Papers of John Adams, volume 15

The American Peace Commissioners to David Hartley

To Elbridge Gerry

To the President of Congress, 1 September 1783 Adams, John President of Congress Boudinot, Elias
To the President of Congress
Sir Paris September 1 1783

Wednesday the third of this Month is appointed for the Signature of the Definitive Treaties of Peace. Unable to obtain, any addition or Explanation, We have been obliged to agree to sign the Provisional Articles over again with only a Preamble, making them a Definitive Treaty. No Regulation of Commerce is agreed upon, and indeed we have no Commission or Authority to make any.— We have thus lost Seven or eight months of our time.

When the definitive Treaty shall be signed, I suppose, our Commission for Peace will be executed. I expected long before this to have receiv’d my Letter of Recall to their High Mightinesses and to the Prince of Orange, in which case I should now have been at Liberty to reembark for America, but as it is not arrived, I cannot with entire Decency to Congress, or to the States General, or to the Prince, force myself away and a letter of Recall will not probably now arrive untill it will be too late for a Fall Passage, so that I shall be necessitated to undertake another Winter Voyage,1 or wait untill Spring.


I beg Leave to recommend Mr. Thaxter, the bearer of this, and of the Definitive Treaty to Congress. He is descended from Several of the most ancient and honourable families in the Massachusetts. He has had the best Education which our Country affords. He has been now more than five years in the public Service and without the least reward, all that has been allowed him not having been enough for his necessary Expences He is exceeded by no one in Industry, or Fidelity, is not deficient in Address, and is well acquainted with the French Language, nor ignorant of the Dutch and has a just View of our foreign Affairs. if Congress has occasion for a Secretary of Legation & Chargé des Affaires in any part of Europe I am perswaded they will not be able to find a Man better qualified for the Place, or who has a better Title, to it, in Point of Merit

With the greatest Respect, I have the Honour to be / Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant

John Adams.2

RC in JQA’s hand (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 177–178); internal address: “His Excellency E. Boudinot Esqr: / President of Congress.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.


At this point in the Letterbook copy there is a heavily canceled passage that cannot be read. In view of JA’s history it likely was a criticism of the conduct of American foreign policy that JA decided was inappropriate in a letter that was also a recommendation of John Thaxter. JA also wrote to AA on 1 Sept. ( AFC , 5:231–233). In the first paragraph of that letter he included much the same information as in this one but then offered his observations on the obstacles that he and Francis Dana faced in the execution of their missions. Of particular note is his comment specifically aimed at Robert R. Livingston but by inference also targeting Benjamin Franklin and the Comte de Vergennes. JA wrote of Livingston that “our late Minister of foreign affairs appears to have been a mere Puppet danced upon French Wires electrified from Passy. I hope there will be, an End of this Philosophical and political Conjuration, if not, I am determined to get out of its striking Distance.”


In JA’s hand.