Papers of John Adams, volume 18

William Carmichael to the American Commissioners

From Thomas Jefferson

From John Adams to the Marquis of Carmarthen, 6 February 1786 Adams, John Carmarthen, the Marquis of
To the Marquis of Carmarthen
Copy. My Lord Grosvenor Square February 6 1786 1

I have the Honour of transmitting to your Lordship a Copy of a Letter of the twenty first of December last, from His Majestys Consul General in the United States to their Secretary of State for the Department of foreign Affairs, which has been laid before Congress, who have been pleased to direct me to communicate it, to his Majesty, with this Information, that the Complaint Stated in it, being in 149 general Terms, and unsupported by any particular Facts or Evidence, they do not think it necessary or proper, to take any measures in consequence of it: and with this Assurance, that as it is their Determination the Treaty of Peace Shall be punctually observed by their Citizens, and that his Majesty’s Subjects Shall enjoy, in the United States, all the Rights which friendly and civilized Nations claim from each other, So they will always be ready to hear every Complaint, which may appear to be well founded, and to redress Such of them, as on Investigation Shall prove to be So. Let me request your Lordship to lay this Communication before His Majesty.

Your Lordship will permit me to avail myself of this opportunity of remarking, that the Office of Consul General does not extend to Matters of this kind; neither the Rights of Commerce, nor of Navigation being in question; and therefore that it was Delicacy towards his Majesty, rather than a Sense of the Propriety of Such an Application from a Consul General, which induced Congress to treat it, with this Mark of Attention.

As the United States my Lord have a Minister Plenipotentiary, residing at this Court, in Consequence of a Proposition to that Purpose, made by his Britannic Majestys Ministers, through His Grace the Duke of Dorsett his Ambassador at Paris, Your Lordship will permit me, to propose to the Consideration of his Majestys Ministers the Expediency, as well as Propriety of Sending a Minister Plenipotentiary, from his Majesty to the United States of America. I am authorized My Lord to give Assurances that Congress expect Such a Minister, and are ready to receive and treat him in a manner, consistent with the Respect due to his Sovereign

With great Respect I have the Honour / to be, my Lord, your Lordships / most obedient and most / humble servant

John Adams

FC (PCC, No. 84, VI, f. 83–86); internal address: “The Right Honourable / the Marquis of Carmarthen / his Britannic Majestys Principal / Secretary of State for foreign Affairs.”; notation: “Referred to Report / May 19. 1785.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 112.


JA’s representation to Carmarthen regarding John Temple’s complaint is essentially a reprise of John Jay’s 2 Jan. letter, for which see that letter, and note 1, above. JA received no specific written response from the foreign minister to either his comments on the limits of Temple’s powers as consul general or his proposal that a British minister to the United States be appointed. But see Carmarthen’s 28 Feb. letter, below, centering on the difficulty of obtaining repayment of debts owed to British subjects to which Temple referred in his complaint.