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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8


This note contained in document ADMS-06-08-02-0026
2. JA's hope had already been realized. On the previous day France and Spain had signed the Convention of Aranjuez, which obligated Spain to enter the war if Great Britain rejected its latest mediation offer of 3 April. Spain's proposal, in the form of an ultimatum and phrased to insure its rejection, marked the end of a long series of Spanish offers, beginning in April 1778, to mediate Anglo-French differences. In view of the “Family Compact” existing between the Bourbon rulers of France and Spain, the sincerity of the Spanish offers was always suspect, but the object of Spain's mediation and the consequence if it was not achieved were clear. Spain sought to have Britain purchase its neutrality by ceding Gibraltar and when that price proved too high, determined to take its objective by force (see, for example, JA's speculations regarding Gibraltar in his letter to Francis Dana of 25 Dec. 1778, above). After the expected British rejection of the ultimatum, the Spanish Ambassador delivered a manifesto to Lord Weymouth on 16 June that amounted to a declaration of war. It was followed on the 18th by the British order for reprisals (Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 78–87; Sir Francis Piggott and G. W. T. Omond, Documentary History of the Armed Neutralities of 1780 and 1800, London, 1919, p. 112–116, 119–122). It was not until after he was at sea on his return to America that JA learned of the final rupture between Britain and Spain from the new French minister to the United States, La Luzerne (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:387–389).
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/