Papers of John Adams, volume 7

The Commissioners to William Lee, 22 – 26 September 1778 Franklin, Benjamin Lee, Arthur JA First Joint Commission at Paris Lee, William The Commissioners to William Lee, 22 – 26 September 1778 Franklin, Benjamin Lee, Arthur Adams, John First Joint Commission at Paris Lee, William
The Commissioners to William Lee
Sir Passi September 22–26 1 1778

We have considered, with some Attention the Papers which you have laid before Us, containing a Project of a Treaty to be made between the Republic of the United Provinces, and that of the United States of America.2

As Congress have entrusted to Us the Authority of treating with all the States of Europe, excepting Such as have particular Commissioners designated by Congress to treat with them, and as no particular Commissioner has been appointed to treat with their High Mightinesses: We have already taken such Measures as appeared to Us Suitable to accomplish So desirable a Purpose as a Friendship between two Nations So circumstanced as to have it in their Power to be extreamly beneficial to each other in promoting their mutual Prosperity. And We propose to continue our Endeavours, in every Way consistent with the Honour and Interest of both.

But We do not think it prudent for many Reasons3 to express at present any decided4 Opinion concerning the Project of a Treaty which you have done Us the Honour to communicate to Us.5

We cannot however conclude without expressing a ready Disposition to treat upon so great an Object, which6 besides laying a foundation of an extensive Commerce, between the two Countries would have a very forcible Tendency to Stop the Effusion of human Blood; and prevent the further Progress of the Flames of War. We have the Honour to be with the Utmost Respect, sir your most obedient and most humble servants.

LbC (Adams Papers).


In the Letterbook this letter follows one of 22 Sept. and immediately precedes one of 26 Sept.


See Lee to the Commissioners, 17 Sept., and note 1 (above).


“For many Reasons” was interlined for insertion here.


This word was interlined for insertion here.


The Commissioners' response to Lee concerning his negotiation of a draft treaty with the Netherlands can be seen as a reprimand for his assumption of powers not given him by the congress. It is also an indication of the Commissioners' concern that his negotiation of a treaty with an equally unauthorized representative from Amsterdam, Jan de Neufville, would undermine the delicate negotiations then being carried on with Pieter 65van Bleiswyck, the Grand Pensionary, through C. W. F. Dumas. Indeed, the Commissioners were still awaiting a response from van Bleiswyck to their previous overtures (Commissioners to Dumas, 9 Sept., above). Assuming that Franklin made them known to his colleagues, the Commissioners were probably also influenced by Dumas' letters to Franklin of 3, 8, and 11 Sept. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), in which he expressed his reservations about the Lee-Neufville efforts (see Dumas to the Commissioners, 4 Sept., and note 2, above).


The following twelve words were interlined for insertion here.