Papers of John Adams, volume 15

To the President of Congress, 10 September 1783 Adams, John President of Congress
To the President of Congress
Paris September 10. 1783

As I am to remain in Europe for sometime longer, I beg Leave to take a cursory view of what appears necessary or expedient to be further done in Europe, for I conceive it to be not only the Right but the Duty of a foreign Minister to advise his Sovereign according to his Lights and Judgment, although the more [extensive Information], and Superior Wisdom of the Sovereign may frequently [see] Cause to pursue a different Conduct.

With Spain no doubt Congress will negotiate by a particular Minister either the present One or another, and perhaps it would be proper that the Same should treat with Naples. [With the] two Empires, Prussia, Denmark, Portugal and Sardinia and [Tuscany], I humbly conceive it might be [proper to negotiate], and perhaps with 273Hamborough, but there are other Powers with whom it is more necessary to have Treaties than it ought to be, I mean Morocco, Algiers, Tunis & Tripoli.

I presume that Congress will not think it expedient to be at the Expence of Sending Ministers to all these Powers, [if to any— Perhaps in the present state] of our Finances it may not be worth while to send any. Yet the present Time is the best to negotiate with all.— I Submit it to consideration then whether it is not adviseable to send, a Commission to Such Ministers as you judge proper, with full Powers to treat with all, to the Ministers now in Paris, or to any others. but I humbly conceive that if Powers to treat with all, or any of these states, are sent to any of your Ministers now here, [it would be for] the publick Good that they should be sent to all.— if Congress can find Funds to treat with the Barbary Powers, the [Ministers here are the best] situated, for they should apply to the Court of Versailles and their High Mightinesses, in the first Place that orders should be sent to their Consuls according to Treaties to assist Us. Ministers here may carry on this Negotiation by Letters or may be empowered to send an Agent if necessary.1

I have no private Interest in this business. My Salary will be the same my [Expences] more and Labour much increased by such a Measure: But as it is of publick Importance, I think that no unnecessary Delicacies should restrain me from suggesting these Hints to Congress. Whatever their Determination may be will be Satisfactory to me.

I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect / your Excellencys most obedient & most humble / servant.

John Adams.

RC (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 197–198); internal address: “His Excellency Elias Boudinot Esqr. / President of Congress.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 106. Text lost due to illegibility has been supplied from the LbC.


Article 8 of the 1778 Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce required France to use its “good Offices and Interposition” with the Barbary powers on behalf of the United States (Miller, Treaties , 2:8–9). But Art. 23 of the 1782 Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce was much more explicit in requiring the Netherlands to employ its local consuls to assist the United States in its negotiations with the Barbary powers (vol. 13:369).

To Samuel Cooper, 10 September 1783 Adams, John Cooper, Samuel
To Samuel Cooper
Dear Sir, Paris Septr. 10th. 1783.1

I congratulate you upon the Ratification of the Provisional & the Signature of the definitive Treaty. You enjoy in America a pleasure, 274which we in Europe are deprived of, that of seeing our Country at Peace, after all the cruel Cares of the War. If we can but get the Fisheries agoing and the West India Trade properly opened, we shall soon see our Country wear the face of Joy, and abound in plenty & prosperity— I hope too in Tranquility & Liberty.

The Articles respecting the Refugees, however, will be an unpleasant subject of Controversy for some time. The stipulations ought to be sacredly fulfilled, & the Recommendations at least decently treated and calmly considered. Errors on the side of forgiveness & Indulgence will be of the safest kind.

But the greatest difficulty remaining is, to perfect the Union of the States without endangering their Liberties. This is a knotty Problem— Yet I think the dangers greater from Disunion than too strict an Union at present. It is a great question too, how the Trade of the Continent shall be regulated, I mean their foreign Commerce. Can we maintain our Union? Can we treat with foreign Nations? Can we oblige them to any thing like Equity and Reciprocity in our Communication with them, unless our foreign Commerce is under one Direction—unless all the States lay on the same & no other Duties, & make the same and no other Prohibitions?

With great Regard, dear Sir, I am / your Friend & Servant

LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Dr Cooper”; APM Reel 106.


JA wrote similar letters on this date to Richard Cranch and Cotton Tufts ( AFC , 5:239–242).