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The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. VIII
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I have been at Passy this day to consult the Doctor again on this point, and to lay my objections before him, but he was not at home. I shall do it the first opportunity. If we should finally differ on any point after having consulted Mr Adams, agreeably to my instructions, if they concur in opinion, I shall make no difficulty in conforming exactly to their better judgments, otherwise I must exercise my own upon the choice of opinions. But if the result should be, that I am not to proceed, how, and in what character am I to consider myself? Is my former commission superseded, and what am I to depend upon? The resolution of Congress of the 20th of December last, mentions a certain sum for which I have a letter of credit, conditionally, upon their Minister at this Court, as a salary for one year. Is it the intention of Congress, that that sum is to be my whole support, in the character of their Minister, empowered to do the same things at the Court of St Petersburg, that their Ministers at other Courts, which have not yet acknowledged the independence of the United States, are empowered to do? Or is it their intention, that my former commission should continue in force, and that I should receive the salary of both, which would make my whole support but nominally equal to that, which Congress allows to their other Ministers.

Further, there is no mention made of a secretary or clerk, appointed to assist me, or any provision for either. Is it the intention of Congress to confine me to the sum mentioned in their resolution of the 20th of December last, and even leave me to provide out of it for a clerk or private secretary, (for one will be indispensable,) and for all other expenses? Congress will not surely take it amiss if I ask for information on these points. The absolute necessity I am under of knowing on what I have to depend, I trust will be my sufficient apology. I cannot but lament, that the expediency of advising on these points, did not occur to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. I have as yet received no information upon this subject, but what comes to me in the acts of Congress, and in your Excellency's letter accompanying them.

Convinced as I am of the propriety of such an appointment, it is my present determination, throwing aside all pecuniary considerations, to accept of this honorable trust. I wish my abilities were equal to the importance of it. I can engage for nothing more, than sincere and uniform endeavors to promote the great end of it. Through you, Sir, I beg leave to communicate my most respectful acknowledgments to Congress for this distinguished instance of their confidence in me.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

P. S. I will under my present uncertainties, keep a regular account of all my expenses under this commission, and shall cheerfully submit to the justice of Congress, the propriety of the charges I shall make, and how much ought to be allowed under the denomination of salary, expenses, &c. I shall hope, however, that Congress will reduce these things to a certainty as soon as is convenient. If I find it impracticable to conform to their views, the step I ought to take is very clear and plain.[17]

F. D.

FOOTNOTES:

[16] In Congress, December 20th, 1780. "Resolved, That the President furnish the Minister appointed to the Court of Petersburg with letters of credit on the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at the Court of Versailles, for fifteen hundred pounds sterling, as his salary for one year; provided the said Minister shall proceed to the Court of Petersburg."

[17] See resolutions of Congress, on the subject of Mr Dana's salary and expenses, in the Secret Journal. Vol. II. p. 457.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, March 28th, 1781.

Sir,

I did myself the honor to write to your Excellency, on the 24th instant, and to acknowledge the receipt of your despatches by Colonel Laurens, and by the Duke of Leinster, both for Mr Adams and myself. I also acquainted your Excellency, that I had communicated my instructions, my commissions, and everything respecting it, to Dr Franklin. I mentioned also the question I proposed to him, and his advice upon it, that I differed from him in the latter part of his advice, and assigned my reasons for doing so. I added I would the first opportunity lay before him my objections, for his further consideration of that part of his advice. I have done so this day, and have the satisfaction to find that he now perfectly concurs in opinion with me, so that a simple communication of the general object only will be made here.

I have left the papers with him to consider whether he or I should make it. I think the last paragraph of the first article of my instructions, seems to point it out to be the sense of Congress, that he should do it. Through whatever channel it should be made, it seems to be agreed between us, that the voyage is already settled, and not now a question for consideration, I hope none will be made about it. If there should not arise any obstructions out of this communication, I shall leave Paris on Sunday next, and proceed for Holland, where I shall consult with Mr Adams upon the whole business of my mission, and it shall be my constant endeavor, to give Congress the earliest information of every material circumstance respecting it. My situation may however render my communications less frequent than I could wish, or they expect, especially when it is considered, that there is no safety in corresponding through the posts of these countries.

I hope no occasion will be lost to keep me properly informed of the state of our affairs, particularly of all military operations; so that I may be able to prevent our enemies making impressions to our disadvantage, in which business they constantly labor with much industry, and I wish I could not add with too much success; owing principally to our wanting the necessary information to counteract them.

The accession of Maryland to the Confederation is an event, which may have some good influence upon our affairs, as it may serve to convince a great part of Europe that a strong principle of union exists among us. Yet of this we have not any other account than what comes in private letters, at least I have not seen or heard of any other. Nothing but an anxious concern which I feel to be furnished with authentic evidences of events, which may be improved to the benefit of our country, has led me to speak of this, which I deem important in the manner I have done, and I presume Congress will not attribute it to a querulous disposition.

I am, with the greatest respect and esteem, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Paris, March 31st, 1781.

Sir,

I have the honor to acquaint your Excellency, that Congress have been pleased to charge me with a commission as their Minister at the Court of St Petersburg, and that reposing the highest confidence in his Most Christian Majesty, their first and illustrious ally, and in his Ministers, they have particularly instructed me to communicate the general object of my mission to his Majesty's Minister at the Court of St Petersburg, to the end without doubt, that their negotiations at that Court might be carried on in perfect harmony with those of his Majesty, upon whose gracious and powerful assistance, through his Minister there, Congress place much reliance.

Had Congress apprehended their despatches would have met me here, they probably would not have failed to direct this communication to be made to his Majesty in the first instance, through your Excellency. Under this persuasion, I beg leave to acquaint your Excellency, that the general view of Congress in this mission is, to engage her Imperial Majesty to favor and support the sovereignty and independence of the 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 the United States, to the mutual advantage of both nations, and consistent with the treaties subsisting between his Most Christian Majesty and the United States.

In the firm confidence, that this measure will meet with the cordial approbation of his Majesty, I do not doubt but I shall experience his benevolence, in a proper encouragement and support, in the execution of my mission. It may be proper to acquaint your Excellency, that I propose to set off for Holland next Wednesday morning, if there should be no occasion for further delay, and from thence to proceed to St Petersburg. It is not my intention to assume any public character on my arrival there, but to appear only as a private citizen of the United States, until the result of my inquiries shall point out a ready and honorable reception. I shall most cheerfully obey my instructions to communicate the general object of my mission to his Majesty's Minister at St Petersburg, whose able advice and assistance, I hope your Excellency will be pleased to assure to me.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, March 31st, 1781.

Sir,

My letter of the 28th instant will inform your Excellency, that on that day I had a further consultation with Dr Franklin upon the subject of my mission, particularly upon the mode of communicating the general object of it here, that having agreed upon that, I left the papers with him, to the end that if he thought it proper to make the communication, he might have them before him, and do it without loss of time.

Partly to save time in case the Doctor should be of the opinion, that it was most proper for me to make it, and partly to lay before him my idea about it in writing, I drew up a letter to the Count de Vergennes, which I left with the other papers, a copy of which you will have enclosed. The Doctor called upon me late last evening with the whole, and told me he had attentively considered them, and that he thought it best I should make the communication; and was pleased to add, that he had carefully examined my draft of a letter in particular, and approved of it entirely; that he did not know of any alteration, which could be made in it for the better. Confiding in his judgment more than in my own, I this morning sent a fair copy of it to the Count de Vergennes, (adding only the few words underscored,) which was received at his office at five o'clock this afternoon. This mode obliges me to postpone the time of my departure from Sunday to Wednesday next, when, as I have said in my last, if there should not arise any obstructions out of this communication, I shall set off for Holland.

I am not without my apprehensions on this head, yet I do not see that the measure could have been decently avoided, most certainly not, consistent with the letter and spirit of my instructions. I have endeavored to adapt the mode to the main end I have in view, that is, to stave off any question touching the expediency of the voyage at this time, or prior to my obtaining permission to make it; for the reasons mentioned in my letter of the 24th instant, as well as for others, which it may not be prudent to mention just now. Perhaps they are not well founded. I shall not fail to do myself the honor to transmit to your Excellency the answer I may receive to the enclosed, and a particular account of every material circumstance, which may take place here before my departure. It is probable I shall have a safe opportunity to send duplicates of the whole from Holland.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

COUNT DE VERGENNES TO FRANCIS DANA.

