Papers of John Adams, volume 17


To John Jay

Sirs The Hague, 3 May 1785

The king’s orders, which I have just received, offer me the chance to provide you, sirs, with the clarifications for which you asked me in the letter with which you honored me dated 14 March of the present year.1 His Majesty is willing to agree upon Article 19 in the way it was last composed: “that the armed vessels of one of the two nations will be allowed to enter the ports of the other with the prizes taken from their enemies, leave again freely, or sell them there.”

His Majesty flatters himself in believing that the United States of America will appreciate this deference, and will recognize in his gesture His Majesty’s desire to give them signs of his friendship, insomuch as His Majesty is not having any vessels armed for battle and as his subjects are consequently not in a position to take prizes at sea.

The king also accedes to keeping in the clause added to Article 19: “that no vessel which shall have made prizes on the subjects of His Most Christian Majesty shall have asylum in the ports or havens of the United States.”2

His Majesty also consents that Article 4 of the treaty be drafted in the form proposed to me by the American plenipotentiaries in the aforementioned letter, except that the words subjects and citizens shall be restored which had been in the counter-draft, in lieu of persons and one and all, and that the following passage shall be omitted: “that the present article will not infringe upon the laws of the city of Königsberg, which defend commerce between foreigners within the limits of its jurisdiction”; the law of intermediation of the city of Königsberg having been cited only as an example for the purpose of clarification, and to make felt the necessity of the 88general clause of Articles 2 and 3: “deferring nonetheless to the laws and customs there established,” etc.3

I am proud to be able to consider the negotiation which I had the gratification to treat with you, sirs, as more or less complete. The United States of America will certainly recognize the eagerness with which the king subscribes to the different alterations of the draft of the treaty of commerce, as a new inducement to protect and promote the trade and liaisons which the subjects of His Majesty will develop with the citizens of the republic. It only remains for me to ask you, sirs, whether it would not be agreeable to have the treaty itself drawn up, so that, ratified by our signature in conformity with the authority invested in our hands, it may be exchanged in accordance with the proper forms.4

With the most distinguished consideration, I have the honor to be, sirs, your most humble and most obedient servant

de Thulemeier