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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0002-0006-0005

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1783-06-19

1783. June 19. Thursday. Fete Dieu.

The Processions were less brillant than ordinary on Account of the Storm.
Went with Mr. Hartley in his Carriage to Passy where he made his Propositions for the Definitive Treaty.1 We had a long Conversation about De Fonte's Voyage from Peru to Hudsons Bay.2 He says he found an Inlet and a River which he entered, and navigated untill he { 140 } came to a Lake in which he left his Ship and followed the Course of a River, which descended, with Falls in it, or rather Rapides, in his Boats untill he came to Hudsons Bay where he found Seimor Gibbons or Sennor Gibbons, Major General Edward Gibbons of Boston as Dr. Franklin supposes. Dr. Franklin had once a Correspondence with Mr. Prince upon this Voyage, and perhaps Mr. Gill in the Journal of Mr. Prince, has some Information about it. The Trade to Hudsons Bay was carried on, by Boston People from its first discovery, untill after the Restoration of Charles the 2d., from whom the Hudsons Bay Company obtained their Charter, and there are several Families in New England descended from Persons who used that Trade, vizt. The Aldens.3 De Fonte's Voyage was printed in English in a Collection called Miscellanea Curiosa in 1708 and has been lately printed in French in a large Collection of Voyages in 20 Volumes. Dr. Franklin once gave to Lord Bute his Reasons in Writing for believing this a genuine Voyage. De Fonte was either a Spaniard or Portuguese. Enquiry has been made at Madrid, but no Traces could be discovered there of De Fonte or his Voyage.
Cook in one of his Voyages, anchored in the Latitude of Philadelphia 40, on the West Side of the Continent of America and ascertained the Longitude, from whence Dr. F. computes the Distance from Philadelphia to the South Sea to be 2000 Miles. Cook saw several Inlets and he entered that between America and Asia, Kamskatska, where the Passage is not wider than that between Calais and Dover.
The Seperation of America from Asia is between the 60th. and 70th. degree of North Latitude, precisely at the Arctick polar Circle. It is called in the French Maps Detroit du Nord. The northern Streight or Streight of the North. It is near the Archipel du Nord or northern Archipelago. The Point of Land in Asia is under the Dominion of Russia, and is called Russian Tartary. The Streight forms the Communication between the Eastern and the frozen Oceans, the Mer Orientale and the Mer Glaciale. There is a Number of Islands in the Archipelago, and one in the Streight itself called on the Map, Alaschka Island. There is a Sea and a Promontory called Kamskatska situated on the Eastern Ocean within 10 or 12 degrees of the Streight. The 3 Tartarys, Independent Tartary, Chinese Tartary and Russian Tartary form a vast Country, extending from Persia, Indostan and China, to the Point of Asia at the Streights of the North, which divide Asia from America.
What should hinder the Empress of Russia, from establishing a trading City on the Sea of Kamskatska, and opening a Commerce with { 141 } Pekin, Nankin and Canton, the Cities of China? It is so near the Islands of Japan, the Phillippines, the Moluccas, that a great Scaene may one day be opened here.
Lima the Capital of Peru is in 10 degrees of S. Lat. So that De Fonte must have sailed by the Istmus of Panama, Mexico, California, New Mexico, C[ape] Mendocin, Canal du Roi George, and entered the River at the Mouth of which is the Isle San Carlos. About half Way between the South Sea and Hudsons Bay is a great Lake. Here it is to search for a North West Passage to the East Indies.
Baffins Bay, Baffins Streight, Davis's Streight, Hudsons Bay, Hudsons Streight, are all one great Inlet of Water, the Entrance of which is a Streight formed by Greenland on one Side and Labradore, on the other.
1. These are presumably “Mr. Hartley's Six Propositions—June 1783,” found, together with the Commissioners' “Answers” (of 29 June), in Lb/JA/15 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 103). Both the propositions and the answers are printed under the arbitrary date 1 June 1783 in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:469–470.
2. See entry of 24 Feb., above, and note there.
3. The three preceding words were added by JA in the margin of the MS .

