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The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. VIII
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"On the 7th of July, 1609, at Segovia, the King of Spain explicitly and without reserve ratified this truce, viz.

'His Majesty having seen the contents of the articles of truce and capitulation, which his dear and well beloved brothers, the Archdukes Albert and Isabella Clara Eugene have sent him, concerning the truce granted in the name of his Majesty, by his representative, and in that of their Highnesses by themselves, to the States-General of the United Provinces of the low countries, and having maturely considered it, declares that he applauds, approves, confirms, and ratifies the said truce, in so much as concerns him, &c.'

"The first article of this truce was in the words following.

'First, the abovementioned Archdukes declare, in their own name and in that of the King, that they are content to treat with the said States-General of the United Provinces, in the character of, and holding them for a free country, estates, and provinces, over which they have no claims, and to make a truce with them in the name and under the character above described; and this they do on the conditions hereinafter described and declared by these presents.'

"On the 30th of January, 1648, a treaty of peace was concluded between Spain and the United Provinces.

"The full powers or commission given by the King of Spain to his plenipotentiaries for making this peace, were dated near two years before, viz. 7th of June, 1646, and they show clearly, that he negotiated with those Provinces as with independent States, on that occasion.

"The tenor of this commission is very different from that of Mr Oswald. The following is an extract from it.

'All the powers, which are concerned in this war, having by common consent chosen the city of Munster as a place for holding the Congress and negotiations for the peace aforesaid; we have thought proper to name plenipotentiaries there to treat with the States of the free Provinces of the low countries, or with their Ambassadors and plenipotentiaries, authorised and deputed for this purpose, &c.'

"From this detail it appears, that the Dutch ever after their declaration of independence, in July, 1581, uniformly treated with the neighboring nations on an equal footing, and also that they constantly and firmly refused to negotiate either for truce or peace with Spain, until she consented to treat with them in like manner.

"We forbear engaging your Excellency's time and attention by the application of these facts and conclusions, to the case of our country. We are persuaded, that the similarity between the two will not escape your discernment, and that we shall not be thought singular in our opinion, that the example of the United Provinces merits at least in these respects the imitation as well as the approbation of the United States of America.

"But, Sir, we not only think it inconsistent with the dignity of the United States to treat with Britain in the humiliating manner proposed, but also that it would be repugnant to their interest.

"The respect of other nations is undoubtedly of importance to America; but, Sir, if she ceases to respect herself, how can she expect to respected by others?

"America has taken and published noble and manly resolutions to support her independence, at every hazard. She has hitherto done it, and would it be for her interest to quit the ground for which she has lost so much of her blood, merely to accommodate herself to the high-blown pride of an enemy? Sir, the very proposition carries with it insult, and therefore bears strong marks of insincerity.

"But suppose that the United States should descend from their present ground of equality, in order to treat with Mr Oswald, and that our negotiations should be fruitless. In what an awkward situation should we then be? We should find ourselves betrayed by our too great pliancy, and our too great desire of peace, to the ridicule of our enemies, the contempt of other nations, and the censure of our own minds. What a page would this make in history.

"As to Mr Oswald's offer to make an acknowledgment of our independence the first article of our treaty, and your Excellency's remark, that it is sufficient, and that we are not to expect the effect before the cause, permit us to observe, that by the cause, we suppose, is intended the treaty, and by the effect, an acknowledgment of our independence. We are sorry to differ from your Excellency, but, really, Sir, we cannot consider an acknowledgment of our independence as a subject to be treated about; for while we feel ourselves to be independent in fact, and know ourselves to be so of right, we can see but one cause from whence an acknowledgment of it can flow as an effect, viz. the existence and truth of the fact. This cause has long existed and still exists, and, therefore, we have a right to expect that Great Britain will treat with us being what we are, and not as what we are not. To treat about this matter, would be to suppose that our independence was incomplete until they pronounced it to be complete. But we hold it to be complete already, and that as it never did, so it never will, or must depend in the least degree, on their will and pleasure. To us there appears to be a wide distinction between their acknowledging the United States to be independent, and their renouncing their pretended, though troublesome claims; the former being a pre-existing fact, cannot depend upon, and, therefore, is not a proper subject for a treaty; but to renounce or not to renounce a claim, whether good or bad, depends on the will of him who makes and prosecutes it; and, therefore, like other matters of interest and convenience, is a proper subject for bargains and agreements between those who trouble their neighbors with such claims, and their neighbors who are troubled by them; and who, for peace sake, may choose to continue the law-suit, unless their future quiet is secured by a quit claim."

I think it was on the 24th of September, that I was informed of the intention of the British Court to give Mr Oswald such a new commission as had been recommended.

On the 26th of September, I went to pay a visit to the Count de Vergennes, at Versailles. I found the Marquis de Lafayette in the ante-chamber, and the Ambassador of Spain shortly after entered. After some common conversation, the Ambassador asked me when we should proceed to do business. I told him as soon as he should do me the honor of communicating his powers to treat. He asked me whether the Count de Florida Blanca had not informed me of his being authorised. I admitted that he had, but observed, that the usual mode of doing business, rendered it proper that we should exchange certified copies of our respective commissions. He said that could not be expected in our case; for that Spain had not yet acknowledged our independence. I replied, that we had declined it, and that France, Holland, and Britain, had acknowledged it. Here the Marquis de Lafayette took up the subject, and it continued between him and the Ambassador, till the Count de Vergennes came in. The Marquis told the Ambassador among other things, that it would not be consistent with the dignity of France, for her ally to treat otherwise than as independent. This remark appeared to me to pique the Count d'Aranda not a little.

The Count de Vergennes, on coming in, finding the conversation earnest, inquired whether we could not agree. The Ambassador stated my objections. The Count said I certainly ought to treat with the Ambassador, and that it was proper we should make a treaty with Spain in the same manner that we had done with France. I told him, I desired nothing more; and that the commission to M. Gerard, and the reason assigned by this Court to the King of Great Britain for entering into alliance with us, pointed out both the manner and the principles, which were observed and admitted on that occasion. The Count did not seem pleased with my allusion to the communication made of our alliance to England. He observed, that Spain did not deny our independence, and he could perceive no good reason for my declining to confer with the Ambassador about a treaty, without saying anything about our independence, an acknowledgment of which would naturally be the effect of the treaty proposed to be formed. I told the Count, that being independent, we should always insist on being treated as such, and, therefore, it was not sufficient for Spain to forbear denying our independence while she declined to admit it, and that notwithstanding my respect for the Ambassador, and my desire of a treaty with Spain, both the terms of my commission and the dignity of America forbid my treating on any other than an equal footing.

The Count carried the Ambassador into his cabinet, and when he retired, I was admitted.

The Count commenced the conversation, by explaining the reason of sending M. Rayneval to England, which he said was, that by conversing with Lord Shelburne about peace and matters connected with it, he might be able to judge whether a pacific disposition really prevailed in the British Court, and, therefore, whether any dependence might be placed in his Lordship's professions on that head; that he was satisfied with M. Rayneval's report, and that he believed that Lord Shelburne was sincerely desirous of peace.

A few words then passed about Mr Oswald's new commission; the Count observing in general terms, that as it removed our former objections, we might now go on to prepare our preliminaries.

The conversation next turned to our negotiation with Spain, and to her claims east of the Mississippi. Nothing new passed on the first topic; as to the latter, the Count made only some very general remarks, such as that he hoped we should, on conferring further about the matter, approach nearer to each other; that those limits ought to be settled, and while they remained in contest, a treaty with Spain could not reasonably be expected; that as soon as we should agree upon those points, Count d'Aranda would have a further or more formal commission to conclude the treaty, &c.

I remarked, that these claims of Spain were of recent date, for that on my first arriving in Spain, the Count de Florida Blanca told me, that the success of my mission would probably turn upon one single point, viz. the cession of our rights to the navigation of the river Mississippi; from which, as well as from their subsequent and uniform demands on that head, it was evident, that they then considered that river as our boundary; for it would have been very strange indeed, that they should insist on our forbearing to navigate a river, whose waters washed no part of our country, and to which we could not, of consequence, have any pretence of claim.

The Count smiled, but avoided making any direct reply; he hoped we should, nevertheless, agree, and that we must endeavor to approach and meet each other. I told him I could not flatter myself with such expectations, while Spain continued her claims to those countries, for that we should be content with no boundary short of the Mississippi.