Translation.

Versailles, April 1st, 1781.

Sir,

I have received the letter, which you did me the honor to write to me on the 31st ultimo. I was already informed of the part taken by Congress in the mission, with which you are charged for the Court of St Petersburg. As it would seem, that present circumstances ought to have some influence in fixing the time of your departure, I should be glad on this account to have an interview with you. The reflections, which I shall communicate, have for their principle the sincere interest which I take in the cause of your country, as well as in the dignity of Congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DE VERGENNES.

* * * * *

TO THE COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Paris, April 2d, 1781.

Sir,

I have received the letter, which your Excellency did me the honor to write to me yesterday, in answer to mine of the day before, and I shall do myself the honor to wait on your Excellency, for the purpose mentioned in it before my departure.

It is not to be doubted, that the reflections, which your Excellency desires to communicate to me, are founded in the sincere interest, which you take in the cause of our country, and in the dignity of Congress.

I am, with the highest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, April 2d, 1781.

Sir,

I do myself the honor to enclose to your Excellency the letter of the Count de Vergennes to me of yesterday, in answer to mine of the day before, and my answer to him. Congress need not wait to be informed of the substance of the proposed conference, in order to form a judgment of the sentiments of his Majesty's Ministers, upon the mission with which they have charged me. These are sufficiently pointed out by the Count's letter, which proves the apprehensions, hinted in my last, were not wholly unfounded.

From the beginning, I have foreseen the difficulty of my situation, and I have felt it likewise. Had my instructions been positive to proceed, I should have been considerably advanced on my route at this time. But what can I now do; if I should be told, as I certainly expect to be told, that it is not expedient to proceed at this time, nor until I have taken the sense of the Court of St Petersburg upon the measure? I do not ask this question, expecting any seasonable answer to it. Our distance is unhappily too great for timely explanation. I shall go to Versailles tomorrow, to confer with the Count, after which, whatever may be the result there, I shall think it my duty to set off for Holland, for the purpose of consulting Mr Adams on the whole matter. Having done this, I shall have taken every step, which Congress will expect of me, prior to my making up my final determination respecting my voyage to St Petersburg. I will give your Excellency no further trouble at present, but as any new matter may arise, I will continue to give Congress, through you, the earliest information of it.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, April 4th, 1781.

Sir,

If the packet, which I sent off for L'Orient early this morning comes safe to hand, your Excellency will receive a copy of my letter of the 31st ultimo, to his Excellency the Count de Vergennes, communicating to him the general object of my mission, my letter to yourself of the same date, a copy of the Count's answer to me of the 1st instant, proposing a conference with me before my departure, and my answer to that of the 2d, together with my letter of the same date to you.

I hurried these away, because I conceived the Count's letter clearly manifested the sentiments of his Majesty's Minister on the subject of my mission, and was afraid the opportunity of sending them would otherwise be lost. Whether I was too hasty in this opinion formed upon his letter, Congress will judge. However that may be, I am happy to say, that in the conference I had with his Excellency this morning, (being, at my particular desire, introduced to him by Dr Franklin) I did not perceive that he had formed any fixed judgment upon it. Though he opened the conference with ideas perfectly consonant with those I had supposed him to entertain on the subject, yet, when I had explained to him my proposed line of conduct, he did not persist in them. He seemed rather to have desired an opportunity of communicating to me his reflections, by way of caution and advice, than as serious objections to the mission itself.

He asked if I had any particular object of negotiation in view, to which I answered, that I had communicated the general object of my mission in my first letter to him, that I had it not in contemplation to precipitate any negotiation whatever, that I did not think it agreeable to the design of Congress, and that I certainly would never expose them to any indignities; that it was thought by Congress expedient to have some person at St Petersburg, with an eventual character, who might improve the favorable moment for assuming it. He inquired whether I had received any assurances from that country, that my residence in it would be acceptable. I told him, a gentleman, not a native of the country, had written from thence, that some persons of rank, whether they were connected with the Court at all I could not say, had expressed their wishes that some person should be sent there from America, capable of giving information of the state of our affairs.

He observed, that Russia had not acknowledged the independence of America, that British influence was not done away at St Petersburg; that if I went, it would be supposed that I had some object in view, and there being no visible one, I being an American, would be supposed to have some political views, some eventual character, which might expose me, if I had not permission to reside there, as he expressed himself, to some desagrements. I answered to this effect. That I should appear as a mere private gentleman, travelling with a view of obtaining some knowledge of that country; that whatever suppositions of the sort might be made, the Court would always have it in their power to deny they knew anything about me; and while I held such a line of conduct, I did not imagine they would consider themselves at all concerned in the matter. On the other hand, if I asked permission and obtained it, the British Court would consider that as a proof of the part which Russia meant finally to take, and would immediately act in consequence of it; that it would, perhaps, embarrass the Court of St Petersburg unnecessarily. I added, I wished only to lay before his Excellency my ideas upon the subject, and begged him not to think it was my intention to press this point; that I had a perfect confidence in him (and did not fail to assure him of that of Congress) and wished for his advice; that I should always pay the highest respect to it, and should follow it in matters left to my discretion.

I put one general question to him, whether he thought my going would be injurious to our common interest? To which I did not receive a direct answer, but he advised me to mention my design of going to Petersburg to the Minister at the Hague. I asked him if he would permit me to make use of his name; but this did not comport with his idea of the matter, which was, to keep my eventual character out of sight, and to propose the journey only as a private gentleman of America, desirous of seeing that country, and of inquiring into the nature and state of its commerce, &c. I am not yet wholly reconciled to this step, for if, unhappily, my first apprehensions are well founded, it would be exceedingly easy here, to lay an insurmountable obstacle in my way. While I am making this observation, I feel a concern, lest it might be ungenerous. Besides, it has a strange appearance to me, for a private gentleman of one country to ask the public Minister of another, both being in amity together, whether it is safe or proper for him to travel into the other. The Minister would be apt to wonder what could give rise to such an inquiry, when the Americans are travelling into all other countries without molestation. But I will consult Dr Franklin and Mr Adams on this point.

In the course of our conversation, the Count told me that the resolutions of Congress with which I am particularly charged, (these are my words and not his) had been well received on the part of Russia. This, doubtless, will give Congress satisfaction, as it seems to show a friendly disposition in that Court towards us. If no accident intervenes to prevent it, I shall set off for Holland next Sunday, from whence I hope to be in season to send your Excellency duplicates of the whole. I shall be happy if my conduct thus far meets the approbation of Congress.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO B. FRANKLIN.

Paris, April 6th, 1781.

Sir,

Having, agreeably to my instructions as well as my own inclinations, laid before your Excellency all the papers, which I have received from Congress relative to my mission to the Court of St Petersburg, and my correspondence with his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, in consequence of the same, for the benefit of your good counsel, and as you were so kind, at my particular request, as to introduce me to the Count, at the conference we had last Wednesday, upon the subject of my mission, and heard the whole, I hope you will not think I give you any unnecessary trouble when I request you to favor me, in writing, with your opinion upon the following matters. Whether, on the whole, you conceived the Count to have any objection to the mission itself? Or whether you considered his reflections upon the subject, rather intended as cautions and advice to me, respecting the conduct he would wish me to hold in the business? Whether you supposed him, finally, to make any real objections to my going to St Petersburg, in the character of only a private American gentleman, and there waiting for the favorable moment for opening my eventual character? And whether, all circumstances considered, your Excellency thinks it expedient for me to proceed to St Petersburg in a private character only, and there to wait as abovementioned?

You will not, I presume, think I mean anything particular in my request, when I assure you I shall likewise ask of Mr Adams his opinion, in writing, upon the same subject. Being directed by Congress to consult you and him, I am desirous only to have it in my power, in case of the death of either of you, to show them I have done so, as well as the result itself; and that I have paid, as I shall do, a proper respect and attention to your opinions and advice in the whole of the business.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

P. S. I shall set off for Holland on Sunday morning, and shall cheerfully take your commands.

* * * * *

B. FRANKLIN TO FRANCIS DANA.

Passy, April 7th, 1781.

