Papers of John Adams, volume 16

To Elbridge Gerry

From C. W. F. Dumas

319 The American Commissioners to the Baron von Thulemeier, 9 September 1784 American Commissioners Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Jefferson, Thomas Thulemeier, Friedrich Wilhelm, Baron von
The American Commissioners to the Baron von Thulemeier
Sir Passy near Paris Septr. 9th. 17841

The United States of America in Congress Assembled judging that an intercourse between the Subjects of His Prussian Majesty and the Citizens of the said States founded on the principles of equality reciprocity and friendship, may be of mutual advantage to both nations, on the twelfth day of May last, issued their Commission under the Seal of the said States to the Subscribers as their Ministers plenipotentiary, giving to them or the majority of them full power & authority for them the said States & in their name to confer treat and negotiate with the Ambassador, Minister or Commissioner of His Said Prussian Majesty vested with full & sufficient powers, of & concerning a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, to make and receive propositions for such Treaty and to conclude & sign the Same, transmitting it to the said United States in Congress assembled for their final ratification.

We have now the honour to inform your Excellency that we have received this Commission in due form, and that we are here ready to enter on the negotiation, and to reconsider & compleat the plan of a Treaty which has already been transmitted by your Excellency to your Court, whenever a full power from His said Prussian Majesty shall appear for that purpose.2

We have further the honour to request of your Excellency that you would transmit this information to your Court, and to be with great respect / Your Excellency’s / Most obedient & / Most humble servants

(signed) John Adams Benjamin Franklin Thomas Jefferson3

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 116, f. 30–32).


David Humphreys forwarded this letter to C. W. F. Dumas, who personally delivered it to Thulemeier at The Hague on 23 September. Thulemeier read the letter in Dumas’ presence and promised to forward it to his government. He also asked Dumas to inquire whether Congress had approved the Proposed Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, [9 April – post 5 May], above. Dumas wrote to Humphreys to report on his interview with Thulemeier on the day it took place (Nationaal Archief:Dumas Papers, Microfilm, Reel 2, f. 643).


The commissioners’ statement in this sentence led Thulemeier and the Prussian government to expect a renewal of negotiations on the draft treaty that Thulemeier submitted to JA on 9 April, above. In fact, the Americans would offer a new draft treaty and thereby cause some confusion on the part of 320 the Prussians, for which see Thulemeier’s 1 Oct. letter to JA, and the Negotiation of the 10 September 1785 Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 10 Nov. 1784–14 March 1785, Editorial Note, and Nos. I and II, all below. For the commission, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 8, above.


Humphreys noted at the foot of the FC that “a similar Letter was addressed at the same time to His Excellency the Count de Souza de Coutinho Ambassador from their most faithful Majesties at the Court of Versailles.” The letter to Thulemeier is identical, allowing for the different person and country being addressed, to the 9 Sept. 1784 letter that JA drafted for transmission to the Conde de Sousa Coutinho, Portuguese ambassador to France (Jefferson, Papers , 7:419). That letter was also the model for letters of 22 Sept. that the commissioners sent to other diplomats at Versailles, including Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Conde de Aranda, ambassador from Spain; Prince Ivan Sergeevich Bariatinskii, minister from Russia; Jean Baptiste Rivière, chargé d’affaires of the legation of Saxony; Luigi Pio, chargé d’affaires of the legation of Naples; Conte Filippo Maria Giuseppe Ottone Ponte di Scarnafigi, ambassador from Sardinia; Archbishop Giuseppe Doria Pamfili, papal nuncio; and Chevalier Daniel Dolfin, ambassador from Venice. On the 30th, the commissioners sent virtually the same letter to Francesco Favi, chargé d’affaires of the legation of Tuscany, its dispatch having been delayed owing to “a mistake in transcribing.” Two days earlier, the commissioners had written along similar lines to Erik Magnus, Baron Staël von Holstein, minister from Sweden, indicating that on 3 June Congress had empowered them to negotiate supplementary provisions to the 1783 Swedish-American treaty (PCC, No. 116, f. 34–36; Repertorium , 3:291, 317, 354, 374, 395, 408, 423, 430–431, 451, 463; Jefferson, Papers , 7:428–429). For the commissioners’ 15 Sept. 1784 meeting with the Comte de Vergennes to announce their new commission, see their memorandum at that date, below.