed to do the same. England will not treat at all; nor will France, probably, add to her former treaty. Failing in the execution of these our capital objects, it has appeared to me, that the pushing the treaties with the lesser powers, might do us more harm than good, by hampering the measures the States may find it necessary to take, for securing those commercial interests, by separate measures, which is refused to be done here, in concert. I have understood through various channels, that the members of Congress wished a change in our instructions. I have, in my letter to Mr. Jay, of this date, mentioned the present situation and aspect of these treaties, for their information.
My letter of the 6th instant to Mr. Jay, having communicated what little there is new here, I have only to add assurances of the sincere esteem, with which I have the honor to be, Dear Sir,
your friend and servant,
LETTER CXXIII.—TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES, October 11, 1785
TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Paris, October 11, 1785.
I have the honor of enclosing to your Excellency, a report of the voyage of an American ship, the first which has gone to China. The circumstance which induces Congress to direct this communication, is the very friendly conduct of the consul of his Majesty at Macao, and of the commanders and other officers of the French vessels in those seas. It has been with singular satisfaction, that Congress have seen these added to the many other proofs of the cordiality of this nation towards our citizens. It is the more pleasing, when it appears in the officers of government, because it is then viewed as an emanation of the spirit of the government. It would be an additional gratification to Congress, in this particular instance, should any occasion arise of notifying those officers, that their conduct has been justly represented to your Excellency, on the part of the United States, and has met your approbation. Nothing will be wanting, on our part, to foster corresponding dispositions in our citizens, and we hope that proofs of their actual existence have appeared, and will appear, whenever, occasion shall offer. A sincere affection between the two people, is the broadest basis on which their peace can be built.
It will always be among the most pleasing functions of my office, to be made the channel of communicating the friendly sentiments of the two governments. It is additionally so, as it gives me an opportunity of assuring your Excellency of the high respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be,
your Excellency's most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXIV.—TO JOHN JAY, October 11,1785
TO JOHN JAY.
Paris, October 11,1785.
In my letter of August the 14th, I had the honor of expressing to you the uneasiness I felt at the delay of the instructions on the subject of the Barbary treaties, of which Mr.. Lambe was the bearer, and of informing you that I had proposed to Mr. Adams, that if he did not arrive either in the French or English packets, then expected, we should send some person to negotiate these treaties. As he did not arrive in those packets, and I found Mr. Barclay was willing to undertake the negotiations, I wrote to Mr. Adams (who had concurred in the proposition made him), informing him that Mr. Barclay would go, and proposing papers for our immediate signature. The day before the return of the courier, Mr. Lambe arrived with our instructions, the letters of credence, he enclosed in yours of March the 11th, 1785. Just about the same time, came to hand the letter No. 1, informing me, that two American vessels were actually taken and carried into Algiers, and leaving no further doubt that that power was exercising hostilities against us in the Atlantic. The conduct of the Emperor of Morocco had been such, as forbade us to postpone his treaty to that with Algiers. But the commencement of hostilities by the latter, and their known activity, pressed the necessity of immediate propositions to them. It was therefore thought best, while Mr. Barclay should be proceeding with the Emperor of Morocco, that some other agent should go to Algiers. We had few subjects to choose out of. Mr. Lambe's knowledge of the country, of its inhabitants, of their manner of transacting business, the recommendations from his State to Congress, of his fitness for this employment, and other information founding a presumption that he would be approved, occasioned our concluding to send him to Algiers. The giving him proper authorities, and new ones to Mr. Barclay conformable to our own new powers, was the subject of a new courier between Mr. Adams and myself. He returned last night, and I have the honor of enclosing you copies of all the papers we furnish those gentlemen with; which will possess Congress fully of our proceedings herein. They are numbered from two to ten inclusive. The supplementary instruction to Mr. Lambe, No. 5, must rest for justification on the emergency of the case. The motives which led to it, must be found in the feelings of the human heart, in a partiality for those sufferers who are of our own country, and in the obligations of every government to yield protection to their citizens, as the consideration for their obedience. It will be a comfort to know, that Congress does not disapprove this step.
Considering the treaty with Portugal among the most interesting to the United States, I some time ago, took occasion at Versailles, to ask of the Portuguese ambassador, if he had yet received from his court an answer to our letter. He told me he had not, but that he would make it the subject of another letter. Two days ago, his secretaire d'ambassade called on me, with a letter from his minister to the ambassador, in which was the following paragraph, as he translated it to me; and I committed it to writing from his mouth. 'Your Excellency has communicated to us the substance of your conversation with the American minister. That power ought to have been already persuaded, by the manner in which its vessels have been received here; and consequently that his Majesty would have much satisfaction in maintaining perfect harmony and good understanding with the same United States. But it would be proper to begin with the reciprocal nomination, on both sides, of persons, who, at least with the character of agents, might reciprocally inform their constituents, of what might conduce to a knowledge of the interests of the two nations, without prejudice to either. This first step appears necessary to lead to the proposed object.'
By this, it would seem, that this power is more disposed to pursue a track of negotiation, similar to that which Spain has done. I consider this answer as definitive of all further measures, under our commission to Portugal. That to Spain was superseded by proceedings in another line. That to Prussia is concluded by actual treaty; to Tuscany will probably be so; and perhaps to Denmark: and these, I believe, will be the sum of the effects of our commissions for making treaties of alliance. England shows no disposition to treat. France, should her ministers be able to keep the ground of the Arret of August, 1784, against the clamors of her merchants, and should they be disposed, hereafter, to give us more, very probably will not bind herself to it by treaty, but keep her regulations dependent on her own will. Sweden will establish a free port at St. Bartholomew's, which, perhaps, will render any new engagement, on our part, unnecessary. Holland is so immovable in her system of colony administration, that, as propositions to her, on that subject, would be desperate, they had better not be made. You will perceive by the letter No. 11, from the Marquis de la Fayette, that there is a possibility of an overture from the Emperor. A hint from the charge des affaires of Naples, lately, has induced me to suppose something of the same kind from thence. But the advanced period of our commissions now offers good cause for avoiding to begin, what probably cannot be terminated during their continuance; and with respect to these two, and all other powers not before mentioned, I doubt whether the advantages to be derived from treaties with them, will countervail the additional embarrassments they may impose on the States, when they shall proceed to make those commercial arrangements necessary to counteract the designs of the British cabinet. I repeat it, therefore, that the conclusion of the treaty with Prussia, and the probability of others with Denmark, Tuscany and the Barbary States, may be expected to wind up the proceedings of the general commissions. I think that, in possible events, it may be advantageous to us, by treaties with Prussia, Denmark, and Tuscany, to have secured ports in the Northern and Mediterranean seas. I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest respect and esteem,
Sir, your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXV.—TO MESSRS. VAN STAPHORST, October 12, 1785
TO MESSRS. VAN STAPHORST.
Paris, October 12, 1785.
The receipt of your favor, of September the 19th, should not have been so long unacknowledged, but that I have been peculiarly and very closely engaged ever since it came to hand.
