Notes on Debates
Mr. Jay’s report in favor of the admission of Phineas Bond as British Consul for the middle States, was called for by Mr. Cadwallader.1 Mr. Madison said he was far from being satisfied of the propriety of the measure: he was a friend in general to a liberal policy & admitted that the U. S. were more in the wrong in the violation of the Treaty of Peace than G. B. But still the latter was not blameless. He thought however the question turned on different considerations. 1. The facility of the U. S. in granting privileges to G. B. without a Treaty of Commerce, instead of begetting a disposition to conclude such a Treaty had been found on trial to be made a reason agst. it. 2. The indignity of G. B. in neglecting to send a public minister to the U. S. notwithstanding the lapse of time since Mr. Adams’s arrival there, gave them no titles to favors in that line; and self-respect seemed to require that the U. S. should at least proceed with distrust & reserve.
Mr. Grayson thought as the Secretary had done that it would be good policy to admit Mr. Bond, and that it could not be decently & without offence refused after the admission of Mr. Temple.2
Mr Clarke said he was at first puzzled how to vote, as he did not like the admission proposed on one hand, and on the other thought it not decent to refuse it after the admission of Mr. Temple. On reflecting however that Mr. Temple was admitted at a time when hopes were entertained of a Commercial Treaty which had since vanished—& that the question might be postponed generally without being negatived, he should accede to the idea of doing nothing on the subject.
Mr. Varnum animadverted on the obnoxious character of Mr. Bond, and conceived that alone a sufficient reason for not admitting him. The postponement was agreed to without any overt dissent except that of Mr. Grayson.3
The delegates from N. Carolina communicated to Congress sundry papers Conspiring with the other proofs of discontent in the Western Country at the supposed surrender of the Misspi—and of hostile machinations agst. the Spaniards.
It was orderd that they should be referred to the Secry. of Foreign Affairs4 for his information. It was then moved that the papers relative to the same subjects from Virga., yesterday referred to a Committe should, after discharging the Commtee. be referred to the Office of Foreign Affrs. Mr. Clark proposed, to add “to report.” This was objected to by Mr. King, and brought on some general observations on the proceedings of Congs. in the Affair of the Mississippi. It was at length agreed that the reference sd. be made without an instruction to report.5 Mr. Pierce then observed that it had been hinted by Mr. Madison as proper to instruct the Secy. of F. Affrs. to lay before Congs. the State of his negociation with Mr. Guardoqui, and made a motion to that effect which was seconded by several at once.
Mr. King hoped Congs. would not be hurried into a decision on that point, observing that it was a very delicate one—that he did not altogether like it—and yet it was of such a nature that it might appear strange to negative it. He desired that it might at least lie over till monday.
Mr. Madison concurred in wishing the same, being persuaded, that the propriety of the motion was so clear, that nothing could produce dissent, unless it were forcing members into an unwilling decision.
The Motion was withdrawn, with notice that it would be renewed on Monday next.
1. Jay’s report of 28 Mar. 1787 is in JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 142–45. Phineas Bond (1749–1815) of Pennsylvania was a Loyalist who fled to England during the Revolution. He returned to his native state in November 1786 bearing royal commissions as British consul for the middle states and as commissary for commercial affairs throughout the U.S. Congress accepted his commission as consul, and he remained in Philadelphia in that capacity until the outbreak of the War of 1812 (Joanne L. Neel, Phineas Bond: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1786–1812 [Philadelphia, 1968], pp. 35–38, 40, 156).
2. Sir John Temple had been British consul in the U.S. since 1785. See Comments on John Temple, 1 Aug. 1782, Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (9 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 3–5.
3. On 3 May Congress, as recommended in Jay’s report, recognized Bond’s commission as consul, but refused to accept his commission as commissary (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 253–55).
4. At this point JM blocked out two lines and inserted “for his information” at a later time.
5. Nevertheless the order as printed in JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 147, included the words “to report.” Jay’s report on this subject was read before Congress on 13 Apr. (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 189–204).