Papers of John Adams, volume 18

To Samuel Williams

To Thomas Jefferson

From John Adams to John Jay, 6 June 1786 Adams, John Jay, John
To John Jay
Dear Sir Grosvenor Square June 6. 1786

I do myself the Honour to enclose Papers, relative to affrican Affairs, altho Mr Jefferson has transmitted them before, as it is possible his Conveyance may fail.1

The Intelligence all tends to confirm what has been more than once written to you before, that two or three hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling, will be necessary to obtain a perpetual Peace.— It is very clear, that a Peace would be worth more than that Sum annually, if you compute Insurance, and the Levant, Mediterranean, Portuguese & Spanish Trade.

If Congress should be empowered to lay on Taxes upon Navigation and Commerce or any Thing else to pay the Interest of the Money borrowed in Europe You may borrow what you will.— if that is not done, The servants abroad had better be all recalled, and our Exports and Imports all Surrendered to foreign bottoms.

Inclosed is a Bill now pending.2 The System of this Country is quite settled.— It is with our States to unsettle it, by Acts of Retaliation, or to acquiesce in it, as they judge for their own Good.

With great Regard, I have the / Honour to be sir your most obedient / and most humble servant

John Adams

RC and enclosures (PCC, No. 84, VI, f. 211–297); internal address: “His Excellency / John Jay / Secretary of State.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 112.


For JA’s enclosures, see Thomas Jefferson’s 30 May letter, and note 1, above.


This enclosure has not been found, but JA may be referring to “An Act for the further 332 Increase and Encouragement of Shipping and Navigation” (26 Geo. 3, ch. 60). When debated in the House of Commons on 11 April, Charles Jenkinson, newly appointed president of the reconstituted Council for Trade and Plantations, opened the proceedings by indicating that the bill was an opportunity to define clearly what in fact was a British-built ship ( AFC , 7:75; Parliamentary Hist. , 25:1372–1375). With regard to the United States, Art. 7 of the act provided “that no Ship or Vessel built in any of the Colonies of North America now called The United States of America, during the Time that any Act or Acts of Parliament made in Great Britain, prohibiting Trade and Intercourse with those Colonies was or were in force, nor any Ship or Vessel which was owned by or belonged to the Subjects of the said United States, or of any of the said States respectively, during the Existence of those Acts, and not registered before the Commencement thereof, is or shall be entitled to be registered under this present Act” (John Raithby, comp., The Statutes Relating to the Admiralty, Navy, Shipping, and Navigation of the United Kingdom, from 9 Hen. III. to 3 Geo. IV. Inclusive, London, 1823, p. 439).