Papers of John Adams, volume 13

From Francis Dana

From Edmund Jenings

From John Jay, 1 September 1782 Jay, John JA


From John Jay, 1 September 1782 Jay, John Adams, John
From John Jay
Paris 1 Septr 1782 Dr Sir

I am this moment informed of a safe opportunity of conveying you a Letter, and as such another may not soon offer, I must not omit it.

My opinion coincides with yours as to the Impropriety of treating with our Enemies on any other than an equal footing. We have told mr Oswald so, and he has sent an Express to London to communicate it, and to require further Instructions. He has not yet recd. an answer. Herewith enclosed is a Copy of his Commission.1 Mr Vaughan has no public Character. Mr Fitzherbert is employed to talk about Preliminaries with this Court. Nothing I think will be done until the Return of Mr Oswalds Express. We shall then be enabled to form some Judgment of the british ministry's real Intentions.

Adieu. I have only time to add that I am with great Esteem Sir Your most obt. Servt

John Jay

RC (Adams Papers).


This is Oswald's commission of 25 July. A copy of that document, possibly the one enclosed by Jay is in the Adams Papers at that date. The most obvious difference between the commissions of Alleyne Fitzherbert and Richard Oswald is that Fitzherbert's appointment to negotiate a peace treaty was done under the King's inherent power to conduct foreign policy and appoint diplomatic representatives, while Oswald's was done pursuant to the statute, 22 George III, ch. 46, assented to in June, enabling the King to conclude a peace or truce with America. But the principal problem posed by Oswald's commission was that it failed to mention negotiations with the United States of America. Instead it authorized, empowered, and required Oswald β€œto treat, consult 413of and conclude with any Commissioner or Commissioners, named or to be named, by the said Colonies or Plantation, or Plantations, and any Body or Bodies Corporate or Politic, or any Assembly or Assemblies, or Description of Men, or any Person or Persons whatsoever, a Peace or a Truce with the said Colonies or Plantations, or any of them, or any part or parts thereof.” For the change in wording that made negotiations possible, see Oswald's second commission of 21 Sept. , below. JA included Oswald's 25 July commission, probably derived from the copy sent by Jay, in his letter of 16 Sept. to Robert R. Livingston (PCC, No. 84, IV, f. 169–172), but for the text of the commission see Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 5:613–614.