After all, the French Minister may be perfectly right, touching the dispositions and resolutions of the mediating powers towards the United States, but I think his conviction must arise from other facts and principles, than those he has chosen to expose to me. I feel myself however on that supposition, at no great loss to determine what ought to be my own line of conduct. I think it ought to be exactly the same in both cases, so far as respects the proposed communication of my public character to this Court. If her Imperial Majesty has really resolved upon such a strange system of politics, the sooner Congress obtain the best evidence of it the better, on many accounts, and this is to be had only by making this experiment. They will among other things then consider, whether it is worth while for the United States to be at the expense of supporting a Minister at a Court, which is resolved to defer the acknowledgment of their independence, till Great Britain shall have done it herself, or at least to the moment she shall cease to oppose it. At this period, if it should ever arrive, the United States, I suppose, would feel themselves as much indebted to the sovereign, who should offer to acknowledge their independence, as I should to the French Minister here, who has told me, "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," for any assistance he may then give me.
It is evident from hence, that I am not likely to receive from him the least assistance in the business of my mission. I must proceed in it therefore by myself, or be totally inactive. I thought it advisable to assure the French Minister, that I would wait some time for the answers of the Courts of Versailles and Madrid, lest he might think I treated his opinions with disrespect. In doing this I think no injury will happen to our interests, for besides the possibility that some important information may be obtained from them, and the effect they may have at this Court, I am told Count Panin will shortly return to Court, and that he has the most favorable sentiments of the United States, of any of her Imperial Majesty's Ministers. Should this information be just, an advantage is to be expected by the delay. Congress will doubtless consider the difficulty of my situation, standing alone upon new ground, and will make every allowance for it I ought in reason to expect.
I am, with the highest respect, and most perfect esteem, &c.
 The French government seem to have considered the proposition of the mediating powers, by which England and the United States were to treat separately, as impracticable and inadmissible. In their answer they say,
"His Majesty thinks it his duty to say, that he has allies, with whom he has inviolable engagements; that he should betray them in abandoning the American cause; and that it would be abandoning this cause for him to negotiate a separate peace. The high mediators have seen the impossibility of such an attempt, since they have themselves perceived the impossibility of proceeding at an equal pace with the negotiation of the King and that of the United States. But even admitting, that the King could separate his affairs from those of America, that he could consent to pursue only his personal interests, and leave to the Americans the task of coming to an accommodation with their ancient metropolis; what would be the result of this conduct? It would evidently be an illusory peace, a mere creation of the brain. Indeed, if (as there is the strongest evidence) the Americans persist in refusing to return to obedience to the British Crown, the war will continue between England and her ancient Colonies, and the King will then be obliged, as he is now, to assist them." Flassan, Vol. VII. p. 319.
Again, the French government say in their answer;
"The two Imperial Courts cannot flatter themselves with the hopes of bringing their mediation to a happy issue, if they do not prevent the subterfuges and false interpretations, which either of the belligerent powers may avail themselves of to explain according to their views the preliminary propositions, which will certainly happen if they do not previously ascertain the sense of the expressions, which relate to America.
"The Court of London will elude as much, and as long as she possibly can, the direct or indirect acknowledgment of the independence of the United States, and will avail herself of the terms that are used in speaking of them, to maintain that she is not obliged to treat with her ancient Colonies as with a free and independent nation. From whence it will follow, that when the mediation is in force, and they shall be about to enter upon the negotiation, they will dispute the character in which the American Plenipotentiary shall be received. The King of England will consider him as his subject, while Congress will demand that he should be received as the representative of a free people, by means whereof the mediation will be stopped at the first outset.
"To prevent this inconvenience it should seem, that previous to any other measure, the character of the American agent ought to be determined in the most precise and positive manner, and Congress should be invited to confide its interests to the mediation. This invitation is so much the more interesting as the negotiation relative to America should go hand in hand with that of the Courts of Madrid and Versailles, and by consequence the negotiations, although separate, should commence at the same time. But who will invite the Congress to treat with England? The King (of France) cannot, since the first article excludes him from the negotiation. This task then can only be executed by the mediators themselves. All that the King can do, and that he will do with zeal and fidelity, is to invite the Americans to the peace, and to facilitate it by every means, which they believe compatible with their essential interests. But that the King may take this step with safety and the hopes of success, and with the certainty of not rendering himself suspected by the Americans, it is necessary that he should first know the determination of the mediators upon the observations now made to them, and that this determination should be such as to secure to the United States their political existence."
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TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
St Petersburg, October 1st, 1781.
In the project of a treaty, which France proposes to Russia, there is an article to this effect;
"When the subjects of France shall carry in their own vessels French goods into Russia, and shall exchange them for Russian goods, in such cases there shall be a drawback of the duties, both of importation and exportation, paid by the subjects of France."
France, to induce Russia to grant this, says, "France will want great quantities of Russian goods, which, after the war, France will not be obliged to take of Russia, for France can have the like from America, and though perhaps not so cheap, yet it will be the interest of France, if Russia should not grant this, to pay America fifteen or twenty per cent more for the same articles; for this would enable America to take off more French goods, and to pay France for them." Hemp is particularly mentioned.
I pray you to keep this to yourself, and I have the honor to be, &c.
* * * * *
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
St Petersburg, October 15th, 1781.
Since my letter to your Excellency of September 15th, enclosing a duplicate of mine from Berlin, and copies of all the enclosed papers, the French Minister has sent me a copy of all the propositions of the mediators, and of the answer of the Court of Versailles. I have the satisfaction to think the inferences I then drew from the first propositions only, are well supported by the tenor of the second, in which they expressly say, that our particular peace shall not be signed, but conjointly, and at the same time with that of the powers, whose interests shall have been treated of by the mediating powers; that the pacifications, notwithstanding they may be treated separately, shall not be concluded the one without the other; that care shall be taken constantly to inform the mediators of the progress, and of the state of our particular treaty, to the end the mediation may be able to govern itself in the progress of that, which is intrusted to them, according to the state of our particular negotiation, and that both of the pacifications, although they shall have been separately concluded, shall be solemnly guarantied by the mediators, and all other neutral powers, whose guarantee the belligerent powers shall judge proper to ask.
What force are we now to allow to the terms in the first proposition "the American Colonies," and "without the intervention of any of the other belligerent powers, or even that of the two Imperial Courts, unless their mediation has been formally demanded, and granted upon this object?" Is it clear from hence, that the design of the mediators is to avoid exposing themselves by acknowledging the independence of the United States before Great Britain has done this herself? Do not the propositions speak this language to Britain? You may make such a peace with America, not only as she chooses to make with you, but as the other belligerent powers, and we shall choose you should make with her; and remember you are to have no peace in Europe, unless you give peace to America, and when this peace is once made, we will take care you shall not break it. We shall soon see by the replies, which the mediators will give to the belligerent powers, particularly to the Court of Versailles, whether they will recede in favor of Britain from their first plan of pacification, or go on in their next a step further in the spirit of their former system. It seems, that consistent with their own dignity, they can neither retreat or remain on the same ground. The independence of the United States was certainly the basis of the first plan of pacification, and I have no great fears, that it will be departed from.
I have lately been told by a person, who certainly knew the truth of the matter, in so confident a manner that I have no room to doubt it, that it was a secret part of the original plan of the armed neutrality, as soon as it should be completed, that the neutral confederated powers should propose a general pacification between the belligerent powers, which it was supposed could not be brought about otherwise than by leaving America free and independent, and to enforce this proposition by their joint armaments; and that so long ago as in May, 1780, if Holland had done her part, affairs were then in all other quarters in a proper train to have carried the whole plan into execution; but unfortunately for her British influence was too great there, and instead of doing the business at once, they entered upon the parade of sending a brace of Ambassadors to this Court, not with a view to finish, but at least to delay it. Holland, in fact, did not accede to the Marine Convention, which was first entered into by Russia and Denmark on the 9th of July, 1780, and next by Sweden on the 21st of the same month, until the 20th of November following, and it was not signed on their part till the 5th of last January. All this time her navy was neglected, and the mischiefs she has suffered are not the only ones consequent upon her tardiness and inactivity. For Britain has been thereby enabled for a while to detach Denmark from the confederation, or at least to make that Court indifferent in the business of it. It was but a short time after it had adopted the plan before it made a breach upon it by including in a treaty with Britain, hemp, &c. among contraband articles. From that time the spirit of the confederation seems to have languished. The Danish Minister most interested in it has been superseded. Count Panin, who in this Court, it is said, was its principal support, retired. It is true, he has lately returned to Court, but has not assumed his former office of Chief Minister in the Department of Foreign Affairs, though he is still of the Privy Council. My information about the share he has in those affairs is very different; by some I am told, he has little or no influence in them, by others, that he possesses a considerable portion of his former influence, and my informants on both parts ought to, and perhaps do, know the truth of the matter. On one side everything is veiled in profound mystery, and nothing is let out but what presents a discouraging prospect.
