Papers of John Adams, volume 18

From Mercy Otis Warren

To James Warren

From John Adams to John Jay, 9 January 1787 Adams, John Jay, John
To John Jay
Dear Sir Grosvenor Square January 9. 1787

I am unable to give you any Account, of the Reasons, which have prevented the Treaty with Morocco from reaching London.1 But it has not yet made its Appearance.2 The Tripoline Ambassador, Sent me a polite Message and desired a Conference. it was agreed to, and his Excellency was pleased to inform me, that he had received 536 repeated Letters to return home, and Should depart in a few Weeks. desired to be informed, whether any further Instructions had been received from Congress, relative to a Treaty with Tripoli, and being answered in the Negative, he Said the Decree was written in Heaven, and if a Peace was preordained between my Country and his, it would take Place.— He Should be happy, when he arrived in his own Country, to be Instrumental in so good a Work.3

The Chevalier De Pinto, with a great deal of real Anxiety has last Week, renewed his Apologies.— He has written to Mr De Melo that it is indecent, that he is ashamed to think how the Business has been delayed.— This worthy Minister Sent one of his own favourite Domesticks, who has called at the Ministers office every day: but has been detained, from the Month of May.— The Minister has been Sick. that is the Excuse.— In Short I Suppose there are Parties, and this late Negotiation between France & England, have Occasioned Divisions of Sentiment and the late Decease of the King of Portugal, and the Queens Retirement in the Country and the Ministers Sickness have prevented any determination of any Questions of Importance.

According to the Usages of the Diplomatick order I ought, before now to have mentioned, the Death of her Royal Highness the Princess Amelia, Aunt of his present Majesty the King of Great Britain, on the Evening of the last day of October last.4

on Thursday the Fourth day of this Month, I had the Honour of a private Audience of his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, having been previously notified by the Master of the Ceremonies, and presented by him. all the foreign Ministers who had not been before presented to his Royal Highness were presented on that day.— The Same Ceremonies are used, as with the King.

inclosed is Copy of a Letter from the Marquis of Carmarthen dated the 11. of Decr. last.— His Lordship is mistaken or misinformed, in Supposing that the American Ministers admitted the Justness of the Claim. That was wholly out of their Power. all they could do, was to transmit it to Congress, as I now transmit his Lordships Letter, without any Concession, or Denyal of the Justice of it.— in my Answer to his Lordship I Shall Sett him right in this particular.5

Inclosed likewise is a Letter of 5. Jany. from Messrs Willinks and Van staphorsts, relative to the Hotel of the United States. There is Such a corrosive Dampness in the Air of that Country that without 537 the continual Attention of an Inhabitant a Building falls to decay very fast.— I really think the best Thing that can be done is to order the House to be sold by Messrs Willinks & Vanstaphorsts as soon as possible. This is the best Advice to be given.— if it is not Sold, there will be constant Expences for Taxes and Repairs, without Saving the Building from Ruin.— As it is I dont believe any American Minister would now live in it. This subject deserves the immediate Attention of Congress.6

It is with great Pleasure, that I am able to inform Congress that the Credit of the United States in Holland has not suffered any material Shock, in Consequence of the Relations of Tumults and Seditions in the Massachusetts & New Hampshire.—

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

John Adams

RC and enclosures (PCC, No. 84, VI, f. 363–390); internal address: “His Excellency John Jay. / Secretary of state &c &c &c.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 112.


JA’s response to Jay here regarding the Moroccan treaty and later in the letter concerning the Portuguese treaty do not stem from any comments made by Jay in his letters to JA. Rather JA is responding to Jay’s queries in his 27 Oct. 1786 letter to Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson, Papers , 10:488–490). Jay enclosed that letter, leaving it open for JA to read, with his first letter to JA of 1 Nov., and JA then forwarded the 27 Oct. letter with his to Jefferson of 30 Nov., both above. That it took JA over a month to answer Jay’s questions was likely due to the fact that he was then finishing the first volume of the Defence of the Const. and readying it for publication.


For the arrival in London of the Moroccan-American treaty carried by Lt. Col. David S. Franks, see JA’s 25 Jan. 1787 letter to Jefferson, and note 1, below.


For JA’s previous conversations with Sidi Haji Abdrahaman, Tripoli’s ambassador, concerning a treaty, see his letters of 16 and 17 Feb. 1786 to Jay and Jefferson, respectively, both above. No such treaty was concluded, however, until 4 Nov. 1796 when it was signed by the pasha of Tripoli and then made official on 3 Jan. 1797 with the signatures of the dey of Algiers and the American negotiator Joel Barlow (Miller, Treaties , 2:349–385).


With this letter JA enclosed the Marquis of Carmarthen’s 1 Nov. 1786 letter in which he acquainted JA “with the melancholy News of the Death of Her Royal Highness the Princess Amelia, His Majesty’s Aunt, Yesterday Evening, between five and six o’Clock” (PCC, No. 84, VI, f. 367–370). For AA’s comments on the princess’ death and the reaction to it at court and in the London press, see her 21 Nov. letter to Elizabeth Smith Shaw ( AFC , 7:393).


Of 24 Jan. 1787, below.


For the enclosures concerning the legation at The Hague, see the consortium’s 5 Jan. letter, and note 2, above. Congress received JA’s letter on 11 April, but rather than act on JA’s recommendation that the building be sold, it acted in response to C. W. F. Dumas’ 17 Nov. 1786 letter in which he recommended that the legation be either repaired and inhabited or sold but noted that he was not authorized by Congress to occupy it. Reporting on Dumas’ letter, Jay indicated that the legation’s potential sale was “unseasonable at present, for it would look as if the United States intended either to have no resident minister there in future, or as if the present troubles of the Republic, or the present state of their own finances had in some degree influenced the measure.” Congress therefore resolved on 24 July 1787 that Dumas live at the legation until a new minister was appointed, and that JA undertake the repairs at the expense of the United States. Jay enclosed the resolution in his letter of 31 July 538 (Adams Papers), but unfortunately before repairs were complete, Dumas was forced by the political reaction against the Patriot Party to seek refuge in the French embassy ( JCC , 32:174, 307, 332; 33:404–405; Nationaal Archief:Dumas Papers, Microfilm, Reel 2, f. 849–850; Schulte Nordholt, Dutch Republic and Amer. Independence , p. 293–294).