Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Bingham, 30 July 1785

From William Bingham

Hague July 30th. 1785


Intending to remain some Time at Beuvelles on my Return from Spa, I shall pay my Respects to the french Minister at that Court, and shall be much indebted to you for a Letter of Introduction to him, which you will please to address under Cover to me, to the Care of Monsieur J. C. de Bay at Beuvelles.

I hope you will excuse the Trouble I shall occasion you, and that you will be assured of my entertaining a proper Sense of this Act of Civility.

Your Intelligence from America I imagine is too regular, to admit of any Prospect of Communications on my Part, not being anticipated, by Similar advices.

My last Letters mention, that the Inhabitants of the trading Towns of America, are entering into very Spirited (and in some places, violent) Measures, to operate the Exclusion of British Factors and British Shipping and that many of the Legislatures, in Compliance with Memorials from their Constituents, were about vesting in Congress, such Powers as were deemed necessary for the regulation of foreign Trade.

That the Distresses of the Country were very great, arising from the immense Importations from Europe, and the relatively small value of the American Exports.

Mr. Jay writes me, in June, that “the Frontier Posts still had British Garrisons, and that Congress was very impatient to hear, why they were not evacuated; that federal Ideas were daily gaining Ground, which would probably influence the States to extend the Powers of Congress, and thereby enable them to resent European Restrictions; that a Rage for emigrating to the Western Country prevailed, and that the seeds of a great People were daily planting beyond the Mountains.”

I have the Honor to be with Respect & Esteem Sir Your obed. hble. Serv.,

Wm. Bingham

RC (DLC); endorsed.

The letter from Mr. Jay and that from Bingham which it acknowledged were letters whose unrevealed passages would have interested, but not surprised, TJ. On 16 Oct. 1784 Bingham wrote from Paris: “The British seem to recede every day more and more from the paths to reconciliation. A certain nation, to whom we are indebted for political favours, will endeavour to cherish this disposition, as she is sure to benefit by such growing feuds and divisions. From the observations I have made since my arrival here, I can discover the necessity of a very complying conduct on the part of those Americans who have public business to transact with this court… . No one is better acquainted than you are with the system of this court, and no one is more jealous of their country’s honour, in essential points. You may well imagine, then, that your appointment was not regarded with satisfaction, nor will the congratulations that you will receive on it from certain persons be sincere.” To this allusion, which Jay well understood, he replied on 31 May 1785, in the letter that Bingham quoted from here: “Your observations in France, respecting a certain event, coincide exactly with what I expected on that subject” (William Jay, ed., Life of John Jay, ii, 165–6).

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