It has not such an effect upon my mind at present, and I am strongly encouraged to hope, that the confederation will become properly invigorated by the accession of the King of Prussia. The first open part he took in it, was the issuing his ordinance of the 30th of last April. Soon after this, (the 8th of May) he entered into a similar convention with the Empress. About this time, (the 23d of May,) the propositions for a general pacification were made, and on the 20th of August, both the Prussian and Russian Ministers at the Hague notified to the States-General the accession of his Prussian Majesty to the confederation. Laying these things together, and presuming as I do, that the confederated powers can have no well-grounded hope of reaping any lasting benefit from their confederation, for the maintenance of the liberty of their commerce, and of their navigation, but in the establishment of the independence of the United States, one might conclude with confidence, that all would soon go well between us, if it was confidently to be concluded, that all Courts are governed by the real interests of their countries, even where that is clearly understood, or act upon a permanent system. All now depends upon the stability of the Empress. If she should persevere in the noble line she has marked out, of Sweden and of Russia there is no danger, and it is probable Denmark will not stand out. The Emperor has ceased his opposition to the confederation. The step is now short for him to favor and support it. I believe it may be depended upon, that he has already agreed to accede to it.
If I were to hazard an opinion touching the manner in which our particular business will issue here, it is that the success of it will depend upon the neutral powers consolidating themselves in their confederation; that even after this should take place, our independence will not be acknowledged by this Court before all the neutral confederated powers shall have agreed upon this measure, and are fully prepared to adopt it, and that even Holland waits for this event, although her ease is now different from theirs, by being actually at war with our enemy.
The ground on which the secret part of the original plan of the armed neutrality abovementioned was formed, was an apprehension of the powers engaged in it, that by the loss of America, and by the continuance of the war, the maritime force of Britain might be too much reduced to preserve the balance of power upon the ocean; but as she has not abated of her haughtiness, her injustice, and outrageous violations of the rights of the neutral maritime powers, and still opposes herself to the establishment of a system calculated to secure those rights, and to vindicate the general law of nations, thereby manifesting, that the measure of her power is to prescribe her rule of right, they have become tolerably well reconciled to the idea of seeing her more effectually weakened and humbled.
On the whole, I am not anxious about the manner of thinking of the neutral powers, touching the great objects which concern our fundamental interests. We have nothing to apprehend, I believe, but the baneful influence of British gold, which can serve but to defer for awhile, however, the event they most dread, the open acknowledgment of our independence by this, and the other neutral powers. I expect to be informed of the answer of this Court to that of Versailles respecting the pacification, as soon as it shall be communicated to the French Minister. It has already been delayed longer than I was given to understand it would be, which is owing, probably, to the necessity of consultations with the Court of Vienna. I shall wait but a few days for it, before I make the communication of my mission to this Court, unless some matter which I do not foresee, should render it expedient to delay doing it still longer.
I am, with the highest respect, and most perfect esteem, &c.
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ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.
Philadelphia, October 22d, 1781.
Congress having lately thought it advisable that their correspondence with foreign Courts and their Ministers abroad should pass through the hands of their Secretary for Foreign Affairs, I enclose the act by which they did me the honor to appoint me to that office. In this character, Sir, I have the pleasure of communicating to you the important account of two signal victories, which have lately been obtained over the enemy in this quarter, the one by General Greene, which has been followed by the re-establishment of the governments of South Carolina and Georgia, in which States, though the enemy hold one or two posts, yet they have no command of the country. The other still more signal, by the allied arms of France and America over Lord Cornwallis, in Virginia. By the latter, near seven thousand men, including seamen, fell into our hands; and about one hundred vessels, above fifty of them square rigged.
You will not fail to make the best use of this intelligence, which must fix our independence, not only beyond all doubt, but even beyond all controversy. I should have mentioned to you, that besides the troops and seamen abovementioned, the enemy lost during the siege of Yorktown, including those that were taken, upwards of two thousand negroes. The naval force of France in these seas under the command of the Count de Grasse, amounts to thirtyfour sail of the line, that of the British to twentyfour. Both fleets have lately sailed, the one from New York, the other from the Chesapeake. We daily expect to hear of their meeting, and promise ourselves a second victory, since every advantage is on the side of the French. Should they think it more advisable to go to the West Indies, the Islands must fall an easy prey to them, as the whole British fleet is at present on this coast, nor will it be in their power to follow immediately, as Sir Henry Clinton with the best part of the troops from New York are on board the fleet, which, on the very day that Cornwallis surrendered, left New York for his relief. These must be brought back and re-landed, which will be a work of some time.
It is of importance to you to know that the spirit of opposition to the independence of this country, which was languishing when you left it, has been growing weaker ever since, and may now be said to be quite extinct. To this, the settled form that our governments have assumed, the success of our arms, and above all, the shocking barbarity of the British, have greatly contributed.
As this letter goes by an uncertain conveyance, and as, indeed, I have hardly yet entered upon my office, having only been qualified a few days since, I do not think it prudent to proceed to any minute discussions. I can only tell you, that the people here entertain the highest respect for the Court you are at. They consider the plan of the armed neutrality as the best proof of an enlarged and generous policy, and look upon its execution as a charter of enfranchisement from the ambition of Princes; granted by the wisdom of the Empress to the trade of the world. The sense of Congress on this subject, I enclose you in an abstract from their minutes of October 5th, 1780;
What a pity it would be, if a more confined policy should lessen the glory, or defeat the purposes she has so liberally formed. You will do me the favor to direct in future your public letters to me. I wish them to be as numerous and as minute as possible, particularly on the subject of such negotiations as may be in agitation for a general peace, and for a partial one between Britain and the United Provinces.
I forgot, under the head of intelligence, to inform you that the British had, in September last, made one effort to relieve Cornwallis with their fleet, consisting of nineteen sail of the line, before the Count de Barras, from Rhode Island, had made his junction with the Count de Grasse. They were defeated with the loss of the Terrible, a seventyfour, burnt, and two frigates taken, and compelled to return to New York, whence, as I before mentioned, having been reinforced, they have again sailed.
I am, with the greatest esteem, &c.
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
P. S. I will be obliged to you for sending me, for the use of this office, by the first safe opportunity, a Russian Grammar and Dictionary, in English, if possible, if not, in French. If the latter, the Grammar of Charpenteer, and the Dictionary of Woltchhoff, would be preferable. Both parts of the Dictionary are to be procured, if possible, but particularly the one which begins with the Russian. If anything like a Court Calendar is published at St Petersburg, in Russian, German, or French, you will oblige me by transmitting to me two copies of it, if you choose, with notes of your own upon it.
 "In Congress, October 5th, 1780.—On the report of a committee, to whom was referred a motion of Mr Adams, relative to certain propositions of the Empress of Russia respecting the rights of neutral nations, Congress passed the following act;
"Her Imperial Majesty of all the Russias, attentive to the freedom of commerce, and the rights of nations, in her declaration to the belligerent and neutral powers, having proposed regulations founded upon principles of justice, equity, and moderation, of which their Most Christian and Catholic Majesties, and most of the neutral maritime powers of Europe, have declared their approbation;
"Congress, willing to testify their regard to the rights of commerce, and their respect for the sovereign who has proposed, and the powers who have approved the said regulation;
"Resolved, That the Board of Admiralty prepare and report instructions for the commanders of armed vessels commissioned by the United States, conformable to the principles contained in the declaration of the Empress of all the Russias, on the rights of neutral vessels.
"That the Ministers Plenipotentiary from the United States, if invited thereto, be, and hereby are respectively empowered to accede to such regulations, conformable to the spirit of the said declaration, as may be agreed upon by the Congress expected to assemble in pursuance of the invitation of her Imperial Majesty.
"Ordered, That copies of the above resolution be transmitted to the respective Ministers of the United States at foreign Courts, and to the honorable, the Minister Plenipotentiary of France."
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TO WILLIAM ELLERY.
St Petersburg, January 17th, 1782.
