Papers of John Adams, volume 18

Thomas Barclay to the American Commissioners

From Charles Storer

To John Adams from Thomas Jefferson, 26 September 1786 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Jefferson
Dear sir Paris Septr. 26th. 1786

My last letter to you was dated the 27th. of August, since which I have recieved yours of Sep. 11th.— The letter to mr. Lamb therein inclosed I immediately signed & forwarded. In mine wherein I had the honor of proposing to you the mission of mr. Barclay to Algiers, I mentioned that my expectations from it were of a subordinate nature only. I very readily therefore recede from it in compliance with 465 your judgment that this mission might do more harm than good. I accordingly wrote to Mr. Barclay that he was at liberty to return to this place, to London or to America, as he should think best.1 I now inclose you copies of such letters from him, mr Lamb & mr. Carmichael as have come to hand since my last to you.2 I have had opportunities of making further enquiry as to the premium of insurance at L’Orient for Vessels bound to or from America, and I find that no additional premium is there required on account of the risque of capture by the Barbary States. This fact may be worth mentioning to American merchants in London.

We have been continually endeavoring to obtain a reduction of the duties on American whale-oil: the prospect was not flattering. I shall avail myself of the information contained in your letter to press this matter further. Mr. Barrett is arrived here, & the first object for his relief is to obtain a dissolution of his former contract3

I will thank you for some copies of the Prussian treaty by the first opportunity, & take the liberty of troubling you to forward the packets of letters which mr smith the bearer of this will have the honor of delivering to you. I beg the favor of you to present my most respectful compliments to mrs Adams—& to be assured yourself of the sentiments of sincere esteem & respect with which I have the honor to be / dear sir, / Your most obedient & humble servant

W short for Th: Jefferson4

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. Adams”; endorsed by WSS: “Septr. 26th. 1786 / T. Jefferson—”; notation by CFA: “not published.” CFA presumably meant that the letter was not published in Jefferson, Correspondence, ed. Randolph.


On 22 Sept. (Jefferson, Papers , 10:396).


Jefferson enclosed copies of letters to the commissioners from Thomas Barclay dated July (Jefferson, Papers , 10:181), and 11 Aug., above; and to himself from John Lamb of 10 Aug. and William Carmichael of 4 Sept. (Jefferson, Papers , 10:218, 329–330), but the enclosures have not been found.


For JA’s comments on Nathaniel Barrett’s failed whale oil contract, see his 11 Sept. letter to Jefferson, but see also Stephen Higginson’s undated July letter, both above. In his 1 Nov. letter to JA (Adams Papers), Barrett indicated that he and Pierre Tourtille Sangrain had “amicably … agreed to disolve the Contract.” But in that letter, and one of 2 Oct. (Adams Papers), Barrett recounted his deteriorating financial situation owing to a joint venture with his brother Samuel to sell English crockery in America at the very time it was flooded with foreign merchandise. Unfortunately the person to whom the wares were sold failed, leaving the two brothers deeply in debt. Barrett appealed to JA to intervene with a “Mr Robarts,” presumably the English merchant to whom the money was owed. There is no indication that JA did so, nor did he reply to the 2 Oct. and 1 Nov. letters.


Jefferson dislocated his right wrist in a fall, and during his recovery, between 18 Sept. and 4 Oct., William Short took over his letter writing (Jefferson, Papers , 10:394, 432–433).