Adams Papers

To John Adams from Edmund Jenings, 21 March 1783

From Edmund Jenings

London March 21st 1783


I did myself the Honor of writing to Your Excellency about a Week Ago. I have now only to enclose the last bill introduced into the House of Commons for the purpose of opening an Intercourse with the United States.1 and what passed thereupon Yesterday in the House, where I was, & where I observed as much embaressement arising from Ignorance or Selfishness, as can be imagined. Your Excellency will Compare this Bill with the first, which it is said here, was somewhat approved of at Paris. and you will see the present Disposition of the Times here. I have pointed out the Mischief of the present bill to many with some effect.— the American Merchants had a meeting to Day to appoint a Committee to attend & inform the House of Commons, of their Sense of this Business, the Importance of which is felt by them. I attended the meeting in Hopes of collecting some Information. but little was done in it more than naming a Committee & agreeing to address the King for his paternal care in making Peace2 the Address did not pass Unanimously. I am not Idle in my pay.— I shall I believe send to Your Excellency, some productions which will give you my Idea of the present business— if I had your Excellencys I should be enlightened.

I am with the greatest Consideration / Sir / Your Excellencys / Most Obedient Humble Servt.

Edm: Jenings

PS. No certain Account yet of the Ministry Many Ships put up for sailing to Boston Virginia &c.3 with the Manufactures of GB.

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “To his Excellency John Adams Esqr..”

1Probably the printed copy of “A Bill for the Provisional Establishment and Regulation of Trade and Intercourse between the Subjects of Great Britain and those of the United States of North America,” or American Intercourse Bill. A copy of the bill, introduced on 3 March, is in the Adams Papers, filmed at [1783].

Debate on the bill in the House of Commons was postponed on 20 March in anticipation of a report from a 21 March meeting of London merchants trading in America. Several more meetings were held before a written report was submitted to William Pitt on Friday, 28 March. Pitt resigned the following Monday, however, and the bill was permanently tabled without the report being made public. The report is probably identical or similar to a document preserved in the Pitt papers endorsed “Observations on the Trade of North America by the Committee of American Merchants.” That document, dated 22 July, calls for a reduction or elimination of duties on American imports and an increase in bounties on goods exported to the United States (Edmund C. Burnett, “Observations of London Merchants on American Trade, 1783,” American Historical Review, 18:769–780 [July 1913]).

2On 5 April the London Gazette published an address to the king from the “Merchants and Traders of London interested in the Commerce of North America” asking that “liberality” be exercised in crafting a commercial agreement (same, p. 772).

3The final five words of the postscript are written in large script, apparently for emphasis.

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