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The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. VIII
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But I must confess at the same time I should have risked the measure the first moment I saw the mediation given up by her Majesty; because I did not view the United States as humble supplicants at this Court; as they were not seeking aids from her Majesty, and had nothing to ask but what they intended to give an ample equivalent for. And I did not consider, that the real honor and dignity of the United States would be more exposed, even by her Majesty's declining to accept our propositions, and by my immediate retirement from her Court in that case, than they would be exposed to, by my long residence here (no such cause as is mentioned existing) in the character of a private citizen of the United States, when the event would show, that I had all the while a commission in my pocket as their public Minister. You will not conceive, Sir, that I mean to question the propriety of the orders of Congress which you have communicated to me. I am sensible it is my duty to obey, and not to dispute their commands, and I am very happy to have received them in such clear and explicit terms.

I beg leave to observe, that when Congress ordered my commission and instructions to be made out, they seem to have misapprehended the nature of the confederation proposed by her Imperial Majesty, to maintain the freedom of commerce, and of navigation. My commission and instructions are in part founded upon the supposition, that her Imperial Majesty, in her declaration of February 28th, 1780, had invited both the belligerent and neutral powers to enter into a general convention for that purpose, and authorise and direct me to accede to the same (if invited thereto) on the part of the United States. Whereas that declaration is in the nature of a notification to the belligerent powers only, and contains a complaint of the interruption the commerce and navigation of the neutral nations, and of her own subjects in particular, had suffered from the subjects of the belligerent powers, in violation of the rights of neutral nations, sets forth and claims those rights and declares, that to maintain them, to protect the honor of her flag, &c. she had fitted out the greatest part of her marine forces. These violations, it is said in it, ought to excite the attention of all neutral powers. In pursuance of this sentiment, a copy of the declaration was communicated to the Courts of Stockholm, Copenhagen, Lisbon, and to the States-General; in which communication they are invited to make a common cause of this business with her Imperial Majesty, who adds, that if to establish this system on a solid foundation, the neutral powers abovementioned would open a negotiation, and enter into a particular convention, she would be ready to come into it.

This is the only passage I have been able to find in all the acts relative to this subject, which gives the least idea of a Congress or general negotiation. No general negotiation has ever been opened in consequence of this intimation, and if there had been, the belligerent powers, I conceive, could have taken no part regularly in it, or in the particular conventions which might have been the result. They had only to make their several answers to the declaration which her Imperial Majesty made to them, as they have done. The marine convention which was afterwards first entered into by her Imperial Majesty, and the King of Denmark, and which has served as a basis for all the others, being nothing more than an association to maintain their rights as neutral powers, no formal accession can be made to such a confederation on the part of the United States, till they cease to be a belligerent power.

Viewing the matter in this light, and knowing that the resolutions of Congress have long since been communicated to her Majesty by Mr Adams, through her Minister at the Hague, I have not communicated them, though he thought it was the intention of Congress I should do it, on my arrival here. I hope, Sir, you will favor me with the sentiments of Congress upon this subject by the earliest opportunity, that I may know not only whether I am mistaken in my opinion about it, but whether my conduct meets with their approbation.

It is proper to advise Congress, that there is a fixed custom at this Court, that every power entering into any treaty with her Imperial Majesty, must pay six thousand roubles to each of her principal Ministers, that is, to four of them, making twentyfour thousand in all, reckoning them upon an average of exchange upon London, at fortyfive pence sterling, makes L4,500, if I mistake not. This sum has been paid by all the neutral powers, who have acceded to her marine convention. If therefore the time should ever arrive for me to make any treaty here, it will be indispensably necessary Congress should enable me to advance that sum upon the execution of each treaty. I make no other comment upon this practice, than that I hope it may never find its way into our country.

I was too much pressed for time when I wrote you last to acquaint you, that Portugal had acceded to the neutral confederation. This should not be considered as a mere voluntary act on the part of Portugal. For Portugal sent on hither, in the course of last winter, a consul, in expectation of forming a commercial treaty, which her Majesty declined, unless Portugal would accede to the neutral confederation. The commercial treaty is not yet finished. It seems to be the present determination of her Majesty, not to grant any special commercial favors to any nation, but to make treaties with all upon equal principles. The treaty with Britain, which will expire on the 20th of June, 1786, I am assured is not likely to be renewed, so that that nation will presently lose the benefits derived from a kind of monopoly, which they have long enjoyed here.

You acquaint me that Congress have ordered the salaries of all their foreign Ministers to be paid in America, and that you shall transmit bills to Dr Franklin, upon whom they are to draw quarterly. I shall attend to this new arrangement in future. I wish you would be pleased to inform me in your next, whether Congress have taken into consideration the questions I stated in my letter of the 24th of March, 1781, relative to my salary; and what has been done upon it. I am inclined to think, from the concluding paragraph of the preamble to my instructions, that Congress supposed, "the diplomatic order, in which I am placed by my commission;" was inferior to that in which their other Ministers in Europe are placed by their commissions. That paragraph seems to have been taken from Vattel's Law of Nations, where he treats of the several orders of public Ministers. He supposes a great difference in point of ceremony or etiquette, and says, that Ministers Plenipotentiary are of much greater distinction than simple Ministers. In both these suppositions he is certainly mistaken, at least as to this Court, where they are treated in the same manner in every respect. Indeed Envoys Extraordinary, and Extraordinary Ministers Plenipotentiary, and Ministers simply so named, being all in the second class of public Ministers, and of equal rank, are treated in the same manner. No distinction is made between them on account of their different titles.

Precedency among Ministers of the same class, is not settled here throughout. The general rule of adjusting here and elsewhere, is the relative rank of their respective masters or sovereigns. No Minister, for instance, of the second class, would dispute precedency with a Minister of the Emperor of the same class; but we have seen a Minister of the present Empress claim precedency of a Minister of France of the same class, though generally the Ministers of France have been in possession of the place next to the Ministers of the Emperor. This dispute has left the matter of precedency among Ministers of the same class, much at loose here, where indeed they are not much troubled about etiquette of any sort. Each Court has its particular usage in such cases, and no good information is to be drawn from any general treatises upon the subject.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.

Philadelphia, September 18th, 1782.

Sir,

I have just now received your favor of the 30th of March, it being the only letter we have had from you in eleven months. The previous one of March 5th never reached me: I am compelled from the variety of things that press upon me at this time, to answer in fewer words than I would wish to do. Your observations on the trade of Russia are very pertinent, and afford us some useful hints, and as none of the actions of the Empress, who has at present, by the force of her own abilities, such influence upon the affairs of Europe can be indifferent to us, we feel an interest in the statement you give us of her connexion with the Porte. You have, however, been totally silent upon a subject that interests us more immediately. You say nothing of your own situation, whether you are known or concealed; whether you have conversed with the Minister, or thought it prudent to keep at a distance till a more favorable moment offers; whether our cause gains or loses ground at Petersburg; and what means you use to support it; whether you have had any conversation with the French Ambassador since that you detailed to us, and what the result of your conferences with him have been. These are points upon which we should not be left in the dark.

As to ourselves, nothing important has been done in the military line this summer. The enemy has remained inactive, and our disappointment in the expected naval aid from the misfortune of Count de Grasse, has compelled us hitherto to be so too; though we never at any period of the war had so respectable an army, if we take into view either their numbers, their discipline, or their supplies of every kind. The French troops from Virginia have just joined ours on the banks of the Hudson. The feeble attempt of the British to dissolve the alliance formed against them, by detaching us from France, or France from us, was received here with contempt and almost every legislature on the continent immediately passed unanimous resolutions expressive of their determination to make no peace in which the interest of their allies was not included. Congress refused to receive Mr Morgan, Secretary to General Carleton.

The change which afterwards took place in the British administration, has made a very important alteration in their system here. Savannah was evacuated, and the proposed evacuation of Charleston has been announced in general orders. Everything seemed to speak the evacuation of New York, when we learnt that a second change has taken place, and that the death of the Marquis of Rockingham has put Lord Shelburne at the head of the administration.

The enclosed letter from General Carleton and Admiral Digby, Commissioners for making peace, is such a glaring evidence against them, if they change their conduct towards us, that I wish you to have it published.

I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, September 23d, 1782.

Sir,

Your answer to my letters, from the 28th of July to October, mentioned in yours of the 22d of May, has not reached me, nor have any of your letters except those the receipt of which is acknowledged in my last. That of the 22d of May, I received on the 29th of last month, but the newspapers which you say accompany it, were brought me by yesterday's post, at an expense of near four pounds sterling. How they came to be separated from your letter, or who forwarded them to me, I know not.