Sir,

I received the letter you yesterday did me the honor of writing to me, requesting my opinion, in writing, relative to the conference you had with his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes last Wednesday, I being present; and also as to the expediency of your proceeding to St Petersburg; which request I willingly comply with as follows.

Question 1. "Whether, on the whole, I conceived the Count to have any objections to the mission itself?"

Answer. He did not make any such objections, nor did he drop any expression, by which it might be supposed he had any such in his mind.

Question 2. "Whether I considered his reflections upon the subject to be rather intended as cautions and advice to you, respecting the conduct he wished you to hold in the business?"

Answer. His Excellency expressed his apprehensions, that if you went thither under a public character before the disposition of the Court was known, and its consent obtained, it might be thought improper, and be attended with inconvenience; and, if I remember right, he intimated the propriety of your consulting the Ambassador at the Hague.

Question 3. "Whether I supposed him finally to make any real objections to your going to St Petersburg, in the character only of a private American gentleman, and there waiting the favorable moment of opening your eventual character?"

Answer. His objections were, that though you should not avow your public character, yet if known to be an American, who had been in public employ, it would be suspected, that you had such a character, and the British Minister there might exert himself to procure you "quelques desagrements," i. e. chagrins or mortifications. And that unless you appeared to have some other object in visiting St Petersburg, your being an American, would alone give strong grounds for such suspicions. But when you mentioned, that you might appear to have views of commerce, as a merchant, or of curiosity as a traveller, &c. that there was a gentleman at St Petersburg with whom some in America had a correspondence, and who had given hints of the utility there might be in having an American in Russia, who could give true intelligence of the state of our affairs, and prevent or refute misrepresentations, &c. and that you could, perhaps, by means of that gentleman, make acquaintance, and thence procure useful information of the state of commerce, the country, the Court, &c. he seemed less to disapprove of your going directly.

As to my own opinion, which you require, though I have long imagined that we let ourselves down, in offering our alliance before it is desired, and that it would have been better if we had never issued commissions for Ministers to the Courts of Spain, Vienna, Prussia, Tuscany, or Holland, till we had first privately learnt, whether they would be received, since a refusal from one is an actual slight, that lessens our reputation, and makes others less willing to form a connexion with us; yet since your commission is given, and the Congress seem to expect, though I think they do not absolutely require that you should proceed to St Petersburg immediately, I conceive (that assuming only a private character for the present, as you propose) it will be right for you to go, unless on consulting Mr Adams, you should find reason to judge, that under the present circumstances of the proposed mediation, &c. a delay for some time would be more advisable.

With great esteem, and best wishes for your success, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

* * * * *

TO JOHN ADAMS.

Leyden, April 18th, 1781.

Sir,

I feel myself happy, that Congress have made it my duty to consult your Excellency upon the mission, with which they have charged me, for the Court of St Petersburg. To this end I have already laid before you all the papers, which I have received from Congress, any way relating to it, and also my correspondence with his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, and Dr Franklin, upon the same subject, as well as my letters to the President of Congress from the time I received this commission. From all these your Excellency will be fully instructed in the several matters, on which I wish to have the benefit of your advice; but to bring some of them more immediately under your view, I beg leave to state the following questions.

Whether all circumstances considered, your Excellency thinks it expedient for me to proceed to St Petersburg, in the character of a private citizen of the United States only, and to wait there for a favorable moment to announce my public character?

Or whether, previous to my going in such a character, you judge it expedient for me to communicate my design to Prince Gallitzin, Ambassador at the Hague (secreting from him at the same time my public character) and to take his opinion thereon, according to the intimation given to me by the Count de Vergennes at our conference?

Whether it is advisable to communicate my real character to the Court of St Petersburg, and to ask their permission before I undertake the journey?

Whether in case you think it advisable for me to proceed to St Petersburg, in a private character only, without further communications to any one, you conceive it to be the intention of Congress, that I should present their resolutions, relative to the rights of neutral vessels, to the Court of St Petersburg on my arrival there, or whether this is left to my discretion, to be regulated by the then state of affairs at that Court?

Your Excellency will readily perceive the propriety of my writing to you on this business, although we have already had a conference upon it, and my requesting your sentiments in writing also. I shall be happy to make a more particular communication of my own sentiments and views, in further conversation, if you think it needful, before you give me yours.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

JOHN ADAMS TO FRANCIS DANA.

Leyden, April 18th, 1781.

Dear Sir,

I am at no loss what advice to give you in answer to the questions in your letter of this day, because they relate to a subject on which I have long reflected, and have formed an opinion as fully as my understanding is capable of. I think then it is necessary for you to prepare for a journey to St Petersburg without loss of time, that you travel in the character of a gentleman, without any distinction of public or private, as far as the publication of your appointment already made in France will permit.

I should think it altogether improper to communicate your design to the Ambassador of travelling to St Petersburg as a private gentleman, secreting from him at the same time your public character. It would expose you to something very disagreeable. The Ambassador would ask you, why you asked his advice when it is well known that private gentlemen travel in every country in Europe without molestation. Besides, the Ambassador I have reason to believe, would not give you any advice without instructions from his Court, and this would require so much time, that the most favorable opportunity which now presents itself would be lost. And after applying to the Ambassador, and being advised against the journey, or to postpone it for instructions from his Court, it would be less respectful to go, than to go now, when the circumstances of the times are very favorable.

The same reason applies equally against writing to the Court beforehand. The best opportunity would be lost, and the Court would never encourage you to come, until they had determined to receive you, and you would have no opportunity to assist the deliberations upon the subject, by throwing in any light, by answering objections, or explaining the views of Congress.

After your arrival at St Petersburg, I should advise you, unless upon the spot you discover reasons against it, unknown to us at present, to communicate your character and mission to —— or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in confidence, asking his advice, but at the same time presenting him a memorial ready prepared for the ——. If he informs you, if it is best for you to reside there as a private gentleman, or to travel for a time into Sweden or Denmark, or to return here to Holland, where I shall be happy to have your company and counsels, take his advice.

The United States of America have nothing dishonorable to propose to any Court or country. If the wishes of America, which are for the good of all nations, as they apprehend, are not deemed by such Courts or nations consistent with their views and interest, of which they are the supreme judges, they will candidly say so, and there is no harm done. On the contrary, Congress will be applauded for their candor and good intentions. You will make your communication to the French Ambassador of course, according to your instructions. This method was taken by this Republic in her struggle with Spain, nay it was taken by the Republican Parliament in England, and by Oliver Cromwell. It was taken by Switzerland and Portugal, in similar cases, with great success. Why it should be improper now I know not.

I conceive it to be the intention of Congress, that you should communicate their resolutions relative to the rights of neutral vessels, and I am the more entirely of this opinion, because I have already communicated those resolutions to their High Mightinesses, the States-General, and to their Excellencies the Ministers of Russia, Denmark, and Sweden, at the Hague, in pursuance of the letters I had received from the President, and I should now think it improper in me to sign a treaty according to those resolutions, if invited thereto, because it would be interfering with your department.

America, my Dear Sir, has been too long silent in Europe. Her cause is that of all nations, and all men; and it needs nothing but to be explained to be approved. At least these are my sentiments. I have reasons in my mind, which were unknown to their Excellencies, the Count de Vergennes, and Dr Franklin, when you consulted them; reasons which it is improper for me to explain at present. But the reasons I have given appear to me conclusive. No measure of Congress was ever taken in a more proper time, or with more wisdom in my opinion, than the appointment of a Minister at the Hague, and at St Petersburg. The effects of it may not appear in sudden and brilliant success, but the time was exactly chosen, and the happy fruits of it will appear in their course.

Although I shall be personally a sufferer by your appointment, yet I sincerely rejoice in it for the public good. When our enemies have formed alliances with so many Princes in Germany, and so many savage nations against us, when they are borrowing so much of the wealth of Germany, Italy, Holland, and Switzerland, to be employed against us, no wise Court or reasonable man, can blame us for proposing to form relations with countries, whose interests it is to befriend us. An excess of modesty and reserve is an excess still. It was no dishonor to us to propose a treaty to France, nor for our Ministers to reside there more than a year, without being acknowledged. On the contrary, all wise men applauded the measure, and I am confident the world in general will now approve of an application to the maritime powers, although we should remain without a public reception, as long as our Ministers did in France and Spain, nay, although we should be rejected. In this case, Congress and their constituents will all be satisfied. They will have neglected no duty in their power; and the world will then see the power and resources of three or four millions of virtuous men, inhabiting a fine country, when contending for everything which renders life worth supporting. The United States will then fix a medium, establish taxes for the payment of interest, acquire the confidence of her own capitalists, and borrow money at home, and when this is done, they will find capitalists abroad willing enough to venture in their funds.

