Papers of John Adams, volume 15

From William Gordon

From Arthur Lee

From Elbridge Gerry, 14 January 1784 Gerry, Elbridge Adams, John
From Elbridge Gerry
My dear Friend Annapolis 14th Jany 84

The definitive Treaty is this Day ratified by Congress, & I have but a few Moments, by Colonel Hermer, who is charged with the Delivery thereof,1 to inform You that Mr Dana is arrived & 448 449requested to attend Congress. I have suggested to some of my Friends the good policy of appointing him to a Seat in Congress, & to him the Advantages to be at this Time expected from the Measure; & I flatter myself, it will be adopted.2

The Dispatches by Mr Thaxter have been committed, & a Report is made for authorizing Yourself, Doctor Franklin & Mr Jay to negotiate Treaties with every power mentioned in your Letters. the general principles of the Treaties are stated in the report, conformable to which You are to be authorized to enter into them, without first reporting to Congress, as was proposed by the Resolutions of October last, past at princeton. those proceedings appeared to me calculated to defeat every Treaty & confine our Commerce to France & Holland, for after You had formed the projects, as they are called, & sent them to America, projects of another Nature would have been contrived here to have made Alterations which would have in Effect rendered null your proceedings. I hope the report will pass as it now stands & that You will be expeditious in the Business—3

I observe by your Letters that according to your Orders, You have reported your conferences to the Secretary of foreign affairs.4 your Information is useful, exceedingly so, but as the other Commissioners have not adopted the same Mode, I suspect they have not received similar Instructions, & that the original plan on this Side was, to discover to the other, your Communications; to prevent or destroy this Confidence You have there established, & to make this appear as an unfortunate Accident, which nevertheless ought to be attended with your recall. be this as it may, I think the Interest of yourself & Mr Jay is at this Time well supported in Congress— I have not Time to revise, much less to correct, & therefore must bid You adieu, after requesting my best Respects to Mr Jay his Lady & Mr Carmichael, if in paris— your Family was in Health by the last Letters from Home, but Doctor Cooper was given over by his Physicians— be assured my dear sir I am on every Occasion Yours / sincerely

E. G.

I shall propose to Congress a Resolution for approving in proper & honorable Terms the Negotiations of their plenipoes who negotiated the peace, but cannot say whether the Measure will be successful5

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Gerry. 14. Jan. / 1784. Anapolis.”


Col. Josiah Harmar (1753–1813) of Philadelphia was one of three couriers assigned to carry copies of the ratified definitive treaty to Europe. Harmar traveled overland to New 450York and sailed on a French packet on 21 January. When the vessel ran aground he returned to port and embarked on another ship on 17 February. He reached Paris on or about 31 March, the day on which Benjamin Franklin wrote JA to announce the arrival of the treaty (Adams Papers; DAB ; Morris, Peacemakers , p. 448).


Appointed a Massachusetts delegate to Congress on 11 Feb., Francis Dana presented his credentials at Annapolis on 24 May ( JCC , 27:418–419).


For the object of Gerry’s concern and its ultimate resolution, see the 29 Oct. 1783 instructions to the commissioners, and note 3, above, and Gerry’s 16 June 1784 letter to JA in Smith, Letters of Delegates , 21:685–687.


It is unclear to which of Robert R. Livingston’s several directives concerning the content of JA’s correspondence Gerry is referring. On 20 Nov. 1781 Livingston wrote that “your letters leave us in the dark relative to the views and principles of each party [Patriot and Anglomane], which is no small inconvenience to us, as we know not how to adapt our measures to them.” More confrontational, and likely more disturbing to JA, were Livingston’s comments in his letter of 5 March 1782. There he wrote “but, Sir, tho’ your letters detail the politicks of the Country, tho’ they very ably explain the nature and general principles of the Government, they leave us in the dark with respect to more important facts. . . . You have not introduced us to any of the leading Members of the great Council. You have not repeated your private conversations with them, from which infinitely more is to be collected than from all the Pamphlets scattered about the streets of Amsterdam.” Livingston noted in particular that “none of your letters take the least notice of the french Ambassador at the Hague, is there no intercourse between you? If not, to what is it to be attributed?” (vol. 12:74, 296).


There is no indication that Gerry or anyone else offered such a resolution.