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Full text of "The diplomatic correspondence of the American Revolution, being the letters of Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, John Adams, John Jay, Arthur Lee, William Lee, Ralph Izard, Francis Dana, William Carmichael, Henry Laurens, John Laurens, M. de Lafayette, M. Dumas, and others, concerning the foreign relations of the United States during the whole Revolution; together with the letters in reply from the secret committee of Congress, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, also the entire correspondence of the French ministers, Gerard and Luzerne, with Congress"

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Published under the Direction of the President of the United States, from 
the original Manuscripts in the Departmentof State, conformably ' 
to u Resolution of Congress, of March 27th, 1818. 







1830. ,j . ,(Z' 

Steam Powdr Press— W. L. Lewis' Print,, 
No. 6, Congress Street, Boston.^ 






— ©©&- 


To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, December 14tli, 

1782, 3 

The King of Sweden's compliment to the United 
States. — The signing of the prehminaries an- 
nounced to Parhament. — Quotes a note from the 
Courier de I'Europe. — Requests leave to return. 

Robert R. Livingston to John Adams. Philadel- 
phia, December 19th, 1782, - - - - 4 
Mr Jefferson accepts his appointment. — Financial 
arrangements for raising a revenue. . 

To Charles W. F. Dumas. Paris, January 1st, 

1783, - - - - - - - 6 

M. Brantzen. — Conversation with Mr Oswald on 
freedom of navigation. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, January 22d, 

1783, - - - - - - - 8 

Preliminaries and armistice between England, and 
Spain, and France, signed and sealed .-^Terms 
England offers to the Dutch. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, January 23d, 

1763, 10 

Grounds of Mr Adams's opinions of European poli- 
tics. — Mr Laurens's services. — The northern 
powers friendly to America. — America has suf- 
fered byreposing confidence in a certain minister. 


To C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, January 29th, 1783, 13 

Proceedings of Congress in reference to the armed 
neutrality. — America is ready to accede to its 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, February 5th, 

1783, ---..-__ 14 

Causes of the revocation of his commission for nego- 
tiating a treaty of commerce with Great Britain. — 
Recommends the appointment of a Minister to 
England for negotiating a treaty of commerce. — 
Mr Adams's idea of the qualifications necessary 
for an American Minister, particularly at the Eng- •, 
lish Court. — Address and fluency in speaking 
French of little importance. — Mr Jay's services 
and qualifications. 

Robert R. Livingston to John Adams. Philadel- 
phia, February 13th, 1783, - - - - 23 

Financial embarrassments of the country. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, IVJarch 2d, 1783, 25 

Transmitting an application from a French house at 

Leghorn to be appointed consul or commercial * 

agent of the United States. 

Robert R. Livingston to John Adams. Philadel- 
phia, April 14th, 1783, - - _ _ 26 

Ambiguous expressions in the declaration of the ces- 
sation of hostilities. — Affairs of the Dutch. — Mr 
Adams's accounts. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, April 14th, 1783, 28 

Mr Hartley succeeds Mr Oswald. — Prospect of a 
general congress at Paris. 

To Robert Morris. Paris, May 21st, 1783, - 30 

The Dutch loan ; perplexities and embarrassments. — 
Wishes to be at home to persuade the Americans 
to pay taxes and build ships. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, May 24th, 1783, 31 

A temporary regulation of commerce with England 
will be necessary. — The American ministers in- 
vited to London with a promise that they should 
be treated as the ministers of other sovereign 
states. — The English court wishes to interchanore 
ministers with America. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, May 30th, 1783, 34 

Receives the ratification by Congress of the treaty 
with Holland. — Delay in the negotiations of the 
definitive treaty. 

■ To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, June 9th, 1783, 35 

"Letters from a Distinguished American," written 
by Mr Adams. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, June 16th, 1783, 36 
Ambiguities in the articles of the provisional treaty 


occasioned by the critical state of affairs. — The 
Dutch have been of important service in bringing 
about the termination of the war. — Expresses a 
wish to return ; is unwilling to remain in Europe 
if the embassy to England is given to any other 
person. — Policy to be pursued in raising a loan in 
Holland. — Conduct of General Washington dur- 
ing the discontent in the army. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, June 23d, 1783, 41 

Obstacles in the way of agreeing upon a regulation 
of commerce. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, June 23d, 1783, 42 

Embarrassments of the English Ministry. — A party 
in England in favor of restricting the commerce 
of the Americans. — America and the West Indies 
are mutually necessary to each other. — Thinks it 
politic to revive the trade on the former footing, if 
necessary. * 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, June 24tb, 1783, 45 

Fictions of the European Gazetteers. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, June 27tb, 1783, 46 

Progress of the negotiations of the other powers. — 
Expects to obtain nothing more favorable than the 
terms of the provisional treaty. — Conduct, charac- 
ter, and materials of tlie British Ministry. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, June 27th, 1783, 48 

American ships arrive in England. — Dubious policy 
of the Ministry. — The American Ministers would 
effect more in England. — France does not desire 
a reconciliation between England and the United 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 3d, 1783, 51 

The American Ministers make visits to the Ministers 
of all the powers. — The coalition. — The commerce 
with the West Indies. — Receives a visit from the 
Ambassador of the Emperor of Germany. — The 
other Ministers return his visit. 
To Robert Morris. Paris, July 5th, 1783, - 56 

State of affairs in Europe at the moment of signing 
the peace. — Expediency of signing it without con- 
sulting the French Minister. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 7th, 1783, 59 

The British Ministry avoid any definitive proposi- 
tions. — Tlie West India commerce in regard to 
the different powers. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 9th, 1783, 63 

Mediation of the Imperial Courts. — Explains the 
necessity for concealing the separate article from 
France ; and for signing the treaty without a pre- 
vious communication of it to the French Court. — 
The foreign Ministers cease to treat the American 
Ministers with reserve. 



To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 10th, 1783, 67 

French policy in regard to the fisheries. — Letter of 
M. Marbois. — M. de Rayneval's correspondence 
with Mr Jay. — France wishes the exclusion of the 
Americans from the West Indies. 

To Robert Morris. Paris, July 10th, 1783, - 70 

Means of raising a loan in Holland. 

To Robert Morris. Paris, July Uth, 1783, - 72 

Necessity of sustaining the credit of the United 
States by providing for the prompt settlement of 
all claims. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 11th, 1783, 74 

Obligations of America to France. — Reasons for 
maintaining a close connexion with France. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 12th, 1783, 75 

Algiers. — Negotiations with Portugal. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 13th, 1783, 77 
Reasons for forming a treaty of commerce with the 
Emperor of Germany. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 14th, 1783, 81 

Jealousy of American ships and trade in France and 
England. — Proclamation of the English court per- 
mitting intercourse between America and the 
West Indies in British vessels. — Fish, potash and 
pearlash not admitted. — This measure is the result 
of French policy. — Remedies to be applied by 
To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 14th, 1783, 85 

Exclusive policy of the European powers in regard 
to commerce. — Views of Austria and Russia to- 
wards the Black Sea, the Danube, the Archipel- 
ago and Turkey. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 15th, 1783, 88 

Mr Hartley offers no definitive propositions. — "Ob- 
servations on the American States." 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 16th, 1783, 89 
Visit to the Count de Vergennes. — Conversation 
relative to the West India commerce. — Means of 
retaliating the British restrictions on the com- 
merce with their islands. — The Americans ought 
to send ships to China. — Doubtful complexion of 
British politics. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 17th, 1783, 94 

Conversation with Mr Hartley on the English tra>de 
and policy in the East. — Importance of forming 
commercial connexions with the Dutch. — Con- 
versation with the Due de la Vauguyon relative 
to the French and English policy in Eastern 
Europe ; on the colonial commerce. — The British 
restrictive policy will produce wars. 




To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, July 18th, 1783, 99 

The United States must counteract French and 
British policy by forming connexions with other 
nations. — Necessity of a common authority in 
America for managing foreign affairs, regulating 
commerce, raising a revenue, &c. — The friend- 
ship of the Dutch must be secured. 

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, July 23cl, 

1783, .__--- - 103 

Sugar trade, and sugar refineries may be carried on 
by Americans as well as by the Dutch. — Conver- 
sation with M. Visscher and M. Van Berckel on 
the trade with the Dutch Colonies. — M. Van 
Berckel's remarks on a loan in Holland. — Conver- 
sation with the Prince of Orange on the ranks of 
foreign Ministers. 

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, July 25th, 

1783, 109 

Intrigues of the English to restore their former con- 
nexions with Holland. — The Dutch complain of 
having been deceived by the French Ministers. — 
No progress in the negotiations between England 
and Holland. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Amsterdam, July 28th, 

1783, - - - - - - - 112 

Sugar trade. — American loan in Holland. — Loans of 
the other powers there. 

To Robert Morris. Amsterdam, July 28th, 1783, 115 

The loan in Holland. — Suggests the expediency of 
sending out ships loaded by the States with their 
respective staples. — Probability of obtaining a loan 
in England. 

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, July 30th, 

1783, - - - - ' - - - 117 

Trade with the Dutch Colonies. — Account of the 
limits, «&c. of the Dutch West India Company re- 
ceived from the secretary. — General commerce 
with the European West India Colonies. 

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, July 31st, 

1783, --.._-. 122 

Conversation witli the Sardinian Minister, who ad- 
vises the sending of a circular by Congress to the 
European powers, giving an account of the Dec- 
laration of Independence, of the acknowledg- 
ment by other powers, &c. ; recommends com- 
mercial connexions with Italy ; remarks on the 
Austrian policy towards Turkey. — Efforts to de- 
tach Holland from her connexion with France. 


To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, August 

1st, 1783, - - - - - - - - 127 

Conversation with the Portuguese Minister on com- 
mercial matters. — Dr Franklin's treaty with Por- 

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, August 2d, 

1783, ------- 131 

Conversation with M. Berenger on the European 
politics of the day. 

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, August 3d, 

1783, - - 133 

Necessity of securing reciprocity in the commercial 
treaties. — Dissatisfaction in Holland with France. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, August 10th, 

1783, ------- 136 

Interview with the Spanish and Portuguese Minis- 
ters on commercial subjects. — Extraordinary in- 
crease of the commerce of the neutrals. — No pro- 
gress in the negotiation. — Causes of the delay. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, August 13th, 

1783, - - - - - - - 140 

Exchange ratifications of the provisional treaty with 
Mr Hartley. — The project of a definitive treaty 
produced by Mr Hartley in the words of the pro- 
visional treaty. — Mr Hartley objects to the media- 
tion of the Imperial Courts. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, August 13th, 

1783, - - - - - - - 143 

Probable policy of France in regard to Turkey. — 
Situation of the Count de Vergennes considered 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, August 13th, 

1783, ------- 145 

Expresses his discontent with Dr Franklin's nego- 
tiating treaties with several powers without com- 
municating with other Ministers. — Remarks on 
the treaty with Denmark. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Paris, August 15th, 

1783, ------- 149 

The belligerent powers except Holland are agreed. — 
Remarks of M. Brantzen on the conduct, policy, 
and situation of the Count de Vergennes. — The 
Queen and some of the council are opposed to him. 

To the President of Congress. Paris, September 

5th, 1783, - - - - - - - 152 

The definitive treaty signed, sealed, and delivered. — 
A new commission necessary for negotiating a 
treaty of commerce. — The Count de Vergennes 



was not desirous of admitting the mediation of 
the Imperial Courts. — Mr Adams regrets not hav- 
ing admitted the mediation. — Policy of forming 
commercial connexions with the European powers. 

To Elias Boudinot, President of Congress. Paris, 

September 8th, 1783, - - - - - 166 

Accepts the joint commission for negotiating a 
treaty of commerce with England. — Advises that 
it be extended to the other powers. 

To the President of Congress. Paris, September 

.8th, 1783, _ - 158 

Management of the European Journals. — Courier de 

To the President of Congress. Paris, September 

10th, 1783, 160 

Advises the opening of negotiations with all the 
Courts of Europe, and with the Barbary powers. 


To the President of Congress. St Pierre's, Mar- 
tinique, December 20th, 1779, _ _ _ 171 

Action at sea between the French and Englisii. 

To the President of Congress. St Pierre's, Mar- 
tinique, December 22d, 1779, - - - 172 

Repairs of the ship. 

To the President of Congress. St Pierre's, Mar- 
tinique, December 24ih, 1779, - - - 174 

An account of the condition of the ship, and tlie 
causes of his favoring the steering for Martinique. 

To the President of Congress. St Pierre's, Mar- 
tinique, December 25th, 1779, _ _ _ 190 

Recommends Mrs Smith to the attention of Con- 


To the President of Congress. St Pierre's, Mar- 
tinique, December 25th, 1779, - - - 191 

Draws on the fund for the payment of his salary' 
for a hundred guineas, to be distributed among 
the officers of the Confederacy. 

To the President of Congress. St Pierre's, Mar- 
tinique, December 26th, 1779, - - - 192 

M. Gerard proposes to send home the Confederacy 
to refit. — She is permitted to refit in Martinique, 
and a French frigate is ordered to carry Mr Jay 



and M. Gerard to France. — Mr Bingham's ser- 
To Arthur Lee. Cadiz, January 26th, 1780, - 194 

Requests of Mr Lee information. 

To the Count de Vergennes. Cadiz, January 27th, 

1?80, _------ 195 

Recapitulation of former proceedings relative to 
Spain. — Requests the interposition of the King in 
favor of America. 

To Don Joseph Galvez, Minister of the Spanish 

Court. January 27th, 1780, - - - - 199 

Stipulation in the treaty between France and the 
United States providing for the accession of 
Spain. — Mr Jay appointed to carry it into effect. 

To the President of Congress. Cadiz, January 

27th, 1780, - 202 

Reasons for his landing in Cadiz. 

Instructions to William Carmichael. Cadiz, Janu- 
ary 27th, 1780, ------ 203 

Directions as to his conduct towards M. Galvez, the 
Spanish Minister, and the French Ambassador, 
for procuring information. 

William Carmichael to John Jay. Madrid, Febru- 
ary 15th, 1780, 207 

Cordial reception by the French Ambassador. — 
Should have been addressed to the Count de 
Florida Blanca. — Prospect of reception by the 
Spanish Ministry. — M. Miralles has been in- 
structed to assist in the conquest of Florida. — 
There is no coldness between the French and 
Spanish Courts. 

To the President of Congress. Cadiz, February 
. 20th, 1780, - - - - - - 209 

Mr Bingham advanced the hundred guineas distrib- 
uted among the officers of the Confederacy. 

Count de Florida Blanca to John Jay. Pardo, 

February 24th, 1780, - - - - - 210 

Expresses his Majesty's satisfaction with Mr Jay's 
arrival, and declares there is no obstacle to his 
coming to Court in an informal character. 

To William Carmichael. Cadiz, February 25th, 

1780, - - - - - - - 211 

Was informed by M. Gerard that M. Galvez was 
the Minister with whom all business with the 
United States was to be transacted. — Wished to 
have discovered the sentiments of Spain towards 
America, independently of French influence. — 
Requests further information as to the instructions 
to M. Miralles. 




To the President of Congress. Cadiz, February 

29th, 1780, 215 

Transmitting papers. — Generally believed that the 
American islands will be the theatre of the next 
To the President of Congress. Cadiz, March 3d, 

1780, - - "- - - - - 216 

M. Guatier of Barcelona desires to be American 
consul there. — Necessity for consuls in Spain. 

To the President of Congress. Cadiz, March 3d, 

1780, - - - - - - - 217 

Reason for not making personal application to the 
Ministry at first. — Policy of France. — M. Gerard's 
opinion. — Spain is already at war with England. 

De Neufville k. Son to John Jay. Amsterdam, 
April Gth, 1780, - - - r - - 219 

Congratulations on his arrival. 

Answer to De Neufville &t Son. Madrid, April 
27th, 1780, ------ 219 

Their letters to Congress were received before his 
departure. — The success of America important to 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, May 26th, 

1780, 220 

Arrival at Cadiz. — Draws on Dr Franklin. — Extract 
of a letter from Dr Franklin (April 7th, 1780), 
contradicting the report that the Loan Office bills 
payable in France were not honored. — Certificate 
of Mr Grand to the same effect. — Correspondence 
with Mr Lee. — Letter of the Count de Vergennes 
in reply to that of Mr Jay announcing his arri- 
val.— Reply of Mr Jay (Aranjues, May Uth, 1780), 
to the Count de Vergennes assuring him of his- 
confidence in M. de Montmorin. — M. Gerard in- 
forms him that he should address himself to M. 
Galvez. — Writes to that Minister. — Answered by 
the Count de Florida Blanca. — Letter of Mr Jay 
(Cadiz, March Cth, 1780), to the Count, express- 
ing the confidence of the United States in the 
King's favorable disposition, and declaring his in- 
tention of setting out for Madrid. — Arrives at 
Madrid. — Questions from the Count de Florida 
Blanca (dated March 9th, 1780), requesting infor- 
mation on the civil and military state of the 
American Provinces. — Reply of Mr Jay (Madrid, 
April 25th, 1780), to the preceding questions, com- 
prising his commission and that of Mr Carmichael, 
with details in reply to the questions ; the demo- 
cratic nature of the American governments ren- 
ders a knowledge of their affairs easily attainable. 


1. The Civil State ; population of each State ; 
government of each State and the Articles of the 
Confederation ; disposition of the people, who 
were at first only desirous of a redress of griev- 
ances, but now^ determined on independence, with 
the grounds of this opinion ; there is no British 
party in America; revenues; public debts; re- 
sources ; possibility of supporting their credit in 
the operations of Government, in commerce, in 
the protection of the national industry ; advan- 
tages to result to Spain from tiie independence of 
American States, in the reduction of the British 
power, and in the commerce with America ; ability 
of the United States to furnish naval stores. 

2. The Military State ; number of the troops; 
the commander in chief; means of recruiting by 
the militia ; deficiency of arms, of clothing ; 
means of subsistence ; naval forces ; the people will 
not submit ; their disposition towards the Kings of 
France and of Spain ; financial embarrassments ; 
sending supplies to America would be the surest 
means of humiliating Great Britain. — Receives 
the resolutions of Congress drawing on Mr Lau- 
rens and himself for £100,000 sterling each. — 
Letter of Mr Jay (Aranjues, April 29th, 1780), to 
the Count de Florida Blanca in consequence of 
the foregoing resolution, giving an account of the 
financial operations of Congress, and requesting 
aid from his Majesty. — Conference with the 
Count on the subject of the preceding letter ; the 
Count states that Spain has been subject to heavy 
expenses during the preceding year, but that his 
Majesty intends to give America all assistance in 
his power, and has directed him to confer witli his 
colleagues in the Ministry on this point ; wishes 
Mr Jay to contract to furnish Spain with frigates 
and liglit vessels ; promises to engage in the 
King's name to pay the bills of e.'^change if pre- 
sented ; the pretensions of America to the naviga- 
tion of the Mississippi an obstacle to a treaty. — 
Letter of Mr Jay (Aranjues, May 12th, 1780), to 
the Count de Florida Blanca stating his confiden- 
tial connexion with the French Ambassador, and 
wishing to know if lie may communicate to him 
the subject of the conference. — Reply of the 
Count de Florida Blanca (Aranjues, May i4th, 
1780). — Mr Jay's note to the French Ambassador 
informing him of Sir J. Dalrymple's arrival at 
Madrid. — Note of M. de Montmorin in reply, de- 
claring his entire confidence in the Spanish Minis- 
try. — Extract of a letter from Mr Jay (April 26th 
1780), to Mr Adams informing him of Sir J. Dal- 
rymple's arrival at Aranjues. — Sir J. Dalrymple 
requests permission to go through Spain, and a 



passport through France, — Sir J. Dairy mple pre- 
sents to the Count de Florida Blanca Lord Roch- 
ford's project to prevent the war by a confedera- 
tion between France, Spain, Portugal and Eng- 
land ; the confederates to guaranty mutually 
their Colonial possessions ; to participate in the 
commerce of the English Colonies under certain 
limitations, to be settled by five persons, one from 
each country ; to settle the contested privileges 
of the Americans on just principles ; disadvan- 
tages resulting to Spain from the independence of 
the English American Colonies, first by promoting 
a contraband trade between the American States 
and the Spanish Colonies, and secondly by expos- 
ing the Spanish Colonies to the attacks of the 
Americans, who will soon form establishments 
in the South Seas ; all Europe is interested in 
preventing the independence of America. — The 
Gardoquis ; Mr Jay is destitute of resources ; dif- 
ficulty of conveying intelligence ; expenses of a 
Minister at the Spanish Court ; coldly treated by 
the Ministers of the Northern powers ; ignorance 
of American affairs in Spain ; the secrets of Con- 
gress well known to the Spanish and French 

To the Committee of Foreign AfFaifs. Madrid, 

May 27th, 1780, ------ 282 

Mr Laurens is not arrived. 

To James Lovell. Madrid, May 27lh, 1780, - 283 

Want of intelligence from America. 

William Carmichael to John Jay. Aranjues, May 

27th, 1780, - - - - - - 283 

Destination of the Spanish fleet. 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, May 28th, 

1780, - - - - - - - 284 

Enclosing the preceding, the information in which 
he considers authentic. 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, May 30tli, 

1780, ------- 285 

Receives the resolution of Congress, desiring the 
Ex-Presidents of Congress to lodge their public 
correspondence in the Secretary's office. — Mr Jay 
did this at the time of his retirement from the 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, May 30th, 

1780, - - 285 

Bills drawn upon him are arrived. 

De Neufville k, Son to John Jay. Without date, 28G 

Bills drawn on Mr Laurens, who is not arrived. — 
Have promised the holders to accept them. 



De Neufville & Son to John Jay. Amsterdam, 

June 1st, 1780, ------ 287 

Are williag to accept the bills drawn on Mr Lau- 
rens, provided they are permitted to draw on Dr 
Franklin at seven or eight months. , 

De Neufville k, Son to John Jay. Amsterdam, 

June Sth, 1780, 288 

Have accepted the bills on Mr Laurens, and request 
that some method of reimbursing them may be 

Committee of Foreign Affairs to John Jay. Phil- 
adelphia, June 16th, 1780, - - - - 288 

Reasons for drawing on him. — Have drawn for an 
additional sum. 

To De Neufville h Son, at Amsterdam. Madrid, 

June 18th, 1780, - 290 

Thanking them for their offer to accept the bills 
drawn on Mr Laurens. 

To De Neufville h Son. Madrid, June 25th, 

1780, - - 291 

Is uncertain whether he shall be able to reimburse 
them for their advances. 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, July 10th, 

1780, - 292 

Remittances from America are necessary. 

De Neufville k, Son to John Jay. Amsterdam, July 
13th, 1780, 293 

Cannot accept any more bills. — Would undertake a 
loan if authorised. 

De Neufville 8i Son to John Jay. Amsterdam, July 
28th, 1780, ------ 295 

Dr Franklin has offered to accept further bills drawn 
on Mr Laurens ; they will therefore continue to 
accept those presented. 

To De Neufville & Son. Madrid, July 29th, 

1780, - - - - - - - 296 

Has not power to authorise them to raise a loan. — 
The capture of Charleston will have no effect on 
the determination of the Americans. 

To De Neufville h Son. Madrid, August 16th, 

1780, - - -.-.-- - 298 

Expresses his sense of their friendly conduct to- 
wards America. 

To Silas Deane. St Edefonso, Seplemher Sth, 

1780, - - - - - - - 299 

Desires to correspond with him. 


To the President of Congress. St Ildefonso, Sep- 
tember 1 6th, 1780, ----- 299 

It is necessary to cease drawing- bills on him. — The 
King of Spain has offered his responsibility to 
facilitate a loan. 

Instructions to John Jay. In Congress, October 

4th, 1780, -- - - - " - - - 300 

Directing him to insist on the navigation of the 
Mississippi. — The boundar}'. — Florida. 

To De NeulVille &i Son. Madrid, October 4th, 

1780, _ - - - _ - _ 302 

Connexion between Holland and the United States. 
— Shall recommend their house to Congress. — 
Spanis?! ordinance establishino' a paper curren- 
cy. — Effect of this measure on the bills drawn on 
him ; wishes to know if money could be raised in 
Holland for Congress on the joint credit of Spain 
and the United States. 

To James Lovell. Madrid, October 27th, 1780, 304 

Difficulties of finding a safe conveyance for his let- 
ters. — Receives little information from the com- 
mittee. — M. Dohrmer. 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, Novem- 
ber 6th, 1780, ------ 306 

The Abbe Hussey arrives at Madrid with INIr Cum- 
berland. — Notes of Mr Jay's conference with the 
Count de Florida Blanca. — Conference of Mr 
Carmichael with the Minister. — Note from the 
Count de Florida Blanca (Aranjues. June !), 1780), 
to Mr Jay on tlie subject of aids ; his Majesty is 
•willing to become responsible at tlie expiration of 
two years to the holders of the bills drawn on 
Mr Jay, provided Congress will build four frigates 
and some light vessels for tlie King ; the Ameri- 
cans may send for stores to the Spanish ports for 
this purpose ; the squadron manned by Americans 
and under Spanish colors to intercept the English 
East India vessels. — Reply of Mr' Jay (Aranjues, 
June Dth, 1780); expectations of the Americans 
from Spain ; the holders of the bills will prefer 
recovering the amount on protest, to waiting for 
the payment two years ; the Spanish treasure 
from America may arrive before the bili.s become 
payable ; Mr Jay is authorised to pledge the faith 
of the United States for the repayment of any 
sums his Majesty may lend ; former aids ; Con- 
gress lias not the resources necessary for building 
ships ; difl^lcalty of manning them with American 
sailors, who prefer sailing in privateers; the 
country is not in a condition to undertake foreign 
enterprises; the Americans will always be ready 


to cooperate with Spain against the Floridas or 
elsewhere ; unfavorable conclusions will be drawn 
as to the condition of Spain, if she cannot supply 
such aid to men in arms against her enemy. — Mr 
Jay's reasons for not touching on other points of 
the proposition. — Note from Mr Jay to the Count, 
informing him of a new draft. — Reply of the 
Count, promising to pay the bill, and declaring 
that no more can be paid without consulting 
the Kingj the proposition of the Count having 
been rejected, it becomes necessary for Mr Jay to 
devise other means. — Reply of Mr Jay to the 
preceding (Madrid, June 22d, 1780), proposing as 
a means of paying the bills the advance of the 
£25,000 to £40,000 sterling promised ; the sum 
necessary for building the shipiS cannot, be raised 
by Congress ; America cannot pay the debts oc- 
casioned by the war till peace ; advantages re- 
sulting to Spain by the furnishing of aid to Amer- 
ica. — Reasons for not pushing the treaty at this 
time. — J^etter from Mr Jay to the Count de Flor- 
ida Blanca (Madrid, June 28th, 1780), transmit- 
ting the resolutions of Congress, directing that 
bills be issued redeemable in specie in six years ; 
this plan may enable the United States to supply 
the vessels, his Majesty becoming responsible for 
a certain part of the sum so issued. — Note from 
Mr Jay to the Count de Florida Blanca, stating 
that he has been called on to accept new bills. — 
Reply of the Count de Florida Blanca, declaring 
nothing can be done in regard to the new drafts 
without consulting the King and the other Minis- 
teis ; requests further e.xplanations of Mr Jay's 
plan for furnishing the ships and engaging the re- 
sponsibility of the King. — Note from the Count 
de Florida Blanca to Mr Jay, requesting to know 
when the bills lately arrived will become due. — 
News 'of the capture of Charleston. — Mr Jay's 
notes of a conference with the Count de Florida 
Blanca, July 5th ; capture of Charleston ; death 
of M. Miralies ; the Count advises Mr Jay to be 
cautious of Messrs Joyce, who hold the bills ; re- 
grets the precipitancy of Congress in drawing ; 
specie might have been remitted from the Spanish 
Colonies directly to the United States ; remarks 
on the deranged state of the finances of the 
United States ; the difficulty of raising money in 
Europe ; wishes to wait the arrival of a certain 
person ; Mr Jay observes, that Congress have 
adopted measures for restoring the finances ; sug- 
gests that Spain might furnish aid by bills on 
Havana ; states in reply to a question of the 
Count, that ship timber may be furnished from 
America ; urges the importance of accepting the 
bills; reminds the Minister of the piomise of 



^c'lotliing ; evasive and uncertain nature of this 
conference. — Note from Mr Jay to the Count de 
Florida Blanca (Madrid, July 11th, 1780), inform- 
ing him that new bills have been presented ; the 
Messrs Joyce consent to have their bills payable 
at Bllboa. — Answer of the Count to the preceding, 
desiring a delay till the arrival of a certain per- 
son. — Mr Jay requests that Mr Harrison be al- 
lowed to remain at Cadiz. — Note from the Count 
de Florida Blanca (July ^Oth), granting Mr Har- 
rison permission to remain at Cadiz ; still waits 
the arrival of the person above mentioned. — Note 
from Mr Jay to the Count de Florida Blanca 
(August 11th), announcing the presentation of 
more bills. — Reply of the Count de Florida 
Blanca, regretting that he must still wait the ar- 
rival of a certain person. — Letter of Mr Jay (Mad- 
rid, August ICth, 1780), to the Count de Florida 
Blanca, stating that the holders of the bills grow 
impatient. — Letter of Mr Jay to tlie Count de 
Florida Blanca (Madrid, August 18th, 1780), in- 
forming him that bills have been received by the 
Gardoquis, whi^hwill be immediately presented. — 
Letter from Mr Jay to the Count de Florida 
Blanca (St lldefonso, August 25th, 1780), urging 
the necessity of providing for the acceptance of 
the bills. — Mr Jay's notes of a conference with 
the French Ambassador, August 27tli ; Mr Jay 
gives an account of his proceedings since his ar- 
rival, and requests the Ambassador to obtain an 
answer for him from the Spanish Minister ; Mr 
Jay was encouraged to expect that he should be 
supplied with money to meet tiie bills ; the Am- 
bassador thinks that the Spanish Minister will 
pay the bills, and promises to speak to him on the 
subject. — Subsequent coolness of the French 
Ambassador. — Second visit to him; he advises 
Mr Jay to write again to the Count de Florida 
Blanco, praying an audience; Mr 'Jay declines 
making any supplications, or purchasing by con- 
cessions the acknowledgment of independence ; 
declares his determination to write on the subject 
of the treaty, and if treated with the same neglect 
to return ; conduct of France. — Mr Jay consents 
to send MrCarmichael to the Minister. — Note from 
the Count de Florida Blanca introducing M. Gardo- 
qui. — Conversation with M. Gardoqui on the sub- 
ject of the bills; second conversation with M. Gar- 
doqui, who proposes the surrender of the navigation 
of the Mississippi. — Objections to this measure. — 
Conversation with M. Del Campo on the same 
subjects. — Conversation with the Secretary of the 
French Ambassador. — M. Gardoqui informs him 
from the Count de Florida Blanca that no more 
bills can be paid bj' Spain. — Letter of Mr Jay 



(St Ildefonso, September 14tli, 1780), to the 
Count de Florida Blanca, requesting to know if 
any aid is to be expected from Spain. — Answer to 
the preceding, dictated by M. Del Campo, in the 
name of tlie Count de Florida Blanca, to M. Gar- 
doqui, declaring the readiness of his Majesty to 
assist the States. — Letter from Mr Jay to Count 
de Vergennes (St Ildefonso, September 22d,1780), 
giving an account of his proceedings in Spain ; 
requesting the aid of France in meeting the 
bills. — Lelter of Mr Jay to Dr Frankhn (same 
date), on the same subject. — Notes of a conference 
between Mr Jay and the Count de Florida Blanca 
(September 23d) ; satisfaction of the King with 
the measures of Congress for supplying the Span- 
ish forces in the West Indies ; plan of the English 
Court to attempt an accommodation with Amer- 
ica ; Mr Jay enters upon the points mentioned in 
the paper dictated to M. Gardoqui ; on the manner 
of making known tlie King's responsibility ; on 
the Kino-s beinu- disgusted with the drawing of 
bills without his consent, and without terms of re- 
compense ; the bills were drawn on Mr Jay, and 
, the faith of the United States was pledged for the 

payment of any sum advanced ; Mr Jay wishes 
the evidence of an understanding between Amer- 
ica and England ; Congress had given proofs of 
friendship by sending a Minister to negotiate trea- 
ties of amity and alliance ; the delajang of the 
negotiations owing to the Minister not sending 
the promised notes on the subject ; terms of such 
a treaty ; Spain ought not to expect the expenses 
of the war will be refunded ; America will be 
ready to render every assistance possible. — Mr Jay 
returns to Madrid and accepts the bills. — Equivo- 
cal nature of the Spanish policy. — Extract of a 
letter from the Count de Vergennes to the French 
Ambassador, stating that it will be difficult to 
make advances to Mr Jay. — Letter from Messrs 
Couteulx and Co. to Mr Jay (Cadiz, October 3d, 
1780), complaining of the expenses and difficulty 
of supplying and sending home American sea- 
men. — Mr Jay to Messrs Couteulx and Co. 
(Madrid, October loth, 1780), directing them to 
settle accounts with Mr Harrison. — Difficulties in 
the conveyance of correspondence. — A copy of the 
correspondence of the Commissioners in France 
in the hands of a certain foreigner. 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, November 
SOth, 1780, - - - _ - - 389 

Enclosing copies of papers from Morocco. — Delays 
of the Spanish Court. — Remarks on the enclosed 
account of the revenues and expenditures of 
Spain for 1778, 



From D'Audibert Caille to John Jay. Aranjues, 

April 21st, 1780, - " . " . " - 392 

Is autliorised to declare the pacific inftntions of the 
Emperor of Morocco towards the United States. 

To D'Audibert Caille, - - - - - 393 

Expresses his satisfaction with the disposition of the 
Emperor of Morocco. 

Copy of M. D'Audibert Caille's Appointment, 394 

Copy of M. D'Audibert Caille's appointment to 
oUlciate as consul of all nations, who have no 
consul in Morocco. 

Copy of the Declaration by the Emperor of Mo- 
rocco, February 20th 1778, - - - - 395 

Certificate of Pedro Umbert, that the above is con- 
formable to the truth. 

Certificate of M. D'Audibert Caille. December 

1st, 1779, ------- 397 

Certificate of M. D'Audibert Caille that Don Pedro 
Umbert is employed for foreign affairs at the 
Court of Morocco. 

D'Audibert Caille to Congress. Sale, September 
6th, 1779, ------- 397 

The Emperor of Morocco intends to be at peace 
with the United States. 

General State of the Revenues of Spain in the 

Year 1778, ------ 399 

To the Committee of Foreign Aiiairs. Madrid, 

November 30th, 1780, - - - - 401 

Necessity of providing means for the safe convey- 
ance of the public correspondence. — His letters 
are opened and many kept back both, in Spain and 
the United States. 

Instructions to John Jay. In Congress, February 

15th, 1781, ------ 403 

Instructing him to recede from the demand of a free 
navigation of the Mississippi below 151 ^ . 

James Lovell to John Jay. February 20lh, 1781, 404 

Has received no letters from him of late. 

James Lovell to John Jay. March 9th, 1781, - 405 

Ratification of the articles of the Confederacy. 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, March 

22d, 1781, ------ 405 

Supplies from Spain. — Russian mediation. — M. 
Necker's report. 

To die President of Congress. Madrid, April 25th, 

1781, - - - - - - - 406 

Spain insists on the exclusive navigation of the 



Mississippi. — Letter from Mr Jay to De Neufville 
and Son (Madrid, January 8th, 1781), renouncing 
the idea o^ a" loan in Holland separate from that 
negotiated by Mr Adams. — Mr Jay's proceedings 
in regard to the payment of tlie bills.— Advises 
that the unfinished ships be sold to Spain. — Dis- 
position of Portugal. — Dr Frrnklin. — Mr Cumber- 
lands mission. — Disposition of Spain. 

The President of Congress to John Jay. In Con- 
gress, May 28th, 1781, - - - - 415 
' Expressing the satisfaction of Congress with his 
conduct. — Instructs him to disavow any under- 
standing between the United States and Great 
Britain ; to avoid referring to the treaty with 
France in his negotiations with Spain ; to declare 
that facilities will be granted for the exportation 
of naval stores for the Spanish marine ; to con- 
tinue to provide as far as possible for American 
seamen in Spain ; to o])en a correspondence with 
M. D'Audibert Caille. 

To the President of Congress. Aranjues, May 

29th, 1781, -.-__.. 419 

Conversation v/ith the Count de Florida Blanca on 
the admission of letiers. 

James Lovell to John Jay. Philadelphia, June 4th, 

1781, - - ■ 420 

The affair of the Dover cutter. 

James Lovell to John Jay. Philadelphia, June 

15th, 1781, 421 

Case of Dumain and Lyon. 

Robert Morris to John Jay. Philadelphia, July 
4th, 1781, - - -' - - - -421 

Mr Morris is appointed Superintendent of Finance. 
— Objects to be accomplislied by this office. — Ex- 
pectations of aid from Spain. — State of the finan- 
ces. — Disposition of the nation. — State of the 
army. — Advantages that will result to Spain by 
aiding America. — The United States cannot be 
dangerous to Spain. — Amount desired. 

Robert IMorris to John Jay. Philadelphia, July 

7th, 1781, ------- 435 

Necessity of immediate aids. 

Robert Morris to John Jay. Office of Finance, 

July 9th, 1781, - - - - - - 436 

Proposes a plan for sending home American seaman. 

Robert Morris to John Jay. Philadelphia, July 

13th, 178], ------ 438 

Reasons which induced him to adopt the enclosed 
plan of a national bank. — Wants aid from 

CONTENTS. xxiii 

Spain. — Suggests that an attempt should be made 
to obtain money from Portugal. 

Robert Morris to John Jay. Office of Finance, 

August 15th, 1781, 449 

Directing to protest certain bills, assigning as a 
reason his instructions. 

James Lovell to John Jay. Philadelphia, August 

15tli, 1781, ---___ 450 

Surrender of Pensacola. 

To the President of Congress, St Ildefonso, Sep- 
tember 20th, 1781, - - - _ _ 451 

Piegrets that instructions should have been given 
the American Ministers to concur in any terms to 
which France should accede. 

To the President of Congress. St Ildefonso, Oc- 
tober 3d, 1781, ------ 454 

Conversation with the Count de Florida Blanca, 
who complains that Congress has not shown 
any disposition to oblige the King ; remarks 
relative to M. Gardoqui. — Mr Jay regrets that 
the instructions concerning the Mississippi had 
not been kept secret ; use that might have 
been made of the claim. — Has another interview 
■with the Minister ; stoppage of the letters from 
America ; the affair of the Dover cutter ; cession 
of the claims of the United States to the naviga- 
tion of the Mississippi ; the Count remarks that 
these affairs can be settled at a general peace. — 
Letter from Mr Jay (Madrid, July 2d, 1781), to the 
Count de Florida Blanca, declaring that he has 
been instructed to cede the exclusive navigation 
of the Mississippi. — Letter from Mr Jay (Madrid, 
July 2d, 1781), to the Count de Montmorin, com- 
municating the above. — Receiving no ansv/er 
from the Minister, Mr Jay calls upon him, and is 
informed that he cannot attend to the matter. — 
Letters from Mr Jay (Madrid, July 13th, 1781), 
to the Count de Florida Blanca conmiunicating 
his instructions. — Note from the Count de Florida 
Blanca (St Ildefonso, July 1st, 1781), to Mr Jay 
proposing to attend to American affairs. — Mr 
Jay visits the Minister with Major Franks ; 
general conversation. — Renewed delays. — Let- 
ter from Mr Jay (St Ildefonso, September ]6th, 
1781), to the Count de Montmorin, enclosing 
the draft of a letter to the Count de Florida 
Blanca, and requesting the advice of the Ambas- 
sador. — Note from the Count de Florida Blanca 
to Mr Jay requesting him to call upon him. — 
Notes of the conference between Mr Jay and the 
Count de Florida Blanca (September 19th, 1781) ; 
the Count requests Mr Jay to draw up an outline 



of the proposed treaties ; aids ; commercial con- 
nexion ; treat}' of alliance ; the Count observes 
that Congress has done nothing to gratify the 
King ; a person will be appointed to confer fur- 
therewith Mr Ja}'. — Letter from Mr Jay (St Ilde- 
fonso, September 22d, 1781), to the Count de 
Florida Blanca requesting that some decisive 
measure be taken in regard to American affairs. — 
Propositions toward a plan of a treaty, with re- 
marks ; the subject of aids will require a separate 
convention ; also the regulation of the mutual 
conduct of the parties during the war. — Mr Ja}''s 
reason for limiting the duration of the offer con- 
, tained in the sixtli proposition, relating to the 
navigation of the Mississippi ; arts of Spain. — 
Note from the Count de Florida Blanca to Mr 
Jay, expressing a hope that some progress will 
soon be made in the consideration of the proposi- 
tions. — Embarrassments in providing for the pay- 
ment of the bills. — Mr Harrison's services. — 
Proposes the sending of an agent to Portugal. 

To the President of Congress. Madrid, October 

18th, 1781, - - - - - - 506 

Has protested some of the bills. 

Robert R. Livingston to John Jay. Philadelphia, 

November 1st, 1781, - - - - - 507 

Organization of the new executive departments. — 
The debt of the United States not so large as 
might have been expected. — British American re- 
cruits. — Proposes that Spain should furnish a con- 
voy between Havana and the United States. — 
Plan for paying the French troops in specie from 

Robert R. Livingston to John Jay. Philadelphia, 

November 28th, 1781, - - - - - 511 

State of military affairs.— The Marquis de la Fay- 














Paris, December 14th, 1782, 


There is more matter tiiaii time to write at present. 
The King of Sweden has done the United States great 
honor in his commission to his Minister here, lo treat with 
them, by inserting, that he had a great desire to form a 
connexion with States, wl)ich had so fully established their 
independence, and by their wise and gallant conduct so 
well deserved it ; and his Minister desired it might be re- 
membered, that his sovereign was the first who had volun- 
tarily proposed a treaty with us.* 

Mr Secretary Townshend announced, on the 3d of 
December, in a letter to the Lord Mayor, the signature of 
our preliminaries. On the 5th, his Majesty announced it 
in his speech to bolli Houses. Addresses of thanks, in 
both Houses, passed without a division. 

* See Dr Franklin's letter on this subject, dated June the 25th, 1782. 
Franklin's Correspondence, Vol. 111. p. 371. 


There is a note in the Courier de fEurope, of the 6th 
instant, worth transcribing, viz. "We mark these three 
lines in itah'cs, to notice at present the assertion, which we 
shall consider more fully hereafter, that we do not owe to 
any of the causes assigned at present, even in the two 
Houses of Parliament, the peace, the blessings of which 
we consider as certain, but to the armed neutrality. This 
peace will be durable." 

1 have transcribed this note, because it falls in with an 
opinion, that I have long entertained. The armed neu- 
trality, and even Mr Dana's mission to it, have had greater 
effects, than the world is yet informed of, and would have 
had much greater, if his hands had not been tied. 

On the 4th instant, I wrote a resignation of all my em- 
ployments in Europe, which I have now the honor to con- 
firm, and to request, that the acceptance of it may be 
transmitted to me several ways, by the first ships. 
I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Philadelphia, December 19th, 1782. 


The enclosed letter for Mr Dana you will open and 
peruse. It may possibly contain information, that may 
be useful to you, which it will be unnecessary to repeat 

I mentioned in my last, Mr Jefferson's appointment ; I 
have the pleasure of adding now, that I have received an 
account from him of his acceptance of the place. He will 
be here in the course of ten or twelve days, and sail 
with Count de Rochambeau, who proposes to return to 


France. Tlie French troops have embarked with the 
Marquis de Vaudreuil, and are to sail for the West Indies, 
unless they should receive counter orders, by a frigate, 
which is now in the river. Her letters are not yet come 
up, as she unfortunately run ashore at Dover ; it is yet 
uncertain whether she will be saved. 

The great political question, which at present engages 
the attention of Congress, is the means of providing for 
the payment of the public debts, or at least establishing 
such funds for the regular discharge of the interest, as may 
set their creditors at ease as to their capitals. It was 
imagined, that a duty of five per cent upon all imposts 
would afford a fund adequate to this. Congress accord- 
ingly recommended it to the several States to impose the 
duty. They have all complied, except Rhode Islai:;d. 
Her refusal renders the other laws nugatory, as they con- 
tain clauses suspending their operation until the measure is 
generally adopted. Congress are about to send down a 
committee to endeavor to persuade Rhode Island to com- 
ply with a measure, that they deem so essential to public 
credit; It is extremely difficult in a country, so litUe used 
to taxes as ours is, to lay them directly, and almost im- 
possible to impose them so equally as not to render them 
too oppressive on some members of the community, while 
others contribute little or nothing. This difficulty is in- 
creased by the continued change of property in this coun- 
try, and by the small proportion the income bears to the 
value of lands. 

By a short letter just received from Mr Jay, it appears, 
that England has at length swallowed the bitter pill, and 
agreed to treat with the "Thirteen United States of Amer- 
ica." I am still at a loss to account for this commission's 


being directed to Mr Oswald, while Mr Fitzherbert's con- 
tinues in force ; or is that revoked ?* I will not trouble 
myself witli guesses, as I must receive despatches today, 
that will explain the mystery, if either Dr Franklin or Mr 
Jay have kept their words with me. 
I have the honor to be, &z,c. 



Paris, January 1st, 1783. 

Dear Sir, 

Returning this evening from Versailles, where I had 
been to make the compliments of the season, I found your 
favors of the 26th and 27th of December. The letters 
enclosed shall be forwarded, as you desire. 

The Dutch Ministers here have no occasion for my 
assistance. JVon tali auxilio. 1 have the honor to be 
more particularly acquainted with M. Brantzen, who is 
certainly a very able man, and universally acknowledged 
to be so by all who know him. The arguments, which I 
know he has used with the British Minister, are such as 
can never be answered, both upon the liberty of naviga- 
tion, and the compensation for damages. He is an entire 
master of his subject, and has urged it with a degree of 
perspicuity and eloquence, that I know has much struck 
his antagonists. 

Unnecessary, however, as any exertions of mine have 

* The two commissions were for distinct Jjurposes ; Mr Oswald's to 
treat witii the American Commissioners alone ; and Mr Fitzherbert's to 
treat for a general peace with the European powers, then at war with 


been, I have not omitted any opportunity of throwing in 
any friendly suggestions in my power, where there was 
a possibility of doing any good to our good friends, the 
Dutch. I have made such suggestions to Mr Fitzherbert. 
But with Mr Oswald, I have had several very serious 
conversations upon the subject. So I have also with Mr 
Vaughan and Mr Whiteford. 

To Mr Oswald I urged the necessity of Great Britain's 
agreeing with the Dutch upon the unlimited freedom of 
navigation, from a variety of topics, some of which I may 
explain to you more particularly hereafter. Thus much I 
may say at present, that I told him, that it was impossible 
for Great Britain to avoid it ; it would probably be insisted 
upon by all the other powers. France and Spain, as well 
as Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Prussia, the Emperor, and 
Portugal, as well as Holland, had already signed the armed 
neutrality. The United States of America had declared 
themselves ready to sign, and were ready. The combina- 
tion being thus powerful, Great Britain could not resist it. 
But if she should refuse to agree to it with Holland, and 
the other powers should acquiesce, and Holland should 
make peace without it (which would never, however, be 
the case,) yet all would be ineffectual, for Holland would 
forever be able to make use of other neutral bottoms, 
and would thus enjoy the benefit of this liberty and reality, 
though denied it by treaty, and in appearance. It would, 
therefore, be more for the honor and interest of Great 
Britain to agree to it with a good grace, in the treaty with 
Holland. Nay, the wisest part she could act would be to 
set on foot a negotiation immediately for signing herself the 
Treaty of Armed Neutrality, and then admitting it into the 
treaty with Holland would be a thing of course. At one 


of these conversations Dr Franklin was present, who sup- 
ported me with all his weight ; at another, Mr Jay sec- 
onded me with all his ahilities and ingenuity. Mr Os- 
wald has several times assured me, that he had written 
these arguments and his own opinion, in conformity with 
them, to the King's Ministers in London, and I doubt not 
they will be adopted. 

With respect to the compensation for damages, it is im- 
possible to add anything to the arrangements M. Brantzen 
has urged to show the justice of it, and if Britain is really 
wise, she will think it her policy to do everything in her 
power to soften the resentment of the Dutch, and regain 
their good will and good humor. 

The rage of Great Britain, however, has carried her . to 
such extravagant lengths, in a cause unjust from beginning 
to end, that she is scarcely able to repair the injuries she has 
done. America has a just claim to compensation for all 
her burnt towns and plundered property, and indeed for 
all her slaughtered sons, if that were possible. I shall con- 
tinue to embrace every opportunity that presents, of doing 
all the little service in my power to our good friends the 
Dutch, whose friendship for us I shall not soon forget. 
This must be communicated with great discretion, if at all. 
My best respects to all. 



Paris, January 22d, 1783. 

Upon a sudden notification from the Count de Ver- 
gennes, Dr Franklin and myself, in the absence of Mr 
Jay and Mr Laurens, went to Versailles, and arrived at 


the Count's office at ten o'clock on Monday, the 20th of 
this month. At eleven, arrived the Count d'Aranda and 
Mr Fitzherbert. The Ministers of the three Crowns, 
signed and sealed the preliminaries of peace and an ar- 
mistice, in presence of Doctor Franklin and myself, who 
also signed and sealed a declaration of an armistice be- 
tween the Crown of Great Britain and the United States 
of America, and received a counter declaration from Mr 
Fitzherbert. Copies of these declarations are enclosed.* 

The King of Great Britain has made a declaration con- 
cerning the terms, that he will allow to the Dutch ; but 
they are not such as will give satisfaction to that unfortunate 
nation, for whom, on account of their friendship for us, and 
the important benefits we have received from it, I feel very 
sensibly and sincerely. Yesterday we went to Versailles 
again to make our court to the King and royal family upon 
the occasion, and received the compliments of the Foreign 

The Count d'Aranda invited me to dine with him on 
Sunday next, and said he hoped that the affairs of Spain and 
the United States would be soon adjusted a V aimable. I 
answered, that I wished it with all my heart. The two 
Floridas and Minorca are more than a quantum meruit for 
what this Power has done, and the Dutch unfortunately are 
to suffer for it. It is not in my power to say when the 
definitive treaty will be signed. I hope not before the 
Dutch are ready, in sIk weeks or two months at farthest I 

It is no longer necessary for Congress to appoint another 
person in my place in the commission for peace, because 

* Contained in the Correspondence of tlie Ministers for negotiating 

VOL. VII. 2 


it will be executed before this reaches America. But I 
beg leave to renew the resignation of the credence to the 
States-General, and the commission for borrowing money 
in Holland, and to request, that no time may be lost in 
transmitting the acceptance of this resignation, and another 
person to take that station, that I may be able to go home 
in the spring ships. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, January 23d, 1783. 


The letters you did me the honor to write on the 6th, 
and 18th of November, came safe to hand. 

You do me honor, Sir, in applauding the judgment I 
have formed from time to time of the Court of Britain, 
and future ages will give me credit for the judgment I 
have formed of some other Courts. The true designs of a 
Minister of State are not difficult to be penetrated by an 
honest man of common sense, who is in a situation to know 
anything of the secret of afiliirs, and to observe constantly 
the chain of public events ; for whatever ostensible appear- 
ances may be put on, whatever obliquities may be im- 
agined, however the web may be woven, or the thread 
doubled and twisted, enough will be seen to unravel the 

My opinions, as you observe, sometimes run counter to 
those generally received ; but the reason of this has gener- 
ally been, that I have had earlier evidence than the gen- 
erality, and I have had the satisfaction to find, that others 


have formed the same judgment, when they have had the 
same intelligence. I do not affect singularity, nor love to 
be in a minority, though truth and justice have sometimes 
obliged me to be so. You say, that nothing can be more 
conformable to your wishes than 'he instructions I trans- 
mitted. I am not surprised at this ; it is very natural. 
Had I never been on this side of the Atlantic, I believe I 
should have been of your mind in this particular. At 
present I cannot be, and I believe, by this lime, the Dutch 
regret having given them. You will hear enough of the 
reason of it. I have lived long enough, and had expe- 
rience enough of the conduct of governments, and people, 
nations, and courts, to be convinced, that gratitude, friend- 
ship, unsuspecting con6dence, and all the most amiable 
passions in human nature, are the most dangerous guides 
in politics. I assure you^ Sir, if we had not been more 
cautious than the Dutch, we should have been worse off 
than they, and our country would have suffered much 

JMr Laurens has been here, and has behaved with great 
caution, firmness, and wisdom. He arrived so late, as only 
to attend the two last days of the conferences, the 29th 
and 30di of November. But the short time he was with 
us, he was of great service to the cause. He has done great 
service to America in England, where his conversation has 
been such as the purest and firmest American could wish 
it, and has made many converts- He is gone again to 
Bath, and his journey will do as much good to his country 
as to his health. He will return to the signature of the 
definitive treaty. 

The ratifications of my contracts have been received. 

The release of Captain Asgill was so exquisite a relief 


to my feelings, that 1 have not much cared what interpo- 
sition it was owing to. It would have been a horrid damp 
to the joys of peace, if we had received a disagreeable ac- 
count of him. 

The difference betw»jen Denmark and Holland is of no 
serious nature. The clue to the whole is, the Queen 
Dowager is sister to the Duke of Brunswick ; but there is 
nothing to fear from Denmark. As to the northern 
powers, we have nothing to fear from any of them. AH 
of them, and all the neutral powers, would have acknowl- 
edged our independence before now, by receiving Mr 
Dana to sign the principles of the armed neutrality, if he 
had not been restrained from acting. The unlimited con- 
fidence of Congress has been grossly abused, and we 
should have been irreparably injured, if we had not been 
upon our guard. As our liberties and most important in- 
terests are now secured, as far as they can be, against 
Great Britain, it would be my wish to say as little as pos- 
sible of the policy of any Minister of our first ally, which 
has not been as we could desire, and to retain forever a 
grateful remembrance of the friendly assistance we have 
received. But we have evidence enough to warn us 
against unlimited confidence in any European Minister of 

I have never drawn upon Dr Franklin for any money, 
since the end of my two and a half years' salary ; and he 
tells me he has made no use of the bills. I had received 
money for my subsistence of Messieurs Willinks, and as it 
will be but a few months more, at farthest, that I shall 
have to subsist in Europe, I beg leave to proceed to the end 
in the same way. I shall receive only the amount of my 
salary, and settle the account with Congress on my return. 


I hope to be safely landed on my native shore in the 

month of June ; and to this end, 1 beg that an appointment 

may be made to the Dutch mission, and the acceptance of 

my resignation be transmitted to me by the first ships. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Paris, January 291 li, 1783. 


Upon receiving the letter, which you did me the honor 
to write me on the 24th, late last evening, I went immedi- 
ately to consult with my colleague, Mv Jay, and we agreed 
to go this morning to Dr Franklin. Accordingly today 
we went together to Passy, and communicated your letter 
to him, and after recollecting the powers we have received, 
we all agreed that 1 should make you the following answer. 

You will readily recollect the resolutions of Congress, 
which I did myself the honor two years ago to communi- 
cate to the President of their High Mightinesses, and to 
the Ministers of Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, at the 
Hague. The letter to the President was sent "au greffe" 
and there may, perhaps, be now found. These resolutions 
contained the approbation of Congress, of the principles of 
the declaration of the Empress of Russia, and authorised 
any of the American Ministers in Europe, if invited thereto, 
to pledge the faiih of the United States to the observance 
of them. 

Sometime after this, Congress sent Mr Dana a commis- 
sion with full power to accede to the principles of the 
Marine Treaty between the neutral powers, and he is now 
at Petersburg, vested with these powers, and, according to 


iate intelligence received from him, has well founded ex- 
pectations of being soon admitted. 

It is the opinion of my colleagues, as well as my own, 
that no commission of mine to their High Mightinesses con- 
tains authority to negotiate this business, and we are all of 
opinion, that it is most proper that Mr Dana should nego- 
tiate it. 

But as there has been no express revocation of the 
power given to all or any of us, by the first resolutions, 
and if the case should happen, that Mr Dana could not at- 
tend in season, on account of the distance, for the sake of 
accelerating the signature of the definitive treaty of peace, 
we should not hesitate to pledge the faith of the United 
States to the observance of the principles of the armed 
neutrality. I wish it were in my power to give you a 
more satisfactory answer, but candor will warrant no 

With great respect to the gentlemen, as well as to you, 
I have the honor to be, Sir, &c. 



Paris, February 5th, 1783, 

The resolution of Congress of the 12th of July, 1781, 
^'That the commission and instructions, for negotiating a 
Treaty of Commerce between these United States and 
Great Britain, given to the Honorable John Adams, on the 
29th day of September, 1779, be, and they are hereby 
revoked," was duly received by me in Holland ; but no 
explanation of the motives to it, or the reasons on which 
it was founded, was ever transmitted to me by Congress, 


or the Committee of Foreign Affairs, or any individual 
member, nor has anybody in Europe, or America, ever 
once attempted, that I know of, to guess at the reason- 
Whether it was intended as a punishment to me, or with a 
charitable design not to lead me into temptation ; whether 
it was intended as a punishment to the English for their 
insolence and barbarity ; whether it was intended to pre- 
vent or remove suspicions of allies, or the envy and green 
eyed jealousy of copatriots, 1 know not. Of one thing, 
however, I am fully satisfied, that Congress had reasons, and 
meant well ; but whether those reasons were founded on 
true or mistaken information, T know not. 

When I recollect the instructions, which were given and 
revoked with that commission, 1 can guess, and only guess, 
at some considerations, which might, or might not, operate 
with Congress. In these instructions, Congress deter- 

1st. That the common right of fishing should in no 
case be given up. 

2dly. That it is essential to the welfare of all these 
United States, that the inhabitants thereof, at the expiration 
of the war, should continue to enjoy the free and undis- 
turbed exercise of their common right to fish on the 
Banks of JNewfoundland, and the other fishing banks and 
seas of North America, preserving inviolate the treaties 
between France and the said States, &,c. &tc. 

3dly. "That our faith be pledged to the several States, 
that without their unanimous consent no Treaty of Com- 
merce shall be entered into, nor any trade or coinmerce 
whatever carried on with Great Britain, without the ex- 
plicit stipulation hereinafter mentioned. You are, there- 
fore, not to consent to any Treaty of Commerce with 


Great Britain, without an explicit stipulation on lier part, 
not to molest or disturb the inhabitants of the United States 
of America, in taking fish on the Banks of Newfoundland, 
and other fisheries in the American seas, anywhere, except- 
ing within the distance of three leagues of the shores of 
the territories remaining to Great Britain at the close of 
the war, if a nearer distance cannot be obtained by nego- 
tiation. And in the negotiation you are to exert your most 
strenuous endeavors to obtain a nearer distance in the Gulf 
of St Lawrence, and particularly along the shores of Nova 
Scotia ; as to which latter we are desirous, that even the 
shores may be occasionally used for the purpose of car- 
rying on the fisheries by the inhabitants of these States." 

These instructions are very decisive in favor of our in- 
dubitable right to the fisheries ; and it is possible, that 
Congress might be of opinion, that commerce would be 
the strongest inducement to the English to make peace, 
and at the same time, that there was something so naval in 
the fisheries, that the dread of acknowledging our right to 
them would be the strongest obstacle in the way of peace. 
They might think, too, that peace was of more importance 
to the United States, than a British acknowledgment of our 
right to the fisheries, which, to be sure, would have been 
enjoyed by our people in a good degree without it. 

Reasonings like these might influence Congress to re- 
voke the commission and instructions in question. But 
whatever probability there might appear in them at that 
time, experience has since shown, that they were not well 
founded. On the contrary, arguments have been found to 
convince the British Ministers themselves, that it was the 
interest of their King and country, not only to acknowl- 
edge the American right to the fisheries, but to encourage 


the unrestrained exercise of it. These considerations, 
therefore, can be no longer of any weight against a treaty 
of commerce with Great Britain, or against accrediting a 
Minister to the Court of St James. Nor can I conceive 
of any motive now existing against this measure. On the 
contrary, so many advantages present themselves to view, 
that I think it my duty to recommend them to Congress as 
proper to be adopted without loss of time. If there are in 
Congress any of those gendemen, with whom I had the 
honor to serve in the years 1775 and 1776, they may pos- 
sibly remember, that in arguing in favor of sending Minis- 
ters to Versailles, to propose a connexion with that Court, 
I laid it down as a first principle, that we should calculate 
all our measures and foreign negotiations in such a man- 
ner, as to avoid a too great dependence upon any one 
power of Europe ; to avoid all obligations and temptations 
to take any part in future European wars. That the busi- 
ness of America with Europe was commerce, not politics or 
war. And above all, that it never could be our interest to 
ruin Great Britain, or injure or weaken her any further 
than should be necessary to support our independence, 
and our alliances ; and that as soon as Great Britain 
should be brought to a temper to acknowledge our sover- 
eignty and our alliances, and consent that we should main- 
tain the one, and fulfil the others, it would be our interest 
and duty to be her friends, as well as the friends of all the 
other powers of Europe, and enemies to none. 

We are now happily arrived, through many tremendous 
tempests, at that period. Great Britain respects us as 
sovereign States, and respects all our political engagements 
with foreign nations, and as long as she continues in this 
temper of wisdom, it is our duty to respect her. We have 

VOL. VII. 3 


accordingly made a treaty with her and mutually sworn to 
be friends. Through the whole period of our warfare 
and negotiations, I confess I have never lost sight of the 
principles and the system, with which I set out, which ap- 
peared to me to be the sentiments of Congress with great 
unanimity, and I have no reason to believe that any change 
of opinion has taken place ; if there has not, every one 
will agree with me, that no measure we can pursue will 
have such a tendency to preserve the government and 
people of England in the right system for their own and 
our interest, and the interest of our allies too, well under- 
stood, as sending a Minister to reside at the Court of 

In the next place, the Court of London is the best sta- 
tion to collect intelligence from every part, and by means 
of the freedom of the press to communicate information 
for the benefit of our country, to every part of the world. 
In time of peace, there is so frequent travelling between 
Paris, London, and the Hague, that the correspondence of 
our Ministers at those Courts may be carried on by private 
hands, without hazarding anything from the infidelity of 
the posts, and Congress may reasonably expect advantages 
from this circumstance. 

In the third place, a treaty of commerce with Great 
Britain is an affair of great importance to both countries. 
Upon this occasion I hope I shall be excused if I venture 
to advise, that Congress should instruct their Minister not 
to conclude such a treaty, without sending the project to 
them for their observations and fresh instructions, and I 
think it would not be improper, on this occasion, to imitate 
the Dutch method, and take the project, ad referendum, and 
transmit it to the Legislatures of all the States for their 


remarks, before Congress finally resolve. Their Minister 
may be authorised and instructed, in the mean time, to 
enter into a temporary convention for regulating the pres- 
ent trade, for a limited number of months or years, or 
until the treaty of commerce shall be completed. 

In the fom'th place, it is our part to be the first to send 
a Minister to Great Britain,. which is the older, and as yet 
the superior State. It becomes us to send a Minister first, 
and I doubt not the King of Great Britain will very soon 
return the compliment. Whereas if we do not begin, I 
believe there will be many delicacies at St James', about 
being the first to send. I confess I wish a British Minister 
at Philadelphia, and think we should derive many benefits 
from his residence there. While we have any foreign 
Ministers among us, I wish to have them from all the great 
powers with whom we are much connected. The Corps 
Diplomatique at every Court is, or ought to be, a system 
representing at least that part of the system of Europe, 
with which that Court is most conversant. 

In the same manner, or at least from similar reasons, as 
long as we have any one Minister abroad at any European 
Court, I think we ought to have one at every one to which 
we are most essentially related, whether in commerce or pol- 
icy, and therefore while we have any Minister at Versailles, 
the Hague, or London, I think it clear we ought to have 
one at each, though I confess I have sometimes thought, 
that after a very few years, it will be the best thing we can 
do to recall every Minister from Europe, and send embas- 
sies only on special occasions. 

If, however, any members of Congress should have any 
delicacies, lest an American Minister should not be received 
willi a dignity becoming his rank and character at Lon- 


don, ihey may send a commission to make a treaty of 
commerce with Great Britain, to their Minister at Madrid, 
or Versailles, or the Hague, or St Petersburg, and instruct 
him to carry on the negotiation from the Court where he 
may be, until he shall be invited to London, or a letter of 
credence may be sent to one of these, with instructions to 
go to London, as soon as the King shall appoint a Minister 
to go to Philadelphia. 

After all, however, my opinion is, that none of these 
manoeuvres are necessary, but that the best way will be to 
send a Minister directly to St James', with a letter of cre- 
dence to the King, as a Minister Plenipotentiary, and a 
commission to treat of a treaty of commerce, but with in- 
structions not to come to any irrevocable conclusion, until 
Congress and all the States have an opportunity to consider 
of the project, and suggest their amendments. 

There is one more argument in favor of sending a Min- 
ister forthwith ; it is this, while this mission lies oj)en, it 
will be a source of jealousy among present Ministers, and 
such as are or may be candidates to be foreign Ministers, 
a source of intrigue and faction among their partisans 
and adherents, and a source of animosity and division 
among the people of the States. For this reason, it is a 
pity, that the first choice had not been such as Congress 
could have continued to approve, and the first measure 
'such as Congress could have constantly persevered in. If 
this had been the case, the door of faction would have been 
kept shut. As this, however, was once my department, 
by the voice of eleven States, in twelve present, and as I 
will be answerable at any hazard, it will never be the de- 
partment of any one by a greater majority, there seems to 
be a propriety in my giving my advice concerning it, on 


taking leave of it, if such is the will of Congress, as 1 have 
before done in (his letter, according to the best of my judg- 
ment. And if it should not be tliought too presumptuous, 
I would beg leave to add, what is my idea of the qualifica- 
tions necessary for an American foreign Minister in gen- 
eral, and particularly and above all to the Court of St 

In the first place, he should have had an education in 
classical learning, and in the knowledge of general histpry, 
ancient and modern, and particularly the history of France, 
England, Holland, and America. He should be well 
versed in the principles of ethics, of the law of nature 
and nations, of legislation and government, of the civil 
Roman law, of the laws of England, and the United 
States, of the public law of Europe, and in the letters, me- 
moirs, and histories of those great men, who have hereto- 
fore shone in the diplomatic order, and conducted the 
affairs of nations, and the world. He should be of an age 
to possess a maturity of judgment, arising from experience 
in business. He should be active, attentive, and indus- 
trious, and above all, he should possess an upright heart, 
and an independent spirit, and should be one, who decid- 
edly makes the interest of his country, not the policy of 
any other nation, nor his own private ambition or interest, 
or those of his family, friends, and connexions, the rule of 
his conduct. - 

We hear so much said about a genteel address, and a 
facility in speaking the French language, that one would 
think a dancing master and a French master the only 
tutors necessary to educate a statesman. Be it remem- 
bered, the present revolution, neither in America nor 
Europe, has been accomplished by elegant bows, nor by 


fluency in French, nor will any great thing ever be effected 
by such accomplishments alone. A man must have some- 
lljing in his head to say, before he can speak to effect, how 
ready soever he may be at utterance. And if the knowl- 
edge is in his head, and the virtue in his heart, he will 
never fail to find a way of communicating his sentiments to 
good purpose. He will always have excellent translators 
ready, if he wants them, to turn his thoughts into any lan- 
guage he desires. 

As to what is called a fine address, it is seldom attended 
to after a first or second conversation, and even in these, it 
is regarded no more by men of sense of any country, than 
another thing, which I heard disputed with great vivacity 
among the officers of the French frigate, the Sensible. The 
question was, what were the several departments of an Am- 
bassador and a Secretary of Legation. After a long and 
shrewd discussion, it was decided by a majority of votes, 
"that the Secretary's part was to do the business, and that 
of an Ambassador to keep a mistress." This decision 
produced a laugh among the company, and no ideas of the 
kind will ever produce anything else, among men of under- 

It is very true, that it is possible, that a case may hap- 
pen, that a man may serve his country by a bribe well 
placed, or an intrigue of pleasure with a woman. But it is 
equally true, that a man's country will be sold and be- 
trayed a thousand times by this infamous commerce, where 
it will be once served. It is very certain, that we shall 
never be a match for European statesmen in such accom- 
plishments for negotiation, any more than, I must and will 
add, they will equal us in any solid abilities, virtues, and 


application to business, if we choose wisely among the ex- 
cellent characters, with which our country abounds. 

Among the Ministers, who have already crossed the At- 
lantic to Europe, there have been none exceeding Mr Jay 
and Mr Dana, in all the qualifications I have presumed to 
enumerate, and I must say, that if I had the honor to give 
my vote in Congress, for a Minister at the Court of Great 
Britain, provided that injustice must be finally done to him, 
who was the first object of his country's choice, such have 
been the activity, intelligence, address, and fortitude of Mr 
Jay, as well as his sufferings in his voyage, journeys, and 
past services, that I should think of no other object of 
my choice than that gentleman. If Congress should neg- 
lect all their old Ministers, and send a fresh one from 
America, they cannot be at a loss, for there are in that 
country great numbers of men well qualified for the ser- 
vice. These are mpst certainly better known by name to 
Congress than to me, and, therefore, I shall venture no fur- 
ther, but conclude, by wishing this arduous business well 
settled, and by assurances to Congress, and to you. Sir, 
of my warmest attachment and respect. 
I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Philadelphia, February 13th, 1783. 

Dear Sir, 

On my return, the night before last, from a journey to 

the State of New York, I found your favors of the 6th, 

the 7th, the 17lh, the 19th, and the 23d of September. 

They contain important and useful information ; and that 


particularly of the Gtii is replete with matter, which de- 
serves an attention, that I lament not having it in my power 
to give it at this moment, as the express, by which this 
goes to Baltimore, is on the wing. 

I congratulate you most sincerely upon having sur- 
mounted all the obstacles, that opposed themselves to the 
completion of our important connexion with the United 
States [of Holland]. It has, I think, given the last blow 
to the pride of Britain. Its power, so far as it could 
endanger us, was past recovery before, except as it derived 
force from its pride, which, like the last struggles of a 
dying man, gave an appearance of vigor to the body, which 
it was about to destroy. 

This covers a ratification of the treaty. The first 
copy sent by Mr Jefferson lias not been signed by me, 
owing to my absence. That gentleman has not yet sailed 
from Baltimore, having been delayed, by a number of the 
enemy's cruisers, which infest the Bay. 

We this day received the speech of his Britannic Maj- 
esty. It breathes so much the language of peace, that I 
begin to think it will be unnecessary to give Mr Jefferson 
the trouble of going over at all. The delays he has met 
with leave you longer without intelligence from hence, than 
I would ever wish you to be, though no important event 
has taken place, except the evacuation of Charleston. 
Our distress for want of money has rather increased, than 
diminished. This object will demand your attention, full 
as much if the war should be terminated, as if it should 
continue. The army, and the other public creditors, begin 
to grow very uneasy, and our present exhausted situation 
will not admit of internal loans, or such taxes as will suf- 
fice to give them relief. 


I have sent you three different sets of cyphers, not 
thinking it advisable to send duplicates. Be pleased to 
let me know whether any and which have arrived safe. 
I am. Sir, &,c. 



Paris, March 2d, 1783. 

1 am very much of your opinion, that all places in gen- 
eral, in foreign countries, under the United States, should 
be filled with Americans, but am sometimes requested to 
transmit to Congress applications and recommendations 
in so pressing a manner, and by persons of distinction, 
that it would be scarcely civil to refuse. 

Such an instance is the following, and if Congress 
should depart from the general rule, I suppose, that no 
person at Leghorn has so good pretensions. 

The application to me is this, — "Messrs Touissaint, 
Doutremont h Co., merchants of great credit at Leghorn, 
who obtained, fortyfive years ago, letters of nobility from 
the Court of France, pray the gentlemen, the deputies of 
the United Stales of America, to grant them the place of 
Consul, or of Agent of their commerce at Leghorn." 

At least, if Congress, or their Ministers, have occasion 

for a correspondent in that city, they will not be at a 


I have the honor to be, he. 


VOL. VII. 4 



Philadelphia, April 14th, 1783. 


I received two days ago your favors of the 22d and 
23d of January, with the declarations for the cessation of 
hostilities, on which a doubt of much importance to the 
people of this country is started, to wit, to know at what 
period hostilities ceased on this coast, that is, what is 
meant by "as far as the Canaries." If it means in the 
same latitude^ hostilities ceased here the 3d of March, 
and a great number of vessels must be restored. If it 
does not mean a latitudinal line, what does it mean, which 
carries any certainly with it .'' The terms of the provis- 
ional treaty also occasion much debate. A variety of 
questions have been started, but these I shall speak of in 
my letter to you in conjunction with your colleagues, that 
you may, if opportunity should offer before the Definitive 
Treaty is concluded, find some means to rid them of their 

It would give me pain to find, that the Dutch do not 
attain their objects in the close of the war, and still more 
to impute their misfortunes to any desertion of their inter- 
ests by France, since I confess freely to you, that her con- 
duct, as far as I have observed it, has appeared to me in 
the highest degree generous and disinterested. The ex- 
treme langour of the Dutch, their divisions, and the less than 
nothing that they have done for themselves, entitle them to 
little. Without the uncommon exertions of France, they 
would not have had a single setdement left, either in the 
East or West Indies. So that they lay absolutely at her 
mercy, and, therefore, I was pleased to find their instruc- 
tions to their Ministers so expressed as to leave no room to 


fear, that they would obstruct the peace, when they con- 
tributed so little to the prosecution of the war. But I 
rather pitied, than blamed their weakness; they were torn 
by factions, and clogged by an executive, which strove to 
find reasons for having no execution. 

Congress, the day before yesterday, agreed to ratify the 
Provisional Articles as such, and to release their prisoners, 
in which the British took the lead. The tories have little 
reliance upon the effect of the recommendations of Con- 
gress; great numbers of them have sailed, and are daily 
sailing for Nova Scotia. 

With respect to your salary, I must pray you to settle 
with Dr Franklin the amount of bills drawn in your favor. 
You will, with those that go by this conveyance, receive the 
amount of three quarters' salary, at two thousand seven 
hundred and seventyseven dollars and sixtyeight ninetieths 
per quarter, which were laid out in bills at six shillings 
three pence, this money, for five livres, which was a very 
advantageous exchange for you. Tiiis, however, Con- 
gress have directed, by the enclosed resolution, to be 
altered, and your salaries to be paid in bills at the rate of 
five livres, five sous per dollar. " As this resolution retro- 
spects you will have, with the bills transmitted to you, 
livres more than is due for three quarters' salary. This 
will be deducted from the last quarter, for which I will get 
a warrant, and leave it with the Treasury here for you or 
your order. By settling this matter with Dr Franklin, and 
redrawing upon your banker in Holland, you will leave my 
accounts unembarrassed, which is of consequence to me, 
as I have determined to quit the place I now hold, in the 
course of a few weeks, and enjoy in retirement the pleasures 
of peace. I have charged no commissions on these money 
transactions, nor do I propose to charge any. 


Your account of contingent expenses is before a com- 
mittee. Should Congress agree to accept your resignation, 
(which I am sorry to see you offer, since the connexions 
you have formed, and the experience you have acquired, 
might render you particularly serviceable in Holland) it 
will be best that you settle it with them yourself on your 
arrival. The want of permanent funds, and the opposition 
which some States have given to every attempt to establish 
them, the demands of the public creditors, and particularly 
of the army, have excited much uneasiness here. Satis- 
factory measures will, I hope, be adopted to calm it, and 
do ample justice. The army, whose proceedings I trans- 
mit, have done themselves honor by their conduct on this 
occasion. Too much praise could not be given to the 
commander-in-chief, for the share he had in the trans- 
action, if he was not above all praise. 
I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Paris, April 14th, 1783. 

You may easily imagine our anxiety to hear from Amer- 
ica, when you know that we have no news to this hour, 
either of your reception of the news of peace, or that of 
the treaty with Holland, four copies of which I put on 
board different vessels at Amsterdam, in October. 

We have been in equal uncertainty about the turn, 
which affairs might take in England. But by letters from 
Mr Laurens we expect him every day, and Mr David 
Hartley with him, in order to complete the definitive 


treaty. It would have been more agreeable to have 
finished with Mr Oswald. But the present Ministry are 
so dissatisfied with what is past, as they say, though no- 
body believes them, that they choose to change hands. 

It will be proposed, I believe, to make a temporary ar- 
rangement of commercial matters, as our powers are not 
competent to a durable one, if to any. Congress will, no 
doubt, soon send a Minister with full powers, as the treaty 
of commerce vvith Great Britain is of great importance, 
and our affairs .in that country require an overseer. 

It is confidently asserted, in letters from Holland, that 
M. Markow, the Minister Plenipotentiary from the Em- 
press of Russia, has received from his mistress a full 
power to come to Paris, to the assistance of the Prince 
Bariatinski at a Congress for a general pacification. 
There is, as yet, no answer received from the Emperor. 
If the two Imperial Courts accept of the mediation, there 
will be a Congress ; but I suppose it will relate chiefly to 
the affairs of Holland, which are not yet arranged, and to 
the liberty of neutral navigation, which is their principal 
point. I wish success to that Republic in this negotiation, 
which will help to compose their interior disorders, which 
are alarming. 

I know not whether it will be insisted or expected, that 
we should join in the Congress, nor do I know what we 
have to do in it, unless it be to settle that point as far as it 
relates to us. There is nothing in difference between us 
and Great Britain, which we cannot adjust ourselves, with- 
out any mediation. 

A spring passage to America is so great an object, that 
I should be very sorry to have the negotiations spun out to 
such a length as to oblige me to lose it, and I take it for 


granted, I shall now receive the acceptance of my resigna- 
tion by the first ships. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Paris, May 21st, 1783. 

I am just now honored with yours of the 19th of Janu- 
ary, by the way of London. We have not yet had the 
happiness to receive, as we should be disposed to do with 
open arms, our excellent old friend Jefferson, and begin to 
fear <that the news of peace has determined him not to 

I thank you. Sir, for your polite congratulations ; when 
the tide turned, it flowed with rapidity, and carried the 
vessel, as 1 hope, into a safe harbor. 

As to the loan in Holland, I have never troubled you, nor 
any one else in America, with details of the vexations of 
various kinds, which I met with in the negotiation of it ; 
indeed, I never thought it prudent or safe to do it. If I 
had told the whole truth, it could have done no good, and 
it might have done infinite mischief. In general, it is now 
sufficient to say, that private interest, party spirit, factions, 
cabals, and slanderers, have obstructed, perplexed, and 
tortured our loan in Holland, as well as all our other 
affairs, foreign and domestic. But as there has been a 
greater variety of clashing interests, English, French, 
Stadtholderian, Republican, and American, mixing in the 
affair of our loan in Holland, it has been more puzzled 
than anything else. If, in the bitterness of my soul, I had 
described the fermentation, and mentioned names, and 


drawn characters, I might have transmitted a curious tale, 
but it would have only served to inflame old animosities, 
and excite new ones. 

A great many things are said to me, on purpose that 
they may be represented to you or to Congress. Some 
of these I believe to be false, most of them I suspect, and 
some of them that are true would do no good. I think it ne- 
cessary, therefore, to employ a little discretion in such cases. 

Messrs Willinks k, Co. will write you from time to time, 
as they tell me they have done, the state of the loan. Mr 
Grand wants all the money, but they wait your orders. 
The loan has been and will be damped by transmitting the 
money to France, but your necessities were so urgent, that 
you could not avoid it. 

In my opinion, if you had a Minister at St James's, and 
he were authorised to borrow money generally, in England 
or elsewhere, it would serve you greatly, by causing an 
emulation even in Holland, besides the money you would 
procure in London, which would not be a trifling sum. 

I wish I were in Congress, that I might assist you in 
persuading our countrymen to pay taxes and build ships. 

With great esteem and respect, I have the honor to 

be, &c. 



Paris, May 24th, 1783. 

1 have the honoi- to enclose copies, to be laid before 
Congress, of several papers. 1st. Mr Hardey's full pow- 
ers of May 14th, 2dly. The order of the King of Great 
Britain in Council, for regulating the American trade, of 


May 14th. 3dly. Articles proposed by the American Min- 
isters to Mr Hartley, April 29th. 4thly. Mr Hartley's 
observations left with us May 21st. And 5thly. Mr Hart- 
ley's proposition of the same day.* 

This proposition, however, upon inquiry, we find Mr 
Hartley does not incline to subscribe to, before he sends it 
to his Court for their orders. So that we have not 
yet given him our opinion of it. He has sent a courier 
to London, before whose return we hope to have further 
intelligence from Philadelphia. 

The present British Ministry discover an indecision and 
timidity, which indicate instability. Some persons from 
England imagine, that my Lord Shelburne will come in 
again. The change would produce a longer delay ; but I 
think would be no disadvantage to America. If he had 
continued in power, I think we should have finished, or 
been ready to finish, before now with Mr Oswald. Mr 
Hartley's dispositions, however, are very good, and if left 
to his own judgment, would be liberal and fair. 

Tiie idea of reviving the trade, upon the plan of the 
laws of Great Britain before the war, although those laws 
were calculated so mucli for the advantage of that country 
and so little for the advantage of ours, might be admissible 
for a few months, until Ministers could be appointed on 
both sides to frame a treaty of commerce ; provided no 
advantage should be ceded by it, in the negotiation of such 
treaty, and provided, that such a temporary convention for 
trade should neither delay nor influence the definitive 
treaty. It is much to be wished, that the definitive treaty 
of peace, and a permanent treaty of commerce, could be 

* These papers will be found in the Correspondence of the Commis- 
sioners for making peace. 


signed at the same time. This, however, seems now to be 
imjDOssible ; and, therefore, some temporary regulation of 
commerce seems unavoidable. But we are as yet too un- 
certain of the sentiments of the Court of St James, to be 
able to foresee, whether we shall be able to agree with them. 
Mr Hartley has been here four weeks, and nothing has 
been done, although he was very sanguine before he left 
London, that he should send home a convention in less 
than half of four days. 

Congress will see by Mr Hartley's commission, that they 
are become the "good friends" of the King of Great Brit- 
ain. Mr Hartley on his first arrival here communicated to 
us in form, an invitation from the Ministers, with the 
knowledge and consent of the King, to all the American 
Ministers to go to London, with the assurance, that we 
should be there presented at Court, and treated in all re- 
spects like the Ministers of any other sovereign State. . He 
also communicated the desire of his Court, that tlie two 
Powers should interchange Ministers as soon as possible. 
I hope that the first ship will bring a Minister for that 
Court, or a commission to some one to go there, because 
I think it would have been useful to us to have had one 
there three months ago, and that it would not be less use- 
ful now. The permanent treaty of commerce, neverthe- 
less, should not be hastily concluded, nor before Congress 
shall have had an opportunity to judge of the project, sug- 
gest their amendments, and transmit their orders. 

No preliminaries are yet signed with the Dutch, and I 
am very anxious for their lot. 

With great respect, I have the honor to be. Sic. 


VOL. VII. 5 



Paris, May 30th, I'/SS 


On the 28th of this month, the letter which you did me 
the honor to write me on the 13th of February, which ar- 
rived at the Hague, I received, enclosed with the ratifica- 
tion of the treaty with their High Mightinesses, which will 
be exchanged by M. Dumas, as the conferences here for 
the definitive treaty will not admit of my taking so long a 
journey at this time.* 

This arrival in season to exchange the ratifications before 
the departure of M. Van Berckel, which is to be in about 
three weeks, is fortunate. I hope that the first ships from 
America will bring my letter of recall from that Republic, 
and another Minister, or credence to some one now in Eu- 
rope, to take my place. 

I am happy to find that any letters of mine in Septem- 
ber last contained information that you think of conse- 
quence, although, not having my letter book here, I am 
not able to recollect the subject. The final completion of 
the negotiation with Holland gives me a pleasure, which 
will not be equalled, but by that of the definitive treaty of 
peace, which languishes at present for want of decisive in- 
structions from Mr Hartley, in such a manner, as gives 
cause to suspect that the present Ministry are not firm in 
their seats. 

The presence of a Minister in Holland would encourage 
your loan of money there, but it would be quickened still 
more, by your sending a Minister to London, with powers 

* The particulars of the ratification will be seen in M. Dumas's 


to borrow money there. Emulation is the best spring ; or 
call it rivalry, or jealousy, if you will, it will get you money 
if you put it in motion. 

I have received two cyphers from you, Sir, one begin- 
ning with No. 1, aud ending with No. 1011, The other 
beginning with Amsterdam, and ending with Provinces. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Paris, June 9th, 1783. 

The enclosed, No. 121 of the Politique HoUaudais 
having translated a few sentences of mine, and the author 
intending to insert more, as he has already inserted a good 
deal of the same correspondence, I think it proper to 
transmit you a short relation of it. 

In 1780, at Paris, a number of pamphlets of Mr Gallo- 
way's were sent me from England. 1 wrote to a friend an 
answer to them. He sent it to London to be published. 
But whether the printers were afraid, or from what other 
motive, I know not. I heard nothing of them until the 
spring and summer of 1782, when some of them appeared 
in print, in Parker's General Advertiser, under the title of 
^'•Letters from a distinguished American,^^ &.c. but with 
false dates. 

There are in those letters so many of the characteristic 
features of the Provisional Treaty, of the 30th of Novem- 
ber, 1782, that the publication of them in England, at the 
time when they appeared, may be supposed to have con- 
tributed, more or less, to propagate such sentiments as the 
more private circulation of them before had suggested 


to a few. And as they were written by one of your Min- 
isters at the conferences for peace, who repeated and ex- 
tended the same arguments to the British Ministers in the 
course of the negotiation, it is proper that you should be 
informed of them. Whether I have in any former letter 
mentioned this subject, or not, I do not recollect. If I 
have, 1 pray you to excuse the repetition. 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Paris, June 16th, 1783. 


Yesterday afternoon, the duplicate of your letter of the 
14th of April, No. 16, was brought in to me, with the post- 
mark "Brest" upon it. As soon as I had read it, I went 
out to Passy, in hopes that other despatches had arrived 
there, but I found none. While 1 was there, a packet of 
newspapers addressed to us all was brought in, with the 
post-mark of Brest on it. I still hope and believe, that 
other despatches, by the same conveyance, will appear in 
a few days, but whether they are still in the post office, or 
whether the Due de Lauzun intends to bring them in 
person, is uncertain. 

I think. Sir, there is no room to doubt the justice of 
your opinion, that the latitude of the Canaries is meant, 
and, consequently, that hostilities ceased on the whole 
coast of the United States on the 3d of March. 

I am well aware, that a variety of questions may be 
started upon the provisional articles. The great points of 
sovereignty, limits, and fisheries, are sufficiently clear. 
But there are too many other things in much obscurity. 


No one of us alone would ever have put bis hand to such 
a writing. Yet there is no one to blame. It must be con- 
fessed, that it was done in haste, but that haste was inevi- 
table. The peace depended absolutely upon the critical 
moment, when that treaty was signed. The meeting of 
Parliament was so near, and the slate of the Ministry so 
critical, that if that opportunity had been lost, there would 
have been at least another campaign. There were never 
less than three of us, and there were finally no less than 
three to be consulted on the other side. These inaccura- 
cies are much to be lamented, but they were quite un- 
avoidable. We shall endeavor to explain them in the 
definitive treaty, but I fear without success. 

I hope, Sir, you will excuse me, if I think your expres- 
sions fall short of the real merit of the Dutch. If they 
had accepted the Russian mediation for a separate peace, 
we should have seen a very formidable difference. The 
vast weight of the Dutch in the East Indies, being added 
to that of France, has influenced the minds of the natives 
in such a manner, as to turn the scale against England. 
The Cape of Good Hope was indispensable to France, 
and we are not yet informed what proportion of the ex- 
pense of French operations in the East Indies is to be 
borne by the Dutch East India Company, at whose solici- 
tations, by their agents, sent early to Versailles, they were 
undertaken. From twelve to fifteen British ships of the 
line, in the best condition, with the best officers and men, 
have been kept almost constantly in tbe North seas to 
watch the Dutch, a momentous diversion, which made the 
balance more clear in favor of the allies in the East and 
West Indies, as well as in the Channel ; and it may be 
added, and that with strict truth, the battle of Doggerbank 


imprinted more terror on the imaginations of the British 
navy and nation, than all the other sea engagements of the 

Your observations of their unfortunate situation are, 
however, very just, and their exertions have not been such 
as they might and ought to have been. But this was the 
fault of the enemies of France in Holland, not of their 
Iriends, and, unhappily, those enemies are to be gratified 
by the terms of peace prescribed to that power, and those 
friends mortified. And this misfortune probably arises 
from the instructions in question, by which they made 
themselves of no importance, instead of acting the part of a 
sovereign, independent, and respectable power. If they 
had held their own negotiations in their own hands, they 
would probably have obtained better terms. I could men- 
tion many facts and anecdotes of much importance ; but 
these have been communicated to me in confidence, and 
as this is a discussion that concerns us only indirectly, and 
as our instructions were parallel to theirs, although the ex- 
ecution of them was different, and the event different, I 
shall waive any further observations upon the subject. 

We are happy to learn, diat Congress have ratified the 
treaty, imperfect as it is, and that each side has released 
its prisoners. Mr Hartley communicated to us officially 
two days ago, that orders were gone to New \ork to evac- 
uate the United States. 

Dr Franklin has never made any use of the bills for my 
salary, and I have never received any part of them. 1 
shall easily settle that matter when I get home, which your 
letter encourages me to hope will be very soon. The 
connexions I have formed in Holland may be of use to 
the public, wherever I may be, in America, or elsewhere, 


as well as even in that country itself. Those connexions 
will readily become those of any Minister Congress may 
send there. It cost me all my happiness, and had very 
nearly cost me my life,'to form them ; it cost me more ; it 
has left me in an ill state of health, which I never shall fully 
repair. 1 shall carry Holland in my veins to my grave. 
It will cost no man anything to go there now. His mind 
will be at ease, and he will have spirits necessary to take 
care to preserve his health. To me it has become physi- 
cally necessary, as well as a moral and religious duty, to 
join my family. This can be done only by going to them, 
or bringing them to me ; and to bring them to Holland is 
what I cannot think of, both because, that on account of 
my own health, as well as theirs, and on other considera-^ 
tions, I should not choose to live among those putrid lakes, 
and because I think I can do my country more and better 
service at home than there. 

I will not disguise another motive, which would be alto- 
gether insurmountable, if it were alone. I do not think 
it consistent with the honor of the United States, any more 
than with my own, for me to stay in Holland, after the 
appointment of any other Minister whatsoever to the mis- 
sion upon which I came to Europe, and which has been 
taken from me without assigning any reason. Congress 
are the sovereign judges for themselves and the public of 
the persons proper for all services, excepting that every 
citizen is a sovereign judge for himself. I have never 
adopted the principle, that it is a citizen's duty to accept 
of any trust, that is pointed out to him, unless he approves 
of it. On the contrary, I think it a right and a duty, that 
no law of society can take away, for every man to 


judge for himself, whether he can serve consistently with 
his own honor, and the honor and interest of the public. 

When the existence of our country and her essential 
interests were at stake, it was a duty to run all risks, to 
stifle every feeling, to sacrifice every interest, and this duty 
I have discharged with patience and perseverance, and 
with a success, that can be attributed only to Providence. 
But in time of peace, the public in less danger abroad 
than at home, knowing I can do more good at home, I 
should do a very wrong thing to remove my family to stay 
in Holland, merely for the sake of holding an honorable 
commission, making and receiving bows, and compliments, 
and eating splendid suppers at Court. 

There is one piece of advice I beg leave to offer to 
the Minister who may go to Holland, respecting a future 
loan of money. It is, to inquire whether the house of 
Hope would undertake a loan for us, either in conjunction 
with the houses who have the present one, or with any of 
them, or alone. In my private opinion, which ought to be 
kept as secret as possible, we might obtain a large loan in 
that way, and that we cannot in any other. The people 
in that interest have the money. I am not personally 
known to that House, nor any one of them to me, but I 
know they are all powerful in money matters, and I be- 
lieve they would engage. 

The happy turn given to the discontents of the army, by 
the General, is consistent with his character, whici), as you 
observe, is above all praise, as every character is whose 
rule and object are duty, not interest, nor glory, which I 
think has been strictly true with the General from the be- 
ginning, and I trust will continue to the end. May he long 


live, and enjoy his reflections, and the confidence and 

affections of a free, grateful, and virtuous people. 

I have the honor to be, Sic. 



Paris, June 23d, 1783. 

Your favor of the 14th of April, No. 16, acknowledged 
the receipt of mine of the 21st and the 22d of January, 
but took no notice of any letters, which went by Captain 
Barney. Neither Dr Franklin, Mr Jay, nor myself have 
any answer to the despatches, which went by this express ; 
although yours to me, No. 16., gave cause to expect letters 
to us all, with instructions concerning the Definitive Treaty. 
This profound silence of Congress, and the total darkness 
in which we are left, concerning their sentiments, is very 
distressing to us, imd very dangerous and injurious to the 

I see no prospect of agreeing upon any regulation of 
commerce here. The present Ministry are afraid of 
every knot of merchants. A clamor of an interested 
party, more than an evil to their country, is their dread. 
A few West India merchants, in opposition to the sense 
and interest of the West India planters, are endeavoring to 
excite an opposition to our carrying the produce of the 
West India Islands from those islands to Europe, even to 
Great Britain. There are also secret schemes to exclude 
us, if they can, from the trade of Ireland, to possess them- 
selves of the carrying trade of the United States, by pro- 
hibiting any American vessel lo bring to Groat Britain any 
commodity but those of the State to which it belongs. 