It may be advisable to furnish me, when the time will admit of it, with authentic copies of such proceedings of Congress, as I ought to be particularly informed about, or when these matters, or any other of that nature are published in the newspapers, to cut them out and enclose them in your letters. For I cannot receive our newspapers through any other channel than the post, and at what expense, you have a specimen above. I cannot tell to what accident it has been owing, that I never received the resolutions of Congress of the 26th of June, 1781, till the last week. Had I been possessed of them when I wrote my last, I should not have troubled you with an inquiry about the questions stated in my letter of the 24th of March, 1781, to which they seem to be intended as an answer. If Congress have made any alterations touching the subject of them as far as it can now concern me, I should be glad to know them.

As it seems to be the fixed determination of Congress that nothing shall be put to hazard here, I shall not think myself at liberty to take any official step to bring on the business of my mission, though the general state of affairs should seem to promise success, unless I have assurances, that I shall be received and acknowledged in my public character. Congress must not expect any such assurances will begin on the part of this Court, so long as the Court of London shall oppose any act by which we may be considered as an independent nation. For her Imperial Majesty would not choose unnecessarily to give the least umbrage to the Court of London, and, of course, if not called upon to do it, she will not make any advances to meet our views, till all opposition shall cease. Her Majesty and her Ministers well know our policy is founded upon great and liberal principles, and they do not apprehend they shall lose any advantages, by postponing a political connexion with us, till the way is perfectly clear to form it.

There has no change taken place in the administration here, as you have been informed, since my arrival. Count Panin had retired from Court before, and though he still bears the title of Chief of the College of Foreign Affairs, yet he takes not the least part in them. The Vice Chancellor, Count d'Ostermann, continues to conduct the etiquette of that department, as the First Minister. Things appear to be governed still by the same influence and the same principles, which took place upon the retirement of the former. I have attempted to write to you in your cypher, but find the scheme intolerably tedious, and so liable to errors, that I have been obliged to give it up. Besides, it has come to me through the post office, and I am not sure they are not in possession of a copy of it. I will endeavor to prepare another scheme, which I think will be attended with much less trouble, and be equally good on other accounts. I will forward it to Holland by Mr Adams's son, who will soon leave me, when I shall be totally destitute of any assistance, and deprived of any person into whose hands your papers might be committed in case of my death; nor is it possible here to procure any one in whom I could safely confide. I am the more easy about this, as I propose to return to America as soon after I shall be received in my public character, as the principal business of my mission shall be finished. I will, myself, bring any treaty I may conclude here for ratification, when I doubt not I shall be able to assign such reasons for my departure, without express permission, as will be satisfactory to Congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, September 29th, 1782.

Sir,

I have this day been honored with the duplicate of yours of the 10th of May, and of the 22d and 29th of the same month, together with the resolutions of Congress of the 22d of February, and of the 1st of March last, relative to your department, but no copy of your letter, or of the resolutions of Congress expressive of their sense of the sentiments contained in the letter of the 10th of May, or of the cypher, all of which you say are enclosed in that letter, has come to hand with it.

If my first letter to you, dated March 5th, which was written by the next post after the receipt of your first, has been received, and I think it must have been soon after the date of your last, all anxiety which might have been occasioned by my earlier letters from hence, I hope will be removed, and that I shall be thought not to be totally destitute of political prudence. When that letter was written, I was rather apprehensive I might be censured by some as suffering prudence to degenerate into pusillanimity, for not taking advantage of the impression made by so important an event as the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army, and thought it expedient to assign any reasons for not doing it, knowing that we are apt to think events, which so immediately change the face of affairs among ourselves, operate almost as sudden changes in the systems of Europe.

My letter of June 28th, I hope also will have the same favorable tendency. The measure mentioned in it, I presume will not be censured. To say the least, it has not been productive of any unhappy effects. I have never delivered the second part, because I have not yet been satisfied of the expediency of touching upon some matters which it contained. I have always consulted the French Minister freely, whenever I have thought any circumstances favorable to our views have turned up, (an instance will be found in the above letter) and I have never acted against his opinion given me upon any point.

The line I have hitherto pursued, is precisely that pointed out in your letter of March 2d. In truth, Sir, no person has higher ideas of the real honor and dignity of the United States than myself, and no person, perhaps, would be less liable rashly to expose them to any indignities. I will not now trouble you with observations upon any parts of your letter of May 10th, though I may think myself obliged to do so hereafter, when I shall have a more convenient opportunity to enter fully into the subject of it, and into the necessary explanations.

At present, we have no interesting intelligence here. What may be the consequences of the measures taken by her Imperial Majesty to restore the deposed Khan of the Crimea, of whom I have made some particular mention in my letter of the 30th of March, is not easily foreseen. Whenever we shall receive any certain accounts from that quarter, I shall not fail to communicate them. In that same letter I gave you some account of the commerce of this country, and pointed out in what way I imagined we might take a part in it to our advantage. I enclosed you a printed list of the exports from hence for 1781. You will receive one with this also, which will serve to show the nature of them with more exactness than the quantity; for this is always considerably greater than those lists import it to be, because they are formed from the articles alleged by the merchants to be shipped, and for which they pay the duties, and they scarce ever report the whole to the custom house.

To give you a more particular knowledge of the commerce of this country, I have sent you (with the dictionaries you wrote for) a small treatise upon the subject, which enters into mercantile details, and may be very serviceable to some of our merchants. It is in general well written, and is the only one I can learn which has been published upon it. Her Majesty, who seems to give great attention to the commerce of her empire, has since freed it in many instances from the restrictions imposed upon it. In particular, all kinds of military stores are now permitted to be exported by any one paying the duties, salt petre, rhubarb, &c. And the exploring and working of mines, have also been lately encouraged. Though there are vast mines in this empire, yet they were never worked upon till the time of Peter the Great. Before that period Russia imported all her iron, copper, lead, &c. principally from Sweden. At this day Russia exports as much iron (the exportation of copper is prohibited) as Sweden, that is, one year with another, about three millions of poods, a pood being forty pounds Russian, a little more than thirtysix pounds English. Some of the iron of Russia is at least as good as the best Swedish, particularly what is called old sable iron. We used to import considerable quantities of the Swedish, if I am not mistaken.

Upon my arrival here, I found a strong apprehension prevailing, that we should rival this country in the other parts of Europe, especially in the important articles of iron and hemp. Besides what I have said upon this subject in the reflections contained in my letter of June 28th, I endeavored to show the high improbability of our going into the business of mining, even to a degree to answer our own demands, for an age at least, much less for foreign markets. From the dearness of labor, when our mines if worked at all must be worked by freemen, and not as in Europe in general, by slaves, as we had no white slaves, and had prohibited the importation of blacks; that by this means, aided by the enemy, who in their progress through the southern States had stolen them from many plantations, and shipped not a few to their Islands, we should shortly see an end of slaves in our country; that the policy of our governments was opposed to the commerce of slaves; that upon the supposition we could work our mines by freemen nearly as cheap as Russia, yet we should import her iron in great quantities, because the nature of the other commodities we should take from hence is such as would require our vessels to be ballasted, and that they would wish to take in iron in preference to other unprofitable ballast and without freight, so that it would always arrive among us at an advantageous rate. From the prodigious extent of our uncultivated territory, joined to the ease with which every inhabitant might make himself an independent proprietor of a sufficient portion of it, for the comfortable support of himself and a family, who in their turns might find in the same way the same facility of subsisting in an independent state of life; that it was not in the nature of things for men thus circumstanced to bury themselves in the bowels of the earth, and spend their lives and their labor for the profit of others.

As to the article of hemp, I observed, notwithstanding the encouragement by bounties given by the Parliament of Britain, aided by the influence of the King's Governors in the Colonies, we had never adopted the cultivation of it in any degree worth consideration; that we had continued to import it through Great Britain in very great quantities; that scarce any vessel ever came from thence without bringing more or less of it; that it had never become an article of exportation, unless possibly in some instances for the purpose of recovering bounties; that the people were averse to its cultivation, as it not only required a good soil, which could be more profitably imployed in raising grain, but impoverished it very fast; that grain was one of our capital articles; that by means of it we kept up a profitable commerce with all the West Indies, as well as with some of the more southern parts of our continent; that further, it would be the policy of America, whenever circumstances should turn her attention to manufactures, to begin upon the coarse woollens in preference to linens of any kind, and to that end to promote the increase of wool, rather than of flax or hemp; that a system of this sort coincided perfectly with the cultivation of grain, as it contributed to fill the country with provisions, to render labor cheaper, and to afford further supplies for the above foreign markets; and that our lands instead of being injured, would be much meliorated by such means.

