NOVEMBER 22. FRYDAY
[This entry is a continuation
of the last entry in John Adams diary 36.]
Dr. Franklin, upon my saying, the other day, that
I fancied he did not exercise so much as he was wont,
repliedanswered, "Yes, I walk a League every day in my Chamber. I
walk quick and for an hour, so that I go a League. I make a Point of Religion
of it." I replied, that as the Commandment Thou shalt not kill, forbid a Man to
kill himself as well as his Neighbor, it was manifestly a Breach of the 6.
Commandment not to exercise. So that he might easily prove it to be a religious
Bancroft said to day, That it was
often said among the French People, that M. de
Spain too well, and was too complaisant to the Spanish Court.
That he was ambitious of being made a Grandee of
Spain, in order to cover his Want of Birth, for that he was not
nobly born. -- This I fancy is a Mistake. But such are the Objects, which Men
pursue. Titles, Ribbons, Stars, Garters, Crosses, Keys, are the important
Springs that move the Ambition of Men in high Life. -- How poor! how mean! how
low! Yet how true. -- A low Ambition indeed! The Pride of Nobles and of
Let us, since Life can little more supply Than just to look about Us and to
die, Expatiate free.
1782 NOVEMBER 23 SATURDAY.
Mr. Jay called at 10 and went out with me to
Passy to meet the Marquis de la
Fayette, at the Invitation of Dr.
F.The Marquis's Business was to shew Us a Letter he had written, to the C.
de V. on the Subject of Money. This I saw nettled F. as it seemed
an Attempt to take to himself the Merit of obtaining the Loan if one should be
procured. He gave Us also a Letter to Us 3, for our Approbation of his going
out, with the C. D'Estaing. He recites in it that he had
remained here by our Advice, as necessary to the Negotiations. This nettled
both F. and J. I knew nothing of it, not having been here, and they both denied
This unlimited Ambition will obstruct his Rise. He grasps at all civil,
political and military, and would be thought the Unum necessarium in every Thing. He has so much real Merit, such Family
Supports, and so much favour at Court, that he need not
recur to Artifice. -- He said that C. de V.
told him as the Chev. de la Luzernes Dispat were not
arrived, the Ct. could do nothing in the affair of Mc without Something french
to go upon. His Letter therefore w, supply the Something French. -- He told us
that the C. D'Aranda desired him to tell
Mr. Jay, as the Lands upon
the Mississippi, not yet determined, whether they were to belong
England or he could not yet settle that matter. So that probably
the Attempt be to negotiate them into the Hands of the Spaniards, from the
&c. may conduct this without herbert.
Spent part of the Evening at Mrs. Izards.
Mr. Oswald sent for Jay, desired to meet him at either house. Mr. Jay went and I came off.
1782 NOVEMBER 25. MONDAY.
Dr. F., Mr. J. and
myself at 11 met at Mr. Oswalds
Mr. Stratchey told Us, he had been to
London and waited personally on every one of the Kings Cabinet
Council, and had communicated the last Propositions to them. They every one of
them, unanimously condemned that respecting the Tories, so that that unhappy
Affair stuck as he foresaw and foretold that it would.
The Affair of the Fishery too was somewhat altered. They could not admit Us
to dry, on the
Shores of Nova Scotia, nor to fish within three Leagues of the
Coast, nor within fifteen Leagues of the
Coast of Cape Breton.
The Boundary they did not approve. They thought it too extended, too vast a
Country, but they would not make a difficulty.