VOL, VII. 6 


Tiius, a PWladelphia vessel can cany no tobacco, rice, or 
indigo, nor a Carolina vessel wheat or flour, nor a Boston 
vessel either, unless grown in its own State. In this way, 
a superficial party think they can possess themselves of the 
carriage of almost all the productions of the United States, 
annihilate our navigation and nurseries of seamen, and 
keep all to themselves more effectually than ever. They 
talk too of discouraging the people of the United States, 
and encouraging those of Canada and Nova Scotia, in 
such a manner as to increase the population of those two 
Provinces, even by migrations from the United States. 
These are dreams, to be sure ; but the dreamers are so 
many, as to intimidate the present Ministry, who dare ven- 
ture upon nothing that will make a clamor. I have lately 
heard, that the merchants in America are waiting to hear 
the regulations of trade made here. They will wait, I 
know not how long. There is no present prospect of our 
agreeing at all upon any regulations of 

I have the honor to be, &,c. 



Paris, June '23d, 1783. 

The British nation and Ministry are in a very unsettled 
state ; they find themselves in a new situation, and have 
not digested any plan. Ireland is in a new situation ; she 
is independent of Parliament, and the English know not 
how to manage her. To what an extent she will claim a 
right of trading with the United States, is unknown. Can- 
ada too, and Nova Scotia, are in a new situation ; the 
former, they say, must have a new government. But 


what form to give ihem, and, indeed, what kind of govern- 
ment they are capable of, or would be agreeable to them, 
is uncertain. Nothing is digested. 

There is a party, composed probably of refugees, 
friends of the old hostile system, and fomented by emis- 
saries of several foreign nations, who do not wish a cordial 
reconciliation and sincere friendship between Great Britain 
and the United States, who clamor for the conservation of 
the navigation act, and the carrying trade. If these should 
succeed so far as to excite Parliament or the Ministry to 
adopt a contracted principle, to exclude us from the West 
India trade, and from trading with Canada and Nova Sco- 
tia, and from carrying freely, in vessels belonging to any 
one of the Thirteen States, the production of any other to 
Great Britain, the consequences may be to perplex us for 
a time, may bind us closer to France, Spain, Holland, 
Germany, Italy, and the northern nations, and thus be- fatal 
to Great Britain, without being finally very hurtful to us. 

The nations of Europe, who have islands in the West 
Indies, have, at this moment, a delicate part to take. 
Upon their present decisions, great things will depend. 
The commerce of the West India Islands, is a part of the 
American system of commerce. They can neither do 
without us, nor we without them. The Creator has placed 
us upon the globe in such a situation, that we have occa- 
sion for each other. We have the means of assisting each 
other, and politicians and artful contrivances cannot sepa- 
rate us. Wise statesmen, iike able artists of every kind, 
study nature, and their works are perfect in proportion as 
they conform to her laws. Obstinate attempts to prevent 
the islands and the continent, by force or policy, from de- 
riving from each other those blessings, which nature has 


enabled them to aftbrd, will only put both to thinking of 
means of coming together. And an injudicious regulation 
at this time may lay a foundation for intimate combina- 
tions, between the islands and the continent, which other- 
wise would not be wished for, or thought of by either. 

If the French, Dutch, and Danes, have common sense, 
they will profit of any blunder Great Britain may commit 
upon this occasion. Tiie ideas of the British cabinet and 
merchants, at present, are so confused upon all these sub- 
jects, that we can get them to agree to nothing. [ still 
think, that the best policy of the United States is, to send 
a Minister to London to negotiate a treaty of commerce, 
instructed to conclude nothing, not the smallest article, 
until he has sent it to Congress, and received their appro- 
bation. In the meantime, Congress may admit any Brit- 
ish or Irish ships, that have arrived, or may arrive, to 
trade as they please. 

For my own part, i confess I would not advise Con- 
gress to bind themselves to anything, that is not reasonable 
and just. If we should agree to revive the trade upon the 
old footing, it is the utmost that can, with a color of justice 
or modesty, be requested of us. This is not equal, but 
might be borne. Rather than go further, and deny our- 
selves the freight from the West Indies to Europe, at least, 
to Great Britain, especially rather than give away our own 
carrying trade, by agreeing that the ships of one State 
should not carry to Great Britain the produce of another, 
I would be for entering into still closer connexions with 
France, Spain, and Holland, and purchase of them, at the 
expense of Great Britain, what she has not wisdom enough 
to allow us for her own good. 
I have the honor to be, he. 




Paris. June 24th, 1783. 

The gazelles of Europe slill conliiuie to be employed, 
as the great engines of fraud and imposture to the good 
people of America. Stockjobbers are not the only people, 
who employ a set of scribblers to invent and publish false- 
hoods for their own peculiar purposes. British and 
French, as well as other politicians, entertain these fabri- 
cators of paragraphs, who are stationed about in the various 
cities of Europe, and take up each other's productions in 
such a manner, that no sooner does a paragraph appear in 
a French, Dutch, or English paper, but it is immediately 
seized on, and reprinted in all the others ; this is not all ', 
in looking over the American newspapers, I observe, 
that nothing is seized on with so much avidity by the 
American nouvellists, for republication in their gazettes, as 
these political lies. I cannot attribute this merely to the 
credulity of the printers, who have generally more discern- 
ment than to be deceived. But I verily believe, there are 
persons in every State employed to select out these things, 
and get them reprinted. 

Sometimes the invention is so simple, as really to de- 
ceive. Such, I doubt not, will be that of a long para- 
graph in the English papers, all importing that Mr Hart- 
ley had made a treaty of commerce with us, or was upon 
the point of concluding one. Nothing is further from 
the truth. We have not to this hour agreed upon one 
proposition, nor do [ see any probability that we shall at 
all, respecting commerce. 

We have not, indeed, as yet, agreed upon a point res- 


pecting the definitive treaty. We aie waiting for those In- 
structions of yoLirs, which you mentioned in yours of the 
14th of April, which I have not yet received. 

Americans should be cautious of European newspapers, 
as well as of their own ; more so, indeed, because they 
have not so much knowledge, and so good opportunities 
to detect the former as the latter. There is a great num- 
ber of persons in Europe, v;ho insert things in the papers 
in order to matce impressions in America. Characters are 
in this way built up and pulled down, without the least 
consideration of justice, and merely to answer sinister pur- 
poses, sometimes extremely pernicious to the United 

I have the honor to be, &.c. 



Paris, June 27th, 1783. 

Yesterday Dr Franklin, Mr Jay, and myself, met to 
prepare the definitive treaty, and made so much progress 
in it, that tomorrow we shall be ready to communicate to 
Mr Hartley the result. But I have small hopes of obtain- 
ing anything more by the definitive treaty. 

The Duke of Manchester, and Count d'Aranda have 
arranged everything between England and Spain, and are 
ready to finish for their two Courts. France, I presume, 
waits only for Holland, or perhaps for some other negotia- 
tion with the Imperial Courts. If all the other parlies were 
now to declare themselves ready, we should be puzzled. 
In such a case, however, I am determined (and I believe, but 
do not know, that my colleagues would join me) to declare 



myself ready to sign the provisional treaty, totidem verbis, 
for a definitive treaty. 

From all I can learn, I am persuaded we shall gain 
nothing by any further negotiation. If we obtain anything 
by way of addition or explanation, we shall be obliged to 
give more for it than it is worth. If the British Minister 
refuses to agree to such changes as we may think reason- 
able, and refuses to sign the provisional articles as defini- 
tive ones, I take it for granted, France will not sign till we 
do. If they should they are still safe, for the provisional 
articles are to constitute the treaty as soon as France has 
made peace, and I should rather have it on that footing, 
than make any material alteration. 

I have put these several cases, because 1 should be sup- 
prrsed at nothing from the present British Ministry. If 
they have any plan at all, it is a much less gracious one 
towards America, than that of their immediate predeces- 
sors. If Shelburne, Townshend, Pitt, he. had continued, 
we should have had everything settled long ago, to our en- 
tire satisfaction, and to the infinite advantage of Great 
Britain and America, in such a manner as would have 
restored good humor and affection, as far as in the nature 
of things they can now be restored. 

After the great point of acknowledging our independence 
was got over, by issuing Mr Oswald's last commission, the 
Shelburne administration conducted towards us like men 
of sense and honor. The present administration have 
neither discovered understanding nor sincerity. The pres- 
ent British administration is unpopular, and it is in itself so 
heterogeneous a composition, that it seems impossible it 
should last long. Their present design seems to be not to 
commit themselves by agreeing to anything. As soon as 


anything is done, somebody will clamor. While nothing is 
done, it is not known what to clamor about. If there 
should be a change in favor of the Ministry that made the 
peace, and a dissolution of this profligate league, which 
they call the coalition, it would be much for the good of 
all who speak the English language. If fame says true, 
the coalition was formed at gambling tables, and is con- 
ducted as it was formed, upon no other than gambling 

Such is the fate of a nation, which stands tottering on the 
brink of a precipice, with a debt of two hundred and fifty- 
six millions sterling on its shoulders ; the interest of which, 
added to the peace establishment only, exceeds by above 
a million annually all their revenues, enormously and intol- 
erably as they are already taxed. The only chance they 
have for salvation is in a reform, and in recovering the 
affection of America. The last Ministry were sensible of 
this, and acted accordingly. The present Ministry are so 
far from being sensible of it, or caring about it, that they 
seem to me to be throwing the last dice for the destruc- 
tion of their country. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Paris, June 27th, 1783. 

A few vessels have arrived in England from various 
parts of America, and have probably made the Ministry, 
merchants, and manufacturers less anxious about a present 
arrangement of commerce. Whether these vessels have 
rashly hazarded these voyages against the laws of their 


country, or whether they have permission from Congress, 
or their States, we are not informed. 

It would have been better, no doubt, to have had an 
agreement made before the trade was opened, but the 
eagerness of both sides may not easily be restrained. 
Whether it is practicable for Congress to stop the trade, I 
know not, or whether it would be exjiedient if practicable, 
I doubt. 

The balance of parties in England is so nicely poised, 
that the smallest weight shifts the scales. In truth nothing 
can be done without changing the Ministry, for whatever is 
done raises a cry sufficient to shake those who do it. In 
this situation, it is a question whether it is best to keep 
things in suspense, or bring them to a decision. If Con- 
gress were to prohibit all trade with England, until a 
Treaty of Commerce were made, or some temporary con- 
vention at least, it might bring on a decision, by exciting a 
cry against the Ministry for not making a convention. 
But the moment a convention is made, a cry will be raised 
against them for making it. The present Ministry, to judge 
by their motions hitherto, will hazard the clamor for not 
making one, rather than that for making one. They think 
it least dangerous to them, especially since they have seen 
so many American vessels arrive in England, and have 
heard, that British ships are admitted to an entry in the 
ports of America, particularly Philadelphia. 

The most difficult thing to adjust in a Treaty of Com- 
merce, will be the communications we shall have with the 
West India Islands. This is of great importance to us, 
and to the islands, and I think to Great Britain too. Yet 
there is a formidable party for excluding us at least from 
carrying the produce of those islands to Great Britain. 

VOL. VII. 7 


Much will depend upon the Minister you first send to 
London. An American Minister would be a formidable 
person to any British Minister whatever. He would con- 
verse with all parties, and if he is a prudent, cautious man, 
he would at this moment have more influence there than 
you can imagine. 

We are chained here on the only spot in the world, 
where we can be of no use. If my colleagues were of 
my mind, we would all go together to London, where we 
could negotiate the Definitive Treaty, and talk of arrange- 
ments of commerce to some purpose. However, one 
Minister in London, with proper instructions, would do 
better than four. He would have the artifices of French 
emissaries to counteract, as well as English partizans ; for 
you may depend upon it, the French see with pleasure the 
improbability of our coming soon and cordially together, as 
they saw with manifest regret, the appearances of cordial 
reconciliation under the former administration. These 
sentiments are not unnatural, but we are under no obliga- 
tion, from mere complaisance, to sacrifice interests of such 
deep and lasting consequence. For it is not merely mer- 
cantile profit and convenience, that is at stake; future wars, 
long and bloody wars, may be either avoided or entailed 
upon our posterity, as we conduct wisely or otherwise the 
present negotiation with Great Britain. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 




Paris, July 3d, 1783. 

On the last Ambassador's day, which was last Tuesday, 
Dr Franklin, Mr Jay, and myself waited on the Count de 
Vergennes, who told us, he thought he had agreed with 
the Duke of Manchester, but that his Grace had not yet 
received the positive approbation of his Court. The 
Count advised us to make a visit altogether to the Ambas- 
sadors of the two Imperial Courts. Accordingly, yester- 
day morning we went, first to the Count de Mercy Argen- 
teau, the Ambassador of the Emperor of Germany, and 
King of Hungary and Bohemia. His Excellency was 
not at home, so we left our card. 

We went next to the Prince Bariatinski, Minister Plen- 
ipotentiary from the Court of Russia ; our servant usked 
if the Prince was at home, and received for answer, that 
he was. We were shown into the Prince's apartment, 
who received us very politely. While we were here, Mr 
MarkofF came in. He also is a Minister Plenipotentiary, 
adjoined to the Prince in the affair of the mediation. I 
told him we proposed to do ourselves the honor of calling 
on him. He answered, "As you are an old acquaintance 
I shall be very happy to see you." Whether this was 
a turn of politeness, or whether it was a political dis- 
tinction, I know not. We shall soon know, by his return- 
ing, or not returning, our visit. The Prince asked where 
1 lodged, and I told him. This indicates an intention to 
return the visit. 

We went next to the. Dutch Ambassador's, M. de Ber- 
kenrode. He Was not at home, or not visible. Next to 


the Baron de Blome, Envoy Extraordinary of the King of 
Denmark ; not at liome. Next to M. Markoff's. The 
porter answered, that he was at home. We alighted, and 
were going to his apartment, when we were told he was 
not come in. We left a card, and went to the other Dutch 
Ambassador's, M. Brantzen, who was not at home ; en 
passant, we left a card at the Swedish Minister's, and re- 
turned home, the heat being too excessive to pursue our 
visits any further. 

Thus, we have made visits to all the Ministers, who are 
to be present at the signature of the definitive treaty. 
Whether the Ministers of the Imperial Courts will be pres- 
ent, I know not. There are many appearances of a cold- 
ness between France and Russia, and the Emperor seems 
to waver between two opinions, whether to join in the 
war that threatens, or not. Perhaps the Ministers of the 
Imperial Courts will write for instructions whether to re- 
turn or not our visit. 

After 1 had begun this letter. Captain Barney came in, 
and delivered me your duplicate of No. 12, Nov'ember the 
6th, 1782; duplicate of No. 14, December the 19th, 
1782, and triplicate of No. 16, April the 14th, 1783, and 
the original of your letter of the 18th of April, 1783, not 
numbered. The last contained my account. But as I 
have never received any of this money from Dr Franklin, 
or M. Gerard, but have my salary from Messrs Willinks &l 
Co. at Amsterdam, I am extremely sorry you have had so 
much trouble with this affair. 

Although in your later letters you say nothing of my 
resignation, or the acceptance of it, I expect to receive it 
soon, and then I shall have an opportunity to settle the 
affair of my salary at Philadelphia. 


After reading your letters to me, I went out to Passy to 
see those addressed to us all. Dr Franklin, Mr Jay, and 
myself, (Mr Laurens being still in England) read them all 
over together. We shall do all in our power to procure 
the advantages in the definitive treaty, you mention. The 
state of parties is such in England, that it is impossible to 
foresee when there will be a Ministry, who will dare to 
take any step at all. The coalition between Lord North 
and his connexions, and Mr Fox and his, is a rope of sand. 
Mr Fox, by pushing the vote in the House of Commons 
disapproving the peace, and by joining so many of the old 
Ministers in the new administration, has justly excited so 
many jealousies of his sincerity, that no confidence can be 
placed in him by us. I am extremely sorry, that the most 
amiable men in the nation, Portland, and the Cavendishes, 
should have involved themselves in the same reproach. 

In short, at present, Shelburne, Pitt, Townshend, and 
the administration of which they were members, seem to 
have been the only ones, who, for a moment, had just 
notions of their country and ours. Whether these men, if 
now called to power, would pursue their former ideas, I 
know not. The Bible teaches us not to put our trust in 
Princes, and a fortiori in Ministers of State. 

The West India commerce now gives us most anxiety. 
If the former British Ministry had stood, we might have 
secured it from England, and, in that case, France would 
have been obliged to admit us to their islands, se defen- 
dendo. The first maxim of a statesman, as well as that of 
a statuary, or a painter, should be to study nature ; to cast 
his eyes round about his country, and see what advantages 
nature has given it. This was well attended to, in the 
boundary between the United States and Canada, and in 


the fisheiies. The commerce of the West India Islands, 
falls necessarily into the natural system of the commerce 
of the United States. We are necessary to them and 
they to us ; and there will be a commerce between us. 
If the government forbid it, it will be carried on clandes- 
tinely. France can more easily connive at a contraband 
trade than England. But we ought to wish to avoid the 
temptation to this. 1 believe, that neither France nor Eng- 
land will allow us to transport the productions of their 
Islands to other parts of Europe. 

The utmost we may hope to obtain would be permis- 
sion to import the productions of the French Islands into 
France, giving bond to land them in some port of that 
kingdom, and the productions of the English Islands into 
some port of Great Britain, giving bonds to land them 
there. It must, however, be the care of the Minister, who 
may have to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great 
Britain, to obtain as ample freedom in this trade as 

While I was writing the above, my servant announced 
the Imperial Ambassador, whom I rose to receive. He 
said, that he was happy that the circumstances of the times 
afforded him an opportunity of forming an acquaintance 
with me, which he hoped would be improved into a more 
intimate one. 1 said, his Excellency did me great honor, 
and begged him to sit, which he did, and fell into a con- 
versation of an hour. We ran over a variety of subjects, 
particularly the commerce which might take place between 
the United States and Germany, by the way of Trieste 
and Fiume, and the Austrian Netherlands^ and the great 
disposition in Germany to migration to America. He 
says he knows the country round about Trieste very well, 


having an estate there ; that it is a very extensive and a 
very rich country, which communicates with that maritime 
city, and that the navigation of the Adriatic sea, though 
long, is not dangerous. I asked him what we should do 
with the Barbary powers. He said, he thought all the 
powers of the world ought to unite in the suppression of 
such a detestable race of pirates, and that the Emperor had 
lately made an insinuation to the Porte upon the subject. 
I asked him if he thought France and England would 
agree to such a project, observing that I had heard that 
some Englishmen had said, "if there were no Algiers, 
England ought to build one." He said, he could not 
answer for England. 

It is unnecessary to repeat any more of the conversation, 
which turned upon the frugal and industrious character of 
the Germans, the best cultivators in Europe, and the dis- 
honorable traffic of some of the German Princes in men, a 
subject he introduced and enlarged on himself. I said 
nothing about it. Rising up to take leave, he repeated 
several compliments he had made when he first came in, 
and added, "The Count de Vergennes will do me the 
honor to dine with me one of these days, and I hope to 
have that of your company. We will then speak of an 
affair upon which the Count de Vergennes and you have 
already conversed." 

This shows there is something in agitation, but what it 
is I cannot conjecture ; whether it is to induce us to make 
the compliment to the two Imperial Courts to sign the 
definitive treaty as mediators, whether there is any project 
of an association for the liberty of navigation, or whether it 
is any other thing, I cannot guess at present, but I will 
write you as soon as I know. Whatever it is, we must 


treat it with respect, but we shall be very careful how we 
engage our country in measures of consequence without 
being clear of our powers, and without the instructions of 

I went out to Passy, and found from Mr Jay, that he 
had made his visit there, in the course of the day, but had 
said nothing to Dr Franklin or him about the dinner with 
the Count de Vergennes. In the course of the day, I had 
visits from the Prince Bariatinski and M. de MarkofF, the 
two Ministers of the Empress of Russia. The porter told 
these gentlemen's servants, that 1 was at home, but they 
did not come up, but only sent up dieir cards. 

While I was gone to Passy, Monsieur de Blome, Envoy 

Extraordinary from the King of Denmark, called and left 

his card. Thus the point of etiquette seems to be settled, 

and we are to be treated in character by all the Powers of 


I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Paris, July 5th, 1783. 

Your favors of the 12th and 29th of May were deliv- 
ered to me on the 3d of this month by Captain Barney. 
Every assistance, in my power, shall be given to Mr Bar- 
clay. Mr Grand will write you the amount of all the bills 
which have been paid in Holland, which were accepted by 
me. You may banish your fears of a double payment of 
any one bill. I never accepted a bill without taking down 
in writing a very particular description of it, nor without 
examining the book, to see whether it had been accepted 


before. I sent regularly, in the time of it, copies of these 
acceptances to Dr Franklin, and I have now asked him to 
lend them to me, that I may copy them and send them to 
you. The Doctor has promised-to look up my letters, and 
let me have them. The originals are at the Hague, with 
multitudes of other papers, which I want every day. 

Among the many disagreeable circumstances attending 
my duty in Europe, it is not the least, that instead of being 
fixed to any one station, I have been perpetually danced 
about fiom "post to pillar," unable to have my books and 
papers with me, unable to have about me the conveniences 
of a house-keeper for health, pleasure, or business, but yet 
subjected in many articles to double expenses. 

Mr Livingston has not informed me of any determination 
of Congress upon my letter to you of The 17th of Novem- 
ber, which distresses me much on Mr Thaxter's account, 
who certainly merits more than he has received, or can re- 
ceive, without the favor of Congress. 

I thank you. Sir, most affectionately for your kind con- 
gratulation on the peace. Our late enemies always clamor 
against a peace, but this one is belter for them than they 
had reason to expect after so mad a war. Our country- 
men too, I suppose, are not quite satisfied. This thing and 
tiiat thing should have been otherwise, no doubt. If any 
man blames us I wish him no other punishment than to 
have, if that were possible, just such another peace to nego- 
tiate, exactly in our situation. I cannot look back upon this 
event uithout the most afiecting sentiments, when I consider 
the number of nations concerned, the complications of inter- 
ests, extending all over the globe, the characters of actors, 
the difficulties which attended every step of the progress, 
how everything labored in England, France, Spain, and 
VOL. vn. 8 


Holland, that the armament at Cadiz was upon the point 
of sailing, which would have rendered another campaign 
inevitable, that another campaign would have probably 
involved France in a continental war, as the Emperor 
would in that case have joined Russia against the Porte ; 
that the British Ministry was then in so critical a situation, 
that its duration for a week or a day depended upon its 
making peace ; that if that Ministry had been changed, it 
could have been succeeded only either by North and 
Company, or by the coalition ; that it is certain, that 
neither North and Company, nor the coalition, would have 
made peace upon any terms, that either we or the other 
Powers would have agreed to ; and that all these difficul- 
ties were dissipated by one decided step of the British 
and American Ministers. I feel too strongly a gratitude to 
Heaven for having been conducted safely through the 
storm, to be very solicitous whether we have the appro- 
bation of mortals or not. 

A delay of one day might, and probably would, have 
changed the Ministry in England, in which case all would 
have been lost. If, after we had agreed with Mr Oswald, 
we had gone to Versailles to show the result to the Count 
de Vergennes, you would have been this moment at war, 
and God knows how or when you would have got out. 
"What would have been the course ? The Count de Ver- 
gennes would have sprinkled us with compliments, the 
holy water of a Court. He would have told us ; "you 
have done, gentlemen, very well for your country. You 
have gained a great deal. I congratulate you upon it, but 
you must not sign till we are ready ; we must sign alto- 
gether here in this room." What would have been our 
situation.? We must have signed against this advice, as 


Mr Laurens says he would have done, and as I believe Mr 
Jay and I should have done, which would have been the 
most marked affront, that could have been offered, or we 
must have waited for France and Spain, which would have 
changed the Ministry in England, and lost the whole peace, 
as certainly as there is a world in being. When a few 
frail vessels are navigating among innumerable mountains 
of ice, driven by various winds, and drawn by various cur- 
rents, and a narrow crevice appears to one, by which all 
may escape, if that one improves the moment and sets the 
example, it will not do to stand upon ceremonies, and ask, 
which shall go first, or that all may go together. 

I hope you will excuse this little excursion, and believe 
me to be, with great respect and esteem, your most obe- 
dient and most humble servant, 



Paris, July 7th, 1783. 

■ Sir, 

We cannot as yet obtain from Mr Hartley, or his prin- 
cipals, an explicit consent to any one proposition whatever. 
Yet England and France, and England and Spain are 
probably agreed, and Holland, I suppose, must comply. 
Our last resource must be to say, we are ready to sign 
the Provisional Treaty, iotidem verbis^ as the Definitive 

I think it is plain, that the British Ministry do not intend 
to sign any treaty till Parliament rises. There are such 
dissensions in the Cabinet, that they appreliend a treaty 
laid before Parliament, if it did not obtain advantages, of 


which they have no hope, would furnish materials to. over- 
throw them. A new administration is talked of, under 
Lord Temple. The West India commerce is now the 
object, that interests us the most nearly. At dinner with 
the Due de la Vauguyon, on Saturday last, he told me, 
that he believed the commerce between the French West 
India Islands and the United States, would be confined 
to ships built in France, and navigated by French sea- 

"So then, M. le Due," said I, laughing, "you have 
adopted the ideas of the British navigation act. But sup- 
pose the United States should adopt them too, and make a 
law, that no commerce should be carried on with any West 
India Islands, French, English, Spanish, Dutch, or Danish, 
but in ships built in America, and navigated with Ameri- 
can seamen ? We can import sugar from Europe. But 
give me leave to tell you, that this trade can never be car- 
ried on without a great number of seamen, which the 
French vessels being all large require, and your navigators 
are too slow. The trade itself was only profitable to us 
as a system, and little vessels, with a few hands, run away 
at any season of the year, from any creek or river, with a 
multitude of little articles, collected in haste. Your mer- 
chants and mariners have neither, the patience to content 
themselves with much and long labor, and dangerous voy- 
ages for small profits, nor have they the economy, nor can 
they navigate vessels with so few hands." "Aye, but we 
think," said the Duke," if we do not try, we shall never 
learn to do these things as well and as cheap as you." 
The Duke told me, some days before, that he had had a 
great deal of conversation with the Count de Vergennes, 
and he found he had a great many good ideas of com- 


merce. The Count himself told me a few weeks ago, "in 
our regulations of the commerce between our Islands and 
you, we must have regard to our shipping, and our nur- 
series of seamen for our marine ; for," said he, smiling 
politely enough, "without a marine, we cannot go to your 

In short, France begins to grow, for a moment, ava- 
ricious of navigation and seamen. But it is certain, that 
neither the form of government, nor the national character, 
can possibly admit of great success in it. Navigation is so 
dangerous a business, and requires so much patience, and 
produces so little profit among nations who understand it 
best, and have the best advantages for it, where property 
is most secure, lawsuits soonest and cheapest ended, (and 
by fixed certain laws,) that the French can never interfere 
much with the Dutch, or Americans, in ship building or 
carrying trade. If any French merchants ever begin to 
carry on this commerce, between America and the Islands, 
they will break to pieces very soon, and then some new 
plan must be adopted. The English, for aught I know, 
will make a similar law, that the communications between 
us and their Islands shall be carried on in British built 
ships, or ships built in Canada or Nova Scotia, and navi- 
gated by British seamen. In this case, we must try what 
we can do with the Dutch and Danes. But the French 
and English will endeavor to persuade them to the same 
policy, for the Due de la Vauguyon told me, that he 
thought it a common tie [lien commun.) In this they will 
not succeed, and we must make the most we can of the 
Dutch friendship, for luckily, the merchants and Regency 
of Amsterdam had too much wit to exclude us from their 
Islands by the treaty. Happily, Congress will have a 


Dutch Minister, with whom they may consult upon this 
matter, as well as any others, but I should think it would 
not be convenient to invite an English or French Minister 
to be present at the consultation. 

I am at a loss. Sir, to guess what propositions made to 
us Congress have been informed of, which they had not 
learned from us. None have been made to us. The Dutch 
Ambassadors did once propose a meeting to us, and had it 
at my house. Dr Franklin came, but Mr Jay did not, 
and Mr Laurens was absent. The Ambassadors desired 
to know, whether we had power to enter into any engage- 
ments, provided France, Spain, and Holland, should agree 
to any, in support of the armed neutrality. We showed 
them the resolution of Congress, of the 5lh of October, 
1780, and told them, that Mr Dana had been since vested 
with a particular commission to the same effect. We 
never heard anything further about it. 

Not seeing, at the time, any probability that anything 
would come of this, nor intending to do anything of any 
consequence in it, if we should hear further of it, without 
the further orders of Congress, we did not think it neces- 
sary to write anything about it, at least, till it should put on 
a more serious appearance. If the Count de Mercy's din- 
ner, to which we are to be Invited, with the Count de 
Vergennes, should produce any insinuations on this sub- 
ject, (which I do not, however, expect) we shall inform 
you, and request the orders of Congress. 
I have the honor to be, he. 




Paris, July 9th, 178$. 


Since the dangerous fever I had in Amsterdam, tv.o 
years ago, I have never enjoyed my health. Throiigli the 
whole of the last winter and spring, 1 have suffered under 
weaknesses and pains, which have scarcely permitted me 
to do business. The excessive heats of the last week or 
two have brought on me a fever again, which exhausts mc 
in such a manner, as to be very discouraging, and inca-* 
paciiates one for everything. In short, nothing but a re- 
turn to America will ever restore my health, if even that 
should do it. 

In these circumstances, however, we have negotiations 
to go through, and your despatches to answer. The lib- 
eral sentiments in England respecting the trade are all 
lost for the present, and we can get no answer to anything. 
It is the same thing with the Dutch. One of the Dutch 
Ambassadors told me yesterday at Versailles, that now, 
for five weeks, the English had never said one word to 
them, nor given them any answer. These things indicate, 
that the Ministry do not think themselves permanent. 

The Count de Vergennes asked Dr Franklin and mc, 
yesterday, if we had made our visits. We answered, 
that we had, and that they had been promptly returned. 
"The thing in agitation," says the Count, "is for you to 
determine whether your definitive treaty shall be signed 
under the mediation of the two Imperial Courts, or not. 
Ours and the Spanish treaty with England are to be so 
finished, and if you determine in favor of it, you have 
only to write a letter to the Ministers of the Imperial 


Courts, who are here." J told him, in the present case, 
I did not know wliat a mediation meant. He smiled 
but did not seem to know any better than I ; at least, 
he did not explain it. We told him we would determine 
upon it soon. 

How we shall determine, I cannot say. For my own 
part, I see no harm in accepting the mediation, nor any 
other good, than a compliment to the two empires. In 
Europe it may be thought an honor to us, and, therefore, 
I shall give my voice, as at present informed, in favor of it, 
as it seems rather to be the inclination of the Count de 
Vergennes that we should. 

Your late despatches, Sir, are not well adapted to give 
spirits to a melancholy man, or to cure one sick with a 
fever. It is not possible for me, at present, to enter into a 
long detail in answer to them. You will be answered, I 
suppose, by all the gentlemen jointly. In the meantime, I 
beg leave to say to you a few words upon two points. 

1st. The separate article never appeared to me of any 
consequence to conceal from this Court. It was an agree- 
ment we had a right to make ; it contained no injury to 
France or Spain. Indeed, I know not what France has, 
or ever had, to do with it. If it had been communicated 
to this Court, it would probably have been communicated 
to Spain, and she might have thought more about it than 
it was worth. But how you could conceive it possible for 
us to treat at all with the English, upon supposition, that 
we had communicated every, the minutest thing, to this 
Court, when this Court were neither obliged, nor thought 
proper, to communicate anything whatever to us, I know 
not. We were bound by treaty no more than they to 
communicate. The instructions were found to be abso- 


Jutely impracticable. That they were too suddenly pub- 
lished, is very true. 

2dly. A communication of the treaty to this Court, after 
it was agreed upon, and before it was signed, would have 
infallibly prevented the whole peace. In the first place, 
it was very doubtful, or rather, on the contrary, it is cer- 
tain, the English Minister never would have consented that 
we should have communicated it. We might, it is true, 
have done it without his consent or knowledge ; but what 
would have been the consequence ? The French Minister 
would have said, the terms were very good for us, but we 
must not sign till they signed ; and this would have been 
the continuance of the war for another year, at least. It 
was not so much from an apprehension, that the French 
would have exerted themselves to get away from us terms 
that were agreed on, that they were withheld. It was 
then too late, and we have reasons to apprehend, that all 
of this kind had been done, which could be done. We 
knew the^-vwere often insinuating to the British Ministers 
things against us, respecting the fisheries, tories, &;c. during 
the negotiation, and Mr Fitzherbert told me, that the 
Count de Vergennes had "fifty times reproached him for 
ceding the fisheries, and said it was ruining the English 
and French commerce both." It was not suspicion, it 
was certain knowledge, that they were against us on the 
points of the tories, fisheries, Mississippi, and the western 

All this knowledge, however, did not influence us to 
conceal the treaty. We did not, in fact, conceal it. Dr 
Franklin communicated the substance of it to the Count and 
M. de Rayneval. So did I. In a long conversation wiili 
the Count and M. de Rayneval together, I told them the 

VOL. VII. 9 


substance of what was agreed upon, and what we further 
insisted on, and the English then disputed. But the signing 
before them is the point. This we could not have done, 
if we had shown the treaty, and told them we were 
ready. The Count would certainly have said to us, you 
must not sign till we sigu. To have signed after this 
would have been more disagreeable to him, and to us too. 
Yet we must have signed or lost the peace. The peace 
depended on a day. 

Parliament had been waiting long, and once prorogued. 
The Minister was so pressed, he could not have met Par- 
liament and kept his place, without an agreement upon 
terms, at least, with America. If we had not signed, the 
Ministry would have been changed, and the coalition come 
in, and the whole world knows the coalition would not 
have made peace upon the present terms, and, conse- 
quently, not at all this year. The iron was struck in the 
few critical moments when it was of a proper heat, and has 
been moulded into a handsome vessel. If it had been 
suffered to cool, it would have flown in pieces like glass. 
Our countrymen have great reason to rejoice, that they 
have obtained so good a peace, when, and as they did. 
With the present threatening appearances of a northern 
war, which will draw in France, if our peace was still to 
be made we might find cause to tremble for many great 
advantages, that are now secured. I believe the Count 
himself, if he were now to speak his real sentiments, would 
say, he is very glad we signed when we did, and that with- 
out asking his consent. 

The Due de la Vauguyon told me and M. Brantzen 
together, last Saturday, "if you had not signed when you 
did, we should not have signed when we did." If they 


had not signed when they did, d'Estaing would have sailed 
from Cadiz, and in that case nobody would have signed 
to this day. It is not possible for men to be in more dis- 
agreeable circumstances than we were. We are none of 
us men of principles or dispositions to take pleasure in 
going against your sentiments, Sir, much less those of 
Congress. But in this case, if we had not done it, our 
country would have lost advantages beyond computa- 

On Monday, Sir, we pursued our visits, and today we 
finish. Yesterday at Court all the foreign Ministers be- 
haved to us without reserve, as members of the Corps Di- 
plomaiique, so that we shall no longer see tliose lowering 
countenances, solemn looks, distant bows, and other pecu- 
liarities, which have been sometimes diverting, and some- 
times provoking, for so many years. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, July 10th, 1783. 


In the present violent heat of the weather, and feverish 
state of my health, I cannot pretend to sit long at my pen, 
and must pray you to accept of a iew short hints only. 

To talk in a general style of confidence in the French 
Court, he. is to use a general language, which may mean 
almost anything, or almost nothing. To a certain degree, 
and as far as the treaties and engagements extend, I have 
as much confidence in the French Court as Congress has, 
or even as you, Sir, appear to have. But if, by confi- 
dence in the French Court is meant an opinion, that the 


French Office of Foreign Affairs would be advocates with 
the English for our rights to the fisheries, or to the Mis- 
sissippi river, or our Western Territory, or advocates to 
persuade the British Ministers to give up the cause of the 
refugees, and make Parliamentary provision for them, I 
own I have no such confidence, and never had. Seeing 
and hearing what J have seen and heard, I must have 
been an idiot to have entertained such confidence, I should 
be more of a Machiavelian, or a Jesuit, than I ever was, 
or will be, to counterfeit it to you, or to Congress. 

M. Marbois' letter is to me full proof of the principles 
of the Count de Vergennes. Why ? Because I know, 
(for it was personally communicated to me upon my pas- 
sage home, by M. Marbois himself,) the intimacy and con- 
fidence there is between these two. And I know further, 
that letter contains sentiments concerning the fisheries, 
diametrically opposite to those, which Marbois repeatedly 
expressed to me upon the passage, viz. "That the New- 
foundland fishery was our right, and we ought to maintain 
it." From whence I conclude, M. Marbois' sentiments 
have been changed by the instructions of the Minister. To 
what purpose is it where this letter came from ? Is it less 
genuine, whether it came from Philadelphia, Versailles, or 
London ? What if it came through English hands ? Is 
there less weight, less evidence in it for that ^ Are the 
sentiments more just, or more friendly to us for that .'' 

M. de Rayneval's correspondence too with Mr Jay. 
M. de Rayneval is a Chef de Bureau. But we must be 
very ignorant of all Courts not to know, that an Under 
Secretary of State dares not carry on such a correspon- 
dence without the knowledge, consent, and orders of the 


There is another point now in agitation, in which the 
French will never give us one good word. On the con- 
trary, they will say everything they can think of to per- 
suade the English to deprive us of the trade of their West 
India Islands. They have already, with their emissaries, 
been the chief cause of the change of sentiment in Lon- 
don on this head against us. In general they see with 
pain every appearance of returning real and cordial friend- 
ship, such as may be permanent between us and Great 
Britain. On the contrary, they see with pleasure every 
seed of contention between us. The tories are an excel- 
lent engine of mischief between us, and are, therefore, 
very precious. 

Exclusion from the West India Islands will be another. 
I hold it to be the indispensable duty of my station, not 
to conceal from Congress these truths. Do not let us be 
dupes, under the idea of being grateful.. Innumerable 
anecdotes happen daily to show, that these sentiments are 
general. In conversation, a few weeks ago, with the Due 
de la Vauguyon, upon the subject of the West India trade, 
I endeavored to convince him, that France and England 
both ought to admit us freely to their islands. He entered 
into a long argument to prove, that both ought to exclude 
us. At last, I said, the English were a parcel of sots to 
exclude us, for the consequence would be, that in fifteen or 
twenty years we should have another war with them. 
'•'■Tant mieux ! tant mieux ! je vous en felicite,^^ cried the 
Duke, with great pleasure. "Tont mieux pour nous,^^ 
said I, because we shall conquer from the English in that 
case all their islands, the inhabitants of which would now 
declare for us, if they dared. But it will not be the 
better for the English. They will be the dupes, if they 


lay a foundation for it. "Yes," said the Duke, "I believe 
you will have another war with the English." And in this 
wish he expressed the vows of every Frenchman upon the 
face of the earth. If, therefore, we have it in contem- 
plation to avoid a future war with the English, do not let 
us have too much confidence in the French, that they will 
favor us in this view.* 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Paris, July 10th, 1783. 


Upon the receipt of the despatches by Barney, I sent 
off your letters for Messrs Willinks h Co. and I received 
last night an answer to the letter I wrote them upon the 
occasion. They have engaged to remit Mr Grand a mil- 
lion and a half of livres in a month, which has relieved Mi- 
Grand from his anxiety. 

This Court has refused to Dr Franklin any more 
money. They are apprehensive of being obliged to take 
a part in the northern war, and their own financiers have 
not enough of the confidence of the public to obtain money 
for their own purposes. 

Your design of sending cargoes of tobacco and other 
things to Amsterdam, to Messrs Willinks &. Co. is the 
best possible to support our credit there. The more you 
send, the more money will be obtained. Send a Minister 

* See a letter from Dr Franklin, containing remarks on Mr 
Adams's opinions of the policy and designs of the French Court, 
dated July the 22d, 1783. Franklins Correspondence, Vol. IV. p. 
138. Also a letter from Mr Laurens, Vol. II. p. 486. 


too ; residing there, he may promote It much. It is a mis- 
fortune, that I have not been able to be there, but this 
post cannot be deserted. Instruct your Minister to inquire 
whether the House of Hope could be persuaded to engage 
with Willinks in a new loan. This should b« done with 
secrecy and discretion. If that House would undertake it, 
you would find money enough for your purpose, for I rely 
upon it, the States will adopt a plan immediately for the 
effectual payment of interest. This is indispensable. The 
foundation of a happy government can only be laid in 
justice ; and as soon as the public shall see, that provision 
is made for this, you will no longer want money. 

It is a maxim among merchants and monied men, that 
"every man has credit who does not want it." It is 
equally true of States. We shall want it but little longer, 
if the States make provision for the payment of interest, 
and therefore we shall have enough of it. There is not a 
country in the world whose credit ought to be so good, 
because there is none equally able to pay. 

Enclosed is a pamphlet of Dr Price's, for your comfort. 

You will see by it, that the only nation we have reason to 

fear wants credit so much, that she is not likely to have 

it always, and this is our security. By some hints from 

Mr Hartley, he will probably return to London, and not 

be here again. The present Ministry is so undecided and 

feeble, that it is at least doubtful whether they will make 

the definitive treaty of peace. 

With great respect, he. 




Paris, July 11th, 1783. 

In my letter to you of yesterday, I hinted in confidence, 
at an application to the house of Hope. This is a very 
delicate measure. I was induced to think of it merely by 
a conversation which M. Van Berckel, (who will soon be 
with you, as he sailed the 26th of June from the Texel,) 
had with M. Dumas. It would be better to be steady to 
the three Houses already employed, if that is possible. 
You will now be able to converse freely with that Minister 
upon the subject. 1 should not advise you to take any de- 
cisive resolution at Philadelphia, but leave it to your Minis- 
ter to act as shall appear to him best upon the spot. The 
Houses now employed are well esteemed, and I hope 
will do very well. But no House in the Republic has 
the force of that of Hope. 

All depends, however, upon the measures to be taken 
by Congress and the States for ascertaining their debts, 
and a regular discharge of the interest. The ability of the 
people to make such an establishment cannot be doubted ; 
and the inclination of no man who has a proper sense of 
public honor can be called in question. The Thirteen 
States, in relation to the discharge of the debts of Congress, 
must consider themselves as one body animated by one 
soul. The stability of our confederation at home, our 
reputation abroad, our power of defence, the confidence 
and affection of the people of one State towards those of 
another, all depend upon it. Without a sacred regard to 
public justice no society can exist ; it is the only tie which 
can unite men's minds and hearts in pursuit of the common 


The commerce of the world is now open to us, and our 
exports and imports are of so large amount, and our con- 
nexions will be so large and extensive, that the least stain 
upon our character in this respect will lose us in a very 
short time advantages of greater pecuniary value than all 
our debt amounts to. The moral character of our people 
is of infinitely greater worth than all the sums in question. 
Every hesitation, every uncertainty about paying or re- 
ceiving a just debt, diminishes that sense of moral obliga- 
tion of public justice, which ought to be kept pure, and 
carefully cultivated in every American mind. Creditors at 
home and abroad, the army, the navy, every man who has 
a well founded claim upon the j)ublic, have an unalienable 
right to be satisfied, and this by the fundamental principles 
of society. Can there ever be content and satisfaction ? 
Can there ever be peace and order ? Can there ever be 
industry or decency without it ? To talk of a sponga to 
wipe out this debt, or of reducing or diminishing it below 
its real value, in a country so abundantly able to pay the 
last farthing, would betray a total ignorance of the first 
principles of national duty and interest. 

Let us leave these odious speculations to countries, that 
can plead a necessity for them, and where corruption has 
arrived at its last stages ; where infamy is scarcely felt, 
and wrong may as well assume one shape as another, 
since it must prevail in some. 
I have the honor to be, he 


VOL. VII. 10 



Paris, July 11th, 1783. 


As there are certain particulars, in which it has ap- 
peared to me, that the friendship of a French Minister has 
been problematical, at least, or rather, not to exist at all, I 
have freely mentioned them to Congress ; because I hold 
it to be the first duty of a public Minister, in my situation, 
to conceal no important truth of this kind from his masters. 

But ingratitude is an odious vice, and ought to be held 
in detestation by every American citizen. We ought to 
distinguish, therefore, between those points, for which we 
are not obliged to our allies, from those in which we are. 

I think, then, we are under no particular obligations of 
gratitude to them for the fisheries, the boundaries, exemp- 
tion from the tories, or for the progress of our negotiations 
in Europe. 

We are under obligations of gratitude, for making the 
treaty with us when they did ; for those sums of money, 
which they have generously given us, and for those, even, 
which they have lent us, whicli I hope we shall punctually 
pay, and be tiiankful still for the loan ; for the fleet and. 
army they sent to America, and for all the important ser- 
vices they did. By other mutual exertions, a dangerous 
rival to them, and I may be almost warranted in saying, an 
imperious master, both to them and us, has been brought 
to reason, and put out of the power to do harm to either. 
In this respect, however, our allies are more secure than 
we. The House of Bourbon has acquired a great acces- 
sion of strength, while their hereditary enemy has been 
weakened one half, and incurably crippled. 


The French are, besides, a good natured and humane 
nation, very respectable in arts, letters, arms, and com- 
merce, and, therefore, motive»3 of interest, honor, and 
convenience, join themselves to those of friendship and 
gratitude, to induce us to wish for the continuance of their 
friendship and alliance. The Provinces of Canada and 
Nova Scotia in the hands of the English are a constant 
warning to us to have a care of ourselves, and, therefore, 
a continuance of the friendship and alliance of France is of 
importance to our tranquillity, and even to our safety. 
There is nothing, which will have a greater effect to over- 
awe the English, and induce them to respect us and our 
rights, than the reputation of a good understanding with the 
French. My voice and advice will, therefore, always be 
for discharging, with the utmost fidelity, gratitude, and 
exactness, every obligation we are under to France, and 
for cultivating her friendship and alliance by all sorts of 
good offices. But I am sure, that to do this effectually, 
we must reason with them at times, enter into particu- 
lars, and be sure that we understand one another. We 
must act a manly, honest, independent, as well as a sen- 
sible part. 

With great respect, I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, July 12th, 1783. 

Reports have been spread, that the Regency of Algiers 
has been employed in fitting out ships to cruise for Amer- 
ican vessels. There are reports too, that Sprin has an 


armament prepared to attack their town. How much 
truth there may be in either, I cannot pretend to say. 

Whether Congress will take any measures for treating 
with these piratical States, must be submitted to them. 
The custom of these Courts, as well as those of Asia and 
Africa, is to receive presents with Ambassadors. The 
Grand Pensionary of Holland told me, that the Republic 
paid annually to the Regency of Algiers a hundred thou- 
sand dollars. I hope a less sum would serve for us ; but 
in the present state of our finances, it would be difficult to 
make any payment. Mr Montgomery, of Alicant, has ven- 
tured to write a letter to the Emperor of Morocco, in con- 
sequence of which, his Majesty was pleased to give orders 
to all his vessels to treat American vessels with all friend- 
ship. Mr Montgomery ventured too far, however, in 
writing in the name of the United States, and what will be 
the consequences of the deception I know not. 

Dr Franklin lately mentioned to Mr Jay and me, that 
he was employed in preparing, with the Portuguese Am- 
bassador, a treaty between the United States and Portu- 
gal. The next Ambassador's day at Versailles, I asked 
him if we could be admitted to the Brazils ? He said, no, 
they admitted no nation to the Brazils. I asked, if we 
were admitted to the Western Islands ? He said he thought 
Madeira was mentioned. I told him, I thought it would 
be of much importance to us to secure an admission to all 
the Azores, and to have these Islands, or some of them, 
made a depot for the sugars, coffee, cotton, and cocoa, &;c. 
of the Brazils. He liked this idea, and went immediately 
and spoke to the Ambassador upon it. He said, the Am- 
bassador had told him, that they could furnish us with 
these articles at Lisbon, fifteen per cent cheaper than the 
English could from their West India Islands. 


This treaty, I suppose, will be submitted to Congress 
before it is signed, and I hope Congress will give a close 
attention to it, in order to procure an exemption from as 
many duties as possible, and as much freedom and secu- 
rity of trade in all their ports of Europe and the Western 
Islands as possible. If any particular stipulations should 
be necessary, concerning the free admission of all the 
articles of our produce, as rice, wheat, flour, salt-fish, or 
any other, the members of Congress may readily suggest 

I could wish that the Court of Lisbon had sent a 

Minister to Philadelphia to negotiate a treaty there. 1 

wish that advantages may not be lost by this method 

of preparing treaties here, by Ministers who have made no 

particular study of the objects of them.* Benefits on both 

sides may escape attention in this way. A good treaty with 

Portugal is of so much consequence to us, that I should 

not wonder if Congress should think it necessary to send a 

Minister to Lisbon to complete it. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, July 13th, 1783. 

Yesterday Colonel Ogden arrived with the originals of 
what we had before received in duplicates by Captain Bar- 
ney. The ratification of the Dutch treaty had been 
before received and exchanged. The ratification of their 

* See the draft of a Treaty with Portugal, in Franklin.' s Corres- 
pondence, Vol. IV. p. 150. 


High Mightinesses is in the safe custody of M. Dumas, 
at "^resent at the lia2;ue. 

1 bel'evo we shall ?,cce[)t of the mediation of the two 
Imperial Courts at the definitive treaty, as it is a mere 
formality, a mere compliment, consisting wholly in the 
Imperial Ministers putting their names and seals to the 
parchment, and can have no ill effect. The inclination of 
the Count de Vergennes seems to be, that we should ac- 
cept it, and as he calls upon us to decide in the affirma- 
tive or negative, I believe we shall give an answer in the 

The Empress has promised to receive Mr Dana, as soon 
as the definitive treaty shall be signed, and he has prepared 
a treaty of commerce, which will be valuable if he can 
obtain -it. 

The Emperor of Germany has caused to be intimated 
several ways, his inclination to have a treaty of commerce 
W'ith us ; but his rank is so high, that his House never 
makes the first formal advance. I should think it advis- 
able, that we should have a treaty with that power for 
several reasons. 

1st. Because, as Emperor of Germany, and King of 
Bohemia and Hungary, he is at the head of one of the 
greatest interests and most powerful connexions in Europe. 
It is true it is the greatest weight in the scale, which is, and 
has been, from age to age, opposite to the House of Bour- 
bon. But for this very reason, if there were no other, the 
United States ought to have a treaty of commerce with it, 
in order to be in practice with their theory, and to show to 
all the world, that their system of commerce embraces, 
equally and impartially, rll the commercial States and 
countries of Europe. 


2dly. Because the present Emperor is one of the great- 
est men of this age. The wisdom and virtue of the man, 
as well as of the monarch ; his personal activity, intelli- 
gence, and accomplishments ; his large and liberal princi- 
ples in matters of religion, government, and commerce, 
are so much of kin to those of our States, (perhaps indeed 
so much borrowed from them, and adopted in imitation of 
them,) that it seems peculiarly proper we should show this 
respect to them. 

3dly. Because, that if England should ever forget her- 
self again so much as to attack us, she may not be so 
likely ii6 obtain the alliance or assistance of this Power 
against us.- A friendship once established in a treaty of 
commerce, this power would never be likely to violate, 
because she has no dominions near us, and could have no 
interest to quarrel with us. 

4thly. Because the countries belonging to this power 
upon the Adriatic sea, and in the Austrian Flanders, arc 
no inconsiderable sources of commerce for America. And 
if the present negotiations between the two Imperial 
Courts and the Porte shall terminate in a free navigation 
of the Danube, the Black sea, and the Archipelago, the 
Emperor's hereditary dominions will become very respec- 
table commercial countries. 

5thly. Because, although we have at present a pleasant 
and joyful prospect of friendship and uninterrupted alliance 
with the House of Bourbon, which I wish may never be 
obscured, yet this friendship and alliance will be the more 
likely to continue unimpaired, for our having the frie'fid- 
ship and commerce of the House of Austria. And (as in 
the vicissitudes of human affairs all things are possible) if 
in future times, however unlikely at present, the House 


of Bourbon should deal unjustly by us, demand of us 
things we are not bound to perform, or any way injure us, 
we may find in the alliance of Austria, England, and Hol- 
land a resource against the storm. Supernumerary strings 
to our bow, and provisions against possible inconveniences, 
however improbable, can do us no harm. 

If we were not straitened for money, I should advise 
Congress to send a Minister to Vienna. But as every 
Mission abroad is a costly article, and we find it difficult, 
at present, to procure money for the most necessary pur- 
poses, I should think it proper for Congress to send a com- 
mission to their Minister at Versailles, London, Madrid, 
Petersburg, or the Hague, who might communicate it to 
the Court of Vienna, by means of the Imperial Ambassa- 
dor. The Emperor in such a case would authorize his 
Ambassador at that Court to prepare and conclude a 
treaty, and in this way the business may be well done, 
without any additional expense. 

M. Favi, Charge d^Affaires of the Grand Duke of 
Tuscany, the Emperor's brother, has called upon me so 
often to converse with me upon this subject, that I doubt 
not he has been employed, or at least knows that it would 
be agreeable to his Court and their connexions, although 
he has never made any official insinuations about it. This 
gentleman has been employed by the Republic of Ragusa 
to consult American Ministers upon the subject of com- 
merce too. I have told him, that the American ports were 
open to the Ragusan vessels, as well as to all others, and 
have given him the address, by which they propose to 
write to Congress. 

I have the honor to be, he. 




Paris, July 14th, 1783. 

A jealousy of American ships, searnen, carrying-trade, 
and naval power, appears every day more and more con- 
spicuous. This jealousy, which has been all along discov- 
ered by the French Minister, is at length communicated 
to the English. The following proclamation, which will 
not increase British ships and seamen in any proportion as 
it will diminish those of the United States, will contribute 
effectually to make America afraid of England, and attach 
herself more closely to France. The English are the 
dupes, and must take the consequences. 

This proclamation is issued in full confidence, that the 
United States have no confidence in one another; that 
they cannot agree to act in a body as one nation ; that they 
cannot agree upon any navigation act, which may be com- 
mon to the Thirteen States. Our proper remedy would 
be to confine our exports to American ships, to make a 
law, that no article should be exported from any of the 
States in British ships, nor in the ships of any nation, 
which will not allow us reciprocally to import their produc- 
tions in our ships. I am much afraid there is too good an 
understanding upon this subject between Versailles and St 

Perhaps it may be proper for Congress to be silent upon 
this head until New York, Penobscot, &ic. are evacuated. 
But I should think, that Congress would never bind them- 
selves by any treaty built upon such principles. They 
should negotiate, however, without loss of time, by a Min- 

VOL. VII. 11 


ister in London. A iew weeks' delay may have unalter- 
able effects. 


At the Court of St James, the 2d of July, 1783. 

Present, the King's JMost Excellent Majesty in Council. 

"Whereas, by an Act of Parliament, passed this session, 
entitled an 'Act for preventing certain instruments from 
being required from ships belonging to the Unite;! States 
of America, and to give his Majesty, for a limitr d time, 
certain powers for the better carrying on trade and com- 
merce, between the subjects of his Majesty's dominions, 
and the inhabitants of the said United States ;' it is amongst 
other things enacted, that, during the continuance of the 
said act, 'it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty in 
Council, by order or orders to be issued and published 
from time to time, to give such directions, and to make 
such regulations, with respect to duties, drawbacks, or 
otherwise, for carrying on the trade and commerce be- 
tween the people and territories belonging to the Crown of 
Great Britain, and the people and territories of the said 
United States, as to his Majesty in Council shall appear 
most expedient and salutary, any law, usage, or custom to 
the contrary notwithstanding ;' his Majesty doth, there- 
fore, by and with tiie advice of his Privy Council, hereby 
order and direct, that pitch, tar, turpentine, hemp and flax, 
masts, yards, and bowsprits, staves, heading, boards, tim- 
ber, shingles, and all oih&c species of lumber, horses, neat 
cattle, sheep, hogs, poultry, and all other species of live 
stock, and live provisions ; peas, beans, potatoes, wheat, 
flour, bread, biscuit, rice, oats, barley, and all other species 
of grain, being the growth, or production of any one of 


the United States of America, may, until further order, be 
imported by British subjects, in British built ships, owned 
by his Majesty's subjects, and navigated according to law, 
from any port of the United States of America, to any of 
his Majesty's West India Islands ; and that rum, sugar, 
molasses, coffee, cocoa-nuts, ginger, and pimento, may, 
until further order, be exported by British subjects, in 
British built ships, owned by his Majesty's subjects, and 
navigated according to law, from any of liis Majesty's 
West India Islands, and to any port or place within the said 
United States, upon payment of the same duties on ex- 
portation, and subject to the like rules, regulations, secu- 
rities, and restrictions, as the same articles by law are, or 
may be, subject and liable to, if exported to any British 
colony or plantation in America. And the Right Honor- 
able the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury, 
and the Lords Commissioners of. the Admiralty, are to 
give the necessary directions herein, as to them- may re- 
spectively appertain. 


0ns of the most remarkable things in this proclamation 
is, the omission of salt-fish, an article, which the islands 
want as much as any that is enumerated. This is, no 
doubt, to encourage their own fishery, and that of Nova 
Scotia, as well as a blow aimed at ours. There was, in a 
former proclamation concerning the trade between the 
United States and Great Britain, an omission of the ai tides 
ol potash and pearlash. These omissions discover a 
choice love for New England. France, I am afraid, will 
exclude fish too, and imitate this proclamaiioii but too 
closely ; if, indeed, this proclamation is not an i:niiaiion of 


their system adopted, as I believe it is, upon their advice 
and desire. 

These, however, are important efforts. Without saying, 
writing, or resolving anything suddenly, let us see what 
remedies or equivalents we can obtain from Holland, Por- 
tugal and Denmark. Let us bind ourselves to nothing, but 
reserve a right of making navigation acts when we please, 
if we find them necessary or useful. If we had been de- 
feated of our fisheries, we should have been wormed out 
of all our carrying-trade too, and should have been a mere 
society of cultivators, without any but a passive trade. 
The policy of France has succeeded, and laid, in these 
proclamations, if persisted in, the sure source of another 
war between us and Great Britain. 

The English nation is not, however, unanimous in this 
new system, as Congress will see by the enclosed specula- 
tions,* which I know to have been written by a confidential 
friend of my Lord Shelburne ; I mean Mr Benjamin 
Vaughan. This Minister is very strong in the House of 
Lords, and Mr Pitt, in the House of Commons, has at- 
tached to him many members in the course of this session. 
If that set should come in again, we shall have a chance 
of making an equitable treaty of commerce. To this end 
a Minister must be ready ; and I hope in mercy to our 
country, that such an opportunity will not be lost in delays, 
in compliance to our allies. 

1 have the honor to be, &lc. 


This paper is missing 



Paris, July 14th, 1783. 

The United States of America have propagated far and 
wide in Europe the ideas of the liberty of navigation and 
commerce. The powers of Europe, however, cannot 
agree, as yet, in adopting thetn in their full extent. Each 
one desires to maintain the exclusive dominion of some 
particular sea, or river, and yet to enjoy the liberty of nav- 
igating all others. Great Britain wishes to preserve the 
exclusive dominion of the British seas, and, at the same 
time, to obtain of the Dutch a free navigation of all the seas 
in the East Indies. France has contended for the free use 
of the British and American seas ; yet she wishes to main- 
tain the Turks in their exclusive dominion of the Black 
sea, and of the Danube, which flows into it through some 
of their Provinces, and of the communication between the 
Black Sea and the Archipelago, by the Dardanelles. Rus- 
sia aims at the free navigation of the Black Sea, the 
Danube, and the passage by the Dardanelles, yet she con- 
tends, that the nations, which border on the Baltic, have a 
right to control the navigation of it. Denmark claims the 
command of the passage of the Sound, and by the late 
Marine Treaty between the neutral powers, it was agreed, 
that the privateers of all the belligerent powers should be 
excluded from the Baltic. France and Spain too begin 
to talk of an exclusive dominion of the Mediterranean, and 
of excluding the Russian fleet from it ; or, at least, France 
is said to have menaced Russia with a fleet of observation 
in the Mediterranean, to protect her commerce to the 
trading seaport towns of the Levant. But, as England 


possesses Gibraltar, and the Emperor of Morocco the 
other side of the Straits, France and Spain cannot com- 
mand the entrance ; so that it will be difficult for them to 
support their pretensions to any exclusive dominion of the 
Mediterranean, upon the principle on which the northern 
powers claim that of the Baltic, and the Porte the passage 
of the Dardanelles. 

France, at present, enjoys a large share of the trade to 
the Levant. England has enjoyed a share too, and wishes, 
no doubt, to revive it. The Emperor and the Empress, 
if they succeed in their views of throwing open the Dan- 
ube, Black Sea, and Archipelago, will take away from 
France and England a great part of this trade ; but it is 
not likely that Ei'gland will join with France in any oppo- 
sition to the Emperor and Empress. 

In order to judge of the object, which the two Empires 
have in view, we should look a little into the geography of 
those countries. 

The project of setting at liberty the whole country of 
ancient Greece, Macedonia, and fllyricum, and erecting in- 
dependent Republics in those famous seats, however 
splendid it may appear in speculation, is not likely to be 
seriously entei'tained by the two Empires, because it is im- 
practicable. The Greeks of this day, although they are 
said to have imagination and ingenuity, are corrupted in 
their morals to such a degree, as to be a faithless, perfidi- 
ous race, destitute of courage, as well as of those prin- 
ciples of honor and virtue, without which nations can have 
no confidence in one another, nor be trusted by others. 

The project of conquering the Provinces of Albania, 
Romelia, Wallachia, Moldavia, and Little Tartary, from 
the Turks, and dividing them between the two Enipires, 


may be more probable ; but the Turks, in Asia and Eu- 
rope together, are very powerful, and, if thorougl)ly 
awakened, might make a great resistance ; so that it is 
most probable, the two Imperial Courts would be content, 
if they could obtain by negotiation, or by arms, the free 
navigation of the Danube, Black Sea, and Archipelago. 
This freedom alone would produce a great revolution in 
the commerce of Europe. The river Don or Tanais, with 
its branches, flows through the Ukraine, and a considerable 
part of the Russian dominions, into the Black Sea. The 
Danube flows very near Trieste, through the Kingdom of 
Hungary, and then through a Turkish Province into the 
Black Sea. If, therefore, the Black Sea and the Danube 
only were free, a communication would be immediately 
opened between Russia and Hungary quite to Trieste, to 
the great advantage of bollj Empires. But if, at the same 
time, the passage of the Dardanelles was laid open, all the 
Levant trade would be opened to the two Empires, and 
might be carried to Trieste, either by the Danube, or 
through the Archipelago and the Gulf of Venice. Tin's 
would be such an accession of wealth, commerce, and 
naval power to the two Empires, as France is jealous of, 
and may be drawn into a war to prevent. 

It is a question how the King of Prussia will act. Il is 
the general opinion, that, as he is advanced in years, loves 
and enjoys his laurels and his ease, and cannot hope to 
gain anything by the war, he will be neuter. If he is, the 
issue cannot he foreseen. The Emperor is vastly power- 
ful, and his preparations are immense. Perhaps France 
may not think it prudent to declare war. I should be sorry 
to see her again involved in a war, especially against the 
principles she has lately espoused with so much glory and 


For my own part, I think nature wiser than all the 
Courts and States in the world, and, therefore, I wish all 
her seas and rivers upon the whole globe free, and am not 
at all surprised at the desire of the two Empires to set 
those near them at liberty. 

I think, however, that whatever turn these negotiations 

may take, they cannot directly affect us, although we may 

be remotely interested in the freedom of the Levant trade, 

and of the seas and rivers in the neighborhood of it. 

I have the honor to be. Sic. 



Paris, July loth, 1783. 

Enclosed are copies of papers, which have passed be- 
.tween Mr Hardey and the American Ministers. We have 
not thought it prudent to enter into any written controversy 
with him, upon any of these papers. We have received 
whatever he has offered us. But he has offered noth- 
ing in the name of his Court, has signed nothing, and upon 
inquiry of him we have found that he has never had au- 
thority to sign officially any proposition he has made. 

[ think it is evident, that his principals, the coalition, do 
not intend to make any agreement with us about trade, but 
to try experiments by their proclamations. I think, too, 
that they mean to postpone the definitive treaty as long as 
possible. We can get no answer, and I believe Mr Hart- 
ley gets no decisive answers to anything. 

Enclosed also is a pamphlet, entitled, "Observations on 
the American States," said to have been published by 
Lord Sheffield, and to have been composed by four Araer- 


ican renegadoes. The spirit of it needs no comments. It 
deserves to be attended to, however, by Congress. It is 
a fatal policy, as it appears to me, to see a British Ambas- 
sador at Versailles, and a French Ambassador at St 
James's, and no American Minister at the latter. This is 
admired at Versailles, I doubt not, but not because they 
think it for our interest. 

I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir, &lc. 



Paris, July 16th, 1783. 

Yesterday we waited on the Count de Vergennes at 
Versailles, and show^ed him the project of a letter to the 
Ministers of the two Imperial Courts,, which he read and 
approved. We told him, that we were at a loss what 
might be the effect of the mediation ; possibly we might 
be involved in difficulties by it ; possibly the British Min- 
isters might persuade the mediators to offer us their advice 
upon some points, respecting the royalists for example, 
which we could not comply with. The Count said, that 
he had told them, that as soon as he had fully agreed with 
England upon all points, their mediation should be accep- 
ted, and they should sign the treaty as such ; and we 
might agree to it in the same manner. He said we were 
not obliged to this, but as they v^ere to be present and sign 
one treaty, it would look better to sign both. It would 
be a very notorious, public, and respectable acknowledg- 
ment of us, as a power, by those Courts. Upon this foot- 

VOL. VII. 12 


ing we left the letter with him to be shown to the Imperial 

We asked the Count if he had seen the British procla- 
mation of the 2(1 of July. He answered, that he had. I 
asked him if the King had determined anything on the 
subject of salt provisions, and salt-fish, whether we might 
import them into his islands. He said we might depend 
upon it, they could not supply their islands with fish, that 
we had two free ports in their islands, St Lucia, and a port 
in Martinique. By the thirtysecond article of the Treaty 
of Commerce, these free ports are secured to us; nothing, 
he said, was determined concerning salt beef and pork, 
but the greatest difficulty would be about flour. I told 
the Count, that I did not think it would be possible either 
for France or England to carry on this commerce between 
the islands and continent ; it was profitable to us only as 
it was a part of a system ; that it could not be carried 
on without loss in large vessels, navigated by many sea- 
men, which could sail only at^certain seasons of the year, 
&LC. Upon the whole, I was much pleased with this con- 
versation, and conclude from it, that we shall do very well 
in the French West India Islands, perhaps the better in 
them the worse we are treated by the English. 

The Dutch and Danes will, I doubt not, avail them- 
selves of every error, that may be committed by France 
or England. It is good to have a variety of strings to our 
bow J and, therefore, I wish we had a Treaty of Com- 
merce with Denmark, by which a free admission of our 
ships into their ports in the West Indies might be estab- 
lished. By means of the Dutch, Danes, and Portuguese, 
I think we shall be able to obtain finally proper terms of 
France and England. 


The British proclamation of the 2d of this month, is 
ihe result of refugee politics ; it is intended to encourage 
Canada and Nova Scotia, and their fisheries, to support 
still the ruins of their navigation act, and to take from us 
the carriage even of our own productions. A system, 
which has in it so little respect for us, and is so obviously- 
calculated to give a blow to our nurseries of ships and 
seamen, could never have been adopted but from the 
opinion, that we had no common legislature for the govern- 
ment of commerce. 

All America from the Chesapeake Bay to St Croix I 
know love ships and sailors, and those ports to the south- 
ward of that bay have advantages for obtaining them when 
they will, and therefore I hope the Thirteen States will 
unite in some measures to counteract this policy of Britain, 
so evidently selfish, unsocial, and I had almost said hostile. 
The question is, what is to be done ? I answer, perhaps 
it will be most prudent to say little about it at present, and 
until the definitive treaty is signed, and the States evacu- 
ated. But after that, ] think in the negotiation of a treaty 
of commerce with Great Britain, Congress should tell 
them, that they have the means of doing justice to taiem- 
selves. What are these means ? I answer, let every State 
in the Union lay on a duty of five per cent on all West 
India article? imported in British ships, and upon all their 
own productions exported in British ships. Let this im- 
post be limited in duration, until Great Britain shall allow 
our vessels to trade to their West Indies. This would 
effectually defeat their plan, and encourage our own car- 
rying trade more than they can discourage it. 

Another way of influencing England to a reasonable 
conduct, is to tako some measures for enconr:ip:ing; the 


growth in the United States, of West India articles ; anoth- 
er is to encourage manufactures, especially of wool and 
iron among ourselves. As tilt-hammers are now not unlaw- 
ful, and wool may be water-borne, much more may be done 
now than could have been done before the war. But the 
most certain method is, to . lay duties on exports and 
imports by British ships. The sense of a common interest 
and common danger, it is to be hoped, will induce a per- 
fect unanimity among the States in this respect. There 
are other ways of serving ourselves, and making impres- 
sions upon the English to bring them to reason. One is 
to send ships immediately to China. This trade is as open 
to us as to any nation, and if our natural advantages at 
home are envied us, we should compensate ourselves in 
any honest way we can. 

Our natural share in the West India trade, is all that is 
now wanting to complete the plan of happiness and pros- 
perity of our country. Deprived of it, we shall be strait- 
ened and shackled in some degree. We cannot enjoy a 
free use of all our limits without this j with it, I see nothing 
to desire, nothing to vex or «hagrin our people, nothing 
to interrupt our repose or keep up a dread of war. 

1 know not what permission may be expected from 
Spain to trade to the Havana, but should think that this 
resource ought not to be neglected. 

I confess I do not like the complexion of British politics. 
They are mysterious and unintelligible. Mr Hartley ap- 
pears not to be in the secret of his Court. The things 
which happen appear as unexpected to him as to us. 
Political jealousies and speculations are endless. It is pos- 
sible the British Ministers may be secretly employed, in 
fomenting the quarrel between the two Imperial Courts and 


the Porte, and in secretly stirring up the French to join the 
Turks in the war. The prospect of seeing France en- 
gaged in a war may embolden them to adopt a system less 
favorable to us. The possibility of these things should 
stimulate us, I think, to form as soon as possible treaties 
of commerce with the principal powers, especially the Im- 
perial Courts, that all our questions may be decided. 
This will be a great advantage to us, even if we should 
afterwards be involved in a war. I put this supposition 
with great reluctance. But if England should in the course 
of a few years or months have the art to stir up a general 
war in Europe, and get France and Spain seriously in- 
volved in it, which is at least a possible case, she may as- 
sume a tone and conduct towards us, which will make it 
very difficult for us to avoid taking a part in it. If such a 
deplorable circumstance should take place, it will be still a 
great advantage to us, to have our sovereignty explicitly 
acknowledged by these powers, against whom we may be 
unfortunately obliged to act. At present they are all dis- 
posed to it, and seem desirous of forming connexions with 
us, that we may be out of the question. 

The politics of Europe are such a labyrinth of profound 
mysteries, that thfe more one sees of them, the more causes 
of uncertainty and anxiety he discovers. 

The United States will have occasion to brace up their 
confederation, and act as one body with one spirit. If 
they do not, it is now very obvious, that Great Britain will 
take advantage of it in such a manner as will endanger our 
peace, our safety, and even our very existence. 

A change of Ministry may, but it is not certain that it 

will, give us better prospects. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 




Paris, July 17th, 1783. 

Last evening Mr Hartley spent two hours with me, and 
appeared much chagrined at the proclamation, which had 
never been communicated to him by his principals. He 
has too much contempt of the commercial abilities of the 
French, and, consequently said, that the French could 
derive but little benefit from this step of his Court, but 
lie thought the Dutch would make a great advantage of it. 
I endeavored to discover from him, whether he suspected 
that his Court had any hand in stirring up the two Imperial 
Courts to make war upon the Turks. 1 asked him what 
was the state of their Mediterranean trade, and Levant 
trade. He said, it was dead, and that their Turkey Com- 
pany was dead, and, therefore, he did not think his Court 
cared much about either, or would ever do anything to 
prevent the Empires. He thought it possible, that they 
might rather encourage them. 

I am quite of Mr Hartley's mind, that the Dutch will 
profit by all the English blunders in regulating the West 
India trade, and am happy that M. Vati Berckel will be 
soon with Congress, when its members and Ministers may 
communicate through him anything they wish to their 
High Mightinesses. They may inquire of him what are 
the rights of the East and West India Companies? To 
what an extent our vessels may be admitted to Surinam, 
Cura9oa, Demerara, Essequibo, Berbice, St Eustatia ? 
What we may be allowed to carry there ? and what bring 
from thence to the United Stales, or to Europe ? Whether 
we mny carry sugars, he. to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, &c. ? 


There are at Rotterdam and Amsterdam one hundred 
and twentyseven or eight refineries of sugar. How fai^ 
these may be affected, Sic. ? 

I lay it down for a rule, that the nation which shall 
allow us the most perfect liberty to trade with her Colo- 
nies, whether it be France, England, Spain, or Holland, 
will see her Colonies flourish above all others, and will 
draw proportionally our trade to themselves ; and I rely 
upon it, the Dutch will have sagacity to see it, and as they 
are more attentive to mercantile profit, than to a military 
marine, I have great hopes from their friendship. As there 
will be an interval before the signature of the definitive 
treaty, I propose a journey of three weeks, to Amsterdam 
and the Hague, in hopes of learning in more detail the 
intentions of the Dutch in this respect. I am in hopes too 
of encouraging the loan to assist our Superintendent of 
Finance. The Dutch may be a great resource to us in 
finance and commerce. I wish that cargoes of produce 
may be hastened to Amsterdam to Messrs Willjnks &£ Co. 
for this will give vigor to the loan, and all the money we 
can prevent England and the two Empires from obtaining 
in Holland, will not only be nerves for us, but, perhaps, be 
useful too to France in her negotiations. 

I have spent the whole forenoon in conversation with 
the Due de la Vauguyon. He thinks that England wishes 
to revive her trade to the Levant, to Smyrna, Aleppo, &;c, 
and her carrying trade in Italy ; and although she might 
be pleased to see France involved in a war with the Em- 
peror and Empress, yet he thinks her funds are not in a 
condition to afford subsidies to either, and, therefore, that 
she will be perfectly neutral. Quere, however, whether if 
by a subsidy or a loan of a million or two a year, she could 


make France spend eight or ten millions, she would not 
strive hard to do it ? The Duke thinks, that France will pro- 
ceed softly, and endeavor, if possible, to avert the furious 
storm that threatens, and to compose the disputes of the 
three Empires, if possible ; but she will never suffer such 
a usurpation as the conquest of the Turkish Provinces in 
Europe. France will certainly defend Constantinople. 
He thinks that the Empress of Russia has not revenues, 
and cannot get cash to march and subsist vast armies, and 
to transport great fleets, and that the Emperor has not 
revenues to support a long war. 

This is, however, a serious business, and France lays it 
S9 much to heart, and looks upon the chance of her being 
obliged to arm, as so probable, that I presume this to be 
the principal motive of her refusal to lend us two or three 
millions of livres more. 

As to our West India questions, the Duke assures me, 
that the French Ministry, particularly the Count de Ver- 
gennes, are determined to do everything they can con- 
sistent with their own essential interests, to favor and pro- 
mote the friendship and commerce between their country 
and ours. That they, especially the Count, are declared 
enemies of the French fiscal system, which is certainly the 
most ruinous to their commerce, and intend to do every- 
thing they can to make alterations to favor commerce ; but 
no change can be made in this, without affecting their reve- 
nues, and making voids, failures, and deficiencies, which 
they cannot fill up. They must, therefore, proceed softly. 
That France would favor the commerce between Portu- 
gal and America, because it would tend to draw off that 
kingdom from her dependence on England. That Eng- 
land, by her commercial treaty with the Portuguese, in 


1703, has turned them into an English Colony, made 
them entirely dependent, and secured a commerce with 
them of three millions value. France would be glad to 
see this, or as much of it as possible, turned to America. 

The Duke agrees fully with me in the maxim, that 
those Colonies will grow the most in wealth, improvement, 
population, and every sort of prosperity, which are allowed 
the freest communication with us, and that we shall be 
allowed to carry lumber, fish, and live stock, to their 
islands, but that the export of their sugars to us, he thinks, 
must be in their own ships, because they are afraid of our 
becoming the carriers of all their commerce, because they 
know and say, that we can do it cheaper than they can. 
These sentiments are different from those, which he men- 
tioned to me a few days ago, when he said, the West 
India trade with us must be carried on in French bottoms. 

The Duke said, the English had been trying to deceive 
us, but were now developing their true sentiments. They 
pretended, for awhile, to abolish the navigation act and all 
distinctions, to make one people with us again, to be 
friends, brothers, he. in hopes of drawing us off from 
France, but not finding success, they were now showing 
their true plan. As to the pretended system of Shelburne, 
of a universal free commerce, although he thought it would 
be for the good of mankind in general, yet, for an English 
Minister, it was tl)e plan of a madman, for it would be the 
ruin of that nation. He did not think Shelburne was sin- 
cere in it ; he only meant an illusion to us. Here I differ 
from the Duke, and believe, that the late Ministry were 
very sincere towards us, and would have made a treaty 
with us, at least to revive the universal trade between us, 
upon a liberal plan. This doctrine of ruin, from that plan, 

VOL. VII. 13 


to the English, has been so much preached of late in Eng- 
land by the French and the American refugees, who aim 
at establishments in Canada and Nova Scotia, and by the 
old Butean administration and their partisans, that 1 do not 
know whether any Ministry could now support a generous 
plan. But if Temple, Thurlow, Shelburne, Pitt, fee. 
should come in, I should not despair of it. It is true, the 
Shelburne administration did encourage the ideas of cor- 
dial, perfect friendship, of entire reconciliation of affections, 
of making no distinction between their people and ours, 
especially between the inhabitants of Canada and Nova 
Scotia and us, and this, with the professed purpose of des- 
troying all seeds of war between us. These sentiments 
were freely uttered by Fitzherbert, Oswald, Whiteford, 
Vaughan, and all who had the confidence of that Ministry; 
and in these sentiments they were, I believe, very sincere. 
And they are, indeed, the only means of preventing a 
future war between us and them, and so sure as they de- 
part from that plan, so sure, in less than fifteen years, per- 
haps less than seven, there will break out another war. 
Quarrels will arise among fishermen, between inhabitants 
of Canada and Nova Scotia and us, and between their 
people and ours in the West Indies, in our ports, and in 
the ports of the three kingdoms, which will breed a war in 
spite of all we can do to prevent it. France sees this and 
rejoices in it, and I know not whether we ought to be 
sorry ; yet I think we ought to make it a maxim to avoid 
all wars, if possible 5 and to take care that it is not our 
fault if we cannot. We ought to do everything, which the 
English will concur in, to remove all causes of jealousies, 
and kill all the seeds of hostility as effectually as we can j 
and to be upon our guard to prevent the French, Span- 


iards, and Dutch, from sowing the seeds of war between 
us, for we may rely upon it they will do it if they can. 
I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, July 18th, 1783. 

There is cause to be solicitous about the state of things 
in England. The present Ministry swerve more and 
more from the true system, for the prosperity of their 
country and oin-s. Mr Hartley, whose sentiments are at 
bottom just, is probably kept here, if he was not sent at 
first, merely to amuse us, and to keep him out of the way 
of embarrassing the coalition. We need not fear, that 
France and England will make a common cause against 
us, even in relation to ihe carrying-trade to and from the 
West Indies. Although they may mutually inspire into 
each other false notions of their interests at times^ yet 
there can never be a conceit of operations between them. 
Mutual enmity is bred in the blood and bones of both, 
and rivals and enemies at heart they eternally will be. 

In order to induce both to allow us our natural right to 
the carrying-trade, we must negotiate with the Dutch, 
Danes, Portuguese, and even with the Empires ; for the 
more friends and resources we have, the more we shall 
be respected by the French and English ; and the more 
freedom of trade we enjoy with the Dutch possessions in 
America, the more will France and England find them- 
selves necessitated to allow us. 

The present Ministers in England have very Lad ad- 
visers ; the refugees, and emissaries of various other sorts, 


and we have nobody to watch and counteract, to correct 
or prevent anything. 

The United States will soon see the necessity of unit- 
ing in measures to counteract their enemies, and even 
their friends. What powers Congress should have for 
governing the trsde of the whole, for making or recom- 
mending prohibitions, or imposts, deserves the serious 
consideration of every man in America. If a constitu- 
tional legislative authority cannot be given them, a sense of 
common danger and necessity should give to their recom- 
mendations all the force upon the minds of the people, 
which they had six years ago. 

If the union of the States is not preserved, and even 
their unity, in many great points, instead of being the hap- 
piest people under the sun, I do not know but we may be 
the most miserable. We shall find our foreign affairs the 
most difficult to manage of any of our interests ; we shall 
see and feel them disturbed by invisible agents, and causes, 
by secret intrigues, by dark and mysterious insinuations, by 
concealed corruptions of a thousand sorts. Hypocrisy 
and simulation will assume a million of shapes ; we shall 
feel the evil, without being able to prove the cause. 
Those, whose penetration reaches the true source of the 
evilj will be called suspicious, envious, disappointed, ambi- 
tious. In short, if there is not an authority sufficiently 
decisive to draw together the minds, affections, and forces 
of the States, in their common foreign concerns, it appears 
to me we shall be the sport of transatlantic politicians of 
all denominations, who hate liberty in every shape, and 
every man who loves it, and every country that enjoys it. 
If there is no common authority, nor any common sense 
to secure a revenue for the discharge of our engagements 


abroad for money, what is to become of our honor, our 
justice, our faith, our universal, moral, political, and com- 
mercial character ? If there is no common power to ful- 
fil engagements with our citizens, to pay our soldiers, and 
other creditors, can we have any moral character at home ? 
Our country will become the region of everlasting discon- 
tents, reproaches, and animosities, and instead of finding 
our independence a blessing, we shall soon become Cap- 
padocians enough to wish it done away. 

I may be thought gloomy, but this ought not to discour- 
age me from laying before Congress my apprehensions. 
The dependence af those who have designs upon us, upon 
our want of affection to each other, and of authority over 
one another, is so great, that in my opinion, if the United 
States do not soon show to the world a proof, that they 
can command a common revenue to satisfy their creditors 
at home and abroad, that they can act as one people, as 
one nation, as one man, in their transactions with foreign 
nations, we shall be soon so far despised, that it will be but 
a few years, perhaps but a few months only, before we 
are involved in another war. 

What can I say in Eolland, if a doubt is started, whe- 
ther we can repay the money we wish to borrow ? I must 
assure them in a tone, that will exclude all doubt that the 
money will be repaid. Am I to be hereafter reproached 
with deceiving the money-lenders ? I cannot believe there 
is a man in America, who would not disdain the supposi- 
tion, and therefore I shall not scruple to give the strongest 
assurances in my power. But if there is a doubt in Con- 
gress, they ought to recall their borrowers of money. 

I shall set off tomorrow for Holland, in hopes of improv- 
ing my health, at the same time that I shall endeavor to 


assist the loan, and to turn the speculations of the Dutch 
merchants, capitalists and statesmen, towards America. 
It is of vast inij)ortance that the Dutch should form just 
ideas of their interests respecting the communication be- 
tween us and their islands, and other colonies in America. 
I beg that no time may be lost in commencing conferences 
with M. Van Berckel upon this subject, as well as that of 
money ; but this should not be communicated to the 
French nor the English, because we may depend upon it, 
both will endeavor to persuade the Dutch to adopt the 
same plan with themselves. There are jealousies on both 
sides the Pass of Calais, of our connexions and negotiations 
with the Dutch. But while we avoid as much as we can 
to inflame this jealousy, we must have sense and firmness 
and independence enough not to be intimidated by it, from 
availing ourselves of advantages, that Providence has placed 
in our power. There ever have been, and ever will be, 
suspicions of every honest, active, and intelligent Ameri- 
can, and there will be as there have been insidious attempts 
to destroy or lessen your confidence in every such char- 
acter. But if our country does not support her own inter- 
ests, and her own servants, she will assuredly fall. Persons, 
who study to preserve or obtain the confidence of Amer- 
ica, by the favor of European statesmen, or Courts, must 
betray their own country to preserve their places. 

For my own part, 1 wish Mr Jay and myself almost 
anywhere else but here. There is scarce any other place 
where we might not do some good. Here we are in a 
state of annihilation. 

I have the honor to be, he. 




The Hague, July 23d, 1763, 

On Saturday last I left Paris, and arrived here last niglit. 
This morning I sent M. Dumas to M. Van Berckel and 
M. Gyselaer, to inform them of my arrival, and to desire 
a conversation with them, upon the subject of the com- 
merce between the United States and the Dutch establish- 
ments in the West Indies. 

M. Van Berckel told M. Dumas, "that St Eustatia and 
Cura^oa were open to the vessels of all nations, and to the 
commerce of all the world ; but that it was not the interest 
of the West India Company alone, but that of the whole 
State, that obliged them to confine the commerce of their 
sugars to themselves, because of the great number of their 
refineries of sugar. That all their own sugars were not half 
enough to employ their sugar-houses, and that at least one 
half of the sugars refined in Holland were the production 
of the French West India Islands." 

I suppose that some of these sugars may have been car- 
ried first to St Eustatia, and brought from thence to Hol- 
land, and some others may have been purchased in the 
ports of France, and imported raw from thence. I do not 
know that Dutch vessels were permitted to purchase sugars 
in the French Islands, and export them from thence. 
This matter deserves to be examined to the bottom. If 
France has not sugar-houses for the refinement of her own 
sugars, but is obliged to carry them, or to permit their being 
carried, to Amsterdam and Rotterdam for manufacture, 
why should she not be willing, that the same sugars should 
be carried by Americans to Boston, New York, and Phil- 


adelphia ? Surely France has no predilection for Holland 
rather than America. But what is of more weight, all the 
sugars, which America takes, will be paid for in articles 
more advantageous to the Islands, and to France, than the 
pay that is made by the Dutch. If any sugars refined in 
Holland are afterwards sold in France, surely it would be 
more for the interest of France, or rather less against her 
interests, to have the same sugars refined in America, and 
afterwards sold in France, because the price of them would 
be laid out by us in France. There is this difference be- 
tween us and the Dutch, and all other nations, we spend 
in Europe all the profits we make and more, the others 
do not. But if the French sugars, refined in Holland, are 
afterwards sold in other parts of Europe, it would be just 
as well that we should sell them. We have sugar-houses 
as well as the Dutch, and ours ought not to be more ob- 
noxious to French policy or commerce than theirs. 

Sugars are a great article. There is a great consump- 
tion in America. It is not the interest of any nation, that 
has sugars to sell, to lessen the consumption there. All 
such nations should favor that consumption, in order to 
multiply purchasers, and quicken the competition, by which 
the price is raised. None of these nations then will wish 
to prevent our having sugar, provided we offer as high, or 
a higher price. How they will be able to arrange their 
plans, so that we may have enough for our own consump- 
tion, without having more, without having some for expor- 
tation, I do not know. 

We have now St Eustatia and Curaqoa, St Lucia and 
Martinique, St Thomas and St Martin's, no less than six 
free ports in the West Indies ; and perhaps England may 
be induced, necessitated indeed, to add two more to the 


number, and make eight. At these free ports, it will be 
hard if we cannot find sugars, when we carry thither all our 
own productions, in our own ships. And if the worst 
should happen, and all the nations, who have sugar Islands, 
should forbid sugars to be carried to America in any other 
than their own bottoms, we might depend upon having 
enough of this article at the free ports, to be brought away 
in our own ships, if we should lay a prohibition or a duty 
upon it in foreign sliips. To do either, the States must be 
imited, which the English think cannot be. Perhaps the 
French think so too, and in time, they may persuade the 
Dutch to be of the same opinion. It is to be hoped we 
shall disappoint them all. In a point so just and reason- 
able, when we are contending only for an equal chance 
for the carriage of our own productions, and the articles of 
our own consumption, when we are willing to allow to all 
other nations even a free competitio;i with us in this car- 
riage, if we cannot unite, it will discover an imperfection 
and weakness in our constitution, which will deserve a 
serious consideration. 

M. Visscher, Pensionary of Amsterdam, who came in to 
visit me, when I had written thus far, showed me a list 
of the Directors of the West India Company, and refers 
me to M. Bicker, of Amsterdam, as one of the most intel- 
ligent of them. He says, that the Colonists of Surinam, 
Berbice, Essequibo, and Demarara, have been in decay, 
and obliged to borrow money of the merchants at home, 
and have entered into contracts with those merchants, to 
send them annually all the productions of their planta- 
tions to pay the interest and principal of their debts ; that 
this will make it difficult to open the trade. 

Soon after M. Visscher went out, M. Van Berckel 

VOL. VII. 14 


came in. I entered into a like conversation with Iiim, 
and told him, that I thought the decay of their planta- 
tions in the West Indies had been owing to the rivalry of 
other nations, especially the English, whose Islands had 
greater advantages from a freer communication with North 
America ; and 1 thought it might be laid down as a rule, 
that those Islands would flourish most in population, cul- 
ture, commerce, and wealth, which had the freest inter- 
course with us, and that this intercourse would be a 
natural means of attracting the American commerce to 
the metropolis. He thought so too. 

I then mentioned to him the loan ; and asked him, if 
he thought that the States-General, the States of Holland, 
or the Regency of Amsterdam, would be likely, in any 
way, to aid us ? He said, no ; that the country was still 
so much divided, that he could not depend upon any as- 
sistance in that way. That the Council of Amsterdam 
was well enough disposed ; but that the Burgomasters 
were not so. That M. Temmink, M. Huggens, and M. 
Rendorp, were not to be depended on in such an affair. 
That, therefore, our only resource was, to endeavor to 
gain upon the public opinion and the spirit of the nation, 
and that, in this respect, he would do me all the service 
in his power. He thought that the present uncertainty 
about the definitive treaty, and the fate of the Republic, 
would be an obstacle ; but the definitive treaty once 
signed, he thought our loan would succeed very well. I 
asked him, whether he thought that the junction of three 
houses in my loan was any obstruction to it ? and whether 
any one of them, or whether any other house, would do 
better ? 1 told him what his brother, (now I hope in Phila- 
delphia,) had said to M. Dumas, viz. that the house of 


Wilkem and Van Willink alone would succeed sooner 
than the three. I asked him, whether he thought the 
house of Hope, either alone, or in conjunction with that of 
the Willinks, or any other, would undertake it ? He said, 
this nrjight well be, and that if they saw their interest in it 
they would, for those mercantile houses had no other ob- 
ject in view. He promised me to make inquiry into this 
matter, and let me know the result. 

Upon this occasion, 1 must inform Congress, that it is 
absolutely necessary they should send another Minister to 
this Republic, without loss of time ; because our three 
present houses, before they would undertake the loan, ex- 
torted a promise from me, not to open another with any 
other house until the five millions should be full. This 
engagement I took for myself alone, however, and ex- 
pressly premised that Congress should not be bound by it ; 
that Congress should be perfectly free, and that any other 
Minister they might send here should be perfectly free to 
open another loan, when and with whom they pleased. A 
new Minister, therefore, may open a loan when he will, 
with Hope, Willink, or whom he will, and I am persuaded 
it would succeed to a good amount. 

I made visits to day, the 25th of July, to the Grand 
Pensionary, the Secretary Fagel, the President of the 
week, and M. Gyselaer ; and returned visits to M. Van 
Berckcl and M. Visscher. M. Gyselaer says, that at 
present there is no ready money {argent comptant) in 
the Republic, but in two months there will be, and the loan 
will go very well. 

At noon I went to the house in the Grove, to make my 
court to the Prince and Princess of Orange. 