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0002-0007-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1783-06-23

The Hague July 23 1783.1

I satt off in October for Paris where I arrived on the 26th of Oct. 1782, where the Peace has been made, and I returned here last Night.
1. This memorandum appears in a letterbook entitled by JA “Holland Vol. 3” (Lb/JA/18, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 106).
Before the end of June JA was convinced that there was no hope of obtaining any commercial concessions from Great Britain, and an order in council of 2 July that excluded American vessels from British West Indies ports confirmed his conviction (text of order in JA 's letter to Livingston, 14 July, LbC , Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:540–542). Since this action came as a complete surprise to Hartley and undermined all his proposals for liberalizing trade relations between the two countries, JA surmised that “Mr. Hartley ... is probably kept here if he was not sent at first merely to amuse Us, and to keep him out of the Way of Embarrassing the Coalition” (to Livingston, 18 July, LbC , Adams Papers; same, p. 560). Bored with the listless and fruitless negotiation in Paris and believing that the Dutch would be quick to take advantage of British restrictions on American trade, JA decided, as he told Livingston in the same letter, to pay a visit to the Netherlands in order “to assist the Loan and to turn the Speculations of the Dutch Merchants, Capitalists and Statesmen, towards America.” He also hoped to mend his own health by travel and a change of scene, and he planned to bring JQA back with him to Paris.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0002-0008-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-07

Paris Septr. 7. 1783.1

This Morning, I went out to Passy, and Dr. Franklin put into my hand the following Resolution of Congress, which he received last night, vizt., { 142 }
By the United States in Congress assembled, May 1. 1783. on the Report of a Committee, to whom was referred a Letter of Feb. 5 from the Honble. J. Adams.
Ordered that a Commission be prepared to Mess[rs]. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, authorizing them, or either of them in the Absence of the others, to enter into a Treaty of Commerce, between the United States of America, and Great Britain, subject to the Revisal of the contracting Parties, previous to its final Conclusion, and in the meantime, to enter into a Commercial Convention, to continue in Force, one Year.
That the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, lay before Congress, without Delay, a Plan of a Treaty of Commerce and Instructions, relative to the same, to be transmitted to the said Commissioners. Signed Cha's. Thomson Secy.2
1. This memorandum appears in Lb/JA/20, (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 108).
JA spent a busy fortnight in the Netherlands conversing with his Patriot friends at The Hague and with bankers and merchants in Amsterdam, paying his respects to the Stadholder, and writing lengthy letters to Livingston on the sugar trade, on American commercial opportunities generally, and on European politics. With JQA he left The Hague on 6 Aug. and was back at the Hôtel du Roi on the 9th ( JA to Livingston, 10 Aug., LbC , Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:641; see also JQA , Diary, 6 , 7, 8, and 9 Aug. 1783).
He found that no appreciable progress had been made in the negotiation at Paris, and on the very day of his return the real explanation of the British ministry's tactics was set down in a letter from London by Henry Laurens to his fellow commissioners. Laurens had seen Secretary Fox, who conceded that the Preliminary Articles left much to be desired but was unwilling to negotiate new terms “under the eye of, or in concert with, the court of France”; it would be much better to start over again by the appointment of an American minister to London, a measure that Fox said would be very acceptable to the British government (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:637–640). It was therefore agreed in Paris that the Preliminary Articles would be ratified without change except for a preamble declaring them to be the Definitive Treaty ( JA to Livingston, 13 Aug., LbC , Adams Papers; same, p. 645). On 3 Sept. this was done, at Hartley's lodgings in the Hotel d'York (now 56 Rue Jacob in the 6th Arrondissement, a building occupied by the publishing firm of Firmin Didot). In the Adams Papers are copies of the exchange of full powers and a text of the Definitive Treaty as signed and sealed. For a printed text (from one of the two originals in the State Department Treaty File), see Miller, ed., Treaties , 2:151–157, with notes on the transmittal and ratification of the Definitive Treaty. John Thaxter brought one of the originals to Congress; see entry of 14 Sept., below. The Commissioners' final report on the five-month negotiation was dated 10 Sept. 1783 ( LbC , Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:687–691); for some reason the original report sent to Congress is not in place among the Commissioners' dispatches in PCC, No. 85, though a long series of the proposals exchanged by Hartley and the American Commissioners, selected in a somewhat hit-or-miss fashion and not carefully dated, originally enclosed in that dispatch, is present in that volume.
2. JA 's letter to the President of Congress, 5 Feb. 1783, was a protest over the unexplained revocation in July 1781 of JA 's commission to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, together with a strong plea for the appointment { 143 } of an American minister to London in order to perform this and other tasks ( LbC , Adams Papers; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:242–247). On 1 May a committee of Congress of which Alexander Hamilton was chairman brought in a report on JA 's letter which led to the foregoing vote ( JCC , 24:320–321). For James Madison's sarcastic observations on JA 's letter see his letter to Jefferson, 6 May (Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 6:265). Secretary Livingston resigned early in June before carrying out Congress' order of 1 May; new instructions were not agreed upon until 29 Oct., and then in terms that omitted Great Britain ( JCC , 25:753–757). No commissions were issued under this order, and the new arrangement of the United States foreign service was not settled until the following May; see note 1 on JA 's Diary entry of 22 June 1784, below.