The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Diplomatic Correspondence of the
American Revolution, Vol. IX, by Various

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Title: The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. IX

Author: Various

Editor: Jared Sparks

Release Date: July 18, 2009 [EBook #29438]

Language: English

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Published under the Direction of the President of the United States, from the original Manuscripts in the Department of State, conformably to a Resolution of Congress, of March 27th, 1818.








Steam Power Press—W. L. Lewis' Print.

No. 6, Congress Street, Boston.

[Pg v]




To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Amsterdam, November 2d, 1776,5

Sent by Mr Deane on a mission to Berlin.—Disposition of the Dutch.—Financial credit of the different powers.—Credit of the United States.—Plan for attacking the English coasts.—The conduct of Congress in relation to Portugal has made a favorable impression.—Offers of a House in Amsterdam to discount bills of Congress, drawn on certain conditions.

To William Bingham, at Martinique. Paris, June 25th to July 6th, 1777,14

Reasons for opening a correspondence with him.—Causes of the temporising policy of France.—The English loan completed at home.—Dispute between Spain and Portugal.—Warlike preparations of France and Spain.

To the President of Congress. Yorktown, June 17th, 1778,19

Receives information of his appointment as Secretary to the Commissioners.

To the President of Congress. Off Reedy Island, November 25th, 1779,19

Acknowledges the reception of certain resolutions of Congress.

To the President of Congress. Martinique, December 27th, 1779,20

Naval operations of the English and French in the West Indian Seas.

[Pg vi]To John Jay. Madrid, February 18th, 1780,21

Interview with the Count de Florida Blanca, who promises to answer Mr Jay's letter.—Advises Mr Jay to prepare for a journey to Madrid.—Mr Lee's correspondence.

To the President of Congress. Madrid, February 19th, 1780,23

Favorable reception.—Kindness of the French Ambassador and of M. Gerard.—English forces.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Aranjues, May 28th, 1780,24

Difficulty of communication.—Dispositions of the Spanish Court.—English policy in Spain.—Dispositions of the other European powers.—Bills on Mr Jay.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, July 17th, 1780,30

Mr Cumberland, English agent at Madrid.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. St Ildefonso, August 22d, 1780,32

Finances of Spain.—Mr Cumberland.—Armed neutrality.—Naval forces and operations of France and Spain.—M. Gardoqui succeeds M. Miralles.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. St Ildefonso, September 9th, 1780,38

Failure of the Spanish loan attributed to M. Necker.—Scheme of the loan.—Unsettled policy of Spain.—Armed neutrality.—The navigation of the Mississippi the chief obstacle to the opening of negotiations with Spain.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. St Ildefonso, September 25th, 1780,43

Supplies from Spain.—Conference with the Count de Florida Blanca.—The Count declares that Spain will never relinquish the exclusive navigation of the Mississippi.—Finances of the belligerent powers.—The Count de Montmorin.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, October 15th, 1780,47

The Spanish government finds it difficult to raise money.—The armed neutrality and Holland.—Revolt in Peru.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, November 28th, 1780,50

Finances and financial operations of Spain.—Vigorous preparations of England.—Spain aims at the exclusive possession of the Gulf of Mexico.—The European powers are jealous of the House of Bourbon.—Suggests the expediency in securing the alliance [Pg vii]of Spain by further concessions.—Proceedings in Holland.—The Count de Vergennes informs Mr Jay that France cannot pay the bills drawn on him.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, December 19th, 1780,56

Amount of bills drawn on Mr Jay.—Accession of Holland to the armed neutrality.—Disposition of the Emperor.—Mr Cumberland continues to reside at Madrid.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, January 4th, 1781,58

England declares war against Holland.—Supplies promised by Spain.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, January 29th, 1781,59

Offer of mediation by the German Emperor and the Empress of Russia.—Spanish policy in regard to America.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, February 22d, 1781,62

Supplies.—Imperial offer of mediation.—Russia unfavorably disposed towards England.—English preparations.—French preparations.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, March 4th, 1781,66

M. Gardoqui.—The correspondence of the American Ministers is known to the European governments, by opening the letters.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, March 11th, 1781,68

Mr Cumberland intends to leave Spain.—Naval forces of the belligerents.—Bad consequences of the mutiny of the Pennsylvania line.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Aranjues, May 25th, 1781,69

Secret armament preparing at Cadiz.—Difficulty of communicating safely with America.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Aranjues, May 26th, 1781,70

Naval operations.—Supplies granted by France.—Probable destination of the force raising in the South of Spain.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Aranjues, June 2d, 1781,72

Dismission of M. Necker disagreeable to the Court of Spain.—M. Necker not favorable to the granting of supplies to the United States.—His character.—Proposed mediation by the Court of Vienna.

[Pg viii]James Lovell to William Carmichael. Philadelphia, June 15th, 1781,74

His communications have been valuable to Congress.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. St Ildefonso, August 16th, 1781,75

Progress of the negotiations.—Loans raised by Spain.—Bills on Mr Jay.—Apprehensions that the demands of Spain may delay the general peace.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. St Ildefonso, September 28th, 1781,78

The Court promises to appoint a person to treat.—M. Del Campo.—Little prospect of a general negotiation.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, October 5th, 1781,81

No progress has been made in the negotiation.—Complaints against Commodore Gillon.—The rebellion in Peru quelled.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Madrid, November 17th, 1781,84

Arrest of an English agent.—No progress towards opening a conference with Mr Jay.—Animosity of the Irish at the Spanish Court against America.—Account of M. Cabarrus.—Spanish expedition against their Colonies.—French naval expeditions.—State of affairs in Holland and France.

Robert R. Livingston to William Carmichael. Philadelphia, December 20th, 1781,91

Mr Carmichael's communications valuable to Congress.—Commodore Gillon is not in a United States ship.—Delays of Spain beget feelings of ill-will in America.—Evacuation of Wilmington.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, December 20th, 1781,94

Motives of his correspondence.—Delays of Spain.—General satisfaction in Spain at the capture of Lord Cornwallis.—Imperial and Swedish Ambassador desire to favor the trade with America.—Advances by M. Cabarrus.—State of the sieges of Gibraltar and Mahon.—M. Cabarrus's plan of a new bank.—Spain endeavors to discourage the commerce of foreigners in her ports.—Attempt to exclude salt-fish, by the sale of indulgences permitting the use of meat on fast days.—Character of the Spanish Ministry.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, December 24th, 1781,102

Mr Jay receives promises of supplies.—The Count de Florida Blanca also promises to interfere with Portugal in favor of the United States.—Probable [Pg ix]consequences of the death of the Empress.—Proceedings of England.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, Feb. 18th, 1782,105

Difficulty of meeting the drafts.—Financial embarrassments of the Spanish Court.—Capitulation of Mahon.—Imperial mediation.—Reply of Lord Stormont to the proposal.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, February 27th, 1782,111

Mr Jay is unable to obtain supplies.—No progress made toward negotiations.—The King of England is said to be determined to push the war in America.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, April 14th, 1782,113

Mr Jay obliged to protest bills.—Conduct of the Spanish Minister on this occasion.—The Spanish Court delays negotiations from policy.—Colonial disturbances.—Reforms of the Emperor.

Robert R. Livingston to William Carmichael. Philadelphia, May 1st, 1782,120

Desires a continuance of his correspondence.—Affair of Captain Huddy.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, June 12th, 1782,122

The Spanish Ministers show no inclination to treat.—Jealousy of the House of Bourbon among the European powers.—Financial difficulties of Spain.—Siege of Gibraltar.

Robert R. Livingston to William Carmichael. Philadelphia, July 6th, 1782,124

Complains of want of information.—Payment of salaries.

To Robert R. Livingston. St Ildefonso, July 8th, 1782,126

Interview with the Count de Florida Blanca.—Conversation with M. Del Campo.—New offer of mediation from the Imperial Courts.

To Robert R. Livingston. St Ildefonso, July 22d, 1782,129

Count de Florida Blanca's answer to the proposed mediation.—The neutral powers desire a Congress.

To Robert R. Livingston. St Ildefonso, September 8th, 1782,132

Interview with the Count de Florida Blanca.

Robert R. Livingston to William Carmichael. Philadelphia, September 12th, 1782,135

State of affairs in America.

[Pg x]To Robert R. Livingston. St Ildefonso, September 29th, 1782,137

Failure of the attack on Gibraltar.—Financial embarrassments of Spain.—State of the negotiations at Paris.—The preparations for war continue.

Count de Florida Blanca to William Carmichael. St Lorenzo, October 14th, 1782,141

The English frigate carried into Cadiz by American seamen is ordered to be sold, and the proceeds to be deposited to the credit of Congress.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, October 29th, 1782,142

The progress of the negotiations will be impeded by Spain.

Robert R. Livingston to William Carmichael. Philadelphia, November 28th, 1782,144

America will make no peace inconsistent with her engagements to her allies.—State of the military forces in America.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, December 10th, 1782,147

Terms of the treaty between Great Britain and the United States.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, December 30th, 1782,149

Dissatisfaction of Spain with the conclusion of the treaty.—Letter from M. de Lafayette.—Financial operations in Spain.—Receives the ceremonial visits of the Corps Diplomatique.—Intends to leave Spain, if the Court does not change its conduct.—Divisions in Holland.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, January 18th, 1783,154

Interruptions of the communication with America.—Endeavors to induce the Ministry to receive him formally.—M. Gardoqui will soon be despatched on a mission.—The Ministry desires peace.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, February 21st, 1783,158

Is formally received as Chargé d'Affaires of the United States, through the influence of M. de Lafayette.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, March 13th, 1783,161

Dines with the Count de Florida Blanca.—Supposed motives of the offer of mediation by the Imperial Courts.—Reported confederacy of Russia, Austria, and Prussia for the partition of Turkey.—State of affairs in England.—Friendly propositions from other powers.—The army and navy commissaries [Pg xi]have agreed to obtain supplies from America.—Proposes M. Josè Llanos as Minister to the United States.—Recommends the nomination of distinguished Spaniards as members of American societies.

Robert R. Livingston to William Carmichael. Philadelphia, May 7th, 1783,169

The past conduct of Spain has not been such as to conciliate America.—She ought not to exclude America from the privileges allowed to Great Britain.—Operations of the provisional treaty.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, July 19th, 1783,172

Receives assurances of the favorable disposition of the King.—The Spanish-Americans treat him as their countryman.—Plans of Austria and Russia.—Mr Fox raises difficulties to the conclusion of the Definitive Treaty.—Points in the treaty with Spain.—Spanish expedition against Algiers.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, July 22d, 1783,179

Dispersion of the armament against Algiers by stress of weather.—Slow progress of the negotiations at Paris.

From the Saxon Minister in Spain to William Carmichael. Madrid, July 28th, 1783,181

Establishment of commercial relations with America.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, July 29th, 1783,183

Proceedings relative to the formation of commercial connexions between Saxony and the United States.—Treaty between France, Spain and Portugal.

To Robert R. Livingston. Madrid, August 2d, 1783,184

M. Thieriot appointed Saxon Commissary-General of Commerce in America.

To Robert R. Livingston. St Ildefonso, August 30th, 1783,185

Interview with the Count de Florida Blanca.—Objections of that Minister to his presentation.—Second interview on the same subject.—The King consents to fix a day for his presentation.—The presentation.


Instructions to John Laurens. In Congress, December 23d, 1780,199

Additional Instructions to John Laurens. In Congress, December 27th, 1780,201

[Pg xii]To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, January 3d, 1781,203

Method of obtaining supplies.

To the President of Congress. Boston, February 4th, 1781,204

Delay of his departure.

To the President of Congress. Boston, February 7th, 1781,206

Preparations for sailing completed.

To the President of Congress. L'Orient, March 11th, 1781,207

Remains at L'Orient in expectation of an interview with the Marquis de Castries.—Naval preparations at Brest.

To the President of Congress. Passy, March 20th, 1781,208

Conversation with the Marquis de Castries.—Answer of the Count de Vergennes to the application of Congress for aid, granting six millions.—Urges the necessity of further aid.—Naval forces of the belligerents at sea.

Memorial to the Count de Vergennes,211

On the necessity of further aid in money, and of a naval superiority of the allies.—Answer to the objections made to the raising of a loan in France by the United States.

Questions proposed to Colonel Laurens, with his Answers to them. Paris, March 29th, 1781,218

Advantages of augmenting the army.—Causes of the weakness of the southern army.

To the President of Congress. Versailles, April 9th, 1781,220

France consents to guaranty a loan of ten millions to be opened in Holland.—Solicitations for supplies.

Memorial from Colonel John Laurens to Count de Vergennes,222

Represents the grant already made to be insufficient and requests supplies in arms, &c. on credit.—Desires the amount of the loan proposed to be raised in Holland may be advanced by France.—Urges the necessity of maintaining a naval superiority in the American seas.

To the President of Congress. Paris, April 24th, 1781,226

Remittance of the aid in specie.—Reasons for engaging the South Carolina ship, the Indian, for the conveyance.—Nature of supplies in arms, ammunition, &c.

[Pg xiii]Memorial from John Laurens to the Director-General of Finance,230

Urging the increase of the intended remittance of specie.

To the President of Congress. Paris, May 15th, 1781,231

Failure of the plan of obtaining remittances from Vera Cruz.—Refusal of Holland to countenance the proposed loan in that country.—Promises of additional succors from France.

Count de Vergennes to John Laurens. Versailles, May 16th, 1781,233

Disposition of the six millions granted by France.—Additional grant of four millions.—The proposed loan of ten millions shall be advanced by France.—Military and naval operations.

To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, September 2d, 1781,235

General account of his proceedings on his late mission to France, as contained in the preceding letters.

To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, September 6th, 1781,247

Confinement of Henry Laurens in the Tower.


B. Franklin to M. Dumas. Philadelphia, December 19th, 1775,255

Acknowledges the reception of certain works of M. Dumas.—Requests him to sound the Ministers to discover if America can expect countenance from any of the European powers in declaring independence.—State of the country.—Desires that skilful engineers may be sent out.

B. Franklin to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, March 22d, 1776,260

Introducing Mr Deane.

To B. Franklin, Chairman of the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Utrecht, April 30th, 1776,260

Conversation with the French Minister relative to rendering assistance to the Colonies.—Writings of M. Dumas.—Receives a letter without signature, desiring a meeting at the Hague.

[Pg xiv]To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Utrecht, May 14th, 1776,267

Interview with the writer of the letter from the Hague.—Letter from Mr A. Lee recommending Hortalez.

To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. August 10th, 1776,271

Extract of a letter from Mr Lee, recommending Hortalez to his confidence.—Correspondence with the person with whom he had the interview at the Hague.—Interview with the same person and with the Spanish Ambassador.—Mr Ellis requests him to write to America that there is a strong American party in England.

Arthur Lee to C. W. F. Dumas. London, July 6th, 1776,276

Introducing Mr Ellis.—State of affairs in America.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, July 26th, 1776,277

Desires to correspond with him.—Wishes to know if there would be any personal risk in visiting Holland.

Arthur Lee to C. W. F. Dumas. London, August 13th, 1776,278

The Colonial expenses of Great Britain were undertaken for her own benefit.—Scotch hostile to America.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, August 18th, 1776,280

Intends visiting Holland in a private character.—The American Colonies do not desire aid nor alliances, but only free commerce.

William Lee to C. W. F. Dumas. London, September 10th, 1776,282

The declaration of Independence changes the character of the contest between Great Britain and America.—England uses every means to prevent the interference of France.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, September 11th, 1776,283

If free commerce were allowed America, the Colonies would need no assistance.—The English Ambassador is acquainted with Mr Deane's official character.

Arthur Lee to C. W. F. Dumas. London, September 23d, 1776,285

Sentiments of the English nation.—Character of the English Ministry.

[Pg xv]To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. September 30th, 1776,288

Communicates his letters from America in a certain quarter.—Reasons for signing an assumed name.

B. Franklin to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, October 1st, 1776,290

Acknowledging the receipt of letters.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, October 3d, 1776,291

Obtains an opportunity of sounding the sentiments of the Prussian Cabinet.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, October 6th, 1776,291

Disposition of the American people in regard to an accommodation.—American commerce.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, October 9th, 1776,294

Introducing Mr Carmichael.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, October 13th, 1776,295

Treatment of an American citizen in Holland.

William Carmichael to C. W. F. Dumas. Amsterdam, October 22d, 1776,296

Informing him of his intended visit.

Committee of Secret Correspondence to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, October 24th, 1776,297

Dr Franklin appointed Commissioner to the French Court.—Committee of Secret Correspondence.

William Carmichael to C. W. F. Dumas. Amsterdam, October 27th, 1776,298

Requesting certain papers.

Arthur Lee to C. W. F. Dumas. London, November 15th, 1776,299

Disposition of the British Court.—The Rockingham party proposes to secede from Parliament.—Cause of the advantage gained by the English on Long Island.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Without date,301

Difficulties of his situation.—Prospect of ultimate success.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, December 13th, 1776,304

Arrival of Dr Franklin in France.

William Carmichael to C. W. F. Dumas. Havre, January 21st, 1777,304

Return from a tour in Germany.—Impolicy of the present measures of France.

[Pg xvi]Arthur Lee to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, January 26th, 1777,305

Want of intelligence from America.—Interest of Holland to secure the commerce with America.

B. Franklin to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, January 29th, 1777,307

Forwarding letters from America.

William Lee to C. W. F. Dumas. London, March 21st, 1777,308

State of the British and American forces.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, April 2d, 1777,309

Enclosing a remittance.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, April 12th, 1777,310

Inadequacy of the allowance hitherto made him.

William Carmichael to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, April 28th, 1777,312

Dangers of the temporizing policy of the European powers toward America.—Mr Carmichael is offered a pension on condition of bringing the Colonies to terms.—The acknowledgment of the independence of America by the European States is all that is necessary to her success.

The Committee of Foreign Affairs to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, May 8th, 1777,314

Desiring him to communicate information to the Commissioners at Paris.

William Carmichael to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, May 9th, 1777,315

English papers intercepted.—False rumors propagated by the English Ministry.—Arrogant policy of that Court.

B. Franklin to C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, near Paris, May 12th, 1777,317

Communicates advices from America.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Amsterdam, May 16th, 1777,318

The author of 'Advice to Hessians,' threatened with arrest.

Silas Deane to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, June 7th, 1777,319

Reports of reconciliation spread by English agents.—There will be no accommodation without an acknowledgment of independence.—The balance of power in Europe is a mere chimera.—One power must finally preponderate.—Growing importance of Russia.

[Pg xvii]William Carmichael to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, June 13th, 1777,323

American privateering.—Preparations for the war in England.—Had the English operations been successful in America, the same tone would have been assumed towards France as Holland.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. June 14th, 1777,326

Disposition of the Dutch towards America.—Success is necessary to gain Holland.—The Dutch houses refuse to take up the English loan.—Ignorance of American affairs in Europe.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. August 22d, 1777,327

Subject to persecutions on account of his agency in the American service.—Dutch vessels captured by the English.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, October 14th, 1777,329

Meeting and proceedings of the States-General.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. December 16th, 1777,330

Impression produced by the news of Burgoyne's capture.—Proceedings of the States-General.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, April 14th, 1778,332

Effect of the declaration of France in Holland.—The Republic will maintain her neutrality.

To M. Van Berckel, Pensionary of Amsterdam. July 27th, 1778,333

Communicating the treaty between France and the United States.

M. Van Berckel to C. W. F. Dumas. Amsterdam, July 31st, 1778,334

Disposition of the Regency of Amsterdam to enter into amicable and commercial relations with the United States.

To M. Van Berckel. The Hague, August 17th, 1778,335

Rejection of the propositions of the British Commissioners by the United States.—Extract of a letter from W. Lee, complaining of the indecision of Holland.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, December 3d, 1778,337

Amsterdam protests against the resolution of the States, refusing a convoy to ships carrying naval stores to France.

[Pg xviii]Memorial, presented by his Excellency, the Duc de la Vauguyon, Ambassador of France, to the States-General of the United Provinces. The Hague, December 7th, 1778,338

Necessity that Holland should protect her commerce, if she desires to enjoy the privileges of neutrality.

To the Commissioners at Paris. The Hague, December 18th, 1778,340

The Admiralty gives an evasive answer to the Memorial of the French Ambassador.—This answer adopted by the States.—Amsterdam protests.—The English Court declares its intention of seizing Dutch ships carrying munitions of war to France.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, December 25th, 1778,342

Resolution of the States and protest of Amsterdam.—Desires letters of credence.—Inadequacy of his compensation.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, January 1st, 1779,345

Containing a note of the Duc de la Vauguyon, explanatory of his Memorial; the answer of the States of Holland to the same, and the protest of Amsterdam against the answer.—The answer adopted by the States-General.—English influence at the Dutch Court.—The French Ambassador has a declaration of his Court excluding Holland from the French order in favor of neutrals.

To the Commissioners at Paris. The Hague, January 12th, 1779,351

Proceedings of the States of Holland.—The American interest gains ground.—The Duc de la Vauguyon presents to the States-General the order excluding Holland from the privileges of neutrals.—Proceedings in relation to the same.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, March 1st, 1779,357

Desires to be invested with the character of Chargé d'Affaires of the United States.—His past services.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, April 29th, 1779,359

Assembly of the States of Holland.—Misrepresentations on American affairs.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, May 15th, 1779,360

Naval force ordered to be equipped by the States-General, for purposes of convoy.

[Pg xix]M. Chaumont to C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, September 2d, 1779,364

Requesting him to render all necessary aid to the squadron of Commodore Jones.—Catalogue of the vessels composing the squadron.

To B. Franklin. The Hague, September 14th, 1779,365

Proceedings in Holland and France relative to the granting convoys to Dutch commerce.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, September 20th, 1779,366

Intends going to Texel to meet Commodore Jones.

Agreement between John Paul Jones and Captain Pearson,367

Relative to British prisoners in the squadron of Commodore Jones.

The College of Admiralty of Amsterdam to the States-General. Amsterdam, Oct. 8th, 1779,369

On the request of Commodore Jones to be permitted to land his prisoners.

Placard of 1756, referred to in the above letter,370

Containing directions for foreign vessels bringing prizes into Dutch ports.

From the College of Admiralty of Amsterdam to the States-General. Amsterdam, Oct. 12th, 1779,373

Proposing to grant permission to land the sick and wounded from Commodore Jones's squadron.

Permission to land the sick and wounded of the English vessels taken by Paul Jones. Extract from the records of their High Mightinesses. October 15th, 1779,375

Instructions of Holland and West Friesland to their Deputies,376

Directing them to order the squadron of Commodore Jones to sail as soon as possible, according to the general practice of Holland in regard to belligerents bringing prizes into the Dutch ports.

The Duc de la Vauguyon to John Paul Jones. The Hague, October 29th, 1779,378

Informing him that he will receive instructions at Dunkirk.

Sir Joseph Yorke to the States-General. The Hague, October 29th, 1779,379

Demanding the seizure of the King's vessels in the hands of Paul Jones, a pirate and rebel.

[Pg xx]John Paul Jones to Lieutenant Colonel Weibert, in the service of the United States,381

Instructions for the care and safe keeping of the wounded prisoners landed on the island of Texel.

John Paul Jones to the Duc de la Vauguyon. Texel, November 4th, 1779,382

Interview with the Commandant of the Road.—Causes of the delay of sailing.

M. Dumas to the Duc de la Vauguyon. Helder, November 9th, 1779,384

Proceedings of Commodore Jones.

To the Duc de la Vauguyon. On board the Serapis, November 11th, 1779,386

Visit to the Dutch Vice-Admiral in company with Commodore Jones.

The Duc de la Vauguyon to C. W. F. Dumas. The Hague, November 11th, 1779,387

Landing of the prisoners.

The Duc de la Vauguyon to C. W. F. Dumas. The Hague, November 12th, 1779,388

Directing Commodore Jones not to sail till he has received instructions.

To the Duc de la Vauguyon. Nov. 13th, 1779,388

The Dutch Vice-Admiral urges the departure of Commodore Jones.

The Duc de la Vauguyon to C. W. F. Dumas. Amsterdam, November 17th, 1779,389

The States of Holland adopt a resolution to compel Commodore Jones to set sail.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, December 9th, 1779,389

Urgency of the Dutch Vice-Admiral for the departure of Commodore Jones.—M. Dumas reads to him a declaration, promising to set sail with the first fair wind.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. December 10th, 1779,391

Resolutions of the States-General relative to Sir Joseph Yorke's demand of the seizure of Commodore Jones and his prizes.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, December 11th, 1779,395

Further proceedings relative to the squadron of Commodore Jones in consequence of the transference of the Commodore to the Alliance.

[Pg xxi]John Paul Jones to the Duc de la Vauguyon. Alliance, Texel, December 13th, 1779,396

Rejecting the offer of a letter of marque from France.—Expresses his indignation at the offer.

John Paul Jones to B. Franklin. Alliance, Texel, December 13th, 1779,399

Remarks on his treatment by the French Court.

John Paul Jones to C. W. F. Dumas. Alliance, December 13th, 1779,400

Enclosing the preceding letters.

Vice-Admiral Reynst to John Paul Jones. Amsterdam, December 17th, 1779,401

Requiring to be informed of the character of the Alliance, and demanding that the French flag be hoisted on board that frigate, or that she be put to sea without delay.

John Paul Jones to Vice-Admiral P. H. Reynst. Alliance, Texel, December 17th, 1779,401

Refuses to hoist the French flag.—Is ready to put to sea whenever the pilot will conduct his ship.

John Paul Jones to C. W. F. Dumas. Alliance, Texel, December 17th, 1779,402

Thanking him for his advice.

M. de Livoncourt, French Navy Agent at Amsterdam, to John Paul Jones. Helder, December 17th, 1779,402

Requesting him to hoist the French flag.—Reasons for addressing to him the commission alluded to in a preceding letter.

John Paul Jones to C. W. F. Dumas. Alliance, at Sea, December 27th, 1779,403

Succeeds in getting to sea.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, December 30th, 1779,404

Difficulties on account of the Alliance.—Desires to be formally named agent of Congress.

B. Franklin to C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, January 27th, 1780,405

Regrets his differences with the Ambassador.

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The Hague, March 15th, 1780,406

Transmits the plan of a treaty between the United States and Holland.

[Pg xxii]To the President of Congress. The Hague, March 21st, 1780,407

Enumeration of his services and sacrifices.—Inadequacy of his compensation.—Complains of William and Arthur Lee.

B. Franklin to C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, March 29th, 1780,412

Acknowledging the receipt of certain papers and requesting information.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, April 13th, 1780,413

Deliberations on the Russian Memorial to the States-General.—Resolutions in favor of unlimited convoys and declining succors to England, adopted by several Provinces.—Necessity of an American Minister in Holland.

B. Franklin to C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, April 23d, 1780,414

Receives visits from gentlemen from Holland, who desire information relative to the rumored treaty between Amsterdam and the United States.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, May 21st, 1780,416

Dissatisfaction of the northern powers with the conduct of England.—Address of Amsterdam to the States.—Claim of M. Van der Perre to a ship captured by Commodore Jones.

John Adams to C. W. F. Dumas. Paris, June 6th, 1780,417

Relative to a certain letter of General Clinton, suspected of being a forgery.—Duplicity of the British agents in America.

Protest of the City of Amsterdam. Extracted from the Resolutions of the Council of that City of the 29th of June, 1780, and inserted in the Acts of the Provincial Assembly of Holland, at the Hague, July 1st, 1780,419

Urging a connexion with the neutral powers.

James Lovell to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, July 10th, 1780,425

Services of M. Dumas.—Introduces Mr Searle.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, July 15th, 1780,426

Intrigues of England in Holland and Germany.—Affair of the choice of a Coadjutor of Munster and Cologne.

[Pg xxiii]To the President of Congress. The Hague, July 22d, 1780,427

Rumors unfavorable to America.—Declaration of Denmark.

William Carmichael to C. W. F. Dumas. Madrid, July 24th, 1780,429

The Americans will not be discouraged by their reverses.—False report of Mr Jay's being sent from Spain.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, July 25th, 1780,430

Past services.—Inadequate compensation.

John Paul Jones to C. W. F. Dumas. Ariel, Road of Croix, September 8th, 1780,433

Reception in Paris.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, September 12th, 1780,435

Naval operations.—Affairs of Europe.

To B. Franklin. The Hague, October 3d, 1780,437

Proposed terms of accession to the armed neutrality by Holland.—Plan of the Empress.

Extract of Letters from London to C. W. F. Dumas. London, October 6th, 1780,439

Treatment of Mr Laurens in the Tower.

To the President of Congress. Amsterdam, December 19th, 1780,441

Proceedings of the Provincial States of Holland.—Accession of the Republic to the armed neutrality.

Robert Morris to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, December 24th, 1780,445

Attacks on his character.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, February 5th, 1781,446

Proceedings in regard to the armed neutrality.—Reported rupture between Russia and England.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, February 22d, 1781,448

Delays in the decision of the Court on the conduct of Amsterdam.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, March 5th, 1781,449

Disposition of the Empress to support the demands of Holland against England.—The proposed imperial mediation will be founded on an acknowledgment of the independence of the United States.

[Pg xxiv]To the President of Congress. The Hague, March 22d, 1781,450

Causes of the delays in Holland.—Proceedings of the merchants of Amsterdam and Rotterdam relative to the seizure of St Eustatia.

General J. H. Bedaulx to C. W. F. Dumas. Nimeguen, April 28th, 1781,452

Requesting information concerning his nephew in America.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, May 1st, 1781,453

Mr Adams visits the Grand Pensionary, preparatory to presenting himself in the character of Minister of the United States.—The Grand Pensionary, the President of the States-General, and the Prince of Orange decline receiving the Memorial of Mr Adams.—Mr Adams causes it to be printed.—The President and the Privy Counsellor of the Prince decline receiving a letter from Mr Adams, announcing the completion of the confederation.—Amsterdam demands the exclusion of the Duke of Brunswick from the public councils.—Imperial mediation.—Coolness of the Emperor toward the Duke of Brunswick.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, August 23d, 1781,460

French loan will be agreed to by the States-General.—Correspondence between the Stadtholder and Baron Lynden relative to the Duke of Brunswick.—Anti-Anglican proceedings in Holland.—Proceedings of the States of Holland in regard to the Duke of Brunswick's letter to the States-General.—French loan.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, October 11th, 1781,467

Letter of Baron Lynden to the Prince of Orange in regard to the Duke of Brunswick.

Robert R. Livingston to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, November 28th, 1781,468

Desires him to transmit journals and pamphlets.—Capture of Cornwallis.—Congress cannot make any addition to his allowance.

To the President of Congress. Amsterdam, January 7th, 1782,471

The French loan has been taken up in one day.—Diminution of English influence in Holland.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, January 15th, 1782,473

Visit to the Secretary of the States-General and the [Pg xxv]Deputies of the Province with Mr Adams, to demand permission to present his credentials.

To the President of Congress. The Hague, January 30th, 1782,474

Proceedings of the States-General.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, March 29th, 1782,475

Friesland and Holland adopt resolutions in favor of the reception of Mr Adams.

To Robert R. Livingston. Amsterdam, April 4th, 1782,476

Purchases a hotel for Mr Adams.—Mr Adams will probably be received without further delay.

John Adams to C. W. F. Dumas. Amsterdam, May 2d, 1782,477

Declines the invitation to dine at Schiedam.—M. Dumas ought to be appointed Chargé d'Affaires of the United States.

Verbal message of C. W. F. Dumas to the city of Schiedam,479

Mr Adams declines the invitation to a dinner.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, May 10th, 1782,479

Reception of Mr Adams.—Transmits Mr Adams's letter recommending him to the attention of Congress.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, June 1st, 1782,483

Attempts to effect a separate peace between Holland and England.—Insincerity of the English in their proposals of peace.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, August 16th, 1782,487

Proceedings of the States of Holland relative to the negotiations at Paris.

Robert R. Livingston to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, September 5th, 1782,488

Receives no communications from him.—Affairs in America.

Robert R. Livingston to C. W. F. Dumas. Philadelphia, September 12th, 1782,489

Congress will take his requests into consideration.—State of things in America.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, September 27th, 1782,491

Proceedings in Holland relative to the naval force ordered to join the French fleet.—Complains of the neglect of Congress.

[Pg xxvi]To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, November 15th, 1782,494

Reasons for the infrequency of his communication.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, December 12th, 1782,496

Riot at the Hague.—Representations of the Prussian Envoy on the dissensions in Holland.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, December 17th, 1782,500

Representations of the Prussian Envoy on a libel against the Princess of Orange.—Reply to the same.—The prisoners arrested on account of the disturbances at the Hague allowed to escape.—Obtains passports for Americans.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, January 11th, 1783,503

Proposed mission of a Minister from the Republic to the United States.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, January 20th, 1783,504

Proceedings in Holland.—Minister to the United States.

Memorial of the Prussian Ambassador. January 20th, 1783,505

On the opposition to the Prince of Orange.

To John Adams. The Hague, January 24th, 1783,508

Is requested to consult Mr Adams, whether his powers authorise him to accede to the armed neutrality, and to enter into a similar negotiation with the allied belligerents.

To John Adams. The Hague, January 28th, 1783,509

Dissatisfaction of the Dutch with the conduct of France.

To John Adams. The Hague, January 30th, 1783,511

Same subject.

To John Adams. The Hague, February 4th, 1783,512

Same subject.—Reasons of the Count de Vergennes for hastening the signing of the treaty.

To John Adams. The Hague, Feb. 18th, 1783,514

Is requested to inquire if the United States will enter into a convention with Holland, guarantying freedom of navigation.—Considerations which authorise the American Ministers to accede to this demand.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, March 4th, 1783,515

Appointment of M. Van Berckel Minister to America.

[Pg xxvii]To John Adams. The Hague, March 4th, 1783,516

The States adopt a resolution, giving instructions to their Plenipotentiaries in regard to a general peace.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, March 5th, 1783,517

Requesting him to make preparations for M. Van Berckel.

To John Adams. The Hague, March 6th, 1783,518

Guarantee of the freedom of navigation desired by Holland.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, March 27th, 1783,519

Domestic affairs of Holland.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, April 18th, 1783,522

Same subject.—Is requested to inquire of Mr Dana if he will negotiate a convention on the principles of the armed neutrality with Holland.—The Secretary of the States-General desires to be informed of the titles by which Congress is to be addressed.

Robert R. Livingston to C. W. F. Dumas. Without date,525

Impropriety of a foreign Envoy engaging in the parties of the country where he resides.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, May 8th, 1783,526

Proceedings in Holland.—Difficulties in settling the articles of peace between Holland and Great Britain.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, May 25th, 1783,528

Recommending Captain Riemersma.

Notes to the States-General. The Hague, June 5th, 1783,529

Laying before them the treaty and convention between the two Republics.

M. Fagel to C. W. F. Dumas. The Hague, June 19th, 1783,530

Agrees to exchange ratifications of the treaty and convention.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, June 20th, 1783,530

Proceedings in Holland.

To Robert R. Livingston. The Hague, June 23d, 1783,531

Exchanges ratifications of the treaty and convention between the two Republics.

[Pg 1]


[Pg 2]

[Pg 3]William Carmichael was a native of Maryland. At the beginning of the revolution he was in Europe. From London he went over to Paris in the spring of the year 1776, and was there when Silas Deane arrived as a commercial and political agent from the United States. He lived with Mr Deane for some time in Paris, and aided him in his correspondence and the transaction of his affairs. It was suggested by the Prussian Minister, that the King would be pleased with information respecting American commerce, and would receive at Berlin any American who could give such information. Mr Deane proposed the enterprise to Mr Carmichael. He performed the journey in the autumn of 1776, by way of Amsterdam.

