Adams Papers

John Adams to John Jay, 13 February 1784

To John Jay

The Hague Feb. 13. 1784.1

Dear Sir

I have recd a Letter from Mr Gerry, at Phila. 23 Nov. Thaxter arrived there the night before. I presume he has written by Mr Reed, and that his Letter is gone to You, as he probably addressed his Letter to Us all.2

Mr Morris has drawn afresh by this Vessell.3 Let me beg of you and the Dr, to advise him to Stop his Hand. If I can possibly, save those already drawn, which however I still despair of, it will be upon Terms so enormously avaricious, that it will raise a tremendous Clamour in America. It is ruinous to borrow money in Europe upon such Terms but it will be more ruinous, to let the Bills go back. my Situation is very disagreable. It is not for me to judge of the Propriety of the draughts. I am only in a ministerial Capacity, and ought to procure the Money if possible, upon any Terms within my Instructions, but to be obliged to go to the Utmost Extent of them, when I know that Such Numbers will blame me for it, because they wont believe the necessity of it, is unpleasant.

There is a Despotism in this Country in the Government of Loans as absolute as that of the grand Senior. five or Six People have all the Money under their Command, and they are as avaricious as any Jews in Jews Quarter. This Country revenges itself in this Way, upon the Powers of Europe for the Insults it receives from them in Wars & Negotiations. I think I could not justify going to Paris, while the Fate of these Bills is depending. You will be so good as to go on with the Dr, in Execution of the last Instructions. if there is any Point, upon which you wish for my Opinion, I will give it you, with Pleasure, at any time, by Letter.—Has Mr Laurens declined acting? How is the Drs Health? and how is Mrs Ridley? if a Commission Should come, to us all to treat with England, as it will be a thorny Work and likely to produce Discontents and Clamours, it is not my Intention to withdraw my Shoulders from any Part of the Burthen. You will pardon me for suggesting, that We ought to obtain if We can from every Power We treat with, an Article that American Produce imported into their Ports in American Bottoms, Shall pay no more duties than if imported in Vessells of the subjects of those Powers. Mr Gerry desires his Respects And Affection to you, in very strong and high terms. thinks the Removal of Congress has strengthened the Union, and that the British Proclamations, have had the Same Effect.—

My Respects to your good Family, and believe me / Yours most Sincerely

John Adams

Will Denmark stipulate, that both her Islands in the W. Indies shall be free Ports to us?4

RC (NNC:John Jay Papers); internal address: “Mr Jay”; endorsed: “Mr Adams / 13 Feb. 1784.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.

1This letter was likely sent under JQA’s brief covering note of 13 Feb. to his friend Peter Jay Munro at Paris (NNMus). The younger Adams wrote, “my father desires me, to send you the enclosed Letter, begging you would deliver it to Your Uncle; and at the same time present, my best Respects to him.” JA may have reasoned that a letter from JQA to Munro would receive less official scrutiny from French or Dutch authorities than one from himself to John Jay.

2For Gerry’s letter, see vol. 15:369–376. JA apparently assumed that John Thaxter had written to the commissioners regarding his arrival in America, but no such letter has been found. Thaxter did not write to JA until 19 Jan. (vol. 15:462–465).

3See the consortium’s letter of 11 Feb., above.

4In a 13 Aug. 1783 letter to Robert R. Livingston, JA raised the question of free ports in the Danish islands in connection with a draft Danish-American treaty negotiated by Benjamin Franklin and Ernst Frederik von Walterstorff, chamberlain to the king of Denmark. There JA indicated that Walterstorff had told him that the islands of St. Thomas and St. John would be free ports, but that St. Croix, more important than the others, would not be (vol. 15:224–225). In any event, the treaty was never concluded.

Index Entries