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JQA Diary, volume 31 22 February 1821
JQA Neal Millikan Adams-Onis Treaty Foreign Relations

22. V:45. Ratifications of the Florida Treaty—exchanged. General Vivés, came according to appointment, at One O’Clock to the Office of the Department of State, with Mr Salmon his Secretary of Legation. Our preparations were not entirely completed when he came, but were ready within half an hour. I then took the Treaty with the King of Spain’s ratification, myself—the General took the Treaty with the President’s Ratification, Mr Ironside held one of the Originals executed by me and Mr Onis; and Mr Salmon another— Mr Brent held the printed copy with the President’s proclamation. Mr Salmon read from the original in his hand, the Treaty; all the rest comparing their respective copies as he proceeded— I read in like manner the English, from the Treaty which we retain, with the Spanish ratification—both the ratifications were then examined and found correct. The triplicate certificates of the Exchange were then signed and sealed, observing the alternative precedence of signature, as had been done with Mr Onis— General Vivés and Mr Salmon then withdrew, taking with them the Treaty ratified by the President, and leaving that with the Ratification of the King of Spain— I went immediately to the President’s— He signed the Proclamation of the ratified Treaty—and the Messages to the two Houses communicating it to them, as proclaimed— The Messages were sent, and that to the House of Representatives, was received while the House were in Session. The Senate had just adjourned when Mr Gouverneur who carried the Message reached the capital. I sent at the same time to both Houses the Report upon Weights and Measures, prepared, conformably to a Resolution of the Senate of 3. March 1817. and one of the House of Representatives of the 14th. of December 1819— And thus have terminated, blessed be God, two of the most memorable transactions of my life— This day two years have elapsed since the Florida Treaty was signed. Let my Sons if they ever consult this record of their father’s life, turn back to the reflections on the journal of that day—let them meditate upon all the vicissitudes which have befallen the Treaty and of which this Diary bears witness, in the interval between that day and this— Let them remark the workings of private interests, of perfidious fraud, of sordid intrigues, of royal treachery, of malignant rivalry and of envy masked with patriotism, playing to and fro across the atlantic into each others hands, all combined to destroy this Treaty between the signature and the ratification; and let them learn to put their trust in the overruling Providence of God. I considered the signature of the Treaty as the most important event of my life— It was an event of magnitude in the History of this Union. The apparent conclusion of the Negotiation, had been greatly and unexpectedly advantageous to this Country. It had at once disconcerted and stimulated my personal antagonists and rivals. It promised well for my reputation in the public opinion— Under the petals of this garland of roses the Scapin Onis had hidden a viper. His mock sickness, his use of de Neuville as a tool to perpetrate a fraud, which he did not dare attempt to carry through, himself, his doubts dealing before and after the signature, his fraudulent declarations to me, and his shuffling equivocations here and in Spain to acquire the reputation of having duped the President and me, were but materials in the hands of my enemies, to dose me with poison extracted from the laurels of the Treaty itself— An ambiguity of date, which I had suffered to escape my notice at the signature of the Treaty, amply guarded against by the phraseology of the Article, but leaving room to chicanery for a mere colourable question, was the handle, upon which the king of Spain, his rapacious favourites, and American swindling land jobbers, in conjunction withheld the ratification of the Treaty, while Clay and his admirers here were 529snickering at the simplicity with which I had been bamboozled by the crafty Spaniard. The partizans of Crawford, and Crawford himself were exulting in the same contemplation of a slur upon my sagacity, and delighting in the supposed failure of the negotiation, because its failure brought unavoidable disgrace upon me— By the goodness of that inscrutable Providence, which entraps dishonest artifice in its own snares, Onis divulged his trick too soon for its success— Clay was the first to snuff the fragrance of this hopeful blasting vapour, and to waft it as his tribute of incense to the President. The demand of a formal declaration by Spain, that the grants in question were by the Treaty null and void, completely and unequivocally obtained at last, has thoroughly disappointed all the calculators of my downfall by the Spanish Negotiation, and left me with credit rather augmented than impaired by the result. It now remains for the Treaty to receive its Execution, and the aid of the same overruling hand is implored that it may prove as advantageous to this Union, as its warmest friends ever anticipated— The Report on Weights and Measures is a work of different character.— The call of both Houses of Congress for a Report upon a subject which has occupied for the last sixty years many of the ablest men in Europe, and to which all the power, and all the philosophical and mathematical learning and ingenuity of France and of Great-Britain have been incessantly directed, was a fearful and oppressive task— It has now been executed, and it will be for the public judgment to pass upon it— The manuscript has been seen only by the Clerks in the Department who made copies of it, and by Mr Calhoun the Secretary of War— I communicated it to him with the request that he would peruse it and suggest any alterations which he should think advisable— He recommended the striking out of a few passages, amounting in the whole to about half a page, and two or three variations of expression— His opinion of the work was favourable; though he thinks the objection will be made that it is too much of a Book, for a mere official Report— I altered and erased every passage which he disapproved, though Mr Bailey told me he thought one of them ought to have been spared— It is, after all the time and pains that I have bestowed upon it a hurried and imperfect work; but I have no reason to expect that I shall ever be able to accomplish any literary labour more important to the best ends of human exertion, public utility, or upon which the remembrance of my children, may dwell with more satisfaction. Yet let me trust, and hope— We had company to dine with us. Messrs. S. Thompson, Secretary of the Navy, Elliott, Horsey, Lanman, Taylor, Senators, Cuthbert, Fay, Foot, Hill, Montgomery, Charles Pinckney, Ringgold, Sloane, Tucker of Virginia, and Williams of North-Carolina, Members of the House of Representatives— Messrs Eaton, Morril, Palmer, and Williams of Mississippi Senators, and Mr Maclay, a member of the House, were invited, but sent excuses, or did not come— In the Evening, with Mrs. Adams and the young Ladies, I attended a Ball at Brown’s Hotel in honour of Washington’s birthday. The President was a short time there. We stayed till after supper. Home, about midnight.