Papers of John Adams, volume 17

The American Commissioners to John Jay

From Charles Storer

23 From John Jay, 13 April 1785 Jay, John Adams, John
From John Jay
Dear Sir New York 13th: April 1785

I had the Honor of writing to you on the 15th: March last mentioning your Appointment to the Court of London; on the 18th: of the same Month enclosing your Commission, Instructions and Letter of Credence and sending with it the Journals of Congress necessary to compleat your Set; and on the 31st: March I wrote you another Letter with an Act of Congress directing you to communicate to Mr. St. Saphorin the high Sense they entertain of the liberal Decision made by his Danish Majesty on the Question respecting the Ordination of american Candidates for holy Orders in the episcopal Church.1 Those Letters were committed to the Care of Paul Randall Esqr: who sailed in the last french Packet.—2

I also wrote by Capt: Lamb a Letter dated the 11th: of March to yourself, Doctr: Franklin and Mr. Jefferson enclosing a Variety of Papers respecting the Treaties you are directed to negociate and conclude with the Barbary Powers.—3

This will be deliver’d to you by Colo. Smith your Secretary4 and I herewith enclose Copies of a Number of Papers respecting the Transportation from hence of Negroes by the british Army contrary to the Treaty of Peace, and also Copies of some Papers on the Subject of the Debts due from american to british Merchants—on these two Subjects your Instructions partly turn, and that you may be the better enabled to fulfil them these Papers are now transmitted.—5

I have the Honor to be with great Respect and Esteem / Dear Sir / Your most obt. & very hble Servt:

John Jay

P.S. I also herewith enclose a Cypher.—6

RC and enclosures (Adams Papers); internal address: “Honble: John Adams Esqr:—”; endorsed: “Secretary Jay. 13. April / 1785.”


For Jay’s letters to JA of 15, 18, and 31 March, see vol. 16:566, 571, 583–584; for JA’s 24 Feb. commission and 7 March instructions, see same, p. 529–530, 548–549. JA’s letter of credence has not been found.


For Paul R. Randall’s arrival, see Benjamin Franklin’s letter of 2 May, and note 1, below.


See vol. 16:559–563, and notes 4 and 5. With this letter of 13 April Jay also enclosed Congress’ resolution of 14 Feb. permitting the commissioners to appoint an agent to conduct negotiations with the Barbary States and allocating eighty thousand dollars for that purpose (to Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, 29 May, below).


This is WSS, who was appointed JA’s secretary on 1 March and reached London on 25 May, the day before the Adamses arrived (vol. 16:545).


With this letter in the Adams Papers are copies of Charles Thomson’s letter to the commissioners of 13 Aug. 1784 (vol. 16:299) and a congressional resolution of 22 July. With Thomson’s letter were enclosed the 22 July resolution and lists of slaves and free blacks 24embarked in the course of the British evacuation of New York in contravention of Art. 7 of the Anglo-American peace treaty. For those lists, which were presumably enclosed with this letter, see note 1 to Thomson’s letter; and John Jay’s 26 Nov. 1785 letter, and note 2, below. The enclosures regarding the payment of prewar debts have not been found.


For the cipher and JA’s first use of it, see his 2 June letter to Jay, below.