I went from the Count's to M. Rayneval's chamber, for I had not seen him since his return from England. He gave me the same reason for his journey, which I had just received from the Count. We then talked of his memoir and the Spanish negotiation. He said much in favor of the conciliatory line he had proposed, and of the advantages of placing the Indian nations on the west side of it, under the protection of Spain, and those on the east, under that of the United States; that the rights of those nations would be thereby secured, and future disputes between us and Spain avoided. I replied, that so far as our claims might affect those Indian nations, it was a matter solely between us and them; and that admitting them to be independent, they certainly had a right to choose their own protectors; and, therefore, that we could have no right, without their knowledge or consent, to choose for them. I also made the same remark to him respecting the recency of these Spanish claims, which I had just before done to Count de Vergennes. He said it was a subject which Count de Florida Blanca had not understood, and imputed their former ideas of our extending to the Mississippi, to their ignorance respecting those matters; hence it became evident, from whom they had borrowed their present ideas.

On the 27th of September, Mr Vaughan returned here from England with the courier that brought Mr Oswald's new commission, and very happy were we to see it. Copies of it have already been sent to you, so that I will not lengthen this letter by inserting it here; nor will I add anything further on this head at present, than to assure you, that Mr Vaughan greatly merits our acknowledgments.

The next thing to be done, was to prepare and draw up the proposed articles. They were soon completed and settled between us and Mr Oswald, by whom they were sent to his Court, with letters declaring his opinion, that they ought to be accepted and agreed to; but they differed with him in opinion.[6]

These articles, for very obvious reasons, were not communicated to the Count de Vergennes.

Mr Oswald did not receive any opinion from his Court relating to our articles until the 23d of October, when letters from the Minister informed him, that the extent of our boundaries, and the situation of the tories, &c. caused some objections, and the Minister's Secretary was on the way here to confer with us on those subjects.

On the 24th of October, I dined at Passy with Dr Franklin, where I found M. Rayneval. After dinner, we were in private with him a considerable time. He desired to know the state of our negotiation with Mr Oswald. We told him, that difficulties had arisen about our boundaries, and that one of the Minister's Secretaries was coming here with papers and documents on that subject. He asked us what boundaries we claimed. We told him, the river St John to the east, and ancient Canada, as described in the proclamation, to the north. He contested our right to such an extent to the north, and entered into several arguments to show our claim to be ill founded. These arguments were chiefly drawn from the ancient French claims, and from a clause in the proclamation restraining governors from making grants in the Indian country, &c.

He inquired what we demanded as to the fisheries. We answered, that we insisted on enjoying a right in common to them with Great Britain. He intimated that our views should not extend further than a coast fishery, and insinuated that pains had lately been taken in the eastern States to excite their apprehensions, and increase their demands on that head. We told him that such a right was essential to us, and that our people would not be content to make peace without it; and Dr Franklin explained very fully, their great importance to the eastern States in particular. He then softened his manner and observed, that it was natural for France to wish better to us than to England; but as the fisheries were a great nursery for seamen, we might suppose that England would be disinclined to admit others to share in it, and that for his part he wished there might be as few obstacles to a peace as possible. He reminded us, also, that Mr Oswald's new commission had been issued posterior to his arrival at London.

On the 26th of October, Mr Adams arrived here, and in him I have found a very able and agreeable coadjutor.

When I began this letter, I did not flatter myself with being able to write this much before Captain Barney would leave us; and I now find myself too much exhausted to proceed with further details, and must therefore refer you to the letters you will receive from Mr Adams and Dr Franklin.

The same reason also prevents my writing to you and Mr Morris on other subjects by Captain Barney, and I hope the length of this letter, and the disagreeable state of my health will apologise for my not writing even to my own family by this opportunity.

I am sensible of the impression which this letter will make upon you and upon Congress, and how it will affect the confidence they have in this Court. These are critical times, and great necessity there is for prudence and secrecy.

So far, and in such matters as this Court may think it their interest to support us, they certainly will, but no further, in my opinion.

They are interested in separating us from Great Britain, and, on that point we may, I believe, depend upon them; but it is not their interest that we should become a great and formidable people, and therefore they will not help us to become so.

It is not their interest that such a treaty should be formed between us and Britain, as would produce cordiality and mutual confidence. They will, therefore, endeavor to plant such seeds of jealousy, discontent, and discord in it as may naturally and perpetually keep our eyes fixed on France for security. This consideration must induce them to wish to render Britain formidable in our neighborhood, and to leave us as few resources of wealth and power as possible.

It is their interest to keep some point or other in contest between us and Britain to the end of the war, to prevent the possibility of our sooner agreeing, and thereby keep us employed in the war, and dependent on them for supplies. Hence they have favored, and will continue to favor, the British demands as to matters of boundary and the tories.

The same views will render them desirous to continue the war in our country as long as possible, nor do I believe they will take any measures for our repossession of New York, unless the certainty of its evacuation should render such an attempt advisable. The Count de Vergennes lately said, that there could be no great use in expeditions to take places, which must be given up to us at a peace.

Such being our situation, it appears to me advisable to keep up our army to the end of the war, even if the enemy should evacuate our country; nor does it appear to me prudent to listen to any overtures for carrying a part of it to the West Indies, in case of such an event.

I think we have no rational dependence except on God and ourselves, nor can I yet be persuaded that Great Britain has either wisdom, virtue, or magnanimity enough to adopt a perfect and liberal system of conciliation. If they again thought they could conquer us, they would again attempt it.

We are, nevertheless, thank God, in a better situation than we have been. As our independence is acknowledged by Britain, every obstacle to our forming treaties with neutral powers, and receiving their merchant ships, is at an end, so that we may carry on the war with greater advantage than before, in case our negotiations for peace should be fruitless.

It is not my meaning, and therefore I hope I shall not be understood to mean, that we should deviate in the least from our treaty with France; our honor, and our interest are concerned in inviolably adhering to it. I mean only to say, that if we lean on her love of liberty, her affection for America, or her disinterested magnanimity, we shall lean on a broken reed, that will sooner or later pierce our hands, and Geneva as well as Corsica justifies this observation.

I have written many disagreeable things in this letter, but I thought it my duty. I have also deviated from my instructions, which though not to be justified, will, I hope, be excused on account of the singular and unforeseen circumstances which occasioned it.

Let me again recommend secrecy, and believe me to be, Dear Sir, &c.

JOHN JAY.

P. S. I have neither seen nor heard anything of Mr Laurens, nor of the cypher you mention to have sent by him.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] Afterwards Sir William Jones.

[4] See this warrant in the Correspondence of the Commissioners for making Peace, under the date here mentioned.

[5] When the Treaty was made with France, M. Gerard, who negotiated it on the part of the French Court, did not show his commission to treat till the Commissioners met him for the last time, and just before the signing of the Treaty. Mr Jay was more particular, however, on this point, and seemed disinclined to commence the negotiation in any form, till the powers had been exchanged.

[6] See these articles in the Correspondence of the Commissioners for Peace.

* * * * *

Observations on the above Letter by the Editor.

Although in the present work I have carefully refrained from expressing any opinions on the contents of the letters, or views of the writers, not feeling authorised by the resolution of Congress, under which these papers are published, to assume the task of a commentator or critic, yet in regard to the preceding letter I cannot hesitate to make an exception to this rule, and for reasons which I trust will appear obvious and satisfactory.

On the main topics of the above letter, I have read in the office of Foreign Affairs in London the confidential correspondence of the British Ministers with their Commissioners for negotiating peace in Paris. I have also read in the French office of Foreign Affairs the entire correspondence of the Count de Vergennes, during the whole war, with the French Ministers in this country, developing the policy and designs of the French Court in regard to the war, and the objects to be attained by the peace. I have moreover read the instructions of the Count de Vergennes to M. de Rayneval, when he went to London, and the correspondence which passed between them while he remained there, containing notes of conversations with Lord Shelburne on one part, and Count de Vergennes' opinions on the other. After examining the subject with all the care and accuracy, which these means of information have enabled me to give to it, I am prepared to express my belief most fully, that Mr Jay was mistaken both in regard to the aims of the French Court, and the plans pursued by them to gain their supposed ends.

1. Mr Jay conceived, that one motive of M. de Rayneval's journey was to cause the acknowledgment of independence by Great Britain to be deferred, till France and England should have arranged their treaty. But in reality, M. de Rayneval was instructed to insist on the independence of the United States as a preliminary measure. In a letter to the Count de Vergennes, dated September 28th, 1782, he writes, that Lord Shelburne said, "he had always been opposed to independence, but that he perceived the necessity of ceding it, and that this object should be granted without condition." And in reporting the result of his conversations with the British Minister, M. de Rayneval states the points discussed in their order, the first of which is as follows.—"Independence, this article is agreed upon; it shall be without restriction;" (il sera sans restriction.) So far from recommending, therefore, to defer the recognition of American independence, M. de Rayneval insisted on an agreement to it as a preliminary step to further discussions.

