Papers of John Adams, volume 17

From Christian Lotter

To Thomas Jefferson

To John Jay, 15 September 1785 Adams, John Jay, John
To John Jay
Dear Sir Grosvenor Square Septr. 15. 1785.

Having So good an Opportunity as this by Mr Charles Storer, I do myself the Honour to transmit to Congress, by him, the Ratification of the Treaty, and Convention between the United States and the States General of the United Netherlands, which I received in Exchange for the Ratification of Congress transmitted to me.

I Should wish that the Receipt of it may be noted in the Journal of Congress, and acknowledged in your Dispatches to me. The Seals are in elegant Silver Boxes—one to the Treaty, and one to the Convention.1

With great Respect I have the Honour to be / Sir, your most obedient and most humble / Servant

John Adams

RC (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 657–660); addressed by Charles Storer: “His Excellency / John Jay Esqr: / &c: &c: &c.”; internal address: “Mr Secretary Jay.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 111.


Since JA was then at Paris, the ratified copies of the 8 Oct. 1782 Dutch-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce and Dutch-American Convention on Recaptures (vol. 13:348–386) were exchanged on 23 June 1783 at The Hague by C. W. F. Dumas. In his letter of 24 June 1783, Dumas informed JA of the exchange and indicated that he was keeping the copies received from the Dutch under lock and key while he awaited JA’s instructions (vol. 15:51–52). There is no indication, however, that JA ever asked Dumas to send the documents to him at either Paris or London. This may mean that JA retrieved them when he was at The Hague during the first half of 1784, or it may indicate that the treaty and convention were with JA’s effects packed by Dumas and sent in June 1785 from the Hôtel des États-Unis at The Hague to the new legation in London. If so, this would explain why over two years elapsed from the exchange of the ratifications to JA’s dispatch of them to Congress, and also why JA waited until Charles Storer’s departure to send them rather than doing so by some reliable person going to America, such as JQA in May 1785.

Jay presumably received this letter and its enclosures on or about 8 Nov., the date on which Storer reportedly reached New York ( AFC , 6:458). Jay waited until 24 Nov. to send the documents to Congress because that body lacked a quorum until the 23d, and although this letter and the enclosures were read on the 25th, there is no mention of the treaty and convention in the Journals ( JCC , 29:872–884, 886; PCC, No. 80, II, f. 57–58; No. 185, f. 145–146). Jay noted the arrival of the ratifications and mentioned the silver boxes containing the Dutch seals in his letter of 26 Nov., below, but neither those copies nor the boxes have been found.