With respect to the expediency of the arrangement you propose to make with Mr. Parker, I must observe to you, that it would be altogether out of my province to give an official opinion, for your direction. These transactions appertain altogether to the commissioners of the treasury, to whom you have very properly written on the occasion. I shall always be willing, however, to apprize you of any facts I may be acquainted with, and which might enable you to proceed with more certainty; and even to give my private opinion, where I am acquainted with the subject, leaving you the most perfect liberty to give it what weight you may think proper. In the present case, I cannot give even a private opinion, because I am not told what are precisely the securities offered by Mr. Parker. So various are the securities of the United States, that unless they are precisely described by their dates, consideration, and other material circumstances, no man on earth can say what they are worth. One fact, however, is certain, that all debts of any considerable amount contracted by the United States, while their paper money existed, are subject to a deduction, and not payable at any fixed period. I think I may venture to say, also, that there are no debts of the United States, 'on the same footing with the money loaned by Holland,' except those due to the Kings of France and Spain. However, I hope you will soon receive the answer of the commissioners, which alone can decide authoritatively what can be done.
Congress have thought proper to entrust to Mr. Adams and myself a certain business, which may eventually call for great advances of money: perhaps four hundred thousand livres or upwards. They have authorized us to draw for this on their funds in Holland. The separate situation of Mr. Adams and myself rendering joint drafts inconvenient, we have agreed that they shall be made by him alone. You will be pleased, therefore, to give the same credit to these bills, drawn by him, as if they were also subscribed by me.
I have the honor to be, with high respect, Gentlemen,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXVI.—TO MONSIEUR DESBORDES, October 12,1785
TO MONSIEUR DESBORDES.
Paris, October 12,1785.
There are, in the prison of St. Pol de Leon, six or seven citizens of the United States of America, charged with having attempted a contraband of tobacco, but, as they say themselves, forced into that port by stress of weather. I believe that they are innocent. Their situation is described to me to be as deplorable, as should be that of men found guilty of the worst of crimes. They are in close jail, allowed three sous a day only, and unable to speak a word of the language of the country. I hope their distress, which it is my duty to relieve, and the recommendation of Mr. Barclay to address myself to you, will apologize for the liberty I take, of asking you to advise them what to do for their defence, to engage some good lawyer for them, and to pass to them the pecuniary reliefs necessary. I write to Mr. Lister Asquith, the owner of the vessel, that he may draw bills on me, from time to time, for a livre a day for every person of them, and for what may be necessary to engage a lawyer for him. I will pray the favor of you to furnish him money for his bills drawn on me for these purposes, which I will pay on sight. You will judge if he should go beyond this allowance, and be so good as to reject the surplus. I must desire his lawyer to send me immediately a state of their case, and let me know in what court their process is, and when it is likely to be decided. I hope the circumstances of the case will excuse the freedom I take; and I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER CXXVII.—TO HOGENDORP, October 13,1785
Paris, October 13,1785.
Having been much engaged lately, I have been unable sooner to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of September the 8th. What you are pleased to say on the subject of my Notes, is more than they deserve. The condition in which you first saw them, would prove to you how hastily they had been originally written; as you may remember the numerous insertions I had made in them, from time to time, when I could find a moment for turning to them from other occupations. I have never yet seen Monsieur de Buffon. He has been in the country all the summer. I sent him a copy of the book, and have only heard his sentiments on one particular of it, that of the identity of the mammoth and elephant. As to this, he retains his opinion that they are the same. If you had formed any considerable expectations from our revised code of laws, you will be much disappointed. It contains not more than three or four laws which could strike the attention of a foreigner. Had it been a digest of all our laws, it would not have been comprehensible or instructive, but to a native. But it is still less so, as it digests only the British statutes and our own acts of Assembly, which are but a supplementary part of our law. The great basis of it is anterior to the date of the Magna Charta, which is the oldest statute extant. The only merit of this work is, that it may remove from our book-shelves about twenty folio volumes of statutes, retaining all the parts of them, which either their own merit or the established system of laws required.
You ask me what are those operations of the British nation, which are likely to befriend us, and how they will produce this effect? The British government, as you may naturally suppose, have it much at heart to reconcile their nation to the loss of America. This is essential to the repose, perhaps even to the safety of the King and his ministers. The most effectual engines for this purpose are the public papers. You know well, that that government always kept a kind of standing army of news-writers, who, without any regard to truth, or to what should be like truth, invented, and put into the papers, whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people, who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper. When forced to acknowledge our independence, they were forced to redouble their efforts to keep the nation quiet. Instead of a few of the papers, formerly engaged, they now engaged every one. No paper, therefore, comes out without a dose of paragraphs against America. These are calculated for a secondary purpose also, that of preventing the emigrations of their people to America. They dwell very much on American bankruptcies. To explain these, would require a long detail; but would show you that nine tenths of these bankruptcies are truly English bankruptcies, in no wise chargeable on America. However, they have produced effects the most desirable of all others for us. They have destroyed our credit, and thus checked our disposition to luxury; and, forcing our merchants to buy no more than they have ready money to pay for, they force them to go to those markets where that ready money will buy most. Thus you see, they check our luxury, they force us to connect ourselves with all the world, and they prevent foreign emigrations to our country, all of which I consider as advantageous to us. They are doing us another good turn. They attempt, without disguise, to possess themselves of the carriage of our produce, and to prohibit our own vessels from participating of it. This has raised a general indignation in America. The States see, however, that their constitutions have provided no means of counteracting it. They are therefore beginning to vest Congress with the absolute power of regulating their commerce, only reserving all revenue arising from it, to the State in which it is levied. This will consolidate our federal building very much, and for this we shall be indebted to the British.
You ask what I think on the expediency of encouraging our States to be commercial? Were I to indulge my own theory, I should wish them to practise neither commerce nor navigation, but to stand, with respect to Europe, precisely on the footing of China. We should thus avoid wars, and all our citizens would be husbandmen. Whenever, indeed, our numbers should so increase, as that our produce would overstock the markets of those nations who should come to seek it, the farmers must either employ the surplus of their time in manufactures, or the surplus of our hands must be employed in manufactures, or in navigation. But that day would, I think, be distant, and we should long keep our workmen in Europe, while Europe should be drawing rough materials, and even subsistence, from America. But this is theory only, and a theory which the servants of America are not at liberty to follow. Our people have a decided taste for navigation and commerce. They take this from their mother country; and their servants are in duty bound to calculate all their measures on this datum: we wish to do it by throwing open all the doors of commerce, and knocking off its shackles. But as this cannot be done for others, unless they will do it for us, and there is no great probability that Europe will do this, I suppose we shall be obliged to adopt a system which may shackle them in our ports, as they do us in theirs. With respect to the sale of our lands, that cannot begin till a considerable portion shall have been surveyed. They cannot begin to survey till the fall of the leaf of this year, nor to sell probably till the ensuing spring. So that it will be yet a twelvemonth, before we shall be able to judge of the efficacy of our land-office, to sink our national debt. It is made a fundamental, that the proceeds shall be solely and sacredly applied as a sinking fund, to discharge the capital only of the debt.
It is true that the tobaccos of Virginia go almost entirely to England. The reason is, the people of that State owe a great debt there, which they are paying as fast as they can. I think I have now answered your several queries, and shall be happy to receive your reflections on the same subjects, and at all times to hear of your welfare, and to give you assurances of the esteem, with which I have the honor to be, Dear Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXVIII.—TO J. BANNISTER, JUNIOR, October 15,1785
TO J. BANNISTER, JUNIOR.
