From Robert R. Livingston
Philadelphia, 15th: Septr. 1782
I have been favoured with your Letters from the 19th: April to the 5th: July, by the Heer Adams.2 How impatiently they have been expected you will be able to judge by mine of the 29th: Ulto: which you will receive with this. The events they announce are considered as of the utmost importance here, and have been directed to be officially communicated to the different States.
Your loan is approved, and the ratification herewith transmitted.3 The resolution which will accompany this will be a sufficient Spur to induce you to exert every nerve to get it filled—for if the War continues, it will be essential to our Exertions, if it should terminate, it will not be less necessary to enable us to discharge our Army—in every view it is necessary.4 In the present situation of the states, money can be raised but slowly by taxation, new systems must be introduced, which cannot without difficulty be adopted in the hurry, confusion and distress of a war. They will however be adopted. Congress are constantly employed in discussing the means for a regular payment of the interest and The gradual discharge of the principal of their debt.
The other resolution arises from the difficulty of ascertaining what are really the funds of the United states in Europe, when more than one person can dispose of them.5 I am satisfied this resolution will meet your approbation, from the rule which you say you have prescribed to yourself. It will, I dare say, be equally agreeable to all our Ministers to be relieved from the troublesome task of bankers to the United states.
You mention the negociations on the tapis at Paris, but so slightly as to leave us in the dark relative to what they may be (presuming, as indeed you might have done on probable grounds) that we Should receive information on that head from Doctor Franklin, but unfortunately we have learnt nothing upon that subject from him. I must beg therefore, in order to open as many channels of information as possible that you would give me not only the state of your own affairs, but every other interesting information which you may receive from our other ministers, or thro’ any other authentic Channel.6
I observe your last Memorial or Note is in French.7 Would it not be expedient and more for our honor, if all our Ministers at every Court were to speak the Language of our own Country, which would at least preserve them from errors which an equivocal term might lead them into. I mention this merely as a hint which is submitted to your judgment.
We are now informed that the Aigle and the Gloire, two frigates from France have just entered the Capes, closely pursued by a British Ship of the line and three frigates. It is strongly apprehended from the situation in which8 that they must either be destroyed, or fall into the Enemies hands.
Pigot is arrived at New York, with 26 sail of the line. The late changes in Administration seem to have made such a change here that I much doubt whether they will quit us this fall, at least till they hear again from England, tho’ they certainly were making every disposition for it before. I will keep this Letter open till I hear the fate of the frigates, and know whether our dispatches by them can be preserved.
Mr Dumas’s application is before Congress. They may possibly appoint him Secretary to the Legation, which I heartily wish they may, as he certainly has been an assiduous and faithful servant. But there is no probability of their going further, as they would not chuse to appoint any but an American to so important an office as that of Chargé des affaires—Nor will their present system of oeconomy permit them to make so great an addition to his Salary as you mention, which is much greater than is usually allowed to secretaries, as their Circumstances require it to be less.9
The Aigle, Capt la Touche has been driven on shore and is lost within the Capes. Her dispatches, money and passengers have however happily been saved. The Gloire, the other frigate has arrived at Chester. I find no dispatches from you among the Letters that have come to hand, nor any thing from Holland, but duplicates of Letters from Mr Dumas. Congress yesterday passed the annexed resolution, which needs no comments.10
I am, sir, with great respect & esteem Your most obed humble Servt:
Robt R Livingston
RC and enclosures (MHi: John Adams, Embassy MSS); endorsed: “no. 11.”; by John Thaxter: “Mr. Livingston 15. & 18th. Septr. 1782.” For the documents enclosed with this letter, see notes 3, 4, 5, and 6 .
1. In his reply to this letter of 6 Nov. (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, ed. Francis Wharton, Washington, D.C., 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 5:854), JA indicated that he had received the triplicate two days earlier, on the 4th, but see note 3.
2. These letters, which Livingston sent to Congress on 11 Sept. (PCC, No. 185, III, f. 41), included those of 19, 22, 23 (1 and 2), and 24 April (vol. 12:420–428, 441–443, 450–452, 458–459); 16 May; 9 and 14 June; and 5 July (1st), all above. Not mentioned in Congress’ register of letters received, but which Livingston’s letter clearly indicated had arrived, was JA’s second letter of 5 July, above, with which were enclosed copies of the loan contract to be ratified by Congress.
3. Congress ratified the five loan contracts enclosed with JA’s 2d letter of 5 July, above, on 14 Sept. (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington C. Ford and others, Washington, D.C., 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 23:579–580). JA sent the ratified contracts off to Wilhem & Jan Willink, Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst, and De la Lande & Fynje enclosed in a letter of 5 Nov. in which he indicated that he had received them that day (LbC, Adams Papers).
4. This actually refers to three resolutions adopted on 14 Sept. that authorized the borrowing of an additional four million dollars in Europe, directed that the authorization be sent to Benjamin Franklin and JA, and instructed Franklin to apply to the French government for the loan’s implementation (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington C. Ford and others, Washington, D.C., 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 23:578–579).
5. This resolution, also adopted on 14 Sept., informed the ministers in Europe that the superintendent of finance was responsible for the disposition of all funds obtained in Europe as was determined by congressional appropriations (same, p. 576).
6. Possibly in response to Livingston’s concern expressed here, Congress resolved on 17 Sept. that JA, Franklin, Jay, and Laurens were all expected to participate in the peace negotiations (same, p. 585). An extract from the minutes containing the 17 Sept. resolution is in the Adams Papers and is filmed under that date (Microfilms, Reel No. 353).
7. This is JA’s memorial of 23 April to the States General in which he formally proposed a Dutch-American commercial treaty. He included the French text of the memorial in his letter to Livingston of 23 April (vol. 12:450–451).
8. A copying error occurs at this point because two copies of this letter in the Adams Papers read, “in which they were left, that they must either be destroyed. . . .”