John Jay Papers

To John Jay from Richard Price, 22 October 1784

From Richard Price

[Newington Green Oct 22d 1784]

Dr Price presents his very respectful complimts: to Mr Jay, and requests the favour of his acceptance and disposal of these pamphlets.1 He recollects with pleasure the opportunities he had of conversing with Mr Jay while in London, and wishes his life and health may be long continued to assist in making his country happy within itself and an example and blessing to the world.

A translation into English of Mr Turgot’s letter will in a few months be convey’d to America by the Count de Mirabeau in a tract on the order of Cincinnatus and hereditary nobility.2

AL, NNC (EJ: 13032). Addressed: “Mr. Jay / New York”. Endorsed: “ . . . ansd. 24 Aug. 1785”.

1Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, and the Means of Making it a Benefit to the World, a pamphlet that Price published in London in 1784.

2H. G. R. de Mirabeau, Considérations sur l’order de Cincinnatus ou imitation d’un pamphlet anglo-américan (London, 1784). Mirabeau’s pamphlet was in imitation of Considerations on the Society or Order of Cincinnati: lately instituted by the major-generals, brigadier-generals, and other officers of the American army. Proving that it creates a race of hereditary patricians, or nobility. Interspersed with remarks on its consequences to the freedom and happiness of the Republic. Addressed to the people of South-Carolina, and their representatives by “Cassius” (Philadelphia, 1783), a pamphlet attributed to Ædanus Burke. At this time BF was also circulating copies of Mirabeau’s piece. See BF to Benjamin Vaughan, 7 Sept. 1784, BFS description begins Alfred H. Smyth, ed., The Writings of Benjamin Franklin (10 vols.; New York, 1905–7). description ends , 9: 269–70. Turgot, Louis XVI’s principal minister from 1774 to 1776, had written Price in March 1778 stating his disappointment that the American state constitutions had adopted too many English ideas. He opposed the separation of powers and wanted the role of government reduced to a minimum. Turgot’s letter was included in both Price’s Observations and in Mirabeau’s Considérations.

For the criticism abroad aroused by the aristocratic character of the Order of the Cincinnati, see also JJ to Elbridge Gerry, 19 Feb. 1784, above. According to JJ’s son and biographer William Jay, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (the vice president of the New York Society) invited JJ to accept honorary membership in the Society of the Cincinnati, but he declined. “He disapproved of the Society, thinking it inconsistent with propriety and delicacy for the members to bestow upon themselves honorary badges and distinctions.” 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 , 1: 188.

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