By arguments of this kind, pursued into their details, and such as are contained in those reflections, I have endeavored, I hope with some good effect, to dissipate any apprehensions of the abovementioned rivalry. This had become an object of consequence to us, as this rivalry was maintained by both friends and foes, though with very different views. I will explain myself hereafter upon this point.

Our latest intelligence from America, comes by the way of Iceland, and in substance is, that the ship of war the Princess Caroline, had arrived there last from Charleston; that she was at Savannah on the 30th of June; that the garrison had received orders to evacuate that post; that on the 1st of July transports had arrived there from Charleston to take them off; that she carried Governor Wright to Charleston, where she arrived the 3d of July; that all was then quiet there, but that General Carleton had determined to evacuate that place also, and to keep possession of St Augustine. Thus it is generally supposed here, that those two posts have been evacuated by the British to reinforce New York and their Islands, and that New York is besieged, as we learn further by the way of London, that Vaudreuille had sailed with twenty ships of the line for our continent, supposed with the design of covering the siege of that place. As to military operations in Europe, Gibraltar now commands universal attention, and it is believed that celebrated rock must soon change its masters, and if so, that this will smooth the way to peace.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

P. S. I do not write to you in your cyphers, because, since your last copy is missing, I think the reasons against doing it are stronger than when I wrote my last.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, October 14th, 1782.

Sir,

I should have done myself the honor of writing to you before this day, but I have been so much indisposed ever since the date of my last, that I have been unable to do it. Notwithstanding the difficulties I have had upon my mind, and have expressed in my letters of September 29th, and October 1st, I have hazarded writing to you in your cypher, to communicate the matter contained in my last. It may be proper to acquaint you, that the reasons urged in support of that project, were in writing and annexed to it, that I read the whole carefully, and immediately upon my return home reduced it to writing from my memory, more at large than I have given it to you, having in my communication expressed myself in as few words as possible, preserving the substance only, to save unnecessary trouble in cyphering and decyphering. This is what is alluded to where it is said "this rivalry was maintained by both friends and foes, though with very different views."

As you have the matter now before you, if I did not feel myself under any restraint, it would be needless for me to trouble you with any particular observations of my own upon it, because you will at once discern its effects upon our present interests here, as well as upon our commerce and navigation in future, should the scheme be carried into execution, of which I believe there is now no probability, the plan mentioned in my letter of March 30th, particularly that part of it contained in the clause beginning "perhaps solidly" and ending with "protection" seems to be opening upon us. I have never entertained an idea, that her Imperial Majesty, or any other of the neutral powers, would take a part in the present war. The probability of her doing so is, if possible, much weaker than before.

Her attention will be turned to another quarter, and we may see a war break out against the Turks, in which the Emperor may be concerned likewise. Many movements tend to this end. An army of a hundred and sixty thousand Russians are ordered to assemble at Kersant, a new fortified village in New Russia, situated on the western side of the Dnieper or Borysthenes, at about fourteen leagues from Oczakow, a well fortified town of the Turks, famous in the war of 1736, situated at the mouth of the same river, and opposite to Kinburn, a port which Russia obtained at the last peace, but which is exposed to the sudden attacks of the Turks from Oczakow. Eighteen regiments, amounting to about twentyfive thousand men, have already arrived at Kersant, and the residue, or as great a part as can be collected, will be at that rendezvous in March next. The restoration of the deposed Khan of the Crimea is the declared object of this great force; but I am told that revolution has been effected by the intrigues of the Court of St Petersburg, to raise a pretext for this movement, and to cover the real object in view, and that the campaign next year will open with the siege of Oczakow. I pretend not to be certain about this particular information, but I give it to you as what appears to me not to be improbable.

The Russian Ministers are in general Ante-Gallicans, and have, since the exit of Count Panin, sought to divide or lessen the enemies of Great Britain. Hence the most extraordinary proceedings to bring or rather to drive the United Provinces into a separate peace with Great Britain, (which have not yet ceased,) and hence all the patient acquiescence in her attempt to make a particular peace with the United States, though repugnant to the propositions of the mediating Courts. I believe they would have been well pleased, not only that their partial mediation between Holland and Great Britain had succeeded, but that the United States as an independent nation had made their own peace with Great Britain, and left her to contend with the house of Bourbon alone. From this general sketch of their system, you may be enabled to account for many appearances.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, November 1st, 1782.

Sir,

Conceiving that the most, if not the only profitable connexion, we can form with this Empire, is of a commercial nature, I have, during my residence here, turned much of my attention to learn in what manner we can carry on a commerce with it, to our greatest benefit. In a former letter I acquainted you, that rice and indigo were the principal of our commodities adapted to this market; that it would be necessary, therefore, for us, in order to maintain any considerable commerce with this Empire, to do it by means of a circuitous navigation, and I pointed out a course which I thought practicable. That, however, would be absolutely annihilated, if the scheme, communicated in my letter of October 1st, should be carried into execution.

It was not on that account alone that I was led to consider that scheme in so serious a light. I found it a great obstacle in my way, counteracting our immediate views, and aiming a blow at our interests, in the only part where they were liable to, or might most easily be injured and wounded. I was of course an obstacle in the way of that, though at first without the least apprehension of its existence, and it must necessarily have been supposed, that I should be so. How far this may have influenced in certain matters, which I need not point out for your information, I will not take upon me to say. I hope it will not be thought I have already said too much upon it, or that I have been unreasonably alarmed about it. There is not, I believe, the least apprehension that I have come to the knowledge of it, or that I have been in the way of obtaining the least information of it. While things remain in this state, there will be no disagreeable consequences from it. In my last, I have added some circumstances for the explanation of this subject, as I thought it not advisable to say anything upon it in my letter of October 1st, lest it might tend to disclose it, if that letter should be intercepted at the office here. One channel of my correspondence has been lately discovered, and a letter written to me upon political subjects, was opened at the office, and sent to me slightly sealed, that I might know it had been opened there. Fortunately, it placed our affairs in a very favorable light, and can do us no injury, but will serve to confirm the representation I have constantly made of them.

There is another channel of commerce, which we may perhaps enter into with equal or greater benefit to ourselves, and in which we shall have great advantages, if I am not deceived, over all the nations of Europe in this market; I mean through the West Indies, all the productions of which (rum excepted) are brought here, after being carried into the respective mother countries, where they are unloaded, deposited for a considerable time, and loaded again before they are brought in here; all which occasions a great increase of expense, and much enhances their price. Now almost all our commodities find a ready market in the islands. Would it not be practicable, therefore, for us to exchange them there for the proper commodities of the islands, at proper seasons of the year, and to proceed directly for this market? By such means might we not be able to furnish them here at a much cheaper rate than any of the Europeans can do it, and nearly as cheap as if they were our own native productions—and might we not always be at this market with them before they could be, or by the time they arrive in their respective ports? Our want of proper commodities to carry on a commerce with this country to any considerable extent, whose productions we stand in great need of, should, and doubtless will, make us look abroad for them. The Dutch have found it for their advantage to take the commodities of the West Indies through France, and to bring them on here, as well as the wines, brandies, &c. of that country. I am sensible this is a matter of calculation, and that no one but a thorough merchant, should pretend to decide upon it. I throw out the matter therefore for consideration.

I have suggested this plan here, as one by means of which this Empire might be furnished with all the productions of the West Indies, at a much cheaper rate than the European nations can possibly supply them through their respective European countries; and, besides this certain advantage, they may obtain another as a consequence of that, of infinite importance to this country, viz. that the Europeans seeing their West India commodities undersold here by the Americans, may find it necessary to set the commerce of these islands and countries free; and to permit the productions of them to be exported directly to any foreign ports in Europe, and that it is not improbable that such a revolution in commerce will take place.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.

Philadelphia, November 7th, 1782.

Dear Sir,

Since my last, a duplicate of which goes with this, I have been favored with yours of March 5th and June 28th, by which I find some of the inquiries made in my last answered. The reasons you have given for not having taken any steps to display your public character are judicious, and I hope will continue to influence your conduct till you see the moment in which, with the advice of your correspondent, you may do it to advantage.

