The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others
Passy Feb. 1. 1779
We have this Moment the Honour of your Letter of the Twenty Eighth of last Month, and shall give the earliest Attention to its important Contents, but We are unhappy to think that it is not in our Power to give effectual Relief.
By the Treaty Consuls &c. are to be appointed, in the respective Ports,1 But the Power of appointing, Such important officers is wholly with the Congress—they have not delegated it to Us, and it is not probable that they will delegate it at all, at least it is our Opinion that so important a Trust, would not be so safe in any other Hands, as in theirs. We therefore cannot presume to appoint any such officers. Indeed We have not Power to appoint any officers, but Agents to execute <
our> any Orders We may have occasion to send to the seaports. Excepting that Congress, Some few days before they received the News of the Treaty passed a Resolution impowering Us to appoint commercial Agents for the united States.2 But Supposing, that this Resolution would not have been passed if they had then been apprized of the Treaty, and expecting that soon after the Ratification of the Treaty they would, appoint Consuls, We have as yet done nothing in Consequence of that Resolution.
We have long since written to Congress advising and requesting that Consuls might be appointed, and We have expected every day for Some Months, Intelligence of such appointments.
There is nothing therefore remains in our Power to do, at present for your Relief, but to lay your Letter, And the other Representation which accompanied it, before the Ministry, which We will do without Loss of Time,3 and request their Advice upon it, and their Interposition in your favour as far as they shall judge it consistent with their Characters to interfere. We have the Honour to be, with very great Respect, Gentn. your most humble servants4
LbC (Adams Papers).
1. Art. 29 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce provided for the appointment of consuls and lesser commercial functionaries, but stated that their functions would “be regulated by a particular agreement” (Miller, ed., Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, 1931–1948; 8 vols. description ends , 2:26). France appointed a vice-consul for Philadelphia in Sept. 1778 and named consuls for Maryland and South Carolina in October and November, but the United States did not name its first consul until 14 Nov. 1780, when the congress elected William Palfrey to be consul in France (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 12:948, 1066, 1098; 18:1018). Not until 14 Nov. 1788 did the United States sign a consular convention with France, thus fully implementing Art. 29 (Miller, ed., Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, 1931–1948; 8 vols. description ends , 2:228–241).
2. The resolution concerning commercial agents was adopted on 9 Feb. 1778 (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 10:139), while the Commissioners’ letter concerning the resolution and the appointment of consuls, referred to in the following paragraph, was dated 20 July (vol. 6:306–307, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 4:168–170).
3. The memorial of 28 Jan. and the enclosed statement of 25 Jan. by Josiah Darrell were sent to Sartine on either 1 or 2 Feb. (LbC, Adams Papers; Arthur Lee’s LbC, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 149).
4. Immediately following the closing was a list of those who had signed the letter of 28 Jan.