Papers of John Adams, volume 14

To Henry Grand

Robert R. Livingston to the American Peace Commissioners

From Robert Montgomery, 27 May 1783 Montgomery, Robert Adams, John
From Robert Montgomery
Sir Alicante 27 May 1783

I had the Honour of Writing your Excy: under the 26 ulto. Giving a Short Explaination of the Commerce of this place and its connections with the Northeren States. I also took the Liberty of Requesting a few lines of Introduction to Some of the Merchants your friends in Boston Marble Head Salem, &c, by which Means we May facillitate and Augment Very Much The fish Tread in that Quarter

Being Since Deprived the Honour of your Esteemd favours the Merit of this is to Inclose copy of a letter I Received last Week from 502Eliaho Levi Secretary of the Emperor of Moroco in Answer to one I wrote him the 4 of Jany Last (of which you have Also Copy) and which was Delivered, by his majesty's Ambassador to Algier, with whome I had A Very friendly Intimacy during Some time he Remaind here on his Return to Mequinez, I have Already handed Copy of those Letters to Mr Jay with My Motives for first Writing the Emperor, which he will Readily Shew you, which Should you find worth Attentions you will please Give Me Instructions if I Am to do Any thing farther in this Affair, which is No less Intresting than the freedom of Navigation for our flag in the Medeterranian1

Mr Crocco Mentioned by the Morocan Minister Writes Me from Tanger Where he Desires I May Advise him what Measures Are to be taken on this Subject to Which I Answer that I have Communicated the Emperors Letter to thier Exc’ies the Plenipos at Paris And Can Say Nothing farther till I here from them, but think he Ought to Compley with his Masters Orders if he is Commanded to Go to Paris2

I have the Honour to be With Very Sincere Respect / Dr Sir / Your Excells Most Obedt & Very H Servt

Robt Montgomery

RC and enclosures (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excy the Honl John Adams Esqr.”


Montgomery enclosed a copy of his 4 Jan. letter to Moroccan Sultan Sidi Muhammad Ibn Abdallah, in which he claimed to have Congress’ authorization to propose treaty negotiations. He also enclosed a copy of the reply from the Moroccan secretary, Eliaho Leve, of 23 April (in Spanish with an English translation), in which Leve indicates that the sultan had accepted Montgomery's proposal and appointed Giacomo Francisco Crocco to negotiate a treaty. In fact, Montgomery had no authority, and in his reply of 18 June, JA wrote that “your Letter to the Emperor of Morocco has given me great Uneasiness. How you could venture to write such a Letter I cannot concieve, and what will be the consequence of it to yourself or the Public, I know not” (LbC, APM Reel 108). In a similar vein JA wrote to Robert R. Livingston on 12 July that “Mr. Montgomery ventured too far, however, in writing in the name of the United States, and what will be the consequences of the deception I know not” (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:537–538). Congress, no more pleased with Montgomery than JA, resolved on 16 March 1784 that its ministers in Europe should “enquire on what grounds Mr. Montgomery has undertaken to write in the name of the United States, to the Emperor of Morocco, a letter by which their characters and interest may be so materially affected” ( JCC , 26:144). Not until 1786 did the United States negotiate a treaty with Morocco, and then it was Thomas Barclay who did the negotiating ( AFC , 7:27; Miller, Treaties , 2:185–227).


Crocco wrote to Benjamin Franklin from Cadiz on 15 July and said that he was awaiting a message from Franklin on the opening of treaty negotiations, noting too that he had traveled there with the expectation that the United States would pay his expenses. On 25 Nov. he wrote Franklin again to say that he had not received an answer, that his expenses now amounted to $1,500, and that he feared his return to Morocco without a satisfactory explanation would “forever indispose” the sultan toward the United States (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:549–550, 734).