The Prince either bnppehed to be in a social humor, or 


has had some political speculations lately, for he thought 
fit to be uncommonly gracious and agreeable. He made 
me sit, and sat down by me, and entered into familiar 
conversation about the negotiations of peace. He asked 
many questions about it, and the probability of a speedy 
conclusion of the definitive treaty. At length, he asked 
me, if Dr Franklin was left alone ? I answered, that Mr 
Jay was with him. He asked, if I returned before the 
signature ? I answered, that such was my intention. He 
asked, whether Dr Franklin was an Ambassador ? I an- 
swered, that he was a Minister Plenipotentiary only. He 
asked, if none of us were Ambassadors ? I answered, that 
we all had the satne rank of Ministers Plenipotentiary, 
and that Congress had never yet made an Ambassador. 
He said, he was astonished at that ; that he had a long 
time expected to hear, that we had displayed the charac- 
ter of Ambassadors. I asked his Highness, what reason 
he had for this, and what advantage there was in it ? 
"Why," said he, "I expected that your Republic would 
early assert her right to appoint Ambassadors. Republics 
have been generally fond of appointing Ambassadors, in 
order to be on a footing with crowned heads. Our Re- 
public began very early. We had eight Ambassadors at 
the peace of Munster ; one for each Province, and one 
supernumerary. And we always choose to appoint Ambas- 
sadors, for the sake of being upon an equality with crowned 
heads. There are only crowned heads. Republics, and 
the Electors of the Empire, who have a right to send Am- 
bassadors ; all others can only send Envoys, and Ministers 
Plenipotentiary. Princes cannot send Ambassadors. I 
cannot, as Stadtholder, nor as Prince, nor in any other 
quality, send a Minister of any higher order, than an En- 


voy, or Minister Plenipotentiary." He asked me, what 
was the reason the Congress had not made use of their 
right? I answered his Highness, that really I did not know. 
It was a subject I had never much reflected on ; perhaps 
Congress had not. Or they might think it a matter of 
ceremony and of show, rather than substance ; or might 
think the expense greater than the advantage. He said, it 
was very true, the dignity of the rank must be supported, 
but he thought the advantage worth more than the ex- 

1 am utterly at a loss for his Highness' motives for en- 
tering so minutely into this subject. Whether M. Van 
Berckel, before his departure, had mentioned it ; whether 
he thought he should please me by it ; whether he thought 
to please Congress by it ; whether he affected to interest 
himself in the honor of the United States ; or whether any 
of the politicians of this, or any other country, have put 
him upon it, or whether it is mere accident, I know not. 
They are the words of a Prince, and 1 have reported them 
very exactly. 

I have the honor to be, &,c. 



The Hague, July 25th, 1783. 

It is the general opinion here both among the members 
of the States, and at the Hotel de France, that the 
delays of the definitive pacification are contrived by the 
Court of London, in order to set all their instruments at 
work in this Republic, to induce it to renew its ancient 
connexions with Great Britain, particularly their alliance, 


offensive and defensive, by which each power was bound 
to furnish the other, if attacked, a certain number of 
ships and troojos. Against this the patriotic party is de- 
cided, and they are now very well satisfied with the Grand 
Pensionary, Bleisvvick, because he openly and roundly 
takes their side, and the Court is said to be discontented 
with him for the same reason. There is, no doubt, an 
intelligence and correspondence between the two Courts 
of London and the Hague, to bring about this point. The 
Grand Pensionary told me yesterday, that the Court of 
London desired it, and there were persons here who de- 
sired it, and he knew very well who they were ; but that 
most certainly they would not carry their point. Van 
Berckel, Visscher, and Gyselaer, all assured me of the 
same, and added, that the fear of this had determined 
them not to send a Minister to London, but to go through 
with the negotiation at Paris, although they were all highly 
dissatisfied with the conduct of France, and particularly 
with that of the Count de Vergennes. 

They all say, ho has betrayed and deserted them, play- 
ed them a very bad trick, {tour) and violated his repeated 
promises to them. They do not in the least spare M. 
Berenger and M. Merchant, who conduct the French 
affairs here in the absence of the Due de la Vauguyon, 
but hold this language openly and freely to them. These 
gentlemen have sometimes found it hard to bear, and have 
winced, and sometimes even threatened ; but their ans- 
wer has been more mortifying still ; "Do as you please, 
drive the Republic bnck into the arms of England, if you 
will. Suppress all the friends of France, if you choose 
it." And some of them have said, "we will go to Amer- 
ica." They all say, that France had the power to have 


saved -them. That the acquisition of Tobago was no 
equivalent to France for the loss of the Republic, he. he. 
he. They are all highly pleased with the conduct of 
their own Ambassador, Branlzen, with his activity, intelli- 
gence, and fidelity. They all say, that they would send a 
Minister to London to negotiate there, if they were sure of 
being able to carry an election for a man they could de- 
pend upon. But the Court here would have so much 
influence in the choice, that they would run a risk of 
sending a man, who would insensibly lead them into a 
revival of the old ties with England, which, they say, is 
enslaving the Republic to that kingdom. 

I learn here from all quarters, a confirmation of what I 
had learned before at Paris from M. Brantzen and the 
Due de la Vauguyon, viz. that the Duke of Manchester 
had given them no answer, nor said a word to them for six 
weeks, in answer to the propositions they had made ; 
among which was an offer of an equivalent for Negapat- 
nam. They offered some establishments in Sumatra and 
Surat. Lately the Duke of Manchester has received a 
courier, and has given an answer, that a real equivalent 
might be accepted. No answer is given to any other 
point, and this is vague ; so that another courier must go 
to London and return. Parliament is now up, and per- 
liaps the Ministers may now be more attentive, and less 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 




Amsterdam, July 28th, 1783. 

I find, upon inquiry, that there are in this Republic, at 
Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Dort, near one hundred and 
thirty sugar-houses. The whole of the raw sugars produced 
in Surinam, Berbice, Essequibo, and Demarara, are wrought 
in these houses ; and, besides, raw sugars were purchased 
in Bordeaux and Nantes, after being imported from the 
French islands, in French bottoms. Raw sugars were 
also purchased in London, which went under the general 
name of Barbadoes sugars, although they were the growth 
of all the. English Islands, and imported to London in Brit- 
ish bottoms. I have learnt further, that great quantities of 
raw Brazil sugars were purchased in Lisbon, and that 
these were cheaper than any of the others. All these raw 
sugars were imported into Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and 
Dort, and there manufactured for exportation. We must 
endeavor to obtain a share in this trade, especially with 
Lisbon, or the Western Islands. 

Since it is sertain, that neither Portugal, France, nor 
England has been able to manufacture all their raw sugars, 
but each of them sold considerable quantities to the Dutch, 
I suppose that we may undoubtedly purchase such sugars 
in future in Lisbon, Bordeaux, Nantes, London, and per- 
haps Ireland, and carry them where we please, either home 
to America, or to Amsterdam, or to any part of Europe, 
and there sell them, and in this way promote our own car- 
rying-trade, as well as enable ourselves to make remit- 
tances. I cannot see why the English, or French, should 
be averse to their sugars going to America directly ; and if 


they insist upon carrying them in their own ships, we may 
still have enough of them. The Dutch have the most 
pressing commercial motives to bring home their West 
India produce ; yet they would really gain the most by 
opening a free communication with us, because they would 
the most suddenly make their colonies flourish by it. 

Molasses and rum we shall have, probably, from all the 
islands, English, French, and Dutch, in our own bottoms, 
unless the three nations should agree together to keep the 
whole trade of their islands in their own ships, which is 
not likely. 

I have made all the inquiries I could, and have sown all 
the seeds 1 could, in order to give a spur to our loan. 
Three thousand obligations have been sold, and the other 
two thousand are signed ; but at this time there is a greater 
scarcity of money than ever was known. The scarcity is 
so great, that the agio of the bank, which is commonly at 
four or five per cent, fell to one and a half. The Direc- 
tors, at length, shut up the bank, and it continues shut. 
The English omnium, which at first was sold for eight or 
ten per cent profit, fell to one and a half. The scarcity of 
money will continue until the arrival of the Spanish flotilla 
at Cadiz. Seven eighths of the treasures of that flotilla will 
come here, and make money plenty. Then we may ex- 
pect, that my obligations will sell. 

In the meantime, I have great pleasure in assuring you, 
that there is not one foreign loan open in this Republic, 
which is in so good credit, or goes so quick as mine. 
The Empress of Russia opened a loan of five millions, 
about the same time that I opened mine. She is far 
from having obtained three millions of it. Spain opened 
a loan with the House of Hope, at the same time, for two 

VOL. VIl. 15 


millions only, and you may depend upon it, it is very far 
from being full. Not one quarter part of the loan of 
France upon life-rents, advantageous as it is to the lender, 
is full. In short, there is not one power in Europe, whose 
credit is so good here as ours. Russia and Spain, too, 
allow of facilities to undertakers and others, in disposing 
of their obligations, much more considerable than ours ; 
yet all does not succeed. You will see persons and letters 
in America, that will affirm, that the Spanish loan is full, 
and that France and Spain can have what money they 
please here. Believe me, this is all stockjobbing gascon- 
ade. I have made very particular inquiries, and find the 
foregoing account to be the truth. Of all the sons of 
men, I believe the stockjobbers are the greatest liars. I 
know it has been given out, that the Spanish loan, which 
was opened at Hope's, was full the first day. This I know 
has been affirmed in the hearing of Americans, with a con- 
fidence peculiar, and with a design, 1 suppose, that it 
should be written or reported to Congress. But I am 
now assured, that it is so far from being true, that it is not 
near full to this hour. Let me beg of you, Sir, to give 
Mr Morris an extract of this, because I am so pressed for 
time, that I cannot write to him. 

Upon further inquiry concerning sugars, I find, that the 
Dutch were used to purchase annually considerable quan- 
tities of the raw sugars of Spain, as well as of Franco, En- 
gland and Portugal. Some of these they obtained by a 
clandestine trade between Cura^oa and Havana, and 
St Domingo ; but the greater part were purchased at 

1 suppose our merchants and masters of vessels will be 
as adroit at inventing and executing projects of illicit trade, 



as others. But this is a resource, that Congress and the 
States cannot depend on, nor take into their calculations. 
Illicit trade will ever bear but a small proportion to that 
which is permitted. And our goverimients should take 
their measures for obtaining by legal and honorable means 
from Spain, Portugal, France, England, Holland, and Den- 
mark, all the productions which our people may want for 
consumption, for manufacture, and for exportation. 
I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Amsterdam, July 28th, 1783. 

Upon inquiry of those who best know, I see no proba- 
bility of success from any application to authority in .this 
country, for reasons which I have explained to our Minister 
of Foreign Affairs. Our only resource is in the public 
opinion, and the favor of the nation. 

I know of nothing which would operate so favorably 
upon the public, as the arrival of a few vessels with cargoes 
of American produce, addressed to your bankers, and ap- 
propriated to the payment of interest. The report of such 
an event would greatly augment our credit, by spreading 
the opinion of our ability and disposition to pay. 

It would be presumption in me, at this distance, to un- 
dertake to advise you, who are upon the spot, and much 
better informed. But I beg leave to suggest the question, 
whether an application of Congress to the States would not 
succeed? Suppose Congress should represent to the 
States the necessity of an exertion, in order to obtain a 


loan at present, to enable you to satisfy the most urgent 
demands of the army, and other public creditors, until the 
States can agree upon some permanent establishment, and 
should recommend to each State to furnish a cargo of its 
produce, in proportion to its rate upon the list. For exam- 
ple. South Carolina and Georgia a quantity of rice or 
indigo; Virginia and Maryland, of tobacco; Pennsylvania, 
of wheat or flour ; and the Northern States, of fish or any 
other thing. Suppose these cargoes, which need not be 
expensive for die Thirteen States, should be sent to Am- 
sterdam or anywhere else in Europe, the proceeds of 
sale to be remitted to Amsterdam to your bankers. The 
reputation of this, if well planned, adopted, and executed, 
would give a strong impulsion to your loan, if adopted 

I am but just arrived, and have not yet seen our ban- 
kers. Saturday and Sunday are usually spent at country 
seats. But before I leave this place, 1 shall be able to in- 
form you more precisely, whether you may depend on any- 
thing from hence. No pains of mine shall be spared. 
The British stocks are so low that we may hope for some- 
thing. If a Minister is sent to London, you should give 
him a commission to borrow money. If he conducts the 
matter with secrecy and caution, he may probably obtain 
a considerable sum there. There are monied men in 
that country who wish us well. There are others who 
may easily be inspired with more faith in our funds, than 
they can rationally have in their own. If upon advising 
with proper persons, he should not judge it prudent to open 
a loan there, he might easily put things in a train for some 
individuals to purchase obligations in your loan in Amster- 


dam. So dismal are the prospects in England, that many 
men are on the wing to fly, and some would be willing to 
transfer their property across the Atlantic. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



The Hague, July 30th, 1783. 

I have been the more particular in my letters to you 
concerning that extensive manufacture and commerce of 
refined sugars in this country, because the proximity of all 
the sugar colonies to us renders a share in it naturally use- 
ful and convenient, both to us and them. Fifty thousand 
hogsheads of raw sugar are annually wrought in this Repub- 
lic, and exported at a great profit to Germany, Denmark, 
Sweden, Russia, Poland, and Italy. At Amsterdam I visit- 
ed a number of respectable merchants, in order to discover 
their sentiments concerning the communication between us 
and their Islands and sugar colonies, They all agree, that 
St Eustatia and Cura^oa are and will be commercial 
Islands, open and free to all our vessels. St Martin's is 
divided between the French and Danes and the Dutch, 
whose share of it does not flourish. The colonies upon the 
continent, Surinam, Berbice, Demarara, and Essequibo, 
are at a greater distance from us. But they will be open 
to our vessels and their cargoes, because they all agree, 
that those colonies cannot subsist without our horses, lum- 
ber and provisions, nor without the sale to us of their 
molasses. We shall be allowed to take in return molasses, 
with which some quantities of sugar, cofi:ee, and other pro- 
duce are always smuggled, as they say. But although 


nothing has been as yet determined, it is the general opin- 
ion, that the produce of the colonies must be brought home 
in Dutch ships, as heretofore, molasses excepted. 

From ilie Secretary of the West India Company I jiave 
obtained a few minutes, in so bad French, that I almost 
despair of rendering them intelligible. I have attempted it, 
however, in the following translation, viz. 

"In the grant of the West India Company, renewed, or 
more j)roperly newly erected, in the year 1700, continued 
in 1730, prolonged afterwards in the year 1760 for two 
years, and in the year 1762, from the first of January to 
the thirty first of December, 1791, are found the limits 
fixed, only for the inhabitants of these Seven United Prov- 
inces, under the name of the United Company of these 
Provinces, upon the coasts and country of Africa, compu- 
ting from the Tropic of Cancer to the southern latitude of 
the Equinoctial Line, with all the Islands in this district, 
situated upon the said coast, and particularly the Islands of 
St Thomas, Annebon, Islands of Principia and Fernando 
Po, as also the places of Essequibo and Baumenora, 
situated upon tiie Continental Coasts of America, as also 
the Islands of Cura^oa, Amaba and Buen Aire. All the 
other limits of the ancient grant being open for the com- 
merce of all the inhabitants of the Republic, without ex- 
ception, upon condition, however, that if the Company, 
oriental and occidental, should judge proper to navigate to 
the Islands situated between the coasts of Africa and 
America, beginning at the Ascension and finlher south, or 
any of them, and should occupy it before any other should 
have a private grant, with exclusion of all others for so long 
time as it shall occupy its places, and in case they should 
desist, these places should return under the second class, 


open for the navigation of every individual of the Republic, 
paying an acknowledgment, he. That, tlie said partic- 
ulars, trading in the said districts, shall be obliged to ac- 
knowledge the Western Company, and to pay them for 
the right of convoy, and consequently in form of acknowl- 
edgment, viz. for the productions and merchandises for 
the West Indies, two per cent, and returning from thence 
into these Provinces, two per cent more for the commod- 
ities in return. And further, the ships navigating to places 
farther distant in America, contained in the ancient grant, 
both in going and returning, should pay five florins per last, 
or more or less as their High Mightinesses shall judge 
proper to determine hereafter; observing, nevertheless, 
that these five florins per last shall not be demanded of 
ships navigating to the Carribee Islands, which shall pay 
the ordinary duty for convoy to the Colleges of the Admi- 
ralty from which they sail, and the said private navigators 
shall be held, moreover, for the satisfaction of the Western 
Company, to give sufficient caution, that they will not nav- 
igate, nor cause to be navigated, the places contained in 
the first class, ceded to the Company with exclusion of 
all others. And if any one is found to act contrary, and 
to navigate to any place situated in the prescribed limits, 
and granted to the Company, his ship and cargo shall be 
confiscated and attacked in force, by the ships belonging 
to the said Company ; and if such ships and merchandises 
or commodities, shall be sold or entered into any other 
country or foreign port, the owner and his accomplice shall 
be liable to execution, for the value of the said ships and 
merchandises or commodities. 

"The Company has also the right to require an acknowl- 
edgment of all those who shall navigate, import or export 


any merchandise to or from places belonging to the said 
Company, notwithstanding they may be subject, and may 
belong to the domination of other Kings or Princes, situa- 
ted within the limits stipulated in the grant ; and especially 
of every foreign vessel, bringing any commodities or mer- 
chandises from the West Indies, or the limits stipulated in 
the grants into the Provinces, whether upon its own ac- 
count, or freight, or on commission, whether such foreign 
vessel shall come directly from the West Indies, and the 
limits of the grant, into the Provinces, or whether she 
shall have carried her cargo to other countries or king- 
doms, for what reason soever this may be done. Excep- 
ting only in case the merchandises of the proprietor should 
by negotiation be changed in nature, and that the duty of 
this country fixed to the place should be paid, which any 
one alleging shall be obliged to prove sufficiently, accord- 
ing to the amount of the merchandises. Declaring, more- 
over, for the further elucidation of the said grant, that 
under the name of the New Low Countries, in conse- 
quence of the three per cent, which the Company has a 
right to require for the merchandises sent there, or brought 
from thence, is understood that part of North America, 
which extends itself west and south of the northern part of 
Newfoundland as far as the Cape of Florida, and for what 
regards the payment of the two per cent under the name 
of the West Indies, to be computed from the Cape of 
Florida, to the river Oronoco, and the Islands of Cura- 
90a. For what concerns the other places of America, 
contained in the most ancient and precedent grant, in re- 
gard to the five florins per last, upon the vessels there navi- 
gating, shall be understood all the Carribee Islands, Cuba, 
Jamaica, Hispaniola and Porto Rico, as also all the other 


coasts and countries, computing from the river Oronoco 
aforesaid, by tlie straits of Magellan, Le Maire, or other 
passages or straits, situated under these, as far as the 
strait of Aryan, both upon the sea of the north, and the 
Islands situated upon the other side, and between them, as 
also the southern countries, situated between the two me- 
ridians, touching at the east the Cape of Good Hope, and 
in the west the eastern part of New Guinea, inclusively." 

If this paper is not very clear to Congress, it is not more 
so to me, and perhaps to the Dutch themselves. There is 
a dispute likely to arise between the West India Company 
and the College of the Admiralty about it, which will be 
explained further as it proceeds, by wh.alever Minister you 
may send here. 

Upon the whole matter of our communications with the 
European establishments in the West Indies ; we shall 
carry freely our commodities to the French and Dutch, 
excepting, perhaps, flour to the French, which however 
will be carried, I suppose, to St Lucia and Port Royal, as 
well as St Eustatia and Curagoa^ St Thomas's and St 
Martin's, and there sold to any nation that will purchase it. 
Molasses and rum we shall bring away freely from the 
French and Dutch. And if we can obtain of them the 
liberty of carrying sugars, coffee, &,c. from their posses- 
sions in the West Indies to their ports in Europe, giving 
bonds with surety to land them in such ports, it will be as 
much as we can expect. If they will allow raw sugars, 
coffee, cotton, he. to be sent freely to the United States in 
their own vessels, this would be an advantage for us, though 
not so considerable as to bring them in ours. What the 
English will do is uncertain. We are not to take the late 
proclamation for a law of the Medes. The Ministry who 

VOL. VII. 16 


made it are not firm in iheir seals. If Shelburne comes 
in we shall do better ; and, to be prepared to take advan- 
tage of so probable an event, you should have a Minister 
ready. We have one infallible resource, if we can unite in 
laying a duty or a prohibition. But this measure must not 
be hastily taken, because by negotiation, I apprehend, the 
point may be carried in England. To this end it may be 
proper to instruct your Minister, and authorise him to say, 
that the States will find themselves obliged, against their 
inclination, to lay a prohibition or heavy duty upon all West 
India goods imported, and all American productions ex- 
ported in British bottoms, if the trade is not regulated by 
treaty upon an equitable footing. 

I have the honor to be, &tc. 



The Hague, July 31st, 1783. 

The last evening at Court in the house in the Grove, 
where all the foreign Ministers supped, the Count Montag- 
nini de Mirabel, the Minister Plenipotentiary from the 
King of Sardin'^a, took an opportunity to enter largely into 
conversation with me. As he and I were at a party of 
politics, while the greatest part of the company were at 
cards, for two or three hours, we ran over all the world, 
but nothing occurred worth repeating except what follows. 

The Count said, that his advice to Congress would be 
to write a circular letter to every power in Europe, as soon 
as the definitive treaty should be signed, and transmit with 
it a printed copy of the treaty. In the letter, Congress 
should announce, that on the 4th of July, 177G, the United 


States had declared themselves a sovereign State, under 
the style and title of the United States of America ; that 
France, on the 6lh of February, 1778, had acknowledged 
them ; that the States-General had done the same on the 
19ih of April, 1782; that Great Britain, on the 30th of 
November, 1782, had signed with them a treaty of peace, in 
which she had fully acknowledged their sovereignty ; that 
Sweden had entered into a treaty with them, on the 5th of 
February, 1783; and that Great Britain had concluded 
the definitive treaty under the mediation of the two Em- 
pires, if that should be the fact, &ic. Such a notification 
to all the other powers would be a regular procedure, a 
piece of politeness, which would be very well received, 
and the letter would be respectfully answered by every 
power in the world, and these written answers would be 
explicit, and undeniable acknowledgments of our sov- 

It might have been proper to make this communication 
In form, immediately after the declaration of indepen- 
dence; it might have been more proper to do it after the 
signature of the provisional treaty ; but that it was ex- 
pected it would be done after the definitive treaty. That 
these circular letters might be transmitted to your Minis- 
ters for peace, or such of them as may remain, or to any 
of your Ministers in Europe, to be by them delivered to 
the Ministers at the Court where they are, or transmitted 
any other way. That Congress must be very exact in the 
etiquette of titles, as this was indispensable, and the letters 
could not be answered nor received without it. That we 
might have these tides at the Count de Vergennes' office 
with precision, he. 

The Count then proceeded to commerce, and said, 


that all the cabinets of Europe had lately turned their views 
to connmerce, so that we should be attended to and res- 
pected by all of them. He thought we should find our 
account in a large trade in Italy, every part of which had 
a constant demand for our tobacco, and salt-fish, at least. 
The dominions of the King, his master, could furnish us in 
exchange, oranges, citrons, olives, oil, raisins, figs, an- 
chovies, coral, lead, sulphur, alum, salt, marble of the 
finest quality and gayest colors, manufactures of silk, es- 
pecially silk stockings twenty per cent cheaper than 
France, hemp, and cordage. He said, we might have 
great advantages in Italy in anotiicr respect. We had it 
in our power to become the principal carriers for the peo- 
ple of Italy, who have little skill or inclination for naviga- 
tion or commerce. The [cabotage) carrying-trade of 
Italy had been carried on by the English, French, and 
Dutch ; the English had now lost it, the French had some 
of it, but the Dutch the most, who made an immense 
profit of it ; for to his knowledge they sold in the Baltic, 
and even in Holland, many Italian productions, at a profit 
of five or six for one. That we should have the advan- 
tage of them all. By bringing our tobacco and fish to 
Italy, we might unload at some of their ports, take in 
cargoes upon freight for other ports of Italy, and thus make 
coasting voyages-, until we had made up our cargoes for 
return, or we might take in cargoes on freight for Germany, 
or the Baltic. The Dutch, he said, would be the greatest 
losers by this rivalry, but as long as the Italians and Amer- 
icans would be honestly gainers, neither need be anxious 
for that. That there was a very good port in his master's 
dominions, which was perfectly free, where we might go 
in and out at pleasure, without being subject to duties, 
searches, or visits. 


We then made a transition to Turkey ; the Count could 
not, for his part, blame the Emperor for wishing to open 
the navigation of the Danube ; his kingdom of Hungary 
was one of the finest countries in the world j it was one of 
the most fertile, producing in great abundance wines of 
various sorts, all excellent, though Tokay was the best ; 
grains of every sort in great quantities, metals of all sorts, 
gold, silver, copper, iron, quicksilver ; yet all these bless- 
ings of nature were rendered in a manner useless by the 
slavery of the Danube. The Emperor was very unfortu- 
nate, in having the Danube enslaved on one side, and the 
Scheldt on the other ; and in this age, when the liberty of 
navigation and commerce was the universal cry, he did not 
wonder at his impatience under it. He did not think, that 
England would meddle in the dispute, as her trade to the 
Levant had declined. The Dutch had some still, but 
France had now the greatest part of it to Smyrna, Alexan- 
dria, Aleppo, in short, ta all the trading towns of Turkey 
in Asia, for this is what is understood by the Levant trade. 
France, he thought, could not venture to engage in the 
war in earnest, in the present state of her finances. 

I have learnt, since I came here, that France is desirous 
that this Republic should declare herself concerning this 
Turkish war. But she will avoid it. Unhappily, France 
has lost much of her influence here. Her friends fear, 
that the odium of losing Negapatnam will fall upon them 
among the people. The English and the Sladtholderians 
are endeavoring to detach the Republic entirely from 
France, and to revive the ancient connexions, particularly 
the ancient alliance, offensive and defensive in the treaty of 
1674. A Mr Shirley, at Paris, has lately proposed to M. 
Boers, and M. Van der Pere, two agents of the Dutch 


East India Company, who have been a year or two at 
Paris, and are reputed to be in the Stadtholder's interest, 
that England had tlie best dispositions towards the Repub- 
lic, and would give them ample satisfaction if they would 
treat distinctly from France, and renew the ancient cordial 
friendship, and proposed an interview with the Dutch Am- 
bassadors upon this subject. The agents proposed it, but 
Brantzen refused, to the great satisfaction of the principal 
republicans. Yet M. Berenger tells me, that some of the 
republican members begin to be afraid, and to think they 
shall be obliged to fall in with the English. 

Upon conversing with many people in the government 
and out of it, in Amsterdam as well as the Hague, they all 
complain to me of the conduct of France. They all con- 
fess, that the Republic has not done so much in the war 
as she ought, but this is the fault of the friends of England, 
they say, not those of France, and the worst evils of all, 
that befall the latter, are the reproaches df the former, who 
now say insultingly, "this comes of confiding in France, we 
always told you, that you would be cheated," &c. France 
ought, they say, to have considered this, and not have im- 
puted to the Republic the faults of her enemies, because 
the punishment falls wholly on her friends. 

I mention these things to you, because, although we are 
not immediately interested in them, they may have conse- 
quences which may affect us ; and, therefore, you ought 
to know them. I think, however, upon the whole, the 
Republic will stand firm, and refuse to receive the alliance, 
though they sacrifice Negapatnam. France wishes to win 
the Republic into an alliance, but feels an awkwardness about 
proposing it, and, indeed, I doubt whether she would now 
succeed ; she might have succeeded heretofore. But, in 


plain English, Sir, the Count de Vergennes has no con- 
ception of the right way of negotiating with any free ))eo- 
ple, or with any assembly, aristocratical or democraiical. 
He cannot enter into the motives which govern them ; he 
never penetrates their real system, and never appears to 
comprehend their constitution. With empires, and mon- 
archs, and their Ministers of State, he negotiates aptly 

I have the honor to be, &tc. 



The Hague, August 1st, 1783. 

I had last evening some conversation with D. Joas Tlien- 
lonico de Almeida, the Envoy Extraordinary of Portuga!, 
who desired to meet me today at any hour at his house or 
mine. I promised to visit him at twelve, which I did. 

He said, he had heard that the French Minister had 
proposed to the Duke of Manchester, at Versailles, to re- 
duce the duties upon French wines in England to the level 
of those upon Portugal wines, and begged of me to inform 
him if it were true, because, if it were, Portugal must en- 
deavor to indemnify herself by opening a trade with Amer- 
ica, or some other way, for such a project will be ruinous 
to the sale of their wines in England, which was their only 
market. I answered, that I had heard of such a project 
among multitudes of others in private conversation, but 
knew no authority for it. We have a treaty, says he, 
made in 1703, by which we have stipulated with the Eng- 
lish, to permit the importation of their cloths, upon con- 
dition that they allow the importation of Portugal wines 


upon paying one third of the duty upon French wines ; if 
they violate the treaty, says lie, we shall he rid of it. 

I asked him, if his Court permitted the English, or any 
other nation, to go to the Brazils ? In the last century, said 
he, between 1660 and 1670, we did agree with Charles 
the Second, who married a daughter of Portugal, that the 
English should go to the Brazils, and after that, the Dutch 
sued for permission to go there too, and we granted it. 
But we found it inconvenient, and in 1714 or 1715, at the 
treaty of Utrecht, we agreed upon an article with Spain, 
to exclude all nations from the Brazils, and as the English 
Ambassadors were there, we have since held that nation 
bound, and have confiscated their vessels as well as the 
Dutch which venture there. The English have sometimes 
made strong remonstrances, but we have always told them, 
if we admit you, we must admit the Dutch too, and such 
has been their jealousy of the Dutch, and dread of their 
rivalry, that this has always quieted them, choosing rather 
to be excluded themselves, than that the Dutch should be 
admitted. So that this commerce has been a long time 
carried on in Portuguese ships only, and directly between 
the Brazils and Lisbon. 

I asked him, whether we might not have free communi- 
cation with all their Western Islands, and whether one or 
all of them might not be made a depot for the produce of 
the Brazils, so that Portuguese ships might stop and de- 
posit cargoes there, and American vessels take them ? He 
said, he would write about it to his Court by the next post. 
At present, Brazil communicated only with Lisbon, and, 
perhaps, it might be difficult for government to secure the 
duties at the Western Islands. I asked, if there were any 
refineries of sugar at Lisbon ? He said, none. Their 


sugars had all been brought here by the Dutch for re6ning ; 
that all their carrying-trade with other parts of Europe 
had been carried on by the English and Dutch ; that 
their mercantile navigation {marine marchand) before this 
war, had been upon a very poor footing, but it was now 
much changed, and they began to carry on their trade in 
their own vessels. I observed, if their trade should con- 
tinue to be carried on by others, it must- be indifferent to 
them whether it were done in English, Dutch, or Ameri- 
can vessels, provided it was done to their equal advantage. 
But if they should persist in the desire to conduct it in 
their own vessels, they might purchase ships ready built in 
America cheaper than they could build them or buy them 
elsewhere. All this, he said, was true. That they could 
supply us with sugars, coffee, cocoa, Brazil wood, and even 
with tea, for they had an island, called Macao, near China, 
which was a flourishing establishment, and sent them annu- 
ally a good deal of tea, which the Dutch usually bought 
very cheap at Lisbon to sell again. 

He asked, whether Portugal wines had been much 
used in America. 1 answered, that Port wines, common 
Lisbon, and Caracavalles, had been before the war fre- 
quently used, and that Madeira was esteemed above all 
other wine. That it was found equally wholesome and 
agreeable, in the heats of summer and the colds of winter, 
so that it would probably continue to be preferred, though 
there was no doubt that a variety of French wines would 
now be more commonly used than heretofore. He said, 
they should have occasion for a great deal of our fish, 
grain, and perhaps ships or ship-timber, and naval stores, 
and other things, and he thought there was a prospect of a 
very beneficial trade with us, and he would write largely 

VOL. VII. 17 


to his Court upon it. I replied, that I wondered his Court 
bad not sent a Minister to Philadelphia, where the mem- 
bers and Ministers of Congress, and even the merchants of 
the city, might throw much light upon the subject, and 
assist in framing a treaty to the greatest possible advantage 
for both countries. He said, he would write for a com- 
mission and instructions to negotiate a treaty with me. I 
told him, that I believed his Court had already instructed 
their Ambassador at Versailles to treat with Dr Franklin ; 
but that I thought that Philadelphia or Lisbon were the 
proper places to treat, and that I feared mutual advantages 
might be lost by this method of striking up a bargain in 
haste in a distant country, between Ministers who could 
not be supposed to have made of commerce a study. 

In a letter from Paris yesterday, I am informed that a 
project of a treaty with Portugal, and another with Den- 
mark, are to go home by Captain Barney.* These 
projects have never been communicated to me, nor to Mr 
Jay. I hope that Congress will not be in haste to con- 
clude them, but take time to inform themselves of every- 
thing which may be added to the mutual advantage of the 
nations and countries concerned. 1 am much mistaken, if 
we have not lost advantages by a similar piece of cunning 
in the case of Sweden. 

With great respect and esteem, I have the honor to 

be, he. 


* For these treaties, and some account of them, see Franklin's Cor- 
respondence, Vo\. IV. pp. 114, 115, 130, 141, 150. 



The Hague, August 2d, 1783. 

M. Berenger, the Secretary of the French Legation, 
has this moment left me. He came in to inform me of 
the news. The Empress of Russia has communicated to 
the King of Prussia, a treaty of alliance between the Em- 
peror of Germany and her, defensive against the Christian 
powers and offensive against the Turks. The King of 
Prussia has answered her, "that he is very sensible, upon 
this communication, as one is upon the communication of 
things of great importance." Thus wrapped up in an im- 
penetrable reserve is this great warrior and statesman. 
We may discern by this answer, what all the world would 
know without it, viz. that his Majesty has no joy in this 
new alliance. Still he expresses no -sorrow ; and main- 
tains a perfect liberty to take which side he will, or 
neitlier, at his pleasure, and the same reserve he will prob- 
ably hold to the end of the war. 

M. Berenger says, if Prussia is neutral France must be 
so too, for she cannot cope by land with the two Empires; 
that this Republic is desired to declare, but does not 
choose it ; that they are dissatisfied, and the republicans 
murmur a good deal, and are wavering, and that the other 
party will do nothing ; that England hitherto has favored 
an accommodation between Russia and the Turks ; that 
the British Ambassador, at Constantinople, has co-operated 
with the French to bring about an accommodation ; that 
the Turks have offered Russia the free navigation of tlie 
Black Sea and passage of the Dardanelles, and the same 
with a free navigation of the Danube tc [he Emperor, but 


they will not accept it, but are determined to drive the 
Turks from Europe ; that France has determined to put 
her army upon a war footing, because it has been much 
neglected during the late war ; that he believes France 
and Spain will shut the Mediterranean against a Turkish 
fleet, as Russia, Sweden, and Denmark excluded warlike 
vessels from the Baltic in the last war ; that this state of 
things gives him great pain, and must embarrass the Count 
de Vergennes. It is a great and difficult question, whether 
France should take a side. If she does not, and the Em- 
pires should prevail, it will be an immense aggrandizement 
of the House of Austria, which, wiih Russia, will become 
two great maritime powers ; that England will act an in- 
sidious part ; pretend to favor peace, secretly foment war, 
and join in, at the end, if she sees a favorable opportunity 
to crush France. These are sensible observations of M. 
Berenger, who added; that a new difficulty in the way of 
the definitive treaty had arisen between England and 
Spain, respecting the Musquito shore, so that more cou- 
riers must go and return. 

I confess myself as much in pain at this state of things 
as M. Berenger, and, therefore, I wish most ardently, that 
we may omit no proper means of settling our question with 
every Court in Europe, and especially our plan of com- 
merce with Great Britain. If this is too long left in un- 
certainty, the face of things may soon change, so as to 
involve us in the complicated, extensive, and long war, 
which seems to be now opening. 

The prospect of returning to Paris, and living there with- 
out my family, in absolute idleness, at a time when so many 
and so great things want to be done for our country else- 
where, is very disagreeable. If we must live there, wait- 


ing for the moving of many waters, and treaties are to be 
there negotiated with the powers of Europe, or only with 
Denmark and Portugal, I pray that we may all be joined 
in the business, as we are in the commission for peace, 
that, at least, we may have the satisfaction of knowing 
what is done, and of giving a hint for the public good, if 
any one occurs to us, and that we may not be made the 
sport and ridicule of all Europe, as well as of those who 
contrive such humiliations for us. 

With the greatest respect, I have the honor to be, he. 



The Hague, August 3d, 1783. 

The fiscal systems of the powers of Europe have such 
an ill influence on commerce, that they deserve the serious 
attention of Congress and their Ministers, whenever they 
have under consideration a treaty with any foreign power. 
In conversation yesterday with M. d'Asp, the Charge 
d'Affaires of Sweden, I inquired of him what imposts 
were payable in their ports upon the importation and ex- 
portation of merchandises, and observed to him, that 1 had 
lately seen in the gazettes, that the King bad taken off 
certain duties upon the importation of merchandises from 
America, in Swedish ships. He agreed that such a thing 
had been done. This ought to alarm us. All the powers 
of Europe, who are called neutral, have felt a sudden 
increase of their navigation in the course of the late war, 
and the profits they have made have excited a desire to 
augment it still further. If they should generally exact 
duties of our ships, and none of their own upon the impor- 


tation of our produce, this will be as great a discourage- 
ment to our navigation as it will be an encouragement to 
theirs. Whether this has been attended to in the treaty 
with Sweden I know not, for I have not seen it. But it 
ought to be carefully considered by those who negotiate 
the treaties with Denmark and Portugal, the Emperor and 
Empress, and all other powers. We have a good right to 
insist, that no distinction shall be made in their ports be- 
tween their ships and ours ; that we should pay in their 
ports no higher duties than they pay in ours. 

I should think it therefore advisable for Congress to 
instruct their negotiators, to endeavor to obtain equity in 
this respect. This is the time for it, if ever. If we can- 
not obtain it by negotiation, we must think and talk of 
doing ourselves justice by making similar distinctions in 
our own ports between our vessels and theirs. But here 
again comes in the difficulty of uniting our States in such 
measures ; a difficulty which must be sunnounted, or our 
commerce, navigation, and marine will still be ruined, not- 
withstanding the conservation of the fisheries. It deserves 
to be considered by whom this new method of huddling 
up treaties at Paris is contrived, and for what purposes. 
It may well be conjectured, that it is done with the secret 
intention of preventing these things from being attended 
to; for there are persons who had rather that any other 
people should have navigation than the Americans. I 
have good reason to believe that it was known at Ver- 
sailles, that Mr Dana had well digested his thoughts upon 
this subject, which was reason enough for some people to 
endeavor to take Sweden out of his hands, in whose de- 
partment it was. Their success is much to be lamented.* 

* Tlie plan of the treaty with Sweden was sent out to Dr Frank- 
lin by Congress, and adopted with hardly a verbal alteration. See 


I had yesterday and the day before long conversation*? 
with the Baron Van der Capellen de Pal, and M. Gyse- 
laer. They both complain to me, in the most pathetic 
terms, of the cruel situation of the friends of America and 
France in this Republic. They both say, that they are 
looking round every way like drowning men for support. 
The Province of Friesland, their great dependence, wa- 
vers, and many of their fellow-laborers aro discouraged. 
They both inquired of me very earnestly, if closer con- 
nexions could not be formed with us ; if we could not 
agree to warrant to each other the liberty of navigation, or 
enter into an alliance, offensive and defensive. They see 
they shall be obliged to make a shameful peace, and that 
the blame of it will fall upon them, which will give a tri- 
umph to the Court, and put their persons even in danger. 
They say, the King of France, by his Ambassador, in 
July, 1 782, gave them a positive assurance that he wcwild 
never separate his cause from theirs. In consequence of 
this, they had instructed their Ambassadors never to sepa- 
rate their cause from his. On their part the agreement 
had been sacredly observed, but not on the other. With 
Great Britain enraged against them, with a formidable 
party in the Republic furious against them, with the King 
of Prussia threatening them, and abandoned by France, 
their prospects are, they say, as disagreeable as can be 

There are many appearances of designs to excite the 
people to seditions, and I think it probable that the Court 
of London studies delays of the Definitive Treaty in this 
hope. I still believe, however, that the people will be wise 
and the Republic firm, and submit to the immense losses 

the plan, and the treaty as adopted, in the Secret Journals of Con- 
gress, Vol. III. pp. 227, 369. 


of the war, and that of Negapatnam, rather than renew 
their old submission to the Court and to England. 
I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, August 10th, 1783. 

On the 6th 1 left the Hague, and last night arrived here. 
I had several interviews, on sdme of the last days at the 
Hague, which I had not time to give you an account of, 
as a great part of my time was taken up with visits to take 
leave of the Court, the President, the Grand Pensionary, 
GrefRer, he. ceremonies which must be repeated at every 
coming and going, and upon many other occasions, to the 
no small interruption of business of more importance. 

I asked the Count de Sanafee, the Spanish Minister, 
with whom I have always lived upon very good terms, 
whether it might not be possible to persuade his Court, 
that it would be good policy for them to allow to the citi- 
zens of the United States of America a free port, in some 
of their islands at least, if not upon the Continent of South 
America? He said he did not know; tliat he thought, 
however, his Court would be afraid of the measure, as free 
ports were nests of smugglers, and afforded many facilities 
of illicit trade, (le commerce interlope.) 

I asked him further, whether measures might not be 
taken at Madrid, to the end that the sugars, coffee, cocoa, 
he. of their Colonies might be carried to the free ports 
of France, Holland, and Denmark, in the West Indies or 
one of them, in Spanish vessels, that they might be there 
purchased by Americans ? He said he was not able to 
foresee any objection against this. I asked him again, 


what objections there could be to admitting American ves- 
sels to the Spanish Islands of Cuba and Hispaniola, to 
carry their produce and purchase molasses, as they did in 
the French and Dutch Colonies. Such a commerce 
would be useful and profitable both to them and to us. 
He said that he could not pretend to give any opinion upon 
any of these points. But that we must negotiate them at 
Madrid. I hope Congress will instruct their Minister at 
the Court of Madrid to propose all these things, and en- 
deavor to obtain them. 

The Portuguese Envoy, Don Almeida, returned my 
visit, and brought with him a copy of the treaty between 
Spain and Portugal, made at Utrecht in 1715. This treaty 
was signed under the warranty of Great Britain, and one 
article of it is, that each nation shall confine the com- 
merce with its possessions in America to its own subjects. 
I had much satisfaction in the conversation of this Minister, 
who, though a young mati, appears possessed o( more 
than common intelligence, and a desire to inform himself 
of everything which can affect his nation. He is, as he 
told me, a nephew of the present Prime Minister at the 
Court of Lisbon. He says, that the King his master, (a 
style which they continue to use, although the Queen is the 
sovereign, and her husband is but her subject) allows but 
sixty thousand Dutch guilders a year to his Ambassador at 
Versailles, which not being sufficient for his expenses at 
that Court, he is continued there because he is very rich ; 
but that he is not a man of business. . 

He again enlarged upon the subject of Portuguese navi- 
gation, which has been i)retiily increased, {tres joUment 
augmente) during the late war, and would have been still 
doubled if the war had continued another year; that 

VOL. VII. 18 


their merchants and mariners had pushed iheir navigation 
with more spirit than skill ; had sent their wines and other 
things in prize vessels purchased in France and Spain, all 
over Europe ; but that their seamen not being experi- 
enced, many vessels .had been lost, so that the price of 
insurance was ten per cent with them, when it was not 
more then three or four with other neutral nations ; that 
the profits had nevertheless been so considerable, as to 
excite a strong inclination still to increase their shipping 
and carrying-trade- These observations are worth repeat- 
ing to Congress, because all the other neutral powers have 
felt a like advantage. The commerce of the northern 
powers was so increased, and had turned the course of 
business that way to such a degree, as occasioned to the 
Danish Minister at Versailles, for example, a loss of forty 
per cent upon his salary. So much was exchange affected. 
The late belligerent powers, having observed this sud- 
den increase of the commerce of the neutrals, and that it 
was owing to the sudden growth ot their navigation, are 
alarmed. So that the attention of all the commercial na- 
tions is now turned to navigation, carrying-trade, coasting- 
trade, &ic. more than ever We should be apprised of this, 
and upon our guard. Our navigation and carrying-trade 
is not to be neglected. We have great advantages for 
many branches of it, and have a right to claim our natural 
share in it. 

* This morning I went out to Passy, and found from Dr 
Franklin and Mr Jay, that nothing farther had been done 
since my departure, but to deliver to Mr Hartley a fair 
copy of the project of a definitive treaty, which I had left 
with my colleagues j that Mr Laurens had been here in 
my absence, and returned to England ; that he was of 


opinion, the present British Ministry would not remain a 
fortnight ; that Mr Hartley had been seven weeks with- 
out a letter from his principals, and then received only an 
apology for not having written, a promise to write soon, and 
authority to assure the American Ministers that all would 
go well. These last are words of course. There are but 
three ways in which I can account for this conduct of the 
British Ministry. 1st. The fact is, that they foresee a 
change, and do not choose to commit themselves, but wish 
to reserve everything for the foundation of a future oppo- 
sition, that they may attack the definitive treaty which 
may be made by a future Ministry, as they attacked the 
provisional and preliminary one, made by the last. 2dly. 
That they are exciting secretly and insidiously the troubles 
in the north, in hopes of involving France, and then assum- 
ing a higher tone. 3dly. That they are in expectation, 
that seditions may be excited in Holland, and the Dutch 
induced to renounce France, and renew the ancient alli- 
ance with England. 

I see no more appearance of the definitive treaty, than I 
have done these six months. Mr Hartley, I am told by 
Mr Jay, thinks that the French Court wish to delay the 
signature ; that they do not wish to see the peace finished 
between England and America, while matters are uncer- 
tain in the north. There are so many considerations on 
both sides of the question, whether the French Minister 
wishes to finish soon or not, that it is hard to decide it. 
Neither Court possibly is very zealous to finish, while so 
great a scene as the northern war lies under so much 

1 have the honor to be, &ic. 




Paris, August 13th, 1783. 

Yesterday I weiit to Court with Dr Franklin, and pre- 
sented to the Count de Vergennes our project of a defin- 
itive treaty, who told us he woidd examine it and give us 
his sentiments upon it. 

It was Ambassadors' day, and I had conversations with 
a number of Ministers, of which it is proper I should give 
you an account. 

The Dutch Ambassador, Berkenrode, told me, that last 
Saturday the Count de Vergennes went to Paris, and dined 
with the Imperial Ambassador, the Count de Mercy, in 
company with the Duke of Manchester, the Count d'Ar- 
anda, the Prince Bariatinski, and M. MarkofF, with their 
Secretaries ; that after dinner the Secretaries in presence 
of all the Ministers read over, compared, and corrected the 
definitive treaties between France and Great Britain, and 
between Spain and Great Britain, and finally agreed upon 
both. So that they are now ready for signature by the 
Ministers of Great Britain, France, and Spain as principals, 
and by those of the two Imperial Courts as mediators. 

The Duke of Manchester told me, that Mr Hartley's 
courier, who carried our project of a treaty, arrived in 
London last Saturday, and might be expected here on next 
Saturday on his return. 

In the evening, on my return from Versailles, Mr Hart- 
ley called upon me at my house, and informed me, that 
he had just received a courier from Westminster, who had 
brought him the ratification of our provisional treaty, under 
the King's own hand, and under the great seal of the king- 


dom, enclosed in ii silver box, ornajneiited with golden tas- 
sels as usual, vvhicli he was ready to exchange tomorrow 
morning. He informed me farther, that he had received 
very satisfactory letters from the Duke of Portland and 
Mr Fox, and the strongest assurances, that the dispositions 
of his Court were very good to finish immediately, and to 
arrange all things upon the best footing ; that he had 
farther received plenary authority to sign the definitive 
treaty tomorrow, or tonight, if we pleased ; that he had 
received a draft ready formed, which he would show us. 

We agreed to go together in the morning to my col- 
leagues, and this morning we went out in Mr Hartley's 
carriage, exchanged the ratifications, and he produced to 
us his project of a definitive treaty. It is the provisional 
treaty in so many words, without addition or diminution. 
It is only preceded with a preamble, which makes it a 
definitive treaty. And he proposed to us, that all matters 
of discussion respecting commerce or other things should 
be left to be discussed by Ministers, to be mutually appoint- 
ed to reside in London and Philadelphia. We told him, 
that it had been proposed to us, that the Ministers of the 
two Imperial Courts should sign the treaty as mediators, 
and that we had answered, that we had no objection to it. 

He said, he had unanswerable ones. First, he had no 
authority, and could not obtain any certainly under ten 
days, nor probably ever. For secondly, it would, he 
thought, give great offence to his Court, and they never 
would agree that any nation should interfere between 
them and America. Thirdly, for his part, he was fully 
against it, and should write his opinion to his Court. If he 
was about to marry his daughter, or set up a son in the 
world, after he was of age, he would never admit any of 


his neighbors to interfere, and sign any contract he might 
make, as mediators. There was no need of it. 

We told him there was no need of warmth upon the oc- 
casion, or any pretence for his Court to take offence ; 
that it had been proposed to us, that the Imperial Minis- 
ters should sign as mediators. Our answer had been, that 
we had no objections, that we were willing and ready to 
consent to it, or even to request it. His Court had a right 
to consent or dissent, as it thought proper. To be sure, 
the mediation could not take place without their consent. 
That he might write to his Court the proposition, and if he 
received orders to consent or dissent, it would be equally 
well. In the meantime, we were ready to sign the defini- 
tive treaty, either with or without the mediation, whenever 
the other parties were ready to sign, according to his 
project just received from his Court, that is, simply a repe- 
tition of the provisional treaty. 

We have agreed to this, because it is plain, that all 
propositions for alterations in the provisional articles will be 
an endless discussion, and that we must give more than we 
can hope to receive. The critical state of things in Eng- 
land, and at the Court of Versailles, and in all the rest of 
Europe, affords pressing motives to get this business fin- 

Mr Hartle}- told us from his Court, that they had ex- 
pected an American Minister at St James's these three 
months, and that all further matters might be there dis- 

He also announced to us the birth of another Princess, 
the fifteenth child of the Queen, upon which event he re- 
ceived our congratulations, which I hope Congress will 
approve and repeat by their Minister in London ; for these 


personal and family compliments are more attended to in 
Courts, and have greater effects than may be imagined. 

I lament very much, that we cannot obtain an explana- 
tion of the article respecting the refugees, and that respect- 
ing debts ; but it is plain, we must give more than they 
are worth for such explanations ; and what is of more de- 
cisive importance, we must make a long delay, and put 
infinitely greater things at hazard by this means. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, August 13th, 1783. 

The question before the French cabinet, whether they 
shall involve themselves in a war against two Christian 
Empires, in order to support a Turkish one, is of a serious 
nature on many accounts. If the Turks should be driven 
out of Europe, France would lose some of the Levant 
trade, and some of the coasting trade of Italy ; and these 
commercial and naval considerations are enforced by 
others, which lie deeper in the human heart, the ancient 
rivalry between the great Houses of Bourbon and Austria, 
and between the vast countries of Germany and France, 
and between all the lesser powers, which depend upon 
them. To these considerations is to be added, that an 
Austrian Princess is now upon the throne of France, to 
whom it is no doubt a melancholy consideration, that there 
is danger of a war between a husband and a brother. 

The city politicians are looking out for alliances with 
Prussia, Holland, and even England, but can find none. 
It cannot be expected that either will engage; yet the 
French Minister has .?one far towards comDromisine his 


master, by augmenting the army to a war establishment, 
and by threatening to shut up the Mediterranean Sea. 

In this posture of affairs, it is not surprising, that there 
should be a fermentation at Versailles, and since my re- 
turn to Paris, 1 find it is the general topic of conversation. 
Monsieur de Breteuil, late Ambassador to the Court of Vi- 
enna, who is supposed to be esteemed by the Queen, and 
connected with her friends, is lately, about a fortnight ago, 
called to the King's council, and the Mareschal de Castries, 
who is in the same interest, is said to be new modelling; 
the subordinate oftices in his department. 

From these, and many other considerations, it is gen- 
erally concluded, that Count de Vergennes' continuance in 
the Ministry is precarious. Mr Hartley last night and to- 
day began conversation with me upon the subject, and is 
vei;y sanguine that his Minister will continue in place but a 
very short time, and assures me that the Duke of Man- 
chester is of the same opinion. I pretend to form no 
opinion, because 1 have ever carefully avoided conversa- 
tions and connexions, which might be misinterpreted into 
an attachment to persons or parties in this kingdom. 

1 know, that for the last nine months many sensible 
people have thought this Minister in a tottering situation ; 
others think he will weather out the storm, which all peo- 
ple agree is preparing for him. Time will discover. One 
thing is agreed on all hands, that he is not in favor with the 
Q>ueen, and as he has taken up the cause in a pretty high 
tone against the Emperor and Empress, if he should be 
now displaced. Congress, I think, may infer from it, that 
France will not take a part in the war ; on the contrary, if 
he remains, it is probable she will. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 




Paris, August 13th, 1783. 

Yesterday at Versailles, the Baron de VValterstorfF came 
to me and told me he had delivered to Dr Franklin, a 
project of a treaty between the Court of Denmark and the 
United Stales, and asked me if Dr Franklin had shown it 
to me ? 1 answered him, that I knew nothing of it. He 
said, he wondered at that, he presumed it was because of 
my absence at the Hague, for that it had been shown to 
Mr Jay. There by the way he was misinformed, for upon 
my return from Versailles, I called upon Mr Jay on pur- 
pose to ask him, and he assured me he had not seen it. 
I asked WalterstorfF, if his orders were to propose his pro- 
ject to us all. He said no, this Court had been informed, 
that Dr Franklin was the Minister autiiorised and empow- 
ered by Congress to treat with all the powers of Europe, 
and they had for this reason sent him orders to deliver the 
project to Dr Franklin, but he su|)posed Dr Franklin would 
consult his colleagues. The same information, 1 doubt 
not, has been given to die Court of Portugal, and every 
other Court in Europe, viz. that Dr Franklin is alone em- 
powered to treat with them-; and in consequence of it, very 
probably, propositions have been or will be made to him 
from all of them, and Jip will keep the whole as secret as 
he can from Mr Jay, Mr Laurens, Mr Dana, and me.* 

* Franklin did not assume this authority, but reported to Congress, 
that propositions for treaties had been made, and desired that author- 
ity to conclude them might be sent to him, or some other person. See 
on this subject, Franklin's Correspondence, Vol. IV. pp. 74, 97, 99, 
110, 114, 141. For the treaty with Sweden he had a special author- 
ity. Secret Journals, Vol. III. p. 240. 
VOL. VIT. 19 


Now I beg to be informed by Congress, whether he has 
such authority or not ? Having never been informed of 
such powers, I do not believe he lias them, I remember 
there was seven years ago a resolution of Congress, that 
their Commissioners at Versailles should have power to 
treat with other powers of Europe ; but upon the dissolu- 
tion of that commission this authority was dissolved with 
it; or if not, it still resides in Mr Deane, Mr Lee, and my- 
self, who were once in that commission, as well as Dr 
Franklin. And if it is by virtue of this power he acts, he 
ought at least to communicate with me, who alone am 
present. I think, however, that neither he nor 1 have any 
legal authority, and therefore that he ought to communi- 
cate everything of this kind to all the Ministers here or 
hereabout, INIr Jay, Mr Laurens, and myself, at least. 

It is not from the vain wish of seeing my poor name 
upon a treaty, diat 1 write this. If the business is well 
done, it is not of much importance in itself who does it. 

But my duty to my country obliges me to say, that I 
seriously believe this clandestine manner of smuggling trea- 
ties is contrived by European politicians on purpose^ that 
Mr Jay and I may not have an opportunity of suggesting 
ideas for the preservation of American navigation, transport- 
trade, and nurseries of seamen. But in another point of 
view it is of equal importance. This method reflects con- 
tempt and ridicule on your other Ministers. When all 
Europe sees, that a number of your Ministers are kept 
here as a kind of satellites to Dr Franklin in the affair of 
peace, but that they are not to be consulted or asked a 
question, or even permitted to know the important nego- 
tiations which are here going on with all Europe, they fall 
into contempt. It cannot be supposed that Congress mean 


to cast this contempt upon us, because it cannot be sup- 
posed they mean to destroy the reputation, character, influ- 
ence, and usefulness of those to whom in other respects 
they intrust powers of so much consequence ; and there- 
fore I am persuaded, that Congress is as much imposed 
on by it as the Courts of Europe are. 

I asked the Baron, what was the substance of the treaty. 
He said his Court had taken for a model, my treaty with 
Holland. I said nothing to him in answer to this, but I 
beg leave to say to Congress, that the negotiation with Hol- 
land was in very different circumstances. We were then 
in the fiercest rage of the war. A treaty with that Repub- 
lic was at that time of as much weight in the war, as the 
captivity of Burgoyne or Cornwallis. A treaty with any 
power was worth a battle or a siege, and no moments of 
time were to be .lost, especially in a country so divided, 
that unanimity being necessary, every proposition was dan- 
gerous. At present the case is altered, and we may take 
time to weigh and inquire. The Baron tells me, that St 
Thomas and St John, two of their Islands, are free ports, 
but that St Croix, which is of more importance than both, 
is not. That foreign vessels, our vessels, are permitted 
to bring our produce, and carry away half the value in 
sugar, &£C. The Island produces, co7n7nunibus an??/*, twenty 
thousand hogsheads oLsugar, and their molasses is better 
than that of the French, because they make only ^'sucres 
cruiesy He says, they have some sugar-houses at Co- 
penhagen. But notwithstanding this, I think it is w-orth 
while for Congress to try if they cannot, by the treaty, ob- 
tain a right to take away cargoes, to the full value of those 
they bring. It is worth while to try too, if we cannot 
obtain a tariff, to ascertain the duties to be paid in expor- 
tation and importation. It is worth while too, to endeavor 


10 get llie duties ascertained in the Danish ports in Europe, 
at least that we may not pay in tlieir ports more than they 
pay in oiu's ; or that our vessels may not be obliged to pay 
more than theirs, especially when we import our own pro- 
duce. I pretend not to be a master of these commercial 
subjects, but 1 think ihat Dr Franklin has not studied the 
subject more than myself, that both of us need the advice 
of Mr Laurens and Mr Jay, and that all of us want that of 
American merchants, and especially of Congress. I am 
therefore against this secret and hasty method of conclud- 
ing treaties, at this time, when they may be more maturely 
reflected on. 

I know very well to what ill-natured remarks these re- 
flections are liable, but they shall not hinder me from 
doing my duly. I do sincerely believe, there are clandes- 
tine insinuations going about to every commercial nation in 
the world, to excite them to increase their own navigation 
and seamen at the expense of ours, and that this smuggling 
of treaties is one means of accomplishing the design, al- 
though Dr Franklin may not be let into the secret of it. 
For, from long experience and observation, I am per- 
suaded that one Minister at least and his dependants would 
prefer, that the navigation of any nation in the world, even 
that of the English, should grow, rather than ours. In the 
last Courier de VEurope, it is said, that all the commercial 
powers are concerting measures to clip the wings of the 
eagle, and to prevent us from having a navy. 1 believe it. 
That is to say, I believe measures are taken with them all 
to bring them into this system, although they are not let 
into the secret design, and do not know from whom the 
measures come, nor with what views promoted. 

With great regard, I have the honor to be, &ic. 




Paris, August 15th, 1783. 

France, England, Spain, and America are all agreed ; 
but Mr Hartley is sanguine, that the treaty will not be 
signed, because, he says, the Count de Vergennes does 
not mean to sign it. His reasons for this opinion I know 
not, and I think he is mistaken. It is very certain, how- 
ever, that the French Minister is embarrassed, and would 
not, perhaps, be sorry to find good reasons for postponing 
the signature for some time. 

Congress may judge in some degree ot the situation of 
things, by the following conversation, which I had this 
morning with M. Brantzen, the Ambassador Extraordinary 
from the States-General, lo whom I returned the visit he 
made me yesterday, when I was abroad. 

He told me, "that he was as far, and indeed farther 
than ever, from an agreement with the Duke of Manches- 
ter. He had given up, he said, all pretensions to a com- 
pensation for the unjust damages of the war, and he had in 
a manner waived his claim ol the restitution of Negapat- 
nam. But the Duke of Manchester now insisted peremp- 
torily upon, not only all the ancient salutations from the 
Dutch flag to the English, but upon an unlimited liberty of 
navigation in all the seas of the East Indies. He had des- 
patched an express to the Hague the day before yester- 
day, who would arrive today ; but the Grand Pensionary 
was sick, and the States of Holland not sitting ; so that 
there must be some time before he could have an answer. 
Concerning the salutes to the flag, there would be different 
opinions, but they would be all of a mind against the lib- 

150 J^HN ADAMS. 

erty of navigation in the Indies. He could not, therefore, 
expect from their High Mightinesses permission to sign, 
and the Count de Vergennes would be embarrassed. All 
the odier powers were ready, and to make them wait 
would raise a cry. 

"To sign without Holland would raise a terrible storm 
in Holland against the Count, and no small one in France. 
And even, if the States should authorise him to sign a 
shameful peace, this would raise no less clamor in Hol- 
land and France against the Count. He will, therefore, 
not know what to do, and will seek to j)ostpone ; for the 
parties of the Marquis de Castries and of M. de Breteuil 
will take advantage of every clamor against the Count, as 
these parties wish M. de Breteuil in his place. I am per- 
suaded, therefore, that the Count himself looks upon his 
own situation as very hazardous. It has been so a long 
time. It was his instability in his place that made him 
sign the preliminaries, for money to carry on the war could 
not be obtained without M. Necker, and M. Necker 
would not come in with the Count, as they were and are 
sworn enemies to each other. He was, therefore, re- 
' duced to the dilemma to make peace or go out. I have 
good reasons' to believe, that the Mareschal de Castries 
disapproves of the Count's conduct towards our Republic. 
He certainly deceived me. The States-General did very 
wrong to bind me to leave so much to the French j\linis- 
ter ; but I thought him an honest man, and that I could 
trust him ; so I left things to him, according to my instruc- 
tions, depending on his word, and, at last, I found myself 
the dupe. No, not a dupe, for I am always upon my 
guard not to be a dupe. But he deceived me ; and when 
one, whom I have reason to believe an honest man, de- 


ceives me, 1 cannot call myself a dupe, for 1 can do no 
other than believe an honest man, wl)en he gives me his 

In several of your letters, Sir, you have insisted on my 
reciting to you my conversations with foreign Ministers. 
You must not esteem them infallible oracles. They are 
often mistaken in their facts, and sometimes wrong in their 
reasonings. But these sentiments of M. Brantzen are of 
so much importance, that 1 thought proper to recite them. 
It will, indeed, be necessary for your foreign Ministers to 
be more inquisitive than we have been, and to transmit to 
Congress more information concerning the intrigues of 
Courts, than we have done. If the Mareschal de Castries 
and M. de Breteuil, who is now in the Council, and M. 
Necker, are not friends to the Count de Vergennes, and 
all the world here agree they are not, Congress ought to 
know it. Although I would have so much res[)ect to the 
Queen, as not to name her Majesty upon unnecessary oc- 
casions, yet, upon this, when she is sister to the Emperor, 
and the question at Court is, whether there shall be a war 
with her brother, it is obviously a matter of so much im- 
portance, as to make it a duty to communicate to Congress 
her sentiments, which all men here agree are favorable to 
de Castries and Breteuil, but not partial to the present 
Minister of Foreign Affairs. I said in a former letter, if 
this Minister continues, there will be war ; but I am told 
by some, if there is war, he cannot continue ; for neither 
he, nor his friends, can raise the money. M. de Rayne- 
val, however, affirmed positively to Mr Hartley, that 
nothing but death could remove the Count. * 

* This affirmation was verified. The Count de Vergennes con- 
tinued in the Ministry till his death, which happened, February 
13th, 1787. 


All these things show the critical and uncertain constitu- 
tion of this Court, and the uncertainty when the definitive 
treaty will be signed, notwithstanding that four powers are 
agreed, and, therefore, I can give Congress no clear in- 
fornnation upon that head. This is a great chagrin to me, 
both on account of the public and myself, because I am as 
uncertain about my own destiny as that of the public. 
With great respect, 1 have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, September 5lh, 1783. 

On Wednesday, the 3d day of this month, the Ameri- 
can Ministers met the British Minister at his lodgings at 
the Hotel de York, and signed, sealed, and delivered the 
Definitive Treaty of Peace between the United States of 
America and the King of Great Britain. Although it is 
but a confirmation or repetition of the provisional articles, 
I have the honor to congratulate Congress upon it, as it is 
a completion of the work of peace, and the best that we 
could obtain. Nothing remains now to be done but a treaty 
of commerce ; but this in my opinion cannot be negotiated 
without a new commission from Congress to some one or 
more persons. Time, it is easy to foresee, will not be 
likely to render the British nation more disposed to a regu- 
lation of commerce favorable to us, and therefore my 
advice is to issue a commission as soon as may be. 

There is another subject on which 1 beg leave to repre- 
sent to Congress my sentiments, because they seem to me 
of importance, and because they differ from many sanguine 


opinions, which will be communicated to the members of 
that assembly from partisans both of England and France. 

In the late deliberations concerning an acceptance of the 
mediation of the Imperial Courts, the British Minister 
refused it, and in the conferences we had with the Count 
de Vergennes upon this subject, it was manifest enough to 
me that he was not fond of our accepting it ; for although 
he maintained a perfect impartiality of language, neither 
advising us for, nor against the measure, yet at last, when 
it was observed that Mr Hartley was averse to it, he 
turned to Dr Franklin and said, that we must agree with 
Mr Hartley about it, with such a countenance, air, and 
lone of voice (for from these you must often collect the 
sentiments of Ministers) as convinced me he did not wish 
the mediation should take place. 

It was not a subject which would bear insisting on either 
way. I therefore made no difficulty. But I am, upon 
recollection, fully of opinion that we should have done 
wisely to have sent our letter to the Imperial Ministers, 
accepting the mediation on our part. The signature of 
these Ministers would have given reputation in Europe 
and among our own citizens. I mention these, because I 
humbly conceive that Congress ought, in all their proceed- 
ings, to consider the opinion that the United States or 
the people of America will entertain of themselves. We 
may call this national vanity or national pride, but it is the 
main principle of the national sense of its own dignity, 
and a passion in htjman nature, without which nations can- 
not preserve the character of man. Let the people lose 
this sentiment, as in Poland, and a partition of their country 
will soon take place. Our country has but lately been a 
dependent one, and our people although enlightened and 
VOL. VII. 20 


virtuous, have had their minds and hearts habitually filled 
with all the passions of a dependent and subordinate peo- 
ple ; that is to say, with fear, with diffidence, and distrust 
of themselves, with admiration of foreigners, &-c. Now I 
say, that it is one of the most necessary and one of the 
most difficult branches of the policy of Congress to eradi- 
cate from the American mind, every remaining fibre of this 
fear and self-diffidence on one hand, and of this excessive 
admiration of foreigners on the other. 

It cannot be doubted one moment, that a solenin ac- 
knowledgment of us by the signature of the two Imperial 
Courts would have had such a tendency in the minds of 
our countrymen. But we should also consider, upon every 
occasion, how our reputation will be affected in Europe. 
We shall not find it easy to keep up the respect for us, that 
has been excited by the continual publication of the ex- 
ploits of this war. In the calm of peace, litde will be said 
about us in Europe unless we prepare for it, but by those 
who have designs upon us. We may depend upon it, 
everything will be said in Europe and in the gazettes, 
which anybody in Europe wants to have repeated in 
America, to make such impressions upon the minds of 
our citizens as he desires. It will become us, therefore, to 
do everything in our power to make reasonable and just 
impressions upon the public opinion in Europe. The sig- 
nature of the two Imperial Courts would have made a 
deep and important impression in our favor, upon full one 
half of Europe, as friends to those Courts, and upon all 
the other half as enemies. 

I need not explain myself further. I may however 
add, that Americans can scarcely conceive the decisive 
influence of the governments of Europe upon their people. 


Every nation is a piece of clockwork, every wheel is un- 
der the absolute direction of the sovereign as its weight or 
spring. In consequence of this, all that moiety of mankind 
that are subject to the two Imperial Courts and their allies, 
would, in consequence of their mediation have been open- 
ly and decidedly our friends at this hour, and the other 
half of Europe would certainly have respected us more for 
this. But at present, the two Imperial Courts not having 
signed the treaty, all their friends are left in a state ot 
doubt and timidity concerning us. From all the conver- 
sations I have had with the Count de Mercy and M. Mark- 
ofF, it is certain that the two Courts wished, as these Minis- 
ters certainly were ambitious to, sign our treaty. They 
and their sovereigns wished that their names might be 
read in America, and there respected as our friends. 
But this is now past. England and France will be most 
perfectly united in all artifices and endeavors to keep down 
our reputation at home and abroad, to mortify our self- 
conceit, and to lessen us in the opinion of the world. If 
we will not see, we must be the dupes ; we need not, for 
we have in our own power, with the common blessing, the 
means of everything we want. There h but one course 
now left to retrieve the error, and that is, to send a Minis- 
ter to Vienna with power to make a treaty with both the 
Imperial Courts. Congress must send a Minister first, or 
it will never be done. The Emperor never sends first, 
nor will England ever send a IMinister to America, until 
Congress shall have sent one to London. 

To form immediate conmiercial connexions with that 
half of Europe, which ever has been, and with little varia- 
tions ever will be, opposite to the House of Bourbon, is a 
fundamental maxim of that system of American politics. 


which I have pursued invariably from the beginning of this 
war. It is the only means of preserving the respect of the 
House of Bourbon itself; it is the only means in conjunc- 
tion with our connexions with the House of Bourbon, al- 
ready formed, to secure us the respect of England for any 
length of time, and to keep us out of another war with that 
kingdom. It is, in short, the only possible means of secur- 
ing «) our country that peace, neutrality, impartiality, and 
indifference in European wars, which, in my opinion, we 
shall be unwise in the last degree, if we do not maintain. 
It is, besides, the only way in which we can improve and 
extend our commercial connexions to the best advan- 

With great respect, I am, 



Paris, September 8th, 1783. 

Yesterday morning Mr Jay informed me, that Dr 
Franklin had received, and soon after the Doctor put into 
my hands, the resolution of Congress of the 1st of May,* 
ordering a commission and instructions to be prepared to 
those gentlemen and myself for making a Treaty of Com- 
merce with Great Britain. This resolution, with your 
Excellency's letter, arrived very seasonably, as Mr Hart- 

* "Ordered, That a commission be prepared to John Adams, Ben- 
jamin Franklin, and John Jay, authorising them, or either of them in 
the absence of the others, to enter into a treaty of commerce between 
the United States of America and Great Britain, subject to the re- 
visal of the contracting parties previous to its final conclusion ; and, 
in the meantime, to enter into a commercial convention, to continue 
in force one year." 


ley was setting off for London with information from us, 
that our powers were executed. 

I am very sensible of the honor, that is done me by this 
resolution of Congress, and of the great importance of 
'\he business committed to our care ; and shall not, there- 
fore, irtjsitate to take a part in it. I can attend to this 
business,/ and at the same time have some care of your 
affairs in Holland ; and in case the present loan should be 
full in the course of the next winter, 1 can* open a new 
one, either by going to Amsterdam, or by having the obli- 
gation sent to me in Paris to be signed. In this way 
there will be no additional expense to the public, as I have 
informed M. Dumas, that there must be no expense made 
at the Hague on my account, or on account of Congress, 
but that all his expenses must be borne by himself, or he 
must at least settle them with Congress. I have so much 
regard for this gendeman, and such an opinion of his worth 
and merit, that 1 cannot but recommend him upon this 
occasion to Congress, for the commission of Secretary of 
that Legation, but as economy is and ought to be carefully 
attended to, 1 presume not to point out the salary, which 
will be proper. There are so many ways of pillaging 
public men in Europe, that it will be difficult for Congress 
to conceive the expenses, which are unavoidable in these 

If the principle of economy should restrain Congress 
from sending Ministers to Vienna, Petersburg, Copenha- 
gen, and Lisbon, they will probably send a commission to 
Paris to negotiate treaties there, because I think it will ap- 
pear to be of great importance, both in a political and com- 
mercial light, to have treaties with these powers. If this 
should be the case, as three of us will be now obliged to 


attend al Paris tlie tedious negotiation with every Court, 
we can all al tlie same time and with the same expense 
attend to ihe negotiations with the other powers ; which 
will afford to ail an opportunity of throwing in any hints, 
which may occur for the public good, and will have a' 
much better appearance in the eyes of Europe and Amer- 
ica. I do not hesitate, therefore, to request, that it such 
a commission or commissions should be sent, that all your 
Ministers in Europe may be inserted in it. If the arrange- 
ment should make any difficulty in America, it will make 
none with me ; for although I think there was good 
reason foi' the order in whicli the names stand in the new 
commission for peace, and in the resolution for a new 
commission for a treaty of commerce, that reason will not 
exist in any future commission. 

Mr Hartley's powers are sufficient to go through the ne- 
gotiation with us, and 1 suppose it will be chiefly conducted 
at Paris, yet we may all think it proper to make a tour to 
Loiidon, for a few weeks especially, in case any material 
obstacle should arise. We are told, that such a visit 
would have a good eflect at Court and with the nation ; at 
least, it seems clear it would do no harm. 

With the greatest respect and esteem, I have the honor 
to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant, 



Paris, September 8th, 1783. 
As the resolulioi' ;.." Congress of the 1st of ]May has 
determined it to bo my duty to remain in Europe, at least 
another winter, I shall be obliged to say many things to 


your Excellency by letter, which 1 hoped lo have had the 
honor of saying upon the floor of your house. Some of 
these things may be thought at first of little consequence, 
but time, and inquiry, and consideration, will show them to 
have weight. Of this sort, is the subject of this letter. 

The views .and designs, the intrigues and project-; of 
Courts, are let out by insensible degrees, and with infinite 
art and deli-cacy in the gazettes. 

These channels of communication are very numerous, 
and they are artificially complicated in such a manner, that 
very few persons are abie to trace the sources from whence 
insinuations and projects flow. The English papers are 
an engine, by which everything is scattered all over the 
world. They are open and free. The eyes of mankind 
are fixed upon them. They are taken by all Courts and 
all politicians, and by almost all gazetteers. Of these 
papers, the French emissaries in London, even in time of 
war, but especially in time of peace, make a very great 
use ; they insert in them things which they wish to have 
circulated far and wide. Some of the paragraphs inserted 
in them will do to circulate through all Europe, and some 
will not do in the Courier de VEurope. This is the most 
artful paper in the world ; it is continually accommodating 
between the French and English Ministry. If it should 
oftend the English essentially, the Ministry would prevent 
its publication ; if it should sin against the French unpar- 
donably, the Ministry would instantly stop its circulation ; 
it is, therefore, continually under the influence of the 
French Ministers, whose under-workers have many things 
translated into it from the English papers, and many others 
inserted in it originally, both to the end, that they may be 
circulated over the world, and particularly that they may be 


seen by the King of France, who reads this paper con- 
stantly. From the English papers and the Courier de 
VEurope, many things are transferred into various other 
gazettes, the Courier du Bas Rhin, the Gazette de Deux 
Pants, the Courier d'Jlvignon, and the Gazette des Pays 
Bas. The Gazettes of Leyden and Amsterdam, are some- 
limes used for the more grave and solid objects, those of 
Deux Fonts and d'Avignon for popular topics, the small 
talk of cofTee-houses, and still smaller and lower circles- 
All these papers and many others discover a perpetual 
complaisance for the French Mimstry, because they are 
always in their power so entirely, that if an offensive par- 
agraph appears, the entrance and distribution of the gazette 
may be stopped by an order from Court, by which the 
gazetteer loses the sale of his paper in France, which is a 
great pecuniary object. Whoever shall hereafter come to 
Europe in any public employment, and take in the papers 
above enumerated, will acknowledge his obligations to me 
for mentioning them. He will find them a constant source 
of amusement, and sometimes of useful discoveries. 1 
may hereafter possibly entertain Congress with some curi- 
ous speculations from these gazettes, which have all their 
attention fixed upon us, and very often honor us with their 
animadversions, sometimes with their grave counsels, but 
oftener still with very subtle and sly insinuations. 

With great respect, I have the honor to be, he. 



Paris, September 10th, 1783. 

As 1 am to remain in Europe for some time longer, I 

beg leave to take a cursory view of what appears neces- 


sary or expedient to be further done in Europe ; for I 
conceive it to be not only the right but the duty of a For- 
eign Minister, to advise his Sovereign, according to his 
lights and judgments, although the more extensive infor- 
mation and superior wisdom of the Sovereign, may fre- 
quently see cause to pursue a different conduct. 

With Spain no doubt Congress will negotiate by a par- 
ticular Minister, either the present one or another, and 
perhaps it would be proper that the same should treat with 
Naples. With the two Empires, Prussia, Denmark, Portu- 
gal, Sardinia and Tuscany, I humbly conceive, it might be 
proper to negotiate, and perhaps with Hamburg 5 but there 
are other powers with whom it is more necessary to have 
treaties than it ought to be, I mean Morocco, Algiers, Tu- 
nis, and Tripoli. 

I presume that Congress will not think it expedient to 
be at the expense of sending Ministers to all these powers, 
if to any. Perhaps in the present state of our finances it 
may not be worth while to send any. Yet the present 
time is the best to negotiate with all. I submit it to con- 
sideration then, whether it is not advisable to send a com- 
mission to such Minister as you judge proper, with full 
powers to treat with all, to the Ministers now in Paris, or 
to any others. But I humbly conceive, that if powers to 
treat with all or any of these States are sent to any of your 
Ministers now here, it would be for the public good, that 
they should be sent to all. If Congress can find funds to 
treat with the Barbary Powers, the Ministers here are the 
best situated, for they should apply to the Court of Ver- 
sailles- and their High Mightinesses in the first place, that 
orders should be sent to their Consuls according to treaties 
to assist us. Ministers liere may carry on this negotiation 

VOL. VII. 21 


by letters, or may be empowered to send an agent if ne- 
cessary. I have no private interest in this business. My 
salary will be the same, my expenses more, and labor 
much increased by such a measure. But as it is of public 
importance, 1 think, that no unnecessary delicacies should 
restrain me from suggesting these hints to Congress. 
Whatever their determination may be, will be satisfactory 
to me. 

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, your 

Excellency's, Sec. 









John Jay was a member of the first Congress, which 
assembled at Philadelphia in September, 1774, having 
been, with four other persons, chosen a delegate from the 
city and county of New York. He was also in the Con- 
gress of the following year, but after the organization of the 
government of New York he was made Chief Jusdce of 
the State, and retired from Congress. On the 21st of 
October, 1778, even while he held the office of Chief Jus- 
tice, he was elected by the Assembly a delegate to Con- 
gress for a specific object, till the first of March following. 
The Assembly at the same time declared, that by the con- 
stitution of New York both these stations were consistent 
with each other. 

Mr Jay joined the Congress on the 7th of December, 
and was elected President of that body three days after- 
wards, as the successor of Henry Laurens. He discharged 
this office with great dignity and credit to himself till Sep- 
tember 27th, 1779, when he was appointed Minister Plen- 
ipotentiary to negotiate a treaty of amity and alliance with 
Spain. He sailed for France about the first of November 
in the same ship with M. Gerard, who had been the late 
French Minister in the United States. Accidents at sea 
compelled the Captain of the vessel to put into Martinique, 
whence Mr Jay sailed in another vessel for Europe, and 
arrived at Cadiz on the 22d of January, 1780. Here he 
remained between two and three months, and then pro- 
ceeded to Madrid, and entered on the duties of his 


The two principal objects, which Mr Jay was instructed 
to obtain, were a grant of aids in money and military sup- 
plies from Spain, to assist in prosecuting the war against 
the common enemy, and a treaty between Spain and the 
United States. After encountering for more than two 
years innumerable embarrassments, vexatious delays, cold 
treatment, and a provoking indifTerence, that would have 
exhausted the patience, if not ruffled the temper of most 
men, he met with very little success in the former object, 
and none at all in the latter. The Spanish Court seemed 
nowise inclined to recognize the independence of the 
United States, or to show them any substantial marks of 
friendship, and yet there was evidently a willingness to 
keep on terms, and be prepared to act according to the 
issue of events. Tardy promises of money were made by 
the Minister, which he was reluctant to fulfil, and it was 
with extreme difficulty at last, that Mr Jay succeeded in 
procuring from his Catholic Majesty the pitiful loan of one 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. In the treaty he 
made no progress, but was put off from time to time, with 
pretences as frivolous as they were insincere. He was 
never received in his public capacity, nor in any other 
character, than that of a private gentleman empowered 
to act as Agent for the United States. In short, it must 
be confessed, that the conduct of Spain, in regard to this 
country during the revolutionary war, was not such as 
to inspire the gratitude or respect of succeeding genera- 

Meantime, on the 13th of June, 1781, Mr Jay was 
chosen one of the Commissioners for negotiating a peace, 
when the parties at war should be prepared for such an 
event. Having already made considerable progress with 


Mr Oswald in the treaty, and being persuaded that the 
British government were in earnest as to their professed 
desire for peace, Dr Franklin wrote to Mr Jay requesting 
him to repair to Paris, and join in the negotiation. He 
arrived in that city on the 23d of June, 1782, and shortly 
afterwards engaged in the duties of his commission with 
his colleague. Mr Adams did not arrive till the 26th of 
October. The preliminary articles were signed on the 
30th of November. 

Mr Jay continued in Europe the year following, and 
signed, with the other Commissioners, the Definitive Trea- 
ty, September 3d, 1783. Several months previously 
he had asked permission to return home, but he did not 
embark till June 1st, 1794. He arrived in New York 
on the 24th of July following. 

It having been understood that he would soon return, 
Congress had elected him Secretary of Foreign Affairs on 
the 7th of May, as successor to Mr Livingston, who had re- 
signed some time before. He accepted this appointment, 
and took charge of the office, which he filled with the 
same dignity and ability, that had marked his conduct in 
every public station. 





In Congress, September 29th, 1779. 

By the treaties subsisting between his Most Christian 
Majesty and the United States of America, a power is re- 
served to his Catholic Majesty to accede to the said 
treaties, and to participate in their stipulations, at Such 
time as he shall judge proper, it being well understood, 
nevertheless, that if any of the stipulations of the said 
treaties are not agreeable to the Court of Spain, his Cath- 
olic Majesty may propose other conditions analogous to 
the principal aim of the alliance, and conformable to the 
rules of equality, reciprocity, and friendship. Congress is 
sensible of the friendly regard to these States manifested 
by his Most Christian Majesty, in reserving a power to his 
Catholic Majesty of acceding to the alliance entered into 
between his Most Christian Majesty and these United 
States; and, therefore, that nothing may be wanting on their 
part to facilitate the views of his Most Christian Majesty, 
and to obtain a treaty of alliance, and of amity and com- 
voL. VII. 22 

170 JOHN JAY. 

rnerce with his Catholic Majesty, have thought proper to 
anticipate any propositions, which his Catholic Majesty 
might make on that suhject, by yielding up to him those 
objects, which they conclude he may have principally in 
view ; and for that purpose have come to the following 
resolution ; 

That if his Catholic Majesty shall accede to the said 
treaties, and, in concurrence with France and the United 
States of America, continue the present war with Great 
Britain for the purpose expressed in the treaties aforesaid, 
he shall not thereby be precluded from securing to himself 
the Floridas ; on the contrary, if he shall obtain the Flori- 
das from Great Britain, these United States will guaranty 
the same to his Catholic Majesty ; provided always, that 
the United States shall enjoy the free navigation of the 
river Mississippi into and from the sea. 

You are, therefore, to communicate to his Most Chris- 
tian Majesty the desire of Congress to enter into a treaty 
of alliance, and of amity and commerce with his Catholic 
Majesty, and to request his favorable interposition for that 
purpose. At the same time, you are to make such pro- 
posal to his Catholic Majesty, as in your judgment, from 
circumstances, will be proper for obtaining for the United 
States of America equal advantages with those, which are 
secured to them by the treaties with his Most Christian 
Majesty ; observing always the resolution aforesaid as the 
ultimatum of the United States. 

You are particularly to endeavor to obtain some con- 
venient port or ports below the thirtySrst degree of north 
latitude, on the river Mississippi, for all merchant vessels, 
goods, wares, and merchandises, belonging to the inhabi- 
tants of these States. 


The distressed state of our finances, and the great de- 
preciation of our paper money, inclined Congress to iiope 
that his Catholic Majesty, if he shall conclude a treaty vvith 
these Slates, will be induced to lend them money j you 
are, therefore, to represent to him the great distress of 
these States on that account, and to solicit a loan of five 
millions of dollars upon the best terms in your power, not 
exceeding six per cent per annum, effectually to enable 
them to co-operate with the allies against the common 
enemy. But before you make any propositions to his 
Catholic Majesty for a loan, you are to endeavor to obtain 
a subsidy in consideration of the guarantee aforesaid.* 


St Pierre's, Martinique, December 20th, 1779. 

This is the only opportunity of transmitting a letter to 
Philadelphia since our arrival ; and as the route, which 
this is to take, will be very circuitous and doubtful, it will 
be short and general. 

Having lost our bowsprit, all our masts, and many of 
our sails, as well as split our rudder, off the Banks of 
Newfoundland, we steered for this Island, and arrived yes- 
terday afternoon. The Governor and Admiral are at Port 
Royal. They are informed of our being here, and I shall 
see them either at this or that place, according as we shall 
find it to be their intention to come to the one, or remain at 
the other. Till then, it must continue doubtful, whether 
we shall be able to obtain a passage in a French frigate, or 

* The above is thejbrm in which the instructions were reported 
by a committee. 

172 JOHN JAY. 

speedily refit our own ; neither of which can be done with- 
out the interposition of government. 

Two days hence, a vessel will sail for St Eustatia. I 
shall write more particularly by her, and it is more than 
probable, that those letters will come to hand before this. 

Yesterday, a fleet of twentyfive merchant-men under 
the convoy of a frigate, bound from France to this place, 
were attacked on the southern coast of Martinique, near 
Port Royal, by a number of the enemy's ships of war 
from St Lucia. Fourteen merchant-men were captured, 
and two driven on shore. The rest escaped during a 
very severe action between three line of battle ships under 
Monsieur le Motte Piquet, (who went from Port Royal 
to their relief) and double the number of the enemy. 
This intelligence was communicated to me this morning by 
the commanding officer here. 
I have the honor to be, he. 



St Pierre's, Martinique, December 22d, 1779. 

By a message received yesterday afternoon from the 
Marquis de Boullie, I find there is no reason to expect 
him or the Admiral here very soon. We shall, therefore, 
set out for Port Royal early tomorrow morning, and en- 
deavor to get our ship refitted as soon as possible. She 
will follow us in a day or two, and, as the enemy's ships of 
war are frequently cruising near the Island, she will go 
under convoy ; four of them are now in sight of this town. 

It seems agreed on all hands, that the expense of refit- 
ting the Confederacy will be very considerable. To 


reduce this matter to greater certainty, I have desired the 
captain to make out an estimate of his wants ; he promised 
to prepare it, and give me a copy this evening. If I re- 
ceive it before nine o'clock, it will accompany this letter, 
otherwise it will be transmitted by the next conveyance. 

The agent here tells me, he is without cash, and in debt 
on the public account. I fear he has been neglected. I 
shall, however, defer saying anything further on his subject 
till I shall be better informed. Should an opportunity 
offer of writing to your Excellency from Port Royal, I 
shall embrace it, if not, I shall take the first after my re- 
turn. As ihe government here will, I hope, advance the 
money necessary for preparing the frigate for sea, I am 
anxious that you may have the earliest intelligence of it, 
that timely provision may be made for the payment. 

Of the fleet mentioned in my letter of the 20th instant, 
only nine were taken or destroyed. 

7 o'clock. — I had written thus far, when Captain Hard- 
ing called upon me. He has made out an estimate of the 
ship's wants, and given it to Mr Bingham, without having 
made a copy for me, which it is now too late to do to go 
by this vessel. 

On our return from Port Royal, the captain will trans- 
mit particular accounts of everything respecting the ship, 
which he ought to communicate. He has been too much 
engaged to prepare his despatches to go by this vessel, 
and, therefore, postpones writing for the present, especially 
as he would have leisure only to repeat the general ac- 
coilnt of our misfortune contained in my letter. 

I have the honor to be. &;c. 


174 JOHN JAY. 


St Pierre's, Martinique, December 24th, 1779. 


My former letters to your Excellency of the 20th and 
22d instant, (a triplicate of the former, and a duplicate of 
the latter are herewith enclosed) have already informed 
Congress of the disaster, which imposed '';?'■:- us the neces- 
sity of coming hither. But as that necessity has been and 
still continues the subject of much inquiry and investigation, 
it is proper that the facts from which it arose be minutely 

On the 7th day of November last, between the hours of 
five and six in the morning, in latitude 41 03 N. and lon- 
gitude 50 39 W. the Captain being in bed indisposed, and 
the master and second lieutenant on deck, the ship going 
nine knots an hour in a brisk breeze and rough sea, but by 
no means hard weather, her bowsprit and all her masts 
gave way in less than three minutes. The day was em- 
ployed in clearing the ship of the wreck, and getting up a 
litde sail; towards evening a heavy gale came on. During 
the night, the tiller was lashed fast, and she lay too very 
well, the wind blowing hard at south east. The next 
morning the shank of the rudder was found to be so much 
wrenched and split, that the Captain dien told me he 
thought it a greater misfortune than the loss of the masts. 
There were two French gendemen on board, who, it was 
said, and 1 believe with truth, were well skilled in mari- 
time affairs, having been bred to that business from their 
infancy, viz. Monsieur Roche, a Knight of the Order of St 
Louis, and a Captain Remuy, of Marseilles. Either this day 
or the next, I am not certain which, M. Gerard remarked 



to me, that without any previous counsel, it seemed to be 
the unanimous opinion of all the naval officers on board 
to go to the West Indies, and that he believed it would 
be best, though he said he was at first inclined to oppose 
it. The first expedient to steer the ship was by the cable 
and a spar ; below the split in the rudder there was a bolt 
with two rings, to which it had been intended to fix a chain 
for the purpose of steering the ship in case of such acci- 
dents, but the fixing the chains had been omitted ; through 
this ring the Captain passed a chain, and to each end of 
it fastened a strong rope, which was conducted over the 
quarters, and this was the second mode of steering her ; 
but from the uncommon breadth of the rudder by which 
its power became unusually great, and the acuteness of the 
angle between it and the chains rendering a greater force 
necessary than if it had approached nearer to a right angle ; 
the bolt, though to appearance a good one, broke nearly in 
the middle, and came out. 

It seems the rudder of this ship was hung after she had 
been launched, and that to do it the more easily, an eye- 
bolt had been fixed in each side of the rudder below the 
shank ; to these eyebolts two chains were then fixed, 
which crossing the edge of the rudder in opposite direc- 
tions, were fastened to pennants made of cordage, provided 
for the breechings of our twelve pounders. These pen- 
nants passed through blocks at the end of spars, run out of 
the ports of the cabin. From thence they were led 
through blocks in opposite ports of the main deck to the 
ca|)stan, by means of which they were very conveniently 
managed, and the ship without much difficulty steered. 
Such however was the force and wear they underwent 
before our arrival in calmer latitudes and smoother seas, 

176 JOHN JAV. 

that they generally gave way every day or two ; and the 
Captain tells me, no less than six hundred weight of that 
cordage has been consumed in that service. 

So great was the swell off the Banks, and so high, 
though not severe the winds, that near a fortnight elapsed 
before the ship was put in her present condhion for sailing. 
The same obstacles also retarded the repairing of the rud- 
der, which after all was so weak that it was not thought 
advisable to steer by the tiller, and to prevent any further 
injury from its striking against the ship, which it constantly 
did in calm weather, bags stuffed with oakum were placed 
on each side of it, and a man employed night and day to 
tend them. 

Some days before the 23d day of November, the Cap- 
tain told me, he thought it advisable to call a council of 
his ofiicers, and submit to their consideration the pro- 
priety of continuing our course towards Europe. M. Ge- 
rard shortly after mentioned to me the sitting of this coun- 
cil, and said, he could assure me that the Chevalier Roche 
and Monsieur Rerauy would not give their opinions on the 
subject but in writing, and on being requested to do it in 
writing by the Captain. This intelligence appeared to me 
extraordinary, but as it was not necessary that my senti- 
ments relative to it should be known, I made no reply to 
M. Gerard, but by degrees turned the conversation to 
another subject ; nor did I give the least hint of it to the 
Captain, but observed a perfect silence relative to it. It 
appeared to me that those gentlemen either overrated their 
importance, or entertained improper ideas of the merit of 
our officers, and I confess it gave me pleasure to hear that 
they were not consulted at all. 

