Papers of John Adams, volume 16

John Jay to the American Commissioners, 14 January 1785 Jay, John American Commissioners
John Jay to the American Commissioners
Office for Foreign Affairs New York 14th: January 1785 Gentlemen,

On the 21st: Ultimo I accepted the Place of Secretary for foreign Affairs. All the foreign letters which had been received during the 490 recess of Congress were then and are still in the hands of a Committee to whom they had been referred—none have since arrived.—

The adjournment from Trenton to this Place necessarily occasioned delay in business—1 Congress yesterday made a House, and I expect that some of these more important measures will soon be matured. By the next opportunity I flatter myself with having the pleasure of writing to you more particularly. Judges are nominated and will doubtless be appointed to decide the interfering claims of Massachusetts and New York. Advices just received give reason to apprehend an attack of the Cheroquees on Kentucky, a settlement which encreases with a degree of rapidity scarcely credible.2 It is rumored but not ascertained that the Spaniards encourage them.—

I have the honor to be / Gentlemen / Your most Obt. & hum̃: servt:

John Jay—

RC (PCC, No. 44, f. 427–430); internal address: “To the Honorable / John Adams, Benjn: Franklin & Thos: Jefferson Esqrs:”; endorsed: “New York Janry. 14. 1785 / from / Mr Jay / Secry of Foreign Affairs.”


Congress resolved on 23 Dec. 1784 to move its meeting place from Trenton, N.J., to New York City while a federal city was erected near Lamberton, N.J. (now part of Trenton), on the banks of the Delaware River. During the debates Congress rejected a proposal for the city to be located “at Georgetown, on the Potomac” ( JCC , 27:699–704).


Jay’s reference to the probability of hostilities with the Cherokees reflects the previous day’s reading in Congress of a letter from Arthur Campbell of Washington County, Va., warning of such an event (Smith, Letters of Delegates , 22:119; JCC , 28:4).