From John Jay
Office of foreign Affairs 3d. October 1786
I have the Honor of transmitting you herewith enclosed the following Papers, Viz.
No. 1. a Copy of the Consular Convention signed by the french and american Plenipotentiaries.
No. 2. a Copy of the Act of Congress under which the american Plenipotentiary signed the same.
No. 3 a Copy of a Scheme of a Convention mentioned and referred to in said Act.
No. 4 a Copy of a Report on the said Convention.
No. 5 a Copy of an Act of Congress containing Instructions and giving Authorities to you on the Subject of the said Convention.
These Papers will possess you fully of the whole Business. I am persuaded that it will appear to you as it does to Congress, to be a delicate one, and to require delicate Management.
The original Scheme of the Convention is far from being unexceptionable, but a former Congress having agreed to it, it would be improper now to recede; and therefore Congress are content to ratify a Convention made conformable to that Scheme, to their Act of the 25th. Day of January 1782, provided a Clause limiting its Duration be added. It will be proper therefore to press on the Court, only such Objections to the Convention, as arise from its Departure from the Scheme. On making an accurate Comparison, such Departure will appear manifest to his Majesty; and there is Reason to expect from his Candor, that he will readily consent to remove the Objections occasioned by it.
As it certainly is wise to try the Merits of Institutions entirely new, by actual Experience, before Nations adopt them forever, the Propriety of rendering this Convention probationary in the first Instance, is unquestionable. Congress cannot therefore presume that his most Christian Majesty will object to a Clause for limiting its Duration. The Design of this Convention being for mutual and reciprocal Benefit and Convenience, it would be doing Injustice to his Majesty to suppose, that he would wish to provide for its existing longer than it should prove useful and satisfactory.
If after the Experience of a few Years, it should be found to answer the Purposes intended by it, both Parties will have sufficient Inducements to renew it, either in its present Form, or with such Alterations and Amendments as Time, Experience and other Circumstances may indicate.
With great Respect and Esteem, I have the Honor to be &c.,
FC (DNA: RG 59, PCC, No. 121). Noted in SJL as received 20 Dec. 1786. Enclosures (all in DLC except No. 5): (1) Clerk’s copy of French text of Consular Convention as signed by Vergennes and Franklin, 29 July 1784 (translation printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904-1937 description ends , xxxi, 725–35). (2) Copy in Thomson’s hand, signed by him, of resolution of Congress, 25 Jan. 1782 authorizing Franklin to negotiate such a convention (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904-1937 description ends , xxii, 46–7); there is also in DLC: TJ Papers, 7: 1209, a copy of this resolution in Short’s hand, endorsed by TJ: “Consular convention Duplicate.” (3) Copy of the scheme of a convention referred to in the preceding resolution (printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904-1937 description ends , xxii, 47–54; also, xxxi, 715–25). In DLC: TJ Papers, 11: 1780–5, there is a copy of the 11-page printed pamphlet embracing the first and third items of the enclosures, with notation “No. 3” and “Translation of No. 1” on pages  and 6 respectively, and bearing a few minor corrections, one or two in TJ’s hand (see JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904-1937 description ends , xxvii, 723, No. 442). (4) Copy of Jay’s report to Congress of 4 July 1785 in which he analyzed the differences between the scheme as approved by Congress and the convention as negotiated by Franklin; printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904-1937 description ends , xxix, 500–15 (a copy of the 9-page printed pamphlet embodying this report is in DLC: 13: 2215–9 and this was evidently the copy enclosed by Jay). (5) Copy of the resolution of Congress instructing TJ to reopen negotiations on the basis of this report as approved by Congress on 3 Oct. 1786 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904-1937 description ends , xxxi, 712–3).
For the protracted and delicate negotiations on this matter, see S. F. Bemis, “John Jay,” in Bemis, ed., American Secretaries of State, i, 253–9; Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , viii, No. 379, note 5.