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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
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John Adams autobiography, part 3, "Peace," 1779-1780
sheet 2 of 18, 29 September - 4 November 1779


Peace November 1779
and two Acts of Congress, of the fourth and fifteenth of October.
Peace is an Object of such vast importance; the Interests to be adjusted, in the Negotiations to obtain it, are so complicated and so delicate; and the difficulty of giving even general Satisfaction is so great: that I feel myself more distressed at the prospect of executing the Trust, than at the Thoughts of leaving my family and Country; and again encountering the dangers of the Seas and of Enemies.
Yet when I reflect on the general Voice in my favour; and the high honour that is done me by this Appointment: I feel the warmest Sentiments of Gratitude to Congress; shall make no hesitation to accept it; and devote my self without reserve or loss of time, to the discharge of it.
My Success however, may depend in a very great degree, on Intelligence and Advices that I may receive from Congress; and on the punctuality with which several Articles in my Instructions may be kept secret. It shall be my most earnest endeavour to transmit to Congress, the most constant and exact information in my power, of whatever may occur; and to conceal those Instructions which depend, in any measure, on my judgment.
I hope I need not suggest to Congress the necessity of communicating to me from time to time as early as possible, their Commands; and of keeping all the discretionary Articles an impenetrable Secret: a Suggestion, however, that the Constitution of that Sovereignty, which I have the honor to represent, might excuse.
As the Frigate has been sometime waiting, I shall embark in Eight or ten days, at farthest. . . . Your Excellency will be pleased to present my most dutifull respects to Congress; and accept my Thanks for the polite and obliging manner, in which you have communicated their commands. I have the Honour to be, with great Esteem and respect, your Excellencies most obedient humble Servant
John Adams.
His Excellency Samuel Huntington Esqr. President of Congress.
The Commissions acknowledged in the foregoing Letter to have been received were two; one for Peace and the other for Commerce, exact Copies of both here follow.
1. For Peace.
The Delegates of the United States, of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia
To all who shall see these Presents, send Greeting
It being probable, that a Negotiation will soon be commenced, for putting an End to the Hostilities, between his Most Christian Majesty, and these United States on the one Part, and his Britannic

Majesty, on the other Part, and it being the sincere desire of the United States, that they may be terminated, by a Peace, founded on such solid and equitable Principles, as reasonably to promise a Permanency of the Blessings of Tranquility, Know Ye, therefore, that We, confiding in the Integrity, Prudence and Ability of The Honourable John Adams Esquire, late Commissioner of the United States of America at the Court of Versailles, late Delegate in Congress, from the State of Massachusetts Bay, and Chief justice of the said State, Have nominated and constituted, and by these Presents Do nominate and constitute him the said John Adams, our Minister Plenipotentiary, giving him full Power general and special, to Act in that Quality, to confer, treat, agree and conclude, with the Ambassadors or Plenipotentiaries of his Most Christian Majesty, and of his Britannic Majesty, and those of any other Princes or States, whom it may concern, vested with equal Powers, relating to the Reestablishment of Peace and Friendship, and whatever shall be so agreed and concluded, for Us, and in our Name to sign, and thereupon make a Treaty or Treaties, and to transact every Thing that may be necessary for compleating, securing and strengthening the great Work of Pacification, in as ample form and with the same Effect, as if We were personally present and Acted therein, hereby promising in good Faith, that We will accept, ratify, fulfill and execute, whatever shall be agreed, concluded and signed by our said Minister Plenipotentiary, and that We will never Act nor suffer any Person to Act, contrary to the same, in the whole or in any part. In Witness whereof We have caused these Presents to be given in Congress at , and in the fourth Year of the Independence of The United States of America.
Signed by the President and sealed with his Seal.
Samuel Huntington President, And a Seal.
Attest Cha Thomson Secy.
2. The Commission for making a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain was in these Words
The Delegates of the United States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticutt, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, in Congress assembled,
To all who shall see these Presents send Greeting