You will continue to give us the politics of the Court you are at, and of every other from which you can collect any authentic information, which the enclosed resolution of the 17th of October makes more peculiarly your duty.[25] I hope you have received the cypher I sent to Mr Adams for you. Lest you should not, I enclose one. If you have received either of the others, use the large printed one, which you will find much safer than the other, as well as more easy in the practice. The large one is also designed as a common cypher between Mr Adams and you. So that you may communicate freely with each other, from which you may find mutual advantages.

I also enclose several resolutions of Congress declaratory of their determination in no event to conclude a peace without the concurrence of their allies. As it is for the honor of the United States, that their sentiments on this subject should be known, you will make such communication of them as your prudence will direct. In my last, you have a copy of Carleton and Digby's letter to General Washington, in which they say, that they are authorised to declare that his Britannic Majesty has proposed the unconditional independence of America as preliminary to a peace. This change in the British system places them in a truly contemptible light, since it is a direct disavowal of their assertion. Carleton seems to feel this, if we may judge by some expressions in the extracts I enclose you.

The campaign here is brought to a close, the army have gone into winter quarters; the summer has passed in perfecting their discipline and establishing a variety of arrangements, which rendered them, in the opinion of well-informed foreign officers, equal in every point to the best troops in Europe. The enemy are so perfectly conscious of this, that they have never ventured beyond their lines, which they have contracted considerably. We cannot yet hear that Charleston is evacuated, though many arrangements had long since been made for that purpose; it is improbable that the late change in the British system has occasioned a change of sentiment upon this point, even after their annunciation of such a design had driven out their partisans to take protection from us and enlist under our banner, which was insisted upon as a condition precedent to their being received into favor.

The enclosed resolution will inform you of the appointment of Mr Boudinot to the rank of President in the room of Mr Hanson, whose year had expired. The public prints which accompany this, will furnish you with some articles of intelligence, which you may find interesting. I informed you sometime ago, that the salaries of our Ministers would in future be paid here, and I requested you to appoint an agent to receive yours. The expense to which this would put you, would be amply compensated by the profit on the purchase of bills and the regularity of payment. I have taken upon me to act as your agent till I hear from you; and my Secretary, Mr Morris, has hitherto transmitted bills to you on Dr Franklin, on your account, bought at the rate of six shillings and three pence this money for five livres, which makes a saving to you of about twelve per cent. A letter from him containing a state of your account and bills for the last quarter due, will be sent with this.

I wish you to appoint an agent here, or direct me to appoint one for you, as this is a troublesome business to me; particularly while I act without knowing your sentiments on this subject. I have been induced to undertake it, at the pressing instance of the Superintendent of the Finances, and to render your payments more regular than I fear they have hitherto been. No provision is made for your contingent expenses, nor can there be, till you send me an account of them.

I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

FOOTNOTES:

[25] "Resolved, That the Secretary of Foreign Affairs inform the several Ministers of the United States in Europe, that it is the desire and the express direction of Congress, that they transmit full and frequent communications as well of the proceedings of the Courts at which they respectively reside, as those which relate to the negotiations for peace, and also of all such other transactions and events as may in any manner concern the United States."

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, November 18th, 1782.

Sir,

When I was informed by Mr Adams, that Mr Jay had written to him from Paris, that "the British Commissioner there had received full powers to treat of a peace with the Commissioners of the United States," I waited upon the French Minister to consult him on this special occasion upon the expediency of communicating my powers to this Court. It would be imprudent, through this channel, to go into the reasons he assigned against it. It may be sufficient to say, I found him strong in the opinion, that all attempts made prior to a peace would be fruitless.

As his opinion is the rule by which I am to be governed in this case, nothing can be attempted till the period arrives when we shall not feel ourselves under strong obligations to any Sovereign in the world, who should even make advances to form political connexions with us, or acquire much eclat from any such connexions. I thought the opportunity favorable when the only power, which had any pretence of right, to contest our independence, had consented by so formal an act, to treat with us upon the footing of a sovereign and independent State. The consideration we should acquire by a political connexion with the illustrious Sovereign of this empire during the war, and the advantages we might reasonably expect to derive from it in our negotiation for a peace, (for I have never considered independence as our only object) have ever made me desirous, if possible, to effect it during the war. Scarce any political measure of great importance can be undertaken with "an absolute certainty of success." If, therefore, upon mature deliberation, the state of things is found to be such, that success is not improbable, and the benefits of it great and permanent, while the disadvantages of a failure, comparatively speaking, are small, and of a transient nature, in such a case it should seem that the measure should be hazarded. Though I do not believe this to be the very moment, in which her Imperial Majesty would wish to form any political connexion with the United States, but on the contrary, she would wish to postpone it till the conclusion of the war, and be well pleased that no advances should be made on our part till then; because this would afford her opportunity to claim much merit of the Court of London, in having withheld any encouragement to us, when at the same time not only any offence to the United States would be avoided, but she might allege, without a possibility of contradiction, that if an earlier application had been made by them, she would have been happy to have had an occasion to manifest her respect for them, and the early interests she took in their concerns.

Nevertheless there is room to suppose, that if our propositions were communicated while the British King is in fact treating with the United States, as with an independent Sovereign power, that they would not be rejected. And if they were received, this circumstance might be productive of great benefit to our permanent interests. It would, in all probability, bring on a declaration of our independence by some other very considerable powers of Europe, particularly Sweden and Russia. The neutral maritime powers would extend the protection of their commerce and navigation to America, and no longer suffer their flags to be insulted on our coasts. The Court of London would treat of peace with more zeal and good faith. They would the more readily give up certain claims and pretensions, which they will doubtless make upon the United States, and would be exceedingly cautious how they broke off any negotiations, which they had opened. In a word, we should stand on a more advantageous and independent ground of treaty.

For the attainment of objects like these, had any discretionary power been left me, I should have thought it clearly my duty to have made the attempt here in this moment, as I now consider it to be my duty to wait for the conclusion of the war, the period which is pointed out to me as the only proper one, and when most certainly nothing will remain to be hazarded.

If the present negotiations for a peace should happily succeed, I shall have occasion for the money mentioned in my letter of September 5th, before I can expect an answer from Congress on that subject, and I shall apply to Dr Franklin and Mr Adams to advance it between them. It may not be amiss again to inform you, that by the express allowance and order of her Majesty, there is to be paid by every power entering into any treaty with her, six thousand roubles to each of her Ministers signing the same; and it is now understood, that there shall be four signatures on the part of her Majesty, viz. that of Count Ostermann, the Vice Chancellor; Count Woronzow, the President of the College of Commerce; M. Bakournin, Vice President of the College of Finances, and M. Besborodko, Secretary of the Private Affairs, or Particular Cabinet of her Majesty. Matters of this sort were formerly secret and gratuitous. They have now changed, their nature become public, and are demanded as of right, at least no treaty can be otherwise obtained. And care is taken to make it the interest of most powers, to form a commercial treaty with this Empire by declaring in the new tariff, which is just published, that all nations not having such a treaty shall pay the duties, one half in rix dollars, and the other in the money of the country. This has heretofore, under the old tariff, been the rule for all nations except the British, who by their treaty obtained the right of paying all the duties in the money of the country. This privilege is extended to Denmark by their late treaty, and will doubtless be made common to all nations, which shall choose to enter into a commercial treaty with her Majesty, and thus the British will lose the principal benefit of their treaty before it expires, viz. 1786.

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

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO FRANCIS DANA.

Philadelphia, December 17th, 1782.

Sir,

Your distance, and the difficulty of conveying letters to you, make it proper at times to take a retrospective view of what has passed, and by that means of supplying in part such despatches as may have miscarried.

The last year closed with important advantages gained over the southern States. The winter was unproductive of any events in this country that merit your attention.

The alteration in the British system of warfare in this country, in consequence of their reduced strength, and in pursuance of the victory obtained by the opposition in the House of Commons, has rendered the campaign inactive on the part of the enemy, and the few posts they possessed were so well fortified and garrisoned as to render an attack by us, without the assistance of a fleet, very hazardous. The reasons we had to hope for such assistance kept us from taking measures to act offensively in proper time. But though the summer has passed off without any brilliant military exploit, it has by no means been unemployed. Such attention has been paid during these moments of leisure to the discipline of the troops and recruiting the army, that they are at this time more numerous than they have been at any period during the war. So perfect are the officers and men in every military manoeuvre, that we may, I believe, without vanity, boast to have an army not inferior to any in Europe. We should not know how to give this praise to our troops, but from the facility with which every foreigner gives it, notwithstanding national prejudices.