With ardent wishes for your health and success, I have the honor to be, &c.

JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO EDMUND JENNINGS.

Amsterdam, April 26th, 1781.

Dear Sir,

Have you an inclination to favor me with your company to a certain place, where you seemed to think the presence of an American might be very useful to our country? I have it not in my power to make you any advantageous proffers, but perhaps it may be nearly equal to you to reside at Petersburg or Brussels. It may eventually be turned much to your benefit and honor.

I need not be more particular on this subject, or to request you to keep it to yourself. If my loose proposition meets your approbation, you will please to hasten on here, without loss of time, as I must go forward soon. If you wish to confer with me before you decide, come on immediately, but prepared, however, to proceed with me, in case you think proper to agree to my proposals. Your expenses here and back again shall be paid, if you choose to return. I should be very happy to have your good company, and the assistance of your abilities.

I am, Dear Sir, your sincere friend, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

EDMUND JENNINGS TO FRANCIS DANA.

Brussels, May 3d, 1781.

Dear Sir,

I had the honor of receiving your letters of the 26th and 29th ultimo, by the last post, containing a most obliging invitation to accompany you on some intended tour. It came upon me quite unexpected, and when I had arranged matters to go a very different course, and therefore embarrassed me much. However your very kind manner of holding up to me the most flattering object that I have or ought to have, the service of my country, determined me immediately to accept of your invitation, and I am now laboring hard to settle my little matters, here and elsewhere, that I may present myself to you at Amsterdam, without loss of time. I am afraid, however, that I shall not be able to accomplish it before the middle of next week. Should you think you ought not to stay so long, I beg, that no consideration for me should prevent you from making that despatch, which the public service may require.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

EDMUND JENNINGS.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Amsterdam, May 13th, 1781.

Sir,

I do myself the honor to transmit to your Excellency the duplicates of the papers, which have been already sent from France. To these are added others, which will give to Congress precise information of everything, which has hitherto taken place relative to my late appointment, that can be of any importance to them to know.

I shall not trouble you with observations upon any of them, except the letter of Dr Franklin, and merely to correct one or two mistakes in his account of my conference with the Count de Vergennes. The Doctor says, "when I mentioned that I might appear to have views of commerce, as a merchant, or of curiosity as a traveller," &c.—"that there was a gentleman in Petersburg with whom some in America had a correspondence, who had given hints of the utility," &c.—"and that I could perhaps by means of that gentleman make acquaintance," &c. Persuaded as I was from the beginning, that it could not be for the interest of our country, that I should be stopped short of my destination, and determined to endeavor to obviate every objection, which might be made to my going on, I told the Count, when he seemed to be stating a difficulty arising from my public character, that I could appear as a private gentleman, travelling with a view of obtaining some knowledge of that country. I added, indeed, of its laws, customs, manners, commerce, manufactures, &c. The character of a merchant in those countries is not so respectable as to recommend itself to my choice, when I wished to form connexions with a different order of men. As I did not know of any gentleman at Petersburg, with whom some in America had a correspondence, I could never inform his Excellency of such a circumstance. The fact was quite otherwise, and that part of our conversation was introduced in the manner, and was exactly of the tenor mentioned in my account of the conference. I have a personal knowledge of the gentleman I alluded to; he named the persons of rank, but I did not think it prudent to give their names to the Count. Perhaps I may have the honor to form an acquaintance with persons of some consideration in the country to which I am going, without laying myself under obligations to that gentleman.

I shall set out from hence in a few days on my journey, probably without consulting the Russian Ambassador at the Hague, as I am not yet more reconciled to this step than I was when it was first proposed to me. Mr Adams, your Excellency will perceive, is decidedly against it. We have given our reasons. To these may be added, that to communicate my design of going into his country, and secreting from him at the same time, my public character, if by such means I might obtain his advice and passport to proceed, whenever my real character should be made known, he would perhaps consider it as a mean artifice and an imposition upon him, which he could not overlook, especially when the act of giving his advice or passport (though I have no expectation he would do either) might expose him, or his Court, or both, to all the consequences of having done so, with the full knowledge of my character; for declarations of ignorance in that respect would gain little credit. On the whole, I see no one good purpose that such a consultation as has been recommended to me, would produce, but, on the contrary, I think I see many mischiefs, which might come out of it.

Not thinking it prudent to go on farther unaccompanied by any person in whose hands, in case of my death or accident, your papers and affairs may be safely lodged, for the future advantage of Congress, I have invited Mr Edmund Jennings, a native American, and a gentleman whose character, I believe, may be known to some of the members of Congress, not only to accompany me on my journey but to remain with me there. I promise myself he will be able to afford me much essential assistance in the execution of my duty. I did not, however, take this step till I had communicated my design to Mr Adams, who well knew Mr Jennings, and found that it met his full approbation. I enclose (over and above the other papers) my letter to Mr Jennings on this occasion, and his answer to me. I hope Congress will not disapprove of this measure. I have no other end in it than to promote the interests of our country, in obtaining the assistance of his abilities, and to guard against an event, which may take place, and I think common prudence forbids should be left wholly unprovided for.

I am, Sir, with sentiments of the highest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Amsterdam, May 20th, 1781.

Sir,

I do myself the honor to transmit to your Excellency certain papers, which are duplicates of such as have not been sent off from France. Your Excellency will receive the whole from hence in the South Carolina, commanded by Commodore Gillon, if she arrives safe. If not, the arrival of those from France, together with these by Captain Newman, for Newburyport, will supply them.

I shall not trouble your Excellency with any political matters from hence, because you will, doubtless, be fully informed about them by Mr Adams. I shall hope for early information from our country of every important event, civil or military. I perceive, with much pleasure, that Congress are about adopting a solid system of finance, which will, doubtless, meet with the cordial support of all the States in the Union. When this system shall be established, I hope the Committee of Foreign Affairs, or some others to whom it may belong, will not fail to transmit some account of it, with any observations which may be necessary to explain it. In my separate department, where there is yet little or no good information touching the state of our country, it may be more necessary to pay a particular attention to this business.

I am, with the highest sentiments of respect and esteem, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Berlin, July 28th, 1781.

Sir,

I beg leave to acquaint your Excellency, that after having been detained at Amsterdam more than a month from the time I myself was ready to enter upon my journey, in hopes of being accompanied by Mr Jennings, I have been exceedingly disappointed, that that gentleman has thought himself under the necessity to decline going with me, on account of certain circumstances, which have since turned up in his own affairs.

I left Amsterdam on the 7th instant, (Mr Adams having gone from thence for Paris on the 2d, upon a special call of which he will, doubtless, give your Excellency the earliest notice) and arrived in this city on the 25th, very much indisposed. I thought it expedient to take my route to this city, through Cologne, Frankfort, and Leipsic, though not the common or shortest one, to avoid passing through Hanover, lest my motions should have been watched in Holland, and notice given of my passing through Hanover, which might have brought on the seizure of my person and papers.

I have been unfortunate in having my carriage overthrown and broken in pieces, between Leipsic and Berlin; happily, however, no other injury was sustained. I mention this circumstance, because it not only lays me under the necessity of purchasing another here, (for there is no travelling in these countries tolerably without a private carriage) but it will detain me several days extraordinary. Though I am not quite well, I shall set off as soon as the carriage I have bought can be properly fitted for so long a journey, for no less than fifteen hundred of our miles are still before me; and the route far from being the most pleasant in Europe, yet I should go through it with much alacrity, if I had well grounded hopes that at the end, I should find matters in the state we wish them to be.

