A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5

This note contained in document ADMS-04-05-02-0026
1. The cod and the haddock, the deer skins, and the pine trees are symbolic of the most important issues in the peace negotiations with Great Britain. JA was a staunch advocate of freedom to fish and had made inquiries better to understand the nature of the business and its requirements. He refused to yield on access to the Grand Banks and nearby waters for Americans, although he had to make some concessions on the wording of America's access to fishing along the Newfoundland coast. Another major issue was the western boundary of the United States. From the outset, John Jay had insisted upon the Mississippi River, and JA had strongly supported this position. He was outspoken, too, in pushing the northeastern boundary as far northward as possible in opposition to the British desire to retain a good part of Maine as a source of mast trees. “Refugees” referred to the problem of Britain's attempting to obtain amnesty for loyalists and restitution or indemnification for those who suffered losses of property. For an account of the negotiating positions and concessions, see Morris, Peacemakers, ch. xi, and p. 363–364, 373–380.
JA later included images of the fish, the deer, and the pine tree in a seal designed to commemorate the victory that the Americans had won in the negotiations. Fashioned in 1783, it consisted of thirteen stars arranged to enclose the tree and the deer above a swimming fish. After JQA helped to win similar concessions at the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, JA asked him to have a new seal engraved, adding a phrase from Horace (Epistles, I, vi, 57), arranged to enclose the sea: Piscemur, venemur, ut olim; that is: “Let us fish, let us hunt, as in the past” (Catalogue of JQA's Books, facing p. 135 and p. 140).
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, 2018.