Papers of John Adams, volume 13

To Henry Laurens

Memorial to the States General


The Latin phrase reads, with those of all states whom it may concern. JA was troubled because Fitzherbert lacked a commission to negotiate specifically a peace treaty with the United States. Instead he held commissions to negotiate with France, Spain, and the Netherlands, with the United States being included only under the terms of the passage cited by JA. This was unacceptable because neither the British nation nor George III recognized the United States as independent and sovereign. Therefore, it was unwise to accept a mere verbal assurance that a commission that did not name the United States specifically as a party to the negotiations nevertheless included the United States among those states concerned in the negotiations and with whom Fitzherbert was empowered to negotiate. A treaty could be negotiated only between sovereign states, and in the absence of recognition, Britain was free to disavow any agreement that Fitzherbert might make with its colonies. This issue was not resolved until Richard Oswald received his commission of 21 Sept., below, authorizing him to negotiate with the United States.