That if these Terms were not admitted, the whole Affair must be thrown into
Parliament, where every Man would be for insisting on Restitution, to the
He talked about excepting a few by Name of the most obnoxious of the
I could not help observing that the Ideas respecting the Fishery appeared to
me to come piping hot from
Versailles. I quoted to them the Words of our Treaty with
France, in which the
indefinite and exclusive Right,
to the Fishery on the Western Side of
Newfoundland, was secured against Us, According to the true
Construction of the Treaties of
Paris. I shewed
them the 12 and 13
Articles of the Treaty of Utrecht, by which the French were
admitted to Fish from
Cape Bona Vista to
I related to them the manner in which the Cod and Haddock come into the
, Creeks, and up to the very Wharfs
on all the northern Coast of
America, in the Spring in the month of April, so that you have
nothing to do, but step into a Boat, and bring in a parcel of Fish in a few
Hours. But that in May, they begin to withdraw. We have a saying at
Boston that when the Blossoms fall the Haddock begin to crawl,
i.e. to move out into deep Water, so that in Summer you must go out some
distance to fish. At
Newfoundland it was the same. The fish in March or April, were
inshore, in all the Creeks, Bays, and Harbours
within 3 Leagues of the Coasts or Shores of
Nova Scotia. That neither French nor English could go from
Europe and arrive early enough for the first Fare. That our
could, being so much nearer, an Advantage
which God and Nature had put into our hands. But that this Advantage of ours,
had ever been an Advantage to
England, because our fish had been sold in
Portugal for Gold and Silver, and that Gold and Silver sent to
London for Manufactures. That this would be the Course again.
France foresaw it, and wished to deprive
England of it, by perswading
to deprive Us of it. That it would be a Master Stroke of Policy, if She could
England must be compleatly
Dupe, before She could succeed.
There were 3 Lights in which it might be viewed. 1. as a Nursery of Seamen.
2 as a Source of Profit. 3. as a Source of Contention. As a Nursery of Seamen,
England consider Us as worse Ennemies
than France. Had She rather
France should have the Seamen than
America. The French Marine was nearer and more menacing than
ours. As a Source of Profit, had England rather France should
supply the Marketts
Cadiz, with Fish and take the Gold And Silver than We.
France would never spend any of that Money in
London, We should spend it all very nearly. As a Source of
Contention, how could We restrain our Fishermen, the boldest Men alive, from
fishing in prohibited Places. How could our Men see the French admitted to fish
and themselves excluded by the English; it would then be a Cause of Disputes,
and such Seeds France might wish to sow. -- That I wished for 2 hours
Conversation on the Subject with one of the
Kings Council, if I did
not convince him he was undesignedly betraying the Interest of his Sovereign, I
was mistaken. Stratchey
said perhaps I
would put down some Observations in Writing upon it. I said, with all my heart,
provided I had the Approbation of my Colleagues. But I could do nothing of the
Kind, without submitting it, to their judgments, and that whatever I had said
or should say, upon the Subject however strongly I might express myself, was
always to be understood with Submission to my Colleagues. I shewed
them Capt. Coffins
Letter and gave them his Character.
His Words are,
"Our Fishermen from
Cape Cod and
Nantucket, have frequently gone out on the Fisheries, to the
Streights of Bell Isle,
North Part of Newfoundland, and the banks adjacent thereto,
there to continue the whole Season, and have made Use of the
North Part of Newfoundland,
the Bradore [Labrador] Coast in
the Streights of Bell Isle, to cure
their Fish, which they have taken in and about those Coasts. I have known
several Instances of Vessells going there to load in
the Fall of the Year, with the Fish taken and cured at those Places for
Portugal and &c. I was once concerned in a Voyage of that
kind myself and speak from my own Knowledge.
Cape Sable, to the
Isle of Sable
and so on to the
Banks of Newfoundland, are a Chain of Banks, extending all along
the Coast, and almost adjoining each other, and are those Banks where our
Fishermen go for the first Fare, in the early Part of the Season. Their second
Fare is on the
Banks of Newfoundland, where they continue to Fish till
prevented by the tempestuous and boisterous Winds, which prevail in the Fall of
the Year on that Coast. Their third and last Fare is generally made near the
Cape Sables or Banks adjoining thereto, where they are not only
relieved from those boisterous Gales, but have an Asylum to fly to in Case of
Emergency, as that Coast is lined, from the head of
Cape Sable to
, with most excellent
"The Sea Cow Fishery was before the present War, carried on to Great
Advantage, particularly from
Cape Cod, in and about the
River St.Laurence, at the
Islands of St. Johns and Anticoste,
Bay of Shalers [Chaleurs] and the
Magdalene Islands, which were the most noted of all for that
Fishery. This Oil has the Preference to all other except Sperma Coeti."