The Empress you know formerly proposed to mediate between Britain and Holland, which was declined by the former, as she could not enter upon a partial mediation, for the reasons she then assigned; since which time, the joint mediation has been tendered by the two Imperial Courts, between all the belligerent powers, which has issued unsuccessfully. Finally, her Imperial Majesty, and the Kings of Sweden and Denmark, jointly tendered their mediation between Britain and Holland. Britain has declined to accept that of the Kings in conjunction with the Empress, but has agreed to accept her sole mediation. This is at present on foot. A Russian Minister has very lately gone, or will soon set off for Holland, to join Prince Gallitzin in this business, which I prognosticate will issue as fruitlessly as the general mediation has done. There is no peace to be had in Europe separate from that of our country, which already too sensibly affects the European systems to be overlooked or disregarded by those who have the adjustment of them.
Notwithstanding the material change, which our revolution has wrought in their old systems, which is felt somehow by all the politicians of Europe, yet they seem some of them not to be sufficiently acquainted with the real nature of it. Hence that strange fluctuation or indecision in some cabinets; at least this is the best apology I can make for it. Sweden it appears to me acts as consistent a part as any power. She maintains her rights as a neutral nation, by constantly convoying her trade, and is besides wisely reaping the benefits of the American commerce, by silently and gradually admitting our vessels into her ports, and permitting our countrymen to purchase there everything they want, and to depart when and where they please. If this country would adopt the same system in every respect, they would soon see the happiest effects from it. At present, Sweden is making considerable profits, by being the depot of Russian manufactures for our use.
I wish this country had a more commercial turn. We should then soon see a direct communication between the two countries opened and established, to the great benefit of both. But a free trade between them will meet with other obstacles. I am apprehensive not one of the maritime powers of Europe will aid us in our attempts to effect this, but that on the contrary, Britain, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden, will all at least secretly be opposing us. They well know this country has no navigation of its own, comparatively speaking; if, therefore, by various suggestions, they can excite a jealousy respecting the commerce of our country rivalling this in all the markets of Europe, a sentiment however groundless, which I am persuaded has made a considerable impression here, they will flatter themselves they shall each share a proportion of the benefits of an intervening commerce. Nothing, you will readily perceive, is to be expected here, while the business of mediation is kept up.
I am, &c.
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ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.
Philadelphia, March 2d, 1782.
I find myself extremely embarrassed in writing to you, on account of my ignorance of the place of your present residence; and the want of a cypher. You forgot when you left Holland, if you have yet left it, for this is a matter of which we have not been informed, to send me your direction; so that there are an infinite number of chances against a letter's reaching you. This must account for my not entering into a minute consideration of your letters, or of our own affairs. The subject of your conference with the —— is too delicate to be discussed here. The event has, ere this, shown you whether his sentiments were well founded; though we can form no judgment from this circumstance, as we have not been favored with a single line from you since May, 1781.
We presume, that you must frequently have written, as the ports of Holland, Sweden, and France, afforded you many opportunities, of which you have undoubtedly availed yourself, but we have unfortunately not received the advantage we could wish from your attention. I must therefore beg the favor of you to increase the number of your letters, and to send at least four copies of each to the different ports. There are indeed many things, which it would be imprudent to trust to the common post. There are also many other matters, which may safely be sent by it. If you have letters always ready, safe opportunities will occasionally offer for the first, and those which relate to general politics should be written weekly, and sent to France and Holland.
You will continue, I presume, to appear only in a private character, as it would give Congress great pain to see you assume any other without an absolute certainty, that you would be received and acknowledged. The United States, fired with the prospect of their future glory, would blush to think, that the history of any nation might represent them as humble suppliants for their favor. The least slight from a sovereign, whose life will be read with applause by posterity, whose situation places her above those little shifting politics by which inferior Princes govern, who has magnanimity enough to feel and declare herself independent of every other tie, but that which wisdom and justice impose, might be urged with weight against us, and give force to the calumnies of our enemies. All, therefore, Sir, that your situation will admit of, is to endeavor to give just ideas of this country, of its resources, of its future commerce, its justice and moderation, its sincere desire for peace, but at the same time of its firm determination to forego any present advantage, and to brave any danger, rather than purchase it upon terms unworthy of the struggles they have made, or which shall render their liberties insecure. This, which is an important truth, you will be able to prove by showing the circumstances under which we entered into the war, and the difficulties we struggled with, when without arms, without military stores, without discipline, without government, without commerce, we bid defiance to one of the most powerful nations in the world, and resisted alone, for three years, forty thousand disciplined troops, attended by a considerable navy, and amply supplied with every necessary to enable them to use their force with advantage. Contrast this with our present situation. Allied to a powerful nation, in possession of governments with which the people are pleased; having an army disciplined, well appointed, and flushed with victory; an extensive and active commerce; provisions cheaper than in time of peace; credit reviving again, and specie introduced into circulation.
It is also important to show the unanimity of this country, in opposition to what the Court of Great Britain has desired to inculcate. I have touched upon this in my last letter, and have endeavored to show it from the conduct, which she herself holds towards this country. It will never be doubted by those who reflect on these circumstances, and the ease with which every order of government is carried into effect, and the few partisans the British have found, when they marched out into the country. But though we wish these matters to be understood, yet I am far from recommending it to you to make a pompous display of them. Your own judgment will direct you on this subject. Your having been long in a public character, will naturally lead those who wish to be informed to inquire the state of our affairs from you. You may avail yourself of the opportunities this will afford you to speak of them with that temper and moderation, that cannot fail to make an impression, particularly when these facts appear rather to be drawn from you by your desire to answer the inquiry, than urged by a wish to make converts. In the first case, the hearer is disposed to believe, because you lay him under obligations; in the second, he is cautious lest he should be led away by your prejudices. Should these inquiries be made by people who are able to serve you, be particularly attentive to render your information agreeable by enlivening it with some little interesting incidents, which this war has furnished in abundance, and which cannot but give pleasure to a people, who are too remote to have heard them.
These may possibly be the means, when repeated, of exciting the curiosity of the sovereign, and procure for you the honor of conversing with her in the character of a private gentleman. This incident will be best improved by preparing yourself to answer all her inquiries with respect to this country, without touching on the politics of Europe, with which she is infinitely better acquainted than we can be. The first settlement of the Colonies; their population, agriculture, commerce, and revenues; their past and present governments; the progress of the arts and sciences; the steps which led to this revolution, and the present state of the war, will probably be the objects of her inquiry. These you will answer with candor, even though you should thereby expose some of our defects or imperfections. For you will never cease to bear in mind, that the celebrated sovereign of the country you are in is too well informed to be deceived, could our politics ever stoop so low as to make the attempt.
Since my last, conveying an account of Cornwallis's capture, nothing very important has happened here, unless it be the evacuation of Wilmington and Beaufort, by which means all the enemy's posts in the southern States are reduced to Charleston and Savannah, and the trade of that extensive country is again opened. The few friends to slavery in the States the British marched over, are abandoned to our mercy. For the rest the enemy keep close within their lines, and our troops are cantoned about the country. In the meanwhile the British islands and commerce are sacrificed to the possession of three posts, which cost them millions to retain on this continent. I give you no account of what is doing in the West Indies, presuming that you will have the earliest and best intelligence on this subject from Paris. It may be of some importance to you to learn, that our plan for calling in the old paper and emitting new, was not attended with all the success that was expected. The old paper was indeed redeemed, but the new beginning to depreciate, most of the States thought it prudent to take it in by taxation.
The only money now in general circulation is specie and notes from the American banks, which have the same credit as silver. Our taxes are collected in these, and by removing the restrictions on our commerce, together with the small loans we have made in Europe, we find not the least want of a circulating medium; and though there will probably be some failure in the amount of the taxes from some of the States, which are most impoverished, yet a considerable proportion of the eight millions of dollars in specie, which have been imposed this year, will be paid, exclusive of the duty of five per cent premium on our imports, which is designed as a perpetual fund for the payment of the money we borrow. Every exertion is making here for the most vigorous and active campaign, and we have the greatest reason to believe it will be decisive.
I enclose an ordinance relative to captures, which will show the respect paid by these States to the armed neutrality. It will be evident to you, that this is not a mere empty compliment, since nothing can be more injurious to us than conforming to principles, which our enemy despises, and is permitted to despise with impunity, particularly on this coast, where Britain is left at liberty to consider us not as independent States, but as revolted Colonies; and to make prize of any vessel whatsoever bound to our ports, though both ship and cargo should be in the strictest sense neutral. But interested considerations have less weight with us, than those immutable laws of justice, which make the basis of these regulations; and these States cannot but hope, that the neutral powers will sooner or later dare to execute what they have so wisely projected.