2. Mr Jay supposed again, that another purpose of M. de Rayneval's visit to London was to interfere with the claims of the United States respecting the fisheries and boundaries. But this supposition is contradicted by the following extract from his instructions, viz. "As it is possible, that the English Ministers may speak to M. de Rayneval concerning the affairs of America and of the United Provinces, he will declare, that he has no authority to treat on these topics." Accordingly we find him writing to the Count de Vergennes in the letter quoted above, that after discussing the subject of the fisheries with reference to the interests of England and France, Lord Shelburne said to him, "without doubt the Americans will also form pretensions to the fisheries, but he trusted the king (of France) would not sustain them." To which M. de Rayneval replied,—"that he was ignorant of the views of Congress concerning the object in question, but thought he might venture to say, that the king would never support unjust demands; that he was not able to judge whether those of the Americans were such or not; and that, besides, he was without authority in this respect." Again, in the same letter, M. de Rayneval adds; "Lord Shelburne said he had foreseen that there would be a great deal of difficulty with the Americans, as well in regard to boundaries, as to the fishery of Newfoundland; but he hoped that the king would not sustain them in their demands. I answered, that I did not doubt the earnest desire of the king to do all in his power to restrain them within the bounds of justice and reason. As to the extent of the boundaries, I supposed the Americans would regulate it by their charts; but the discussion was not continued far, because it did not pertain to me either to uphold or weaken the pretension of America, with which I was unacquainted. I added only, that the English Ministry ought to find in the negotiations of 1754, relative to the Ohio, the limits which England, then the sovereign of America, believed it proper to assign."

The above extracts, it must be kept in mind, are from the confidential letters written at the time between M. de Rayneval and Count de Vergennes. The purport of them is corroborated by testimony that might be drawn from other sources. They show most clearly, that Mr Jay's suspicions were in reality erroneous, on whatever grounds he might at the time suppose them to rest. M. de Rayneval's visit to London had nothing to do with American affairs, except to insist on unconditional independence.

Nor is it improbable, that the change in Mr Oswald's commission was effected in consequence of M. de Rayneval's representations; for the agreement on the part of the British Minister to cede independence "without restriction" was made before Mr Vaughan's arrival in London, as a messenger from Mr Jay.

These facts go far to rescue the French Ministry from the censure, which it has been usual to cast on them, respecting their supposed policy in the negotiations for peace. Whoever will examine all the testimony that exists on the subject will be convinced, that some grave particulars have crept into our history, which have a slender foundation in fact, and which bestow but scanty justice on the motives, conduct, and policy of the first ally of the United States.[7]

JARED SPARKS.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] For a further elucidation of this subject see the North American Review for January, 1830, No. LXVI, p. 15. Also Mr Livingston's letter to Mr Jay, dated January 4th, 1783, in the present volume.

* * * * *

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JOHN JAY.

Philadelphia, November 23d, 1782.

Dear Sir,

I have before me your letters of the 25th and 28th of June. I congratulate you on your safe arrival at Paris, where I venture to hope your residence will on many accounts be more agreeable than it was at Madrid. Nothing can be more pleasing to us than your determination to write very frequently, since I am sorry to say, that we have not yet been favored with such minute information on many points of importance, as we have reason to expect. Both Dr Franklin and yourself dwell so much in generals in your last letters, that had it not been for a private letter of the Marquis to me, Congress would have remained ignorant of points, which they have thought sufficiently important to make them the foundation of those resolutions, which are herewith transmitted to you.

You need be under no apprehensions, that Commissioners from the Court of Great Britain will be allowed to negotiate with Congress; their sentiments on this subject are sufficiently manifested in the resolutions, that are sent to you and Dr Franklin with this. And the case of Mr Burgess, which you will find in one of the papers of last week, and in my letter to Dr Franklin,[8] will afford you some evidence of the extreme caution of particular States on this head.

That in the mass of our people, there is a great number, who though resolved on independence, prefer an alliance with England to one with France, must be a mere speculative opinion, which can be reduced to no kind of certainty. If we form our judgment from acts of government, we would suppose that no such sentiment prevailed; they all speak a different language. If from the declarations of individuals, we must entertain the same opinion, since independence and the alliance with France, connect themselves so closely together, that we never speak of them separately. The mass of the people here are not so ignorant of the common principles of policy as to prefer an alliance with a nation whose recent pretensions, and whose vicinity renders them mutual enemies, to that of a Prince who has no claims upon them, and no territory in their neighborhood, at least till the principles of his government shall be changed, and he gives evident proofs of the want of justice and moderation.

I think it unnecessary to repeat to you what I have already written to Dr Franklin, presuming that you communicate with freedom to each other. Mr Jefferson will afford, I dare say, a very acceptable aid to your commission; I have not yet learned from him whether he will take the duties upon him.[9]

Mr Barlow, a poet of New England, has requested me to transmit you his proposals for printing, by subscription, a poem of which he is the author. I can give no character of the work, but what you will get from the specimen enclosed, which is all I have seen of it. The enclosed resolution informs you of Mr Boudinot's advancement to the Presidentship. For other intelligence I refer you to my letter to Dr Franklin, and the papers that accompany this.

I am, Dear Sir, &c.

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

FOOTNOTES:

[8] See Franklin's Correspondence. Vol. IV. p. 34.

[9] Mr Jefferson did not join the Commissioners for Peace.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Paris, December 12th, 1782.

Dear Sir,

I have already written a long letter to you by this vessel, and should have continued the details of our subsequent proceedings, had my health admitted of the necessary application.

You will receive from us a joint letter with a copy of the preliminaries. I shall therefore omit making any remarks on them.

Before I left Spain, and by letters since my arrival here, I desired Mr Carmichael to make out and transmit the public accounts. Our negotiations with that Court are at a stand. The Count d'Aranda either has not, or does not choose to show me a commission to treat. He is exceedingly civil, and frequent visits pass between us.

It gives me pleasure to inform you, that perfect unanimity has hitherto prevailed among your Commissioners here; and I do not recollect, that since we began to negotiate with Mr Oswald, there has been the least division or opposition between us. Mr Adams was particularly useful respecting the eastern boundary, and Dr Franklin's firmness and exertions on the subject of the tories did us much service. I enclose herewith a copy of a letter he wrote about that matter to Mr Oswald.[10] It had much weight, and is written with a degree of acuteness and spirit seldom to be met with in persons of his age.

I have the honor to be, with great regard and esteem, Dear Sir, &c.

JOHN JAY.

FOOTNOTES:

[10] See Franklin's Correspondence. Vol. IV. p. 36.

* * * * *

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JOHN JAY.

Philadelphia, January 4th, 1783.

Dear Sir,

I have before me your despatches of the 4th and 18th of September last, and the 13th of October. It gives me much uneasiness to find by them, that your health is not yet confirmed, particularly as the extreme shortness of your letters, compared with the importance of the matter, gives me reason to fear, that it has suffered more than you would have us believe.

I am under some anxiety relative to the fate of your letter of the 18th of September, as only the duplicate copy has arrived, and I find by that you have risked it without a cypher. Should it get into improper hands, it might be attended with disagreeable consequences.

It is of so much importance, that both you and we should judge rightly of the designs of the Court, to whom we have intrusted such extensive powers, that I most earnestly wish you had enlarged on the reasons which have induced you to form the opinion you intimate; an opinion, which, if well founded, must render your negotiations extremely painful, and the issue of them very uncertain. If on the other hand, it should have been taken up too hastily, it is to be feared, that in defiance of all that prudence and self-possession, for which you are happily distinguished, it will discover itself in a reserve and want of confidence, which may afford hopes to our artful antagonists of exciting jealousies between us and our friends. I so sincerely wish that your conjectures on this head may not be well founded, that I am led to hope you carry your suspicions too far, and the more so as Dr Franklin, to whom I dare say you have communicated them freely, does not (as you say) agree in sentiment with you. But I pretend not to judge, since I have not the advantage of seeing from the same ground. Perhaps some light may be thrown upon the subject by such facts as I have been able to collect here, and with which it is impossible you should be acquainted.

