Adams Papers

Committee of the States (Continental Congress) to John Adams, 9 July 1784

From the Committee of the States

Annapolis [9] July 17841


Your Letters of 27th. of last March, & the 10th of April together with a Copy of the plan of a Treaty proposed by his Prussian Majesty, and Copies of the letters 1 without [date], & one of the [14th] and another of the 25th. [of] March last from the Prussian Minister at the Hague to yourself, relative to that subject, and also a Note from the same Minister respecting the Estate of one Christian Ravenhorst, & of his Widow late of Georgia and the Claims of several Prussian Subjects thereto, have come to hand a few days since, and after the adjournment of Congress: who stand adjourned to the 30th. of Octr: next.2

The Committee of the States not having a power to appoint foreign Ministers, or to form Treaties, cannot grant such a Commission, as you request or make any alterations in the proposed Treaty, or give any Instructions relative thereto. Nor indeed can it now be necessary to be done, as Congress have already appointed yourself, Dr: Franklin and Mr: Jefferson (who we Suppose, is now on his passage from Boston) their Ministers to form Commercial Treaties with most of the Sovereigns of Europe &c, one among whom the King of Prussia is named. Mr: Jefferson carries with him a Commission for that purpose, and such Instructions as Congress have thought proper to give in addition to those heretofore sent to their Ministers.

Touching the subject of the Note abovementioned, upon the supposition that the facts stated in it are true, you are very sensible that the Parties interested may obtain ample Justice in the ordinary Courts of Law, either by their sending an Agent to Georgia, or full Powers to some person there, with the necessary proofs to prosecute their Claims; and that Congress Cannot interfere in the Administration of common Justice within any of the United States; Coppies of the Will & other papers mentioned in the Note, may doubtless be had upon application to the proper Offices in Georgia.

Dft (PCC, No. 32, f. 27–29); endorsed: “No. 7. / Report of Mr. Read / Mr. Dana / Mr. Chase / on Letters of 27th March & 10th April / 1784 from J. Adams Minister / Plenipo. at the Hague with sundry / Papers inclosed— / deld. July 9th. 1784. / Pass’d—”; notation: “The Committee to whom was referred the Letters of Mr: Adams Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at the Hague, with the papers inclosed, report the following draft of a Letter to him thereupon, to be signed by the Chairman of the Committee of the States.” Text lost due to heavy inking has been supplied from the JCC, description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, Gaillard Hunt, John C. Fitzpatrick, Roscoe R. Hill, and others, Washington, D.C., 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends 27:579–580.

1JA received this letter on or about 18 Sept. and enclosed a “Copy” with his letter to the Baron von Thulemeier of that date (LbC, APM Reel 107). That there is no RC in the Adams Papers may mean that the “Copy” was, in fact, the actual letter from the committee.

2The undated letter was Thulemeier’s of 9 April, with which he enclosed the draft Prussian-American treaty of [9 April], both above. When JA copied the letter for Congress, he failed to include the date (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 277–279). The other letters are all at their dates above, and the note concerning the Ravenhorst estate in Georgia is with Thulemeier’s 25 March letter.

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