Papers of John Adams, volume 17

To Richard Henry Lee

From George Clinton

From William Paca, 29 April 1785 Paca, William Adams, John
From William Paca
Sir, Annapolis in Maryland In Council April 29 1785

We take the Liberty to solicit every possible Assistance you can give on the Subject of the enclosed Copy of a Letter which Samuel Chase Esquire Agent for this State while in England addressed to the Minister Mr Pitt. the Bills in Chancery are still depending and We have instructed Mr. Chase to make the Attorney General a Party if the Crown will not disclaim it’s supposed Interest.

The State of Maryland will be much obliged by your Friendship and attention in this National and very interesting Concern and we flatter ourselves that with your Influence and Exertions a Disclaimer may be obtained from the Crown, and every Obstacle removed which lies in the way of a speedy Determination in Chancery.—1

We have the Honor / to be / Sir / Your most obedient humble servants

Wm. Paca

RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency / John Adams Esquire / Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America / to the Court of / London”; internal address: “His Excellency / John Adams Esqr / Minister &ce”; endorsed by WSS: “Maryland April 29th. 85 / from Govr. Paca enclosing / Copy of a Letter from Mr. Chase to Mr. / Pitt—”; and by JA: “Ansd. 9. Septr. 1785.” The enclosure is dated 3 Aug. 1784 and was filmed at that date.


Paca’s letter and the enclosure concern Maryland’s effort, begun in 1779, to retrieve stock held first by the colony and then by the state in the Bank of England, for which see vols. 9:131; 15:206. Samuel Chase’s letter to William Pitt laid out the state’s case in considerable detail. Chase wrote that the colony of Maryland acquired considerable stock in the Bank of England prior to the Revolution and had entrusted its management to three trustees: Osgood Hanbury, Sylvanus Grove, and James Russell. In 1783 the Md. general 74assembly revoked the trustees’ powers and appointed Chase its agent to retrieve the state’s funds. When Chase reached England and demanded the stock, Russell refused unless a portion, £12,000, was paid to reimburse him for his property confiscated by the state of Maryland. Chase then filed suit against the trustees in the court of chancery and entered a motion to transfer to himself “the Surplus of the Stock not claimed by any of the Defendants.” His request was refused, and it was intimated that the “Attorney General of the Kingdom” should become party to the suit. Chase argued to Pitt that the inclusion of the attorney general was unwarranted because Great Britain could have no claim to or interest in the bank stock under either the law of nations or the terms of the Anglo-American definitive peace treaty. JA received the letters by Paca and Chase on 16 June 1785 and he took up the matter on the following day during a conference with the Marquis of Carmarthen, British secretary for foreign affairs (to John Jay, 17 June, below). No progress had been made by the time JA replied to Paca on 9 Sept., below, and, in fact, the issue was not resolved until 1806, for which see vol. 15:206.