The policy you suppose to influence the measures of France, can only be founded in a distrust, which I persuade myself she can hardly entertain of those who have put their dearest interest into her hands. She is too well informed of the state of this country, to believe there is the least reason to suppose, that we could have the most distant idea of a separate peace. If such distrust really exists, it would, in my opinion, dictate to them, to let Great Britain acknowledge our independence at once, rather than make it the subject of subsequent negotiation. When satisfied on that point, we can with more advantage contend for those our allies have at heart. Whereas by withholding it, and making it the price of concessions on the part of France, which she may not choose to make, an opportunity would be afforded, to embroil and incline us to listen to separate proposals. Upon this principle, France seems to have acted in all the answers, which she has hitherto given, as well to the direct proposals of Great Britain as to those made by the imperial Courts. When Mr Grenville proposed to treat of the independence of the United States with his Most Christian Majesty, an opportunity was afforded to take the lead in the negotiation, and to suspend that part of it; yet we find the reply of the Court of Versailles led to a direct negotiation between Great Britain and us, and ended in the offer of unconditional independence. The reply of the Court of France to that of London, communicated to Mr Grenville on the 21st of June, speaks the same language.

From these and the following facts you will, when you have compared them with those within your own knowledge, draw your inferences with more judgment than I can pretend to do without those you possess.

Before your letters were received, the Chevalier de la Luzerne showed me a letter from the Count de Vergennes of the 14th of August, in which he speaks of Mr Grenville's commission, and the ground it gave him to hope, that negotiations would open with an express and unconditional acknowledgment of independence. He mentions the change in the British administration; their assurances, that it should occasion no alteration in the plan of their negotiation, and concludes, by expressing his surprise at the alteration, which afterwards took place in this essential article in the propositions offered by Mr Fitzherbert, and infers from thence, that Lord Shelburne had no other design than to divide and deceive. In a letter of the 7th of September, he mentions Mr Oswald's commission, your objections to it, and his doubts of the manner in which these objections will be received. "If," says he, "Mr Oswald is right in his conjecture, that they will be favorably received and removed, then everything is said. If they reject them, because they will not begin where they propose to end, I conceive the negotiations should still go on. We may judge of the intentions of the Court of London by their first propositions. If they have independence for their basis, we may proceed; if not, we must break off." In his letter of the 14th of October, he mentions with great apparent satisfaction, the alterations in Mr Oswald's commission. From the general tenor of these letters, I can discover nothing but an anxious desire for peace, which might very naturally lead him to wish that objections, which he did not conceive essential in the first instance, after having declared to Great Britain that no peace could be made till our independence was acknowledged, should not break off a negotiation, which must end in the attainment of an object, which they have as much at heart as we.

Whatever the sentiments of the Count de Vergennes may be, as to the claim of Spain, in a letter which I have seen, he treats them as well as ours, as chimerical and extravagant, and declares, that he does not mean to interfere in them. You can best judge of the sincerity of this declaration. If insincere, I cannot conceive for what purpose it was made, or the subject treated so lightly, or why this should be confided to me. For my own part, I believe their situation with respect to Spain is very delicate, and that they are embarrassed by her demands. I mention these things, that you may, by comparing them with facts within your reach, draw useful inferences from them, and I wish to give you everything that may possibly be of use to you.

As to the letter of Marbois, I am by no means surprised at it, since he always endeavored to persuade us that our claim to the fisheries was not well founded. Yet one thing is very remarkable, and I hope evinces the determination of France to serve us on this point. The advice given to discourage the hope is certainly judicious, and yet we find no steps taken in consequence of it. On the contrary, we have been repeatedly told in formal communications since that period, "that the King would do everything for us that circumstances will admit, and that nothing but dire necessity shall induce him to relinquish any of the objects we have at heart, and that he does not imagine that such necessity will exist." This communication was made on the 21st of last November, from letters of the 7th of September, previous to our success at Yorktown, and has been renewed at different periods since. You will undoubtedly avail yourself of this engagement if necessary. Congress relying upon it, have made no alteration in their instructions since the change in their affairs, by the blow the enemy received at Yorktown.

This letter of Marbois, and the conduct of the Court of France, evince the difference between a great politician and a little one. France can, by prohibiting the importation of fish, supply herself; she cannot do more. Our exclusion from the fishery, would only be beneficial to England. The enmity it would excite, the disputes it would give rise to, would, in the course of a few years, obliterate the memory of the favors we have received. England, by sacrificing a part of her fisheries, and protecting us in the enjoyment of them, would render herself necessary to us, our friendship would be transferred to her, and France would in the end be considered as a natural enemy. I am persuaded, she has wisdom enough to see this in its true light.

I know not how far the Marquis may deserve your confidence; you are the best judge of his conduct. I ought, however, in justice to him to mention, that he has steadily, in all his letters, recommended an adherence to our claims, and assured us that both might be obtained if insisted upon.

You see, Sir, I have purposely leaned to the opposite side from that which you appear in some measure to have taken; not because I think you are wrong in the opinion you have adopted, but because you may possibly be so. Such essential injuries may flow from the slightest jealousies, that I wish you to examine yours with all the coolness you are master of. I am persuaded, the last hope of Britain is founded on the distrusts they may sow among their enemies. I wish you had in a private letter in cypher informed me how you got at the letter of Marbois, and why it was copied in English. I more particularly wish to know whether it passed through the hands of either of the British Commissioners. If it has, it will be of some consequence to see the original, not that I doubt its authenticity, but it may possibly have undergone some alterations. That which follows what is said of the great bank, is nonsense, or if it conveys any meaning, I think it is not such as a man of common sense would speak.[11]

Count de Vergennes, in his letters dated a day later than yours, gives no account of your propositions. I should conclude from this circumstance, that they had not been communicated. If I were not convinced, that acting under the instructions you do, you would not withhold them, except for the most weighty reasons, and that if such reasons existed you would have assigned them in your letters, and presuming, therefore, that you had communicated them, I have made no secret of them to the Count de la Luzerne, who appeared much pleased with them, though a little surprised at the article, which relates to commerce, which I cannot suppose perfectly agreeable to them in all its extent; since it will render a revolution necessary in the commercial system of France, if they wish to have an extensive trade with us. I am extremely pleased, that in freeing ourselves, we have a prospect of unfettering the consciences and the commerce of the world.

We are far from regretting that the Marquis d'Aranda has no powers to treat. We think, with you, that it is time to adopt the Spanish system. We may treat at any time with more advantage than at present. You had received your instructions on this subject before you wrote your last letters. By your saying nothing of them, I suppose you had not decyphered them. Mr Jefferson being the bearer of this, it is unnecessary to enlarge.[12] News and general politics will be contained in my letter to Dr Franklin, to whom I also send an instruction on the subject of your commercial proposition. I enclose you a new cypher, which I pray you to make use of. You will find it very easy on a little practice. I must again entreat you to write more fully to us. I have received from the Count de Vergennes' letters, the whole progress of the negotiation. Information of this kind it would give me more pleasure to receive through another channel.

I have the honor to be, Dear Sir, with great respect and esteem, &c.

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] M. de Marbois' letter here alluded to, was very long, and written in cypher. It was intercepted by the English, taken to London, there decyphered, translated into English, and sent to the British Commissioners in Paris, (while the negotiations for peace were in progress.) The sense of the writer would be very likely to suffer by this process of decyphering and translating. But M. de Marbois never complained that the letter was not in the main correctly translated. As soon as the British Commissioners received it in Paris, they put a copy of it into the hands of the American Commissioners. M. de Marbois was at that time only a Secretary of Legation, and wrote the letter while the Minister, M. de la Luzerne, was absent from Philadelphia, and without his knowledge. The sentiments of the letter were never avowed by the French Ministry.

[12] Mr Jefferson did not go till some time afterwards.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Paris, April 7th, 1783.

Dear Sir,

After the preliminaries had been settled and ratified, the Spanish Ambassador informed me that his Court was ready to receive me, not only in form, but "tres honnetement." He then expected full instructions relative to the proposed treaty.

The Marquis de Lafayette, in his journey through Madrid, manifested great zeal to serve us there. A copy of a letter from him to the Minister, will be sent you by another opportunity, though I imagine he has already forwarded it.

On the 29th ult. the Spanish Ambassador communicated to me the desire of his Court that I would return to Madrid, and there complete the treaty, for that in their opinion, it ought to be concluded either at Madrid or at Philadelphia.

You will have this communication at large in another letter.

No Ministry yet in England, nor any news of Barney, nor from you, since the 3d of January.

