Adams Papers

John Jay to John Adams, 11 February 1785

From John Jay

Office for foreign Affairs New York 11th: Feby: 1785


I have now the Honor of transmitting to you herewith enclosed a Ratification made 1st Feby: instant of the contract or Engagement which you entered into as Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to their High Mightinesses the Lords, the States General of the United Netherlands, in Behalf of the said States, with Messrs. Wilhelm & Jan Willink & others for a Loan of two Millions of Guilders the 9th of March 1784.1

As the Letters received from you, between my Predecessors Resignation and my acceptance of this Office, are yet in the Hands of a Committee of Congress, I am not in Capacity to say any thing of their Dates or Contents.

On the 14th Ult. I wrote a Short Letter to you Doctr. Franklin and Mr. Jefferson.

Congress have Resolv’d to send a Minister to the Court of London, and I flatter myself with being soon enabled to write to you particularly on this Subject.2

It would give me great Pleasure to hear from you frequently, and to be favored not only with such Information as you may think interesting, but also with such Remarks and Opinions on Affairs in this Department, as may the better enable me to discharge the Duties of it.

Mr. De Marbois in pursuance of the Orders of his Court, has demanded that Mr. Longchamps be delivered up.3 I wish that matter had not been pressed— I have laid the Requisition before Congress and shall inform you of the Result of their Deliberations on the Subject. It is in Contemplation to appoint a Minister for Spain, and we are informed that an Envoy from that Court may daily be expected here.4

I have the Honor to be with great Esteem & Regard / Dear Sir / Your most obt. & very hble Servt.

John Jay

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “The Honbe. J. Adams Esqr.”; endorsed: “Mr Jay 11. Feb. 1785. / recd 23. Ansd 24. April.” Dupl (MHi:John Adams, Embassy MSS). Tripl (Adams Papers).

1The notarized, signed loan contract of [9] March 1784 and the attached 1 Feb. 1785 instrument of ratification that JA received with this letter on 23 April have not been found. JA presumably enclosed them with his 24 April letter to the consortium (LbC, APM Reel 107). But see the contract and the instrument of ratification, which were enclosed with the Dupl of this letter and are printed at their respective dates, both above.

2Jay’s letters concerning JA’s election as minister to Great Britain are of 15 and 18 March, both below. The first informed JA of his appointment, and the second enclosed his commission, instructions, and letter of credence. JA received Jay’s official notification on 2 May, but he unofficially learned of his appointment as early as 26 April (to John Jay, 4 May, Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, description begins The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, from … 1783, to … 1789, [ed. William A. Weaver], repr., Washington, D.C., 1837 [actually 1855]; 3 vols. description ends 1:485–487; to Samuel Mather, 26 April, LbC, Adams Papers, APM Reel 107). JA’s election, after considerable debate and political maneuvering, occurred on 24 Feb., for which see Elbridge Gerry’s letters of 14 and 24 Feb., both below.

3On 19 May 1784 Charles Julian de Longchamps assaulted François de Barbé-Marbois on the streets of Philadelphia. Barbé-Marbois, secretary to the French minister, the Chevalier de La Luzerne, earned Longchamps’ wrath by refusing to authenticate his titles, including that of chevalier. La Luzerne demanded Longchamps’ apprehension and surrender to French custody so that he could be returned to France for trial. Pennsylvania refused, arguing that its courts had sole jurisdiction. Despite Pennsylvania’s prosecution and imprisonment of Longchamps, the case dragged on until, there being no possibility that either Congress or Pennsylvania would agree to Longchamps’ extradition, Barbé-Marbois withdrew the French demand. Jay’s uneasiness over Barbé-Marbois’ effort to press the incident was owing to the issues, insoluble at the time under the Confederation, that the Longchamps Affair raised about Congress’ relationship with the states, the law of nations’ place in the American legal system, and the future of Franco-American relations (G. S. Rowe and Alexander W. Knott, “Power, Justice, and Foreign Relations in the Confederation Period: The Marbois-Longchamps Affair, 1784–1786,” PMHB, description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. description ends 104:275–307 [July 1980]).

4Congress did not appoint a minister to Spain. William Carmichael, Jay’s former secretary, was serving as chargé d’affaires but did not receive a formal appointment as such until 1790. Diego Gardoqui, Spanish plenipotentiary chargé d’affaires, presented his credentials to Congress on 2 July 1785 (DAB; JCC, 29:494–495).

Index Entries