Now, Sir, let me again repeat to you my request to write regularly to me, at least once in every week, since the high opinion we have formed of the Empress, makes all her actions important to us. When no other political object presents itself, give us the best account you can collect of the history, manners, revolutions, manufactures, arts, revenues, civil and military establishments of Russia, with the names and characters of those who hold the great offices, or share the favor of the sovereign. If a change has taken place (as we are informed) in the Russian administration, be pleased to acquaint yourself and me, when you can safely do it, with the causes of it; and with the characters of the present administration. Send me by the first safe hand a cypher, if an opportunity should offer before I send one to you.
I have the honor to be, &c.
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
 A blank in the original, but probably the Count de Vergennes is alluded to.
* * * * *
TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
St Petersburg, March 5th, 1782.
I had the honor of the triplicate of your letter of the 22d of last October, on the 20th instant. It was forwarded to me by that amiable nobleman, the Marquis de Lafayette. The original or duplicate has not yet come to hand.
I am much pleased that Congress have thought fit to create the office of Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and to direct their foreign Ministers to correspond through that department. This will, doubtless, be the means of keeping them properly informed about the affairs of our country. I am happy to learn also, that the choice of Congress has fallen upon a gentleman not less distinguished for his abilities and integrity, than for the early and decided part he took, and has steadily pursued, from the commencement of our revolution.
We received the important news of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army, on the 13th of December. Soon after, came the account of General Greene's action, which you mention also. The first seemed to have settled every one's mind upon the real state of desperation of the British affairs within the United States; the other, though very important to us in its consequences, made apparently but little impression, owing, perhaps, to two causes, that it followed so nearly after so capital and brilliant an event, and that it was scarce possible to add to the conviction, which the former carried along with it. From this state of things it may be imagined, that the way is open to us to make our advances. The conclusion, I believe, would be too hasty. For the time does not so much depend upon the real sentiments, which her Imperial Majesty and her Ministers may entertain of the stability of our independence, as upon other circumstances. To explain myself. Her Majesty has, doubtless, a wish to add to her other glories that of mediating a peace between the great powers who are now at war. For although her first attempt to mediate between Britain and Holland was rejected by the former, and her second, in conjunction with the Emperor, between Britain and the other belligerent powers, may be said to be at a full stand, yet, as you are informed long before this time, she set on foot a third, in conjunction with the Kings of Sweden and Denmark, between Britain and Holland, which Britain rejected so far as respects that of the two Kings accepting of the sole mediation of her Imperial Majesty. This is still in agitation. A Minister before this time has arrived from this country in Holland, to assist Prince Gallitzin in it. But, from everything I can learn, there is not the least probability of its succeeding. I am told it is not even expected by any of her Majesty's Ministers.
However this in fact may be, so long as her Majesty continues to tender her mediation, partial or general, so long it appears to me prudent for us to refrain from making any open advances. For however strongly convinced her Majesty may be, that our independence is now laid on a foundation, which Britain can never destroy or shake, however clearly she may see that the freedom of the commerce and of the navigation of Europe absolutely depend upon the severance of America from the British Empire, and however beneficial she may suppose a direct and free commerce with America would be to her Empire, yet she could not consistently with the character of a mediator, form any political connexions with the United States, or manifest an attachment to their interests. She would, therefore, feel herself under a necessity to reject any propositions we have to make to her, if made under such circumstances. And though we could be assured that this rejection would be made with as much delicacy, or as much respect to the United States as the case would admit of, yet is it not advisable to delay making any open advances till this business of mediation should be entirely done away, and not unnecessarily expose ourselves to a repulse; which, it is probable, would in the end rather retard than advance our business?
By these and similar sentiments, I have been hitherto induced not to make the communication spoken of in my former despatches from hence. I hope my conduct in this respect will be approved by Congress. Notwithstanding what I have said above, if I really thought with my correspondent, that her Imperial Majesty had adopted the system mentioned in his letter to me of the 12th of September, viz. "Not to acknowledge the independence of the United States till Britain herself had done it," I should soon bring the business to a conclusion, and take my leave of this Court; not thinking it conformable to the views of Congress to support a Minister at a Court, which should adopt and be likely to persevere in such a system.
You seem desirous of my sentiments upon the state of affairs, particularly relative to the mediation, whether general or partial. I have given them to you on that head very briefly above, and I can only add, that from the best intelligence I can obtain, we shall not hear much more of the mediation till another campaign is closed; that things will remain nearly in their present state in Europe through this year, unless Holland, by the prevalence of the patriotic party, should be able to make some exertion, and come to a decision about the much talked of alliances with the enemies of Britain. Whether this will probably take place, you will be better informed from that quarter than from me.
The acts of accession and acceptation on the part of the Emperor and Empress, relative to the neutral confederation, were exchanged here a few days after the date of my last letter to the President. A want of connexion is observable among the powers who have adopted this system; they are divided into three parties, the Empress standing at the head of each. First, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, and Holland; next, Russia and Prussia; and lastly, Russia with the Emperor. These parties are without connexion one with the other, unless it should be supposed, that the Empress being a party in each of them, connects the whole; but this must necessarily be a feeble connexion, as it imposes no duties, and confers no rights, which are in common to all the powers, which have adopted the system. The principles of it, however, have acquired some support by these last accessions, particularly by that of Russia, and it seems highly probable, that they will not fail of being established as the clear rights of neutral nations at the close of the present war. During the continuance of it, unless Britain should be so imprudent as to commit further infractions upon this system, we may not see anything more arise out of these associations. For if the subjects of the confederated powers, at present in a state of neutrality, meet with no further obstruction in their commerce or navigation, their end is answered. Neither Russia, Sweden, nor Denmark will give themselves much concern to vindicate the right of Holland to participate in the benefits of the system, according to their demands, especially the two last, who derive very great advantages from the present situation of the Dutch. Holland has let her opportunity slip by unimproved, and she must patiently wait the return of a general peace for the restoration of her rights, whether founded in her treaties with Britain or in this new system.
You will excuse my referring you to my former despatches, because it would be imprudent to send copies of them with this by the post. Duplicates have already been forwarded. If I had a private conveyance, I should be more particular under the head of mediation and neutral confederation, as well as enter into an explanation of some parts of my former despatches from hence. I have not yet received any account of my letters sent from France; you will doubtless pay an attention to such parts of them as may require it. If you will direct your letters for me to the care of Mr Adams, whenever they may come on in that course, he will be careful to forward them to me in a way, which we have settled for our correspondence. As it will be more convenient, I shall request Mr Adams to send you along with this the reply, which the Imperial Courts made to the answers of the belligerent powers, to their propositions for a general pacification, and also the final answer of the Court of Versailles. Although you may probably receive these through another channel, yet perhaps that is not a good reason why we should fail to furnish you with them.
I am, Sir, with much esteem, &c.
P. S. I hope to have an opportunity to forward next week, to the care of Mr Adams, two or three Court Almanacs for you in French. The other books I will procure for you as soon as possible, but as they will be cumbersome, it is not probable I shall find any other conveyance from hence than by water for them. I shall at all times be very happy to have an opportunity to execute any of your commands.
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TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
St Petersburg, March 30th, 1782.
I did myself the honor on the 5th instant to acknowledge the receipt of the triplicate of your letter to me of the 22d of October last, the original has since come to hand. I will forward a duplicate of the above by this opportunity.
Everything seems to confirm the opinion I have expressed, relative to the partial mediation between Britain and Holland, but more especially the resolution of Friesland respecting the United States. The failure of that mediation is now universally considered here as beyond a doubt. And nothing I believe but the very critical condition of Britain, will revive the idea of a general mediation sooner than I have estimated in my last. She has now lost Minorca, and in a manner too that astonishes every one here, and with it the remains of her commerce in the Mediterranean Sea. St Christopher, as it is said, is in imminent danger, and the formidable force gone against Jamaica, may make her reflect seriously upon her forlorn state, and perhaps drive her to the humiliating necessity of reviving a mediation she has rejected with so much haughtiness. If so, it seems evident, from the decided nature of the final answer of the Court of Versailles, as well as from that of Madrid to the Imperial Courts, that to do this with any effect, the mediators must advance to the line marked out, they must invite the Ministers of the United States to the General Congress.
The Minister of Spain, who went to Vienna to assist at the Congress, has received orders to repair to this Court, (where they have now only a Charge d'Affaires) as a resident Minister. He is expected here the next month.
