Report Revising John Adams’ Instructions
MS (LC: Madison Papers). In JM’s hand. Docketed by him: “Report of the Committee consisting of Mr. Madison, Mr. Duane, & Mr. Clymer, relative to the instructions of Mr. Adams—July 5th. 1782.” Above these words JM wrote “for Appendix.” Also as part of the docket, Charles Thomson noted, “8th. Last part recommitted.” If JM thereby meant to recommend the inclusion of the report in the appendix of the journal when published, his suggestion was not followed. See Journals of Congress, and of the United States in Congress Assembled. For the Year 1781 [–1782]. Published by Order of Congress. Volume VII (Philadelphia: Printed by David C. Claypoole. M,DCC,LXXXI ).
[5 July 1782]
The Comittee appointed to revise the instructions of Mr Adams &c,1 recommend.
That the Minister Plenipo: at the Hague be instructed, in case no definitive steps shall have been taken by him in the proposed Treaty of amity and commerce with the U. Provinces, to engage them if possible, in an express stipulation to furnish an[n]ually to the U. States, a loan of , with an interest not exceeding , the principal not to be demanded within years2 after the conclusion of the war, and the payment of the interest to be suspended during the war; or in case the U. Provinces shall refuse to stipulate such a loan, that the said Minister endeavor to obtain3 their engagement, to authorise & countenance a loan from their subjects4 & to guaranty if requisite the due payment of the interest & repayment of the principal by the U. States.5
That in case Definitive steps shall have been taken in the proposed Treaty, the said Minister Plenipo: be instructed still to represent to the U. Provinces the great advantages which would result as well to them as to the U. States from such pecuniary succours to the latter as would give stability to their finances, and energy to their measures against the common Enemy:6 and to use7 his utmost address to prevail on them either to grant directly the loan abovementioned, or to support by such responsibility as may be8 necessary the applications made9 to individuals for that purpose, on the part of the U. States.10
The11 Committee beg leave to observe that in the Treaty between the U. S. & M. C. Majesty, it is among other things stipulated that the subjects of the parties “may by testament, donation, or otherwise dispose of their goods immoveable as well as moveable, in favor of such persons, as to them shall seem good, and the heirs of the respective subjects, wheresoever residing, may succeed them ab intestat[o] without being obliged to obtain letters of naturalization”:12
That the plan of the proposed Treaty between the U. S. & the U. P. with which the Minister Plenipo: of the former is furnished, extends this privilege to the subjects of the13 latter, under a general stipulation of the same privileges as are allowed to the most favor’d nation:14
That as it is not probable that the U. P. have granted, or will grant this privilege even to the most favored nation, the said treaty if executed in its present form, will engage the U. S. in a concession which will not be reciprocal: and which15 if reciprocal, would not be equally beneficial to the parties.
That in the opinion of the Committee it is at least questionable whether the extension of this privilege to the subjects of other powers than of France, and Spain16 will not encroach on the rights reserved by the federal articles to the individual States:17
That without enquiring into the inconveniences which may result from an indefinite permission to aliens to hold & transmit real estates within this Country the apparent reluctance18 of some of the States, notwith[standing] the special clause in the federal articles with respect to France19 & their favorable disposition towards her, to pass the proper laws on this subject,20 renders their compliance in case of21 a similar engagement to another power, extremely precarious:
That in order to avoid these difficulties & consequences, the Committee22 recommend further:
That the sd. Minister Plenipo: be instructed in case no steps [inco]nsistent therewith, shall have been taken, to decline stipulating to the subjects of the U. Provinces any right or privilege of holding any real estates23 within the U. States.24
1. Congress had appointed the committee on 3 July (NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 40). On 29 December 1780, for John Adams’ guidance, Congress had adopted a detailed “Plan of a Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States of America and the United Provinces of the Low Countries” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XVIII, 1206–17).
2. On 8 July 1782, without filling in the blanks, Congress referred the first two paragraphs of these recommendations to Robert Morris (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 374).
3. This word replaced a deleted “engage.”
4. Taking advantage of “the express” that “is to go off this evening,” Livingston wrote unofficially to Adams on 4 July: “I need not urge the propriety of availing yourself of your present situation to procure a loan. You may easily convince the government of the validity of the security which it is in the power of a growing country, as yet very little encumbered with debt, to give. That security will derive new force from our being a commercial people, with whom public credit is almost invariably preserved with the most scrupulous attention.& I see the people of the United Provinces are struck with the importance of forming a commercial connexion with us when ours with Britain is dissolved” (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 592–93).
