John Jay Papers

To John Jay from William Bingham, 16 October 1784

From William Bingham

Paris October 16th 1784

My dear Sir

I have just heard that a French Packet is on the Point of departure for New York—

I cannot permit it to Sail, without forwarding a few Lines, expressive of the Pleasure I received, on hearing of your Safe Arrival

The Services you have been enabled to render your Country, will naturally Secure you a very welcome Reception;—the only Circumstance that can be productive of disagreable Sensations, is the Situation of your State, exposed to Such political Convulsions— However, I hope it will Soon be restored to Harmony & Good Temper—

I hope your public Appointment will prove an agreeable Surprize to you on your Arrival, & that you will be able to reconcile your Acceptance of it, to every Consideration of private Interest & Convenience, as well as of public Duty—

You will probably have heard, before this reaches you, of Mr Hartley’s Recall, & the little Appearance of the Objects of that Commission being accomplished;— No Person has been Since appointed in his Place;— To those, who have Studied the British Politics for Some Time past, this Manoeuvre will not be Surprizing;— The British Seem to recede every Day, more & more from the Paths to Conciliation;—the Americans that have lately arrived here, assure me, that their Residence in G Britain became insupportable—

A certain Nation, to whom we are indebted for political Favors, will endeavor to cherish this Disposition, as She is Sure to benefit by Such growing Feuds & Divisions—

From the Observation I have made Since my Arrival here, I can discover the Necessity of very complying Conduct on the part of those Americans, who have public Business to transact with this Court;— Such Conformity to the Opinions of others, is not easily reconcileable to the Feelings & manly Deportment of Republicans.

No one is better acquainted than you are with the System of this Court, & no one is more jealous of their Country’s Honor in essential Points— You may well imagine then, that your Appointment was not regarded with Satisfaction by certain Persons, nor will the Congratulations that you will receive on it, be Sincere—1

Every Effort will be made to procure Embassies to those Courts, that are in intimate Connection & Alliance with that of Versailles, & to retard every other Nomination;— How far a certain Noblemans2 Presence in America may be instrumental in forwarding this System, or, how far the Object of his Voyage may be to favor the political Views of his Country, you can form a better opinion of than I can— But be his Intents wicked or charitable, I never desire to See any Foreigner possess So much Influence in America, as to be able to biass the Sentiments of any of our public Characters—

There is at present the greatest Appearance of an immediate Rupture between the Emperor & the United Provinces;—3 the former declared that any Interruption that his Flag might experience from the Dutch, in the Navigation of the Scheld, would be deemed by him, as Declaration of War— Accounts have just been received, that an Imperial Vessel, in attempting to pass, was fired at, & forced to bring to, under the Dutch Admirals Stern—

The Dutch are determined to endure all the Horrors of War, rather than concede the Points the Emperor insists upon—

France & Prussia, it is conjectured, will join their Forces in their Defence, which will be an Overmatch for the Emperor;— From the Connections, & detached Possessions of these Powers, it is very probable that the Flames of War may be very diffusively Spread thro’ Europe—

G Britain is too destitute of Resources to Suffer herself to be involved in this, or any other Contest;— I cannot account for the Conduct of her Ministers in not forwarding Orders to Surrender the Forts &c in Canada, that by Treaty She relinquished— Your State, from its local Situation, being favorably placed for carrying on the Fur Trade, must Suffer from being deprived of this Intercourse—

I Shall be in England in February, & Should the Terms of the Treaty not be complied with, & it Should be thought necessary to have an Explanation on the Subject, any Services I can render, Shall be freely devoted to the Purpose—

Please to make my best Compliments & Congratulations to Mrs Jay on her Arrival amongst her Friends;— Mrs Bingham4 regretted exceedingly her Departure, as She anticipated the great pleasure She would derive from her Society in Paris— With great Esteem & Regard.

ALS, marked “Copy”, enclosed in Bingham to JJ, 12 Feb. 1785, NNC (EJ: 13031). See JJ’s 31 May 1785 reply, Dft, NNC (EJ: 7480).

1See, for example, Barbé-Marbois to JJ, 2 Aug. 1784, above.

2Lafayette. See below, Lafayette to JJ, 25 Nov. 1784.

3Determined to open the Scheldt to the shipping of the Austrian Netherlands and to pressure the United Provinces into negotiating some minor territorial issues, Emperor Joseph II dispatched a ship up the Scheldt in April 1784 and again in October. The Dutch blocked passage on both occasions, with an ensuing rupture in diplomatic relations.

4Anne Willing Bingham. On learning of Bingham’s marriage in 1780, JJ had congratulated him “on the happiness you derive from the most delicate of all connexions with one of the most lovely of her sex. As I am always pleased to find those happy who I think deserve to be so, it gave me very sensible satisfaction to hear that you had both made so judicious a choice, notwithstanding the veil which that sweet fascinating passion often draws over our eyes and understanding.” JJ to Bingham, 8 Sept. 1781, in WJ description begins William Jay, ed., The Life of John Jay: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers (2 vols.; New York, 1833) description ends , 2: 88–90.

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