Paris, October 15,1785.
I should sooner have answered the paragraph in your letter, of September the 19th, respecting the best seminary for the education of youth, in Europe, but that it was necessary for me to make inquiries on the subject. The result of these has been, to consider the competition as resting between Geneva and Rome. They are equally cheap, and probably are equal in the course of education pursued. The advantage of Geneva is, that students acquire there the habit of speaking French. The advantages of Rome are, the acquiring a local knowledge of a spot so classical and so celebrated; the acquiring the true pronunciation of the Latin language; a just taste in the fine arts, more particularly those of painting, sculpture, architecture, and music; a familiarity with those objects and processes of agriculture, which experience has shown best adapted to a climate like ours; and lastly, the advantage of a fine climate for health. It is probable, too, that by being boarded in a French family, the habit of speaking that language may be obtained. I do not count on any advantage to be derived in Geneva from a familiar acquaintance with the principles of that government. The late revolution has rendered it a tyrannical aristocracy, more likely to give ill, than good ideas to an American. I think the balance in favor of Rome. Pisa is sometimes spoken of, as a place of education. But it does not offer the first and third of the advantages of Rome. But why send an American youth to Europe for education? What are the objects of an useful American education? Classical knowledge, modern languages, chiefly French, Spanish, and Italian; Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Natural History, Civil History, and Ethics. In Natural Philosophy, I mean to include Chemistry and Agriculture, and in Natural History, to include Botany, as well as the other branches of those departments. It is true, that the habit of speaking the modern languages cannot be so well acquired in America; but every other article can be as well acquired at William and Mary College, as at any place in Europe. When college education is done with, and a young man is to prepare himself for public life, he must cast his eyes (for America) either on Law or Physic. For the former, where can he apply so advantageously as to Mr. Wythe? For the latter, he must come to Europe: the medical class of students, therefore, is the only one which need come to Europe. Let us view the disadvantages of sending a youth to Europe. To enumerate them all, would require a volume. I will select a few. If he goes to England, he learns drinking, horse-racing, and boxing. These are the peculiarities of English education. The following circumstances are common to education in that, and the other countries of Europe. He acquires a fondness for European luxury,and dissipation, and a contempt for the simplicity of his own country; he is fascinated with the privileges of the European aristocrats, and sees, with abhorrence, the lovely equality which the poor enjoy with the rich in his own country; he contracts a partiality for aristocracy or monarchy; he forms foreign friendships which will never be useful to him, and loses the season of life for forming in his own country those friendships, which, of all others, are the most faithful and permanent; he is led by the strongest of all the human passions into a spirit for female intrigue, destructive of his own and others' happiness, or a passion for whores, destructive of his health, and in both cases, learns to consider fidelity to the marriage bed as an ungentlemanly practice, and inconsistent with happiness; he recollects the voluptuary dress and arts of the European women, and pities and despises the chaste affections and simplicity of those of his own country; he retains, through life, a fond recollection, and a hankering after those places, which were the scenes of his first pleasures and of his first connections; he returns to his own country a foreigner, unacquainted with the practices of domestic economy necessary to preserve him from ruin, speaking and writing his native tongue as a foreigner, and therefore unqualified to obtain those distinctions, which eloquence of the pen and tongue ensures in a free country; for, I would observe to you, that what is called style in writing or speaking, is formed very early in life, while the imagination is warm, and impressions are permanent. I am of opinion, that there never was an instance of a man's writing or speaking his native tongue with elegance, who passed from fifteen to twenty years of age out of the country where it was spoken. Thus, no instance exists of a person's writing two languages perfectly. That will always appear to be his native language, which was most familiar to him in his youth. It appears to me then, that an American coming to Europe for education, loses in his knowledge, in his morals, in his health, in his habits, and in his happiness. I had entertained only doubts on this head, before I came to Europe: what I see and hear, since I came here, proves more than I had even suspected. Cast your eye over America: who are the men of most learning, of most eloquence, most beloved by their countrymen, and most trusted and promoted by them? They are those who have been educated among them, and whose manners, morals, and habits, are perfectly homogeneous with those of the country.
Did you expect by so short a question, to draw such a sermon on yourself? I daresay you did not. But the consequences of foreign education are alarming to me, as an American. I sin, therefore, through zeal, whenever I enter on the subject. You are sufficiently American to pardon me for it. Let me hear of your health, and be assured of the esteem with which I am, Dear Sir,
your friend and servant,
LETTER CXXIX.—TO MR. CARMICHAEL, October 18, 1785
TO MR. CARMICHAEL.
Paris, October 18, 1785.
Your favor of the 29th of September came safely to hand: the constant expectation of the departure of the persons whom I formerly gave you reason to expect, has prevented my writing, as it has done yours. They will probably leave this in a week, but their route will be circuitous and attended with delays. Between the middle and last of November, they may be with you. By them, you will receive a cipher, by which you may communicate with Mr. Adams and myself. I should have sent it by Baron Dreyer, the Danish minister; but I then expected our own conveyance would have been quicker. Having mentioned this gentleman, give me leave to recommend him to your acquaintance. He is plain, sensible, and open: he speaks English well, and had he been to remain here, I should have cultivated his acquaintance much. Be so good as to present me very respectfully to him.
This being to go by post, I shall only add the few articles of general American news, by the last packet. Dr. Franklin arrived in good health at Philadelphia, the 15th ult., and was received amidst the acclamations of an immense crowd. No late event has produced greater demonstrations of joy. It is doubted whether Congress will adjourn this summer; but they are so thin, they do not undertake important business. Our western posts are in statu quo.
I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Dear Sir,
your friend and servant,
LETTER CXXX.—TO MESSRS. VAN STAPHORSTS, October 25,1785
TO MESSRS. VAN STAPHORSTS.
Paris, October 25,1785.
I received yesterday your favor of the 20th instant. In order to give you the information you desire, on the subject of the liquidated debts of the United States, and the comparative footing on which they stand, I must observe to you, that the first and great division of our federal debt, is, into 1. foreign; and 2. domestic. The foreign debt comprehends, 1. the loan from the government of Spain; 2. the loans from the government of France, and from the Farmers General; 3. the loans negotiated in Holland, by order of Congress. This branch of our debt stands absolutely singular: no man in the United States having ever supposed that Congress, or their legislatures, can, in any wise, modify or alter it. They justly view the United States as the one party, and the lenders as the other, and that the consent of both would be requisite, were any modification to be proposed. But with respect to the domestic debt, they consider Congress as representing both the borrowers and lenders, and that the modifications which have taken place in this, have been necessary to do justice between the two parties, and that they flowed properly from Congress as their mutual umpire. The domestic debt comprehends 1. the army debt; 2. the loan-office debt; 3. the liquidated debt; and 4. the unliquidated debt. The first term includes debts to the officers and soldiers for pay, bounty, and subsistence. The second term means monies put into the loan-office of the United States. The third comprehends all debts contracted by quarter-masters, commissioners, and others duly authorized to procure supplies for the army, and which have been liquidated (that is, settled) by commissioners appointed under the resolution of Congress, of June the 12th, 1780, or by the officer who made the contract. The fourth comprehends the whole mass of debts, described in the preceding article, which have not yet been liquidated. These are in a course of liquidation, and are passing over daily into the third class. The debts of this third class, that is, the liquidated debt, is the object of your inquiry. No time is fixed for the payment of it, no fund as yet determined, nor any firm provision for the interest in the mean time. The consequence is, that the certificates of these debts sell greatly below par. When I left America, they could be bought for from two shillings and sixpence to fifteen shillings, in the pound: this difference proceeding from the circumstance of some STates having provided for paying the interest on those due in their own State, which others had not. Hence, an opinion had arisen with some, and propositions had even been made in the legislatures, for paying off the principal of these debts with what they had cost the holder, and interest on that. This opinion is far from being general, and I think will not prevail. But it is among possible events.