As I have no faith on the one hand, that the present mediation of the Emperor and Empress will issue in a pacification, general or partial, so, on the other, I as little expect that it will suddenly light up other wars. It is probable, nothing of the latter kind can take place, without this kingdom having a portion in it, and I have not yet been able to learn, that there is the least expectation of the sort here, which most commonly goes before the act. I suppose, therefore, that the belligerent powers will still continue belligerent, and that the mediators will hope for a more favorable opportunity to renew their mediation, and to make their particular advantage of the conflict. It seems to me it has been accepted by them, (America only excepted, to whom it has not been tendered) rather out of respect, or to avoid giving offence to the mediators, or to seek an advantage by discovering a ready disposition to hearken to every proposition having the least possible tendency to bring about a pacification.

Not one of the belligerent powers, I believe, has an expectation, or a sincere wish that a pacification will, or should be brought about at present. Spain wishes to possess herself of Gibraltar and of the Floridas; can she now hope that these will be ceded to her? Does she not flatter herself, that by the continuance of the war, Britain will become so enfeebled, that they may be wrested from her? That having once obtained them by conquest, she will easily retain them at a peace? France wishes to establish herself, in the place of Britain, the dominant power of Europe; to this end, she sees that it is necessary to snatch the trident from the hand of Britain, and to wield it herself. To effect this, she knows well, that America must be supported in her independence. But is the time yet come, when she can reasonably hope, that both the mediators are prepared to make this last measure a proposition in their mediation, or Britain to acknowledge it?

Great Britain, in my opinion, wishes not to make a separate peace with America, that she may be able to exert her whole force against the House of Bourbon, as many of her popular leaders have frequently expressed themselves. This would be humbling herself in a point on which she is most obstinately fixed. Much sooner would she humble herself before her ancient enemies, provided she could flatter herself, that by doing this, she might make a separate peace with them, and be thereby at liberty to direct her whole force against the United States. In this case she would cherish the hope, that America seeing herself forsaken by her new allies, and exposed singly to the whole power of Britain, might either be induced once more to submit to her domination, or would become an easy conquest, in part at least. So little wisdom, it is probable, experience has taught them. But is there the least hope for Britain, that her ancient enemies are prepared to give up their new friends? Does not their own safety and importance in the political system, absolutely depend upon supporting the independence of our country?

Of Holland or the United Provinces, I know not what to say. They can scarce be ranked among the belligerent powers. The objects of Holland are peace, with that freedom to her commerce, which she had a right to demand in virtue of treaties, which Britain has annulled; as also restitution of her conquered territories, and reparation of the destruction committed upon her navigation. Britain will not gratify Holland in any of these respects, unless she grants the aids claimed, and thereby plunges herself into the war against the House of Bourbon and America, which she can never do. Thus a partial pacification between them is not likely to take place.

America will not consent that the independence of her empire shall be brought into question, or that her rights and claims shall be litigated and adjusted in a Congress, in which she is not properly represented by her Minister. Nevertheless, these things will, I am persuaded, be attempted, and I fear they will not meet with a very vigorous opposition from a quarter, which we have a right to expect should stoutly oppose them.[18] Should a Congress be assembled in this half matured state of things, is there any reasonable ground to hope that the professed design of it, a general pacification, can be accomplished? The determination of such bodies, are, however, so frequently influenced by improper motives, that he who concludes that such a matter cannot be the result merely because it ought not to be, may find himself egregiously deceived in the end.

Thus I have attempted to give a sketch of my sentiments relative to the business of a mediation; but Congress will probably receive a much more particular and satisfactory account of it from a much more able hand, who has besides better information, and is now more immediately connected with it. I have said I should go through the fatigues of my journey with much alacrity, if I had well grounded hopes, that at the end I should find matters in the state we wish them to be. I do not form any strong conclusion from the answer of the Empress to the United Provinces. What could they expect from her when they had so shamefully neglected any preparations necessary even for their own defence, and seemed not to be half decided about making any. But the following memorial of the French Ambassador at her Court, taken in conjunction with the present retirement of Count Panin, her Prime Minister, seems to denote an essential change in the system of the Court of St Petersburg.

"St Petersburg, 12th of June. Friday last the Minister of the Court of Versailles had a conference with Count Osterman, Vice Chancellor of the Empire, and delivered him a memorial of the following import.

'Representations upon the continual proceedings of the English against the commerce and navigation of the neutral nations, upon the little activity of these last to prevent these arbitrary proceedings, and to support the principles of their declarations made to the belligerent powers, and the convention of neutrality, which has been concluded between them; upon the prejudice which will naturally result therefrom to all nations; and upon the desire which the King his master has, that it should be remedied by the vigorous co-operation of her Imperial Majesty; seeing that otherwise the said association of neutrality would be turned but to the benefit of the enemies of France, and that the King who has himself to the present time, exactly conformed to the principles of the above mentioned declaration and convention of neutrality, will find himself, though with regret, under the indispensable necessity of changing in like manner the system which he has hitherto pursued respecting the commerce and navigation of neutrals, and to order and regulate that according to the conduct which the English themselves pursue, and which has been so patiently borne by the neutral nations; objects upon the subject matter of which, his Majesty has nevertheless thought, that he ought to suspend his final resolution, until he should have concerted measures with her Imperial Majesty upon this business.'"

As Mr Adams had left Amsterdam before this memorial appeared, I could not have the benefit of his judgment upon it, but I am so thoroughly acquainted with his political sentiments, that I believe I may say, it would have made no alteration in his opinion touching the expediency of my going forward. It certainly has made none in mine on that point, though it has indeed given me some reason to apprehend, that at present the prospect of success is not so good as before. The experiment ought to be made, what are the real dispositions of that Court towards us, or what they would be if they were better and properly informed about us. Britain most certainly has been industrious in concealing the real state of things from them, and there has not been any one there to counteract her. By this step we shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing whether the Empress wishes to take any friendly concern in our affairs; a point of knowledge perhaps not altogether unprofitable, though it should turn out contrary to our wishes, as it may prevent our amusing ourselves vainly with expectations of important assistance from Europe, and teach us one wholesome lesson, that America, under the blessing of God, must depend more upon her own exertions, for the happy establishment of her great political interests.

I think it my duty to apprize Congress, that I have no expectation of any essential support in my commission there, though I shall be careful to appear to be persuaded of the contrary, so long as I may do so without injuring our cause. I doubt whether it is natural for us to expect this support in any part of Europe, for when a nation thinks it will insure to itself a powerful influence over another by being its only friend and ally, why should it seek to procure it other allies, who, by their friendly offices and support, will have a share of that influence, and nearly in the same proportion as the new friends gain it, the old ones must lose it? Some may act upon such a principle. I may, in some future letter, give you more particular reasons, why I am persuaded we ought not to expect any real support, in our attempts to form new alliances, and why the Ministers of Congress in Europe should be encouraged in pursuing a more independent line of conduct. I am sensible this is a matter of much delicacy, and that appearances of the most perfect confidence should be kept up as long as possible. I am sensible, also, that the man who thinks thus, and who wishes to act in conformity to his own sentiments, exposes himself to secret and malicious attacks, which may frequently wound, if not destroy his moral and political reputation, if he has any; but it becomes our duty to think freely, and to communicate freely on some matters, and I hope we may do so safely; otherwise, there is an end of all beneficial correspondence, and expectations of rendering any essential services to our country.

I crave your Excellency's pardon for the length of this letter, and beg leave to subscribe myself, with the highest respect, and most perfect esteem, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

FOOTNOTES:

[18] This doubtless refers to France, but the suspicion was not well founded, for when a pacification was proposed through the mediation of Russia and Austria, the Court of France insisted on an express preliminary condition, that the United States should be represented by their Ministers as an independent power in the negotiations for peace. It was on this account alone, that England refused to come into the plan of the mediation.

* * * * *

TO THE MARQUIS DE VERAC, FRENCH MINISTER AT ST PETERSBURG.

St Petersburg, August 30th, 1781.

Mr Dana begs leave to acquaint his Excellency, the Marquis de Verac, that he has arrived in town, and proposes to do himself the honor of paying his respectful compliments to his Excellency, as the Minister of the sovereign in alliance with his country, at any hour, which shall be most agreeable to him.

Mr Dana is silent at present with regard to himself, presuming that his Excellency has been already informed by his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, of his intended journey to this place, and of some circumstances, which have opened the nature of his business.

* * * * *

THE MARQUIS DE VERAC TO FRANCIS DANA.

Translation.

Thursday, August 30th, 1781.