Mr. Jay desired to know, whether
Mr. Oswald had now Power to conclude and
sign with Us?
Stratchey said he had absolutely.
Mr. Jay desired to know if the Propositions now
delivered Us were their Ultimatum. Stratchey seemed loth to answer, but at last said
No. -- We agreed these were good Signs of
Bancroft came in this Evening and said, it was reported
that a Courier had arrived from Mr. Rayneval in
London, and that after it, the C. de
Vergennes told the King, that he had the Peace in his Pocket. That
he was now Master of the Peace.
NOV. 26 TUESDAY.
Breakfasted at Mr. Jays, with Dr.
Franklin, in Consultation upon the Propositions made to Us Yesterday
by Mr. Oswald. We agreed unanimously, to
answer him, that We could not consent to the Article, respecting the Refugees
as it now stands. Dr. F. read a Letter upon the
Subject which he had prepared to Mr.
Oswald, upon the Subject of the Tories, which We had agreed with him
that he should read as containing his private Sentiments. We had a vast deal of
Conversation upon the Subject. My Colleagues opened themselves, and made many
Observations concerning the Conduct, Crimes and Demerits of those People.
Before Dinner Mr. Fitsherbert came in, whom I had never
seen before. A Gentleman of about 33, seems pretty discreet and judicious, and
did not discover those Airs of Vanity which are imputed to him.
He came in Consequence of the desire, which I expressed Yesterday of knowing
the State of the Negotiation between him and the C. de
, respecting the Fishery. He told Us that the C. was for
fixing the Boundaries, where each Nation should fish.
confess he thought the Idea plausible, for that there had been great
between the Fishermen of the two
nations. That the french Marine Office had an whole Appartment
full of Complaints and Representations of
disputes. That the French pretended that
Cape Ray was the
I asked him if the French demanded of him an
exclusive [Right] to fish and dry between
Cape Bona Vista and the
Point riche. He said they had not
expressly, and he intended to follow the Words of the Treaty of
Paris without stirring the Point.
I shewed him an Extract of a Letter from the
Earl of Egremont to the Duke of
Bedford, March 1 1763, in which it is said that by the 13
Art. [Article] of the Treaty of
Utrecht, a Liberty was left to the French to fish, and to dry
their fish on Shore; and for that Purpose to erect the Necessary Stages and
Buildings, but with an express Stipulation de ne pas sejourner dans la dite
Isle, au dela du tems necessaire pour pecher et secher le Poisson. -- That it
is a received Law among the Fishermen, that whoever arrives first, shall have
the Choice of the Stations. That the Duke de Nivernois
insisted, that by the Treaty of
Utrecht the French had an exclusive Right to the Fishery from
Cape Bona Vista to
Point Riche. That the King gave to his Grace the D.
of Bedford express Instructions to come to an Ecclaircissement upon
the Point with the French Ministry, and to refuse the Exclusive Construction of
the Treaty of
I also shew him a Letter, from Sir
Stanier Porteen,Lord Weymouths Secretary, to
Ld. Weymouth, inclosing an
Extract of Ld. Egremonts Letter to the Duke
of Bedford, by which it appears that the Duke of
"That the French had an exclusive right to the Fishery from
Cape Bona Vista to
Point Riche, and that they had, on ceding the
Island of Newfoundland to
G. Britain by the 13 Article of the Treaty of
Utrecht, expressly reserved to themselves such an exclusive
Right, which they had constantly been in Possession of, till they were entirely
North America in the last War."
For these Papers I am obliged to Mr. Izard. Mr.
Fitsherbert said it was the same Thing now Word for Word: but he
should endeavour to have the Treaty conformable to
those of Utrecht and
Paris. But he said We had given it up, by admitting the Word
"exclusive" into our Treaty. -- I said perhaps not, for the whole was to be
conformable to the true Construction of the Treaties of
Paris, and that if the English did not now admit the exclusive
Construction they could not contend for it vs. Us. We
had only contracted not to disturb them, &c.
I said it was the Opinion of all the Fishermen in
England could not prevent our Catching a fish without preventing
themselves from getting a Dollar. That the 1st. Fare was our only Advantage.
