Diary of John Adams, volume 3

November 4. Monday. JA


November 4. Monday. Adams, John
November 4. Monday.

Called on J. and went to Oswalds and spent with him and Stretchy from 11. to 3. in drawing up the Articles respecting Debts and Tories and Fishery.1

I drew up the Article anew in this form—“That the Subjects of his Britannic Majesty, and the People of the said United States, shall continue to enjoy unmolested, the Right to take fish of every kind, on all the Banks of Newfoundland, in the Gulph of St. Laurence and all other Places, where the Inhabitants of both Countries used, at any time heretofore, to fish: and also to dry and cure their Fish, on the 46Shores of Nova Scotia, Cape Sable, the Isle of Sable, and on the Shores of any of the unsettled Bays, Harbours or Creeks of Nova Scotia, and the Magdalene Islands, and his Britannic Majesty and the said United States will extend equal Priviledges and Hospitality to each others Fishermen as to his own.”2

Dined with the Marquis de la Fayette, with the Prince du Poix, the Viscount de Noailles and his Lady, Mr. Jay, Mr. Price and his Lady, Mrs. Izard and her two Daughters, Dr. Bancroft, Mr. W. Franklin.

The Marquis proposed to me in Confidence his going out with D'Estaing, to the W. Indies. But he is to go a Month hence in a Frigate.—Mem.

All the forenoon from 11 to 3 at Mr. Oswalds, Mr. Jay and I. In the Evening there again, untill near II.

Stretchy is as artfull and insinuating a Man as they could send. He pushes and presses every Point as far as it can possibly go. He is the most eager, earnest, pointed Spirit.

We agreed last night to this.

Whereas certain of the united States, excited thereto by the unnecessary Destruction of private Property, have confiscated all Debts due from their Citizens to British Subjects and also in certain Instances Lands belonging to the latter. And Whereas it is just that private Contracts made between Individuals of the two Countries before the War, should be faithfully executed, and as the Confiscation of the said Lands may have a Latitude not justifiable by the Law of Nations, it is agreed that british Creditors shall notwithstanding, meet with no lawfull Impediment, to recovering the full value, or Sterling Amount of such bonâ fide Debts as were contracted before the Year 1775, and also that Congress will recommend to the said States, so to correct, if necessary, their said Acts respecting the Confiscation of Lands in America belonging to real british Subjects as to render their said Acts consistent with perfect Justice and Equity.3


This conference resulted in a “second set” of provisional articles, which were taken by Strachey to London for consideration by the British ministry; they are printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:851–853.


For a later draft by JA of this article, see entry of 28 Nov., below.


Copied from a draft in Jay's hand now in Adams Papers under the assigned date of Nov. 1782.

<seg type="dagger">November 5. Tuesday.</seg> JA


November 5. Tuesday. Adams, John
November 5. Tuesday.

Mr. Jay likes Frenchmen as little as Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard did. He says they are not a Moral People. They know not what it is. He 47dont like any Frenchman. —The Marquis de la Fayette is clever, but he is a Frenchman.—Our Allies dont play fair, he told me.1 They were endeavouring to deprive Us of the Fishery, the Western Lands, and the Navigation of the Missisippi. They would even bargain with the English to deprive us of them. They want to play the Western Lands, Missisippi and whole Gulph of Mexico into the Hands of Spain.

Oswald talks of Pultney, and a Plott to divide America between France and England. France to have N. England. They tell a Story about Vergennes and his agreeing that the English might propose such a division, but reserving a Right to deny it all. These Whispers ought not to be credited by Us.2


Because of the omission of preceding matter, this sentence in JA's “Peace Journal” furnished to Congress reads: “Mr. Jay told me our Allies did not play fair.”


Oswald had told this highly improbable “Story” earlier to Jay in greater detail; see John Jay, Diary during the Peace Negotiations of 1782, ed. Frank Monaghan, New Haven, 1934, p. 12. For a related story see entry of 24 Dec. and note, below.

Though he made no entries in his Diary during the next three days, JA summarized the state of the negotiation in a long letter to Livingston, 6 Nov. (PCC, No. 84, IV; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:854–858).