Papers of John Adams, volume 17

From Thomas Jefferson, 28 July 1785 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Jefferson
Dear Sir Paris July 28. 1785.

Your favors of July 16. and 18. came to hand the same day on which I had received Baron Thulemeier’s inclosing the ultimate draught for the treaty. as this draught, which was in French, was to be copied into the two instruments which Doctr. Franklin had 278signed, it is finished this day only. mr̃ Short sets out immediately. I have put into his hands a letter of instructions how to conduct himself, which I have signed, leaving a space above for your signature. the two treaties I have signed at the left hand, Dr. Franklin having informed me that the signatures are read backwards.1 besides the instructions to mr̃ Short I signed also a letter to mr̃ Dumas associating him with mr̃ Short. these two letters I made out as nearly as I could to your ideas expressed in your letter of the 18th. 2 if any thing more be necessary, be so good as to make a separate instruction for them signed by yourself, to which I will accede. I have not directed mr̃ Dumas’s letter. I have heretofore directed to him as “Agent for the U. S. at the Hague” that being the description under which the journals of Congress speak of him. in his last letter to me is this paragraph. “mon nom à la Haie est assez connu, surtout au bureau de la poste, pour que mes lettres me soient rendus exactement, quand il n’y auroit d’autre direction.”3 from this I conclude that the address I have used is not agreeable, & perhaps may be wrong. will you be so good as to address the letter to him and to inform me how to address him hereafter. mr̃ Short carries also the other papers necessary. his equipment for his journey requiring expences which cannot come into the account of ordinary expences, such as clothes &c. what allowance should be made him? I have supposed somewhere between a guinea a day and 1000 dollars a year which I believe is the salary of a private secretary. this I mean as over & above his travelling expences. be so good as to say, and I will give him an order on his return. the danger of robbery has induced me to furnish him with only money enough to carry him to London. you will be so good as to procure him enough to carry him to the Hague & back to Paris.

The Confederation of the k. of Prussia with some members of the Germanic body for the preservation of their constitution, is I think beyond a doubt. the Emperor has certainly complained of it in formal communications at several courts. by what can be collected from diplomatic conversation here I also conclude it tolerably certain that the Elector of Hanover has been invited to accede to the confederation and has done or is doing it. you will have better circumstances however, on the spot, to form a just judgment. our matters with the first of these powers being now in conclusion, I wish it was so with the elector of Hanover. I conclude from the general expressions in your letter that little may be expected. mr̃ Short furnishing so safe a conveyance that the trouble of the cypher may be 279dispensed with, I will thank you for such details of what has passed as may not be too troublesome to you.

The difficulties of getting books into Paris delayed for some time my receipt of the Corps diplomatique left by Dr. Franklin. since that we have been engaged with expediting mr̃ Short. a huge packet also brought by mr̃ Mazzei has added to the causes which have as yet prevented me from examining Dr. Franklin’s notes on the Barbary treaty.4 it shall be one of my first occupations. still the possibility is too obvious that we may run counter to the instructions of Congress of which mr̃ Lambe is said to be the bearer. there is a great impatience in America for these treaties. I am much distressed between this impatience, and the known will of Congress on the one hand, and the incertainty of the details committed to this tardy servant.

The D. of Dorset sets out for London tomorrow. he says he shall be absent two months. some whisper that he will not return & that Ld. Carmarthen wishes to come here. I am sorry to lose so honest a man as the Duke.— I take the liberty to ask an answer about the insurance of Houdon’s life.

Congress is not likely to adjourn this summer. they have passed an ordinance for selling their lands. I have not received it.

What would you think of the inclosed Draught to be proposed to the courts of London & Versailles? I would add Madrid & Lisbon, but that they are still more desperate than the others. I know it goes beyond our powers; and beyond the powers of Congress too. but it is so evidently for the good of all the states that I should not be afraid to risk myself on it if you are of the same opinion consider it if you please and give me your thoughts on it by mr̃ Short: but I do not communicate it to him nor any other mortal living but yourself.5

Be pleased to present me in the most friendly terms to the ladies and believe me to be with great esteem Dear Sir / Your friend & servant

Th: Jefferson

RC and enclosure (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jefferson July 28 1785. / ansd Aug. 4.”; and by AA2: “T. Jefferson 28. July 1785. / 4. Augt: recd.”; notation by CFA: “published. vol 2d: p 259. / See Writings,” that is, Jefferson, Correspondence, ed. Randolph, but the letter appears at 1:259–261 and does not include the enclosure.


Benjamin Franklin’s signature is dated 9 July at Passy; Jefferson’s 28 July at Paris (Miller, Treaties , 2:183).


For the letters to William Short and C. W. F. Dumas, which were sent to JA undated, see the commissioners’ 5 Aug. letter to Short, and note 1, below.


Jefferson quotes from Dumas’ letter of 7 June (Jefferson, Papers , 8:187): My name at The Hague is sufficiently well known, particularly to the post office, and thus my letters are delivered to me exactly, even if there is another address.


For the proposed treaty with the Barbary States, drafted by Franklin and based largely on treaties printed in Jean Dumont’s Corps 280 universel diplomatique, see Jefferson’s 6 Aug. letter, below.


Jefferson enclosed a copy of a new model treaty that was such a radical departure from treaties negotiated by the United States with France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Prussia, and proposed with Britain, that he was willing to share it only with JA. Under its terms the parties to the agreement would adopt “the citizens or subjects of the other, insomuch that while those of the one shall be travelling or sojourning with the other, they shall be considered to every intent and purpose as members of the nation where they are, entitled to all the protections, rights and advantages of it’s native members.” The only exceptions would be laws restricting public offices to native citizens or subjects, the immunities of diplomats, and religion. To complete the treaty the provisions of Jefferson’s earlier model treaty would be added, from Art. 13 to the end but excluding Art. 25, which concerned the appointment of consuls (Jefferson, Papers , 7:483–488; 8:317–319). For the origins of the plan, see the note to the document in Jefferson, Papers ; for JA’s dismissal of the proposal, see his letter of 4 Aug., below.

