Diary of John Adams, volume 3

January 31. 1785. Monday.

Auteuil Near Paris March 20. 1785.

1785. March 19. Saturday. JA


1785. March 19. Saturday. Adams, John
1785. March 19. Saturday.

Saturday. Met Mr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson at Passy, read the Letter from Mr. Carmichael at Madrid, with the Letters from C. de Florida Blanca, the Letters from Morocco to Mr. Harrison at Cadiz, and the Letters from Morocco to Dr. F. concerning the Vessell of Mr. Fitzsimmons of Philadelphia, taken by a Morrocco Frigate.


I asked for Books and Collections of Treaties. They were brought. I looked for and read the Treaty between Louis 14. and Algiers, and the Treaties between Holland and Algiers, and found a Multitude of Treaties between Algiers and Morrocco and the Christian States as France, Holland, England, &c. with the Passes, in the Corps Diplomatique.

We came to no Resolution, but that I should go, Tomorrow to Versailles and ask the Advice of the Comte de Vergennes.—Dr. F. being confined by his Stone, could not go, and Mr. Jefferson, being worse with his Disorder cannot go. I was for writing a Letter to the C. —but my Colleagues were not.1—F. and J. are confident that England has no right to appoint a Consul, without a Treaty or Convention for that Purpose. I think, they have a Right by the Law of Nations.2


This and the following entry mark the beginning of prolonged efforts by the Commissioners to reach an accord, on behalf of the United States, with several of the piratical Barbary States in order to protect American shipping in the Mediterranean. The efforts were prompted by seizures of American vessels reported in the letters mentioned in the first paragraph of the present entry; extracts from these were handed by JA to Vergennes next day, and copies were forwarded by the Commissioners to Jay in their Fifth Report, 13 April 1785 (PCC, No. 86); a list of them, with their dates and locations, is given in a note on JA's report to his colleagues on his interview with Vergennes, 20 March (Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 8:46–48, q.v.). For a connected narrative of early American negotiations with the Barbary Powers, see Ray W. Irwin, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers, 1776–1816, Chapel Hill, 1931, chs. 2–3. The correspondence and other documents are printed under their dates in Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, vols. 7–10.


This doubtless alludes to the appointment in February of John Temple as British consul general in the United States; see JA to James Warren, 26 April 1785 (LbC, Adams Papers; Warren-Adams Letters , 2:250–261). Though the sentiments of Congress were divided on whether or not to recognize Temple, a vote of that body did so on 2 Dec. 1785 ( JCC , 29:897–898).