Adams Papers

The American Commissioners to the Conde de Sousa Coutinho, 30 November 1784

The American Commissioners
to the Conde de Sousa Coutinho

Passy November 30th. 1784


We have received the Extract of the letter from Monsieur de Sa of the 24th Octr 1784 which your Excellency was pleased to send us by the hand of the Secretary of your legation.1

“That in consequence of our letter your Excellency might assure us that Her Most faithful Majesty will be very glad to have the best correspondence with the United States, and that we may explain to your Excellency the intentions of Congress, to be communicated to your Court who will listen to them with much attention.”

Conformably to the desires of Her most faithful Majesty expressed in this extract of the letter of Her Minister, we have the honour to enclose a2 draught of a project of a treaty of Amity and Commerce to be concluded between the two powers—3 if this project should be approved by Her Majesty & a full power should be sent to your Excellency to conclude, we are ready to sign such a treaty on the part of the United States— if your Court have any objections or alterations to propose we shall give them all the attention & consideration consistent with the views of our Constituents.

With great respect / We have the honour to be / Your Excellency’s / Most obedient & / Most humble Servants

John Adams
B. Franklin
T. Jefferson.

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 116, f. 127–128); internal address: “His Excellency The Cte. de Souza / Ambaser. from Her Most. F.M. at the Court of / Versailles.—”

1For the extract from Aires de Sá e Melo’s 24 Oct. letter to Sousa Coutinho, paraphrased in the next paragraph, see Benjamin Franklin’s 15 Nov. letter to JA, and note 1, above.

2David Humphreys placed an asterisk at this point referring to his notation at the foot of the letter: “N.B The draught of the treaty was the same as that enclosed to the Baron Thulemeier—vide page.” For the draft sent to Thulemeier, see the Negotiation of the 10 September 1785 Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 10 Nov. 1784 – 14 March 1785, vNo. II, above. The draft treaty with Portugal, not found, presumably differed from that proposed to Prussia only regarding the country being addressed.

3Sousa Coutinho replied on 22 Dec., acknowledging receipt of the commissioners’ letter with its enclosed draft treaty and indicating that he had sent it to his government (Jefferson, Papers, description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, 1950–. description ends 7:580).

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