The Marquis de Verac has the honor to present his compliments to Mr Dana, and is very happy to hear of his arrival, which he had been prepared to expect by the Count de Vergennes; he will be flattered to make his acquaintance, and to assure him of his eagerness to render him any service in his power in this country.

* * * * *

TO THE MARQUIS DE VERAC, AMBASSADOR FROM FRANCE.

St Petersburg, September 1st, 1781.[19]

Sir,

I have the honor to acquaint your Excellency, that the Congress of the United States of America have been pleased to charge me with a commission as their Minister at the Court of St Petersburg, and that they have also particularly instructed me to make a communication of the general object of my mission to his Most Christian Majesty's Minister at the same Court. This last measure was doubtless the effect of that full confidence they have, not only in his Majesty and his Ministers in general, but in your Excellency in an especial manner, and is strongly expressive of their earnest wish and persuasion, that their negotiations at this Court may, and will be conducted in perfect harmony with those of his Majesty, and that they rest assured, that his benevolence and friendship towards the United States and the general cause of humanity, are sufficient inducements to draw forth the most powerful aid and support of his Majesty in the business of this mission; the general object of which is, to engage her Imperial Majesty to favor and support the sovereignty and independence of the United States of America, and to lay a foundation for a good understanding and friendly intercourse between the subjects of her Imperial Majesty and the citizens of the United States, to the mutual advantage of both nations, and consistent with the treaties subsisting between his Most Christian Majesty and the United States.

Thus a foundation is laid in this quarter, the more strongly to cement the interests and affections of our two countries. And I feel myself inexpressibly happy, that it has fallen to my lot to be connected in this business with a person so distinguished as well for his benevolence of heart as for the eminence of his abilities; and I flatter myself your Excellency will at all times be ready to afford me every assistance in your power, which I may need in the execution of my mission.

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

FOOTNOTES:

[19] Almost all Mr Dana's letters from Russia were dated in the Old Style. In preparing them for the press, the dates have been altered to New Style.

* * * * *

THE MARQUIS DE VERAC TO FRANCIS DANA.

Translation.

St Petersburg, September 2d, 1781.

Sir,

I have received the letter, which you did me the honor to write to me yesterday, and I cannot too strongly express to you how sensible I am of the mark of confidence, which you have shown me, in communicating the views proposed by the Congress of the United States of America, when they decided to send you to the Court of Russia as their Minister Plenipotentiary to the Empress. You know, Sir, the deep interest, which the King takes in the cause of the United States, and you need not doubt, that I shall be anxious to render you here all the services in my power, and which the circumstances of place and persons will permit.

At this moment I cannot better reciprocate your confidence than by making you acquainted with the general dispositions of her Imperial Majesty in regard to the powers at war. From the commencement of hostilities, this sovereign has made it a point of honor to hold the balance perfectly equal between the different parties, taking particular care not to manifest any kind of preference, by carefully avoiding every advance, which could indicate the slightest partiality in favor of either of the belligerent powers to the prejudice of the others. It is this equitable and perfectly impartial conduct, which has determined the Courts of the House of Bourbon, as well as that of London and the States-General, to accept the offers of this Princess, when she proposed to terminate their differences by a mediation conjointly with that of the Emperor; and you are certainly not ignorant, Sir, that her first plan of pacification has been sent to all the Courts, that are interested. I confide to you, also, that the United States of America are to take a part in it, and that these august mediators desire that your Deputies may be admitted to the Congress, which shall regulate the pretensions of the belligerent powers, that they may there be able to debate and discuss their own interests. Thus you have in few words the state of things at the Court of Russia, and you will readily comprehend, that her Imperial Majesty, not wishing to dissatisfy the Court of London more than those of Versailles and Madrid, abstains with the greatest possible care from showing any particular inclination for the American cause.

Under these circumstances, Sir, it is very doubtful whether the Cabinet of her Imperial Majesty will consent to recognise the Minister of a power, which has not as yet, in their eyes, a political existence, and expose themselves to the complaints, which the Court of London will not fail to make against an indication of favor so public. I ought, therefore, to desire you to reflect much before you display the character with which you are clothed, or make advances which will be more injurious than beneficial to the success of your views. It is not now as the Minister of the King, that I have the honor to speak, but as a man whom the residence of a year in this place has furnished with local knowledge, which you cannot have acquired. If, however, you overcome this difficulty, if you commence a negotiation with the Russian Minister, and will do me the honor to make me acquainted with it, you need not doubt that I shall strive most cheerfully to second you in everything, which shall concern the common interest. Be persuaded, moreover, that on the occasions when I shall deem it my duty to remain inactive, it will be because I am well satisfied, that any advance on my part would be injurious to one, without any advantage to the other.

I can add nothing to the sincerity of my wishes for the success of your mission, or to the distinguished sentiments with which I have the honor to be, &c.

THE MARQUIS DE VERAC.

P. S. I ought to inform you, that the Count Panin and the Count d'Ostermann do not understand English; this will render your communications with these Ministers difficult.

* * * * *

TO THE MARQUIS DE VERAC.

St Petersburg, September 4th, 1781.

Sir,

I have received the letter, which your Excellency did me the honor to write to me yesterday, in answer to mine of the day before, communicating to you the general object of my mission.

It is impossible for me to express the obligations I feel myself under to your Excellency, for letting yourself so readily, and with so much frankness, into the state of affairs at this Court, so far as I could have any concern in them, and for your confidential communication respecting the proposition for the admission of the American Minister into the proposed Congress; a proposition founded in eternal justice, and which cannot fail to reflect immortal glory upon the august mediators. Although I had before been acquainted with this, and also that the Court of London had rejected the mediation on that very account, yet I deemed it so very productive an event, and of so much importance to the interests of my country, that I had proposed, after being honored with your answer to my first, to write to your Excellency upon that subject, and also to request your sentiments and opinions upon the actual state of things at this Court, but your goodness has anticipated my design.

You will not impute it to a proper want of respect for your sentiments and opinions, if I presume to raise some doubts, and to make some reflections upon them. For whether they come from the Marquis de Verac, or from the Minister of France, they make an equal impression upon my mind, and it is at present a matter of indifference to me. The wisdom of her Imperial Majesty, in making it, as you express yourself, "from the moment the first hostilities commenced, a point of honor to hold the balance perfectly equal between the different parties, taking particular care not to manifest any kind of preference, by carefully avoiding every advance, which could indicate the slightest partiality in favor of either of the belligerent powers to the prejudice of the others," cannot be too much admired. But it would be paying an ill compliment to that penetration, for which her Majesty is so justly celebrated, to suppose, that she did not also from that very moment clearly discover the importance of the American revolution, at least to all the maritime powers of Europe, and that it was the only basis, upon which could be erected her favorite and just system, of equal freedom and commerce and navigation to all nations.

She might hope to obtain this great end, and to acquire the glory of mediating between the belligerent powers at one and the same time. Upon this supposition, that exact neutrality she has hitherto held, was both wise and necessary. It was necessary above all, that she should abstain, with the greatest care, from manifesting a particular inclination for the cause of America. It seems her system of politics must have undergone an essential change, and that it has now become absolutely impossible for her Imperial Majesty any longer to conceal her particular inclination for the cause of America, since she, in conjunction with the Emperor has proposed, that the Minister of the United States, should be admitted into the Congress for settling the pretensions of the belligerent powers, and there to debate himself, and discuss their proper interests. This is to rank America (as in fact she stands) among the belligerent powers, and, in a manner, to acknowledge her independence. It is making a much larger stride towards it, I confess, than I expected would have been made in the first plan of pacification. That they must come to it at last, I have been long firmly persuaded.

