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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 4

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[Instructions from Congress]

[salute] Sir

You will herewith receive a Commission giving you Full Power, to negotiate a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain, in doing which you will consider Yourself bound by the following Information and Instructions.
First. You will govern yourself principally, by the Treaty of Commerce with his most Christian Majesty, and as on the one hand, you shall grant no Priviledge to Great Britain not granted by that Treaty to France, so on the other you shall not consent to any particular restrictions or Limitations whatever in favour of Great Britain.
Secondly. In Order that you may be the better able to act with propriety on this occasion, it is necessary for you to know that We have determined 1st. That the common Right of Fishing shall in no case be given up. 2d. That it is essential to the Welfare of all these United States that the Inhabitants thereof, at the Expiration of the War should { 184 } continue to enjoy the free and undisturbed exercise of their common Right to fish on the Banks of Newfoundland and the other Fishing Banks and Seas of North America preserving inviolate the Treaties between France and the said States. 3d. That Application shall be made to his most Christian Majesty to agree to some Article or Articles for the better securing to these States, a Share in the said Fisheries. 4th. That if after a Treaty of Peace with Great Britain she shall molest the Citizens or Inhabitants of any of the United States, in taking Fish on the Banks and Places herein after described, such molestation being in our Opinion a direct violation and breach of the Peace, shall be a common cause of the said States, and the Force of the Union be exerted to obtain redress for the Parties injured, and 5 th. That our Faith be pledged to the several States, that without their unanimous consent, no Treaty of Commerce shall be entered into, nor any Trade or Commerce carried on with Great Britain, without the explicit Stipulation herein after mentioned. You are therefore not to consent to any Treaty of Commerce, with Great Britain, without an explicit Stipulation on her part, not to molest or disturb the Inhabitants of the United States of America in taking Fish on the Banks of Newfoundland and other Fisheries in the American Seas, any where excepting within the distance of three Leagues from the Shores of the Territories remaining to Great Britain at the Close of the War, if a nearer distance can not be obtained by Negotiation: And in the Negotiation you are to exert your most strenuous endeavours to obtain a nearer distance in the Gulph of St. Lawrence and particularly along the Shores of Nova Scotia, as to which latter We are desirous that even the Shores may be occasionally used for the purpose of carrying on the Fisheries by the Inhabitants of these States.
Thirdly. In all other matters you are to govern yourself by your own discretion as shall be most for the Interest of these States, taking care that the said Treaty may be founded on Principles of Equality and Reciprocity, so as to conduce to the mutual Advantage of both Nations, but not to the Exclusion of others.
Done at Philadelphia, this Sixteenth day of October, in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and Seventy nine, and in the fourth Year of our Independence.

[salute] By The Congress of the United States of America,

[signed] Saml. Huntington President
[signed] Attest Cha. Thomson Secretary

[addrLine] The Honourable John Adams Esqr. Minister Plenipotentiary appointed to negotiate a Treaty of Commerce with Great Britain.

Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/