The council of officers was held the 23d of Novem- 


ber last. The Captain gave me their report, together with 
a return of the provisions and water on board, and assured 
me of his readiness to proceed to any port whatever, that 
M. Gerard and myself should direct. I gave these pa- 
pers to M. Gerard, and although I did not think it expe- 
dient by consulting the French officers to give them rea- 
son to suppose, that I concurred in sentiments with them 
as to the importance of their opinions, yet I told M. Ge- 
rard, I was well satisfied he should communicate to them 
the report of our officers, and obtain their sentiments oii 
the question stated in it, and the better to enable him to 
do it, I proposed that we should postpone the discussion 
of the subject till the next day, or longer if necessary. 
He took the papers, said it was very well, and that he 
would speak to those gentlemen. A day or two after, 
being on deck, M. Gerard took me aside and gave me 
the papers, telling me that he had seen these gentlemen, 
and that they both declined giving any opinion about it; 
that they had always been, and still were, ready to do 
anything for tUe benefit of the ship ; that had they been 
requested to give their opinions while the matter was in 
agitation, they would have done it ; that it was now over, 
and determined ; that under these circumstances their 
opinion would be of no avail, and that they did not choose, 
by declaring their sentiments, either to confirm the report, 
or give it ineffectual opposition. M. Gerard further inti- 
mated, that those gentlemen seemed to think their giving 
their advice in the course of our troubles had given offence 
to the officers of the ship ; but I had never reason to think, 
their apprehensions v.'ell founded. Upon this conduct of 
those gentlemen, I briefly observed to M. Gerard, that as 
they were passengers, we had no right to demand their 
VOL. VII. 23 

178 JOHN JAY. 

opinions, and that they had a right to withhold them, or 
not, as they pleased, and for such reasons as they might 
think proper ; but that as the Captain of the ship had 
been directed by the marine committee to obey such or- 
ders as he should receive from us, it was necessary that 
in the present conjuncture we should decide on the re- 
port ; that the Captain, in my opinion, would not be justi- 
fiable in further pursuing his course against the solemn 
and unanimous opinion of all the officers, unless by our 
express orders : and he would be culpable in changing it, 
without a previous application to us for direction. M. 
Gerard observed, that he was sensible of the honor done 
him by the order alluded to, but that it was not conveni- 
ent to him to give any opinion or direction on the sub- 
ject. It did not appear to me prudent to reply to this, 
and therefore I took the first opportunity of turning the 
conversation to another topic. As this circumstance pre- 
vented the Captain's receiving any positive orders from 
us on the subject, he was of course left to pursue his own 
judgment, but being desirous of my opinion, I gave it to 
him, in the manner endorsed on the report of the council, 
of which a copy is herewith enclosed. 

The reasons on which this opinion was grounded are, 
in part, contained in this report, but there were others not 
mentioned in it. That Congress may the better judge of 
their force, it is necessary that they be informed of some 
previous circumstances. 

The first fair day after losing our masts, I went to the 
door of M. Gerard's room on the deck, which was open, 
to bid him good morning. Chevalier Roche was with 
him ; they were conversing on the course most proper for 
us to steer, and the port most proper to make for. M. 


Gerard was for going to Cadiz j he had an excellent set of 
charts, and he had then one of the Atlantic Ocean, with its 
American, European, and African Coasts, and the inter- 
vening islands, before him. By the assistance of this 
map we perfectly understood his reasoning. The Cheva- 
lier at that time inclined to the West Indies, and I heard 
Iiim, on leaving the room, tell M. Gerard, that to endeavor 
to get to Europe in the present condition of the ship, 
would be to ^^run a very great risk of perishing in the 
ocean." Some time after this, M. Gerard perceiving that I 
had adopted no decided opinion on the subject, (and that 
was really the case) in the course of an evening ho spent 
with us in the cabin, (none of tlie officers of the ship being 
present) desired me to attend particularly to his several 
reasons for going to Cadiz, and consider them maturely 
before I made up my judgment. I promised him to do it, 
and was as good as my word. He proceeded to observe j 

1st. That the distance to Cadiz and to Martinique 
differed but little, and that no weighty argument could be 
drawn from this ditference. 

2dly. That between us and Cadiz lay the Western and 
Canary Islands, into some one or other of which we might 
run, if necessary. 

3dly. That if, on our arrival at either of these Islands, 
it should appear impracticable or imprudent to proceed 
further, our persons at least would be safe, and we might 
get to Europe in one of the many vessels, which frequent 
those Islands; whereas, on the other hand, there were no 
Islands between us and Martinique, and we should, ia 
steering southward, be obliged to run all that distance 
without finding any place by the way, at which we might 
toucl), or, in case uf danger, find shelter. 

180 JOHN JAY. 

4thly. That if calmer seas were our object, we should 
tind them in going eastward as well as southward ; that we 
must not expect to meet with the trade winds at that 
season but in a very remote southern latitude ; that in 
crossing the latitude of Bermudas, we should meet with 
heavy squalls, and bad weather ; that in the latitude be- 
tween that and the trade winds, we must expect variable 
winds, and particularly long calms, which are often more 
dangerous, and more to be dreaded than hard winds. 

5thly. That in a voyage to Cadiz, we should have 
nothing to apprehend from the enemy, but to Martinique, 

Gthly. That if we should arrive safe at Martinique, we 
should probably be detained there until next Spring ; that 
the vessels, which usually sail from thence for France 
every fall, would have departed before the time we should 
reach the Island ; that he had reason to believe it would 
be very difficult, if not impracticable, to obtain a frigate, 
and, ^mong other reasons, urged the absence of Count 
d'Estaing, and the improbability that any subordinate 
officer would undertake without his orders to grant us one, 
even admitting what was very unlikely, that one might be 
spared from the service. 

Tthly. That the ship might remain long at Martinique 
without being made ready for sea, for want of naval stores, 
provisions, he 

These were M. Gerard's reasons for our steering for 
Cadiz, by the way of the Azores, and I do not remember 
to have afterwards heard an additional one. Whether the 
French officers really thought them conclusive, or whether 
they found it convenient to make a compliment of their 
sentiments to a gentleman very able to serve them, is un- 


certain ; but I believe they in appearance inclined to M. 
Gerard's opinion, and gave biin implied reasons to think 
their sentiments corresponded with his. 

The matter appeared to me in a serious light, and to re- 
quire caution on many accounts. Every consideration 
called me to Spain ; private as well as public good forbade 
a difference with M. Gerard. I had reason to believe him 
well disposed towards me ; I perceived, clearly, that he 
could not with any patience admit the idea of being absent 
from Europe at so important a season, and that he could 
scarcely treat with common decency the reasons urged for 
going to Martinique. Hence it appeared obvious, that 
should I be the means of his losing his objects, or should 
any public inconveniences result from our not being in Eu- 
rope during the winter, I should be censured, not only by 
him, but by all those who judge of the propriety of a meas- 
ure only by its consequences, of which number are the far 
greater part of mankind. Thus circumstanced, I found 
myself in a very unpleasant situation, widiout any way of 
extricating myself, but by agreeing to a sort of middle 
proposal,; viz. to order the Captain to land us on 
one of the Western Islands, and then leave the ship to 
shift for herself. This would have satisfied M. Gerard, 
and we should have been as good friends as ever. I 
thought it my duty, however, to form my decision care- 
fully and honestly, and abide by it firmly. It was that 
we should proceed to Martinique. Some of the reasons 
for it are set forth in the report of the council of officers. 
The whole together were briefly these. 

1st. That the officers of the ship, including the carpen- 
ter, who were to be presumed to be better judges than M. 
Gerard or myself, were of opinion, that we ought not to 

182 JOHN JAY. 

attempt to go to Europe, and had this reason stood single 
and unexplained, I should not readily have ventured to 
reject it, especially as it appeared to me against the inter- 
est of the officers to come to the West Indies, and I have 
heard them constantly and uniformly regret the necessity 
of it ; but 1 also thought they decided on good grounds ; 

2dly. The rudder daily gave us infinite trouble, almost 
every day a pennant breaking, and on every such occasion 
the ship for some time left to the direction of the wind and 
waves, a circumstance which might be fatal in hard weath- 
er, and near land; the quantity of cordag-e consumed in this 
way of steering; the doubt of our having sufficient for the 
purpose without stripping the guns, which would thereby 
be rendered useless; the rudder irons daily becoming more 
and more loose, and, by the nails drawing out, opening a 
passage for the water into the stem of the ship. By this 
circumstance our bread had been damaged ; the danger 
of our being obliged to get rid of the rudder entirely, and 
steering only by the cable, which in northern seas, and 
winter season, is very inadequate. This event would have 
arrived in case either of the eye bolts in the rudder had 
given way, as the first mentioned one had done, or the 
upper irons become entirely loose ; and for this event it 
was thought necessary to prepare, by removing the obsta- 
cles to unhanging the rudder. Indeed the upper irons in 
the course of our passage here, with fair winds and no 
storms, became so loose as to render it necessary to lash 
the liead of the rudder with ropes to a bolt fixed for the 
purpose in the cabin floor. 

odly. The sails we liad left were bad, having been ori- 
ginally made, as Mr Vaughan the second Lieutenant told 


me, of damaged canvass ; diey frequendy split ; we had 
none to replace them, nor a sufficient stock of twine to 
mend them, eight pounds only heing left of the twenty odd 
we hrought from Philadelphia ; nor were we much better 
supplied widi cordage, for which there was a daily demand 
and some of which was very had. 

4thly. Our jury masts were not calculated for hard 
weather, the foremast being sprung a few feet below the 
top, and not able to endure a hard storm. 

For these reasons the rough weather common in north- 
ern latitudes was by all means to be avoided, and smooth 
seas sought. 

As to the conveniences to be derived from the Islands 
laying between us and Cadiz, I took some pains to ex- 
amine into that matter. We had maps and descriptions of 
them all, and our master had been at many of them. 1 
found diere was not a single harbor in any one of theni 
in whicii a ship could ride at anchor in every wind ; on 
liie contrary neither of them has anything more than open 
roads, out of which it is necessary for ships to make the 
best of tiieir way, and put to sea whenever certain winds 
blow, a task which our ship was very far from being ii> 
condition to perform. 

From this and other circumstances it was evident we 
could not refit in either of those Islands, not even so much 
as get a new rudder ; for'admitling materials for the latter 
could be had, yet such was the difficulty, if not impossi- 
bility, of hanging it in an open road, from whence the ship 
was every moment exposed to the necessity of going to 
sea by an unfavorable wind, that we could expect to derive 
no advantage from these Islands, except the prospect of 
obtaining some refreshments, which we could do without, 

184 JOHN JAY. 

and the value of which would not have compensated for 
the risk of approaching them in our condition. 

As to the idea of our steering that course with a view of 
being landed on one of those Islands, and from thence 
going to Europe in another vessel, leaving our own to her 
fate, no earthly consideration could ever have reconciled ■ 
me to it. The reasoning which was insisted on, that our 
being seasonably in Europe was of more importance to 
the United States than a frigate, and that in time of war, 
and for the public good, lives were to be risked by sea as > 

well as by land, was a species of reasoning which applied 
to this case led to conclusions, which never have been, 
and I pray God never may be, among my principles of 
action. Had this plan of being landed on one of the 
Azores or Canaries been adopted, we should have either 
landed the crew with us or not ; if the first, the frigate 
would have been given to destruction. This appeared to 
me inconsistent with the public good, because, if we reach- 
ed Martinique, I had no doubt of a passage, and my arrival 
in France eight weeks sooner or later did not appear to 
me of equal importance to the United States with the frig- 
ate. Had the crew been left on board, it must have been 
with a view of saving the ship, either by her reaching Eu- 
rope or the West Indies. The probability of her effecting 
either became then a most important question, as the lives 
of between two and three hundred Americans depended 
on the event. Against it were opposed the dangers of the 
seas, and the want of provisions ; the former would have 
increased with the approach of winter, and therefore the 
longer the ship v/as detained to the northward, the more 
she had to suffer, and to fear. The frigate after having 
landed us on either of the Islands, must either have gone 


on towards Europe, or endeavored to get to the West 

All the considerations abovementioned opposed the first, 
and whoever compares the time necessary for a voyage for 
a ship under jury masts, and almost without a rudder, from 
the banks of Newfoundland to the Azores or Canaries, 
and from thence to the West Indies, with our stock of pro- 
visions, will find them inadequate to the purpose, and be 
convinced of the cruelty of subjecting one's fellow citizens 
to such extremities. For these reasons I positively refused 
to join in this system. 

As to the position in favor of going to Europe, that we 
should find the seas calmer as we advanced eastward, 
equally as we went southward, all the officers of the ship 
testified against it, nor would they admit that we had as 
much to dread from calms as from hard gales. The sup- 
posed difficulty of obtaining a passage from Martinique 
made but little impression on me. I could not suppose 
the Islands left unprotected by ships of war, or that the 
commanding officer would refuse to order a frigate on this 
service, if M. Gerard would represent it to be of importance, 
which I was sure he would do. How long our ship nnght 
be refitting here was not to be ascertained, but I could not 
prevail upon myself to believe, that the King of France 
would keep so considerable a fleet in those seas, without 
providing for the usual accidents they would be exposed 
to from the sea and the enemy. At the worst the ship 
would be in a safe port, and among a people bound by 
treaties and by interest to afford aid and protection, at 
least until Congress should be informed of her situaiion, 
and have an opportunity of providing for her wants. As 
to ourselves, in case we meet with the imagined difficulties 
VOL. vii. 24 

186 JOHN JAY. 

respecting a passage, it would be easy by passing over to 
St Eustatia to get very safely in a Dutch ship to Holland. 

On these reasons the advice I gave to the captain to 
come here was founded. I thought them right then, and 
was daily more and more confirmed in an opinion of their 
propriety. In the course of our run here, we had all the 
way fine, fair breezes; and, except in the latitude of Ber- 
muda, smooth seas and scarce any calms. The night be- 
fore we made the land, it was thought proper to lay the 
ship too, after the moon set, which was between twelve 
and one o'clock, and she continued in that position only 
four hours and a half. Such, however, was the effect of it 
upon the rudder, and so much damage did it receive from 
it, that had the ship continued as much longer in the same 
state, it was agreed on all sides, that the rudder would 
have been rendered useless. 

M. Gerard, hurt by being disappointed in his expecta- 
tion of being seasonably in France, and perhaps mortified 
at my preferring my own sentiments to his, ceased to ob- 
serve that cordiality and frankness, which had before at- 
tended his conduct towards me. Nay, he once went so 
far as to tell me 1 had my reasons for coming here. I 
appeared not to understand him, and continued to endeavor 
to render the conversation as light and general as possible. 
This was a tax imposed on my feelings by regard to public 
good ; as a private man, I shoftld have acted differently. 

Thus matters continued till about ten or twelve days 
before our arrival here, when M. Gerard observed to me 
in the presence of the captain, that it was time to think 
which side of the island of Martinique it would be most 
prudent for the ship to go, the north or south side, and 
proceeded to state the reasons which ought to induce us to 


prefer the north ; particularly, that in the present condition 
of the ship, she would if she went to the south side be in 
great danger of running by the island to the leeward ; for 
that as we might expect the wind at northeast, she would 
not be able to lay sufficiently close to the wind, to reach 
Port Royal or St Pierre's ; besides, that she would be in 
danger of calms, and being in sight of St Lucia, would be 
exposed to the enemy's ships of war, without having reason 
to expect succor from any French ships of war ; none of 
which, he said, cruised off the eastern part of the island, 
between Martinique and St Lucia. He then showed the 
advantages of going the other side, by an enumeration of 
many circumstances, of which I have notes, but which it 
would be too tedious to mention. The obvious meaning 
of all this appeared to me to be, that we should direct the 
captain to go to the northward of the island ; but as I 
neither thought myself authorised, nor found myself in- 
clined to interfere with the particular navigation of the ship, 
to which I was not competent, I only observed to M. Ge- 
rard, that his reasoning appeared to me to have weight ; 
that it was a subject I did not understand, but that I thought 
his observations merited attention. On this the captain 
remarked, and I thought with propriety, that it was impos- 
sible to determine on which side of the island it would be 
best to go, ijntil we were at or near the parting point, for 
that circumstances at present unforeseen might render that 
way rash, which we might now think prudent ; for instance, 
an unexpected change in the wind, or the appearance of an 
enemy. He therefore thought a decision of the question 
improper, till we arrived off the eastern part of the islnnd. 
This appeared to me so perfectly reasonable, that I thought 
no more about the matter, and I did not su?pect that M. 

188 JOHN JAY. 

Gerard would have felt any further anxiety about it ; but 
it nevertheless so happened, that in the afternoon of the 
14th instant, there was a conversation in the cabin relative 
to a wager, which of the two we should see first, land or a 
sail. In the course of this conversation, M. Gerard ob- 
served, that it would depend on our going on the north or 
south side of the island, and insensibly leaving the subject 
of the wager, proceeded minutely to recapitulate his rea- 
sons for the one, and his objections to the other. In the 
progress of this disquisition, he grew warmer and warmer, 
and at length addressing himself more particularly to the 
captain, said, he was surprised that those facts and ob- 
servations should meet with so little attention ; that he 
owed it to his conscience and personal safety to mention 
and enforce them, and that he should represent the whole 
matter to his Court, k,c. The captain repeated what he 
had before said relative to the impropriety of deciding on 
which side of the island we were to go, until we had made 
the land, observed whether any vessels were on the coast, 
and knew how the wind would be. He then questioned 
some matters relative to the navigation round the island, on 
which M. Gerard had insisted. 

For ray own part, as the subject was so serious, 1 wished 
to be informed of some others, which appeared to me to 
want explanation. The captain had informed me, that the 
master had been at the taking of Martinique last vvar, and 
was well acquainted with its bays, harbors, and coasts. I 
desired the captain to send for the master, which was im- 
mediately done. On this, M. Gerard more animated than 
usual, said, he pretended to no extraordinary knowledge on 
the subject, but that he had made inquiries, and was satis- 
fied with the opinion he had given ; then repeated what he 


had before said, about his conscience, personal safety, and 
Court, and was opening the door to go on deck, when 1 
asked him if he would not stay, and hear what the master 
had to say. He said, no, he did not want to hear any- 
thing farther about it ; he had done his duty in delivering 
what he had to us, and we might do as we pleased about 
the matter. 1 made no reply, but proceeded lo examine 
the master, and one of the lieutenants. On tiie whole it 
did not appear to me necessary, but on the contrary invid- 
ious to give the captain any positive orders on the subject ; 
nor did I enter into any farther conference respecting it 
with M. Gerard. I knew that no good would result from 
altercation, and that the best way of treating unreasonable 
propositions, cavalierly dictated, was silently to go my own 
way, uninfluenced by them. 

This last business rendered M. Gerard still more dissatis- 
fied with me. We observed, nevertheless, and still observe 
great politeness towards each other, but it proceeds more 
from the head than the heart. On coming ashore, I flat- 
tered myself we should have left all these controversies 
behind us ; but this city was soon entertained with them. 
The opinions of French officers were taken by M. Gerard 
about the sufficiency of the rudder to have gone to Europe ; 
the question about the northern and southern navigation 
was stated and agitated. M. Gerard claims the merit of 
having saved the ship, by having, as he insinuates, dragged 
us into the measure of taking the northern passage, he. &tc. 
As we are safe in the harbor, these matters are now of no 
consequence, and therefore i constantly avoid the subject. 
How they may be represented at Philadelphia is of some 
moment, and therefore it appears to me expedient to trou- 
ble myself and Congress with this narration. 

190 JOHN JAl. 

I cannot conclude this letter without expressing my sat- 
isfaction with the attention and politeness observed by the 
captain and other officers towards the passengers, as far at 
least as r^y knowledge extends. 
1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



St Pierre's, Martinique, December 25th, 1779. 

As singular instances of humanity and patriotism always 
merit, and sometimes meet with public notice, I take the 
liberty of transmitting to Congress a copy of the Rev. Mr 
Keith's narrative of the conduct of a Mrs Smith, at New 
York, to the Americans there, who had been taken at Fort 

Conversing, while at sea, with Mr Keith (our chaplain, 
who had been one of those prisoners) respecting the cruel- 
ties exercised towards them by the enemy, and the manner 
in which they were treated by the inhabitants of the city, he 
mentioned the behavior of this Mrs Smith ; whose conduct 
appeared to me so remarkably liberal, disinterested, and 
christianlike, that I desired him to commit it to paper, with 
a design to enclose it to your Excellency. I know nothing 
more of this woman than what Mr Keith told me ; but, as 
from his profession and character I am induced to credit 
what he says, 1 transmit this account of her, that if, on fur- 
ther inquiry, it be found to be just. Congress may have an 
opportunity of saving from poverty and distress a widow, 
who generously divested herself of a decent maintenance, 
and applied it to the relief of many citizens and servants of 
the United States, who were then gloriously enduring the 


most extreme cruelties, for their faithful attachment to the 

rights of their country and mankind. 

I have the honor to be, &.c. 



St Pierre's, Martinique, December 25lh, 1779. 

I have done, what perhaps I shall be blamed for, but 
my pride as an American, and my feelings as a man, were 
not on this occasion to be resisted. The officers of the 
Confederacy were here without money, or the means of 
getting any. The idea of our officers being obliged to 
sneak, as they phrase it, from the company of French offi- 
cers, for fear of running in debt with them for a bottle of 
wine, or a bowl of punch, because not able to pay for their 
share of the reckoning, was too humiliating to be tolerable, 
and too destructive to that pride and opinion of indepen- 
dent equality, which I wish to see influence all our officers. 
Besides, some of them wanted necessaries too much to be 
comfortable, or, in this country, decent. In a word, I r 
have drawn on the fund, pointed out for the payment of 
part of my salary, for one hundred guineas in their favor, 
to be divided among them according to their respective 
ranks. Indeed, it would have given me pleasure to have 
done something towards covering the nakedness of the 
crew ; but the expense I have been put to by coming 
here, and the preparations for another voyage, would not 
admit of it. 

I have the honor to be, &£c. 


192 JOHN JAY. 


St Pierre's, Martinique, December 26th, 1779. 


On our arrival here, M. Gerard told me that he was about 
to write to the Governor and Admiral at Port Royal, and 
asked me whether I also chose to write, or would leave to 
him the necessary communication ; offering to mention to 
them whatever I might desire. As I was well satisfied 
that he should take the lead in the business, I replied, that 
I was obliged to him, but did not think it necessary for 
him to communicate anything to those gentlemen from 
me, except our arrival, and the confidence I had in their 
readiness to afford us aid. 

I thouglit it would have been improper to apply for a 
passage in one of their ships, till I know in what time our 
own could be refitted, and on this subject it appeared to 
me most advisable, that application should be made by our 
agent here ; and that I should reserve all interference, till 
it should be rendered necessary by obstacles. Mr Bing- 
ham accordingly wrote without delay to the Governor, 
and had immediate and full assurances of his readiness to 
afford us every aid in his power. Nothing now remained 
to be ascertained, but the time in which the repairs could 
be made, and this depended on the state of their naval 

Mr Bingham went with us to Port Royal, on a visit to 
the officers of government, (a compliment paid them by 
all strangers.) The Governor again assured him, that 
everything should be done for the ship that was possible, 
and some orders were given for the purpose. This 
passed, I believe, without M. Gerard's knowledge. About 


iwo hours after oui- arrival at Port Royal, he took me 
aside, observed that great difficulties and delays would at- 
tend the Confederacy's refitting there ; that there were no 
masts or spars in store, and the expectation of supplies un- 
certain ; that an old mast of a merchant-man had been 
purchased for one of their ships of war, and that a main 
yard for another had been made of four pieces for want 
of a proper spar, and, after some general hints about ex- 
penses, provision, he. proposed, that the frigate should be 
provided with a new rudder, and proceed to America to 
refit. 1 objected, that, contrary to our expectations, the 
English had an acknowledged superiority in these seas ; 
that three French frigates were at that instant flying from 
four ships of the line, which were in full chase of theni; 
that a frigate under jury masts would find no safety in 
flight ; that it would be more prudent for Captain Hard- 
ing to remain here without being refitted, till he could get 
materials and supplies from America, or receive orders 
from Congress, than expose his ship to such imminent 
danger, and, therefore, that I could not possibly come into 
the measure he proposed. 

M. Gerard replied, that she might be convoyed to sea 
by the French squadron here ; but this required no an- 
swer. It was not to be supposed, that the French squad- 
ron, which, in their present state of inferiority, choose to 
keep their eyes constantly on Port Royal, would expose 
themselves to very unequal combat, for no higher object 
than that of convoying the Confederacy seventy or eighty 
leagues oft' the coast, or, that if they did, she would then 
be out of that degree of danger, to which no ship in her 
condition ought to be exposed. Besides, I could not 
reconcile it to the wisdom of France long to leave their 
VOL. vii. 25 

194 JOHN JAY. 

fleet here destitute of naval stores, or to disgust their allies 
by a conduct neither just nor politic. We agreed to leave 
the matter till the next day, when we expected to see the 
Admiral ; but in an hour or two afterwards the Admiral 
came in ; and a very little time elapsed when the Gover- 
nor, and shortly after M. Gerard told me, the ^Hohole ar- 
rangement was completed ; that the same attention should 
be paid to the Confederacy as if she had been a French 
frigate, and that the Aurora, of thirty odd guns, should 
carry us to France." The fact is, that the officers of gov- 
ernment in general, and the Governor in particular, are 
strongly attached to everything that is American. 

Our agent here is in high estimation. 1 really believe, 
from everything I hear, that he has done his duty faith- 
fully, and that he well deserves the notice and approbation 
of Congress. This leads me to take the liberty of re- 
marking, that it would, probably, be much for the public 
interest, if Congress were to pay off all private debts due 
from them to subjects of France, and have none but 
national engagements with that kingdom. The debts un- 
avoidably contracted here, for the outfit of the Deane, &.c. 
ought certainly to be paid. Our credit and reputation 
suffer from such delay. We sail tomorrow morning, at 
six o'clock. 

I have the honor to be, &,c. 



Cadiz, January 26th, 1780. 

As a knowledge of the measures you may have taken 

and the information you may have acquired, relative to 


the objects of your commission from the United States 
of America to conclude treaties with his Catholic Maj- 
esty, would probably enable me with greater facility and 
advantage to execute the duties of my appointment, per- 
mit me. Sir, to request the favor of you to communicate 
the same to me in such manner as you may judge most 

1 have in my possession some letters directed to you ; 
they are voluminous, and probably contain printed papers. 
They may also be conOdential and important to you. 
Under these circumstances I can only judge of your 
inplination by what would be my own in a similar situa- 
tion. I should wish that they might be detained till I 
could have an opportunity of directing the manner of their 
conveyance. Upon this principle they shall remain among 
my papers till I receive your orders what to do with 

I am, Sir, &;c. 



Cadiz, January 27th, 1780. 

It is with very sensible pleasure that I commence a cor- 
respondence with a Minister, of whose disposition and 
abilities to promote the happiness of my country we have 
received repeated proofs, and on a subject that affords 
His Most Christian Majesty an opportunity of perceiving 
the desire and endeavors of the United States to be- 

See the auswer to this letter in Arthur Lees Correspondence, 
Vol II. p. 276. 


come cordial and steadfast friends and allies to an illustri- 
ous branch of his royal house. 

By the treaties subsisting between His Most Christian 
Majesty and the United States of America, His Most 
Christian Majesty, in consequence of his intimate union 
with the King of Spain, did expressly reserve to his Cath- 
olic Majesty the power of acceding to the said treaties, 
and to participate in their stipulations at such time as he 
should judge proper. It being well understood, neverthe- 
less, that if any of the said stipulations should not be agree- 
able to the King of Spain, his Catholic Majesty might pro- 
pose other conditions analogous to the principal aim of the 
alliance, and conformable to the rules of equity, reciproc- 
ity, and friendship. And the Deputy of the said States, 
empowered to treat with Spain, did promise to sign, on 
the first requisition of his Catholic Majesty, the act or acts 
necessary to communicate to him the stipulations of the 
treaties abovementioned, and to endeavor in good faith the 
adjustment of the points in which the King of Spain might 
propose any alteration, conformable to the principles of 
equality, i^^rocity, and perfect amity. 

But asilie above reservation has always been no less 
agreeable to the United States than to their great and 
good ally, both considerations conspired in inducing them 
to make the first advances towards attaining the object ol it. 
And, therefore, instead of waiting till the requisitions men- 
tioned in the said article should be made, they have thought 
proper to assure his Most Catholic Majesty, not only of 
their readiness to comply with the terms of it, but of their 
desire to obtain his confidence and alliance, by carrying 
it immediately into execution on the most liberal princi- 
ples. Trusting also that the same wise reasons which 


induced his Most Christisii Majesty to give birtli to the 
said article, would lead him to facilitate the endeavors of 
his allies to execute it, they resolved that their desire to 
enter into the said treaties should be communicated to his 
Majesty, 'and that his favorable interposition should be 

The more fully to effect these purposes, the Congress 
were pleased, in September last, to do me the honor of 
appointing me their Minister Plenipotentiary, and, in pur- 
suance gft this appointment, I sailed from America for 
France on the 26th of October last, with M. Gerard, who 
was so obliging as to wait till I could embark in the frig- 
ate assigned for his service. After being thirteen days at 
sea, the frigate was dismasted, and lier rudder so much 
damaged that it was thought imprudent to proceed on our 
voyage. We therefore steered for Martinique, and arrived 
there on the 18th of December. I cannot, on this occa- 
sion, forbear expressing my warmest acknowledgments for 
the very polite attention and hospitality with which we 
were received and treated, both by the officers of govern- 
ment and many respectable inhabitants of that island. We 
left Martinique on the 28th day of the same month, in the 
Aurora, in which I expected to have gone to Toulon, 
but on touching at this place, it appeared that the further 
prosecution of our voyage had become impracticable with- 
out running risks that could not be justified. 

Thus circumstanced, the respect due to his most Cath- 
olic Majesty demanded an immediate communication of 
my appointment and arrival, which I Jiad the honor to 
make in a letter to his Excellency, Don Joseph Galvez, 
of the Council of his Catholic Majesty, and general Secre- 
tary of State for the Department of the Indies, of which 
the enclosed is a copy. 


Will you, therefore, Sir, be so obliging as to lay this cir- 
curiistance before his Most Christian Majesty, and perntiit 
me through your Excellency to assure him of the desire 
of Congress to enter into a treaty of alliance, and of amity 
and commerce with his Catholic Majesty, and to request 
his favorable interposition for that purpose ? 

I am happy in being able to assure you, that the United 
States consider a cordial union between France, Spain 
and them as a very desirable and most important object, 
and they view the provision, which his Most Christian 
Majesty has made for it by the aboveraenlioned article, 
not only as evinsive of his attention to his royal ally, but 
of his regard to them. 

Under these views and these impressions, they are most 
sincerely disposed, by the liberality and candor of their 
conduct, to render the proposed treaties speedy in their 
accomplishment, and perpetual in their duration. 

Your Excellency will receive this letter by M. Gerard, 
who is so obliging as to take charge of it, and to whom the 
Congress have been pleased to give such ample testimo- 
nies of their esteem and confidence, as to enable him to 
exert his talents with great advantage on every occasion 
interesting to them. 

1 cannot conclude without indulging myself in the pleas- 
ure of acknowledging how much we are indebted to the. 
politeness and attention of the Marquis de La Flolte, and 
the other officers of the Aurora, during the course of our 

With great respect and esteem, I have the honor to 
be, &c. 




Cadiz, January 27th, 1780. 

Permit me tiiroiigh your Excellency to have the honor 
of representing to his most Catholic Majesty, that on the 
sixth day of February, 1778, the respective Plenipoten- 
tiaries of his most Christian Majesty, and the United States 
of America, by whom the treaties now subsisting between 
them were concluded^ did make and subscribe a secret 
article in the words following, viz. 

"The Most Christian King declares, in consequence of 
the intimate union whicli subsists between him and the 
King of Spain, that in concluding with the United States 
of America this treaty of amity and commerce, anlt that 
of eventual and defensive alliance, his Majesty had intend- 
ed, and intends to reserve expressly, as he reserves by this 
present separate and secret act, to his Catholic Majesty, 
the power of acceding to the said treaties and to participate 
in their stipulations, at such time as he shall judge proper. 
It being well understood, nevertheless, that if any of the 
stipulations of the said treaties are not agreeable to the 
King of Spain, his Catholic Majesty may propose other 
conditions analagous to the principal aim of the alliance, 
and conformable to the rules of equality, reciprocity and 
friendship. The deputies of the United States, in the 
name of their constituents, accept the present declaration 
to its full extent ; and the deputy of the said States, who 
is fully empowered to treat with Spain, promises to sign, 
on the first requisition of his Catholic Majesty, the act or 
acts necessary to communicate to him the stipulations of 

200 JOHN JAY. 

the treaties above written. And the said deputy shall en- 
deavor, in good faith, the adjustment of the points in which 
the King of Spain may propose any alteration, conforma- 
ble to the principles of equality, reciprocity, and perfect 
amity ; he the said deputy not doubting but the person ot 
persons, empowered by his Catholic Majesty to treat with 
the United States, will do the same with regard to any 
alterations of the same kind, that may be thought neces- 
sary by the said Plenipotentiary of the United Stales." 

The Congress willing to manifest their readiness fully 
to comply with an article, which they have reason to believe 
particularly agreeable to their great and good ally, and 
being desirous of establishing perpetual amity and harmony 
with a Prince and nation whom they greatly respect, and 
with whom various circumstances lead them to wish for 
the most cordial and permanent friendship, have thought 
proper to request his most Catholic Majesty to accede to 
the said treaties, and thereby preclude the necessity of 
that measure's originating in the manner specified in the 
article. For this purpose they have done me the honor 
to appoint me Minister Plenipotentiary, and directed me 
to communicate to his Most Christian Majesty the desire 
of Congress on this subject, and to request his favorable 
interposition. They also made it my duty to give his 
Most Catholic Majesty the fullest assurances of their sin- 
cere disposition to cultivate his friendship and confidence; 
and authorised me, in their behalf, to enter into such treaties 
of aUiance, amity, and commerce, as would become the 
foundations of perpetual peace to Spain and the United 
States, and the source of extensive advantages to both. 

Thus commissioned I embarked without delay on board 
the frigate, which had been appointed to carry the Sieur 


Gerard to France, ai^d sailed with him for that kingdom, 
from Pennsylvania, on the 2Gth day of October last. 

But after having been thirteen days at sea, the frigate 
was dismasted, and her rudder so greatly injured, as to 
oblige us to alter our course and steer for Martinique. 
We arrived there on the 18th day of December last ; and 
sailed from thence on the 28th day of the same month in 
a French frigate which was bound to Toulon, but had 
orders to touch at this port for intelligence. We arrived 
here the 22d instant, and received information of recent 
events, which rendered the further prosecution of our 
voyage too hazardous to be prudent. 

Providence having thus been pleased to bring me direct- 
ly to Spain, the respect due to his most Catholic Majesty 
forbids me to postpone communicating to him my appoint- 
ment and arrival ; and the same motive will induce me 
to remain here till he shall be pleased to signify to me his 
pleasure. For although nodiing would afford me more 
sensible pleasure, than the honor of presenting to his Maj- 
esty the despatches, which I am charged by Congress to 
deliver to him, yet on this, as on every other occasion, it 
shall be my study to execute the trust reposed in me, in 
the manner most pleasing to his Majesty, agreeable to the 
true inient and meaning of the article abovementioned. 

And that his most Christian Majesty may have the high- 
est evidence of the intention and desire of Congress fully 
and faithfully to execute this article, I shall immediately do 
myself the honor of communicating the* same, together 
with my appointment and arrival ; and I flatter myself, that 
the request of Congress for his favorable interposition, will 
meet with the same friendly attention, which he has uni- 
formly extended to all their concerns, and of which I am 
VOL. VII. 26 

202 JOHN JAY. 

too sensible not to derive the highest satisfaction from ac- 
knowledging it on every occasion. 

Mr Carmichael, my Secretary, will have the honor of 
delivering this despatch to your Excellency, as well as of 
giving every information in his power to afford. This gen- 
tleman was a member of Congress at the time of his ap- 
pointment, and will be able more fully to express the ardor 
with which the United States desire to establish a union 
with France and Spain, on principles productive of such 
mutual attachment and reciprocal benetits, as to secure to 
each the blessings of uninterrupted tranquillity. 

I have the honor to be, with great consideration and 

respect, &i.c. 


P. S. I do myself the honor of transmitting to your 
Excellency, herewith enclosed, a copy of my letter to his 
Excellency the Count de Vergennes. 


Cadiz, January 27th, 1780. 


This morning M. Gerard set out from this city for 
France, and Mr Carmichael, charged with despatches from 
me to the Spanish Ministry, accompanies him as far as 

We arrived«here the 22d inst. and I have been so much 
engaged ever since in preparing letters, &tc. as not to have 
an opportunity of writing circumstantially to your Excel- 
lency by Captain Proctor, who I am told is to sail early 
in the morning for the Delaware or Chesapeake. 


We left Martinique on the 28th of December, in the 
Aurora frigate, bound to Toulon. On touching here for 
intelligence we were informed, that the enemy had ac- 
quired a decided superiority in the Mediterranean, and that 
the coast was infested by their cruisers, all of whom we 
had fortunately escaped. Hence it became improper for 
me to proceed to France by water, and it would in my 
opinion have been indelicate, and therefore imprudent to 
have passed silently through this kingdom to that, for the 
purpose of making a communication to his most Christian 
Majesty, which could be fully conveyed by paper. On 
this subject I shall lake the liberty of making a few further 
remarks in a future letter. 

Congress will be enabled to judge of the propriety and 
plan of my conduct, from the papers herewith enclosed, 
viz. a copy of a letter to M. Galvez, the Spanish Minis- 
ter ; a copy of a letter to the Count de Vergennes ; of 
both these 1 have sent copies to Dr Franklin ; a copy 
of a letter to Mr Arthur Lee ; and a copy of my instruc- 
tions to INIr Carmichael. 

It is in pursuance of what appears to ine to be my duty, 
that I shall render frequent, particular, and confidential ac- 
counts of my proceedings to Congress. I flatter myself 
care will be taken to prevent the return of them to Europe. 
I have the honor to be, &cc. 



Cadiz, January 27th, 1780. 
You will proceed to Madrid with convenient expedition, 
and if M. Gerard, with whom you set out, should travel 

204 JOHN JAY. 

too deliberately, I advise you to go on before him. The 
propriety of this, however, will depend much on circum- 
stances, and must be determined by your own discretion. 

On delivering my letter to M. Galvez, it would be 
proper to intimate, that I presumed it would be tnore 
agreeable to him to receive my despatches from you, who 
could give him information on many matters about which 
he might choose to inquire, than in the ordinary modes of 
conveyance. And it may not be amiss to let Jjim know, 
that his not receiving notice of our arrival from me by M. 
Gerard's courier, was owing to a mistake between that 
gentleman and me. 

Treat the French Ambassador with great attention and 
candor, and that degree of confidence only, which pru- 
dence, and the alliance between us may prescribe. In 
your conversations with people about the Court, impress 
them with an idea of our strong attachment to France ; 
yet, so as to avoid permitting them to imbibe an opinion of 
our being under the direction of any counsels but our own. 
The former will induce them to think well of our con- 
stancy and good faith, the latter, of our independence and 
self respect. 

Discover, if possible, whether the Courts of Madrid and 
Versailles entertain, in any degree, the same mutual dis- 
gusts, which we are told prevail at present between the 
two nations, and be cautious when you tread on this deli- 
cate ground. It would also be useful to know who are 
the King's principal confidants, and the trains leading to 

To treat prudently with any nation, it is essential to 
know the state of its revenues. Turn your attention, 
therefore, to this object, and endeavor to learn whether the 


public expenditures consume their annual income, or 
whether there be any, and what overplus or deficiency, 
and the manner in which the former is disposed of, or the 
latter supplied. 

If an opportunity should offer, inform yourself as to the 
regulations of the press at Madrjd, and, indeed, throughout 
the kingdom ; and the particular character of the person 
at the head of that department. Endeavor to find some 
person of adequate abilities and knowledge in the two lan- 
guages, to translate English into Spanish with propriety, 
and, if possible, elegance. I wish also to know, which of 
the religious orders, and the individuals of it, are most es- 
teemed and favored at Court. 

■ Mention, as matter of intelligence, rather than in tha 
way of argument, the cruelties of the enemy, and the in- 
fluence of that conduct on the passions of Americans. 
This will be the more necessary, as it seems we are sus- 
pected of retaining our former attachments to l^ritnin. 

In speaking of American affairs, remember to do justice 
to Virginia, and the western country near the Missis- 
sippi. Recount their achievements against the savages, 
their growing numbers, extensive settlements, and aversion 
to Britain, for attempting to involve them in the liorrors of 
an Indian war. Let it appear also from your representa- 
tions, that ages will be necessary to settle those extensive 

Let it be inferred from your conversation, that the ex- 
pectations of America, as to my reception and success, are 
sanguine ; that they have been rendered the more so by 
the suggestions of persons generally supposed to speak 
from authority, and that a disappointment would be no less 
unwelcome than unexpected. 

206 JOHN JAY. 

1 am persuaded, that pains will be taken to delay my 
receiving a decided answer as to my reception, until the 
sentiments of France shall be known. Attempts will also 
be made to suspend llie acknowledgment of our indepen- 
dence, on the condition of our acceding to certain terms of 
treaty. Do nothing to cherish eitiier of these ideas ; but, 
without being explicit, treat the latter in a manner ex- 
pressive of regret and apprehension, and seem to consider 
my reception as a measure, which we hoped would be im- 
mediately taken, although the business of the negotiation 
might be postponed till France could have an opportunity 
of taking the steps she might think proper on the occasion. 

You will offer to transmit to me any despatches, which 
M. Galvez may think proper to confide to you ; or to re- 
turn with them yourself, if more agreeable to him. 

You will be attentive to all other objects of useful in- 
formation, such as the characters, views, and connexions of 
important individuals ; the plan of operations for the next 
campaign ; whether any, and what secret overtures have 
been made by Britain to France, or Spain, or by either of 
them to her, or each other ; whether any of the other 
powers have manifested a disposition to take a part in the 
war ; and whether it is probable that any, and which of 
them, will become mediators for a general peace, and on 
what plan. If ihe war should continue, it would be ad- 
vantageous to know whether Spain means to carry on any 
serious operations for possessing herself of the Floridas, 
and banks of the Mississippi, he. he. Stc. 

Although I have confidence in your prudence, yet per- 
mit me to recommend to you the greatest circumspection. 
Command yourself under every circumstance ; on the one 
hand, avoid being suspected of servility, and on the other, 


let your temper be always even, and your allention unro- 

You will oblige me by being very regular and circum- 
stantial in your correspondence, and commit nothing of a 
private nature to paper unless in cypher. 



Madrid, February 15th, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 
I arrived in this city late in the evening of the lltli, 
after a tedious and disagreeable journey. The next day, 
although much indisposed, I waited on the French Am- 
bassador, who had, by a message over night, requested ]M. 
Gerard to engage me to dinner. I was received by him 
and all his family in the most friendly manner, and was 
offered every service in his power, to render us without 
those personal professions, which give birth to many un- 
meaning words and more suspicion. Indeed, I have nei- 
ther expressions nor time to represent the apparent candor 
and liberality of his sentiments. He entered fully into the 
good disposition of his Court, and informed me, that the 
King, as a further proof of his friendship for us, had 
agreed to pay us annually the additional sum of three 
millions of livres during the continuance of the war, in 
order to enable us to purchase the necessaries for our 
army, &c. he. and that his Majesty had also determined 
to send a considerable marine and land force early in the 
year to America, to be at the disposition and under the 
direction of our General. Seventeen sail of the line, 
and four thousand troops, are also to be sent to the West 

208 JOHiN JAY. 

Indies, if they have not ah-eady sailed. Judge after this, if 
attention, candor, and apparent unreservedness, were not 
the more necessary on my part. 

On inquiring, I found that M. Galvez was at ll-^ Pardo, 
about two leagues from Madrid, where the King resides at 
present, and in the course of conversation discovered, that 
the proper channel of address ought to have been through 
the Count de Florida Blanca. 

The Ambassador offered to introduce me, but as this 
could not be done with propriety without previous appli- 
cation, he undertook to make it the day following, and to 
fix the time for my reception by both, and I think the man- 
ner will be the sole difficulty. 

Among other circumstances, which induce this conclu- 
sion, is the certain knowledge I have obtained, that M. 
Mirales received instructions several months past to enter 
into engagements with Congress, to take into pay a body 
of troops to assist in the conquest of Florida. Your own 
good sense will point out the use, which may be made of 
this intelligence. It answers to one point of the instruc- 
tions, which I had the honor to receive from you. The 
short time 1 have been in this city has not hitherto given 
me an opportunity of writing so circumstantially as I could 
wish, in the matters abovementioned, and much less of giv- 
ing a decided opinion on many objects contained iij your 
instructions. I find, however, hitherto no difficulty in ac- 
quiring in time a knowledge on most of the subjects re- 
commended to my attention. 

I have reason to believe, that the same disgusts do not 
subsist between the Crowns as between the nations, but 
the most perfect harmony and good understanding. 

1 have been positively assured, and from good authority, 
that no overtures have been made for peace. 


The Dutch are arming, which is a circumstance in our 
favor, as their preparations originate from their discontent 
with England, on account of the late affair of the convoy. 

Mr Harrison is here, and proposes to proceed to Cadiz 
next week, which will furnish iiie a good opportunity of 
writing to you. I enclose you the last paper received from 
America ; the people were in high spirits, and everything 
in a good state in the beginning of January. 

I cannot conclude without mentioning the very polite 
manner in which the French Ambassador offered his per- 
sonal civilities in everything, that depended on him, to be 
useful to you in this place. 

]\]. Gerard will write to you himself, yet I must do him 
the justice to mention his personal kindness to me, and the 
candid representations he has made in every public com- 
pany here of the prosperous situation of our affairs-^^-^ 
I have the honor to be, &.c. 



Cadiz, February 20th, 1780. 


The papers herewith enclosed are duplicates of those, 
which I had the honor of transmitting to your Excellency 
by Captain Desaussure. As yet I have received no intel- 
ligence from IMadrid, owing I believe to the extreme bad- 
ness of the roads. 

When at Martinique, 1 informed Congress by letter, 

dated the 25th of December last, that I had drawn a bill 

in favor of the officers of the Confederacy on Dr Franklin, 

for one hundred guineas. At the time that letter was 

VOL. vn. 27 

210 JOHN JAY. 

written, I had made the officers that promise, and had 
directed the bills to be made out accordingly, but just as I 
was coming away and closing accounts with Mr Bingham, 
he, perceiving that the money I was about to dr^w for the 
officers was to come out of my salary, in the. first instance, 
was so obliging as to offer to advance that sum on the 
credit of Congress, and thereby save me the necessity of 
drawing. I accepted his offer, and gave notice of it to the 
officers by Mr Lawrence, the clerk of the frigate. 
I have the honor to be, &ic. 




Pardo, February 24th, 1780. 
Having received by the hands of Don Joseph de Galvez, 
the letter wiiich your Excellency sent by Mr Carmichael, 
and having communicated the contents to his Majesty, 1 
have it in command to inform you, that his Majesty highly 
approves the choice, which the American Congress have 
made of you to the trust mentioned in your letter, as well 
on account of the high estimation in which his Majesty 
holds the members who made the choice, as the informa- 
tion he has received of your probity, talents, and abilities. 
His Majesty also received with pleasure the information of 
the desire which the Colonies have to form a connexion 
with Spain, of whose good disposition they have already 
received strong proofs. Nevertheless, his Majesty thinks 
it necessary in the first place, that the manner, the forms, 
and the mutual correspondence should be settled, upon 


which that Union must be founded, which the United 
Slates of America desire to establish with this monarchy. 
For this purpose there is no obstacle to your Excellency's 
coming to this Court, in order to explain your intentions 
and those of the Congress, and to hear those of his Maj- 
esty, and by that means settling a basis upon which a per- 
fect friendship may be established, and also its extent and 

His Majesty thinks, that until these points are setded, as 
he hopes they will be, it is not proper for your Excellency 
to assume a formal character, which must depend on a 
public acknowledgment and future treaty. But your 
Excellency may be assured of the sincerity and good dis- 
positions of his Majesty towards the United States, and of 
his earnest desire to remove every difficulty, for the mutual 
happiness of'them and of this monarchy. This has been 
intimated to Mr Carmichael, who can communicate the 
same to your Excellency, to whom I beg leave to make a 
tender of my service, being, &;c. 



Cadiz, February 25th, 1780. 
Dear Sir, 

Your favor of the 15th instant was delivered to me 
last evening. I congratulate you on your safe arrival, and 
hope the agreeable circumstances of your present situa- 
tion will compensate for the fatigue and trouble you ex- 
perienced on the way to it. 

It gives me pleasure to hear the Fre.ich Ambassador 
has been so obliging, and I am glad to find from your 

212 JOHiN JAY. 

letter, that your attentions to him at least keep pace with 
his civilities, especially as you are no stranger to the dis- 
tinction between the candor and politeness of a gentle- 
man, and that unbounded confidence which is seldom 
necessary. ' 

The intelligence you received IVom him is so agreeable 
and so interesting, that although the nature of it leaves me 
no room to doubt of this having been signified by the 
Court of France to Congress, either through Dr Franklin 
or the Count de la Luzerne, yet as unexpected accidents 
may have retarded its arrival, I shall also transmit it by a 
vessel, which will sail in a few days for Boston. 

I regret your not having been more particular on the 
subject of the mistake you have beei" led to suppose in the 
direction of my letter, as I wish to have the means of de- 
termining whether it was from decisive authority that M. 
Gerard, whose opinion 1 requested on that subject, without 
hesitation told me, that M. Galvez was the Minister with 
whom all business with the United States was to be trans- 
acted, and urged several reasons for his being of that 
opinion. From that gentleman's knowledge of the Courts 
of Europe, and the departments established for the des- 
patch of business in each, particularly with that of Madrid, 
with which his Court had been so long and so intimately 
acquainted, I was induced to desire and confide in his 
information on that point. Very concli*sive reasons, there- 
fore, are necessary to induce a belief of his having been 
mistaken. But as it is of importance that all errors of 
this kind be known, and, if possible, corrected, I must re- 
quest your attention to this matter in your next. 

I am at a loss to determine from your letter whether or 
not you have sent my despatches to M. Galvez. From 


your not having seen that gentleman, nor expecting to be 
introduced to him till the 17th instant, I conjecture that 
my letter did not reach him till that day ; if so, I fear the 
delay will appear as singular to him as I confess it does 
to me. It does the more so to me, as my letter would 
have introduced you, and as you were apprised of my 
apprehension that pains would be taken to delay ray re- 
ceiving a decided answer, as to my reception, until the 
sentiments of France should be known. Perhaps the 
advice you received, as to the time and manner most pro- 
per for the delivery of it, was a little influenced by a de- 
sire of gaining time. I wished to have felt the pulse of 
Spain, and, by their conduct on this occasion, to have been 
enabled to determine whether their councils, with respect 
to the United States, are in any and in what degree inde- 
pendent of those of France, or whether directed by them. 
This would have been very useful in the further progress 
of the business, and might have been easily obtained, had 
my letter been delivered immediately on your arrival, be- 
cause in that case, before the sentiments of the French 
Court could have been asked and received, sufficient time 
would have elapsed to justify your applying to M. Galvez 
for an answer ; and, whatever that might have beeTj, cer- 
tain inferences would have been deducible from it. For 
these reasons, and not from an expectation of oppftsition 
from France, I regret this delay. But as my conjectures 
may prove groundless, and if just, you may have very 
cogent reasons, I forbear further remarks till I shall again 
have the pleasure of hearing from you. 

Are you sure that the intelligence you heard respecting 
M. Mirales is certaini I am sorry by this question to 
lengthen your next letter, especially as writing in cypher is 

214 JOHN JAY. 

tedious and disagreeable. But that intelligence is import- 
ant ; if credited, it may have an influence on American 
n)easures, which, if it should be groundless, might be inju- 
rious. The transmission of information to Congress, by 
which their councils and determinations may be affected, 
is a very delicate business, and demands the greatest care 
and precision. It is not uncommon, you know, for one 
gentleman to think a matter certain, which another of no 
greater discernment, and judging by the same evidence, 
will deem somewhat doubtful. I would choose, there- 
fore, with respect to all interesting intelligence, and par- 
ticularly such as I may transmit to Congress, to possess as 
far as possible every circumstance necessary to form a 
judgment of its credibility, such as the rank and character 
of the informants, and the means they have of acquiring 
the information they give, that 1 may represent it as enti- 
tled to that degree of credit .only, which, on full considera- 
tion, it may appear to deserve. I observe this less with 
reference to the case in question than as a general rule. 
Besides, as we correspond in cypher, no danger can result 
from being explicit. 

I. am well satisfied that the short time you had been at 
Madrid did not admit of your writing on the several sub- 
jects contained in your instructions, on all of which, if 
allowed sufficient time, I am persuaded you will be able 
to obtain important information. However, as the object 
of your going to Madrid was to prevent delays in my re- 
ceiving an answer to the letter to M. Galvez, the other 
instructions, however important, are to be considered as 
secondary, and though I wish that great and constant atten- 
tion may be paid them, yet by no means to the neglect or 
prejudice of the first. 


T am much obliged to you for the American paper en- 
closed in your letter. Everything from our country is 
interesting. If you should find any more of them, whose 
contents afford either information or entertainment, send 
them, and you shall receive from me all I may meet with 
here, which come under that description. 

The letter you gave me reason to expect from M. Ge- 
rard has not yet arrived ; perhaps the next post will bring 
it. On the first occasion I have of writing to him, I shall 
take the liberty of mentioning the sense you have of his 
personal kindness and attention to you. 

The polite offers of the French Ambassador to be use- 
ful to me in all things that depend on him at Madrid, as 
well as his civilities to you, demand my acknowledgments, 
which I must beg the favor of you to present to him. 

I am, Dear Sir, &;c. ^ 



Cadiz, February 29th, 1780. 

I have the honor of transmitting to your Excellency in 
the enclosed papers,* all the intelligence I have received 
from Madrid. Mr Secretary Thompson will decypher 
them. An opinion begins to prevail, that America will be 
the theatre of war the ensuing campaign, and that the 
islands there will be the principal objects of contention. 
I have the honor to be, &£c. 


* See above, p. 207, Mr Carmichael's letter, dated February 15th, 
and Mr Jay's reply, p. 211, dated February 25th. See also a letter 
in Carmichael's Correspondence, dated February 18th. 

216 JOHN JAY. 


Cadiz, March 3d, 1780. 
Sir, ->^ 

Agreeably to my promise to the Marquis de la Flotte, 
I must inform your Excellency, that a Monsieur Jean Guy 
Guatier, merchant at Barcelona, recommended to the 
Marquis by Monsieur Aubere, the French consul there, is 
desirous of becoming the consul of the United States at 
that port. He had been encouraged, as M. Aubere says, 
to expect this appointment by Dr Franklin, but as he 
supposed my arrival would prevent the Doctor's inter- 
ference, it became necessary to make the application to 
me. I told the Marquis that my commission did not 
authorise me to comply with his request, and that all I 
could do would be to mention his friend's application to 

How far it may be proper to grant appointments of this 
sort to any but citizens of America, is a question whose 
importance will not, I am persuaded, escape the notice of 
Congress. A sensible, active consul is a very useful 
officer in many respects, and has many opportunities of 
doing essential services to those who employ him, or to 
whom he may be most attached. It is most certain, that for 
want of proper persons appointed to take care of our dis- 
tressed seamen, who, escaping from captivity at Lisbon, 
Gibraltar, &ic. daily arrive here, America loses many of 
them. Humanity as well as policy calls for this provision. 
I have some of them now with me, destitute of bread 
and money, and almost of clothes, and of the means of 
getting either, unless by entering into the French or 
Spanish service. Such as may arrive here after my going 


10 Madrid will be friendless unless I employ some person 
to take a little care of them, which I shall, take the liberty 
of doing, being fully persuaded that the same principles 
which press me into that measure will induce Congress 
to approve it. 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Cadiz, March 3d, 1780. 

Captain Morgan being slill here, waiting for a fair 
wind, I have an opportunity of transmitting to your Ex- 
cellency a copy of a letter* just come to hand from the 
Count de Florida Blanca, in answer to mine to M. Galvez. 

Being apprehensive that if present I should probably be 
amused with verbal answers capable of being explained 
away if necessary, until the two courts could have time 
to consult and decide on their measures, 1 thought it more 
prudent that my first application should be by letter rather 
than in person. 

The answer in question, divested of the gloss which its 
politeness spreads over it, gives us, I think, to understand, 
that our independence shall be acknowledged, provided we 
accede to certain terms of treaty, but not otherwise"; so 
that the acknowledgment is not to be made because we 
are independent, which would be candid and liberal, but 
because of the previous consideretions we are to give for 
it, which is consistent with the principles on which nations 
usually act. 

* See this letter above, dated February 24th, p. 210. 
VOL. VII. 28 

218 JOHN JAY. 

I shall proceed immediately to Madrid. There are 
many reasons (hereafter to be explained,) which induce 
me to suspect that France is determined to manage 
between us, so as to make us debtors to the'r influence 
and good correspondence with Spain for every concession 
on her part, and to make Spain hold herself obligated to 
their influence and good correspondence with us for every 
concession on our part. Though this may puzzle the 
business, I think it also promotes it. 

M. Gerard has often endeavored to persuade me, that a 
certain resolution of Congress would, if persisted in, ruin 
the business, which however he did not appear much 
inclined to believe, but, on the contrary, that if every 
other matter was adjusted you would not part on that 
point. I assured him that ground had, in my opinion, 
been taken with too much deliberation now to be quitted, 
and that expectations of that kind would certainly deceive 
those who trusted them. And, indeed, as afiairs are now 
circumstanced, it would, in my opinion, be better for 
America to have no treaty with Spain, than to purchase 
one on such servile terms. There was a time when it 
might have been proper to have given that country some- 
thing for their making common cause with us, but that day 
is now past. Spain is at war with Britain. 

I do not like the cypher in which I write, and shall 
therefore defer further particulars till Mr Thompson shall 
receive the one now sent him. 

I have the honor to be, with great respect and esteem, 
your Excellency's most obedient servant, 




Amsterdam, April 6th, 1780. 

We beg leave to congratulate your Excellency on your 
safe arrival in Europe. By principle warmly attached to 
the American cause, we could wish that we saw our 
States in a situation to acknowledge the independence of 
their sister Republic, and though we could only cultivate 
private connexions as yet, we took the liberty to address 
some intelligence to your Excellency when President of 
Congress. We should reckon ourselves extremely happy 
to know whether our letter came to hand before your 
Excellency left Philadelphia, and whether we may form 
any hopes that our zeal may prove successful for the 
benefit, as we intended, of both countries. 

Meanwhile we have the honor to be, with all possible 

regard, &;c. 



Madrid, April 27th, 1730. 


I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 
6th instant, and am much obliged by your kind congratu- 
lations on my arrival in Europe. 

The letters you mention to have written to Congress 
had been received before I left Philadelphia, and referred 
to a committee. This mark of attention was justly due to 
the interest you take in the American cause, and the dis- 
position you manifest to serve it. 1 presume that the 
committee soon made a report, and that answers to your 

220 JOHN JAY. 

letters have been written, although pediaps the many 
hazards to which letters from America are exposed may 
have prevented their reaching you. 

When the rulers of your republic recollect in what 
manner and on what occasion they became free, I am per- 
suaded they cannot but wish duration to our independence, 
nor forbear considering it as an event no less interesting 
to every commercial nation in Europe than important to 
America. These and similar considerations, added to the 
injustice they daily experience from England, will, I hope, 
induce them to call to mind that spirit of their forefathers, 
which acquired a glorious participation in the empire of the 
ocean, and laid the foundation of the commerce, affluence, 
and consideration they transmitted to their posterity. 

Permit me to assure you that I shall consider your cor- 
respondence as a favor, and that I am, with great re- 
spect, he. 



Madrid, May 26th, 1780. 

Since my departure from America 1 have had the 
honor of writing the following letters to your Excellency, 
viz. 20th, 22d, 24th, 25th, 25th, 26th and 27ih of Decem- 
ber, 1779, from Martinique; and 27th of January, 20th, 
28th and 29th of February, and 3d of March, 1780, from 
Cadiz. I am still uncertain whether any, and which of 
them, have come to your hands, and request the favor of 
particular information on this subject. 

Of such of them as respect immediately the business 
committed to me I now send duplicates, as well as copies 


of such Other papers as, taken collectively, will give 
Congress a full and accurate state of their affairs here. 

This packet, of which an exact copy goes by another 
vessel, will appear voluminous. It will nevertheless be 
found interesting. I have interspersed such observations 
as to me appeared proper for the purpose of explanation. 

On the 22d of January, 17S0, 1 arrived at Cadiz, without 
letters of credit or recommendation to any person there. 
The Chevalier Roche (a passenger with us) was so 
obliging as to procure me credit for about two hundred 
pounds sterling widi a relation of his, to whom I was 
obliged to give a bill on Dr Franklin at a more than usual 
short sight. I afterwards became acquainted with the 
house of Le Couteulx and Company, who offered me 
what money I might want, and furnished me accordingly, 
with great cheerfulness. I was very disagreeably, cir- 

Finding reports ran hard against American credit, and 
that bills on Dr Franklin were held very cheap, by reason 
of his having, as was there said, postponed, delayed, and 
in some instances refused payment of diem, on very 
frivolous pretences, I did, on the 2Gth of January, 1780, 
inform him by letter of my arrival, and of these reports. 

In answer to this, the Doctor, on the 7th of April, 
1780, wrote me a very friendly letter, asserting these 
reports to be false, and enclosing a certificate of his 
banker, which proved them to be so. Of this I have 
made the proper use, and as the same reports prevailed in 
Martinique, and probably in the other islands, I wish the 
remedy to be as extensive as the mischief, and therefore 
transmit the following extract from his letter on that 
subject, and a copy of the certificate mentioned in it. 

222 JOHN JAY. 

Extract of a Letter from his Excellency Dr Franklin,' 
dated April 7th, 1780. 

"The reports you tell me prevail at Cadiz, that the 
Loan OfBce Bills, payable in France, have not been duly 
honored, are wicked falsehoods. Not one of them, duly 
endorsed by the original proprietor, was ever refused by 
me, or the payment delayed a moment. And the few not 
so endorsed have been also paid on the guarantee of the 
presenter, or some person of known credit. No reason 
whatever has been given for refusing payment of a bill, 
except this very good one that either the first, second, 
third or fourth of the same set had been already paid. 
The pretence that it was necessary for the whole set to 
arrive before the money could be paid, is too absurd and 
ridiculous for any one to make use of, who knows any- 
thing of the nature of exchange. The unexpected large 
draughts made upon me by Congress and others, exclusive 
of these from the Loan Office, have indeed sometimes 
embarrassed tne not a little, and put me to difficulties. 
But I have overcome those difficulties, so as never to have 
been obliged to make the smallest excuse, or desire the 
least delay of payment from any presenter of such bills. 
Those reports must therefore have been contrived by 
enemies to our country, or by persons who proposed an 
advantage to themselves by purchasing them at an under 
rate. Enclosed I send you a certificate of our banker in 
refutation of those calumnies." 

Copy of the abovemeniioned Certificate. 
"I, the subscriber, banker at Pnris, and alone charged 
with the payment of the bills of the Loan Office, declare, 


that I have paid, without exception or delay, all such bills 
to this date, accepted by his Excellency Dr Franklin ; 
that, to my knowledge, no such bill has been refused 
payment ; but that several have been presented after they 
had been once paid. 

" I declare further, that whatever is contradictory to 
this present is false. 

" In testimony of which I have here signed my name at 
Paris, this 15th of March, 1780. GRAND." 

It appearing to me of importance that I should as soon as 
possible be informed of the measures, which Mr Arthur Lee 
might have taken leading to a treaty between the United 
States and Spain, I did, on the 26th of January, 1780, 
write him a letter, of which the following is a copy.* 

Mr Lee, in answer to this, wrote me a polite letter on 
the 17th of March, 1780. The following is a copy tjf it.f 

As, for reasons, which will appear in the course of the 
following papers, and which I hope will meet with the ap- 
probation of Congress, it became proper for me to remain in 
Spain, I apprised the Court of France of it by a letter to 
his Excellency the Count de Vergennes, on the 27th of 
January, 1780, of which the following is a copy.| 

The Count's answer to this is in the following words. 


" Versailles, March 13th, 1780. 
' " Sir, 

" I have received your favor of the 27th of January, and 

I am fully sensible of the confidence you have reposed in 

* See above, dated January 26th, p. 194. 

t See this letter in Arthur Lee's Correspondence, Vol. II. p. 276. 

t See above, p. 195. 

224 JOHN JAY. 

me, by communicating to me the object of your mission. 
You know too well the attachment of his Majesty to the 
United States, not to feel assured that he sincerely wishes 
you success, and will be eager to contribute to it. The 
Count de Montmorin has received instructions accordant 
with this disposition, and I do not doubt that your confi- 
dence in him will enable him to fulfil them to your entire 

" I have the honor to be, k,c. 


On the 9th of May, 1780, I replied to the Count as fol- 

" Aranjues, May 9th, 1780. 
« Sir, 

" The letter which your Excellency did me the honor 
to write me, on the 1 3th of March last, was delivered to 
me by the Count de Montmorin on my arrival at Madrid. 

" I should not have thus long delayed the pleasure of 
replying to it, if I could have prevailed upon myself to have 
given your Excellency complimentary professions, instead 
of sincere assurances. Unreserved confidence in an Am- 
bassador of our great and good ally was just, as well as 
natural ; and I am exceedingly happy to find that personal 
considerations, instead of forbidding, prompt it. M. Ge- 
rard, whose judgment I greatly respect, had given me a 
very favorable impression of this gentleman, and I am con- 
vinced from my own observation, that he was not mistaj<en. 
His conduct towards me has been that of a wise minister, 
and a candid gentleman. Your Excellency may therefore 
rely upon his receiving all that confidence from me, which 
these considerations dictate. Permit me to add, that I 
never indulge myself in contemplating the future happiness 


and independence of my country, without feeling the warm- 
est attachment to the Prince and people, who are making 
sucii glorious exertions to establish them. 

"With the most lively sentiments of respect and esteem, 
I have the honor to be, &c. 


I requested the favor of M. Gerard to inform me, to 
which of the Ministers of Spain it would be proper to 
address any letters, which I might think proper to write to 
that Court. He told me M. Galvez, and enumerated his 
reasons for thinking so. On the 27th of January, 1780, I 
wrote a letter to that Minister. The following is a copy 
of it.* 

Mr Carmichael was the bearer of this letter, and as his 
going to Madrid to expedite an answer to it would give 
him an opportunity of acquiring, as well as giving infopeia- 
tion on several subjects, I gave him the following instruc- 
tions. f 

I have desired Mr Carmichael, for greater certainty, to 
give me notes in writing of all the information he gained in 
pursuance of these instructions, but he has postponed it 
J^QV the sake of enlarging them by some important addi- 

My letter to M. Galvez was answered the 24th of Feb- 
ruary, 1780, by the Count de Florida Blanca, in the words 
following, viz. J 

To this letter I replied as follows, viz. 

•'Cadiz, March 6tli, 1780. 

"I have been honored with your Excellency's favor of 

* See above, p. 199. t See p. 203. t See p. 210. 
VOL. VII. 29 

226 JOHN JAY. 

the 24th ultimo, which did not come to my hands till some- 
time after its arrival. 

"The sentiments which his Majesty is pleased to enter- 
tain of me, together with the polite manner in which your 
Excellency has been so obliging as to express them, de- 
mand my warmest acknowledgments, and give additional 
force to the many motives, which render me desirous of a 
permanent union between his Majesty and the United 

"The honor and probity, which have ever characterised 
the conduct of Spain, together with the exalted reputation 
his Majesty has acquired, by being an eminent example of 
both, have induced the people of the United States to re- 
pose the highest confidence in the proofs they have received 
of his friendly disposition towards them ; and to consider 
every engagement with this monarchy as guarantied by 
that faith, and secured by that ingenuousness, which have 
so gloriously distinguished his Majesty and this kingdom 
among the other Princes and nations of the earth. 

"Permit me to request the favor of your Excellency to 
assure his Majesty, th^t the people of the United States 
are convinced, that virtue alone can animate and support 
their governments ; and that they can in no other way 
establish and perpetuate a national character, honorable to 
themselves and their posterity, than by an unshaken ad- 
herence to the rules which religion, morality, and treaties 
may prescribe for their conduct. His royal mind may also 
be persuaded, that gratitude will never cease to add the 
influence of inclination to the power of dignity, in render- 
ing them solicitous for the happiness and prosperity of 
those generous nations, who nobly strengthened their oppo- 
sition to a torrent of oppression, and kindly aided in free- 


ing them from the bondage of a nation, whose arrogance 
and injustice had become destructive of the rights of man- 
kind, and dangerous to the peace and tranquillity of Chris- 

"Having therefore the most perfect conviction, that the 
candor and benignity of his Majesty's intentions are equal 
to the uprightness and sincerity of those of Congress, I 
shall set out in a few days for Madrid, with the pleasing 
expectation that there will be little delay or difficulty in 
adjusting the terms of a union between a magnanimous 
Monarch and a virtuous people, who wish to obtain, by an 
alliance with each other, only reciprocal benefits and mutual 

"I have the honor to be, with perfect respect and con- 
sideration, your Excellency's most obedient, and most 
humble servant, 


On the 4th of April, 17S0, I arrived at Madrid, and Mr 
Carmichael delivered to me the following questions from 
the Count de Florida Blanca, to which he had declined 
giving answers, viz. 

(Questions from the Count de Florida Blanca, dated the 
9th of March, 1780. 

Translation. * 

"Before entering into a discussion with Mr Jay or Mr 
Carmichael, jointly or separately, on the subject of the 
affairs of the United States of North America, and their 
mutual interest with respect to Spain, it is judged indispen- 
sable at Madrid, that the Catholic King should be exactly 
informed of the civil and military state of the American 
Provinces, and of their resources to continue the present 

228 JOHN JAl-. 

war, not only for the defence of their own liberty, but also 
with respect to the aid and succors they may be able to 
afford Spain in its operations, in case hereafter this Crown 
should become the ally of America. The Civil Affairs 
ouglit to comprehend, 

"1st. A true account of the population and form of gov- 
ernment of each Province of the Union, and the resolution 
of the inhabitants to continue the war with vigor, as long as 
it is necessary. 

"2dly. Whether there is any powerful party in favor of 
England, and what consequences are to be apprehended 
from it ; whether the heads of this party suffer themselves 
to be seduced by the great promises of the British govern- 

"3dly. A statement of the revenues of these Provinces, 
and of their ability to contribute to the general expense ; to 
which may be added, whether they will be able long to 
support this burthen, and even to increase it should it be 
judged necessary. 

"4thly. A statement of the public debts, and of the 
particular debts of each State, taken collectively or sepa- 
rately, of their resources to lessen them, and the possibility 
of their being able to support theii- credit in all the opera- 
tions of government, in the commerce of their inhabitants, 
and above all in the protection of national industry. 

"5thly. By what means, or with what branches of com- 
merce, will the Slates of America have it in their power 
to indemnify Spain, whenever this power may second the 
views and operations of the Americans ; and particularly 
the Court wishes to know, whether it may be convenient 
for the said States to furnish ships of war of the best con- 
struction for the Spanish marine, and likewise timber and 


Other arllcles for the King's arsenals, and the whole with- 
out loss of time, and fixing the terms on which they would 
make an agreement of this nature, and who would be 
commissioned to bring the vessels and these naval stores 
to Spain. 

"With respect to the Military State of America, it is 
necessary to be informed first, of the number and strength 
of the different bodies of troops armed by the Provinces, 
and of their present situation, in order to judge whether 
they are sufficient to oppose the enemy wherever they 
may go, and particularly in Carolina and Georgia. 

"Further, it may be expedient to know the means of 
augmenting the American army in case it is necessary, or 
to keep it always on the same footing, notwithstanding its 
daily losses. In what condition their clothing and arms 
are at present ; whether they are j)artly in want of those 
articles, and how much it would require to remedy those 

"The subsistence of an army being an object of the 
greatest consequence, the Court desires to know if proper 
measures have been taken for that purpose, that it may be 
ascertained whether it can act everywhere, if necessary, 
even in the above mentioned Provinces, without danger 
of being in want of necessaries. 

"It is highly essential for the Provinces of America to 
keep a marine to act against the common enemy, and to 
secure their own possessions during the present war. The 
Spanish Minister therefore is desirous of knowing its 
strength, including the armed vessels belonging to indi- 
viduals, and by what means it may be augmented, and 
what succors will be necessary for that purpose. 

"The Court of Spain, desirous of information on these 

230 JOHN JAY. 

subjects with all possible frankness and precision, does 
not pretend to dive into matters, which Mr Jay or Mr 
Carmichael may regard as reserved to themselves. Its 
only aim is to be acquainted with the present slate of the 
American forces, their resources, and ability to continue 
the war, so that if it was in consideration for new allies to 
supply them widi succors of any kind, the former might 
be able to plan on solid grounds their operations conve- 
nient for the common cause, and for the particular advan- 
tage of these Stales, without running the risk of being 
niisled by false calculations for want of foresight and pro- 
per information." 

'Tardo, March 9th, 1780." 

My answer to these questions is contained in a letter I 
wrote to the Count de Florida Blanca, on the 2oih of 
April, 1780; the removal of the Court to Aranjues, and 
Ills attending the King at that lime at an annual chase, ren- 
dering it useless, and perhaps improper, to endeavor to 
call his attention to these matters sooner. The following 
is a copy of it. 

"Madrid, April 25th, 1780. 

"Mr Carmichael has delivered to me a paper he had 
the honor of receiving from your Excellency before my 
arrival here, containing heads of many important inquiries 
respecting which it was thought necessary, that his Cath- 
olic Majesty should be exactly informed before entering 
into a discussion with me and Mr Carmichael jointly or 
separately, on the subject of Uie affairs of the United States 
of North America, and their mutual interest with respect 
lo Spain ; but that the Court, though desirous of informa- 


tion on these several articles, with all possible frankness 
and precision, did not mean to dive into matters which 
Mr Carmichaei and myself might regard as reserved to 
ourselves only. 

"Being persuaded, that direct and accurate information 
respecting ths nature and extent of the commissions given 
to that gentleman and myself, would be very agreeable to 
your Excellency, I take the liberty of transmitting the 
following copies of each. 

'The delegates of the United States of New Hampshire, 
Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Planta- 
tions, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, 
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Car- 
olina, and Georgia, in Congress assembled, to all who 
shall see these presents, Greeting. 

'Whereas an intercourse between the subjects of his 
Catholic Majesty, and the citizens of these United States, 
founded on the principles of equality, reciprocity, and 
friendship, may be of mutual advantage to both nations, 
and it being ihe sincere desire of the United States to 
enter into a treaty of alliance and of amity and commerce 
with i)is Catholic Majesty, know ye, therefore, that we, 
confiding in the integrity, prudence, and ability oi the 
Honorable John Jay, late President of Congres?, and 
Chief Justice of the State of New York, have nominated 
and constituted, and by these presents do nominate and 
constitute him, the said John Jay, our Minister Plenipo- 
tentiary ; giving him full power general and special to act 
in that quality, to confer, treat, agree, and conclude, with 
the Ambassador or rienipolenliary of his Catholic Majesty 

232 JOHN JAY. 

vested with equal powers, of and concerning a treaty of 
amity and commerce, and of alliance, and whatever shall 
be so agreed and concluded for us and in our names, to 
sign, and thereupon make such treaty or treaties, conven- 
tions and agreements, as he shall judge conformable to the 
ends we have in view, in as ample form, and with the 
same effect, as if we were personally present and acted 
therein, hereby promising in good faith, that we will ac- 
cept, ratify, fulfil, and execute whatever shall be agreed, 
concluded, and signed by our said IMinister Plenipotentiary, 
and that we will never act, nor suffer any person to act, 
contrary to the same in the whole, or in any part. 

*In witness whereof, we have caused these presents to 
be given in Congress, at Philadelphia, the 29th day of 
September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven 
hundred and seventynine, and the fourth year of the inde- 
pendence of the United States of America. 

'Signed by the President, and sealed with his seal. 


'Attest, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary: 

'The United States of America, in Congress assembled. 
To the Honorable William Carmichael, a delegate in Con- 
gress from the State of Maryland. Greeting. 

'We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your 
patriotism, ability, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these 
presents, constitute and appoint you, during our pleasure. 
Secretary to our Minister Plenipotentiary, appointed to ne- 
gotiate a treaty of amity and commerce, and of alliance 
with his Catholic Majesty. You are, therefore, carefully 
and diligently to discharge the duty of Secretary, by doing 
and performing all things thereunto belonging, and, in case 


of the death of our said Minister, you are to signify it to 
us by the earliest opportunity, and on such event, we au- 
thorise and direct you to take into your charge all our 
public affairs, which were in the hands of said Minister at 
the time of his death, or which may be. addressed to him 
before notice thereof, and proceed therein, according to the 
instructions to our said Minister given, until our further 

'Witness, his Excellency, Samuel Huntington, President 
of the Congress of the United States of America, at Phila- 
delphia, the 29th day of September, in the year of our 
Lord, 1779, and in the fourth year of our independence. 

'Attest, CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary: 

"The inquiries in question are numerous and importatit. 
They do honor to the sagacity which suggested them, and, 
if fully answered, would produce a very interesting history 
of the present condition of the American States. On some 
of the subjects proposed, I can give your Excellency full 
and positive intelligence ; on others, only general and by 
no means precise information. On all, however, I shall 
write with candor. 

"Such is the nature of the American governments and 
confederacy, that the Congress, and all other rulers of the 
people, are responsible to them for their conduct, and can- 
not withhold from their constituents a knowledge of their 
true situation, without subjecting themselves to all the 
evils, which they experience, who substitute cunning in the 
place of wisdom. Hence it is, tiiat a knowledge of their 
affairs is easily attainable by all who will be at the trouble 
of collecting it, and as it is neither the policy nor inclination 
VOL. vii. 30 

234 JOHN JAY. 

of America to draw a veil over any part of their aifairs, 
your Excellency may be persuaded, that every considera- 
tion forbids their servants, by a suppression, or misrepre- 
sentation of facts, to deceive or mislead those whose amity 
they so sincerely endeavor to cultivate, as they do that 
of Spain. 


"Your Excellency has with great propriety arranged 
the subjects of your inquiry under two heads ; the 
Civil and Military States of North America. The first 
of these is again branched into several subdivisions, at the 
head of which, is the 

Population of each State. 

"The exact number of inhabitants in the United States 
has not, I believe, been ascertained by an actual census in 
more than two or three of them. The only computation 
made by Congress was on the 29th of July, 1775 ; the 
manner and occasion of which exclude every suspicion 
of its exceeding the true number. Congress had emitted 
bills of credit to a very considerable amount, and were 
apprised of the necessity of emitting more. Justice de- 
manded that this debt should be apportioned among the 
States according to their respective abilities ; an equitable 
rule whereby to determine that ability became indispen- 
sable. After much consideration, Congress resolved, 
'that the proportion, or quota of each Colony, should be 
determined according to the number of the inhabitants 
of all ages (including negroes and mulattoes) in eacli 
Colony,' but as that could not then be ascertained exactly, 
they were obliged to judge of, and compute the number 
from circumstantial evidence. The delegates gave to 



Congress an account of the population of tlieir respective 
Colonies, made from the best materials then in their 
power, and so great was their confidence in each other, 
that from those accounts that computation was principally 
formed. Your Excellency will readily perceive, that the 
delegates were far from being under any temptations to 
exaggerate the number of their constituents ; they were 
not ignorant, that by such exaggerations they would in- 
crease their portion of aids, both of men and money, and 
that whatever errers they might commit, could not be rec- 
tified by an actual numeration during the war. The com- 
putation then formed was as follows. 

New Hampshire, 
Massachusetts Bay 
Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, . 
New York, . 
New Jersey, . 
Virginia, . • . 
North Carolina, 
South Carolina, 

124,069 and a half 

71,959 and a half 
243,139 ^-^ 


161,290 and a half 
372,208 and a half 

37,219 and a half 
310,174 and a half 

Exclusive of the inhabitants of Georgia, who were not at 
that time represented in Congress, and of whose numbers 
I have no information that I can confide in. 

The Form of Government of each State. 

"In the pamphlets I have now the honor of transmitting 
to your Excellency, viz. No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, 

236 JOHN JAY. 

and No. 5, you will find the constitutions of New York, 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina. 
The others I have not with me. The great outlines of 
them all are very similar. By the last accounts from 
America, it appears, that Massachusetts Bay had not as 
yet agreed upon their constitution, but had it then under 

"It cannot be necessary to observe to your Excellency, 
that these new modes of government were formed by 
persons named and authorised by the f^eople for that ex- 
press purpose ; that they were, in general, instituted with 
great temper and deliberation upon such just and liberal 
principles, as on the one hand to give effectual security 
to civil and religious liberty, and on the other make 
ample provision for the rights of justice, and the due ex- 
ercise of the necessary powers of government. 

"The articles of confederation agreed upon by Con- 
gress, and approved by every State in the Union except 
Maryland, provide for the general government of the Con- 
federacy, and the ordering of all matters essential to the 
prosperity and preservation of the Union in peace and war. 
I ought also to inform your Excellency, that the reasons 
why Maryland has as yet withheld her assent to those 
articles, do not arise from any disaffection to the common 
cause, but merely from their not having adopted certain 
principles respecting the disposition of certain lands. 

The Union and Resolution of the Inhabitants to continue 
the War with Vigor as long as may be necessary. 

"On this subject I can give your Excellency certain and 
positive information ; the storm of tyranny and oppression, 
which had for some years been constantly growing more 


black and more terrible, began to burst vvitli violence on 
the people of North America in the year 1774. It was 
seen and felt and deprecated by all except those, who ex- 
pected to gather spoils in the ruins it was designed to 
occasion. These were those who enjoyed, or expected 
emoluments from Great Britain, together with their im- 
mediate dependants and connexions ; such as the offi- 
cers of government throughout the Colonies, but with some 
very distinguished exceptions ; those of the clergy of the 
church of England almost without exception, who received 
annual salaries from the society established in England 
for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts ; foreign 
adventurers, buyers and sellers, who, being no further 
attached to the country than as it afforded the means of 
gain, soon prepared to speculate in confiscations, and 
courted the notice of their sovereign by intemperate zeal 
for the ruin of his subjects. With these exceptions, the 
great body of the people moved together, and united in 
such firm and considerate measures for the common safety, 
and conducted their affairs with such regularity, order, 
and system, as to leave no room to suppose them to be 
the work of only a prevailing party, as our enemies have 
always represented and affected to consider them. 

"There was, it is true, another class of persons not 
much less dangerous, though far more contemptible tlian 
those I f.rst mentioned ; persons who in every revolution, 
like floating weeds in every storm, obey the strongest 
wind, and pass from side to side as that happens to 
change. I mean the neutrals, a pusillanimous race, who 
having balanced in their minds the advantages and disad- 
vantages, the gains and dangers of joining either side, are 
seduced by their fears to form a thousand pretexts for 


238 JOHN JAY. 

joining neither ; who, to manifest their loyalty to their 
King, when his armies were successful, gave them every 
aid in their power, except drawing their swords against 
their country, and who, when their countrymen prevailed, 
were ready to render them all possible service, except 
taking arms against their Prince. 

"The auxiliaries, whom the British measures and forces 
found in the country, consisted of persons from these 
classes. And although when these 6rst appeared in, and 
wounded the bosom of America, she was obliged to ex- 
tend her arms to repel the assaults of a foreign enemy, 
yet such was the union and spirit of her inhabitants, that 
she was soon enabled not only to put them under her feet, 
but on the ruins of her former governments to erect new 
ones in the midst of invasions from without, and treacher- 
ous combinations from within. Being able to obtain no 
other terms of peace than unconditional obedience, she 
had sufficient courage to declare herself independent in 
the face of one of the best appointed armies Britain could 
ever boast of, as well as sufficient strength to limit its ope- 
rations, and reduce its numbers. 

"It may perhaps be observed, that the first object of the 
war was a redress of grievances ; that the present object 
is independence ; and it may be asked whether the people 
are as much united with respect to the last as they were 
with respect to the first. 

"I am certain that the people of America never were 
so well united as they are at present, in that of their inde- 
pendence. Exclusive of actual observation on the spot, I 
think so because, 

"1st. The Declaration of Independence was made by 
Congress at a time, when the great body of their constitu- 
ents called for it. 


"2dly. Because that declaration was immediately recog- 
nised by the general assemblies and legislatures of the 
several States, without exception. 

"3dly. Because the successful army under General Bur- 
goyne was defeated and captured by a great collection of 
the neighboring militia, to whom he had offered peace and 
tranquillity on their remaining at home, terms which it was 
natural to suppose a great many of them would have ac- 
cepted, had the Declaration of Independence been disa- 
greeable to them. 

"4thly. Because the Congress, consisting of members 
annually elected, have repeatedly, expressly, and unani- 
mously declared their determination to support it at every 

"5thly. Because their internal enemies have been either 
expelled or reduced, and their estates to a very great 
amount in some of the States confiscated and actually 

"6thly. Because constitutions and forms of government 
have since been instituted and completely organised, in 
which the people participate, from which they have ex- 
perienced essential advantages, and to which they have of 
consequence become greatly attached. 

"Tthly. Because Congress unanimously refused to enter 
into treaty with the British Commissioners on any terms 
short of independence, and because every State, though 
afterwards separately solicited, refused to treat otherwise 
than collectively by their delegates in Congress. 

"Sthly. Because the inhuman and very barbarous man- 
ner in which the war has been conducted by the enemy, 
has so alienated the affections of the people from the King 
and government of Britain, and filled their hearts with such 

240 JOHN JAY. 

deep rooted and just resentments, as render a cordial 
reconciliation, much less a dependence on them, utterly- 

"9thly. Because the doctrine propagated in America by 
the servants of the King of Great Britain, that no faith was 
to be kept with Americans in arms against him, and the 
uniformity with which they have adhered to it, in their 
practice as well as professions, have destroyed all confi- 
dence, and leave the Americans no room to doubt, but that, 
should they again become subjects of the King of Britain 
on certain terms, those terms would as little impede the 
progress of future oppression, as the capitulation of Limer- 
ick, in 1691, did with respect to Ireland. 

'•'lOthly. Because the treaty with France, and conse- 
quently virtue, honor, and every obligation due to the repu- 
tation of a rising nation, whose fame is unsullied by violated 
compacts, forbid it. 

"Uthly. Because it is the evident, and well known inter- 
est of North America to remain independent. 

"12thly. Because the history of mankind, from the earli- 
est ages, with a loud voice calls upon those who draw their 
swords against a Prince, deaf to the supplication of his 
people, to throw away the scabbard. 

"lothly. Because they do not consider the support of 
iheir independence as difficult. The country is very de- 
fensible and fertile ; the people are all soldiers, who with 
reason consider their liberty and lives as the most valuable 
of the possessions left them, and which they are determined 
shall neither be wrested or purchased from them, but with 

"Hthly. Because for the support of their independence, 
they have expressly, by a most solemn act, pledged to each 


Other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor ; so 

that their bond of union, for this very purpose, thus formed 

of all the ties of common interest, common safety, mutual 

affection, general resentments, and the great obligations of 

virtue, honor, patriotism, and religion, may with reason be 

deemed equal to the importance of that great object. 

Whether there is any powerful Party in Favor of England, 

and what Consequences are to he apprehended, from it ? 

TVheiher the Heads of this Party suffer themselves to be 

seduced by the Promises of the British Government 9 

"What has been already said, on the subject of the 
union of the people in North America, will I imagine in a 
great measure answer these questions. 

"If by a party in favor of England is meant a party for 
relinquishing the independence of the United' States, and 
returning to the dominion of Britain, on any terms wiial- 
ever, I answer there is no such party in North America ; 
all the open adherents of the Crown of Great Britain having 
either voluntarily quitted or been expelled from the country. 

"That Britain has emissaries and masked adherents in 
America, industrious in their little spheres to perplex the 
public measures, and disturb the public tranquillity, is a 
fact of which I have not the inost distant doubt, and it is 
equally true, that some of these wicked men are by a few 
weak ones thought to be patriots, but they cannot with 
any propriety be called a party, or even a faction. The 
chief mischief they do, is collecting and transmitting intelli- 
gence, raising false reports, and spreading calumnies of 
public men and measures ; such characters will be found 
in every country so circumstanced, and America has not 
been negligent in j)roviding laws for their punishment. 

VOL. VII. 31 

242 JOHN JAY. 

"The obvious policy of the Court of London has in- 
duced them to boast perpetually of their party in Annerica; 
but wbere it is ? of whom composed ? what it has done, or 
is doing ? are qnestions to which they constantly give eva- 
sive answers. Much also have tliey said of the numbers 
that have joined their arms in America. The truth is, that 
at Boston, Rhode Island, New York, and Philadelphia, 
they gleaned some of that refuse of mankind, to be found 
and purchased by any body in all commercial cities. Jt is 
also true, that some men of weight and influence in the 
country, who joined the enemy on their first successes, did 
draw away with them several of their immediate depend- 
ents, whom they persuaded or otherwise influenced to enlist 
in their service. To these may also be added the prison- 
ers, who at different times they forced into their service by 
famine, and other severities too numerous as well as bar- 
barous to be here particularized. But I have no reason 
to believe, that all these aids put together ever exceeded 
three thousand men. This business, however, (except 
with respect to prisoners,) has long been over, and before 
I left America many of those deluded people had returned 
and implored the pardon of their country. 

"In America, as in all other popular governments, your 
Excellency knows there must and ever will be parties for 
and against particular measures and particular men. The 
enemy, adverting to this circumstance, have had address 
enough to ascribe difterences and temporary heats arising 
from this source, in which they were not interested, to 
causes much higher, and more flattering to their import- 
ance ; and this tiiey have done with so much art, as to 
have imposed in some instances on the credulity of men 
high in reputation for sagacity and discernment. 


"If your Excellency will be pleased to peruse a pam- 
phlet marked No. 6, which you will find enclosed with the 
other papers I herewith transmit, and entitled ' Observa- 
tions on the American Revolution,' you will perceive that 
nothing is to be apprehended from this supposed party in 
North America. 

^ Statement of the Revenues of the States, and of their 
Ability to contribute to the General Expense ; whether 
they will be able long to support this Burthen, and in- 
crease it if necessary ? 

"The Confederated States have no fixed revenues, nor 
are such revenues necessary, because all the private prop- 
erty in the country is at the public service. The only 
restriction imposed by the people is, that it be taken from 
them with wisdom and justice, or to be more explicit, that 
the sums required be proportionate to the public exigen- 
cies, and assessed on the individuals in proportion to their 
respective abilities. 

"A nation can seldom be destitute of the means of con- 
tinuing a war, while they remain unsubdued in the field, 
and cheerfully devote their all to that service. They may 
indeed experience great distress, but no distress being 
equal to that of subjection to exasperated oppressors, whose 
most tender mercies are cruel, the Americans had little 
difficulty in making their election. 

A Statement of the Public Debts. 

"This subject your Excellency will find fully discussed 
in an address of Congress to their constituents, in which 
they compute their debts, and mention the means they had 
taken to preserve the public credit. It is also herewith 
enclosed, and marked No. 7. 

244 JOHN JAY. 

A Statement of the Debts of each particular State. 

"Although exact accounts of these debts are contained 
in the public printed acts of each State, yet as T neither 
have any of those acts or extracts from them with me, and 
my general knowledge on this head is very imperfect, I 
am deterred from giving your Excellency any information 
respecting it, by the very great risk I should run of mis- 
leading you on this point. 

The Resources to lessen these Debts. 

"Taxes ; foreign and domestic loans ; sales of confis- 
cated estates, and ungranted lands. 

The possibility of their supporting their Credit in all the 
Operations of Government, in the Commerce of their 
Inhabitants, and, above all, in the Protection of JSfa- 
tional Industry. 

"As to the possibility of supporting . their credit in the 
cases mentioned, there is no doubt it is very possible. 
How far it is probable, is a question less easy to answer. 
If the taxes called for by Congress last fall be duly paid, 
all will be safe. But whether they have been paid or not 
I am wholly uninformed, except that I find in a public 
paper that Virginia had made good her first payment. As 
I daily expect to receive advices from America on this 
subject, I shall postpone saying anything further on it at 
present, but your Excellency may rely on my communi- 
cating to you a full state of what intelligence I may have 
respecting it. 

"As to supporting their credit in commerce, it is attend- 
ed with considerable, though not insurmountable difRcul- 
ties. They are of two kinds, the want of sufficient com- 
modities for remittances, and the risk of transporting them. 


North America abounds in valuable commodities, such as 
fish, oil, lumber, provisions of flesh and corn, iron, tobacco, 
and naval stores, peltry, indigo, potash, and other articles, 
all of which have greatly diminished since the war ; the 
laborers formerly employed in producing them having been 
often called to the field, and by other efiects of the war 
been prevented from regularly following their usual occu- 
pations. Of some of these articles America still produces 
more than is necessary for her own consumption, but the 
risk of transporting them to Europe renders her remittan- 
ces very uncertain. The asylum, which all British armed 
vessels find in the ports of Portugal, enables them to cruise 
very conveniently and with great advantage off the West- 
ern Islands, and other situations proper for annoying vessels 
from thence to France, Spain, or the Mediterranean. 
Hence it is that the trade from America to St Eustatia Jias 
of late so greatly increased, it being carried on principally 
in small, fast sailing vessels, that draw but little water, and 
that the chief remittances to Europe have been in bills of 
exchange instead of produce. 