I must take the liberty to differ in opinion from your Excellency, when you say, in the present circumstances, it is very doubtful whether the Ministry of her Imperial Majesty will acknowledge a Minister from the United States of America, more especially when I reflect upon the principal reasons you assign for this opinion. I can no longer consider myself as "the Minister of a power, which has not as yet, in her eyes, a political existence." It is difficult to conceive upon what ground her Imperial Majesty could propose that a Minister appointed for the express purpose, by the United States of America, in Congress assembled, should be admitted into a Congress to be held for settling the pretensions of the belligerent powers, if she did not admit the political existence of that body, and consider it as a complete sovereign. The fact is undeniably true, and no fallacy of our enemies can invalidate it, that the United States of America have been, ever since the 4th of July, 1776, a free, sovereign, and independent body politic. Your illustrious Sovereign made this declaration in the face of the whole world, more than three years since; and I flatter myself the time is now come, when other sovereigns are prepared to make the same, if properly invited to do it. Neither can I imagine, that her Imperial Majesty will now give herself much concern about any groundless complaints, which the Court of London may make against such a public mark of respect for my sovereign, as my open reception in the character of its Minister would be. I cannot but consider her Imperial Majesty's line of conduct, in this respect, decided by the above proposition, which she made as mediator between the belligerent powers. No one could more deeply wound the Court of London. She must have contemplated as probable, at least, what I think might have been almost certainly predicted, namely, the rejection of her mediation by the Court of London, on account of that very proposition, and have resolved upon her measures in consequence of it. She could never have committed the honor and dignity of her Imperial Crown to so improbable a contingency, as the Court of London accepting her mediation upon the terms upon which it was tendered.

Having seen Britain in vain attempting for more than six years, the reduction of the United States, without being able in all that time to conquer one of them; finding them to continue inflexibly firm through all their variety of fortune in the war, and still in full possession of their independence; seeing several of the principal powers of Europe long involved in the contest; having observed between them the strictest neutrality to this moment; and having at last freely tendered her good offices to bring about a general pacification upon the most reasonable and just grounds and principles, which the Court of London has thought proper to reject, still keeping up their absurd claims over the United States; it would seem after all this, that there now remained but one step for her Imperial Majesty to take, consistent with her dignity, (for I presume the mediators cannot withdraw their proposition,) which is, to acknowledge the independence of America, as the most probable means, if not the only one, now left to restore peace to both Europe and America, and effectually to establish freedom of commerce and navigation to all nations.

If the sovereigns of Europe do not see this to be the proper moment for putting the finishing stroke to so glorious a work, when is it to be expected the critical moment will arrive? How long are they likely to wait before they presume to form political connexions with, and enjoy the profitable commerce of the new world? Will they stay till the pride and arrogance of Britain shall be so far humbled, as voluntarily to give up her chimerical claims over the United States, and to invite them into this political connexion?

These are the sentiments and opinions of a man, who feels the want of experience in the business of Courts, and of that local information, both of which your Excellency possesses, in so eminent a degree. It is therefore with much diffidence I venture to differ from yours. I have endeavored to follow that example of frankness you have set me in your communication; and I hope I have treated your sentiments and opinions with all that decency and respect, which everything which may come from you, demands of me. If I am wrong, I trust you will have the goodness to set me right. I have already reflected upon this subject, but I shall most certainly attend to your friendly caution, and reflect again upon it, before I open the character with which I am clothed, and be careful to avoid engaging myself in any measure, which may become more prejudicial than advantageous to the success of my views. On the other hand, when I see no difficulty in adopting the measure I shall presently mention, it becomes my indispensable duty to adopt it, because it appears to me to be betraying the honor and dignity of the United States to seclude myself in a hotel, without making one effort to step forth into political life; besides, I think I owe this also to her Imperial Majesty, who it is possible, may have matured her political plan to the utmost gratification of my wishes. If otherwise, I presume I shall nevertheless be treated in such a manner, as will reflect no dishonor upon the sovereign authority of the United States, or upon myself individually considered. If the experiment is not made, the United States can never be satisfied, that in a juncture apparently so favorable, it would not have succeeded, and their Minister would find it extremely difficult to justify before them a state of absolute inaction.

At present, I should be puzzled for reasons to vindicate such a conduct, while they seem to crowd in upon me in support of a contrary one. The United States trust to the justice of their cause, and the rectitude of their intentions, to open the way for them into the affections of the sovereigns of Europe. They have no sinister, no dishonorable propositions to make to any of them, but such only as they are persuaded will essentially promote the great interests and well being of all. The measure I propose to take, is to make a confidential communication of my public character to the proper Minister of her Majesty, and of the general object of my mission; and perhaps to accompany those with a short memorial to her Majesty. I shall ask and conform to his advice, if he is pleased to give it to me, as to the proper time of presenting the memorial, or taking any other step in the business of my mission; and ask him in the meantime to assure me of the protection of her Majesty. I shall acquaint him, that I have not yet assumed any public character, or made it known to any person but to your Excellency, (in obedience to my instructions,) that I am invested with one, and that I shall not do either without his approbation.

As I have done in this instance, so your Excellency may be persuaded I shall in future make you fully acquainted with any negotiation I may enter upon with the Russian Ministry, because I rely upon the support you have been pleased to assure to me, in everything I may undertake, which may concern the common interests of our two countries, and which you should not think injurious to the one without being beneficial to the other. I must crave your Excellency's pardon for the length of this letter, and hope you will impute that to the desire I have to impart to you fully my sentiments and intentions touching the subject of it.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

THE MARQUIS DE VERAC TO FRANCIS DANA.

Translation.

St Petersburg, September 12th, 1781.

Sir,

In the letter, which I had the honor to write to you on the 2d instant, I made only a passing mention of the article of the plan of pacification proposed by the Courts of Vienna and Petersburg, which stipulates for the admission of deputies from the United States at the Congress. Persuaded, as you appear to have been, that the American Minister would be admitted in the same manner as if their public character were recognised at the moment of their arrival, not only by the belligerent powers, but also by the mediating powers, your reasoning is perfectly just when you say, that one cannot admit and recognise the Minister of a power without recognising the independence and political existence of that power; and hence you conclude it is very possible, that the Court of Petersburg may be in a disposition to recognise voluntarily the character with which you are clothed. This reasoning is equally an evidence of the justice of your views and of your knowledge in the matter of public right. I alone have been wrong not to enter more into detail concerning the article, which you have erected into a principle. But in truth, I refrained from this, because I supposed you were already perfectly acquainted with it. I cannot better repair my omission, than to transcribe the article, as it has been sent to the Courts of Versailles, Madrid, and London. "There shall be a treaty at Vienna, under the mutual direction of the two Imperial Courts, concerning all the objects of the re-establishment of peace, &c." "And there shall at the same time be a treaty between Great Britain and the American Colonies for the re-establishment of peace in America, but without the intervention of any other belligerent parties, not even that of the two Imperial Courts, unless their mediation shall be formally asked and granted for this object."[20]

By this the mediating Courts intend, that your deputies shall treat simply with the English Ministers, as they have already treated with them in America in the year 1778; that the result of their negotiations shall make known to the other powers upon what footing they ought to be regarded; and that their public character will be acknowledged without difficulty, from the moment the English themselves interpose no opposition. This plan has been conceived for the purpose of conciliating the strongly opposing pretensions. Have the goodness, Sir, to observe, that I do not say that I approve this scheme. I merely say, that the august mediators have adopted it, in rendering to you an account of the reasons by which they are guided. It is, therefore, clear that their design is to avoid compromiting themselves by acknowledging the independence of the United States, till England herself shall have taken the lead.

You perceive, Sir, that nothing is more conformable to my wishes, than to see Russia acknowledge the independence of the United States. If it depended on me to draw from her this acknowledgment, you would immediately have grounds to be perfectly contented with my efforts. In a word, you cannot doubt, that the Minister of his Most Christian Majesty in Russia takes a warm interest in your cause. But the more I desire your success, the more I feel myself obliged to forewarn you of the difficulties which you have to surmount, and I should betray my duty, if I were voluntarily to leave you in ignorance on so important a point. Invested, as you are, with a public character on the part of a power, whose rights and perfect independence it is my duty to recognise, it does not pertain to me to guide your advances, but the alliance of this same power with the King my master, invites me to acquaint you with all the knowledge, which I have acquired respecting this country, that can be useful to you. It is with the greatest pleasure, Sir, that I fulfil this duty in repeating to you, what I had the honor to say to you in my first letter, that when you shall have succeeded in surmounting the difficulties, which you may meet in causing your public character to be recognised at this Court, you will find me entirely disposed to second you in everything, which shall regard the common interest of our countries, when it shall be probable that my intervention will be agreeable to the Ministers of her Imperial Majesty.