From Berlin he returned to Paris, where he lived on intimate terms with the American Commissioners, occasionally executing specific duties at their request, for more than a year, till he sailed for his native country. He arrived at Boston in May, 1778, and soon afterwards received an appointment which had recently been conferred on him by Congress, as Secretary to the Commissioners at the Court of France. It does not appear that he ever accepted this appointment, for on the 19th of November following he took his seat in Congress as a delegate from Maryland.

[Pg 4]Mr Carmichael remained in Congress till Mr Jay was elected Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain. He was chosen Secretary of Legation to the same Mission on the 28th of September, 1779, and went to Spain in company with Mr Jay, and remained with him during the whole of that Minister's residence in Madrid. When Mr Jay joined Dr Franklin in Paris, June, 1782, to aid in the negotiations of peace, Mr Carmichael was left as Chargé d'Affaires at the Court of Spain. After the peace he was regularly commissioned in that character by Congress, and recognized as such by the King of Spain.

He continued to reside there in the same capacity during the term of the old Confederation, and for some time after the organization of the new government under Washington. In the year 1793, Mr Short was joined with him in a commission for negotiating at Madrid a treaty between Spain and the United States. Several months were passed in this attempt, but without success. Mr Carmichael returned soon afterwards to the United States.

[Pg 5]



Amsterdam, November 2d, 1776.


Previous to your attention to what follows, it will be necessary for you to know that I have lived with Mr Deane since his first arrival at Paris; that I took that city in my way from London to Nantes, to find a passage to my native country, and with despatches, which Mr Arthur Lee intrusted to my care, for the honorable Congress. Having a relapse of a disorder, which prevented me from travelling, I stopped at Paris, and endeavored to find out, by means of Count d'Estaing and other persons of eminence, the sentiments of the French Court respecting our affairs; and the moment I knew of Mr Deane's arrival, offered him all the services in my power, and, of consequence, we have lived together until the 10th of the present month.

At that time the agent of the King of Prussia, who had often, as Mr Deane has informed you, made proposals of a commercial nature, expressed a desire that some Ameri[Pg 6]can would go to Berlin, and this he gave us to understand was at the instance of his Sovereign, who wished to have a clear idea of the nature of our commerce, and expressed a curiosity, which he wished to gratify, by a minute detail of our affairs. Mr Deane thinking this an opportunity not to be neglected to interest a Prince, who for several years has been dreaming of making his port of Emden, an Amsterdam, proposed it to me. However unequal to the task, I have cheerfully accepted it; happy to find any opportunity of showing with what a fervent zeal I am devoted to the glorious cause, which, at present, by interesting their humanity as well as policy, gives us so much consequence in the eyes of Europe.

Here I have endeavored to engage merchants to speculate in a direct commerce to America, to find out the sentiments of the people in general respecting us, to know whether, in case of necessity, the United States would be able to negotiate a loan, whether England would be able to obtain further credit, and by this barometer of the ability of Princes, to discover their present situation. On these heads I have written Mr Deane, but having an opportunity by the way of St Eustatia, and thinking none should be neglected of giving information, though mine, perhaps, may not be of importance enough to merit that title, I have taken the liberty of addressing the honorable Committee. Arriving but two days after the accounts had reached this city, of our misfortune on Long Island, I found many, even of the sanguine friends of America dejected, and those of England almost in a frenzy of joy. In this disposition, it is easy to judge, no hopes could be entertained of engaging merchants in a direct trade. I find they have the greatest inclination to serve us, and at[Pg 7] the same time themselves, for no people see their interests clearer, but their fears that we shall be subdued, the confident assertions of the friends of England confirming these apprehensions, the prodigious sums they have in the English funds, with this unlucky business at New York, all conspire to prevent direct speculation.

As my letters from Paris introduced me to the first houses here, I have had the best opportunity of knowing their sentiments, and I can venture to say, that with many who are apparently adverse to us, it is interest combating with principle, for insulted, searched, and plundered as the Dutch were the last war, and are at present, there are individuals who by no means want sensibility to feel, though the public wants spirit to resent the injury. The States have, however, in answer to a fresh remonstrance of General Yorke, declared that their ports are open to vessels of all nations, and that their trade to and from their own Colonies shall be unmolested, their subjects complying with the ordinances issued by their High Mightinesses. In fact, their prohibition of exporting warlike stores, extends to all British subjects. I hope it will not be long before all Europe will own us in another character. It is very certain, that without a very material and apparent success of the British arms in America, a loan would be very slowly negotiated for England here. There is nothing hinders them now from selling out of the English funds, but their not knowing what to do with their money; for this country may be called the treasury of Europe, and its stock of specie is more or less, according to the necessity of the different Princes in Europe. It being a time of peace, the call has not been very great of late.

Having mentioned the credit of England, that of France[Pg 8] is next to be considered, and I am very sorry to say that has been very low here of late. The dreadful mismanagement of the finances in the late King's reign, and the character of the late Controller General, M. d'Olugny, had reduced it so low, that it was impossible to borrow anything considerable on perpetual funds. Perhaps a Minister of Finance, in whose probity the world have a confidence, may restore their credit. At this moment that is in some measure the case, for the French stocks rise on the appointment of M. Taboreau. That it is possible for France to borrow may be demonstrated; for at the time M. Turgot was removed, he was negotiating a loan here, and was likely to succeed, for sixty millions of guilders. The credit of Spain is extremely good, and that kingdom may have what money it will, and on the best terms. The Emperor's credit is also good, not as Emperor, but from his hereditary dominion. Sweden and Denmark both have good credit. The former, the best; they have money at four per cent; and it is not long since the King of Sweden borrowed three millions of guilders at this interest, to pay off old debts at five per cent. His interest is paid punctually. Prussia has no credit here, but the King's treasury is full by squeezing the last farthing from the people, and now and then he draws a little money from this Republic, by reviving obsolete claims. The credit of the Empress of Russia is very good; for she has punctually paid the interest of twelve millions of guilders, which she borrowed in her war with the Turks, and has lately paid off one million and a half of the principal. These are the strongest circumstances she could have in her favor with a mercantile people. I have this statement of credit from persons employed in negotiating the several[Pg 9] loans, and, therefore, can depend upon the truth of the information.

To come next to America, should time and necessity oblige her to look abroad for money. In the present state of affairs, it is not probable that a loan is practicable. But should success so attend our arms, that it should appear evident that we are likely to support our independence, or should either France or Spain acknowledge our independence, in either of these cases I believe we might have money, and when it was seen that we were punctual in our first payments of the interest, we should have as much as we pleased. The nature of the security, or the fund for the payment of interest, I have not been able to imagine. But, observing in a letter to Mr Dearethart, it was the writer's opinion, that the honorable Congress did not wish to circulate too much paper, for fear of depreciating its value, I thought that bills issued similar to those in circulation in the Provinces, and lodged in a public bank in Europe, might be accepted as a pledge or deposit for money borrowed by the United States. I beg pardon for the crudity of the idea, and would not have mentioned it here, but that having hinted at it in general conversation, people thought it might, on a future occasion, be adopted.

You will please to observe, that everything here mentioned came from an individual, who only as such avowed himself interested for his country's fate, and for its benefit sought information. Notwithstanding the rise of stocks, occasioned by our misfortune on Long Island, the Dutch are selling out, and my strongest representations have not been wanting to contribute a mite to this circumstance. The price of our product is great. Rice sells for twentyfive shillings sterling per cwt. and tobacco for eight stivers[Pg 10] and four —— per pound. You have been threatened, that the Ukraine would supply Europe with tobacco. It must be long before that time can arrive. I have seen some of the tobacco here, and the best of it is worse than the worst of our ground leaf. Four hundred thousand pounds have been sent here this year. The Russian Ambassador said at the Baron le Guerre's, Ambassador from Sweden, where I had the honor to dine, that Russia soon would be able to supply the market with that article. In this he spoke more like an Ambassador than as a merchant. I took occasion in reply to observe, that if that was the case, and on many other accounts, it was the interest of her Majesty that all intercourse between Great Britain and America should be broken off, for that then the former would be dependent on Russia for all those articles, which hitherto the latter had supplied her with.

Having expressed a desire of knowing these reasons at large, with the assistance of M. D—— and the approbation of Mr Deane, I purpose giving in a little memoir on the subject, which the Ambassador assures me shall be sent to St Petersburg. Not being so sanguine as to think, that it will prevent Russia from supplying England with troops, should the other demand them, but it may give a secret dilatoriness to their assistance, which may finally operate in our favor.

If it should be determined to send any cargoes of tobacco here, on the public account, it will perhaps be thought proper to convoy them. The frigates destined to that service might retaliate the injuries we have received by the destruction of Falmouth and Norfolk, by destroying the towns and shipping of Greenock and the port of Glasgow, or Ayre and Cambleton. I have been particularly informed[Pg 11] of the situation of those places until the present moment. They have no batteries to protect, or soldiers to defend them, or quartered near enough in any numbers to be assembled for that purpose, and not a vessel of war on the whole coast larger than a tender, to receive men for the sea service. Their rendezvous might be the entrance of the northern channel, where, while they waited a junction, in case they should be separated, they might take the outward bound ships, and by the information obtained from them, insure their success. In returning, a party landed on the Isle of Bute, might destroy the house of that favorite. Little objects strike most forcibly little minds. This affair completed, which would alarm Britain and astonish Europe, the ships trading to the Baltic, with cargoes not only that suit, but are necessary for our Provinces, might be their next object. This ought all to be done in the months of March, April, and May. The destruction of the Greenland fishery, might be the last object of the expedition. I am confident, that not having a distrust of such attempts, the success would be more certain. Should there be a necessity of seeking shelter or refreshments, I have it from the Swedish Ambassador here, that we shall find both in their ports. I only hinted to him, that it was possible some of our adventurers might explore those seas in search of plunder.

This is the rough outline of a plan, which the honorable Congress may, should it in any shape be approved, digest into form. I would stake my life on the success of the greatest part of it, if inviolable secrecy is preserved, and the execution is trusted to persons who have not only wealth but glory in view. If prompted by a heated and indignant imagination, this plan should appear dangerous[Pg 12] and impracticable, I hope it will be imputed to the desire of retorting our injuries on that country, which has in some measure been the cause, and is at present endeavoring, with the rancor of private animosity, to accumulate our distress. I entreated Mr Deane to propose some part of it to the consideration of Congress sometime ago, and I have the pleasure to find his opinion corresponds with my own on the subject.

The resentment, which it is said the honorable Congress have shown, on the conduct of the King of Portugal towards us, has been attended with a very good effect, and should a manifesto be published by that honorable body, hinting only the necessity of taking similar measures with all those who denied them the common rights of mankind, I am persuaded it would be to our advantage. It was the dread of such a blow to their trade, that was one of the strongest arguments made use of by the merchants of this country, in their petition to the States. I need not mention to you anything respecting what is like to take place in Europe another year, for of that ere this, you, I hope, have information. I will only say, that the greater part contemplates with pleasure the gloomy prospect for England; there is not an Envoy of the most petty State in Italy, but exults at it. The want of intelligence from America, hurts the cause prodigiously in Europe, and the anxiety of those who have its interest at heart, is from that circumstance, inconceivable. I hope I need not offer assurances to convince the honorable Congress of the zeal with which I wish to serve them. To be directed by that honorable body in what manner to do it most effectually, will be the happiest circumstance of my life.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 13]P. S. I cannot seal this letter without recommending Colonel Prevet, should the fortune of war put him into our hands, to all the indulgence, to himself and family, his situation will possibly admit of. Mr Grand, his wife's father, an eminent merchant here, animated with that love of liberty which distinguishes his country, (Switzerland) offers all the services in his power to the public, and a thousand civilities to its individuals. If by the same fortune, Mr Dowdswell, of the first regiment of guards, should fall into our hands, his father's merits and his own reluctance, will give him the same indulgence.

Since I wrote the above, Mr Grand has assured me, that should the honorable Congress determine to negotiate loans in Europe, and would draw bills accepted by the principal merchants in America, payable at two, three, and five years' sight, and send them to their house, they should be discounted by them at five per cent interest. This was the manner in which money was raised for the city of Leipsic during the last war. The gentlemen of the committee will please to observe, that this is to be kept very secret, for no loan can be publicly negotiated here as yet. The firm of this house is Messrs Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. and is one of the most capital in this city. Should any cargoes be consigned here on public account, perhaps it may be thought proper to address them to these gentlemen. I can assure you, gentlemen, and that from my own knowledge, that many bills remitted from America, and supposed to be drawn on account of Congress, have been refused payment by the English Ministry knowing beforehand when they would be presented for payment, and by that means, having an opportunity of bribing, threatening, or flattering the parties on whom they were drawn, either to[Pg 14] refuse payment absolutely, or at least noting them for protest, in order to hurt the credit of our merchants in Europe. I do think that the less connexion, for this and other reasons, we have in future with houses whose principal business depends on Great Britain, the better. I beg pardon for giving my opinion thus freely, but it is the effect of my zeal.

W. C.


Paris, June 25th to July 6th, 1777.


A letter from a person unknown to you but by name, had need of a long introduction to apologise for the address, but not being a man of ceremony myself, and besides having but little time for formality, I content myself with saying, that engaged in the same cause with yourself, I have assisted Mr Deane since his arrival in Europe, and know intimately well our affairs abroad, their situation here, and in such Courts, where it has been thought necessary to address ourselves for countenance and assistance. I have of course been no stranger to your correspondence, and have been sorry to find so punctual a correspondent should have any reason to complain of the want of punctuality in others. This is not owing to want of inclination in Mr Deane, but to the multiplicity of business which occupies his whole time; for Mr Lee is absent, being at Berlin, where I first broke the ice last autumn,[1] and the age of Dr Franklin in some measure hinders him from taking so active a part in the drudgery of business[Pg 15] as his great zeal and abilities would otherwise enable him to execute. He is the master to whom we children in politics all look up for counsel, and whose name is everywhere a passport, to be well received. As I trouble you therefore with forwarding some letters to my friends, I wish to pay the postage by any European intelligence in my power to communicate.

I have another motive to incite me, which is, that I think your situation of singular consequence to bring on a war so necessary to assure our independence, and which the weak system of this Court seems studiously to avoid. Either from this weakness, or from a jealousy, that by a precipitate interference, our independence would be too soon and too formidably established, the Court shuns everything in Europe which might appear a glaring violation of their treaties with England. This line of conduct has delayed the stores so long promised, and at last sends to Martinique, what ought to have been on the continent in February at furthest. This occasioned the loss of the Seine, which was despatched half laden, that such necessary articles as tents and fusils, might get early to America, the captain having positive orders to proceed thither without touching at the Islands, and I myself protested to the ship's owners, that Mr Deane would have no concern in the risk, if on any account but stress of weather, the vessel proceeded to the West Indies. As such is their miserable policy, it is our business to force on a war, in spite of their inclinations to the contrary, for which purpose, I see nothing so likely as fitting out privateers from the ports and Islands of France. Here we are too near the sun and the business is dangerous; with you it may be done more easily, and indeed has already been attended[Pg 16] with happy effects, as you will see by the enclosed copy of a letter from the Chamber of Commerce at Liverpool to that of Bristol. The natural antipathy of the nation is such, that their passions being once fully excited, they will proceed to such acts of reprisal and mutual violence, as will occasion clamors and altercations, which no soft words can palliate. As I pretend to know something of the counsels of both nations, I know there are strong advocates for war in both. The more reasons they have to produce in favor of their system, the sooner it will be adopted.

In England, when General Howe's successes in the Jersies, and the prospect of getting possession of Philadelphia, made the Ministry hope for a speedy termination of their dispute with us, I know war with France was nearly determined on. The insolence of apparent success dictated that Memorial, which Sir Joseph Yorke presented to their High Mightinesses, and which you have undoubtedly seen. One of a still more insolent nature was prepared and even sent to Lord Stormont here, and a refusal and even delay of compliance with the requisitions therein made, was to have been the harbinger of war, and the immediate destruction of the French commerce and Islands. Happily for our enemies, the news of our success at Trenton prevented its delivery.

In France, the nation and some of the Ministers wish to act vigorously, but are retarded in all their operations by the imbecility of age, or the more powerful operation of English gold. As the English Ministry seem convinced of the pacific, or rather undecided, state of the rulers here, they hasten, by the most vigorous exertions against us, to end the war, and are less reserved in the treatment of the[Pg 17] French prisoners abroad. Could they be provoked to unequivocal proofs of violence, it would be a good point gained. This your situation may bring about, by encouraging the arming of vessels manned by Frenchmen, and by prompting the captains to provoke unjustifiable reprisals, on the part of the inhabitants of the English Islands.

To you, filled with liberal ideas, and a high sense of the interest of the French nation, to give us powerful support, these hints may appear extraordinary, but from experience I can assure you, that public councils, at least in Europe, are directed more by caprice, or the interest of individuals, than by a generous concern for the whole. At a distance, we think more of the wisdom of statesmen than they merit. The nearer we approach them the less is our reverence. If our enemies are not successful, they mean to close with us on the best terms they can, sensible, that if this great effort does not succeed, they have little to hope in future. This is an animating reason for us to persevere in the glorious contest. In the meantime, it is our business to keep up the spirits of our common people to the utmost. For which reason, what I write you is in confidence, or for the inspection of the Committee only, if it may be thought to merit their notice.

The English have completed their loan among themselves. No foreigners have assisted them, although the terms to the lender are better than any yet offered by that nation, except once. Foreigners know that they have yet several millions to fund, for which they must offer still better terms. The Spaniards have refused the mediation of France and England in their dispute with Portugal, being determined to prosecute the war until Portugal demands peace, and makes reparation. They have taken[Pg 18] the important Island of St Catharine's, on the coast of Brazil, without loss, and mean vigorously to prosecute their operations on Brazil. This I have from undoubted authority, one of the family Ministers. A report prevails, that the Indians of the east have fallen on their oppressors, and have taken Madras. India stock has, consequently, fallen. Both France and Spain continue their armaments as if preparing for some great event. This obliges England to do the same. All their naval and army contracts are for five years, and they employ as many workmen in their dock yards, as they did in the height of the last war. You will serve us essentially, by pushing the cruisers who visit you into the European seas, particularly those of the north, in the months of August, September, and October, directing them to send their prizes into France or Spain. It would render our negotiation with Prussia more successful, if a tobacco ship could by any means be pushed into Emden, which ship might make her returns in manufactures necessary for us, and fifteen or twenty per cent cheaper than we can have them here. Urge it to the honorable Committee.

I am, &c.


P. S. Two vessels with stores are just despatched from different ports. Forward them, my Dear Sir, immediately to our dear country. Captains Wickes, Johnson, and Nicholson, have just destroyed sixteen vessels on the English and Irish coast. I am despatching Conyngham from hence on the same business in a privateer. I begin to think war unavoidable.

W. C.

Dunkirk, July 6th.


[1] Mr Carmichael's letters from Berlin, if he ever wrote any, are missing.

[Pg 19]


Yorktown, June 17th, 1778.


Since my arrival here, I have been informed of the honor conferred on me by Congress, in being appointed Secretary to the Commissioners at the Court of France, an honor which greatly overpays the feeble efforts of my zeal, and is more than I could expect, considering the well founded pretensions of others to their notice.

I beg leave through you, Sir, to express my grateful sensibility of this proof of their confidence, as well as the ardent desire I have of meriting it in future.[2]

I have the honor to be, &c.



[2] It does not appear that Mr Carmichael ever accepted this appointment. He was chosen a delegate to Congress from Maryland, and joined that body on the 19th of November, 1778.


Off Reedy Island, November 25th, 1779.


I received at Chester, the copies of the resolves, you did me the honor to enclose me, and shall punctually comply with your request, by forwarding them as soon as I arrive, to Dr Franklin and Mr Johnson. I am sorry that the business with respect to the latter, is left in its present state, because there are very few men, who neglect a certain and profitable occupation, to engage in another where they are sure of offending, without an equal certainty of an adequate reward for their trouble and impartiality.

[Pg 20]I am much obliged to you for your good wishes, although I must candidly own they would be still more agreeable accompanied by a ship of the line, for we are informed that the Romulus and Roebuck, are waiting for us to intercept us, and were they animated, would, like the Death and Sin of Milton, bless their lucky stars 'destined to that good hour.' I beg you to make the proper compliments for me to the gentlemen of your family.

I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.



Martinique, December 27th, 1779.


I take the liberty of enclosing to your Excellency, a paper containing a relation of a late affair, between part of the small squadron commanded by M. la Motte Piquet, and the English fleet, under the orders of Sir Peter Parker. It was given me by direction of the French Admiral, that a true account of this action, which has done him much honor here, might be published in America.

On the 23d of this month, Admiral Arbuthnot arrived at Barbadoes with six or seven sail of the line, and sixteen regiments. An attack on the Grenadas or Dominica, is daily expected. The latter is well fortified and garrisoned by twelve hundred men. The Marquis de Bouillè seems to have no apprehensions for any of their Islands, except those lately taken from the enemy.

Mr Jay informs Congress by this opportunity, of the misfortune which befel us, and the reasons which induced the officers to bring the ship to this Island.[3] I can only[Pg 21] express my regret for the delay, which this accident will occasion in the execution of the business with which Congress has done us the honor to intrust us. With the highest sentiments of respect,

I have the honor to be, &c.



[3] See Jay's Correspondence, Vol. VII. p. 174.


Madrid, February 18th, 1780.

Dear Sir,

I did myself the honor of writing to you by a courier whom the French Ambassador despatched to Cadiz yesterday morning; since which, I have been introduced to their Excellencies, delivered your letter to the latter, and explained to the former the reasons, which induce you to address the other, with which he was perfectly satisfied. Don Joseph de Galves told me, that he should give your letter to the Count de Florida Blanca, whose business it was to lay it before the King, and receive his orders on the subject, and that the Count or himself would be directed to answer it. I repeated the substance of your instructions to me as far as they respect him, and was answered, that he would take an opportunity of conversing with me on our affairs, and would inform me through the French Ambassador, when it would be convenient for him to receive me. Some compliments passed with respect to the characters he had received of us, which it is unnecessary to repeat.

The Count de Florida Blanca told me that he would lay your letter before the King the same night for his consideration. I took this opportunity of mentioning the[Pg 22] pleasure it would give Congress to hear of your reception at Madrid, from the earnest desire they had to cultivate the King's friendship, that their expectations were sanguine, having been led to believe the dispositions of the Court were favorable, by the suggestions of persons supposed to be well acquainted with its intentions, that the hopes of the people were also great, and I hinted, that there were several vessels about to sail from Bilboa, and the ports of France, by which you would be happy to communicate this news to Congress, and to gratify the expectations of the people.

He then told me he had informed the King of your arrival at Cadiz, although they had understood your original destination was to France; that the King had ordered him to receive your overtures, and that I was at liberty to give you this information, and after a pause, added, that on Monday he hoped to have it in his power to return an answer. You will please to observe, that it had not been read by either when this conversation passed. He also told me, that he would take an opportunity to converse with me, and would inform me when it would be convenient for him to see me through the channel beforementioned.

On Monday next I go to the Pardo, by their appointment. Here I see every day a person, who I believe to be sent by them to converse with me, although I appear to know nothing of his connexion with the Court. I think you may make the necessary preparations for your journey on the receipt of this. Messrs Adams and Dana were at Bordeaux the 2d instant. They mean to proceed to Amsterdam from thence, so that the plan spoken of has taken place. They go in a good time, as the Dutch are at present much irritated against Great Britain.

[Pg 23]Mr Arthur Lee corresponded with the Count de Florida Blanca, but if I am well informed, the correspondence consisted of American news on the one part, and compliment on the other.[4] M. Gerard leaves this tomorrow, he has had conversations with the Spanish Ministers, of about two hours at one time and three at another. I am in a way of obtaining most of the information you desired. I beg you to present the proper compliments to your lady and Colonel Livingston.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[4] See Arthur Lee's Correspondence, Vol. II. pp. 36–54.


Madrid, February 19th, 1780.


The short time I remained at Cadiz, and the constant employment in which I was engaged of copying Mr Jay's letters and making the necessary preparations for my journey, prevented me from doing myself the honor of writing to your Excellency from thence. But having now an opportunity by M. Gerard to France, and an offer from M. Gardoqui to forward my letters by the way of Bilboa, I enclose to Congress copies of those I have written to Mr Jay since my arrival in this city, as they contain the most material intelligence I have been able to procure. I have every reason to be pleased with the disposition of those whom I have seen here, as well foreigners as natives, and I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for the liberal and friendly manner in which I have been received by the[Pg 24] Count de Montmorin, the Ambassador of France, which I should impute entirely to M. Gerard's good offices, was not his own good will and desire to conform to the favorable disposition of his Court apparent. M. Gerard in the circle of foreign Ministers, is more of an American than a Frenchman, and I should do him injustice if I did not mention it.

The English squadron sailed from Gibraltar the 13th instant, and part of it is said to be destined for the West Indies. The French will have seventytwo sail of the line in actual service this year. The troops, at the disposition of the person mentioned in the first[5] letter to Mr Jay, will amount to near four thousand, and consist chiefly of Germans; six sail of the line will escort them, and I am well informed they will sail in less than two months. It is said the English Ministry will be able to procure the necessary supplies for the present year, owing to their late successes. I beg leave, through your Excellency, to assure Congress of my unremitted attention to merit the confidence reposed in me.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[5] See Jay's Correspondence, Vol. VII. p. 207.


Aranjues, May 28th, 1780.


Mr Jay having judged it proper for me to reside at this place while the Court remains here, I did not know until his letters for Congress were closed, that Mr Harrison,[Pg 25] who charges himself with the care of them to Cadiz, was on the point of setting out from Madrid for that city. This prevented me from assisting him in copying papers, which he tells me he has transmitted by this opportunity. I regret exceedingly, my not having received earlier information, because I wished to convey several papers, which I do not choose to trust to the ordinary post. Our situation in this respect is very disagreeable and delicate, for we can neither send nor receive letters without their being subject to the inspection of others, and, indeed, we have sometimes the mortification to hear of the arrival of letters from America in the sea-ports, which, notwithstanding, never reach us. Our opportunities of information thus become very precarious, and I am much afraid, that the same cause will frequently interrupt our correspondence with Congress.

Before Mr Jay arrived in the capital, I did myself the honor to inform his Excellency, the President, of my arrival at Madrid, and enclosed him copies of the letters I wrote to Mr Jay, on the subject of his reception, and of the disposition in which the Court appeared to be. As I sent several copies of these letters, I subjoined all that occurred worthy of the notice of Congress in the interval of the departure of several copies. Not having had any instructions to address myself to Congress, unless in the absence of Mr Jay, or in case of any event that deprived the public of his services, I know not whether I may not appear officious at present; particularly as I have already communicated to him regularly, all the intelligence I have been able to procure, as also my reflections on that intelligence, which his ability and long experience in affairs, will enable him to put in a much clearer point of view than[Pg 26] I can pretend to do. If I err, I hope the Committee will set me right, and instruct me how to conduct myself in future.

The King, the Prince of Asturias, and the Ministry, appear favorable to our cause, but I am much afraid their ability to assist us in the article of money, is neither equal to our expectations, or their desires to serve us. The papers sent by Mr Jay, will show the sentiments of this Court with respect to the object of his mission. I think the negotiation will be attended with more delay than Congress had reason to apprehend when we left America. This Court manifest a strong desire of excluding every other nation from the navigation of the Mississippi, and indeed of the Gulf of Mexico. The situation of the affairs of America will undoubtedly regulate the conduct of Congress on this subject, and I hope it will be such as to enable them to adhere to the rights of all the States.

Our enemies are making use of the time before Spain takes a decided opinion, to sow jealousies between us. Governor Johnson sounded the dispositions of this Court early last winter. At the close of it Sir John Dalrymple obtained permission to come to Madrid, on the pretence of the bad state of health of his lady. His strange Memorial to the Count de Florida Blanca, is transmitted to you.[6] I have no doubts that other attempts will be made to bring about a negotiation. If they succeed no better than Sir John's, we shall not have much to apprehend on that score. The Count de Florida Blanca appears to act with much candor, and gives Mr Jay such strong and frequent assurances of the King's favorable[Pg 27] intentions, and his own disposition to second them, that I hope we may rely on what he tells us. His character for probity is high in this country, and among the foreign Ministers at this Court. As I have frequent opportunities of mixing with the latter, I have not omitted to give them proper impressions of our strength, union, and firmness, without seeming too solicitous to do it. It is possible, that if the neutral maritime powers were fully persuaded of this unanimity and firmness, and were sincerely disposed to bring about a peace, instead of regarding with pleasure the mutual losses of the House of Bourbon and Great Britain, they might end the war by declaring their disposition to acknowledge our independence.

The King of Prussia seems to be a cool calculator, prepared to profit by the general distress. Denmark is influenced by Russia, and Sweden by France. Great Britain also still retains some influence in Denmark. The Court of Vienna will be adverse to us, as long as the Empress Queen exists. How the Emperor is inclined, I do not know. Sardinia and Portugal are friendly and attached to England. The Dutch are divided into parties, neither of which is strong enough to give firmness and decision to the conduct of the Republic. The Stadtholder and his party find means to thwart and retard all the vigorous resolves, which the French and republican party engage the state to enter into, to support their honor and dignity. The hopes entertained in Great Britain of the influence of the former party, and the proneness of the King and his Ministers to violent measures, induced the late extraordinary conduct of that Court, with respect to the Dutch. They will submit to this and more, rather than go to war. If the Empress of Russia is determined to support[Pg 28] her late declaration, and to coincide effectually with the powers whom she has invited to accede to it, Great Britain must, however, recede from her present conduct, or offend highly the neutral powers.

The negotiation between Russia and Holland proceeds slowly. The Court party in England has gained once more its superiority in Parliament; a feigned sickness of the speaker, Sir Fletcher Norton, gave the Minister time to rally his forces, since which opposition grows more feeble every day. That of Ireland, for want of system and union among its members, and by the promises of places and honors, is a little staggered. There is however a fermentation in both nations, which the continuance of the war and its consequent distresses will probably increase, if not bring to maturity. The distresses of our army last winter, the depreciation of our paper money, the exaggerated accounts of our divisions, and our apparent inactivity, have had a bad effect in Europe, which I hope the firmness and unanimity of Congress, added to the exertions of our ally, and those of this Court, will entirely efface.

The expedition, which sailed from Cadiz the 28th ultimo, consisting of twelve sail of the line, besides frigates, and eleven thousand five hundred men, proceeds to the Windward Islands, and there joins M. de Guichen, or goes against Jamaica or the Floridas, as circumstances may render it proper. Another expedition from France, follows M. Ternay's, I believe, to reinforce M. de Guichen, who, if I am not deceived, will join the Spaniards to the leeward in the hurricane months, and if necessary and practicable, send eight or ten ships to our coasts in the beginning of the autumn. This depends, however, much on[Pg 29] the events of war. Spain in concurrence with France, will have between forty and fifty sail of the line, to oppose the grand English fleet, which I am informed will sail the last of this month or the beginning of next. The allied fleet is not in such readiness. Strong interest is making for the Count d'Estaing to command in chief, and I think he will be nominated.

A very little time will determine the fate of the bills drawn on Mr Jay. I received the first last week, in a letter from M. Nesbitt of L'Orient who very prudently did not negotiate it, until he consulted me on the subject. I am also informed, that bills on Mr Laurens are in circulation, and we have not yet heard of his arrival. I have written to Dr Franklin, and Messrs Adams and Dana, and if I have not heard from them oftener, I impute it to the miscarriage of their letters, which was the case of those of Dr Franklin, the first two months after my arrival at Madrid. Mr Jay will transmit an account of the revenues, and expenses of Spain, with which I have furnished him, which will show, that Congress cannot depend on such pecuniary assistance from this nation as they expected.

Mr Jay's situation has been particularly disagreeable; the sum allotted by Congress, by no means accords with his necessary expenses, even if he received his salary as it became due. I do not complain, although I have been obliged since my departure from America to expend more than six hundred and fifty pounds sterling, and have not as yet received more than two hundred pounds of my salary. Almost everything that passes, even in Congress, is known here, either by intercepted letters, or otherwise. You, Gentlemen, will conceive, how delicate Mr Jay's situation must be, if he delivers faithfully his sentiments[Pg 30] of men and measures. I must repeat again, however, that there is a great appearance of candor and good faith. The Count de Florida Blanca, and M. Galvez speak with much apparent civility and frankness, and seem desirous of doing all that is possible to succor us consistent with the actual situation of their finances, the former particularly. I have sent a copy of this via Bilboa, and another from Cadiz. I have not yet had the pleasure of receiving one letter from any one member of Congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[6] See this Memorial in John Jay's Correspondence, Vol. VII. p. 268.


Madrid, July 17th, 1780.


Since writing the preceding letter, bills to the amount of about fifteen thousand dollars have been presented, and at a time when the news of our misfortune at Charleston made an impression much to our disadvantage. These bills however are accepted, and the Count de Florida Blanca appears to interest himself more than ever in contributing to aid us, repeating in the strongest manner his Catholic Majesty's favorable intentions. What he hinted at with respect to the attempts of the enemy, to thwart Mr Jay's negotiations has proved true. A Mr Cumberland, Secretary to Lord George Germain, has obtained permission to come to Madrid, and is actually here at present. But as his Excellency has promised to communicate his proposals, whatever they may be, on the subject of an accommodation, we cannot entertain a doubt, but that he will do it with the same frankness, with which he made[Pg 31] known to us those of Sir John Dalrymple. The Count de Montmorin, Ambassador for France here, is not the least alarmed by the reception of this gentleman, and that Court is full as much interested as we are in the object for which he is sent. Mr Jay will transmit to Congress a narrative, which I have given him, of this gentleman's motions.

We have likewise received an account of the death of M. Miralles. He will soon have a successor, by whom we shall write more fully, and I hope more to the satisfaction of Congress. Nothing can hurt us here, or in Europe, so long as we are united, firm, and vigorous. I experienced at first a little coldness from the foreign Ministers at this Court, after the news of the surrender of Charleston, but that is worn off.

The public papers will announce the disturbances, which have lately arisen at London; all is at present quiet in that quarter, and government seems to have acquired fresh confidence and vigor. The Count d'Estaing is expected at St Ildefonso the 1st of next month, to go from thence to take the command of the united fleets, which will consist of thirtysix sail of the line, from Cadiz, including the French from Toulon, and other French ports, and twelve or fifteen from Brest. The last advices import that the English squadron amounted to twentyeight, chiefly capital ships; they left port about the 20th ult. The rest of Europe is in the same situation that I have already mentioned.

Since writing my letter of the 28th of May, I received a letter from the Baron de Schulenburg,[7] of which the enclosed is a copy, in answer to a civil letter, which I wrote[Pg 32] him on my arrival here, representing the situation of our affairs in a favorable light. I daily expect another letter from him more particular, in consequence of an address, which I have transmitted to him, by which he may write to me in safety. I have cultivated the friendship of the foreign Ministers and their Secretaries as often as I have had occasion, and as I have always avoided an appearance of prejudice, I flatter myself, that I have been listened to with attention. My conduct has been the same with those of this nation with whom I have found means to be acquainted, and I doubt not, with time and patience, we shall ultimately succeed. I cannot speak too highly of the conduct of the Count de Montmorin, personally or politically. M. Gerard in his letters to me, expresses the same attachment as ever to our cause, and his late acquisition of dignity and consequence, puts it more in his power to be useful to us. As yet, Mr Jay has received but one letter from Congress, which conveyed their resolves respecting the bills of exchange drawn on him. I beg leave to acknowledge the receipt of a letter from Mr Houston last week, which I shall answer, if possible, by this opportunity.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[7] Missing.