That neither the English nor French could have it. It must be lost if We had it
He said, he did not think much of the Fishery as a Source of Profit, but as
a Nursery of Seamen. I told him the English could not catch a fish the more, or
make a Sailor the more, for restraining Us. Even the French would rival them in
the Markets of
Portugal. It was our Fish which they ought to call their own,
because We should spend the Profit with them. That the southern States had
Staple Commodities, but
N. England had no other Remittance but the Fishery. No other Way
to pay for their Cloathing. That it entered into
our Distilleries and West India Trade as well as our European Trade, in such a
manner that it could not be taken out or diminished, without tearing and
rending. That if it should be left to its natural Course We could hire or
purchase Spots of Ground on which to erect Stages, and Buildings, but if We
were straightened by Treaty, that Treaty would be given in Instructions to
Governors and Commodores whose duty it would be to execute it. That it would be
very difficult to restrain our Fishermen, they would be frequently
transgressing, and making disputes and Troubles.
He said his principal Object was to avoid sowing Seeds of future Wars. -- I
said it was equally my Object, and that I was perswaded, that if the Germ of a War was left
any where, there was the greatest danger of its
being left in the Article respecting the Fishery.
The rest of the Day, was spent in endless Discussions about the Tories.
Dr. F. is very staunch against the Tories, more
decided a great deal on this Point than Mr. Jay or
1782 NOV. 27. WEDNESDAY.
Mr. Benjamin Vaughan came in, returned from
London where he had seen Lord
He says he finds the Ministry much embarrassed with the Tories, and
exceedingly desirous of saving their Honour and
Reputation in this Point. That it is Reputation more than Money &c.
Dined with Mr. Jay and spent some time before
Dinner with him and Dr. Franklin, and all the
Afternoon and Evening with them and Mr.
Oswald, endeavouring to come together, concerning the Fisheries and
NOV. 28. THURSDAY.
This Morning I have drawn up, the following Project
That the Subjects of his Britannic Majesty, and the People of the
said United States, shall continue to enjoy, unmolested, the
Right to take Fish of every kind, on
the Grand Bank and on all the other
Banks of Newfoundland: also in the
Gulph of St. Laurence, and in all other
Places, where the Inhabitants of both Countries, used at any time heretofore to
fish; and the Citizens of the said United States shall have Liberty to cure and
dry their Fish, on the
Shores of Cape Sables, and of any of the unsettled Bays,Harbours or Creeks of
Nova Scotia, or any of the
Shores of the Magdalene Islands, and of the
Labradore Coast: And they shall be permitted in Time of Peace to
hire Pieces of Land, for Terms of Years, of the legal Proprietors in any of the
Dominions of his said Majesty, whereon to erect the necessary Stages and
Buildings and to cure and dry their Fish.
1782 NOVEMBER 29 FRYDAY.
Met Mr. Fitsherbert, Mr.
Oswald, Mr. Franklin, Mr.
Jay, Mr. Laurens and Mr.
Stratchey at Mr. Jays,
Hotel D'Orleans, and spent the whole Day in Discussions about
the Fishery and the Tories. I proposed a new Article concerning the Fishery. It
was discussed and turned in every Light, and multitudes of Amendments proposed
on each Side, and at last the Article drawn as it was finally agreed to. The
other English Gentlemen being withdrawn upon some Occasion, I asked
Mr. Oswald if he could consent to leave
out the Limitation of 3 Leagues from all their Shores and the 15 from those
of Louisbourg. He said in his own Opinion he was for it, but his
Instructions were such, that he could not do it. I perceived by this, and by
several Incidents and little Circumstances before, which I had
remarked to my Colleagues, who were much of the same opinion, that
Mr. Oswald had an Instruction, not to
settle the Articles of the Fishery and Refugees, without the Concurrence of
Mr. Fitsherbert and Mr.
Upon the Return of the other Gentlemen, Mr.