It being the desire of the United States, that the Peace which may be established between them and his Britannic Majesty, may be permanent and accompanied with the mutual Benefits derived from Commerce, Know Ye therefore, that We, confiding in the Integrity, Prudence and Ability of Honble. John Adams esqr., late Commissioner of The United States of America at the Court of Versailles, late Delegate in Congress from the State of Massachusetts Bay and Chief justice of said State, Have nominated and constituted, and by these Presents Do nominate and constitute him the said John Adams, our Minister Plenipotentiary, giving him full Power general and special to Act in that quality to confer, agree, and conclude with the Ambassador, or Plenipotentiary of his Britannic Majesty, vested with equal Powers, of and concerning a Treaty of Commerce, and whatever shall be so agreed and concluded, for Us and in our Name to sign and thereupon make a Treaty of Commerce, and to transact every Thing that may be necessary for compleating, securing and strengthening the same, in as ample form and with the same effect, as if We were personally present and acted therein, hereby promising in good Faith, that We will accept, ratify, fulfill and execute whatever shall be agreed, concluded, and signed by our said Minister Plenipotentiary and that We will never Act, nor suffer any Person to act, contrary to the same, in the whole nor in any Part. In Witness whereof, We have caused these Presents to be given in Congress at , and in the fourth Year of the Independence of the United States of America.
Signed by the President and sealed with his Seal
Samuel Huntington President And a Seal.
Attest Cha Thomson Secy.
With these Commissions, I received the following Instructions respecting Peace.

Sir

You will herewith receive a Commission giving you full Power, to negotiate a Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, in doing which you will conform to the following Information and Instructions.
First. The United States are sincerely desirous of Peace and wish, by every means consistent with their Dignity and Safety, to spare the further Effusion of Blood. They have therefore, by your Commission and these Instructions laboured to remove the Obstacles to that Event, before

The Enemy have evidenced their Disposition for it. . . . But as the great Object of the present defensive War on the part of the Allies is to establish the Independence of the United States, and as any Treaty, whereby this End cannot be obtained, must be only ostensible and illusory, You are therefore to make it a preliminary Article, to any proposition, that Great Britain shall agree to treat with the United States as sovereign, free And independent.
Secondly. You shall take especial Care also, that the Independence of the said States be effectually assured and confirmed by the Treaty or Treaties of Peace, according to the form and Effect of the Treaty of Alliance with his Most Christian Majesty; and You shall not agree to such Treaty or Treaties, unless the same be thereby so assured and confirmed.
Thirdly. The Boundaries of these States are as follow, vizt. These States are bounded North, by a line to be drawn from the Northwest Angle of Nova Scotia, along the highlands, which divide those Rivers which empty themselves into the River St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the Northwestermost head of Connecticut River, thence down along the middle of that River to the forty fifth degree of North Latitude, thence due West, in the Latitude of Forty five degrees North from the Equator, to the Northwestermost Side of the River St. Lawrence or Cadaraqui, thence straight to the South end of Lake Nipissing and thence straight to the Source of the River Mississippi: West, by a Line to be drawn along the middle of the River Mississippi, from its Source to where the said Line shall intersect the thirty first degree of North Latitude: South, by a Line to be drawn due East from the Termination of the Line last mentioned in the Latitude of Thirty one degrees North from the Equator, to the Middle of the River Appalachicola, or Catahouchi, thence along the Middle thereof, to its junction with the Flint River, thence straight to the head of St. Mary's River, and thence down along the Middle of St. Mary's River to the Atlantic Ocean: And East by a Line to be drawn along the Middle of St. Johns River, from its Source to its Mouth in the Bay of Fundy, comprehending all Islands within twenty Leagues of any part of the Shores of the United States and lying between Lines to be drawn due East, from the Points where the aforesaid Boundaries between Nova Scotia on the one Part


Cite web page as: John Adams autobiography, part 3, "Peace," 1779-1780, sheet 2 of 18 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. John Adams autobiography, part 3, "Peace," 1777-1778. Part 3 is comprised of 18 sheets and 1 insertion; 72 pages total. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Butterfield, L.H., ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. Vol. 4. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1961.
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