There has lately been a lively sensation in this quarter, occasioned by a publication in the "Courier du Bas Rhin," where it was positively asserted, that a secret treaty had been concluded between her Imperial Majesty and the Emperor, relative to a partition of the Turkish territories in Europe. The affair, it is said, has been denied. However the fact may be, there seems to be some suspicions remaining, that a scheme is forming, if not of the nature mentioned, yet at least relative to a full enjoyment of a commerce upon the Black Sea and into the Mediterranean. This is an object, which has more or less engrossed the attention of this Court from the days of Peter the Great, and is one of no small consequence to the interests of this Empire. The state of things brought on by the peace of Kainardgi, (1774,) between Russia and Turkey, has opened the way for the completion of this design. By this treaty Russia obtained a right to a free commerce in the Turkish seas, and for that end, three ports there, viz. Kinbourn, Kersch, and Yenikale. Further, the Khan of the Crimea (who is no longer liable to be deposed by the Grand Sultan) is very friendly disposed towards her Imperial Majesty, and would be capable of affording essential services towards the execution of such a plan. He has lately sent an Ambassador to this Court, who has been most graciously received. The Porte has been constantly opposed to this commercial plan. Hence the difficulties, which have taken place respecting the admission of a Russian Consul, which the firmness of her Majesty has at last overcome. The whole seems yet to be on too precarious a foundation. Perhaps solidly to establish this system of commerce, another war may be deemed necessary, particularly for the purposes of gaining better ports, and to give greater security to the navigation, which may be carried on from them, by removing the Turks to a more convenient distance, and establishing a marine in those seas, capable of affording it a complete protection; without this, all that vast commercial project lies at the mercy of the Turks.
I have touched upon this subject, that from the great interest this empire has in such a plan from the extensive views of its sovereign, and from the present apparently favorable state of circumstances, you may be enabled to form a better opinion of the probability or improbability of the supposed connexion. But upon the supposition of its truth, will our enemies draw any essential benefits from it? Or will it in any way injure our interests? are questions which may arise out of it, and bring it home to us. It will happen, I think, if it happens at all, too late for the former, but as to the latter, it may procrastinate our views, as it will form the principal object of her Majesty's attention, and the affairs on this side of Europe will become but secondary concerns. I shall add nothing further at present on this subject, but shall from time to time endeavor to give you some account of the prevailing system, and the leading principles of politics in this Court.
In pursuance of one branch of my duty, I have during my residence here made a particular inquiry into the nature of the commerce of this country. By the list of exports for the last year, which will accompany this, may be seen the commodities of all kinds which it furnishes, as well as the share which the several nations of Europe have taken in this commerce, for the same time; and by the list of vessels passing and repassing the Sound, the proportion of their navigation which has been concerned in it. When it is considered that the Dutch used to send about six hundred vessels into the Baltic annually, there can remain no doubt but that the neutral maritime powers are very well contented with the Dutch war; and that they are deeply interested in the principles of the neutral confederation, though a crooked and corrupt system of politics may prevent some of them from defending their rights with proper vigor.
The great demands we have for the principal articles of this commerce, such as hemp, cordage, sailcloth, their linen manufactures of all sorts, especially for household use, is well known, as we have been heretofore supplied with these through Great Britain. But perhaps the commodities suitable for this market may not be so well understood among us. The principal ones of our country are rice and indigo; tobacco is a prohibited article. Grain is not wanted, except rice. From this state is it not evident if we would carry on this commerce to any considerable extent, as we shall certainly find it proper to do, we must do it by circuitous voyages in a great measure? For this purpose the productions of the West Indies and of the continent of America south of us, such as sugar, coffee, (rum would not answer,) all sorts of dyeing woods, cochineal, &c. are proper. This may point out the importance of obtaining a right to cut those woods on the Spanish shores in the Bay.
The wines, brandies, fruits, and manufactures of France form a great branch of the trade to this country. This has heretofore been chiefly carried on by the Dutch; but may we not come in for a share of it? Many of our commodities are adapted to the markets of France. Might not our vessels intended for this circuitous voyage, arrive in France towards the end of the winter, charged with our produce, and take in a cargo there, so as to be ready to enter the Baltic early in May. The ports of France, frequented by the Dutch in this carrying trade, are Havre, Nantes, Bordeaux, Cette, and Marseilles. Havre has an advantage over all the others, from its proximity to the Baltic, as well as its situation below the Seine, by means of which all the manufactures of Paris, Rouen, &c. are easily conveyed thither. The cargoes from Havre for Russia consist in fine cloths, linens of Rouen, sugar, coffee, indigo, preserved fruits of all kinds, and of all the manufactures of Paris. Wines are from Bordeaux. The exports from Nantes are nearly the same as those from Havre; Cette and Marseilles may be too distant for us. The greatest navigation between France and this country is from Havre. I have been so particular upon Havre, because I suppose Congress would choose to have one free port, (in virtue of our treaty with France,) in or near the Channel, and I have heard Dunkirk talked of; but is it not worth consideration, whether a port at the very extremity of the empire, can be of equal advantage to that of Havre, which may answer as well for a direct commerce as for this circuitous one, if it should be thought proper to adopt it. By our treaty, I am sensible we have a right to demand but one free port in France, and that for the purpose of carrying there our own commodities only. If we should be held rigidly to this, the appointment of a free port will be of great importance to our interests. If we could obtain more, perhaps Havre, Bordeaux, and Marseilles, might be the most advantageous of any three, to furnish us at the best rate, with the productions and manufactures of the several parts of the kingdom.
I express myself with much diffidence on this subject, because I know that a thousand matters ought to be taken into consideration, many of which are known only to those who have made commerce the business of their lives, in order to form a solid judgment upon it. But if anything I have said may serve as hints, which may be improved by others to the general benefit of our country, my purpose will be completely answered.
I have the honor to be, with much esteem and respect, &c.
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TO JOHN ADAMS.
St Petersburg, April 23d, 1782.
I see with infinite satisfaction the progress our affairs have made in Holland within a short time, and that you will soon be able to put the finishing hand to your business. No one will more sincerely rejoice in the honor you will merit and acquire by it, than I shall. That nation, after much internal struggling, seems at last to have adopted an almost universal sentiment upon the propriety, or rather, necessity of forming an intimate commercial connexion with us, and this without loss of time. They have been doubtless justly alarmed by the late important change in the councils and system of Great Britain, and have wisely resolved not to suffer her to get the start of them, by adjusting her commercial connexions with America before they have concluded their treaty with us. They well know how much is risked by a further delay. Hence their present zeal to acknowledge our independence.
I wish others saw their interest to do the same thing in as clear a light, and did not longer think of the glory of mediating a peace, which in the end they may miss of; for it is evident to every one who will attentively consider the late measures of Britain, that she means to settle her peace with America, without the participation of any mediators; well knowing the great danger which her most important commercial interests will be exposed to, if they pass through such a medium. Her aim will be to exclude the other maritime powers, as far as possible, from the benefits of our commerce. To effect this, she will make great sacrifices in some respects. You know what I allude to. The critical moment for the maritime powers of Europe has already arrived. They may never, or at least for a long time to come, again see so fair an occasion to promote their essential interests, if they suffer this moment to slip by without fixing their connexions with America. It must be apparent to them all, (the neutral powers I mean,) that no just objections can now be made to a measure of this sort, since the British themselves have felt the necessity of publicly proclaiming to the world their utter inability to obtain the great object of their war, the subjugation of the United States, or of any one of them; and have even made the attempt to do this criminal. With what face can they now pretend to claim any dominion over that country, or to require the neutral powers to forbear the acknowledgment of our independence, till they themselves shall have acknowledged it? Or in other words, to rest idle spectators, as I have before said, till Britain has adjusted all her commercial interests with America, as far as possible to their exclusion.
Do you ask whether this will probably be the case here? I cannot say that it will not. For besides, that I have some reason to suppose this government not yet properly informed, I may say of the immense interest it has at stake relative to the commerce of our country, I know the British will not fail constantly to hold up to her Imperial Majesty the glory of mediating a peace between the great belligerent powers, while they are secretly carrying on a negotiation as above with the United States. Should you ask me if it is not practicable to give those in government just ideas upon the nature of the commerce of the two countries, I must say I have taken such measures to this end, as the peculiar state of things will admit of. I dare not expose the dignity of the United States by making any official advances. They may be rejected. I am not satisfied that they would not be. The cry of mediation I know would open upon me. It is necessary therefore first, to do away all errors upon this subject of commerce, to establish the great mutual interests the two nations have in a close and intimate connexion with each other, and to point out the danger this interest is exposed to, in the present critical state of affairs by delay. When this is done (and I flatter myself the task is very easy if the door is open to me) I shall have nothing to apprehend from mere sounds or words. Her Majesty would most certainly pursue the great interests of her empire, and not suffer herself to be diverted from that pursuit by any dazzling prospects of glory, which the British or any others might hold out. She has too much wisdom not to change her system when affairs have changed their face, and not to improve every favorable occasion, which the course of events may present to her for the benefit of her empire.