Stratchey proposed to leave out the Word Right of Fishing and make it
Liberty. Mr. Fitsherbert said the Word Right was an obnoxious
Upon this I rose up and said, Gentlemen, is there or can there be a clearer
Right? In former Treaties, that of
Utrecht and that of
France and England have claimed the Right and used
the Word. When God Almighty made the Banks of Newfoundland at 300
Leagues Distance from the People of
America and at 600 Leagues distance from those of
England, did he not give as good a Right to the former as to the
If Heaven in the Creation gave a Right, it is ours at
least as much as yours. If Occupation, Use, and Possession give a Right, We
have it as clearly as you. If War and Blood and Treasure give a Right, ours is
as good as yours. We have been constantly fighting in
Cape Breton and
Nova Scotia for the Defense of this Fishery, and have expended
beyond all Proportion more than you. If then the Right cannot be denied, Why
should it not be acknowledged? and put out of Dispute? Why should We leave Room
for illiterate Fishermen to wrangle and chicane?
Mr. Fitsherbert said, the Argument is in your
Favour. I must confess your Reasons appear to be good,
but Mr. Oswalds Instructions were such
that he did not see how he could agree with Us. And for my Part, I am
not have not the Honour and Felicity, to be a
Man of that Weight and Authority, in my Country, that you Gentlemen are in
yours (this was very genteelly said), I have the Accidental Advantage of a
little favour with the present Minister, but I cannot
depend upon the Influence of my own Opinion to reconcile a Measure to my
Countrymen. We can consider our selves as little more than Pens in the hands of
Government at home, and Mr. Oswalds
Instructions are so particular.
I replied to this, The Time is not so pressing upon Us, but that We can
wait, till a Courier goes to
London, with your Representations upon this Subject and others
that remain between Us, and I think the Ministers must be convinced.
Mr. Fitsherbert said, to send again to
London and have all laid loose
was so uncertain a Measure -- it was going to Sea
Upon this Dr. Franklin said, that if another
Messenger was to be sent to London, he ought to carry Something
more respecting a Compensation to the Sufferers in
America. He produced a Paper from his Pocket, in which he had
drawn up a useClaim, and He said the first Principle of
the Treaty was Equality and Reciprocity. Now they demanded of Us Payment of
Debts and Restitution or Compensation to the Refugees. If a Draper had sold a
Piece of Cloth to a Man upon Credit and then sent a servant to take
it from him by Force, and after bring his Action for the Debt, would any Court
of Law or Equity give him his Demand, without obliging him to restore the
Cloth? Then he stated the carrying off of Goods from
Philadelphia, and the Carolinas,
Virginia &c. and the burning of the Towns, &c. and
desired that this might be sent with the rest.
Upon this I recounted the History of G. [General] Gages Agreement with the
Boston, that they should remove with their Effects upon
Condition, that they would surrender their Arms. But as soon as the Arms were
secured, the Goods were forbid to be carried out and were finally carried off
in large Quantities to
Dr. Franklin mentioned the Case of
Philadelphia, and the carrying off of Effects there, even his
Mr. Jay mentioned several other Things and
Mr. Laurens added the Plunders in Carolina of
Negroes, Plate &c.
After hearing all this, Mr. Fitsherbert,
, retired for some time,
and returning Mr. Fitsherbert said that upon
consulting together and weighing every Thing
maturely as possible, Mr. Stratchey
himself had determined to advise Mr. Oswald, to strike with
Us, according to the Terms We had proposed as our Ultimatum respecting the
Fishery and the Loyalists. -- Accordingly We all sat down and read over the
whole Treaty and corrected it and agreed to meet tomorrow at
House, to sign and seal the
Treaties which the Secretaries were to copy fair in the mean time.
I forgot to mention, that when We were upon the Fishery, and
Mr. Stratchey and Mr.
Fitsherbert were urging Us to leave out the Word Right and substitute
Liberty, I told them at last that In Answer to their Proposal, to
agree upon all other Articles, and leave that of the Fishery to be adjusted, at
the definitive Treaty. I said, I never could put my hand to any Articles,
without Satisfaction about the Fishery. That Congress had, 3 or 4 Years ago,
when they did me the Honour to give me a Commission,
to make a Treaty of Commerce with
G. Britain, given me a positive Instruction, not to make any
such Treaty, without an Article in the Treaty of Peace, acknowledging our Right
to the Fishery, that I was happy that Mr. Laurens was now
present who I believed was in Congress at the Time, and must remember it.
