Papers of John Adams, volume 16

To James Sullivan

John Jay to the American Commissioners

Cotton Tufts to John Adams, 11 March 1785 Tufts, Cotton Adams, John
From Cotton Tufts
Dear Sr. Boston March. 11. 1785—1

The Dispute between New York & this State has been referred to Congress, a Federal Court has been appointed, the Judges have been chosen by the Parties and the Tryall will be had in June next at 558 Williamsburg.— Messrs. Lowell, Sullivan & Parsons are Agents in Behalf of this State and have a Power to join Docr. Johnson of Connecticut in Council and in Case of Sickness or otherwise any other Person they shall think proper—2

We are anxious and much worried to find that Rhode Island does not accede to the Impost, the Scituation of our foreign Debts gives us pain, this Court is disposed to do every thing to forward the Payment of them, and as Evidence of this a Bill has already passd. the lower House for laying 25 Pr. Ct. duty on all foreign Goods imported from any State that has not passed an Act granting the continental Impost— this Bill is now before the Senate— it is probable that it will not pass this Session if it does in a succeeding one—but should that State neglect much longer—I suspect there will be much Temper manifested by the complying States— several States have empowered Congress to levy this Duty, should Eleven of the States with theirs come into the Measure— The State of Vermont is at length recognized by Congress—3 as Your Residence will probably be in London hereafter, I hope to have more direct Conveyance and opportunities more frequent— Un Smith was so kind as to offer to enclose this in his Letter—which induced me to write, tho’ but a few Lines—4 However I cant break off, without telling you your Friends & the People in general lament you not being here at this Juncture— they wish to have you in the Chair of Government— Mr Hancock has resigned his Seat— this would have been an happy Opporty.— But as Congress have appointed you Minister to the Court of London, I despair of seeing you for some years— so I must break off by begging you to present my Affectionate Regards to your good Lady & Family Mr. Cranch who is present requests the same—and believe me to be with great Sincerity— / Your Affectionate Friend & H Ser

Cotton Tufts.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excy. John Adams Esq.”


Tufts’ last letter to JA was of 26 Nov. 1784. There he reported on JA’s finances and property in Braintree and Boston, commented on JQA’s impending matriculation at Harvard, summarized actions taken at the most recent session of the General Court, and inquired about the interpretation of Art. 4 of the Anglo-American definitive peace treaty regarding the payment of prewar debts. JA replied on 24 April 1785, indicating that JQA would soon be sailing for America from Lorient, but declining to offer any interpretation or clarification of Art. 4 ( AFC , 5:482–485; 6:88–90).


As finally enacted on 14 March, the act referred to by Tufts empowered the Massachusetts agents to appear before the court to be held at Williamsburg, Va., on “the first Tuesday of June” and “to employ Doctor Samuel William Johnson, of Connecticut” (Mass., Acts and Laws , 1784–1785, p. 159–160).


In June 1784, Congress recognized the independence of Vermont and offered it 559 admission as a state if it acceded to the Articles of Confederation. Nothing further happened until 1791 when Vermont was admitted as the fourteenth state under the new federal Constitution ( JCC , 27:532–535; U.S. Statutes at Large , 1:191).


Tufts refers to Isaac Smith Sr., but no letter from Smith has been found.