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The American Commissioners to John Jay, 11 May 1785

The American Commissioners to John Jay

Paris May 11th. 17851

Sir

Our last letter to you was dated April 13. 1785. and went by the packet of that month from l’Orient. Since that date the Letter No. 1. a. directed to Dtr Franklin enclosing those marked No. 1. b & c. and also the paper No. 2. have come to hand.2 These relate to supplies furnished by Mr Harrison3 to the crew of the ship Betsy taken by the Emperor of Morocco, on which subject Congress will be pleased to make known their pleasure to Mr Harrison or Mr Carmichael; they relate further to the general affairs of the Barbary States. A letter from the Marshal de Castries forwarded to us by the Count de Vergennes, marked No. 3. a. b. will shew the opinion of that Minister on the best method of conducting a treaty with those States.4 As we are as yet uninstructed from what sources to call for the monies necessary for conducting & concluding treaties with them, and no step can be taken but with cash in hand we await orders on this subject, and in the mean time wish to keep matters with the Emperor of Morocco suspended in their present state. The attention of Congress will have been called to this circumstance by our letter of Novr 11. and several letters subsequent to that date.5

As it is always well to know the dispositions of our neighbours, we enclose the letter No. 4. from a refugee of Louisiana to Doctr. Franklin—it contains moreover a proposition for the consideration of Congress.6

No. 5. a. and b. are a counterproject, with a letter covering it, from the Chargé des Affaires for Tuscany at this court. As some of the alterations of our draught which the counterproject proposes required explanations these have been desired & obtained in verbal conferences with Mr Favi. In consequence of these we shall immediately communicate to him in writing our dispositions on the Several parts of it.7

The letter No. 6. from the Baron de Thulemeier, received the 9th. instant contains the decisions of the King of Prussia on our last propositions. We shall close with him on the ground established in the several papers which have passed between us, and take immediate measures for putting the last hand to this treaty.8

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

John Adams.—
B. Franklin
Th: Jefferson9

RC in David Humphreys’ hand, and enclosures (PCC, No. 86, f. 215–249); internal address: “The Honble / John Jay Esqr. / Secry for Foreign Affairs / &c. &c. &c.

1Congress’ dispatch book indicates that this letter reached New York on 19 July (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 132).

2No. 1 was a 15 April letter from William Carmichael to Benjamin Franklin, which enclosed a copy of an 11 March letter from Webster Blount, Dutch consul general to Morocco, to the Dutch ambassador to Spain, Count Jacob Godefroy van Rechteren. Both men described their efforts to free the crew of the Betsy (Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 8:83–84; PCC, No. 86, f. 243–249; Repertorium description begins Ludwig Bittner and others, eds., Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder seit dem Westfälischen Frieden (1648), Oldenburg, 1936–1965; 3 vols. description ends , 3:266, 269). No. 2 was a list of presents made to the Dey of Algiers, which had been enclosed in Carmichael’s 4 April letter to Thomas Jefferson (PCC, No. 98, f. 226–231; Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 8:69–70).

3This was Richard Hanson Harrison of Alexandria, Va., then residing at Cádiz, Spain (Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 7:549).

4No. 3 was the Comte de Vergennes’ letter of 28 April and its enclosed 24 April letter to him from the Marquis de Castries, minister of marine. Castries’ letter proceeded directly from the commissioners’ 28 March letter to Vergennes seeking advice regarding negotiations with Morocco. Vergennes submitted the Americans’ request to Castries as the person responsible for French relations with the Barbary States, and in his reply to Vergennes, Castries recommended among other things, that the United States appoint a consul to conduct any negotiations (vol. 16:579–581; PCC, No. 86, f. 231–238).

5Vol. 16:420–427.

6No. 4 was a letter dated 14 April from Hilaire de Genevaux, a Capuchin monk long resident in Louisiana. He proposed that in order to help prevent Spanish persecution of the French living in Spanish Louisiana, the United States permit a French settlement on the eastern bank of the Mississippi, which, according to the terms of the 1783 peace treaty, was now U.S. territory (PCC, 86, f. 219–225).

7For No. 5, see Francesco Favi’s letter of 26 April 1785, above, and for the enclosed “counterproject” of a Tuscan-American treaty and subsequent efforts to conclude such an agreement, see note 1 to that letter. The commissioners, Franklin and Jefferson, wrote to Favi on 8 June, enclosing their observations on the proposed Tuscan revisions to the draft treaty (Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 8:187–195).

8No. 6 was Thulemeier’s letter to the commissioners of 3 May, above. For the 26 May reply of the commissioners (Franklin and Jefferson), see note 4 to that letter, above.

9Signatures in the hands of JA, Franklin, and Jefferson.

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