The definitive treaties must be concluded, and the heats of summer abated, before either my business here, or the very delicate state of my health will admit of a journey to Spain. Be assured of my esteem and regard.

I am, Dear Sir, &c.

JOHN JAY.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Paris, April 11th, 1783.

Dear Sir,

I wrote you a short letter on the seventh instant. Certain intelligence has since arrived from England, that the Duke of Portland is first Lord of the Treasury, Mr Fox and Lord North Secretaries of State, and Lord John Cavendish Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is also said, that Lord Stormont is President of the Council, and the Duke of Manchester Ambassador to Versailles. I hear that Mr David Hartley is appointed to conclude a definitive treaty with us.

The Emperor and Russia have been requested in their mediatorial capacity, to send Plenipotentiaries to assist at the definitive treaties. The due motives to this measure can as yet be only conjectured. The ostensible one is, a mark of respect to their offered, but not accepted mediation. The proposition originated here. Their answer is expected daily. It is whispered that Russia consents. Safe opportunities of sending important letters from hence to Madrid are so very rare, that I think yours for that place had better be always conveyed directly to Cadiz or other ports in Spain, where some American of confidence may be settled.

Numberless applications for consulships continue to be made, and some will probably reach you. In my opinion Americans only should be employed to serve America. I early entertained this opinion, and it has been almost daily gathering strength since my arrival in Europe.

I have the honor to be, &c.

JOHN JAY.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Paris, April 22d, 1783.

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you so lately by Mr Mason, and there is such a dearth of news, that I now write less to give you information than as a mark of attention.

There are several of your letters, which on account of their length, the importance of their subjects, and the manner in which those subjects were treated, demanded of me more minute answers than my situation admitted of. Mr Hartley is not yet arrived, but is daily expected. I am told by Mr Laurens, that he will propose that the people of the two countries shall have all the rights of citizens in each. The instruction of Congress on this important point is much to be desired. For my part I think a temporary stipulation of that sort might be expedient. They mean to court us and in my opinion we should avoid being either too forward or too coy. I have no faith in any Court in Europe, but it would be improper to discover that sentiment. There are circumstances which induce me to believe, that Spain is turning her eyes to England for a more intimate connexion. They are the only two European powers, which have continental possessions on our side of the water, and Spain I think wishes for a league between them for mutual security against us. Perhaps this consideration should lead us to regard the present fervor of the British advances with the less indifference.

On looking over one of my former letters, containing my propositions to Spain, I find that I had omitted to explain the reason of the one for a guarantee of our possessions in North America. That we should so guaranty the Spanish possessions as to fight for them, was as distant from my design, as it could be from that of Congress. A common guarantee means nothing more than a quit claim, to which we certainly could have had no objection. When more is intended, provisional and express stipulations become necessary. To any such I never would have consented. A confidant of the Minister (and I believe by his directions) had assured me, that unless a guarantee was offered any other propositions would not induce the minister to negotiate for a treaty. To meet that objection I made the offer in the general terms you have seen. I had no doubt but that the Minister was acquainted with my instructions; and I considered this objection as a pretext for delay. My opinion as to a certain proposed cession was known, and uses not advantageous to us or to me had been made of it. It appeared to me advisable, that the intention of Spain with respect to us should have a full trial, and such a one as would convince Congress that I was entirely guided by their views and wishes.

I therefore endeavored so to frame those propositions as that they should not afford the Minister any pretence for refusing to commence the negotiation. The issue you are acquainted with.

I hope nothing will be done by the States for the tories until the British forces shall be withdrawn, and then I confess it would be for our honor to forgive all except the perfidious and the cruel.

After the definitive treaties are finished, I hope I shall be excused in trying the waters of Spa and Bath (which are recommended to me) before I proceed to Spain. Whatever may be their effect, I shall not loiter at either place. After my business at Madrid shall be finished, I wish to devote my care to the recovery of my health, and the concerns of my family, which must greatly interfere with the duties of my commission. Besides, as my country has obtained her object, my motives for entering into public life are at an end.

The same principles which drew me from the private station I formerly occupied, bid me to return to it. Actions are the only proofs of professions, and if I live mine shall not want that evidence.

I am, Dear Sir, &c.

JOHN JAY.

P. S. I am told, that a vessel, which went last year from our country, on the Ohio, down that river, and through the Mississippi to the Havana, took passports from the Count de la Luzerne. This, if a fact, appears to me a singular one. I mention it merely as a matter of information.

J. J.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Paris, May 30th, 1783.

Dear Sir,

It cannot in my opinion be long before Congress will think it expedient to name a Minister to the Court of London. Perhaps my friends may wish to add me to the number of candidates for that office. If that should be the case, I request the favor of you to declare in the most explicit terms, that I view the expectations of Mr Adams on that head as founded in equity and reason, and that I will not by any means stand in his way. Were I in Congress I should vote for him. He deserves well of his country, and is very able to serve her. It appears to me to be but fair that the disagreeable conclusions, which may be drawn from the abrupt repeal of his former commission should be obviated by its being restored to him. I do therefore in the most unequivocal manner decline and refuse to be a competitor with that faithful servant of the public, for the place in question.

As Mr Barclay has power to settle our accounts in Europe, I wish that orders may be sent to Mr Carmichael to come here with the books and documents necessary to enable Mr Barclay to examine and settle the public accounts in my department. I cannot learn that my repeated requests to him to send a state of those accounts to Philadelphia have as yet been complied with.

I am, Dear Sir, &c.

JOHN JAY.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Paris, June 1st, 1783.

Dear Sir,

I have had the honor of receiving your favor of the 4th of January last. The cypher you mention to have enclosed is missing. My letter by Captain Barney affords an answer to the greater part of your inquiries. Business here goes on heavily. The Dutch and English are not yet agreed, and some points remain still to be adjusted between the latter and the French and Spaniards. Mr Hartley has an ample and proper commission to conclude with us. We are discussing the terms of a temporary commercial regulation, but as he is waiting for more full instructions, it may be a week or a fortnight before we shall be able to inform you of the real intentions of Britain on that subject.

Before I left Spain, and often since by letters, I desired Mr Carmichael to make out and transmit to Philadelphia a clear and full state of the public accounts; and also agreeably to Dr Franklin's request, to send him an account of the bills remaining to be paid. The Doctor has not received his account; and I have no reason to suppose that you or Mr Morris have received the other. I am not easy about this matter, for in case of the death or recall of Mr Carmichael, (by whom all these accounts were kept, and through whom I managed those transactions,) I might experience difficulties respecting those accounts, which may now be avoided.

I understood from Mr Barclay, that he is authorised to examine and settle these accounts, and as Mr Carmichael has not much to do at Madrid, I am very desirous that he should be ordered to bring here all the books and papers relative to these accounts, and with me to attend their settlement by Mr Barclay. Be so good as to lay this matter before Congress without delay.

I have the honor to be, &c.

JOHN JAY.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Passy, July 20th, 1783.

Dear Sir,

The delays which have postponed the completion of the definitive treaty, have hitherto prevented my trying the effect of the waters of Bath for a pain in my breast, which has continued in different degrees for a year past. Were I much longer to neglect that only probable chance of restoring my health, my little family might have much reason to complain.

I fear that the fluctuating counsels of the British cabinet will protract that business, until so late in the season, as not to leave me sufficient time both to give the waters a fair trial, and afterwards go to Spain, before the weather will become too inclement for an invalid to travel such a distance in a country so destitute of accommodations. Should that be the case, I shall hope to be excused for not undertaking it, especially as nothing of importance remains there to be done, except preparing the draft of a treaty of commerce, which I hoped to have been able to bring with me to America in the spring, when it was my fixed resolution to resign.

But as I should then pass the winter without being useful to the public, Congress may not perhaps think it reasonable, that their allowance to me should be continued. I think it my duty therefore to apprize them of these circumstances, and to refer it to their discretion to assign such earlier date to my resignation, as they may think best. I must beg the favor of you to request and to inform me of their decision on this subject, without delay, for as I shall not probably have an opportunity of sailing before June next, it is important to me to know by what rule I am to regulate the expenses of my family in the meantime.

As you know upon what principles I have devoted myself to the public for the last nine years, and as those motives would be questionable if after the war I did not return to a private station, I hope the propriety of my resolution to resign will appear manifest, especially when to these considerations are added the circumstances of certain individuals of my family, whose afflictions and whose relation to me give them the strongest claims to my care and attention.

