A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0002-0004-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1783-04-27

1783 Paris April 27. 1783.

Mr. Hartley met Mr. Franklin, Laurens, Jay and me, at my Lodgings, and shewed Us an Instruction under the Kings Privy Seal, and signed George Rex, in which his Majesty recites that he had appointed Mr. Hartley his Minister Plenipotentiary to treat with Us &c.1
The American Ministers unanimously required a Commission under the great Seal, and promising to ratify what he should do.—Mr. Hartley was chagrin'd.2
Much Conversation passed, which might as well have been spared. Mr. Hartley was as copious as usual. I called on Mr. Jay in the Evening and We agreed to meet at my House next Morning at 10.
1. The weeks that followed the signing of the provisional treaties between Great Britain and France, and Great Britain and Spain, made “a very dull Pause,” as JA wrote Arthur Lee (12 April, Adams Papers), during which JA worried about his health and in long letters to intimate correspondents poured out his suspicions of “French and Franklinian Politicks” (to AA , 16 April, Adams Papers). After what seemed interminable delays the Coalition government of Fox and North was at length formed, and on 18 April David Hartley received his instructions, as successor to Richard Oswald, to treat with the American Commissioners for a definitive peace settlement. Hartley, an old friend of Franklin's whom JA had first encountered, without being favorably impressed, five years earlier (see 19 April 1778, above), arrived in Paris on 24 April. JA was to change his estimate { 113 } of Hartley and eventually to recognize his intense sincerity in endeavoring to obtain a liberal settlement, especially in respect to trade relations, but the negotiations in Paris from April to September proved perfectly fruitless. They are well summarized in a single sentence in the Commissioners' letter to Pres. Boudinot of Congress, 10 Sept. 1783: “We had many conferences and received long memorials from Mr. Hartley on the subject [of new commercial regulations]; but his zeal for systems friendly to us constantly exceeded his authority to concert and agree to them” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:688). The best secondary account of this negotiation, which has been little studied but was not unimportant in spite of its failure, is in George H. Guttridge, David Hartley, M.P., an Advocate of Conciliation, Berkeley, 1926, ch. 4. There is need for a more detailed and comprehensive study.
2. For Hartley's new commission see entries of 19, 22 May, below.