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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


This foot note contained in document ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0001-0002
2. The joint commission to negotiate commercial treaties held by JA and Jefferson (Franklin having returned to Philadelphia) was due to expire on 12 May of this year. Much of the Commissioners' correspondence between London and Paris during the past ten months had dealt with arrangements for the complicated negotiations with Morocco and Algiers which they were authorized to depute to Thomas Barclay and John Lamb respectively, who were exasperatingly deliberate in their movements. See the documents prepared for these agents by JA and Jefferson in Sept.–Oct. 1785, which are printed in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 8:610–624. The advent of an envoy from Tripoli in London, one Abdrahaman, gave JA an opportunity to discover whether that piratical power would offer terms that the United States would or could accept; and on 17 Feb. 1786 he sent Jefferson a famous and inimitable account of his first discussion with “the Tripoline Ambassador,” during which JA smoked a pipe which reached to the floor and exchanged “in aweful pomp ... Wiff for Wiff” with his host ( LbC , Adams Papers; same, 9:285–288). A further interview prompted JA to urge his colleague to come at once to London, not only in order to try to conclude a treaty with Tripoli but to finish { 183 } a negotiation begun in November with the Chevalier de Pinto, the minister from Portugal in London (to Jefferson, 21 Feb., LbC , Adams Papers; same, p. 295). They were also to make one last effort to interest the British government in a commercial treaty with the United States. On 13 March JA announced in a note to Carmarthen the arrival of Jefferson and requested an interview on behalf of both Commissioners ( LbC , Adams Papers; same, p. 327). This first and sole visit of Jefferson to London lasted until 26 April. In respect to treaty-making it accomplished nothing. See the Commissioners' reports to Jay of 28 March and 25 April and the documents (mainly from the Adams Papers) relative to the commercial treaty with Portugal, which was signed by the American ministers on 25 April but which the Portuguese government allowed to lapse unratified (same, p. 357–359, 406–409, 410–433); also Jefferson's account of his English sojourn in his Autobiography (Jefferson, Writings, ed. Ford, 1:88–90).