I have been thus particular, that you might be able to judge, not only in the present case, but also in others, should any attempts be made to speculate in your city, on these papers. It is a business, in which foreigners will be in great danger of being duped. It is a science which bids defiance to the powers of reason. To understand it, a man must not only be on the spot, and be perfectly possessed of all the circumstances relative to every species of these papers, but he must have that dexterity which the habit of buying and selling them alone gives. The brokers of these certificates are few in number, and any other person venturing to deal with them, engages in a very unequal contest.
i have the honor to be, with the highest respect, gentlemen,
your most obedient humble servant,
LETTER CXXXI.—TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL, November 4, 1785
TO WILLIAM CARMICHAEL.
Paris, November 4, 1785.
I had the honor of writing you on the 18th of October, and again on the 25th of the same month. Both letters, being to pass through the post-offices, were confined to particular subjects. The first of them acknowledged the receipt of yours of September the 29th.
At length a confidential opportunity arrives for conveying to you a cipher; it will be handed you by the bearer, Mr, Lambe. Copies of it are in the hands of Mr. Adams, at London, Mr. Barclay, who is proceeding to Morocco, and Mr. Lambe, who is proceeding to Algiers. This enables us to keep up such correspondences with each other, as maybe requisite. Congress, in the spring of 1784, gave powers to Mr. Adams, Dr. Franklin, and myself, to treat with the Barbary States. But they gave us no money for them, and the other duties assigned us rendered it impossible for us to proceed thither in person. These things having been represented to them, they assigned to us a certain sum of money, and gave us powers to delegate agents to treat with those States, and to form preliminary articles, but confining to us the signing of them in a definitive form. They did not restrain us in the appointment of the agents; but the orders of Congress were brought to us by Mr. Lambe, they had waited for him four months, and the recommendations he brought, pointed him out, in our opinion, as a person who would meet the approbation of Congress. We therefore appointed him to negotiate with the Algerines. His manners and appearance are not promising. But he is a sensible man, and seems to possess some talents which may be proper in a matter of bargain. We have joined with him, as secretary, a Mr. Randall, from New York, in whose prudence we hope he will find considerable aid. They now proceed to Madrid, merely with the view of seeing you, as we are assured they will receive from you lights which may be useful to them. I hear that D'Expilly and the Algerine ministers have gone from Madrid. Letters from Algiers, of August the 24th, inform me, that we had two vessels and their crews in captivity there, at that time. I have never had reason to believe certainly, that any others had been captured. Should Mr. Lambe have occasion to draw bills, while in Spain, on Mr. Adams, you may safely assure the purchasers that they will be paid.
An important matter detains Mr. Barclay some days longer, and his journey to Madrid will be circuitous. Perhaps he may arrive there a month later than Lambe. It would be well if the Emperor of Morocco could, in the mean time, know that such a person is on the road. Perhaps you may have an opportunity of notifying this to him officially, by asking from him passports for Mr. Barclay and his suite. This would be effecting too[sp.] good purposes at once, if you can find an opportunity.
Your letter of September the 2d did not get to my hands till these arrangements were all taken between Mr. Adams and myself, and the persons appointed. That gave me the first hint that you would have acted in this business. I mean no flattery when I assure you, that no person would have better answered my wishes. At the same time, I doubt whether Mr. Adams and myself should have thought ourselves justifiable in withdrawing a servant of the United States from a post equally important with those, which prevented our acting personally in the same business. I am sure, that, remaining where you are, you will be able to forward much the business, and that you will do it with the zeal you have hitherto manifested on every occasion.
Your intercourse with America being less frequent than ours, from this place, I will state to you, generally, such new occurrences there, as may be interesting; some of which, perhaps, you will not have been informed of. It was doubtful, at the date of my last letters, whether Congress would adjourn this summer. They were too thin, however, to undertake important business. They had begun arrangements for the establishment of a mint. The Dollar was decided on as the money unit of America. I believe, they proposed to have gold, silver, and copper coins, descending and ascending decimally; viz. a gold coin of ten dollars, a silver coin of one tenth of a dollar (equal to a Spanish bit), and a copper, of one hundredth of a dollar. These parts of the plan, however, were not ultimately decided on. They have adopted the late improvement in the British post-office, of sending their mails by the stages. I am told, this is done from New Hampshire to Georgia, and from New York to Albany. Their treasury is administered by a board, of which Mr. Walter Livingston, Mr. Osgood, and Dr. Arthur Lee, are members. Governor Rutledge who had been appointed minister to the Hague, on the refusal of Governor Livingston, declines coming. We are uncertain whether the States will generally come into the proposition of investing. Congress with the regulation of their commerce. Massachusetts has passed an act, the first object of which seemed to be, to retaliate on the British commercial measures, but in the close of it, they impose double duties on all goods imported in bottoms not wholly owned by citizens of our States. New Hampshire has followed the example. This is much complained of here, and will probably draw retaliating measures from the States of Europe, if generally adopted in America, or not corrected by the States which have adopted it. It must be our endeavor to keep them quiet on this side the water, under the hope that our countrymen will correct this step; as I trust they will do. It is no ways akin to their general system. I am trying here to get contracts for the supplying the cities of France with whale-oil, by the Boston merchants. It would be the greatest relief possible to that State, whose commerce is in agonies, in consequence of being subjected to alien duties on their oil in Great Britain, which has been heretofore their only market. Can any thing be done, in this way, in Spain? Or do they there light their streets in the night?
A fracas, which has lately happened in Boston, becoming a serious matter, I will give you the details of it, as transmitted to Mr. Adams in depositions. A Captain Stanhope, commanding the frigate Mercury, was sent with a convoy of vessels from Nova Scotia to Boston, to get a supply of provisions for that colony. It had happened, that two persons living near Boston, of the names of Dunbar and Lowthorp, had been taken prisoners during the war, and transferred from one vessel to another, till they were placed on board Stanhope's ship. He treated them most cruelly, whipping them frequently, in order to make them do duty against their country, as sailors, on board his ship. The ship going to Antigua to refit, he put all his prisoners into jail, first giving Dunbar twenty-four lashes. Peace took place, and the prisoners got home under the general liberation. These men were quietly pursuing their occupations at home, when they heard that Stanhope was in Boston. Their indignation was kindled. They immediately went there, and meeting Stanhope walking in the mall, Dunbar stepped up to him, and asked him if he recollected him, and the whipping him on board his ship. Having no weapon in his hand, he struck at Stanhope with his fist. Stanhope stepped back, and drew his sword. The people interposed, and guarded him to the door of a Mr. Morton, to which he retreated. There Dunbar again attempted to seize him; but the high-sheriff had by this time arrived, who interposed and protected him. The assailants withdrew, and here ended all appearance of force. But Captain Stanhope thought proper to write to the Governor, which brought on the correspondence published in the papers of Europe. Lest you should not have seen it, I enclose it, as cut from a London paper; though not perfectly exact, it is substantially so. You will doubtless judge, that Governor Bowdoin referred him properly to the laws for redress, as he was obliged to do, and as would have been done in England, in a like case. Had he applied to the courts, the question would have been whether they would have punished Dunbar. This must be answered now by conjecture only; and, to form that conjecture, every man must ask himself, whether he would not have done as Dunbar did; and whether the people should not have permitted him to return to Stanhope the twenty-four lashes. This affair has been stated in the London papers, without mixing with it one circumstance of truth.
