Papers of John Adams, volume 11



John Adams' Commission as One of Five Ministers to Negotiate an Anglo-American Peace Treaty, 15 June 1781 372

This commission, which Adams received on 24 August, superseded that of 29 September 1779 that named John Adams sole United States minister plenipotentiary empowered to negotiate an Anglo-American peace treaty (to Benjamin Franklin, 25 Aug., below; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:178–179, 194). The new commission was the clearest manifestation of France's determination to curb Adams' influence in any Anglo-American negotiations. Although it must have come as a severe blow, Adams' contemporary writings say little about his reaction to the appointment other than a letter to Benjamin Franklin of 25 August, below. Adams declared “I am very apprehensive that our new Commission will be as useless as my old one. Congress might very safely I believe permit Us all to go home, if We find no other business, and stay there some Years: at least until every British Soldier in the United States is killed or captivated. Till then Britain will never think of Peace, but for the purposes of Chicanery.” For an account of Congress' decision to expand the number of peace negotiators, see Commissions and Instructions for Mediation and Peace, Editorial Note, 15 June, below; and the notes to the Joint Commission to Negotiate a Peace Treaty, 15 June, below.

From the original in the Adams Papers.