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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0004-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1785-01-31

January 31. 1785. Monday.1

Last Evening the Marquis de la Fayette, lately returned from America, called upon me, in his Way home from Versailles. He gave me, a very pleasing Account of the Commerce, the Union &c. in America, and then began to discourse of another Subject. He interrogated me, whether I had any Correspondents in Holland, whether I received Letters, from Week to Week and from Post to Post from thence? Who were the Heads of the Republican Party? Whether I knew any Thing of the Intentions of the States Gen[eral] to place Mr. de Maillbois at the Head of their Armies. He then talk'd of Mailbois, said he had great Abilities, and that he had heard him justify himself very well in the Affair of D'Etrees. Said that M. de Vergennes was his Friend.— I said that I knew it, for that I had once in 1778 heard the Comte wish [that]2 Mr. de Mailbois had the Command of our Army in America.3 He said that the Cte. de Broglie wished for the Command in America at the same time.
As he went out he took me aside and whispered, that altho he would not serve a foreign Prince, he would serve a Republick, and although he should hurt himself with the Queen and her Party to a great degree, yet if the States General would invite him, without his soliciting or { 173 } appearing to desire it, he would accept the Command. Mailbois loved Money, and demanded splendid Appointments. He did not regard Money so much and would be easy about that. I was the first Mortal to whom he had suggested the Idea, he wished I would think of it, and he would call and see me again in a few days.4
1. The first formal meeting of the American Commissioners to negotiate treaties of amity and commerce took place at Passy on 30 Aug., David Humphreys, secretary to the mission, being present and beginning that day a record of its proceedings. This record, preserved in a volume sometimes called “Minutes of the Commissioners” (PCC, No. 116), contains, besides actual minutes of their meetings, copies of the Commissioners' commissions and instructions, of their correspondence with the diplomatic agents of the powers to which they were accredited (with the accompanying treaty projets, &c.), and of their joint “Reports” or dispatches to the President of Congress and Secretary Jay, numbered “First” through “Ninth” (11 Nov. 1784 to 2–11 Oct. 1785), thus extending beyond the time when Franklin left for home and JA and Jefferson were appointed ministers plenipotentiary at London and Paris respectively, while retaining their joint commission to negotiate commercial treaties (see note on entry of 3 May, below). The original letters received by the Commissioners (with enclosures), together with drafts and originals of most of their reports to Congress, are filed in PCC, No. 86. All this documentation for JA's last joint commission in Europe is printed in a single sequence in Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, 1:499–600, but much more reliable texts and indispensable annotation are provided in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, vols. 7–8, where these letters and papers are distributed under their dates. The best way to follow the Commissioners' work, which was arduous but only very partially successful, is to read their reports. Those that are germane to the present gap in JA's Diary are the First, Second, and Third, dated 11 Nov., 15 Dec. 1784, and [9] Feb. 1785 (same, 7:493–500, 573–574, 646–647).
2. MS: “the.”
3. The Comte de Maillebois, a marshal of France, assumed the command of the Dutch army, but, as JA later remarked., with little credit to himself; see JA's Autobiography under date of 29 April 1778. CFA has a learned note on Maillebois' notorious quarrel with the Maréchal d'Estrées, alluded to above (JA, Works, 3:389).
“Last Night, I had a visit from the Marquis, whom I was glad to see, for a variety of Reasons. ... His views are now opening, at least in confidence to me, and his aspiring Soul aims at Objects in Europe, as grand and glorious as those he has obtained in America. ... From these Hints you may guess the whole matter. His Plan, I must say, is as laudable, as it is sublime; but I doubt the possibility of his Success” (JA to Jay, 31 Jan., LbC, Adams Papers).
On Lafayette's interest in the situation of the Dutch Republic, which was in the midst of a crisis with the Austrian Empire over the issue of opening the navigation of the Scheldt, see Gottschalk, Lafayette, 4:152–153.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0004-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1785-03-19

1785. March 19. Saturday.

Saturday. Met Mr. F[ranklin] and Mr. J[efferson] at Passy, read the Letter from Mr. Carm[ichael] at Madrid, with the Letters from C. de Florida Blanca, the Letters from Morocco to Mr. Harrison at Cadiz, and the Letters from Morocco to Dr. F. concerning the Vessell of Mr. Fitzsimmons of Philadelphia, taken by a Morrocco Frigate.
{ 174 }
I asked for Books and Collections of Treaties. They were brought. I looked for and read the Treaty between Louis 14. and Algiers, and the Treaties between Holland and Algiers, and found a Multitude of Treaties between Algiers and Morrocco and the Christian States as France, Holland, England, &c. with the Passes, in the Corps Diplomatique.
We came to no Resolution, but that I should go, Tomorrow to Versailles and ask the Advice of the C[omte] de V[ergennes].—Dr. F. being confined by his Stone, could not go, and Mr. Jefferson, being worse with his Disorder cannot go. I was for writing a Letter to the C. —but my Colleagues were not.1—F. and J. are confident that England has no right to appoint a Consul, without a Treaty or Convention for that Purpose. I think, they have a Right by the Law of Nations.2
1. This and the following entry mark the beginning of prolonged efforts by the Commissioners to reach an accord, on behalf of the United States, with several of the piratical Barbary States in order to protect American shipping in the Mediterranean. The efforts were prompted by seizures of American vessels reported in the letters mentioned in the first paragraph of the present entry; extracts from these were handed by JA to Vergennes next day, and copies were forwarded by the Commissioners to Jay in their Fifth Report, 13 April 1785 (PCC, No. 86); a list of them, with their dates and locations, is given in a note on JA's report to his colleagues on his interview with Vergennes, 20 March (Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 8:46–48, q.v.). For a connected narrative of early American negotiations with the Barbary Powers, see Ray W. Irwin, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers, 1776–1816, Chapel Hill, 1931, chs. 2–3. The correspondence and other documents are printed under their dates in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, vols. 7–10.
2. This doubtless alludes to the appointment in February of John Temple as British consul general in the United States; see JA to James Warren, 26 April 1785 (LbC, Adams Papers; Warren-Adams Letters, 2:250–261). Though the sentiments of Congress were divided on whether or not to recognize Temple, a vote of that body did so on 2 Dec. 1785 (JCC, 29:897–898).
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.