In your letter of the 27th of June, you were so good as to tell me that you should shortly send off some of the books I had taken the liberty to ask you to get for me, and that your correspondent at Bayonne would give me notice of their arrival there. Not having heard from him, I mention it to you, lest they should be stopped any where.
I am, with great respect, Dear Sir,
your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER CXXXII.—TO RICHARD O'BRYAN, November 4, 1785
TO RICHARD O'BRYAN.
Paris, November 4, 1785.
I wrote you a short letter on the 29th of September, acknowledging the receipt of yours of August the 24th, from Algiers, and promising that you should hear further from me soon. Mr. Adams, the American minister at London, and myself, have agreed to authorize the bearer hereof, Mr. Lambe, to treat for your redemption, and that of your companions taken in American vessels, and, if it can be obtained for sums within our power, we shall have the money paid. But in this we act without instruction from Congress, and are therefore obliged to take the precaution of requiring, that you bind your owners for yourself and crew, and the other captain, in like manner, his owners for himself and crew, and that each person separately make himself answerable for his own redemption, in case Congress requires it. I suppose Congress will not require it: but we have no authority to decide that, but must leave it to their own decision; which renders necessary the precautions I have mentioned, in order to justify ourselves for undertaking to redeem you without orders. Mr. Lambe is instructed to make no bargain without your approbation, and that of the other prisoners, each for himself. We also direct him to relieve your present necessities. I sincerely wish you a speedy deliverance from your distresses, and a happy return to your family.
I am, Sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
LETTER CXXXIII.—TO W. W. SEWARD, November 12,1785
TO W. W. SEWARD.
Paris, November 12,1785.
I received the honor of your letter, of the 25th ult., written by desire of the associated company of Irish merchants, in London, and return you thanks for the kind congratulations you express therein. The freedom of commerce between Ireland and America is undoubtedly very interesting to both countries. If fair play be given to the natural advantages of Ireland, she must come in for a distinguished share of that commerce. She is entitled to it, from the excellence of some of her manufactures, the cheapness of most of them, their correspondence with the American taste, a sameness of language, laws, and manners, a reciprocal affection between the people, and the singular circumstance of her being the nearest European land to the United States. I am not, at present, so well acquainted with the trammels of Irish commerce, as to know what they are, particularly, which obstruct the intercourse between Ireland and America; nor, therefore, what can be the object of a fleet stationed in the western ocean, to intercept that intercourse. Experience, however, has taught us to infer that the fact is probable, because it is impolitic. On the supposition that this interruption will take place, you suggest Ostend as a convenient entrepot for the commerce between America and Ireland. Here, too, I find myself, on account of the same ignorance of your commercial regulations, at a loss to say why this is preferable to L'Orient, which, you know, is a free port and in great latitude, which is nearer to both parties, and accessible by a less dangerous navigation. I make no doubt, however, that the reasons of the preference are good. You find by this essay, that I am not likely to be a very instructive correspondent: you shall find me, however, zealous in whatever may concern the interests of the two countries. The system into which the United States wished to go, was that of freeing commerce from every shackle. A contrary conduct in Great Britain will occasion, them to adopt the contrary system, at least as to that island. I am sure they would be glad, if it should be, found practicable, to make that discrimination between Great Britain and Ireland, which their commercial principles, and their affection for the latter, would dictate.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect for yourself and the company for whom you write, Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXXIV.—TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES, November 14,1785
TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Paris, November 14,1785.
I take the liberty of troubling your Excellency on behalf of six citizens of the United States, who have been for some time confined in the prison of St. Pol de Leon, and of referring for particulars to the enclosed state of their case. Some of the material facts therein mentioned, are founded on the bill of sale for the vessel, her clearance from Baltimore, and her log-book. The originals of the two last, and a copy of the first, are in my hands. I have, also, letters from a merchant in Liverpool to Asquith, which render it really probable that his vessel was bound to Liverpool. The other circumstances depend on their affirmation, but I must say that in these facts they have been uniform and steady. I have thus long avoided troubling your Excellency with this case, in hopes it would receive its decision in the ordinary course of law, and I relied, that that would indemnify the sufferers, if they had been used unjustly: but though they have been in close confinement now near three months, it has yet no appearance of approaching to decision. In the mean time, the cold of the winter is coming on, and to men in their situation, may produce events which would render all indemnification too late. I must, therefore, pray the assistance of your Excellency, for the liberation of their persons, if the established order of things may possibly admit of it. As to their property and their personal sufferings hitherto, I have full confidence that the laws have provided some tribunal where justice will be done them. I enclose the opinion of an advocate, forwarded to me by a gentleman whom I had desired to obtain, from some judicious person of that faculty, a state of their case. This may perhaps give a better idea than I can, of the situation of their cause. His inquiries have led him to believe they are innocent men, but that they must lose their vessel under the edict, which forbids those under thirty tons to approach the coast. Admitting their innocence, as he does, I should suppose them not the objects on whom such an edict was meant to operate. The essential papers, which he says they re-demanded from him, and did not return, were sent to me, at my desire. I am, with sentiments of the highest respect, your Excellency's most obedient
and most humble servant,
The case of Lister Asquith, owner of the schooner William and Catharine, William M'Neil, captain, William Thomson, William Neily, Robert Anderson, mariners, and William Fowler, passenger.
Lister Asquith, citizen of the State of Maryland, having a lawsuit depending in England which required his presence, as involving in its issue nearly his whole fortune, determined to go thither in a small schooner of his own, that he might, at the same time, take with him an adventure of tobacco and flour to Liverpool, where he had commercial connections. This schooner he purchased as of fifty-nine and a quarter tons, as appears by his bill of sale, but she had been registered by her owner at twenty-one tons, in order to evade the double duties in England, to which American vessels are now subject. He cleared out from Baltimore for Liverpool, the 11th of June, 1785, with eight hogsheads of tobacco and sixty barrels of flour, but ran aground at Smith's point, sprung a leak, and was obliged to return to Baltimore to refit. Having stopped his leak, he took his cargo on board again, and his health being infirm, he engaged Captain William M'Neil* to go with him, and on the 20th of June sailed for Norfolk in Virginia, and, on the 22nd, came to in Hampton road, at the mouth of the river on which Norfolk is. Learning here, that tobacco would be better than flour for the English market, he landed fifty barrels of his flour and one hogshead of tobacco, which he found to be bad, meaning to take, instead thereof, nine hogsheads of tobacco more. But the same night it began to blow very hard, with much rain. The 23d, the storm became more heavy; they let go both their anchors, but were driven, notwithstanding, from their anchorage, forced to put to sea and to go before the wind. The occurrences of their voyage will be best detailed by short extracts from the log-book.