St Ildefonso, August 22d, 1780.


In the course of this month I did myself the honor of writing to you by the General Pickering from Bilboa, and the Captain Kyan from Cadiz, as also via France. In these[Pg 33] letters I informed you of the situation of our affairs here, and of that of Europe in general; since which, we have advanced very little. The Minister had informed Mr Jay, on the 5th of July, that he had sent for a person to succeed M. Miralles, and that on his arrival, arrangements would be made with respect to the bills presented to Mr Jay for payment, and that he would then enter into discussions on the other objects of Mr Jay's mission. Before and since that period, bills to the amount of thirty thousand dollars have been presented, of which Mr Jay has accepted for fourteen thousand, by the direction of the Minister, and none of the others have as yet been protested.

You will see by a state of the finances of this country, which in compliance with Mr Jay's instructions to me, at my departure from Cadiz, I have had the honor to give him, that their revenues and resources since the war have greatly diminished, and that previous to that period, they were by no means so flourishing as Congress had reason to suppose. In most of the conferences with the Minister, the scarcity of cash has been objected more than the want of inclination, and hints have been thrown out, that it would be much more convenient for the Court, to grant the United States aids in money from their possessions in America than in Europe. Although hopes have been as constantly given, that a part of the sum drawn for would be furnished at the end of the present year, or commencement of the next, and that measures in the mean time might be taken to prevent embarrassments, in case of the arrival of bills after that period, great surprise has been expressed, that Congress should take such a step without previously informing the Court of their intentions, and obtaining its[Pg 34] approbation of the measure. Congress will therefore judge of the propriety of disposing of any bills, that may remain unsold, until it is fully ascertained, that they will be punctually paid. Mr Jay, now at Madrid, where the death of his child, and the consequent distresses of his family, detain him a few days, will undoubtedly transmit more ample intelligence on this subject, with the various papers in his possession necessary to explain it. This Court has been obliged to make considerable loans, for their own current expenses, the nature of which I hope to be able to explain in a future letter. It has lately obtained seven millions, five hundred thousand current dollars, in France and elsewhere. The loan is for nine millions, and from the nature of it will create a temporary paper circulation to that amount in this kingdom. I shall transmit to Congress, as soon as it becomes public, a full detail of its operations.

Mr Cumberland, whom I mentioned in my last, and whose name you will find in all the European gazettes, is still at Madrid, from whence he has lately had permission to send a courier to London, but as the Spanish Minister has engaged to impart any serious proposals he may make, and as the French Ambassador expresses no uneasiness from the residence of this gentleman in Spain, although this circumstance at this crisis is extraordinary, we cannot presume there can be solid ground for apprehension. Considerable revolutions, however, have happened in the system of politics of this country, ever since the accession of the House of Bourbon, and where governments are often more influenced by the counsels, and sometimes the caprices of individuals, than from regard to the real and permanent interest of a nation, there is always something[Pg 35] to fear. Congress judging from the assurances of the Minister, and the King's character, which is remarkable for steadiness, on the one part, and from the circumstance of Mr Cumberland's residence here, and the constant endeavors of our enemies by every insidious art to misrepresent our situation, on the other, will be best able to draw conclusions from the whole.

The treaty proposed by Russia to the neutral maritime powers, to secure their commerce, and protect their navigation, has been or will be acceded to by Sweden, Denmark, the Hanseatic towns, and Holland, and a Russian squadron is expected in the Channel daily. Portugal, it is said, influenced by England, will not accede to this treaty, which will put a stop to the piratical conduct of that country. France and Spain exclaim, against the partiality of Portugal to Great Britain, and I have been informed, but I do not pretend to vouch for the authenticity of the intelligence, that strong representations have been made to that Court, either to shut its ports against the armed vessels of the nations at war, or to take a part in it. The French Minister to that Court said something to the same purpose to me at Madrid, on his way to Lisbon. The English at present sell their prizes there, without the formality of condemnation.

The Count d'Estaing is now here, and on every occasion manifests the strongest attachment to the United States and their interests. The general opinion gives him the command of a part, if not the whole of the combined fleets, which amount to thirty six sail of the line, now at sea, commanded by M. Cordova. The English fleet under Geary, is also cruizing between Ushant and Cape St Vincent, to prevent the junction of the ships from Brest[Pg 36] and Ferrol with the Spanish Admiral, and to protect their outward end homeward bound convoys, and to intercept those of the allies.

I had written thus far, when a courier arrived with the important news of the combined fleets having fallen in with, and taken fiftysix sail out of sixty, destined to the East and West Indies, Madeira and Quebec. I have requested Mr Harrison at Cadiz to enclose to the Committee a list of the prizes, and the nature of their cargoes, as it has not yet been received here. This will be severely felt in England, and will occasion more clamor against the Ministry, than all their naval losses since the war. Mr Jay has heard from Congress but once since we have been in Spain, and very seldom from our other correspondents, the last letters from Paris, mention that Messrs Franklin, Adams, and Dana, were well, and that Mr Adams was going to Holland.

I have the honor to be, &c.


P. S. Since sending off a copy of the preceding letter, I have the pleasure to inform you, that the gentleman expected by the Minister has arrived, and proves to be Don Diego Gardoqui, who is already known by his former correspondence with America. Our affairs are once more in train, some bills have been accepted since his arrival, but nothing certain has been as yet determined, and indeed I fear the Court is too much pressed for money, to do anything considerable for us here in that way. Probably this gentleman will be sent to America, by whom we shall have an opportunity, I hope, of conveying the final determination of the Court with respect to our affairs. The[Pg 37] navigation of the Mississippi appears to be the great, and if we can credit the assertions of men in power, the sole obstacle.

Mr Cumberland has been here, and is expected again with his family in a few days. I have been informed, that he has offered on the part of Great Britain, to restore to Spain what they lost by the treaty of Paris, and has been permitted to reside at this Court in expectation of being authorised to make further concessions, and indeed on no other principle can I account for his residence here at this crisis. I mentioned in my letter of the 22d ult., that representations had been made to the Court of Portugal, either to shut its ports against the armed vessels of all nations at war, or take a part in it. I have the honor to inform you, that the above Court has consented to the first of these propositions, although this is not yet public. Another vessel has arrived at Nantes from Philadelphia, by which neither Mr Jay nor myself have received any letters. The Russian fleet, consisting of fifteen sail of the line, and four frigates, is arrived in England. Admiral Geary returned to Spithead the 19th ult. This fleet, it is said, will soon be sent to sea, although he had upwards of two thousand sick when he returned to port. Stocks fell considerably in England when the news arrived of the loss of the convoy beforementioned.

A fleet of seven sail of the line sailed from Ferrol the 22d ult. to convoy off the coast a fleet of transports for the French islands, and probably to cruise to intercept the homeward and outward bound fleets of the enemy. This circumstance joined to the late loss of the convoy, has raised insurance prodigiously in London. The Parliament does not meet until the 28th of September.

W. C.

[Pg 38]


St Ildefonso, September 9th, 1780.


I did myself the honor of writing to you the 6th instant, via Cadiz, Bilboa, and France, informing you that the person mentioned in my letters of last month, as chosen by the Minister to succeed M. Miralles, had arrived here, and proves to be M. James Gardoqui, and that since his arrival, our affairs are once more in train. I also mentioned that the Ministry were negotiating loans, to answer extraordinary expenses. I expected to have been able to send the Committee a full account of the nature of these loans, as I founded my hopes of the Court's paying the bills drawn on Mr Jay, by means of the supplies obtained in this way. I am therefore very sorry to inform the Committee, that the success of the most considerable has not answered the expectations of the Ministers, and what is worse, they impute its failure to the interference of M. Necker and others, influenced by that Minister, which has created a soreness, that for the moment must be disagreeable to our ally, and may be disadvantageous to us, unless more important considerations obviate the ill effects to be apprehended from such disappointment, and the personal disgust and resentment consequent thereof.

A person with whom I am well acquainted, is the projector of the loan abovementioned, and although for near three months I have known that such a measure was in agitation, I was not able to discover the plan, it having been preserved with great secrecy, in order to secure its successful and complete operation. As this measure is so far important to Congress, as it may influence the conduct of[Pg 39] the Court with respect to money matters, and affect the credit of the nation in future, on which all the vigor of military operations in a great measure depends, I will endeavor to give the outlines of the money negotiation to the Committee, and will forward the plan and the King's ordinance thereon as soon as I receive them.

The original design of this loan was to procure nine millions of dollars, or thirtysix millions of livres in four months, and possibly to enlarge the sum according to exigencies. The projector was to receive ten per cent for expenses and profit, which he was at liberty to divide as he thought proper with the original lenders. To these, I think, he gave three, or three and a half per cent for the use of their money for four months, which money they were to remit in bills of exchange on Spain, and to redraw at the end of four months for their principal and interest. The great secret of the operation is, that government instead of repaying their bills in specie, issues paper to repay them, the credit of which is guarantied by the Crown and the different Chambers or Councils of the Kingdom, viz of Castile, &c. &c. This paper bears an interest of four per cent. A cedula, or royal ordinance, will be published the 20th or 21st of this month, which gives it currency, and inflicts severe penalties on any one who refuses it as a legal payment. M. Necker did not discover the latter part of the scheme until large sums had been remitted from France, and I suppose, fearing that its operation would be complete before his representations of what he thought its evil tendency, could be attended to here, he immediately gave orders not to receive the bills of exchange of the houses concerned in this measure at the Caisse Royale in France. Besides, the house of Gerardot, Haller & Co. one of the[Pg 40] most considerable in Europe, and of which he was once the head, and his brother is still a partner, wrote circular letters to all parts of Europe discrediting the loan.

The consequence has been, that the persons in France and elsewhere, whose bills were refused at the Caisse Royale have been pushed here so hard by their creditors, that the Spanish government has been obliged to make considerable remittances to support their credit, that further advances of money have been stopped, and that bills of exchange on Spain have sold at a loss of one and one and a half per cent. This has irritated the merchants here, and perhaps we may be the innocent victims. For I am persuaded, that Spain, without obtaining it by loans, has not money in Europe to afford us considerable aids, how great soever her inclination may be to assist us, and I think the Committee will be of the same opinion, on reading the information I gave Mr Jay on the subject of the revenues of this country, in consequence of his instructions to me at Cadiz.

I shall be happy to have it in my power to inform the Committee, that my apprehensions have been ill grounded.

The fate of our bills must soon be determined. More than forty thousand dollars have been presented, of which the amount of about fourteen thousand have been accepted by order of the Minister. The Count d'Estaing will leave this in a few days, and go to Cadiz; by the time he can arrive at that port, the whole of the combined fleet will be assembled; thirtysix sail are now at Cadiz, seven on a cruise, and two of a hundred and one hundred and ten guns are on their voyage from Brest. The Count will urge a vigorous and decisive conduct, and seems to enjoy the King's esteem, and the good will of most of the Ministers and Courtiers.

[Pg 41]The English emissary, Mr Cumberland, is still at Madrid, and is permitted to receive from and send couriers to London. The conduct of the Court appears unaccountable, and I cannot persuade myself, that it can be agreeable to France, although the Count de Montmorin frequently assures me, that we need not have any inquietude on account of the gentleman's residence. He no doubt, however, endeavors to insinuate many things to our disadvantage, and makes propositions to alienate Spain from the alliance with France, and from supporting the United States. Those about him are perpetually circulating bad news from America, and assert with confidence, that several States and many individuals in others, are negotiating to make their peace with Great Britain. Spain may possibly be amusing his employers, as he is employed to amuse the Spanish Ministry.

The treaty for an armed neutrality was signed by Sweden the 4th of August; Denmark had not signed it the 8th of the same month, but there is no doubt she will. The English party in Holland opposed and retarded it there as long as possible, and finally clogged it with such conditions as they hope will prostrate the negotiation; for instance, they propose to the contracting powers, to guaranty all their possessions in Europe, Asia, and America, but as the States have gone so far, they will scarce recede, should this article be refused by the others. The eyes of Europe are anxiously turned to America and the West Indies; the friends of liberty hope everything from our union and perseverance, and the expectations of our enemies are founded on the reverse. Neither Mr Jay nor myself have received letters from Congress since we left America, except one from the Committee, enclosing the bills of exchange, so[Pg 42] that we are without intelligence, without money, or the certainty of conveying to Congress as regularly as we wish, the information necessary for them to receive, which will plead my apology with the Committee for the repetitions they will meet in this letter of what several other letters contain.

I have the honor to be, &c.


P. S. The declaration of Portugal, shutting their ports against the armed vessels of the nations at war, which I mentioned in a letter of the 6th, has not yet been made public. It is supposed that the present Parliament will be dissolved and a new one called, while the influence of the present Ministry continues high. Considering the scarcity of cash in this country, and the present situation of affairs, perhaps Congress will do well to stop drawing on Mr Jay, until they receive information that their bills will be paid punctually. There appears no forwardness in this Court to enter into treaty; the navigation of the Mississippi is the great obstacle; the situation of America will guide the determinations of Congress, and I hope it will be such as to enable them to preserve the rights of all the States. Negotiations will, probably, be set on foot this winter, and it is likely this Court will be the theatre of them. As Spain has as yet taken no decided part in our revolution, England will rather choose to apply to this Court, and keep up the old idea of restoring peace by her mediation, than that of Versailles. Hints have been given, that it would be more convenient for Spain to furnish the States with money in America than here, but as they seem to think that America has not proposed an equivalent for[Pg 43] what they demand, I am afraid assistance will be given very faintly.

W. C.


St Ildefonso, September 25th, 1780.


I did myself the honor of addressing you the 6th and 9th instant, and in the latter expressed an apprehension, that Congress would not receive the pecuniary aid they expected in this country. I am now sorry to inform you, that on the 13th, Mr Jay was told by order of the Minister, that their own exigencies would not permit the King to provide funds for the payment of more of the bills than had been already accepted. I make no reflections on this event, and hope the Committee will suspend theirs, until Congress shall have received from Mr Jay, a relation of all that has passed here since the month of June last, with the papers necessary to elucidate it. In a day or two after the above information, his Majesty was pleased to offer his responsibility to facilitate a loan for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in favor of the United States, and to promise some clothing, &c. &c.

On the 23d, Mr Jay had a long conference with the Count de Florida Blanca, the particulars of which I immediately reduced to writing, as I have done with respect to others which preceded this, copies of the most material parts of which Mr Jay will, probably, forward to Congress with his other despatches. In this conference, the Count spoke with much pleasure of a resolution of Congress, permitting the exportation of flour, for the use of the Spanish fleets and armies in the West Indies, as also of[Pg 44] measures taken by them to make a diversion to the southward, to facilitate their operations against Pensacola, &c. &c. He said to Mr Jay, that the King had directed him to convey his thanks to Congress for those marks of their friendly disposition, and gave the strongest assurances, that his Majesty would never consent to a pacification, which did not include the interests of America, declaring at the same time, that the negotiations for peace were more remote than ever, although, as he observed, the King had been offered all he could desire from England, in order to induce him to a separate peace. He informed Mr Jay he had received intelligence, that Great Britain once more proposed to send Commissioners to treat with Congress, that this measure was under the consideration of the Privy Council, and would, probably, be adopted.

I seize the earliest opportunity of conveying to the Committee thus much of the conference, as most important for Congress to know, to which I add, that the Minister promised to take immediate measures for putting it in the power of Mr Jay, to evidence and avail himself of the responsibility of the King, and forwarding from Cadiz clothing for ten regiments, for the use of the American army. In the course of this conference, the Count de Florida Blanca asserted with warmth, that the King would never relinquish the navigation of the Mississippi, and the Ministry regarded the exclusive right to it as the principal advantage Spain would obtain by the war. This being the bar to the treaty, it seems not improbable, that this Court will not be in a hurry to treat with us, but rather trust to her interest in a general Congress for peace to obtain her favorite objects, preserving, in the meantime, such a line of conduct, as will enable her, in some meas[Pg 45]ure, to be a mediator in it, with which idea she has been, and is flattered by England.

Mr Cumberland, whom I have frequently mentioned in former letters, still remains at Madrid. The Abbé Hussey, his coadjutor, has just received a passport to go to Lisbon, from whence he will, probably, embark for London, and return with the ultimatum of that Court, and intelligence for the Spanish Minister, for it is not improbable, he may be a better spy than negotiator. All this, however, is conjecture. In all probability, great efforts will be made next campaign in America, if the war continues, as we are told it will. The great objects of it are in that part of the world. France is engaged at all hazards to support our independence, and will do it, and Spain is desirous of possessing the entire navigation of the Gulf of Mexico. I take the liberty of repeating these reflections to the Committee, as they arise from conversations on this subject with persons in a situation to be well informed.

The different powers at war will, however, find some difficulty to procure money. England has not completed her last loans. France has begun to tax, and must continue to do so, notwithstanding the great economy of their Minister of Finances. The last operations of this Court to procure money, of which I gave the Committee a sketch in my last letter, and the state of the revenues, which I gave Mr Jay in my answer to his instructions, will show them the wants of this country. The interference of M. Necker in the operation beforementioned, deprived this Court of near two millions of pesos, and greatly irritated the Ministry. I hope, however, their resentments have subsided. This failure, they give as one reason for not being able to advance the money we expected, to[Pg 46] enable Mr Jay to pay the bills drawn on him by Congress. Mr Jay has, however, at all hazards, accepted those which have been presented, and is taking every step in his power to provide money to pay them, as also those that may be disposed of in America, previous to the advice he has given Congress on this head.

The English Ministry are likely to have a large majority in the new Parliament, which is generally the case in time of war. The great neutral maritime powers of Europe, seem to regard the present war as an event favorable to the augmentation of their commerce, and will, probably, do so, until one or the other of the contending parties engaged in it appear to have a decided superiority. Portugal seems better disposed to the allies than heretofore. This change is, probably, the result of fear, more than of affection. The combined fleet at Cadiz, consists of fortythree sail of the line, besides frigates, &c. &c. The Count d'Estaing commands the French part of the fleet, and the whole is in readiness to put to sea. During his residence at this Court I was frequently with him, and he professes the same ardent desire to serve us as ever.

I cannot forbear mentioning to the Committee, my sense of the friendly and polite conduct of the Count de Montmorin to me ever since my arrival here, nor can I conclude, without remarking the good effects that our union, vigor, and perseverance have had in Europe. A continuance of these will render us respectable to our enemies, and of consequence to our friends.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 47]


Madrid, October 15th, 1780.


My last to the Committee was of the 25th ultimo, since which time Mr Jay has received a letter from Dr Franklin, to whom, as well as to the Count de Vergennes, he wrote on the subject of his disappointment in money matters here; this letter has given us much pleasure. The Court of France continues to manifest the same generous conduct towards us as ever, notwithstanding its own embarrassments for money. It has in fact agreed to furnish another million of livres, to answer new demands and old claims. Among the former, Dr Franklin comprised the twentyfive thousand dollars drawn by the order of Congress on Mr Jay. Only two bills of that sum have as yet been presented, and between eighty and one hundred thousand of those first drawn, all of which have been accepted.

Every post augments the sum, and we are still uncertain whether money will be procured in time to pay them, particularly should the bills for the whole soon come to hand. The Minister apparently has endeavored, and is endeavoring, to procure money for this purpose. M. Gardoqui, who will probably succeed M. Miralles, and a gentleman who planned the loan I mentioned in my letter of the 9th ultimo, are interesting themselves in this business. If either of these gentlemen can procure money, or if the Crown can obtain it by other means, it is probable that Mr Jay will be furnished with a part, if not the whole of the money necessary for this use. But I am still afraid its ability will not correspond with our wants and our wishes. The Court has given orders to enable Mr Har[Pg 48]rison at Cadiz, to obtain and ship the clothing for ten regiments, mentioned in my last. This gentleman is a native of Maryland, is well known in that State, and has on this, as on all occasions, manifested a disinterested zeal in the service of his country.

There is no alteration in the political state of Europe since my last, and no event of consequence in the operations of the war. The convention for the armed neutrality is not finally concluded, but I am told the Empress of Russia is determined to maintain the system proposed by her. The States of Holland have not yet acceded to it. Their Plenipotentiaries were instructed to add some articles; one of which is, to procure the restitution of their vessels unlawfully captured by the English, another to make it a common cause, in case the Republic should be molested in consequence of her accession, and also that her possessions in all parts of the world, should be guarantied by the contracting parties. Their mediation is also proposed to bring about an accommodation between the powers at war. These articles in the instructions, were inserted by the friends of England, in order to retard, if not defeat the measure, so far as it respected the States. It has leaked out from the Court of Petersburg, perhaps expressly, that the English Minister at that Court, declared to the Empress, that the King was disposed to respect the neutrality, provided Holland was excluded. This has come to the knowledge of the plenipotentiaries, and it is supposed on being known to the States, will hasten the conclusion of the affair, which must put an end to the piratical rapacity of Great Britain, or involve her in new and great difficulties.

Two Russian vessels, captured and carried into Eng[Pg 49]land, have been released, while Dutch vessels with similar cargoes are condemned. The Court of Portugal has given orders to equip several vessels of war, and seems inclined at present to preserve a strict neutrality, prompted to this more by fear than inclination. The combined fleet is still at Cadiz, it consists of between forty and fifty sail of the line, and has provisions on board for six months. The Count d'Estaing has provided clothing for the winter, for his seamen and marines, and M. de Guichen is expected with much impatience. His destination is a secret, but I think he has a strong desire of visiting our part of the world once more. He will not be inactive, if he can avoid being so.

The Committee will probably take notice of an article in the foreign papers, which mentions a revolt in Peru. This if true and serious as represented, would be an event as important as disagreeable. I have as yet no reason to believe it of the nature represented, if true. The Ministry have taken no extraordinary measures, in consequence of this intelligence, except the fitting out some packet boats for that part of the world, which may be done to obtain more regular advice, than they have had from thence for some time past. If it should appear, that there is any foundation for this report, you may depend on my endeavors to give the earliest and most accurate information I can obtain with respect to the causes and consequences of such an event.

Mr Jay means to send soon large packets to Congress, to which I beg leave to refer the Committee for more minute details on the subject of this and my other letters, than I can furnish it, from not being in possession of the[Pg 50] various papers, and communications which respect the mission.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, November 28th, 1780.


I did myself the honor of addressing the Committee frequently in the course of the last month; this letter, therefore, can furnish little besides a confirmation of what I then believed to be the disposition of the Court, of the state of Europe, and of this part of it more particularly, derived from the best information in my power to obtain.

I have in a great measure confined my inquiries to two objects, the situation of the finances of Spain and its disposition toward us and our ally. Every day gives me reason to think the former are critically circumstanced. I know from good authority the ways and means for the next year are not devised yet, and I have great reason to believe that the necessary funds cannot be procured by taxation, because the augmentation of the present year's taxes has not produced what the Ministry expected, and neither the commerce nor produce of Spain will permit further efforts in this way. In short, the current expenses of 1780 have exceeded the revenue twentyfive millions of dollars, and notwithstanding, the arrearages to the public creditors are considerable.

The loan for nine millions of dollars, mentioned in my former letters, is not yet completed, in part owing to the obstacles thrown in its way by M. Necker. The resent[Pg 51]ment of the Spanish Ministry, which this interference excited, has not yet subsided, and I am afraid the prejudices thereby excited will not soon be eradicated, although common interest may stifle them apparently at present. The mode of raising money in the manner heretofore mentioned may become the only plan practicable, should others now in contemplation not succeed, and Spain may be obliged to have recourse to paper, from inability to procure money by other methods.

The Court of Great Britain is well informed of their situation through Mr Cumberland, their emissary here, who spends a great deal of money. Influenced by which, and other advices, the King has, in his speech to Parliament, openly avowed his determination to prosecute the war with vigor, and he will be supported by a great majority in both houses. From the best information I have been able to collect, I am sorry to tell you, that the nation will be able to borrow the sum demanded for the expenditures of 1781, which with the usual vote of credit at the end of the session, will amount to sixteen millions sterling at least. The scheme of the Ministry to effect this is not yet public, but I am told, it will be on similar conditions to those of the present year. Ninetytwo thousand men are voted for the marine, and I have reason to think a considerable reinforcement will be sent early to the southward, and that agreeably to a proposition of Sir J. Amherst, the enemy means to occupy and fortify strongly a port near the month of Chesapeake Bay, from which with a strong garrison and a naval force, they hope to interrupt the navigation of the Bay, and by frequent incursions prevent the States of Maryland and Virginia from sending supplies of men, &c. &c. to the Carolinas. Among the troops men[Pg 52]tioned to be embarked there, are three regiments of light dragoons. Your servants nearer Great Britain will give you more accurate information.

I am persuaded that our ally will take early measures for defeating these designs. This latter information is derived indirectly from conversations with men in a situation to be well informed. The disposition of this Court depends much on its hopes of obtaining the objects for which it commenced the war, and I should not merit the confidence reposed in me if I did not tell you plainly, that I believe that the exclusive possession of the Gulf of Mexico is the favorite object, and that if they cannot obtain it by a connexion with the United States, they will endeavor to procure it, by a general, if not by a separate peace, to which the King's good faith is, perhaps, at present the greatest obstacle. The Congress knows best the situation of their affairs, and I hope it may be such as to enable them to preserve the rights of all the States.

As I have frequent occasions of seeing the foreign Ministers here, and their Secretaries, I am too often obliged to remark their partiality for Great Britain, and jealousy of the house of Bourbon, particularly those of Russia, Vienna, Sardinia, Portugal, and Holland. Some of these, in my opinion, are the best spies England employs here. Jealousy on the one hand, and on the other compassion and admiration, begin to take the place of envy and interest. The transition from these to friendship and support is not difficult, if their masters do not differ in sentiments from their servants. Our perseverance, vigor, and exertions occasion a hesitation with respect to the event of the war, which augments or diminishes in proportion to their ideas of the intentions of this Court, which leads me to think it[Pg 53] probable, that if Spain would enter into positive engagements with the United States, the hopes of the enemy to divide the allies would be at an end; the neutral powers would think our independence certain, and would endeavor to terminate the war, while Great Britain is in such a situation as to be able to preserve her other possessions.

Should the situation of affairs in America be in a worse situation than I hope they are, and should the Congress judge it necessary for their establishment to make further advances and sacrifices, permit me to take the liberty of observing, that these offers should be accompanied with a proviso of this Court's avowing the independence of the States immediately, otherwise the offers should be considered as null, and no pretensions formed thereon in a treaty for a general peace. At the same time, it might suit the States to procure a sum in specie from the Spanish settlements in America, and to obtain certain advantages of preference in the admission of the produce of their fisheries into the ports of Spain. I think it my duty to write you fully and freely the sentiments which arise from the opportunity of information you have given me, and should be happy to give you such as would be more acceptable to you, and more conformable to my wishes.

Mr Jay has received and accepted your bills to the amount of fifteen thousand dollars, and I hope will be enabled to pay them; but this business has thwarted the other part of his mission here, in showing our necessities so plainly. For this Court seems to expect equivalents for services rendered, and the interest of money advanced to us is not its object. This leads me to repeat what I mentioned in a former letter, of the King's satisfaction for a resolution of Congress, permitting the exportation of flour[Pg 54] to the Havana, and that every similar manifestation of amity will much contribute to counteract the intrigues of the enemy here. The Minister of the Indies lately assured me, that his Majesty had directed him to return thanks, through the Chevalier de la Luzerne, for the respect shown at the interment of M. Miralles.

Having mentioned this gentleman, I am induced to speak of his intended successor, M. Gardoqui, who has now been named near five months, yet is still here. This detention is one reason among many others, which makes me fear the Court has not taken a decisive part for the next year, although the last declarations of the Minister on this subject were clear and positive. I have purposely omitted speaking of the operations of the war in Europe, and other articles of intelligence, in order to have it in my power to give you the latest I have received. I hear from England, that Mr Laurens is closely confined, and treated as a prisoner of State. The Committee may be persuaded, that retaliation on some of the English prisoners of consequence, will be regarded in Europe as a proof of the confidence of Congress in the support of the people.

A copy of the proposed treaty with the States of Holland, was taken among the papers of Mr Laurens, and sent by the British Ministry to the Stadtholder, who endeavored to criminate the Pensionary of Amsterdam and those concerned with him, in consequence of this discovery. He is, however, supported by the Regency, and this step of the Stadtholder, not having the effect intended, Sir Joseph Yorke has presented a violent and menacing Memorial to the States, demanding the punishment of the Pensionary and his accomplices.[8] I am advised that this[Pg 55] Memorial has irritated in place of intimidating, and that since four of the seven States have agreed to accede to the armed neutrality, the persons attacked by the British Court have no apprehensions, and, possibly, the capture of these papers may eventually be of great advantage to the United States, by precipitating the conduct of England, and obliging the States to take a part contrary to their dispositions, and, perhaps, to the interest of one or other nation. The situation of M. Dumas is rendered more critical by this circumstance, and it would be injustice to him not to mention, that he is indefatigable to contribute to our information by his correspondence, and by his frequent publications to represent our situation in the most favorable point of view.

Mr Jay will transmit Congress a full state of our affairs here, with all the papers necessary to elucidate it. I have seen but one letter from Congress since my residence in Spain, from which I conjecture Mr Jay has received but one. He informs me he has written Congress, that it has not been my fault, that all copies of letters for their inspection did not appear with my signature. In the month of May, I answered in writing the instructions he gave me at Cadiz, as I did viva voce at Aranjues in April, before he entered Madrid. I should not mention this circumstance to the Committee, if I did not know that copies of these instructions had been forwarded to Congress, and only abstracts of the most important part of my answer sent them; I will take the liberty, therefore, of sending by the first safe opportunity the whole of my answer, from no other motive than that of evincing my desire to comply in every point with the duties of the trust reposed in me.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 56]P. S. December 8th.—The Count d'Estaing sailed the 7th ult. from Cadiz, and, as yet, we have no news of his arrival in France. Mr Cumberland is still here, and waits an answer to despatches sent by the Abbé Hussey to England, which is daily expected. Mr Jay has received a letter from the Count de Vergennes, that France cannot provide for the payment of your bills here. But I always hope the credit of America must not be ruined for want of £100,000 sterling, although, personally, your servants have not money to pay their debts.

W. C.


[8] See all the above papers in the Annual Register for 1780, pp. 356–380.


Madrid, December 19th, 1780.


I wrote to the Committee the 20th ult. to which letter I beg leave to refer them. Having now an opportunity of writing by a vessel, which conveys a copy of my last, I seize it to inform them that the situation of our affairs here is much the same as at that period. Mr Jay has received near eighteen thousand dollars to pay the bills first accepted, and this, with the twentyfive thousand expected from France, will give us a respite until the month of March. In the interval, I hope the Court will enable Mr Jay to answer the others as they become due, though this will depend much on the facility it finds to procure money. I have reason to think that the Ministry expect some treasure from America, that they hope to negotiate in Holland a loan of forty millions of reals, and another at home and abroad for eight millions of dollars. I shall be glad to see these expectations realised.

The States of Holland have acceded to the armed neu[Pg 57]trality; notwithstanding this, the English contrive to take their ships every day, and it is not improbable, that orders have been given to attack their possessions in the East Indies. No satisfaction has, as yet, been given by the States in answer to the Memorial of Sir Joseph Yorke, mentioned in my last. The Dutch Minister and his Secretary have each told me, that it would be considered as words, and answered as such.

The Empress Queen is dead, which leaves the Emperor to act at full liberty. He is said to be ambitious and revengeful, and well disposed to Great Britain. I know that his Envoy at this Court is strongly attached to the interests of that country; but his father, the Prince de Kaunitz, was too long the favorite of the mother, to expect to hold the same influence with the son. It is to be hoped, that the ensuing campaign will pass, before the Emperor can be in a situation to embroil the affairs of Europe.

The Count d'Estaing, who sailed from Cadiz the 7th ultimo, was not arrived in France at the departure of the last courier. This is an unlucky circumstance, as it will retard the operations of the ensuing year. Mr Cumberland is still here, and entertains hopes of success, or affects to do so. The Count de Montmorin seems to have no apprehensions, and while that is the case, I flatter myself that we need not be uneasy at a circumstance, which in itself is very extraordinary. I do not think, however, that M. Gardoqui will leave Spain, until all hopes of negotiation cease. We have no advices, or indeed arrivals, since the departure of the frigate, which brought the son of M. Rochambeau to France. Many of the letters taken with Mr Laurens have been published in England. I take the[Pg 58] liberty of reminding the Committee, that I have never had the honor, as yet, to receive their orders.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, January 4th, 1781.


I wrote you the 24th ultimo,[9] since which I am advised, that the Abbé Hussey is on his way from Lisbon to this capital, as is supposed with further propositions on the part of England. I think they will be as fruitless as the former. I have the pleasure of informing you, that on the 19th ultimo, Great Britain declared war in form against Holland. A courier brought the news this morning, which has given great pleasure to the Court, if one may be allowed to judge from appearances. Expresses were immediately despatched by the Ministry to the sea-ports, to advise the Dutch consuls of this event, and to offer the protection of convoys, &c. &c.

It is supposed, that the Empress of Russia will resent this declaration of England, as it is posterior to the notification of the accession of the Republic to the armed neutrality, which is the real though not the alleged cause of the war, for I make no doubt events will discover, that this measure was resolved the instant the English Ministry knew, that the accession of the States to that treaty was inevitable. I shall take care to give you minute and regular advice of the consequences likely to result from[Pg 59] this event; meantime permit me to felicitate you on the acquisition of new friends.

The English fleet returned to Portsmouth in a bad condition, without having made any attempt against that of Count d'Estaing, of which they were thrice in view. The French fleet was not arrived when the courier who brought the agreeable intelligence before mentioned left France. This Court expects to obtain the sums necessary for the expenses of the year. I hope to transmit the plan of the proposed loan in my next letters.

I have the honor to be, &c.


P. S. Lest my letter of the 24th ultimo should miscarry, I repeat, that the Court has engaged to supply Mr Jay with three millions of reals, in addition to eighteen thousand dollars already furnished, which with the twentyfive thousand promised by France, will nearly pay the bills already presented, and I hope ways and means will be found, to provide for the payment of the residue, drawn and sold before reception of Mr Jay's letters of advice.

W. C.


[9] Missing.


Madrid, January 29th, 1781.


My last advised the Committee of the declaration of Great Britain against Holland; the capture of a great number of prizes, in consequence of this unexpected attack encourages the former, and has greatly irritated the latter. The States, Zealand excepted, seem disposed to act with vigor against the common enemy. If they per[Pg 60]severe, they may finally disappoint their rapacious projects. They depend on the interference of Russia, and I believe with reason, although a day or two ago, the Count de Kaunitz, the Imperial Ambassador here, offered his master's mediation, in conjunction with the Empress of Russia to terminate the differences subsisting between the belligerent powers. No answer to this offer has yet been given. The Minister from Russia has not yet received the orders of his Court thereon.

