Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To Robert R. Livingston, 15 July 1783 Adams, John Livingston, Robert R.
To Robert R. Livingston
Sir, Paris July 15th. 1783.1

Inclosed are Copies of Papers, which have passed between Mr. Hartley and the American Ministers.2 We have not thought it prudent to enter into any written Controversy with him, upon any of these Papers. We have recieved whatever he has offered us.— But he has offered nothing in the Name of his Court, has signed nothing, and upon Enquiry of him, we have found that he has never had Authority to sign officially any Proposition he has made.

I think it is evident, that his Principals, the Coalition, do not intend to make any Agreement with us about Trade, but to try Experiments by their Proclamations. I think too, that they mean to postpone the definitive Treaty as long as possible. We can get no Answer, and I believe Mr. Hartley gets no decisive Answers to any thing.

Inclosed also is a Pamphlet, intituled Observations on the American States, said to have been published by Lord Sheffield, and to have been composed by four American Renegadoes.3 The Spirit of it 115needs no Comments. It deserves to be attended to, however, by Congress. It is a fatal Policy as it appears to me; to See a British Ambassador at Versailles, & a French Ambassador at St. James’s, & no American Minister at the latter. This is admired at Versailles, I doubt not, but not because they think it for our Interest.4

I have the honor to be, with great Respect, / Sir, / your most obedient & / most humble Servant.

John Adams.5

RC and enclosures in John Thaxter’s hand (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 476–503); internal address: “Honble. R. R. Livingston Esqr / Secretary of foreign Affairs.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108. For the enclosures, see note 2.


In the Letterbook is the notation by John Thaxter: “Deliverd Capt Barney as mentioned in the preceeding Letter—”


There are five enclosures with this letter in the PCC: David Hartley’s proposals to the commissioners of [19 June], the commissioners’ two sets of proposals to Hartley of 29 June [I] [II], Hartley’s letter to the commissioners of 14 June, and Hartley’s memorial of 1 June. With the exception of the memorial, all of the documents are printed above at their dates. For the memorial, see Hartley’s letter of 14 June, and note 2. In the PCC these enclosures are numbered 4 through 8, indicating that there may have been three more, but if so they have not been identified.


This reference to Lord Sheffield’s pamphlet is an indication that JA had received Edmund Jenings’ letter of [ca. 8 July], above, for there Jenings mentions the four loyalists: Silas Deane, Benedict Arnold, Paul Wentworth, and Philip Skene, but see note 4, below.


In the Letterbook this paragraph ended with an additional sentence that JA canceled: “Which of the two Courts Mr Deane who is Said to be one of the Authors of the Pamphlet is Serving I know not, one Thing I firmly believe viz that he got his Ideas at Versailles.”


In JA’s hand.