* This was the officer, who, on the evacuation of Fort Mifflin, after the British had passed the chevaux-de-frise on the Delaware, was left with fifteen men to destroy the works, which he did, and brought off his men successfully. He had, before that, been commander of the Rattlesnake sloop of war, and had much annoyed the British trade; Being bred a seaman, he has returned to that vocation.
June 24. The weather becomes worse. One of the fore shrouds and the foremast, carried away.
June 25. Shifted their ballast, which threw them on their beam ends, and shipped a very heavy sea. Held a consultation; the result of which was, that seeing they were now driven so far to sea, and the weather continuing still very bad, it was better to steer for Liverpool, their port of destination, though they had not their cargo on board, and no other clearance but that which they took from Baltimore.
June 29. The first observation they had been able to take N.lat. 38 deg. 13'.
June 30. Winds begin to be light, but the sea still very heavy.
July 5. Light winds and a smooth sea for the first time, in lat. 43 deg. 12'.
July 9. Spoke a French brig, Comte D'Artois, Captain Mieaux, from St. Maloes, in distress for provisions. Relieved her with three barrels of flour.
Aug. 6. Thick weather and strong wind. Made the Land's End of England.
Aug. 7. Unable to fetch the land, therefore bore off for Scilly, and came to with both anchors. Drove, notwithstanding, and obliged to get up the anchors, and put to sea, running southwardly.
Aug. 8. Made the land of France, but did not know what part.
Here the log-book ends. At this time they had on board but ten gallons of water, four or five barrels of bread, two or three pounds of candles, no firewood. Their sails unfit to be trusted to any longer, and all their materials for mending them exhausted by the constant repairs which the violence of the weather had called for. They therefore took a pilot aboard, who carried them into Pont Duval; but being informed by the captain of a vessel there, that the schooner was too sharp built (as the American vessels mostly are) to lie in that port, they put out immediately, and the next morning the pilot brought them to anchor in the road of the Isle de Bas. Asquith went immediately to Roscaff, protested at the admiralty the true state of his case, and reported his vessel and cargo at the custom-house. In making the report of his vessel, he stated her as of twenty-one tons, according to his register. The officer informed him that if she was no larger, she would be confiscated by an edict, which forbids all vessels, under thirty tons, to approach the coast. He told the officer what was the real truth as to his register and his bill of sale, and was permitted to report her according to the latter. He paid the usual fees of ten livres and seven sols, and obtained a clearance. Notwithstanding this, he was soon visited by other persons, whom he supposes to have been commis of the Fermes, who seized his vessel, carried her to the pier, and confined the crew to the vessel and half the pier, putting centinels over them. They brought a guager, who measured only her hold and part of her steerage, allowing nothing for the cockpit, cabin, forecastle, and above one half of the steerage, which is almost half the vessel, and thus made her contents (if that had been of any importance) much below the truth. The tobacco was weighed, and found to be six thousand four hundred and eighty-seven pounds,* which was sent on the 18th to Landivisiau, and on the 19th, they were committed to close prison at St. Pol de Leon, where they have been confined ever since. They had, when they first landed, some money, of which they were soon disembarrassed by different persons, who, in various forms, undertook to serve them. Unable to speak or understand a word of the language of the country, friendless, and left without money, they have languished three months in a loathsome jail, without any other sustenance, a great part of the time, than what could be procured for three sous a day, which have been furnished them to prevent their perishing.
* A hogshead of tobacco weighs generally about one thousand pounds, English, equal to nine hundred and seventeen pounds French. The seven hogsheads he sailed with, would therefore weigh, according to this estimate, six thousand four hundred and twenty-three pounds. They actually weighed more on the first essay. When afterwards weighed at Landivisiau, they had lost eighty-four pounds on being carried into a drier air. Perhaps, too, a difference of weights may have entered into this apparent loss.
They have been made to understand that a criminal process is going on against them under two heads. 1. As having sold tobacco in contraband; and 2., as having entered a port of France in a vessel of less than thirty tons' burthen. In support of the first charge, they understand that the circumstance is relied on, of their having been seen off the coast by the employes des Fermes, one or two days. They acknowledge they may have been so seen while beating off Pont Duval, till they could get a pilot, while entering that port, and again going round from thence to the road of the Isle de Bas. The reasons for this have been explained. They further add, that all the time they were at Pont Duval they had a King's officer on board, from whom, as well as from their pilot, and the captain, by whose advise they left that port for the Isle de Bas, information can be obtained by their accusers (who are not imprisoned) of the true motives for that measure. It is said to be urged also, that there was found in their vessel some loose tobacco in a blanket, which excites a suspicion that they had been selling tobacco. When they were stowing their loading, they broke a hogshead, as is always necessary, and is always done, to fill up the stowage, and to consolidate and keep the whole mass firm and in place. The loose tobacco which had come out of the broken hogshead, they re-packed in bags: but in the course of the distress of their disastrous voyage, they had employed these bags, as they had done every thing else of the same nature, in mending their sails. The condition of their sails when they came into port will prove this, and they were seen by witnesses enough, to whom their accusers, being at their liberty, can have access. Besides, the sale of a part of their tobacco is a fact, which, had it taken place, might have been proved; but they deny that it has been proved, or ever can be proved by true men, because it never existed. And they hope the justice of this country does not permit strangers, seeking in her ports an asylum from death, to be thrown into jail and continued there indefinitely, on the possibility of a fact, without any proof. More especially when, as in the present case, a demonstration to the contrary is furnished by their clearance, which shows they never had more than eight hogsheads of tobacco on board, of which one had been put ashore at Hampton in Virginia, as has been before related, and the seven others remained when they first entered port. If they had been smugglers of tobacco, the opposite coast offered a much fairer field, because the gain there is as great; because they understand the language and laws of the country, they know its harbors and coasts, and have connections in them. These circumstances are so important to smugglers, that it is believed no instance has ever occurred of the contraband tobacco, attempted on this side the channel, by a crew wholly American. Be this as it may, they are not of that description of men.
As to the second charge, that they have entered a port of France in a vessel of less than thirty tons' burthen, they, in the first place, observe, that they saw the guager measure the vessel, and affirm that his method of measuring could render little more than half her true contents: but they say, further, that were she below the size of thirty tons, and, when entering the port, had they known of the alternative of either forfeiting their vessel and cargo, or of perishing at sea; they must still have entered the port: the loss of their vessel and cargo being the lesser evil. But the character of the lawgiver assures them, that the intention of his laws are perverted, when misapplied to persons, who, under their circumstances, take refuge in his ports. They have no occasion to recur from his clemency to his justice, by claiming the benefit of that article in the treaty which binds the two nations together, and which assures to the fugitives of either from the dangers of the sea, a hospitable reception and necessary aids in the ports of the other, and that, without measuring the size of their vessel.
