A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0070-0002-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-03-30

Enclosure: A Draft of an Article: A Translation

Mr. Adams, whom the Congress of the United States of America has appointed to participate in the peace conferences whenever they may occur, arrived here sometime ago and has had the honor of being presented to the King and the royal family.1
1. This notice, which appeared virtually without change in the 8 April issue of Mercure de France, “Journal Politique de Bruxelles” (p. 88), was the second of two very different versions considered for publication. The first, in the form of a canceled draft, reads “Le S. Adams a été présenté au Roi le [] de ce mois. Le Congrés l'avois nommé eventuellement, Plenipotentiaire pour prendre part aux négociation de paix qui parois• { 99 } soiens devoir s'ouvir sous la mediation de Sa Majesté Catholique, et il a fixé son séjour à Paris en attendant que la circonstance le mettens en mesure de [] faire usage de se plenipouvoir” (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 11). Translation: Mr. Adams has been presented to the King the[]of this month. The Congress has named him eventual plenipotentiary to take part in the peace negotiation which will take place under the mediation of His Catholic Majesty [the King of Spain], and he has established himself at Paris in the expectation that circumstances will permit him to make use of his full powers.
The first draft is worded very curiously. JA's powers were eventual only in the sense that they became operative when and if Great Britain agreed to negotiate a peace treaty with the United States and to recognize it as sovereign and independent in advance of negotiations. The beginning of negotiations under the mediation of the King of Spain had no bearing on JA's powers, for they did not contemplate or permit his participation in a mediation by Spain or any other power.
By 30 March, Vergennes knew the full extent of JA's powers. Conrad Alexandre Gérard had included JA's instructions in a letter of 14 Aug. 1779, that Vergennes had received on 6 Nov. (Gérard, Despatches and Instructions, p. 846–850).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0071

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1780-03-30

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

I have the honour of your Excellency's letter of this day, in answer to mine of the 21st. of this month. Untill the receipt of it, I had taken it for granted that the presentation of every Ambassador was regularly inserted in the Gazette of France; and untill very lately, several days since the date of my letter to your Excellency of the 21st. of this month, I had supposed that the presentations of Ministers Plenipotentiary were constantly inserted likewise. The information that your Excellency has given me, that the presentations neither of Ambassadors nor Ministers Plenipotentiary have ever been inserted, has perfectly satisfied me, and I doubt not will equally satisfy my Countrymen who have heretofore been under the same mistake with myself. I approve very much your Excellency's proposition of inserting my presentation, in the Mercury of France, and I shall take measures to have it repeated in the foreign gazettes.1 I have the honour to be with the most entire consideration your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servant,
[signed] John Adams
RC in Francis Dana's hand (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 11;) endorsed: “30 Mars Article a ete envoyé au Mercure.” LbC (Adams Papers;) notation by John Thaxter: “N.B. all the past Letters have been sent to Congress.” That is, all of the letters exchanged with Vergennes since JA arrived at Paris.
1. Although JA states that he is satisfied with the announcement to be inserted in the Mercure de France, his letters of 2 April to Jeremiah Allen, John Bondfield (first letter), Edmund Jenings (and note 1), and William Lee (all below) indicate that he did not believe the announcement in the Mercure to be explicit enough concerning his powers to negotiate. For the clearest indication of JA's rejection of the Mercure piece as a guide for announcements in “foreign gazettes,” see his letter to Jenings of 2 April (and note 1, be• { 100 } low), which formed the basis for the announcements that appeared in various London newspapers during the second week of April.
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.