Papers of John Adams, volume 16

339 The American Commissioners’ Memorandum of a Conversation with Per Olof von Asp, 8 October 1784 American Commissioners
The American Commissioners’ Memorandum of a Conversation with Per Olof von Asp
Octr. 8. 1784.—1

The objects of the supplementary Treaty proposed on the part of the United States with His Sweedish Majesty are in substance these:

1. to bring the condition of the Subjects and Citizens of each party trading in the dominions of the other more nearly to that of Natives than it is at present: the island of St. Bartholomew presents itself as a part of this object which the United States would wish to have laid as open to them as they will lay their Countries to the Subjects of His Sweedish Majesty. 2. to provide by stipulations, while the two nations are in terms of friendship with each other, that if ever a war should unhappily fall out between them, it shall not interrupt commerce or agriculture, and that prisoners of War shall be favourably treated.2

MS in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 116, f. 46–47).


At the head of the MS, David Humphreys wrote, “in consequence of the preceding letter the subsequent verbal information was remitted to his Excellency the Ambassador by the hand of Mr d’Asp Secretary to the Swedish Ambassy—viz.” The “preceding letter” was that of 5 Oct. from the Baron Staël von Holstein, the Swedish ambassador, in answer to the commissioners’ of 28 Sept. announcing their new commission to negotiate a treaty or treaties supplemental to the 1783 Swedish-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce. In his reply the ambassador asked the commissioners what such negotiations might encompass. Asp was an acquaintance of JA’s, having formerly served as chargé d’affaires to the Swedish legation at The Hague (vol. 13:424; Jefferson, Papers , 7:428–429, 434–435).


For provisions that the commissioners may have intended to propose in new negotiations, see the Negotiation of the 10 September 1785 Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 10 Nov. 1784–14 March 1785, No. II, below, in particular Arts. 23 and 24 of the draft Prussian-American treaty.

John Adams to Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje, 10 October 1784 Adams, John Willink, Van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje
To Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje
Gentlemen Auteuil near Paris Oct. 10. 1784

My Colleague Mr Jefferson, has orders from Congress to receive a sum of Money in Europe for his necessary accommodation, and not readily finding it, I have ventured to draw upon you in his favour for Six Thousand Florins which I request you to honour.1

I am requested also to draw upon you for about a Thousand Pounds sterling in favour of Coll Humphreys Secretary of our 340 Legation to enable him to execute Some orders of Congress and of Mr Morris.2 I have not ventured to draw for this, but desire to be informed whether you are in Cash to enable you to accept Such a Bill if I should draw it.

With great Esteem

LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Messrs Wilhem and Jan Willink / Nicholas & Jacob Van Staphorst / & De la Lande & Fynje”; APM Reel 107.


On 11 May, four days after it had chosen Thomas Jefferson as one of the joint commissioners to negotiate commercial treaties with European and North African nations, Congress directed Robert Morris to advance Jefferson a quarter of his salary immediately and to provide for the advance of a second quarter in Europe ( JCC , 26:356, 27:365).


For the orders of Congress, which Morris relayed to David Humphreys in a 15 June letter, see Humphreys’ 20 Nov. letter to JA , and note 1, below.