Papers of John Adams, volume 18

From Thomas Pownall

From the Marquis de Lafayette

To John Adams from Thomas Jefferson, 20 December 1786 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Jefferson
Dear Sir Paris Dec. 20. 1786. 1

Colo. Franks will have the honor of delivering you the treaty with the emperor of Marocco, & all it’s appendages.2 you will perceive by mr̃ Barclay’s letters that it is not necessary that any body should go back to Marocco to exchange ratifications. he sais however that it will be necessary that Fennish receive some testimony that we approve the treaty: and as, by the acts of Congress, our signature is necessary to give validity to it, I have had duplicates of ratification prepared, which I have signed, & now send you. if you approve & sign them send one back to me to be forwarded to Fennish thro’ mr̃ Carmichael. perhaps a joint letter should be written to Fennish; if you think so, be so good as to write & sign one & send it with the ratification & I will sign & forward it. the other ratification is to go to Congress.3 Colo. Franks wishes to proceed with the papers to that body. he should do it I think immediately, as mr̃ Jay in a letter to me of Oct. 26.4 says that Congress have heard thro’ the French Chargé des affaires that the treaty was signed, & they wonder they have not heard it from us.

I inclose you a copy of a letter from mr̃ Lamb: by which you will perceive he does not propose to quit Alicant.5 I will forward the resolution of Congress to mr̃ Carmichael which was inclosed of yours of Nov. 30. to see if that will move him.6 as the turn of this resolution admits a construction that Congress may think our original appointment of him censurable, I have, as in justice I ought, in a letter to mr̃ Jay, taken on myself the blame of having proposed him to you, if any blame were due. I have inclosed him a copy of my letter to you of Sep. 24. 1785.7 mr̃ Barclay has proposed to go to Alicant to settle Lamb’s accounts, & has asked to be strengthened with our authority. if Lamb will obey the resolve of Congress it will be better 528 to let him go & settle his account there. but if he will not go back, perhaps it might not be amiss for mr̃ Barclay to have instructions from us to require a settlement, those instructions to be used in that case only. if you think so, be so good as to write a joint letter & send it to me. but this, if done at all, should be done immediately. how much money has Lamb drawn?— I have suggested to mr̃ Jay the expediency of putting the Barbary business into Carmichael’s hands, or sending some body from America, in consideration of our separate residence & our distance from the scene of negociation.

I had seen, without alarm, accounts of the disturbances in the East. but mr̃ Jay’s letter on the subject had really affected me. however yours sets me to rights.8 I can never fear that things will go far wrong where common sense has fair play. I but just begin to use my pen a little with my right hand, but with pain. recommending myself therefore to the friendship of mr̃s Adams. I must conclude here with assurances of the sincere esteem of Dr. Sir your friend and servant

Th: Jefferson

Should a mr̃ Maury of Virginia, but now a merchant of Liverpool, present himself to you, I recommend him to your notice as my old schoolfellow, and a man of the most solid integrity.9

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “H. E. / Mr. Adams.”; endorsed: “Mr Jefferson Dec. 20. 1786 / ansd. Jan. 25. 1787.”


On the 21st Jefferson wrote to AA to alert her that his eight-year-old daughter, Mary (Polly) Jefferson, would be sailing for England in May 1787, and to ask AA if she would look after her until he could bring her to Paris. Polly arrived on 16 June, entrusted to the care of Jefferson’s fourteen-year-old slave Sally Hemings ( AFC , 7:409–410; 8:92–93).


Lt. Col. David S. Franks reached London on 24 January. For the documents he brought with him, including the Moroccan-American treaty, see Thomas Barclay’s 2 Oct. 1786 letter to the commissioners, above. JA returned the documents to Jefferson with his 25 Jan. 1787 letter, which Franks carried on his return to Paris, and all were sent to John Jay under cover of the commissioners’ 27 Jan. letter, both below.


The instrument of ratification signed by Jefferson and JA is at [25 Jan.], below. The letter drafted by JA from the commissioners to Sidi Haj Tahar Ben Abdulhaq Fennish is at [27 Jan.], below. Jefferson received both upon Franks’ return to Paris and enclosed copies of the two documents with his 18 Feb. letter to William Carmichael; but see also Jefferson’s 18 Feb. letter to Barclay (Jefferson, Papers , 11:163–165).


That is, Jay’s 27 Oct. 1786 letter to Jefferson (same, 10:488–490).


The enclosure has not been found, but it was a copy of John Lamb’s 10 Oct. letter to Jefferson (same, 10:441, 619).


Jefferson enclosed the 26 Sept. congressional resolution recalling Lamb with his 26 Dec. letter to Carmichael (same, 10:632–635).


Jefferson wrote to Jay on 31 Dec., regarding Lamb. There he speculated that “some misapplication of the public money may enter into the causes of his declining to return” to America and report. He also enclosed with that letter his initial 24 Sept. 1785 letter to JA recommending Lamb for the Algerian mission (vol. 17:466–470; Jefferson, Papers , 10:649–651). See also JA’s reply to Jefferson of 25 Jan. 1787, below.

529 8.

Jefferson refers to JA’s 30 Nov. 1786 letter, above.


Albemarle County, Va., tobacco merchant James Maury (1746–1840) was the son of Rev. James Maury (1719–1769), Jefferson’s early instructor. The younger Maury was appointed U.S. consul at Liverpool in 1790 and interacted with JQA during his tenure as U.S. minister to Great Britain, from 1815 to 1817 (Jefferson, Papers , 21:347; Madison, Papers, 9:262).

With this letter, Maury also delivered to JA a 20 July 1786 recommendation from Nathaniel Gorham, who had served as president of Congress since 6 June. Gorham described Maury as “a Gentm. of reputation & credit in Virginia” (Adams Papers; Biog. Dir. Cong. ).