Among the military events which mark this year, are the evacuation of Savannah, and the measures taken for abandoning Charleston. The poor wretches, whom fear or interest led to join the enemies of their country, find themselves sufficiently punished to merit even our pity. With blasted characters and ruined fortunes, they are seeking new habitations under the line or near the pole. Numerous cargoes of them are sent to the West Indies and Halifax, to St Augustine and Penobscot.

But it is of moment to you, to be acquainted with the political character of your country and their sentiments with respect to the faith that is due to treaties. By knowing how far you can rely upon them yourself, you acquire a degree of confidence in making engagements for them, and you can venture to pronounce upon their conduct on every trying occasion, without waiting for intelligence from this side of the Atlantic. You need not be told, that the British nation, suffering themselves to be deceived by their wishes, and misled by the misrepresentations of those that were interested in the continuance of the war, have believed, or at least pretended to believe, that a majority of the people wished well to their cause. Neither our forms of governments, which gave their partisans annually an opportunity to declare their sentiments, and if most numerous to change their rulers; nor the number that repaired to their standard when hoisted in eleven of the Thirteen States; neither the determined and successful opposition hitherto given to the forty thousand heralds, which they sent to proclaim their champion, encourage his friends, and bid defiance to his foes, had sufficed to cure them of this delusive hope. They still imagined that a few kind words would close the wounds that they had seven years been widening. General Carleton was sent over to speak to them. So little doubt had he that they would be well received, that he was about to send out Mr Morgan, his Secretary, without soliciting a passport, and was much surprised when Colonel Livingston, who was then a prisoner, informed him that he would be stopped at the first post; and still more so, when upon a subsequent application, he found that Congress refused to have any intercourse with him; and referred all negotiations to Europe, where they could treat in conjunction with their allies.

But nothing serves more strongly to show the little confidence the people of this country have in the promises of Great Britain, and their fixed determination not to break their engagements with their allies, than the resolutions passed on the subject by the respective legislatures without consulting each other, and independent of directions from Congress; it proves beyond contradiction, to those who know how our legislatures are formed, and the frequency of their elections, that these sentiments are the sentiments of the people; and that, too, at a time when they most sincerely wished for peace. It anything was wanting to give the last blow to British credit in this country, it was their late change in their administration; from which Mr Fox and others are excluded, for avowing the sentiments that their Commissioners, Digby and Carleton, solemnly pronounced in a public letter to be those of their Sovereign.

The other general objects, which it is necessary for you to be acquainted with, are the commerce, the finances, and the government of this country. The first suffered considerably in the beginning of this year, by the great vigilance of the British cruisers, but has since been very flourishing and successful. None of those wants are known, which prevailed at the beginning of this controversy. Our stores and warehouses are amply supplied with everything, that can administer to the necessities or luxuries of the people. The West Indies and Europe furnish a ready market for all we raise beyond what is necessary for our own consumption. The embargoes and restrictions, which were once thought necessary to enable us to obtain a scanty supply for our army, have been unknown among us for three years past; and yet a most ample provision has been made both for our troops and those of our allies. Our trade with the Havana has furnished considerable sums in specie; paper is entirely out of circulation, if we except the bank paper, which, being payable at sight in specie, is equal to it in value. So extensive has this circulation been, that the managers, not long since, published a distribution of the first half year's dividend at four and a half per cent, notwithstanding a variety of expenses to which they had been put, in the first organization of the bank. So that the profit upon bank stock, is generally estimated at about ten per cent per annum, which will, I should conceive, when known in Europe, be a strong inducement with many people, those particularly who have thoughts of coming to this country, to lodge their money here.

I would not, however, have you think the flourishing state of the bank (which is the property of a private company, under the protection of government) a certain indication of the happy situation of our own finances. This is by no means the case. The demand for money to replace the property, which the enemy have destroyed, to repair buildings, and the profits which commerce yields, together with the difficulty of forming new systems of taxation in a country, which has hitherto scarce known a tax, beyond what was necessary for the support of its own frugal governments, renders the collection of a direct tax extremely difficult. Duties and excises must be levied upon some general system, so as to prevent one State from depending on another. This has been attempted by a five per cent duty on all imports, but it has hitherto been defeated by the refusal of Rhode Island to come into the plan. Congress are about to send down a committee of their own body to urge them to a compliance with this measure. Should it be attended with success, a very considerable revenue will arise from that source. Public credit, which has so frequently tottered during the revolution, will be established upon a firm and lasting basis.

The evacuation of the southern States, which we have reason to believe has taken place by this time, though we have yet received no official information of it, will greatly increase our resources. Their exports will consist in the most valuable articles at foreign markets, and must occasion such an influx of wealth, as will enable them to contribute to the public expenses, which they have hitherto been in a great measure incapable of doing.

Before you left this, I believe most of the States had formed their governments. Massachusetts has since completed hers upon plans similar to those of the other States. That of New Hampshire is printed for the approbation of the people, and I am told will shortly be agreed to.

The causes which occasioned a temporary suspension of government in South Carolina and Georgia being removed, they are again in the full exercise of them, and, indeed, have been so ever since Lord Cornwallis left the latter State.

Upon this head, therefore, I have nothing to inform you unless it be that the people appear to be perfectly happy under their new establishment; not the smallest commotion having arisen in any of the States from discontents on this, or, indeed, on any other ground, if we except an attempt, which was made by an inconsiderable party in one county of Massachusetts, to prevent the collection of debts till the termination of the war. This was instantly suppressed by the punishment of their leader. Indeed, this trifling matter was so little attended to here, that I should not have thought of mentioning it, if I had not seen that they had magnified it in England, into a revolt of the New England States against the government of the Congress. A letter from a Dr Walter, who I believe was originally of Massachusetts, is printed as a voucher for this impudent falsehood. As British emissaries may endeavor to circulate this with you, where they have an interest in deceiving, I concluded it proper to furnish you with the means of refuting it.

Your knowledge of the continental forms of governments, leaves me nothing to say on that head. It will, however, give you pleasure to be informed, that the great Council is at present as respectable for numbers, integrity, and abilities as it has been at any time during the war, and I believe much freer from party spirit or partial views. Add to this, they have acquired an experience in public business, which they could not but want at first. I would not have you infer from this, that the old members are always continued; this is far from being the case; but as the new delegates are generally elected from the number of gentlemen who have held important offices in their respective States, they bring with them that knowledge, and habit of business which they acquired at home. The establishment of Ministers for the great executive department (a regulation which has taken place since you left us) has been found to be productive of very great advantages. Congress are no longer troubled with those little details, which used to take up their time. The business brought before them from those departments, is digested before it comes up, and they are not now obliged to wade through a variety of unnecessary circumstances, to come at what merits their attention. You are personally acquainted with the Ministers of Finance, and War, so that I need say nothing relative to the character of either. Their conduct gives general satisfaction; and Mr Morris's attention, abilities, and personal credit, have done much towards relieving that of the United States.

As this revolution makes a new era in the history of man, which furnishes no other instance of a whole people's uniting to form governments for themselves, and their posterity, I have thought it would not be unacceptable to the philosophic mind of the Empress of all the Russias, to contemplate the first rudiments of these governments, which may hope after the example of her own dominions, by an assiduous application to the arts of peace and war, to obtain an elevated station among the nations of the earth. I have, therefore, directed to your care, a packet containing the confederation, and such of the constitutions of the respective States as have been hitherto printed.

Thus, Sir, I have endeavored to give you a general view of our situation. In return for which I must pray you to be more minute in your information of what passes with you. I have already explained to you the objects on which I wish you particularly to enlarge. None of your letters have embraced those objects. I would recommend it to you to keep a journal of every remarkable event, to minute down every conversation you have upon political subjects; and to digest them weekly into a despatch for us; adding thereto, a sketch of the character and station of the person whose sentiments you give. I know, Sir, that this will be attended with some trouble, but I know too, that you will have no reluctance to impose any task upon yourself, which the duties of your station render necessary.

I am, Sir, &c.

ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, December 21st, 1782.

Sir,

I had the honor of your letter of the 18th of September, last week, in which you acknowledge the receipt of mine of March 30th, but add, that the one of March 5th has never reached you. I am at a loss how to account for the failure of that, when a copy of it accompanied the other.

I am glad to learn the observations I sent you upon the trade of this empire, have been deemed at all pertinent, and have afforded any useful hints, as well as that the state of its connexion with the Porte, has not been wholly uninteresting. If you have received my other letters in course, you will find I have not been silent upon the particular subjects you mention, and upon which you want information, nor altogether an idle spectator of events; although to this moment I have not had any conferences with either of her Majesty's Ministers, or taken any official step, yet I have constantly endeavored to clear up all misrepresentations of every kind, of our enemies or others, in a channel which I have reason to believe has had a good effect. I am assured that all alarms about a dangerous concurrence in commerce, which had been artfully raised to serve particular interests, are perfectly quieted, and that it is now also believed, that a free and direct commerce between this empire and America, will be highly beneficial to the former. A sketch of the arguments made use of to these ends, you will find in my preceding letters.