I agree with you, that glory and interest are both united in our case; that her Majesty could not by any line of conduct more effectually promote both, than by stepping forth at this moment, and acknowledging the independence of the United States, and forming a commercial treaty with them, that there is nothing to fear from any quarter, that the example of so illustrious a sovereign would probably be followed by the other neutral maritime powers, and would infallibly restore peace and tranquillity to both worlds; and that all Europe would partake equally in the benefits of our commerce, or at least enjoy an equal freedom in it. But if instead of this, America cannot obtain a hearing, which is all she wants to insure her success, wherever national counsels are influenced by national interests, and her Majesty should persevere in her system of mediation, notwithstanding the change in affairs, is not the consequence plain? America will make the best bargain in her power with Britain, and she can now clearly make an advantageous one. When this is done, her Majesty and the other neutral powers will certainly see, though too late, the importance of the present moment to the interests of their respective empires. I will only add, may they be wise in season, may they follow the example, which Holland is setting them, and which she would have set them at this moment, had she been in profound peace with Britain, even at the hazard of a war, little as she delights in it, rather than suffer herself to be foreclosed in her great commercial schemes.
I have the honor to be, &c.
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ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.
Philadelphia, May 10th, 1782.
In my letter of the 2d of March last, I explained fully to you the intentions of Congress in sending you to Petersburg; and the reasons that influenced them to wish, that you would by no means display your public character, till you were fully convinced, that it was the wish of the Court to acknowledge it. And I saw with pleasure, in your letter of the 31st of March, 1781, to the Count de Vergennes, that you had determined agreeably to the spirit and meaning of your instructions, to appear only as a private citizen of the United States, until the result of your inquiries should point out a ready and honorable reception. The opinion of the Minister of his Most Christian Majesty, as well as of Dr Franklin, whom you were directed to consult, was so decided upon that point, that though you might not have thought it sufficient to justify delaying your journey, yet it certainly rendered it proper to take the best precautions to conceal your public character, under some other, that would have been unsuspected; and this for reasons that carried the greatest weight with them.
The Empress having projected the armed neutrality, she naturally wished it to have the appearance of a general regulation, and not of an attempt to serve one of the belligerent powers at the expense of the other. The strictest impartiality could alone give a dignity to her measures, or crown them with success. She further wished to be the means of re-establishing peace, and was perhaps influenced by the laudable ambition of being at the same time the great legislator and arbiter of Europe. At this critical moment it could hardly be expected, that she would publicly entertain a Minister from the United States. For though the powers at war have many collateral objects, yet it is well known, that American independence is the great question in controversy; and though a decision in favor of it might be worthy of the magnanimity of the Empress, yet it would certainly militate against her objects, and afford Great Britain an apology for considering the armed neutrality as a partial regulation; and for rejecting the mediation of a power, whom they would charge with having decided the very point in controversy. A secret agent, if his character was declared to the Russian Minister, would in a less degree have the same effects, and reduce them to the necessity of embarrassing themselves by dissimulation, or permitting us to entertain unfavorable sentiments of their impartiality by directing you to withdraw.
Your eager desire to render essential services to your country had in some measure biassed your judgment, and led you to see this matter in a different light from that in which it would have appeared to you, if your patriotism had permitted you coolly to weigh and consider circumstances. It appears by your letters of the 28th of July, the 15th of September, and 15th of October last, which have been received and read in Congress, that you entertain serious thoughts of making an immediate display of your powers to the Russian Ministry, notwithstanding the cautions given you by the Count de Vergennes, the opinion of Dr Franklin, and the advice of the Marquis de Verac, whom you are expressly directed to consult; whose lights you are interested to avail yourself of, and to sound the dispositions of the Court of Petersburg.
Congress, when they appointed you to the important and delicate mission in which you are engaged, discovered their respect for your abilities, while they meant by their instructions to guard against any inconvenience into which you might hastily run, by directing you before you declared your character, to take the advice of a Minister, whose residence at the Court of Petersburg (independent of other circumstances) gave him advantages, which an absolute stranger could not enjoy. The letters that have passed between you, confirm the propriety of this restriction. The conclusions of the Marquis de Verac on the plan of the proposed mediation are sound and just; and if you have disregarded them, there is no doubt but the event has before this time justified them to you. He has, probably, shown you the answer of France to the proposals of the mediators. You will have remarked therein, the same reasoning extended in such a manner, as fully to have convinced you that the distinction he has drawn between our treating at the same time, and our treating as an independent nation, are very well founded. It will serve too, Sir, to show that your suspicions on another point are groundless. To suppose that France would go to war for our independence, and yet not wish to see that independence recognised, is a solecism in politics. Surely every acknowledgment of this kind raises our hopes and depresses those of the enemy, and places the justice of the war, both on the part of France and of us, in a fairer point of view. But, Sir, I do not enlarge on this subject; your instructions ought to be your guide, and they evidently show, that at the time they were given, Congress meant that you should treat the Minister of France at the Court of Petersburg, with the most unreserved confidence, and that you should not declare your mission till he thought the moment favorable. They still retain the same sentiments, every day having convinced them that France makes but one interest with them in establishing their independence. That she should be delicate about advising us to solicit the notice of other Courts, is not to be wondered at, since she must partake, in some degree, of the humiliations that our ill-timed solicitations subject us to. The whole of your communications with the Count de Vergennes, marks a delicacy on the other side, about advising upon a measure, which the instructions of your sovereign should direct. It is easy to see his opinion and his apprehensions of appearing to have disapproved what Congress had thought might be advantageous to them. I conclude this, Sir, by requesting you, if you have not yet made a communication of your powers, to delay doing it till the Marquis de Verac shall agree in sentiment with you that it will be expedient, or until you shall receive farther instructions from Congress.
In the meanwhile you will employ yourself in the manner, which your instructions and my last letter advise. I can see no other line in which you can be useful in your present station. As you will have much leisure on hand, I must beg you to write weekly to this office in cypher, and to write with freedom whatever it may be useful for us to know, particularly all changes that may take place in the administration and the measures of Russia. I will not repeat what I have said on this subject in my last, a quadruplicate of which is enclosed, as is also a cypher. This letter will be consigned to Mr Adams, who will take means to forward it to you by a safe hand.
I am in great pain on account of your letter of the 28th of July, a duplicate of which is arrived. The original has miscarried; should it have fallen into improper hands it may do us very essential injury. I need not tell you how impatient I shall be to hear that this has reached you, since I cannot use my cypher till I receive a line from you written in it, nor can I write with freedom to you till I have a cypher.
Since the reduction of York, nothing important has passed in the military line. The enemy keep possession of New York, Charleston, and Savannah, though they have not strengthened either of the garrisons. They are consequently much weakened; if, as we expect, we shall have a naval support, we have no doubt of being able to expel them this campaign from the continent. Our effective force, exclusive of militia, which we can call in as we want them, including four thousand five hundred French troops, amounts to about twenty thousand men.
They are hardy veterans, well disciplined, well armed, well clad, and well fed. Our finances have assumed a new form, and are every day becoming more respectable by the total abolition of paper, except that of the bank, payable in specie at sight. You have doubtless heard of the late change in the British administration. Sir Guy Carleton has come out in the place of Sir Henry Clinton, and we have reason to believe, that the present system is to endeavor by lenient measures, to seduce us from our alliance with France, and to cajole us out of that freedom, which they find they cannot force us to relinquish. It is astonishing to see the contempt with which these attempts are received. The only effect they have, is to convince us of the declining strength of the enemy, and to excite a general determination to push them with vigor before they recover their late blow. I enclose the last resolution of Congress, organizing this office, that you may, by seeing my powers, know what attention you are to pay to my letters, which will consist of two sorts; the one written by me without consulting Congress, in which, however, I shall always govern myself by what I suppose to be their sentiments; the other, written and submitted to their inspection, so that you may have the highest evidence of its corresponding with their views. When this is the case, I shall always inform you of it. This letter has been read in Congress, and of course contains no instructions, which they disapprove. I shall send you a packet of newspapers with this.
