John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia April 19. 1794
My dearest Friend
Senate has been three days in debate upon the Appointment of Mr Jay, to go to London. It has this day been determined in his favour 18 vs. 8.1
You cannot imagine what horror some Persons are in, least Peace Should continue. The Prospect of Peace throws them into Distress. Their Countenances lengthen at the least opening of an Appearance of it. Glancing Gleams of Joy beam from thier Faces whenever all Possibility of it seems to be cutt off.— You can divine the Secret source of those Feelings as well as I.
The opposition to Mr Jay has been quickened by Motives which always influence every Thing in an Elective Government. Pretexts, are never wanting to ingenious Men. But the Views of all the principal Parties are always directed to the Election of the first Magistrate. If Jay Should Succeed, it will recommend him to the Choice of the People for President as soon as a Vacancy shall happen. This will weaken the hopes of the Southern states for Jefferson. This I beleive to be the Secret Motive of the opposition to him though other Things were alledged as ostensible Reasons: such as His Monarchical Principles, his Indifference about the Navigation of the Missisippi, his Attachment to England his Aversion to France, none of which are well founded, and his holding the office of C. J &c2
The Day is a good omen: may the gentle Zephers waft him to his Destination and the Blessing of Heaven succeed his virtuous Endeavours to preserve Peace.— I am So well Satisfied with this measure that I shall run the venture to ask leave to go home, if Congress determines to sitt beyond the middle of May.
Mr Adams is to be Governor, it Seems by a great Majority of the People: and I am not Surprized at it.— I should have thought human Nature dead in the Massachusetts if it had been otherwise. I expect now he will be less antifœderal. Gill is to be Lt.— We will go to Princetown again to congratulate him.— I thought however that Gerry would have been the Man.
We are illtreated by Britain, and You and I know it is owing to a national Insolence against Us. If They force Us into a War, it is my firm faith that they will be chastised for it a Second time worse than the first.— I am with / an Affection too tender to be expressed your
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “April 19 1794.”
1. By early April, George Washington had begun seriously to consider sending an envoy to Britain to make another attempt to negotiate an Anglo-American commercial treaty. The growing threat of war made this mission more pressing, though its goal was also to address the fact that neither side had lived up to the terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris. Washington initially considered several people for the post, including JA, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Jay. Washington eventually settled on Jay as the best option and offered it to him on 15 April. Jay accepted the next day, and Washington immediately submitted his name to the Senate, who approved it on 19 April (Stahr, John Jay, description begins Walter Stahr, John Jay: Founding Father, New York, 2005. description ends p. 313–317; Hamilton, Papers, description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett, Jacob E. Cooke, and others, New York, 1961–1987; 27 vols. description ends 16:261–265).
2. Democratic-Republicans and Southerners had numerous objections to Jay’s nomination. He was already chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court—which meant he would hold posts in two separate branches of government—and Jay’s previous work as a diplomat during the Revolution and as secretary for foreign affairs under the Articles of Confederation also brought him criticism. Specifically, some felt he had behaved too warmly toward Don Diego de Gardoqui during negotiations with Spain in 1785 and had been too willing to compromise with the Spanish over navigation of the Mississippi River (Monaghan, John Jay, description begins Frank Monaghan, John Jay, Defender of Liberty, New York and Indianapolis, 1935. description ends p. 256–259, 367).