As to the great point of our independence, the armed neutrality sprung out of it, and the propositions of the mediators, were built upon it. These sentiments were expressed in my first letters from hence to the President, have since been repeated in several of my letters to you, and I have never seen occasion to change them. I have never troubled the French Minister with any conversation upon the subject you allude to, since that I first detailed to Congress, except when I thought some important change had taken place in the state of affairs, such as the capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army, when the Parliament passed their several resolutions respecting the American war, preceding the change of the old Ministry, when Mr Fox communicated to this Court a new proposition relative to the mediation, the substance of which was, "His Britannic Majesty says, that he does not prejudice, nor will he prejudice, any question whatsoever, and that he does not pretend to exclude any one from the negotiation, which is had in view, who can be supposed to be interested in it, whether it may be a question respecting the States-General or the American Colonies;" and finally, when I had authentic intelligence, that a commission had passed the great seal to authorise Mr Oswald to treat of peace with the Commissioners of the United States. On all these occasions I consulted him freely, but found him as I had expected, invariably against the measure I proposed to his consideration, always assigning the old reasons in support of his advice. My sentiments upon the last most important change, you will have in my last letter, three copies of which are forwarded to you.

Persuaded that the system of this Court, so far as it respects Great Britain and the United States, is such as I have pointed out heretofore, but more particularly in my last, I should not despair of bringing them from that chosen ground by communicating our propositions at this moment. The United States have acquired too much consideration in Europe to be lightly offended by any Sovereign, and I do not believe the illustrious Sovereign of this empire, has the least disposition to offend them. If, therefore, the question was brought before her, shall we admit or shall we reject their propositions? in my opinion they would not be rejected. Upon what ground could a rejection be founded at this time? When the Parliament of Great Britain had long since declared in the face of the world their utter inability to conquer any one of the United States, and have even made the attempt itself criminal, by resolving, that the Minister who should advise it, or the General who should obey an order to that effect, should be deemed enemies of their King and country; when they had passed an act to enable the King to make a peace or truce with America, when their military commanders in America have published under their hands from authority, that their Sovereign had commanded his Ministers, to direct Mr Granville, that the independency of America should be proposed by him in the first instance, unshackled with conditions, and when another of his Ministers (Mr Oswald) is in fact in treaty with the United States, as with an independent sovereign power, in virtue of a commission passed in form under the great seal of the kingdom, could it be plausibly alleged, that an acceptance of our propositions, or the admission of your Minister at this Court, would be a breach of the most scrupulous neutrality? If not, is not our way clear? But as it is a possible case, let it be supposed, that after all this our propositions would be rejected, and your Minister denied an admission into this Court; and that in consequence of it he should immediately retire from the empire. Under such circumstances, which would have suffered most, the honor and dignity of the United States, or the honor and dignity of this Sovereign? Besides, to remain masked at such a moment, does it not seem to argue a self-conviction, that we are unworthy that rank among the nations of the world, which we have so justly assumed, and so bravely maintained?

I should not have time to copy this letter, if I should enlarge upon this subject; and enough has, perhaps, been already said upon it, to point out fully the reasons, which would induce me, if I was at liberty, to make an immediate communication of my mission to this Court. You may be assured, Sir, the cause of America has lost no ground here, and that the impression of our revolution has been irresistible throughout all Europe. We have nothing to fear from any quarter, even if the present negotiation should be broken off. In such a case, we shall have only to lament, that we did not seize upon the advantages, which the moment presented to us. The letter of General Carleton and Admiral Digby, which you enclosed, and desired me to have published, had been published before in the principal gazettes of Europe.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, December 27th, 1782.

Sir,

Though neither the French Minister nor myself has any intelligence of it from Paris, yet yesterday's post brings through several channels an account, that the preliminaries for a general peace were signed on the 1st of this month. Thus there is an end to the great contest in which we have been engaged; and with regard to myself, every one will now agree that all obstacles are removed. I expect, therefore, soon to take my proper station at this Court, and to be engaged in the business of making a commercial treaty with her Imperial Majesty.

But I shall find an impediment in this business not to be surmounted, if Dr Franklin and Mr Adams should not be able, or think themselves authorised to advance the cash mentioned in my former letter, for which purpose I wrote to them as soon as the negotiations were commenced, at least as soon as intelligence of it reached us here. It is not time yet for me to expect their answer.

I have heretofore acquainted you, that I proposed to return to America as soon after I should be received at this Court as our commercial treaty should be finished. It would be less justifiable for me to quit this Court before the completion of that treaty, because the Minister who might succeed me, would probably want that information relative to the commerce of this Empire, which I may have acquired by my long residence here. I still continue of the same mind, and will now assign my reasons for it, when it will certainly be too late for any one to consider them in the light of a solicitation for my own benefit. Congress have been pleased to honor me with the same rank in the diplomatic corps, which they have conferred upon their Ministers in Europe, viz. that of a Minister in the second class, and though this is unquestionably the most expensive Court at which they have any Minister, they have thought fit to reduce my appointment to three fifths of that granted to their other Ministers. It is the same which the Charge d'Affaires of Spain had, of whom it was not expected that he should hold a house and a table, as it is of the other Ministers. I have lived here long enough to see that it will be absolutely impossible for me to sustain the indispensable expenses of my rank, with an appointment less than that of our other Ministers in Europe. If there was, therefore, no other motive to influence my determination, that alone, I have no doubt, Congress will admit for my full justification.

For their particular information, I have endeavored to procure an account of the appointments of all the foreign Ministers residing at this Court, but have not yet obtained it. I can only say with regard to the Minister of Sweden, who has a Secretary to his Embassy, that his appointment and allowance for his house rent, exclusive of some other benefits, amount to more than double my appointment, including everything I can charge agreeably to what I suppose to be the intention of Congress. I will send the abovementioned account as soon as the gentleman, who has promised to procure it for me, shall furnish me with it.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, December 30th, 1782.

Sir,

Yesterday's post has not brought us any further news respecting the peace. The French Minister has received no account of it yet, nor have I from the Commissioners. No one, however, doubts that the preliminaries are in fact signed. It is supposed no courier will be despatched with them till after advice shall have been received at Paris, that an account of it has been communicated to Parliament, which were to meet on the 5th instant. The particular articles are not certainly known here. This is the present state of things, and we anxiously wait for full information.

As we can have no interests now depending upon any contingency, I think it would not be advisable to appear very eager to seize upon the first occasion to make the communication of my mission, but to wait, if they be not too long delayed, for the answers of Dr Franklin and Mr Adams to the application I have made to them, as mentioned in several of my letters, when I shall know what I have to depend upon touching the principal object of my mission, and can better govern myself as to the communication of it. For to speak of a matter about which I am unable to do anything, would be to place ourselves in a disagreeable condition.

I expect to find a strong inclination to come to the business alluded to, for reasons which will be very obvious to you. The commercial treaty with Portugal is not yet finished. Sweden has one upon the carpet. There may be an advantage in waiting till these are concluded, as we may found ours upon them. I shall give a preference to the commercial treaty, and endeavor to postpone the other, in which we can have no present interests, until I shall receive the instructions of Congress, after they shall have been advised, by my letter of September 5th, of what is essential to the execution of it. There is something besides to be distributed among the subalterns of the Chancery; so that upon the whole, both treaties will cost us between nine and ten thousand pounds sterling. An enormous sum, especially when it is considered that they are intended to promote the mutual interests of the contracting parties. But so we find the state of things here. And it is not to be expected that any difference should be made in our favor, and, perhaps, it would not be consistent with our honor that there should be. We have only then to consider, whether it is expedient for us, under such conditions, to form those connexions with the sovereign of this Empire. As to the first, I have no doubt of its expediency, the last is somewhat equivocal, unless the omission of it should not be well received by her Imperial Majesty, who would doubtless be much gratified by our ready acceptance of her invitation to accede to it, and seems to have a right to expect it of us, after the resolutions of Congress respecting that subject. It is an expense, which, once made, is made forever, and under these views it may be deemed a bagatelle, or at least necessary to the promotion of our greatest interests.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, January 3d, 1783.

