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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


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.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0002-0009-0001

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1783-09-14 - 1783-10-06

Paris Septr. 14[–6 October] 1783.1

Septr. 14. Mr. Thaxter took his Leave of me to return to America, with the definitive Treaty of Peace and the original Treaty with the States General.—I had been some days unwell, but soon fell down in a Fever. Sir James Jay, who was my Physician, gave me a vomit, &c. &c.
On the 22d of September, I removed from the grand Hotel du Roi, to Mr. Barclays at Auteuil, where I have continued to this Sixth day of October 1783.2
Mr. Thaxter sailed in the Packet, from L'Orient, or rather from the Island of Groa [Groix], on the 26 of Septr. with a good Wind.3
At first I rode twice a day in my Carriage, in the Bois de Boulogne: but afterwards I borrowed Mr. Jays Horse, and have generally ridden twice a day, untill I have made my self Master of this curious Forest.
The Pavillon of Bagatelle, built by Mgsr. Comte D'Artois. The Castle of Madrid. The Outlet of the Forest near Pont Neuilly, the Porte which opens into the Grand Chemin, the Castle of Muet [La Muette] at Passy. The Porte which opens to the great Road to Versailles. The other Porte which opens into a large Village, nearly opposite to St. Cleod [Cloud], are the most remarkable Objects in this Forest.4
1. First entry in D/JA/42, a booklet identical in format with those preceding.
2. See Howard C. Rice Jr., The Adams Family in Auteuil, 1784–1785 ..., Boston, 1956. Since the publication of this admirably illustrated brochure on the Hotel de Rouault and its spacious garden pleasantly dotted with antique statuary, the garden has been filled with a complex of towering metal-and-glass office buildings, the headquarters of La Compagnie Française Pétrole.
3. He reached Philadelphia, where Pres. Mifflin then was, on 22 Nov. 1783 (Thaxter to JA , 19 Jan. 1784, Adams Papers).
4. In one of the last of his autobiographical communications to the Boston Patriot JA had more to say about his illness in Paris, his move to Auteuil, and his life there than appears in his Diary:
“Mr. Thaxter was gone, and I soon fell down in a fever, not much less violent than that I had suffered two years before at Amsterdam. Sir James Jay who had been sometime in Paris, and had often visited at my house, became { 144 } my physician, and I desired no better. The grand hotel du Roi, place du Carrousel, where I had apartments, was situated at the confluence of so many streets, that it was a kind of thoroughfare. A constant stream of carriages was rolling by it over the pavements for one and twenty hours out of the twenty-four. From two o'clock to five in the morning there was something like stillness and silence, but all the other one and twenty hours was a constant roar, like incessant rolls of thunder. When I was in my best health I sometimes thought it would kill me. But now reduced to extreme weakness and burning with a violent fever, sleep was impossible. In this forlorn condition, Mr. Thaxter, who had been to me a nurse, a physician and a comforter at Amsterdam, was now separated from me forever. . . . With none but French servants about me, of whom however I cannot complain, for their kindness, attention and tenderness surprised me, I was in a deplorable condition, hopeless of life, in that situation.
In this critical and desperate moment, my friends all despairing of my recovery in that thoroughfare, Mr. Barclay offered me apartments in his hotel at Auteul, and sir James Jay thought I might be removed and advised it. With much difficulty it was accomplished.
On the 22d of September I was removed, and the silence of Auteul exchanged for the roar of the carousal, the pure air of a country garden in place of the tainted atmosphere of Paris, procured me some sleep and with the skill of my physician gradually dissipated the fever, though it left me extremely emaciated and weak. . . .
Lost health is not easily recovered.— Neither medicine nor diet nor any thing would ever succeed with me, without exercise in open air: and although riding in a carriage, has been found of some use, and on horseback still more; yet none of these have been found effectual with me in the last resort, but walking.— Walking four or five miles a day, sometimes for years together, with a patience, resolution and perseverance, at the price of which, many persons would think, and I have been sometimes inclined to think, life itself was scarcely worth purchasing. Not all the skill and kind assiduity of my physician, nor all the scrupulous care of my regimen, nor all my exercise in carriage and on the saddle was found effectual for the restoration of my health. Still remaining feeble, emaciated, languid to a great degree, my physican and all my friends advised me to go to England, and to Bath, to drink the waters and to bath[e] in them. The English gentlemen politely invited me with apparent kindness to undertake the journey.
But before I set out I ought not to forget my Phisician. Gratitude demands that I should remember his benevolence. His attendance had been voluntarily assiduous, punctual, and uniformly kind and obliging; and his success had been equal to his skill in breaking the force of the distemper and giving me a chance of a complete recovery in time. I endeavored to put twenty guineas into his hand, but he positively refused to accept them. He said the pleasure of assisting a friend and countryman in distress in a foreign country, was reward enough for him, and he would have no other. I employed all the arguments and persuasions with him in my power at least to receive the purchase of his medicines. He said he had used no medicines but such as he had found in my house among my little stores, and peremptorily and finally refused to receive a farthing for any thing” (Boston Patriot, 29 April, 2 May 1812).