Notice of John Jay’s Powers as Envoy Extraordinary to Great Britain
[Philadelphia, 6 May 1794]
George Washington President of the United States of America. To all, and singular, whom these Presents shall concern—Greeting.
Know Ye, That for the purpose of confirming between the United States of America, and his Britannic Majesty perfect harmony and a good correspondence, and of removing all grounds of dissatisfaction, and from a special Trust and Confidence in the Integrity, Prudence, and abilities of John Jay, Chief Justice of the United States, I have nominated, and by and with the advice and Consent of the Senate appointed, the said John Jay Envoy Extraordinary of the United States to his Britannic Majesty, hereby giving and granting to him full and all manner of Power and Authority, as also a general and special command, at the Court of his said Majesty, for and in the name of the United States, to meet and confer with the Ministers, Commissioners, or Deputies of his said Majesty, being furnished with sufficient authority; whether singly and separately, or collectively and jointly; and with them to agree, treat, consult, and negotiate of, and concerning all matters and causes of difference, subsisting between the United States and his said Majesty; whether the same respect the inexecution or infraction of the Armistice declaring a cessation of hostilities between the United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, at Versailles on the 20th day of January 1783, or the definitive Treaty of Peace made between the United States and his said Majesty, on the third day of September 1783,1 or the instructions of his said Majesty to his Ships of War and Privateers, of whatsoever date, but especially on the 8th of June 1793, the 6th of November 1793, and the 8th of January 1794;2 or restitution or compensation in the cases of capture or seizure, made of the Property of the Citizens of the United States, by the said Ships of War and Privateers; or retribution for the injuries received therefrom by any Citizen of the United States. And also of and concerning the general Commerce between the United States and the Kingdoms and Dominions of his Britannic Majesty, wheresoever they may be, and to conclude and sign a Treaty or Treaties, Convention or Conventions touching the premises, transmitting the same to the President of the United States of America for his final ratification by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate of the United States.
In Testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed. Given under my hand at the City of Philadelphia this Sixth day of May one thousand seven hundred and ninety four and of the Independence of the United States of America the Eighteenth.
By the President of United States
Secretary of State
DS, NNC: Jay Papers; copy, DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Great Britain.
Four documents describing Jay’s powers were issued on this date, of which the preceding is the most complete, authorizing him to negotiate about violations of the peace treaty, the British instructions to privateers, and general commerce between the two countries. Each of the other three documents authorizes Jay to take up one of those three issues and omits the passages about the other problems. With only one minor alteration—"relative to" in place of "whether the same respect"—the documents about the peace treaty and the instructions otherwise preserve the language of this document. The document stating Jay’s power to negotiate about commerce greatly shortens the preamble and authorizes him to negotiate "with any person or persons duly authorized by his said Majesty," but also uses much of the same language (NNC: Jay Papers; see also ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:471-72).
Letters of credence announcing Jay’s appointment were addressed to George III of Great Britain and to Queen Charlotte Sophia. The letter to the king, dated 5 May, read: "Being desirous of confirming between your Majesty and the United States of America perfect Harmony and a good correspondence, and of removing all grounds of dissatisfaction by a friendly discussion; I have made choice of, John Jay, Chief Justice of the United States to repair to your Majesty in the quality of their Envoy Extraordinary. From a knowledge of his fidelity, probity, and good conduct, I have entire confidence, that he will render himself acceptable to your Majesty, and will contribute to the utmost of his power to preserve and advance on all occasions the interest and happiness of the two Nations. I beseech your Majesty therefore, to give full credence to whatever he shall say to you on the part of the United States, and most of all when he shall assure you of their friendship and wishes for your prosperity. And I p<ra>y God to have your Majesty in his safe and holy keeping" (DS, P.R.O.).
The letter to the queen was dated 6 May: "I have named John Jay, Chief Justice of the United States of America Envoy Extraordinary to your Royal Consort. My knowledge of his good qualities gives me full confidence that he will so conduct himself, as to merit your esteem. I pray therefore, that you yield entire Credence to the assurances, which he will bear to you, of our friendship; and that God may always have you, Madam, our good friend, in his holy keeping" (DS, UkWC-A).
1. For the armistice and treaty, see Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 108-14, 151-57.
2. The British order in council of 8 June 1793 authorized the stoppage of any vessels carrying corn, flour, or meal to any port under French control and the seizure of all ships, whatever their cargo, bound to blockaded ports. The order of 6 Nov. 1793 authorized the detention for trial of "all ships laden with goods the produce of any colony belonging to France, or carrying provisions or other supplies for the use of any such colony." The order of 8 Jan. 1794 revoked the instructions of 6 Nov. but substituted regulations directing the capture of vessels engaged in trade with the French West Indies (see Thomas Jefferson to GW, 30 Aug. 1793, n.1, and Joseph Brown to GW, 2 April, 1794, n.5; see also ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:240, 430-31).
3. The remainder of the DS is in Edmund Randolph’s hand.