You are too enlightened, Sir, to need my counsels, and much less my approbation. I shall confine myself, therefore, to communicating such facts as shall come to my knowledge, and which may interest you, leaving to your intelligence and discernment the task of combining them and drawing from them the plan of conduct, which you shall think most suitable, being well persuaded, that whatever course you may pursue will be for the best, and most conformable to your interests. I ought to confide to you, therefore, that we are daily expecting the answers of France and of Spain concerning the plan of pacification. When these arrive, we shall know what is intended as to the article relating to the deputies of Congress, and shall see how these observations will be received at St Petersburg. It is for you to judge, Sir, whether you think this circumstance ought to withhold you or not from making known here your political character.

I have the honor to be, &c.

THE MARQUIS DE VERAC.

P. S. I ask pardon for the delay of this answer. It has been owing to the embarrassment of translating your letter; the Marquis de la Coste, my son-in-law, being the only person in my family who can read a little English.

FOOTNOTES:

[20] See the articles of pacification at large, as far as they relate to America, in John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. VI. p. 100.

* * * * *

TO THE MARQUIS DE VERAC.

St Petersburg, September 13th, 1781.

Sir,

On my return home last evening, I found myself honored with your Excellency's letter of yesterday. No apology could be necessary for the delay of it. It is not to be expected, that M. le Marquis de la Coste, should make a task of translating my letters, or suffer them to interfere with his engagements or avocations. It is with extreme repugnance I write to your Excellency, because of the trouble I know that it must give him; and nothing but an opinion of the necessity of doing it, has given your Excellency, or the Marquis, any trouble of that sort.

It may not be amiss to acquaint your Excellency, that just before my departure from Holland, by an unforeseen accident, I was unexpectedly deprived of the assistance of a gentleman, who both speaks and writes the French language well, and was to have accompanied me hither. Your Excellency may be assured, I shall very readily wait some time before I enter upon the measure mentioned in my last, in hopes of being favored with the answers of the Courts of Versailles and Madrid to the plan of pacification, as soon after you may receive them, as shall be convenient to you. It is my earnest wish to form my conduct upon the fullest informations I can possibly obtain, and to avoid any step, which may have the least tendency rather to injure than to promote the interests of either country.

Your Excellency will be pleased to accept my warmest thanks for your attention to the business of my mission, your wishes for the success of it, as well as for the assurances of your personal zeal, to promote the general interests of the United States.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

St Petersburg, September 15th, 1781.

Sir,

In my letter from Berlin I did myself the honor to give your Excellency an account of my route, as far as that city. A duplicate of that letter will accompany this. I was detained there nine days, the first part of which time was lost by my illness, and the rest in waiting for my carriage. I set off from thence the 2d of August, and arrived here, travelling day and night, on the 27th, New Style, having stopped in this route (sometimes to recruit a little, and sometimes to make the reparations to my carriage, necessary in so long a journey) at the following places, viz. Dantzic, Konigsberg, Memel, Riga and Narva, all of which are ports of consideration, and lay in my way.

I made during my short stay in them as full inquiry into the nature of their commerce as circumstances would admit of. I do not find that the exports from any of them, Riga excepted, are calculated for our markets, or that we can derive any advantage from them, till we engage in circuitous voyages and become their carriers. The great article of Riga is cordage of all sorts, which I am told is the best in all these countries. They export considerable quantities of hemp likewise, to say nothing of articles similar to our own, but this article can perhaps be better purchased at St Petersburg, than anywhere else. I expect to receive shortly a minute account of all the exports and imports of Riga, with their prices current, &c. Being no merchant, my account of these things it is to be expected will be defective, but this being made a part of my duty, I shall endeavor to execute it in the best manner I am able.

It is to be observed, that the Dantzickers, the Prussians and the Russians are improving the present opportunity, which the Dutch war affords them of increasing their own navigation, with the utmost industry; and the great rise of freights enables them to do it with much advantage. What effect this may have upon the sovereigns of the two last countries, to slacken their pace towards the acknowledgement of the independence of ours, which would lead to a speedy peace, I cannot say. The subjects of the Emperor are reaping the same advantages from the war.

An opportunity by water from hence to Amsterdam now presents itself, and this being the safest way, I shall send my despatches under cover to the care of Mr Adams, and shall desire him to break them up, and read them before he forwards them for America, as the best means of making him fully acquainted with all that has yet taken place here, especially with the sentiments of the French Minister, which appear to me to deserve our particular attention. Though I am no better satisfied with the reasons given in support of his opinion, in his second letter, than I was with those in his first, yet I thought it not prudent to press him any further, with my opposition to them, and that it was quite sufficient to give him to understand that I still intended to adopt the measure mentioned in my second letter. He possibly may have other reasons for his opinions, which he chooses to keep to himself, but surely such cannot serve as rules by which to regulate my conduct while I remain ignorant of them, nor can I imagine it to be my duty, or the expectation of Congress, that I should blindly fall into the sentiments of any man, especially when I think this backwardness to give proper support to our cause at the Courts of Europe, may be accounted for on other principles. That it does actually exist, I can now no longer doubt. However, Congress will make up their own judgment upon this point from the letters of the Minister himself, and from other facts, with which they are much better acquainted than I can be.

I confess, that had the proposition of the mediators been laid before me to form my opinion upon, unaccompanied with the strictures of the French Minister, I should have laid my finger upon three words only in it, viz. en meme tems, and considered the others, to which he meant to draw my particular attention, by underscoring them, as merely colorable terms, and a specimen of that finesse, from which the politics of Europe can never be free. I should therefore have drawn from it a conclusion very different from that of the French Minister, viz.—"It is therefore clear, that their design is to avoid compromiting themselves by recognising the independence of the United States, till England herself shall have done it;" for if, as he would have me to understand, the mediators do in fact still consider the United States as British Colonies, and that neither the belligerent powers, or themselves, ought to interfere in settling the war between them and Great Britain, without being invited by both parties, how comes it to pass, that as mediators between the belligerent powers, meaning not to comprehend America under that predicament, they should go on to annex, in the nature of condition of their mediation, that "there shall be at the same time a treaty between Great Britain and the American Colonies, respecting the re-establishment of peace in America;" thereby prescribing to a sovereign State the time when it shall enter upon the settlement of a dispute, existing between the Sovereign of that State and a part of his subjects, in which they mean not to intermeddle; and, according to the French Ministers, even the manner of doing it. For, says he, "the mediating Courts intend thereby, that your deputies shall treat simply with the English Ministers, in the same manner as they have already treated in America with the Commissioners from Great Britain in the year 1778." I could have set him right in matter of fact here, but it would have answered no good purpose.

This measure, I am told, has been proposed "to conciliate opposing pretensions," and "that the result of their negotiations will make known to the other powers on what footing they ought to be regarded, and that their public character will be acknowledged without difficulty from the moment that the English interpose no opposition." If such were the designs of the mediators, why not leave Great Britain to compose her internal troubles in her own time, and in her own way, and proceed to the great business of composing those of the nations of Europe? How are we to account for the Court of London rejecting the mediation if they conceived the proposition in that very inoffensive light, which he supposes it to be meant, and if it was so clear from it, that the mediators would not interfere in our particular negotiation unless invited to do it, and were determined never to acknowledge the independence of the United States until Great Britain herself had done it, or at least till the moment in which she shall cease to oppose it? Could a more favorable occasion be presented to Great Britain for negotiation? My present opinion upon this matter is, that the mediators do in fact consider the United States, as an independent sovereign power; that upon that principle they wish to extinguish the flames of war in both countries at the same time; that they do not flatter themselves they can restore peace to Europe during the continuance of the war in America, or that the United States will treat with Britain upon any other ground than that of an independent power; that to bring about a general pacification, in a manner the least offensive to any of the belligerent powers of Europe, particularly Britain, they have framed their propositions in the terms in which it is conceived; and although they declare in it, that the other belligerent powers, or even themselves ought not to interfere in our particular negotiations, yet it seems to be their intention, that the negotiation between the European powers, should proceed but with equal pace with our particular one.

I cannot but think the mediators expected the Court of London would reject this first plan of mediation, on account of the proposition respecting America (as I am told by a public Minister here, who ought to be well informed upon the point, they certainly have done) although it is worded in a manner as little offensive to their feelings as the nature of things would admit of; and that having tried this measure, the mediators will next proceed to another, in which their sentiments in favor of the United States will be less ambiguous.

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