The offer is rather ill timed, and I have reason to think is not very agreeable to the Courts of Versailles and Madrid, which will act with entire union on this occasion, and as long as the present King of Spain lives, it is probable, that this good understanding will continue on the whole continent, although there are some here, I believe, who would wish to see it interrupted. While it subsists Spain will not abandon our interests, though it may not support them with such good will, as they would have been induced to do by the obligations of previous engagements with the United States. It is not likely that these will soon take place, notwithstanding the appearance of good will, and repeated assurances which Mr Jay has received of his Majesty's favorable disposition. Nor will the late change of measures adopted by Congress effect this, if I am not misinformed. I have not seen these resolutions in full, nor do I know that Mr Jay has received them, but I have reason to believe, that the Court has a knowledge of them, either by intercepted letters, or by a direct communication from America. In short I repeat to the Committee, what I have taken the liberty of remarking before, that it was probably the policy of this Court to leave the adjustment of their claims to be settled at the general nego[Pg 61]tiation of a treaty of peace, and to reserve to themselves the liberty of acting then according to circumstances, unless they can previously secure in their own manner their favorite objects. This accords with the conduct they have hitherto observed, and with maxims of policy long adopted and persevered in by this Court.

In the meantime, they show a decided disposition to continue the war. They expect some treasure from America. They are likely to procure eight millions of dollars on loan, and have propositions from other quarters. The taxes have been augmented this year, the produce of the last having, as I have been told, fallen short of the expectations of the Ministry. They have thirtysix sail of the line under sailing orders at Cadiz, which fleet will probably cruise to meet the treasure ships expected, and to intercept the succors destined to Gibraltar. They have ordered a press throughout the kingdom to fill up their regiments. The ships with the treasure were to sail from Vera Cruz to the Havana the 11th of October. The Court seems apprehensive of the Emperor's intentions, and cultivates the friendship of the King of Prussia, for which purpose it is about to send a Minister to Berlin, where they have had none for many years past. This matter is not yet public, and will undoubtedly chagrin the Court of Vienna.

Mr Jay has been promised a part of the three millions of reals, mentioned in my former letters, to enable him to discharge the bills, which become due the ensuing month, and, I suppose, will receive the whole as the bills become payable, until the sum is exhausted, before which time, funds must be provided for such as have since been presented, or may hereafter come to hand. It is with pain I[Pg 62] have lately entered to the amount of between thirty or forty thousand dollars, at three months' sight, as there is yet no certainty of their being paid, yet I flatter myself that the Court, with the good disposition it appears to have, will not suffer our credit to be ruined, after what it has done and promised to do to preserve it.

M. Gardoqui, so often mentioned, will embark in six weeks or two months. Mr Cumberland is still here, inspiring all the distrust and jealousy in his power to prejudice our affairs. I hope, however, he will soon be dismissed. Vigorous preparations are making in France, and I flatter myself that the Count d'Estaing will once more visit our coasts in force. I believe he desires it, and I am told he is on good terms with the new Minister of Marine. The Count de Vergennes was in a bad state of health by the last advices from Paris, but for information from that quarter, I refer the Committee to letters I suppose Congress will receive from Dr Franklin. It is with hesitation I venture to give my sentiments, and if I should be deceived, it is not for want of pains, but of opportunity of obtaining more accurate information.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, February 22d, 1781.


My last was of the 29th ult. since which, I have deferred writing, in hopes of having it in my power to give the Committee more distinct information of the actual situation of affairs in Europe at this important crisis, when its[Pg 63] attention is turned to the conduct of the Empress of Russia and the armed neutrality, and to that of the Emperor, who, notwithstanding the offer of mediation, I had the honor to mention in my last, is, as I am informed, regarded with a jealous and suspicious eye. But the vessels, which take on board part of the clothing, of which I advised you at the time, and since it was promised, being about to sail, I seize the present occasion of writing, lest another from the ports of this kingdom should not soon present itself.

Our affairs here are in much the same state as when I last wrote the Committee. No further progress has been made in the negotiation. Mr Jay has received various letters and papers from Congress, dated in October. This day he has obtained an order for thirtytwo thousand dollars, to pay for part of the clothing to be shipped at Cadiz, of which he has not yet received the invoices, and to discharge the bills due this month. The Minister promises to furnish the whole of the three millions of reals mentioned in former letters, and to contribute to our further relief, as far as the exigencies of the State will permit him. These, I have reason to think, are urgent and great, and that the funds arising from the revenues and loans are, for the most part, appropriated before they are received.

I am not informed, that any positive answer has been given yet to the Emperor's offer of mediation. It is ill-timed, and I believe, in reality, is not well taken. I know that this Court is about to send a Minister to Berlin, where they have had none for a long time. The circumstances of such an appointment at this juncture, seem to imply apprehensions of the Emperor's intentions. I enclose two extracts of letters sent to me by M. Dumas, which contain[Pg 64] intelligence that indicates the intentions of the Empress of Russia. The first letter I know to be genuine, for I saw the substance of it here in good hands, before I received M. Dumas's letter. If the Empress does not openly declare against England, she will, at all events, protect the Dutch commerce, and this must terminate speedily in open hostilities. I have observed, of late, a change of conduct in the Russian Ambassador at this Court, whom I have an opportunity of meeting frequently in company; from being cold and distant, he is complaisant and affable. I also find him very attentive to the French Ambassador.

Portugal has been much pressed by Russia to accede to the treaty of the armed neutrality, but the English party at this Court is too strong to expect success from these applications. The attachment of this King to his deceased sister, and at present to his niece, the Queen of Portugal, will prevent any violent measures being taken by our ally or Spain, to force that nation to adopt other measures. The republican party in Holland are in good spirits. Zealand has dropped the opposition it made to hostile measures, so that at present there is an unanimity in the States on that interesting point.

The troops for America were embarked, or embarking, the last of the past month. They consist of three or four thousand men (recruits included), and of Fullarton's and another ragged regiment, to use the words of Mr Edmund Jennings, who gives this information. The greater part of these, it is supposed, are destined to the East Indies, and Commodore Johnson is named by the public to command an expedition, which is to attack the Cape of Good Hope on its passage. The Ministry in England is the same.[Pg 65] They have a great majority in Parliament. The Protestant associations begin to stir a little. Lord G. Gordon is acquitted. Stocks have fallen considerably since the Dutch war, not less than two and a half or three per cent. The subscriptions for the loans of the present year, it is generally believed, will be paid in slowly. Our ally pushes the preparations for the present campaign vigorously, but on the 14th instant the commander was not named for the fleet, which is to sail next month for the American seas, and which I am told, will consist of twentyfive sail of the line. I have no exact account of the number of troops to be embarked, but the lowest computation makes them consist of seven thousand men. The Count de Maurepas was ill by the last advices from Paris.

The Spanish squadron of thirty sail of the line is at sea, that of England it is supposed will sail about this period of time. Mr Cumberland gives out, that he has demanded a passport of the Court, but that he is told to have patience. I hope, however, he will not stay here long. M. Gardoqui will, probably, embark in all next month or the beginning of April. I beg the Committee to consider the intelligence I give them from time to time, particularly that from other countries, as the latest and most authentic I can procure, but for the truth of which I cannot vouch.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 66]


Madrid, March 4th, 1781.


I have received the enclosed letters from M. Dumas since my last of the 22d ultimo, copies of which I sent to Cadiz, to be forwarded in the vessels, that take from thence part of the clothing mentioned in my former letters. The remainder will I hope soon be embarked on board of other vessels, lately arrived in that port from America. As soon as Mr Jay receives the invoices, I will transmit copies thereof to the Committee. I also enclose the last accurate state of the British sea force in Europe. The squadron supposed to be destined for the relief of Gibraltar, sailed the 18th ultimo. The Spanish fleet, of nearly thirty sail of the line, is now at sea to impede their operations, so that important advices are daily expected from the coast. The exact number of the English squadron is not known. Count de Grasse is finally chosen to command the Brest squadron for the American seas, and is by this time nearly ready to sail.

Our affairs are in much the same situation as heretofore. It is not yet known here what part the Empress of Russia will take, although it is generally believed, it cannot be but unfavorable to Great Britain. Mr Cumberland is still here. M. Gardoqui will embark the last of this or first of next month. I make no doubt before his departure, Mr Jay will know the character by which he is to announce him to Congress. I have no reason to believe, that he will not have formal credentials from the Court, for otherwise, notwithstanding the information given in consequence of Mr Jay's conference relative to him with the Minister, I suppose Congress can only regard him as an individual.

[Pg 67]A late publication in the Courier de l'Europe, extracted from Rivington's Gazette, asserting a mutiny of a considerable number of continental troops in the beginning of January, made considerable impression here, which happily we have had it in our power to remove by some arrivals from the northward. Considerable apprehensions and jealousies are entertained of the views of the States, of forming powerful establishments on the Ohio and Mississippi, in consequence of some publications in our papers, and other advices received by the Court, which has much better and more regular intelligence of our affairs than Mr Jay. This must be the case as long as the letters of Congress are confided to the common post in France and in this country. The difference of expense could not be so considerable to the public, as might be conceived, and the advantages are important. I am persuaded the Ministers of the above named nations, receive more information from the letters written to the public servants of Congress in Europe, than from those they employ in America. All the couriers of the Empress of Russia are officers of her army. We have at present, I presume, many young men on half pay in consequence of the late arrangements of our army, who would be happy to make these voyages in the public packets, who might be limited or brought to strict account for their expenses, and receive instructions from the Committee to answer public purposes, and be promoted or disgraced according to their execution of them. I beg the Committee will impute these suggestions to the true motive, a regard to the public service.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 68]


Madrid, March 11th, 1781.


Since my last of the 4th instant, I know of a certainty, that Mr Cumberland, so often mentioned in former letters, will soon leave this kingdom, and pursue his voyage to England by way of France. His departure would indicate, that all negotiations for an accommodation were at an end, if there was not reason to believe, that conferences on that subject are likely to take place in consequence of the offer of mediation made to the belligerent powers by the Emperor. As I have not the last mentioned intelligence from our friends, I give it with hesitation and not as certain. In a little time I hope to have it in my power, to give fuller information to the Committee on this subject.

The Count de Grasse left Paris the end of February, to take the command of the fleet for the American seas. I am afraid this fleet, or even a part of it, will not appear on our coasts until the month of July. I form my conjectures however from very minute circumstances, and may perhaps be deceived. The English grand fleet has not yet made its appearance. A very numerous convoy of provision vessels, &c. &c. sail with it for the East and West Indies and for America. Mr Adams has opened a loan in Holland for one million of florins, of which we shall soon know the probable success. I send enclosed the plan of the loan in the first copy of this letter, but finding it published in the Dutch and foreign papers, I suppose the Committee will receive it before this can reach them. The mutiny of the Pennsylvania line has had a bad effect in Europe, and our enemies have been indefatigable to[Pg 69] represent it in the worst colors. I hope Congress has been able to pacify the discontented, and that as they have hitherto done, they will still overcome all obstacles to the freedom, tranquillity, and importance, of the United States.

I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.



Aranjues, May 25th, 1781.


Since my last of the 16th instant, the French Ambassador has received the agreeable intelligence, that M. de la Motte Piquet fell in with the St Eustatia fleet, consisting of thirtyfour sail, of which he captured twentyfour, their escort, two seventyfour gun ships and two frigates, having escaped by their superior swiftness; four other vessels of the same fleet I hear are taken. The captain of a packet boat, arrived at Corunna from Newport, says, that he was chased in the latitude of the Azores by the English fleet, which consisted of eighteen sail of the line. The Spanish squadron has not been heard of since it sailed.

Thirtysix transports, of two hundred and two hundred and fifty tons, are taken up at Cadiz on government account, and provisions for eight thousand men for four months are ordered. The destination of the armament is a secret, but there is reason to think it is either intended for the West Indies or for their own settlements in Peru. If for the former, it will hardly commence its operations before the month of November, when the Count de Grasse will be able to join it, after his return from our coasts.

Many bills, drawn by Congress last year, have already[Pg 70] been presented and accepted by Mr Jay; the funds are not yet provided for their payment, but I hope the advices lately received from Congress will produce a change of conduct in this Court. I allude to a letter from the Committee, which came in the Virginia to Cadiz. I am persuaded the Minister was informed of its contents before it reached Mr Jay, for the packets were stopped at Cadiz, and bore evident marks of having been inspected.

The Committee must be sensible, that a negotiation will ever be carried on to our disadvantage, when the parties with whom their Minister treats, are thus early informed of the most secret intentions of Congress. This apprehension renders my correspondence with the Committee more irregular than it would otherwise be, for I am often obliged to wait ten days or more, for safe opportunities of conveying my letters by private hands to Cadiz, Bilboa, or the ports of France, to prevent a previous examination of them here.

I hope soon to write by M. Gardoqui, but I have so often advised you of this gentleman's intended departure, and then been so often disappointed, that I cannot give full belief to the late information I have received on this subject.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Aranjues, May 26th, 1781.


The Court being at this place at present, Mr Jay has judged proper to reside here until it returns to Madrid,[Pg 71] from which city I addressed the Committee the 23d ult. Mr Jay, since his arrival here, has seen the Minister and been civilly received. He will inform Congress of what passed on this occasion. M. de la Motte Piquet, whose squadron could not be ready in time to join M. de Cordova, and enable the Spanish fleet to oppose that of England, destined to relieve Gibraltar, sailed on a cruise the 24th ult. to intercept the homeward bound fleet from St Eustatia, or one from the leeward Islands. The English squadron, after relieving Gibraltar, is gone to cruise off the Azores or the Canaries, to intercept the fleet from the Havana with treasure, the amount of which I mentioned in my last; this, at least, is the opinion of several well informed people here. That of Spain has cruised for it to escort it into port, I believe, on a presumption, that the English would return to port, or detach a part of their squadron to reinforce their others in various parts of the world. Should the latter be the case, and these fleets should encounter, that of Spain will have greatly the advantage in number, it consisting of thirtytwo sail of the line.

I have the pleasure of informing Congress, that the Court of France has engaged to guaranty a loan of ten millions of livres for the States, and to make large advances in stores and cash immediately. I wish it was in my power to furnish as agreeable accounts from this Court. The negotiation is in the same situation as when I had last the honor to write to the Committee, my sentiments of the motives for this conduct are still the same. The mediation seems at a stand, and, probably, will not be renewed before the end of the campaign. Troops have been ordered to march towards Gibraltar from various parts of the[Pg 72] kingdom, but I have some reason to think, with a view to another object, viz. either to be sent to the West Indies or to Peru, where, it is said, there appears a spirit of disaffection, which creates some apprehensions here.

The crop is likely to be more abundant throughout Spain, than it has been for many years past. I have not as yet heard, that Russia has taken a decided part in favor of the Dutch. Their squadron in the Mediterranean and at Lisbon are ordered home. The Portuguese preserve a strict neutrality at present. M. Gardoqui is still here, but I hope will embark next month. I have not had the honor of hearing from the Committee since I have been in Europe, and Mr Jay informs me, that he has received but three letters from Congress since his residence here.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Aranjues, June 2d, 1781.


The last post from France brought the news of M. Necker's removal from the Ministry. This change would have been agreeable to this Court some months ago, on account of the interference of that Minister in the operation of the loan mentioned in former letters. At present, it seems to be regarded in a disagreeable point of view, as M. Necker had engaged to furnish monthly, considerable sums to persons employed to procure money for this Court, on condition of being reimbursed in specie in Spanish America, and on other terms that would have been[Pg 73] advantageous to the lenders. Part of the specie thus procured, was intended for the payment of the French troops in North America, and, as I have been told, for the immediate service of Congress, as part of the sum the Court of France has lately engaged to furnish to the United States.

I have been told, that M. Necker was not disposed to make large advances to Congress, and, as a proof of this, it has been mentioned to me, that he opposed the King's guarantee of a loan, which Dr Franklin endeavored to negotiate last year at Genoa. He is said to have been obstinately attached to his own opinions, and of a haughtiness in supporting them, which the man who placed him could ill brook. He felt an opposition that he could not bear, and which, perhaps, he saw he must sink under, and, therefore, asked his dismission, which was granted him. He is regretted as a public loss. It would be presumption in me, to enter into a more minute detail on this subject, as your correspondents on the spot will certainly give the Committee much ampler information than it is in my power to do.

Since my letter of the —— ult. I have had an opportunity of knowing, through the same channel of intelligence mentioned in former letters, that the Court of Vienna still persists in its good offices, to bring about conferences for a general peace. Without being able to mention particulars, I can assure the Committee, that in the middle of April, the Baron de Breteuil, Ambassador of France, at the abovementioned Court, insisted for the admission of an American Plenipotentiary at the proposed Congress. The Prince de Kaunitz lamented this proposition, as an obstacle that might impede a business, which the Emperor[Pg 74] had much at heart. I have not been able to trace the demands of Spain, but I believe their pretensions in general, do not appear reasonable to the Imperial Court.

We have had no news of the fleet since I had last the honor of writing to you. There is reason to think, by news received from England, that Darby had orders to return to that country. The expedition mentioned in former letters, will be ready for action in the month of July. The choice of officers to command it is not yet public. The negotiation is in the same situation.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Philadelphia, June 15th, 1781.


Your several letters have been read in Congress; and your industrious care, to give frequent, early, and general information of those things in Europe, which may have influence upon our national affairs, has been not only highly pleasing in itself, but has acquired value lately, from the loss of all packets from Mr Adams, since his date of October 24th.

I am, Sir, your friend and humble servant,


[Pg 75]


St Ildefonso, August 16th, 1781.


Since my last, of the 15th ult. in which I enclosed the Committee a list of the combined fleet assembled at Cadiz, and of the troops to be embarked under the command of the Duc de Crillon, we have advices of the sailing of this fleet, and that the troops of the expedition passed the Straits of Gibraltar the 23d ult. They had, however, been detained by contrary winds, and had not left the neighborhood of Carthagena the 7th instant. The Court expects soon to hear of their landing in the Island of Minorca. It is the general opinion, that the force employed is not sufficient to take Port Mahon. The character of the General, who I have the honor to know intimately, does not accord with this idea. The combined fleet by the last advices was cruising off Cape Spartel. That of England, commanded by Darby, is at sea, to the number of twentythree or twentyfive sail. The Dutch fleet sailed on the 23d ult. and consists of seventeen sail in the whole, it is said to be destined to the northern seas, where England has a squadron inferior in number of vessels, under the command of Sir Hyde Parker.

Our negotiation seems to be in a better train, and it is not improbable, that Mr Jay will be able to terminate our affairs with Spain previous to the general negotiation, which is much talked of at present among the corps diplomatique here. The number of couriers who pass and repass between the Courts of Versailles, this, and those of Vienna and Petersburg gives occasion to those conjectures. Mr Adams has been lately sent for by the Count de Ver[Pg 76]gennes, and, as I am informed, has had conferences with that Minister. If this should be the case, the Committee will have from the first authority, more ample details on this subject, than can be learnt from second and third hands.

The United Provinces of Holland, &c. appear much divided, and seem more employed in party quarrels and private interests, than in pursuit of measures for the public advantage and honor. I fear the republican party lost ground by their late attack against the Duke of Brunswick. This Court continue to borrow money, and have just concluded a loan for three millions of dollars, to be refunded in the Havana and Vera Cruz, one million in the present year, and two in 1782. They have other loans in contemplation, of the general nature of which, I hope to be able to inform the Committee in time, although it may be difficult to obtain the minute particulars and conditions of these loans. The French Minister is concerned in the last mentioned, and will receive part, at least, of the three millions in question, which I hope will ultimately centre in North America.

Mr Jay continues to accept the bills drawn on him; between twenty and thirty thousand dollars have been accepted, for which, as yet, no funds are provided, but I hope we have not much to fear for their payment. I have rendered Mr Jay accounts of all our money transactions here, which, with his usual regularity, he will transmit to Congress, as also minute details of his other transactions here. Among the bills presented, it may not be improper to mention, that several have been endorsed by people in America, payable to merchants in Great Britain and Ireland. If this does not accord with the ideas of Congress, the[Pg 77] treasury will be instructed to convey to Mr Jay further directions on this subject.

Although much is said of the forwardness of the negotiations —— peace, it is not probable that the preliminaries to be fixed on previous to the opening of the conferences can be adjusted, until the fate of the campaign is known, particularly if this Court acts with its usual deliberation, which some call dilatoriness. If the expedition against Minorca succeeds, and if money can be procured for the operations of the war, it is the opinion of some persons who are well informed, that the general peace will meet with more obstacles here than elsewhere. I have already written to the Committee, that the Court of Vienna found the pretensions of this Court extravagant. Its great objects of the war, are the possession of the entire navigation of the Gulf of Mexico, and Gibraltar. These are said to be the King's objects, who is in a good state of health, and follows with the same ardor his daily occupation of the chase. There is no talk of a change of Ministry. The fleet from Buenos Ayres, mentioned in former letters, is arrived, and I am afraid M. Solano will be more attentive to the safe arrival of that from the Havana, than to the prosecution of the plan of operations formed with our ally. The affairs of Great Britain in the east, are in a bad situation, and in consequence thereof India stock has fallen eight per cent.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 78]


St Ildefonso, September 28th, 1781.


Since my letter of the 14th instant,[10] the Minister has notified to Mr Jay the King's intentions of naming a person to treat with him; there is reason to think his nomination and instructions will have his Majesty's approbation on Sunday next, though possibly it may not be formally communicated until the Court is at the Escurial, to which place the royal family goes the 10th of next month.

M. Del Campo, whom I mentioned in my last, is the person who probably will be chosen. I repeat his name lest that letter should miscarry; he is First Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and acting Secretary of the Council of State; and has the reputation of possessing great abilities and application to business, and I believe he merits what is said of him. He has also the entire confidence of the Count de Florida Blanca; his residence in England as Secretary of the embassy there, and his attention to Mr Cumberland and family while here, occasioned some to believe him secretly inclined to the interests of that country, but I believe without foundation, for I know that Mr Cumberland left this country much chagrined, and I believe he was the dupe of this gentleman's policy. I have had the satisfaction of being on very good terms with him for several months past, and have often expressed to him my hopes and wishes, that he might prove another M. Gerard in our affairs. His being employed in this negotiation is so far favorable to us as its successful issue interests his own reputation, and will be probably a step[Pg 79] to further honors and employments, to which, as mentioned in my last, the public opinion destines him. I hope the Court is now serious in its intentions to conclude the negotiations, but it is still not improbable this business may be delayed until the fate of the campaign is known, unless it should be accelerated by the confirmation of news received from Cadiz last week, of the arrival of the Count de Grasse's squadron on the coast of Virginia, the consequent critical situation of the army of Lord Cornwallis, and the defeat of Lord Rawdon by General Greene.

I shall seize every opportunity of informing the Committee of the progress made in this important business, and am happy to find by a letter I have just had the honor to receive from Mr Lovell, dated the 15th of June, that my correspondence has contributed in any degree to the satisfaction of Congress, but am surprised, that so few of my letters have reached the Committee, for on reading the list of those received and comparing it with my letter book, I find several missing, which were sent by vessels from Bilboa and elsewhere, which I know arrived in safety to America, particularly my answer to Mr Jay's instructions to me at Cadiz, of which he sent only the state of the revenues and expenses of this country in the year 1778.

I am informed by letters from Holland, that Mr Adams has had a nervous fever, but that he is now in a fair way to recover. The South Carolina frigate sailed from thence with the ships under her convoy, the 19th ultimo. I hope their safe arrival will convey to Congress ample information of the situation of their affairs in that quarter; I am afraid the loan does not fill fast, because I have letters from a house at Hamburg which mention, that Congress[Pg 80] bills to a large amount, that they had presented for acceptance, had been protested. The republican party gains ground, and the Duke of Brunswick, though not removed, is obliged to act with more caution, and the Stadtholder with more resolution and force. I am informed, that the Court of France has consented to replace the cargo lost in the Marquis de Lafayette, but Dr Franklin is not enabled to accept any more of Mr Jay's bills, even for our salaries.

The rumors of a general negotiation subside, owing it is said to the obstinacy of Great Britain, and the demands of this Court. The Imperial Minister has just received a courier from his Court, charged with its excuses for the detention of a Spanish courier, who after delivering his despatches to the Spanish Ambassador at Vienna, on his journey from thence to Petersburg, was stopped in Hungary, and not permitted to proceed until released by order of the Imperial Court. The Imperial Minister named to the Court of Berlin from hence, will soon go thither; his nomination is still a secret. The Spanish squadron has returned to Cadiz. Major Franks will leave this next week. I must do this officer the justice to observe to the Committee, that he has conducted himself with great discretion and economy here, and I hope that Congress will be induced by the success and expedition with which he delivered their despatches to Mr Jay, to send in future such as are important in a similar way.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[10] Missing.

[Pg 81]


Madrid, October 5th, 1781.


On my arrival here from St Ildefonso this day, I found the enclosed letters for his Excellency, the President of Congress, from M. Dumas. On the 14th and 28th ult. I wrote to the Committee, that the Court appeared more serious in its intentions of bringing on the negotiation than it had shown itself to be for a long time. In my last, I informed the Committee that M. Del Campo would, probably, be appointed to negotiate with Mr Jay, and that his instructions and nomination would have his Majesty's approbation on the night of the 30th ult. The Minister of State once proposed to intrust M. Gardoqui with this business. Yesterday, when I left the Sitio, the Court had not formally notified the appointment to Mr Jay, but from some hints I received from well informed persons, I have hopes that the communication will be made either before he comes from thence tomorrow, or directly after the Court is fixed at the Escurial. I shall, however, be very agreeably disappointed, if much progress is made in this affair until the fate of the campaign is known.

The last post from France and Holland brought no news of an interesting nature. The French and Spanish troops, destined to reinforce the Duc de Crillon's army at Minorca, are not yet embarked, and he cannot act with effect until he receives reinforcements. It is said the desertion from the place is considerable. The South Carolina frigate, armed for that State in Holland, has put into Corunna, and I am concerned to find by letters from Messrs Searle and Trumbull, passengers on board, that[Pg 82] Commodore Gillon's conduct is much censured. Knowing Mr Searle's zeal and solicitude for the public interest, I must own that his letter has influenced my opinion in a great degree, but it would be unjust to condemn the former, before having seen an exposition of the reasons, which have determined his conduct, and which he has promised to forward to Mr Jay by express.

The fact is, he sailed from the Texel without the ships he had engaged to escort, that he has cruised six or seven weeks with little success, and that he has been obliged to put into the port abovementioned, to refit and get a supply of provisions, which he writes he shall do immediately. It is probable Mr Jay may think proper to send me to Corunna in this business, which commission, I must confess, I shall accept with reluctance, because I not only foresee the delay and expense that must inevitably have place, if this government is obliged to interfere, but the disgrace, which must ensue from the notoriety of these unhappy differences between the commander and the American gentlemen aboard. I have another motive, which arises from the nature of the employment with which Congress has honored me, and which, with submission, I conceive does not admit of my absence at the most important period of the negotiation, when most knowledge is to be acquired of the real dispositions and intentions of this Court, and when I may avail myself of the esteem and confidence with which the proposed negotiator has appeared to honor me for several months past. Although, for the reasons abovementioned, and for others which I could add, I may leave the Court at this crisis with reluctance, I shall, if directed, proceed to Corunna, and execute the trust reposed in me, with a zeal, assiduity, and[Pg 83] activity, which, I hope, will always influence my conduct, when the public interest and reputation are in question.

I enclose a letter for his Excellency, the Chevalier de la Luzerne from the Count de Montmorin, whose talents and warm espousal of our interests, not only here, but at his own Court, entitle him to the approbation and esteem of Congress. I just hear that the Court has received advices from Buenos Ayres, dated the 7th of July. These are very agreeable. The rebellion mentioned in my former letters is entirely quelled, by the defeat and capture of the Indian chief at the head of it, and his principal officers, cannon, treasure, &c. &c. It seems two English officers are in the number of the prisoners, and that many letters and papers were found, which discover that the Portuguese excited and fomented these disturbances.[11]

The Havana fleet is expected daily. On its arrival, perhaps, the Court may do something for us. But I repeat again, that little is to be depended on in the money way. Letters from France talk of a large expedition preparing at Brest. Its object is a secret. I shall seize every opportunity of informing the Committee of what passes in Europe relative to our affairs, and, in future, will multiply the copies of my letters to ensure their safe arrival.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[11] This alludes to the revolt of the celebrated Peruvian Chief, Tupac Amaru, of which an eloquent account is given by Dean Funes, in his Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos Ayres y Tucuman. See North American Review, Vol. XX. p. 283.

[Pg 84]


Madrid, November 17th, 1781.


On the 2d instant the pretended Ex-Jesuit, who made so much noise in the English papers last winter and spring, was arrested at the Escurial, where he arrived the day before from Lisbon, under an assumed name. Commodore Johnson sent him to Rio Janeiro, in order to pass from thence to the Spanish settlements in Peru. He pretended to the Portuguese Governor, that he had been taken by Johnson on his way to the Caracas, but the former from some suspicion arising from the man's appearance and story, refused him permission to pass into the country, which obliged him to embark for Lisbon, at which place under his borrowed name he addressed Don Ferdinand Nunes, the Spanish Ambassador, offering to make some important discoveries to the Count de Florida Blanca. The former advised the Minister of these offers, and was directed by him to furnish the person in question with cash for his journey. It is said, that he was recognized the very day of his arrival at the Escurial, by one who knew him at Buenos Ayres. It is more probable, that M. Nunes knew his real character previous to his departure from Lisbon, for the magistrate whom the Minister of the Indies employs on such occasions, went to the Escurial with his officers, the day he arrived there, and arrested him the same evening. He is now in close prison, and I am told has discovered all he knew relative to the designs of the English, to foment the spirit of revolt existing in that country. This affair furnished conversation to the Court the few days I resided at the Escurial,[Pg 85] whither I went, at the instance of the French Ambassador, to Mr Jay to be present at the Besa Manos, on St Carlos's day.

I found by conversation with M. Del Campo, First Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, that nothing had been done by the Court to advance the conferences for a treaty since it left St Ildefonso. In my letter of the 5th of October, I mentioned, that the gentleman abovenamed was nominated by the King to treat with Mr Jay; this nomination has never been formally communicated, but I had my information from such a quarter, that I am convinced the appointment was made, and the instructions given near about the time mentioned in my letter. Multiplicity of business, and the confusion occasioned by the Court's removal from one royal residence to another, are the present pretexts for this delay. The aspect of our affairs at the close of the campaign, the fate of which is yet unknown, and the apprehension of being obliged to make large advances in consequence of cementing their connexion with the States, are perhaps the real causes; to which may be added others of a different nature, though not less important to Ministers and courtiers.

The palace is filled with Irish attendants, of both sexes, whose animosity to us and our cause is as decided and inveterate as is their attachment to it in America. The Princess of Asturias has on several occasions, and lately in particular, treated such English as come here with much condescension and distinction. The last instance I allude to happened to lady Winchelson, and the Lord her son, who came from America, (where he commanded a regiment) to Lisbon for his health. They were accompanied by a Mr Graham and his lady, and sister, both sisters of[Pg 86] Lady Stormont, and visited the Escurial in their way to France.

If the Ministers perceive any aversion in their future King and Queen to an alliance with us, they can easily find pretexts to retard it until they see their own justification in the urgency of the conjuncture, that may appear to have forced them into the measure. This however is but conjecture founded on the knowledge of some little incidents in the interior of the palace, and strengthened by the conduct of the Ministry, not only in the great object of Mr Jay's mission, but also in several minute particulars in which they might act to our satisfaction, without showing any marked partiality in our favor. So far from Mr Jay's having been yet able to obtain further succors, the French Ambassador has not procured the payment of moneys advanced in the month of May, by the Marquis de Yranda, to enable Mr Jay to discharge the bills due that month, although the Minister engaged his word to the Ambassador to repay this sum in equal monthly payments. In fact the Court itself is distressed, and with difficulty finds means to answer its own engagements.

I believe I may venture to write with some certainty on this subject, for I have been on an intimate footing with the person who has transacted for the Court the most part of its money negotiations for more than twelve months past. I knew and cultivated him before he was in favor, and my introduction of him to Mr Jay, procured him the commission on the payment of our bills, and a considerable credit in consequence of the sums supposed to pass through his hands monthly for this purpose. As he has been the founder of the paper system in this country, and as he is likely soon to establish a national bank, he will[Pg 87] probably make some figure in the annals of this reign. His name is Francis Cabarrus, born in Bayonne, but sent early to Spain to acquire a knowledge in its commerce, in which his father was considerably interested. His marriage at the age of nineteen (he is now twentynine) displeased his family, from whom after that period he received no assistance. With a small capital, as he himself informed me, he came and established a soap-work in the neighborhood of this city. While there he introduced himself to the notice of the Count de Campomanes, by becoming a member of the patriotic society, the friends of their country; of which the last mentioned gentleman is in a great measure the founder. He soon conciliated his esteem, as well as that of the Governor of the Council of Castile, to whom he became known by means of his friend and patron M. Campomanes. Through their interest he procured a contract to supply wheat and flour, in a time of scarcity, and commenced banker. The last year he proposed his plan for procuring cash for government, on terms mentioned in former letters. His genius is brilliant, active, and enterprising, with more imagination than solidity, although he is by no means deficient in acquired knowledge, arising from reading and reflection, the result of experience. His eloquence, enforced by a very prepossessing countenance and figure, seizes the heart before it convinces the judgment, and this joined to his knowledge of commercial and money transactions, has obtained for him the confidence of M. Musquiz, who consults him at present in all affairs of finance.

I have thought proper to say thus much of this gentleman, not only on account of the part he has had, and is like to have in money matters, but because he has on all[Pg 88] occasions manifested himself a friend to our cause, of which he is an enthusiastic advocate, being totally divested of local prejudices. He offered to procure five hundred thousand dollars for the States, payable at Havana on condition of being reimbursed by government in two years, the payments to commence at the expiration of two months after his orders for the delivery of the money to the agents of Congress were despatched. He will make the advances for the payment of the bills due next month, which amount to thirtytwo thousand dollars, and for the reimbursement of which Mr Jay relies on Dr Franklin, for after the delays we have experienced here, and the knowledge of their own distresses, there is no great reason to think this Court will grant us any considerable pecuniary assistance, unless a happy change in the situation of our affairs should precipitate a treaty, and lead them to extraordinary exertions, as proofs of their amity. The support of their fleet at Cadiz, of forty sail of the line, the sieges of Gibraltar and Mahon; their expensive armaments at the Havana, and the preparations making for an expedition from Europe to that quarter, which will sail next month, exhaust their European and American revenue, and all the resources by which they have hitherto obtained money.

The insurrections in Peru augment this expense, and the same spirit of revolt, which seems to have extended to Mexico, will add to it. These discontents have been occasioned by duties imposed since the administration of M. Galvez, the present Minister of the Indies. The project was proposed by Carrasco, Marquis de la Corona, to the Marquis of Squillace then Minister, who was much inclined to adopt it, and named the projector to visit Span[Pg 89]ish America, in order to form on the spot the plan of its execution. He declined the mission on various pretexts, and another was appointed for this purpose, who died on his passage. M. Galvez, the present Minister of the Indies, succeeded him, and on his return to Spain made a report so agreeable to his Majesty, that it procured him the important post he now occupies.

The novelty of these measures, joined to the vexations and impositions occasioned, as is said, by the collectors of them, has created much dissatisfaction in these countries. I have my information from some of the principal natives of Mexico and Peru here, and also from a foreigner, who obtained permission to visit Mexico, and who made the voyage from motives of curiosity. Four thousand troops are to be embarked at Cadiz for the expedition abovementioned, and it is said will be escorted by four vessels of the line, who at the same time convoy the register ships bound to the Havana and Vera Cruz. As this convoy will sail about the same time that the expedition from Brest will be ready for sea, it is probable they may form a junction. Ten thousand troops are to be employed in the one last mentioned, and I am told will sail escorted by twenty sail of the line. Part of which will probably join the grand fleet at Cadiz, and the rest proceed to the West Indies, where I have reason to think they will act in concert with the Spaniards. A friend of mine is to embark on board the French fleet as interpreter. He speaks and writes the Spanish language perfectly.

