Papers of John Adams, volume 6

332 The Commissioners to the Foreign Affairs Committee, 29 July 1778 First Joint Commission at Paris JA Continental Congress, Foreign Affairs Committee


The Commissioners to the Foreign Affairs Committee, 29 July 1778 First Joint Commission at Paris Adams, John Continental Congress, Foreign Affairs Committee
The Commissioners to the Foreign Affairs Committee
Gentlemen Passi July 29. 1778

We have the Honour of your Letters of May 14. and 15. We congratulate you on the general good Appearance of our Affairs, and are happy in your Assurances that it is your fixed Determination to admit no Terms of Peace, but such as are consistent with the Spirit and Intention of our Alliance, with France, especially as the present Politicks of the British Cabinet, aim at Seducing you from that alliance by an offer of Independance, upon Condition that you will renounce it, a Measure that would injure the Reputation of our states with all the World, and destroy its Confidence in our Honour.

No authority from Congress, to make an Alteration in the Treaty by withdrawing the 11 and 12 Articles has yet reached Us, but We gave an Extract of your Letter to the Compte de Vergennes, When We exchanged Ratifications, who expressed an entire Willingness to agree to it.1 We wish for those Powers, by the first opportunity.

We have not yet seen Mr. Beaumarchais, but the important Concern with him shall be attended to, as soon as may be. We have the Honour to be.

LbC (Adams Papers).


French readiness to accept the deletion of Arts. 11 and 12 stemmed from the congress' objections contained in the extract from the Committee for Foreign Affairs' letter of 14 May (above, and note 4) given to Vergennes; it was probably also affected by Arthur Lee's complaints made in January. Lee wrote to Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane on 30 January to protest the inclusion of Art. 12, a concession to France for Art. 11, because it offered too great a trade advantage to France. Lee even threatened to withhold his signature from the treaty if the article remained. On 1 Feb. Franklin and Deane wrote to Vergennes to request the removal of the two articles, but were told in a letter of the following day from Conrad Alexandre Gérard that, since the King had already approved the articles, they could not “be submitted to a new examination without inconvenience and considerable delay.” A private understanding may, however, have been reached between the Commissioners and the French government, for Ralph Izard reported to the president of the congress on 16 Feb. that he understood “that if Congress objects to it [the French insertion of Art. 12], there is a verbal promise on the part of France that it shall be expunged” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:481–483, 485, 497–501). Neither Lee's complaints nor Izard's report affected the deliberations of the congress because Lee, perhaps satisfied with the Franklin-Deane effort and the French response, apparently did not send his objections to America, and Izard's letter of 16 Feb. did not reach the congress until 19 Sept. ( JCC , 12:936).