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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11


This foot note contained in document ADMS-06-11-02-0084
2. JA refers to the enclosure entitled “Extracts from the printed Journal of Congress.” The five extracts, dated 1, 2, and 26 Sept., and 4 and 5 Oct. 1780, traced the deliberations of Congress from the arrival of JA 's letter of 10 April (vol. 9:121–126), containing the text of Catherine II's declaration of armed neutrality, to the adoption of resolutions permitting the United States to accede to the armed neutrality ( JCC , 17:798, 802; 18:864–866, 899, 905–906). The “young poetical Genius” referred to at the end of the paragraph was probably Robert R. Livingston. His motion on 26 Sept. declared that “the acts of a sovereign who promotes the happiness of her subjects and extends her views to the welfare of nations, who forms laws for a vast empire and corrects the great code of the world, claim the earliest { 128 } attention of a rising republick.” Livingston's motion led directly to the resolution of 5 Oct., instructing the Board of Admiralty to formulate instructions for armed vessels “conformable to the principles contained in the said declaration.” On 27 Nov. 1780, Congress approved regulations that committed the U.S. to observe the principle that free ships make free goods with regard to neutral nations with whom it had no treaty as opposed to its previous practice, sanctioned by the law of nations, of seizing enemy property wherever found.