I have also some reason to believe that the French naval force, and a larger body of troops than they have yet sent to America, will appear on our coasts earlier the next, than they did the present year. Jamaica is thought to be the[Pg 90] first object of these expeditions, and this conjecture arises from the appointment of M. Galvez to the command of the Spanish force in the West Indies, whose project for attacking that Island is well known. In France, it is said that a part of the troops to be embarked at Brest, is intended for the East Indies; and here, that theirs are sent to suppress the revolt at Santa Fé, mentioned in my letter of the 17th ult.[12] I rather think that two French ships of the line, now at Cadiz, and as many frigates, who have taken and are taking in provisions for a long voyage, are destined to the eastern part of the world, and that they will take with them a considerable sum in dollars, for the payment of their land and sea forces there. The French Ambassador has obtained, or is about to obtain, permission to send out of the kingdom two and a half million of dollars, part of which sum is probably destined to the purpose above mentioned.

The sieges of Gibraltar and Mahon go on slowly. The operations against these fortresses have not been so vigorous hitherto as to promise a speedy reduction of either; when the efforts of these besiegers become more interesting, I shall transmit regular accounts of their progress. The Court of Great Britain proposes to send five hundred troops to America, exclusive of recruits, to be drawn from Germany and Ireland. These it is said, will sail with thirteen sail of the line in the course of next month. The East India Company also send a reinforcement of seven thousand men to the East Indies, with four sail of the line. If this information can be credited, the East and West India, and American reinforcements will sail at the same time, to insure by their united force their safety on the coast of Europe.

[Pg 91]In Holland the divisions are still great, and likely to be so. The Provinces have not yet all agreed to the loan proposed by France for the use of Congress. I am informed the Stadtholder's friends give it all the opposition in their power. That Prince has, as I have already advised the Committee, been obliged to consent to the augmentation of the marine. The news of the birth of the Dauphin will probably reach America before this letter. It is expected it will be received there with demonstrations of satisfaction that will be highly flattering to the French nation. The great age and infirmities of the Count de Maurepas, render it probable that he will not survive the winter. The Queen's influence, it is thought, will increase by the birth of the Dauphin, and the death of this Minister. Permit me to conclude with the flattering hopes of a brilliant close of the campaign, which the well concerted plan of our General and allies communicated to me by the Count de Montmorin, renders highly probable. The success of this operation, and what is expected, may perhaps render Mr Jay's next information more agreeable and interesting to Congress, to whom I beg leave to present my humble respects.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[12] Missing.


Philadelphia, December 20th, 1781.

Dear Sir,

Your letters of the 16th of August, and 5th of October, came to hand. They were read in Congress, and handed over to this office, which will in future, agreeably to its in[Pg 92]stitution, receive and make all communications to and from Congress, conformable to their ordinance, of which I enclose a copy, having omitted it in my letters to Mr Jay. The importance of early and regular intelligence from Europe is so much felt here, that you have full credit for all the communications you make. I wish you would extend them so far as to permit no vessel to sail without letters and papers. Spanish gazettes may sometimes be serviceable to us.

The expedition of the Duc de Crillon is important in many views; should it succeed, it will be such a blow to the British as must hasten a negotiation, though it may probably obstruct a peace; at any rate, the possession of the Island must cut the sinews of their Mediterranean trade. Your apprehensions about being sent to Corunna, will, I hope, have been groundless, as Captain Gillon's ship is not the property of, or under the direction of the United States. So far as Mr Jay's good offices can be serviceable, they undoubtedly will be extended. He will not think himself obliged to involve the United States in the expense or disgrace of Captain Gillon's misconduct, if, as is alleged, he has really behaved improperly. Should he determine to interfere, Congress make no doubt but you will conform to his intentions; and they rely upon your zeal and activity in the discharge of such trusts, as he may think proper, since he alone can judge of the best application of them, and will not deprive himself of the advantages, which your assistance and information may afford, without being determined by weighty and important considerations.

It gives great pleasure here, to hear of the step that Spain is taking, for opening a treaty with us. The delays in that business begin to be resented by the people of this[Pg 93] country, the more forcibly, as they felt a high degree of respect for the Court, and much attachment to the people of Spain, in return for the good offices that they had done them. The great cause of the delay being now (as we hear) removed, I doubt not that the candor of the negotiators, and the clear views that they both have of the interest, which Spain and America may mutually derive from an intimate union, will remove all other difficulties to the wished for connexion.

We have no other news on this side the water, than that the enemy have evacuated Wilmington. You, who know the spirit of disaffection which prevailed in some parts of North Carolina, and the commerce which it is capable of carrying on, particularly at this time, in articles for the supply of the West India markets, will see the important sacrifice the enemy have been obliged to make in thus quitting this post, and abandoning the only friends in America, upon whose fidelity and attachment they could rely.

I need not repeat to you, that I shall at all times think myself happy in hearing from you, independent of the advantage that the public may derive from your letters. They will be particularly agreeable to me, as they may be made the means of increasing the number of friends, which your zeal and attention has already procured you.

I am, Sir, with great esteem, &c.


[Pg 94]


Madrid, December 20th, 1781.


Since my letter of the 17th ult. to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, I have had the pleasure to hear of your appointment to the office of Secretary for that department, and although I have not any official directions, respecting my future correspondence, in consequence of this change, I take the liberty of addressing you as I have hitherto done the Committee, on the subject of our affairs here, their situation, and that of the powers with whom we have, or may hereafter have, connexions. At the same time permit me to entreat you, Sir, to inform me, whether it is judged necessary, that I should continue this correspondence, having done it hitherto with a view to multiply the channels of information to Congress, and not from an expectation of conveying any material intelligence, which they will not ultimately receive in a fuller manner from Mr Jay and their other Ministers; to the former of whom I communicate instantly every information I can procure here, or by my foreign correspondence. I have been induced to continue this correspondence, from another motive, which is, that I find that others employed as secretaries here, are directed by their respective Courts, to write either to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, or the particular Secretary of their Sovereigns. The only letter, which I have had the honor to receive from Mr Lovell, since I have been in this country, approved of my endeavors to communicate early and regular information; but if it is expected I should do it effectually, I hope a cypher will be sent me, by the first[Pg 95] safe conveyance, under cover to Mr Harrison at Cadiz, or to our Consul in France, with directions to those gentlemen to forward the letter enclosing it, by a sure hand, to escape the inspection of the post-offices in France and Spain, the dread of which often retards my letters, which I am now obliged to send to the sea-ports, by private persons, or the couriers of the French Ambassador. Once possessed of a cypher, I flatter myself that few vessels will sail from France or this country without letters from me, which, although often not interesting, may yet in some degree contribute to the satisfaction of Congress.

Our affairs are in much the same situation they were when I had the honor to forward the above mentioned letter to the Committee. M. Del Campo's sickness, from which he is but just recovered, is the occasion or pretext for this delay. His appointment, however, has been finally announced to Mr Jay by the Minister, and was made at the time mentioned in my former letters. It is probable that little will be done in this business, until the Court goes to the Pardo the 7th of next month. A principle of delicacy perhaps prevents it from seeming at present to precipitate its conduct, in consequence of the favorable aspect of our affairs, since the news of the capture of Lord Cornwallis, and the victory obtained by General Greene in South Carolina. But the delay attending the transaction of the smallest affair in this country, is a sufficient reason to account for the difficulties Mr Jay encounters at present, without surmising other motives. On this subject, I speak from the experience of almost all the corps diplomatique, as well as from the authority of individuals, who have much business with the various branches of administration.

[Pg 96]The news above mentioned, was received apparently with great pleasure by the King and Prince of Asturias, as I was informed the same day by several of their officers in waiting. The public at large was highly satisfied, and has spoken more favorably since of our allies, than it has done from the commencement of the war. The foreign Ministers were not all so well pleased with this event, particularly those of Germany, Russia and Denmark. However, in general they regard it as a blow which decides the Independence of the States. The new Minister of Sweden is open in declaring his partiality for our cause, and signified that he would have waited on Mr Jay on his arrival here, as it is the custom of those last come to do, if no other Minister had arrived here since Mr Jay's residence, who had not done it. His conduct to myself shows that this was not a mere compliment, for he has invited me several times to dine with him, and visited me. He is a particular friend, I believe, of M. Marbois, for he speaks highly of him, as indeed all do, whom I have conversed with, that have the pleasure of his acquaintance.

The Imperial and Swedish Ministers declare that their respective Sovereigns will reclaim all vessels under their colors, going to or returning from America, which comply with the articles of the armed neutrality, and it has been hinted to me, that it was not difficult to obtain letters of naturalization for the crews of American vessels, provided the nominal officers are subjects of either country. The Court has at length consented to repay the money advanced in April last by the Marquis de Yranda, but has not enabled Mr Jay to pay the bills due this month, and as Dr Franklin has not authorised him to draw, M. Cabarrus, as I expected in my last, has consented to advance the sum[Pg 97] sufficient for this purpose, amounting to thirtytwo thousand dollars. Perhaps Dr Franklin may soon enable Mr Jay to repay him.

Thirty thousand pounds sterling would pay all our debts here, which distress us more than the apprehension of not receiving our salaries, of which, though liberal, we have constant need, owing to the dearness of everything in this country, and the great expense incurred by the frequent change of residence of the Court, which circumstance obliges us to take lodgings at the royal residences; and which expense, the frequent journeys that we were constrained to make on account of our other business in Madrid, greatly augment. I should not touch on this subject, if Dr Franklin had not desired me to mention to Congress our personal difficulties and distresses, for I believe, with all the desire he has to serve us, he procures with difficulty sufficient funds for the payment of our salaries.

The expeditions mentioned in my former letters, are now both probably at sea; that from France sailed the 10th instant, and I know of a certainty, that orders have been sent to Cadiz to hasten the departure of the ships and troops at that post. The French ships there, mentioned in my last, take on board a million of dollars, and M. de Bussy, who formerly signalized himself in the East Indies, has gone thither incognito by land, accompanied by several officers, who have but lately returned from the East. It is therefore highly probable, that these vessels, joined by others, go thither, and will take under their escort a part of the troops embarked at Brest.

No great progress is made in the sieges of Gibraltar and Mahon; on the 27th ult., the enemy made a sally from the former place, in which they did more damage, than has[Pg 98] been published here, having completely ruined the advanced works of the besiegers, the repair of which will require some time and much money. At Mahon, the rainy season has retarded the operation of the assailants. I am just told the Duc de Crillon demands a reinforcement of two thousand men, which will be granted to him. The enemy receives small succors from time to time by sea. The Court is about to negotiate another loan, in which if it does not succeed, perhaps it must have recourse to another emission of paper. The treasury is at a low ebb. The Minister of Marine demanded lately ten millions of reals, and received but three. The credit of the paper has lately risen, it is not negotiated at one and a half per cent loss.

A plan for a national bank, is at present before the Council. The projector, M. Cabarrus, proposes to form a capital of fifteen millions of dollars, of which he offers to procure six millions; each action to amount to two thousand reals, for which the proprietors receive a certain interest of four per cent, with the profits expected from this establishment; I have seen the plan, but had not permission to copy it, so that I can give but a faint sketch of it. Eight directors are to be chosen the first year, and six annually, by the assembly of the proprietors; two of these directors are to be perpetual, because it is proposed, that they should have the direction of the supplies for the army and navy, with an interest of ten per cent, to the emolument of the bank; these two directors are to be named by the Court, out of four chosen by the proprietors; in other respects the Court to have no influence. If this plan, which was originally a part of the scheme for the circulation of paper here, should succeed, the paper which will be discounted by it, will probably preserve its credit. The Gromios, companies[Pg 99] possessed of exclusive privileges, will be annihilated, and much money, now dormant in the coffers of individuals, be called into circulation. The Gromios pay two and a half per cent interest, and the bank four, which difference, joined to the hopes of farther profits, will tempt the money-holders to withdraw their funds from the hands of the first, and place them in the latter. But these companies and their friends, oppose it strongly, as do also the persons employed in supplying the army and navy, with whom, it is said, people in various departments of Government have interested connexions.

The Courts of France and Spain seem determined to continue the war with vigor, and you will see by the King of Great Britain's speech, that he is not disposed to accommodation. The Empress of Russia still continues her endeavors to bring about a peace between England and Holland, to which the British Ministry has lately appeared to listen, although in a haughty manner. I am told the republican party is more exasperated than ever, by their answer to Russia, which is published. But your information will be much more accurate from Mr Adams, than any that I can procure. My correspondents from France write me, that the nation is much elated by the late triumph of the allied arms. This success, and the flourishing state of their commerce, reconcile them to the war, the continuance of which their Ambassador here regards as inevitable.

The resolution of Congress, prohibiting all intercourse between the citizens of America and the subjects of Great Britain, gives a secret satisfaction both in France and this country, and augments the jealousy of others, that the influence of France will exclude at the peace all amicable con[Pg 100]nexions between the States and Great Britain, at least this is the language of several of the foreign Ministers and their families. The Imperial Ambassador has lately made representations on account of an ordinance rigorously executed of late in the ports, obliging all captains of vessels to make an oath, declaratory of the contents of all packages, &c. &c. on board their vessels. He has endeavored to make this a common cause. The commerce murmurs against this, and other regulations lately enforced. It must be confessed, that Spain seems desirous to discourage all commerce carried on by foreigners, and bears as hard on their allies as on neutral nations. Whenever a peace takes place, France will be constrained to make a new convention on this subject. At present, this Court feels its importance, and the cabinet of Versailles has points of a nature so much more interesting to carry, that it takes little notice of the breach of conventions actually subsisting. By a late ordinance of the Minister of Finance, a duty of twentyfive per cent was imposed upon all produce brought in American vessels from the Havana. Mr Jay has made representations on this subject, which, I hope, will be attended to. M. Galvez appeared well disposed to withdraw them. It appears also to be the intention of the present Minister, to diminish the consumption of salt fish, to pave the way, as their friends give out, for its total exclusion at the peace, unless cured and imported by the natives; for this purpose, they have obtained bills of indulgence from the Pope, permitting the use of meat during Lent, and on other days on which it was prohibited. The price of these indulgences is proportioned to the rank of the purchaser. It is calculated, that the sale of them in the Spanish dominions will produce two millions of dollars[Pg 101] annually; so that a double advantage is derived from this operation, the extraction of money for fish is prevented, and the revenue considerably augmented.

The present Ministry seem firmly established in their respective posts. The Count de Florida Blanca's health does not permit him to give constant application to business, but is not of so dangerous a nature as to cause any apprehension. The Ministers of the Indies and Marine keep their ground in the King's favor, although they have many enemies. If the disturbances in America should increase, the credit of the first may be weakened. The latter, although disliked by his colleagues and disapproved by France, preserves the Sovereign's good graces. He has one merit, which is his constant attention to the safety of the Spanish fleet, a merit that may fix him in his place, but which renders him odious to the nation and its allies, who wish to see it more actively employed.

I am afraid these particulars may appear trivial to Congress, to whom I should be happy to make more important communications; these are not to be obtained but by the dint of money, or by a long residence and intimacy with persons in the various departments of government. The first we have not for the most pressing exigencies, and the latter, our at present doubtful situation at this Court precludes us from in some degree; although neither attentions nor endeavors have been omitted to make useful acquaintances.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 102]


Madrid, December 24th, 1781.


Yesterday Mr Jay had an audience of his Excellency, the Count de Florida Blanca, in which that Minister in the most express terms assured him, he might depend on receiving three millions of reals to pay such bills as he had already accepted, this sum, with near eighteen thousand dollars received already, and twentyfive thousand promised by the Court of France, will fully answer this purpose, and I still hope ways and means will be found to furnish funds for the bills, which have not yet been presented, and which, for some weeks, come to hand slowly. The Minister also promised his good offices with the Court of Portugal, and informed Mr Jay, that previous to his application, he had endeavored to induce the Ministry of that nation to conduct itself with respect to the States, in a manner more agreeable to the rights of humanity and the law of nations founded on those rights, but that the party in favor of Great Britain preponderated hitherto.

I have had opportunities of speaking several times on this subject to the Secretary of the Embassy of Portugal here, and once to the Ambassador. Each seemed sensible of the injustice of the first step of the Court, and owned it more easy to do an injury than to repair it. If the Congress should be in a situation to make strong representations to that Court, with a recapitulation of the conduct of the States during the whole war in respect to Portugal, they may be possibly attended with success, particularly if they should accede to the armed neutrality, to which they are strongly pressed by Russia at present.[Pg 103] The Minister also engaged to do justice to certain Americans who carried a British privateer to the Canaries, and, in short, seemed exceedingly well disposed to render the States every service in his power. I cannot forbear, however, mentioning to the Committee, that he spoke with much chagrin of the adherence of Congress to points, which, in his opinion, rendered a treaty impracticable for the present, and although pressed on that subject by Mr Jay, I doubt whether he will give his sentiments thereon in writing. He also seemed exceedingly apprehensive of the efficacy of the means employed by Sir H. Clinton, to sow jealousy and discord among the States, and even in Congress, and said that the letters lately received by the British Court from the officer abovementioned, gave great hopes of success in this particular. In fine, he assured Mr Jay, that considerable sums of money would be employed for this purpose, and as I am convinced this Court received its information from a person equally employed by that of London, I fear it will be difficult to remove these suspicions until time shows how ill founded they are.

In the meantime, unanimity and force in America are the best arms of the States there, and their best arguments in Europe. To which, if much complaisance to the Spanish King and nation is added, even in objects not essential, the Congress will enable their servants to defeat the designs of the British emissary and their party here, so long as the present King lives. According to present appearances, the war is likely to continue. Although I have already written you particularly on the subject, I now repeat, that the Court is in the way of negotiating its loans for the expenses of the ensuing year, and that it expects some treasure from America. At Cadiz, they have twenty[Pg 104]nine sail of the line ready for sea. The blockade of Gibraltar is continued with tolerable success hitherto. The Count d'Estaing was not arrived in France by the last advices. This delay will retard the operations intended for our succor.

The death of the Empress Queen will probably kindle the flame of war in Europe, though perhaps not in the ensuing year. I am told from good authority the Emperor is favorably disposed to England. His Ambassador and Mr Cumberland are very intimate, and see each other every day. The residence here of the latter is extraordinary in the present situation of the two nations, and can only be accounted for on the principles, which I had the honor to mention in former letters. If I may be allowed to conjecture, I think Holland will be sooner or later involved in the war, and that orders have already been given by the Court of England to attack their possessions in the East Indies. This however is but a conjecture, although grounded on some share of political evidence.

The British Parliament is prorogued to the 23d of January. Their grand fleet is at sea. Mr Trumbull has been arrested in England, and several Americans obliged to fly and abscond, among whom there is one of my correspondents. I have received advice, that several were included in the number to be arrested, whom it was not the intention of Government to seize, in order to give them an opportunity of returning to America with more eclat, to be in a situation of rendering greater services to Great Britain. I hope this advice is without foundation, but having received it, I think it my duty to communicate it, because circumspection can do us no material injury. M. Gar[Pg 105]doqui will scarcely take his departure until all negotiations are at an end, and the campaign shall have commenced.

I have the honor to be, &c.


P. S. Sir Joseph Yorke has presented another Memorial to the States, more insolent than the former. The armed neutrality propose to have forty sail of the line next spring in the ports of Holland.

W. C.


Madrid, February 18th, 1782.


I have just had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 20th of December, and seize the earliest opportunity of acknowledging the satisfaction I feel in the hope of a more regular correspondence than I have hitherto had with your department. The moment I was informed, indirectly of your appointment, I did myself the honor of addressing you. My first letter was dated the same day you wrote the one above mentioned. On the 24th ultimo, I again solicited your attention, and as I sent quadruplicates of these letters, I think I may venture to refer you to their contents, for accounts of the state of affairs, and the general intelligence at the time of writing them.

I find by your letter, that mine written in the month of September, had not reached Congress. I sent three copies via Bilboa, by the Captains Tracy, Cook, and another, whose name my correspondents omitted to mention to me. I have had the mortification to hear lately,[Pg 106] that these vessels were all taken on the coasts of America. The fourth copy was sent from France, so that I still hope it may have escaped the misfortune of the others. Nothing gives me, or can give me, more pleasure, than the idea of contributing to the satisfaction of Congress, while I fill a duty, which a sense of their confidence, and a desire of meriting a continuance of it imposes on me. I am only sorry, that my abilities and opportunities do not correspond with my wishes, to render my communications more useful. I have already requested you in the letters above mentioned, to point out the line of my duty.

I am infinitely obliged to you for what you mention with respect to my apprehension of being sent to Corunna, and having your sanction to direct my conduct in future. I shall implicitly follow Mr Jay's directions, should he even choose to send me as a courier to be the bearer of despatches to the sea-ports. The reason assigned in your letter, joined to others which I had the honor to mention in mine to the Committee, were such as I suggested when I expressed a reluctance to be employed with discretionary powers in this business. I was prepared however to execute Mr Jay's orders, but I believe ulterior reflections, and the advice of the French Ambassador, induced him to relinquish the idea of sending me.

I have no cypher from Mr Morris and have seen none from him. I must therefore again request you to forward me one, under cover to Messrs Barclay and Harrison, with directions to those gentlemen to forward your letters by private hands, and not by the post, for I fear that one you sent to Mr Jay has been intercepted. No delicacy is preserved by this Court on this head. This practice is not confined to us, but extends to the correspondence of all[Pg 107] the corps diplomatique. It has happened, that in the hurry of resealing letters thus examined, papers belonging to the department, in which they were opened, have been carelessly enclosed by the Secretary, and returned to the Minister by the person to whom the letters were addressed. Without a cypher it will be impossible for me to be so punctual as may be expected, for at present I am obliged to send most of my letters by private hands, or by the French Ambassador's couriers to the sea-ports, which circumstance often retards their arrival in America.

Our situation with respect to money matters is still critical. The drafts which Dr Franklin is obliged to pay are so frequent, that he has not been able to obtain cash to enable Mr Jay to discharge the bills accepted by him here, for which M. Cabarrus, as has been mentioned in former letters, is nearly forty thousand dollars in advance. Happily there are few bills due until the middle of next month, which will give Dr Franklin time to endeavor to save our credit here, and to this Ministry to reflect on the consequence of denying us this small succor. The Count de Florida Blanca has been lately solicited on this subject by the French Ambassador, and without giving hopes of affording the sum demanded, he promised to do what the urgency of their own wants permit him to do for us. In this conversation he appeared dissatisfied, that Congress had taken no notice of the desire he had expressed of obtaining one of the vessels constructing in the Eastern ports, for the United States, and complained, that no returns had been made by the States to the proofs the King had manifested, of his favorable disposition towards them. In fact their own necessities are evident.

In addition to what I have heretofore mentioned on this[Pg 108] head, I have lately been informed from good authority, that a person to whom the Crown is indebted twelve millions of reals, in order to obtain payment, has been constrained to propose to purchase the salt belonging to his Majesty, to the amount of twentyfour millions of reals, for the payment of which, after deducting the sum due to him, he is obliged to advance immediately five millions of reals, although he has little hopes of disembarrassing himself shortly, of such an immense quantity of an article, for which there is little demand at present. The Minister, to soften the harshness of his refusal to make further advances, informed the Count de Montmorin, that M. Del Campo's instructions would be ready in a few days, and that Mr Jay might then commence his conferences on the subject of the proposed treaty. If I may be allowed to hazard a conjecture again on this subject, I must repeat what I have often mentioned already, that Spain seems desirous to retard this business until a general treaty takes place. Perhaps it may not be unworthy the attention of Congress, to prepare eventual resolutions should this prove to be the intentions of the Court.

Since commencing this letter, we have the agreeable news of the capitulation of Mahon, in twentyeight days after the trenches were opened. The garrison are prisoners of war, and, including sailors, &c., amount to two thousand six hundred men. Sickness, which reduced their number of effective men to one thousand three hundred, unwholesome provision, fatigue, and despair of succor, are the motives assigned by the Governor, for the surrender of this important place, which has cost Spain two hundred killed, and three hundred wounded. The joy of the Court is excessive. The Count de Florida Blanca has the merit of[Pg 109] having planned this expedition. It is said, the fortifications are to be entirely ruined, and the port rendered incapable of receiving large vessels. The officer charged with the despatches, announcing this event, accuses our allies of having shown a backwardness and reluctance to assist in this siege, which has excited much indignation here. The Princess of Asturias said publicly at dinner, that the Spaniards had taken Fort St Philip's in sight of four thousand spectators, (meaning the French troops.) I had this from a foreign Minister who was present. I am persuaded the charge is without foundation, but still it will have a bad effect, and augment a national animosity, which prevails too much already.

It is probable that the siege of Gibraltar will now be pushed with more vigor. It is the King's favorite object, and the Duc de Crillon, I know, is of opinion that it may be taken. His late success will give weight to his opinion. I have been told that the Irish who obtained permission to return to the sea-ports, after being exiled from thence for several months, will again be ordered to quit them. This circumstance induces me to believe, that strong efforts will be made to take Gibraltar. The Spanish fleet has returned to Cadiz, where it will not remain long, the magazines being abundantly provided, and although there is no great number of workmen, or docks, for the repairs of vessels of the line, yet as few of the vessels have suffered in their cruise, these inconveniences will not be felt. The Count de Guichen was ready for sea the 28th ultimo, and only waited for a wind. His fleet consists of ten sail of the line, which has under its convoy fifty sail of transports; five of the first mentioned are destined for Cadiz, to join the Spanish fleet, which will then be superior to any the enemy can[Pg 110] assemble in the seas of Europe. Admiral Rodney was still in the Channel the 22d ultimo, and will probably push for the West Indies, without any transports; the convoys for the West and East Indies, and America, not being yet in readiness. It is said that great reinforcements are to be sent to these quarters. Lord George Germain, it is said, will resign, and be succeeded by Mr Ellis.

The Russian and Imperial Ministers, still interpose their good offices to mediate a peace. The neutral Ministers say here, that Lord Stormont, in a late conversation with the first mentioned, declared with heat, that his Sovereign would treat with France on the subject of our independence, when a French army was in possession of the Tower of London, and not before, and that they would negotiate with Spain for the cession of Gibraltar, in exchange for the city of Madrid. I should not commit this extravagance to paper if I had not heard it mentioned by the Count de Montmorin, and other Ministers.

Mr Adams has demanded a categorical answer from the States-General to the proposition made them on behalf of the United States. The Dutch Secretary here informs me, that his letter was well received. The Dutch Minister at this Court has invited me to his house, since the presentation of the above mentioned demand. I have lately had conversation with the Swedish Minister, which I hope will enable me two months hence to give you some information of the disposition of his Court. This Minister is exceedingly well disposed to forward a connexion between Sweden and America, as is the Baron de Ramel, formerly Minister here, now Vice Chancellor of Sweden, to whose good offices I believe I owe the countenance and civilities of its representative here.

[Pg 111]The cedula for the bank will appear shortly. I shall take care to forward that, and any other paper that I think worthy your attention. I have sent the Madrid Gazette to Mr Harrison, and have desired him to forward it in future. This gentleman is every way deserving your esteem and notice. He acts at present as Consul for America at Cadiz, and has been very useful there. His good sense and agreeable manners, have acquired the good will of natives and foreigners.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, February 27th, 1782.


I did myself the honor of addressing you the 18th instant, which I enclosed in the first copy of this. My letter of the 18th contained all the intelligence of the state of our affairs in Holland, which had come to my knowledge. My mind now is full of another object, for I have the mortification to inform you, that unless Mr Jay is enabled by Dr Franklin in a few days to pay the drafts he has accepted, he will be obliged to stop payment. I am persuaded the latter has done everything in his power to extricate us from this cruel situation, but he has had so many other bills to answer, and France is itself so pushed for money, that hitherto he has not been able to succeed, nor indeed to pay us regularly our salaries.

This Court has at length consented to pay us the balance of the three millions, promised last year, which amounts to[Pg 112] near twentysix thousand dollars, but this money is in some sort appropriated to the repayment of the advances made for two months past, by M. Cabarrus, who, after the conversation he has had with the Minister, is discouraged from making equal advances. Less than twenty thousand pounds sterling would now pay all our debts in this country. I shall not despair until the bills are refused, although after what we have experienced here, I have little ground to hope. The Count de Florida Blanca has engaged to take such measures, as that Mr Jay shall not be personally exposed, which, without the interference of the Court, might be the case, as he is not acknowledged in a public character.

Mr Jay has not yet received any notice, that M. Del Campo's instructions are ready. That gentleman has now been near four months named for this business. It is now confidently asserted, that the works at Mahon are to be destroyed. Two ships of the line, and two frigates, have sailed from Cadiz, to escort the transports with troops from Minorca, which, it is said, are to be employed in the siege of Gibraltar. I know of a certainty, that the Court has given orders, to amass considerable sums of money in Andalusia. The Count de Guichen sailed on the 10th instant, and we expect every day to hear of his arrival at Cadiz, with five ships of the line. The English East India convoy sailed the 26th ult., and consists of six ships of the line, a frigate, and nineteen transports and ships of the Company. The letters and papers I have received the last posts from France and Holland, assert that since the arrival of Lord Cornwallis and Arnold in England, the king is resolved to continue an offensive war in America at every hazard. As this intelligence corresponds with the character of the king,[Pg 113] and the officers above mentioned, some credit may be given to it. It has been asserted in the English papers, that the king of Great Britain was negotiating as Elector of Hanover with Saxony, to take into pay ten thousand of its troops, to replace the like number to be drawn from Hanover for the American war. The Chargé d'Affaires of Saxony at this Court assures me that this is false.

It is expected by the friends of America, that preparations will be early made, to repel every attack the enemy may be in force to make, and if occasion presents, to act offensively. I have nothing to add to this or my last, but that a copy of each will be delivered to you by Colonel Livingston, whose zeal, abilities, application, and prudent conduct, have acquired him general esteem, and have made his departure regretted by all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. Mr Vaughan, who accompanies him, was strongly recommended to me by Dr Franklin, and I have found him every way worthy of his recommendation. These gentlemen will be able to give more ample details of general intelligence, than I can do by letter, and of a later date than this.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, April 14th, 1782.


A violent defluxion of the eyes, which was epidemical here this winter, incapacitated me for near three weeks after the date of my last from writing, and the perplexed and uncer[Pg 114]tain situation of our affairs here for some time past, induced me not to do myself the honor of addressing you, until I could inform you in what manner our difficulties were likely to have a period. Indeed, during this interval, my time was so much engaged by the bills of exchange accepted by Mr Jay, and the conversations I held with, and the visits I was obliged to make to the various persons interested in this affair, that I had very little leisure left for other occupations.

On the 27th of February, I expressed my apprehensions for the fate of our accepted bills, although I could not but hope, that either this Court or that of France, would interfere in time to relieve us from this cruel mortification. Whether this Court withheld its aid, from expectation that the French Ambassador was secretly instructed to assist us, as on a former occasion, in case of extreme necessity; whether their wants, which are pressing, occasioned their indecision; or whether it was produced by the secret influence and artifices of ill disposed persons, I will not pretend to say; but the fact is, that notwithstanding the frequent representations of Mr Jay, and as frequent good offices of the French Ambassador, the Minister did not, until the day before Mr Jay found himself under the absolute necessity of protesting the bills, authorise verbally the Count de Montmorin to inform Mr Jay, that if M. Cabarrus persisted in his former intentions of making the necessary advances, he would see him repaid in ten or twelve months, to the amount of forty or fifty thousand current dollars. It must be observed that this consent was given the day after M. Del Campo had been informed by M. Cabarrus, at his own house, of the terms on which he would make the advances in question. These terms were different from those he had[Pg 115] frequently repeated to Mr Jay and myself, and which Mr Jay made known to the Minister; but I believe the conversations with the latter, had excited apprehensions of his not being reimbursed even in the time he had originally proposed.

These apprehensions were augmented by finding that the French Ambassador was not authorised to extricate us from our distress, although the Court of France was apprized of our situation. I early remarked these fears, and endeavored to remove them by every means in my power. I was clearly of opinion, however, that after the conversation, above mentioned, with M. Del Campo, no reliance could be placed on his assistance for our relief, and informed Mr Jay of my conjectures on this subject, as I had done from the first moment I discovered M. Cabarrus's fears and apprehensions. This disappointment, constrained Mr Jay to protest a number of bills, some of which the holders had the complaisance and indulgence to keep by them near three weeks, in order to give time to Mr Jay to make arrangements for their payment. Indeed, the whole commercial interest here, behaved in a manner that scarce could be expected from persons who have so little connexions with our country, and expressed their indignation and astonishment, that the Court should expose to this mortification, for a sum so trifling, a country united with them against a common enemy. The foreign Ministers were not less surprised, and this incident, I believe, furnished materials for their despatches at the time, and has occasioned much conjecture since.

A letter from Dr Franklin, authorising Mr Jay to draw upon him for the payment of the bills he had accepted, soon established our credit to the general satisfaction of[Pg 116] everybody who have no political connexions to influence their opinion, and the news from England of the address of the House of Commons to the King, to put an end to offensive operations in America, and of the general fermentation in Ireland, will probably give a more favorable aspect to our affairs here, as has been the case elsewhere. Courier after courier arrived from the Count d'Aranda, the Spanish Ambassador at Paris, and several cabinet councils were held immediately after their respective arrivals. Each of these couriers announced the various appearances of a change in the British Cabinet, and probably gave some intelligence of the overtures from Great Britain, made to Dr Franklin.

The flattering prospect of our affairs in Holland, may contribute also to accelerate the conduct of others with respect to the United States. The Minister promised Mr Jay, some time ago, that the conferences with M. Del Campo, on the subject of a treaty should positively take place at Aranjues, and the actual crisis of affairs renders it probable, that more reliance may be placed on this than on former assurances; but after the experience we have had of the dilatoriness of this Court, I cannot flatter myself, that the treaty will be very speedily concluded, for I have been led to resume my former opinion, that this Court has wished, and still desires, to delay the acknowledgment of our independence, until a general treaty of peace shall take place. The Dutch Minister sent for me immediately after receiving advice, that Friesland had resolved to admit Mr Adams in a public character, and told me he had not the least doubt of the other provinces doing the same. Indeed I heard extracts of letters read, from persons of high repute in this republic, who speak of this affair, as a matter[Pg 117] determined, and which will meet with no other obstruction, than what arises from the usual formalities and delays in the constitution of that republic. The Swedish Minister daily expects news from his Court, which he tells me he hopes will prove agreeable.

These changes in the political situation of the United States and Great Britain, I believe are not seen by Russia and Denmark with pleasure, if I may be allowed to form conjectures from the conduct and sentiments of their respective Ministers here, who cannot conceal their chagrin, on the reception of any news favorable to France, Spain, or America. Indeed most of the neutral nations seem to have a particular aversion to this Court, excited as they say, by its conduct with respect to the capture and detention of their vessels. As I have an opportunity of seeing themselves, or their Secretaries very often, and am on an intimate footing with the latter, I am frequently a witness of their complaints and murmurs; Congress need not therefore conclude, that their inattention to Mr Jay's Memorial, is pointed or a proof of its ill will, for I have seen near eighty Memorials from a Minister more nearly connected with them than we are, few of which have been attended to.

The capture of a Danish vessel laden with powder and artillery, with two King's officers on board, and instructions from the Admiralty, has excited the clamors of the Danish Minister here, who despatched a courier to Copenhagen on the occasion. I am promised a statement of the case presented by the Minister above mentioned to those of the armed neutrality, and copies of two letters from the Count de Florida Blanca, one to the Danish Minister, and the other to the neutral Ministers here, which if obtained shall accompany this letter.

