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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0306-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1781-07-11

John Adams: A Translation

Articles to Serve, as a Foundation of the negotiation, for the Re-establishment of Peace.1
Article 1st.
There shall be a Treaty, between Great Britain, and the American Colonies, concerning the Re-establishment of Peace, in America; but without the Intervention of any of the other belligerent Parties, nor even that of the two Imperial Courts, at least unless their mediation Should be formally <ask> demanded and granted, upon this Object.
Art. 2.
This particular Peace, Shall not however, be Signed, but conjointly, and at the Same time with that of the Powers, whose Interests shall have been treated by the mediating Courts. The two Peaces, by this means, although they may be treated Seperately, not being to be { 410 } concluded, the one, without the other, they Shall take care, constantly to inform, the Mediators of the Progress and the State of that which regards Great Britain and the Colonies, to the End, that the Mediation may be in a Situation to be able to regulate itself, in the Prosecution of that which is confided to it, according to the State of the negotiation relative to the Colonies; and the one and the other of the two pacifications, which shall have been concluded, at the Same time, although Seperately, Shall be Solemnly Warrantied by the mediating Courts, and every other neutral Power, whose Warranty the belligerent Parties, may judge proper, to demand.
Art. 3.
For rendering the pacifick negotiations, independant of the Events always uncertain of War, which might Stop, or at least interrupt the Progress of them, there Shall be a general Armistice, between all the Parties, during the Term of one Year, to be computed from the ... day of the Month of ... of the present Year, or of ... Years, to be computed from the ... of the month of ... of the Year 1782, if it Should happen that the general Peace, Should not be established, in the Course of the first Term. And during the continuance, of one or the other of these two terms, all Things, Shall remain, in the State, in which they shall be found to have been, on the Day of the Signature, of the present preliminary Articles.
MS (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Articles.—pour Servir de Case a la Negotiation du Retablissement de la Paix. proposees par les deux Cours Imperials.” This document was filmed with Vergennes' letter of 18 July (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 355). Translation by JA, LbC (Adams Papers). This translation appears below a French text of the proposed articles that JA copied following his memorandum to the second Letterbook copy of his letter of 9 July to Rayneval, for which see the descriptive note to that letter, above. Although JA's translation is somewhat awkward, it is accurate and is included here because it is the version of the articles that he used in the course of his conversations and correspondence with Vergennes.
1. For JA's analysis of the proposed articles, particularly the third, see his letters of 11 July to the president of Congress and 13 July to Vergennes, both below.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0307

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: McKean, Thomas
Date: 1781-07-11

To the President of Congress


[salute] Sir

I have only time, by Major Jackson,2 to inform Congress, that upon Information from the Comte de Vergennes, that questions concerning Peace, under the Mediation of the two imperial Courts,3 were in { 411 } agitation that required my Presence,4 I undertook the Journey and arrived here last Friday Night the 6th. of the month, and have twice waited on the Comte de Vergennes at Versailles,5 who this day communicated to me the inclosed Propositions.6
These Propositions are made to all the belligerent Powers by the Courts of Petersbourg and Vienna,7 in consequence of some wild propositions made to them by the Court of London, that they would undertake the Office of Mediators upon Condition that the League, as they call it, between France and their Rebel Subjects in8 America should be dissolved, and these left to make their terms with Great Britain, after having returned to their Allegiance and Obedience.
France and Spain have prepared their Answers to these Propositions of the Empress and Emperor, and I am desired to give my Answer to the Articles inclosed. It is not in my Power at this time to inclose to Congress my Answer, because I have not made it nor written it,9 but Congress must see that nothing can come out of this Maneuvre, at least for a long time. Thus much I may say, that I have no Objection to the proposition of treating with the English seperately, in the manner proposed, upon a Peace with them and a Treaty of Commerce10 consistent with our Engagements with France and Spain: but that the Armistice never can be agreed to by me. The Objections against it are as numerous as they are momentous and decisive. I may say farther, that as there is no Judge upon Earth of a sovereign Power, but the Nation that composes it, I can never agree to the Mediation of any Powers however respectable, until they have acknowledged our Sovereignty so far11 at least, as to admit a Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States as the Representative of a free and independent Power. After this We might discuss Questions of Peace or Truce with Great Britain, without her Acknowledging our Sovereignty,12 but not before.
I fancy however that Congress will be applied to for their sentiments, and I shall be ever ready and happy to obey their Instructions, because I have a full Confidence that nothing will be decided by them, but what will be consistent with their Character and Dignity.
Peace will only be retarded by Relaxations and Concessions, whereas Firmness, Patience and Perseverance will insure Us a good, and lasting one in the End.
The English are obliged to keep up the talk of Peace to lull their Enemies and to sustain their Credit. But I hope the People of America will not be decieved. Nothing will obtain them real Peace, but skillful and successfull War.
{ 412 }
I have the honor to be with great Respect, Sir, your most obedient and humble Servant.
[signed] J. Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand, enclosure in JA's hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 272–277); endorsed: “Letter July 11. 1781 Paris J Adams. Read Oct 3 Propositions of the mediating to the belligerent Powers.” For the enclosure, see note 6, below. Congress received a second copy of this letter, written by JA at Paris, on 1 March 1782 (PCC, Misc. Papers, Reel No. 1, f. 471–474). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. This word is in JA's hand.
2. William Jackson was at Paris to confer with Benjamin Franklin regarding the latter's decision to stop the specie that John Laurens had intended to send to the U.S. on the South Carolina. See Franklin's letter of 30 June, and note 1, above.
3. In the Letterbook the preceding eight words are interlined.
4. At this point in the Letterbook, JA originally wrote “at Paris,” but then replaced it with “here.” In the copy received by Congress in March 1782, JA wrote “here.”
5. In the Letterbook the preceding two words are interlined.
6. The enclosure, written in French, was the proposed articles for an Austro-Russian mediation of the Anglo-American war. See the Austro-Russian proposal, [11 July] , above.
7. In the Letterbook this sentence originally began: “These propositions are made by the two Imperial Courts.”
8. In the Letterbook the preceding four words are interlined and, later in the sentence, JA replaced “America” with “these.”
9. JA apparently was engaged in drafting his answer. In his Letterbook this letter to the president of Congress interrupts JA's first Letterbook copy of his response. See JA to Vergennes, 13 July, descriptive note, below.
10. In the Letterbook the preceding five words were interlined.
11. In the Letterbook, the remainder of this sentence originally read: “as to admit me as the Representative of a free and independent Power.”
12. In the Letterbook the preceding five words are interlined.
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.