5. Instead of “by,” JM at first wrote and crossed out “on the part of.” The committee proposed that Adams seek to have the government of the Netherlands guarantee her citizens who might lend money to the United States against loss resulting from default by Congress in paying the stipulated interest or in repaying the principal.
6. In the letter quoted in n. 4, Livingston had assured Adams that a loan from the Netherlands of “a twentieth part of what Great Britain expends annually in her attempt to enslave us, would be more than sufficient to enable us to defeat all her attempts, and to place our affairs on the most respectable footing.”
7. Before this word, JM struck out “urge them to.”
8. Between “support by” and this word, JM originally wrote “any responsibility he thinks.”
9. After “made,” JM deleted “for that.”
10. On this same day Adams was sending to Livingston copies of a contract dated 11 June 1782 but ineffective until ratified by Congress. Under the terms of this proposal, three banking houses of Amsterdam offered to lend five million guilders to Congress for ten years at an annual charge of 5.5 per cent. Adams remarked in his letter, “If we get a million and a half by Christmas, it will be more than I expect” (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 594–95). Congress agreed to the contract on 14 September 1782 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 579–80).
11. On 8 July Congress recommitted the remainder of this report. See Report on Treaty with the Netherlands, 12 July 1782.
12. The portion of this paragraph enclosed in quotation marks is partially an extract from, and partially a paraphrase of, Article XIII of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and France (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XI, 429–30). The expression “ab intestato” means “without a will.”
13. After “the,” JM wrote and deleted, in succession, “parties” and “former.”
14. Article VI of the “Plan of a Treaty” with the Netherlands (n. 1, above) corresponds in subject matter with Article XIII of the treaty with France (n. 12, above). There was one significant difference, however, between the two articles. The latter, unlike the former, qualified the reciprocal privileges extended to the citizens of the two countries by stipulating that although the nationals of either could inherit property in the other, they might be prohibited by France, the United States, or the individual American states from residing in the country where their property lay (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XI, 430; XVIII, 1209–10).
15. After this word, JM heavily deleted a word which appears to have been “even.”
16. The words “and Spain,” were interlineated by someone other than JM.
17. See n. 14, above. In this paragraph JM was referring to the portion of the sixth of the Articles of Confederation which reads: “No state shall lay any imposts or duties, which may interfere with any stipulations in treaties, entered into by the united states in congress assembled, with any king, prince or state, in pursuance of any treaties already proposed by congress, to the courts of France and Spain” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 216). This clearly did not bar Congress from extending to other governments every reciprocity already exchanged with France. In drafting the paragraph, JM also had in mind the second of the Articles of Confederation, which reserved to each state “every Power, Jurisdiction and right” not “expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 214).
18. Between “within” and this word, JM at first wrote “the U. States the.” He changed the first “the” to “this,” substituted “Country” for “U. States,” and interlineated “apparent.”
19. “France” was substituted by JM for a deleted passage which appears to have been “the Treaty with his M. C. Mjsty.”
20. Virginia was not among the states to which JM referred. Besides ratifying the Treaty of Alliance and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France, the General Assembly had not discriminated by law against subjects of friendly powers engaging in commerce, buying, selling, and bequeathing property, or seeking access to the courts of the Commonwealth (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1779, pp. 32, 34; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , IX, 207–8; X, 122–23, 129–30; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , II, 289–90; III, 11–12). See also Randolph to JM, 21–24 May 1782, n. 22.
21. JM interlineated “their compliance in case of” over a deleted “it extremely probable.”
22. After “Committee,” two words are heavily deleted. They may have been “resolved to.”
23. Following this word, three excised words appear to have been “in fee simple.”
24. On 17 July 1782 Congress rejected a revised version of the last seven paragraphs of this report. See above, n. 11. On 23 January 1783 Congress ratified the treaty of amity and commerce which John Adams had concluded with the Dutch on 8 October 1782. Article VI provided that citizens of either republic could inherit “sucessions,” real or personal, devised or left ab intestato in the other (Samuel F. Bemis, Diplomacy of the American Revolution, pp. 169–71; Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 803–5; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 64–82). The formal exchange was made at The Hague on 23 June 1783 (Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States, II, 59).