I should have told you, that your salary will in future be paid here. I shall receive it as your agent, and vest it in bills on Dr Franklin, and remit them to him, so that you may draw upon him quarterly. I shall send him one quarter's salary by this conveyance, commencing the 1st of January last, and ending the 1st of April last, and considering myself as the agent of all our foreign Ministers, I shall follow your directions relative to the disposition of your appointment, until you shall think it expedient to name another.
Your most obedient humble servant,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
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ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.
Philadelphia, May 22d, 1782.
Your letters, from the 28th of July to October 15th, have been read in Congress. I have reported an answer, but they have not yet agreed on it, and I do not care to let this vessel go without a line, however hastily written, to you. You will receive with this the newspapers, which contain some information upon a delicate point. The administration of Britain having been changed, they will endeavor to represent themselves as popular in America, to induce a belief that we will, under their auspices, be desirous of returning to our connexion with them. Be assured, that the change in their administration has produced none in the sentiments of America; they are immovably fixed in their determination to support their independence, and not to violate their alliance with France. The Assembly of Maryland and the Council of this State have passed resolutions to that effect; it will be the language of all, as soon as they meet. Congress have refused a passport to Sir Guy Carleton's Secretary, which was asked in order that he might be the bearer of a letter to Congress. Neither army has taken the field, of course I have no military operations to communicate.
Your salary will in future be paid here, where your agent will vest it in bills on Dr Franklin, quarterly, upon whom you will draw accordingly. I shall consider myself as agent for all our foreign Ministers, and transact the business accordingly for you, unless you should choose to appoint some other.
I enclose a cypher, which you will use if it arrives safe, till I have leisure to send you a better.
I am, Sir, your most humble servant,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
 This refers to the preceding letter of May 10th.
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ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.
Philadelphia, May 29th, 1782.
You will receive herewith a letter of the 10th instant, which having been submitted to Congress, was returned yesterday to this office, together with the resolution, which I have the honor to enclose expressive of their sense of the sentiments contained in the letter, and of the line of conduct you ought to pursue. Having written to you lately, I have little to add.
We have not been able to settle a cartel with the British for the exchange of prisoners, of whom we have a balance in our hands to the amount of ten thousand. They refuse to pay the great sums, that we have advanced for their maintenance, which we make a preliminary to an exchange. It is not improbable, that the Germans will be made free of the country, sold for three years, to defray this expense, which they most of them wish, as they express a great inclination to settle here.
I have the honor to be, &c.
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
* * * * *
TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
St Petersburg, June 28th, 1782.
Immediately after we had received intelligence here of the important change in the councils, and in the system of Great Britain, I consulted my correspondent (the Marquis de Verac) upon the expediency of disclosing my public character, without further delay to her Majesty's principal Minister. He gave me his opinion freely and candidly. For your information, I need only say, that it is the same in every respect with his former one, which you will find in his letter to me, of the 12th of September last, and in mine of September 15th to the President of Congress.
I cannot take upon me to say, that his opinion is not well founded. My private sentiment then was, that that event could not fail to occasion a correspondent change in her Majesty's system also; but I knew my means of information were not as good as those of my correspondent, and that though every one seems to think the mediation of her Majesty, between Great Britain and Holland, was in effect at an end, yet in form it was still kept up, so that the reasons against disclosing my character, mentioned to you in my letter of March 5th, might still be supposed to have some influence. This determined me to conform to his advice.
However, I could not think of resting totally inactive in this state of things; though I thought it not prudent to make any official communications, yet it could not be amiss to endeavor at this time to turn, if possible, the thoughts of those in government upon our affairs, and to refute certain assertions of our enemies, which had remained without contradiction here, and by this means to prepare the way for the former. It might at least serve to sound the sentiments of the Ministers. With these views I have thrown the few following reflections upon paper, three translations of which into French, have, I am assured, been placed in the very hands I wished to place them, and that they have not been unacceptable.
"When Great Britain engaged in a war with her late Colonies, either to obtain allies, or to prevent new enemies rising up against her, she was desirous to have it believed that she was contending in the common cause of all the maritime powers of Europe. Spain she endeavored to alarm by suggesting, that the revolt in America would be a fatal example to all her Colonies in the new world, and if it had not such an effect upon them, they would at least be liable to be conquered one after another, by their new neighboring empire, so that in one way or the other Spain would lose her American Colonies, if the independence of the United States should be established. To Holland she held up the danger her peculiar commerce, and her navigation would be exposed to, from the enterprising spirit of the Americans, who would not fail to become soon her rivals throughout all Europe. To the nations about the Baltic she alleged, that the free commerce of America would be highly prejudicial to their commerce, because many of the commodities of America, being of the same nature with theirs, they would everywhere in the markets of Europe come into concurrence with them. She has been more particular with regard to Russia, and asserted, that this empire can derive no possible benefit from a free and direct commerce with America, and that with or without this commerce, Russia will be in the same circumstances, because Great Britain who now takes off, will continue to take off, all the superfluous productions, and manufactures of Russia.
"The conduct of Spain, and of Holland, is the best comment upon the declarations of the British, which respect those nations. I shall confine myself, therefore, to those which respect the nations about the Baltic, and particularly Russia. A few short reflections upon these reasonings, or rather assertions, may perhaps show the mere fallacy of them.
"Let it be admitted, that Great Britain will in fact continue to take off all the superfluous productions and manufactures of Russia. Does it follow from hence, that Russia can have no interest in a free and direct commerce with America? Will it make no difference to the interests of Russia whether she disposes of her commodities to Great Britain alone, or to Great Britain and America at the same time? Will not the concurrence of America in her ports give an additional advantage to Russia? Will it not enhance the price of her commodities? Will it not increase the demand for them? And will not this increased demand be the means also of increasing the quantity of her productions and manufactures? If these things do not follow, all the reasonings of the best writers upon the principles of commerce, showing the great benefits every nation derives from the concurrence of purchasers of her commodities, are false and delusive. Besides, how is Russia paid for her productions and manufactures? Is it not by exchange in a very great proportion for foreign commodities? Are not many of these foreign commodities of the peculiar production or manufacture of America, such as rice, indigo, sugar, coffee, cocoa, pimento, cochineal, and all sorts of dyeing woods? Does it make no difference to the interest of Russia, whether she receives those articles directly from the countries, which produce them, or in circuitous voyages through Great Britain, and consequently from a third hand? Does not this course draw along with it double freight, double insurance, double commissions, and are not all the other charges attending a voyage (to say nothing of additional duties,) ordinarily doubled by means of this circuitous course? Will not the price of such American commodities be increased by these means when they arrive in Russia, at the most moderate computation, at the rate of twentyfive per cent? Will not Russia, therefore, necessarily lose at that same rate, upon all her commodities sold to Great Britain in exchange for such American commodities? And will not this contribute in a great measure to keep the course of exchange against her? And will she not lose also the advantages she would infallibly derive from the concurrence of the Americans in her ports? Is it not worthy of consideration, whether this extra price of materials, necessary for the manufactures of Russia, will not render them so much dearer to foreign nations, and whether this circumstance will not expose her to the danger of being rivalled in those very commodities in other countries? In one word, is it not of the last importance to a nation to draw all such foreign commodities as she wants from the first hand, or from their proper source? What credit, then, is to be given to the assertion of the British, viz. that this empire can derive no benefit from a free and direct commerce with America and that, without this commerce, Russia will be in the same circumstances.
"Further, if it is true, that many of the productions of America are of the same nature with those of Russia, and that a concurrence of those articles on the part of America, in the markets of Europe, would be prejudicial to the commerce of Russia, does it follow from hence, that it would not be the interest of Russia to have a free and direct commerce with America? Let us take one article by way of example; hemp, which is the foundation of the principal commerce of Russia. That within some parts of the extensive territories of the United States, both the soil and climate may be adapted to the cultivation of hemp of the best quality, cannot reasonably be doubted. Is it not then of the highest importance to Russia, to turn the thoughts of the Americans from the cultivation of this plant, or in other words, to make it their interests not to cultivate it? That Russia can do this; by means which may be pointed out, and in the use of which both nations may promote their general interests, is certain. But will the exclusion of the Americans from a free and direct commerce have this effect? Will the sending them to Great Britain, or to any other country in Europe than Russia, for the commodities of Russia, but especially for her hemp, have a tendency to that effect? Will not the Russian hemp, in consequence of such measures, be burthened with all the charges abovementioned when it comes to the hands of the Americans, that is to say, with the extraordinary charge of twentyfive per cent? And will not this twentyfive per cent in fact operate in the nature of a bounty to that amount, to encourage the cultivation of American hemp?
