Papers of John Adams, volume 17

Francesco Favi to the American Commissioners, 26 April 1785 Favi, Francesco American Commissioners
Francesco Favi to the American Commissioners
Messieurs Paris ce 26 Avril 1785

Le projet du Traité, que vous m’avéz fait l’honneur de m’adresser dans le mois de Decembre dernier, et que vous avéz proposé à Son Altesse Royale Msgr̃ L’Archiduc Grand Duc de Toscane mon Maitre etoit trop conformé à Ses principes pourqu’il ne fût pas agrée.

Ce Prince après L’avoir pris en consideration est venu dans la determination d’y adherer, et c’est par son ordre, que j’ai L’honneur de vous comuniquer la traduction cy jointe.1 Il y a quelques additions, qui ne changent rien ala Substance dela convention, mais que les circonstances locales, et les reglements du pays, aux quels toutes Les nations sont soumises, rendent indispensables. Vous verrèz, 55Messieurs, que Les Sujèts des Etats unis del’Amerique seront traités dans tous Les cas à Livourne comme la nation la plus favorisée, et qu’ils jouiront par consequent de tous Les avantages, qui sont accordés aux autres Nous demandons Les mêmes conditions, et la même reciprocitè pour Les Toscane, ainsi la base de ce Traité ne sauroit etre fondée sur une egalité plus parfaite.

J’ai L’honneur d’etre avec Le plus grand / respect / Messieurs / Votre trés humble, et trés / Obeissant Serviteur

Sirs Paris, 26 April 1785

The draft of the treaty that you did me the honor of sending to me last December, and which you have proposed to his royal highness the archduke, grand duke of Tuscany, my lord, was too similar to his principles for him not to agree.

This prince, having taken it into consideration, has come to the decision to approve of it, and it is on his order that I have the honor of sending to you the attached translation.1 There are a few additions that change nothing of the substance of the agreement, but local circumstances and the regulations of the country, to which all nations are subject, render them indispensable. You will see, sirs, that the subjects of the United States of America will be treated in every case in Livorno just as the most favored nation, and that they will enjoy in consequence all the advantages that are granted to others. We ask for the same conditions, and the same reciprocity for Tuscany, so that the basis for the treaty is perfect equality.

I have the honor of being with the greatest respect, sirs, your very humble and obedient servant


RC and enclosure (PCC, No. 86, f. 251–254, 163–190); docketed: “Paris 26 April / 1785 / from / Mr Favi / with Italian translation of the / Treaty & observations”; notation: “N. 5. a.” The notation refers to the enclosure of Favi’s letter and the treaty in the commissioners’ 11 May letter to John Jay, below. FC of the Italian translation of the draft treaty in JA’s hand (Adams Papers).


The commissioners sent Favi, Tuscan chargé d’affaires to France, a draft Tuscan-American commercial treaty on 9 Dec. 1784 (vol. 16:448). No copy of that draft has been found, but except for references to Tuscany rather than Prussia it likely was identical to the draft Prussian-American treaty that the commissioners sent to the Baron von Thulemeier, Prussian minister to the Netherlands, on 10 Nov. 1784 (same, p. 377–398). With this letter of 26 April 1785, Favi enclosed an Italian translation of that draft that incorporated changes proposed by the government of Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The commissioners’ 11 May letter to Jay, below, indicates that they initiated discussions with Favi regarding the changes, and at some point, probably before JA’s departure for London, Thomas Jefferson prepared a list of the “Alterations made in our propositions to Tuscany” that included the commissioners’ comments on those changes. Then, on 8 June, Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson wrote to Favi enclosing the commissioners’ “Observations on the alterations proposed on the part of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of 56Tuscany in the articles of treaty offered by the Commissioners of the United States of America.” The Tuscan chargé replied on the 11th, thanking the Americans for their observations, promising to submit them to his government, and indicating that he would inform them of the Tuscan response upon receiving it. On 10 Nov. Favi wrote to Jefferson, enclosing a 46-page “Nuova Minuta del Trattato” (Jefferson, Papers , 8:105–110, 187–195, 205; 9:26; PCC, No. 86, f. 325–367). According to Jefferson’s 19 Nov. letter to JA , below, therein “the order of the articles is entirely deranged, & their diction almost totally changed.” At that point Jefferson and JA apparently decided that the new Tuscan revisions made the conclusion of a Tuscan-American treaty impractical, for no further negotiations took place and no treaty was concluded. There is no indication in JA’s papers as to what role he played in the commissioners’ discussions with Favi; his position regarding the specifics of their 8 June response to Favi; or, for that matter, his reaction to Favi’s “Nuova Minuta,” but see also Jefferson’s letter of 2 June, below.

To Samuel Adams, 27 April 1785 Adams, John Adams, Samuel
To Samuel Adams
Dear Sir Auteuil near Paris Ap. 1785. 27.

The Child whom you used to lead out into the common to see with detestation the British Troops and with Pleasure the Boston Militia will have the Honour to deliver you this Letter.1 He has since seen the Troops of most Nations in Europe, without any Ambition I hope of becoming a military Man. He thinks of the Bar and Peace and civil Life, and I hope will follow and enjoy them with less Interruption than his Father could.

If you have in Boston a virtuous Clubb, such as We used to delight and improve ourselves in, they will inspire him with Such sentiments as a young American ought to entertain, and give him less occasion for lighter Company. I think it no small Proof of his Discretion, that he chooses to go to New England rather than old. You and I know that it will probably be more for his Honour and his Happiness in the result but young Gentlemen of Eighteen dont always See through the same Medium with old ones of fifty.

So I am going to London. I suppose you will threaten me with being envyed again.2 I have more cause to be pitied, and al[though I will] not say with Dr Cutler that “I hate [to be] pitied”3 I dont know why I should dread Envy.— I shall be sufficiently vexed I expect. But as Congress are about to act with Dignity I dont much fear that I shall be able to do something worth going for. If I dont I shall come home, and envy nobody, nor be envied. if they send as good a Man to Spain as they have in Jay for their foreign department and will have in Jefferson at Versailles I shall be able to correspond in perfect Confidence with all those public Characters that I shall have most need of Assistance from and shall fear nothing.

I am, my dear sir, affectionately yours

John Adams

RC (NN:George Bancroft Coll.); addressed by JQA: “The Honorable / Samuel Adams Esqr: / President of the Senate / Boston / Massachusetts.”; internal address: “The Hon. Samuel Adams Esqr”; endorsed: “Letter from John / Adams dated near / Paris Apr 27. 1785.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107. Text lost where the seal was removed has been supplied from the LbC.


JQA either forwarded or delivered this letter personally to Samuel Adams, but Adams did not acknowledge it until 13 April 1786 (Adams Papers). There, referring to JQA, he wrote that “the Child whom I led by the Hand with a particular Design, I find is now become a promising Youth.”


JA refers to Samuel Adams’ statement in his letter of 4 Nov. 1783 that “Your Negociation with Holland, as ‘my old Friend’ observd, is all your own— The faithful Historian will do Justice to your Merits Perhaps not till you are dead. I would have you reconcile yourself to this Thought. While you live you will probably be the Object of Envy” (vol. 15:342–343).


For JA’s earlier use of the quotation, possibly from Rev. Timothy Cutler, see his 10 Sept. 1779 letter to Henry Marchant (vol. 8:136, 137).