Upon the whole, they protest themselves to have been as innocent as they have been unfortunate. Instead of relief in a friendly port, they have seen their misfortunes aggravated by the conduct of officers, who, in their greediness for gain, can see in no circumstance any thing but proofs of guilt. They have already long suffered and are still suffering whatever scanty sustenance, an inclement season, and close confinement can offer most distressing to men who have been used to neither, and who have wives and children at home participating of their distresses; they are utterly ignorant of the laws and language of the country, where they are suffering; they are deprived of that property which would have enabled them to procure counsel to place their injuries in a true light; they are distant from the stations of those who are appointed by their country to patronize their rights; they are not at liberty to go to them, nor able to have communication through any other than the uncertain medium of the posts; and they see themselves already ruined by the losses and delays they have been made to incur, and by the failure of the original object of their voyage. They throw themselves, therefore, on the patronage of the government, and pray that its energy may be interposed in aid of their poverty and ignorance, to restore them to their liberty, and to extend to them that retribution which the laws of every country mean to extend to those who suffer unjustly.
LETTER CXXXV.—TO JOHN ADAMS, November 19, 1785
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, November 19, 1785.
I wrote to you on the 11th of October, by Mr. Preston, and again on the 18th of the same month, by post. Since that, yours of September the 25th, by Mr. Boylston, of October the 24th, November the 1st, and November the 4th, have come safe to hand. I will take up their several subjects in order. Boylston's object was, first, to dispose of a cargo of spermaceti oil, which he brought to Havre. A secondary one, was to obtain a contract for future supplies. I carried him to the Marquis de la Fayette. As to his first object, we are in hopes of getting the duties taken off, which will enable him to sell his cargo. This has led to discussions with the ministers, which give us a hope that we may get the duties taken off in perpetuum. This done, a most abundant market for our oil will be opened by this country, and one which will be absolutely dependant on us; for they have little expectation themselves of establishing a successful whale-fishery. It is possible they may only take the duties off of those oils, which shall be the produce of associated companies of French and American merchants. But as yet, nothing certain can be said.
I thank you for the trouble you have taken to obtain insurance on Houdon's life. I place the thirty-two pounds and eleven shillings to your credit, and not being able, as yet, to determine precisely how our accounts stand, I send a sum by Colonel Smith, which may draw the scales towards a balance.
The determination of the British cabinet to make no equal treaty with us, confirms me in the opinion expressed in your letter of October the 24th, that the United States must pass a navigation act against Great Britain, and load her manufactures with duties, so as to give a preference to those of other countries: and I hope our Assemblies will wait no longer, but transfer such a power to Congress, at the sessions of this fall. I suppose, however, it will only be against Great Britain, and I think it will be right not to involve other nations in the consequences of her injustice. I take for granted, that the commercial system wished for by Congress, was such a one, as should leave commerce on the freest footing possible. This was the plan on which we prepared our general draught for treating with all nations. Of those with whom we were to treat, I ever considered England, France, Spain, and Portugal as capitally important; the first two, on account of their American possessions, the last, for their European as well as American. Spain is treating in America, and probably will give an advantageous treaty. Portugal shows dispositions to do the same. France does not treat. It is likely enough she will choose to keep the staff in her own hands. But, in the mean time, she gives us an access to her West Indies, which, though not all we wish, is yet extremely valuable to us: this access, indeed, is much affected by the late Arrets of the 18th and 25th of September, which I enclose to you. I consider these as a reprisal for the navigation acts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The minister has complained to me, officially, of these acts, as a departure from the reciprocity stipulated for by the treaty. I have assured him that his complaints shall be communicated to Congress, and in the mean time, observed that the example of discriminating between foreigners and natives had been set by the Arret of August, 1784, and still more remarkably by those of September the 18th and 25th, which, in effect, are a prohibition of our fish in their islands. However, it is better for us, that both sides should revise what they have done. I am in hopes this country did not mean these as permanent regulations. Mr. Bingham, lately from Holland, tells me that the Dutch are much dissatisfied with these acts. In fact, I expect the European nations, in general, will rise up against an attempt of this kind, and wage a general commercial war against us. They can do well without all our commodities except tobacco, and we cannot find, elsewhere, markets for them. The selfishness of England alone will not justify our hazarding a contest of this kind against all Europe. Spain, Portugal, and France, have not yet shut their doors against us: it will be time enough, when they do, to take up the commercial hatchet. I hope, therefore, those States will repeal their navigation clauses, except as against Great Britain and other nations not treating with us.
I have made the inquiries you desire, as to American ship-timber for this country. You know they sent some person (whose name was not told us) to America, to examine the quality of our masts, spars, &c. I think this was young Chaumont's business. They have, besides this, instructed the officer who superintends their supplies of masts, spars, foe., to procure good quantities from our northern States; but I think they have made no contract: on the contrary, that they await the trials projected, but with a determination to look to us for considerable supplies, if they find our timber answer. They have on the carpet a contract for live-oak from the southern States.
You ask why the Virginia merchants do not learn to sort their own tobaccos? They can sort them as well as any other merchants whatever. Nothing is better known than the quality of every hogshead of tobacco, from the place of its growth. They know, too, the particular qualities required in every market. They do not send their tobaccos, therefore, to London to be sorted, but to pay their debts: and though they could send them to other markets and remit the money to London, yet they find it necessary to give their English merchant the benefit of the consignment of the tobacco (which is enormously gainful), in order to induce him to continue his indulgence for the balance due.
Is it impossible to persuade our countrymen to make peace with the Nova Scotians? I am persuaded nothing is wanting but advances on our part; and that it is in our power to draw off the greatest proportion of that settlement, and thus to free ourselves from rivals who may become of consequence. We are, at present, co-operating with Great Britain, whose policy it is to give aliment to that bitter enmity between her States and ours, which may secure her against their ever joining us. But would not the existence of a cordial friendship between us and them, be the best bridle we could possibly put into the mouth of England?
With respect to the Danish business, you will observe that the instructions of Congress, article 3, of October the 29th, 1783, put it entirely into the hands of the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the court of Versailles, empower to to negotiate a peace, or to any one or more of them. At that time, I did not come under this description. I had received the permission of Congress to decline coming, in the spring preceding that date. On the first day of November, 1783, that is to say, two days after the date of the instructions to the commissioners, Congress recommended John Paul Jones to the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, at Versailles, as agent, to solicit, under his direction, the payment of all prizes taken in Europe under his command. But the object under their view, at that time, was assuredly the money due from the court of Versailles, for the prizes taken in the expedition by the Bon-homme Richard, the Alliance, &c. In this business, I have aided him effectually, having obtained a definitive order for paying the money to him, and a considerable proportion being actually paid him. But they could not mean by their resolution of November the 1st, to take from the commissioners, powers which they had given them two days before. If there could remain a doubt that this whole power has resulted to you, it would be cleared up by the instructions of May the 7th, 1784, article 9, which declare, 'that these instructions be considered as supplementary to those of October the 29th, 1783, and not as revoking, except where they contradict them;' which shows that they considered the instructions of October the 29th, 1783, as still in full force. I do not give you the trouble of this discussion, to save myself the trouble of the negotiation. I should have no objections to this part: but it is to avoid the impropriety of meddling in a matter wherein I am unauthorized to act, and where any thing I should pretend to conclude with the court of Denmark, might have the appearance of a deception on them. Should it be in my power to render any service in it, I shall do it with cheerfulness; but I repeat, that I think you are the only person authorized.
