Papers of John Adams, volume 13

From Lewis R. Morris, 6 July 1782 Morris, Lewis R. JA


From Lewis R. Morris, 6 July 1782 Morris, Lewis R. Adams, John
From Lewis R. Morris
No: 1 4plicate Office of foreign Affairs 6th. July 1782 Sir

The same opportunity which carries this to Europe, also conveys Bills to Doctor Franklin, for the amount of the Salaries due our foreign Ministers, from the first day of January to the first day of April 1782.

Your Salary for that time is £650 stg reduced to Dollars at 4/6 sterg. is 2.777 68/90 Doles. Exchange at 6/3 Curreny for 5. Livres is. 14.583 lt Livres, You will draw on Doctor Franklin for this sum.1

I am sorry it is out of my power to include in this account, the allowance you make your private Secretary, and the contingent Expences of your Office, but not possest of any rule to estimate either of these Charges, they must necessarily remain unsettled, till we are informed of their amount, you will be pleased to advise Mr Livingston on this subject as soon as possible, with the state of your account, that it may be settled, and the arrears if any, remitted to you.

I have the honor to be your Excellency's most obedient humble Servant.

L R Morris

RC and enclosure (MHi: John Adams, Embassy MSS); addressed: “His Excellency John Adams Hague”; endorsed: “L. R. Morris 6. July 1782 relative to Salary.” This letter was written on a sheet folded to make four pages. On the third page is a duplicate of Lewis Morris' letter of 9 Aug. (Adams Papers) concerning JA's salary from 1 April to 1 July, and enclosed is a bill signed by Robert Morris and drawn on the Grands at Paris for JA's salary for that period. For other copies of this letter, see note 1, below.


The figures given by Morris in this letter are confusing. The first problem is that he entered the wrong sum for JA's salary. In 1779, Congress set the yearly salary of a minister at £2,500 sterling per year or, as in this letter, £625 per quarter ( JCC , 15:1145). In fact, Morris used that figure when he computed the sum in dollars, but the dollar amount should be 2,777 70/90 at an exchange rate of 4s. 6d. per dollar. In the second conversion to French livres tournois, Morris refers to the exchange rate between Pennsylvania currency and livres tournois. At par value, £166.67 Pennsylvania currency was worth £100 sterling. Therefore, £625 sterling equaled £1,041.67 Pennsylvania currency, which, at 6s. 3d. Pennsylvania currency per 5 , equaled 16,666 13s., rather than the 14,583 that Morris gives in this letter. However, Morris' figure is the same as that produced by using the exchange rate Congress adopted on 7 March 1783 and applied retroactively to salaries due on 1 Jan. 1783 ( JCC , 24:175–176). For the effect this had on ministerial salaries, see Laurens, Papers , 16:257.

There are two other extant copies of Morris' letter, both in the Adams Papers. One is virtually identical to this letter as printed, containing the same figures and a copy of Morris' letter of 9 Aug. on the third page. The other, designated as a quadruplicate, does not give JA's salary in pounds sterling, only the dollar amount, and gives the amount in livres tournois, converted from Pennsylvania currency, correctly as 16,666 13s. The reason for the discrepancy is unknown, since all of the copies are in Morris' hand. It should be noted, however, that when JA received his salary from the Grands, the exchange rate was 24 per pound sterling, or 15,000 for the quarter (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA: RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 190).

To John Jay, 8 July 1782 JA Jay, John


To John Jay, 8 July 1782 Adams, John Jay, John
To John Jay
The Hague July 8. 1782 Sir

The Duke de la Vauguion has this Moment, kindly given me Notice, that he is to Send off a Courier this Evening at Eleven, and that the Dutch Fleet has Sailed from the Texel this Morning.

I shall take Advantage of the Courier Simply to congratulate you, on your Arrival at Paris,1 and to wish you and Mrs Jay, much Pleasure, in your Residence there. Health, the Blessing which is Sought in vain, among these Meadows and Canals, you can Scarcely fail of enjoying in France.

Shall I beg the Favour of you, to write me, from Time to Time the Progress of the Negotiation for Peace? The states of Holland, go upon my Project of a Treaty, the 10th. and I dont foresee any Obstacle to the Compleation of, it, Slowly however. After which I fancy I shall make a further Proposal, with great Modesty and Humility as becomes me, but which the English, if not the Russians and the Danes, will think very forward and assuming. How the Loan here is 167likely to suceed I cannot as yet inform you, I am flattered with Hopes of getting a Million and an half, but I dare not depend upon one Quarter Part of that sum, nor indeed upon any Part, untill the Money is received. Appearances in this Country are not less uncertain now than they were in the Times of D'Avaux and D'Estralles.2

I hope, in God that your Spanish Negotiation has not wrecked your Constitution as my Duch one, has mine. I would not undergo again, what I have suffered here, in Body and mind, for the Fee Simple of all their Spice Islands. I love them however, because with all their Faults and under all their Disadvantages, they have at Bottom a Strong Spirit of Liberty, a Sincere Affection for America, and a Kind of religious Veneration for her Cause.

There are Intrigues, going on here, which originate in Petersbourg and Copenhagen, which Surprize me. They Succeed very ill: but they are curious—have you discerned any coming from the same sources at Madrid or Versailles? Whether the Object of them is, to Stir up a Party in favour of England to take a Part in the War, or only to favour her in Obtaining moderate Terms of Peace, or whether it is Simply, to share some of her Guineas, by an Amusement of this kind, like a game at Cards is a Problem.3

As to Peace, no Party in England Seems to have Influence enough to dare to make, one real Advance towards it. The present Ministry are really to be pitied. They have not Power to do any Thing. I am Surprized they dont all resign—if they dissolve Parliament, I dont believe they would get a better. Is Mr Carmichael4 at Paris with you, or does he continue at Madrid?5

With great Esteem I have the Honour to be Sir your most obedient servant

J. Adams

RC (NNC: John Jay Papers); endorsed: “adams. 8 July 1782 ansd 2 Augt.”


JA apparently learned of Jay's arrival at Paris from Matthew Ridley on 7 July (Ridley to JA, 13 July, note 1, below).


For JA's earlier comments on Jean Antoine de Mesme, Comte d'Avaux, and Godefroi, Comte d'Estrades, both French ambassadors at The Hague in the seventeenth century, and their accounts of negotiations with the Dutch, see vol. 12:18, 20.


For the intrigues and their outcome, see JA's letter of 2 July to Elbridge Gerry, and note 4, above.


William Carmichael was Jay's secretary at Madrid.


When JA wrote this letter, he did not yet know that a new ministry had been formed and that Shelburne had replaced Rockingham (for which see Matthew Ridley to JA, 13 July, note 4, below), but when he reprinted this letter in the Boston Patriot, 20 April 1811, he included the following note:

“N. B. in 1810. A single hint will explain not only this letter but the history of that time. Lord Shelbourne was an Irishman, and although equal at least, if not superior, as a statesman, to all, at least to any of either of the other parties, he was equally hated by the Scotch and the English parties. To my knowledge Fox and Burke hated him as much as North and Bute.”