Be pleased, Sir, to present to Congress my warmest acknowledgments for the marks of confidence with which they have honored me, and assure them that by becoming a private citizen, I mean not to retreat from any duties, which an American owes his country.

I have the honor to be, &c.

JOHN JAY.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

New York, July 25th, 1784.

Sir,

Having waited until the settlement of the public accounts was completed, I left Paris the 16th of May last, and on the 1st of June embarked with my family at Dover, on board the ship Edward, Captain Coupar, in which we arrived here yesterday. Mr Barclay has transmitted, or will soon transmit to Mr Morris, a state of the above mentioned accounts; and as it will thence appear, that some of the bills drawn upon me have been twice paid, it becomes necessary for me to inform your Excellency of the particular and cautious manner in which that business was transacted on my part. Soon after the arrival of the first bills, I directed Mr Carmichael to prepare and keep a book, with the pages divided into a number of columns, and to enter therein the dates, numbers, and other descriptive particulars of every bill, that might be presented to me for acceptance, and to which on examination he should find no objection. I made it an invariable rule to send every bill to him to be examined and entered previous to accepting it; and from that time to the day I left Spain, I never accepted a single bill until after it had been inspected and sent to me by him to be accepted. Further, to avoid mistakes and frauds, I also made it a constant rule, that every bill presented for payment, should undergo a second examination by Mr Carmichael, that if he found it right, he should sign his name on it, and that the bankers should not pay any bill unless so signed.

The bills twice paid, or rather the different numbers of the same set, stand entered in different places in the book abovementioned; and I can only regret, that the entries of the numbers first presented and accepted, were not observed by him, either at the time when the subsequent ones were offered for acceptance, or at the time when they were afterwards brought for payment.

It gives me pleasure to inform your Excellency, that the British and American ratifications of the treaty of peace were exchanged a few days before I left Paris. The day of my departure, I received under cover from Dr Franklin, a copy of the British ratifications, which I have the honor to transmit herewith enclosed.

With great respect and esteem, I have the honor to be, &c.

JOHN JAY.

P. S. I shall send with this letter to the post office, several others, which were committed to my care for your Excellency.



THE

CORRESPONDENCE

OF

FRANCIS DANA;

MINISTER FROM THE UNITED STATES TO RUSSIA



Francis Dana was a native of Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard University, where he was graduated in the year 1762. He studied the profession of the law, and was among the first to espouse the cause of the Colonies in resisting the aggressions of the mother country. In a letter to General Washington, dated Philadelphia, April 1st, 1776, Mr John Adams speaks of him in the following terms.

"The bearer of this letter, Mr Francis Dana, is a gentleman of family, fortune, and education, returned in the last packet from London, where he has been about a year. He has ever maintained an excellent character in his country, and a warm friendship for the American cause. He returns to share with his friends in their dangers and their triumphs. I have done myself the honor to give him this letter, for the sake of introducing him to your acquaintance, as he has frequently expressed to me a desire to embrace the first opportunity of paying his respects to a character so highly esteemed, and so justly admired throughout all Europe, as well as America. Mr Dana will satisfy you, that we have no reason to expect peace with Great Britain."

Mr Dana returned to Massachusetts and was chosen a delegate to Congress in December of the same year, though he did not take his seat in that body till the November following. This station he filled till September, 1779, when he was appointed Secretary to Mr John Adams, the Minister Plenipotentiary for negotiating a treaty of peace and a treaty of commerce with Great Britain. He went to Europe with Mr Adams, and resided with him in Paris, and a short time in Holland. On the 20th of June, 1780, he was commissioned to negotiate a loan in Holland, provided Mr Adams should be prevented by other business from attending to it. As Mr Adams undertook the negotiation, Mr Dana did not enter upon this commission.

On the 19th of December, he was elected by Congress to be Minister resident in Russia, with authority to accede to the convention of the neutral and belligerent powers for protecting the freedom of commerce and rights of nations, and also to negotiate a treaty for this purpose. He received his commission and instructions in Paris, and after spending a short time in Amsterdam and Berlin, he arrived at St Petersburg towards the end of August, 1781. Here he applied himself with zeal and activity to the objects of his mission, but the policy of the Russian Court was at that time such, as to prevent its recognizing the independence of the United States, or receiving publicly a Minister from that government. In his private capacity, Mr Dana was treated with due consideration, and was promised that, after the signature of the definitive treaty at Paris, he should be admitted to an audience of the Empress, and received in his public character, as Minister from the United States. Meantime his continued ill health had induced him to solicit from Congress permission to return home, which was granted. He sailed from St Petersburg in a ship bound for Boston, where he arrived in December, 1783.

Mr Dana was a member of the Convention at Annapolis, and of the Convention of Massachusetts for ratifying the Constitution of the United States. In this latter body he took an able and decided stand in favor of the Constitution. He was afterwards for many years Chief Justice of the State of Massachusetts, and died in 1811, at the age of sixtyseven years.



THE

CORRESPONDENCE

OF

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, August 10th, 1780.

Sir,

Mr Adams having left Paris the 27th of last month, to visit the Low Countries, I do myself the honor of forwarding to your Excellency two packets, the one containing his letters to you from No. 89 to 99 inclusive, and two private letters from a gentleman in London to him, the other containing letters numbered in their order from No. 1 to 10, inclusive. I shall also forward to your Excellency, if the bearer can take them, all the newspapers we have on hand. The whole will be committed to the care of Captain Jones, who will sail in the Ariel.

Had I been apprized less suddenly of the time of Captain Jones' departure, I should also have sent translations of the declarations of the Courts of Copenhagen and Stockholm to the belligerent powers, conforming to that of the Empress of Russia, relative to the commerce of the neutral powers, and the armed neutrality. These declarations are in the "Suite des Nouvelles d'Amsterdam," of the 8th of August, No. 63. The fleet, which left Virginia the 14th of last June, under the convoy of the Frere Roderique, bound for France, are all except one, which foundered at sea, the crew being saved, safely arrived. A vessel, which left New London the 27th of June, was cast away on the rocks entering Rochelle. We have no letters by any of these vessels, but learn from them, that no intelligence had been received from M. de Ternay, when they left America. We cannot but lament our total want of intelligence respecting the state of our country.

I am, Sir, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, August 24th, 1780.

Sir,

I did myself the honor on the 10th instant to write to your Excellency, by Captain John Paul Jones, who then expected to sail soon, in the Ariel, for Philadelphia, assigning as the reason the absence of Mr Adams, who was gone to visit the Low Countries. I then forwarded to your Excellency two packets, one containing his letters to you, and two private letters from a gentleman in London to him; the other containing letters to and from the Minister, and I also sent all the newspapers we then had on hand, directing the whole to the care of Captain Jones.

Mr Adams has not returned. I had a letter from him of the 17th instant, in which he makes no mention of his being about to return, so that it is probable he will stay there sometime longer. If anything occurs here worthy the notice of Congress, during his absence, I shall not fail to do myself the honor of communicating it to your Excellency. The packets sent with this contain Mr Adams's letters to your Excellency from No. 91 to 100, and letters to and from the Minister, from No. 1 to 7 exclusive, and also the newspapers, which have come to hand since making the first packet. We have not received any advice of the arrival of M. de Ternay, or any intelligence of the operations of the Spaniards on the Continent, since the reduction of Mobile, or of the combined armaments in the West Indies.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Amsterdam, September 20th, 1780.

Sir,

Having been disappointed in my expectations of forwarding to your Excellency the packets mentioned in the above letter from France, I have brought them on to this place, and shall commit them to the care of Captain Joseph Cook, of Providence, who is now ready to sail, and waits only for a wind.

I beg leave to acquaint your Excellency, that Mr Searle, a member of Congress, arrived at Paris on the evening of the 10th instant, and immediately sent me the despatches of Congress committed to his care. I perused them, and waited on him in the morning, and had a conversation of several hours with him, as well upon the subject matter of those despatches, as upon the concerns of our country.[13] I thought it my duty immediately to prepare to set off for Amsterdam with the despatches, and did so the next day at noon, and without quitting my carriage arrived at Brussels the day after, and at Amsterdam on the 16th, where I had the happiness of finding Mr Adams in good health.