" With respect to the protection of national industry, I 
take it for granted that it will always flourish where it is 
lucrative, and not discouraged, which was the case in 
North America when I left it ; every man being then at 
liberty, by the law, to cultivate the earth as he pleased, to 
raise what he pleased, to ^manufacture as he pleased, and 
to sell the produce of hi^ labor to whom he pleased, and 
for the best prices, without any duties or impositions what- 
soever. I have indeed no apprehensions whatever on this 
subject. I believe there are no people more industrious 
than those of America, and whoever recurs to their popu- 
lation, their former exports, and their present produclions 

246 J^JHJN JAY. 

amidst the horrors of fire and sword, will be convinced 
of it. 

By ivhat Means, or what Branches of Commerce, will the 
States of America have it in their Poiver to indemnify 
Spain, whenever this Power may second the Views and 
Operations of the Americans ? 

"Annerica will indemnify Spain in two ways, by fighting 
the enemy of Spain, and by commerce. Your Excellency 
will be pleased to remark that Spain as well as America is 
now at war with Britain, and therefore that it is the inter- 
est of both to support and assist each other against the 
common enemy. It cannot be a question whether Britain 
will be more or less formidable if defeated or victorious in 
America ; and there can be no doubt but that every nation, 
interested in the "reduction of her power, will be compen- 
sated for any aids they may afford America, by the imme- 
diate application of those aids to that express purpose at 
the expense of American blood. 

"Your Excellency's well known talents save me the 
necessity of observing, that it is the interest of all Europe 
to join in breaking down the exorbitant power of a nation, 
which arrogantly claims the ocean as her birthright, and 
considers every advantage in commerce, however acquired 
by violence, or used with cruelty, as a tribute justly due to 
her boasted sui)eriority in arts and in arms. 

"By establishing the independence of America, the 
empire of Britain will be divided, and the sinews of her 
power cut. Anjericans, situated in another hemisphere, in- 
tent only on the culiivation of a country more than sufii- 
cient to satisfy their desires, will remain unconnected with 
European politics, and not being interested in their objects, 


will not partake in their dissensions. Happy in having for 
their neighbors a people distinguished for love of justice 
and of peace, they will have nothing to fear, but may flat- 
ter themselves that they and their posterity will long enjoy 
all the blessings of that peace, liberty, and safety, for which 
alone they patiently endure the calamities incident to the 
cruel contest they sustain. 

"While the war continues, the commerce of America 
will be inconsiderable ; but on the restoration of peace it 
will soon become very valuable and extensive. So great is 
the extent of country in North America yet to he cultivat- 
ed, and so inviting to settlers, that labor will very long re- 
main too dear to admit of considerable manufactures. 
Reason and experience tell us, that when the poor have it 
in their power to gain affluence by tilling the earth, they 
will refuse the scanty earnings which manufacturers aiay 
offer them. From this circumstance it is evident, that the 
exports from America will consist of raw materials, which 
other nations will be able to manufacture for them at a 
cheaper rate than they can themselves. To those who 
consider the future and progressive population of that 
country, the demands it will have for the manufactures and 
productions of Europe, as well to satisfy their wants, as to 
gratify their luxury, will appear immense, and far more 
than any one kingdom in it can supply. Instead of paying 
money for fish and many other articles as heretofore, 
Spain will then have an opportunity of obtaining them in 
exchange for her cloth?, silks, wines, and fruits ; notwith- 
standing which, it is proper to observe, that the commerce 
of the AiVierican States will forever procure them such 
actual wealth, as to enable them punctually to repay what- 
ever sums they may borrow. 

248 JOHN JAY. 

Holu far it may he convenient for these States to furnish 
Ships of War, Timber, and other Articles for the 
Kingh Arsenals, without Delay, and, if in their Power, 
on what Terms *? 

"I am much at a loss to determine at present, and 
therefore will by no means give your Excellency my con- 
jectures for intelligence. 

"It is certain, that in ordinary limes, America can build 
ships as good, and cheaper than any other people, because 
the materials cost them less. The ships of war now in 
her service, as to strength and construction, are not ex- 
ceeded by any on the ocean. On this subject I will write 
to America for information, and give your Excellency 
the earliest notice of it. Naval stores, and particularly 
masts and spars, may certainly be had there, and of the 
best quality, and I doubt not but that the Americans 
would carry them to the Havana or New Orleans, though 
I suspect, their being in a manner destitute of proper con- 
voys for the European trade, would render them back- 
ward in bringing them to Spain, on terms equal to the risk 
of captiH'e, on the one hand, and the expectations of pur- 
chasers on the other. 


The JVumber and Strength of the American Troops, their 
present Situation, and Ability to oppose the Enemy, 
especially in Georgia and Carolina. 

"Six months have elapsed since I left America, and I had 
not seen a return of the army for some time before that 
period. It did not, I am certain, amount to its full comple- 
ment, and, in my opinion, did not in the whole exceed 
thirty or thirtyfive thousand men ; 1 mean regular troops. 


"The Commander-in-Chief, whose abilities, as well as 
inteo-rity, merit the highest confidence, was authorised to 
conduct all the military operations in the United States 
at his discretion, subject, nevertheless, to such orders as 
the Congress might think proper from time to time to give. 
It is impossible, therefore, for me (not having received a 
single letter from America on these subjects since my ar- 
rival) to decide in what manner or proportions these troops 
are employed or stationed, though I am confident it has 
been done in the best manner. 

"All the men of proper age in America are liable to do 
military duty in certain cases^ and with a few exceptions, 
in all cases. The militia is for the most part divided 
into a certain number of classes, and whenever rein- 
forcements to the main army, or any detachment of it are 
wanting, they are supplied by these classes in rolalion. 
These reinforcements while in the field are subject to 
the like regulations wifh the regular troops, and with them 
submit to the severest discipline and duty. Hence it is, 
that the people of America have become soldiers, and that 
the enemy have never been able to make a deep impres- 
sion in the country, or long hold any considerable lodg- 
ments at a distance from their fleets. Georgia and South 
Carolina, indeed, enjoy these advantages in a less degree 
than the other States, their own militia not being very 
numerous, and speedy reinforcements from their neigh- 
bors of North Carolina and Virginia rendered difficult by 
the length of the way. They have, nevertheless, given 
proofs of their spirit by various and great exertions, and I 
have reason to believe, that all possible care has been 
taken to provide for their safety, by furnishing them with a 
VOL. VII. 32 



proper body of troops under Major General Lincoln, a 
very good officer, as well as a very good man. 

"Arms are still wanting in America, many of those im- 
ported proving unfit for use, and the number of inhabitants 
who were without proper arms at the beginning of the 
war, calling for great supplies. The army, and a consid- 
erable part of the militia, especially in the Northern States, 
have in general good arms. 

"Tiie article of clothing has been, and still is a very in- 
teresting one to the American army, i^ is impossible to 
describe, and, indeed, almost impossible to believe, the 
hardships iliey have endured for want of it. There have 
been instances, and I speak from the most undoubted au- 
thority, of considerable detachments marching barefooted 
over rugged tracts of ice and snow, and marking tlie route 
they look by the blood that issued from their feet ; but 
neither these terrible extremities, nor the alluring offers of 
the enemy, could prevail on them to quit their standard, 
or relax their ardor. Tiieir condition, however, has of 
late been much bettered by supplies from France and 
Spain, and American privateers ; but adequate provision 
has not yet been made for the ensuing winter, and 1 can- 
not conceal from your Excellency n)y anxiety on that 
head. A supply of clothing for twenty thousand men, 
added to what is engaged for them in France, would make 
that army and all America happy. 

"I foresee no other difficulties in providing subsistence 
for the American armies in every station in which they 
may be placed, than those which may attend the trans- 
portation of it. But when I reflect on the obstacles of this 
kind, which they have already met with and surmounted, 
I have little uneasiness about future ones. The last crops 


in America promised to be plentiful when I left it, but 
whether there would be any and what considerable over- 
plus for exportation was then undetermined, the damages 
done the wheat in INIaryland, Virginia, and North Caro- 
lina by a fly, which infested those countries, not being to 
my knowledge at that time ascertained. 

"How many ships of war belong to Congress, is a 
question I cannot answer with certainly. I think there are 
not more than ten or twelve in the whole. Of privateers 
there are a great number, but liow many exactly has not 
been computed. In my opinion, they exceed one hun- 
dred, several of thern very fine ships. Tlie Governor of 
Martinique told me, that in that Island alo:ie, the Ameri- 
can privateers had brouglit and sold above five thousand 
African slaves, which thej' had taken from the enemy. 
Nine tenths at least of all the ruin and sugar used in Nvw'.h 
America, these three years past, have been obtained in the 
same way, and to their successes have the public been in- 
debted for the most seasonable and valuable supplies of 
military stores whith lliey have received. I left several 
vessels on the stocks at Philadelphia, an-d lieard of more 
in other parts. 

*'Upon the whole, his Majesty may rest perfectly as- 
sured, that the Americans are determined, ihougli forsaken 
by all mankind, to maintain their independence, and to 
part with it only with their lives ; the desolations and dis- 
tresses of war being too familiar to them to excite any 
Oiher passions than indignation and resentment. 

"That the country will supply its inhabitants with pro- 
visions, sonie clothing, and some articles of commerce. 

"That there is no party in America in favor of return- 
ing under the don)inion of Britain, on any terms whatever. 

252 JOHN JAY. 

"That the King of France is very popular in America, 
being in all parts of it styled the protector of the rights of 
mankind, and that they will hold the treaty made with him 

"That the people in America have very high ideas of 
the honor and integrity of the Spanish nation, and of his 
Catholic Majesty especially, and that this respect and 
esteem unite with their interest in rendering them so de- 
sirous of his friendship and alliance. 

"That the greatest difficulty under which America la- 
bors arises from the great depreciation of her bills of 
credit, owing principally to a greater sum having been 
emitted than was necessary for a medium of commerce, 
and to the impossibility of remedying it by taxes before 
regular governments are established. 

"That great attempts, seconded by the general voice of 
the people, have been made to retrieve the credit of those 
bills by taxation, the issue of which was as yet uncertain, 
but if unsuccessful, a recurrence to taxes in kind was still 
left, and would be practised, though it is an expedient which 
nothing but necessity can render eligible. 

" That if France and Spain were to unite their endeav- 
ors to conquer Britain in America, by furnishing the latter 
with the necessary aids of ammunition, clothing, and some 
money, there is reason to believe, that the House of Bour- 
bon would find it the most certain and least expensive 
method of reducing the power of their irreconcilable ene- 
my, and not only com.mand the j^ratitude and perpetual 
attachment of America, but the g^nieral approbation of all 
who wish well to the tranquillity of Europe, and the 
rights of mankind. Thus would that illustrious House 
erect glorious and lasting monuments to their virtues in the 
hearts of a whole people. 


"I fear your Excellency will consider the intelligence 
Iiere given, less full and precise than you expected. I re- 
gret that it is not in my power to render it more so, but it 
is not. I hope however it will be thought sufficient to open 
a way to those further discussions, which must precede 
the measures necessary to bind America to Spain, as well 
as to France, and thereby complete the division and con- 
sequently the humiliation of the British Empire ; a work 
too glorious and laudable not to merit the notice of so mag- 
nanimous a Prince as his Majesty, and engage the atten- 
tion of a Minister of such acknowledged abilities as your 

"I flatter myself that the importance of the subject will 
apologise for my trespassing so long on your Excellency's 
patience so soon after your return to Aranjues. 
"I have the honor to be, &c. 

JOHN jay:^ 

This letter gives occasion for many observations, which 
I am persuaded will not escape Congress, and therefore 1 
forbear repeating them. Your Excellency will be pleased 
to observe, that on some of the subjects of it I ought to be 
without delay apprised of the intentions of Congress, and 
furnished with such information and instructions as may be 
necessary to enable me to fulfil them. 

On the 27th of April last, I received at Madrid a 
letter from the Committee of Foreign Affairs, enclos- 
ing copies of the resolutions of Congress of the 23d 
and 29th of November, 1779, for drawing on Mr Laurens 
and myself for £100,000 sterling each. I went the next 
day to Aranjues, and the day after wrote to the Count de 
Florida Blanca, in the words following, viz. 

254 JOHN JAl. 

"Aranjues, April 29t}i, 1780. 

"By ihe address of Congress to their constituents on the 
subject of their finances, which I had the honor of transmit- 
ting to your Excellency, you have doubtless observed, that 
in September last Congress came to a resolution of emit- 
ting no more bills, than, with those already emitted and in 
circulation, would amount to 200,000,000 of dollars ; that 
about the same time they called upon their constituents 
to raise money by taxes, and assigned the first day of Jan- 
uary last for the first payment, at which day it was sup- 
posed, that the bills to be emitted would be nearly ex- 

"Congress perceiving that at once to stop the great 
channel of supplies, that had been open ever since the 
war, and to substitute another equally productive, was not 
one of those measures, which operate almost insensibly 
without hazard or difficulty ; and well knowing that if the 
first payment of these taxes should be delayed beyond the 
limited time, the treasury would be without money, and the 
public operations obstructed by all the evils consequent to 
it; they were of opinion, that collateral and auxiliary meas- 
ures were necessary to ensure success to the great system 
for retrieving and supporting the public credit. So early, 
therefore, as the 23d day of November last, they took this 
subject into their most serious consideration, and although 
they had the highest reason to confide in the exertions of 
their constituents, yet having received repeated assurances 
of his Majesty's friendly disposition towards them, and 
being well persuadedj that they could avail themselves of 
his Majesty'.s friendship on no occasion more agreeable to 
him and advantageous to then), than on one so interesting 


to the United States, and important to the common cause, 
they adopted a measure, which, but for these considerations, 
might appear extraordinary, viz. to draw bills upon me 
for £100,000 sterling, payable at six months' sight. 

"The drawing bills previous to notice of obtaining 
money to satisfy them may at first view appear indelicate, 
but when it is considered that the whole success of tliis 
measure depended on its taking place between the 23d of 
November, and the first of January last, in which period 
it was impossible to make the application, his Majesty's 
magnanimity will I am persuaded readily excuse it. 

"As I shall always consider it my duty to give your 
Excellency all the information in my power, that may ena- 
ble his Majesty from time to time to form a true judgment 
of the state of American affairs, it is proper, that I should 
inform your Excellency, that Congress, having reasons to 
believe that a loan might be obtained in Holland, did 
shortly after my leaving America take measures for that 
purpose, and on the 23d of November last resolved to 
draw bills on Mr Henry Laurens, to whom that business 
had been committed, for the sum of £100,000 sterling. 

"I greatly regret that it was not in my power to advise 
your Excellency of these matters sooner ; but it was not 
until the 27th instant, at Madrid, that I received the letter 
which informed me of them. 

"As further remarks would draw this letter into great- 
er length, than the o()inion I have of your Excellency's 
discernment will permit me to think necessary, I forbear 
longer to engage your time and attention, than to request 
the favor of your Excellency to lay it before his Majesty. 

" The eyes of America are now draw^i towards him by 
their opinion of his virtues, and the situation of their af- 

256 JOHN JAY. 

fairs ; and I flatter myself it will not be long before their 

hearts and affections will also be engaged by such marks 

of his Majesty's friendship, as his wisdom and liberality 

may prompt, and their occasions render expedient. 

"With great respect and esteem, I have the honor to 

be, &tc. 

■ " JOHN JAY." 

On the subject of this and my former letter, T had a 
conference with the Count, on the 11th of May, 1780, of 
which the following are notes, taken immediately after it 

Aranjues, May 11th, 1780. 

Mr Jay having waited on the Count de Florida Blanca, 
in consequence of a message received on the evening of 
the 10th, the latter commenced the conversation by ob- 
serving that he was sorry that his ignorance of the English 
language prevented him from speaking with that ease and 
frankness, with which he wished to speak in his confer- 
ences with Mr Jay, and which corresponded with his own 
disposition and character. 

He observed that he intended to speak on two points. 
The first related to the letter Mr Jay had written to him, 
, on the subject of bills of exchange drawn on him by Con- 
gress, that being an affair the most pressing and more im- 
mediately necessary to enter upon. He said that the last 
year he should have found no difficulty on that head, but 
that at present, although Spain had money, she was in the 
situation of Tantalus, who, with water in view, could not 
make use of it; alluding to the revenue arising from their 
possessions in America, which they were not able to draw 
from thence. That their expenses had been so great in 


the year 1779, particularly for the marine, as to oblige 
them to make large loans, which they were negotiating at 
present. He entered into a summary of those expenses, 
and particularized the enormous expense of supporting 
thirtyfive ships of the line and frigates in French ports. 
He observed, that to do this they had prepared a very ex- 
pensive and numerous convoy at Ferrol and other ports of 
Spain, loaded with provisions, naval stores, and every 
other article necessary for the squadron before mentioned, 
which convoy did not arrive at Brest until the day on 
which the Spanish fleet sailed from thence. That the 
supplies so sent had emptied their magazines at Cadiz, 
Ferrol, and other ports, and had frequently obliged them 
to buy at enormous prices the necessary stores to supply 
the fleet under the admirals Cardova and Gaston, on their 
arrival in the ports of Spain. That they had been forced 
to sell these stores thus sent to France, and others pur- 
chased for the same purpose at Bourdeanx, Nantes, and 
elsewhere, at half price ; and added, that their loss on this 
occasion could scarce be calculated. This, joined to the 
other expenses, and the great losses they had sustained in 
their marine and commerce, but chiefly in the former, and 
the great expenses they were at in consequence thereof, 
rendered it difficult for the King to do for America what 
he could have done easily the last year, and which he cTe- 
clared repeatedly, and in the strongest manner, it was his 
intention to do, as might be judged from his conduct here- 
tofore ; touching slightly on the succors sent us from 
Spain, the Havana, and Louisiana, but dwelling on his 
conduct in the negotiation last year with Great Britain, in 
which he would on no account be brought to sacrifice the 
interests of America. 
VOL. VII. 33 

258 JOHN JAY. 

Such being his Majesty's disposition and intentions pre- 
vious to the war, Mr Jay might easily judge, that he was 
not less determined at present to support their interests, 
whether formally connected with America by treaty or 
not. That, notwithstanding the losses and misfortunes sus- 
tained, the King's resolution, courage, and fortitude in- 
duced him to continue the war, and therefore they were 
obliged to incur much expense in order to fill their maga- 
zines and make the necessary preparations for this cam- 
paign and the next, yet that it was his Majesty's intention 
to give America all the assistance in his power. That it 
was as much his inclination as duty to second these dispo- 
sitions, and that he had received the King's orders to 
confer with his colleagues thereon. He observed, how- 
ever, that, although he was First Secretary of State, he 
must first confer with them on this subject ; and from his 
own personal inclinations to second the King's intentions 
and to serve America, he was desirous of concerting with 
Mr Jay measures in such a manner as would prevent him 
from meeting with opposition from his colleagues, and 
therefore he spoke to him not as a minister, but as an 

In order to facilitate this, he said it was necessary to 
make some overtures for a contract, in case Mr Jay was 
not absolutely empowered to make one; and then he 
pointed out the object most essential to the interests of 
Spain at the present conjuncture. He said that for their 
marine they wanted light frigates, cutters, or swift sailing 
vessels of that size. That for ships of the line, they could 
procure them themselves ; that if America could furnish 
them with the former, they might be sent to their ports in 
Biscay, loaded with tobacco or other produce, and, dis- 


charging their cargoes, be left at the disposition of Spain. 
He also mentioned timber for vessels, but said that was an 
article not so immediately necessary, though it might be aa 
object of consequence in future. He observed that he 
mentioned this at present in order that Mr Jay might turn 
his thoughts on that subject as soon as possible, and that 
he would, in order to explain himself with more precision, 
send him, either on Saturday or Sunday next, notes con- 
taining his ideas on this subject, and adding that he hoped 
that the one, viz. Jay, would assist the other, meaning 
himself, to manage matters in such a way as to procure 
the means of obtaining for America present aid. 

With respect to the bills of exchange which might be 
presented, he said that at the end of the present year, or 
in the beginning of the next, he would have it in his power 
to adv^ance twentyfive, thirty, or forty thousand pounds 
sterling, and in the mean time, should these bills be pre- 
sented for payment, he would take such measures as 
would satisfy the owners of them, viz. by engaging, in the 
name of his Majesty, to pay them, observing that the 
King's good faith and credit were so well known, that he 
did not imagine this would be a difficult matter. He also 
said, that in consequence of what Mr Jay had written with 
respect to clothing for the American army, it might be in 
his power to send supplies of cloth, &tc. which he would 
endeavor to do. 

Mr Jay, in answer, assured him of his iiigh sense of the 
frankness and candor with which he had been so obliging 
as to communicate the King's intentions and his own senti- 
ments, and gave him the strongest assurances that he 
should, for his part, with the same frankness and candor, 
give him all the assistance and information in his power to 

260 JOHN JAY. 

forward his generous intentions in favor of his country, 
and that he might depend that in doing this, he would 
neither deceive him in his information, nor mislead him by 
ill grounded expectations. 

The Count then expressed his confidence in these assur- 
ances, said he had been well informed of the characters, 
both of Mr Jay and Mr Carmichael, (who was present at 
the conference,) and said, that he considered them as les 
hommes honnetes, and that no consideration could have 
prevailed upon him to have treated with men who did not 
sustain that reputation. 

The Count then proceeded to the second point, viz. 
with respect to the treaty in contemplation between Spain 
and America. He began by observing, that he now spoke 
as a Minister, and as such, that he would be as candid and 
frank as he had just been speaking as a private mSn ; and 
that it was always his disposition to do so with those from 
whom he expected the same conduct. He then proceeded 
to observe, that there was but one obstacle from which he 
apprehended any great difficulty in forming a treaty with 
America, and plainly intimated that this arose from the 
pretensions of America to the navigation of the Mississippi. 
He repeated the information, which the Court had received 
from M. Mirales, that Congress had at one time relin- 
quished that object ; that he also knew from the same 
source, that afterwards they had made it an essential point 
of the treaty. He expressed his uneasiness on this subject, 
and entered largely into the views of Spain, with respect to 
the boundaries. (He mentioned Cape Antonio and Cape 
, and expressed their resolution if possible, of ex- 
cluding the English entirely from the Gulf of Mexico.) 
They wished to fix them by a treaty, which he hoped 


would be perpetual between the two countries. He spoke 
amply of the King's anxiety, resolution, and firmness on 
this point, and insinuated a wish that some method mi^',ht 
be fallen upon to remove this obstacle. He observed, that 
the King had received all his impressions with respect to 
the necessity of this measure, previous to his being in place, 
and appeared to regard it as a point from which his Maj- 
esty would never recede, repeating that, still however he 
was disposed to give America all the aid in his power, 
consistent with the situation of his afiairs, to distress the 
common enemy ; that this point being insisted on, it would 
be necessary for the Court of Spain to obtain the most ac- 
curate knowledge of local circumstances, with which he 
supposed Mr Jay and his constituents were more fully 
apprised than his Majesty's Ministers could be. That for 
this purpose they had already written to the Havana and 
Louisiana, in order to obtain all the necessary information, 
which he gave reason to believe they had not yet received. 
He dwelt on the necessity of this information previous to any 
treat)', and expressed his own regret, that ways and means 
could not be found to obviate or overcome this impedi- 

Mr Jay here took an opportunity to mention, that many of 
the States were bounded by that river, and were highly inter- 
ested in its navigation, but observed that they were equally 
inclined to enter into any amicable regulations, which might 
prevent any inconveniences with respect to contraband or 
other objects, which might excite the uneasiness of Spain. 

The Count, still, however, appeared to be fully of opin- 
ion, that this was an object that the King had so much at 
heart, that he would never relinquish it, adding, however, 
that he hoped some middle way might be hit or. which 

262 JOHN JAY. 

would pave the way to get over this difficulty, and desired 
Mr Jay to turn his thoughts and attention to the subject, in 
which he assured him he was as well disposed lo assist 
him, as in the means of procuring the assistance and suc- 
cors for America beforementioned ; always repeating the 
King's favorable disposition, his inviolable regard to his 
promises, &ic. he. On this subject he also subjoined, that 
whenever Mr Jay chose to go to Madrid, he desired to 
have previous notice of it ; for in those cases, he would 
leave his sentiments in writing for him with Mr Carmichael, 
or, if he should also go to Madrid, that he would theji write 
to Mr Jay there, to which he might return an answer by 
the Parle (a post which goes to and from Madrid) to 
Aranjues, every twentyfour hours. 

Mr Jay expressed his full confidence in what the Count 
had done him the honor to communicate to him, and as- 
sured him of his satisfaction and happiness in having the 
good fortune to transact a business so important to both 
countries, with a Minister so liberal and candid in his man- 
ner of thinking and acting. 

The conference ended with much civility on the one 
part and on the other, and with an intimation from the 
Count, that he should take an opportunity of having the 
pleasure of Mr Jay's company at dinner, and of being on 
that friendly footing on which he wished to be with him. 

What passed in the course of this conference needs no 
comment, though it calls for information and instructions. 
If Congress remains firm, as I have no reason to doubt, 
respecting the Mississippi, I think Spain will finally be con- 
lent with equitable regulations, and I wish to know whether 
Congress would consider any regulations necessary to pre- 
vent contraband, as inconsistent with their ideas of free 


navigation. I wish that as little as possible may be left to 
my discretion, and that, as I am determined to adhere 
strictly to their sentiments and directions. I may be favored 
mih them fully, and in season. 

The Count de Florida Blanca had upon all occasions 
treated me with so much fairness, candor, and frankness, 
that between the confidence due to him and the footing t 
was and ought to be on with the French Ambassador, I 
was embarrassed exceedingly, especially as there is little 
reason to doubt of their being on confidential terms with 
each other. I was reduced to the necessity, therefore, of 
acting with exquisite duplicity, a conduct which I detest 
as immoral, and disapprove as impolitic, or of mentioning 
my difficulties to the Count, and obtaining his answers. 
I preferred the latter, and wrote the following letter to the 
Count de Florida Blanca. 

"Aranjues, May 12th, 1780. 


"It is with the utmost reluctance, that I can prevail upon 
myself to draw your Excellency's attention from the great 
objects that perpetually engage it. But the liberality, 
frankness, and candor, which distinguished your conduct 
towards me the last evening, has impressed me with such 
sentiments of correspondent delicacy, as to place me in a 
most disagreeable situation. " 

"Deeply sensible of the benefits received by my coun- 
try from their illustrious ally, prompted by duty and incli- 
nation to act not only with the highest integrity, but the 
greatest frankness towards him and his Minister, and influ- 
enced by the good opinion I have imbibed of the talents, 
attachment, and prudence of the Count de Monlmorin, I 
have given him and his Court assurances that he should 

264 JOHN JAY. 

receive from me all that confidence, which these consid- 
erations dictate. These assurances were sincere j I have 
most strictly conformed to them, and as no circumstances 
of delicacy forbid it, I have communicated to him the 
information I gave your Excellency relative to American 
affairs, and the resolution of Congress for drawing bills 
upon me, these being the only transactions within my 
knowledge and department, which related to that pro- 
posed connexion between Spain and America, for the ac- 
complishment of which, the King of France has been 
pleased to interpose his kind offices with his Catholic 

"But, Sir, my feelings will not allow me to permit the 
confidence due to one gentleman to interfere with that 
which may be due to another. Honor prescribes limits to 
each, which no consideration can tempt me to violate. 
You spoke to me the last evening in the character of a pri- 
vate gentleman, as well as of a public Minister, and in both 
without reserve. Let me entreat your Excellency there- 
fore to inform me, whether I am to consider your con- 
ferences with me, either in the whole or in part, as confi- 
dential. I am apprised of the delicacy of this question. 
I wish I could know your sentiments without putting it. 
I assure you my esteem and respect are too sincere and 
too great, not to make me regret every measure, that can 
give you an uneasy sensation. On this occasion I am 
urged by justice to you as well as to myself, and that must 
be my apology. 

"Unpractised in the ways of courts, I rejoice in finding 
that I am to transact the business committed to me with 
a gentleman, who adorns his exalted station with virtues as 
well as talents, and looks down on that system of finesse 


and chicanery, which, however prevalent, wisdom rejects 

and probity disapproves. 

"With sentiments of attachment and esteem, I liave the 

honor to be, &c. 


To this I received the following answer. 

"Aranjues, May 14th. 1780. 


"Sensible of the favorable opinion you are pleased to 
entertain of my conduct, both as a minister and a private 
gentleman, I have the honor to assure you, that on every 
occasion, you shall experience nothing but frankness and 
candor on my part. Besides that my own principles are 
invariable on these points, I am certain thereby to follow 
the example and good intentions of the King my master. 

"The delicacy, which induced you to doubt, whether 
there would be any impropriety in communicating to the 
Ambassador of France the explanation we had in the 
course of our late conference, accords well with the idea 
I first formed of your character, and I am pleased with this 
mark of your attention. Besides, it appears to me that 
you may do it freely, especially as those explanations are 
founded on principles of equity and wisdom, for the bene- 
fit of the common cause. But if, hereafter, circumstanoes 
demand a more pointed reserve, by accidents we cannot 
now foresee, we shall always have time to agree upon 
those points, which it may be necessary to keep secret. 

"I am, Sir, with the most sincere attachment, and the 
most perfect consideration, your most humble and 'most 
obedient servant, 

VOL. VII, 34 

266 JOHN JAY. 

I have not yet received from his Excellency the notes 
mentioned in the conference, and therefore cannot have 
the satisfaction of sending copies of them to Congress by 
this opportunity. 

On the 9th of April, 1780, Sir John Dalrymple arrived 
here from Portugal with his lady. On the evening of the 
10th I heard of it, and the next morning sent the follow^ing 
card to the French Ambassador at Aranjues, viz. 

"Mr Jay presents his compliments to his Excellency 
Count Montmorin, and informs him that Sir John Dalrym- 
ple arrived here the day before yesterday from Lisbon, 
and it is said, intends to be at Aranjues today. What 
business should call this gentlemen here, or enable him to 
obtain license to come, are questions which 1 am per- 
suaded will receive from your Excellency all the attention 
due to their extent and importance. 

"Madrid, May ilth, 1780." 

To this I immediately received the following answer on 
that subject, viz. 


"M. de Montmorin received this morning Mr Jay's 
note, and thanks him for the information. M. de Mont- 
morin is fully sensible of the importance of it, and although 
he is far from entertaining the least doubt on the senti- 
rnpn.L'i of the Spanish Ministry, he will not fail to take 
the precaution to be informed of everything connected 
with Sir John Dalrymple's arrival. He advises Mr Jay to 
follow the same course. Courts are so beset with in- 
trigues, that nothing should be neglected, which may tend 
to discover them. He repeats that he has not the slightest 


cause 10 suspect the Spanish Ministry, but on the contrary, 
has the strongest reasons for confiding in its integrity and 
honor. M. de Montmorin begs Mr Jay to accept his 
compliments, and to present his respectful homage to Mrs 

Learning that Sir John had obtained leave to go to 
France in his way to England, I apprised Mr Adams of it 
in a letter of the 26th of April, 1780, of which the follow- 
ing is an extrac 

"Sir John Dalrymple is here ; he came from Portugal 
for the benefit of his lady's health, as is said. He is now 
at Aranjues. He has seen the Imperial Ambassador, the 
Governor of the city, Senior Compomanes, the Duke of 
Alva, and several others named to him I suppose by Lord 
Grantham, who I find was much respected here. He wjll 
return through France to Britain. I shall go to Aranjues 
the day after tomorrow, and shall form some judgment of 
that gentleman's success by the conduct of the Court to- 
wards America." 

On waiting on the Count de Florida Blanca, a few days 
afterwards at Aranjues, he told me that Sir John had 
applied to him to obtain from him permission to go through 
Spain to France, and to the French Minister for a pass- 
port through that kingdom to England. The indisposition 
of his lady was the reason assigned for not going from 
Portugal by water. That in conversaiion, Sir John took 
occasion to say several things respecliiag the war, and the 
manner of drawing it to a conclusion. That the Count 
desired him to reduce what he would wisli to say on '.hat 
subject to writing, and that Sir John theicuj.on sent him a 

268 JOHN JAY. 

paper, entitled "A Historical Anecdote," of which the 
following is a copy. 

• A Project of Lord Rochford to prevent the War. 

"Before the declaration of France in favor of America, 
Lord Rochford, formerly Ambassador in Spain and in 
France, formed a project to prevent the war. It was, that 
England should propose a great treaty of confederation be- 
tween France, Spain, Portugal, and England, the objects 
of which should be the three following ; the first, a mu- 
tual guarantee between these four powers of their posses- 
sions in America and the two Indies, with a proviso, that 
a war in Europe should never be a war in those remote 
regions on any pretext whatever, fixing also the number of 
troops and vessels to be furnished by the contracting pow- 
ers against the power that should contravene the peace in 
those distant parts. The second object was, to grant a 
participation in the commerce of America to France, 
Spain, and Portugal, as far as such participation might not 
be incompatible with the common interests, and without 
the rivalship of English America and England. The third 
object was, the adjustment of the contested privileges of 
the Americans upon principles just and honorable for 
them. Lord Rochford was at that time Secretary of 
State. He told me, that the first person to whom he had 
communicated this project was the late Prince of Maza- 
rano, Ambassador of Spain, and that though old and in- 
disposed, he arose and embraced him, and said, 'Ah ! my 
Lord, what divinity has inspired you ?' Lord Rochford also 
communicated it to a friend of his, who was then, and still 
continues one of the Ministers of the King of England, 
who gave it his approbation ; but Lord Rochford soon 


aftei- quitted the Ministry and retired to the country, by 
which accident the project failed of being presented to the 
cabinet of the King. 

"I have given u relation of this anecdote, because [ 
am one of the four or five persons who alone know the 
truth of it, and because I am of opinion, that it is not yet 
too late to revive a project, which will save a million of 
christians from becoming widows and orphans. As to the 
first object of such a confederacy, Lord Rochford did not 
doubt of the proposition's being accepted by all the powers, 
because it was the interest of all to accept it. The 
losses of France in the two Indies the last war, and 
their misfortunes in the East Indies in the present one, 
where, in six weeks, they have lost all they possessed ; 
the losses of the Spaniards in the last war in th6 two 
Indies, and even the stroke the other day in the Bay of 
Honduras, by a young captain with a handful of soldiers ; 
the facility with which Portugal lost the Island of St 
Catharine in the Brazils, and the misfortunes of the En^- 
lish armies the three last years in America, all prove that 
France, Spain, Portugal, and England, have their tender 
parts in America and the two Indies, and of consequence, 
that they have all an interest in a mutual guarantee of their 
possessions in those three parts of the world. 

"As to the second object of the confederacy, I am Sen- 
sible, that the idea of the other three powei's participating 
in the commerce of America, under the limitation of its 
not being incompatible with the common interests of Eng- 
lish America and England, is an idea somewHat vague, 
and subject to disputes. But, fortunately for humanity, 
there are five persons in those five countries, of characters 
which render them proper to draw the outlines of some 

270 JOHN JAY. 

determinate regulations, which will admit of no disputes, 
and may enrich France, Spain, and Portugal, without im- 
poverishing England and her Colonies. In America there 
is Doctor Franklin, perhaps the first genius of the age, 
who is well acquainted with the commercial connexions 
between America and England ; France has her Comp- 
troller-General, who, from his youth, has been brought up 
in the practice of commerce ; in Spain, we find M. Cara- 
pomanes, who lias employed the maturity of his life in 
studies, that give him a superiority in discussions of this 
kind ; Portugal will be assisted by the counsels .of the 
Duke of Braganza, who has gathered knowledge in almost 
every field, in courts, in libraries, and even on the ex- 
changes of the merchants of Europe ; and as for England, 
she Itas a Minister who, thoroughly versed in the true in- 
terests of commerce, will not refuse to America what he 
has just granted to Ireland. 

"As to the third object of the confederation ; England, 
who much boasts of her own magna cliarta, will make no 
difficulty in granting a magna charta to the liberties of 
America. Perhaps the best means to expedite this meas- 
ure would be to give a carte blanche to Dr Franklin. 
A generous confidence is the surest means to secure a 
generous man. Spain has two very solid interests in 
the success of such a confederacy, and against the inde- 
pendence of America. The first is, that if English Amer- 
ica becomes independent, . Spanish America will be over- 
run with the contraband of the Americans thus indepen- 
dent of England. I. England is bound by treaties with 
Spain not to carry on the contraband trade. 2. She is 
restrained by the fear of this contraband's drawing a war 
upon her in Europe, which was the consequence of it in 


the times of Sir Robert Walpole. 3. The clearness of Eng- 
lish and European commodities sets natural bounds to the 
quantity of this contraband. But when the Americans are 
independent, they will say, first, they are not bound by 
the treaties of the English ; secondly, they will not be re- 
strained by fear, being so far from Spain, and having de- 
fended themselves against eighty thousand English soldiers 
and marines, they would but little dread the forces of Spain; 
and thirdly, the low price of American commodities will 
cover the Spanish Colonies with contraband. Indeed, ne- 
cessity itself will oblige the Americans either to carry on 
this contraband, or to make war on Spanish and Portu- 
guese America and their Islands. They have neither gold 
nor silver among themselves, and without these precious 
metals, they can neither cultivate their lands nor carry 
on commerce. They will only have four sources from 
whence to draw them ; first, their commerce with Eu- 
rope ; secondly, pensions from France and Spain ; thirdly, 
a contraband trade with the Provinces of Spain and Por- 
tugal in the new world ; and fourthly, a war in these 

"While the Americans continue in a state, which the 
English call rebellion, their commerce with Europe will be 
interrupted by English cruisers. Thus they will draw but 
a small quantity of these precious metals from this first 
source. The pensions of France and Spain will be much 
too inconsiderable to support the agriculture and manufac- 
tures of so extensive a country. Their only remaining 
source then for these metals will be in the contraband, or 
wars with the Spanish and Portuguese Provinces. To 
prevent this contraband, the treaty of confederation might 
make provision against the contraband both of the English 

272 JOHN JAY. 

and Americans. It is a delicate point for an Englishman 
to suggest the means, but were the two nations sincerely 
disposed for peace, I could in a quarter of an hour suggest 
the infallible means. 

"Spain has another interest, perhaps still greater, against 
the independence of the Americans, and, consequently, in 
favor of the treaty in question. The Americans, who 
will be able to fly with their sails wherever they please, 
will make establishments in New Zealand, the Islands 
of Otaheile, or some other Islands in the South Sea, 
from whence they will torment the Spaniards in that sea, 
and even the English, the French, the Portuguese, and 
the Dutch, in the East India Seas. Being independent, 
no treaty will prevent their making such establishments. 
They may make them consistent with the laws of nations. 
Captain Cook in his last printed voyages says, there are 
fortyseven thousand seafaring people in the Island of Ota- 
heite alone ; and Captain Wallis, who discovered those 
Islands, told me at Lisbon a few days ago, that the inhabi- 
tants of Otaheite went to the mast-head of the English 
ships, and ran on the yard-arms as well in three days' 
time as the English mariners, and gave me two reasons for 
it. The first was, that living on fish, they are all seafaring 
people ; and the second, that those who wear no shoes 
are always the most dexterous in mounting the upper parts 
of a ship. Captain Cook also in the same voyage gives 
a description of a port and city in New Zealand, which 
might in a few weeks be made impregnable, and one needs 
only look at the shape of the Islands in the South Seas, in 
the maps we have of them, to be convinced that they have 
no small number of these impregnable ports. 

"I show myself as much a friend to Spain, to France, 


to Portugal and Holland, as to England, in disclosing 
the following idea, which may have escaped others. Here- 
tofore it was impossible to go to the South Seas witli any 
safety, but in the months of December and January, and 
by the dreadful latitudes round Cape Horn. But the late 
discoveries of Captain Cook and other Englishmen have 
demonstrated the practicability of going thither in every 
month of the year, round the Cape of Good Hope, and 
the fine latitude of New Zealand, and in almost the same 
lime ; the one being a passage of four and th6 other of five 
months. Because the same west wind, which blows al- 
most the whole of the year, and retards the vessels passing 
by Cape Horn, carries them with rapidity by the Cape of 
Good Hope and New Zealand. Hence it follows, that 
when the Americans quarrel with Spain, perhaps on the 
subject of the contraband, they will send their ships on the 
coast of Chili from their establishments in the South Seas, 
by the latitudes of New Zealand, and with the west winds, 
which always blow in that quarter. This is a voyage of 
only five weeks; for Captain Cook in one voyage, and Cap- 
tain Fourneaux in another, went from New Zealand to Cape 
Horn in less lime, and the journal of the winds annexed to 
the voyage of Captain Cook shews, that the west winds in 
those latitudes bear to the east the proportion of ten to 
one. When their vessels are on the coasts of Chili, tfiey 
will take the advantage of the land wind, which, blowing 
constantly from south to north, will carry them along the 
coasts of Chili and Peru. With this wind they will go |n 
fourteen days to the Bay of Panama, and in the course of 
this voyage they will ravage the sea coasts, and make prizes 
of all the vessels they meet. The naval force of Spain 
at Lima will not have it in their power to hinder them, 
VOL. VII. 35 

274 JOHN JAY. 

for the same south wind, which will push the Americans 
forward, will prevent the fleets of Spain going to meet 
them. From the Bay of Panama they will return by the 
great wind of the tropics, which never fails blowing from 
east to west, either to their settlements in the South Seas, 
or to sell their prizes in the seas of China or India, from 
whence they will perhaps again return with new vessels, 
newly manned, to repeat their ravages. Their return will 
either be by New Zealand in coming from the Indies, or 
by the latitude of forty north in coming from China. In this 
last case they will fall on ]\Iexico, and profiting of the land 
winds which always blow there from north to the Bay of 
Panama, they will ravage Mexico as before they ravaged 
Chili and Peru. From the Bay of Panama they will re- 
turn by the great tropic wind, either to their own homes 
in the Soutli Seas, or to the seas of Asia to renew a war, 
insulting, tormenting, and without remedy. 

"On the other hand, w-hen at war with England, France, 
Portugal, or Holland, they will direct their course from 
their establishments in the South Seas, and fall upon the 
possessions of those powers in the East Indies. They will 
have two great routes to go and return by ; the one to the 
west of New Zealand, the other by the Islands between 
China and New Holland, and in this they will have as 
many passages as there are Islands. Thence follows the 
impossibility of waylaying their vessels, either going or on 
their return. These consequences may all be prevented 
by the treaty proposed by Lord Rochford, in which it 
might be stipulated -that these Islands shall forever belong 
to their present inhabitants and their posterity, for cer- 
tainly the nation who shall first possess herself of thera 
will command the commerce of the South Seas and 
those of Asia. 


"Europe, wishing for tlie independence of America, re- 
sembles a man asleep on ice, and not sensible that ice 
thaws, and therefore to give the greater weight to ihe con- 
federation, Holland and Denmark, who have interests in 
both I he new worlds, might be invited to become contract- 
ing parties to those articles of treaty, which regard the mu- 
tual guarantee. 

"The reason of the frequent breach of treaties is, that 
they are made without provision for the future reciprocal 
interests of the contracting nations. The only oi-es that T 
know of, that pay attention to this object, are the treaties 
between Portugal and England ; by which Portugal gains a 
preference for the sale of her wines in England, and Eug- 
land for the sale of her cloths in Portugal. Tlie conse- 
quence is, that there never has, and in appearance never 
will be, a war between Portugal and Er.gland. It would 
not be diflicult, either in the general confederation, or by 
separate treaties of commerce between England on the one 
part, and the three kingdoms of Spain, Portugal, and France 
respectively on the other, to advance infinitely the commer- 
cial interests of all three, by their connexions with England. 
Spain having wines, oil, fruits, salt, fine wools, and some 
other articles, wliich England has not, and England having 
iron, with coal in the same fields for the manufacturing of 
it, and by the moistness of her climate long wool for cloths 
of a low price, also tin, fish, with some other articles, which 
Spain has not, it follows, that when England is rich she 
will buy more articles of Spain, and when S[)ain is rich she 
will buy more articles of England, aovl consequently, that 
one cannot enrich herself without enriching the other. The 
same reasoning applies to the natural connexions belvvi ou 
England and Portugal. There is even a natural connex- 

276 JOHN JAY. 

ion between England and France in many articles of com- 
merce, if the jealousy of fools, and misinformed persons 
did not perpetually interrupt it. 1 have heard from cer- 
tain authority, that had the Abbe Terray continued in the 
Ministry of France, there would have been a tariff between 
France and England for the entry, on the most favorable 
conditions, of the wines and articles of mode of the one 
nation, and the manufactures of iron and wheat of the 
other, and England might have procured the consent of 
Portugal for the diminution of her commerce of wines with 
England by other indemnifications. England in favor of 
France, Spain, and Portugal, might, without injury to her- 
self even permit the exportation of those wools, paying a 
duty at the exportation thereof. The exportation of the 
superfluous wool, would be an advantage to the proprie- 
tors of lands in England, to the King in furnishing him a 
new revenue, and to those three nations, in giving them an 
article necessary for their manufactures. 

"Unfortunately for humanity, the Abbe Terray is no 
more ; but happily for humanity, Dr Franklin, the Comp- 
troller-General of France, M. Compomanes, the Duke of 
Braganza, and Lord North are all still living, and the King 
of Spain, with the Count de Florida Blanca, may put all 
these five in motion. 

"For my part I have no authority from the English Min- 
isters to present this project, but living in friendship with 
the greater part of them, and on an intimate footing with 
the others, I am certain that some of the sentiments in this 
memorial correspond with their manner of thinking on the 
subject. I confess I received a letter in Portugal, fourteen 
days before my departure for Spain, from Lord Rochford, 
who is not at present in the Ministry, but who is so taken 


up with a project that does him so much honor, that lie 
has advised me to feel the pulses on the possibility of 
making it succeed, and that I have a letter on the same 
subject from the Duke of Braganza, who entered into the 
views of my Lord Rochford not as a politician, but as a 
friend to humanity. 

"Encouraged by such men, and still more by the dic- 
tates of my own heart, I wrote to one of the English Min- 
isters, that if I did not find minds too much heated, and 
there was no danger of giving offence, I intended to do 
justice to the project of my Lord Rochford, in Spain and 
in France, and begged him to send me an answer to Paris 
whether the Ministry of England approved or disapproved 
ray intentions. 

"I have only to add, that my views being to unite, and 
not to separate nations, I have no objection that the Min- 
isters of France and Dr Franklin should each have a copy 
of this memorial." 

The Count spoke of Sir John and his anecdote very 
properly, and concluded with assurances of the King's 

The manner in which Sir John speaks of Dr Franklin, 
however just, I impute to a design of injuring the confi- 
dence reposed in him by his constituents. 

The house of Gardoqui at Bilboa are rich, in favor 
with the Ministry, and friends to America. The Navy 
Board have sent to them for goods for the use of the navy, 
and have remitted to them only an inconsiderable part of 
the sum to which they will amount, desiring the residue on 
credit, and promising speedy payment. One of die House 
now here spoke to me on the subject; I advised him to 
complete the orders. It is of the utmost consequence that 

273 JOHN JAY. 

ti:o Navy Board be pinictiial in their remittances. Amer- 
ican credit is not high, and ought to be higher. I am the 
more anxious on this subject, as that House is exceedingly 
well disposed, and a disappointment would not only be 
injurious to them, but much more so to us. Perhaps it 
would be a good rule if the United States were to contract 
debts only with Governments, and never with individuals 

I received a letter last week from a Captain Hawkins at 
Cadiz, informing me that the Americans, who had escaped 
from captivity and were collected there, were fitting out a 
vessel for America, which they were arming, and wished 
to be enabled to act offensively and defensively in their 
way home, by having a proper commission from me for 
that purpose. As 1 had neither blank commissions nor 
authority to grant t!iem, I referred him to Dr Franklin. 

Congress will be pleased to consider how far it may be 
proper to remove these obstacles, by sending me both. 
This leads me again to remind your Excellency of several 
letters I wrote you from Cadiz, respecting American sea- 
men coming to Spain from captivity at Gibraltar and other 
places. As copies of these letters have been sent by dif- 
ferent vessels, I presume some of them have reached 
you. It certainly is necessary that provision be made for 
these people, and in a regular established manner. I am 
very desirous of instructions on this subject. 

The credit given me by Congress on Dr Franklin is 
expended, and I am without other means of obtaining sup- 
plies than by private credit, which I am at a loss to satisfy. 
To apply to, and be maintained by the Court, is, in my 
opinion, too humiliating to bo for the public good ; and as 
yet I have neither received nor heard of remittances from 


Americii. It would give me pleasure to know in what 
manner Congress mean I should be supplied, and whether 
any measures have been taken for that purpose. 

I am much embarrassed for the means of conveying 
and receiving intelligence. Being at a great distance from 
the sea, all my letters to and from thence here must either 
be conveyed by private couriers or the public post. All 
my letters by the latter, whether in France or Spain, are 
opened. By that conveyance, therefore, it would not al- 
ways be proper to write either to Congress, to Dr Frank- 
lin, Mr Adams, or others, with that freedom which would 
often be useful, and sometimes necessary. The salary 
allowed me, so far from admitting the expense of private 
couriers, is inadequate for the common purposes for which 
it was given. This is a delicate subject, and I wish it was 
not my duty to say anything respecting it. This place^is 
the dearest in Europe. The Court is never stationary, 
passing part of the year in no less than five different 
places, viz. Madrid, Pardo, Aranjues, St Ildefonso, and 
the Escurial ; hence considerable expenses arise. I for- 
bear enumerating particulars, my design being only to 
mention this matter to Congress, not to press it upon 
them. I shall always live agreeably to my circumstances ; 
and if, from their being too narrow, inconveniences result 
to the public, they ought to be informed of it. I hope 
what I have said will be viewed in this light only ; so far 
as I am personally interested, I am content. 

Mr Harrison, a gentleman of Maryland, now here, will 
be the bearer of this letter to Cadiz. 1 therefore embrace 
this good and unusual opportunity of being so minute and 
explicit in it. 

The family of Galvez is numerous and of weight. The 

280 JOHN JAY. 

one on the Mississippi has written favorably of the Ameri- 
cans to his brothers here, three of whom are in ofSce. It 
would be well to cultivate this disposition whenever oppor- 
tunities of doing it offer. 

The resolution providing for Spanish prisoners at New 
York was well judged. 

Dr Franklin is more advantageously circumstanced 
than I am to gain and transmit to Congress intelligence of 
the disposition ol Holland and of the Northern Powers. 

From the conduct of their ministers here, 1 have no 
reason to predict much to our advantage. They are cold, 
and 1 have received nothing more than common civility 
from any of them, except the Ministers of Holland and 
Sweden, and indeed not much more from them. Perhaps 
they have been rendered unusually catitious by an extract 
of a letter from Madrid in the Leyden paper, mentioning 
the precious reception Mr Carmichael met with here, and 
the attentions he received from the foreign Ministers. 
You have probably seen it in the Courier de VEurope. 

From what I hear of the character of the Empress of 
Russia, I cannot but think that a prudent agent there 
would be very useful. They say she is sensible, proud, 
and ambitious. Hence I infer that such a mark of atten- 
tion would be grateful, and consequently useful. 

I should have given your Excellency seasonable intelli- 
gence of the Spanish fleet and armament, which lately 
sailed from Cadiz, as I believe to the Havana, and whose 
objects 1 suspect to be the Floridas or .Jamaica, or proba- 
bly both, but I omitted writing on that subject previous to 
the departure of the fleet, from a persuasion that any 
letters by the post containing such advices would not be 
permitted to proceed, and therefore I thought it unneces- 


saiy ; nor will 1 now swell the pages of this letter, already- 
very voluminous, by entering into particulars relative to it, 
especially as that armament will probably have begun its 
operations before this letter will come to your Excel- , 
lency's hands. 

The reports of dissensions in Congress, which prevailed 
here prior to my arrival, and the causes to which they 
were ascribed, had filled this Court with apprehensions ; 
and it gives me pleasure to assure you, that the present 
appearance of union in Congress is attended here with 
very happy effects. 

The people in this country are in almost total darkness 
about us. Scarce any American publications have reached 
them, nor are they informed of the most recent and im- 
portant events in that country. The affairs of Stony 
Point, Paulus Hook, &c. &c. had never been heard of 
here, except perhaps by the great officers of stale, anS 
they could scarcely believe that the Roman Catholic 
religion was even tolerated there. 

There are violent prejudices among them against us. 
Many of them have even serious doubts of our being civil- 
ized, and mention a strange story of a ship driven into 
Virginia by distress, about thirty years ago, that was plun- 
dered by the inhabitants, and some of the crew killed in a 
manner and under circumstances which, if true, certainjy 
indicate barbarity. The King and Ministry are warm, yet 
I have reason to believe that ihe bulk of the nation is 
cold towards us ; they appear to me to like the English, 
hale the French, and to have prejudices against us. 

I mention these things to show in a stronger light the 
necessity of punctuality in sending me from tim.e to time 
all American intelligence of importance, and observing 
VOL. VII. 36 

282 JOHN JAY. 

such conduct towards Spaniards in general, as may tend 
to impress them with more favorable sentiments of us- 
There was a litde uneasiness among the mercantile people 
at Cadiz respecting the capture of some Spanish vessels by 
privateers. I hope the former have had ample justice 
done them ; it certainly is of great importance that they 
should have reason to be sadsfied. 

Your Excellency may observe that I have written very 
particularly. Both this Court and that of France have 
very particular information respecting the proceedings of 

Want of prudence, rather than virtue, I believe to be the 
cause. I nevertheless think it my duty to give Congress 
from time to ume full information of their afiairs here, and 
shall not be restrained by the apprehension of any conse- 
quences, that may result from want of secrecy there. I 
make it a rule to write on these subjects only to Congress, 
and to them very particularly. 

1 have the honor to be, he. 


P. )S. Congress may think it extraordinary, that Mr 
Carmichael's hand writing does not appear in this letter. 
He is, with my approbation, now at Aranjues, and I must 
do him the justice to say, that he is always ready and 
willing to do his duly as Secretary. J. J. 


Madrid, May 27th, 1780. 

On the 27th of last month I had the pleasure of receiv- 
ing your favor of the 1 1th of December, 1779, with copies 


of the resolutions of Congress, for drawing on Mr Laurens 
and myself for one hundred thousand pounds sterling each. 

I had the honor of writing to Congress yesterday very 
fully respecting their affairs in this kingdom, and particu- 
larly on the subject of those resolutions. 

I have not yet had the pleasure of hearing of Mr Lau- 
rens's arrival, about which I am anxious. Be pleased to 
assure Congress, that Mr Laurens shall receive from me 
every mark of attention, and ail the aid in my power to 
afford. The latter I fear will not be great. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



Madrid, May 27th, 1780. 
Sir, ^.-^ 

Eight days ago I had the pleasure of receiving a packet 
containing journals and newspapers. 

From an endorsement I conjecture that I am indebted 

to you for it. There was no letter enclosed in it. 1 am 

much obliged by this attention. American intelligence is 

of more importance here (v/here they have little of it) than 

can well be imagined. 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Aranjues, May 27th, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 
Since my letter of the 25th instant, I have very strong 
reason to believe, in consequence of conversations I have 
had with persons who ought to be well informed, that the 

284 JOHN JAY. 

fleet and troops, which sailed from Cadiz the 28th ultimo, 
are destined in the first instance to the Windward Islands, 
to act in concert with the squadron of the Count de Gui- 
chen, from thence as circumstances may render it proper 
they will proceed to Jamaica or theFloridas; for it ap- 
pears to he the intention of the Spanish, as well as of the 
French Court, to detach a part at least of their force in the 
Islands to the continent, as soon as the hurricane season 
in the West Indies renders it dangerous for them to act 
against the enemy in that part of the world. I do not 
mention hy letter my source of information, because I do 
not choose to hazard the loss of intelligence, which I may 
gain from the same persons, by the miscarriage of letters. 
I shall however mention it to you vi^d voce, in order to 
enable you to judge of the credit due to my information. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



Madrid, May 28th, 1780. 

Since closing my letter of the 26th instant, I have 
received from Mr Carmichael the interesting intelligence 
contained in the enclosed paper.* He is now here, and 
has communicated to me the channel through which he 
obtained it, from which I think his information deserves 
belief, and his address in obtaining it credit. 
I have the honor to be, he. 


* See the preceding letter. 



Madrid, May 28th, 1780. 

In the journal of the proceedings of Congress of No- 
vember, 1779, 1 find that on the 8th day of that month 
they were pleased to come to the following resolution. 
"Resolved, that the late and former Presidents of Con- 
gress be desired to lodge, as soon as they conveniently can 
in the Secretary's office, copies of all public letters by 
them respectively written during their Presidentship." Af- 
ter I resigned the chair, and immediately on your Excel- 
lency's election, I delivered a book, containing copies of 
the public letters I had written during my Presidentship, 
to your Excellency, who promised to lodge it in the Sec- 
retary's office, which, I am persuaded, was accordingly 
done. Il gives me concern therefore to find this resolution 
is made to extend to me, and I flatter myself CongfBSs 
will do me the justice to let it appear, by the entry to be 
made on their journals of the receipt of this letter, that I 
had done that part of my duty in season, and without their 
express request. 

T have the honor to be, &c. 



Madrid, May 30th, 1780. 

On the 26th mstant I had the honor of writing a very 
long and particular letter to your Excellency, by the way 
of Cadiz, of which a duplicate has also been sent. To 
the contents of that letter I have nothing new to add, ex- 
cept that two of the bills directed to be drawn upon me 
have arrived. 

286 JOHN JAY. 

I shall go tomorrow to Aranjues, from whence 1 shall 
embrace the first opportunity of communicating to Con- 
gress the further progress of their affairs here. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 


♦ — 


Without date. 

By vessels lately arrived from the continent, and from 
St Eustatia, there appeared here some bills drawn by the 
Treasurer of Loans in America on Henry Laurens, Com- 
missioner for the States in Amsterdam. Every body has 
been surprised at it, and we in particular, as we were 
directly applied to. We said at the first, that we expected 
Mr Laurens would be in town very soon, begging them to 
keep those bills a fortnight, and that, at all events, we 
would accept them. We have seen others since more 
willing to wait ; but not knowing what sums may have 
been drawn for already, we are in hopes to be soon re- 
leased from this anxiety by the arrival of the Minister. 
As we think your Excellency may have some intelligence 
about this matter, and have it in your power at the same 
time to save the credit of America, if Mr Laurens by any 
accident should not arrive, we beg the favor to be inform- 
ed how to conduct ourselves. In the mean time we will 
do what lies in our power to prevent all noise and trouble 
about them. In case Mr Laurens should not arrive, your 
Excellency will have time left to make or provide for re- 
mittances, as the bills are drawn at six months' sight. 
We have the honor to be, he. 




Amsterdam, June 1st, 1780. 

Craving reference to our last, we have now the honor to 
propose to your Excellency on what terms we think all 
difficulty on account of the absence of Henry Laurens, as 
Commissioner from Congress here, may be prevented. 
We have written the same to Dr Franklin in France, 
offering him to accept all those bills, provided he gives us 
permission to re-draw directly on him for account of Con- 
gress, and to do it even at seven or eight months, until, by 
the arrival of Mr Laurens, or in some other way, this 
matter may be arranged, for there must certainly be pro- 
vision made for those bills, and the sums we do not think 
will exceed two or three hundred thousand guilders before 
Mr Laurens's arrival here may be known in America, and 
matters are setded. We even ofiered those transactions 
without any view of interest, as for a commission. The 
importance of the business must have influence with every 
one, who has any regard', for the United States ; and Uiis 
emboldened us even to trouble your Excellency with this 
relation, not doubting but you might equally find means to 
make matters easy at all events; for the terrible loss which 
there would be on such bills, if protested, must be pre- 
vented, and the honor of the credit of America must be 
saved. We hope our endeavor for it may be approved of, 
and have the desired end. 

We have the honor to be, he. 


288 JOHN JAY. 


Amsterdam, June 8th, 1780. 


In conformity with what we have informed you, that we 
had engaged for the acceptance of some of the bills drawn 
on Henry Laurens, since nothing has been heard of him 
as yet, we accepted those on the first instant, and we hope 
your Excellency, as well as Dr Franklin, may approve of 
our proceeding, and of the method we have proposed for 
our reimbursement, in case Mr Laurens may not appear, 
or tliat they should not be provided for in time. Certain 
it is that those bills should be honored for the credit of 
America. At the same time, it is not in the power of a 
mercantile house to stand for the whole ; yet the measure 
proposed may make it easy, since the sums will not be so 
large but that they may be easily provided for in Spain 
and France by the Plenipotentiary Ministers. And for 
ourselves, we only desire to be properly empowered to 
draw again for any sums we may accept. As there was 
no time to get the matter previously adjusted, we will go 
on, and see how our plan may be agreed to and ap- 
proved of. 

We have the honor to be always with the most devoted 

regard, &,c. 



Philadelphia, June 16th, 1780. 
The embarrassments, which the depreciation of the 
currency had created in the public afilurs at the time of 


your departure for Europe, were, as you may well remem- 
ber, very distressing, and have, till lately, continued to 
increase. Congress, greatly anxious to avail themselves of 
every possible means of checking this evil, on the 23d of 
November last ventured on the expedient of drawing bills 
upon you for one hundred thousand pounds sterling, as you 
have been already advised by letter of December the 11th 
following. This they thought they might risk, considering 
the importance of the object. But as the time of your 
arrival in Europe could not be counted upon with cer- 
tainty, and as the negotiation might not be immediately 
practicable, and moreover, as u disappointment would be 
highly injurious to the public faith, they determined to 
draw the bills at six months' sight, which we hope will 
allow sufficient leisure for every preparation. 

It will not be amiss to observe, that Congress have dqJ 
taken this measure without some circumstances of encour- 
agement, that a fund to satisfy the draft would not be un- 
attainable. Since the agreeable news of your arrival, and 
to answer a purpose of great national utility. Congress, by 
their resolution of the 19th instant, have directed bills to 
be drawn for the additional sum of twentyfive thousand 
dollars, payable at sixty days' sight. -The exertions neces- 
sary at this crisis require the command of a considerable 
sum of money ; but these drafts, we hope, will not bfe 
increased till we have intelligence from you respecting 
your prospects and assurances. We have the pleasure to 
inform you, that from the measures, which have lately 
been adopted, and with which you are made acquainted 
by the journals, the finances begin to assume a better ap- 
pearance, and our public affairs in general will, we hope, 
be delivered from many of the embarrassments under 
VOL. vii. 37 

290 JOHN JAY. 

which they have labored, but wo earnestly entreat you to 
push every possible exertion for procuring aids of money 
from the Court of Spain, without which we are fearful the 
measures of Congress fully to restore the currency and 
prosecute the war with good effect will fall short of the 
desired success. 

We have the honor to be, &:c. 



Madrid, June 18th, 1780. 


Accept my thanks for your favors on the subject of the 
bills drawn on Mr Laurens. The kind concern you take 
in the credit and prosperity of the United States merits 
their acknowledgments, and I shall take the first oppor- 
tunity of communicating to Congress your very friendly 
propositions relative to the acceptance of the bills. 

Whether Dr Franklin is in circumstances to agree to 
these propositions I know not. They certainly are very 
generous and liberal, and would be attended with very 
happy effects. I am persuaded, that Congress would 
strain every nerve to fulfill them. I have no intelligence 
whatever of Mr Laurens, and am much at a loss to con- 
jecture what should detain him. 
I have the honor to be, he. 




Madrid, June 25th, 1780. 

Your favor of the 8th instant came to hand yesterday. 
The receipt of the letters referred to in it was acknowl- 
edged by the last post. Your plan for paying the bills 
drawn on Mr Laurens is noble and generous. I heartily 
wish it may succeed, and that things could be so adjusted 
as that you might not be exposed to loss or inconvenience 
by it. But, gentlemen, as to this matter, I have neither 
instructions, nor the means of preventing the evils you 
mention. If 1 had the money, or could procure it, I 
would, without hesitation, engage to repay you punctually, 
but that is not the case. That Congress will repay you 
with gratitude I am certain, but whether quite so soon as 
your convenience may require, is more doubtful, because 
the absence of Mr Laurens is an event they did not fore- 
see, and consequently did not provide against. If you 
could make a loan for the United States in your country, 
the money might be applied for the discharge of these 
bills- I am sure you would do Congress a very accept- 
able service by it. I have not yet heard from Dr Frank- 
lin on this subject. You may rely on all the aid in my 
power to render, and 1 should be very happy if it couW 
be equal to the present exigency. I am not without dif- 
ficulties respecting "the bills drawn upon me. If these 
difficulties should cease, and I should be in a capacity to 
assist you, I will immediately let you kiiow it, but of this 
there is as yet no great prospect. 

As a man, T admire and esteem your conduct, and as 

292 JOHN JAY. 

an American 1 thank you. Be assured, therefore, that I 
shall omit no opportunity of convincing you of the regard 
and attachment, with which I have the honor to be, &-c. 



Madrid, July 10th, 1780. 

As a late and particular letter from me to your Excel- 
lency is now on the way to America, and as I purpose to 
write again very fully by the successor of M. JVIirales, I 
decline saying much in this letter, which I shall send by a 
circuitous and hazardous route. 

I have accepted bills to the amount of between eleven 
and twelve thousand dollars. They arrive slowly, and I 
am very glad of it. No news of Mr Laurens ; I regret 
his absence. 1 hope the terms for the sale of the bills on 
me will not be lowered. Remittances 'have really become 
necessary. Distressed American seamen cost a great deal. 
The house of Le Couteulx has advanced money for them 
at Cadiz. 

I had yesterday an application from the director of a 
hospital at St Andeira, desiring to be informed whether I 
would be responsible for the ordinary expenses of receiv- 
ing and curing a New England master of a vessel, who 
had escaped from captivity pennyless, having one of his 
legs so injured by iron fetters as to be in danger of losing 
it. These are calls of humanity, and I entreat Congress 
to enable me to obey them, and to establish specific regu- 
lations for the conduct of these affairs. 

The surrender of Charleston is the subject of much 


speculation, and many unfavorable conjectures. I have 
received no public letters since I left America, except one 
from the Committee, enclosing the resolutions for drawing 
bills on me. 

I have the honor to be, k,c. 



Amsterdam, July 13tli, 1780. 


Never letter could have been more welcome than the 
favor your Excellency honored us with of the 25th of the 
past month, since it expressed a true concern about the bills 
drawn on Mr Laurens, and your approbation of our con- 
duct. As we from the beginning acted from principle 
in the American cause, and never will prevaricate, this is 
only from the same motive, but we shall be sorry if we 
should not be supported, and that it is out of your Excel- 
lency's power to do it. We cannot judge how far those 
drafts may go, and if we had not expected that your 
Excellency, as well as Dr Franklin, would have been 
willing and able to answer for a trifle, (one or two hundred 
thousand guilders) in such a matter as this, it would have 
been a folly to undertake it. 

Dr Franklin wrote to us, that people would be satisfied 
to have the bills enregistered, but we found the contrary ; 
several of them would have them duly protested, and until 
today we have again accepted them all ; but how it will 
go further we do not know. We were very sensible to 
the hint your Excellency was pleased to give us, of mak- 

294 JOHN JAY. 

ing a loan here. We might from time to time have got 
som.e money in that way, if properly authorised ; and our 
good will and influence certainly would have brought it 
further than it had been done by the House, which was 
formerly intrusted with it, and we have long ago desired 
a loan should be opened in our hands, but we never could 
properly obtain it. A trifle of allowance, and chiefly the 
largeness of the sum, which was required from us to an- 
swer for at once, prevented it ; so we did not think proper 
to mention it again. We can and may work for glory, but 
on a large scale we cannot sacrifice our own interest. 
Every catastrophe in favor of or against America, has with 
our public a great influence. So the capture of Charles- 
ton would be very much against us at this moment for 
such a purpose ; and though we could not flatter ourselves 
to go any length with it, a very particular circumstance 
might revive the American spirit ; and it would even re- 
quire some time before such a power was brought into due 
terms, whereon we could engage anything. 

This is certain, that in a moment as critical as the pres- 
ent, a small sum would save the honor of Congress, and in 
that light could not be paid for too dear ; which made us 
think on a method, that your Excellency could employ a 
banker, and likewise Dr Franklin ; that we, drawing on 
either of your Excellencies, if we were sure you would 
approve of it, could prolong terms in all probability, and 
without doubt as long as should be needful, and until the 
arrival of Mr Laurens, and that by his means and instruc- 
tions proper measures could be taken. 

We must also expect, that Congress, (as on the first days 
of May they were informed, that Mr Laurens had not 
sailed,) will have been attentive to provide for those bills, 


and have considered the consequences, as we do in Eu- 
rope. We write the same idea to Dr Franklin, and pro- 
pose to him, if he shoulc^iot approve of such a method, 
or find a' better, to empower us for a loan, as we know he 
had formerly instructions thereon. We are too nice and 
anxious for the credit of Congress to make any use there- 
of, if it should hurt matters any way ; but it is not pos- 
sible to know what may be done before a proper trial ; and 
we are obliged at last to speak plain, that whatever bills 
now further should offer, we cannot accept any more. 
We wish our proposals may not seem incongruous ; we 
make them with the more assurance, as we are not guided 
by any other motive, than by the most extended desire to 
prevent every difficulty, which could in any way afiect the 
reputation of the United States. 
We have the honor to be, Sic. 



AmsterdaiTi, July 28th, 1780. 

Since we had the honor of writing to your Excellency, 

it is but just, that we should inform you of the success,of 

our proceedings in the acceptance of the bills drawn on 

Henry Laurens, far which Dr Franklin, by his last favor, 

has engaged, offering to accept further bills, when sent to 

him, until the arrival of IMr Laurens, or that some good 

reason may appear for the contrary. As this will answer 

the same purpose, and we think it best, that there should 

not seem to be any alteration, we offer today to continue 

296 JOHN JAY. 

our accepiance until forbid, undei- guarantee of our being 
reimbursed in time. We are very mucb pleased, tbat the 
matter is thus far settled for th©i|||^nor of Congress. 
We have the honor to be, Stc. 



Madrid, July 29th, 1780. 

Your favor of the loth instant was delivered to me last 
evening. I admire the generous principles, which lead 
you to take so decided and friendly a part in favor of 
America. I have too great confidence in the honor, jus- 
tice, and gratitude of Congress to suspect, that they v;ill 
permit you to be suflerers by your exertions in their favor. 
On the contrary, I am persuaded they will entertain a 
proper sense of your disinterested attachment, and with 
pleasure take every opportunity of acknowledging it. 

Mr Laurens's absence is much to be regretted ; his 
endeavors, aided by your assistance, would probably have 
prevented the embarrassments, which have taken place. 
I have not as yet received any advices of his having sailed, 
and your information of his not having left America in 
May is true. By a letter from a gentleman at Cadiz of 
the 21st instant I learn, that a vessel from North Carolina 
had arrived in fortynine days, and left Mr Laurens there 
on his way to Philadelphia. I am at a loss to account for 
ibis, having no intelligence from America on the subject. 
Perhaps his design was to sail from Philadelphia. If so, 
we may still look out for him. Prudence, however, de- 
mands, that every possible step be taken to alleviate the 


inconveniences arising from his absence. If my power 
extended to this case, I should, without hesitation, author- 
ise you in a proper manner to make a loan in Holland, 
and be much obliged to you for undertaking it. But my 
instructions do not reach so far; all I can do is to advise as 
an individual, and as a public servant, to represent in a 
true light to Congress your benevolent efforts to preserve 
their credit. If Dr Franklin has such instructions as you 
suppose, and his circumstances will admit of it, I can at 
present see no objections to his taking some such measures 
as you propose, until Mr Laurens's arrival ; but of this, he 
alone can properly judge. I shall write to him on the 
subject, and you may rely on my doing everything in my 
power. I assure you I feel myself, as an American, so 
much obliged by your generous zeal to serve my country, 
that I shall be happy in being instrumental to render the 
issue of it as agreeable and honorable to you, as the priTi- 
ciples on which you act are meritorious and noble. 

I flatter myself, that the unfavorable influence, which 
the capture of Charleston has on the public, will be of 
short duration. When they reflect, that America has 
nobly sustained a six years' war, fought hard battles with 
various success, and lost and regained several of their 
cities, they will find jij. ridiculous to believe, that the fate 
of the Thirteen States is involved in that of one or tvyo 
towns. The like impressions were made, when New 
York, Philadelphia, and Ticonderoga fell into the enemy's 
hands ; and those impressions were again removed by the 
battle of Trenton, the evacuation of Philadelphia, the 
battle of Monmouth, the defeat and capture of General 
Burgoyne and his army, and other victories on our side. 
Many of these great events happened when America had 
VOL. VII. 38 

39g JOHN JAY. 

no ?.lly, and when Britain had no other objects to divide 
her force. It is not reasonable, therefore, to imagine, that 
the power of Britain has been augmented by the accession 
of two formidable enemies, or that the power of America 
has been diminished in proportion as the number of her 
friends increased. 

Depend upon it, that as the spirit of America has 
always risen with the successes of her enemies they will 
not, on this occasion, throw away their arms, and inglo- 
riously pass under the yoke of a nation whose conduct 
towards her has been marked by injustice and oppression 
in peace, and by malice and wanton barbarity in war. 

With sentiments of sincere regard and esteem, I have 

the honor to be, &tc. 



Madrid, August 16th, 1780. 

My last to you was dated July 29th, in answer to yours 
of the 13th of the same montli. I have since had the 
pleasure to receive your favor of the 2Sth of July, and am 
happy to hear that Dr Franklin has been able to take the 
step you mention. I cannot forbear again to repeat the 
sense I have of your very friendly conduct on this occa- 
sion. 1 assure you I shall rejoice in every opportunity of 
acknowledging the obligations you have conferred on my 
country. Such disinterested acts of friendship are not 
common, and ought never to be forgotten. 

With sentiments of great and sincere esteem and regard, 

I have the honor to be, he. 




St Ildefonso, September 8th, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 
If 1 could easily be angry with an old friend, 1 should 
be so with you. Your silence is unkind, and the more so 
as you might probably have communicated things useful, 
as well as entertaining. Before we parted in America, 
you gave me a cypher, and I really promised myself much 
from it on your arrival in Europe. 1 could almost wish 
that the winds had blown you this way. T would give a 
good deal for a day's conversation with you, but that is 
impossible. A correspondence is the only substitute, and 
perhaps you have detached yourself too much from public 
concerns and public men to be troubled with it. I hope 
this is not the case. It would be wrong to extend to a 
whole nation, the resentments excited by a ^ew. Fevherps 
other reasons may have induced your silence ; whatever 
they may be I regret them. 

Adieu. I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant, 



St Ildefonso, September 16th, 1780. 

This letter and several copies of it are to be sent by the 
next post to Bilboa, Cadiz, Nantes, he. The object of it 
is to inform you, thSt it is necessary immediately to cease 
drawing bills upon me for the present. 

Your Excellency may soon expect a full detail of par- 
ticulars ; you will then receive an answer to every quPo- 
tion that may be raised upon this letter. 

300 JOHN JAY. 

His Catholic Majesty has been pleased to ofFei* his re- 
sponsibility to facilitate a loan of one hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars for us, payable in three years, and to 
promise us some clothing. This need not be kept secret. 
I have written several letters to your Excellency, but have 
received only one from the Committee since I left Amer- 
ica. It covered the resolutions respecting these bills. 

The Philadelphia bank, the ladies' subscriptions, and 

other indications of union and public spirit, have a fine 

effect here. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



In Congress, October 4th, 1780. 

On the report of a committee to whom were referred 
certain instructions to the delegates of Virginia by their 
constituents, and a letter of the 26th of May, from the 
Honorable John Jay, Congress unanimously agreed to the 
following instructions to the Honorable John Jay, Minister 
Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, at the 
Court of Madrid. 

That the said Minister adhere to his former instruc- 
tions, respecting the right of the United States of Amer- 
ica to the free navigation of the river Mississippi into 
and from the sea ; which right, if an express acknow- 
ledgment of it cannot be obtained irom Spain, is not 
by any stipulation on the part of America to be relin- 
quished. To render the treaty to be concluded between 
the two nations permanent, nothing can more effectually 
contribute, than a proper attention, not only to the present 


but the future reciprocal interests of the contracting 

The river Mississippi being the boundary of several 
States in the union, and their citizens, while connected 
with Great Britain, and since the revolution, having been 
accustomed to the free use thereof, in common with the 
subjects of Spain, and no instance of complaint or dis- 
pute having resulted from it, there is no reason to fear, 
that the future mutual use of the river by the subjects 
of the two nations, actuated by friendly dispositions, will 
occasion any interruption of that harmony which it is the 
desire of America, as well as of Spain, should be perpet- 
ual. That if the unlimited freedom of the navigation of 
the river Mississippi, with a free port or ports below the 
31st degree of north latitude, accessible to merchant ships, 
cannot be obtained from Spain, the said Minister in that 
case be at liberty to enter into such equitable regulations 
as may appear a necessary security against contraband ; 
provided the right of the United States to the free naviga- 
tion of the river be not relinquished, and a free port or 
ports as above described be stipulated to them. 

That with respect to the boundary alluded to in his 
letter of the 26th of May last, the said Minister be, and 
hereby is instructed, to adhere strictly to the boundaries 
of the United States as already fixed by Congress. Spain 
having by the treaty of Paris ceded to Great Britain all 
the country to the northeastward of the Mississippi, the 
people inhabiting these States, while connected with Great 
Britain, and also since the revolution, have settled them- 
selves at divers places to the westward near the Missis- 
sippi, are friendly to the revolution, and being citizens 
of these United States, and subject to the laws of those 

302 JOHN JAY. 

to vviilch they respectively belong, Congress cannot assign 
them over as subjects to any other power. 

That the said Minister be further informed, that in case 
Spain shall eventually be in possession of East and West 
Florida, at the termination of the war, it is of the greatest 
importance to these United States to have the use of the 
waters running out of Georgia through West Florida into 
the Bay of Mexico, for the purpose of navigation ; and that 
he be instructed to endeavor to obtain the same, subject 
to such regulations as may be agreed on between the con- 
tracting parties ; and that as a compensation for this, he be 
and hereby is empowered to guaranty the possession of 
the said Floridas to the Crown of Spain. 


Madrid, October 4th, 1780. 

I have lately had the pleasure of receiving your favor of 
;he 7th of September. After the proofs you have given of 
disinterested zeal in the cause of liberty and America, I 
cannot harbor a doubt of your opposing the measures of a 
Court industriously employed in attempts to destroy both. 

Your sentiments respecting the expediency of a con- 
nexion between the United States and your Republic con- 
cur with my own, and I am persuaded that those who 
know and wish well to the interests of both will assiduously 

As I have received no further intelligence respecting 
Mr Laurens, I can add nothing on that subject. I cannot 
doubt but that good reasons have detained him, though 1 
do not know what they are. Congress, I am sure, will 


continue their attention to the objects of his appointment, 
and will be happy in cultivating a friendly connexion with 
a people whose history exhibits many instances of heroic 
and glorious exertions in a cause similar to their own. 
Those among you who know liistory, and venerate the 
names and characters of their forefathers, cannot consent 
to be the instruments of despotism, to deprive others of 
those rights which were purchased for themselves by the 
blood of their own ancestors. 

When or iiow far it may consist with the views of Con- 
gress to make mercantile appointments in your country, I 
cannot determine ; should they ever become necessary, I 
cannot doubt of your being remembered. The most 
powerful recommendation I can give them, will bo by 
sending them our correspondence ; and for that purpose, 
copies of all the letters that have passed between us are 
now preparing, and shall, together with duplicates and 
triplicates, be sent by the first vessels. 

As to the late ordinance of Spain, establishing a paper 
currency, it is a subject on which 1 make no remarks, and 
for this very good reason, that the policy and propriety of 
that n"ifiasure are objects without my sphere, on which I 
can have no influence, and which would not be altered by 
anything I might say or write about them. 

The Mexican dollars, mentioned in the bills drawn upon 
me, I understand to be only another name for Spanish 
milled dollars, which you know pass here at twenty reals 
of vellon. How far the sale or payment of these may be 
affected by the paper in question I know not, though I 
must confess that 1 do not apprehend so much evil from 
it as some others do. These bills will be on an* equal 
footing with all others drawn on Spain, and you will 

304 JOHN JAY. 

readily suppose it not to be in my power to put them on a 

The King of Spain has been so kind as to offer to be- 
come responsible to a certain amount for monies which I 
may borrow for Congress, payable in three years. Be so 
kind as to inform me whether this could be done in your 
country, on their joint credit, how far, and on what terms. 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Madrid, October 27th, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 

Your letter of the 11th of July gave me much pleasure. 
There is a degree of ease and cordiality in it, which, as 
mere letters of business do not require, I am the more 
obliged to you for. 

It is true that I might write to Congress very often, 
indeed by every vessel, and there are many of them. 
But how are my letters to get to the sea-side .'' By the 
post? They would be nil inspected, and many su})pres- 
sed. There is scarce a man in any of the ports, except 
Mr Harrison at Cadiz, with whom I would trust them ; so 
that if, under different covers, I should get them there, the 
danger would not end. To write often, and write nothing 
material, would be useless ; and when you see my public 
letters, by this opportunity, you will perceive, that, to be 
well understood, 1 must write a great deal. 

I would throw stones too, with all my heart, if I thought 
they would hit only the committee, without injuring the 
members of it. Till now I have received but one letter 
from them, and that not worth a farthins:, though it con- 


veyed a draft for one hundred thousand pounds sterling on 
the bank of hope. 

One good private correspondent would be worth twenty 
committees, made of the wisest heads in America, for the 
purpose of intelligence. What with clever wives, or 
pretty girls, or pleasant walks, or too tired, or too busy, or 
do you do it, very little is done, much postponed, and 
more neglected. If you are naturally industrious, and 
love your country, you would frequently take up your pen 
and your cyphers, and tell me how the wheel of politics 
runs, and what measures it is from time to lime turning 
out. I should be better informed, and Congress better 
served. I now get more intelligence ofyour affairs from 
the French Ambassador, than from all the members of 
Congress put together. 

I had written thus far, when 1 received a letter from M. 
Le Couteulx at Cadiz, enclosing a letter of the IGth"^ 
September, written at St Ildefonso from me to Congress. 
It had been enclosed in one to Mr Harrison, and that again 
put under cover to M. Le Couteulx, and, under these two 
covers, it was put into the post office. Now mark its fate. 
The Director of the post office at Cadiz showed it to M. 
Le Couteulx, naked and stripped of its two covers, of 
which he made no mention. He said it came from Bay- 
onne, but M. Le Couteulx, knowing my hand writing'? 
paid the postage, and returned it to me. This is only one 
among many instances of the fate to which my letters are 
subjected. To avoid it, I must now be at the expense 
of sending Colonel Livingston to , the sea-side with my 

When at Cadiz, I heard some of our countrymen, who 
had been prisoners at Lisbon, speak handsomely of M. 
VOL. VII. 39 

306 •'OHN JAY. 

Dohrmer. They meniioned his having supplifid tliem 

with necessaries, but at the same time told me that he had 

been employed for the purpose by Dr Franklin. Hence 

it happened that I declined nientioniog his usefulness to 

Congress. I considered him as an agent of Dr Franklin, 

who did Lis duty faithfully, and thought it would be more 

proper for liiiB to recommend his services to the notice of 

Congress than tor me. 

I am, dear Sir, Sic. 



Madrid, November 6th, 1780. 


The last particular letter I had the honor of writing 
to your Excellency was dated the 26th of May, and, with 
a duplicate, was carried to Cadiz by Mr Harrison, who 
sent one by the Peacock, Captain Davis, to Boston, and 
the other by the General Arnold, Captain Jenkins, to 
Alexandria in Virginia. They both sailed in June last, 
and the former, I hear, arrived safe after a short passage. 

I have since written several letters to your Excellency, 
but as they went to the seaports by the post, none of 
them contained anything material, except one from St 
Ildefonso of the 16th of September, advising Congress of 
the necessity of suspending further drafts on me for the 

Congress will recollect, that my letter of the 26th of 
May contained notes of a conference I had with the Min- 
ister on the 1 1th of that month, on the subjects of my two 
former, letters to him, the first in answer to his questions, 
and the latter relative to the resolution for drawing bills 


upon me. It may be remembered also, that, in this con- 
ference, the Minister promised me his sentiments in writ- 
ing in a few days, as well on the subject of the proposed 
treaty, as on the bills which were daily expected. The 
first I have not yet received, and ii was not before the 7th 
of June that I was favored with the latter. 

In this interval there arrived here from England, by the 
way of Lisbon, an Abbe Hiissey. He came to Lisbon in 
company with IMr Cumberland, one of Lord George Ger- 
main's secretaries, who, with his family, purposed, on ob- 
taining permission, to come to Madrid. This priest was 
known to many, being a pensioner of the Spanish Court, 
and formerly in the late Prince Massarano's family. In- 
deed he took no pains to conceal himself, or his business, 
which was to obtain permission for his friend to proceed, 
on account of the bad health of a daughter. Mr Carmi- 
chael watched his motions with success and industry, and 
was the first who mentioned his arrival to me. He hired 
lodgings and a coach for Mr Cumberland, and visited 
several persons about the Court, particularly JM. del 
Campo, First Secretary of the Minister. 

On the first of June 1 received a card from the Minis- 
ter, desiring to see me at nine o'clock the next evening. I 
waited upon him accordingly. The following are notes of 
what passed upon that occasion. 

[Notes of a Conference between his Excellency the 
Count de Florida Blanca and Mr Jay, in the office of the 
former at Arar'jues, 2d of June, 1780, reduced to writing, 
immediately after the conference ended, by Mr Carmi- 
chael, who was present at it.] 

In consequence of a card received Ly IMr Jay yester- 
day, from his Excellency the Count de Florida Blanca, 

308 JOHN JAY. 

appointing him a meeting at nine o'clock this evening, Mr 
Jay waited on him at that hour. The conversation com- 
menced on the part of tiie Minister, with polite inquiries 
for the state of Mr Jay's health, which, he said, had in- 
duced him not to send the notes promised on the former 
meeting, at the time when appointed, as he had been in- 
formed that he was indisposed. He attributed to bis own 
frequent ill state of health (a disorder of the nerves, occa- 
sioned by his necessary application to business) the disap- 
pointment and delay to which, without intending it, the 
business that passed through his hands was sometimes sub- 
jected. He then said, that on Sunday following, at eleven 
o'clock in the forenoon, if Mr Carmichael would wait on 
him, he would send Mr Jay the notes formerly promised 

He added, that his reason lor desiring to see him at 
present proceeded from something mentioned to him by 
the French Ambassador, of which he supposed he was in- 
formed. He recapitulated what he had before mentioned 
of the King's good faith and favorable disposition towards 
America, and entered more fully into his conduct in the 
negotiation with Great Britain, when the Court of Spain 
proposed a truce between that country and the United 
States, observing, that as the King at that period was de- 
termined not to sacrifice our interests, it could not be sup- 
posed that now, when at war with Great Britain, his 
Majesty would be less disposed to maintain them. After 
these reflections and assurances, he told Mr Jay that the 
person lately from England, by the way of Portugal, was 
the chaplain of their former Embassy at London ; that he 
had been there for some time on his private affairs, and 
had at the same time instructions concernins an exchange 


of prisoners, which their sufferings rendered expedient ; 
that the death of an uncle, a chaplain of the Court, had 
obliged him to return ; that an English gentleman and his 
family had come to Lisbon with him, under the pretext, or 
really on account of the ill healtli of a daughter, to whom 
the Duke of Dorset was much attached ; that the- opposi- 
tion made by his friends to the marriage had affected her 
health, and that this family was desirous of passing through 
Spain to Italy. He added, that this gentleman was one of 
Lord George Germain's secretaries, and would perhaps 
have some proposals to make for an exchange of pris- 
oners, and possibly others of a different nature, which he 
assured Mr Jay should be communicated to him as can- 
didly as he had communicated the extravagant scheme 
presented by Sir J. Dalryn^ple. He desired Mr Jay, 
therefore, to make himself easy on this subject, giving new 
assurances of the King's strict regard to justice and good 
faith, and of his disposition to assist America. 

Mr Jay begged him to be persuaded of the perfect 
confidence of America and himself, and of their reliance 
on the good faith, justice, and honor of his Catholic 
Majesty ; that he had no other apprehension from the cir- 
cumstance of Englishmen resorting to this Court, than 
that the enemy would on this, as on former occasions, 
avail themselves of it, by endeavoring to alarm and Re- 
ceive our people. 

The Count de Florida Blanca assured Mr Jay, that he 
would shortly give him such proofs of the King's inten- 
tions, as would enable him to prevent any bad effects 
from such misrepresentations, and convince America of his 
Majesty's favorable disposition and good faith. After re- 
peating assurances of his full confidence, Mr Jay men- 

3i0 J<JHN JAY. 

lioiied that he had received two bills of exchange, drawn 
by order of" Congress on him, and that he should take no 
measures on that subject, as he had before the honor of 
telling him, till he had consulted Ins Excellency. The 
Count, liaving aslced the amount, and being told that tlie 
bills were for between six and seven hundred dollars, told 
him, smiling, that he might accept them, and he hoped so 
to arrange matters, as, in a short time, to make him easy 
on that head. He then said, that an expedition had been 
suggested to him, in which the Americans might co-op- 
erate ; but, without entering into particulars, he recollect- 
ed himself, and said he would send the project to Mr Jay 
by Mr Carmichael at the same time that he should give 
him the other papers. The conference ended with mu- 
tual compliments. 

June 4th. This morning the Chevalier de Burgoing, 
Secretary of the French Embassy, waited on Mr Jay, and 
afterwards on Mr Carmichael, and told them the Ambas- 
sador had informed him, that the Count de Florida Blanca 
had received despatches from Versailles, which demanded 
hib instant attention, and that, therefore, he could not see 
Mr Carmichael until the 5th, at the hour mentioned in the 
conference of the 2d. Mr Jay, however, having received 
no direct message from the Minister, thought it proper for 
Mr Carmichael to wait on him at the place and hour ap- 
pointed. Accordingly he went to the Bureau of Foreign 
Affairs, and was told by order of the Minister, that he had 
desired the Ambassador to acquaint Mr Jay, that he could 
not see Mr Carmichael that day, but desired to see Iiim 
next Monday, at eleven. 

June 5th. Mr Carmichael waited on the Minister, 
agreeably to appointment, who, on his entrance, imme- 


diately expressed his concern, that the arrival of a couripr, 
which informed him of the intentions of the Court of Great 
Britain to expedite the sailing of their grand fleet, had 
engnged his attention so much as to prevent him from 
fulfilling his promise of sending the notes mentioned in the 
former conferences, that he would certainly do it on the 
Wednesday following, and desired Mr Carmichael to wait 
on him that day at the same hour to receive them. He 
then mentioned an expedition, which had been proposed 
to him from Bilboa, to intercept the homeward bound 
ships of the East India Company, by equipping some frig- 
ates in America at the expense of his Catholic Majesty, 
desiring Mr Carmichael to communicate this to Mr Jay, 
that he might turn his attention to that object, to enable 
him to judge of the probability of its success. He touched 
slightly on the subject of bills of exchange, and on the 
only difficulty of the treaty, viz. the navigation of the Mis- 
sissippi, which he said he hoped some middle means 
might be hit on to obviate. He concluded by saying, 
that he would give his sentiments on that, and other sub- 
jects to Mr Jay in writing at the time abovementioned, and 
hoped -that he would believe the delay hitherto proceeded 
from no other motives than those he had mentioned. Mr 
Carmichael assured him, that Mr Jay was too sensible of 
the importance of his other occupations, and of his candor, 
to impute the delay to any other cause, and after common 
civilities he withdrew. 

This conversation needs no comment. It promised 
well. On or about the 1 9th of June, Mr Cumberland, his 
wife, and two daughters arrived, appeared publicly, and 
were openly visited and received by persons of distinction. 
But although it was not difficult to know who he was, and 

312 JOHN JA\. 

with whom he associated, his business and measures con- 
tinue to this day mere objects of conjecture, further than 
he or the Minister has thought proper to communicate 
them.* The impression made by his arrival on the minds 
of the people is worthy of remark. They supposed his 
errand to be secret overtures for peace, and as far as I can 
judge were very glad of it. There is reason to believe 
that he favored these conjectures from the first. He has 
since said publicly, that he was authorised to offer to Spain 
Gibraltar, and other advantageous terms. 

On the 7th of June, I received from the Minister his 
notes on the subject of aids. They are in these words. 


"Aranjues, June 7th, 1780. 

"His Catholic Majesty would be very glad to be able to 
furnish, at the present crisis, funds for the payment of the one 
hundred thousand pounds sterling, proposed to be address- 
ed to ]Mr Jay, in order to evince the concern which the 
King takes in the prosperity and relief of the United States 
of North America, as well as in the personal satisfaction 
of the abovementioned gentleman. But the demands of 
the present war, and the great difficulty there would be to 
transport hither the treasures of the King's possessions in 
that part of the world, render it impracticable to furnish here 
the said sum in specie, as could be wished. Some expedi- 
ent, however, may be found to remedy this inconvenience. 
For example ; if the owners of the bills of exchange 
would be content with the security or responsibility of his 
Catholic Majesty, to pay the sum already mentioned in 

* A full account of Mr Cumberland's proceedings in Spain may 
be found in his Memoirs published many years afterwards. _ 


the term of two years. The King will readily agree to 
such an arrangement, even if it should be found necessary 
to add a moderate interest. This security, given by such 
a sovereign as the King of Spain, would induce the own- 
ers of those bills of exchange, and the creditors of Con- 
gress to consent to a measure so advantageous, and would 
equally serve to sustain the credit and good faith of the 
same body. 