[Pg 118]Great preparations are making for the siege of Gibraltar. The Duc de Crillon is to command in chief, and it is said will have under his orders, from twentyfive to thirtytwo thousand men, including the French troops at Mahon; the place is to be attacked by sea and land, and I hear twelve ships are bought by government to be fitted up and serve as floating batteries. This operation will probably commence in July, a month favorable for it on account of the calms which then prevail. The loan proposed by this Court in Holland is not likely to meet the expected success. The armaments they have equipped and are equipping, and the expensive preparations for the siege of Gibraltar, straiten them exceedingly for funds. The difficulties they encounter in procuring money, and the alarming state of their colonies, may probably dispose them to peace by the end of the present campaign, but it is likely their claims will be great, and thought extravagant by all the neutral nations.

I have frequently mentioned the reports of disturbances in their colonies. It is difficult to obtain accurate information on this subject. The King has certainly ratified a convention made with the malcontents at Santa Fé and in its neighborhood, which was transmitted by the ecclesiastical, civil, and military officers, with their advice to accord all the demands therein contained, as the only means to prevent the total revolt of these provinces. I have reason to believe this ratification was made with great reluctance. I am also promised a copy of this convention, which I shall forward with this letter if obtained in time.

The papers are full of the Pope's voyage to Vienna. The Imperial Secretary here assures me, that the Emperor will not recede from the plans of reformation he has[Pg 119] adopted. Some persons having suggested, to him, that fanaticism might possibly endeavor to put a period to his progress by assassination, he replied, that he had no apprehensions on that score, for his brother's firmness and sentiments being known to be the same, nothing could be hoped from a single assassination. He is regarded here and in Portugal as a heretic, and if his sight should be affected by the defluxion on his eyes at present, this misfortune will be regarded as a punishment from heaven, inflicted on him for his encroachments on the church. As I know you will receive ample details of all that regards the mission here from Mr Jay, I confine myself to a very summary detail on the subject, in order to supply in a small degree the loss or delay of his more important despatches. With a sincere wish that my intentions may be acceptable to Congress,

I have the honor to be, &c.


P. S. April 29th, 1782. The enclosed papers are copies of the letters herein mentioned. Duplicates have been already sent with their translations. The despatches of Mr Jay have taken up so much of my time for three weeks past, that it has not been possible for me to make out copies of the translations for Major Franks, the bearer of the present, and the great earnestness with which Mr Jay desires to send him away, prevents my sending the copy of the statement of the case, and the convention made with the disaffected in Spanish America. Mr Jay's information is so explicit, that it leaves but little for me to add, which I shall do this week via Cadiz.

W. C.

[Pg 120]


Philadelphia, May 1st, 1782.

Dear Sir,

I was favored with your letters of the 20th of December; that of the 17th, which you mention to have written to the late Committee of Foreign Affairs, never came to hand. If you have received my former letter, you will find your question relative to the continuance of your correspondence already answered. But lest you should not, let me repeat it, by assuring you that it will always give me very great pleasure to hear from you. The channels of communication with this office are much too few to induce me to shut up one by which we receive the most frequent and important intelligence. I shall endeavor to send you a cypher by this, or the next safe opportunity, and shall alter that look for a strict compliance with your promise. I make no remark on the political parts of your letters, both because I have no cypher yet settled with you, and because I shall always write fully on these subjects to Mr Jay. It gives me pleasure to see the train you are establishing to procure intelligence, and to cultivate the esteem of persons who may be of use to us. This has been, and is still too much neglected, but that neglect makes your address and attention the more important.

The season of the year, and the inactivity of the British, deprive me of the means of making a full return for the intelligence you communicate. Our attention is at present turned to an object, which, though apparently small, promises to have consequences of some moment. You will find in the papers enclosed, an account of the execution of a militia officer, Capt. Huddy, by a band of tories, on some false pretences. The General has demanded the perpe[Pg 121]trators of this crime, or threatened to retaliate upon some British officer of equal rank. As his letter does him honor, I enclose a copy, which you will be pleased to show to Mr Jay. Clinton is reduced to great straits; he has already been the means of one officer's dying on a gibbet. He would be execrated by the army should he occasion the ignominious death of another. On the other hand, he is already very unpopular with the tories. Should he give up those of the refugee corps, who are concerned in this business, which has probably been done by the direction, or at least the connivance of their board of directors, he will be embroiled with them. They form a kind of imperium in imperio. The directors, being in a great measure independent of the commander-in-chief, have the custody of their own prisoners, regulate their own exchanges, divide the plunder they make according to their own rules; and correspond regularly with the Ministry, which circumstance alone is sufficient to excite a kind of rivalry between them, and the commander-in-chief.

Several propositions have been made for the exchange and comfortable support of prisoners, all of which have proved abortive, from the resolution of the British not to pay arrears, they have incurred, which amounts to near £300,000 sterling. Some measures, which will surprise them not a little, will be taken. I shall write particularly to Mr Jay on this subject, because it will need explanation in Europe. You will consult Mr Jay on the propriety of publishing the affair of Huddy in the European papers; and if he shall think it may be of any use, take measures for the purpose.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 122]


Madrid, June 12th, 1782.


On the 5th instant, I had the honor to address you, enclosing a copy of a letter, which I wrote to Mr Jay soon after his departure from Madrid.[13] The Court is now here, but the Ministers are generally so harassed by business and visits during their short stay in the capital, that there are few opportunities of having access to them. Before I left Aranjues, I frequently reminded M. Del Campo of the promises made me, to pay attention to the different offices passed from Mr Jay, interesting to various citizens of the United States. I was well received, and had those promises reiterated. I judged it more proper to solicit the notice of the Ministry to these objects in person, than by writing, because I could have small hopes of success from memorials, when I reflected how little attention had been paid to those written by a man so much my superior in that mode of address. Besides, frequent conferences, perhaps develop better the opinions and dispositions of men, than deliberate answers to requests, or remonstrances, however clearly, or however strongly they may be stated in writing.

In my conversations with the Minister, and the gentleman above mentioned, they seemed to think the work of peace to be in a fair way. I have, however, some reason to suppose, that neither their instructions to their Ambassador at Paris for this object, nor those for him to treat with Mr Jay, are yet forwarded, and there are grounds to conjecture that this Court would have retarded the negotiation as much as[Pg 123] possible, had not the defeat of the Count de Grasse blasted their hopes of taking Jamaica. Even now they will be desirous of knowing the fate of the siege of Gibraltar, before they agree to any treaty, which does not put them in possession of that important fortress.

The neutral Ministers here seem to wish to intermeddle in the proposed pacification. There is a general jealousy among them of the house of Bourbon, and a particular animosity against this branch of it. This I have long remarked, and I have now more frequent occasions than heretofore. I am afraid the rumors of peace will slacken the preparations of the Dutch for war. The hopes of a speedy general pacification, and a sense of complaisance and apprehension of the Empress of Russia, may procrastinate the treaty between the United States and them. I write these conjectures with diffidence, as indeed I do all which depend on my own judgment.

I am busy at present in arranging the public accounts. The projected bank employs so much of M. Cabarrus's time, and that of his clerks, that it is possible I may be obliged to follow the Court to St Ildefonso, to which place the king removes the 14th instant, before I can obtain such a settlement of them, as may enable me to transmit the general account to Mr Jay, for his approbation. In the meantime, I draw, and shall still be obliged to draw, on Dr Franklin, to enable me to discharge the public bills accepted by Mr Jay. Exchange is every day more to our disadvantage. The depreciation of the royal billets is now at 31/4 to 31/2 per cent, and I make no doubt will be at 6 per cent in two months. The Court has been again obliged to apply to the Gromios for assistance, whose privileges, it appears from the establishment of the bank, it meant to deprive them[Pg 124] of. This circumstance marks their distress for money, and as some say, the want of system in their conduct.

The Duc de Crillon has set out for the camp before Gibraltar; the operations, however, will not seriously commence before the month of August, if in all that month. The expectations of success are sanguine. I heard the Duke himself speak with great confidence on the subject. The combined fleet left Cadiz the 4th instant; it consists of thirtytwo sail of the line, and some frigates, and proceeds immediately to the British channel. I avail myself of a courier from the French Ambassador to forward copies of this letter to the ports of France. The Count de Montmorin continues to give the same proofs of attachment to the interests of the States, and of personal kindness to myself, that I have ever experienced since my arrival in Spain. I beg leave to remind you to send me a cypher, and to entreat your instructions and intelligence addressed directly to myself; otherwise I have few opportunities of manifesting my zeal for the public service, or of acquiring your personal esteem.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[13] The letter here referred to is missing. Mr Jay left Madrid for Paris about the 20th of May.


Philadelphia, July 6th, 1782.


Since my letter of May last, I have been favored with yours of the 18th and 27th of February. As they contained many things of importance, which we had received through no other channel, I communicated their contents to Congress, to whom I have reason to think they[Pg 125] were very acceptable. The great changes that have taken place in the administration of Britain, make us extremely desirous of learning minutely the measures they are pursuing. Unfortunately it is long since we have received any other information from Europe, than that contained in the public prints. Our Ministers abroad do not keep up such a communication with the sea-ports as to avail themselves of the opportunities, that are almost weekly afforded, by which means the intelligence they transmit, if not of a private nature, is almost always forestalled.

We are at present in a state of absolute inactivity here. We are not sufficiently strong to attack the enemy in their works, without some naval aid; nor can they attack us with any prospect of success. Congress employ the present leisure in forming and enforcing a system of finance, which, notwithstanding all the difficulties it has to struggle with, will, I hope, shortly place our affairs on a more respectable footing; particularly, if any of those powers who are interested in supporting us, shall afford the aid we have a right to expect.

Among other changes that have taken place, there is one I believe you will be pleased with; in the payment of your salaries, which in future will be paid here upon my certificate. I, as your agent, will vest the money in bills, and remit them to you or Dr Franklin, with orders for him to remit the money to you, or pay it to your order. This will render your payments more regular, and free you from the appearance of dependence, which must be disagreeable to you. I remit by this conveyance to him, the amount of one quarter's salary, commencing the 1st of January last, and ending the 1st of April, which I have vested in bills at the present rate of exchange, which is six shillings three[Pg 126]pence this money, for five livres, by which you gain almost five and a half per cent. You will be charged here two and a half per cent premium, which is the usual commission, and I shall consider myself as your agent in this business, unless you should choose to appoint some other. Your accounts for the next quarter will be made up immediately; the money vested in a bill upon Dr Franklin, which I will remit him by the next opportunity. Send me a general state of your account, that I may get it settled for you, and the arrears, if any, discharged. I could wish much to have a cypher with you, but find it very difficult to send one. Let me have one, if you have a safe conveyance, if a favorable opportunity offers from here, I will transmit you one.

I am, with great esteem and regard, &c.



St Ildefonso, July 8th, 1782.


On the 5th and the 12th ultimo I did myself the honor of addressing you from Madrid. On the 2d instant I came to this place, having waited in the capital some days longer than I intended, for the purpose of arranging finally the public accounts with M. Cabarrus; but finding that that gentleman's occupations prevented him from stating them in the manner directed by Mr Jay, and having by my stay, in compliance with his request, convinced him that the settlement and discharge of the balance still due, depended on himself, I judged it proper to follow the Court hither, in order to have frequent opportunities of pressing the Minis[Pg 127]ter to pay attention to the different memorials presented by Mr Jay; of which copies have been transmitted by him to Congress, and to procure such information as it might be proper to lay before you. I did not strongly urge the settlement of the accounts above mentioned, because Dr Franklin had requested Mr Jay to give him as much time as possible for the payment of the sums due here, although I am persuaded the delay will be prejudicial, as it is probable the exchange will be more to our disadvantage every day.

On the 3d instant, I waited on the Count de Florida Blanca and M. Del Campo. I found the former in conference with the French Ambassador, and as that had been long, and I knew he would be much fatigued, and also that he expected the Russian Minister and the Ambassador of the Emperor, who have of late received frequent couriers, I shortened my visit, which passed in amicable assurances on his part and hopes on mine, that his Excellency would put it as much in my power, as it was my inclination to contribute to a lasting harmony between the two countries, by enabling me to inform Congress of the favorable disposition of his Majesty, and at the same time of the measures taken by his Ministers to redress the grievances, which Mr Jay had so often laid before him. He desired me to mention these affairs in detail to M. Del Campo, and after repeating assurances of good will, &c., he proceeded to inform me, that he had received a copy of a letter, which Mr Jay on his arrival at Paris had written to the Count d'Aranda, adding, that he was sorry he could not continue the conversation at present, for that he expected the Ministers above mentioned every moment, but that on the Saturday following he would be glad to see me, to talk over many[Pg 128] matters necessary to discuss at this crisis. I took my leave, and actually met the Imperial and Russian Ministers at the door, with M. Del Campo, whom I next went to see.

I had a long conversation, the material points of which, after having reminded him of the memorials, &c., presented by Mr Jay, turned on the manner in which the propositions of the new British Administration would be received in America. I had the good fortune to answer in the most decided manner, that all proposals for a separate treaty would be unanimously rejected, for on my return from this visit to my lodgings, I found Mr Clonard, who delivered me the letter you did me the honor to write me on the 1st of May, and who informed me of many of the subsequent transactions. The same day at dinner, the Count de Montmorin showed me a letter from the Chevalier de la Luzerne, in which he informs him, that Congress had rejected the propositions made by General Carleton, and that all the States would follow the example of Maryland. This conduct has a great and good effect in Europe. The same day the king spoke at table of the news, and praised greatly the probity of the Americans, raising his voice in such a manner that all the foreign ministers might hear him. I have conversed with several of these since, and find them unanimous in their opinion that the wisest measure Great Britain can take, is to conclude a treaty acknowledging our independence.

The couriers received, and the audiences demanded by the Russian and Imperial Representatives, excited my attention, and I have discovered that they have been once more directed by their Courts to make an offer of their mediation to his Catholic Majesty. They made this communication on the 3d instant, and have received their[Pg 129] answer; for on the 6th the Count de Kaunitz despatched a courier. In my next I hope to communicate the answer of this Court. I suspect England is at the bottom of this business. The combined fleet is probably at this time in the English channel, where it will be reinforced by a squadron of French ships commanded by M. de la Motte Piquet. The preparations for the siege of Gibraltar are pushed with vigor. I have not yet had the honor to hear from Mr Jay. My last letter from Dr Franklin is dated the 11th ultimo. Messrs Grenville and Oswald were then at Paris, but had not yet received their full powers. Neither had Spain nor Holland sent instructions to their Ministers, so that the conferences could not properly be opened.

I have the honor to enclose in the first copy of this, a letter which I received the 4th instant from M. Dumas. The letters brought by Mr Clonard for Mr Jay were forwarded by the same gentleman. I remain without other instructions than what are contained in yours of the 1st of May. If Mr Jay should be detained at Paris, I shall be without any information but what I may obtain by my private correspondence and my own industry; I beg leave to submit this to your consideration.

I have the honor to be, &c.



St Ildefonso, July 22d, 1782.


In my last of the 8th instant, I had the honor to inform you of an offer of mediation renewed to this Court by[Pg 130] those of Petersburg and Vienna. I have since been told, that the Count de Florida Blanca's answer was to the following purport; "that his Catholic Majesty is highly sensible of the offers made by their Imperial Majesties to promote the establishment of the public tranquillity, but that before accepting their propositions it is necessary to consult his ally, and for this purpose instructions will be sent to his Ambassador at Paris, who, in order to prevent delay, will at the same time be authorised to communicate the answer to the Russian and Imperial Ministers at the Court of Versailles." I had this information from a person connected with the Ambassador of the Court of Vienna.

The Emperor is full of the project of removing his East India Company from Trieste to Ostend, and of augmenting the commerce of his subjects, particularly in the Low Countries. The continuation of the war is favorable to his designs, at all events he will seek his own advantage in the proposed mediation.

All the neutral powers seem desirous of procuring stipulations favorable to their commerce and navigation, particularly in the Mediterranean, and for this purpose all appear to wish a general Congress. Perhaps upon the whole it would be more for the honor and permanent advantage of the United States, to have their independence acknowledged and guarantied in an assembly of this nature, than by a particular treaty between the belligerent powers. As Mr Jay is to negotiate with the Count d'Aranda at Paris the proposed treaty, my business here is confined to the arrangement of the public accounts, and the payment of the bills still due, the collecting intelligence, and the solicitation of redress of the various complaints laid before the Ministry in behalf of individuals. For this[Pg 131] last purpose I wait on the Count de Florida Blanca, and M. Del Campo, from time to time, and in a respectful manner solicit their attention to these affairs. Personally I have no reason to complain; in my political character I should have more, if I did not know, that the first powers in Europe are treated with the same inattention and delay. I mention this not to excuse the conduct of this Court, but to convince you, that it is not singular with respect to us. I have in some instances promises of redress, and it is to be hoped, that circumstances, patience, and good humor, will terminate these affairs to the satisfaction, in some measure, of the parties interested.

While Mr Jay remains at Paris, as the public despatches are addressed to him, I shall be deprived of intelligence from America, except what I may acquire by private correspondence from thence. I have not had the honor to hear from Mr Jay since he left this place, which may have been occasioned by delay or ill health on the road and afterwards. I have no correspondence with Messrs Adams and Dana, from whom I might receive, and to whom I might contribute hints, that might be of service to the public interest. Messrs Grenville and Oswald are still at Paris, but on this subject you will have from others much more accurate information than it is in my power to give you.

The Count d'Artois is expected here tomorrow, and will be received and treated as an Infant of Spain. This visit is highly pleasing to the royal family. He is expected with impatience. Nothing worth your notice has yet passed at Gibraltar. The besiegers and the besieged, equally prepare the one for the attack, the other for the defence of the place. A courier extraordinary from[Pg 132] France, brings advice of the capture of eighteen transports and merchantmen bound to Quebec and Newfoundland. Unhappily the New York fleet, which sailed with the vessels captured, had two or three days before separated from them. A fifty gun ship and a frigate, which escorted them, escaped. I have not yet received M. Cabarrus's account. When these are once delivered and settled, I shall take the earliest opportunity of transmitting to Congress and to Mr Jay, copies of all the public accounts in this country. I entreat your indulgence, and frequent remembrance of me.

I have the honor to be, &c.



St Ildefonso, September 8th, 1782.


My last were of the 17th and 26th ultimo, I am still without the least information from America, since the 1st of May, the date of your last letter. His Excellency, the Count de Florida Blanca, whom I had the honor to see yesterday, seemed apprehensive, that Congress might be induced to believe, from the capitulation accorded to the British at Providence, that this Court had not after what happened at Pensacola instructed its commanders to take care in future, that the garrisons of such places as his Catholic Majesty's forces might reduce, should be disposed of in such a manner as not to be prejudicial to any of the belligerent powers. His Excellency assured me how much he should be concerned if an oversight of the Gen[Pg 133]eral employed on this occasion, should create a misunderstanding injurious to the harmony which the King wished to cultivate with America, and prayed me to take the earliest opportunity of conveying these sentiments to Congress. He proceeded to inform me, that immediately after the Court received the articles of capitulation at Pensacola, instructions were sent to M. Galvez, to oblige the enemy to consent in future to the transportation of their prisoners to Europe; that these orders did not reach him until he had left the Havana, previous to the necessary arrangements for the expedition against the Bahama Islands.

I assured his Excellency, that I found myself happy in having an occasion to represent every instance of his Majesty's good will, and begged leave to remind him, that several complaints sustained by citizens of America laid before his Excellency by Mr Jay, and since his departure by myself, remained unredressed. That I presumed his Excellency had given the necessary orders for their relief, but that his Majesty's favorable intentions had been hitherto frustrated by the delay, and in some cases by the injustice of persons employed in the service of Government. I insinuated how agreeable it would be to me to remove the unfavorable impressions, that his conduct had made or might make in the breast of my countrymen, by having it in my power to communicate the orders which had been given, or which his Majesty might be pleased to renew, for this effect. I particularized the case of the Lord Howe, an English vessel with a valuable cargo, brought into Cadiz by part of her crew, Americans, detained by order of the Admiralty, and the captors confined in some measure as prisoners of war. I represented in the strongest terms, the little respect paid to a positive resolution of Congress,[Pg 134] granting to the captors of vessels the property taken in this manner; a resolution occasioned by the notorious injustice of the common enemy, who commenced this practice of seducing American seamen, and encouraging their own to enter into our service with the purpose of afterwards betraying the confidence reposed in them.

His Excellency desired me to pass him an office in French on the subject, and promised me an answer in writing, with the intention I imagine of its being sent to Congress. You will please to observe that the negligence of Mr Harrison's banker, to whom he addressed his letters to me on this subject, retarded my knowledge of the detention of this vessel. I had, however, spoken to M. Del Campo, immediately on hearing of its arrival at Cadiz, and repeated to him the substance of the resolution of Congress, from an apprehension that the officers of that port would observe the same conduct, as those of the Canaries had done in the case of the Dover cutter. I avoided mentioning particularly the latter affair, until I should have obtained the promised answer, as if that proves favorable, as I expect it will, I shall renew with redoubled ardor my representations on this head. They are, however, so much in want of money here, that I fear the captors will be obliged to wait some time for theirs. This scarcity of cash occasions the exaction of the duties at Cadiz and Bilboa, complained of by Mr Harrison and others. I have employed all the means in my power to convince not only the Count de Florida Blanca, but also the Ministers of Finance and the Indies, of the impolicy as well as the injustice of this measure.

I have engaged several persons, who have their confidence to second me, and I hope that good humor, patience,[Pg 135] and above all, frequent personal solicitations, will obtain at least a diminution of these duties, an object of great importance to our commerce. In the mean time, I have advised Mr Harrison and others to make no payments on the pretext that the affair is before the Ministry, for refunding is contrary to the spirit of this country. Important news may soon be expected from Gibraltar, at least my letters inform me that the attack is to be made this day, for that everything would be ready for the purpose. As I have very minute details of all that passes there from persons at head quarters, I hope I shall be able to give you a succinct relation of the operations. This correspondence is of a delicate nature for the parties concerned, and therefore I shall not hazard sending copies of my letters but by the safest conveyances. I am promised a drawing of the so much talked of floating batteries, which, as the nature and novelty of their construction may excite curiosity, I will forward the instant I receive it. I hope soon to have the honor to hear from you, and to have instructions for my future government. With sincere wishes that my conduct may not be displeasing to Congress, and with the highest respect,

I have the honor to be, &c.



Philadelphia, September 12th, 1782.


All my letters of late have begun with complaints of neglect on the part of our Ministers, in not transmitting early and full intelligence of what is passing in Europe at[Pg 136] this interesting period. That there may, however, be one exception, I will not say a word on this subject to you, only reminding you, that the last despatches we have been favored with from you are those of the 18th and 27th of February. These I replied to the 6th of July; a copy of that letter goes with this; since which, Carleton and Digby have announced the commencement of negotiations in Europe, and the resolution to acknowledge the independence of America, without exacting any condition. Leslie has informed the inhabitants of Charleston, that he means to evacuate it; measures have been accordingly taken for that purpose. The evacuation of New York seemed also in some measure determined on. But the arrival of the packet, announcing the late changes in the Administration, has revived the spirits of the tories, and they still retain hopes of maintaining their ground in America. Our armies are now united, and about moving to their old station at the White Plains. Pigot is at New York with twentysix sail of the line; and the Marquis de Vaudreuil at Boston, where he has unfortunately lost the Magnificence, sunk in the harbor. Congress have endeavored to compensate this loss by presenting His Most Christian Majesty with the America, built at Portsmouth. She will, I believe, prove a very fine ship; and with diligence, she may be fitted in time to be of use this campaign.

We have nothing new among us to inform you of. The armies on both sides have been inactive, and our attention is turned on what passes in Europe. Here we are lost in the wide field of expectation and conjecture without a clue to lead us. I must again press you to think of appointing some agent here to receive your salary, which will be paid upon the spot; and may be vested in bills to great advan[Pg 137]tage. Two quarters' salary have been transmitted by me, but as I am unauthorised in this business, I shall inform Mr Morris that he must devise some other way to make these remittances, which I beg leave to decline meddling with in future.

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, &c.



St Ildefonso, September 29th, 1782.


I had the honor to address you on the 8th instant, since which we have advice of the disastrous issue of the enterprise with the floating batteries against Gibraltar, but although we have had notice of this misfortune some days past, I have delayed writing until I could procure authentic information of the particular circumstances of this event. The enclosed copies of letters and papers, written or sent me by a person in the General's family, will, I hope, prove more satisfactory than any which you will receive from other quarters. The projector, M. d'Arçon, is generally blamed. Enclosed you have a plan of the attack as it was made, and as it was intended to have been made, accompanied by a Memorial, which M. d'Arçon sent hither to exonerate himself from part of the blame. I saw a letter he wrote an hour after the affair, in which he avows he had deservedly forfeited the confidence reposed in him by two Sovereigns.

This news dejected exceedingly the King, the Court, and the nation. Their chagrin from the disappointment is, in some measure, proportionate to their confidence of[Pg 138] success. It is said, however, that the King is determined to continue the siege, and, I believe, that this will be the case. At present, an expedition in force to the West Indies is in agitation. I am informed from a very good quarter, that the command is offered to the Count d'Estaing. The party which opposed him at Versailles, at the head of which is the Duchess de Polignac, the Queen's favorite, the present Minister of Marine and the former one, have made advances to him, and seem convinced that he alone can repair the disasters of the present campaign. I hear that he is unwilling to accept the command at this critical conjuncture, but as he is the only French Admiral, who unites the suffrage of this Court and nation in his favor, it is to be hoped he will comply with the general wish of France and Spain. This affair is yet a secret.

From all accounts I have of the Spanish marine, I fear that Gibraltar will be relieved. The expense of this siege has been enormous. I have been assured, that during the present campaign it has cost thirtytwo millions of piastres of fifteen reals each. This information comes from one of the first clerks of the treasury. The great demand for specie occasioned thereby has depreciated the paper money; it fluctuates between twelve and sixteen per cent. To prevent its further depreciation, the Court is endeavoring to procure gold from Portugal, and negotiates, as I mentioned in former letters, a loan of three millions of florins in Holland, to be augmented in case the subscriptions fill readily. I am assured from thence, they do not, and I am told here by a man in the secret, that the three millions will be delivered in Spain in the month of December. Messrs Hope, the negotiators of it, subscribe seven hundred and fifty thousand florins.

[Pg 139]As I have not had the honor to hear from Messrs Franklin and Jay anything respecting the negotiations at Paris for peace, I can speak only from indirect advice and my own conjectures. I have heard that difficulties have been started respecting the powers of the British Plenipotentiary to treat with our Commissioners. If this is true, it will require some time to remove them. On the whole, it may be supposed, that the negotiations will be spun out until the meeting of Parliament, until the event of the expedition to relieve Gibraltar is known; in fine, until the account of Lord Pigot's motions shall have reached Europe, which may appear to give a favorable turn to the British affairs in the West Indies. No expedition can sail from hence in time to prevent the enemy from pushing their operations in that quarter, if they proceed thither in force and with despatch. The Dutch are like to do nothing this year; their affairs draw to a crisis, and it is to be hoped, that it will prove favorable to our friends. The Emperor is occupied in ecclesiastical and civil changes, his health is in a precarious state, and he runs the risk of losing entirely his sight. The motions of Russia indicate a war with the Porte no longer Sublime. The Empress negotiates loans in Holland and at Genoa. I have taken measures to be informed of their success. The King of Great Britain, as Elector of Hanover, is recruiting in all the imperial cities, and it is said, he is endeavoring to obtain an additional body of German troops for the next campaign. The preparations for war are as vigorous as ever.

I have not yet received an answer on the affair of the Lord Howe, mentioned in my last. I visit the Ministers, and pass offices on this subject and that of the duties, and[Pg 140] shall omit nothing that depends on me to obtain satisfaction, and I hope the pains I take will not prove wholly ineffectual. Besides the affairs above mentioned, I am obliged to visit and write to the Judges of the Council of the Indies, on account of law-suits in which some of our countrymen are interested, and which are before them by appeal from the inferior jurisdictions. Even justice here is obtained by favor and solicitation. In other respects, my situation is more agreeable than I could have expected. I live on the best footing with almost the whole corps diplomatique. The Ministers of Saxony and Prussia seem much disposed to induce their Courts to open a direct commerce with America, particularly if the war continues. For this purpose, they have demanded and obtained from me, all the information in my power to give them, with every motive that I could employ, to persuade their respective Courts to engage heartily in this measure. If it is adopted, the Maritime Company at Berlin, under the King's immediate protection, and the Elector or his Ministers in the name of companies of commerce, will be concerned in the first speculations. I do not enter into details on this subject until I see whether these Courts are serious in their intentions.

The advances and offers made me by the Minister of Sweden, have rendered me less sanguine. He assures me it was insinuated to his Sovereign by the French Minister, that it would be impolitic in him to incur the ill will of England, by precipitating an acknowledgment of our independence previous to its being acknowledged by the rest of Europe. I wait with impatience for your instructions and information. In the month of December, all our public accounts here will be arranged, when I shall do[Pg 141] myself the honor to transmit copies. I cannot conclude, without mentioning that a Mr Littlepage, from Virginia, has acquired reputation by his gallant conduct in the expedition against Mahon, where he served as Aid-de-camp to the Duc de Crillon, and since at Gibraltar, where he acted in the same capacity. The Prince de Nassau, with whom he served as a volunteer on board his floating battery, rendered public justice to his character at Court. You will permit me also to mention Mr Harrison to you as one, who, by his conduct, which has acquired him universal esteem, merits the attention of Congress whenever it shall be judged proper to appoint a consul at Cadiz, of which place he now performs the functions, with great trouble and considerable expense.

I have the honor to be, &c.




St Lorenzo, October 14th, 1782.


The king has resolved that the English frigate, the Lord Howe, carried into Cadiz by some Americans and part of the crew, shall be publicly sold, ship and cargo, and the value of both be deposited, at the order of Congress and yourself. I communicate this to you, that being thoroughly informed, you may take such measures as you think proper, and determine immediately what is to be done with the American and English seamen on board the said vessel. I wish[Pg 142] for occasions to serve you, and that God may preserve you many years.



Madrid, October 29th, 1782.


The state of uncertainly in which every one here has been for some time, respecting the motions of the combined and British fleets, to relieve, or prevent the relief of Gibraltar, joined to a general embargo at Cadiz, and the want of other occasions, has prevented me from doing myself the honor of addressing you since the 29th ultimo. I hope you will be persuaded that my time has been devoted to no other pursuits than those which my duty dictates. Enclosed I have the honor to send a particular relation of the most interesting circumstances which have passed in this interval. I have had occasion to compare this intelligence with that of others, and particularly with letters written by a marine officer in this service, but at the same time employed to convey information to another Court, and I find upon the whole my correspondent conforms with others in the most material points, and enters into more minute details than those I have seen from other quarters.

My letters of the 26th and 29th will have advised you of the steps I have taken to obtain redress on affairs interesting to individuals, and to our commerce in general. The enclosed copy of a letter from his Excellency the Count de Florida Blanca, will show that my endeavors have not been entirely ineffectual. The affair of the duties is still under deliberation. As soon as Mr Harrison shall have disposed[Pg 143] of the Lord Howe, I shall address the Minister on the subject of the Dover cutter; there can then be no pretence for detention or delay. I have since my last received advice from Paris, but not from our commissioners, that the difficulties with respect to the powers of the British Plenipotentiary have been obviated, and that a separate agent has been named to treat with us. But on this head you will have more ample information than it is in my power to give you.

I am also informed, that M. Rayneval, brother to M. Gerard, has gone to London. This circumstance renders the appearance of the negotiation more serious. I am persuaded the greatest obstacles to a pacification will come from this quarter. It is difficult to relinquish favorite ideas, of which to attain the accomplishment, so much treasure has hitherto been spent in vain. Perhaps it will be best for us that we have not concluded a treaty here, which we have so long solicited.

The expedition mentioned in my last, is certainly resolved on. The Count d'Estaing it is said will have the command, and will sail from Cadiz with between forty and fifty sail of the line, and ten or twelve thousand troops. The squadron at Brest is fitting for sea, and is to consist of eight or ten sail of the line. It is conjectured it will sail as soon as Lord Howe's return is known. If the junction is formed in time, this formidable force, under the command of an officer distinguished for his zeal and activity, may hasten the negotiations.

The answers to my letters to Holland, on the subject of the Russian loan, and to those which I have procured others to write to Genoa on the same point, inform me that it fills slowly. That of Spain for three millions will be obtained.[Pg 144] I have no doubt of the truth of my information on this subject. In Portugal they pay dear for the gold they obtain from thence. The depreciation is greater than ever, and to prevent its further progress, is one of the most serious objects of the attention of the Ministry. No changes since my last have taken place in the general system of Europe, or in this Cabinet, except that the Count de Florida Blanca has joined another department in the Ministry to that which he before occupied, viz. that of Grace and Justice, vacant by the death of M. Rode. Of course he will have more to do than ever, and I shall be obliged to remind him more frequently of our little affairs.

My situation with respect to American information is exceedingly disagreeable. I hear of arrivals in France, and of letters being received by our Ministers there, without any for me; I am persuaded that the blame falls on European curiosity. I expect soon to have an occasion of writing to you, when I shall do myself the honor to transmit you any further particulars that may appear worthy of your notice. I cannot help repeating that notwithstanding the appearance of peace, the preparations for war are as vigorous as ever.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Philadelphia, November 28th, 1782.


I have been favored with your letter of the 8th of July; those you mention to have written on the 5th and 12th of March and the 2d of July, never reached me. I regret[Pg 145] that you had no directions from Mr Jay to open his letters, as those you forwarded contained much information that might have been useful to you, on which account I was less particular than I should otherwise have been in mine to you.

The great business of the negotiation being transferred to Paris, you will have more leisure to attend to the general politics of the Court you are at, and to procure every species of intelligence, which may serve to regulate our conduct here. We have yet had no information except what you mention, of any new proffer of their mediation by the Imperial Courts; it is an important object, and I wish you to throw all the light you possibly can upon it; as we are particularly anxious to know the substance of the answer, which you suppose to have been given to it by Spain. You need never be under the least apprehensions in vouching boldly for this country, that it will make no peace which is inconsistent with its engagement to its allies. Perhaps this string skilfully touched may lead nations who have hitherto kept aloof, to form connexions which may bind us to them.

The enclosed resolutions will show you the sense of Congress on that subject; and the resolutions, which you will see in some of the papers sent you, expressive of the same sentiments from almost every separate legislature, will show that the fidelity of this country is incorruptible.

The season of the year affords no military intelligence. Our troops are in quarters at West Point. The French army are waiting at Providence such orders as the operations in the West Indies may suggest. Their fleet is still at Boston. The America, built at Portsmouth, is added to them. She is pronounced by connaisseurs to be a very[Pg 146] fine ship; should she answer their expectations, we may hope to build others for European powers. This would be a very important commercial object, and as such deserves attention.

General Carleton has restrained the savages from continuing the war, which they have so long carried on against our frontiers; and Haldiman has suffered those they had led into captivity to return on parole, so that we have reason to hope that a little more humanity will mark their future operations in this country, if ever they should find themselves sufficiently strong to venture from behind their ramparts. This consideration, together with the intercession of the Court of France, has induced Congress to forego their intended retaliation on Captain Asgill, who is discharged from his confinement and suffered to go to New York on parole.