From that moment to this, he has been industriously engaged to endeavor to effectuate the purposes of Congress. What success we may meet with here is uncertain; but I hope I may give it as my clear opinion to Congress, that their views would be very much facilitated if Mr Laurens, or any other person whom they may think proper to employ in this business, should be at the same time furnished with the powers of a Minister Plenipotentiary to the States-General. Some persons here, notwithstanding all that can be said, seem to be apprehensive that the United States have granted exclusive privileges in commerce to France. This idea is industriously propagated throughout Europe, by the emissaries of our enemies, and especially in this country. A disposition in Congress, therefore, to form an alliance with the States-General upon principles of perfect reciprocity of interest, although they should not at this instant be prepared to enter into it, would unquestionably have a powerful influence in effectuating the main intention of Congress, and further, would give a consideration and independence to our councils throughout Europe, which they will never acquire while they remain in their present circumscribed state. We might, perhaps, look still further with the hopes of much benefit to our country. There can be no occasion of being more particular on this subject. Indeed, I should not have troubled Congress at all from this place, with any letter of mine, had not Mr Adams requested me to give my sentiments to Congress upon the principal object of this letter. I have done so freely, and I presume the candor of Congress will excuse me in it.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

FOOTNOTES:

[13] Among these despatches, Mr Dana received a commission, empowering him to obtain a loan in Holland, in case Mr Adams should for any reason be prevented from attending to this object. As Mr Adams was then in Holland, Mr Dana did not act under this commission. See John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. V. p. 327.

* * * * *

Commission to Francis Dana, referred to in the preceding Letter.

Whereas by our commission to the honorable Henry Laurens, bearing date the 30th day of October, 1779, we have constituted and appointed him the said Henry Laurens, during our pleasure, our agent for and on behalf of the United States, to negotiate a loan with any person or persons, bodies politic or corporate; and whereas the said Henry Laurens having, by unavoidable accidents, been hitherto prevented from proceeding on his said agency, we have, by our commission bearing equal date herewith, constituted and appointed the honorable John Adams, until the said Henry Laurens, or some other person appointed in his stead, shall arrive in Europe, and undertake the execution of his aforesaid commission, our agent to negotiate a loan as aforesaid;[14]

And whereas it may so happen, that the said John Adams, by reason of some disability arising from the state of the business of his present appointment, or otherwise, may be prevented from undertaking the execution of the said commission, or having undertaken it, from proceeding therein; we, therefore, reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, ability, conduct, and fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you, the said Francis Dana, in the event of the disability of the said John Adams, as aforesaid, until the said Henry Laurens, or some other person appointed in his stead, shall arrive in Europe, and undertake the execution of the aforesaid commission, our agent for and on behalf of the said United States, to negotiate a loan with any person or persons, bodies politic or corporate, promising in good faith to ratify and confirm whatsoever shall by you be done in the premises, or relating thereto.

Witness his Excellency, Samuel Huntington, President of the Congress of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, the 20th day of June, in the year of our Lord, 1780, and in the fourth year of our independence.

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, President.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] See Mr Adams's commission in John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. V. p. 329.

* * * * *

TO JONATHAN JACKSON.

Amsterdam, November 11th, 1780.

Sir,

You must before this time have heard of the capture of the late President Laurens, on his voyage hither; that the enemy affect to consider him a state prisoner, and have, accordingly, confined him to the Tower, in arcta et salva custodia. Their treatment of him has marked the barbarity of the nation from the throne to the footstool. Does this look like peace? They recovered a part of his papers, such as the plan of a treaty adjusted by Mr William Lee, with the Regency of this city in 1778, a letter from M. de Neufville upon the subject, one from our friend, the Commodore, one from Mr Stockton, and one from an amiable character of this country, whom I personally know, Baron Van der Cappellen. These were hurried over to Sir Joseph Yorke, and by him delivered to the Prince, who, it is said, in much wrath, laid them before the States of Holland, who transmitted copies of them to the Regency, accompanied with certain resolutions.

The Regency have openly avowed the act. This has brought on the most extraordinary memorial of Sir Joseph Yorke to the States-General, which, perhaps, any foreign Minister ever made to an independent State; calling for their open disavowal of the conduct of the Regency; censuring them as a mad cabal, ever ready to sacrifice the public interests to private views, aiding the natural enemy (France) of both countries in destroying their mutual happiness; and it demands of the States-General also, an exemplary punishment of the Pensionary, Van Berckel, by name, and of all his accomplices, as disturbers of the public peace, and violaters of the laws of nations, that is, of the other members of the city Regency, for he acted officially in what he did, and by their order.

In default of this, the memorial says, the King will take such measures, as the maintenance of his dignity and the interests of his people require. The Regency have hereupon published the whole matter in the nature of an appeal to the people, which you will, doubtless, soon have among you. What further measures they have taken to vindicate themselves, and their country's rights and interests, are not yet made public. The States-General will meet the 22d instant. It is not probable they will, or can comply, with the several requisitions of this memorial. You may ask me, as in another case, what can Great Britain promise herself from all this? Whether or not she expected to be able to effect a compliance with her demands, which does not seem probable, by the weight of her influence in this Republic; or whether this memorial was to serve as a balance to that of the States-General, respecting the outrageous violation of her territorial rights by Admiral Rodney, at St Martin's; or whether she foresaw that the States-General will accede to the armed neutrality, and is, therefore, determined to go to war with them upon other pretences, so as to avoid for a time, at least, warring against the whole confederacy; whether any of these things were the motive of this singular conduct, is to me uncertain. If she seriously intends to put her threat against this country into execution, I should conjecture the last is the prevailing motive. For already Holland and three other of the States have declared for an unconditional accession to the neutral confederacy; two more have declared for an accession, but allege that their territories in both the Indies should be guarantied. This, however, I understand, is not absolutely made a condition, and that their Deputies are at liberty to accede without such guarantee, if they think fit. The seventh is the Province of Zealand, where the influence of the Prince is without control, from thence, therefore, nothing short of an open opposition to the neutral system is expected. Whether the other six States are prepared and determined to accede without Zealand, a short time will show.

The navy of these States is too feeble at present for an immediate war with England, which they seem to apprehend must take place upon their joining the neutral confederation. They have, I believe, but about twentysix vessels, instead of the fiftytwo voted, ready for sea. It has been apprehended, their naval preparations have been designedly kept back, in order to keep up the fears of the States about a war with Britain. There is no question but the Prince is fixed against it, and whatever ideas some of our countrymen may have entertained of the liberties of this people, they are as effectually enslaved by their magistracy, as are any people in the old world by the mighty kings, who hold almost all the rest of it in bondage. Nay, the influence of the Prince seems to pervade almost every department of their government, and the whole machine is much obstructed, when set in motion in a direction repugnant to his inclinations and views.

May heaven preserve us from kings, princes, and stadtholders. The people are the best guardians of their own liberties and interests.

I am, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

INSTRUCTIONS TO FRANCIS DANA, AS MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY TO THE COURT OF ST PETERSBURG.[15]

In Congress, December 19th, 1780.

Sir,

The great object of your negotiation is to engage her Imperial Majesty to favor and support the sovereignty and independence of these United States, and to lay a foundation for a good understanding and friendly intercourse between the subjects of her Imperial Majesty and the citizens of these United States, to the mutual advantage of both nations.

You will readily perceive, that it must be a leading and capital point, if these United States shall be formally admitted as a party to the convention of the neutral maritime powers for maintaining the freedom of commerce. This regulation, in which the Empress is deeply interested, and from which she has derived so much glory, will open the way for your favorable reception, which we have the greater reason to expect, as she has publicly invited the belligerent powers to accede thereto.

And you will give it an attention suitable to its importance. Your success will, however, depend on a variety of sources and contingencies; on a more perfect knowledge of the state of Europe than can be obtained at this distance; on the ultimate views of her Imperial Majesty, the temper of her cabinet, the avenues to their confidence, the dispositions of the neutral powers with whom she is connected, and the events of war. Under such circumstances, precise instructions for your conduct cannot be expected; on the contrary, the greatest room must be left for the exercise of your own penetration and assiduity in gaining proper information, and for your prudence and address in improving it to the best advantage. Your zeal for the public interest will lead you to embrace every favorable incident and expedient, which may recommend these States to the friendship of her Imperial Majesty and her Ministers. Your attachment to the honor and independence of your country will restrain you from every concession unbecoming the dignity of a free people. The diplomatic order in which you are placed by your commission, will prevent embarrassments, which, in so delicate a case, might arise from the punctilio of ceremony; while it entitles you to all the confidence and protection essential to the office of a public Minister.

For the further execution of your trust, you will conform, as far as possible, to the following instructions.