"Mr Jay, therefore, is entreated to reflect on the idea 
just stated to him, and in answer to inform us what meas- 
ures he thinks suitable to this scheme, in order that they 
may be laid before the King, and his orders taken thereon. 
If the expedient in question should be adopted, it will at 
the same time be necessary to take measures in concert 
to reimburse to the King this considerable sum, as well as 
others already expended in favor of the United States^ 
The first idea which ofiers for reciprocal convenience is, 
that Congress should engage to build without delay some 
handsome frigates and other smaller vessels of war, fixing 
the price of each,' and the time when they will be fin- 

"Tbis'point once settled, it will be proper immediately 
to take measures to equip these vessels as fast as they are 
ready ; to point out what articles will be necessary to send 
from Spain for this purpose, and in what port they m\\ 
have notice to receive them. After this it is expedient to 
be informed, whether the Americans themselves will en- 
gage to come to the ports of Bilboa, St Ander, Ferrol, 
or Cadiz, for the said articles, which they will find 
ready, and afterwards transport them in their own vessels 
of war or letters of marque to America. On this suppo- 
sition it is conjectured, that it would be easy to find hands 

VOL. VII. 40 



enough in America to man these new built vessels, which 
will sail under Spanish colors. There are certainly among 
the subjects of the said United States many who have 
made the voyage, and are acquainted with the usual route 
of the ships of the English East India Company, and who 
know perfectly well the ports and places at which they 
stop. This fact established, it is proposed to equip in the 
ports of the United States four good frigates, and some 
other lighter vessels, with the effects which shall be sent 
from hence on account of Spain. This small squadron, 
under Spanish colors, shall be employed to intercept the 
convoys of the said Company by cruising in the proper lati- 
tudes. The measures just pointed out appear to be the 
most proper to reimburse, in some shape, the expenses 
already incurred by his Catholic Majesty, and to answer 
for such security as has been proposed to be given in this 
memoir. It being always understood, that a share of the 
prizes taken from the English by this small squadron shall 
be given to the crews, and even to Congress, in proportion 
to the assistance which they shall furnish for the equipment 
of the vessels. 

"A speedy and decisive answer to all the points here 
enumerated is requested, and Mr Jay is too enlightened 
not to perceive that the common cause is interested 

To this paper, which deserves much attention, I re- 
turned the following answer. 

"Aranjues, June 9th, 1780. 

"The propositions which your Excellency did me the 
honor to send on the 7th inst. have been considered with 
all the attention, which their great importance demands. 


"The evidence they contain of his Majesty's friendly 
disposition towards the United States will, I am persuad- 
ed, make correspondent impressions on the citizens of 
America ; and permit me to assure you, that his Majesty's 
desire of contributing to my personal satisfaction by meas- 
ures conducive to the welfare of my country, has excited 
my warmest acknowledgments and attachment. 

"The enlarged ideas my constituents entertain of the 
power, wealth, and resources of Spain, are equal to those 
they have imbibed of the wisdom and probity of his 
Catholic Majesty, and of that noble and generous system 
of policy, which has induced him to patronize their cause, 
and, by completing their separation from Great Britain, 
effectually to disarm the latter. Such wise and liberal 
designs, followed by such great and extensive conse- 
quences, would add a bright page to the annals of a reign 
already signalised by important events. It is, therefore, 
with deep regret that Congress would receive information 
that the aid they solicit, small when compared with their 
ideas of the resources of Spain, has been rendered im- 
practicable by the expenses of a war, which, on the part 
of Spain, is of a recent date. Nor will their disappoint- 
ment be less than their regret, when they find their credit 
diminished by the failure of a measure, from the success 
of which they expected to raise it. 

"The kind disposition of his Majesty to become respon- 
sible at the expiration of two years for the amount of the 
bills in question, and that even with interest, is a proof of 
his goodness, by which I am confident the United States 
will consider themselves greatly obliged. But when it is 
considered that bills of exchange, immediately on being 
drawn and sold, become a medium in commerce, and pass 

316 JOHN JAY. 

through various hands in satisfaction of various mercantile 
contracts ; that the drawer and every endorser become 
responsible for their credit at every transfer ; and that the 
object of the merchants last holding the bills, as well as of 
all other merchants, is money in hand or actively employ- 
ed in trade, and not money lying still, at an interest greatly 
inferior to the usual profits to be gained in commerce ; I 
say, on considering these things, it appears to me that, 
although no objection can be made to the good faith of his 
Majesty, which is acknowledged by all the world, yet that 
the last holders of the bills will prefer recovering the 
amount of them, with the usual damages on protests, to 
delay of payment for two years with interest. 

"Should these bills, therefore, meet with this fate, his 
Majesty'' will readily perceive its influence on the credit, 
operations, and feelings of the United States ; on the 
common cause ; on the hopes and spirits of the enemy. 
The necessity or prudence which detains his Majesty's 
treasure in his American dominions, is an unfortunate cir- 
cumstance at a time when it might be so usefully em- 
ployed. There is, nevertheless, room to hope, that the 
great superiority of the allied fleets and armamen'ts in the 
American seas will, in the course of a year or eighteen 
months, render its transportation safe and easy, and that 
the greater part of it may arrive before the bills in ques- 
tion would become payable. This will appear more pro- 
bable, when the time necessary to sell these bills, and the 
time which will be consumed in their passage from Amer- 
ica, and the time which will be employed in their journey 
from different ports of Europe to this place, are all added 
to the half a year which is allotted for the payment of 
them after they have been presented. I am authorised 


and ready to engage and pledge the faith of the United 
States for the punctual repayment, with interest, and 
within a reasonable term, of any sums of money which 
his Majesty may be so kind as to lend them. 

"As to the aids heretofore supplied to the United 
Stales, I am without information relative to the precise 
terms on which they were furnished, as well as their 
amount. When I left Congress, they appeared to me not 
to possess full and positive intelligence on these points. I 
ascribe this, not to omissions in their commissioner, who 
then bad the direction of these affairs, but to those mis- 
carriages and accidents, to which the communication of 
intelligence to a distant country is liable in time of war. 
If it should appear proper to your Excellency, in order 
that I may be furnished with an accurate and full state- 
ment of these transactions, I will do myself the honor of 
transmitting them immediately to Congress ; and, as they 
happened prior to my appointment, I shall request particu- 
lar instructions on the subject. 

"With respect to the plan proposed for the repayment 
of such sums as Spain may lend to the United States, viz. 
by the latter furnishing the former with frigates, Sic. Stc. I 
beg leave to submit the following remarks to your Excel- 
lency's consideration. In the United States there are 
timber, iron, masts, shipwrights, pitch, tar, and turpentine; 
and Spain can furnish the other requisites. But neither 
the timber, the iron, the masts, nor the other articles, can 
be procured without money. The Congress are in great 
want of money for the immediate purposes of self-defence, 
for the maintenance of their armies and vessels of war, 
and for all the other expenses incident to military opera- 
tions. The Congress, pressed by their necessities, have 

318 JOHN JAY. 

emitted bills of credit, till the depreciation of them forbids 
further emissions. They have made loans from their great 
and good ally, and, in aid of the system of gaining sup- 
plies by taxation and domestic loans, they have, for the 
reasons which I have already had the honor of explaining 
to your Excellency, drawn upon me the bills before men- 
tioned. These bills will be sold in the United States for 
paper money, and that money will be immediately wanted 
for the purposes I have enumerated. If, therefore, this 
money was to be turned into frigates, the obvious ends of 
dra\ving those bills would not be attained. The war 
against the United States has raged without intermission 
for six years already, and it will not be in their power to 
pay threir debts during its further continuance, nor until the 
return of peace and uninterrupted commerce shall furnish 
them with the means of doing it. 

"That excellent frigates and other vessels may be built 
in America cheaper than in Europe, I am persuaded. 
And I know, that Congress will cheerfully give every aid 
in their power to facilitate the execution of any plan of 
that kind, which his Majesty may adopt, but. Sir, their 
necessities will not permit them to supply money to those 
purposes, and I should deceive your Excellency with de- 
lusive expectations, were I to lead you to think otherwise. 
I would rather, that the United States should be without 
money than without good faith ; and, therefore, neither my 
own principles of action, nor the respect due to his Maj- 
esty and reputation of my country, will ever suffer me (if 
my authority extended so far) to enter into any contracts, 
which I had not the highest reason to believe would be 
fully, fairly, and punctually performed on the part of my 
constituents. Nor, in case his Majesty should think proper 


to cause frigates to be built in America, can I encourage 
your Excellency to expect, that they could be easily man- 
ned there for cruises. The fact is, that the American 
frigates often find difficulties in completing their compli- 
ments, principally because the seamen prefer going in 
privateers, which are numerous, and too useful to be dis- 

"The design of preparing an armament to intercept the 
English East Indiamen appears to me very judicious. 
The enemy draw their resources from commerce ; to an- 
noy the one, therefore, is to injure the other. Before the 
present war, there were several, but not a great many 
Americans, well acquainted with the route of the East 
Indiamen. But whether any number of these men could 
now be secretly collected is uncertain ; for if by a partic- 
ular selection of and inquiry for them, the enemy should 
become apprized of the design, they would naturally t'ake 
measures to frustrate it. For my part, I should suppose, 
that many of these men are not necessary, and that the 
proper number may be had from France, if not from 

"The idea of the United States co-operating in the 
execution of this plan is flattering, and the terms proposed 
generous. But so far as this co-operation will depend on 
the building of frigates there as proposed, it canno^ be 
effected from their want of money. Whether the Amer- 
ican frigates could be employed in such an enterprise, that 
is, whether the services, for which they may be already 
destined, will admit of it, are, with other similar circum- 
stances, necessary to be known before that question could 
possibly be answered. The distance from America, and 
the length of lime necessary to ask for and receive infor- 

320 JOHN JAY. 

mation and instructions from thence, are such, that it would 
probably be more expedient, that engagements for these 
purposes should be discussed and concluded there than 
here. The circumstances of the United States, while 
invaded, will be more fluctuating than those of Spain, and 
measures in which they might conveniently embark at 
one period, may shortly after be rendered impracticable 
by the vicisitudes of war. It is further to be observed, 
that a people, rising amidst such terrible struggles, with an 
extensive country to defend, and that country invaded, 
and, as it were, on fire in several places at once, are not in 
good condition for foreign enterprises ; but, on the con- 
trary, that it must generally be their interest, and of course 
their policy, to keep their forces and strength at home, till 
the expulsion of their enemies shall afFoi-d them leisure 
aud opportunities for distant and offensive operations. 

"Whenever this period shall arrive, his Majesty' may be 
assured, that the United States will not remain idle, but 
that, impelled by resentments too deep and too just to be 
transitory, as well as by unshaken attachment to their 
friends, they will persevere with firmness and constancy 
in the common cause, and cheerfully unite their efforts 
with those of France and Spain, in compelling the common 
enemy to accept of reasonable terms of peace. I can, ■ 

also, with great confidence, assure your Excellency that \ 

the United States will be happy in every opportunity, 
which may offer during the war, of joining their arms to 
those of Spain, and in co-operating with them in any ex- 
peditions, vi'hich circumstances may render expedient 
against die Floridas, or other objects. The Americans 
would most cheerfully fight by the side of the Spaniards, 
and by spilling their blood in the same cause, and on the 


same occasion, convince them of their ardent desire to 
become their faithful friends and steadfast allies. 

"I cannot prevail upon myself to conclude, without 
expressing to your Excellency my apprehension of the 
anxiety, and painful concern, with which Congress would 
receive intelligence of the failure of their bills, and espe- 
cially after the expectations they have been induced to 
conceive of the successful issue of their affairs here. 
What conclusions the enemy would draw from the inability 
of Spain to advance the sum in question, even to men 
actually in arms against Great Britain, I forbear to men- 
tion, nor would it become me to point out the several evil 
consequences flowing from such an event, to those who 
enjoy from nature and experience more discernment than 
I am blessed with. 

"1 still flatter myself, that some expedients may be de- 
vised to surmount the present difficulties, and that the haf^ 
vest of laurels now ripening for his Majesty in America 
will not be permitted to wither for want of watering. 

"Influenced by this hope, I shall delay transmitting any 

intelligence respecting this matter to Congress., till your 

Excellency shall be pleased to communicate to me his 

Majesty's further pleasure on the subject. 

"I have the honor to be, 8ic. 


Your Excellency will doubtless observe, that this an- 
swer does not comprehend all the objections to which the 
Minister's plan is liable, such, for instance, as the proposal, 
that the vessels proposed to be built in America, with the 
money of America, and to be navigated by Americans, 
should sail under Spanish colors, ^c. I thought it most 
VOL. VII. 41 

322 JOHN JAY. 

prudent to avoid taking notice of these and similar circum- 
stances, lest objections, which might be ascribed to pride, 
as well as reason, might lose their force in tliat supposition, 
and, instead of convincing, serve only to irritate. 

Nothing further passed between the Minister and ray- 
self except a message or two respecting each other's health, 
until the 19th day of June, when I sent him the following 

"Mr Jay presents his respectful compliments to his 
Excellency, the Count de Florida BlancSj and takes the 
liberty of enclosing the copy of a note he has just received, 
respecting a bill drawn upon him for three hundred and 
thij;tylhree dollars. From this liis Excellency will per- 
ceive the painful situation Mr Jay is in. He forbears 
making any reflections on it, being persuaded that l)is 
Excellency's wisdom and sensibility render them unne- 

''Madrid, June I9th, 1780." 

On the 20th instant I received the following answer. 

"The Count de Florida Blanca will have no difficulty 
in paying the bill of three hundred and thirtythree dollars 
mentioned in Mr Jay's note of yesterday, both on account 
of its small value, and in consequence of what he hr.d the 
honor to offer him at their last conference ; but he cannot 
forbear observing to Mr Jay, that it will be impossible to 
show the same complaisance for other bills without con- 
sulting the pleasure of the King. 

"The means hitherto proposed not having been consid- 
ered as agreeable to Congress, it has become necessary to 


seek for others, and Mr Jay will do well to think seriously 
on this subject, and communicate to the Count de Flor- 
ida Blanca whatever his wisdom and information may 
suggest to him. 

This looked dry, and indicated a degree of irritation, 
though it held up the idea of further means. 
I replied to it on the 22d of June, as follows. 

"Madrid, June 22d, 1780. 

"I received the note your Excellency did me the honor 
to write on the 20th instant, and I take the earliest oppor- 
tunity of expressing my thanks for your Excellency's per- 
mission to accept the bills mentioned in it, which I have 
accordingly done. 

"Agreeably to your Excellency's recommendation in 
the first conference, I have turned my dioughts very se'rH" 
ously to the objects which were the subjects of it, relative 
to the bills drawn upon me; they were two. 

"1st. The means of paying these bills. 

"2dly. The proposed contract with America for lio-ht 
vessels, &c. 

"With respect to the jirst, it appeared to me, that the 
principal difficulty was removed by your Excellency's 
informing me, 'that at the end of the present year, it would 
be 'in your power to advance twentyfive, thirty, or forty 
thousand pounds sterling.' Hence I inferred, diat as much 
lime would be taken up in the sale, negotiation, and trans- 
mission of those bills, and as so long a space as six months 
was assigned for their payment, after being presented, 
that the sums which it would be in your Excellency's 
power to advance at the end of the year, would probably 

324 JOH^^ JAY. 

be equal to the amount of the bills which would then 
become payable ; and that in the mean time such further 
means might be provided, as would obviate difficulties 
with respect to those that might afterwards become due. 
When I reflected that I was a stranger to the resources of 
Spain, and that your Excellency's acknowledged abilities 
comprehended all the objects and combinations necessary 
in determining what supplies they were capable of afford- 
ing, and the manner and means most proper for the pur- 
pose, it appeared to me in the light of presumption to 
hazard to your Excellency any propositions on the subject. 

"2dly. On considering the proposed contract, it became 
important to distinguish between the building these vessels 
with the money of the United States, or with that of 
Spain. The latter was very practicable, and I gave your 
Excellency that opinion in my letter of the 9th instant. 
The former, on the contrary, appeared to me not to be 
within the power of the United States, and candor obliged 
me to make this known to your Excellency in the same 

"I knew it to be impossible for Congress, consistent with 
good faith, to contract; that, notwithstanding their great want 
of money, the injuries of a six years' war, and their being 
actually invaded, they would repay immediately the monies 
lent them, either in ships or otherwise. It is not uncommon 
for ancient and opulent nations to find it necessary to borrow 
money in time of war, but I believe it very seldom happens, 
that they find it convenient to pay those debts till the return 
of peace. If this be the case with powerful and long 
established nations, more cannot be expected from a young 
nation brought forth by oppression, and rising amidst every 
species of violence and devastation, which fire, sword, 
and malice can furnish for their <lestrnction. 


"If attentive only to obtaining payment of these bills, 
and thereby relieving my country from the complicated 
evils which must result from their being protested, I had 
entered into the proposed engagements for immediate re- 
payment, by building vessels, &z;c. if I had done this, not- 
withstanding a full conviction, that the contract so made 
could not be fulfilled, my conduct, however convenient in 
its immediate consequences, would have been highly rep- 
rehensible. This reflection, therefoie, will I hope con- 
vince your Excellency of the purity of ray intentions, and 
induce you to ascribe my objections to the contract, to 
want of ability, and not to want of inclination in the United 
States to perform it. No consideration will ever prevail 
upon me to practise deception, and I am happy in a per- 
suasion, that although truths may sometimes not please, 
yet that when delivered with decency and respect, they 
will never offend either his Majesty or your ExcellenG-y. 

"Believe me. Sir, the United States will not be able to 
pay their debts during the war, and therefore any plan 
whatever calculated on a contrary position must be fruit- 
less. I am ready to pledge their faith for repaying to his 
Majesty, within a reasonable term after the war, and with 
a reasonable interest, any sums he may be so kind as to 
lend them. What more can I offer? What more can 
they do? If there be any services they can do to his 
Majesty, consistent with their safety and defence, they are 
ready and will be happy to render them. They respect 
the King and the nation, and at the very time they are 
requesting his aid, they are soliciting to be united to him 
by bonds of perpetual amity and alliance. Against his 
enemies as well as their own, they are now in arms ; and 
the supplies they ask are not for the purpose of luxury 

326 JOHN JAY. 

or aggrandizement, but for the sole and express purpose of 
annoying those enemies, and enabling France, Spain, and 
themselves, to obtain a peace honorable and advantageous 
to each. 

"Of his Majesty's kind disposition towards them, they 
had received not only professions but proofs. Hence they 
became inspired not only with gratitude, but with confi- 
dence in his friendship. Impelled by this confidence, and 
a particular concurrence of exigencies already explained 
to your Excellency, they drew the bills in question. The 
issue of this measure will be highly critical, and followed 
by a train of consequences very important and extensive. 
The single circumstance of your Excellency having permit- 
ted me to accept the first of these bills, will be considered 
'iy our enemies as an unfortunate omen. By predicting 
from it further aids, their ideas of the resources of Spain, 
and the resistance of America will naturally be raised, and 
their hopes of subduing the one, or reducing the power of 
the other, will naturally be diminished. They will impute 
these aids to a plan of the House of Bourbon, wisely 
concerted and firmly persisted in, to secure themselves 
and all Europe against the ambition of Britain, by com- 
pleting the division of her empire, and they will cease 
to flatter themselves, that xAmerica thus aided will become 
destitute of resources to carry on the war. On the other 
hand, America will derive fresh vigor from this mark of 
friendship, and their attachment to his Majesty become 
proportionably more strong. By mutual good offices, 
friendship between nations, as between individuals, is only 
to be established ; and it is always a happy circumstance 
when it subsists between those, whom nature has placed 
contiguous to each other. But your Excellency's time 


is of too great importance to be engaged by sucli obvi- 
ous reflections. 

"Permit me, Sir, still to indulge the pleasing expecta- 
tion of being enabled to inform Congress, that his Maj- 
esty's magnanimity and friendship have prompted him, 
though inconvenient to his own affairs, to secure the credit 
of their bills ; and I am persuaded that the benevolence of 
your Excellency's disposition will be gratified in being in- 
strumental in a measure, which would make such agree- 
able impressions on the hearts and minds of so great a 
number of steadfast friends to the Spanish monarchy. 
"I have the honor to be. Sir, he. 


As this letter was, among other things, designed to es- 
tablish the expectations and encouragement given me by 
the Minister, as to money, in the last conference, by obHg- 
ing him either to deny them against truth, or admit them, 
at least, by his silence, 1 desired Mr Carmichael to deliver 
it with his own hands, which he accordingly did. It still 
remains unanswered. 

Your Excellency will be at no loss to perceive, that this 
was an improper season for pushing on the treaty, and that 
it would not have been prudent to have given j)oignancy to 
the Minister's feelings for the loss of his frigates, and the 
trouble of our bills, by disputes about the Mississippi, &ic. 
*&z;c. I therefore did not remind him of the notes lie had 
promised, nor indeed say anything at all about the matter. 

About this time I met with a printed copy of an act of 
the State of Connecticut, reciting and adopting the reso- 
lutions of Congress of the ISth of March last, respecting 
the former and new paper emissions. This was the first 
advice I had of those resolutions. The promise of annual 


interest in Europe appeared to me to be a hardy measure, 
though, in my opinion, the weakest side of the plan. 

Finding the Minister's heart and imagination much at- 
tached to liis favorite idea of getting American frigates at 
the expense of the United States, I gave him the following 

"Madrid, June 28th, 1780. 

"I have the honor of transmitting to your Excellency, 
herewith enclosed, a copy of an act of the State of Con- 
necticut, just come to hand, in which are recited certam 
resolutions of Congress, passed the 18th of March last. 

"These resolutions are calculated to put the American 
finances on a permanent footing. They direct, among 
other things, that bills be issued, redeemable in specie, 
with interest, at the expiration of six years. The interest 
to be paid at the redemption of the bills, or at the election 
of the holder annually, at the American Loan Offices, in 
sterling bills of exchange on the commissioners in Europe. 

"Your Excellency will perceive, that when this plan, so 
well concerted, shall be fully executed, it will furnish the 
United States with resources equal to all the exigencies of 
the war, and probably enable them to supply his Catholic 
Majesty with vessels, &tc. he 

"I take the liberty, therefore, of submitting to your Ex- 
cellency's consideration, whether it would not be for thd 
benefit of both nations, that his Majesty, on the one hand, 
should engage his responsibility for the credit of a certain 
proportion of the sum so to be emitted ; and that the 
United States, on the other hand, should not only pledge 
their faith to indemnify his Majesty, but also furnish him 
with certain aids in vessels, &;c. 


"If your Excellency should think this hint worthy of 

your attention, it will be easy to improve it, and adjust the 


"1 have the honor to be, he. 


This letter was accompanied with the following one, on 
the subject of some more bills that had just arrived. 

/'.'Mr Jay presents his respectful compliments to his Ex- 
cellency the Count de Florida Blanca, and has the honor 
of informing him, that he has been called upon to accept 
bills to the amount of between ten and eleven thousand 
dollars ; that the far greater part of them belong to 
Messrs Joyce of this city, who have agreed to wait for an 
answer until Monday next. 

"Mr Jay exceedingly regrets his being obliged to give 
his Excellency so much trouble, but still flatters himself, 
that, when his Excellency considers it as his duty which 
imposes that necessity upon him, his goodness will ex- 
cuse it. Madrid, June 2Sfh, 1780." 

I ought also to add, that I had sent to the Count a rep- 
resentation on the subject of a very high handed stretch of 
power in the Governor of Teneriffe, towards a prize car- 
ried there by some Americans. On the next day I re- 
ceived the following answer to these three papers. 


•'Aranjues, June 29th, 1780. 

"The Count de Florida Blanca has had the honor of 
the three last letters, which Mr Jay has been pleased lo 
write him. 

"The first relates to a privateer detained in the Cana- 
VOL. vii. 42 

330 JOHN JAY. 

ries. On this point he can say nothing until he has ob- 
tained some further information thereon. 

"Tlie second respects some new bills of exchange just 
presented by Messrs Joyce, to the amount of between ten 
and eleven thousand dollars. The Count can give no 
positive answer hereon, without first taking the orders of 
the King, his master, and having a meeting with the other 
Ministers, and some of these having already gone to 
Madrid, a determination cannot be immediately had, 
which renders it necessary for Mr Jay to require Messrs 
Joyce to wait some days longer for the answer in question. 

i'The third contains a project of an arrangement, by 
which his Majesty should oblige himself for his responsi- 
bility for certain sums in favor of Congress, and they, on 
their part, for the indemnification of the said sums at a 
certain period, by furnishing some vessels, he. Mr Jay is 
therefore entreated to draw out a more clear and precise 
plan on this subject, noting therein the sum to which the 
responsibility of the King should extend, and on which 
they may converse at their first interview. 

"In the meanwhile the Count has the honor of assuring 
him of the sincerity of his esteem and attachment." 

Congress will observe, that the Minister still kept up the 
idea of an interference in favor of these bills. On the 3d 
of July, the Count having removed to Madrid, he wrote 
me a note expressing the same idea. It is in these words. 


"The Count de Florida Blanca presents his compli- 
ments to Mr Jay, and prays to be informed when the last 
bills of exchange, which he mentioned the other day as 
being in the hands of Messrs Joyce, and amounting to about 


Jen or eleven thousand dollars, will become payable. At 
the Palace, 3d of July, 1780." 

Thus things were apparently in good train, when the 
news of the loss of Charleston became credible. The 
effect of it was as visible the next day, as that of a hard 
night's frost on young leaves. 

I requested a conference with the Minister, and had one 
on the evening of the 5th of July. The following are 
notes of it. 

Madrid, July 5th, 1780. 

Mr Jay waited on the Count de Florida Blanca agree- 
ably to an appointment made by the latter to meet at his 
house at half past eight this evening. 

^fter the usual compliments, the bad news relative to 
the surrender of Charleston, just received, became the 
topic of conversation. The Count mentioned the chariHels 
through which he had received it, viz. by an express des- 
patched by the Spanish Ambassador at Lisbon, in conse- 
quence of intelligence which Governor Johnson had re- 
ceived and published in that city, and by letters from the 
Count' d'Aranda, with the accounts printed at London of 
the affair. He expressed his sorrow on the occasion, but 
observed, that the Count d'Aranda flattered him, that the 
arrival of the Chevalier de Ternay in that part of the 
world would totally change the face of affairs, particularly 
as there would be eight vessels of the line, and more than 
five thousand troops instead of three thousand, and three 
vessels of the line which he had been informed were de- 
manded by General Washington. 

He seemed to think it strange, that the place had not 
been better defended, and that more vigorous measures 


had not been taken to impede the enemy's progress, and 
observed, that if the town was not in a condition to stand a 
siege, it would have been better to have withdrawn the 
troops and stores, and reserved them for the defence of 
the country. Mr Jay repHed, that probably when all cir- 
cumstances relative to this affair were known, there might 
be reasons which would account for the conduct of the 
Americans on this occasion ; to the truth of which re- 
mark the Count appeared to assent. He then mentioned 
the death of M. Mirales, and regretted his loss at this 
time. He said, he had recommended to his Majesty a 
person to succeed him, whom we knew, that spoke Eng- 
lish, Jtvhora he expected soon, and to whom he would ex- 
plain his ideas on the subject of the bills, and on other 
matters, touching which Mr Jay had written to him, and 
who would confer also with Mr Jay on those subjects. 

Mr Jay mentioned, that if it was agreeable to his Ex- 
cellency to permit M. Del Campo (a confidential secre- 
tary of the Count, who speaks English, and who trans- 
lated all the letters to and from the Count) to be present, 
he should be able to explain his sentiments more fully and 
clearly. Though the Count did not object to this pro- 
posal, he appeared disinclined to it, and said, that with the 
assistance of Mr Carmichael, then present, they could un- 
derstand each other very well. 

He then proceeded to speak of the bills of exchange in 
the possession of the Messrs Joyce, and seemed to be sur- 
prised that that House should be possessed of so many of 
them. He advised Mr Jay to be cautious of those gentle- 
men, saying, that they were as much English in their hearts 
as the Ministry of that country ; that he had known them 
long, that he thought their conduct extraordinary in being 


SO urgent for the acceptance of these bills. Mr Jay then 
informed his Excellency, that he had paid those gentle- 
men a visit in order to obtain further time, and that they 
had consented to wait until Monday next. The Count 
mentioned a fortnight or three weeks as necessary, in order 
that he might have an opportunity of seeing the person he 
had sent for, and making some arrangements with him. 
He said, that it would be more agreeable to his Majesty to 
pay those bills at Cadiz, Bilboa, or Amsterdam, than 
here ; lamented the precipitancy with which Congress had 
entered into this measure, saying, that if they had pre- 
viously addressed the King on the subject, ways and means 
might have been found, either to transport from their pos- 
sessions in America specie for the service of Congress, or 
to have enabled them to have drawn bills of exchange at a 
shorter sight, which would have prevented the loss of one 
third of the money to which Congress had subjected them- 
selves, by the terms on which the present bills were sold. 
Mr Jay assured his Excellency, that by letters he had re- 
ceived from America, from members of Congress and 
others, he was informed, that the terms were judged so un- 
favorable to the buyers, that the bills drawn on him sold 
heavily from that circumstance solely, and not from any 
doubt of their credit and payment. 

This did not, however, appear to convince his Excel- 
lency, who spoke much of the deranged state of our finan- 
ces and credit ; of the advantages taken of Congress by 
merchants and others, who availed themselves of that cir- 
cumstance, which he called cruel extortions, frequently 
expressing the King's wishes and his own to render Amer- 
ica all the service in their power in this crisis of their 
affairs ; but observed, that it was impossible to obtain 

334 JOHN JAY. 

much money in Europe while France, England, and 
Spain, were making use of every resource to obtain it for 
the enormous expenses of the war, and while the chatmel 
through which the European merchants received supplies 
of specie was stopped, viz. the arrival of the usual quantity 
from America. This induced him to mention the arrival 
at Cadiz of three millions of piastres, all of which was on 
account of the merchants, and again to dwell on what he 
had before said of the possibility of transmitting specie to 
the States from the Spanish possessions abroad, and of the 
effect that this would have in re-establishing the credit ot 
our money. Mr Jay observed in reply, that if a supply of 
sp'fecie could be sent to America, and his Excellency 
thought that measure more convenient and advisable than 
bills, the Congress would, in his opinion, readily suspend 
drawing, on receiving that information ; to which the Count 
answered, that when the person he had sent for arrived, 
this matter might be further discussed. 

Mr Jay then proceeded to observe, that by papers 
which he had transmitted to his Excellency, he would see 
that Congress had adopted a system to redeem and des- 
troy the former emissions, and to emit other bills to be 
paid in Europe with interest in a certain term of years, 
and in fully establishing this system, it would be probably 
in their power, not only to sustain the credit of their 
money, but to contribute, in some measure, to assist Spain 
in the way proposed by his Excellency, viz. in building of 
frigates, he. &lc. He added, that as his Majesty's treas- 
ure was detained in America, and as much expense would 
be incurred by the armaments employed by Spain there, 
that bills on the Havana in favor of the United States 
might be more convenient to Spain, and equally contribute 


to the end proposed. The Count did not seem to disap- 
prove of the idea, but did not enlarge upon it. He asked 
Mr Jay, if America ' could not furnish Spain with masts 
and ship timber. Mr Jay replied, that those articles 
might be obtained there. The Count then said that he 
would defer further remarks on this head, till the arrival of 
the person whom he expected would succeed M. Mirales, 
and appeared desirous of leaving this subject, and, indeed, 
all other matters relative to American affairs to be discus- 
sed when he came. 

In tlie further course of conversation, he reeui red to the 
subject of the bills in question, and told Mr Jay if an im- 
mediate acceptance of them was insisted on, that he might 
accept them payable at Bilboa, but rather seemed to wish 
that their acceptance might be delayed till the coming of 
the abovementioned person. Mr Jay expatiated on the 
impression, which the acceptance of these bills and every 
other mark of friendship would make in America at this 
particular crisis, and the Count, in a very feeling and 
warm manner, assured him that his desire to serve the 
States increased in consequence of their distresses. By 
his whole conversation- he endeavored to show how much 
he interested himself in the prosperity of our affairs, more 
than once desiring Mr Jay not to be discouraged, for that 
with time and patience all would go well, expatiating on 
the King's character, his religious observation of, and 
adherence to his promises, and his own desire of having 
Mr Jay's entire confidence. Mr Jay seized this opportu- 
nity of assuring him of his full reliance on the King's 
justice and honor, and his particular and entire confidence 
in his Excellency, asserting to him that all his letters to 
Congress breathed these sentiments. The Count appeared 

336 JOHN JAY. 

much pleased with this declaration, and, seeming to speak 
without reserve, hinted his hopes that the comhined fleets 
would soon he in condition to eive the law to that of Ens- 
land in the seas of Europe, repeating that measures would 
be taken, on the arrival of the person expected, to provide 
for the payment of the bills of exchange, and that other 
arrangements would be made with the same person, which 
would contribute to relieve, as much as it was in his Maj- 
esty's power, the present distresses of America, of which 
he frequently spoke very feelingly in the course of this 

Mr Jay reminded his Excellency, in a delicate manner, 
of tlie supplies of clothing, &,c. he. which had been 
promised in a former conference, and said that if they 
could be sent in autumn, tiiey would be essentially useful. 
The Count assured him that measures would be taken for 
this purpose, with the person so often hinted at in the 
course of the conference ; that probably these goods 
would be embarked from Bilboa, as everything was so 
dear at Cadiz. He also once more told Mr Jay, that at 
all events he might accept the bills presented by Messrs 
Joyce, payable at Bilboa, though he appeared to wish that 
this measure might be delayed for a fortnight if possible. 
The conference ended with compliments and assurances 
on the one part and the other, the Count endeavoring to 
persuade Mr Jay of his Majesty's desire to assist the 
States, and Mr Jay assuring him of his reliance on his 
Excellency, and of the good effects which such proofs of 
his Majesty's friendship would have in America at the 
present juncture. 

In this conference not a single nail would drive. Every- 
thing was to be postponed till the arrival of the person in- 
tended to succeed M. Mirales. , 


On the 1 1th of July I wrote the Count the following 

"Mr Jay presents his respectful compliments to his Ex- 
cellency the Count de Florida Blanca, and has the honor 
of informing him, that Don Carlos Maria Maraci of this 
place has presented to him, for acceptance, bills amount- 
ing in the whole to one thousand six hundred and sixtyfive 
dollars. The Messrs Joyce consent to having their bills 
payable at Bilboa, but have acquainted Mr Jay that the 
name of the House there, by whom they are to be paid, 
should accompany the acceptance of the bills, it being 
necessary to their further negotiation. 

''Madrid, July lU/i, 1780." 

To this note the following answer was returned. 

"In answer to the note the Comit de Florida Blanca 
has just received from Mr Jay, dated yesterday, he has 
the honor to acquaint him, that he intends writing to 
Bilboa on the subject of the bills in the hands of Messrs 
Joyce, and which are to be accepted, so that it will be 
necessary to wait some days to fix the House at which the 
acceptance will be made, 

"As to the bills presented by Don Carlos Maraci to the 
value of one thousand six hundred and sixtyfive dollars, 
the Count recommends to Mr Jay to request, in like man- 
ner, a delay of fifteen days for their acceptance, this time 
being necessary, that the Count may have an interview 
with a person not at present in Madrid. 

''At the Palace, July I2th, 1780." 

I was obliged to wait with patience, and endeavor to 
keep the holders of the bills from returning them, noted 
VOL. VII. 43 


for non-acceptance. The Count went to St Ildefonso ; 
the time limited for the arrival of the person expected 
having expired, I wrote the Count three notes on the 
subject of the bills, and in one requested his permission 
for Mr Harrison of Maryland to remain at Cadiz, from 
whence he was threatened to be removed in pursuance of 
the King's ordinance against Irishmen. To these I re- 
ceived the following answer, dated the 29ih of July. 


"The Count de Florida Blanca presents his compli- 
ments to Mr Jay, and acquaints him that he has duly re- 
ceived his three last letters. 

"For the satisfaction of Mr Jay, orders shall be given 
for Mr Harrison to remain at Cadiz, the general regula- 
tions established by the King notwithstanding. 

"On the subject of the acceptance of the bills of ex- 
change, the Count can only say that he still waits for the 
person in question, who has informed him that he was on 
the point of setting out on his journey. 

"He is moreover very sensible of the attention in com- 
municating to him the last advices received respecting the 
affair of Charleston, and persuades himself that Mr Jay 
will always observe the same complaisance. 

" Saturday, July 20th." 

I immediately wrote him a letter of thanks for his 
civility to Mr Harrison, and nothing further passed be- 
tween us till the 11th of August, when I sent Iiim the fol- 
lowing note. 

"Mr Jay presents his respectful compliments to his Ex- 
cellency the Count de Florida Blanca, and has the honor 


of informing him, tliat since the date of his last, bills to the 
amount of six thousand and six hundred dollars have been 
presented to him for acceptance. l\Ir Jay has prevailed 
on the holders of these bills to wait six or eight days for 
his answer, on a promise that the time for their payment, 
if accepted, shall be computed from the day on which 
they were presented. 

''Madrid, August llth, \780.'' 

To this was written the following answer. 

"The Count de Florida Blanca has just received Mr 
Jay's note of yesterday, on the subject of the new bills 
which have been presented to him. He is mortified not 
to be able to return a positive answer today, respecting 
the acceptance of said bills, and must repeat, that he still 
waits for the person of whom mention has been made in 
preceding notes. 

''St lldefonso, August \2th, 1780." 

Mrs Jay's illness, and the death of a child, detaining me 
at Madrid., 1 requested the Count to give me notice when 
it would be necessary I should wait upon him, and in the 
mean time Mr Carmichael went to St lldefonso. 

Congress will be pleased to remember, that in the con- 
ference of July 5tli, the Minister, speaking of the person 
intended to succeed M. Mirales, said that he spoke Eng- 
lish, and that we knew him. I supposed, that he alluded 
Mo one of the Gardoquis, three of whom speak English, and 
I was well acquainted with one of them. But as another 
of them had been heretofore employed l)y the Court, 
it a|)peared most probable that he was the person meant. 
They are brothers and liave a strong family likeness. 


Oil the lOtli, Mr Carmichael wrote lue, that he had 
seen the Count, and was informed by him, that the 
person so long ex|)ected had not'yet arrived, and when he 
did he would give notice of it. On the 12th he wrote me 
that a person had arrived, whom lie suspected to be the 
one so long expected. It seems that a person much 
resembling the Gardoqni family had arrived at the same 
inn where Mr Carmichael lodged, and was seen by him. 

The holders of the bills becoming extremely uneasy, 
1 wrote the Count I he following reply to his last note. 

•'Madrid. August 16th, 1780. 


'*The letter, which your Excellency did me the honor 
to write on the 12th instant, was delivered to me yes- 

"The kind concern you are pleased to express for the 
delay, which suspends my receiving a positive answer 
respecting the bills, demands my acknowledgments, and 
is an additional proof of that generous sensibility, which 
induced your Excellency to tell me, that your friendship 
for America should rise with her distresses. A sentiment 
so evincive of magnanimity will be received by Congress 
with all the admiration and gratitude it merits, and will not 
cease to inspire me with that confidence in your Excel- 
lency, which greatness of mind seldom fails to excite. 

"I ought to mention, that the holders of the bills here 
begin to grow impatient, and frequently repeat their appli- 
cations to me for acceptance. 

"With sentiments of great respect and regard, I have 

the honor to be, &c. 


No answer. 


The next day I received a card from the house of 
Joyce, informing me of their having received peremptory 
orders to return tlieir bills, and that they could not delay 
it longer than the next post. Of this 1 sent a copy to the 
Count without any observations. 

No answer. 

On the 18th of August, I wrote the Count the lollowing 

'•Madrid, August 18th, 1780. 

"I never find myself more disagreeably circumstanced, 
than when my duty constrains me to be troublesome to 
those, whom I wish to afford only pleasure and satisfaction. 
Such is my present situation. Monday next I perceive is 
to be a critical day. Other bills besides Messrs Joyce are 
then to be re-presented. 

"M. Gardoqui of Bilboa writes me, that he has received 
bills on me for thirteen thousand three hundred and thirty- 
five dollars, with orders immediately to ship the amount 
in goods to America. They will be presented tomorrow, 
and he expects an answer by Monday's post. If an im- 
mediate acceptance or refusal should be insisted on by 
any one of them, a protest must ensue, and American 
credit be reduced to the lowest ebb. What am 1 to do? 
If your Excellency should direct me to accept these bills 
payable at Bilboa, they will, as before, demand at what 
House they are to be paid. 

"I must entreat your Excellency to relieve me and my 
country from this painful situation, and to pardon the 
trouble 1 am obliged to give you. 

"With great respect and esteem, I have the honor to 
be, he. 


342 JOHN JAY. 

"P. S. The enclosed contains intelligence from 

No answer. 

Having first visited the holders of the bills, and obtained 
further time till Monday next, on the 24ih I set out 
for St Ildefonso. I arrived the next day, and wrote the 
Count the following letter. 

"St Ildefonso, August 25th, 1780. 

"I arrived here this morning, but was prevented from 
immediately doing myself the honor o,f j)aying my respects 
to your Excellency, by fatigue and indisposition. 

"In a letter 1 had the honor of writing to your Excellency 
on the 16th instant, I mentioned, that the holders of the 
bills began to grow impatient. On the 1 8th instant, I in- 
formed your Excellency by another letter, that their appli- 
cations to me for acceptance had become so pressing, as 
that I found myself under the necessity of again requesting 
your directions. 

"I have accepted Messrs Joyce's bills payable at Bil- 
boa, agreeable to your Excellency's directions on the 
5th of July last, and they have agreed to wait some time 
for the name of the House there, which may be employed 
to pay them. The other gentlemen were induced to delay 
requiring of me a decisive answer until Monday next, on 
t'-y assurances, that they should then receive one. 

"The inducements and reasons, which urged Congress 
into this measure, are known to your Excellency, and it 
would be no less unnecessary than improper to recapit- 
ulate the consequences, which must ensue from the success 
or failure o/ it. 


"1 fear your Excellency thinks I am too solicitous, too 
importunate. But when it is considered, that the holders 
of those bills are not under my control, and that they 
require an answer from me, I flatter myself that the 
trouble I give your Excellency on this subject will appear 
to arise from a sense of my duty, and not from the impulse 
of impatience. 

J'l sincerely congratulate your Excellency on the late 

important naval success against the comtnon enemy, and 

have the honor to be, &;c. 


No Answer. 

The next morning I went to pay my respects to the 
Minister, but being told he was sick, I left a card. Tiie 
French Ambassador, hovpever, and others, had been with 
him in the morning, and he rode out as usual in the after- 

Mr Carmichael informed me, that in passing by a wicket- 
gate of the King's private gardens, he had seen the person 
whom he had before seen at the inn, walking in them, and 
that his servant had learned from a barber of his acquaint- 
ance, that he dressed a gentleman who spoke English, and 
lodged at M. Del Campo's. He also informed me, that 
the French Ambassador had lately received a letter from 
Count de la Luzerne, dated the 12th of May ; that he was 
present when it was opened, that it was in cypher, and that 
the Ambassador said, he supposed he was impatient to 
hear the news ; that he afterwards expressed a desire to 
see this letter, and that the Ambassador referred him for 
it to the Secretary ; that the Secretary gave him some 
important papers, adding, that he had mislaid the letter. 
Hence it seems, as if the Ambassador intended at first to 

344 JOHN JAY. 

communicate^ the letter, but that its contents on being de- 
cyphered forbad it. 

It appeared to me proper to mention my embarrass- 
ments to the French Ambassador, who had ahvays been 
friendly, and ask his advice and aid on the subject. The 
next day I had a conference with him, and the following 
are notes of it. 

St Ildefonso, August 27th, 1780. 

Mr Jay waited on the Count de Montmorin this morn- 
ing at nine o'clock, agreeably to appointment the day be- 
fore. The former commenced the conversation by ob- 
serving, that in his first conferences with the Minister of 
Spain, at Aranjues, the Minister divided the subject into 
two parts, and spoke largely on that of the bills drawn on 
Mr Jay, and on the treaty proposed to be entered into 
between Spain and Americia. Mr Jay recapitulated the 
Minister's assurances relative to the former, and informed 
the Ambassador, that the result of this conference was a 
promise of the Minister to send him written notes on both 
points, a few days afterwards. That with respect to the 
notes relative to the treaty, Mr Jay had not received them 
as yet. That on the other point, he had received notes, 
which, as well as his answer, he had shown to the Am- 
bassador. That on the 5th of July he had another con- 
ference with the Minister at Madrid, in which he had en- 
deavored to turn the conversation to the several objects 
of his business and mission here, but that the Minister 
postponed the discussion of them, until a person lor whom 
he had sent, with a view to succeed M. Mirales, should 
arrive, when all the necessary arrangements should be 
made. He indeed told Mr Jay, that if the Messrs Joyce 
were pressing, he might accept their bills, payable at Bil- 


boa, and throughout the whole conference, had given Mr 
Jay warm and repeated assurances, not only of the King's 
good faith and friendly disposition towards America, but 
of his own personal attachment to her interest, on both 
of which, as well as in his candor and promises, he desired 
him to place the greatest reliance. 

Mr Jay proceeded further to inform the Ambassador, 
that -being exceedingly pressed by Messrs Joyce and 
others, holders of the bills, for a decisive answer, which 
they had required to have on the Monday last past, he had 
signified the same to the Minister by three letters, reqdest- 
ing his directions, to none of which he received any an- 
swers. That he had accepted Messrs Joyce's bills, paya- 
ble, as directed, by the Minister, and had prevailed on the 
other to wait until Monday next. That on his arrival here 
on Friday he wrote another letter to the Minister on the 
same subject, and the next day called at his house to pay his 
respects, but not being able to see him had left a card ; that 
being thus circumstanced he was under the necessity of 
requesting the favor of him to speak to the Count, and ob- 
tain an answer from him. 

The Ambassador told Mr Jay, that he ought to ask an 
audience of^ die Minister. To this Mr Jay replied, that 
he could not hope to have an answer to this request, as he 
had not been able to procure one to the different applica- 
tions he had already made. The Ambassador said, that 
he would willingly speak to the Minister, but that he feared 
he should not be able to enter fully into the subject with 
him until Wednesday, both the Minister and himself having 
their time eniployed on objects, which at present and for 
some time past, had engrossed much of their attention. 
He then asked Mr Jay if he had written to Congress to 
VOL. VII. 44 

346 JOHN JAY. 

Stop drawing bills on him. Mr Jay replied, that he could 
not with propriety give such information to Congress, after 
the general and repeated assurances made him by the 
Count de Florida Blanca ever since his arrival here, and 
particularly the Minister's declaration, that he should be 
able to furnish him with thirty or forty thousand pounds 
sterling, at the end of the present or commencement of 
the next year, and that in the meantime, other arrange- 
ments might be taken to pay such bills as might become 
due after that period. He added, that if the Count had 
candidly told him that he cotdd not furnish him with 
money to pay the bills, he should then immediately have 
informed Congress of it, who would have taken of course 
the proper measures on the occasion, but that should he 
now send a true account of all that had passed between 
the Count de Florida Blanca and himself thereon, he 
could not answer for the disagreeable effects such intelli- 
gence would produce. The Count seemed to think the 
Spanish Minister would pay the bills that had been already 
presented, and had probably delayed giving Mr Jay an 
answer until the arrival of the person he expected, who he 
understood was detained by the necessity of making some 
arrangements in his family before he left it. 

On this Mr Jay remarked, that this did not accord with 
the information the Minister had given him near three 
weeks before, that the said person was then about to set 

The conference ended with a promise of the Count de 
Montmorin, that he would endeavor to speak to the Count 
de Florida Blanca on the subject, but that he was afraid 
he should not be able to do it fully until Wednesday 


Finding that the Ambassador could not do anything till 
Wednesday next, and that the IMinister's determined 
silence left no room to hope much from him very soon, I 
despatched letters by express to the holders of the bills, 
and requested a little more time. I was apprehensive that 
if 1 should accept tliem without the Minister's consent, it 
might become an objection to his providing for their pay- 
ment,- and appearances led me to suspect, that any tolera- 
ble excuse for such refusal would have been very grateful. 

The French Ambassador did not, as usual, return my 
visit. I dined with him, nevertheless ; but his behavior, 
though polite, was dry, and not cordial and open as be- 
fore. He mentioned not a syllable of his having received 
a letter from Philadelphia. These circumstances increas- 
ed my apprehensions that his letter contained some things 

On Wednesday afternoon, 30th of August, I waited on 
the Ambassador, to know the result of the conversation he 
had promised to have with the Minister on our affairs. 
He did not appear very glad to see me. 1 asked him 
whether he had seen the IMinister, and conversed wiih him 
on our affairs. He said he had seen the Minister, but that 
as Count d'Estaing was present, he had only some general 
and cursory conversation with him, and slipping avv.iy lron» 
that topic, went on to observe, that I would do well to" 
write another letter to the Minister, mentioning the num- 
ber of letters I had already written, my arrival here, and 
my desire of a conference with him. I told the Ambas- 
sador, that while four letters on the subject remained un- 
answered, it could not be necessary to write a fifth. That 
these letters had been written with great jioliteness and 
cii'C!;mspeciion ; that the last was written the day of my 

348 JOHN JAY. 

arrival at St Ildefonso ; that I had also gone to the Minis- 
ter's house, to pay ray respects to him, and on being told 
he was sick, had left a card ; and that, notwithstanding 
these marks of attention and respect, I still continued un- 
answered and unnoticed. 1 observed to him further, that 
this conduct accorded ill with the Minister's assurances ; 
that unless I had met with more tenderness from the 
holders of the bills, they would have been returned noted 
for non-acceptance ; that if such an event should at last 
take place, after the repeated promises and declarations of 
the Minister, there would of necessity be an end to the 
confidence of America in the Couit of Spain. 

He replied, that he. hoped things would take a more 
favorable turn ; that to his knowledge the Minister had 
been of late much occupied and jDerplexed with business ; 
that I ought not to be affected with the inattention of his 
conduct ; that I should continue to conduct the business 
smoothly, having always in view the importance of Spain, 
and remembering that we were as yet only rising States, 
not firmly established, or generally acknowledged, he. 
and that he would by all means advise me to write the 
Minister another letter, praying an audience. 

I answered, that the object of my coming to Spain was 
to make propositions, not supplications, and that I should 
forbear troubling the Minister with further letters, till he 
should be more disposed to attend to them. That I con- 
sidered America as being, and to continue independent in 
fact, and that her becoming so in name was of no further 
importance than as it concerned the common cause, in the 
success of which all the parties were interested ; and that 
I did not imagine Congress would agree to purchase from 
Spain the acknowledgment of an undeniable fact at the 


price she demanded for it ; that I intended to abide pa- 
tiently the fate of the bills, and should transmit to Con- 
gress an account of all matters relative to them ; that I 
should then write the Minister another letter on the subject 
of the treaty, and if that should be treated with like 
neglect, or if I should be informed that his Catholic Maj- 
esty declined going into that measure, I should then con- 
sider my business at an end, and proceed to take the 
necessary measures for returning to America ; that I knew 
my constituents were sincerely desirous of a treaty with 
Spain, and that their respect for the House of Bourbon, 
the desire of France signified in the Secret Article, and 
the favorable opinion they had imbibed of the Spanish 
nation, were the strongest inducements they had to wish 
it 5 that the policy of multiplying treaties with European 
nations was with me questionable, and might be so with 
others; that, for my own part, I was inclined to think 1t 
the interest of America to rest content with the treaty 
with France, and, by avoiding alliances with other nations, 
remain free from the influence of thfeir disputes and poli- 
tics ; that the situation of the United States, in my opin- 
ion, dictated this policy ; that I knew it to be their interest, 
and of course their disposition, to be at peace with all the 
world ; and that I knew too it would be in their power, 
and I hoped in their inclination, always to defend them- 

The Ambassador was at a stand ; after a little pause, he 
said, he hoped my mission would have a more agreeable 
issue. He asked me if I was content with the conduct of 
France. I answered, most certainly ; for that she was spend- 
ing her blood as well as treasure for us. This answer was 
too general for him. He renewed the question, by asking 

350 JOHN JA^. 

whether I was content with the conduct of France relative 
to our proposed treaty with Spain. I answered, that, as 
far as it had come to my knowledge, 1 was. This re- 
quired an explanation, and 1 gave it to him, by observing, 
that, by the Secret Article, Spain was at liberty to accede 
to our treaty with France whenever she pleased, and with 
such alterations as both parties might agree to ; that Con- 
gress had appointed me to propose this accession now, and 
had authorised me to enter into the necessary discussions 
and arguments ; that, to give their application the better 
prospect of success, they had directed me to request the 
favorable interposition of the King of France with the 
Kin5.of Spain ; that I had done it by letter to Count de 
Vergennes, who, in answer, had assured me of the King's 
disposition to comply with the request of Congress 5 and 
informed me that instructions analogous to this disposition 
should be given to the Ambassador at ivladrid ; that it 
gave me pleasure to acknowledge that his conduct towards 
me had always been polite and friendly, but that I still re- 
mained ignorant whether any, and what progress had been 
made in the mediation. He seemed not to have expected 
this ; but observed, that all he could do was to be ready 
to do me any friendly office in his power, for that he did 
not see how his mediation could be proper, except in 
cases where points of the treaty were discussed, and could 
not be agreed upon. To this I replied, that these were 
only secondary objects of the expected mediation, and that 
the primary one was to prevail upon the King of Spain to 
commence the negotiation, and enter upon these discus- 
sions ; but that I remained uninformed of what he might 
have done on that subject. The Ambassador made no 
direct reply to these remarks, but again proceeded to 


repeat his advice, that T should try one more letter to the 
Minister. I told him I had, after much consideration, 
made up my mind on that subject, and that it appeared to 
me inexpedient to follow his advice in this instance ; and 
that when he should see the letters I had already written, 
he would probably be of the same opinion. I promised to 
show him tlie letters the next day, and took my leave. 
How far the tone of this conversation may be judged to 
have been prudent, I know not. It was not assumed, 
however, but after previous and mature deliberation. I 
reflected that we had lost Charleston, that reports ran 
hard against us, and therefore that this was no time to 
clothe one's self with humility. 

On considering the earnestness with which the Ambas- 
sador had pressed me to write another letter to the Min- 
ister, I began to suspect that it might be the wish of the 
latter, who, conscious of having gone rather too far, migTit 
desire this way to retreat through. I concluded, there- 
fore, to adhere to my resolution of not writing, but that if 
the Ambassador should confirm my suspicions by again 
pressing the measure, in that case to consent to send Mr 
Carmichael to the Minister with my compliments, and a 
request that he would favor me with a conference at such 
time as might be most convenient to him. 

The next day, Thursday, the 31st of August, I visited 
the French Ambassador, and showed him the four last let- 
ters 1 liad written to the INlinister. He confessed they 
were perfectly unexceptionable, but again advised me to 
write another ; I told him, I could not think of it, but that 
I would so far follow his advice, as to send Mr Carmichael 
to request of the Minister the favor of a conference. The 
Ambassador expressed much satisfaction at this proposal, 

352 JOHN JAY. 

and immediately promised to speak to the Minister on the 
subject. He advised, however, that I should delay the 
measure till Saturday, on account of some urgent business 
virhich then employed the Minister. To this I agreed. I 
hinted to him, that the person expected to succeed Mr 
Mirales was in town. He said he did not know, and 
waived the subject. 1 thought if that was really the case, 
it could do no harm that the Minister should know I sus- 
pected it. In the afternoon, the Ambassador's secretary 
paid me a visit, and seemed desirous of entering into par- 
ticular conversation on the subject of our affairs, but as I 
did not approve of talking with the Ambassador through 
his secretary, I avoided it, by turning the conversation to 
light and general topics. He asked me several leading 
questions, and among others, whether there was a M. 
Gardoqui in town. I told him many persons came and 
departed that V was ignorant of, and passed on to another 
subject. Two persons about the Court mentioned to Mr 
Carmichael this evening, that this person was arrived. 

On Saturday morning, the 2d of September, I commit- 
ted my message for the Minister to Mr Carmichael, with 
directions, first to call on the French Ambassador, and ask 
him whether anything new had occurred to render the de- 
livery of it improper. He told Mr Carmichael, he had 
mentioned to the Minister my desire of seeing him that 
day, but that the Minister said, he was so much occupied 
that it would be impossible. He, nevertheless, told Mv 
Carmichael he might go and see. This being mentioned 
to me, I told Mr Carmichael to go on. 

After being long detained in the ante-chamber, he had 
an opportunity of delivering his message, and received for 
answer, that the Minister could not possibly see me till the 


next Tuesday evening, and that Mr Carmichael should 
call again on Tuesday morning, to be informed whether it 
would be in his power to see me then ; that the person so 
long expected was arrived ; that he had been preparing 
instructions for him, and would endeavor in the mean- 
time to send him to converse with me. 

On Sunday, the 3d of September, Don Diego Gardo- 
qui, of Bilboa, presented me a note from the Count de 
Florida Blanca, in these words. 


"The Count de f^lorida Blanca [)resents his compli- 
ments to Mr Jay, and recommends to him to form an ac- 
quaintance with the bearer of this letter, being the person 
in question, whom he had expected from day to day." 

It is observable, that M. Gardoqui's name is not men- 
tioned in this letter, which appears the more singular, as 
the Count had never mentioned to me the name of the 
jyerson expected. This was being very wary. Mr Car- 
michael told me, he took this to be the same person whom 
he saw first at the inn, and afterwards walking in the pri- 
vate gardens. 

Hence it appears, that these strange delays were not 
unavoidable. Probably, the desire of further intelligence 
of the enemy's operations in America, and the undecided 
state of Mr Cumberland's negotiation, might have given 
occasion to then). To these may perhaps be added an 
expectation that our distresses would render us more 
pliant, and less attached to the Mississippi. But these are 
conjectures, and as men sometimes act without any settled 
system, it may not be prudent to scan their conduct by a 
supposed plan, however probable. 
VOL. VII. 45 

354 JOHN JAY. 

M. Gardoqui began the conversation by assurances of 
his personal attachnnent to our cause and country, which 
gave occasion to mutual and complimentary professions 
too unimportant to repeat. 1 told him, that the holders of 
the bills, after having shown me great forbearance and 
delicacy, were at length perfectly tired ; that the house of 
Casa Mayor had sent their bills after me, but that as I was 
not to expect the honor of a conference with the Minister 
until Tuesday evening, at soonest, I had requested time 
till Wednesday to give my answer. 1 therefore begged 
the favor of him to mention this to the Minister, and obtain 
his directions wliat I should do. He asked to what 
amount Congress had resolved to draw. I told him. He 
observed, that the Court ought previously to have been 
applied to. In answer to which, 1 recapitulated the rea- 
sons before given to the Minister. He dwelt largely on 
the necessities of the Slate, and I expatiated on the ex- 
tensive ideas entertained of Spanish opulence in America. 
He assured me they were mistaken, and spoke of the 
difficulties occasioned by the detention of their treasures 
abroad. He then remarked, that we offered no consid- 
eration for the money we solicited. I replied, that we 
offered the same consideration that other nations did who 
borrowed money, viz. the repayment of the principal with 
interest. He asked me if we had nothing further to offer, 
and mentioned ship timber. I said we had ship timber, 
but that as it belonged to individuals, the public could not 
get it otherwise than by purchase, and that it could answer 
no purpose to borrow money with one hand and instantly 
repay it with the other, for that a repayment in money, or 
in ship timber, was the same thing in fact, and differed only 
in name. Besides, that if Spain wanted timber from 



America, it would be better in case he went there, that he 
should be charged with that business, than that it should 
be under the direction of Congress, for that public works 
were always more expensive than private. He agreed in 
this. He again asked me whether I could think of nothing 
else to offer. I told him no. Whether there was nothing 
on the side of the Mississippi that I could ofTer. I told 
him nothing that I could think of except land, and that I 
did not think it would be wortli the King's while to buy a 
liundred thousand pounds worth of land there, considering 
the immense territories he already possessed. He inquired 
whether I thought Congress would draw lor the whole 
sum. 1 answered that it was in my opinion not improba- 
ble, for that they would consider the acceptance of ten or 
twelve thousand dollars as a prelude to fiu'ther aids, natu- 
rally su[)posing, that if the King afforded us any suppli-es at 
all, they would be such as would correspond with his dig- 
nity, and not be limited to that liltle pittance. He desired 
me to meet him the next day at M. Del Campo's, which I 
promised to do. 

I shortly after spw the French Ambassador, who among 
other things mentioned the propf)sed meeting at Del Cam- 
po's, which, with various other ciicunistances, shows his 
being on confidential terms wilii the A'linisier. 

In the evening M. Gardoqui again paid me a visit, and 
pointedly proposed my offering the navigation of the Mis- 
sissippi, as a consideration for aids. I told him that object 
could not come in question in a treaty for a loan of one 
hundred thousand pounds, and Spain should consider, that 
to render alliances permanent, they should be so formed as 
to render it the interest of both parties to observe them ; 
that the Americans, almost to a man, believed that God 

356 JOHN JAY. 

Almighty had made that river a liighway for the people of 
the upper country to go to the sea by ; that this country 
was extensive and fertile ; that the General, many officers, 
and others of distinction and influence in America, were 
deeply interested in it ; that it would rapidly settle, and 
that the inhabitants would not readily be convinced of the 
justice of being obliged, either to live without foreign com- 
modities, and lose the surplus of their productions, or be 
obliged to transport both over rugged mountains, and 
through an immense wilderness, to and from the sea, when 
they daily saw a fine river flowing before their doors, and 
offering to save them all that trouble and expense, and that 
vvithftut injury to Spain. He observed, that the present 
generation would not want this navigation, and tbat we 
should leave fnture ones to manage their own affairs, he. 

The next day, that is, the 4lh of September, I luet M. 
Gardoqui at M. Del Campo's. After some unconnected 
conversation, I observed to M. Del Campo, that as all the 
papers between the Minister and myself had passed through 
his hands, it was unnecessary to give him any information, 
except what related to the present state of the bills drawn 
upon me, which I proceeded to state in a short, but par- 
ticular manner. He replied by making several strictures 
on the impropriety of drawing bills without previous notice 
and consent. He remarked, that they might with more 
propriety have been drawn on France, with whom we 
were allied, and who were richer than they ; that the 
King must first take care of his own people, before he 
could supply us ; that Spain had been brought into the war 
by our quarrel, but received no advantage from us ; that 
they had been told of our readiness to assist in taking Pen- 
sacola, &:c. but instead of aids, he had heard of nothing 


but demands from us ; that our situation was represented 
as being deplorable, and that the enemy talked of the sub- 
mission of some of the States, and of negotiations being on 
foot for that purpose. 

Whether this style proceeded from natural arrogance, or 
was intended to affect my temper, I cannot say ; in either 
case, I thought it most prudent to take no notice of it, but 
proceed calmly and cautiously, and the more so as this was 
the first time I had ever conversed with this man. 1 told 
him in substance, though more at large, that the assurances 
given Congress of the friendly disposition of Spain by M. 
IMirales and others had been confided in, and had induced 
Congress to expect the aids in question. That if this ap- 
plication could be called a demand, it was stiil the first they 
had made to my knowledge ; that men in arms against the 
enemies of Spain were serving her as well as themselves, 
and therefore inight without impropriety request her aid ; 
that our separation from Britain was an object important to 
Spain, and that the success, with which we had opposed her 
whole force for six years, showed what the power of both, 
if under one direction, might bo capable of; that I knew 
nothing of Spain's having been drawn into the war by or for 
us, and that this was not to be found among the reasons 
she had alleged for it ; that an attack on Pensacola could 
not be expected to be made by troops actually employed 
in repelling the enemy's assaults from their own doors, and 
that the principles of self-defence would not permit or jus- 
tify it ; that Spain had much to expect in future from our 
commerce, and that we should be able as well as willing to 
pay our debts ; that the tales told of our despondency and 
submission resulted from the policy of the enemy, not from 
fact, and I believed no more of their private negotiations 

358 JOHN JAY. 

between America and Britain, than I did of there beins; 
private negotiations between Spain and Britain for a sepa- 
rate peace, which the Minister assured me was not the 
case ; that if on the arrival of the bills, I had been told 
plainly that no money could be advanced, further drafts 
would soon have been prevented ; but that a contrary 
conduct having been adopted, other expectations had 
been excited ; that as to France, she had done, and was 
still doing much for us, and that her being our ally did not 
confer propriety upon every request that we could make to 
her. He still pressed this point, and complained that the 
greater part of the money heretofore advanced by Spain 
had been laid out in France. He saw that France was 
deriving great commercial advantages from us, but that our 
commerce never would be an object with Spain, because 
all her productions would find a better market in her own 
Colonies. He desired a note of the bills which had ar- 
rived, and then made some reflections on the proposal of a 
treaty. We agreed perfectly well, that mutual interest 
should be the basis of it, and I added, that the good opin- 
ion entertained of the King and nation by America, was 
also a pleasing circumstance. He said, however that might 
be, America did not seem inclined to gratify Spain, in the 
only point in which she was deeply interested. Here fol- 
lowed much common-place reasoning about the navigation 
of the Mississippi, of which your Excellency has hereto- 
fore heard too much to require a repetition. He spoke 
also much of the difficulties of Spain, as to money nialters, 
saying that their treasures in America could at j)resent be 
of no use to them, as they had given orders that none 
should be sent home during the war, even if it continued 
these ten years ; and this was done in order, by stopping 


the usual current of specie into Europe, to embarrass the 
measures which Britain must take to obtain her necessary 

On the 6th of September, M. Gardoqui brought me 
word, that I might accept the bills of Casa Mayor, amount- 
ing to one thousand one hundred and ten dollars, which I 
accordingly did. The proposed conference was post- 
poned, nor indeed was it obtained until the 23d of Sep- 

©n the 11th, the French Ambassador's Secretary 
called upon me, by the Ambassador's direction, to inform 
me, that an express was going to Paris, and to know 
whether anything further had been done in our affairs 
since he had seen me. I told him things continued in 
the same situation. He again commenced a conversation 
on the subject, and as he came directly from the Ambas- 
sador I entered into it. He expressed some concern for 
tlie delays I met with. I told him such things must be 
expected. He said he hoped I was content with France. 
I replied, that I apprehended France considered an inter- 
ference in our negotiations, as a delicate matter, for that 
as she had probably held up die exclusive navigation of 
the Mississippi, and Gulf of Mexico, among other objects 
to induce Spain to take a part in the war, she might hesi- 
tate about pressing Spain into a treaty with us on terms, 
that would not comprehend this object. He said M. Ge- 
rard had reasoned well about those matters, but that he 
did not believe France would be backward, nor indeed 
that she had promised this to Spain to bring her into the 
war. I told him, I should not be surprised to find, that 
the delay arose from a desire of hearing further news from 
America, and probably from Philadelphia. He said, that 


360 JOHN JAY. 

could not be the case, for since M. Mirales's death, Spain 
had no person there to give them intelligence. I told 
him, that Spain might be waiting the issue of new motions 
respecting the Mississippi in Congress, and that I was sure 
Count de la Luzerne would readily be at the trouble of 
communicating to them any interesting information on that 
or any other subject. Whether he drew any conclusions 
from the manner in which this was said, I cannot say, 
but in a way that looked like exculpating that Minister, 
he told me, that Count de la Luzerne had only mentioned 
to the French Ambassador, that two Members of Con- 
gress, with whom he had talked over the affair of the 
Mississippi, thought it would be best not to bring on the 
question of the navigation until Spain should become pos- 
sessed of the adjacent country, for that then it might be 
ceded with a better grace. He mentioned no names. 
This explains the letter herein before mentioned. The 
inferences which flow from it are obvious. I incline to 
suspect, that what I said in my letters on that head return- 
ed here by the same conveyance. 

On the 13th of September, M. Gardoqui delivered me 
the following verbal message from Count de Florida 
Blanca. "That the exigencies of the State would not 
permit his Majesty to provide for the payment of more of 
the bills drawn upon me, than had been already accepted." 
I expressed my regret that this had not been told me at 
first, and told him it appeared a little extraordinary, that 
the Minister should employ himself and me three months 
in making and answering propositions relative to a loan, 
which it v.'as not in his power to make. I touched also on 
the assurances from time to time given me, and intimated, 
that something, which I could not at present see through, 


must have caused this change ; that I lamented it the 
more, as it would weaken the foundations on which I 
wished to see a , cordial union laid between the two 

I dined with the French Ambassador. He was a little 
out of spirits, and on talking to him on what had hap- 
pened, I told him there was nothing now left but for me 
to apply to France. He encouraged the idea, and agreed 
with me, that the bills ought to be by all means saved from 
protests. He imputed the conduct of Spain to resentment 
against M. Necker, for opposing a certain scheme of 
Spanish finance, which he thought interfered with his 
plan. It is a curious one, but I shall omit it at present, 
as I fear Congress already wish this letter at an end. As 
the Count de Florida Blanca's message to me by M. Gar- 
doqui was a verbal one, and might hereafter be denied 
or explained away as convenience might dictate, I thought 
it important to establish it, and for that and other reasons 
which need no explanation, I wrote the Count the follow- 
ing letter. 

"St Ildefonso, September 14th, 1780. 


"The information I received yesterday from your Ex- 
cellency by M. Gardoqui, has drawn the affair of the bills 
of exchange to a conclusion. He told me, that the exi- 
gencies of the State would not permit his Majesty to pro- 
vide for the payment of more of those bills than were 
already accepted, amounling to about fourteen thousand 

"As it is important that every nation at war should 
know exactly the state of their resources, and as America 
has been induced to consider^the friendship of his Catholic 
VOL. vii. 46 

362 JOHN JAY. 

Majesty as among the number of hers, I must request the 
favor of your Excellency, to tell me frankly whether the 
United Stales may expect any, and what aids from Spain. 
The general assurances of amity, which that country has 
received from this, together with what has passed between 
your Excellency and myself relative to clothing for our 
troops, and supplies of specie in America, will I hope be 
considered as authorising this question ; and the more so, 
as M. Gardoqui, to whose arrival your Excellency post- 
poned the discussion of these matters, informs me he is 
not instructed to say anything to me on these, or indeed 
any other subjects. 

"1 have the honor to be, &.c. 


On this day some glorious reports from America arrived. 
It seemed as if she had risen like a giant refreshed with 
sleep, and was doing wonders. I sent the news to the 
Count as usual, without appearing to be affected by his 
late conduct. 1 began again to be seen, and in a few in- 
stances to be known. 

The next day, the 15th of September, M. Gardoqui 
delivered to me a paper by way of answer to my letter of 
yesterday to the ]Minister. It is in these words ; 

"The following answer has been dictated to me in his 
Excellency's name by Don Bernardo del Campo, to be 
delivered to the honorable John Jay. 

"That it is not his Majesty's intention to stop assisting 
the States, whenever means can be found to do it, but that 
it will be impossible to supply them with money in Europe, 
there being none to spare, for that which ought to have 
come this year from America, has neither come, nor is it 
known when it will, and that which would have facilitated 


a far advanced negotiation is likely to produce no effect, 
in a great measure, through the undermining of some per- 
sons of rank in France. 

"The States not giving timely advice, nor having taken 
his Majesty's previous consent, he could not arrange his 
affairs beforehand, in order to assure the acceptance and 
payment of the bills they have drawn, for which reasons, 
and that Congress has not to this day given any tokens 
of a recompense, his Majesty might have just cause of dis- 
gust, but notwithstanding he does not, nor will change his 
ideas, and will always retain those of luiinanily, friendship, 
and compassion, that he has had towards the colonies. 
That, consequently, if Mr Jay or his constituents should 
find money upon credit, to the sum of one hundred or one 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars, that his Majesty will be 
answerable for the said sum, payable in the space of three 
years ; that his Majesty will besides exert all that is pos- 
sible to assist them with clothing and other things, and, 
finally, in order that his Majesty may extend his iurther 
dispositions, it is precisely necessary that they should give 
sure and effective tokens of a good correspondence, pro- 
posing reciprocal measures of a compensation that may 
establish a solid friendship and confidence, without reducing 
it to words and protests of mere compliment. 

"This being the substance, I would further suggest to Mr 
Jay's consideration, that the continuance of assisting the 
States by answering the sum expressed in a manner much 
more public than that of paying the m.oney privately, shows 
plainly the sincerity of his Majesty, although the States 
have not to this day proposed any equivalent to the assist- 
ance already given, and to the expenses occasioned by a 
war, which had its true origin from then), to all which must 

364 JOHN JAY. 

be added, (though by the way no credit is given to it,) that 
there are hints of some understanding between the colonies 
and England. 

^'Sf lldcfonso, September loth, 1780, 


It is to be observed, that this paper when first delivered 
was not signed, and suspecting that this omission might not 
be accidental, I mentioned it to M. Gardoqui a day or two 
afterwards. After some hesitation, and doubts of its being 
necessary, he signed it. 1 made no remarks at all to M. 
Gardoqui on any part of this paper except the last article, 
which I treated with great indignation. 

'On the 16th I wrote a short letter and many copies to 
your Excellency, informing you of the necessity of sus- 
pending further drafts upon nie for the present. 

Three days afterwards, I had a long and satisfactory 
conversation with the French Ambassador, in which he was 
very unreserved, candid, and confidential. He read to me 
part of a letter he intended to send to Count de Vergennes 
on our affairs, and justice calls upon me to say, that we 
are obliged to him for it. 

On the 22d of September, 1 sent the following letter to 
Count de Vergennes by one of the Ambassador's couriers. 

"St Ildefonso, September 22d, 1780. 

"I have never taken up my pen with so much reluctance 
as I now do, although my design is to write a letter to your 
Excellency. But, Sir, there are few sensations more pain- 
ful than those which they experience, who, already covered 
with benefits, are impelled by cruel necessity to ask for 
more. Snch is my present situation, and hence proceeds 
my regret. 


"My uniform and unreserved communications to the 
Count Montmorin, who has my fullest confidence, pre- 
cludes the necessity and consequently the propriety of a 
minute detail of American affairs here. 

"Your Excellency will recollect the resolution of Con- 
gress for drawing bills on me, as well as the reasons as- 
signed for that measure. In my first conference with the 
Minister on that subject, he enlarged on the necessities of 
the State, but nevertheless told me, he should be able, at 
the end of the present or beginning of the next year, to 
advance thirty or forty thousand pounds sterling, and that 
further arrangements respecting the residue should then be 

"I afterwards received and answered propositions for 
the reimbursement of this money ; and from time to time, 
was ])ermitted to accept such of the bills as were most 

"Things remained in this state till the 5th of July, 
when, after many warm assurances of friendship and good 
will, the further discussion of these matters was postponed 
by the Minister until the arrival of a person intended to 
succeed- M. Mirales, the late Spanish agent at Philadel- 
phia, and I was told that they should then be arranged and 

"Several weeks elapsed after the time assigned for his 
arrival had expired. The holders of the bills became im- 
portunate, and insisting on my accepting or refusing them. 

"I wrote several letters to the Minister, requesting his 
directions, but was not favored with an answer to any of 

"On the 3d instant, after fruitless endeavors to see the 
Minister, I received the following note from him by the 
hands of M. Gardoqui ; 

366 JOHN JAY. 

'The Count de Florida Blanca sends his compliments to 
Mr Jay, and advises him to become acquainted with the 
bearer of this letter, who is the person that has been ex- 
pected from day to day.' 

"This gentleman made many remarks tending to show 
the propriety of America's offering some specific consider- 
ation for this money, and hinted at the navigation of the 
Mississippi, ship timber, vessels, tobacco, &c. &c. I re- 
plied, that the only consideration Congress could offer, 
was that which all other nations at war, who borrowed 
money, offered, viz. to repay the principal with a reason- 
able interest after the war ; that 1 should deceive him, 
were I to enter into contracts to pay it sooner ; that the 
proposition of paying it during the war, in ship timber, to- 
bacco, or other articles, did not lessen the difficulty, for 
that these things were worth, and cost money in America, 
as well as in Europe ; and that as to the Mississippi, it 
could not come in question as a consideration for one 
hundred thousand pounds. The conversation was con- 
cluded, by his desiring me to meet him at M. Del 
Campo's the next morning. M. Gardoqui then, and 
since, behaved with temper, candor, and politeness. 

"The next day we saw M. Del Campo. He was liberal 
in his censures on the measure of drawing the bills in ques- 
tion on Spain. He informed me, that the King must first 
take care of his own people before he gave supplies to 
others ; that Spain, instead of deriving advantage from 
America, heard of nothing but demands. That if Congress 
wanted money, they should have drawn on France, with 
whom they were in alliance, and who had all the profit of 
their trade ; that we ought to have distinguished between 
our allies, and those who only wished us well, and that ap- 


plications for aid might be proper to the one, which were 
not so to the other ; that our affairs were in a ruinous con- 
dition, and that it was even said some of the States were 
holding secret negotiations for peace with the enemy, &c. 
&.C. &ic. My replies were such as the subject naturally 
suggested, and as prudence dictated ; there are seasons 
when men mean not to be convinced, and when argument 
becomes mere matter of form. On such occasions, we 
have little more in our power than moderation and temper. 
I gave M. Del Campo credit for his frankness, and wish I 
could with propriety have extended it to his delicacy. 

"A day or two afterwards, viz. the 6ih instant, I was 
permitted to accept bills to the amount of one thousand 
one hundred and ten dollars. 

"On the 13th, M. Gardoqui, by order of the Minister, 
told me, that the exigencies of the State would not per- 
mit the King to provide for the payment of more of the 
bills than had been already accepted, amounting to about 
fourteen thousand dollars. This gave occasion to my 
letter to the Minister of the 14th, and to his answer 
of the 15th, which was dictated by him to M. Del 
Campo," and by M. Del Campo to M. Gardoqui, copies 
of both of which your Excellency will receive from Count 
Montmorin. The Minister's answer made a conference 
between us expedient. I requested that favor the 15th 
instant, and have been informed that the Count de Florida 
Blanca will endeavor to see me on Saturday evening 

" I forbear remarks on this singular conduct. 1 wish it 
could be explained in a manner compatible with the repu- 
tation Spain enjoys in North America. I much fear 
partial resentments, which ought not to affect America, 


have been permitted to have an undue degree of influence, 
and that the Minister forgot in his zeal for a certain 
scheme of finance, that it was unjust to wound opponents 
through the sides of their friends. But whatever may 
have been the cause ; the effect, unless removed, will be 
destructive, and France only can at present afford the 
means of doing it. 

"When I consider, on the one hand, that France was 
our first, and is still our best, and almost only friend ; thai 
she became our ally on terms of equality, neither taking, 
nor attempting to take ungenerous advantages of our situ- 
ation ; that she has clothed and armed our troops, and is 
at tWs moment assisting us with her fleets, her armies, her 
treasure, and her blood ; gratitude and generosity forbid 
me to solicit a further tax on her magnanimity. But, on 
the other hand, when I reflect that the loss of American 
credit would be a loss to the common cause, and an even- 
tual injury to France ; that such an event would be a 
matter of triumph to our common enemy, and of pain to 
our friends ; that the honor of Congress, suspended on the 
fate of these bills, now hangs as it were by a hair, and that 
our enemies here and elsewhere are doing all in their 
power to cut it ; when I consider, that America would feel 
more sensibly the loss of reputation in this instance, than 
the loss of battles in many others ; I say, Sir, when I con- 
sider these things, I find it to be my duty to request your 
Excellency to interpose the amity of France, and that his 
Majesty will be pleased to add this strong link to the chain 
of benefits, by which he has already boimd the affections of 
America to his family and people. 

"I ought to inform your Excellency, that bills for about 
fifty thousand dollars remain unaccepted. The greater 


part of these are in the hands of merchants, who waited 
tny answer with a degree of patience, I could not have 
expected ; some of them ever since the month of June 
last. Further delays, therefore, were not to be asked or 
obtained, and I was reduced to the necessity, either of 
promising to accept them, or permit the credit of Congress 
to perish widi them. I could not long hesitate. I prom- 
ised-to accept them. Fortunately, these bills have hith- 
erto come on slowly, though, it is probable, that the assur- 
ances of Spain, which I have communicated to Congress, 
may quicken their pace. A period, however, will soon 
be put to their drawing, as I have written to them by seve- 
ral conveyances immediately to stop. 

"I ought also to inform your Excellency, that a promise 
made me in June last of some clothing for our troops has 
been renewed, and that his Majesty has been pleased to 
offer us his responsibility to facilitate a loan of one hundred 
and fifty thousand dollars. I shall endeavor to make the 
most of this offer, and your Excellency may rest assured, 
that I shall gladly embrace every measure, which may be 
calculated to lessen the weight with which the American 
cause presses on the fmances of France. 
"I have the honor to be, &c. 


I also sent a copy of this letter to Dr Franklin, enclosed 
in one of which the following is a copy. 

•'St Ildefonso, Sept. 22d, 1780. 

"Dear Sir, 
"I have lately written to you several letters. Enclosed 
is a copy of one to Count de Vergennes, which Count 
Montmorin, who also writes to him on the same subject, is 
VOI-. VII. 47 

370 JOHN JAY. 

so obliging as to send together with this, by a courier to 


" The papers you have heretofore received from me, 

with those now sent, will enable you to understand it, and 

I am persuaded your abilities and influence will be exerted 

to promote the success of the application contained in it. 

It appears to me absolutely necessary, that the bills drawn 

on me be saved at all events. If contrary to my ideas of 

the wisdom and afiection of France, she should not lend us 

money for the purpose, we must endeavor to borrow it of 

individuals, though at a higher than usual interest ; nay, on 

any terms, rather than not get it. Almost anything will be 

better than a protest ; for exclusive of the disgrace, which 

is intolerable, the consequences of it would cost Congress 

more than the expense of saving their credit, be it almost 

what it will. 

"I am, &£c. 


The Ambassador informed me, that he had received des- 
patches from Philadelphia, which gave him and the Court 
great pleasure, viz. — That Congress had, at the instance of 
the Chevalier de la Luzerne and Don Francisco, agreed to 
make a diversion to the southward in order to facilitate the 
Spanish operations in that quarter ; that a noble spirit was 
pervading all ranks of people ; that we had been success- 
ful in Jersey, he. &c. and in short, that the Chevalier de la 
Luzerne was much pleased with Congress and the general 
aspect of affairs in America. I lamented in silence, that I 
should have no other intelligence of all this, but from a 
French Ambassador. 

He informed me further, that he believed we should 
now be able to get some of the clothing taken from the 


enemy by Admiral Cordova ; that he had, and would con- 
tinue to cherish the idea. We had a long conversation ; 
he gave me much good advice, some useful information, 
and many assurances of cordiality and good will. 

On the evening of the 23d, I was admitted to the honor 
of a conference with his Excellency the Count de Florida 
Blanca ; and M. Gardoqui, who understands Spanish and 
English exceedingly well, perform.ed the part of interpre- 

The following notes of the conference are very exact as 
to every particular. 

JVotes of a Conference between his Excellency the Count 
de Florida Blanca and. Mr Jay, at St lldefonso, on 
Saturday Evening, September 2od, 1780. 
After the usual civilities, the Count began the conference 
by informing Mr Jay, that the Court had received intel- 
ligence from the Havana, of Congress having so far 
complied with the request made to them to permit the 
exportation of provisions for the use of his Majesty's fleets 
and armies there, as to give license for shipping three 
thousand* barrels of flour, circumstances not admitting of 
further supplies at that time ; that this business was con- 
ducted by Mr Robert Morris in a manner with which he 
was well pleased ; that Congress had also, in order to pro- 
mote the success of the Spanish operations against Pensa- 
cola, &ic. agreed to make a diversion to the southward, to 
dfetach a considerable body of regular troops and militia to 
South Carolina under General Gates ; that his iMajesty 
was, well pleased with, and highly sensible of, these marks 
of their friendly disposition, and had directed him to desire 
Mr Jay to cotwey his thanks to them on the occasion. 

372 JOHN JAY. 

Mr Jay expressed liis satisfaction at this intelligence, 
and promised to lake the earliest opportunity of conveying 
to Congress the sense his Majesty entertained of their 
friendship, manifested by these measures. He told the 
Count it gave him pleasure to hear the business of the 
Spanish supplies was committed to Mr Robert Morris, and 
assured him, that the fullest confidence might be reposed 
in that gentleman's abilities and integrity. He requested 
his Excellency again to assure his Majesty, that he might 
rely on the good disposition of Congress, and of their evin- 
cing it in every way, which the situation of their affairs and 
tlie interest of the common cause might render practica- 
ble and expedient. The Count told Mr Jay, that he had 
proposed to the French Ambassador to send to Congress 
for the use of their army, clothins, for ten regiments lately 
taken in the convoy bound from Britain to Jamaica, and 
in which the two Crowns were equally interested ; that 
the Ambassador approved the j)roposition, but had not yet 
given his final answer. He then observed, that a nego- 
tiation for a peace between Britain and Spain appeared 
at present more distant than ever ; that the former had 
offered his Majesty everything he could desire to induce 
him to a separate peace ; but that the King, adhering to 
the same resolutions in favor of America, which had influ- 
enced his conduct in his mediation for a general peace 
and since, had rejected them, and that Congress might 
rely on his Majesty's determination never to give up or 
forsake America, but on the contrary continue affording 
her all the aids in his power. 

He told Mr Jay, that the Court of London, disappointed 
in their expectations of detaching Spain, had it in con- 
templation again to send Commissioners to America to 


treat with Congress on the subject of an accommodation 
with them ; that this measure was at present under the 
consideration of tiie Privy Council, and that there was 
reason to suppose it would be adopted. He observed, 
that the English had hitherto discovered much finesse and 
little true policy ; that first they endeavored by their in- 
trigues in France to separate that kingdom and America, 
but not succeeding there, they sent Commissioners to Amer- 
ica ; that the last year ihey attempted to detach France, 
and this year Spain, and that being unsuccessful in both 
they would again attempt America ; that the best way of 
defeating their designs was mutual confidence in eacii 
other. He remarked, that America could not rely on 
any promise of Britain, and asked if she was once detached 
from France and Spain, who could compel an observance 
of diem ? Mr Jay thanked the Count for this communi- 
cation, and assured him, that Congress would not only 
adhere to their engagements from motives of interest, but 
from a regard to their honor, and the faith of treaties ; 
that die opinion of Congress on this subject corresponded 
with th^t of his Excellency, and that Uieir conduct, with 
respect to the former English Commissioners, gave con- 
clusive evidence of their sentiments on the subject. Mr Jay 
promised in case he received any intelligence relative to this 
matter, his Excellency might depend on its being commu- 
nicated immediately to him. 

The Count appeared satisfied with this, and again re- 
peated his former assurances of the King's good disposi- 
tion towards America, &-c. &tc. 

Mr Jay informed his Excellency, that the subject on 
which he was desirous of conversing with him, arose from 
the paper he had received from M. Gardoqui the 15th 

374 JOHN JAY. 

instant, containing his Excellency's answer to Mr Jay's 
letter of the 14th. 

Mr Jay then requested the Count to communicate to 
his Majesty his thanks for the offer he had been pleased 
to make, of his responsibility in order to facilitate a loan 
of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and also for the 
promise of clothing, he. &cc. and to assure him, that the 
gratitude of the States would always be proportionate to 
the obligations conferred upon them ; he observed to the 
Count, that he intended to attempt this loan in Spain, 
France, and Holland, and begged to be informed in what 
manner he should evidence the responsibility of his Maj- 
esty to the persons, who might be disposed to lend the 
money, for that in this and other similar cases, he meant to 
be guided by his Excellency's directions. The Count 
replied, that as this matter fell within the department of 
M. Musquir, the Minister of Finance, he would consult him 
upon it on Tuesday evening next, and immediately there- 
after inform Mr Jay of the result. He then apologized, 
an>d expressed his regret for not being able to furnish the 
money he had expected to supply (alluding evidently to 
the thirty or forty thousand pounds which, in the confer- 
ence at Aranjues, the 11th day of May last, he said he ex- 
pected to be able to supply by the end of this or beginning 
of next year.) He said he had been disappointed in the 
remittances expected from America, for he was advised, 
that two ships, which he had expected would arrive from 
thence with treasure in December or January next, would 
not come, and that this and other circumstances rendered 
it impossible for him to advance us any money in Europe. 
But that he would, nevertheless, agreeably to the King's 
intentions, give us all the assistance in his power. 


Mr Jay desired to b«>, informed, whether any steps were 
necessary for him to take for forwarding the clothing at 
Cadiz to America. The Count answered, that he waited 
the French Ambassador's answer on the subject, and that 
he had as yet no inventory of them, but that he would 
again speak to the Ambassador, and make arrangements 
for sending them on to America as soon as possible. 

Mr Jay then proceeded to regret, that the pleasure he 
derived from these instances of his Majesty's friendship to 
the United States, was mingled with pain from being in- 
formed by the abovementioned paper, that the King con- 
ceived he might have just cause to be disgusted with 

Because, 1st; they had drawnlhe bills of exchange with- 
out his previous consent ; and, 2dly, because they had not 
given any tokens of a recompense. ]Mr Jay reminded his 
Excellency, that these bills were drawn upon himself, and 
not on Spain, and although that Congress might have 
hoped, for reasons already assigned, to have been enabled 
to pay them by a loan from his JNIajesty, yet that every 
other usual measure was left open for that purpose. That 
an application to Spain for such a loan could give no 
just cause of offence, for that if it had not been conve- 
nient to her to make it, all that she had to do was to have 
told him so, and he was then at liberty to take such 
measures for procuring it elsewhere as he might think 
proper. The Count re})lied, that what Mr Jay observed 
was true, but that certainly the bills were drawn with an 
expectation of their being paid by Spain, and that this 
might probably have been done, if previous notice of the 
measure had been given. Tliat he always intended to 
have done something towards their payment, but had been 

376 JOHN JAY. , 

prevented by disappointments, and the exigencies of the 
State. Mr Jay continued to observe, that the second 
cause assigned for this disgust, viz. that Congress had 
given no tokens of a recompense, must have arisen from a 
mistake. He reminded his Excellency, that he had never 
requested a donation from Spain, but that on the contrary 
he had repeatedly offered to pledge the faith of the United 
States for the repayment with interest, within a reasonable 
time after the war, of whatever sum his Majesty might be 
so kind as to lend them. To these remarks the Count 
said only, that interest for the money would have been no 
object with them ; that they would gladly have lent it to us 
withT)ut interest, and repeated his regret at the disappoint- 
ment which had prevented them. He appeared rather 
uneasy and desirous of waiving the subject. 

Mr Jay next called the Count's attention to a part of 
the paper in question, which informed him, "that there 
were liints (though no credit was given to it) of some 
understanding between America and the Court of Lon- 
don." He observed, that this subject was both delicate 
and important; that so far as this understanding related to 
Congress, or the governments of either of the States, he 
was sure that this insinuation was entirely groundless ; that 
there might possibly be intriguing individuals, who might 
have given cause to such suspicions ; that if there were 
such men or bodies of men it would be for the good of 
the common cause, that they should be detected, and their 
designs frustrated. He therefore requested, that if his 
Excellency had any evidence on this subject, he would be 
pleased to communicate it, and thereby enable him to 
give Congress an opportunity of taking such measures, as 
circumstances might render proper. The Count said, he 


had nothing specific or particular as yet to communicate. 
That he was pursuing measures for further discoveries, 
and that he would mention to Mr Jay whatever informa- 
tion might result from them. 

Mr Jay resumed his animadversions on the paper in 
question by observing, that it assured him it was necessary, 
"that Congress should give sure and effective tokens of 
a good correspondence, proposing reciprocal measures of 
a compensation, &ic. in order that his Majesty might ex- 
tend his further dispositions towards them." That for 
his part he could conceive of no higher tokens, which one 
nation could give to another of friendship and good will, 
than their commissioning and sending a person for the 
express purpose of requesting his Majesty to enter into 
treaties of amity and alliance with tliein, and that on terms 
of reciprocity of interest and mutual advantage. To this 
the Count replied, that to this day he was ignorant of these 
terms, and that no particular propositions had" been made 
him. Mr Jay then reminded him of his letters from 
Cadiz, and of the conference on the subject at Aranjues 
on the 2^ day of June last, in the latter of which, after 
conferring on the subject of aids, and of the treaty, his 
Excellency had promised to reduce his sentiments on both 
to writing, and send him notes on each ; that as to the 
first, Mr Jay had received the notes, but not on the last ; 
that he had been in constant expectation of receiving them, 
and that delicacy forbade pressing his Excellency on that 
matter, or offering anything further till he should have 
leisure to complete them. 