Mr. Laurens upon this said, with great Firmness, that he
was in the same Case, and could never give his Voice for any Articles without
Mr. Jay spoke up and said, it could not be a
Peace, it would only be an insidious Truce without it.
NOVEMBER 30 SATURDAY. ST. ANDREWS
We met first at Mr. Jays, then at
Mr. Oswalds, examined and compared the
Treaties. Mr. Stratchey had left out the
limitation of Time, the 12 Months, that the Refugees were allowed to reside in
America, in order to recover their Estates if they could.
Dr. Franklin said this was a Surprize upon Us. Mr. Jay said
so too. We never had consented to leave it out, and they insisted upon putting
it in, which was done.
Mr. Laurens said there ought to be a Stipulation that the
British Troops should carry off no Negroes or other American Property. We all
agreed. Mr. Oswald consented.
Then The Treaties were signed, sealed and delivered, and We all went out
to Passy to dine with Dr. Franklin.
Thus far has proceeded this great Affair. The Unravelling of the Plott, has
been to me, the most affecting and astonishing Part of the whole Piece. --
As soon as I arrived in
Paris I waited on Mr. Jay
from him, the rise and Progress of the Negotiation. Nothing that has happened
since the Beginning of the Controversy in 1761 has ever struck me
more forcibly or affected me more intimately, than that entire Coincidence of
Principles and Opinions, between him and me. In about 3 days I went out
to Passy, and spent the Evening with Dr.
, and entered largely into Conversation with him upon the
Course and present State of our foreign affairs. I told him without Reserve my
Opinion of the Policy of this Court, and of the Principles, Wisdom and Firmness
with which Mr. Jay
had conducted the Negotiation in
his Sickness and my Absence, and that I was determined to support
to the Utmost of my Power in the pursuit of
the same System. The Dr. heard me patiently but said nothing.
The first Conference We had afterwards with Mr.
Oswald, in considering one Point and another, Dr.
Franklin turned to Mr. Jay and said, I am of
your Opinion and will go on with these Gentlemen in the Business without
consulting this Court. He has accordingly met Us in most of our Conferences and
has gone on with Us, in entire Harmony and Unanimity, throughout, and has been
able and useful, both by his Sagacity and his Reputation in the whole
I was very happy, that Mr. Laurence came in, although it
was the last day of the Conferences, and wish he could have been sooner.
His Apprehension, notwithstanding his deplorable Affliction under
the recent Loss of so excellent a Son, is as quick, his judgment as sound, and
his heart as firm as ever. He had an opportunity of examining the whole, and
judging, and approving, and the Article which he caused to be inserted at the
very last that no Property should be carried off, which would most probably in
the Multiplicity and hurry of Affairs have escaped Us, was worth a longer
journey, if that had been all. But his Name and Weight is added which is of
much greater Consequence.
These miserable Minutes may help me to recollect, but I have not found time
amidst the hurry of Business and Crowd of Visits, to make a detail.
I should have before noted, after that after at our
first Conference about the Fishery, I related the Facts as well as I understood
them, but knowing nothing Myself but as an Hearsay Witness, I found it had not
the Weight of occular Testimony, to supply which
defect, I asked Dr. Franklin if Mr.
Nantes could not give Us Light. He said Mr.
Williams was on the Road to
Paris and as soon as he arrived he would ask him. In a few days
Mr. Williams called on me, and said Dr.
Franklin had as I desired him enquired of him about the Fishery, but
he was not able to speak particularly upon that Subject, but there was at
Nantes a Gentleman of Marblehead, Mr. Sam
White, Son in Law to Mr. Hooper, who was Master of
the Subject and to him, he would write.
Mr. Jeremiah Allen a Merchant of
Boston, called on me, about the same time. I enquired of him. He
was able only to give such an hearsay Account as I could give myself, but I
desired him to write to Mr. White at
Nantes, which he undertook to do and did. Mr.
