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 Point.
Bancroft said to day, That it was often said among the French People, that M. de Vergennes loved 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 Kings.
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 it.
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 to 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 English. D'Aranda,Rayneval,Grantham, &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 Lodgings.
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 Refugees.
He talked about excepting a few by Name of the most obnoxious of the Refugees.
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 Utrecht and 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 Cape Rich.
I related to them the manner in which the Cod and Haddock come into the Rivers, Harbours
, 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
, i.e. within 3 Leagues of the Coasts or Shores of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. That neither French nor English could go from Europe and arrive early enough for the first Fare. That our Vessells
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 Spain and Portugal for Gold and Silver, and that Gold and Silver sent to London for Manufactures. That this would be the Course again. That France foresaw it, and wished to deprive England of it, by perswading
her, to deprive Us of it. That it would be a Master Stroke of Policy, if She could succeed, but England must be compleatly
the 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, did 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
of Lisbon and 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 Boston, Salem, Newbury, Marblehead, Cape Ann, 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 Spain, Portugal and &c. I was once concerned in a Voyage of that kind myself and speak from my own Knowledge.
"From 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 Coast of 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 Hallifax
, with most excellent Harbours
"The Sea Cow Fishery was before the present War, carried on to Great Advantage, particularly from Nantucket and 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 Sincerity.
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 Vergennes
, respecting the Fishery. He told Us that the C. was for fixing the Boundaries, where each Nation should fish.
He must confess he thought the Idea plausible, for that there had been great dissentions
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 Point Riche.
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 Utrecht and 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 Utrech &c.
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 Nivernois insisted
"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 driven from 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 Utrecht and 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 America that 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 not.
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 Spain and 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 my self.
1782 NOV. 27. WEDNESDAY.
Mr. Benjamin Vaughan came in, returned from London where he had seen Lord Shelburne.
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 Tories.
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. Stratchey.
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 Expression.
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 Paris, 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 France and England, did he not give as good a Right to the former as to the latter.
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 Canada, 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 again.
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 Boston, Philadelphia, and the Carolinas, Georgia, 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 Inhabitants of 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 Hallifax.
Dr. Franklin mentioned the Case of Philadelphia, and the carrying off of Effects there, even his own Library.
Mr. Jay mentioned several other Things and Mr. Laurens added the Plunders in Carolina of Negroes, Plate &c.
After hearing all this, Mr. Fitsherbert, Mr. Oswald
and Mr. Stratchey
, retired for some time,
and returning Mr. Fitsherbert said that upon consulting together and weighing every Thing
as maturely as possible, Mr. Stratchey
and 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 Mr. Oswalds
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 this.
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 DAY.
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
and learned 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. Franklin
, 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 Mr. Jay
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 Negotiation.
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. Williams of 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 Account.
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 Missisippi, if 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 of 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
and Mr. 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 Ennemies
on the French Side.
I added, 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 England and 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. Jay.
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