You will find in the enclosed papers, all the intelligence we have with respect to the proposed evacuation of Charleston. We have been in daily expectation of hearing that it was abandoned for a long time past, but have not as yet had our expectations answered.

The enclosed resolution will inform you that Mr Boudinot is President in the room of Mr Hanson. Congress have again appointed Mr Jefferson one of their Ministers for making peace. I have not yet been informed whether he accepts the appointment, though I have some reason to conclude he will.

Mr Stewart going to Paris affords me a safe opportunity of sending a cypher there for you; and if Mr Jay can contrive to get it to you without inspection, you will be enabled to correspond with more latitude in future.

I am, Sir, &c.


[Pg 147]


Madrid, December 10th, 1782.


On the 5th instant I did myself the honor to address you. To that letter and those of the 29th of October, and of the 17th of November, I beg leave to refer you for the occurrences during that period.

I have now the pleasure to inform you, that I have just been shown a copy in French, of a treaty signed the 30th ult. between the United States and Great Britain, by our Commissioners and Mr Oswald, in which the essential objects desired by Congress have been obtained. Not having it in my power to take a copy, I confine myself to inform you, that it consists of nine articles, of which the principal are a renunciation, in the strongest terms, of all sovereignty claimed by the King of Great Britain for himself and his successors. A description of the limits of the States agreeably to the ultimata of Congress, as nearly as I can recollect from a cursory perusal; the right of fishery on the Great Bank accorded; the same on the coasts of Nova Scotia, in the Straits of Labrador, and the Gulf of St Lawrence, with the permission to cure and dry our fish on all the uninhabited parts of Nova Scotia and Labrador, the Islands of Magdaline and Newfoundland excepted; with a proviso that this permission is to cease whenever the said coasts and islands shall be inhabited, unless leave shall be demanded and obtained previously of the inhabitants thereof; a recommendation of Congress to the States in favor of the British who have not borne arms, possessing property in America; of the non-residents and loyal inhabitants in the same predicament, &c. &c. [Pg 148]&c. But this article depends entirely on the recommendations of Congress, the States being the final arbiters.

Great Britain in this treaty associates the States in their right of the free navigation of the river Mississippi, and also in that of the river St Mary's. All places in possession of the enemy belonging to the United States to be restored, with the cannon, &c. &c. which shall appear to have been their property, together with the public and private archives, which may have fallen into their hands; all conquests made on the one part or the other after the signature, to be restored. This treaty is conditional, that is, not to take place until France has concluded a peace with Great Britain. Neither Spain nor Holland are mentioned in it. If political vengeance is ever justifiable, it is on the present occasion. You will pardon the hasty manner in which I wrote this. A desire of augmenting your sources of information will, I hope, plead my apology. I am much afraid that my situation here will be more disagreeable than ever. I flatter myself, that my political conduct has been such as not to draw upon me personal resentments. I hope, at all events, I have conducted myself in a manner not to have merited censure, if circumstances have not permitted me to acquire approbation. For the rest, I have a full reliance on the wisdom of Congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 149]


Madrid, December 30th, 1782.


On the 10th instant I had the honor to inform you, that I had seen a French translation of a conditional treaty, concluded between the Commissioners of the United States at Paris, and Mr Oswald on the part of Great Britain, the 30th ult. I have since received a letter from Dr Franklin enclosing a copy of it. I hope it will be satisfactory to Congress, and the people at large. Various are the reflections to which this event has given rise here. I am persuaded that this Court was far from expecting that Great Britain would make the concessions she has made to the States. The surprise, and even the chagrin of several of the Ministers and their adherents were apparent, and from the instant they received the intelligence, I am convinced their attention has been turned to peace.

It has been suggested, that our Commissioners signed this treaty without the privity of the Court of France. This suggestion was made with a view to pacify this Court, and to calm the resentment, which at Versailles, it was supposed, might be conceived here on this account. The means employed prove that the French Ministry apprehended this resentment, but were in no manner sufficient to answer the purpose they were intended to serve. The Count de Florida Blanca, speaking of France upon this occasion, said to a friend of mine with some emotion, the French Ministry was too precipitate in beginning the war, and is equally so in their endeavors to conclude it. M. Musquiz, the Minister of Finance, and M. Del Campo have expressed the same sentiments, and have insinuated[Pg 150] to some, that France concerted this measure with our Commissioners to force Spain to a peace. To others they expressed their apprehensions that Lord Shelburne had duped the French cabinet. They fear the duplicity of the latter Minister, and this fear joined to their present situation has, probably, rendered them more reasonable in their demands and concessions. They will now style this conduct moderation. I conjecture this, because the Count de Florida Blanca, speaking to the Russian Minister on the subject of the peace, told him, that were the propositions on the part of Spain towards an accommodation known, all Europe would be convinced of the moderation of his Catholic Majesty, and that for his part, he should have no objection to make them public.

On the 28th instant a courier was despatched to Paris, with instructions to the Count d'Aranda. On the 18th, one was sent to the same Minister, with propositions which were then regarded as their ultimata. It is now rumored in the palace, that Spain had consented to leave Gibraltar in the possession of England. Since the departure of this courier the Count de Florida Blanca has spoken of the peace as certain, if the British Ministry are candid. As soon as I received advice of the treaty above mentioned, I consulted the French Ambassador on the part I had to act here. I apprehended that it would be improper for me to act longer in a public character, after the acknowledgment by Great Britain, without being received in all respects as such. He felt the delicacy of my situation, and advised me to remain tranquil until the fate of a negotiation for a general pacification was known. In consequence, I have confined myself to mere personal civilities, and have neither addressed nor solicited the Minister on any affair since.

[Pg 151]The affair of the Dover cutter remains in the same situation. The Ministry have consented to diminish a third part of the duties demanded on the produce of the West Indies imported in American vessels. Mr Harrison has not been obliged to pay as yet those duties at Cadiz. I have just received a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette, who arrived at that port the 23d instant, having preceded the French fleet of nine sail and seven thousand troops, which sailed from Brest the 7th. The letter was calculated for inspection, and intended to excite in this Ministry, distrust of Lord Shelburne, and to induce them to furnish Congress with funds for the prosecution of the war. I received it by post, and answered it in the same style, by the same conveyance. I also made use of the hints to throw out to persons, who I know will convey them to the Ministry.

They cannot procure sufficient funds for their own expenses. They have just opened a loan of one hundred and eighty millions of reals, of which it is proposed to receive two thirds in cash, and the other in obligations of debts contracted in the reign of Philip the Fifth. The duties on tobacco are engaged for the payment of the interest, which is three per cent in perpetuity, and seven per cent in annuities. These are the outlines of the proposed plan, I have seen the brouillon of the schedule, which is not yet published. No great success is expected from this loan. On the 20th an assembly of the subscribers to the bank of San Carlos was held to choose directors and other officers, and to deliberate on further means for its establishment. The Governor of the Council of Castile presided at this assembly, the Minister of Finance was present, as likewise were the First Under Secretaries of the different depart[Pg 152]ments of government. I found means to procure admittance to this meeting. Every proposition made by the projector, (M. Cabarrus) was unanimously agreed to. There were no speeches except to applaud the bounty of the King, who, to enable the bank to commence its operations, has granted thirty millions of reals in specie, and to the same amount in grain for the supply of the army, navy, &c. The directors chosen are much my friends, and have promised to give America the preference in all articles which it can furnish for the use of the marine, &c. &c. These directors as I advised you in former letters, are charged with the supplies for the army, navy, &c. with a commission of ten per cent to the profit of the bank. It will commence its proceedings in the month of April, with a capital of between four and five million of dollars.

I have mentioned, that I was formally visited by many members of the corps diplomatique, after the signature of the treaty with Great Britain. It may not be improper to acquaint you with the names of the respective countries of those who were the first to pay me their compliments on this occasion. The Ambassadors of Vienna and Venice, the Ministers of Russia, Prussia, Saxony, and Treves, and the Chargé d'Affaires of Denmark, paid me this respect. Most of them, but particularly the latter, seemed desirous of being informed of the method Congress proposed to take for the interchange of Ministers. Not knowing the sentiments of Congress on this subject, I replied, that whenever they chose to make official application to me, I would take the earliest opportunity of laying them before that body. Should Congress judge proper to employ persons at any of these Courts, permit me to suggest that the title of Minister will greatly augment the[Pg 153] expense of these missions. That title obliges their servants to support an equipage and appearance, in some degree suitable to their rank; which often renders it improper for them to associate with those from whom the most useful information is to be obtained. The King of Prussia has adopted this system, and I am told the Emperor means to do the same.

In my next letter I expect to send copies of all our public accounts here, and am taking every proper step to prepare for my departure from hence, in case the Court should not change its conduct. I shall endeavor to behave on this occasion, in the manner least offensive possible, as well in consideration for the interests of our allies, as from a wish to prevent the Ministry from having any reasonable pretexts for disgust. For this purpose I have consulted, and shall continue to consult, the French Ambassador, as also the Marquis de Lafayette, whom I will induce to come hither should the peace take place, of which I have little doubt.

The divisions in Holland, are higher than ever. The King of Prussia seems disposed to take a part in them in favor of the Stadtholder. These divisions will probably be fatal to the interests of that country at the peace, and afford a striking example of the necessity of union in similar governments. I cannot refrain from adding, that our friends are apprehensive of animosities and jealousies between the States in our confederation, and that it seems to be the hope of our enemies. With the most fervent wishes that the latter may be disappointed,

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 154]


Madrid, January 18th, 1783.


I had the satisfaction to receive some days ago your letters of the 6th of July and the 12th of September, and am sorry that of the many which I have had the honor to write you in the course of the spring and summer, none had yet reached you. I hope that this circumstance, which causes me the greatest affliction, will not induce you or others to believe that I have missed any safe occasion of writing to you. Had I been possessed of a cypher, I flatter myself there would have been less occasion for this complaint. I have been, and am at present obliged to avail myself of private conveyances to forward my letters to the sea-ports of France and Spain; these occasions do not offer so frequently as I could desire. Indeed, few American vessels have sailed from Bilboa this summer, and the embargo at Cadiz during part of the campaign, prevented me from sending letters regularly from that port. Five vessels by which my letters were forwarded have been taken by the enemy, and others, which I was constrained to send by post to L'Orient and other ports of France, taking all the means in my power to prevent their being inspected, although sent from hence in the months of July and August, were not received by my correspondents until the 16th of October. I have received several packets of newspapers from your quarter without any letters. I must confess to you, that this kind of intelligence is very expensive, every packet costing me from five to ten dollars, and we have no allowance for extraordinary expenses.

[Pg 155]Since my last of the 31st ult. I have repeatedly insinuated to those who have the confidence of the Ministers, my apprehensions that the conduct of Spain would oblige Congress to take steps very different from what were their intentions when they sent Mr Jay and myself to this Court; that I saw with pain, the use which Great Britain hoped to make of our resentment; and to give weight to these insinuations, I availed myself of the letters, which the Marquis de Lafayette has done me the honor to address me from Cadiz. I know these hints have been conveyed to the Ministry, and am assured underhand, that I shall have soon reason to be satisfied. To these assurances I replied, that with all the desire I had to contribute to a lasting harmony between the two countries, it would be impossible for me, consistent with propriety and the idea I had of the dignity of my constituents, to remain here longer unless received formally in the character with which I had been honored by Congress, adding, that I should not be surprised to receive letters of recall. The methods taken to persuade me to be tranquil a little longer, prove that the Court thinks seriously of its situation with respect to the United States, but it will always be with reluctance and an ill grace, that it will consent to do what it ought to have done long ago generously.

Some small circumstances persuade me that M. Gardoqui will shortly be despatched. He applies himself to the French language with much assiduity, and throws out hints, that he shall soon pay a visit to his wife, whom he has not seen for two years and a half. I am also told by a lady much esteemed by M. Del Campo, that he means shortly to leave Spain, for he has promised her that at his departure, he will give her a set of horses to which he is[Pg 156] much attached. It is possible he may be sent to aid the Count d'Aranda to arrange the commercial articles of the peace, of which the preliminary articles are supposed by this time to be signed.

The two last mentioned gentlemen have frequently spoke to me of the disadvantages of their commercial connexions with England, and I have seized the opportunity of endeavoring to convince them, that by according certain advantages to our fisheries, and by contracting with us for tobacco, &c. instead of taking the latter article from Portugal, they may at the same time prejudice their natural enemies, and perpetuate a future good understanding with America. Similar representations have been made by me with respect to such articles furnished by the northern powers, and which the States can supply. However, I trust more to the interest I have with the perpetual directors of the bank to obtain these advantages, than to any influence of either of these gentlemen.

I have just been shown a copy of the proclamation of pardon and indemnity granted to those concerned in the insurrection at Santa Fé and the adjacent provinces; it was published the 12th of August, 1782. Although the Viceroy endeavors to preserve the dignity and honor of the Crown in the expressions of this peace, yet, in fact, it accords all the concessions demanded by the malcontents. These disturbances and the expensive expeditions of the Galvez family, have not only consumed the revenues of the Crown in Spanish America received during the war, but mortgaged them for some years to come. I am also informed, that the Court means soon to publish a new tariff on the imports to this country. I know that such a measure has been more than two years in agitation, and[Pg 157] I believe, it will bear hard on the commerce of other nations.

I refer you to former letters for particulars respecting the negotiations for peace, I will only add, that the Ministry now desire the conclusion of the war, and even are apprehensive of the duplicity of the British cabinet, which apprehensions it is the interest of others to excite and increase. I converse often with those who have their confidence; I know their wants and their fears of not having resources for the continuance of the war, and I am confident they desire peace, and fear the reverse. The expedition from Cadiz would not be ready until towards the end of the month, if it were found necessary to despatch it. Fortyeight sail of the line, and from eighteen to twenty thousand men, and not from ten to twelve thousand, as mentioned in my last, are to be employed in this expedition. The siege of Gibraltar is obstinately and unprofitably continued, and the King is made to believe that in the course of the year it will be taken by sap.

I have received letters from Paris, which advise me that bills for my salary had been mentioned by you to have been sent, but that they had not come to hand. Your letters, and one I received from Mr Morris, give me the same information. I could wish that my salary should be transmitted directly to me from your department, but as it does not appear convenient, I have directed Mr John Ross to receive it, and I hope you will have the goodness to facilitate him the means of doing it. A mistake, which is not yet corrected by Messrs Drouilliet, our bankers here, in the account they delivered me some time ago, prevents me from transmitting the public accounts with this letter, but in the course of a few days, I hope they will be com[Pg 158]plete, when I will do myself the honor of forwarding them, together with my account against the public. I am in much distress for the arrears. I conclude with fervent wishes, that every future year may present the affairs of the United States in the same favorable point of view, in which they appear it the commencement of the present; and with sincere thanks for your indulgence hitherto,

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, February 21st, 1783.


I had the honor to address you on the 31st of December, and the 18th and 30th of January, to which letters I beg leave to refer you for the particular occurrences during that period.

I have now the pleasure to inform you, that the Court of Spain has at length thought proper to receive me formally as the Chargé d'Affaires of the United States. The letters above mentioned will have advised you of the political motives, which induced me to wish the presence of the Marquis de Lafayette. They will also have informed you of the means I employed, and which his correspondence enabled me to employ more efficaciously, to impress this Court with an idea of the necessity of immediately acknowledging the independence of the United States.[14] Since they were written, the Count de Montmorin had a long conver[Pg 159]sation on the subject of our affairs with the King, and afterwards with the Count de Florida Blanca. The King's answer to the Ambassador's representations was, we shall see. The Minister appeared still desirous of procrastinating.

On the —— instant, the Marquis de Lafayette arrived, and with that zeal and ardor, which ever influenced him when the interests of the United States were in question, immediately consulted with me on the steps to be taken with the Minister. I informed him of what I had done.

We were of the same opinion, viz. that he should seize the first opportunity of speaking to the Count de Florida Blanca, on the subject of our affairs. He did so, communicating to me the particulars of the conversation. As the Marquis proposes to address you by the same vessel, by which you will receive this letter, I refer you to his circumstantial relation of his conferences. My reception in a public character has been the result; and last night the Marquis accompanied me to an audience of the Minister. He was content with my reception, and personally I had no reason to be dissatisfied. The Count de Florida Blanca remarked to me, smiling, that he thought that I had left Madrid. I did not choose, as things were in so good a train, to enter into a discussion of the reasons which induced me to forbear my visits to him, and therefore only replied, that I never found myself so well at Madrid as at present. It is unnecessary to repeat such parts of the conversation as were merely personal. His expressions of friendship for the Marquis were unbounded, and the latter omitted no opportunity of pressing, in the strongest manner, the Minister to take speedy and effectual measures to convince the States of the desire of his Catholic Majesty to cultivate their amity.

[Pg 160]The Marquis informs me, that he sent you a copy of the letter he wrote to the Minister, in order to obtain a written answer, conceding points to which he had agreed in conversation. He pressed an answer to this letter, and was assured by the Count de Florida Blanca, that he should have it on the Saturday morning following, and that it would be satisfactory. The Count invited me to dine with him on that day as Chargé d'Affaires of America, and as I had suggested to the Marquis, that I should choose a written invitation in the customary form, the Marquis took the Count aside and spoke to him of it, in the Ambassador's name. The latter admitted the propriety of the proposal, and promised to send it. There is but one circumstance which occasions a difficulty with respect to my presentation, it has hitherto been the etiquette to present no Chargé d'Affaires to the King and royal family, except those from France and Vienna. The Count mentioned this to us, but at the same time said, I should be received in the most honorable manner. Personally these distinctions will never influence my conduct, but nationally, I should wish to obtain every mark of honor possible for the representatives of the United States. For this reason I gave it as my opinion to the Marquis, that I ought not to go to Court until this point was settled. His sentiments were the same.

There are, however, difficulties to be apprehended in the attainment of this object. The short stay of the Marquis here, the necessity of my being constantly with him, the desire he has shown to treat me on all occasions, and in the most public manner as the representative of the country he serves, and to be introduced by me everywhere; all these circumstances have engaged so much of[Pg 161] my attention and time, as to preclude me from entering into further details; details which will be unnecessary after those you will assuredly receive from himself. It is the happiest circumstance of my life, that the man whose services I was instrumental in procuring to my country, should be the one to whom in a great measure I owe my first public appearance at the Court of Spain.

The precipitate departure of the Marquis prevents me from copying, in time for this conveyance, the public accounts. In ten days they will all be complete, and I hope I shall be enabled, by our Minister in France, to pay the balances, which are not considerable, and by that means commence our political career here with the credit and reputation, which we have hitherto preserved.

I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.



[14] See the letters here referred to in M. de Lafayette's Correspondence, in the present work.


Madrid, March 13th, 1783.


I had the honor to address you on the 18th and 30th of January, and the 21st ult. In the last I advised you, that this Court had consented to receive me in a public character, and as such I had been formally invited to dine with the corps diplomatique, at the Count de Florida Blanca's table. On the 22d ultimo, accompanied by the Marquis de Lafayette, I went to the Pardo, the present residence of the royal family, where we dined together, a circumstance which not a little surprised several of the foreign Ministers, who knew that I had for some time neglected to pay my court there. Those of Russia and Vienna were particu[Pg 162]larly curious. From their conduct then and since, I am persuaded they are mortified in having led their respective Courts to believe, that a connexion between the United States and Spain was more distant than it appears to be at present.

The not having as yet been presented, occasioned many conjectures, and subjects me to many questions. I have been asked by several of the foreign Ministers, if I meant to pay the usual visits, and to make the customary notifications of this event to the corps diplomatique here. I have in general replied, that I had not determined as yet what would be my conduct on the occasion, but that certainly, if presented in the absence of Mr Jay, I should visit none, however great my personal respect might be for them, without being previously informed, that they would return my visit. It is my opinion, I ought to wait on none but those of France, Holland, and Prussia; the latter, because on his presentation to the royal family, he paid the same compliment to me as to others. I presume that my presentation will not take place, until the Count de Florida Blanca receives an answer from the Count d'Aranda, whom he directed to communicate to Mr Jay the present disposition of this Court.

On the 15th ult. the Court of Portugal thought proper to repeal an ordinance, published the 5th of July, 1776, prohibiting the entry of all American vessels into the ports of Portugal, &c. &c., and directing in future, that they shall be treated on the same footing as those of other nations in friendship with that Crown.

On the 30th of January I had the honor to inform you, that it was more than probable that the Emperor and Russia meditated great designs. It has been my constant en[Pg 163]deavor since to procure information on that head. I will not pretend to give as authentic, the result of my inquiries, although I have collected my information from various persons in a situation of knowing what passes at these Courts. From these I have collected, that in the month of April, 1780, the Courts of Vienna and Petersburg adopted the project of attacking the Turkish empire in Europe, and at that period concluded an eventual partition treaty. In order to have time to make the necessary preparations for this war, and to conceal their real intentions, these Courts offered their mediation to the belligerent powers, and proposed a general Congress, in which they hoped to embroil matters still further, and to retard the peace. The Courts of France and Spain were aware of their intention, and although they accepted the proffered offer of mediation, they evaded, under different pretexts, fixing either the place or the time for assembling the Congress. I remarked, that soon after the signature of our provisional treaty with Great Britain, the Ambassador of the Emperor and the Russian Minister were very uneasy, and exceedingly inquisitive to know whether there would be a general Congress or not, sounding me on that subject on a supposition, that I should be advised of it by Dr Franklin. Lately, they have circulated a report, that the Congress would be held at Vienna. The Count de Montmorin, who was compromitted in this rumor, took an opportunity to mention publicly, that neither viva voce, nor by letter had he given the least surmise that would authorise it. Since, from the same quarter, it has been insinuated, that the Courts of Vienna and Petersburg had taken their measures, and would not be deterred from the prosecution of them.

[Pg 164]Great pains have been taken to persuade others, that the King of Prussia had acceded to this confederation on consideration of Courland, and that part of Silesia, still in possession of the Austrian family, being ceded to him. This gained credit even at Court, and my intimacy with the Prussian Minister induced me to speak of it to him in a friendly way, as a circumstance that would be prejudicial to his negotiation here. He then assured me he had no information on the subject, and on my naming to him the source from whence I had my information, he cautiously avoided appearing united with the Imperial and Russian representatives, and a day or two ago positively assured me, that he had received letters from the King, which authorised him to say, that there was no foundation for this rumor. He made, I believe, the same communication to the Count de Montmorin, and further observed to me, that the Court of Vienna had made use of the same artifice to induce the Elector of Bavaria to consent to a dismemberment of his country.

The last letters from the north speak much of the great preparations for war, making in the Austrian and Russian dominions. The firm conduct of the Court of France may dissipate this storm, if the accession of the Court of Prussia to this confederation should not prove true. I have been assured from a very good quarter, that Lord Shelburne saw with uneasiness the intentions of the Emperor and Russia. But the late triumphs of his opponents in Parliament will probably oblige him to resign. The preliminary articles of peace, particularly those with the United States, were very ill received. The address of thanks in the lower House was negatived by a majority of sixteen, and carried in the upper by eight only. Lord[Pg 165] Grantham told the Chargé d'Affaires of Spain, that the treaty with America had been the ruin of Lord Shelburne's administration; that he expected to be obliged to give in his resignation also, for which reason he could not proceed in his negotiation, until he saw whether the administration, of which he was a member, kept its ground or not.

Thus for the present all is anarchy and confusion in England. The same spirit of division seems to have seized the army and navy. There have been great riots at Portsmouth. The scarcity of grain may occasion similar disturbances in different parts of the kingdom. The Danish Envoy at this Court has just communicated to me letters, which he has received from his Court, in answer to those which he wrote in consequence of his conversation with me on the subject of the treaty between the United States and Denmark. The Minister advises him, in order to accelerate this affair, that the King had thought proper to send to Paris a person, with powers to treat with Dr Franklin. That this gentleman was to leave Copenhagen the middle of February, and had instructions to communicate to him the result of his conferences with Dr Franklin, and that he himself had orders to impart to me this correspondence. He added, that the King was sincerely disposed to cultivate an amity with the States, that Denmark would make Christianstand a free port to the commerce of America, and give it every other advantage in Europe and the West Indies, which could be reasonably desired. He finished, by entreating me to make known these sentiments to Congress.

The Saxon Minister daily expects permission to give me extracts from such despatches of his Court to him as[Pg 166] relate to our affairs, in order to convince Congress of the early desire of the Elector to form connexions between the citizens of the States and his subjects. The Minister of Sweden is much mortified, that the negotiation which he commenced with me should have been taken out of his hands, and given to the Ambassador from that Court at Paris. He informs me that a treaty of amity and commerce is on the point of being concluded, if not already signed, by Dr Franklin and the Swedish representative at Paris.

Thus, Sir, we have the pleasure to see arrive, the period when our friendship is solicited by most of the European nations. As we shall have, undoubtedly, a considerable commerce in the Mediterranean, it is to be wished that early measures may be taken to cultivate the friendship of the States of Barbary. It has been reported here, that Spain will make another attempt on Algiers as soon as the definitive treaty is signed.

The bank, so often mentioned in former letters, will very soon commence its operations. The subscription fills fast, and the directors assure me they shall be able to fulfil what they have promised to the public. The directors for the supply of the army and navy, have engaged to give America the preference for such supplies as they may from time to time stand in need of from thence, and for this purpose have taken from me the address of mercantile houses in the different States. I mention this, in order that the different members in Congress may be enabled to inform their constituents, who, perhaps, might choose to furnish supplies of the produce of the States to which they belong to this country, and who may be able to do it on better terms than the parties I have recommended. The[Pg 167] articles most in demand will be masts, spars, tar, pitch, turpentine, flour, grain, fish, &c. The tariff, mentioned in my last, excites universal complaint; there is scarce a Minister from a maritime Court, who is not preparing to make remonstrances. I shall see what success they have, and regulate my conduct thereby. If we obtain any partial advantages, they must be derived from treaty, and the desire of Spain to cultivate our friendship.

The Court has not yet named a Minister to the United States. Indeed, it is difficult to find a proper person for this employment. I proposed to a M. Josè Llanos, a gentleman highly respected here for his abilities and his agreeable manners, this commission. He is nephew of the Duke d'Osada, a favorite of the King. The proposal was received with great marks of satisfaction, and will contribute to secure his good will and friendship, as well as that of his uncle, if it answers no other purpose. The same Under Secretary in the foreign department, who is charged with the affairs of Great Britain, has also the direction of those of the United States. On being informed of this circumstance, I paid him my compliments, and shall neglect nothing which shall enable me to secure his good will, on which, in a great measure, depends the despatch of business which passes through his hands.

Since my residence in this country, I have written several long letters to the Philadelphia Philosophical Society, in which, among other things, I recommended to its attention, the nomination of persons in this country as honorary members. I know not whether these letters ever came to hand, for which reason permit me to suggest to you, whether the nomination of the most distinguished literary characters in the different countries of Europe might not be[Pg 168] useful. The suffrage of the republic of letters has contributed to give us a celebrity during the war, and this union formed with its chiefs in various countries, will secure useful connexions to our Ministers, as well as to the American youth who may travel for instruction. Should this idea meet your approbation, I would take the liberty of recommending the Count de Campomanes, Fiscal of the Council of Castile, the above mentioned Don Gaspar Josè Llanos, and the Abbé Gavarra, Secretary of the Academy of History.

In consequence of your request to nominate a person to receive my salary, I have written to Mr John Ross to act for me. I have now more than three quarters due, and am absolutely obliged to live on credit. I am under great obligations to Dr Franklin for his kindness in assuming the bills, which I have been constrained to draw on him hitherto; but dare not draw for the amount of salary due me, lest he should not have funds. It is impossible for me to retrench my expenses, without, at the same time, depriving myself of the occasions of seeing frequently those here from whom alone useful information can be drawn.

I am happy to have had the Marquis de Lafayette, a witness of my conduct, and I flatter myself that his testimony will convince you, that I have neglected nothing to conciliate the esteem of the best informed natives, and the most distinguished foreigners at this Court, from whom I could expect either countenance or intelligence. If possible, I will endeavor to send with this letter copies of all public accounts. Having no one to assist me in the comparing with the books and examining the number of bills which have been paid, their dates, &c. &c. in making out copies, and being but an indifferent accountant, I pro[Pg 169]ceed more slowly than I desire in their arrangement. I hope Congress will finally have no reason to complain, as it has been and ever will be, my highest ambition to merit the confidence reposed in me.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Philadelphia, May 7th, 1783.


I congratulate you upon the turn our affairs are likely to take with you, and the prospect your letters open of a speedy connexion between us and the Court of Madrid. Her cold and distant conduct (which I much lament) has somewhat damped the ardor of this country to render that connexion as intimate as possible. No people in the world are more governed by their feelings than the Americans, of which the late war was a striking proof, and those feelings have been long sported with in Spain. Yet men of reflection see the propriety of overlooking the past, and forming in future a durable connexion.

We are necessary to each other, and our mutual friendship must conduce to the happiness of both. Should Spain have the magnanimity to reject partial considerations, and offer such a treaty of commerce as her own true interest and ours require, we shall now lay the foundation of a friendship that will endure for ages. But should she contend with us for the free navigation of the Mississippi, which is now ours by the titles, should she deny us the privilege of cutting wood in the bays of Campeachy and[Pg 170] Honduras while she grants it to the English, she will, without serving herself, injure us, and open the wounds which her kindness should close.

I have no particular directions to give you with respect to your mission; your conduct is perfectly agreeable to Congress, and I doubt not that you will continue to pursue such a line as will render you most acceptable to the Court of Madrid. We have now no particular favors to ask, and the ground on which we stand, will, I hope, preserve us from future neglects, and enable you to obtain the practice you have been so long soliciting in those matters of a private nature which you mention.

I am surprised to hear that you have not received your salary, since it has been regularly remitted every quarter to Dr Franklin ever since the first of January, 1782. By letters from Mr Lewis Morris, you will learn that the money paid here was laid out in bills of exchange at six shillings and threepence, this money, for five livres, and the bills sent out. This exchange was in your favor, but by the enclosed retrospective resolution, (passed in consequence of a representation from Dr Franklin, that the salaries should not depend upon the fluctuations of exchange,) Congress have deducted that advantage from the quarter's salary, which was due on the 1st of April. The balance will be paid in bills to Mr Ross, agreeably to your order, as soon as I can prevail on Mr Robert Morris to draw, which he says will be in a few days. No commission has been, or will be charged by me upon these money transactions, so that your salary will be five livres, five sous per dollar, considered at four shillings and sixpence sterling, not without deduction from the 1st of January, 1782.

I need not tell you, that the terms of the provisional[Pg 171] treaty were very acceptable here; all but those articles that relate to the loyalists, upon which subject I fear the recommendations of Congress when made, will not effect what is expected of them. Of this the unhappy people who are the objects of them appear to be very sensible, and are going in much greater numbers than I could wish, to Nova Scotia. Congress have ratified the treaty; we are now mutually discharging prisoners. We shall send in about six thousand men in good health and spirits, in return for a few hundred poor debilitated wretches who have lost their health in the prison-ships. You will be struck with the contrast between our conduct to the captives and theirs, when I assure you that out of one thousand men confined in close jail in Philadelphia for a twelvemonth, but sixteen died. Though the knowledge of this can answer no political purpose at present, it is not amiss that facts, which mark the humanity of a young nation should be known. The measures, which Congress have lately adopted for securing half pay to the troops, have given them satisfaction, and they look with patriotic pleasure to the hour of their dissolution. We have yet no knowledge of the time the British have fixed for the evacuation of New York, on which subject I imagine they have yet received no orders; though the communication between us and them is perfectly open at present. You will continue to employ your leisure in writing to us, and when no public business demands your attention, let us learn from you the political and commercial history of the Court and country you are in. In doing this I beg leave to remind you, that general histories are in everybody's hands. That minute details are requisite to an accurate knowledge of a country.

[Pg 172]I thank you for the information you have given relative to the siege of Gibraltar; it is curious and interesting.

I am, Sir, &c.



Madrid, July 19th, 1783.


A few days ago I had the satisfaction to receive a letter, which you did me the honor to write me the 7th of May. It is the only one which has reached me from the department of Foreign Affairs since the 12th of September, 1782. I am happy to find my conduct has the approbation of Congress. The delicate situation in which I have found myself here, and a total privation of intelligence from America, embarrassed me greatly; I was apprehensive, on the one hand, that a marked resentment of the coldness and delays of this Court might compromise our ally, and embroil still further our affairs here; and on the other, I felt that it was not decent longer to solicit the amity of a nation, which has long trifled with the proposals of the States. I was not authorised to negotiate, and if I had been, I had no instructions but those which were given to Mr Jay in 1779.

Our affairs have taken such a different aspect since that period, that these could be of little use to me. Thus circumstanced, I contented myself with taking every opportunity of pointing out to the Count de Florida Blanca and others, the conduct which I presumed would be most advantageous to my country, while, at the same time, it would cement a lasting harmony between the two nations.[Pg 173] I received constantly general assurances of the favorable disposition of the King; the letter transmitted by the Marquis de Lafayette, and those which I have had the honor to write to you before and since that period, will have informed you of the nature of them. I was induced to believe these assurances were sincere, more from the opinion that it was the true interest of this Court to follow that line of conduct, than from any confidence in the real good will or good faith of government here. Its apparent jealousy of our rising importance, and of our vicinity to their American possessions, joined to its past conduct, I think will justify these sentiments.

A few days ago, the Minister of the Indies, speaking of America in general, wished the whole continent at the bottom of the ocean. I believe he has his particular reasons for this wish. The advice which I have had the honor to transmit you from time to time, of the discontents and disturbances in Mexico and Peru, will in some measure explain the cause of his dissatisfaction. The last intelligence received from Buenos Ayres is by no means agreeable. The Court keeps the most guarded silence on this subject, and the Minister has taken care to stop all letters of a late date brought by packets from that part of the world. I have, however, been informed by natives of consequence from these countries who reside here, and who pay their court every day to M. Galvez, that the spirit of revolt increases, and that the conduct of the officers civil and military sent from hence, is so odious and intolerable to all classes of people, that the worst consequences are to be apprehended. These Americans treat me with the cordiality of countrymen. The other night being at the Tertullia, (Assembly) of Madame Galvez, the Count d'Oreilly[Pg 174] entered. I saw indignation immediately painted on their countenances, and one of them accosting me, said, "there, my countryman, is a specimen of the Governors they send us," alluding to the perfidy and cruelties of that General in Louisiana. I was cautious in my reply, as indeed, I have been in all conversations which I have had with these or others on this subject. The apprehensions, which the situation of their Colonies might be supposed to excite, do not appear to influence the conduct of the Count de Florida Blanca.

In my letter of the 25th of June, I had the honor to submit to you my conjectures on the part Spain seemed disposed to take in the war commenced by Russia against the Turks. These conjectures have been confirmed by circumstances, which have since come to my knowledge. The Count de Florida Blanca takes an active part in negotiating and exciting the distrust of other nations against the supposed designs of the Imperial Courts. There have been frequent conferences of late between that Minister, the French and Portuguese Ambassadors, and the Count de Fernan Nunez, now here on congé from Portugal. It is surmised, that the object of them is to exclude from the ports of the Court of Lisbon the fleet which Russia has talked of sending into the Mediterranean, and to avoid giving a pointed offence to the Empress by this exclusion, it is proposed to extend it to all nations at war. Many circumstances induce me to credit this surmise. The Russian Minister here is informed from Lisbon of this negotiation, and accuses the Portuguese Ambassador, (who is a weak and vain man) of being entirely gained by the court paid him here.

