Adams Papers

Enclosure: Ralph Izard to President of the Congress, 12 September 1778

Enclosure: Ralph Izard to President of the Congress

Paris 12 Sep. 1778

The Melasses business would certainly have proved the source of continual disputes, if it had not been altered;1 but the mischief which might have been expected from that is beyond <doubt> comparison less than what is pointed out in my letter to Mr. Lee of 18th. May.2 My apprehensions on this subject were communicated to the Commissioners at this Court; but I am sorry to say that they made no impression upon them. Mr. Lee alone seemed to think it possible I might be right; the other two Gentlemen were perfectly satisfied. Dr. Franklin’s usual consciousness of infallibility was apparent; and Mr. Adams insinuated that the business of the Treaties was put intirely into the hands of the Commissioners at this Court, and nobody else had any right to give their opinions about them; that he understood I had objected to the 11th. and 12th. Articles in the Treaty of Commerce, respecting Melasses, but he believed I should find myself greatly mistaken in that matter; that he did not doubt but these Articles would be extremely popular in Congress and that they would be very angry when they were informed that I had objected to them. I answered that I was sensible the Conclusion of the Treaties was committed solely to the Gentlemen he mentioned; but that the principles in which I had been educated militated against the other part of his Opinion; that I had thought it my duty to oppose the proceedings of the King and Parliament of Great Britain when they were injurious to my Country; that the same motives had occasioned my opposition to the articles in question; that I had submitted my objections to the Treaty to the President and hoped that he would make them known to Congress; that if they thought I had done wrong, I should of Course be informed of it by him; that I should in that case look upon myself to be no longer fit to be employed, when my opinion differed so totally from that of my Employers, and should request the favor of the President to procure the Leave of Congress for me to return to my own Country. I have had the Satisfaction however, of finding that Mr. Adams as well as his Countrymen Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Deane have been mistaken in their Expectation that Congress would be inattentive to the Interests of nine States of America, to gratify the Eaters and Distillers of Melasses.

RC (Adams Papers); with three enclosures. The enclosures were filmed under the date of 13 June and appear immediately after the recipient’s copy of James Lovell’s letter to JA of that date (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 350). The first enclosure, designated “No. 1” and docketed “Mr Lovel June 13. 1779 ’Je crains M. A. L. et ses entours.’ Vergennes,” is not identical to the recipient’s copy of 13 June (above), and the annotation pertaining to matters common to both documents is not repeated here. As a result, the two versions should be compared. The second enclosure, designated “No. 2” and docketed “Izard,” was copied from the committee’s report of 24 March (PCC, No. 25, I, f. 101; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 13:363–368). The passage is written on the verso of a piece of paper cut from the address page of a letter by George Washington, probably to the president of the congress, and bears the words “His Ex” and “Go. Was,” the first portion of Washington’s signature endorsing the letter. The third enclosure, designated “No. 3,” labeled “Copy,” and docketed “Izard,” comprises less than two pages of Izard’s full letter of this date, which is approximately seven and one-half pages long (PCC, No. 89, I, f. 90–97; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 2:710–714).

The content of all or some notes that appeared on pages 151 and 152 in the printed volume has been moved to the ends of the preceding documents: James Lovell to John Adams, 14 Sept. 1779 and 13 June 1779.

1The “Melasses business” stemmed from the controversy surrounding Arts. 11 and 12 in the Franco-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce as originally negotiated, but which were later deleted. For Ralph Izard’s, as well as Arthur Lee’s, earlier objections to the two articles and a detailed examination of the reasons for their deletion, see the Committee for Foreign Affairs to the Commissioners, 14 May 1778, and note 4; and the Commissioners’ reply of 29 July, and note 1 (vol. 6:116–120, 332).

2Arthur Lee, who had been appointed Commissioner to the Court at Madrid, never received Izard’s letter, which was largely devoted to his concern that provisions of the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance might prevent the United States from acquiring the Floridas (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 2:586–588).

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