"Besides if America should find a combination to exclude her from the benefit of a free and direct commerce with Russia, is it not natural to suppose she would endeavor to relieve herself from the effects of such an inequitable system, by vigorously adopting proper measures for that purpose? And could she not do it? Might she not begin by profiting of the errors of such an exclusive system, to the encouragement that system would give to the cultivation of her hemp, could she not superadd a duly upon all Russian hemp, which should be imported into America? The effects of such a policy on the one part and on the other, cannot possibly escape the penetration of those whose business it is maturely to consider these things. But may it not be asked, if the mischiefs pointed out above should in fact take place, are there any benefits which Russia could derive from such a system, which would more than counterbalance them? And what are these benefits? What, for instance, could compensate Russia for the damage she would sustain by losing the supply of hemp for the great American market, a market which will be rapidly increasing, while that of Great Britain, to say the least, has come to a full stand? Would not two other important supplies be in danger of sharing the same fate, viz, sailcloth and cordage? All these three articles have hitherto been imported in great quantities into America; sailcloth for the use of all their navigation, and there is scarce any kind of Russian manufactures, which they have not imported, and which they do not want. Finally, it is certain, that if America had continued under the dominion of Great Britain, that very concurrence in the markets of Europe, which the British pretend will be a consequence of the independence of America, would have taken place, especially in the articles of pitch, tar, turpentine, iron, ship timber, masts, spars, bowsprits, and in general of all naval stores.
"Every one knows that Great Britain drew great quantities of all these commodities from the northern nations. It is not less certain, that she drew some of all of them from her late Colonies. But these commodities are so bulky, and of so little intrinsic value, that it was utterly impossible for the Americans to transport them across the Atlantic so cheap as the nations of Europe, which wanted them, and Great Britain in particular, could import them from the northern nations. This kind of commerce, therefore, would long since have utterly failed, and been left free for those nations, if, to prevent this, Great Britain had not adopted the policy of granting large bounties upon all those commodities, iron alone excepted, when imported into Great Britain from America. It was her interest to do this, because at the same time, that she was thereby encouraging the commerce of her Colonies, she was rendering a great benefit to her own manufactures, in which she paid the Americans for those commodities, so that her bounties turned to the account of both parts of the Empire at once. Besides, they made her less dependent upon any foreign nations for those commodities, and she was too well acquainted with her commercial and political interests ever to lose sight of that object. She could not grant a bounty upon iron without injuring her own mines; she therefore adopted the method of exempting the iron of America from duties, which she imposed upon all the iron imported from any foreign country, and these duties being considerable, they had a like effect upon American iron, as the bounties had upon the other commodities. This system was calculated gradually to destroy the commerce of the northern nations with Great Britain.
"Now is it not certain, take away the dependence of America upon the empire of Great Britain, and you take away at the same time the interest of Great Britain, to give the preference to those American commodities? She will then procure them where she can procure them cheapest, that is from the northern nations. When the British bounties therefore cease, the commerce of America with Europe in those articles will cease with them. And thus those nations will nowhere be troubled with the dangerous concurrence in the markets of Europe on the part of America, which has been so much talked of by the British, and may have influenced the political systems of those powers. During the time America was dependent upon the British empire, she has always imported great quantities of iron and steel from Sweden through Great Britain. She will certainly continue to import those articles when she can obtain them so much cheaper by a direct commerce with Sweden or Russia. Is it not then clear, that the independence of the United States, in whatever view it is properly considered, will turn to the benefit of all Europe, Great Britain alone excepted; that the nations about the Baltic, Russia above all, if they adopt in season a wise policy towards America, have everything to hope and nothing to fear from the commerce of that country?"
As these reflections were not in my hand writing, or signed, or delivered by me, so there was no danger of exposing Congress or myself in this business. Though no great doubt could be entertained from what hand they came, yet they might have been disavowed by me if it should be thought advisable. I pretend not to have suggested any new matter upon the subject, or to have urged the whole that might have been said upon it. Brevity was a thing indispensably necessary. They are perhaps more adapted to the local state of affairs, than anything the Ministers here may have seen. On the whole, I have no reason to repent of the measure. Although it should not be attended with any immediate good effects, yet I flatter myself it may not be wholly fruitless.
I have prepared a second part, which enforces the first, enters more into political matter, and is chiefly designed as an answer to certain ostensible objections, which I understand have been made against her Imperial Majesty's forming at present any political connexion with the United States, but have made no use of it yet, because since the delivery of the first, accounts of the advantages gained by the British fleet over the French in the West Indies, have arrived here, and seem a little to have changed the face of affairs in this quarter; though it seems to me whoever reflects upon that unfortunate action, cannot really suppose the relative force of the two nations essentially altered by it. The British it is true may have thereby saved the most valuable of their possessions in those parts, for this year at least, the loss of which would have reduced them nearly to despair, and compelled them to solicit a universal peace upon such terms as they know it is to be obtained. In this view it has its serious consequences.
I would very willingly comply with your request, and make my letters more numerous and more minute, but the want of a safe conveyance from hence, (having no other than the post, and not having any cypher from your office) obliges me to remain totally silent upon some matters, and to use so much caution in others, that I fear none of them will afford you much satisfaction, or can be of any real service. I have not been honored with any letter from you since that of the 22d of October last, the duplicate of which has never come to hand. When you write me, please to send your letters to the care of Mr Adams. I pray you to acquaint Congress, that I shall not fail to exert my small abilities to the utmost, and to improve every favorable opportunity to promote the end of my mission. I should be happy if I could give them any reasonable assurances, that my success was at hand.
I am, with much respect and esteem, &c.
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TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
St Petersburg, August 30th, 1782.
I cannot suffer the post of this day to depart without acknowledging the receipt of the quadruplicate of the 2d of last March, and another of the 22d of May. They were received last evening. Neither the original of the first, nor either of the other copies has reached me, so that I have been a long time without any intelligence about affairs in our country from you. The reason you assigned for this surprised me. I thought it had been next to impossible, that my letters written from hence, in August, September and October last, should not have reached you long before that time. The only channel through which you can write me with the least security, is Holland. If your letters are sent to the care of Mr Adams, they will come on under every possible caution; but no letter should be sent addressed immediately to me. In such a case, there is no doubt but they would all be opened at the office here. I send all my own letters under cover to friends in Holland, which, though it doubles the postage, is a caution which ought not to be dispensed with.
Your letter has eased me of much anxiety, particularly that paragraph of it, which begins with the word "you" and ends with "acknowledged," as it has cleared up the point of most importance, and upon which I wanted more explicit directions than are contained in my instructions. Though this letter has been so long on its way, yet it has arrived in good season to answer every purpose of it. I have hitherto been governed by sentiments exactly conformable to those you have expressed in the clause which begins with "all" and ends with "insecure." But my anxiety arose from an apprehension, that the expectations of Congress might possibly have been different, for want of some local information, which I have never ventured to communicate.
I have reason to believe, that at this time, the illustrious Sovereign of this empire, and her principal Ministers are fully convinced, that the affairs of the United States have acquired a consistency, which renders their independence perfectly secure, particularly that they are not distracted by internal divisions, that Congress are everywhere highly respected, freely obeyed, and firmly supported; that the governments of the several States harmonise with them and with each other, in all great political points, and in their turn are equally respected, obeyed, and supported by their respective citizens. On these points there is no danger of our suffering from the misrepresentations of our enemies. If I have been able to collect any part of the sentiments of this Court, it is that the independence of the United States is established beyond all question, and that its political measures, so far as they may take our country into view, will be formed upon that supposition. Indeed, they have long since been formed on that ground.
Sir, as I propose to forward two copies of this letter by the post of the day, I should miss of the opportunity if I enlarged here. I will take up the subject in my next by the next post. I am sorry to find the ordinance you mention does not accompany your letter, though you say you enclosed it. I wrote to Mr Adams for it as soon as I heard of it, but have not received it from him.
I have the honor to be, &c.
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TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
St Petersburg, September 5th, 1782.
Though there is now no danger of our suffering from the misrepresentations of the British, and our independence may be considered as established beyond all question, yet her Imperial Majesty, still entertaining the expectation of mediating at the general peace, every measure which may possibly be deemed an obstacle to that end will be studiously avoided. It is not, therefore, to be expected, that any application of ours would meet with the desired success, while her Imperial Majesty continues to tender her mediation. This has all along been my idea of the matter, and if I had not received the further instructions of Congress, contained in your letter, I should not have attempted to assume my public character under such circumstances.