White answered Mr. Allens Letter by referring him to
his Answer to Mr. Williams, which Mr.
Williams received and delivered to Dr.
Franklin, who communicated it to Us, and it contained a good
I desired Mr. Thaxter to write to Messrs.
Ingraham and Bromfield, and Mr. Storer to
write to Captn. Coffin at
Amsterdam. They delivered me the Answers. Both contained
Information, but Coffins was the most particular, and of the
most importance, as he spoke as a Witness. We made the best Use of these
Letters, with the English Gentlemen and they appeared to have a good deal of
Weight with them.
From first to last, I ever insisted upon it, with the English Gentlemen,
that the Fisheries and the
America was not satisfied in those Points, would be the sure and
certain Sources of a future War. Shewed them the
indispensible Necessity of both to our
Affairs, and that no Treaty We could make, which should be unsatisfactory to
our People upon these Points, could be observed.
That the Population near the
Missisippi would be so rapid and
the pressing Necessities of the People for its navigation so rapid,
that nothing could restrain them from going down, and if the Force of Arms
should be necessary it would not be wanting. That the Fishery entered into our
Distilleries, our coasting Trade, our Trade with the Southern States, with
the West India Islands, with the
Coast of Affrica and with every Part
Europe in such a manner, and especially with
England, that it could not be taken from Us, or granted Us
stingily, without tearing and rending. That the other States had Staples. We
had none but fish. No other Means of remittances to London or paying those very
Debts they had insisted upon so seriously. That if We were forced off, at 3
Leagues Distance, We should smuggle eternally. That their Men of War might have
the Glory of sinking now and then a fishing Schooner but this would not prevent
a repetition of the Crime, it would only inflame and irritate and inkindle a
new War. That in 7 Years We should break through all restraints and conquer
from them the
Island of Newfoundland itself and
Nova Scotia too.
Mr. Fitsherbert always smiled and said, it was very
extraordinary that the British Ministry and We should see it, in so different a
Light. That they meant the Restriction, in order to prevent disputes and kill
the Seeds of War, and We should think
it so certain a Source of
disputes, and so strong a Seed of War. But that our Reasons were such that he
thought the Probability of our Side.
I have not time to minute the Conversations about the Sea Cow Fishery, the
Whale Fishery, the
Magdalene Islands and the
Labradore Coasts and the
Coasts of Nova Scotia. It is sufficient to say they were
explained to the Utmost of our Knowledge and finally conceeded.
I should have noted before the various deliberations, between the English
Gentlemen and Us, relative to the Words "indefinite and exclusive" Right, which
the C. de Vergennes
Gerard had the Precaution to insert in our Treaty with France. I
observed often to the English Gentlemen that aiming at excluding Us, from
Fishing upon the North Side of
Newfoundland, it was natural for them to wish that the English
would exclude Us from the South Side. This would be making both alike, and take
away an odious Distinction. French Statesmen must see the Tendency of our
Fishermen being treated kindly, and hospitably like Friends by the English on
their Side of the Island, and unkindly, inhospitably and like
on the French Side.
farther, that it was my Opinion, neither our Treaty with the French, nor any
Treaty or Clause to the same Purpose which the English could make, would be
punctually observed. Fishermen both from
America would smuggle, especially the Americans in the early
Part of the Spring before the Europeans could arrive. This therefore must be
connived at by the French, or odious Measures must be recurred to, by them or
Us, to suppress it, and in either Case it was easy to see what would be the
Effect upon the American Mind. They no doubt therefore wished the English to
put themselves upon as odious a footing, at least as they had done.
Dr. Franklin said there was a great deal of Weight
in this Observation, and the Englishmen shewed
plainly enough that they felt it.
I have not attempted in these Notes to do justice to the Arguments of my
Colleagues both all of whom were, throughout the whole
Business when they attended, very attentive, and very able, especially
Mr. Jays, to whom the French would, if
they knew as much of his negotiations as they do of mine, would very justly
give the Title with which they have inconsiderately decorated me, that of Le
Washington de la Negotiation, a very flattering Compliment indeed, to which I
have not a Right, but sincerely think it belongs to Mr.
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