Sir,

Our impatience respecting the state of a negotiation is not yet at an end. No courier has arrived, nor have I received any intelligence by yesterday's post, (the third which has come on since our first accounts) upon the subject from either of our Commissioners. The French Minister continues in the same uncertainty. By private letters, and the gazettes brought by the last post, it appears only that the preliminaries between Great Britain and the United States were signed conditionally. I rest therefore in the same state.

Since my last, I have seen a copy of the treaty of amity and of commerce between Russia and Denmark, and find that the chief principles of the Marine Convention are inserted into it word for word. The treaty is limited to twelve years, which will probably be the term fixed for the duration of all their commercial treaties. That with Great Britain was limited to twenty, a term it would seem sufficiently short to provide for the changes, which time and accidents may introduce into the affairs of empires. You will easily conjecture from some of my letters, the motive which must have occasioned this alteration, and will make your own reflections upon it.

Upon a more careful examination upon the Marine Convention, it appears to me from its nature as well as from its terms, to be limited to the duration of the present war, and in that case, there is no other way of taking up its principles than in a commercial treaty, after the manner of that with Denmark. Lest you should not have an accurate copy of that convention, I will cite the article upon which I form my opinion.

"ART. IX. This convention, fixed and concluded for the time of the continuance of the present war, shall serve as a basis of the engagements, which future conjunctures may cause to be contracted, and on occasion of new maritime wars, with which Europe may unfortunately be troubled. These stipulations ought to be regarded as permanent, and shall be the law in matters of commerce and navigation." On this supposition I shall proceed in framing our treaty of commerce. This will make an essential change in the matter mentioned in my last. I have not yet received an answer from Dr Franklin or Mr Adams upon that subject.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE UNITED STATES AT PARIS.

St Petersburg, January 14th, 1783.

Gentlemen,

I was honored with your favor of the 12th of December by the late post, enclosing a copy of the preliminary treaty of peace between his Britannic Majesty and the United States. I most heartily congratulate with you upon this great event, in which you have had the honor of so distinguished a part. I think that we ought to be, and shall be, satisfied with the terms of peace. But we are here wholly at a loss whether the other belligerent parties will be able to adjust their several pretensions, and of course, whether our treaty will take effect. The prevailing opinion here among the best informed is, that we shall have a general peace. However this may be, we shall see a war break out on the other side of Europe. Some of the powers which will be engaged in it do not wish to see all the present belligerent powers at peace, for reasons, which will readily occur to you.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your opinions respecting the communication of my mission to the Ministers of her Imperial Majesty, and of the other neutral powers residing at this Court. But "absolute certainty of success" are strong words, and will bind me down to a state of inaction till the conclusion of the present war, unless I should receive positive assurance, that things are prepared for my reception, of which I have no expectation. I have yesterday consulted the French Minister upon this matter, and acquainted him at the same time with your opinions, as well as communicated to him the preliminary treaty. He thinks that though in this moment I might not meet with a refusal, yet my admission would be, upon various pretences, postponed till advice should be received here, whether we are to have peace or war, a question which it is expected will be decided, at furthest, in the course of a fortnight, and that if the war should be continued, I should not be received. Thus I am doubly bound down as above, during the war. If unfortunately the negotiations should be broken off, it is my present determination to retire from this Court without communicating my mission, and to return by the first opportunity to America. I cannot think it for the honor or interest of the United States, after what has already taken place between them and his Britannic Majesty, that I should wait the issue of another campaign. I am persuaded we have nothing to fear from this quarter in any event. If they will not improve a fair occasion, which is presented to them, to promote the mutual interests of both empires, they may hereafter repent it.

I am, Gentlemen, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO JOHN ADAMS.

St Petersburg, January 15th, 1783.

Dear Sir,

The post of this day has brought me your favor of the 22d ultimo, in which you acknowledge the receipt of mine of the 25th of November. In the first place, let me thank you and the Doctor for the ready manner in which you have consented to my proposition. You say, my treaty may now be made as soon as I please. I should rejoice most sincerely if that was the truth of fact.

Besides what is said in my letter to the Commissioners, you are acquainted with the positive nature of my last instructions, and know that I cannot move, till I am advised to do so. There are, in my opinion, no plausible pretences to countenance a refusal at this time. It would mark so strong a partiality as would throw all the dishonor of it upon her Imperial Majesty. Yet things are conducted here in so strange manner, that I cannot take upon me to say with certainty, what would be the effect of an immediate application. You will readily agree, that all things considered, it would be taking too much upon myself to make it. The Ministry are well enough informed of my business, yet they preserve a most profound reserve, which I think is as impolitic as profound. Do you ask me, if they do not feel and see that America is independent? That they must soon speak it out? Will they wait till the moment shall arrive, when the United States will not thank them for doing so? Will they suffer all the other neutral powers to take the lead of their Sovereign, in a measure in which she might lead them with so much glory to herself? Yes, I believe all these questions may be answered in the affirmative.

Do you ask how is this to be accounted for? I can say in general, they are looking for glory towards the East only, when they might find no inconsiderable proportion of it in the West.

I am, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, January 15th, 1783.

Sir,

The post of this week brought me a letter from our Commissioners, accompanied with a copy of the preliminary treaty of peace between his Britannic Majesty and the United States; but we have not yet any certainty about the state of the negotiations, as they respect the other belligerent powers. On this point the Commissioners have been totally silent. They have, however, given it as their opinions, judging of things at that distance, "that the present opportunity appears to be the most favorable for me to communicate my mission to the Ministers of her Imperial Majesty, and to the Ministers of the other neutral powers residing at this Court."

I immediately communicated the preliminary treaty to the French Minister, (which he had not received) and also the opinion of our Commissioners; and prayed him once more to give me his sentiments upon the subject. Which in substance were, that though I might not now meet with an immediate rejection, yet the granting me an audience would be postponed upon various pretences, till the issue of the negotiations should be known here, and that if the war should be continued, I should not be admitted to an audience. Having his opinion so fully upon this point, there can be no question, but that it is my duty to wait the issue of the negotiations. You will be acquainted with this nearly as soon in America as we shall, and all my letters upon the subject will, of course, arrive long after the objects of them have ceased to engage your attention, yet you may wish to know the progress of things in this quarter.

A new and an important scene seems to be opening upon us. Though the Porte has not interfered in the affair of the restoration of the deposed Khan of the Crimea, yet this forbearance, it is thought, will not save them from the tempest which is gathering about them. The Tartars of the Crimea have been the constant enemies of Russia, from the commencement of the fourteenth century to the last war with the Turks, when, in the year 1771, being overpowered by the Russians, they concluded a separate treaty with the Empress, in which they renounced their alliance with the Porte, and placed themselves under her protection. This independence of the Crimea, and of the hordes dependent upon it, was confirmed by the treaty of 1774, between Russia and the Porte, and their right of electing and deposing their Khans at will, engaged to them; though it was of importance to Russia to reinstate the deposed Khan, thereby to preserve its newly acquired influence over the Crimea, yet his restoration was, probably, not the only object in view.

The existence of the connexion mentioned in my letter of March 30th, seems no longer to be doubted, or that the object of it (which you will find in the first clause of the paragraph relative to it) will be productive of a general war in Europe, if attempted to be carried into execution. How far such an apprehension may influence the present negotiation, is uncertain. I think it must be unfavorable to them, should the negotiations be unhappily broken off, and the prospect of this new war become certain, we being the ally of France, which will be the enemy of her Majesty, and the enemy of Great Britain, which will be her ally, it will be expedient for me to quit this empire, and to return to America by the first opportunity. Even upon such a supposition, I hope my long residence here will not have been wholly unserviceable to our country.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, January 31st, 1783.

Sir,

We still remain in the same uncertainty about the negotiations of the other belligerent powers, yet they are believed to be in a favorable state, and it is expected we shall soon receive the news of the preliminaries being signed by them all. If so, I should think the approaching war with the Turks will not be productive of a general war in Europe. For it seems repugnant to the interests of some of the present belligerent powers, to close this war with an almost certain prospect before them of being speedily engaged in another.

In a letter, received by the last post from Mr Adams, he informs me that Dr Franklin and himself had agreed to advance the money necessary to the conclusion of a commercial treaty with her Imperial Majesty; so that I have now only to wait the issue of the present negotiations for peace. Whenever that moment arrives, I shall endeavor to make all convenient despatch in the business of the treaty, to the end, that if any of our vessels should arrive here early in the spring, which seems probable, they may reap the benefit of it. I shall immediately after return to America, as I have proposed to do in my letter of the 23d of September last. I do not foresee any inconvenience that will happen to our interests in consequence of our being without a Minister at this Court for some time. I hope, therefore, that Congress will not take it amiss that I should return without obtaining the express permission for it. Besides the reasons given in my letter of the 27th ultimo, which appear to me to render such a step necessary, my health has suffered so much since my coming into this climate, that every consideration presses me to quit it as soon as possible. I have not been honored with any letter from you since No. 6.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, February 10th, 1783.

