Papers of John Adams, volume 17

V. The American Commissioners’ Draft Letter to the Comte de Vergennes, 15 September 1785 Adams, John American Commissioners Vergennes, the Comte de
V. The American Commissioners’ Draft Letter to the Comte de Vergennes
Sir London Septr. 15 1785.1

We do ourselves the Honour to acquaint your Excellency, that We have appointed Thomas Barclay Esq the Consul General of the United States in France, to proceed to the coast of Barbary in Africa, there to enter into Negotiation and to endeavour to form Treaties, of Amity between the United States and the King or Emperor of Morocco or Fez; the Regencies of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli, or with any of them; and also with every other Prince, State or Power, 441of the said coast,: & that Mr Barclay is ready to proceed upon his Journey for that purpose.

That he may have the better hopes of success, We do ourselves the Honour to request that his most Christian Majesty will be pleased to employ his good Offices and Interpositions, with those Powers, and their subjects, in such manner as to his Majestys Wisdom shall seem fit convenient in order to promote the Views of Mr Barclay in his Mission and in Order to provide as fully and efficaciously as possible for the Benefit, conveniency, and Safety of the said United States, and each of them, their subjects, People and Inhabitants and their Vessells and Effects, against all Violence, Insults Attacks or Depredations, on the Part of the Said Princes and States of Barbary, or their Subjects. and to this End that the Ministers Consuls, and Agents of France residing in those Countries may be instructed to Advice and assist Mr Barclay, according to the Spirit of the Eighth Article of the Treaty of Commerce, between his Majesty and the United states of America.

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

John Adams.

Dft in JA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency the Comte / De Vergennes, Minister and / Secretary of State for the / Department of foreign Affairs.”; endorsed: “Sketch to / C. De Vergennes.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 111.


This letter was drafted by JA in response to Thomas Jefferson’s request in his letter of 4 Sept., above. JA sent Jefferson a fair copy of this letter as an enclosure in his of 15 Sept., below. See No. IX, below, for the letter actually sent to Vergennes owing to the arrival of John Lamb.

VI. Thomas Barclay’s Letter of Credence to the Emperor of Morocco, 1–11 October 1785 Adams, John American Commissioners Jefferson, Thomas Morocco, the Emperor of
VI. Thomas Barclay’s Letter of Credence to the Emperor of Morocco
[ 1–11 October 1785 ]1

The Congress of the United States of America after the conclusion of that war which established their freedom & independance, & after the cares which were first necessary for the restoration of order & regular government, turned their attention in the first moment possible to the connections which it would be proper to form with the nations on this side the Atlantic for the maintenance of friendship & improvement of commerce with them. They therefore on the twelfth day of May in the last year thought proper to appoint 442us with Doctr. Benjn. Franklin their Ministers Plenipy to negotiate & to conclude such treaties of Amity & Commerce as should be agreed on with those nations. The variety of the commissions of this nature with which we were charged rendered impracticable our attending in person at the several courts to which they were addressed, & required that we should execute them by the intervention of confidential persons to be sent to those courts. Congress sensible of this have been pleased by other full powers bearing date the 11th. day of March last to give to the same Ministers or a majority of them authority to appoint such Agents for the purpose of negotiating these treaties under our instruction, of bringing them to maturity & of signing them in a preliminary form, referring them to us for definitive execution, as by the full powers, a copy of which we have the honour of transmitting herewith to your Majesty, will more particularly appear. Doctr. Franklin our collegue having found it necessary to return to America, the execution of these full powers has devolved on us alone. As the circumstances before explained put it out of our power to have the honour of presenting ourselves in person at the court of your Majesty, so others supervened which rendered impracticable our meeting at any other place such minister as your Majesty might condescend to authorize to treat with us on the subjects with which we were charged: one of us being placed as Minister Pleny for the United States at the court of Great Britain & the other in the same character at the court of France. We have therefore adopted the only remaining method that of sending a confidential Agent according to the authority given us, (to testify to your Majesty our high respect & gratitude for the friendly disposition you have manifested to the U.S. to assure you of the desire of our country to form a connection with a Sovereign, so renowned for his power, his wisdom & his justice, and) to concert with such Minister as your Majesty shall think proper to appoint those conditions which will be most advantageous for both nations to adopt for the regulation of their commerce & of their mutual conduct towards each other. The person whom we charge with this high mission is Thomas Barclay Esqr. possessing in the highest degree the confidence of the U.S. and as such having been several years & still being their Consul General with our great & good Friend & Ally the King of France. Although our full powers reserve to us the ultimate signature of the Treaty to be established yet such is our reliance on the wisdom & integrity of Mr Barclay that we assure your Majesty you may have full faith in whatever he shall agree to, and that the 443same when sent to us will be returned with our signature in order to receive that of the person whom your Majesty shall commission for the same purpose.

With the most profound respect & our best wishes for the health, happiness, prosperity & glory of your Imperial Majesty / We have the honor to subscribe ourselves / Your Majesty’s / Most obedient / Most hble Servants2

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 87, I, f. 155–158).


Thomas Jefferson drafted this letter to replace the original letter of credence (No. I, above) that required revision following John Lamb’s arrival with dispatches from Congress. The fair copies of the letters of credence for Barclay and Lamb were enclosed, for JA’s signature, with Jefferson’s second letter of 24 Sept., below. The signed copies of the letters have not been found, but since the documents actually sent to Barclay and Lamb, except for their commissions and bills of credit, were dated 1 and 11 Oct., it is assumed that the letters of credence bore those same dates. Note also that in his 2 Oct. letter to Jefferson, below, JA indicates that the documents sent by Jefferson arrived the previous day and that he “Signed all the Papers as you Sent them.”


Below the closing David Humphreys wrote, “N.B In the letter to Algiers, ‘your Majesty’ is changed—‘(to testify &c)’ included in crotchets is left out—and instead of the passage ‘Thomas Barclay[] is inserted []John Lamb Esqr. a citizen of the U.S. in whose wisdom & integrity we have so high confidence, that tho’ our full powers reserve to us the ultimate signature of the treaty that we can venture to assure that we will ratify & confirm definitively whatever preliminary condition he shall agree & transmit to us for that purpose.[]”