1. You shall communicate your powers and instructions to our Ministers Plenipotentiary, at the Court of Versailles, and for negotiating peace, and avail yourself of their advice and information; and it may be prudent through them to obtain the sense of the Court of France thereon.

2. You shall communicate the general object of your mission to the Minister of his Most Christian Majesty at the Court of Petersburg, and endeavor through his mediation to sound the disposition of her Imperial Majesty, or her Ministers, towards these United States.

3. If the result of your inquiries should point out a fair prospect of an honorable reception, you are to announce your public character, and deliver your letters of credence in the usual form.

4. You are to manifest on all proper occasions the high respect, which Congress entertain for her Imperial Majesty; for the lustre of her character, and the liberality of her sentiments and her views; and particularly you are, in the strongest terms, to testify our approbation of the measures, which her Imperial Majesty has suggested and matured for the protection of commerce against the arbitrary violations of the British Court. You will present the act of Congress herewith transmitted, declaring our assent to her Imperial Majesty's regulations on this subject, and use every means, which can be devised to obtain the consent and influence of that Court that these United States shall be formally invited, or admitted, to accede as principals and as an independent nation to the said convention. In that event, you are authorised to subscribe the treaty or convention for the protection of commerce in behalf of these United States, either with her Imperial Majesty conjunctly with the other neutral powers, or if that shall be inadmissible, separately with her Imperial Majesty, or any one of those powers.

5. You are to impress her Imperial Majesty and her Ministers with a sense of the justice of our cause, the nature and stability of our union, and the solemn engagements by which not only the States but his Most Christian Majesty, are reciprocally bound to maintain the sovereignty, rights and jurisdiction of each of the thirteen States inviolably; and the utter impracticability of our acceding to any treaty of peace with Great Britain, on the principles of a uti possidetis, or on any other terms than such as shall imply an express or tacit acknowledgment of the sovereignty of each and every part, and which shall be consistent with the letter and spirit of our treaty of alliance and friendship and commerce with his Most Christian Majesty. You shall represent, in pointed terms, the barbarous manner in which, contrary to the laws of all civilized nations, the war has been conducted by the enemy, the difficulties, which we have surmounted, and the certain prospect, under the divine blessing, of expelling our enemies, and establishing our independence on such basis as will render us useful to the whole commercial world, and happy in ourselves. You shall assure her Imperial Majesty of our ambition to number so wise and magnanimous a Princess among our friends, and to assign her a distinguished place among those illustrious personages of ancient and modern times, who have delighted in promoting the happiness of mankind, and in disarming tyranny of the power of doing mischief.

6. You shall assure her Imperial Majesty and her Ministers of the sincere disposition of these United States to enter into a treaty of friendship and commerce with her on terms of the most perfect equality, reciprocity and mutual advantage, and similar to those expressed in our treaty with his Most Christian Majesty; and you are authorised to communicate with her Imperial Majesty's Ministers on the form and terms of such treaty, and transmit the same to Congress for their ratification.

7. You shall communicate punctually with our respective Ministers in Europe, and avail yourself of their advice and information, and of the success of their respective negotiations to raise our importance and support our interest at the Court of Petersburg.

8. You shall endeavor to acquire a perfect knowledge of the manners and etiquette of the Court at which you reside, and particularly in the diplomatic line; and of the manufactures and commerce of that empire; and point out in your correspondence how far and on what conditions the two nations can be mutually beneficial to or improve each other in commerce or policy, arts or agriculture.

Lastly. And, in general, you shall pursue all such measures as shall appear to you conducive to the interests of the United States, to the faithful discharge of your important trust, and which circumstances may point out to be salutary and beneficial.

I am, &c.

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, President.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] In Congress, December 15th, 1780.—"Whereas a good understanding and friendly intercourse between the subjects of her imperial Majesty, the Empress of all the Russias, and these United States, may be for the mutual advantage of both nations;

"Resolved, That a Minister be appointed to reside at the Court of the Empress of Russia.

"Ordered, that Monday next be assigned for electing such Minister.

"Ordered, that a committee of three be appointed to prepare a commission and draft of instructions for the said Minister.

"December 19th, 1780.—Congress proceeded to the election of a Minister to reside at the Court of the Empress of Russia; and the ballots being taken, the honorable Francis Dana was elected."

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Paris, February 16th, 1781.

Gentlemen,

I do myself the honor to acquaint you, that I returned to this city the 28th of December, where it is probable I shall continue till the public business may require me to join Mr Adams, who still remains at Amsterdam. It was judged by both of us, that no possible detriment could happen to our public concerns by this separation. On the other hand, Mr Adams was pleased to say it might be attended with some benefit.

Shortly after I came to town, your despatches by Captain Bell were forwarded to me. Though they were addressed to Mr Adams, agreeably to his standing directions, I broke them open, and sent on to him such of them only as I knew he had not received before, and were necessary for the regulation of his present business. The additional instructions of the 18th of October, founded on his letters of the 23d and 24th of March last, and all the duplicates, I have still by me, not thinking it advisable to hazard them by the post. I have made Mr Adams fully acquainted with this.

You will permit me to say, that it is by no means prudent to commit to the care of the posts, papers of the nature of some of your last despatches.

Mr Adams has not been able to obtain the amount of the bills actually drawn on Mr Laurens. The resolution of Congress of the 23d of November, 1779, expresses a certain sum; so does that of the 6th of October last. But Mr Searle says, it is not the design of Congress to draw to the amount of both resolutions; that they had stayed their hands upon the first, after having drawn for about a quarter part of the sum named in it, for particular reasons, which he mentions. It would have been a relief under present circumstances, to have had this made certain. I am persuaded it would be acceptable to every one concerned in such business, to be acquainted as early as possible with the amount of bills drawn upon him from time to time, so that they might not fall in unexpectedly.

Congress, it appears from their printed journals, have taken into consideration the Declaration of the Empress of all the Russias, relative to the commercial rights of neutral nations, and have thereupon passed several resolutions, and ordered that copies of them should be transmitted to their Ministers, yet no such copies have yet been received. Although there does not appear at present any pressing occasion for them, nevertheless it is possible, though I cannot say I think probable, that one may offer, in which case there would be a total deficiency of the necessary powers. Mr Adams, in his last letter of the 8th instant, has desired me to consult with Dr Franklin upon this business, which I shall soon do. Lest Mr Adams should not have an opportunity to write from Holland, I would just say, that the principal matter then remained in statu quo.

I am this moment acquainted by Mr Temple Franklin, that a vessel has arrived at Nantes, which left the Capes of Delaware on the 7th of January, and that the Doctor has received copies of the resolutions of Congress relative to the above Declaration of the Empress of Russia.

I am, Gentlemen, with much respect, your most obedient and most humble servant,

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, March 24th, 1781.

Sir,

I have the honor to acquaint your Excellency, that Mr Laurens arrived at Passy the 15th instant, and in the evening of the same day, sent me your despatches intrusted to his care, as well as those which came by the Duke of Leinster, both for Mr Adams and myself. In a day or two after, I forwarded Mr Adams's to him by a private opportunity, it being very unsafe to send anything by the post, which it is of importance to keep secret. As I did not open them, I am wholly ignorant whether they contain anything relative to our first commissions, or in what light to consider myself respecting them, provided I should not proceed to the Court of St Petersburg. My actually going there is a condition precedent, and in virtue of which alone, I am entitled to anything under the resolution of Congress of the 20th of December last.[16]

I have communicated my instructions and commission, and everything respecting it, to Dr Franklin, and have asked his opinion whether it was expedient to make a communication of the general object of my commission to the administration here. He said he thought it was, and that it might be advisable likewise to take the opinion of the Count de Vergennes, whether it would not be proper to make this communication also to the Court of St Petersburg, and obtain their approbation of the measure, before I should set off for that country; that a similar course was taken in the case of Mr Arthur Lee for Madrid, and of Mr William Lee for Vienna. My own opinion exactly coincides with the first part of his advice, but not with the latter part. I think that would rather create than clear away obstacles; it would lay the Court of St Petersburg under a necessity of considering the general object of my commission, and if after this they should approve of the journey, it might involve them in consequences they are not prepared to meet; for Britain would consider such an act as absolutely decisive of the part the Court of St Petersburg meant finally to take, and this consideration, however well they might stand affected towards us, in my opinion would prevent their approving of the proposition, if it did not draw after it an absolute prohibition. There is no difficulty in going in the character of a private citizen of the United States, and when one has once entered, the ground is changed. Admission and rejection are essentially different. Besides, one would be at hand to open the way gradually, as favorable occurrences might arise.

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