To the Marquis of Carmarthen, 29 July 1785 Adams, John Carmarthen, the Marquis of
To the Marquis of Carmarthen
My Lord. Grosvenor Square July 29th. 1785.

The Course of Commerce, since the peace, between Great Britain and the United States of America, has been such as to have produced many inconveniencies to the persons concerned in it, on both sides, which become every day more and more sensible.1 The Zeal of Americans to make remittances to british merchants, has been such as to raise the Interest of Money to double its usual standard, to increase the price of Bills of exchange to eight or ten per cent. above par, and to advance the price of the produce of the Country, to almost double the usual Rate, large sums of the circulating Cash, and as much produce as could be purchased at almost any rate, have been remitted to England: but much of this produce, lies in Store here, because it will not fetch, (by reason of the Duties and restrainsts on it) the price given for it, in America2 No political Arrangements having been made, both the british and American Merchants expected that the trade, would have returned to its old Channels, and nearly under the same regulations, found by long Experience to be beneficial, but they have been disappointed— the former have made advances, and the latter contracted Debts both depending on remittances, in the usual Articles, and upon the Ancient terms, but both have found themselves mistaken and it is much to be feared, that the Consequences will be numerous failures. The Cash and Bills have been chiefly remitted, neither, Rice, Tobacco, Pitch, Tar, Turpentine, ships, Oil, nor many other Articles, the great sources of Remittance formerly, can now be sent as heretofore, because of Restrictions and Imposts, which are new in this Commerce and distructive of it— And the Trade with the british 281West India Islands, formerly a vast source of remittance, is at present obstructed.

These evils, My Lord, as far as they merely affect the Citizens of the United States, should not be offered to your Lordships consideration— They are proper Subjects for the deliberations of Congress, and the Legislatures of the several States: but as far as they affect the Merchants and Manufacturers of Great Britain and Ireland, and as far as they affect the general System of Commerce, Revenue and Policy of the british Empire—Your Lordship will undoubtedly give them their due weight.

There is a litteral impossibility, My Lord, that the Commerce between the two Countries, can continue long to the advantage of either, upon the present footing. The evils already experienced will be much increased and more severely felt if the Causes of them are permitted much longer to opperate— It is the desire of the Citizens of the United States to Cultivate the most friendly3 intercourse with the King’s Subjects, and it will be with regret4 that they should see a necessity of searching for other resources as substitutes for british Commerce, either in other Countries or in Manufactures at Home.5 Whether it is not putting at hazard, too material an interest, to risque an Alienation from these Kingdoms, of the American Commerce, or any considerable part of it for the sake of the6 advantages that can be obtained by the present restrictions on it, is a question, which must be submitted to you Lordships consideration.

In order to bring this Subject, so momentous to both Countries, under a candid discussion, I do myself the honour to inclose to Your Lordship, and to propose to the consideration of his Majesty’s ministers, a project of a fair and equitable Treaty of Commerce, between His Majesty and the United States of America prepared in conformity to the instructions of Congress, and submit it entirely to your Lordship to decide, whether the Negotiation shall be conducted with Your Lordship, or with any other Person to be invested with powers equal to mine, to be appointed for the purpose—7

With great Respect I have the / Honour to be—My Lord / Your Lordship’s / Most Obedt. Humble Serv.

John Adams, Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America at the Court of Great Brittain8

RC and enclosure in WSS’s hand (PRO:FO 4, State Papers, vol. 3, f. 487–507); internal address: “The Right Honble: / The Marquis of Carmarthen / secretary of 282State for foreign / Affairs—”; endorsed: “July 29th: 1785. / Mr. Adams.” LbC’s (Adams Papers); APM Reel 111. The LbC’s are dated [ante 29] July and 29 July. The first is in JA’s hand and was done sometime between 24 and 27 July as it appears between letters of those dates in the Letterbook. At the top of that copy, between the dateline and greeting, is the following notation by JA: “This Letter was not Sent but instead of it, the Letter of 29th. of July, for which turn over this and two other Leaves.” The differences between the first LbC and the RC are indicated in the notes.


In the [ante 29] July draft LbC, JA added here, “The Debts which were due before the War, and those which have been contracted Since, remain unpaid in much larger Proportions, than can consist with the Satisfaction of the Creditor or the Tranquility of the Debtor. I have already had the Honour to mention to your Lordship in Conversation various Causes the Posts and Territories, within the Limits of the United States, which are still held by British Garrisons, the Exportation of Negroes and other Property, which by the Seventh Article of the Treaty of Peace was not to be exported, the Misconstruction of the Armistice of the 20 of Janry. 1783, concerning Captures made after the Expiration of the Month, and the Delay of a Liquidation of the Charges of Prisoners of War, as various Causes which had contributed to leave American Citizens more deeply indebted to British Subjects, than is agreable to either. That this unfortunate State of Things was even more distressing to the American Citizen than to the British subject, because he thought his Reputation as a Man and his Credit as a Merchant concerned in it.”


In the draft LbC, JA added here, “That the Situation of the Merchant both in England and America, had been and continued to be very distressing.”


In the draft LbC, JA added here, “and liberal.”


In the draft LbC, JA wrote here, “Reluctance.”


In the draft LbC, JA added here, “But if a Necessity of it, should occur, nothing is more certain than that they can find vast Resources in both.”


In the draft LbC, JA added here, “Imposts and other Small.”


For the draft treaty, see the enclosure to the 8 July letter from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, above.


In JA’s hand.