He said he thought he had given them to Mr Jay or Mr 
Carmichael, which both of them assured him he had not. 
Of this the Count appeared after a little time satisfied, 
VOL. VII. 48 

378 JOHN JAY. I 

when Mr Jay resumed the subject by remarking, that the 
order of conducting that business appeared to him to be 
this ; that as a right was reserved by the Secret Article 
to his Majesty to accede to the treaty between France end 
America whenever lie thought proper, and that the latter 
would go into a discussion of any alteration the King might 
propose, that should be founded on reciprocity of interest, 
the first question was, whether his Majesty would accede 
to it as it was, or whether he would propose any and what 

The Count here interrupted Mr Jay by saying, that the 
interest of France and Spain with respect to America were 
sojJistipci, as necessarily to render different treaties neces- 
sary. Mr Jay answered, that admitting this to be the 
case, the treaty with France might be made the basis, and 
then go on mutatis mutandis. The Count proceeded to 
say, that it would not conduce to the general pacification to 
hurry on the treaty ; that finding Congress were not dis- 
posed to cessions, without which the King would not make 
a treaty, he thought it best by mutual services and acts of 
friendship, to continue making way for more condescen- 
sions on both sides, and not excite animosities and warmth 
by discussing points which the King would never yield. 
That, therefore, Mr Jay might take time to write to Con- 
gress on the subject, and obtain their instructions. 

He said, that previous to Mr Jay's or M. Gerard's arri- 
val at Madrid, M. Mirales had informed him that Congress 
would yield the navigation of the Mississippi, but that M. 
Gerard informed him that Congress had changed their 
resolution on that subject ; that he had mentioned these 
obstacles to Mr Jay and Mr Carmichael, and it was proba- 
ble that having done this, he had neglected or forgotten to 


give Mr Jay the notes in question. Mr Jay liere reminded 
his Excellency, that the conference between them of the 
2d day of June last turned among other points on these 
obstacles, and that they had then mutually expressed hopes 
that regulations calculated to remove them in a manner 
satisfactory to both parties might be adopted, and that the 
conferences respecting them were concluded by his Excel- 
lency's promising to give Mr Jay notes of his sentiments 
on the proposed treaty. The Count admitted this, and 
made several observations tending to show the importance 
of this object to Spain, and its determination to adhere to 
it, saying, with some degree of warmth, that unless Spain 
could exclude all nations from the Gulf of Mexico, they 
might as well admit all ; that the King would never relin- 
quish it ; that the Minister regarded it as the principal 
object to be obtained by the war, and that obtained, he 
should be perfectly easy whether or no Spain procured 
any other cession ; that he considered it far more im- 
portant than tlie acquisition of Gibraltar, and that if they 
did not get it, it was a matter of indifference to hitn whether 
the English possessed INiobile or not ; that he chose always 
to speak his sentiments plainly anil candidly on those occa- 
sions, for which reason he generally acted differently from 
other politicians, in always choosing to commit himself to 
paper, and appealing to the knowledge of the French Am- 
bassador and others, who had done business with him, for 
the proofs of this being the princi{)le of his conduct. He 
■ concluded by saying, he would give his sentiments in 
writing on this subject to Mr Jay. 

Mr Jay made no reply to the Count's remarks on the 
navigation, but observing, that being little acquainted with 
the practice of politicians, lie was happy in liaving to treat 

380 JOHN JAY. 

with a Minister of his Excellency's principles. He added, 
that there were many points necessary to be adjusted in 
order to a treaty ; that they might proceed to agree upon 
as many as they could, and with respect to the others, he 
should state them clearly to Congress, and attend their 
further instructions. 

Mr Jay then again turned the conference to the paper 
beforementioned, by observing to the Count, that it ap- 
peared from it, that the King also expected from Con- 
gress equivalents to the supplies formerly afforded, and also 
the expenses of the war, which it alleged had its origin 
from them. That as to the first he could only repeat what 
he had before said, that a general account of them was 
necessary. That he neither knew the amount of them, nor 
the terras on which they were granted ; that it was a trans- 
action previous to his appointment ; that on being furnished 
with the necessary information, he would transmit it to 
Congress, and wait their instructions ; that an expectation 
of an equivalent to the expenses sustained by Spain in the 
war, was inadmissible on every principle. He read the 
passage in question and remarked, that America could no 
more be justly chargeable with the expenses of the war 
sustained by Spain, than Spaincould be justly chargeable 
with the expenses of the war sustained by America. The 
Count replied, that Mr Jay had mistaken his meaning, and 
that he urged it merely to show that as the States were 
deriving considerable advantages from very expensive ope- 
rations on the part of Spain, that consideration should in- 
cline them to more condescension towards the latter. 

Mr Jay assured his Excellency, that he knew it to be 
the disposition of Congress to contribute all in their power 
to the success of the common cause, and that they would 


on every occasion give proofs of it, and among others, 
that he was confident they would permit iiis Majesty to 
export from thence, during the war, ship-timber and masts 
for the royal navy, and would readily consent to such 
measures as might be proper and necessary for facilitating 
it. He further observed, that having been informed by 
M. Gardoqui that his Majesty would like to take and finish 
a seyentyfour gun ship now on the stocks in one of the 
eastern ports, on which it was said no work was doing, he 
would with pleasure write to Congress and propose their 
transferring her to his Majesty at prime cost. That this 
previous step was necessary, as Congress might perhaps 
intend that vessel for particular services, but he was con- 
fident they would otherwise be happy in indulging his 
Majesty's inclinations. The Count appeared pleased with 
this. He said, that with respect to timber they stood most 
in need at present of yards, and should be glad to obtain a 
supply of them from Congress. That as to tiie ship, he 
wished to be informed exactly of her present state, antl the 
materials wanted to complete and equip her, which he 
observed might be sent from the Havana, and whether a 
crew of Americans could be had to navigate her there. 
Mr Jay replied, that though he was sure that Congress 
would readily give their aid in these and other malters in- 
teresting to Spain, yet he could not forbear reminding his 
Excellency as a friend, that public business done under 
the direction of public bodies was always more expensive 
than when done by individuals. That, therefore, he would 
submit it to his consideration whether it would not be more 
advisable to commit the management of these affairs to the 
agent, intended to succeed M. Mirales, who, by being on 
the spot, would have opportunities of acting on exact in- 


formation, and in a manner more consistent with the views 
of his Excellency. The Count agreed in this opinion, 
and promised to communicate to Mr Jay his further inten- 
tions on this subject. 

Mr Jay informed the Minister, that as his further stay 
here would now be unnecessary, and business called him 
to Madrid, he purposed to return there on Monday next. 
The Count concurred and the conference ended. 

Congress will permit me to observe, that many things 
in this conference are important, and demand instructions. 
I forbear to point them out, because they are obvious ; and 
I take ihe liberty of giving this hint from a knowledge of 
the delays attending the proceedings of large bodies. 

I returned to Madrid on the day appointed; and whether 
to accept or not to accept the bills became a ver}' serious 
question. After reviewing all the reasons for and against 
it, which are numerous, and which Congress will readily 
perceive without a particular enumeration, I determined to 
put a good face on the business, and accept ail that should 
be presented, which 1 have accordingly done, and am daily 
doing. What the event will be I cannot pretend to decide. 
All that I can say is, that my endeavors shall not be want- 
ing to render it successful. The responsibility of the King 
will not produce much, and ihe difficulty of borrowing 
money has been increased, by the number of agents sent to 
Europe for that purpose by several of the different States, 
who I am told have imprudently bidden on each other. 

M. Gardoqui returned to Madrid a few days after I did, 
and brought me word from the Minister, that instructions 
should be sent to their Ambassadors in Holland and 
France, to assure in due form the responsibility of the 
King to such persons as might there incline to lend us 


money on the credit of it, and that the Minister would do 
the same here. He told me further, that the IVIinisler 
hoped I would not be discouraged, nor consider things 
only on the dark side, for that it was still his intention to 
afford America every aid in his power. All this 1 ascribe 
to the exertions of America, and I am confident, that it 
will always be necessary for the United Stales to be formi- 
dable at home, if they expect to be respectable anywhere. 
For my own part, I shall be disappointed, if I find 
Courts moving on any other principle than political ones, 
and, indeed, not always on those. Caprice, whim, the in- 
terests and passions of individuals, must and will always 
have greater or less degrees of influence. America stands 
very high here, at present. I rejoice at it, though I must 
confess I muclj fear that such violent exertions may be 
followed by languor and relaxation. What the plan of this 
Court is with respect to us, or whether they have any, is 
with me very doubtful. If they have rejected all the over- 
tures of Britain, why is Mr Cumberland still here? And why 
are expresses passing between IVladrid and London through 
Portugal ? If Spain is determined that we shall be inde- 
pendent, ' why not openly declare us so, and thereby di- 
minish the hopes and endeavors of Britain to prevent it ? 
She seems to be desirous of holding the balance, of being 
in some sort a mediatrix, and of courting the offers of 
each by her supposed importance to both. The drawing 
of bills on me was considered as a desperate measure, 
prompted by our imbecility, and was a bad card to play at 
a time we were endeavoring to form a treaty, and when 
prudence demanded that the importance of Spain to us 
should not have been brought forward, or placed in such a 
glaring point of view. 

384 JOHN JAY. 

One good consequence, however, has resulted from it. 
The cordiality of Spain has been tried by it. For I 
know of a certainty, that it was in her power easily to have 
made the loan we asked. Indeed, we shall always be de- 
ceived, if we believe that any nation in the world has, or 
will have, a disinterested regard for us, especially absolute 
monarchies, where the temporary views or passions of the 
Prince, his Ministers, his women, or his favorites, not the 
voice of the people, direct the helm of State. Besides, 
from the manner in which the war is carrying on, it would 
seem as if it was the design of France and Spain that the 
longest purse, not the longest sword, should decide it. 
Whether such be really their intention, or how far it may 
be politic, I cannot pretend to determine. This, however, 
is certain, that it would be putting the affair on a hard 
issue for us. It is also certain, that some respect is due 
to appearances and probable events, and we should be 
cautious how we spend our money, our men, or our public 
spirit, uselessly. 

In my opinion, we should endeavor to be as indepen- 
dent on the charity of our friends, as on the mercy of our 
enemies. Jacob took advantage even of his brother's 
iiunger, and extorted from him a higher price than the 
value of the Mississippi even for a single dinner. The 
way not to be in Esaii's condition, is to be prepared to 
meet with Jacobus. 

From what [ can learn of the King's character, I am 
persuaded, that a present from Congress of a handsome 
fast sailing packet boat would be very acceptable, and 
consequently very useful. 

I am informed, and believe, that a loan from individuals 
in France is impracticable. Here nothing can be done in 


that way. What may be expected from the like attempts 
in Holland, I am unable to say. 

I have received no answer to my letter to Count de 
Vergennes ; the Ambassador informs me, that the Count 
has written him on the subject, and the following is an ex- 
tract from bis letter. 


"I doubt whether I shall be able to render Mr Jay the 
service he requests of me, independently of what the Min- 
istry has furnished the Americans in the course of the 
year. Dr Franklin is urgent for a million extra, to meet 
the drafts of Congress to the 31st of December. I am 
sensible how important it is to prevent them from being re- 
turned protested, but the difficulty is to find the means. I 
shall do my best in this exigency, but am not sure of suc- 
cess ; beyond this, it would be impossible for me to go." 

Dr Franklin has obtained some more money from his 
Court, and I am to have twentyfive thousand dollars of it; 
perhaps he may be able to advance more, but how much, 
I cannot say. 

JYovembei' 1st, 1780. No orders have as yet been given 
respecting the clothing. I have, applied and reapplied, 
and have been promised and repromised. I employed 
Mr Harrison, at Cadiz, (with the Minister's concurrence) 
to make the purchase, and he has several weeks been 
waiting for these orders. 

General Gates is defeated, and Mr Laurens in the 
Tower. Our sky in this quarter is again darkened with 
clouds not in my power to dispel. 

1 had flattered myself with receiving before tiiis time 
some regulations respecting American seamen. 
VOL. VII. 49 

386 JOHN JAY. 

The house of Le Couteulx have refused to continue 
their care of them, or to advance more money on that ac- 
count. They complain that the American Captains under 
various pretexts refuse to give them passages, without be- 
ing paid for them. This is cruel. 

The following are copies of their letter to me on the 
subject, and my answer. 


"Cadiz, October 3d, 1780. 

"Our supplies for the American sailors amount at this 
day to . We will continue to render them every 

service in our power, but will confess to you ingenuously, 
that if you do not furnish us with an order from Congress, 
by which you empower us to oblige all American Captains, 
who come here, to take a certain number of people, in 
proportion to their bulk, free of passage, and afterwards so 
many more on paying them a certain sum for their provis- 
ions, we can advance nothing ; as all the Captains who 
come here never fail of showing good motives for not tak- 
ing any of their fellow countiymen, without paying them a 
passage, which forces us to let the people go on board neu- 
tral vessels ; and instead of fulfilling your views of sending 
them back as soon as possible, this is a means by which 
they get still further from it, and a great many engage in 
the English service." 


"Madrid, October 15th, 1780. 

"I have been honored with your favor of the 3d instant, 
and am much obliged by your attention to the letter it en- 


closed. You were not mistaken in supposing that the 
handwriting was mine. That letter was enclosed in one 
for Mr Harrison, and sent under cover to you. 

"It gives me concern to find that you have so much 
trouble with American seamen, and 1 much lament that it 
is not in my power to comply with the terms on which 
alone you incline to continue it. I have written more than 
once io Congress on the subject, and submitted to their 
consideration the propriety of establishing proper regula- 
tions for the conduct of that business, but as yet I have 
received none. I presume that their attention has been so 
engaged by other matters of higher and more pressing im- 
portance, as not to have had leisure for making these ar- 
rangements. The refusal of American Captains to give 
passages to their unfortunate countrymen is certainly un- 
kind. I shall communicate to Congress, and 1 hope 
proper measures will be taken to remove that obstacle. 
At any rate, however, 1 cannot leave these unhappy cap- 
tives friendless, in a strange country. The unfeeling treat- 
ment of the Captains rather stimulates than represses my 
commiseration, and, therefore, Gentlemen, as it is not 
convenient to you to proceed in your care of them, but on 
terms not in my power to comply with, I find myself re- 
duced to the necessity of requesting that favor from others. 
For this purpose I have written to Mr Harrison of your 
city, and proposed his undertaking it, and have desired 
him in case he consented, to mention it to you. On that 
event I must beg the favor of you to give him such infor- 
mation and advice, as may be useful to him in the manage- 
ment of those affairs. Be pleased also to liquidate your 
accounts with him ; they shall be paid without furtlij: 

388 JOHN JAY. 

"The attention and kind offices you have regularly paid 
to Americans, and the personal civilities that myself and 
family experienced from you, while at Cadiz, will always 
continue to excite my warmest acknowledgments, and lead 
me to omit no opportunity of convincing you of the esteem 
and regard, with which I am, Gentlemen, he. 


T have before mentioned to Congress my difficulties as 
to correspondence. They continue, and I am obliged to 
give Colonel Livingston the trouble of carrying this letter 
to Bilboa, and delivering it with his own hands to the Cap- 
tain of some American vessel. Congress might have let- 
ters from me every month, if orders were given to the 
Captains of the vessels bringing despatches for me, to send 
a trusty officer with them to me. I know that all are 
opened, and some suppressed, and I can think of no other 
way of avoiding these inconveniences. It is important that 
our correspondence be uninterrupted, 

I have written very particularly, perhaps more so than 
may be prudent, but as I think it my duty, I pay no regard 
to consequences. If Congress will be equally well satisfied 
with less minute information, I wish to be told so, that their 
direction on this head may govern me in future. I cannot 
forbear again observing, that few of their proceedings re- 
main long secret. I have very good authority for saying 
that copies of the letters, which passed between the Com- 
mittee and the late Commissioners in France, are now in 
the hands of a certain foreigner. How he got them I do 
not know, but such is the fact, and in my opinion it calls 
for more care in future. 

If my letters meet with the same fate, my remaining here 
will become a useless expense to my country. 


I think I have written everything material to enable 

Congress to know the exact state of their affairs here. If, 

however, there should be any questions to which an answer 

would be agreeable to Congress, I wish to be informed of 

them ; for since I left America, I have made it a rule to be 

always in a capacity to render a reason for every part of 

my conduct, and state with accuracy every fact relative 

to it.^ 

1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



Madrid, November 30th, 1780. 

Your Excellency will receive herewith enclosed certain 
papers from Morocco, viz. 

JVo. I. Containing a letter of the 2lstof April last, to 
me from Audibert Caille, who styles himself the "Consul 
appointed by the Emperor for such foreign nations as have 
none of their own in his dominions, to protect the strangers 
who may come to traffic in his ports pursuant to two proc- 
lamations published last year." 

JVo. 2. My answer. 

JVo. 3. Copy of M. Aiidiberl's appointment. 

JVo. 4. Copy of a declaration of the Emperor, 20th of 
February, 1778. 

JVo. 5. A letter from M. Audibert Caille to Congress of 
6th of September, 1779. Also, six printed copies of M. 
Audibert Caille's certificates. 

These papers ought to have been sent with my letters of 
May last, but recollecting as I was then about to put them 
up, that if the originals should be lost on the passage, it 

390 JOHN JAY. 

might be difficult to obtain others, 1 thought it most pru- 
dent to detain them to be copied, and wait for some other 
opportunity of getting them to the sea ; none has, how- 
ever, since occurred, and I did not think them of sufficient 
importance to render it necessary that either Mr Carmi- 
chael or Colonel Jjivingston should carry them to one of 
the sea ports. 

It is proper that your Excellency should be informed, 
that on the 8th instant I had & conference with the Minis- 
ter at the Escurial, in which I received many good ivords 
and friendly assurances, but time only can decide how 
ihey will terminate. I received a letter yesterday from 
Mr Harrison, of the 24th instant, and then no orders had 
arrived about the clothing. These delays may seem sin- 
gular, but they are not uncommon. Mr Cumberland is 
slil! here. The French and English fleets are at sea. 

Although appearances are not very flattering at present, 
I hope they will in time become more so. Patience, pru- 
dence, and perseverance, sometimes effect much. It is 
in my opinio.i very important that no dissatisfaction be ex- 
pressed in America at the conduct of Spain. Complaint 
and disgust can answer no good purpose, but may be pro- 
ductive of many disagreeable consequences. A cautious 
silence is the more necessary, as I am confident that there 
are persons in America, who would make a merit of col- 
lecting and transmitting the. sentiments of Congress, or 
members of Congress, on subjects interesting to the views 
and objects of persons in power here. 

Colonel Livingston would have returned this fall at the 
expiration of the term expressed in his leave of absence, had 
1 not taken the liberty of advising him to remain, and taken 
upon myself to adjust this matter with Congress. As he 


is employed, and industrious in obtaining linowledge, which 
may enable him to be useful in future to his country, I 
must join with him in requesting that Congress will be so 
kind as to extend his leave of absence to such further 
period as may be agreeable to them. 

The enclosed paper marked No. 6, is a copy of a State 
of the Revenues and Expenditures of Spain, in the year 
1778. It was formed by a Secretary to one of the em- 
bassies, and a copy of it was given to Mr Carmichael. I 
received it the last day of July, and had no safe opportu- 
nity of sending it before. What credit may be due to this 
account I cannot determine, and I have reason to think 
that there are (ew men in the kingdom wh.o can. Tills 
government, disposed to concealment and mystery in most 
matters, will not probably permit an accurate knowledge 
of their revenues to be easily attained. This account is 
perhaps as near the truth as any other. The gentleman, it 
is said, took much pains in forming it, and it also met with 
the approbation of some foreign JNlinisters ; but how far 
those Ministers were judges of die subject I am unin- 
formed. The remarks subjoined to this account are ]Mr 
Carmichael's, and were added to the copy I received from 

I send copies of several letters, which passed between 
Messrs de Neufville and Son, of Amsterdam, and myself, 
relative to the bills drawn on Mr Laurens.* The conduct 
of that House has been so friendly and disinterested, ihat I 
think Congress should be particularly informed of it, and 
by taking proper notice of it, induce others to lollovv the 

I have the honor to be, he. 


* These have been inserted in the order of their several dates. 

392 JOHN JAY. 

No. 1. 



Aranjues, April 21st, 1780. 

By order of his Majesty the Emperor of Morocco, I 
wrote on the 6th of September in the last year to the Con- 
gress of the United States of North America, by way ot 
his Excellency Dr Franklin, their Plenipotentiary at the 
Court of France, to inform them of the pacific intentions 
of that sovereign. 

Not having yet received any answer on their part, I fear 
they have not received my letter, and by way of precau- 
tion, send your Excellency herewith joined an open copy, 
that after perusing it, you may make such use of it as you 
may think proper. I also send you a copy of the two 
manifests therein mentioned, as well as a translation of the 
patent of the consuls for foreign nations, with which his 
Majesty the Emperor has been pleased to honor me, and 
some copies of the certificates which he ordered me to 
give to the captains of ships, which sail under his flag. 

I wish, Sir, that you may receive all these papers with 
pleasure, and I request your Excellency to honor me with 
an answer, that 1 may be able to convince his Majesty, the 
Emperor of Morocco, that I have executed the commission 
he gave me to make known to Congress, that the subjects 
of the said United States might come and traffic under 
their own flags, in the ports of the empire of Morocco, in 
the like manner as they formerly did under the English 

Before I had the commission to write to Congress I had 


already written on this subject to his Excellency Dr Frank- 
lin, and I offered to interest myself cheerfully in estab- 
lishing a good understanding between his Majesty, the Em- 
peror of Morocco, and the Northern United Slates. 

In case that Congress should be equally well pleased 
to be at peace with his Majesty, the Emperor of Morocco, 
it will be proper to instruct the captains of American armed 
ships-to let freely pass all ships sailing under the flag of his 
Majesty, the Emperor, and will be provided with a certifi- 
cate similar to the within mentioned copies. 

I shall probably be obliged to remain here some days ; 
as soon as my business shall be despatched, I shall set out 
for Cadiz, and from thence go to Sale, the place of my 

Whenever your Excellency may be pleased to honor me 
with your orders, you may address your letters to Messrs 
Paul Greppi, Azarino, and Company, merchants at Cadiz, 
who will take care to forward them to me. 
I am with profound respect, &ic. 


No. 2. 



Your favor of the 21st day of April, 1780, with the 
papers enclosed in it, has come safe to hand. 

The declaration of his Majesty, the Emperor of Morocco, 
does honor to his liberality and wisdom, and I shall with 
great pleasure transmit the copy of it, as well as of the 
other papers enclosed with it, to his Excellency the Presi- 
dent of Congress. 

VOL. VII. 50 

394 JOHN JAY. 

Although I have no particular instructions on the sub- 
ject, yet the knowledge I have of the sentiments of Con- 
gress enables me to give assurances of their disposition to 
cultivate peace and harmony with all nations. I am per- 
suaded that his Majesty's declaration will be very agreea- 
ble to them, and that a correspondent conduct on iheir 
part towards the subjects of Morocco, will convince him of 
the truth of these assurances. I am much obliged to you 
for this mark of attention, and I flatter myself that by 
extending your good offices to such Americans as may re- 
sort to the ports of Morocco, they will have reason to con- 
sider you among the number of their friends. 

Should anything interesting to America occur in Moroc- 
co, I request the favor of you to communicate it. 

I have the honor to be, &.c. 


No. 3. 



Copy of a French translation of a writing in Arabic, the 
most authentic of those that are written at the Court of his 
Majesty the Emperor of Morocco. 

"Let the name of the only God be praised ; there is 
neither wisdom nor power but what proceeds from the 
Lord most high and most mighty. 

"We make known by this our present and generous 
writing, that we have appointed the Christian, D'Audibert 
Caille, who is the bearer hereof, to officiate as consul for all 
those nations who have no consuls in our dominion, and 


who are, the empire of Germany, Russia, Prussia, Naples, 
Sardinia, Rome, Tuscany, the States of America, Genoa, 
Ragusa, Hamburg, Lubec, and Dantzic ; all of whom 
may come into our ports, and each of them there traffic 
under the flag of his nation, such as it may be. The said 
consul will assist them, by our order, in whatever may be 
useful to them in like manner as the other consuls do to- 
wards- the subjects of their nations. And all the officers 
and governors of our ports will acknowledge him for a 
consul as they do the other consuls, and whichsoever of 
the said nations shall come into our ports, they shall not be 
molested by any of our officers or commandants whatso- 
ever, of our ports. To all our captains whom we shall 
order to cruise by sea, the said consul will give a passport, 
and we renew our order to him to hoist the flag of peace 
at his house, without being therein opposed by anybody. 
He may also hoist it in any port whatever, where he may 
have a house of commerce, and he shall be mediator be- 
tween us and the said nations, because we esteem him. 
Given the Sth of the moon of Alcahda, 1 193. (1st of No- 
vember, 1779.)" 

Signed by the Emperor. 

We, Stephen d'Audibert Caille, a French merchant 
resident at Sale, appointed by his Majesty, the Emperor 
of Morocco, consul of those foreign nations who have 
none in his dominions, to protect them in that capacity 
on all occasions, and to be mediator between him and 
those nations, certify to all whom it may concern, that 
the above copy is conformable to the original, compared 
by Don jNIiguel Cassori, the interpreter of his Catliolic 
Majesty. In faith of which we sign th:) present certificate. 

396 JOHN JA\. 

sealed with the seal of the consulate of peace at Sale. 
Done at Aranjues, where I happen to be in passing, the 
21st of April, 1780. 


No. 4. 


Copy of the Declaration, which his Majesty the Emperor 
of Morocco (whom God preserve) orders to be notified 
to all the Consuls and Christian Merchants, who reside 
in the Ports of Tangier, Sale, and Mogadore, dated the 
20th of February, 1778. 

"That in future all vessels, which carry Russian, 
German, Prussian, Hungarian, Neapolitan, Sardinian, Tus- 
canian, Genoese, Maltese, or American flags, may freely 
enter into the ports of his dominions ; and in consequence 
of his determination, he has given orders to the command- 
ers of his vessels, that they let freely pass, all ships and 
other vessels carrying the said flags without molesting 
them. To the end, that they may arrive at his ports, take 
refreshments, and enjoy in them the same privileges and 
immunities, with those of the other nations with whom 
his Imperial Majesty maintains peace." 

I, the underwritten, employed by his Imperial Majesty 
for foreign affairs, certify, that the contents of the preced- 
ing declaration are conformable to the truth. And in faith 
thereof, I sign this present certificate. At Sale, the 30th 
of October, 1779. 



We, Stephen d'Audibert Caille, a French merchant 
residing at Sale, appointed by his Majesty, the Emperor 
of Morocco, to be consul of the foreign nations who have 
none in his dominions to. protect them in that capacity on 
all occasions, and to be mediator between him and those 
nations, certify, whom it may concern, that the said Don 
Pedro Umbert, who has signed the above certificate, is 
employed for foreign affairs at the Court of Morocco, and 
that in the said quality faith is to be given to his signature. 
In witness whereof we sign these presents, sealed with the 
seal of the consulate of peace, at Sale, the 1st of Decem- 
ber, 1779. 


No. 5. 

d'audibert caille to congress. 


Sale, September 6th, 1779. 
In quality of a French merchant, who has resided in this 
town since the year 1773, and whom his Majesty, the Em- 
peror of Morocco, has lately named consul for those foreign 
nations who have none in his dominions to protect the stran- 
gers who might come to traffic in his ports, in pursuance of 
the two manifestoes which he published last year, I have 
the honor to inform your Excellencies, that it is his intention 
to be at peace with the United States of North America, 
and that their subjects can come to trade freely in his ports 
under American colors, with the like safety with those of 
the principal maritime powers in Europe who enjoy peace 
with him. Besides the good reception, which the govern- 


ors of the ports of this empire will give to the subjects of 
the United States of North America, I will on my part 
render them all the services, which may depend upon 
me as consul for those foreign riations who have none, 
and as being charged to invite them to come and traffic 
freely in these ports, in like manner as they formerly did 
under the English flag. 

In order that I may be able to convince his Majesty, 
the Emperor of Morocco, that I have executed the com- 
mission he gave me to write as above to the Congress, I 
entreat your Excellencies to be pleased to honor me with 
an answer. If you think proper to write at the same time 
to his Majesty, the Emperor of Morocco, relative to what I 
have written to you on his part, I will take care to obtain 
a very satisfactory answer ; and I offer to interest myself 
very willingly, as far as may depend upon me, that a treaty 
of peace may be made between his Majesty, the Emperor 
of Morocco, and the United States of North America, 
nearly similar to those which the principal maritime powers 
have with him. 

That this letter may the more safely pass to you, I ad- 
dress it to his Excellency Dr Franklin, your Plenipoten- 
tiary with his Most Christian Majesty. Your Excellencies 
may answer me through the same channel, or directly by 
the way of Cadiz, addressing your letter to the Sieurs Paul 
Grippi, Azarino, and Company. My address is, to Stephen 
d'Audibert Caille, consul for those foreign nations who 
have none in the dominions of his Majesty the Emperor of 
Morocco, residing at Sale, or simply "to D'Audibert, San- 
tigo, and Company," which is that of my house of com- 

I nm, with the most profound respect, &;c. 



No. 6. 

General State of the Revenues and Expenses of Spain in 
the Year 1778. 


Reals de vel. 

Provincial duties, - - - - 70,000,000 

Duties on tobacco, - - - - 55,000,000 

Duties on salt, . - - . 20,000,000 

Duties on wool, . - - - 17,000,000 

General duties, . - - - 48,060,000 

Duties on brandy, 4,525,000 

2 per cent duty on the Octrois, former grants 

of the Crown, 500,000 

Taxes on the houses in Madrid, - - - 1,200,000 
1. King's domain in the Serrara, - - 140,000 

Post office and couriers, - - - 34,000,000 

Tax on cards, 1,000,000 

Stamp paper, 4,312,000 

Tax on the taverns in Madrid, - - - 196,000 
Various revenues farmed, _ _ _ 6,418,552 

2 Manufacture of glass at St lldefonso, 1,500,000 

3 Manufactures of St Ferdinando and 
Guaudalaxa, _-..-- 1,800,000 

Extraordinary effects, - - - 35,000,000 

Books of Advocates and Attorneys, - - 62,000 
Fines in the chamber of Castille, - - 72,000 

Effects in the same chamber, - - - 786,800 
Tax on the Grand Masters, - - - 1,800,000 

Do. arising from the secular annals and 

vacancies, ------ 1,300,000 

Royal lottery, ----- 4,500,000 

Cruzada, - - - - - 20,000,000 

400 JOHN JAY. 

4 Effects of the kingdom of Navarre, - 47,500,000 

* American revenue, _ _ - 200,600,000 

Clergy, - - - - - 13,000,000 



Reals de vel. 

f The Court, 108,500,000 

5 Land forces, 204,202,000 

6 Marine, -> - - - - 100,000,000 
Secretary of the Indies, - - - 8,000,000 
Department of Finance, . - - - 4,500,000 
Favers and justice, . . . _ 1,100,000 
To support the tribunals, - - . 8,422,769 

7 Secretary of state and foreign affairs, - 9,873,288 

8 Extraordinary expenses, - - - 30,000,000 

I subjoin the result of my inquiries touching the articles 

marked No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 

No. 1,2, 3. The sums mentioned in the preceding 

statement as arising from the revenues numbered as above 

may be deducted, as concurrent testimony induces me to 

believe, that the expenses consume near the whole of the 


No. 4. I have been also assured, that this article is 

much exaggerated. 

No. 5. The expenses of this establishment have greatly 

increased, but I have not been able to ascertain the sum. 

* The American revenue is difficult to ascertain from this circum- 
stance ; that not arriving regularly and annually, it is necessary to 
have the receipts for several years to be able to form an exact calcu- 
lation of the modium communibus annis. 

t The birth of the Infant has increased the Court expenses. 


No. 6. I have heard from good authority, that the ex- 
penses of the marine in 1776 amounted to one hundred 
and twentyfour millions of reals, owing to the expedition 
against Portuguese America. In 1777 they amounted to 
eightyeight millions of reals, and in 1779 to near four 
hundred millions of reals ; which information induces me 
to conclude, that there were great arrears of the expenses 
of 1778, or that the estimate for that year is not exact. 

No. 7, 8. The expenses of these departments have 
greatly augmented. 


Madrid, November 30th, 1780. 

I have had the honor of receiving from you a letter of 
the 16th of June, and another of the 12th of July, 1780, 
with the several papers mentioned in them. With respect 
to the subjects of the first, you will find them fully dis- 
cussed in my letter to the President of Congress, which 
will accompany this. The description of the bills will, I 
hope, answer good purposes. 

How far the resolution, which immediately follows the 
one respecting Mr Dohrman, can be fully executed, is hard 
to determine. Had 1 funds necessary for the purpose, 1 
should meet with few difficulties. The measure is a wise 
one, and my attention to it shall be unremitted. In a future 
letter I shall say more on this subject ; as yet nothing has 
had time to ripen. 

I must request your attention to the necessity of putting 
your correspondence with the public servants in Europe 
VOL. vii. 51 



on a better footing. I am now at the expense of sending 
Colonel Livingston to the sea side with my despatches, 
with orders to wait for American vessels, and deliver them 
to the Captain with his own hands. I receive no letters 
by the post, but with marks of inspection, and after much 
delay. Some that I write never come to hand, and 1 
know of letters having arrived from America for me, which 
I have never seen, and never expect to see. I know of 
but one man at the sea ports whom I can confide in, viz. 
Mr Harrison, at Cadiz. 1 cannot even find a courier, that 
I can depend on. Is it not time for America like other 
nations to provide against these inconveniences by proper 
reo-ulations and establishments ? Would it not be well to 
have American agents or consuls in one or more of the 
ports of France and Spain ? Public despatches might be 
sent by packet boats, or other vessels to these agents, and 
should on no account be delivered to any other person ; 
the ao-ents might be ordered to send them to the Courts, to 
which they may be directed, by a trusty American; one 
of the officers of the ship, for example ; and he should be 
ordered to wait for, and return with, the despatches of the 

Would it not also be proper to provide for the safe con- 
duct of letters to Congress after their arrival in America ? 
I have reason not only to suspect, but to believe, that cer- 
tain persons in America are attentive to these matters, and 
care should be taken to keep American letters out of their 


This is an important subject and merits attention. For 
my own part I find several persons here, who have more 
intelligence from America than myself; and it is the more 
mortifying when considered, that they are probably often 


mdebted for their information to the contents of letters 
directed to me, 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 



In Congress, February 15lh, 1781. 
Congress having since their instructions to you of the 
29th of September, 1779, and 4th of October, 1780, 
relative to the claim of the United States to the free navi- 
gation of the river Mississippi, and to a free port or ports 
below the thirtyfirst degree of north latitude, resumed the 
consideration of that subject, and being desirous to mani- 
fest to all the world, and particularly to his Catholic Maj- 
esty, the moderation of their views, the high value tiiey 
place on the friendship of his Catholic Majesty, and their 
disposition to remove every reasonable obstacle to his ac- 
cession to the alliance subsisting between his Most Chris- 
tian Majesty and these United States, in order to unite the 
more closely in their measures and operations three pow- 
ers who have so great a unity of interests, and thereby to 
compel the common enemy to a speedy, just, and honora- 
ble peace ; have resolved, and you are hereby instructed 
to recede from the instructions above referred to, so far as 
they insist on the free navigation of that part of the river 
Mississippi, which lies below the thirtyfirst degree of north 
latitude, and on a free port or ports below the same ; pro- 
vided such cession shall be unalterably insisted upon by- 
Spain ; and provided the free navigation of the said river, 
above the said degree of north latitude, shall be acknovvl- 

404 JOHN JAY. 

edged and guarantied by his Catholic Majesty to the citi- 
zens of the United States in common with his own sub- 
jects. It is the order of Congress, at the same time, that 
you exert every possible effort to obtain from his Catholic 
Majesty the use of the river aforesaid, with a free port or 
ports below the said thirtyfirst degree of north latitude for 
the citizens of the United States, under such regulations 
and restrictions only, as may be a necessary safeguard 
against illicit commerce. 
I am, &,c. 



February 20th, 1781. 

The President sends you instructions passed in Con- 
gress the 15th. 

Personally, I am mortified that no letters from you since 
September 16th have reached us. We have not waited 
for the minute information promised in yours of that date, 
nor have we received any notice of your receipt of our in- 
structions of October 4th, before we discussed anew the 
old subject. There has been unfair dealing with your de- 
spatches. I apprehend that we are allowed to see only 
sentiments somewhat different from yours. Perhaps the 
enclosed memorandum may be some clue to your scrutiny. 

On the 10th of January, Congress resolved to establish 
an office for foreign affairs, which I hope will make your 
station more easy and reputable. I wish most earnestly to 
liave a choice made of the secretary, to whom I may de- 


liver all the papers in my possession connected with his 

I am, Sir, your friend and humble servant, 

For the Committee. 


March 9th, 1781. 

You will herewith receive gazettes and journals, also a 
resolve respecting the complete ratification of the articles 
binding the Thirteen States as a confederated body. The 
delay of that business appears now like all the other cir- 
cumstances of our rise and growth ; for the present is 
really the best of all times for that particular event. Our 
enemies have been ripening themselves for this capital 

We have no letters from you or Mr Carmichael later 

than those mentioned in my last, a copy of which attends 


I am, Sir, your friend and humble servant, 



Madrid, March 22d, irol. 

1 ought, and wish to write your Excellency a long 
letter, but not by the post. The French fleet is not yet 
sailed. It will, in my opinion, be late in the summer be- 
fore the fleet at Rhode Island will be reinforced. This 
Court has promised me one hundred and fifty thousand 

406 JOHN JAY. 

dollars. Some clothing is now shipping on account of 
Congress from Cadiz. 

Russia has offered her mediation to England and the 
States-General. The latter have accepted it. The an- 
swer of the former (if given) is not known here. If she 
should refuse, Russia will probably take part with the 
Dutch ; if she accepts, she will doubtless be obliged 
either to agree to terms consistent with the armed neutral- 
ity, or continue the war. The consequences of either are 

M. Necker has published a state of the French finances, 
much to his honor and their credit. Perhaps a compli- 
mentary order to translate and publish it would be useful. 

Mr Cumberland will set out on his return, through 
France, in a few days. 

This letter is intended to go by Captain Trask, from 
Bilboa. I am told he will sail much sooner than had been 
given out, and that unless my letters go by this evening's 
post, they would arrive too late. Hence I am obliged to 
write in haste, and say little, there being no time for 
cyphers. I have received some letters from your Excel- 
lency. Their dates shall be mentioned another time. 
I have the honor to be, he. 



Madrid, April 25th, 1781. 

I have had the honor of receiving your Excellency's 
letters of the Gth and 17th of October last, with the enclos- 
ures. They arrived the 30th day of January last. There 
is more than reason to suspect, that the French Court 


were apprised of their contents before they arrived, and to 
believe that the construction of the treaty, by which the 
navigation of the Mississippi is supposed to be compre- 
hended in the guarantee, does not correspond with their 
ideas on that subject. This Court continues pertinaciously 
to insist on our ceding that navigation, nor will they, as 
yet, listen to any middle line. Whether this be theii? 
real motive for declining a treaty with us at present, or 
whether the bills drawn upon me have inspired an expec- 
tation of profiting by our necessities, or whether they 
flatter themselves with a future majority of Congress on 
that point, or whether they choose, by continuing free 
from engagements with us, to be better enabled to improve 
to their advantage the casualties of the war, are questions 
which still remain undecided. Indeed, the movements of 
this Court in general, when compared with the great rules 
of national policy applicable to their situation, is so inexpli- 
cable, that I should not be surprised, if it should apj)ear in 
future, that they had no fixed system whatever. 

My last particular letter informed your Excellency, that 
having, in September last, been told that his Majesty 
could not advance us any money, but could be responsible 
for a loan to the amount of one hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars, I determined to continue accepting the bills, to 
attempt the loan, and by a representation of my situation 
to the French Court, endeavor to save the necessity of 
protesting them for non-payment. 

I tried to borrow here on the security of this responsi- 
bility, but without the least success. I attempted it in 
France, but it would not do. I made the like attempt in 
Holland, and a gleam of hope appearing there, I was about 
improving it, when a letter from America informed me, 

408 JOHN JAY. 

that Mr Adams was authorised to execute the business, 
which had been committed to Mr Laurens. I had heard 
before of his being in Holland, but did not know the object 
which had called him there. Several letters passed be- 
tween Messrs De Neufville and myself on the subject of 
this loan. The following is a copy of my last to them 
about it. 


"Madrid, January 8th, 1781. 


"I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 
4th ult. together with the one referred to in it. 

"England has, it seems, declared war against the United 
Provinces,* and that in a style of such eminent superiority, 
as I am persuaded will remind your countrymen, that the 
United Netherlands are not comprehended among the ter- 
ritories depending on the Crown of Great Britain. 

"The English Ministry, by charging the States with 
having acted under French influence, intend to alarm their 
national pride, and, by making Holland the particular ob- 
ject of their resentment, to sow the seeds of dissensions 
among them, and render that most important Province 
obnoxious to the others. The tone of the whole declara- 
tion is that of a nation going rather to give correction to 
disobedient vassals, than to war upon a free and indepen- 
dent people. It could have been assumed only upon a 
persuasion, that the same supposed timidity, to which they 
ascribed the long forbearance of the Dutch under multi- 
plied insults and injuries, would, on this ostentatious dis- 
play of terror, reduce them to the humiliating measure of 
imploring forgiveness for having acted like freemen, and 
purchasing peace at the expense of iheir honor and liberty. 


Every other nation must expect better things of you, and 
can never believe, that the present generation will want 
firmness to assert the rights- and vindicate the honor of a 
Republic, which owes its very existence to the glorious 
spirit and magnanimity of its ancestors. 

"It gives me great satisfaction to hear that Mr Adams 
has conversed with you on the subject of a loan, and I am 
persuaded that business will be much advanced by It. 
The impropriety of two loans at a time is evident. My 
chief motive in proposing one at the time 1 did was, that 
no time might be lost by the absence of Mr Laurens, in 
prosecuting a measure, which appeared to me highly useful 
to my country. I have no views or objects separate from 
her, and, provided she is effectually served, I am well con- 
tent that the honor of doing it should devolve on others. 
As the management of our affairs in your country is com- 
mitted to Mr Adams, I request the favor of you to give 
him all the aid in your power. When that gentleman went 
to Holland, I was ignorant of the business which called 
him thither ; and the first knowledge I had of it was from 
America, long after Mr Laurens's capture. It cannot now 
be necessary, that my name should appear in the affair of 
the proposed loan, but should it be in my power to be use- 
ful, Mr Adams may rely upon my zealous endeavors to 
promote that, and every other measure for the public good. 
Indeed, as matters now stand, delicacy forbids me to inter- 
fere further than as a mere auxiliary to Mr Adams, to 
whom, and to whose affairs I beg you to extend the in- 
fluence of that generous regard for America, which has 
placed you so high in the esteem of 
"Gentlemen, he. 


VOL. VII. 52 

410 JOHN JAY. 

My last particular despatches contained a copy of my 
letter to Count de Vergennes, requesting his aid. I re- 
ceived from Count de Montmorin an extract of a letter 
he had received from the Minister on that subject, in 
which he mentions the advances made to Dr Franklin, 
and the improbability of his being able to assist me, but 
concluded with saying, he would do his best. Shortly 
after, I received a letter from Count de Vergennes, which 
left me without hopes of succor from that quarter, except 
that Dr Franklin promised to accept my drafts to the 
amount of twentyfive thousand dollars. 

In December following,- I had a long and interesting 
conference with Count de Florida Blanca, the particulars 
of which it is not necessary minutely to enumerate by this 
opportunity. He expressly promised me one hundred 
and fifty thousand dollars. As the bills afterwards became 
due, I applied for money to pay them, and received it to 
the amount of thirtyfour thousand eight hundred and eighty 

On the 15th of March 1 sent him a list of the bills pay- 
able in April, which amounted to eightynine thousand and 
eightythree dollars. 

On the 25th, I was informed that the payment of this 
sum could not then be possibly made, but that the balance 
due on the one hundred and fifty thousand dollars prom- 
ised, should be paid in the course of six months. 

I communicated this matter to the Ambassador of 
France, and I must do him the justice to say, that his con- 
duct on this occasion merits our thanks. All he could 
obtain from this Court was, that the amount of the April 
bills should be paid me in six equal monthly payments. 
This arrangement still leaving m.e unprovided with the 


means of satisfying the approaching demands, the Ambas- 
sador made personal application to a rich banker here, and 
on his personal credit and my consenting that the aforesaid 
six monthly payments should be applied to the repayment, 
obtained a loan for me of the whole sum wanted for April. 
I have passed my note for it, payable as soon as possible, 
with interest at the rate of six per cent. But this provis- 
ion not extending beyond April, the fate of the bills pay- 
able in the succeeding months still remained dubious. 
That nothing in my power might be left undone, I sent on 
the 1st of April an express to Dr Franklin representing to 
him my true situation, and the injuries our credit would 
sustain from the protest of a single bill drawn by order of 
Congress. I desired him to communicate my letter to 
Colonel Laurens, to whom I also wrote on the subject. 
The express returned on the 19th instant, with a letter 
from Dr Franklin, by which I am authorised to draw upon 
him as occasion may require, to the amount of one hun- 
dred and fortytwo thousand two hundred and twenty dol- 
lars, towards paying the bills that become due between 
May and September. 

My endeavors, however, to obtain further aids from 
Spain, shall not be relaxed. They seem very desirous of 
having the ships of the line, still unfinished on the stocks at 
Boston and Portsmouth. I have written to your Excellency 
on this subject, and have as yet received no answer. When 
I consider that the state of our finances has so long pre- 
vented the completing those ships, and the difficulties here- 
tofore experienced in providing for those in service ; when 
I recollect that the finishing and fitting out those ships will 
bring money into our country, and probably prepare the 
way for Spain's building more vessels in it, and lastly, when 

412 JOHN JAY. 

I consider how much these ships seem to be an object, I 
am almost prevailed upon to engage positively that Spaia 
shall have at least one of them at prime cost. To exer- 
cise a power not clearly within the limits of those confided 
to me, is a delicate and disagreeable business. This is 
the first time I ever found myself disposed to hazard it, 
and yet so many circumstances lead me to think, that the 
public good would be promoted by the sale of these ships, 
that in case I should be again pressed on this subject, I 
believe I shall run the risk, from a persuasion that though 
such conduct ought not to be appioved or encouraged by 
Congrfess, yet that when directed by the purest motives, 
and for the best purpose, it may obtain forgiveness. 

Your Excellency will receive herewith enclosed a copy 
of the invoice of prize clothing, taken by Admiral Cordova, 
and presented by the Courts of France and Spain to Con- 
gress. The Count de Montmorin was very much an 
American on this occasion also. Mr Harrison, at Cadiz, 
has my orders to ship these goods in different vessels to 
America ; part of them is now on the ocean, and the rest 
will soon follow. Your Excellency will receive a letter of 
advice with each parcel from Mr Harrison, of whom 1 have 
a very good opinion. He charges no commission for doing 
this business, being contented with the satisfaction of serv- 
ing his country. 

I have often mentioned to Congress the necessity of 
more effectual provision for our captive seamen ; for want 
of money I cannot pay that attention to them, which their 
misfortunes and usefulness demand. I am already greatly 
in arrears on their account, and Mr Harrison, unless reim- 
bursed, must^oon stop his hand. 

Portugal, though overawed by France and Spain, fears 


and perhaps loves England ; her conduct will be deter- 
mined by future events. The Minister here has promised 
me to interpose the good offices of his Court with that of 
Lisbon in our behalf. In time something good may result 
from it. I have not received a line from Mr Dohrman ; I 
fear he is obliged to be very circumspect and cautious. 
The letters herewith enclosed from Dr Franklin were left 
open Tor my perusal, the short stay of my courier not 
allowing time for copies to be made of the information con- 
veyed in and with them. The intercepted letters will be 
found interesting. One of them ascertains the price paid 

I perceive that Dr Franklin desires to retire. This 
circumstance calls upon me to assure Congress, that I have 
reason to be perfectly satisfied with his conduct towards 
me, and that I have received from him all the aid and 
attention I could wish or expect. His character is very 
high here, and I really believe that the respectability, which 
he enjoys throughout Europe, has been of general use to 
our cause and country. 

Your Excellency may rely on my cordially adopting and 
pursuing any measures, that can conduce to the enlarge- 
ment of Mr Laurens, and I regret that no occasion has yet 
offered in which I could do anything towards the attain- 
ment of that desirable object. 

Mr Cumberland is on the road home. I much suspect 
that he was sent and received, from mutual views in the 
two Courts of deceiving each other. Which of them has 
been most successful is hard to determine. I believe in 
point of intelligence, England has had the advantage. As 
to the assurances of the Minister on this subject, they aro 
all of little consequence, because on such occasions Courts 

414 JOHN JAY. 

only say what may be convenient ; and therefore may or 
may not merit confidence. Time and circumstances will 
cast more light on this subject. 

Whatever we may get from this Court is clear gain. 
We have no demands upon it, and if we had, are not in a 
capacity to insist upon them. In my opinion, therefore, it 
is of the utmost importance to avoid appearances of discon- 
tent, and rather to impress other nations with an opinion of 
the friendship of Spain for us, than otherwise. Indeed, I 
really believe the King means well towards us, and that 
the Prime Minister is also well disposed ; but whether as 
much can be said of the Minister's confidential and 1 be- 
lieve influential secretary, M. Del Campo, is by no means 
a clear point. It is proper that Congress should know, that 
the gentleman intended to succeed M. Mirales was recom- 
mended by M. Del Campo, with whom he has long been 
on terms of intimacy and friendship. 

I have nevertheless no room to doubt of this gentleman's 
attachment to our cause, though I am inclined to think his 
conduct will be conformable in a certain degree with the 
views of his patron. This ought to remam a secret. He 
is still here, although he expects daily to be despatched. 

I represented the case of the Dover cutter to the Minis- 
try here the 22d of June last. In December I obtained a 
promise that it should be appraised, and the value paid to 
the captors, and two days ago I was again assured, that 
measures were taking to bring this matter to a conclusion. 
Festina Lente seems to be the first maxim in Spanish poli- 
tics and operations. It is the fashion of the country and 
strangers must conform to it. 

I congratulate Congress on the victory obtained by Gen- 
eral Morgan, and the success of the French in the Chesa- 


peake. The enclosed gazette contains much good news 
from the East Indies. These events will probably give 
Lord George Germain other ideas than those which appear 
in his intercepted letters. 

M. Toscan, who goes to reside as Vice Consul of 
France at Boston, will carry this letter to America, and 
perhaps to Philadelphia. He was ready to set out when 
my courier returned from France. I was obliged to delay 
my letters till his arrival, and M. Toscan has been so oblig- 
ing as to wait till I could complete them. 

I have the honor to be, Sir, &.c. 



In Congress, May 28th, 1781. 


Your letter of the 6th of November last, detailing your 
proceedings from the 26th of May down to that period, 
has been received by the United States in Congress as- 
sembled. At the same time was received your letter of 
the 30th of November, with the several papers therein re- 
ferred to. 

It is with pleasure, Sir, I obey the direction of Congress 
to inform you, that 'throughout the whole course of your 
negotiations and transactions, in which the utmost address 
and discernment were often necessary to reconcile the res- 
pect due to the dignity of the United States with the 
urgency of their wants, and the complaisance expected by 
the Spanish Court, your conduct is entirely approved by 
them. It is their instruction that you continue to acknow- 
ledge, on all suitable occasions, the grateful impression 
made on these States by the friendly disposition mani- 

416 JOHN JAY. 

fested toward them by his Catholic Majesty, and particu- 
larly by the proofs given of it in the measures which he has 
taken, and which it is hoped he will further take, for pre- 
serving their credit, and for aiding them with a supply of 
clothing for their army. You are also authorised and 
instructed to disavow, in the most positive and explicit 
terms, any secret understanding or negotiation between the 
United States and Great Britain ; to assure his Catholic 
Majesty, that such insinuations have no other source than 
the invidious designs of the common enemy, and that as 
the United States have the highest confidence in the honor 
and good faith both of his Most Christian and of his Catho- 
lic Majesty, so it is their inviolable determination to take 
no step, which shall depart in the smallest degree from 
their engagements with either. 

Should the Court of Spain persist in the refusal inti- 
mated by its Minister to accede to the treaty between the 
United States and his Most Christian Majesty, or to make 
it the basis of its negotiation with you, the difficulty, it is 
conceived, may easily be avoided by omitting all express 
reference to that treaty, and at the same time conforming 
to the principles and tenor of it ; and you are accordingly 
authorised so far to vary the plan of your original instruc- 
tions. As his Most Christian Majesty however may justly 
expect, in a matter which so nearly concerns him, and 
which was brought into contemplation in the treaty he so 
magnanimously entered into with these States, the strongest 
marks of attention and confidence, you will not fail to main- 
tain, in the several steps of your negotiation, a due commu- 
nication with his Minister at the Court of Spain, and to 
include his interests as far as circumstances will warrant. 

You are authorised to acquaint his Catholic Majesty 


that not only entire liberty will be granted, during the war 
at least, to export naval stores for the royal marine, but 
that every facility will be afforded for that purpose. 

As Congress have no control over the captains of pri- 
vate vessels, however proper your hints may be of obliging 
them to give a passage to American seamen returning 
home from foreign ports, and to send an officer with des- 
patches intrusted to them for foreign Ministers, it is im- 
practicable to carry them into execution, you will there- 
fore continue to provide for these objects for the present, in 
the best manner you can. As soon as the United States 
are in condition to establisli consuls in the principal ports of 
the States with which they have intercourse, the difficulty 
will be removed ; or if any other practicable remedy be 
suggested in the meantime, it will be applied. 

The letter, of which you enclose a copy, from Stephen 
d'Aiidibert Caille, styling himself consul for unrepresented 
nations at the Court of Morocco, had before been received 
through the hands of Dr Franklin. If you shall have no 
objection to the contrary, you will correspond with him, 
and assure him in terms the most respectful to the Empe- 
ror, that the United States in Congress assembled enter- 
tain a sincere disposition to cultivate the most perfect 
friendship with him, and that they will embrace a favorable 
occasion to announce their wishes in form. 

The generous and critical services rendered these United 
States by Messrs Neufville and Son, have recommended 
them to the esteem and confidence of Congress. You will 
signify as much to them, and that their services will not be 
forgotten, whenever a proper occasion offers of promoting 
their interests. 

Your intimation with respect to complimenting his Cath- 
voL. VII. 53 


olic Majesty with a handsome, fast sailing packet-boat, 
claims attention ; but the variety of public embarrassments 
will render the execution of it very uncertain. 

Congress agree to an extension of Colonel Livingston's 
furlough, till the further order of Congress, which you will 
make known to him. 

Your letter of the 16th of September last was received 
on the 4th day of December. No bills have been drawn 
on you since. That of the 28th of January was received 
on the 27th day of April ; and in consequence of it the 
sale of the bills already drawn, but then remaining on hand, 
was countermanded. 

By a letter from Mr Carmichael, dated the 22d of Feb- 
ruary, and received on ihe 27th of April last, Congress 
are informed that you had received despatches from them 
dated in October. These must have contained their in- 
structions to you to adhere to the claim of the United 
Slates to the navigation of the Mississippi. A reconsidera- 
tion of that subject determined Congress, on the 15ih day 
of February last, to recede from that instruction so far as 
it insisted on their claim to the navigation of that river be- 
low the thirtyfirst degree of north latitude, and to a free 
port or ports below the same. On the receipt of this latter 
instruction, Congress have little doubt that the great obsta- 
cle to your negotiations will be removed, and that you will 
not only be able without further delay to conclude the pro- 
posed alliance with his Catholic Majesty, but that the liber- 
ality and friendly disposition manifested on the part of the 
United States by such a cession, will induce him to afford 
them some substantial and effectual aid in the article of 
money. The loss attending the negotiation of bills of ex- 
change has been severely felt. A supply of specie through 


ihe Havana would be much more convenient and ac- 



Aranjues, May 29th, 1781. 
' Sir, 

My last to your Excellency was of the 25th ult. and 
was the more particular, as Mr Toscan, who is appointed 
Vice Consul of France at Boston, and was the bearer of 
it ; he sailed from Bilboa. 

On the ISth instant I received from Mr Lovell fliree 
letters written on one sheet, viz. 20th of February, 9th and 
31st of March last. No other copies of these letters ever 
reached me. They arrived at Cadiz in the Virginia ; but 
the papers and journals said to accompany them never 
came to my hands, nor have I received any letters from 
your Excellency since January last. 

On the 23d instant I waited upon his' Excellency, the 
Count de Florida Blanca, and informed him of the facts 
stated in the above memorial. He said, he had not as yet 
heard anything upon the subject ; that there was such an- 
ordinance, and that prudence demanded that the admis- 
sion of letters from abroad, especially in time of war, should 
be under the direction of government. That the situation 
of North America rendered new regulations necessary, 
that he would turn his thoughts to it, and do what should 
appear equitable. The next day I sent him Mr Harri- 
son's memorial in a letter on the subject of it. 

As this letter will go by the post, I must omit being 
minute about many matters, which 1 wish to communicate 

420 JOHN JAY. 

to Congress. Cyphers would probably impede the pro- 
gress of this letter, if not stop it. 

The captors of the Dover cutter still remain unsatisfied. 
My first memorial on that subject was dated and presented 
the 22d of June last. In the winter I was promised, that 
the prize should be appraised, and the value paid. At 
present I am assured that informations about it are taking. 

M. Gardoqui, it is said, will set out in June. If a safe 
conveyance, which I am encouraged to expect in about 
a fortnight's time, should offer, I shall write your Excel- 
lency a long letter, and mention the dates of my former 
ones. If not, I shall take another method, not proper to 
explain in this letter, which, notwithstanding its different 
covers, will, I doubt not, be inspected before it reaches 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Philadelphia, June 4th, 1781. 

I enclose a resolve of Congress, of May 24th, respecting 
an interest of Messrs Dumain and Lyon, with their petition 
annexed. I also add the copy of a resolve of September 
the 27th, 1780, and of a short letter of mine to a gende- 
man in TenerifFe, to serve as a memorandum in case you 
have not already procured justice for Mr Magnall and his 
associates, who took the Dover cutter. Mr McCarrick 
of Santa Cruz is knowing to all the circumstances of that 
affair. Magnall has been unfortunate from the time he 
left this place last October ; he is now here. I do not 


know whether this is the matter referred to in the letter of 
Mr Cannichael of December 24th, where he says, "The 
Minister also engaged to do justice to certain Americans, 
v/ho carried a British privateer to the Canaries." I send 
you an extract from instructions given to Dr Franklin con- 
cerning M. d'Audibert Caille, which may serve to govern 
your conduct towards that gentleman. 

Your humble servant, 



Philadelphia, June 15th, 1781. 
On the 4th I transmitted to you a resolve of May 24lh, 
respecting an interest of Messrs Dumain and Lyon, with 
their petition annexed. You will herewith receive other 
copies of those papers by opportunities, which the party 
concerned will industriously find. I recommend the busi- 
ness afresh to your attention, those worthy men having 
already met with vexatious delays on this side of the 

With much esteem I am, Sir, your friend, 



Philadelphia, July 4th, 1781. 
Dear Sir, 

The derangement of our money affairs, the enormity of 
our public expenditures, the confusion in all our depart- 
ments, the languor of our general system, the complexity 

422 JOHN JAY. 

and consequent inefficacy of our operations; these are 
some among the many reasons, which have induced Con- 
gress to the appointment of a Superintendent of Finance. 
I enclose you copies of their resolutions on that subject, 
with such other papers as will fully explain to you my ap- 
pointment and powers. 

The use of this office must be found in a progress 
towards the accomplishment of these two capital objects, 
the raising a revenue with the greatest convenience to the 
people, and the expenditure of it with the greatest econ- 
omy to the public. 

The various requisitions of Congress to the several 
States, none of them entirely complied with, create a con- 
siderable balance in favor of the United States, and the 
claiming this balance is delivered over to me as revenue ; 
while on the other hand, the dangerous practice of taking 
articles for the public service and giving certificates to the 
people, has created a very general and a very heavy debt. 
The amount of this debt is swelled beyond all reasonable 
bounds, nor can the extent of it be at present estimated. 
These things need no explanation, but it may be proper 
to observe, that if the certificates were not in my way, 
there is still an infinite difference between the demand of 
a balance from the St^es, and an effectual revenue. The 
latter can b6 obtained only in consequence of wise laws 
generally adopted, and as generally executed with vigor 
and decision. Were all that is necessary on these heads 
accomplished, something further would still remain to be 
done, in order that the produce of taxes should be subject 
to the sole and absolute disposition of the United States, 
or of their officers. To you who are acquainted with re- 
publican governments, it is unnecessary to observe on the 


delays which will arise, the obstacles which will be raised, 
and the time which will be consumed, in placing die reve- 
nue of America on a proper footing. Yet this is abso- 
lutely necessary before credit can be established, and the 
indispensable supplies obtained on terms of economy. 

To reform our expenditure is an object of equal impor- 
tance with the other, and it is in some degree within my 
powers as you will perceive it to have been subjected to 
my authority. But even here I find myself trammeled 
by the want of necessary funds. To contract, for instance, 
with any one, in order to obtain bread for our troops, re- 
quires the previous certainty of being able to make the 
stipulated payments. And so in every other case, I shall 
be unable to act with decision, unless I have the command 
of money. On the other hand, the people will bear with 
great reluctance the necessary imposition of heavy bur- 
thens, while they can perceive any want of arrangement, 
method, or economy, in the administration of their affairs. 

If for a moment we suppose, that this country, amid the 
confusions of a revolution, and the rage of war, could be 
governed with all the regularity, wisdom, and prudence, 
of ancient and peaceable nations ; yet we must be con- 
vinced, that no annual revenue she is able to raise could 
equal the annual expense in an offensive war against so 
powerful a nation, as that which we now contend with. 
A great balance, therefore, must remain, and it must be 
provided for by loans or subsidies. 

To expect loans within the United States, presupposes 
an ability to lend, which does not exist in any considerable 
number of the inhabitants. The personal property, not 
immediately engaged, either in commerce or the improve- 
ment of lands, was never very considerable. Little as it 

424 JOHN JAY. 

was, it has been greatly diminished by the pernicious effects 
of a depreciating medium. This expedient, which was 
adopted in the beginning from necessity, and too pertina- 
ciously adhered to in the sequel, has not only exhausted 
the funds of those who might have been willing to trust 
the United States, but it has so wounded our public credit, 
that even the will would be wanting if the ability existed, 
which as I said before, it really does not. 

While we have neither credit nor means at home, it is 
idle to expect much from individuals abroad. Our foreign 
credit must be nurtured with tenderness and attention be- 
fore it can possess any great degree of force, and it must 
be fed by substantial revenue, before we can call it into 
active exertion or derive beneficial effects from its appli- 

All reasonable expectation, therefore, is narrowed down 
to the friendly interposition of those sovereigns, who are 
associates in the war. From Holland, we can properly 
ask nothing ; nor is she, 1 believe, in a capacity to grant 
it if we did ask. The active efTorts of France require all 
the resources of that great nation, and of consequence the 
pecuniary aid which slie affords us can but little advance 
the general cause, however it may relieve our immediate 

We must then turn our eyes to Spain, and we must ask 
either loans or subsidies to a very considerable amount. 
Small sums are not worth the acceptance. They have the 
air of obligation without affording rehef. A small sum, 
therefore, is not an object to the United States, for they 
do not mean to beg gratuities, but to make rational re- 

As Congress have empowered you to remove the obsta- 


cles, which have hitherto impeded your negotiations, you 
will doubtless proceed with prudent despatch in forming 
the important treaties, which are to be the basis of our 
national connexion. Your own integrity, and the dispo- 
sitions which you certainly feel, as the true representative 
of your Sovereign, to gratify the wishes of his Catholic 
Majesty, will give you just claim to the confidence and 
friendly support of his Ministers. And on the other hand, 
his Majesty's known piety and justice, will certainly induce 
him to facilitate a permanent union between the two coun- 
tries, and to overturn that power, whose ambition is known, 
felt, and detested, throughout the habitable globe. 

Having a perfect confidence in the wisdom of his Maj- 
esty's Ministers, I must request that you will submit to 
their consideration the reasons, which operate in favor of 
the advances we expect. In doing this, it will immedi- 
ately strike you and them, that the enemy carries on the 
operations against us at an expense infinitely greater than 
that by which they are opposed. By enabling us, there- 
fore, to increase our resistance, and redouble our offensive 
efforts, the British will be reduced to the necessity of in- 
creasing their force in America, or of submitting, beneath a 
decided superiority. Either must be fatal to them. In 
the first instance, they will be crushed by the weight of 
expense ; and, in the second, they must, while they lose 
an actual force, and part forever with the object in contest, 
feel the increased weight of the American arms, and make 
head against those resources, applied to a marine, which 
are now consumed in land operations. 

Money ought, therefore, to be supplied to us from the 
Havana, which will at the same time save the risk of 
transporting it to Europe, while, as 1 have already ob- 
voL. VII. 54 

426 JOHN JA.Y. 

served, it must, when employed among us, absolutely ruin 
the common enemy. For, when once they are driven 
from the United States, they must, at a considerable ex- 
pense, defend, or, at a great loss, relinquish the rest of 
their American possessions; and, in either case, the re- 
sources of this country will enable France and Spain to 
carry on operations for the subjection of the British 

With respect to our finance, I am further to observe, 
that the resolutions of Congress, of the 18th of March, 
17S0, have neither been so regularly adopted by the 
States as was hoped and expected, nor been productive of 
those consequences, which were intended. It is unneces- 
sary to travel into the causes, or to explain the reasons of 
this event. The fact is clear. The new money is depre- 
ciated, and there is the strong evidence of experience to 
convince us, that the issuing of paper, at present, must be 
ineffectual. Taxation has not yet been pursued to that 
extent, which was necessary. Neither is it reasonable to 
expect that it should. Time has been required under all 
governments to accustom the people by degrees to bear 
heavy burdens. The people of America have so patiently 
endured the various calamities of the war, that there is 
good reason to expect they will not shrink at this late hour 
from the imposition of just and equal taxes. But many 
arrangements are necessary to this purpose, and, therefore, 
an immediate pecuniary assistance is the more necessary 
to us. Our debts, under which I comprise, as well those 
of the individual States, as those of the Union, are but 
trifling, when we consider the exertions which have been 
made. The debt I have already mentioned on certificates 
is heavy, not from the real amount, but because it is be- 


yond what the supplies obtained were reasonably worth, 
and because it impedes taxation and impairs its effects. 
But the amount of other debts is so small, that a few years 
of peace would brin§ it within the bounds of a revenue 
very moderate, when compared with the wealth of our 
country. You well know the rapid increase of that 
wealth, and how soon it would relieve us from the weight 
of debts, which might be in the first instance very burden- 
some. There can, therefore, be no doubt, that we shall 
be able to pay all those, which it may be necessary to 
contract. But, as 1 have already observed, our great 
difficulty is the want of means in our people, and of credit 
in our government. 

It gives me, however, very great pleasure to inform 
you, that the determined spirit of the country is by no 
means abated, either by the continuance of the war, the 
ravages of our enemy, the expense of blood and treasure 
we have sustained, or the artifices, falsehoods, and delu- 
sions of an insidious foe. These last become daily more 
and more contemptible in America, and it appears equally 
astonishing, that they should longer attempt them here, or 
boast the success of such attempts in Europe. Uniform 
experience has shown the futility of their efforts, and the 
falsehood of their assertions. I know they take the advan- 
tage of every little success to vaunt the prowess of their 
troops and proclaim hopes of conquest, which they do not 
feel. But those, who know anything of our history or situ- 
ation, must have the utmost contempt for all these gascon- 
ades. It is impossible they should make impression upon 
any but weak minds, and I should hardly have thought of 
mentioning them, but I learn by letters from Spain, that 
men, who are uninformed, have been led into misappre- 

428 JOHN JAY. 

hensions from circumstances, which were liere considered 
as trivial and even favorable. 

I could hardly have supposed that our enemies had still 
the folly to repeat, as I am told they do, that there is an 
English party in America. Bribes and deceit have in- 
duced some wicked and weak men to join them ; but 
when we consider the sums they have expended, and the 
falsehoods they have used, our wonder is not, that they 
have got so many, but that they have gained so few. The 
independence of America is considered here as estab- 
lished ; so much so, that even those of equivocal character 
accustom themselves to cherish the idea ; for the doubt is 
not now, whether an acknowledgment of it will take place, 
but when that acknowledgment will be made. Our exer- 
tions also, in the present moment, are not so much di- 
rected to establish our liberties, as to prevent the ravages 
of the enemy, abridge the duration and calamities of the 
war, and faithfully contribute to the reduction of a power, 
whose ambition was equally dangerous and offensive to 
every other. 

All reasonings on this subject must be deeply enforced, 
by paying attention to what has happened in the Southern 
States. The progress of the enemy, while in appearance 
it menaced the conquest of that extensive region, tended 
only, in effect, to exhaust him by fruitless efforts, so that at 
length a handful of men have rescued the whole from bis 
possession. The attack on Virginia (if the piratical incur- 
sions there can deserve that name) has been equally futile. 
The commanders may indeed have enriched themselves 
by plunder, and many worthy families have been dis- 
tressed ; but what is the consequence ? Indignation and 
resentment have stimulated even the weak and indolent to 


action. The wavering are confirmed, and ihe firm are 
exasperated, so that every hour, and by every operation, 
they create enemies, instead of gaining subjects. 

Our armies, though not very numerous, are powerful. 
The regular troops are so much improved in discipline and 
the habits of a military life, that they are at least equal to 
any troops in the world. Our militia are becoming more 
and more warlike, so as to supply the wants of regular 
troops, when the enemy (taking advantage of that conve- 
nience, which their ships afford them) transfer the scene of 
action from one place to another. The number of the 
British diminishes daily, and of consequence, our superi- 
ority becomes daily more decisive. The greatest plenty 
of subsistence is to be had for our armies, and the pros- 
pects from the present harvest are beyond all former expe- 
rience. I wish 1 could add, that clothing and military 
stores were as abundant as those otli^r requisites for war. 
This is not the case ; our soldiers, indeed, are well armed, 
and, in some degree, they are clothed. We have also 
ammunition abundantly sufficient for the common opera- 
lions of the field. But many of our militia are unarmed, 
and the sieges, which will be necessary to expel the enemy, 
must make a heavy deduction from our military stores. 

The proposed siege of New York will soon be com- 
menced, and would undoubtedly be successful, if we could 
maintain a decided superiority at sea. This must depend 
on contingencies, which are not in our power, nor perhaps 
in the power of any human being. I am not without hopes, 
even if we should not possess that superiority ; but the 
expense will, from the want of it, be very considerably 
enhanced, and this is a circumstance which I cannot but 
deplore, for I repeat it again, the want of money can alone 

430 JOHN JAY. 

prevent us from making ihe greatest exenlons. What our 
exertions have already been, our enemies themselves must 
aclinowledge, and vvliile from insidious views, they assert 
that they could not make an impression on us with ninety 
thousand soldiers and seamen, we are certainly authorised 
ID conclude from this confession, that these States form a 
considerable balance in the scale against them. 

I am now, therefore, again led to reiterate my request 
of a considerable sum of money from Spain ; for 1 also 
again repeat, that small sums are not worth our acceptance, 
and I may add, they are unworthy the dignity of his Cath- 
olic Majesty. There can be no doubt, nor will the Span- 
ish Ministry deny, that there is a considerable risk in trans- 
porting their money from the new world to the old, besides, 
that when expended there, it necessarily runs through the 
difierent channels of commerce, to feed the wants and in- 
vigorate the forces of the enemy. There is, therefore, a 
double policy in expending a part of it here, where it can 
not only be brought with safety and despatch, but be em- 
ployed to an immense advantage, when compared with its 
effects in Europe. If it be asked, what advantages Spain 
will derive in particular during the war, and what recom- 
pense can be made her after the peace? I answer, that the 
weakening more the common enemy by a given sum, is in 
itself a great advantage, and that to do this, by sparing the 
blood of Spanish subjects, is an advantage still greater. I 
add, that when relieved from the enemy, we may assist 
her in the reduction of the Floridas and Bahamas, and, 
perhaps, of Jamaica. We shall then, also, be in a situa- 
tion to secure Nova Scotia, thereby depriving Great Bri- 
tain of her principal resource for ship-limber, and enable us 
to furnish that essential article to the navy of Spain, on 


cheaper and better terms, than it can be had elsewhere. 
On this last subject, I have further to observe, that there is 
hardly anything in which the maritime power of Spain is so 
much interested ; for if we do not possess that country, it 
will be impracticable to furnish those supplies of masts and 
spars, which both France and Spain may stand in need 
of; £0 that, of consequence, their positive and absolute 
streagth at sea will be the less, while that of the enemy is 
positively and absolutely greater. The comparative infe- 
riority, therefore, will be still more considerable. Nor is 
this all. A marine requires men, as well as ships. The 
fisheries and collieries are two pillars, which support the 
marine of Britain, so far forth as seamen are required. But 
it is evident, that the fisheries could not long continue in 
her hands, if she were deprived of Nova Scotia. Here 
again, we are also to consider, that there is an immense 
difference between that patient resistance, whose opposi- 
tion must at length weary the enemy into granting our inde- 
pendence, and those vigorous active operations, which may 
wrest from them their present possessions. Money is 
necessary for the latter, and I can say with confidence, that 
money alone is necessary. 

But to return. The advantages which will flow to 
Spain at a peace, from giving effectual aid to our finances 
now, will be, in the first place, the common compensation 
of repayment, should his Catholic Majesty prefer loans to 
subsidies. The having expelled the English from the Bay 
of Mexico, and having, by that means, prevented the con- 
traband commerce, so destructive to his revenue, will be 
another striking advantage, which cannot have escaped the 
penetration of his Ministers. But this is not all. The 
opening a port in East Florida, on the shores of the Allan- 

432 JOHN JA'y. 

tic, under proper regulations and restrictions, would enable 
us to carry on a commerce very advantageous to Spain, be- 
cause we could furnish all such supplies of provisions, Sac. 
as their possessions might stand in need of, and in return, 
take at port, cocoa, logwood, Nicaragua wood, and, indeed, 
any other commodities, which his Catholic Majesty should 
find it for the advantage of his dominions to permit the ex- 
portation of. Our commerce with Spain is also, in itself, 
a very considerable object. At this moment, we take 
from thence wine, oil, fruit, silk, cloth, he. And after the 
conclusion of the war, our remittances of wheat, corn, fish, 
and naval stores, will be of very great consequence to the 
commerce of that country. Another article of commerce 
will be the building of ships, which can be had on cheaper 
and better terms here than elsewhere ; and there can be 
no doubt but that the construction of ships in this country 
is equal, if not superior, to that in any other. Even now, 
ships might be built on his Majesty's account, though by 
no means so cheaply as in times of peace ; besides that, 
as there is now no seasoned timber in the country, such 
ships would not be durable, and, therefore, it might, per- 
haps, be imprudent to get any more than are immediately 

To all the other advantages, which would arise to his 
Catholic Majesty, I may add, (although that is not so prop- 
erly within my department,) the security, which his domin- 
ions would derive from our guarantee. This is an advan- 
tage, which must be the more evident from a consideration 
of what might have happened, had this country continued 
in union with Great Britain, and had Great Britain pursued 
those schemes of universal empire, which the virtue and for- 
titude of America first checked, and which it is the object 


of the present war to frustrate. Our enemies do, I knov% 
allege, that our weakness is unable to withstand them, and 
that our force is dangerous to Spain. The serious refuta- 
tion of such absurd contradictions would involve an ab- 
surdity. It may not, however, be improper to observe, 
that the attention of this country, for a century past, has 
been, and for a century to come, most probably will be, 
entirely turned to agriculture and commerce. We must 
always, therefore, be useful neighbors, and never danger- 
ous, except to those who may have views of dominion. 
Spain can never be in this predicament, though the British 
may and will. Their solicitude, therefore, to inspire ap- 
prehensions of us is, and ought to be, the strongest argu- 
ment against entertaining them. But, if this evident rea- 
soning did not exist, slill the conduct of Congress, with 
regard to his Catholic Majesty, has been so just, and even 
generous, not only in being willing to secure his rights, but 
to gratify him by foregoing their own, that there is not 
room for the shadow of suspicion. This conduct, I should 
suppose, would alone have weight sufficient to procure 
what it is my object to request, if the other very cogent 
and conclusive reasons for it did not apply. And, after 
all, if it be considered how much greater is the interest of 
Spain in the vigorous continuance of the present war, 
than that of any odier of the associates, I cannot permit 
myself one moment to doubt of your success. I am the 
more sanguine from the character of the Catholic King, 
and of his Ministers, for wisdom, candor, and integrity. 
These qualities will, I am sure, meet such corresponding 
dispositions in the United States, that the most thorough 
harmony and coalition must inevitably take place. This is 
an oliject of the greatest importance to both countries. 
VOL. VII. 55 

434 JOHN JAY. 

Mutual benefits and the reciprocation of good offices will 
endear a connexion between them, and their interests re- 
quire that this connexion should be of the closest kind. 

In every point of view, therefore, that we can consider 
the subject, the advance I have mentioned must appear alike 
beneficial. If the Governor of Cuba, or any other per- 
son, were duly authorised, stipulations might even now be 
entered into for furnishing all necessary supplies of provis- 
ions to the fleets and armies of his Catholic Majesty, 
which would certainly facilitate their operations. The ad- 
vance of money also by Spain would enable the fleets and 
troops of France to subsist cheaper than at present, be- 
cause it would tend to raise the exchange here, which is 
now too low. 

Your own good sense will suggest to you many other 
most forcible arguments, as well as the proper time and 
manner of applying them. It is necessary to mention, that 
the sum of five million dollars may, perhaps, be sufficient 
for our present emergencies ; but if a greater sum can be 
obtained, we shall thereby become more extensively use- 
ful. Whatever the grant may be, it will be proper that it 
be sent hither in some Spanish ships of war from the 
Havana, or advanced to us there ; in which latter case, 
we will devise the means of bringing it away. Whether 
to ask for subsidies, or loans, as well as the terms on 
which either are to be obtained, these. Sir, are objects, 
which you are fully competent to determine upon. I have 
only to wish that your applications may meet with that 
success, which I am confident you will not fail to merit. 
As the means of facilitating your views, 1 shall apply to 
the Minister of his Most Christian Majesty here, to write 
on the same subject to the French Ambassador at Madrid. 


The generous conduct of France gives just ground of re- 
liance on her friendly assistance ; and you are too well 
convinced of this, not to act in the most perfect harmony 
with the servants of that Court, especially on an occasion 
so important as the present. I need not stimulate your 
activity, by observing how precious is every moment of 
time in those affairs, on which the fate of Empires de- 
pends-; nor need I suggest the importance of a treaty, and 
particularly a subsidiary treaty with Spain, in that mo- 
ment, when the judgment of Europe is to be passed on the 
fate of America. For, however impracticable it may be 
to subdue us, it is undoubtedly of moment to hasten the 
approach of that period, when the acknowledgment of our 
independence shall give the blessings of peace to so many 
contending nations. To spare the present lavish effusion 
of blood and treasure, is a serious object with those, who 
feel, as you do, the emotions of benevolence ; and I am 
confident, that the patriotism, which has inspired your con- 
duct, will prompt you to obtain a peace honorable for your 
country and advantageous to her friends. The only prob- 
able method to effect these things, is a thorough union of 
forces and resources, to reduce the pride and power of 
that aspiring nation, whose ambition embroils the universe. 
With all possible respect, I have the honor to be, &c. 



Philadelphia, July 7th, 1781. 
Dear Sir, 

This will accompany my former letter of the 4th instant, 

which you will perceive to be so written, as that it may be 

436 JOHN JAY. 

shown, if necessary, to the Spanisli Minister. You will 
make such use of it as prudence may dictate. I would 
gladly now give you details of our situation and plans for 
reforming it, but I have not yet sufficiently obtained the 
one, nor matured the other. Whenever I am in capacity 
to apprize you fully of these things, you shall hear from 
me at large on the subject. At present I can only inform 
you that a sum of hard money will, from particular cir- 
cumstances, afford us relief and turn to our advantage far 
beyond what might be supposed from the amount. Al- 
though I have stated the demand at five millions, yet I 
beg you will take as much as you can obtain, though it be 
far short of that sum. But at the same time, I repeat, 
that a very small one is not worth the acceptance. Know- 
ing our wants to be great, you will judge properly as to 
what we can accept consistently with our dignity. 

I enclose you a cypher, and with the duplicate of my 
letters I will send you another. Should both arrive safe, 
you will be so kind as to hand one to Mr Carmichael, let- 
ting me know which you keep and write by. 

I have the honor to be your Excellency's most obedient 

and humble servant, 



Office of Finance, July 9th, 1781 

Dear Sir, 
Observing by your correspondence with Congress, that 
you are put to a good deal of expense by American sea- 
men arriving from captivity at Cadiz, where they also grow 
very troublesome, I offer the following proposal to your 


consideration. Authorise Mr Harrison, or whoever may- 
be your agent at Cadiz, to enter into contracts with fuch 
Americans as present themselves for the bounty of their 
country, to proceed from Cadiz, in such ship or vessel as 
he may provide for the purpose, for such port within the 
United States as he may appoint, at the monthly wages of 
six or eight Spanish dollars, to be paid as soon after their 
arrival in America as the cargo of the vessel shall be landed. 
After they sign such contract, he is to supply their wants 
sparingly, until he collects a sufficient number to man a 
suitable vessel, which he may procure either by charter or 
purchase, whichever may be in his power, and shall appear 
most eligible at the time. If he charter, it should be on 
such terms that the owners risk their vessel, putting in 
their own master, and, if they choose it, part of the sea- 
men. The vessel to be loaded with salt for account and 
risk of the United States ; freight so much per bushel or 
so much per ton to America and back. But in that case, 
let it be always a condition, that the vessel may be ordered 
from the first place she arrives, to any one other port in 
America ; because, it may happen that she will arrive 
where there cannot be got a cargo to bad her back, or 
where the salt would be of no use. 

If your funds will admit of it, and vessels can be fur- 
nished cheap, this would be the more eligible mode of 
doing the business, because I could then either send the 
vessels back, or sell, as might suit best. In case of pur- 
chase, they should be fast sailers, with good sails and rig- 
ging, well found and fitted, and if armed, so much the bet- 
ter. Honest, active, industrious, and faithful masters must 
be provided for these vessels, and they must all come 
addressed to iiTy order, directed for this port, with liberiy 

438 JOHN JAY. 

however to get into any safe port they can. The master 
to give me immediate notice of his arrival, when I shsfll 
give proper orders, or probably have them previously 
ready. An account of the moneys advanced to each per- 
son on board these vessels, as well as the cost and outfit of 
the ship and cost of the cargo, must be sent me by each 
vessel, in order tbat proper deductions may be made from 
the people, and proper credits be given for tlie costs. 
You will observe, I am duly empowered by Congress to 
export and import for account and risk of the United 
States ; and I think ibis plan so likely to benefit the pub- 
lic, that I very freely give my sanction to it, provided you 
can find the money. Your agent must give me regular 
advice of every expedition, and inform you also whenever 
he commences them. When a ship is provided r.nd a 
master appointed, all the men should sign articles for the 
voyage in the common form. 

I am. Dear Sir, &c. 



Philadelphia, July 13th, 1781. 

Dear Sir, 
I enclose you in this packet the plan of a national bank, 
which I have been induced to adopt for the following rea- 
sons. The issuing of a large paper medium converted the 
coin of the country into a commodity, so that much of it 
was exported and the remainder concealed. The depre- 
ciation of our paper has so lessened our currency, that 
there is not a sufficiency for commerce and taxation, with- 
out creating by the latter such distress in -the former, as 


must injure every order of men in the community. It is 
necessary, therefore, to fill up the deficiency in such pro- 
portion as it may be called, and with such medium as may 
preserve its value. 

I have already in my letter of the 4th instant stated the 
want of ability in the people to lend, and of credit in the 
government to borrow. An additional reason, therefore, 
for establishing a bank is, that the small sums advanced by 
the holders of bank stock may be multiplied in the usual 
manner by means of their credit, so as to increase the 
resource, which government can draw from it, and at the 
same time, by placing the collected mass of private credit 
between the lenders and borrowers, supply at once the 
want of ability in the one, and of credit in the other. 

An additional reason for this institution is, to supply the 
place of all our other paper, which it is my design to absorb 
as soon as possible, and thereby to relieve the people from 
those doubts and anxieties, which have weakened our 
efforts, relaxed our industry, and impaired our wealth. 
But this must not be done, without the substitution of other 
paper, for reasons which I have already assigned, and 
because that our commerce would suffer for the want of 
that facility in money transactions, which paper alone can 

Finally, one very strong motive, which has impelled my 
conduct on this occasion, is to unite the several States 
more closely together, in one general money connexion, 
and indissolubly to attach many powerful individuals to the 
cause of our country, by the strong principle of self-love, 
and the immediate sense of private interest. It may not 
be, perhaps, improper to show and explain this plan to the 
Spanish Ministry. They will then perceive how, by an 

440 JOHN JAY. 

advance of money, they may in this instance Increase our 
resources and our efforts in a degree much superior to the 
immediate sum, and they may be assured, that on a vari- 
ety of other occasions, similar benefits will result from it. 
I take this opportunity, howevei-, to observe to you, that 
I do not mean this, or any other communication, should be 
absolutely made. It is, on the contrary, my unalterable 
opinion, that a prudent Minister on the spot should be left 
to act with large discretionary power, being always fur- 
nished with such details, as will enable him to judge with 
propriety, and act with decision. 

It will undoubtedly strike your observation, that the sum 
of four hundred thousand dollars is very small, considering 
the object which it is my design to effect. I acknowledge 
that it is so, and when I tell you, that I was very appre- 
hensive that we should be unable to fill a larger subscrip- 
tion, and when I add, that it is far from certain we shall 
get all of this moderate sum, you will see still more clearly 
the force of those observations which I have already made. 
But it is weakness to be deterred by difficulties from a 
proper pursuit. I am, therefore, determined that the bank 
shall be well supported, until it can support itself, and then 
it will support us. I mean that the stock, instead of four 
hundred thousand dollars, shall be four hundred thousand 
pounds, and perhaps more. How soon it will rise to that 
amount, it is inipossible to foresee. But this we may ven- 
ture to assert, that if a considerable sum of specie can be 
speedily thrown into it, the period when its force and 
utility will be felt and known is not far off. 

After I had determined to make the application to the 
Court of Madrid, which is contained in my letters, it was 
my next object to obtain for you such support as might 


materially favor your operations. For this purpose I have 
written to Dr Franklin, and have told him, that you would 
receive by this conveyance, and forward to him, copies 
of those resolutions and letters, which may be necessary to 
explain my appointment and powers. I lay this task on 
your Secretaries, because the want of clerks in my office, 
and the many things to be done, together with the short 
time -allowed me by the departure of the vessel, prevent 
me from having duplicates made out. I have written to 
the Doctor to apply to the Court of Versailles, to further 
your negotiations with their influence. I am confident his 
application will not be unsuccessful ; but how you may 
derive most benefit from the cooperation of the French 
Court, you best can tell. Major Franks, therefore, is in- 
structed to take your orders for Passy, and return thence 
to Philadelphia ; so that you will have an opportunity of 
communicating fully with the Doctor on any subject you 
think proper. You may write to me by any opportunity, 
if this should arrive safe, because our cypher will pre- 
vent you from being exposed to interested or impertinent 

To obtain lor you still further assistance, I have applied 
(in the absence of M. de la Luzerne, who is gone to camp,) 
to M. de Marbois for letters to their Ambassador at the 
Court of Madrid. I have stated my views, my hopes, and 
wishes, with that candor which is proper on such occasions, 
and which I wish to preserve on all occasions. M. de 
Marbois has, in consequence, written a letter on the sub- 
ject, in which he informs the Ambassador of our conver- 
sation, states the disorders of our finances, and makes 
politG mention of my operations, my designs, and abilities, 
as well as the confidence reposed in me by Congress, and 
VOL. VII. 56 

442 JOHN JAY. 

by the people at large. He details the proposed plans, 
and particularly that of the Bank, and shows forcibly the 
advantages, which would result from a considerable ad- 
vance of money by Spain. He assigns also very proper 
reasons to show why it ought to be considerable, if it be 
made at all. The great interest of France in this business, 
as well as the open and candid manner, which has marked 
all transactions I have hitherto had with the Minister of 
that nation, induces me to believe that this letter is more 
than a compliment, and that as it is intended, so it will ope- 
rate to produce the desired effect. 

That nothing in my power might be wanting to the suc- 
cess of a business, which you must be convinced I have 
very much at heart, I have also applied to Don Francisco 
Rendon, who at present acts here for Spain, and I have 
every reason to believe that he will write to the Spanish 
Court such a letter as I wish. But after all, much, my 
Dear Sir, must depend on your prudence, your activity, 
and your attentions to incline, to stimulate, to lead the Min- 
istry into our views, to remove the obstacles, surmount the 
difficulties, and crush the procrastinations, which retard the 
completion of an object so essential to your country. I 
am happy to add, that I have the utmost confidence in 
your abilities, your industry, and integrity. 

There is a possibility that money may be obtained from 
Portugal, and though I confess there is not a very solid 
ground to build on, snd though it must be owned that 
appearances are against us, yet I think it best not too much 
to trust appearances, either favorable or unfavorable, and to 
leave nothing unattempted which may be useful. It was 
for reasons of this sort that my letter of the 9th instant, 
which I enclose you a copy of, was written to Congress. 


In consequence of it, on the 11th they passed a resolution, 
of which I also enclose you a copy, and have only to add, 
that you will act entirely according to your own discretion 
on this occasion. I cannot pretend to know the situation 
of the Court of Lisbon, and therefore I will not attempt to 
measure out a line of conduct to be pursued there. You 
are, for every reason, more competent to this business than 
I am, and therefore I submit it to your management en- 

You will observe, that a material part of my letter of the 
9th remains unnoticed by Congress. The Committee had 
not yesterday reported upon it. Should anything be done 
previous to the departure of this vessel, you shall know it. 
But you are so well acquainted with the delays incident to 
public assemblies, that you will not be surprised if you hear 
nothing further on the subject. 

It is unnecessary for me to make any other mention of 
Major Franks, except to inform you, that after a critical 
examination into his conduct by a court of inquiry, he was 
honorably acquitted of all improper connexion with his late 
General.* For the rest, you are perfectly acquainted 
with him, and will therefore take that notice of him which 
he deserves. 

I am. Dear Sir, your most obedient and humble servant, 


* Major Franks was Aid to General Arnold at the time his treach- 
ery was discovered, but lie was honorably acquitted from all suspi- 
cign of having any knowledge of Arnold's designs. 

444 JOHN JAY. 

Plan of a Bank, referred to in the preceding Letter. 

1. That a subscription be opened for four hundred 
thousand dollars, in shares of four hundred dollars each, to 
be paid in gold or silver. 

2. That the subscription be paid into the hands of 
George Clymer and John Nixon, or their agents. 

3. That any subscriber of less than five shares, pay 
the whole sum on the day of his subscription. 

4. That every subscriber of five shares or upwards, 
pay one half the sum on the day of his subscription, and 
the other half within three months of that day. 

5. That every holder of a share shall be entitled to 
vote by himself, his agent, or proxy, properly appointed, 
at all elections for directors, and that he have as many 
votes as he holds shares. And that every subscriber may 
sell and transfer his share or shares at his pleasure, the 
transfer being made in the bank book, in presence and 
with the approbation of the proprietor or his lawful attor- 
ney, the purchaser then to become entided to the right of 
voting, he. 

6. That there be twelve directors chosen from among 
those entitled to vote, who at this first meeting shall choose 
one as president. 

7. That there be a meeting of the directors quarterly, 
for the purpose of regulating the affairs of the bank ; any 
seven of the directors to make a board, and that the board 
have power to adjourn from time to time. 

8. That the board of directors determine the manner 
of doing business, and the rules and forms to be pursued, 
appoint the various officers, which they may find neces- 
sary, and dispose of the money and credit of the bank for 


the interest and benefit of the proprietors, and make from 
time to time such dividends out of the profits as they may 
think proper. 

9. That the board be empowered from time to time, 
to open new subscriptions, for the purpose of increasing 
the capital of the bank on such terms and conditions as 
they shall think proper. 

IX). That the board shall, at every quarterly meeting, 
choose two directors to inspect and control the business of 
the bank for the ensuing three months. 

11. That the inspectors so chosen shall, on the even- 
ing of every day, Sundays excepted, deliver to the super- 
intendent of the finances of America, a state of the cash 
account, and of the notes issued and received. 

12. That the bank notes, payable on demand, shall by 
law be made receivable in the duties and taxes of every 
State in the union, and from the respective States, by 
the Treasury of the United States, as specie. 

13. That the superintendent of the finances of Amer- 
ica shall have a right at all times to examine into the affairs 
of the bank, and for that purpose shall have access to all 
the books and papers. 

14. That any director or officer of the bank, who shall 
convert any of the property, monies, or credits thereof to 
his own use, or shall any other way be guilty of fraud or 
embezzlement, shall forfeit all his share or slock to the 

15. That laws shall be passed making it felony, without 
benefit of clergy, to commit such fraud or embezzlement. 

16. That the subscribers shall be incorporated under 
the name of the President, Directors and Company of the 
Bank of North America. 

