Papers of John Adams, volume 17

III. The American Commissioners’ Draft Letter to Wilhem & Jan Willink and Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, 12 September 1785 Adams, John American Commissioners Willink, Wilhem & Jan (business) Staphorst, Nicolaas & Jacob van (business)
III. The American Commissioners’ Draft Letter to Wilhem & Jan Willink and Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst
Gentlemen, Grosr: Square.– London. 12th. Sepr: 1785.—1

We have the honor to inform you that we have recd. fm. the U: States of America, in Congress, full power & instructions to form treaties with the Emperor of Morocco & the Regencies of Algiers, Tunis & Tripoli, and we enclose you a Copy of a Resolution of Congress of 14th. February 1785. impowering us to apply so much of the money borrowed in Holland to that use as we may deem necessary, not exceeding 80,000 Dollars.— We have appointed & sent Thos: Barclay Esqr: Consul General in France, & have authorised him to draw upon you for 20,000. Dollars, part of that sum, & you are desired to hold the remaining 60,000. Dollars ready to answer his further Drafts, whenever he shall be hereafter authorised by us to draw, or our drafts, if we should have occasion to draw in favor of any other person or persons.—

It is our desire that this may be considered by you as a 439Communication in Confidence, to be reserved in secrecy— We hope that this measure will enlarge the resources & raise the Credit of our Country.—

With much respect we have the honor to be, Gentlemen, / Your Most Obedt: humle: servants—

John Adams.—

LbC and enclosure in Charles Storer’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Messrs: Wilhem & Jan Willinks & / Nicholas & Jacob Van Staphorsts”; APM Reel 111. The enclosed congressional resolution immediately follows the letter in the Letterbook.


JA drafted this letter at the behest of Thomas Jefferson in his letter of 4 Sept., above, and presumably sent Jefferson a fair copy for his signature. It was not sent, however, and was returned to JA with Jefferson’s second letter of 24 Sept., below. This was because by the time it reached Paris, John Lamb’s arrival and his appointment to negotiate with Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis made new instructions to the loan consortium necessary. For the decision resulting in the new directive to the consortium, this time dated 6 Oct and only from JA, see Nos. XI and XII, and notes, both below.

IV. The American Commissioners to William Carmichael, 12 September 1785 – 11 October 1785 Adams, John American Commissioners Jefferson, Thomas Carmichael, William
IV. The American Commissioners to William Carmichael
Sir [ 12 September – 11 October 1785 ]1

Mr. Barclay will deliver you this letter in his way to Morocco.2

We have appointed him to this negotiation in hopes of obtaining the friendship of that State to our country, & of opening by that means the commerce of the Mediterranean, an object of sufficient importance to induce him to accept of the trust

We recommend him & Colo. Franks who goes with him to your attention & assistance, and we particularly desire you to interest the court of Spain in his favour if you think it practicable— Your success upon many occasions with the Spanish Ministers, gives us hopes that you may obtain for him, Instructions or Letters to Spanish Consuls or other Gentleman which may contribute both to the comfort of his travels & the success of his Mission

Any Dispatches, for us, which he may convey to you, your own just sense of the importance of them will induce you to transmit to us with all possible care—

We are informed of the friendly attention of the court of Madrid to the case of our fellow citizens late in captivity as well as on many other occasions, and if you think it will not be taken amiss, you will oblige us by expressing our grateful sense of it wherever you think proper.


With great esteem / We have the honour to be / Sir / Your Most obedt & / Most humble Servts.


London Septr 12 1785

John Adams T. Jefferson3

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 87, I, f. 163–164); internal address: “Mr Carmichael Chargé des Affairs / Of the United States of America / at the court of Madrid—” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 111.


The copy of the letter to Carmichael that the commissioners gave to Thomas Barclay has not been found, but there is no reason to think that the text given here is different from that which he carried on his journey. The dating of the letter, however, is more problematical. JA drafted this letter in response to Thomas Jefferson’s suggestion in his letter of 4 Sept., above. The date of 12 Sept., which also appears on JA’s LbC, can be assumed to be the date on which he drafted the letter and the date on the fair copy that he presumably sent to Jefferson, but it seems unlikely that Jefferson did not date his signature on the fair copy given to Barclay. The one difference between David Humphreys’ FC and JA’s LbC (see note 2) likely reflects JA’s belief at the time that he drafted the letter that Barclay would be negotiating treaties with all of the Barbary States. John Lamb’s arrival meant that changes had to be made in the letter to Carmichael, as had already been done in Nos. I and II, above. It seems likely, therefore, that when Humphreys made his copy, presumably also used as a model for a letter to Carmichael given to Lamb, he changed JA’s text to indicate that Barclay was going only to Morocco. This would have necessitated the preparation of a new fair copy of the letter to Barclay that was likely enclosed with Jefferson’s second letter of 24 Sept., below.

Several of the other revised documents that were sent with that letter were signed by JA on 1 Oct. and by Jefferson on 11 Oct. Carmichael indicated in a letter to the commissioners of 3 Feb. 1786 that the letter carried by Lamb (see note 3) was “dated from London the 1st, and from Paris the 11th of October” ( Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 1:740–745). It seems likely that the letter carried by Barclay would have carried the same dates.


In the LbC, this phrase is rendered, “all the States of Barbary.”


Immediately below the signatures, Humphreys wrote, “(NB a similar letter was / given to Mr Lamb).” This letter (see note 1) has not been found, but presumably the letter to Lamb referred to Algiers and Lamb’s secretary, Paul R. Randall, rather than to Morocco and Barclay’s secretary, David Franks.