I received, a few days ago, the Nuova Minuta of Tuscany, which Colonel Humphreys will deliver you. I have been so engaged that I have not been able to go over it with any attention. I observe, in general, that the order of the articles is entirely deranged, and their diction almost totally changed. When you shall have examined it, if you will be so good as to send me your observations by post, in cipher, I will communicate with you in the same way, and try to mature this matter.
The deaths of the Dukes of Orleans and Praslin, will probably reach you through the channel of the public papers, before this letter does. Your friends the Abbes are well, and always speak of you with affection. Colonel Humphreys comes to pass some time in London. My curiosity would render a short trip thither agreeable to me also, but I see no probability of taking it. I will trouble you with my respects to Dr. Price. Those to Mrs. Adams, I witness in a letter to herself.
I am, with very great esteem, Dear Sir,
your most obedient
and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXXVI.—TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES, November 20, 1785
TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Paris, November 20, 1785.
I found here, on my return from Fontainebleau, the letter of October the 30th, which your Excellency did me the honor there of informing me had been addressed to me at this place; and I shall avail myself of the first occasion of transmitting it to Congress, who will receive, with great pleasure; these new assurances of the friendly sentiments, which his Majesty is pleased to continue towards the United States.
I am equally persuaded they will pay the most serious attention to that part of your Excellency's letter, which mentions the information you have received of certain acts or regulations of navigation and commerce, passed in some of the United States, which are injurious to the commerce of France. In the mean time, I wish to remove the unfavorable impressions which those acts seem to have made, as if they were a departure from the reciprocity of conduct, stipulated for by the treaty of February the 6th, 1776. The effect of that treaty is, to place each party with the other, always on the footing of the most favored nation. But those who framed the acts, probably did not consider the treaty as restraining either from discriminating between foreigners and natives. Yet this is the sole effect of these acts. The same opinion, as to the meaning of the treaty, seems to have been entertained by this government, both before and since the date of these acts. For the Arret of the King's Council, of August the 30th, 1784, furnished an example of such a discrimination between foreigners and natives, importing salted fish into his Majesty's dominions in the West Indies; by laying a duty on that imported, by foreigners, and giving out the same, in bounty, to native importers. This opinion shows itself more remarkably in the late Arrets of the 18th and 25th of September, which, increasing to excess the duty on foreign importations of fish into the West Indies, giving the double, in bounty, on those of natives, and thereby rendering it impossible for the former to sell in competition with the latter, have, in effect, prohibited the importation of that article by the citizens of the United States.
Both nations, perhaps, may come into the opinion, that their friendship and their interests may be better cemented, by approaching the condition of their citizens, reciprocally, to that of natives, as a better ground of intercourse than that of the most favored nation. I shall rest with hopes of being authorized, in due time, to inform your Excellency that nothing will be wanting, on our part, to evince a disposition to concur in revising whatever regulations may, on either side, bear hard on the commerce of the other nation. In the mean time I have the honor to assure you of the profound respect and esteem, with which
I have the honor to be,
most obedient and most humble servant,
LETTER CXXXVII.—TO LISTER ASQUITH, November 23, 1785
TO LISTER ASQUITH.
Paris, November 23, 1785.
I have received your letter of the 14th instant. It was not till the 8th of this month, that I could obtain information from any quarter, of the particular court in which your prosecution was instituted, and the ground on which it was founded. I then received it through the hands of Monsieur Desbordes, at Brest. I have sent to the Count de Vergennes a statement of your case, of which the enclosed is a copy. I wish you would read it over, and if there be any fact stated in it, which is wrong, let me know it, that I may have it corrected. I at the same time wrote him an urgent letter in your behalf. I have daily expected an answer, which has occasioned my deferring writing to you. The moment I receive one, you may be assured of my communicating it to you. My hopes are, that I may obtain from the King a discharge of the persons of all of you: but, probably, your vessel and cargo must go through a process. I have sincerely sympathized with your misfortunes, and have taken every step in my power to get into the right line for obtaining relief. If it will add any comfort to your situation and that of your companions, to be assured that I never lose sight of your sufferings, and leave nothing undone to extricate you, you have that assurance. I am, Sir,
your very humble servant,
LETTER CXXXVIII.—TO JOHN ADAMS, November 27, 1785
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, November 27, 1785.
Your favor of the 5th came to hand yesterday, and Colonel Smith and Colonel Humphreys (by whom you will receive one of the 19th from me) being to set out to-morrow, I hasten to answer it. I sincerely rejoice that Portugal is stepping forward in the business of treaty, and that there is a probability that we may at length do something under our commissions, which may produce a solid benefit to our constituents. I as much rejoice, that it is not to be negotiated through the medium of the torpid, uninformed machine, at first made use of. I conjecture, from your relation of the conference with the Chevalier de Pinto, that he is well informed and sensible. So much the better. It is one of those cases, where the better the interests of the two parties are understood, the broader will be the basis on which they will connect them.
To the very judicious observations on the subjects of the conference, which were made by you, I have little to add.
Flour. It may be observed, that we can sell them the flour ready manufactured, for much less than the wheat of which it is made. In carrying to them wheat, we carry also the bran, which does not pay its own freight. In attempting to save and transport wheat to them, much is lost by the weavil, and much spoiled by heat in the hold of the vessel. This loss must be laid on the wheat which gets safe to market, where it is paid for by the consumer. Now, this is much more than the cost of manufacturing it with us, which would prevent that loss. I suppose the cost of manufacturing does not exceed seven per cent, on the value. But the loss by the weavil, and other damage on ship-board, amount to much more. Let them buy of us as much wheat as will make a hundred weight of flour. They will find that they have paid more for the wheat, than we should have asked for the flour, besides having lost the labor of their mills in grinding it. The obliging us, therefore, to carry it to them in the form of wheat, is a useless loss to both parties.
Iron. They will get none from us. We cannot make it in competition with Sweden, or any other nation of Europe, where labor is so much cheaper.
Wines. The strength of the wines of Portugal will give them always an almost exclusive possession of a country, where the summers are so hot as in America. The present demand will be very great, if they will enable us to pay for them; but if they consider the extent and rapid population of the United States, they must see that the time is not distant, when they will not be able to make enough for us, and that it is of great importance to avail themselves of the prejudices already established in favor of their wines, and to continue them, by facilitating the purchase. Let them do this, and they need not care for the decline of their use in England. They will be independent of that country.
Salt. I do not know where the northern States supplied themselves with salt, but the southern ones took great quantities from Portugal.
Cotton and Wool. The southern States will take manufactures, of both: the northern, will take both the manufactures and raw materials.
East India goods of every kind. Philadelphia and New York have begun a trade to the East Indies. Perhaps Boston may follow their example. But their importations will be sold only to the country adjacent to them. For a long time to come, the States south of the Delaware, will not engage in a direct commerce with the East Indies. They neither have nor will have ships or seamen for their other commerce: nor will they buy East India goods of the northern States. Experience shows that the States never bought foreign goods of one another. The reasons are, that they would, in so doing, pay double freight and charges; and again, that they would have to pay mostly in cash, what they could obtain for commodities in Europe. I know that the American merchants have looked, with some anxiety, to the arrangements to be taken with Portugual, in expectation that they could, through her, get their East India articles on better and more convenient terms; and I am of opinion, Portugal will come in for a good share of this traffic with the southern States, if they facilitate our payments.