446 JOHN JAY. 

17. That none of ibe directors shall be entitled to any 
pecuniary advantage for his attendance on the duties of his 
office of director, or as president, or inspector, unless an 
alteration in this respect shall hereafter be made by the 
consent of a majority of the stockholders at a general elec- 

18. That as soon as the subscription shall be filled, 
Mr George Clymer and Mr John Nixon shall publish a list 
of the names and sums respectively subscribed, wiih the 
places of abode of the subscribers, and appoint a day for the 
choice of directors, to whom, wiien chosen, they shall de- 
liver over the money by them received. 

Observations on the above Plan. 

Art. 1st. The objects and use of a bank are too ob- 
vious to need illustration. But it may not be amiss to take 
notice, that the first moment of its getting into action, the 
credit arising from its funds can be made use of by the 
government of the United States in anticipation of taxes, in 
consequence of special agreements to be made between 
their superintendent of Finance and the directors for that 
purpose ; and as the capital and credit of the bank in- 
crease, so may this mode of anticipation be increased, to 
answer all the purposes of government. It is, however, 
evident at the first view, that four hundred thousand dollars 
are not sufficient for those purposes, nor those of private 
commerce, because no considerable circulation of paper 
can be founded on so narrow a basis ; yet it is dangerous 
to attempt more. It is not possible to determine what is 
the highest sum, that could speedily be obtained by sub- 
scription. To ask more than could be obtained would 
have a fatal effect j to ask less is a partial evil. It is, 


however, an evil which admits of a remedy, as is provided 
in the plan. 

Art. 2d. Before the corporation is formed, and much 
more so before the subscription is opened, by which the 
company is to be determined, no authority can be bestowed 
under the corporation. At the same time, it must be re- 
membered, that in circumstances like ours, the loss of time 
involves in it the loss of many advantages. It becomes 
necessary, therefore, to appoint individuals to manage the 
subscription and receive the money. Mr Clymer and Mr 
Nixon having been formerly directors of the Bank of Penn- 
sylvania, and being thereby generally known in that line, 
their names naturally present themselves for this purpose. 

Art. 3d h 4th. The difference as to payments of 
large and small, is so common an incitement to subscribers, 
on such occasions, as to speak for itself. 

Art. 5ih. The subscribers, it is expected, will consist 
of citizens of every 'State in the Union; and, possibly, 
foreigners may subscribe or purchase bank stock ; there- 
fore the necessity and propriety of enabling them to vote 
by proxy ; and this being a monied institution, it is just 
that every share be entitled to a vote. 

Art. 6th. As the stockholders will mostly be absent 
from the place where the bank is kept, the number of 
twelve seems quite sufficient for the direction, as they will 
generally be chosen from the residents, and there ought to 
be room left for rotation among these. 

Art. 7th &i 8th. This plan, if adopted, will be consid- 
ered as the constitution of the Bank, and therefore neces- 
sary to establish in it the powers of government by by-lpws, 
rules, and regulations, and making dividends out of the 
profits; it is meant that they should annually pay a dividend 

448 JOHN JAY. 

of five or six per cent to the proprietors of the stock, and 
then settling the accounts of the bank, declare publicly, if 
necessary to give credit and confidence, what capital re- 
mains after such dividend. It will be observed, that such 
dividends are confined to be made out of the profits ; con- 
sequently, the capitals can never be touched. 

Art. 9th. When the directors, by paying a dividend 
out of the profits, establish the credit of the bank firmly in 
the minds of the stockholders, and by declaring the capital 
stock at the same time to be increased, give it equal confi- 
dence in the general opinion, there is little doubt but they 
may open new subscriptions for increasing the capital with 
certainty of success. 

Art. 10th, 11th h 12th. As credit is the soul of all 
operations of this kind, every precaution should be taken to 
support it. In the course of things, much of the private 
property of America may be dependent on the conduct of 
affairs at the bank. Care, therefore, should be taken to 
prevent fraud and mismanagement. If the transactions 
were opened to public inspection, it would be impossible to 
do the business amidst the continued interruption ; besides 
that, in this way, the national enemies would be apprized 
of our resources and operations. It is necessary, therefore, 
by instituting a check, to guard against the ill consequences 
which lie in the way, as the public will have much con- 
nexion with the bank, and, at limes, deposit considerable 
sums of money in it, and always be availing themselves of 
its credit. Tha check should be in the hands of that offi- 
cer, who is appointed to manage the monied interests of 

Art. I3th &, 14th. The penalties on fraud and em- 
bezzlement are derived from the same source, and are sup- 
ported by the same reasoning. 


Art. 15th h 16th. The necessity of incorporating the 
bank is obvious, and the propriety of rendering the office 
of a director honorable, rather than lucrative, arises from 
this circumstance, over and above the difference between 
motives of fame and interest, that at present, ary adequate 
salaries would absorb the profits, and in future the care of 
their own interests as stockholders will be an additional 
inducement to the first characters to accept the direction, 
for it Is not doubted but every subscriber will increase his 
capital in the bank, so soon as he finds not only the national 
advantages it will produce, but sees clearly his private 
interest advanced beyond his most sanguine expectations. 


Office of Finance, August 15th, 1781. 

Enclosed you have a list of sundry bills of exchange 
drawn on you. I wrote you relatively to these bills on the 
29lh day of July last, with sundry enclosures explanatory 
of my letter. I am now to inform you, that the advices 
contained in that letter must, from particiilar circumstan- 
ces, be totally disregarded. Should any of the bills, men- 
tioned in the enclosed list, come to your hands, you will 
be pleased to protest them, and assign, if you please, as a 
reason therefor, that you have express instructions to that 
purport. The uncertainty, whether you have received my 
cypher, prevents my using it on this occasion. The im- 
portance of the subject obliges me to write, and as I send 
many copies, the risk of capture and inspection is too great 
to be more particular. 

The gazettes will furnish you with our latest intelligence. 
VOL. VII. 57 

450 JOHN JAY. 

That of New York announces the arrival of near three 
thousand Hessian troops, and the capture of the Trumbull 
frigate. Neither of these is a very agreeable circum- 
stance. However, we must wait the course of events, and 
struggle, as well as we can, against adverse fortune. Our 
affairs to the southward wear no unpleasing aspect. And, 
although it is impossible, at this distance, to determine 
what effect European movements may have on American 
politics, our government acquires daily a firmness and sta- 
bility, which will not easily be shaken. 
I have the honor to be, k,c. 



Philadelphia, August 15th, 1781. 
Herewith you will receive according to the resolution of 
Congress of the 10th, such information relative to the sur- 
render of Pensacola, and the subsequent arrival of the 
garrison at New York, as I have been able to obtain, 
which you will make use of according to your discretion, 
and the spirit of the enclosed resolution. 

I am, Sir, your friend and very humble servant, 


P. S. August I6th. — It appears to me not amiss to 
enclose to you a report of a committee on the 10th, as it 
stands negatived on the journals of Congress. J. L. 



St Ildefonso, September 20th, 1781. 
Your Excellency's favor of the 5th of July last, with the 
papers therewith enclosed, were delivered to me on the 
29th ult. by Major Franks, whom the procraslination of 
ihe Minister still obliges me to detain. 

The new commissions, with which Congress have hon- 
ored me, argue a degree of confidence, which demands 
my warmest acknowledgments, and which, so far as it 
may be founded on an opinion of my zeal and integrity, 
they may be assured will not prove misplaced. 

At the commencement of the present troubles, I deter- 
mined to devote myself, during the continuance of them, 
to the service of my country, in any station in which she 
might think it proper to place me. This resolution, for 
the first time, now embarrasses me. 1 know it to be my 
duty, as a public servant, to be guided by my own judg- 
ment only in matters referred to my discretion, and in 
other cases faithfully to execute my instructions, without 
questioning the policy of them. But there is one among 
those which accompanies these commissions, which occa- 
sions sensations I never before experienced, and induced 
me to wish that my name had been omitted. 

So far as personal pride and reluctance to humiliation 
may render their appointment contra-agreeable, I view it as 
a very unimportant circumstance, and should Congress, on 
any occasion, think it for the public good to place me in a 
station inferior and subordinate to the one I now hold, 
they will find me ready to descend from the one, and 
cheerfully undertake the duties of the other. My am- 

452 JOHN JAY. 

biiion will alrt'ays be more gratified in being useful than 
conspicuous ; for, in tny opinion, the solid dignity of a 
man depends less on ilie height or extent of the sphere al- 
lotted to him, than on the manner in which he may fulfil 
the duties of it. 

But, Sir, as an American, I feel an interest in the dig- 
nity of my country, which renders it difficult for me to 
reconcile myself to the idea of the sovereign independent 
States of America submitting, in the persons of their Min- 
isters, to be absolutely governed by the advice and opin- 
ions of the servants of another sovereign, especially in a 
case of such national importance. 

That gratitude and confidence are due to our allies, is 
not to be questioned, and that it will, probably, be in the 
power of France almost to dictate the terms of peace for 
us, is but too true. That such an extraordinary extent of 
confidence may stimulate our allies to the highest efforts 
of generous friendship in our favor is not to be denied, 
and that this instruction receives some appearance of 
policy from this consideration may be admitted. 

I must, nevertheless, take the liberty of observing, that 
however our situation may in the opinion of Congress 
render it necessary to relax their demands on every 
side, and even to direct their Commissioners ultimately to 
concur (if nothing better could be done) in any peace or 
truce not subversive of our independence, which France 
determined to accede to, yet that this instruction, besides 
breathing a degree of complacency not quite republican, 
puts it out of the power of your Blinisters to improve those 
chances and opportunities, which in the course of human 
affairs happens more or less frequently to all men. Nor 
is it clear, that America, thus casting herself into the 


arms of the King of France, will advance either her inv 
terest or reputation with that or other nations. 

What the sentiments of my colleagues on this occasioni 
may be, I do not as yet know, nor can I foresee how far 
the negotiation of the ensuing winter may call for the ex- 
ecution of this commission. Thus circumstanced, at suclv 
a distance from America, it would not be proper to 
declme this appointment. I will, therefore, do my best 
endeavors to fulfil the expectations of Congress on this 
subject, but, as for my own part, I think it improbable, 
that serious negotiations for peace will soon take place. 
I must entreat Congress to take an early opportunity of 
relieving me from a station, wherein, in character of their 
Minister, I must necessarily receive (and almost under 
the name of opinions) the directions of those on whom 
I really think no American Minister ought to be depen- 
dent, and to whom, in love for our country and zeal for 
her service, I am sure that my colleagues and myself are 
at least equal. 

I have the honor to be, he. 


P. S. I had an interview last evening with the Minis- 
ter. Nothing was promised or denied. A person is to be 
named on Sunday to confer in earnest, as it is said, with 
me about the treaties. I do not despair, though having so 
many bills to pay, and no money, perj)lexes me extremely. 
J The treasury of Spain is very low ; much of the money 
for the expenses in this war costs them between thirty 
and forty per hundred, by mismanagement and want of 
credit. This ought not to be public. His Excellency 
still looks at your ships on the stocks, but I shall, without 
refusing, not consent to their changing masters. J. J. 

454 JOHN JAT. 


St Ildefonso, October 3d, 1791. 


My letter of the 25th of April Isst, by Mr Toscan, in- 
formed Congress, that on the 30th day of January preced- 
ing, I had the honor of receiving their letters of the 6th 
and 17th of October, 1780, the latter of which states par- 
ticularly and ably the right of the United States to the free 
navigation of the river Mississippi, and enumerates the 
various reasons which induce them to decline relinquish- 
ing it.* 

Among these reasons is the guarantee contained in the 
treaty vvith France. 1 hinted to Congress, that it was 
more than probable, that the contents of this interesting 
letter were well known to the French Court before it came 
to my hands. I am well persuaded, that this was the 
case. Shortly after receiving it, I took occasion to con- 
verse generally vvith the Ambassador on the subject of the 
Spanish pretensions to that navigation, and remarked, as 
it were inadvertently, how unreasonable it was for them to 
expect, that we should relinquish a territorial right, which 
both justice and the guarantee of France enabled us to 
retain. The thought did not appear new to him, but he 
.strongly combated this construction of the treaty, and en- 
deavored to explain it away by observing, that the guaran- 
tee could not comprehend claiins, whose objects we had 
never possessed, Stc. &lc. I mention this only to show how 
improper it would have been for me to have communi- 
cated this part of your Excellency's letter to the Spanish 

* See these letters at large in the Secret Journal of Congress, Vol. 
II. pp. 323, 326. The latter was drawn up by Mr Madison. 


Minister. It could have answered no good purpose, 
because, as France would have disputed this construction, 
Spain could with propriety have refused to admit the force 
of any argument drawn from it, and it might have done 
much mischief, not only by bringing on an unseasonable 
explanation between France and us, but also between 
Spain and France. 

If'I had given the Spanish Minister a copy of every 
other part of this letter, except those paragraphs which 
contain the reasoning in question, the omission might in 
future have been urged by France, who I verily believe 
has a copy of that whole letter, as an argument for my 
having yielded that point as not tenable ; and though my 
opinion might not be of much consequence, it appeared to 
me most prudent to avoid doubts about it. For my own 
part I really did, and do think, that this guarantee does 
comprehend the navigation in question, though I also think, 
that no question should be raised about it at present. So 
circumstanced, I thought it most advisable to make no 
written communications of any parts or part of this letter, 
but from time to time to press every argument contained 
in it in the course of conversations with the Spanish Min- 
ister, except those drawn from the guarantee. 

The Minister, however, did not at any time enter into 
the merits of these auguments, nor appear in the least 
affected by them. His answer to them all was, that the 
King of Spain must have the Gulf of Mexico to himself, 
that the maxims of policy adopted in the management of 
their colonies required it ; and that he had hoped the 
friendly disposition shown by this Court towards us would 
have induced a compliance on the part of Congress. 

As to a free port below the northern limits of West 

456 JOHN JAY. 

Florida, or anywhere else in the vicinity, the Minister 
sometimes wished certain regulations, some middle line 
might be devised, to reconcile the views of both parties, 
but he did not see how it could be done. The King had 
always been accustomed to consider the exclusive naviga- 
tion of the Gulf of Mexico as a very important object to 
Spain, more so indeed than even Gibraltar, and he was per- 
suaded, that his Majesty would never be prevailed upon to 
change his ideas on that subject. At other times he spoke 
clearly, and decidedly against it, saying, that it was their 
desire to exclude all nations from the Gulf, and that it 
made little or no difference, whether they admitted all na- 
tions or only one. 

In my letter of the 25th of April last, I informed your 
Excellency, that on the 25th of March preceding, the 
Minister sent me word, that the iDoney necessary to pay 
the bills due in April could not be advanced to me. The 
constant inconsistency I experienced between the Minis- 
ter's promises and conduct often surprised, as well as em- 
barrassed me. This last instance appeared to me to be 
really cruel ; for if he had Intended to withhold the neces- 
sary supplies, he ought to have given me notice of it, and 
not by keeping up my expectations to within a few days 
before the holders of the bills were to call upon me for 
their money, (and the bills of April amounted to eighty- 
nine thousand and eightythree dollars,) reduce me to such 
imminent danger of being obliged to protest them. Speak- 
ing on this subject with the French Ambassador, he inti- 
mated, that the Court expected I should have made them 
some further overtures respecting the Mississippi. I told 
him I had no authority to make any others than what I 
had already made. He replied, thai the Minister believed 


I had. At that time I had received no letters, public or 
private, which gave me the least reason to suspect, that 
Congress had passed the resolution of the 1 5th of Febru- 
ary last,* and it was not before the ISth of May, that a 
letter, 1 then received from Mr Lovell, enabled me to un- 
derstand the reason of the Minister's belief. I then recall- 
ed to mind his frequent assurances of frankness, and of 
his speaking without reserve, often adding, that he was 
well informed of our affairs, and had minute information 
of what was passing at Philadelphia. There can be no 
doubt but that some copies of the President's letters to 
me have fallen into his hands, and that he supposed I 
had received others, though this was not in fact the case. 
Hence it appears, that the double miscarriage, if I may so 
call it, of these letters, had an unfavorable influence on 
our hopes of pecuniary aids, for it is highly probable, that 
in this instance they were so critically withheld on purpose 
to extort overtures from me, which the Minister, though 
mistaken, had reason to believe I was in a capacity to 

Your Excellency will perceive from this, how important 
it is, that your letters, to and from your Ministers, be 
transmitted in a manner not subject to these inconve- 

It was not, as I said before, until the 18th of May, that 
Mr Lovell's letter, enclosing a copy of the resolution of 
Congress of the 15th of February, reached me. It was 
brought to Cadiz by the Virginia, and it is remarkable, 
that none of the journals, or gazettes, iior the letter from 
Congress, which Mr Lovell gave me reason to expect, ever 

* Secret Journal of Congress. Vol. II. p. 393. 
VOL. VII. 58 

458 JOHN JAY. 

came to my hands. But as all the papers brought by the 
Virginia passed through the hands of the Governor of 
Cadiz, and afterwards tlirough the Post Office, th'e sup- 
pression of some of them may be easily accounted for. 

As Mr Lovell's letter did not appear to be official, nor 
the copy of the instruction of the 15th of February authen- 
ticated, I was much at a loss to determine how far it was 
to be considered as a measure finally concluded upon, 
and this difficulty was increased by another, viz. whedi- 
er my having no letter on the subject from the President 
was to be imputed to the miscarriage of it, or to a recon- 
sideration of the instruction in question ; for I recollected, 
that resolutions had in some former instances been recon- 
sidered, and either altered or repealed a few days after 
their date ; for these reasons it appeared to me imprudent 
immediately to hazard overtures on the ground of this 

The next day, the 1 9th of May, I thought it expedient 
to wait upon the Minister, and again renew the subject of 
our proposed treaty, expecting that if he was acquainted 
with the contents of my letter, something might drop from 
him in the course of conversation, which would lead me to 
judge of what he might, or might not know on that subject, 
and others connected with it. 

He received me with more than usual cordiality. The 
conversation turned at first on the situation of the southern 
States, the late combat between the fleets in the Chesa- 
peake, and General Greene's retreat. He appeared to 
apprehend much danger from what he called the delicate 
situation of our army there, and the blockade of the rein- 
forcement intended for it, under the Marquis de la Fayette. 
I endeavored to remove such of his fears as appeared to 


be ill-founded, and (though without leaving room to sup- 
pose that the operations of Spain were indispensable to our 
safety,) represented to him the good policy and probable 
success of France and Spain's seriously turning their at- 
tention and force to the expulsion of the enemy from 
America. 1 then repeated what I had often before re- 
marked to him, respecting the influence, which the hesita- 
tionsjind delays of Spain in forming a treaty with us must 
naturally have on the hopes and fears of Britain. I an- 
nounced to him formally the completion of our confedera-. 
lion by the accession of Maryland, and after dwelling on 
the advantages, which the States and their allies might ex- 
pect from it, I endeavored to impress him with an opinion, 
that a cordial union between France, Spain, Holland, and 
America, supported by vigorous measures, would soon 
reduce the enemy to the necessity of listening to reasonable 
terms of peace. 

The Count replied, generally, that he was very minutely 
informed of the state of our affairs. That the good dispo- 
sitions of Congress towards Spain had not as yet been 
evinced ia a manner the King e;ipected, and that no one 
advantage had hitherto been proposed by America to 
Spain, to induce the latter to come into the measures we 
desired. That the views of Congress were such as would 
not permit his Majesty to form a treaty with the States, 
but that the King was an honest man, and I might again 
and again assure Congress, that he would never suffer them 
to be sacrificed to Britain, but on the contrary would with 
constancy maintain the friendship he had professed for 
them. That Britain had in vain attempted to deceive 
Spain ; that Mr Cumberland had been sent here for that 
express purpose, but that, however possible it might be for 

460 JOHN JAY. 

Britain to vanquish, she would never be able to deceive 
Spain ; that he wished Congress had been more disposed 
to oblige the King. He knew indeed (hat opposition in 
sentiments must necessarily prevail in public bodies, but 
that he hoped for the best. That I ought to preach to 
them forcibly, for that he thought a good preacher {un bon 
prcdicateiir,) would do much good, thereby intimating, as 1 
understood it, that Congress were not sufficiently apprised 
of the importance of Spain, and the policy of complying 
with her demands. 

To all this I briefly remarked, that his Excellency's 
knowledge of American affairs must convince him, that it 
was not in their power to give his Majesty other proofs of 
their attachment than what they had already done, and that 
if he alluded to the affair of the Mississippi, I could only 
add one remark to those which I had often made to him 
on that head, viz. that even if a desire of gratifying his 
Majesty should ever incline Congress to yield to him a 
point so essential to their interest, yet it still remained a 
question whether new delays, and obstacles to a treaty 
would not arise to postpone it. 

The Count smiled, said he always spoke frankly, and 
that whenever I should announce to him my having au- 
thority to yield that point, I might depend on his being 
explicit, and candid, but as matters stood at present, he 
could say nothing on that head. He then informed me, 
that M. Gardoqui would set out for America the beginning 
of June. He said it might be in my power to furnish 
some useful hints and observations relative to the objects 
and conduct of his mission, adding that he reposed full 
confidence in me, and wished that J would also consider, 
whether there were any particular reasons which might 
render it advisable, either to hasten or retard his going. 


I suspected there was too much meaning in all this to 
admit of my entering into these discussions without time 
for further reflection ; and, therefore, without seeming to 
avoid it, I told the Count I was happy to hear, that M. 
Gardoqui was so near his departure. That I considered 
myself much honored by his requesting my remarks rela- 
tive to it, and that I was sure Congress would draw agree- 
able .conclusions from his mission. That I should write by 
him to Congress, and as they would expect to learn from 
me the precise character in which they were to receive, 
and consider him, it became necessary, that his Excel- 
lency should favor me with that information, as well to 
enable me to transmit the proper advices to Congress, as 
to make the remarks which he had done me the honor to 
request. That I conceived this to be the more indispen- 
sable, because if M. Gardoqui should carry no public tes- 
timonials from this Court to Congress, he could only be 
considered by them as a private gentleman, and all his in- 
tercourse with Congress would of consequence be sub- 
jected to all the inconveniences resulting from it. 

This topic carried the conversation off the delicate 
ground to which the Count had led it. He admitted the 
propriety of my being exactly apprized of the nature of 
M. Gardoqui's commission, said that as yet it was not 
decided, and therefore for the present could only give me 
his opinion of what it would probably be. 

He observed, that circumstances did not render it 
proper, that he should go as Minister, though perhaps it 
might be proper to give him contingent powers. That it 
was the common practice, where Courts sent to each other 
persons charged with their aftairs, in a character below that 
of Minister, to give no other credentials than a Jetter of ad- 

462 JOHN JAY. 

vice from the Minister of the Court sending to the Minister 
of the Court receiving the person in question. That the 
same practice was about to be pursued by Spain towards 
Prussia, and had been observed in other instances } there- 
fore, he believed the like method would be adopted in this 
case. That if it should be purposed to give M. Gardoqui 
a letter authenticating bis being an agent of Spain, it would 
be either to the President, or the Secretary of Congress, 
and asked me which of the two would be the most proper. 
Whether he really was uninformed on this point, or 
whether he asked the question merely to try my candor, 
cannot easily be determined. I told him honestly, thai 
Congress had no Secretary or INlinister of State for gen- 
eral purposes, nor for foreign affairs pardcularly, and that 
neither the President nor Secretary of Congress could reg- 
ularly be considered in that light. That there was a com- 
mittee of Congress, whose appointment came near to that of 
Secretary for foreign affairs, but that I had heard Congress 
were about establishing a more proper and regular mode of 
conducting the affairs committed to that committee, and 
had perhaps already done it. That therefore it was dif- 
ficult for me to give his Excellency a clear and decided 
opinion on the subject, and the more so as the letters 
which I daily expected to receive from the President, and 
which probably contained exact information relative to this 
very matter, had not yet come to my hands. He seemed 
very well satisfied, and extended his civilities so far as to 
say, that if at any time the warmth of his temper had led 
him into any harshness of expression, he hoped 1 would 
forget it. I told him, and that was the fact, that I did not 
recollect any part of his behavior to me, which required 
that apology. He desired me to wait upon him again on 
the Wednesday next. 


As to the instructions of the 15th of February, I had every 
reason to wish that it had been a secret to the Ministry. 
The propriety of them is a subject without my province. 
To give decided opinions of the views and designs of 
Courts always appeared to me hazardous, especially as 
they often change, and as different men will often draw 
difierent conclusions from the same facts. This consider- 
ation has constandy induced me to state facts accurately 
and minutely to Congress, and leave them to judge for 
themselves, and be influenced only by their own opinions. 

I could not forbear, however, seeing (he danger to which 
the proviso contained in that instruction exposed me. I have 
no reason to flatter myself, that, more fortunate than others, 
the propriety and policy of my conduct will not be drav^'n, 
at least impliedly, into doubt. If I should, on a persua* 
sion that this cession would be unalterably insisted upon 
by Spain, yield tiiat point, T am certain that many little 
half-created doubts and questions would be cast into, and 
cultivated in America. If, on the other hand, I should be 
of opinion that this point could be gained, and the event 
prove otherwise, it would soon be whispered, what rich 
supplies and golden opportunities the United States had 
]«st by my obstinacy. 

I permitted my mind to dwell on these considerations, 
merely that I might, by the utmost degree of circumspec- 
tion, endeavor to render the uprightness and propriety of 
my conduct as evident as possible. 

My only difficulty arose from this single question. 
Whether I could prudently risk acting on a presumption, 
either that Spain did not already, or would not soon be 
acquainted with the contents of this instruction. If such a 
presumption had been admissible, I should, without the 

464 JOHN JAY. 

least hesitation, have played the game a little further, 
keeping this instruction in my hand as a trump card, to 
prevent a separate peace between Spain and Britain, in 
case such an event should otherwise prove inevitable. 
Had Spain been at peace with our enemies, and offered 
to acknowledge, guaranty, and fight for our independence, 
provided we would yield them this point, (as once seemed 
to be the case) I should, for my own part, have no more 
hesitation about it now than I had then. But Spain being 
now at war with Great Britain, to gain her own objects, 
she doubtless will prosecute it full as vigorously as if she 
fought for our objects. There was and is little reason to 
suppose, that such a cession would render her exertions 
more vigorous, or her aids to us much more liberal. The 
effect, which an alliance between Spain and America 
would have on Britain and other nations, would cer- 
tainly be in our favor, but whether more so than the free 
navigation of the Mississippi is less certain. The cession 
of this navigation will, in my opinion, render a future war 
with Spain unavoidable, and I shall look upon my sub- 
scribing to the one as fixing ihe certainty of the other. 

I say I should have played this game a little further, if 
the presumption before mentioned had been admissible, 
because it has uniformly been my opinion, that if after 
sending me here Congress had constantly avoided all 
questions about the Mississippi, and appeared to consider 
that point as irrevocable, Spain would have endeayored to 
purchase it by money, or a free port, but as her hopes 
of a change in the opinion of Congress were excited, and 
kept alive by successive accounts of debates, and intended 
debates on that question, and as Congress by drawing bills 
without previous funds had painted their distress for want 



of money in very strong colors, Spain began to consider 
America as a petitioner, and treated her accordingly. 
But as by the intervention of Dr Franklin, our bills for 
near six months were safe, and as after this resolution of 
the 15th of February, there was reason to expect, that the 
subject of it would not soon be resumed in Congress, I 
should, in case I could have depended on this instruction's 
being and remaining a secret, have thought it my duty 
to have given the United States a fair trial for the Missis- 
sippi, or at least for a free port near it. With this view 
I should have appeared to give myself no concern about 
the bills, applied for no aids, made no offers, and on all 
proper occasions have treated an alliance with Spain as an 
event, which, though wished for by us, was not essential to 
our safety, and as the price demanded for it appeared to 
us unreasonable, it was not probable we should agree. 1 
think we should then have been courted in our turn, 
especially as the Minister was very desirous of having our 
men-of-war on the stocks, and that thus dealing with them 
on terms of equality, would have produced some conces- 
sions on their part, as inducements to greater ones on ours. 
I am persuaded in my own mind, that prudent self-respect 
is absolutely necessary to those nations, who would wish 
to be treated properly by this Court, and I have not the 
least doubt but that almost any spirit will prosper more 
here, than that of humility and compliance. 1 had no 
doubt but that this plan of conduct would have been per- 
fectly consistent with that part of the instruction, which 
orders me to make every possible effort to obtain from his 
Catholic Majesty the use of the river aforesaid, he. For 
whatever might have been, or may be, my private senti- 
voL. VII. 59 

466 JOHN JAY. 

raents, they shall never in mere questions of policy influ- 
ence me to deviate from those of Congress. 

But on the other hand there being abundant circum- 
stantial evidence to induce a firm persuasion, that the 
Ministry were well acquainted with the contents of this 
instruction, this plan would have been idle. The moment 
they saw that the cession of this navigation was made to 
depend upon their persevering to insist upon it, it became 
absurd to suppose, that they would cease to persevere. 
All that remained for me therefore to do was, in the next 
conference to break this subject as decently as possible, 
and in such a manner as would account for my not hav- 
ing mentioned this instruction at our last meeting. 

On Wednesday evening, the 23d of May, I waited upon 
the Count agreeably to his appointment. The Count 
seenied a little hurried in his spirits, and behaved as if he 
wished I had not come. He asked me rather abruptly, if 
I had anything particular to communicate to him, and 
whether I had received any further letters. I told him I 
had received some private ones from L'Orient, hut that 
none from the President of Congress had as yet reached 
me, though I had reason to expect one by that opportu- 
nity, as well as by the vessel lately arrived at Cadiz. I 
informed him of my having received from Mr Harrison a 
copy of his memorial to the Governor of Cadiz, complain- 
ing, that letters brought for him by the Virginia, from Phil- 
adelphia, had been stopped at the gates, on pretence, that 
they must agreeably to an ordinance for that purpose be 
put into the post office, and charged with the like postage 
as if brought from Spanish America. He said he had 
not yet received a copy of the memorial, but that there 
was such an ordinance, and that it was highly proper the 


admission of letters into the kingdom, especially in time of 
war, should be under the direction of government. That 
letters from North America rendered new regulations 
necessary, and that he would turn his thoughts to this sub- 
ject, and do what should appear equitable. This was 
another proof of what I before suspected, and looked like 
aa indirect apology for opening my letters. 

It surprised me a little that he said nothing of the re- 
marks he had desired me to make on M. Gardoqui's 
going to America, especially as he had appointed this 
meeting for that purpose. To give him further time, I 
started a new subject, and begged he would take the earli- 
est opportunity of completing the business of the Dover 
cutter. Notwithstanding all that had before passed be- 
tween us about this affair, he affected to be very ignorant 
of it, and asked me a number of questions. I recapitu- 
lated the circumstances of the capture, my several applica- 
tions to him on the subject, his promise finally to order the 
prize to be appraised, and the value to be paid to the cap- 
tors, the arrival of one of them at Madrid, &c. Stc. He 
replied, with some degree of quickness and perplexity, that 
it was not a lawful prize, the ciew not having authority to 
do what they did ; that he had sent to the Canaries for 
particular information respecting the value, &;c. that two 
of the packet boats had been taken ; that he would pay 
some gratuity to the captors, and wished I would give him 
another state of the whole case in writing, to refresh his 
memory, which I promised to do, and have since done. 

He then resumed the subject of the letter, which I ex- 
pected from Congress. He expressed his regret at its not 
having arrived, said he was preparing instructions for M. 
Gardoqui, who would certainly depart in JutiC, and that 

468 •'OHN JAY. 

until 1 could give him precise information of the disposi- 
tions of Congress, he could not enter into any further con- 
versations on the subject of the proposed treaty. I joined 
in regretting the miscarriage of my public letter, and the 
more so, as my private ones gave me reason to expect 
instructions, which would enable me to comply so far with 
his Majesty's views, as that I hoped no further delays 
would intervene to prevent a perfect union betv/een Spain 
and the United States. That my correspondence had 
given me to understand, that Congress viewed the speedy 
accomplishment of this union as very important to the 
common cause ; and, therefore, if Spain would consent 
fordiwilh to come into it, in that case they would gratify 
his Majesty by ceding to him the navigation of the Missis- 
sippi, below their territories, on reasonable terms. 

He replied, that he earnestly desired to see all diflicul- 
ties on this point removed, but that the treaties subsisting 
between Spain and other nations, as well as the particular 
policy and determination of Spain, rendered it necessary 
that she should possess the exclusive navigation of the 
Gulf of Mexico. After a variety of other remarks of little 
importance, he made a very interesting observation, which 
will help us to account for the delays of the Court, viz. 
That all these afiairs could with more facility be adjusted 
at a general peace than now, for that such a particular, and 
even secret treaty with us might then be made, as would 
be very convenient to both. That he nevertheless wished 
to know exactly the views and intentions of Congress, but 
that I must wait for the arrival of my letters, and that he 
would in the meantime finish M. Gardoqui's instructions, 
whose going to America, he did not doubt, would make a 
useful impression on the English Court. 1 was beginning 


to reply to what he said when he interrupted me, by men- 
tioning Ills not having time at present to prolong the con- 

Throughout the whole of this conversation, the Count 
appeared much less cordial than in the preceding one ; he 
seemed to want self-possession, and to that cause I ascribe 
his incautiously mentioning the general peace as the most 
proper season for completing our political connexions. I 
had, nevertheless, no reason to suspect that this change in 
his behavior arose from any cause more important than 
those variations in temper and feelings, which they, who 
are unaccustomed to govern themselves often experience 
from changes in the weather, in their health, from fatigue of 
business, or other such like accidental causes. 

As I had not as yet received any letter from the Presi- 
dent, either by the Virginia, or the vessel lately arrived 
at L'Orient, nor by Colonel Laurens, who, I was in- 
formed, had brought letters for me, I concluded it would 
be most prudent to wait ten days, or a fortnight, before I 
proceeded to act on die copy of my instruction received 
from Mr Lovell, expecting that such other letters as might 
then have arrived in France or Spain for me, would reach 
me in the course of that interval, if at all. And I deter- 
mined, in case I should receive none, to proceed, without 
further loss of time, to make a formal overture to the Min- 
ister for a treaty on the ground of this instruction. It hap- 
pened, however, that the Minister was so occupied during 
the remaining lime that the Court staid at Aranjues, by 
the expedition preparing to sail from Cadiz, under the 
Duke of Crillon, and other matters, that it was impossible 
to engage a moment of his attention to American afiairs. 
The removal of the Court to Madrid ncccssarilv con- 

470 JOHN JAY. 

sumed some time, and as soon as they were well settled 
there, I wrote the Count the following letter ; none of the 
letters expected from America having come to my hands. 


"Madrid, July 2d, 1781. 


"When Congress were pleased to order me to Spain, 
with the commission of which I have had the honor of pre- 
senting a copy to your Excellency, I left my country with 
the most sanguine expectations, that the important objects 
of it would be speedily accomplished. The proofs they 
had received of his Majesty's friendship for them, the in- 
terests of a common cause, and the information they had 
received from persons whom they conceived in capacity to 
give it, all conspired to infuse these hopes. 

"On my arrival, your Excellency gave me to under- 
stand, that the realising these expectations would turn on 
one point, and I have uniformly since been informed, that 
this point was the navigation of the Mississippi below the 
territories of the United States, in which Congress desired 
to retain a common right, but of which the maxims of 
policy adopted by his Majesty required the exclusive use. 

"I have now the honor of informing your Excellency, 
tliat Congress, in order to manifest in the most striking 
manner the sincerity of their professions to his Majesty, 
and with a view that the common cause may immediately 
reap all the advantages naturally to be expected from a 
cordial and permanent union between France, Spain, and 
the United States, have authorised me to agree to such 
terms relative to the point in question, as to remove the 
difficulties to which it has hitherto given occasion. 


*'Permit me, therefore, to hope, that his Majesty will 
now be pleased to become the ally of the United States, 
and for that purpose authorise some person or persons to 
adjust with me the several points of compact necessary to 
form a union, which, by being founded on mutual interest, 
may be no less satisfactory than it certainly will be impor- 
tant to both countries. 

"Your Excellency will oblige me exceedingly, by put- 
ting it in my power to give Congress early, explicit, and, 
let me add, agreeable information of his Majesty's pleasure 
and intentions on the subject of this letter. 

"1 have the honor to be, he. 


Although it was sufficiently evident, that the Court of 
France could not, for the reasons assigned in my letter to 
Congress, of the 6th of November, 1780, openly and 
warmly interpose their good offices to bring about this 
treaty, it nevertheless appeared to me most prudent, to 
behave on this occasion towards the Ambassador, as if I 
knew nothing of those reasons, and, therefore, sent him a 
copy of the aforegoing letter to the Minister, enclosed in 
one of which the following is a copy. 


"Madrid, July 2d, 1781. 

"I have the honor of transmitting to your Excellency 
herewith enclosed, a copy of a letter 1 have this day writ- 
ten to his Excellency, the Count de Florida Blanca. I 
have thereby informed him of my being authorised to re- 
move the objections hitherto made by the Court of Spain 
to a treaty of alliance with the United States, and again 

4>75 JOHN JAt. 

requested that the measures necessary for the purpose 
may now be taken. 

"Permit me to request, that the favorable interposition 
of our kind and generous ally with his Catholic Majesty 
may be exerted to commence the proposed negotiation, 
and bring it to a speedy and happy conclusion. 

"The confidence justly reposed by America in the 
amity and assurances of his Most Christian Majesty, forbid 
me to urge this request by any arguments, (persuasives 
being indelicate, when not warranted by doubts of inclina- 
tion .) J am happy in reflecting, that his instructions on 
this subject are committed to the execution of a Minister, 
from whose attachment, as well as from whose talents and 
address, the American cause may expect to derive ad- 

"I liave llje honor to be, &z,c. 


The instructions above alluded to are those, which 
Count de Vergennes, in his letter to me of the loth of 
March, 1780, assures me should be sent to their Ambas- 
sador here. I must confess to Congress, that I very 
much doubt his ever having received any other instruc- 
tions, than generally to favor the treaty, and to manage his 
interference in such a delicate manner, as, without alarm- 
ing the pride of Spain, to give both parties reason to think 
themselves obliged. 

The French Ambassador sent me no answer to this 
letter, which, in my opinion, gives a greater degree of 
probability to my conjectures. I must, nevertheless, do 
him the justice to say, that I have great reason to believe 
him to be in sentiment, and with sincere attachment, a 
friend to our cause ; and that he considers the honor and 


interest of France deeply concerned in the success and 
support of it. 

On the 11th of July, having received no answer from 
the Minister, I waited upon him. He told me, he had re- 
ceived my letter, but that the short time the Court would 
remain at Madrid, and the multiplicity of business that he 
was obliged to despatch, would not admit of his attending 
to our affairs till after the arrival of the Court at St llde- 
fonso. He then informed me, that a vessel had arrived at 
Cadiz, which had brought despatches for me, and that his 
courier had brought them to Madrid. He then delivered 
me a number of letters, among which was one from his 
Excellency the President, of the 28th of May last.* 

I need not observe, that all these letters bore evident 
marks of inspection, for that has uniformly been the case 
with almost every letter I have received. 

I do not recollect to have ever received a letter that 
gave me more real pleasure. When I considered, that 
almost the whole time since I left America had afforded 
me little else than one continued series of painful perplexi- 
ties and embarrassments, many of which I neither ex- 
pected, nor ought to have met with ; that I had been 
engaged in intricate and difficult negotiations, often at a 
loss to determine where the line of prudence was to be 
found, and constantly exposed by my particular situation to 
the danger of either injuring the dignity and interest of my 
country on the one hand, or trespassing on the overrated 
respectability and importance of this Court, on the other ; 
I say, Sir, that on considering these things, the approbation 
of Congress gave me most singular and cordial satisfaction. 

* Secret Journal of Congress, Vol. II. p. 404. 
VOL. VII. 60 

474 JOHN JAY. 

I was also happy to perceive from this letter, that the 
plan of my late letters to the Minister and French Ambas- 
sador, of the 2d of July, above recited, happens to corres- 
pond exactly with the views of Congress, respecting the 
manner of conducting this negotiation. 

It appearing to me, that the communication I was di- 
rected to make to this Court could not be better made 
than in the very words of this letter, which seemed ex- 
ceedingly well calculated for the purpose, I recited them 
in a letter, which I wrote two days afterwards to the Min- 
ister, viz. 


••Madrid, July 13th, 1781. 

"I have now the honor of communicating to your Ex- 
cellency a copy of certain instructions I have just received 
from Congress, dated the 28th of May, 1781, and which 
were included in the despatches, which your Excellency 
was so obliging as to deliver to me the evening before the 
last, viz. 

'It is their instruction, that you continue to acknowledge 
on all suitable occasions, the grateful impression made on 
these States by the friendly disposition manifested towards 
them by his Catholic Majesty, and particularly by the 
proofs given of it in the measures which he has taken, and 
which it is hoped he will further take for preserving their 
credit, and for aiding them with a supply of clothing for 
their army. 

'You are also authorised and instructed to disavow in 
the most positive and explicit terms, any secret under- 
standing or negotiation between the United States and 


Great Britain, to assure his Catholic Majesty that such 
insinuations have no other source than the insidious de- 
signs of the common enemy, and that as the United States 
have the highest confidence in the honor and good faith, 
both of his Most Christian and his Catholic Majesty, so it 
is their inviolable determination to take no step, which shall 
depart in the smallest degree from their engagements with 

"It gives me pleasure to observe that these instructions 
confirm, in the fullest manner, the assurances and pro- 
fessions I have heretofore made to your Excellency res- 
pecting the sentiments and dispositions of the United States, 
and I flatter myself that his Majesty will be pleased to con- 
sider the assurances they contain, as receiving unquestion- 
able proofs of sincerity from the offer I have already made 
to confirm them by deeds, no less important to the interests 
than, I hope, consistent with the views and desires of his 

"I cannot omit this occasion of presenting tny congratu- 
lations on the success of his Majesty's arms at Pensacola. 
This event cannot fail of being followed by important con- 
sequences to the conmion cause, and may perhaps induce 
the enemy to expect greater advantages from concluding 
a reasonable peace, than continuing to protract an unright- 
eous war. 

"Having understood, shortly after receiving my letters 
from your Excellency, that the Court had also received 
despatches from Philadelphia, I presumed that the com- 
munication of any gazettes from thence, which indeed con- 
tain all the intelligence I have, would be useless, and there- 
fore did not send them ; but on considering that it was 
possible that tlie papers T had might be of later date than 

476 JOHN JAY. 

those which your Excellency might otherwise receive, 1 
now take the liberty of enclosing two, which contain ac- 
counts somewhat interesting. If they should be new to 
your Excellency, I beg that their not being sooner sent will 
receive an apology from the abovementioned circumstance ; 
and that your Excellency will remain assured of the per- 
fect respect and consideration with which I have the honor 

to be, &.C. • 


I also took the earliest opportunity of mentioning to 
the Ambassador of France, that my letters from America 
gave me reason to believe that our union was daily growing 
more warm and intimate, and diat Congress, in writing of 
their affairs here, had expressed themselves in the strongest 
terms of attachment to his Most Christian Majesty, and not 
only approved of my communicating freely and confiden- 
tially with his Ambassador here, but also directed me in 
express terms to endeavor, in the course of my negotia- 
tions, to include and promote the interests of France. 

The Ambassador was much pleased. He told me his 
letters assured him that the best understanding subsisted 
between the French and American troops, and that much 
good might be expected from the increasing harmony and 
intercourse between the two countries. 

The Court removed to St lldefonso without the Min- 
ister's having either given any instructions to M. Gardoqui, 
answered my abovementioned letters, or taken the least 
notice of my late representations to them about the Dover 
cutter, &c. 

The events of the campaign were as yet undecided, and 
little money in the treasury. 


' On the 21st of July the Minister wrote me the follow- 
ing note, in which there was ample field left open for pro- 


"The Count de Florida Bianca presents his compliments 
to Mr Jay, and has the honor of acquainting him, that he 
has duly received his two letters of the 2d and 13th in- 
stant. The short stay of the Court at Madrid allowing 
time only to despatch the most pressing business, the 
Count de Florida Bianca has not been able to take into 
consideration the points, which form the object of the 
abovementioned letters. He proposes therefore to do it 
at present, in order to render an account thereof to the 
King, and in the meanwhile he has the honor to repeat to 
Mr Jay the assurances of the most perfect esteem and con- 

"St lldefonso, July 2lst, 1781." 

On the 4th of August, I arrived here. I did not see the 
Minister till the Sth, lie being, as I was told, from home. 
He had made no communications to the King. He had 
been sick ; he had been busy, and was so still. I re- 
quested to be informed when it would be most convenient 
to him to confer with me on the subject of my late letters, 
and to give me such information relative to his Majesty's 
intentions, as he might be prepared to communicate to me. 
He answered, that he could not then fix a time, being 
exceedingly hurried by pressing business. He asked 
how long I proposed to stay, I told him till the Court re- 
moved. He then promised to take an early opportunity 
of conferring with me on the subject of our affairs, and 
promised to send me word when he should be ready to 
receive me. 

478 JOHN JAY. 

I remained in this state of suspense and expectation 
until the J 8th of August, when having been for a week 
past very much indisposed with a fever and dysentery, 
and fearing lest that circumstance might become a ground 
of delay, I wrote the Count word, "that ray health would 
permit me to wait upon his Excellency at any time and 
place he might do me the honor to name." He replied 
two days afterwards, in a manner which indicated his sup- 
posing I had gone to Madrid and had returned. He must 
have known better, for none of my family had been absent 
from hence, and one or other of them were almost daily 
about the palace and gardens. 


"The Count de Florida Blanca is charmed to learn, that 
Mr Jay has sufficiently recovered from his last indisposi- 
tion to make the journey from Madrid to this place, and 
thanks him for his attention in communicating it to him. 

"The very pressing business with which he finds himself 
at present surrounded does not permit him to fix the day 
for a conference with Mr Jay, but the moment he shall 
be a little disengaged, he will have the honor to advise 
Mr Jay of it. 

''St lldefonso, August 20th, 1781." 

On the 22d I sent him a note enclosing a newspaper, 
which contained an account of General Greene's opera- 
tions, the capture of Fort Watson, he. 

The Count answered this note by another, expressing 
his thanks for the intelligence, but not a word of a con- 

On the 30th of August Major Franks arrived here with 
interesting despatches, of which I must not here take 


notice, lest I interrupt the thread of this letter, which I de- 
vote particularly to the affair of eur negotiations for a treaty. 

There was indeed among these despatches a very sen- 
sible letter from Mr R. Morris to me about money mat- 
ters,* &,c. excellently well calculated for being shown 
entire to the Minister. 

I consulted with the French Ambassador on the propri- 
ety of giving the Minister a copy of it. He advised me 
to do it, and much commended the letter. As it might 
have suffered from being carelessly translated, I had it 
put into very good French. 

I was very glad to see the Major. The nature of the 
despatches he brought being a secret occasioned specula- 
tion, and gave me an opportunity of drawing further advan- 
tages from his arrival. His accounts of American affairs 
were favorable to us, and the manner of his behavior and 
conversation has not done discredit to himself, nor preju- 
dice to his country. 

The Ambassador of France having assured me, that the 
Minister had really been a good deal indisposed, I thought 
it would be best to write him a letter in a style somewhat 
adapted to his situation. He certainly appears to be fa- 
tigued, and worn down by business. He looks as I have 
seen some members of Congress look, after two years' 


'•'St Ildefonso, September 3d, 1781. 

"When I consider that the delicate state of your Excel- 
lency's health demands a greater degree of leisure and 

* See this letter above, p. 449. 

480 ' JOHN JAY. 

relaxation, than the various business of your office will per- 
mit, it is with great reluctance, that I can prevail upon 
myself to remind your Excellency, that since our confer- 
ence at Aranjues, the affairs of the United States at this 
Court have made no progress. 

"The short residence of his Majesty at Madrid, I am 
persuaded, made it necessary to postpone the discussion of 
these affairs to this place ; and since my arrival here on 
the 4th of August last, I have daily flattered myself with 
being enabled to communicate to Congress his Majesty's 
pleasure on the important subjects, which by their order 
I have had the honor of laying before your Excellency. 

"It has also for some time past been my duty to have 
requested your Excellency's attention to some other ob- 
jects, which, though of less public importance, are never- 
theless interesting to individuals, as well as to the commer- 
cial intercourse of the two countries, but it did not appear 
to be consistent with the respect due to your Excellency 
to solicit your attention to new objects, while the former 
remained undespatched for want of time. 

"It would give me great pleasure to have it in my power 
to regulate all my applications by your Excellency's con- 
venience, and though I am happy to see the connexion 
between our two countries daily increasing, yet as that 
circumstance will naturally render necessary applications 
to government more frequent, t fear the duties of my situ- 
ation will often press me to be troublesome to your Ex- 

"On Friday evening last I received some important 
despatches from Congress, which I shall do myself the 
honor of communicating at any time, which your Excel- 
lency may be pleased to name. The gentleman who 


brought lliein, will after passing on to Paris, return immedi- 
ately to Philadelphia, and will with pleasure execute any 
orders which your Excellency may honor him with, for 
either of those places. His stay here will be but short. 
As soon as I can ascertain the day of his departure, your 
Excellency shall have immediate notice of it. As Con- 
gress will naturally expect to receive by him particular 
information respecting their affairs here, 1 cannot forbear 
expressing how anxious I am to make him the bearer of 
welcome tidings ; and permit me to hope, that your Excel- 
lency's sensibility will suggest an apology for the solicitude ■ 
vvhicii appears in this letter. 

"I have the honor to be, with great respect, 8ic. 


On the 5th, I received the following answer, viz. 


"The Count de Florida Blanca has been much mortified 
not to be able to receive the visit of Mr Jay, not only on 
account of the too pressing business, which has enga- 
ged all his time, but also by reason of the indisposition he 
has suffered, and still suffers. 

"Although he be not in a situation lo engage in long 
and serious conferences for the reasons abovementioned, 
he will, nevertheless, be charmed to converse a moment 
with Mr Jay, one of those leisure evenings when there is 
no business with the King ; in which case, Mr Jay may, if 
he thinks proper, bring with him the officer in question. 

"Saturday, for instance, towards eight o'clock, the inter- 
view may take place." 

Wednesday, the 5th of September. 

VOL. VII. 61 

482 JOHN JAY. 

Your Excellency will be pleased to observe, that the 
Minister in the above note intimates a desire that I should 
bring Major Franks with me. I thought it best to do so ; 
but lest his presence should be a check upon business, and 
as it was natural to suppose, that the Count would begin 
by asking him questions about our affairs, I desired the 
Major to relate to him the impression made in America by 
that article in the capitulation of Pensacola, which permit- 
ted the garrison to go to New York. I also desired the 
Major to retire into the ante-chamber and leave me alone 
with the Minister, as soon as the latter should appear to 
have finished with him. 

At the time appointed, viz. the evening of the 8th of 
September, we waited upon the Minister. 

The Count received us very politely. He spoke much 
of his want of health, and how greatly it incapacitated him 
for business. He then asked the Major several questions 
about our military operations. The Major answered them 
clearly, and, in speaking of the proposed siege of New 
York, very naturally introduced an account of the surprise 
and apprehensions occasioned by the permission given to 
the Pensacola garrison to join that of New York. The 
Count confessed it was ill done ; said it was very unexpec- 
ted, and that they ought to have been sent to Europe ; that 
the like should not happen in future, and that proper orders 
upon that subject should be despatched to their Generals. 
He then observed, that our fears were not altogether 
well founded, for that those troops were restrained by the 
capitulation from taking arms against the allies of Spain 
till exchanged, and could not operate against our troops 
without also operating against those of France, who were 
joined with them, and who, it was well known, were the 


allies of Spain. The Major replied, that it was feared that 
the enemy would attempt to evade this reasoning, by in- 
sisting that the French troops in America were only to be 
considered as auxiliaries to the United States, and that 
though that argument might be fallacious, yet, that in mat- 
ters affecting America, the enemy had invariably neglected 
good faith, whenever they found it convenient. 

The Count asked how long the Major would stay here. 
I told him, that I only detained him in expectation of being 
soon enabled by his Excellency to write something de- 
cisive by him to Congress on the subjects under his con- 
sideration. He said he hoped in the course of next week 
to enter into serious conferences with me on those sub- 
jects, and that he would give me notice of the day. He 
offered to give the Major letters to the Spanish Ambassa- 
dor at Paris, and to do him any other services in his 
power. He then rose from his chair in a manner indi- 
cating indisposition, said he was unable to do business, and 
that M. Del Campo should inform me when it would be 
convenient for him that I should see him again. I expressed 
my regret at his illness, and gave him the French transla- 
tion of Mr Morris's letter, adding, that I had intended to 
offer him some remarks on the subject of it. He said he 
would read it with pleasure. He spoke of Mr Morris's 
appointment, and after conversing a few minutes about the 
good consequences expected from it, and of the services 
done by that gentleman to Spain, in some business they 
had committed to his care, we parted. 

Thus this conference ended as fruidess as the last. 

Eight days elapsed. I heard nothing from the Minister. 
He was daily at Court, and every evening took his ride. 

I repeatedly mentioned and complained of these delays 

484 ' JOHN JAY. 

to the French Ambassador. He regretted them, prom- 
ised to speak to the Minister on the subject ; but, I be- 
lieve, did not. I appeared much dissatisfied, though not 
with him 5 and told him, that if Major Franks returned to 
America witii no other intelligence than that of repeated 
delays, it was more than probable, that Congress would be 
much hurt, as well as much disappointed. He had the 
same fears, and advised me to detain the Major. 

It became in my opinion important, that the Minister, 
as well as the French Ambassador, should be seriously ap- 
prehensive of my dismissing the Major with letters, that 
would render Congress very little disposed to make sacri- 
fices to this Court. The manner of doing this required 
some caution. I could think of nothing better than to pre- 
pare a letter to the Minister, and send the Ambassador a 
fair copy of my draft for his consideration and advice. 

The following are copies of that letter, and of the one 
I sent with it to the Ambassador. 


"St Ildefonso, September 16th, 1781. 

"The paper herewith enclosed is the draft of a letter, 
which I think of writing to his Excellency, the Count do 
Florida Blanca. 

"The subject, as well as the occasion, demands that dex- 
terous and delicate management, of which they only arc 
capable, who possess an accurate judgment and much ex- 
perience in affairs of this kind. 

"I am happy, therefore, that on such occasions I can 

avoid the risk of committing errors, by recurring to your 

friendly advice. Without compliment, but with sincerity, 

I am, Sir, Sic. 




"Whatever may be the issue of the American revolu- 
tion, whether that country shall continue independent, or 
be doomed to reunite her power with that of Great Britain, 
the good will and affection of the people of North Amer- 
ica cannot in either case be unimportant to their neigh- 
bors ; nor will the impressions made upon their minds by 
the benefits or injuries, which they may receive from other 
nations in the course of their present struggles, ever cease 
to have a certain degree of influence on their future con- 

"Various circumstances led Congress at an early period 
to suppose, that the Court of Spain had wisely and gener- 
ously determined to take a decided part in their favor. 
The supplies granted to them by his Catholic Majesty, 
soon after the British armies became numerous in Amer- 
ica, spoke this language in strong terms, and the assuran- 
ces repeatedly given me by your Excellency, that his jMaj- 
esty would firmly support their cause, and never consent to 
their being reduced to the subjection of Britain, left no 
room to doubt of his friendly disposition and intentions 
towards them. 

"Many obvious considerations prompted Congress to 
desire, that an intimate connexion might speedily be estab- 
lished between the two countries by such treaties as 
would take from the enemy every prospect of success, and 
secure to Spain and the United States the permanent en- 
joyment of mutual advantages and reciprocal attachment. 
With this view Congress were pleased to send me to Spain, 
and the first letter 1 had the honor of receiving from your 
Excellency gave me reason to believe, that the object of 

486 JOHN JAY. 

my mission was not displeasing lo his Majesty ; unavoida- 
ble and long delays were, nevertheless, created by differ- 
ences respecting a certain important right, which America 
wished to retain. So strong, however, was the reliance of 
Congress on his Majesty's assurances of support, and such 
was their disposition to render the proposed treaties con- 
sistent with his inclinations, that they have since agreed to 
remove the only obstacle, which seemed to prevent his 
Majesty from realising those assurances by substantial aids 
and an open declaration of his intentions. 

"But unfortunately for America, and perhaps for the gen- 
eral cause, the delays in question have not ceased whh the 
cause to which they were ascribed, and although the con- 
fidence reposed by Congress in his Majesty's assurances 
will not permit them to doubt of his determination to sup- 
port their independence, yet the silent inattention, with 
which their offers to remove the former obstacle to a treaty 
have long laid unanswered, must appear to them as being 
very singular. Your Excellency has indeed repeatedly 
promised me to name a time when 1 should have an oppor- 
tunity of conferring with you on that and other subjects 
submitted to your consideration, but it constantly happened 
that the expectations excited by these promises proved 

"Knowing that Congress would expect to receive by the 
return of Major Franks particular information respecting 
their affairs here, I was anxious to send them some intelli- 
gence more welcome than I have reason to think a detail 
of delays and procrastination would be, at a season when 
they would be indulging the most flattering expectations 
from the measures they had taken to gratify his Majesty. 
For this reason I informed your Excellency, that I should 


detain Major Franks for the present, and your Excellency- 
promised me on the 8lh instant, that you would appoint 
some time in the ensuing week, for entering into a serious 
conference about these matters, and that M. Del Campo 
should give me notice of it. That week, however, has 
passed away without having been witness to any such 
notice or conference. 

"I think your Excellency will do me the justice to ac- 
knowledge that the utmost respect, delicacy, and patience, 
have been observed in all my transactions with your Ex- 
cellency, and therefore I cannot forbear hinting that my 
constituents are at least entitled to that species of attention, 
which the most dignified .sovereigns usually pay to the 
friendly propositions of such States, as solicit either their 
aid or alliance in a decent manner, viz. a candid answer. 

"I am sensible that Spain possesses a higher degree on 
the scale of national importance than the United States, 
and I can readily admit, that the friendship of this Court 
is of more immediate consequence to America, than that 
of America to the Spanish empire. But as his Catholic 
Majesty and his Ministers doubdess extend their views 
beyond the present moment, it vi^ould ill become me to 
remark, how essential it is to the happiness of neighboring 
nations, that their conduct towards each other should be 
actuated by such passions and sentiments only, as naturally 
tend to establish and perpetuate harmony and good will 
between them. Most certain it is, that in whatever man- 
ner the negotiations between Spain and North America 
may terminate, various good or evil consequences will in 
future naturally and necessarily flow from it to both. 

"There is good reason to believe, that the apparent inde- 
cision of Spain, relative to an open acknowledgment of the 

488 JOHN JAY. 

independence of the United States, has inspired other na- 
tions with doubts and conjectures unfavorable to the Amer- 
ican cause, and on the other hand, it is more than probable 
that, if his Catholic Majesty would be pleased to declare to 
the world, that the United States were his allies, and that 
he had given his royal word to support their indepen- 
dence, Holland and many other nations would follow his 

"On such an event, also, it might not be difficult to form 
a permanent alliance between France, Spain, the Dutch 
and the United States, and thereby not only prevent a sepa- 
rate peace between the Dutch and English, but effectually 
reduce the latter to reasonable terms of general pacification. 

"The limits of a letter forbid my enlarging on these 
topics. The eyes of America, and indeed of all Europe, 
are turned towards Spain. It is in the power of his Cath- 
olic Majesty to increase his friends and humble his ene- 
mies. I will only add my most sincere wishes, that the 
annals of America may inform succeeding generations, that 
the wisdom, constancy, and generous protection of his 
Catholic Majesty, Charles the Third, and of his Minister, 
the Count de Florida Blanca, are to be ranked among the 
causes that insured success to a revolution, which posterity 
will consider as one of the most important and interesting 
events in modern history. JOHN JAY." 

The Ambassador called upon rne in the evening to an- 
swer my letter. 

He observed, that the delays of which 1 complained 
were not singular, but that others, and even himself, expe- 
rienced the like. That he had reason to believe this 
Court were really disposed to treat with us, though the time 


when might be doubtful. That the remarks made in the 
draft of my intended letter were but too just ; that he 
feared they would give offence ; that at any rate, he 
thought I had better postpone it, and for the present write 
one less pointed, and more laconic. We had much con- 
versation on the subject, unnecessary to repeat. It ended 
in my consenting to pursue his advice. 

It is observable, that he did not offer to return me the 
draft of this letter, though I had agreed to suppress it. 

The letter which, agreeable to the Ambassador's advice, 
I substituted in the place of the other, is in these words, viz. 

•'St Ildefonso, September 17th, 1781. 


"A reluctance to despatch Major Franks without trans- 
mitting by him to Congress the information they expect to 
receive, on the subject I have had the honor of submitting 
to your Excellency's consideration, has induced me hith- 
erto to detain him, especially as T was encouraged to hope 
that your Excellency would have found leisure last week 
for entering into serious conference with me on those im- 
portant points. The same reluctance prevails upon me to 
detain him another week, and I think it my duty to inform 
your Excellency that he will set out on Saturday next. 

'•I need not remark to your Excellency, that if the letter 

I may then write by him should not contain the desired 

intelligence. Congress will naturally be led to apprehend 

that their expectations of forming an intimate union with 

Spain were not well founded. 

"I have the honor to be, he. 


VOL. VII. 62 

490 ' JOHN JAY. 

On the 19lli, I i'eceiv(?d the following answer. 

"The Count de Florida Blanca would have been charm- 
ed to have had it in his power to have a long conference 
with Mr Jay, if his ordinary indispositions had not pre- 
vented him ; he will, dierefore, have the honor to see 
him this evening about eight o'clock, if Mr Jay will give 
himself the trouble of waiting on him, either alone or with 
Major Franks, and in communicating to the King the re- 
sult of their conference, he will endeavor to prevail on 
liis Majesty to name some other person to confer with Mr 
Jay in case of need, in order to avoid, as much as possible, 
the embarrassments which IMr Jay has hitherto experi- 

Wednesclaij, lOih of September, 1781." 

1 waited upon the Count at the time appointed. The 
following is a copy of my notes of that conference. 

JVotes of a Conference held at St lldefonso, on Wednes- 
day Evening, the lOth of September, 1781, betiveen his 
Excellency, the Count de Florida Blanca, and Mr Jay, 
agreeably to the appointment of the former. 

The Count introduced the conference by asking for 
Major Franks, and why IMr Jay did not bring him with 
him. Mr Jay answered, that as IMajor Franks was not 
charged with the transaction of any business with his Ex- 
cellency, and had, at a former interview, answered such 
questions relative to American affairs as the Count had 
thought proper to ask him, I\Ir Jay did not think his at- 
tendance on this occasion necessary, as he supposed his 
Excellency meant to enter at present .into the discussion 
of the matters referred to in Mr Jay's last letter. 


The Count then proceeded to enumerate the various 
obstacles arising from his ill hcahh, the multiplicity of busi- 
ness, which had so long subjected Mr Jny to the delays he 
had liitherto experienced, and which, for his part, he could 
not but regret ; that agreeable to his promise made to Mr 
Jay soon after his arrival, and frequently afterwards re- 
peated, he had attempted to commit to paper his senti- 
ments on the various points on which the proposed treaties 
must turn, and although he had made some progress in it, 
he had, for the reasons abovementioncd, been obliged to 
leave it imperfect ; that daily experience convinced him 
that his official business was too extensive and various to 
admit of his application to other objects, especially as his 
indisposition often rendered it impracticable for him to pay. 
a due attention to it ; that he, therefore, conceived it 
necessary that some person, duly authorised to confer with 
IMr Jay on these subjects, should be appointed by his Maj- 
esty ; that he intended on Sunday next to recommend 
this measure to the King, to whom he would at the same 
time communicate the copy of Mr Morris's letter to Mr 
Jay, which the latter had given him ; that in order to the 
putting of this matter in proper train, it would be ex[)e- 
dient for Mr Jay previously to commit to paper his ideas 
of the outlines of the proposed treaties, and particularly to 
state the propositions he might think proper to make rela- 
tive thereto; that ho had been informed, that the treaties 
between France and America had been preceded by the 
like measures ; for that the American Commissioners had 
first offered a plan of propositions, and then M. Gerard 
was appointed to confer with them before those treaties 
were drawn into the state they now appear, and finally 
concluded. That the like proceedings were rendered 

492 JOHN JA^. 

particularly necessary in this case, by the variety and im- 
portancs of the points necessary to be adjusted between 
Spain and America ; that in forming political connexions 
between nations, constant regard must be had to their re- 
ciprocal interests, and care taken, by previous arrange- 
ments, to avoid the inconveniences which would result 
from any clashing of interest; that three great points pre- 
sented themselves, as requiring great attention, in forming 
the proposed connexion between Spain and America. 

1st. The aids requested by America, as stated in Mr 
Morris's letter, were very considerable ; that it would be 
necessary, on the part of Spain to determine what pe- 
cuniary aids it might bo in their power to grant either by 
loan or subsidy, as well as the time, place, and manner of 
payment ; for that great punctuality was requisite in such 
transactions, as well that the royal engagements might be 
properly fulfilled, as that Congress might not be subjected 
to inconveniences and disappointments ; iliat on die part of 
America, it must be ascertained what compensation they 
should make, as well as the time and manner of doing it ; 
and that it might be well to consider how far such com- 
pensation might be made in ship timber, or other produc- 
tions of that country ; that a compensation would be indis- 
pensable, for that the King, being only the guardian of his 
dominions, would not think him.sclf justifiable in dispensing 
with the just rights of his people. 

2dly. That the commercial concerns of the two coun- 
tries was another point, which would call for very accu- 
rate and important regulations. That so far as this com- 
merce would respect the United States and old Spain, the 
difficulty would not be very great ; for that such com- 
merce being in a considerable degree permitted to other 


nations, America ought also to participate in the benefits of 
it. But with respect to the Spanish dominions in Annerica, 
as all other nations were excluded from any direct com- 
merce with any part of them, the United States could not 
reasonably expect to be on a better footing than other 
nations, and particularly the French, who were the near 
allies of Spain. 

3d]y. That with respect to the proposed treaty of alli- 
ance, Mr Jay must be sensible, that the several engage- 
ments, which would thereby be rendered necessary be- 
tween the parlies, the matters of boundary, and the naviga- 
tion of the Mississippi, wo'ild give occasion to several im- 
portant articles, which ought to be maturely considered 
and well digested. To this end, he wished that Mr Jay 
would immediately turn his thoughts on these subjects, 
and offer him such a set of propositions, as might become 
the basis of future conferences between him ;;nd the per- 
son whom he expected his Majesty would appoint. 

The Count then took occasion to observe, that he had 
long wished ]\Ir Jay had offered him such propositions, but 
that his Court had as yet received from Congress nothing 
but good words and fair assurances, and that though his 
Majesty had given them some little aids, yet they had dis- 
covered no disposition, by acts, to acknowledge ti-em. Mr 
Jay reminded his Excellency ot his having, at a very early 
day, undertaken to commit to paper the outlines of the 
proposed treaties, and that the constant expectations of his 
perfecting it, had restrained Mr Jay fron! offering anything 
of the like nature on the subject. That lie could conceive 
of nothing in the power of Congress to do, which could 
more fully evidence their disposition to gratify his Majesty, 
than their havine; offered to recede from their claims to the 

494 - JOHN JAY. 

navigation of the Mississippi, though the preservation of it 
was Jeemed of the highest importance to their constitu- 
ents. The Count admitted the propriety of both these 
observations, and said lie hoped that the delays, which had 
so long embarrassed Mr Jay, would soon be terminated. 

Mr Jay expressed his anxiety to be enabled to commu- 
nicate to Congress some decided intelligence, respecting 
the aids they might expect from this Court ; to which the 
Count replied, that the sum requested was great, the ex- 
penses of the kingdom very extensive, and the means of 
obtaining the sums necessary to defray them subject to 
many difficulties ; that he would, as he had before men- 
tioned, communicate Mr Morris's letter to the King, and, 
until that was done, he could not be in capacity to say any- 
thing further on the subject ; that as the appointment of a 
person to confer with Mr Jay would rest with his Majesty, 
he could not say who in particular it would be, but he 
hoped, and was persuaded that it would be some person 
well-intentioned towards America ; that he was the more 
confirmed' in this expectation, from the friendly disposition, 
which the King had early and constantly manifested to- 
wards that country ; that he would again repeat what he 
had before told Mr Jay, viz. that the King, when acting in 
capacity of mediator for a peace, had refused to permit that 
country to be sacrificed ; that since the rupture with Bri- 
tain, tempting and advantageous offers had been made to 
him to withdraw his protection from America, and con- 
clude a separate peace ; that he had rejected these offers, 
and still continued determined to support the States ; that 
this conduct ought to be viewed as extren)ely generous, 
as no political connexions or engagements did then, or do 
as yet subsist between the two countries. Mr Jay assured 


his Excellency that the magnanimity of this conduct had 
made a deep impression on the people of America ; that 
nothing but want of opportunity would ever prevent (heir 
expressing it more strongly than by words, and that the 
sense they entertained of it, had greatly influenced the late 
measure they had taken to comply with his Majesty's de- 
sires. ^ The Count then pressed Mr Jay again to send him 
the paper abovementioned before Sunday, adding that he 
sincerely wished nothing might be wanted to put the busi- 
ness in a projjcr train ; that for his part, he had the best 
disposition towards America, as well as personal regard 
for Mr Jay, and, after adding some complimentary expres- 
sions relative to the character of the latter, he concluded. 

I was a little surprised that the Count should expect to 
receive from me, in the course of three days, formal propo- 
sitions on the several points stated in this conference. But 
it would not have been proper for me to desire further 

On the 22d of September, I sent him the following let- 
ter and propositions. 

"St Ildefonso, September 22d, 1781. 

"I have the honor of transmitting,herewith enclosed, the 
propositions requested by your Excellency on Wednesday 
evening last. 

"I have endeavored to render them as short and simple 
as possible, and I flatter myself that the unreserved frank- 
ness with which they are written will be no less agreeable 
to your Excellency, than I am sure it is consistent with the 
desire and disposition of my constituents. 

"As the issue of this measure will in a great degree as- 
certain the expectations which Congress entertain from 

496 JOHN JAY. 

their negotiations here, and as they flatter themselves with 
receiving information on this subject by the return of Major 
Franks, they will doubtless excuse my detaining him 
another week, unless your Excellency should sooner be 
enabled to communicate to me his Majesty's pleasure rela- 
tive to the proposed treaty. 

"Permit me to entreat your Excellency, therefore, to 
» enable me to transmit by him such intelligence to Congress, 
as may relieve them from their present distressing doubts 
and uncertainties. 

"I sincerely hope it may be such as may make them 
happy in a prospect of soon seeing an intimate and lasting 
union established between France, Spain, and the United 
States, a union which, by being raised on the solid founda- 
tion of mutual interest and reciprocal advantages, may se- 
cure to each the blessings of uninterrupted tranquillity. 
This generous policy pervades the treaties already formed 
between his Most Christian Majesty and the United States, 
and I am happy in being persuaded, that the magnanimity 
of his Catholic Majesty's conduct towards my country, on 
this and other occasions, will furnish materials for some 
bright pages in the American annals. 

"I have the honor to be, Sir, &z;c. 


Here follow the propositions alluded to, and sent en- 
closed in the preceding letter. 

"St Ildefonso, September 22d, 1781. 
"As the time allowed Mr Jay for offering such proposi- 
tions, as may become the basis of the proposed treaty be- 
tween his Catholic Majesty and the United States of North 
America, is very short, he should fear the consequences of 


haste and inaccuracy, if he were not persuaded that the 
candor, with which they will be received, will secure him 
from the inconveniences to which these circumstances 
might otherwise expose him. 

"Mr Jay presumes that it is not expected he should ofter 
a plan of a treaty drawn at length, but only general propo- 
sitions, xvhich may be so modified and enlarged, as on due 
consideration and discussion may appear expedient. With 
this view, he begs leave to present the following as the 
basis of a treaty of amity and alliance, viz. 



"There shall forever subsist an inviolable and universal 
peace and friendship between his Catholic Majesty and the 
United States, and the subjects and citizens of both. 


"That every privilege, exemption, and favor, with res- 
pect to commerce, navigation, and personal rights, which 
now are, or hereafter may be granted, by either, to any the 
most favored nation, be also granted by them to each 


"That they mutually extend to the vessels, merchants, 
and inhabitants of each other, all that protection, which is 
usual and proper between friendly and allied nations. 


"That the vessels, merchants, or other subjects of his 

Catholic Majesty, and the United States, shall not resort to, 

or be permitted (except in cases which humanity allows to 

distress,) to enter into any of those ports or dominions of 

VOL. VII. 63 

498 JOHN JAY. 

the otlier, from which the most favored nation shall he ex- 


"That the following commerce be prohibited, and de- 
clared contraband between the subjects of his Catholic Ma- 
jesty and the United States, viz. 

"All such as his Catholic Majesty may think proper to 

Remarks. "On this proposition Mr Jay can ofier noth- 
ing, but an assurance of his being ready to concur in every 
reasonable regulation that may be proposed. 


"The United St;Ues shall relinquish to his Catholic Ma- 
jesty, and in future forbear to use, or attempt to use, the 
navigation of the river Mississippi from the ihirtyfirst de- 
gree of north latitude, that is, from the point where it 
leaves- the United States, down to the ocean. 

Remarks. "The impression made upon the United 
States by the magnanimity of his Majesty's conduct to- 
wards them ; the assistance they hope to receive from the 
further exertions of the same magnanimity ; the deep 
wound which an alliance with so great a monarch would 
give to the hopes and efforts of the enemy ; the strong 
support' it would afford to their independence; the favor- 
able influence which the example of such a King would 
have on other nations, and the many other great and 
extensive good consequences which would result at this 
interesting period from his Majesty's taking so noble and 
decided a part in their favor, have all conspired in pre- 
vailing upon Congress to offer to relinquish in his favor, the 
enjoymetit of this territorial and national privilege, the im- 


poitaiice of vvliicli, to iheii- constituents, can only be esti- 
mated by the value they set upon his Majesty's friendship. 

"Bv this proposition, the United Stales offer to forego 
all the advantages and conveniences, which nature has 
given to the country bordering on the upper parts of that 
river, by ceasing to export their own, and receiving in 
return the commodities of other countries by that only 
channel, thereby greatly reducing the value of that coun- 
try, retarding its settlement, and diminishing ihe benefits 
which the United States would reap from its cultivation. 

"Mr Jay thinks it his duty frankly to confess, that the 
difficulty of reconciling this measure to the feelings of 
their constituents, has appeared to Congress in a serious 
light, and they now expect to do it, only by placing in the 
opposite scale the gratitude due to his Catholic Majesty, 
and the great and various advantages, which the United 
States will derive from the acknowledgment and gener- 
ous support of their independence by the Spanish mon- 
archy, at a time when the vicissitudes, dangers, and difficul- 
ties of a distressing war, with a powerful, obstinate, and 
vindictive nation, renders the friendship and avowed pro- 
tection of his Catholic Majesty in a very particular man- 
ner interesting to them. The offer of this proposition, 
therefore, being dictated by these expectations and this 
combination of circumstances, must necessarily be limited 
by the duration of them, and consequently, that if the ac- 
ceptance of it should, together with the proposed alliance, 
be postponed to a general peace, the United States will 
cease to consider themselves bound by any propositions, or 
oflers, which he may now n)ake in their behalf. 

"Nor can Mr Jay omit mentioning die hopes and ex- 
pectations of Congress, that his I!llajesty's generosity and 

500 JOHN JAY. 

greatness of mind will prompt him to alleviate, as much 
as possible, the disadvantages to which this proposition sub- 
jects the United States, by either granting them a free port, 
under certain restrictions, in the vicinity, or by such other 
marks of his liberality and justice, as may give him addi- 
tional claims to the affection and attachment of the United 



"That his Catholic Majesty shall guaranty to the United 

States all their respective territories. 


"Tiiat the United States shall guaranty to his Catholic 
Majesty all his dominions in North America. 


"As the aforegoing propositions appear to Mr Jay the 
most essential, he omits proposing those less and subordi- 
nate ones, which seem to follow of course. He therefore 
concludes this subject with a genera! offer and propositions 
to make and admit all such articles as, in the course of this 
negotiation, shall appear conducive to the great objects of 
the proposed treaty. 

Remarks. "Nothing on Mr Jay's part shall be wanting 
to expedite the happy conclusion of this business, by ad- 
hering constantly to the dictates of candor, frankness, and 
unsuspecting confidence. 

"He is ready to receive the treaty between the United 
Slates and liis Christian Majesty, as a model for diis, or 
with such alterations as. founded on the principles of reci- 
procity, may be more agreeably to his Catholic Majesty, it 
being his earnest desire to arrive at the important objects 
of his mission in any way his Majesty may be pleased to 


"The subject of aids, either by subsidy or loan as may 
be most convenient to his IMajesiy, will require a particu- 
lar convention, but as the manner, extent, and terms de- 
pend on his Majesty's pleasure, it is impossible for Mr 
Jay, without some knowledge of it, to ofier propositions 
adapted thereto. All that he can at present say on that 
subject -is, that Congress are ready to do everything in 
their power. He will not, however, endeavor to conceal 
their incapacity to do much in the way of compensation, 
while the enemy shall continue to make the United States 
the theatre of a desolating war, and the object of their 
predatory operations. But when those obstacles shall 
cease, it will be in their power, as well as their inclination, 
to make retribution, and render in)portant services to his 
Majesty. Mr Jay will therefore continue to decline at- 
tempting to induce his Majesty to take any measures, how- 
ever favorable to his country, by delusive promises, or 
rash engagements ; but on the other hand, he is ready to 
enter into such reasonable ones, as he may have good 
reason to say shall be faithfully and punctually performed. 

"A particular treaty regulating the conduct to be ob- 
served by his Catholic Majesty, and the United States, 
towards each other during the war, also appears to Mr 
Jay important to both ; but as the proper plans and arti- 
cles of such a treaty can only result from a free confer- 
ence on the subject, he can upon this occasion only 
express his readiness to concur in every provision, which 
may be calculated to give energy and success to the ope- 
rations and objects of both. JOHN JAY." 

Your Excellency will be pleased to observe, that among 
my remarks on the sixth proposition, I have limited the 

602 JOHN JAY, 

duration of the offer contained in it. I did this from a 
persuasion, that such limitation was not only just and rea- 
sonable in itself, but absolutely necessary to prevent this 
Court's continuing to delay a treaty to a general peace. 
Besides what the Minister dropped upon this head in his 
conference with me at Aranjues, 1 think it probable that 
they still wish to adhere to that idea. To me they appear 
desirous of avoiding the expense that the aids, which a 
treaty we should expect would render unavoidable, and 
which at present would not be very convenient for them. 
They wish to see our independence established, and yet 
not be among the first to subscribe a precedent, that may 
one day be turned against them. They wish not to ex- 
clude themselves, by any present engagements, from taking 
advantage of the chances and events of the war, not choos- 
ing on the one hand, that in case we sink, that we should 
be fastened to them by any particular ties, nor on the other 
hand, in case we survive the storm, to be so circumstanced 
as not to make the most of us. 1 think it is their design, 
therefore, to draw from us all such concessions as our 
present distress, and the hopes of aid may extort, and by 
protracting negotiations about the treaty, endeavor to avail 
themselves of these concessions at a future day, when our 
i'Klucements to offer them shall have ceased. As this would 
evidently be unjust, I think the limitation in question can 
give them no offence, and I hope Congress will be pleased 
to communicate to me their sentiments on the subject. 

I must also remark, that after what has passed, and con- 
sidering how well they are acquainted with my instructions, 
it would not only have been useless, but absurd, to have 
made these propositions otherwise than agreeably to those 


Congress may at first view he a little surprised at the 
extent of the fifth proposition, but when they compare it 
with the second, I am persuaded they will find it suf- 
ficiently restrained. 

In forming these propositions, it was my determination 
to leave them so free from disputed, or disputable points, 
as that~no plausible pretexts for delay should arise from 
the face of them. I am well apprised, nevertheless, that 
in the course of the negotiation, it will be impossible for 
me to prevent their practising as much procrastination as 
they may find convenient. Almost the only hope I have 
of their seriously doing business arises from their fearing, 
that the instruction respecting the Mississippi will be re- 
called the moment that either any very decided successes 
on our part in America may render a treaty with Spain 
of less importance to us, or a general treaty of peace give 
us different views and prospects. 

These are my conjectures and opinions. Perhaps they 
may prove erroneous ; as facts accompany them, Con- 
gress will be enabled to judge for themselves. I will add, 
that from everything I can hear, the King is honestly dis- 
posed to do us good, and were he alone to be consulted in 
this business, I believe it would soon be concluded. 

On the 23d of September, the foregoing propositions 
were to be laid before the King. I heard nothing further 
from the Minister until the 27th, when he sent me the 
followina; note. 


"Although the last letter of Mr Jay, accompanied with 
a certain plan, was transmitted on Saturday in the evening 
to the Count de Florida Blanca, and although he could 
not inform himself of their contents until translated from 

504 JOHN JAY. 

the English, he nevertheless did not fail to render an ac- 
count thereof to the King in his despatch of Sunday. His 
Majesty having then shown himself disposed to appoint 
some person to confer with Mr Jay, it is become necessary 
to prepare a suitable instruction, and present it to the King 
for his approbation. The Count de Florida Blanca flat- 
ters himself, that he shall be able to arrange this affair 
before the departure of the Court for the Escurial, and in 
the meanwhile, he has the honor to transmit to Mr Jay a 
passport for Major Franks. 

''Thursday, September 21th, 1781." 

I have been given to understand, though not ofKcially, 
that M. Del Campo, the Minister's Secretary, is the per- 
son who will be appointed to confer with me, and though 
that gentleman is constantly about the Minister, yet it 
seems, that a set of formal instructions are to be prepared 
for him. When the Minister will be able to find either 
time or health to complete them is uncertain. 

There is reason to believe, that still less progress would 
have been made in this affair, had Major Franks not have 
arrived. I regret his detention, but hope the reasons 
assigned for it will be deemed sufficient ; I am perfectly 
satisfied with him. 

Notwithstanding Congress had given me reason to ex- 
pect, that the plan of drawing bills upon me had been laid 
aside, I have now bills to the amount of between seventy 
and eighty thousand dollars to pay, and no funds provided. 
What am I to do ? Dr Franklin writes me, that so far 
from being able to give me further aids, he does not 
expect to have it in his power even to pay our salaries in 


From the facts stated in this letter, Congress will per- 
ceive that this Court neither refuse nor promise to afford us 
further aid. Delay is their system ; when it will cease I 
cannot conjecture, for that is a question which I doubt 
whether they themselves have as yet determined. 

I am indebted largely to Mr Harrison for nnoney ad- 
vanced -by him to distressed seamen. He ought to be 
paid, and it is so far from being in my power to do it, that 
I have been reduced to the mortifying necessity of desiring 
him for the present to hold his hand. A great many of 
this valuable class of people are confined in English gaols, 
without other means of obtaining their enlargement than by 
entering into the enemy's service. They complain bitterly 
of being neglected by their country, and I really think not 
witliout reason. Retaliation ought to be practised, and if 
we have not a sufficient number of marine officers and 
seamen in our power to make the objects of it, why would 
it be improper to substitute landsmen ? 

As to Portugal, I have more than once spoken to the 
Minister on the subject. He admits the justice of our be- 
ing treated by that as by other neutral nations. He has 
promised to interfere in our behalf, but nothing efficacious 
has yet been done. To send an agent there, could do no 
harm, and might do good ; I am therefore for it. The 
Ambassador of France thinks with me, that before that 
step is taken, it ought to be confidentially communicated to 
this Court, and I am persuaded difficulties will arise from 
it. I shall do my best. 

M. Gardoqui's departure is uncertain. He is still attend- 
ing the orders of the Court. I doubt his receiving them 
till the campaign closes, and perhaps not then. 

T do not despair of seeing some good result, finally, from 
VOL. vn. 64 


all this complication of political solecisms. It would not 
surprise me if we should in the end be the gainers by 
them. My greatest fears are about the fate of the bills. 
If protested, for want of payment, they will become the 
source of much evil. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 


P. S. I have this instant received a letter from Com- 
modore Gillon, dated at Corunna, the 28th of September, 
and one from Colonel Searle of the 2Gth of September. I 
herewith enclose copies of them. Their contents are in- 
teresting. J. J. 


Madrid, October 18th, 1781. 


Major Franks delivered me the despatches committed to 
his care on the 30th of August. He set out for France 
the 5th instant. My letters by him to your Excellency 
will account for his remaining here so long. I also bep- 
leave to refer to them for other more interesting particulars. 

Congress will doubtless be informed that I have refused 
to accept some of their bills. As the enemies of America 
in Europe had, with some success, endeavored to render 
the credit of our paper suspected, it appeared to me expe- 
dient to state the reasons for these refusals very particu- 
larly, and I caused them to be recited at large in the pro- 
tests. I have sent copies of them to Dr Franklin and Mr 
Adams, that in case these transactions should be repre- 
sented to our disadvantage, either in France or Holland, 
they might be enabled to set the matter right. I now send 


copies to Congress, to prevent their being alarmed at any- 
general report that may arrive in America, of ray having 
refused to accept their bills drawn upon me. 

Our merchants would, in my opinion, do well to write 
their endorsements on bills at length, and in their own 
hand writing. There is reason to believe that the enemy 
often tttrn blank endorsements to good account. 

M. Gardoqui is here. Those ships of the Spanish flo- 
tilla, which carried the treasure, are arrived at Cadiz. 
Trenches are not yet opened against Fort St Philip at 
Minorca. Another expedition is preparing at Cadiz ; its 
destination is uncertain. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Philadelphia, November 1st, 1781. 

Dear Sir, 

Your letter to Congress of April last having been read 
nnd answered by them, though not so minutely as I would 
wish, I forbear making any remarks upon it, because I am 
not yet perfectly acquainted with their sentiments, (and 
would not wish any which might interfere with them) hav- 
ing just entered upon the office, in consequence of which 1 
open this correspondence, though long since appointed, 
beg of you, agreeably to the directions of Congress, to 
address in future your public letters to me, and to notify 
the Count de Florida Blanca of this alteration in our sys- 
tem, our unacknowledged situation rendering it improper 
to do it formally. 

Congress have at length completed the orgattization of 

508 JOHN JAY. 

their executive departiiienls, by the choice of General Lin- 
coln lor their Secretary at War. It is expected that order 
and system will arise out of this mode of doing business, 
and the strictest economy. 

If the great powers of Europe, with every advantage 
that settled governments enjoy, feel themselves under the 
necessity of making foreign loans, can it be expected that 
a war of six years, in the heart of our country, should 
not have abridged the resources of a State, which had 
every necessary for their army to import ; which never 
manufactured for itself; which had no marine ; and which, 
with a number of internal enemies in their bosom, had civil 
governments to establish? Perhaps it would be impossible 
to offer a better picture of the resources of this country, 
and the stability of her funds when they shall be well man- 
aged, than by comparing our present debt with the dura- 
tion of the war and the exertions we have made. For 
though our enemies may allege, that our debt was relieved 
by the depreciation of our bills, yet it must be remem- 
bered, that that very depreciation was a tax, though an 
unequal one, borne by tlie people of these States, and as 
it has not produced national ruin, it must follow, that the 
States had sufficient resources to bear this burthen. 
These resources, though lessened, sdll remain. 

The only object for which Britain continues the war, is 
the recovery of this country. What better plan of finance 
then can be adopted by France or Spain, than by timely 
aids of ships and money to blast this hope, and by a 
speedy peace to terminate their expenses ? If, on the con- 
trary, they wish to linger out the war till Britain is more 
exhausted, this country affords them the easiest means of 
doing it. 


Annies may be maintained here for one third of the ex- 
pense tiiat Britain lays out upon hers. This France has 
experienced. Though her aifairs were not perhaps mana- 
ged with the strictest economy, though her bills were ex- 
tremely low, her supplies cost at least one third less than 
the British paid at New York, without taking into account 
the hire of transports, the seamen employed, paid, and fed 
in that service, and the number of them that fell into our 
hands. Be persuaded yourself, and endeavor to persuade 
others, that if this is a war of finance, which all modern 
wars are, Britain is most vulnerable in America. 

I congratulate you upon the important success of our 
arms in South Carolina and Virginia, of which I enclose 
you official accounts. On the retinuis you will remark a 
number of British American nominal regiments. These 
were recruiting in Virginia and North Carolina, and their 
success will show the truth of what Britain advances with 
respect to the number of her partisans in America. I will 
venture to say, that with similar advantages, their recruit- 
ing parties would have been more successful in any country 
in Europe. Besides the troops mentioned in the returns, 
the enemy lost during the siege near two thousand ne- 
groes. Previous to the surrender, they had a naval en- 
gagement with the Count de Grasse. The Terrible, a 
British seventyfour, was burnt, so that our affairs here 
stand upon the most respectable footing imaginable. — 
[Upwards of thirty lines follow interspersed with a cypher, 
the key to which is not to be found.] 

But this is a delicate subject, and I quit it till I am more 
fully acquainted with the views of Congress thereon, for I 
confess to you, that the sentiments I have hazarded are 
rather my own, than any that I know to be theirs, and 

510 JOHN JAY. 

should weigh accordingly with you. The provision trade 
with the Havana being very considerable and important to 
Spain, while she has fleets and armies to maintain there, it 
might be proper to suggest to the Spanish Ministry the ad- 
vantage of allowing small convoys of frigates, which would 
enable us to carry it on in vessels of greater burden, and 
by that means diminish the exj)ense of freight and insur- 
ance, both of which, eventually, fall upon Spain. A few 
frigates would answer the purpose, as the stations of the 
enemy's ships are almost always known on this coast, and, 
indeed, they seldom have any out but frigates cruising 

Another thought strikes me, which, perhaps, if digested, 
might be ripened into a plan advantageous to France, 
Spain, and America. While France keeps an army here, 
she must draw bills, or export money. She has, for the 
most part, preferred the former, at the loss of forty per 
cent discount. The money of Spain is lodged at the 
Havana, and cannot be brought to Europe without great 
hazard ; whereas the risk of sending it here under convoy 
is extremely small. It may be vested in European bills to 
such advantage, as to pay the whole expense of transporta- 
tion, and even an interest, till the bills are negotiated in 
Europe. This plan affords France a market for her 
bills, Spain a cheap and easy way of bringing her money 
home, and America a circulating medium, which enables 
her to tax with advantage. 

The enclosed act of Congress informs you of the ap- 
pointment of Mr Hanson, of Maryland, to the President- 

I shall write very frequently to you, and shall in return 
expect that you will omit no opportunity of letting me hear 


from you. A Court kaletidar, if one is printed with you, 
with notes of your own thereon, might be of some service 
to us. I shall use our private cypher, as corrected by that 
sent by Mr Toscan, till you receive the one transmitted by 
Mr Thomson, in which case, as it is less troublesome, be 
pleased to use that, if you are sure it came safe. 

I am, dear Sir, with the sincerest regard and es- 
teem, &c. 



Philadelphia, November 28th, 1781. 
Dear Sir, 

I wrote so fully to you not long since, that I should not 
trouble you at this time, if I had not determined to omit 
no opportunity of letting you hear from this side of the 
water, and enabling you at all times to meet any false- 
hood the enemy may find it politic to publish. 

Since the capture of Cornvvallis, nothing very material 
has happened. The ravaging parties on the northern fron- 
tiers have been defeated with great loss by the militia. 
The armies have taken their stations for the winter quar- 
ters ; the French, in Virginia and Maryland ; our troops, 
on the Hudson, excepting some detachments under Gen- 
eral St Clair, destined to reinforce General Greene. 
They have orders to take Wilmington in their way, where 
the enemy have about six hundred men ; it is probable 
they will not wait the attack. General Greene will have 
men enough to shut up the enemy, but not to force their 
strong holds. Want of money cramps all our exertions, 
and prevents our making a glorious winter campaign. 

512 JOHN JAY. 

The enemy are all shut up on two or three points of land, 
which is all they possess of the immense country they 
hope to conquer ; and even these they hold by a very 
precarious tenure. Disaffection, which has languished for 
some time past, died when Cornwallis surrendered. 

Congress are occupied in taking measures for an active 
campaign ; and they feel themselves satisfied with every- 
thing both at home and abroad. 

Congress have dissolved Mr Adams's powers to make a 
treaty of commerce widi Great Britain ; and, as you know, 
joined Dr Franklin and Mr Laurens in his other commis- 
sion, if England should at length be wise enough to wish 
for peace. 

The Marquis de Lafayette is the bearer of this. He 
has promised to convey it with safety to you, and to cor- 
respond with you in such a manner as to enable you to 
avail yourself of the knowledge which he has acquired, 
that may be of use to you. The resolves of Congress, of 
which r enclose a copy, show their sense on this subject, 
and the confidence which they very justly repose in him. 
His Aid waits for this. Adieu my dear Sir. 

Believe me to be, with the highest respecl^-and esteem, 





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