Thomas Jefferson Papers

American Commissioners to William Short, [27 July 1785]

American Commissioners to William Short

[27 July 1785]


A Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States of America and his majesty the K. of P. having been arranged with the Baron de Thulemeyer his Majesty’s envoy extraordinary at the Hague specially empowered1 for this purpose and it being inconsistent with our other duties to repair to that place ourselves for the purpose of executing and exchanging the instruments of2 treaty, we hereby appoint you special secretary for that purpose.

You receive from Colo. Humphries, Secretary of our legation the original of our full powers, and a copy of the same attested by him, the full powers heretofore communicated to us by the Baron de Thulemeier, and the two instruments of treaty arranged between us, each in two columns, the one in English and the other in French, equally originals.3 From us you receive a letter to Charles Dumas esq. for the United States at the Hague, associating him with you in the objects of your mission.

You will proceed immediately to the Hague, and being arrived there will deliver the letter to Mr. Dumas and proceed conjunctly with him in the residue of your business which is to be executed there.

The original of our full powers is to be exhibited to the plenipotentiary of his Majesty the King of Prussia4 and the attested copy is to be left with him, you taking back the original. You will in like manner ask an exhibition of the original of his full powers, and also a copy duly attested: you will compare the copy with the original, and being satisfied of its exactness you will attest it,5 return the original and keep the copy. That you may be under no doubt whether the full powers exhibited to you be sufficient or not, you receive from Colo. Humphries those which the Baron de Thulemeier heretofore sent to us. If those which shall be exhibited agree with these in form or substance, they will be sufficient.

The full powers being approved on each side and exchanged, you will obtain the signature and seal of the Prussian plenipotentiary to the two instruments of treaty with which you are charged, and yourself and Mr. Dumas will attest the same. One of these original instruments will remain in the hands of the Prussian plenipotentiary, the other you will retain.

You will ask that the ratification of his Majesty the King of Prussia be made known to us as soon as it shall have taken place, giving an assurance on our Part that that of Congress shall also be communicated so soon as it shall have taken place. When both Ratifications shall be known measures may be concerted for exchanging them. You will confer with the said plenipotentiary on the expediency of keeping this treaty uncommunicated to the public until the exchange of ratifications, and agree accordingly.

You will then return to Paris, and redeliver to the Secretary of our legation our original full powers, the copies of those of Prussia beforementioned, and the original instrument of the Treaty which you shall have retained.

Dft (DLC); in TJ’s hand, undated and unsigned; with numerous deletions and interlineations, some of which are noted below. RC (DLC: Short Papers); in Short’s hand; signed by Adams and TJ; with date and direction in Adams’ hand: “London, August 5. 1785. William Short Esqr.” Tr (MHi: AMT); in Short’s hand; attested by Humphreys, “Paris July 28th. 1785.” FC (DNA: PCC, No. 116; in Humphreys’ hand, without date or names of signers; at head of text: “Instructions respecting the exchange of the Instruments of the said Treaty.” Tr (DNA: PCC, No. 87, i); in Humphreys’ hand; at foot of text: “No. 3.” (this is the copy transmitted as enclosure No. 3 in TJ to Jay, 14 Aug. 1785, second letter). Tr (DNA: PCC, No. 107, i). Recorded in SJL under 27 July 1785; entry in SJPL for that date reads: “Short Wm. Exchange Prussian treaty. Instructions.”

For an explanation of TJ’s reason for not adding direction giving Dumas’ title in preceding letter and after Dumas’ name in this letter, see TJ to Adams, 28 July 1785; strangely, Adams did not bother to fill the blank in RC of the present letter.

1This word interlined in Dft in place of “authorised,” deleted.

2Preceding three words interlined in Dft in place of “copies of the,” deleted.

3The passage “the full powers heretofore … equally originals” is interlined in Dft after the words “attested by him.”

4At this point the Dft read originally: “… to the Baron de Thulemeier or such other plenipotentiary as his majesty the king shall have appointed”; the passage was then altered by deletion and overwriting to read as above.

5The two preceding words were added by Adams both to the RC and to the Tr retained by him (MHi: AMT).

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