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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 13

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0173

Author: Jay, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-09-01

From John Jay

[salute] Dr Sir

I am this moment informed of a safe opportunity of conveying you a Letter, and as such another may not soon offer, I must not omit it.
My opinion coincides with yours as to the Impropriety of treating with our Enemies on any other than an equal footing. We have told mr Oswald so, and he has sent an Express to London to communicate it, and to require further Instructions. He has not yet recd. an answer. Herewith enclosed is a Copy of his Commission.1 Mr Vaughan has no public Character. Mr Fitzherbert is employed to talk about Preliminaries with this Court. Nothing I think will be done until the Return of Mr Oswalds Express. We shall then be enabled to form some Judgment of the british ministry's real Intentions.
Adieu. I have only time to add that I am with great Esteem Sir Your most obt. Servt
[signed] John Jay
1. This is Oswald's commission of 25 July. A copy of that document, possibly the one enclosed by Jay is in the Adams Papers at that date. The most obvious difference between the commissions of Alleyne Fitzherbert and Richard Oswald is that Fitzherbert's appointment to negotiate a peace treaty was done under the King's inherent power to conduct foreign policy and appoint diplomatic representatives, while Oswald's was done pursuant to the statute, 22 George III, ch. 46, assented to in June, enabling the King to conclude a peace or truce with America. But the principal problem posed by Oswald's commission was that it failed to mention negotiations with the United States of America. Instead it authorized, empowered, and required Oswald “to treat, consult { 413 } of and conclude with any Commissioner or Commissioners, named or to be named, by the said Colonies or Plantation, or Plantations, and any Body or Bodies Corporate or Politic, or any Assembly or Assemblies, or Description of Men, or any Person or Persons whatsoever, a Peace or a Truce with the said Colonies or Plantations, or any of them, or any part or parts thereof.” For the change in wording that made negotiations possible, see Oswald's second commission of [21 Sept.], below. JA included Oswald's 25 July commission, probably derived from the copy sent by Jay, in his letter of 16 Sept. to Robert R. Livingston (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 169–172), but for the text of the commission see Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:613–614.

Docno: ADMS-06-13-02-0174

Author: Jenings, Edmund
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-09-01

From Edmund Jenings

[salute] Sir

I have not heard from Mr Lawrens since He sent me the Letter of a part of which I have sent your Excellency a Copy but Mr Lee tells me that He has written to London demanding a Passport to go from thence to America as He finds a difficulty in getting a safe Passage there from France. My Friend in London1 writes me that the Passport is granted at the request of Lord Cornwallis.
I Know not whether Mr Lawrens will come this way, should He do it—I wish I had your Excellencys Leave to explain to Him the grounds of your Conduct towards Him, which I should be glad He saw in a clear Light.
I inclose a continuation of the Letters &c.2 I have seen your Excellencys name mentiond frequently of late in the news papers.3
The State Papers shall be sent for Publication—I should be glad to Know what news papers of England Your Excellency has an Opportunity of seeing.
A Ship has brought Letters from Baltimore as late as the 14th of July—they say that the Trade is almost Annihilated by the English Cruisers. That the people are dissatisfied with the heavy Taxes which they are unable to pay and that by Consequence the Army is unpaid—that the Old Mr Carrol and the Lady of the Young one are dead.4
I am with the greatest Consideratn Sir Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Sert
[signed] Edm. Jenings
1. Probably Edward Bridgen, from whom Laurens had requested assistance in obtaining a passport, for which see Laurens' letter of 25 Aug., and note 6, above.
2. This was probably the second of JA's “Letters from a Distinguished American,” which had appeared on 27 Aug. (vol. 9:545–550).
3. The specific newspaper comments to which Jenings refers have not been identified, but the Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser of 24 Aug. reported that on 15 Aug. JA had given “a splendid entertainment to several of the Foreign Ministers, &c.,” and the London Chronicle of 24–27 Aug. and Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer of 27 Aug. indicated that on 22 Aug. JA had met with a committee of the States General.
{ 414 }
4. Charles Carroll, father of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, died on 30 May 1782. Mary Darnell Carroll, wife of the younger Charles Carroll, died on 10 June (Ellen Hart Smith, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Cambridge, 1942, p. 216).
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, 2017.