Papers of John Adams, volume 16


To C. W. F. Dumas

David Hartley’s Memorandum to the American Commissioners, 16 September 1784 Hartley, David American Commissioners
David Hartley’s Memorandum to the American Commissioners
[Passy, 16 September 1784]1

You may with great Truth assure the American Ministers of our ready and friendly disposition to receive any proposals from the United States for the forming such regulations as may tend to the mutual and reciprocal advantage of both Countries.—

That his Majesty’s governt wd at all times be ready to concur in the forming such a System as may fully answer every purpose of commercial as well as political advantage to the two Countries & fix and establish a permanent and beneficial intercourse between them

RC (PCC, No. 86, f. 21–22); endorsed by David Humphreys: “Passy Septr. 16. 1784 / Memoire from / Mr Hartley Minister / Plenipory from His B. Majesty.”


This document stemmed from a meeting between Hartley and the commissioners on 31 Aug., at which time the Americans notified the British minister of their new commission empowering them to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty. Hartley responded “that he did not doubt his Court would at all times be ready to concur in forming such a system as might fully answer every purpose of commercial as well as political advantage to the two Countries, and fix & establish a permanent & benificial intercourse between them” (PCC, No. 116, f. 28). This assurance was given, however, without Hartley’s having any specific instructions to do so.

Hartley wrote to London to inform the ministry of the commissioners’ changed circumstances, and upon receiving new instructions he contacted the commissioners on 16 Sept. to request a meeting. In doing so Hartley indicated that he had been recalled to 328 London but also presented this memorandum relating extracts from his instructions that he had been authorized to share with the commissioners (same, f. 33–34). With Hartley’s return to England, any Anglo-American negotiations at Paris would be with John Frederick Sackville, the Duke of Dorset, British ambassador to France since January ( Repertorium , 3:162). This led to the commissioners’ two 28 Oct. letters to Dorset [(1), (2)], both below, in which they sought to initiate new talks and referred to Hartley’s assurances that Britain was open to renewed negotiations.