Papers of John Adams, volume 18

517 To John Adams from the Marquis of Carmarthen, 11 December 1786 Carmarthen, the Marquis of Adams, John
From the Marquis of Carmarthen
Sir, Whitehall, Decr. 11th. 1786.

You will be pleased to recollect that, in the Month of May 1783, Mr. Hartley communicated to You, and the other Plenipotentiaries then residing at Paris, pursuant to the Instructions he had received, a Memorial from the Merchants trading to South Carolina and Georgia, representing their just Claims to an Indemnification for Debts due to them from the Creek and Cherokee Indians, for the Payment of which a Tract of Land on the Western Frontier of Georgia had been ceded to His Majesty in the Year 1773. I must also desire to recal to Your Recollection, that upon this Representation being made by Mr. Hartley, the American Plenipotentiaries, though they did not think themselves authorized to take Cognizance of the Affair, admitted the Justice of the Claim, and assured Mr. Hartley that they would transmit it to Congress.1

As Mr. Hartley, previous to the Conclusion of his Mission, received no Answer upon this Subject, I am under the Necessity of requesting You will inform me whether You are yet acquainted with the Determination of Congress relative to this Claim; and if not, that You will have the Goodness to take an early Opportunity of again representing the Case of these Sufferers, as highly deserving the Consideration of the United States, from whose Principles of Equity and Justice I cannot but hope the Memorialists will obtain all due Relief.

I am, with great Truth and Regard, / Sir, / Your most obedient / humble Servant.


RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “John Adams Esqr. &c &c &c.”


Carmarthen refers to Charles James Fox’s 9 May 1783 letter to David Hartley with which were enclosed memorials from merchants trading with South Carolina and Georgia dated 3 May 1782 and 11 April 1783 (LbC, APM Reel 103). It is not known when Hartley presented them to the peace commissioners, but their location in the letterbook prepared for each of the commissioners by Jean L’Air de Lamotte, Benjamin Franklin’s secretary, indicates that it was in mid-May 1783, possibly on 19 May, the day on which Hartley and the commissioners exhibited their commissions to each other (vol. 14:xxviii–xxix; JA, D&A , 3:120–121).

JA presumably consulted the Lamotte letterbook to refresh his memory regarding the matter and, in particular, regarding the commissioners’ 27 July 1783 letter to Robert R. Livingston transmitting, without comment, an extract of Fox’s 9 May letter with its enclosures (Franklin, Papers , 40:388–389). This was particularly necessary because in July 1783 JA was at The Hague, and the commissioners’ letter was signed by Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens. For JA’s comments on the matter, see his 9 Jan. 1787 letter to Jay enclosing a copy of this letter from Carmarthen, and his 24 Jan. 1787 reply to the foreign minister, both below. Congress 518 apparently took no action regarding Carmarthen’s request, for on 26 Nov. 1787, JA wrote to the foreign minister that he had received no reply from Congress to the matter raised in his 11 Dec. 1786 letter (LbC, APM Reel 112).