Sir,

In the afternoon of the 6th instant, we received the most agreeable news, that the preliminary treaty of peace was signed at Paris, on the 20th ultimo, between France, Spain, and Great Britain. The articles are still unknown here, as the above fact simply was communicated by Count de Vergennes to the foreign Ministers at Versailles, and the Russian Minister immediately despatched an account of it to the Vice Chancellor, Count Ostermann. No courier has yet arrived for either of the foreign Ministers here.

You will be pleased to accept my most hearty congratulations upon this great event, especially as the peace we have obtained is both honorable and glorious. America, I believe, stands high in the esteem of all the world; to which not only her successes in this great revolution, but the proofs she has given in the course of it, of her sacred regard to her plighted faith, have contributed. Our revolution is universally spoken of as the most important which the world has ever seen. Its influence penetrates the innermost recesses of every Cabinet in Europe, they will and they must give way to it.

It is yet difficult to say what will be the effect of the present peace, upon the approaching war with the Turks. Though it will not probably prevent it, yet it may moderate its views towards that quarter, and thus save the continent of Europe from the mischief of a general conflagration. I shall communicate my mission to the Vice Chancellor, as soon as some necessary arrangements can be made, and shall endeavor to bring on the business of the commercial treaty without loss of time, as there is now little doubt but some of our vessels may arrive here early in the spring. I have it in view to procure some special favors, for a direct commerce between the West Indies and this empire, to be carried on by our vessels, which will turn to the advantage of both parties. But to render it more certain, it may be necessary to procure a right of trading freely with the British West Indies, and also exporting from thence in our vessels, to any part of the world, the productions of their Islands, paying the same duties as their native subjects pay upon the same articles, when they export them for Great Britain or elsewhere. I think we may obtain this privilege in our commercial treaty with Great Britain, if we insist upon it. Our treaties with France and Holland, appear to me to be exceedingly defective respecting a commerce with their American territories. If Great Britain should refuse us that privilege, we might perhaps arrive at the same end, by reserving to ourselves a right to impose what extra duties we judge proper, either upon our productions exported to any part of her dominions, or upon her productions imported into America, if any higher duties should be imposed upon her West India productions when exported by us, than when by her native subjects, notwithstanding any general clause giving her the advantages of the most favored nations. The object appears to me to be of importance to our interests, and that we can obtain it in the manner I first proposed, (which would be the most beneficial, and least liable to create mutual disgusts) if we should think proper to make it the sine qua non of a commercial treaty with Great Britain. We should reap advantages from it, not only in our commerce with this empire, but with every other in Europe, not having such establishments in America.

Now I am upon this subject of commerce, I will take the liberty to acquaint you, that Portugal intends to procure the right of establishing factories in the United States, under the protection of the Oporto company, in order to secure special advantages for the sale of her wines. This plan will not be particularly mentioned, but the end will be obtained under the general right of establishing factories in America without naming the Oporto company. You may rely upon this information, and will make your advantage of it. It will occur to you, that we may demand as a compensation, the right to export not only from Portugal but from the wine Islands, that article in our vessels, paying the same duties as the native subjects, or the Oporto Company pay upon it. Without something of this sort the Portuguese factories might secure to themselves almost the exclusive supply of their wines to America. They have a factory here, under the protection of the Oporto Company. You will not take it amiss, that I suggest these subjects to your consideration. If any of them can be turned to the benefit of our country, my end in troubling you with them will be answered.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, February 25th, 1783.

Sir,

In the last letter I did myself the honor to write you, I acquainted you I should communicate my mission to the Vice Chancellor as soon as some necessary arrangements could be made. Being entirely prepared to do so, I thought it but decent to communicate my intention to the French Minister, rather in the form of consulting him upon the expediency of the measure. He at first thought it would be advisable to wait till the signing of the definitive treaty of peace, adding, that though he could not take upon himself to say, that I should not be received in the present moment, yet that it would not surprise him if my admission should be postponed to that time, intimating that the present unsettled state of affairs, (of which I have spoken in my late letters) might have some influence upon the determination of this Court in a matter of that sort. He concluded with saying, that it would not be amiss to wait till the British Minister here should have communicated in form the signature of the preliminaries of peace to this Court. I shall conform entirely to his advice; for the time is now most certainly indifferent as to our interests, which are most solidly established by the peace.

I cannot add anything to what I have before said respecting the Turkish war, which since the conclusion of the late one, is the grand object which engages the general attention. According to the course of business here, I expect to be detained two or three months in negotiating our commercial treaty. I hope, however, the resolution of Congress of the 14th of September last, respecting their moneys in Europe (a copy of which Mr Adams sent me by the last post) will not be any impediment to the conclusion of it. The money Dr Franklin and Mr Adams have engaged upon my application to them to advance for that purpose, being indispensably necessary, I presume they will not withdraw the credit they have given me, and that Congress will approve of their conduct, as well as of mine in this business. The resolution is doubtless a wise one, but there are circumstances for which Congress cannot provide in season, and this seems to be of that nature. If those gentlemen should not, therefore, withdraw their credit, I shall venture to apply the money when it shall become necessary, to the use for which they have granted it. It would be a great satisfaction to me, if I could receive in season an answer to my letter of the 25th of last August, in which I acquainted you I should stand in need of the money.

I shall not fail to give you the earliest intelligence of my reception in this Court, which I hope will not be long delayed, as it is my earnest wish to complete our treaty of commerce, and to return to America in the course of the next summer.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

Mr Dana's Communication of his Mission to Count Ostermann.

St Petersburg, March 7th, 1783.

Sir,

I have the honor to inform your Excellency, that the United States of America, assembled in Congress, having thought fit to appoint a Minister to reside near her Majesty, the Empress of all the Russias, have furnished me with their letter of credence for that purpose.

Convinced of the justice of their cause, and confiding entirely in that exact neutrality, which her Imperial Majesty had been pleased to declare, with a dignity becoming her character, she would make the invariable rule of her conduct, unless compelled to depart from it in maintenance of the rights of her Imperial Crown and of her subjects, the Congress, my Sovereign, have expressly commanded me to delay the communication of my mission till the course of events should prepare the way for it, without the least infraction upon the system adopted by her Imperial Majesty, by which she has acquired so much glory to herself. In the sentiment that that moment has now arrived, I take the liberty to request the honor of an audience of your Excellency, to the end, that I might present to you a copy of my letter of credence to her Imperial Majesty.

I have the honor to be, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, March 7th, 1783.

Sir,

I have time only, by the post of this day, to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 7th of November last, and of a letter of the same date from Mr S. R. Morris, one of your Secretaries, enclosing a bill for 666,13 livres tournois, and also to inform you, that I have this day communicated my mission to the Vice Chancellor, Count Ostermann, by a letter of which the enclosed is a translation, the original being in French. I have taken this step without being advised to it by my correspondent, the Marquis de Verac, but not before I had received assurances directly from the private Cabinet of her Imperial Majesty, that the way was perfectly clear. You will readily conjecture the reason why I have chosen to mention my last instructions so particularly in this communication, and placed them in so strong a light. There is no question in my mind of the propriety of doing this, and I hope it will not be thought amiss by Congress, whose honor and dignity I shall ever keep in view.

I am, with much esteem and respect, &c.

FRANCIS DANA.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

St Petersburg, March 12th, 1783.

Sir,

In my letter of the 7th of March, I acquainted you that I had that day communicated my mission to the Vice Chancellor, in consequence of assurances received from the Private Cabinet of her Imperial Majesty, that the way was prepared for it. I had an interview on the 5th inst. with one of the members of the Cabinet, who informed me, after some general conversation respecting America, that I might communicate my mission to the Vice Chancellor at any time, that possibly I might not receive an immediate answer to my letter, but that I need give myself no uneasiness on that account, as the delay would not be occasioned by anything which concerned the United States or me personally. I told him, that I could form my opinion only upon general principles; that judging upon them, I did not perceive any obstacle to her Majesty's receiving in this moment a Minister from the United States; yet it was possible her Majesty might have some particular matters in view, which might form an impediment, of which I could have no knowledge.

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