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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11


This foot note contained in document ADMS-06-11-02-0276-0004
9. This paragraph, to this point, is significant for two reasons. It represents an effort by Congress to avoid revisiting the question of national boundaries, a contentious issue for both interstate and Franco-American relations. On 7 and 8 June proposals to reopen the matter were rejected and the text of the instructions remained virtually the same throughout the debates; the only significant addition was the specific reference to JA 's former instructions ( JCC , 20:608–609, 611–613).
Of even more importance, particularly for JA , was the statement that set down independence and the sanctity of the Franco-American treaties as the only ultimata for an Anglo-American peace treaty. This was a striking departure from JA 's original instructions, which declared the northern boundary of the U.S. on the Great Lakes and the western boundary on the Mississippi River to be sine qua non for any treaty. This alteration was a severe blow to southern states, particularly Virginia, that claimed land bordering the Mississippi, and it created a sectional conflict because the preservation of U.S. fishing rights on the banks of Newfoundland remained the sine qua non for the Anglo-American commercial treaty for which JA also had received a commission in 1779 (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:183–184).