Adams Papers

The American Commissioners to John Jay, 18 March 1785

The American Commissioners to John Jay

Paris March 18th. 1785.


We received by the last Packet the favor of your letter of Janry. 14. in which we have the agreeable information of your having accepted the appointment of Secretary for foreign Affairs. Besides the general interest we feel in this event as members of the Union which is to availed of your services, we are particularly happy that a channel of communication is opened for us with Congress in whose justice & abilities we so perfectly confide.

In our letter by the Febry. Packet which we addressed to His Excellency the President of Congress, we had the honor of transmitting a state of our transactions intervening between the date of that and of our preceding letter.1 We now beg leave through you to inform them of our progress since the last period—

No. 1. is a letter from the Popes Nuncio at this court, which tho’ dated at this place as the 15th of December 1784 was not delivered to us till late in February. We consider it as definitive of our commission to the Holy See unless new instructions or circumstances should render a further proceeding under it proper.

No. 2. from the Chargé des Affaires of Tuscany here came also to hand after the closing of our letter by the last Packet.2

From Baron de Thulemeier Prussian Minister at the Hague we have received the enclosed letter No. 3., covering a French translation of the Draught of a treaty which we had proposed through him to the court of Berlin as formerly reported to Congress, with observations on the several parts of it. This paper is numbered 4. and has been answered by our letter of which No 5. is a copy.3

We have also received from the Baron de Thulemeier the letters No 6. & 7. in answer to ours (formerly communicated to Congress) on the subjects of free ports within the territories of his Sovereign.—4

In consequence of a letter written by Mr Adams to Mr Dumas praying his enquiries & information as to the presents, whether periodical or occasional, made by the United Netherlands to the several pyratical States, he has favored us with the enclosed authentic information marked No. 8.—5 We learn from public papers that the Republic of Venice pays annually to Tripoli a tribute of 3500 Sequins. From a comparison of the strength of this with that of the other pyratical States some grounds are furnished for conjecturing what is paid by them to the others when in Peace with them. We have promises of some further information on the subject of these tributes, which the envy or pride of nations endeavours to cover under mystery, the sum of them will serve to form a judgment of the contributions which will be required from us.6

With great respect / We have the honor to be / Sir / Your most obedient & / Most humble Servants

John Adams.
B. Franklin
T. Jefferson—

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 116, f. 257–260); internal address: “The Honble / John Jay Esqr. / Secretary for foreign Affairs N. York.”; notation: “4th. Report to Congress / addressed to Mr Jay Secry for foreign Affairs—”

1Of [9] Feb., above.

2On 10 Feb., Francesco Favi, the Tuscan chargé d’affaires, wrote the commissioners to inform them that he had sent the draft Tuscan-American treaty that they had sent him on 9 Dec. 1784, above, which he thought very favorable, to his government and would inform the Americans as soon as he received a response (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 7:649).

3These were the Baron von Thulemeier’s letter of 24 Jan. 1785 enclosing his French translation of the draft Prussian-American treaty submitted to him by the commissioners on 10 Nov. 1784, with the Prussian observations on the draft treaty, and the commissioners’ reply of 14 March 1785. For these documents, see the Negotiation of the 10 September 1785 Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 10 Nov. 1784 – 14 March 1785, Nos. II, V, VI, and VIII, above.

4The first of these was Thulemeier’s letter of 11 Feb. (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 7:649–650), in which he indicated that he was awaiting a reply from Berlin to the commissioners’ letter of 21 Jan. proposing the establishment of free ports at Stettin and Emden, above. The second was the Prussian’s letter of 4 March, above.

5For the information obtained by C. W. F. Dumas about Dutch relations with the Barbary States, see the enclosure to his letter of 25 Feb., above.

6For additional evidence of the commissioners’ concern over relations between the United States and the Barbary States, see JA’s 20 March letter to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and note 1, below.

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