Efforts have been made to engage the Genoese and[Pg 175] Venetians to enter into the same views. I know the sentiments of the Ambassador from the latter Republic on this subject. He is piqued by the little confidence placed in him by this Court, on account of letters from him to his constituents, placing the affairs of this country in an unfavorable aspect. Copies of these letters have some how or other been procured by the Spanish Ambassador there, and transmitted hither. He advises the republic to remain neutral, notwithstanding the jealousies which others endeavor to inspire of the Emperor's intentions. That Prince continues to make the most formidable preparations, while at the same time he endeavors to persuade others, particularly the Court of France, that he does not enter into the designs of Russia. Your information from Paris will be much more accurate than any that I can give you on this subject. If the Court of Versailles was not well satisfied with the dispositions of this Court, the Count de Montmorin would not be permitted to return to France at this crisis. He talks of leaving Spain in the month of September, or sooner, should the definitive treaty be concluded. A courier is daily expected with the news of the signature.

This intelligence will be the more agreeable, as doubts have been entertained of the intentions of the English cabinet. The frequent conferences of Mr Fox and the Russian Minister at London, and the permission given to Russian Commissaries to prepare for the reception of the fleets of that nation, may have excited these doubts. Mr Fox, in the course of the negotiations of the definitive treaty, has cavilled on every point, and raised difficulties and delays on every occasion. It would, perhaps, have facilitated the conclusion of our treaty with this country, if we could have adjusted the articles of it before theirs[Pg 176] with Great Britain is signed. I am afraid it will be difficult to obtain permission to cut wood in the bays of Campeachy and Honduras. This point, as I informed you in my last, was a subject of long discussion at London. The limits occasioned the obstacles on the part of Spain. I have insinuated from time to time to the Count de Florida Blanca, the good effects the grant of this permission to the citizens of the United States would have in America. But M. Galvez, as Minister of the Indies, will be consulted on this point, as well as on that of the free navigation of the Mississippi, and I believe will obstruct as much as possible the cessions we desire. He is obstinate to the last degree, and rarely swerves from the system he has once adopted. Perseverance and steadiness on our part must from the nature of things probably prevail.

There is no appearance of material changes in the Ministry here. It is said, the King is not satisfied with the new Minister of Marine. The friends of the Count d'Oreilly flattered themselves that he would be named Minister of war. But his return to his government of Andalusia, after a shorter stay than he intended, dissipated the expectations formed on this head. I paid him my court during the time he was here, in order to secure his influence in favor of our commerce at Cadiz. The appointment of a consul is very necessary at that port, and certainly no person will ever perform the functions of that office with more credit to himself and country than Mr Richard Harrison, who for three years past has gratuitously done all our business here.

The time of the Count de Florida Blanca is so much occupied by projects of reform in the administration of the revenues, &c. and by the negotiations before men[Pg 177]tioned, that it is difficult if not impracticable to see him, particularly while the Court is in the capital. He promised at Aranjues to give me a positive answer here with regard to my presentation to the King and royal family, but I have been so accustomed to promises and delays, that I have little expectations he will keep his word. I attend the answer of Congress to my letter of the 23d of May, in which I recapitulated the difficulties started on this subject.

The expedition against Algiers sailed on the 2d instant. Enclosed I have the honor to send you a list of its force. The religious ceremonies observed previous to the departure of this armament, recall to mind those practised in the time of the crusades. A pompous procession, composed of the clergy of all orders, and of the civil and military officers at Carthagena, attended a miraculous image of the virgin of Mount Carmel, from the church to the port. There, with great ceremony, it was placed in the barge of Barcello, the chief of the expedition, who himself took the helm, and conducted it on board the Admiral's ship, parading through the fleet, which displayed its colors, and saluted with firing and music during the time the ceremony lasted. The image was reconducted to the altar from which it had been taken with the same pomp, and no doubt that many of the spectators and assistants are convinced, that this honor paid to the virgin will insure the success of the expedition. I take the liberty of giving you this detail, as it marks the character of a part of the nation. Sensible people smile when the circumstance happens to be mentioned.

In the month of July, 1780, I gave to Mr Jay in writing, a general account of the disposition of the Court; the state of the finances of this country, &c. &c. I know not[Pg 178] whether it has ever been transmitted to Congress. I have from time to time since been employed in correcting and enlarging it. I have hopes of obtaining an accurate account of the revenues and debts of this nation. The person, through whose means I hope to procure it for the time necessary to copy it, is now absent. Should I be successful, I must entreat the greatest secrecy, on account of the person who I expect will favor me on this point. In 1781, I transmitted to the Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, a relation of the measures taken in this country for the encouragement of arts and agriculture, particularly by societies established with the title of Amigos del Pais, (friends of the country) these societies owe their existence to the celebrated Count de Campomanes; from him I drew my information on this subject, and I must add in justice to his liberality of thinking, that I have found him on all occasions disposed to contribute to my instruction; for this and other reasons heretofore mentioned, I pressed his nomination as honorary member of our philosophical society. You will pardon me for reminding you of this circumstance.

Urged by necessity, I have been constrained to draw on Dr Franklin; I never have been advised by him of the reception of bills of exchange for my salary. Mr Temple Franklin wrote me many months ago, that advice had been received that bills had been drawn for that purpose, but that they had not come to hand. In the course of this summer, he informed me, that six months of my salary had been remitted by your department, and that I had been credited with that sum in my account with Dr Franklin. I have heard nothing on the subject since. You will please, therefore, direct its being transmitted in future through the hands of Mr John Ross.

[Pg 179]I have just been informed, that an envoy is arrived at Cadiz from Morocco, charged with powers to treat in behalf of the Emperor with our Commissioners at Paris. I beg leave to recall to your attention, that I had the honor to commence our first negotiations with Sweden, Denmark, and Saxony, and that others have been authorised to conclude them, to the great mortification of the Ministers of those Courts employed here. I shall be perfectly satisfied if the Congress remains persuaded of the zeal which has animated me, and will ever animate me, to contribute my feeble efforts to promote the interest and glory of the States, and to merit the confidence reposed in me.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, July 22d, 1783.


Since closing my letter of the 19th instant, a courier arrived from Alicant, brings advice that the armament against Algiers, which sailed the 2d, has been dispersed by bad weather, and obliged to take shelter in that port and others on the coast. If I can procure the details of this disaster, I will forward them by this opportunity. This dispersion will afford more time for the Algerines to prepare for their defence. The fleet from the Havana is daily expected; some vessels have already arrived.

Great hopes are conceived of the influence which this treasure, and the produce embarked in the convoy, will have in enlivening the commerce of this country, and appreciating the paper money in circulation. In this[Pg 180] capital that paper loses five per cent, in the sea-ports, three and a half per cent. The operations of the bank have not been attended hitherto with the success expected from them.

Solano, who commanded the maritime forces of Spain in the West Indies, subject to the order of General Galvez, has excited the indignation of the King and Ministry, by refusing to receive on board the vessels under his command, the general officers and troops destined to return to Spain. It is said here, that his refusal proceeded from a desire to turn to his private advantage and that of his officers, this occasion of lading the ships of war with the produce of Spanish America. This has been too much the custom in this country. He will find a powerful enemy in the Minister of the Indies, whose nephew is obliged by this manœuvre to embark in a merchant-man.

We have yet no news of the signature of the definitive treaty. Mr Adams did me the honor to write me in a letter, which I have just received by a private hand, "that they were moving on with the same sluggish pace in the conferences for the definitive treaty, and could by no means foresee the end." This letter is dated the 18th of June. The Court and the French Ambassador give out that they expect the news of its signature in eight days. If it was not imprudent to hazard conjecture against such authority, I should be induced by other motives, to think that this event will not take place, until despatches carried from hence last week arrive in London. I have additional reason to suppose that the convention mentioned in my last, to exclude from the ports of Portugal the Russian ships of war, has been, or is on the point of being concluded. The Prince de Masseran, who charges himself[Pg 181] with the delivery of this to my correspondent at Bordeaux, being about to set out, I am obliged to conclude.

I have the honor to be, &c.




Madrid, July 28th, 1783.


I have just received instructions, which contain the result of what has been for a long time the subject of our conversations. The trading interest of Saxony has seized with avidity the overtures and details, which, after our interviews, I placed under the eyes of the Ministry. Persuaded that the goodness and cheapness of our commodities will give them an advantage in such an enterprise, they have adopted the plan, which you have indicated, of sending to America a person, who shall look after their interests, and obtain the knowledge indispensable for their direction. Their choice has fallen upon a merchant of Bordeaux, a native of Leipzic, whose name is Philip Thieriot, known as a man of probity, intelligence, and good conduct, who is now in Saxony, but will soon establish himself in Philadelphia, to transact business in the character of a merchant, both on his own account and that of others.

The Elector has assented to this choice, and permits that for the present M. Thieriot shall hold in America, the functions of Commissary-General of the commerce of[Pg 182] Saxony, with the view of founding mercantile relations between the two countries, and that he may receive the commissions of Saxon merchants, direct their enterprises, and guard and support their interests, both in relation to Congress and other respects, till circumstances shall make it proper for him to be supplied with more particular directions. For this purpose the oath has been administered to him, and he has been furnished with suitable instructions, and the power of making appointments. He sets off immediately for France, where he has certain affairs to arrange, and he will then be ready to embark from Bordeaux in the month of August.

As the time is too short for him to pass by the way of Madrid, and receive the benefits of the personal counsels, with which I flatter myself you would be disposed to favor him, I shall be under great obligations to you, if you will fulfil the promises, which you have had the goodness to make, and give to this gentleman letters of recommendation both for the Congress of the United States and other persons of consideration, which may procure for him the protection of the one, and the confidence and assistance of the others.

As on the one hand I flatter myself, from the account I have had of the talents and good character of M. Thieriot, that he will do honor to your recommendation, so I am satisfied on the other, that it will contribute more than anything else to render his residence useful and agreeable, to facilitate the success of his mission, and strengthen the bonds of utility between the two nations, of which the merit belongs to you of having greatly contributed to lay the foundation.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 183]


Madrid, July 29th, 1783.


In former letters I have had the honor to mention to you the conversation, which had passed between the Saxon Minister at this Court and myself, on the subject of forming commercial and amicable connexions between the United States and the Elector. As I had no authority or instructions from Congress, I could only avail myself of general expressions of the desire of my constituents to cultivate the friendship of the different powers of Europe, and of extending their commerce to all. I declined when pressed, to give my sentiments in writing, unless the Saxon Minister would give me, by permission of his Court, such extracts of his official letters as might enable me immediately to notify to Congress in a proper manner, the amicable disposition of his master; assuring him, however, that I should not fail of communicating to that body the substance of our general conversations, which I was persuaded would receive with great satisfaction an account of the Elector's friendly intentions. This gentleman being rather indiscreet in his conduct, I was perhaps more upon my guard with him than I should have been with a person of a different character. On his pressing me, however, to give him my sentiments on the best means to forward an intercourse between the two countries, I replied verbally, that in my opinion, the speediest and most effectual method would be, to send from Saxony to America a person well acquainted with the commerce of his own country, and properly authorised, who being able to judge on the spot what advantages were to be derived from such intercourse,[Pg 184] might immediately treat with Congress if the Elector thought proper.

After some hesitation, he agreed to my propositions, and advised his Court thereof. Yesterday he addressed me a letter, of which I have now the honor to enclose you a copy, together with an extract of his official despatches. A visit which he paid me a few hours after he sent me the above papers, rendered a written answer unnecessary. I confessed to him, the high sense which Congress would have of this proof of the Elector's good will, and added, that I would take the earliest opportunity of communicating it. I promised him also the letters he required for M. Thieriot. I hope my conduct will have the approbation of Congress.

Nothing material has transpired since my last of the 25th instant, except that I am persuaded, that the convention between France, Spain, and Portugal was signed here between the 15th and 17th of this month. I am told, that it has for its basis a treaty concluded between the two latter nations in 1778, with supplementary secret articles. The northern powers, particularly Russia, appear jealous of the objects of this treaty. Great Britain seems to have had no knowledge of it.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, August 2d, 1783.


On the 29th ultimo, I had the honor to enclose you copies of sundry papers, relative to the establishment of[Pg 185] a commercial intercourse between the citizens of the United States and the subjects of the Elector of Saxony. By that communication you will have learned with great satisfaction, that the commerce of Saxony, with the approbation of the Sovereign, had chosen M. Philip Thieriot, a person of acknowledged merit, to reside in America in the character of Commissary-General of commerce. By the papers above mentioned you will have seen the nature and extent of that gentleman's commission. I have now the honor to present him to your notice, persuaded that you will with pleasure procure him occasions of putting effectually into execution the views of the court and commerce of his country. Their nomination of him to this important trust, until circumstances may demand that he be immediately authorised by his Sovereign, will, I make no doubt, be a sufficient motive with you to secure him all the civilities and services which it may be in your power to afford him.

I have the honor to be, &c.



St Ildefonso, August 30th, 1783.


On the 19th, 22d, and 29th ultimo, and the 2d of this month, I had the honor to address you from Madrid. On the 5th instant I followed the Court to this place, where it had been since the 24th of last month.

I took the earliest opportunity of waiting on his Excellency, the Count de Florida Blanca, to remind him of his promise to present me to the King and royal family, and of[Pg 186] other affairs interesting to individuals mentioned in former letters, for which I had been obliged to apply to him. He gave me the strongest assurances of his desire to terminate, to the satisfaction of the parties interested, the affairs in question, imputing to other departments the delays I had experienced in their adjustment. On the subject of my presentation, he seemed much embarrassed, stating the difficulties he should be exposed to in procuring that honor for me, which his Majesty refused to others vested with the same character, mentioning the case of the Chargé d'Affaires of Denmark, a copy of whose letter to this Minister on the subject of his presentation, I had the honor to enclose you on the 25th of June. He observed, that the Russian and Swedish Ministers were about to leave the Court, and would, if I was presented, insist on the presentation of their Secretaries also.

I begged leave in reply to assure his Excellency of the concern it gave me to expose him to the least inconvenience upon that account, but that he would be pleased to recollect the promise he had made to the Marquis de Lafayette and myself in writing on this subject. That copies of the letter which the Marquis de Lafayette had written him and of his Excellency's answer had been transmitted to Congress; that that body, from the confidence which they had in his Catholic Majesty's amicable disposition, of which his Excellency had been so often the interpreter, undoubtedly expected that I had long ago been presented; that in consequence of his Excellency's assurances to me at various times since the transmission of the copies of the letters before mentioned, I had confirmed my constituents in this belief; that this being the case, it would be improper for me to go to Court, until I should receive their in[Pg 187]structions on the subject. I added, that I hoped his Excellency knew me too well to suppose that I was influenced by any personal considerations in this affair. He interrupted me with an assurance to the contrary, and that he would do everything in his power to give me satisfaction, telling me to call upon him in a few days, when he would acquaint me with the result of his endeavors. Thus ended our first conference.

Not to appear too urgent, I avoided speaking to him on the subject until ten days ago, although I had occasion to see him several times. But hearing the British Minister was on his way to Madrid, I thought it proper to bring the matter to a decision before his arrival and presentation; for which purpose I again waited on the Minister. I soon discovered that he was in ill humor; however, as he immediately commenced the conversation, by telling me that he had not yet found an opportunity of speaking to the King, I prayed his Excellency to recollect the time which had elapsed since he had been pleased to tell me that I should be presented, and recapitulated the reasons before mentioned. He interrupted me several times, telling me how much he had been persecuted by Mr Elfried and the Russian Minister, who espoused the interests of that Chargé d'Affaires, adding, with warmth, that gentleman will never be presented, unless to take leave and receive his present. I replied, that his Excellency would do me the justice to own, that I had been by no means importunate. That it was not my intention to be so, and that nothing but my duty, joined to my particular desire to cultivate a good understanding between our two countries, made me now press him for an explicit answer. He told me that he was convinced that I did not wish to embarrass him, but ob[Pg 188]served, with some peevishness, —— as Mr Elfried is by the Russian. He cites precedent and you have none.

I answered, that I flattered myself his Excellency had too good an opinion of me to suppose that I needed a prompter, when either the honor or interests of my country were in question. That as for precedent, part of my business with his Excellency, was to establish one for such of my countrymen as the United States might hereafter send to Spain in the same character in which I had the honor to be employed; adding, that I had more confidence in his Excellency's word, than in all the precedents the book of etiquette of the Court could furnish me; and that to give him a farther proof of my unwillingness to embarrass him, I did not insist on my presentation, but on an explicit answer from his Excellency, of which I might immediately send copies to Congress, not only for my own justification, but also to enable that body to decide the manner in which Chargé d'Affaires, from the Court of Spain should be treated by the United States. He seemed pleased with the reliance placed on his word, for he instantly told me, that he would speedily give me an explicit answer, and that I should see that he was a man of his word. That he wished, from respect to the States, and personal regard for myself, to procure me an advantage which was denied to others, but that he was afraid his Majesty was (to make use of his own expression) trop entêté on this point. He then asked me for a copy of the translation of the letter from Congress to the King. I had it with me. This is the third copy, which I have given to his Excellency. We left his apartments as he was then going to the King. In the ante-chamber he[Pg 189] again repeated aloud in Spanish, before thirty or forty persons, who were waiting to pay him their court, that I should find him a man of his word, and that I should have an explicit answer. I took my leave, assuring him it was all I desired.

I presume that he took his Majesty's orders thereon the same day, for the next he sent me a polite message, desiring me to come to his house. Having waited on him, agreeably to his request, on my entry he took me by the hand and told me, that he hoped I would now be satisfied, for that on conferring with the King, his Majesty had been pleased to fix a day for my presentation; that no one felt more sensibly than himself the happy conclusion of this affair, as well on account of his desire to show every possible respect to the United States, as from his esteem for me. That the King, contrary to his expectations, had consented to change the etiquette with respect to me on this subject, as "an extraordinary act of royal good will," and that he hoped, that his conduct on this occasion would convince Congress of his Majesty's intentions to cultivate in a particular manner their amity. I expressed in reply, the sense which I knew my constituents would have of this proof of the King's amicable disposition, and of my gratitude to his Excellency for the obliging interest which he took in what regarded me personally, assuring him that I would take the earliest opportunity of transmitting to Congress this additional proof of his Majesty's desire to cultivate their friendship, and of his Excellency's manner of fulfilling his Sovereign's intentions. I then asked him on what day the King chose to receive me, he answered, the day after tomorrow, (the 23d instant.) I expressed some concern that the Ambassador of France, then at Madrid[Pg 190] would not return before the time appointed for my reception. He replied, that the King having named the day, no alteration could take place. To this I was obliged to acquiesce. His Excellency then made me many professions of personal regard, which it is unnecessary to repeat, and which, perhaps, I should not even hint at, if the French Ambassador, the Marquis de Lafayette and others, had not been witnesses on former occasions to similar assurances. I proceeded to mention to his Excellency the different objects on which I had heretofore addressed him, and prayed him to give me an opportunity, at the same time that I informed Congress of my presentation, to advise them also of the happy termination of these. He begged me to pass him offices again on these points, and assured me that I should receive such answers as would be agreeable and satisfactory to the States. He continued to speak to me in an open and friendly manner of the obstacles which a well intentioned Minister had to encounter in the execution of his measures in this country.

I paid him indirect compliments on what I knew to be his favorite projects, viz. the improvement of the roads, the protection and encouragement of manufactures, &c. and the changes which he meditates in the system of finance and commerce, and after continuing with him some time, was about to take my leave. He asked me whom I had left in the ante-chamber; on mentioning the names of the persons, he requested me to remain with him, observing, that he should be plagued by these gentlemen. During my stay, the conversation turned on different subjects, in which I received every proof of candor and politeness. The same evening I informed the Ambassador of France by letter, that the King had consented to my being pre[Pg 191]sented, a circumstance on which he had always entertained doubts, although he has ever done everything in his power, that could be expected from his public and private character, to contribute to the success of our negotiation. Perhaps some expressions on the part of Congress, testifying their sense of the zeal which this nobleman has manifested to further their interests, may be ultimately productive of good effects at the Court of Versailles, if not here.

On the day appointed for my presentation, I waited on his Excellency, the Count de Florida Blanca, and from his house, accompanied by his servant whom he had the politeness to send with my own, I paid my visits to the principal officers and ladies of the palace. This ceremony finished, I went to the King's apartments, where the Minister appointed me to meet him. When his Majesty arose from table, his Excellency presented me as Chargé d'Affaires of the United States. As I had been informed, that the King did not like long harangues, I contented myself with expressing to his Majesty my happiness in being the first of my countrymen who had the good fortune to assure him of their desire to cultivate his amity. He answered me in a gracious manner, and with a smiling countenance, saying, that he hoped I should have frequent occasions of making him the same assurances. He then passed into the audience chamber, to the Ambassadors and Ministers, where, as several of them have informed me, he was pleased to speak favorably of me.

The royal family dining at the same hour and separately, the same etiquette being observed, viz. the presentation after dinner, it required some days to finish this business; the Count de Florida Blanca accompanying me more than three quarters of an hour each day, with a po[Pg 192]liteness and good nature rarely found in men who have so many important occupations in their hands. The Prince of Asturias spoke of me during the dinner as of a person he had long known, and when I was presented he told me so. The Princess, who was present, spoke to me six or seven minutes in French and Spanish, and among other things said to me, that I ought to like Spain, because she had been told, that I was much liked by the Spaniards. I replied, that the only title I had to their esteem was my well known regard for the nation. The other branches of the royal family received me equally well.

It perhaps may be thought, that I have dwelt too long on these minute details, but I hope I shall be excused when it is considered this is the first presentation of a servant of the States at this Court, and that it has already made some noise among the corps diplomatique, who think themselves entitled to the same privilege which I have obtained. As soon as the Chargé d'Affaires of Denmark was advised of my presentation, he came hither. The enclosed note to the Minister, of which I found means to obtain a copy, will show you in what light his Court regards this preference.

The ceremonial of my presentation being finished, I waited on his Excellency, the Count de Florida Blanca, to thank him for his obliging attentions in the course of it, and took that opportunity of insinuating to him the propriety of his Catholic Majesty's immediately naming a Minister to the United States. I had touched on this subject formerly. He told me that he would speak to his Majesty, and inform me of his intentions.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 193]


[Pg 194]

[Pg 195]John Laurens was the son of Henry Laurens, whose Correspondence is printed in the second volume of this work. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in the year 1755. At the age of sixteen he accompanied his father to Europe, where he was left to pursue his education first at Geneva, and afterwards at London. He was diligent in his studies, and made rapid attainments in the different branches of knowledge, as well as in the other accomplishments of a scholar and a gentleman. In 1774 he became a student of law in the Temple, but the stirring events, that were causing so much excitement on this side of the Atlantic, drew his attention strongly to the interests and claims of his native country, and determined him to return and connect his destiny with hers. After a voyage of considerable peril, he arrived in Charleston in 1777, and immediately resolved to join the army.

As the army then abounded with officers, and there was no opening suited to him in their ranks, General Washington took him into his family as a supernumerary Aid-de-camp. In this capacity he was at the battles of Germantown and Monmouth. He soon afterwards attached himself to the army on Rhode Island, where he had the command of a small body of light troops, and displayed so much bravery and good conduct, that Congress, on the 5th of November, 1778, resolved, "that John Laurens, Aid-de-camp to General Washington, be presented with a continental commission of lieutenant-colonel, in testimony of the[Pg 196] sense, which Congress entertain of his patriotic and spirited services as a volunteer in the American army; and of his brave conduct in several actions, particularly in that of Rhode Island on the 29th of August last; and that General Washington be directed, whenever an opportunity shall offer, to give Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens a command agreeable to his rank." The next year he repaired to the southern army, was present at the unsuccessful attack on Savannah, and was among the prisoners at the capitulation of Charleston. He was soon after exchanged and reinstated in the army. On the 28th of September, 1779, he was chosen by Congress Secretary to the Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States to the Court of Versailles, but he did not accept the appointment.

In the year following, Congress became so much pressed for the want of means in money and military supplies, that they resolved to send a special Minister to France for the purpose of representing, in a strong and just light, the extreme necessities of the United States, and soliciting new aid from the French Court. It was supposed, that a person going directly from the scene of action and suffering, and with a full knowledge of all the particulars from personal observation, would be more likely to succeed in such an application than the resident Minister Plenipotentiary, who could only speak from his general instructions. As the assistance was chiefly wanted for the relief of the army, it was moreover considered that this messenger should be selected from that body. The choice fell on Colonel Laurens, who, on the 23d of December, 1780, was appointed a special Minister to the Court of Versailles for the above purpose. He was then only twentyfive years old. He sailed from Boston in February, and arrived in Paris on[Pg 197] the 19th of March, and immediately applied himself with great assiduity to the objects of his mission. His success, though not to the extent of his wishes, or the hopes of Congress, was yet more complete than could reasonably have been expected, considering the liberal grants, which the French government had recently made to the solicitations of Dr Franklin. All that could be effected by zeal, activity, perseverance, and intelligence, was accomplished by Colonel Laurens; but so great was his eagerness to do his duty on the occasion, and to render the most essential service to his country, that his forwardness and impatience were somewhat displeasing to the French Ministry, as not altogether consistent with their ideas of the dignity and deference belonging to transactions with Courts. They made allowance, however, for the ardor and inexperience of youth, and seem not to have been influenced by these objectionable points of manners, in their estimation of his noble and generous traits of character, or in their disposition to listen to his requests.

Having compassed the aims of his mission with uncommon despatch, Colonel Laurens left Paris, and reached Philadelphia towards the end of August, having been absent from the country but little more than six months. As soon as he had made a report of his doings to Congress, he repaired again to the army in time to be present at the memorable siege of York Town. Here he displayed great courage and gallantly in storming and taking a British battery, as second in command to Hamilton. After the capitulation he joined the southern army under General Greene, having previously acted as a representative in the legislature of his native State, which convened at Jacksonborough in January, 1782. While with the army, during the following[Pg 198] summer, he was ill with a fever, from which he had hardly recovered when intelligence came, that a party of the British were out on a marauding excursion to Combakee. He went in pursuit of the enemy, and while leading an advanced party, he received a mortal wound, which terminated his life on the 27th of August, 1782, in the twentyseventh year of his age. His death was deeply lamented by the army and the nation.

[Pg 199]



In Congress, December 23d, 1780.


You will herewith receive a commission appointing you our Minister at the Court of Versailles; in pursuing the objects of which, you will conform to the following instructions.

Upon your arrival you will communicate fully to our Minister Plenipotentiary at that Court the business on which you are sent, and avail yourself of his information and influence for obtaining the aids mentioned in the estimate delivered to you. Instructions to him for that purpose are herewith transmitted, which you will deliver immediately on your arrival. You will convey to his Most Christian Majesty the grateful sense Congress have of the noble and generous part he has taken, with regard to the United States, and use every possible means to impress him with the urgent and critical state of our affairs at present, which induced the appointment of a special Minister to solicit his effectual aid.

[Pg 200]You will, in particular, give him full information of the present state of our military affairs, and the measures taken for providing a respectable force for the ensuing campaign. It will be proper, at the same time, to point out the causes which rendered the last campaign unsuccessful.

You are to use every effort in your power to enforce the necessity of maintaining a naval superiority in the American seas. You will assure his Most Christian Majesty on our part, that if he will please to communicate to us his intentions respecting the next campaign in America, we will use every effort in our power for an effectual co-operation. You are to give his Majesty the most positive and pointed assurances of our determination to prosecute the war for the great purposes of the alliance agreeable to our engagements.

Should his Majesty grant the aids requested, and send to our assistance a naval force, you will take advantage of that conveyance for forwarding the articles furnished. If no naval armament should be ordered to America, you will endeavor to obtain some vessels of force to transport the said articles, or take advantage of some convoy to America, which may render the transportation less hazardous. You will call upon William Palfrey, our Consul in that kingdom, for such assistance as you may stand in need of for forwarding any supplies which you may obtain. You are authorised to draw upon our Minister Plenipotentiary for such sums as you may from time to time stand in need of, giving him early notice thereof, that he may aid you from funds procured on our account, without doing injury to our other concerns. You may also draw upon any other funds, which you may know to have been procured for us to Europe.

[Pg 201]You will, on your arrival at the Court of Versailles, present the letter to his Most Christian Majesty, which you will herewith receive. Previous to your departure from the United States, you are to confer with the Commander in Chief of the American army, the Minister Plenipotentiary of France, the commanders in chief of his Most Christian Majesty's fleet and army at Rhode Island, the Marquis de Lafayette, if it should not retard your voyage, upon the subject of your commission, and avail yourself of every information you may obtain from them respectively. You will embrace every opportunity of informing us of the success of your negotiations, and receive and obey such instructions, as you may from time to time receive from Congress.

When the purpose of your mission shall be as fully effected as you may deem practicable, you are to return, and report your success to Congress without delay, unless you shall previously receive other orders.[15]

We pray God to further you with his goodness in the several objects hereby recommended and that he will have you in his holy keeping.



[15] For Additional Instructions to Dr Franklin respecting Colonel Laurens's mission, see Franklin's Correspondence, Vol. III. p. 185.


In Congress, December 27th, 1780.


With respect to the loan, we foresee that the sum which we ask will be greatly inadequate to our wants. We wish, however, to depend as much as possible on our[Pg 202] internal exertions. In this negotiation, the state of our finances require that you should endeavor to procure as long a respite after the war, for payment of the principal, as may be in your power. You may agree for an interest not exceeding the terms allowed or given on national security in Europe, endeavoring to suspend the discharge of the interest for two or three years, if possible.

You are hereby empowered to pledge the faith of the United States, by executing such securities or obligations for the payment of the money, as you may think proper, and also that the interest shall not be reduced, nor the principal paid during the term for which the same shall have been borrowed, without the consent of the lenders or their representatives.

You are to stipulate for the payment of both principal and interest in specie.

The loan must prove ineffective unless the specie is actually remitted. Experience has shown, that the negotiation of bills is attended with unsupportable loss and disadvantage. His Most Christian Majesty, we are persuaded, will see in the strongest light the necessity of despatching an effective naval armament to the American seas. This is a measure of such vast moment, that your utmost address will be employed to give it success. By such a conveyance, the specie may be remitted in different ships of war with a prospect of safety.


[Pg 203]


Philadelphia, January 3d, 1781.


Although my instructions relative to the objects of my mission do not explicitly direct what conduct I am to observe, in case the aids solicited from the Court of France cannot be obtained in their full extent, yet I presume it is not the intention of Congress to confine me without alternative to the precise demands which they have made. There is the more reason that this matter should be clearly understood, as my prospects, especially in the important article of pecuniary succors, are far from being flattering. I apprehend then, that I shall have satisfied my duty by aspiring, with every effort, to complete success, and upon failure of that, by approaching it as nearly as shall be found practicable.

With regard to the estimate of the Board of War, as it descends into the minutest detail, and includes a great variety of articles, it appears to me that it will be necessary to attach myself in preference to the objects of first necessity for the ensuing campaign, that the most indispensable supplies may not be retarded by those of a secondary nature, and that the former being secured as far as possible, and the latter left in a train of execution, I may the sooner be at liberty to return and make my report. As I apprehend that these ideas need only to be submitted to Congress to obtain their sanction, I shall consider myself authorised to act in consequence, unless I receive new orders to the contrary.

I have the honor to be, with the profoundest respect, &c.


[Pg 204]


Boston, February 4th, 1781.


I do myself the honor of informing Congress, that I arrived at this place on the 25th ultimo.

After passing two days at Morristown in fruitless expectation of meeting the Commander in Chief, I proceeded to head quarters, where my conference with the General, on the objects of my mission, detained me three days. The impediment of floating ice in the North River, which induced the necessity of crossing it much higher than at the usual place, and other difficulties of the season, will account for the rest of my delay on the journey.

Upon delivering my despatches to the Navy Board, I found, that the two indispensables, men and money, were wanting to fit the Alliance for sea. I urged the necessity of the most prompt and decisive exertions on their part. They returned me such assurances as left me no reason to doubt, that the General Court would authorise an impressment to complete the deficiency of our crew, and that a sufficient supply of money would be procured. This determined me to devote the interval of preparation to making my visit to New York. On my return this day, I learned with great surprise and mortification, that the motion for an impressment had been rejected, private motives having superseded those of general good. In these circumstances I was obliged to apply to General Lincoln for authority to engage such recruits of this State, and such soldiers of the invalid corps, as might be qualified for the marine service. This resource however has afforded us but a few men. I have just obtained permission from Governor Hancock to[Pg 205] enlist volunteers from the guard of the Castle. The Navy Board has commissioned a merchant of popularity and influence among the seafaring men, to offer a tempting bounty, with such precautions as will prevent uneasiness among those who entered for a smaller consideration. I am now addressing the principal merchants to spare a few men from their ships, to be replaced from the Navy Board. In the mean time the rendezvous of the frigate continues open.

But these are all precarious expedients, and my expectations are by no means sanguine. Nothing however shall be left unattempted; if my prospects do not brighten, I shall try the effect of a second memorial to the General Court, and finally insist upon Captain Barry's putting to sea with the crew he can obtain by the middle of the week. There is an additional difficulty in procuring the remainder of the ship's compliment, which is the necessity of hiring not only seamen, but natives, as a counterbalance to the bad composition of the men already on board, too many British prisoners having been admitted; their numbers, the value of the ship, and the business on which she is employed, are temptations to an enterprise, in favor of their ancient connexions.

Several gentlemen go as passengers, on condition of serving on the quarter deck in case of an encounter, and they will reinforce the party of the officers in case of a mutiny. I have endeavored to procure every useful information in the several conferences directed by Congress. The General and Admiral at Newport received me with that politeness, which characterises their nation, and professed an earnest desire to promote, as far as depends on them, the objects of my mission. I must however apprize Congress, that the French army and navy are demanding in the most[Pg 206] pressing terms, pecuniary supplies for themselves. Their bills of exchange sell at a discount of from twentyfive to twentyeight per cent. This demand and the tenacity of the Spaniards in pursuing their favorite object, Gibraltar, are unfavorable to my negotiation. Upon the whole I am more than ever convinced, that the most powerful and unremitting efforts at home will be required to accomplish the great objects of the war.

I have the honor to be, with the profoundest respect, &c.



Boston, February 7th, 1781.


Since my letter to your Excellency on the 4th instant, the measures taken by Governor Hancock relative to the Castle guard proving insufficient, I addressed a Memorial to the General Court. Their permission to engage volunteers from that corps, and a sum of specie granted for the purpose, the volunteer draft from the continental troops, and the unremitting exertions of General Lincoln, have put us at length barely in condition to go to sea. I shall embark today, and expect Captain Barry will sail with the first fair wind. I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's letter of the 12th ultimo, and the letter and packets enclosed. Particular attention shall be paid to your instructions relative to the latter.

I have the honor to be, with the profoundest respect, &c.


[Pg 207]


L'Orient, March 11th, 1781.


I have the honor of informing Congress, that I arrived at this place on the afternoon of the 9th instant; and should have proceeded, without an instant's repose, to Passy, had not the commandant of the town assured me, that the Marquis de Castries would arrive here that evening on his way to Brest, where he was going to accelerate by his presence the execution of his naval disposition. The prospect of an immediate conference with the Minister on the objects of my mission, which relate to his department, the danger of missing him by our travelling different routes, and the repeated assurances of his expected arrival, have detained me till this morning; but as the delay has been much greater than I apprehended, and the Minister's approach is not announced, I have determined to pursue my journey.

The accounts, which the commandant has communicated to me of the naval preparations at Brest, are, that twentyfive sail of the line are ready for sea, with ninety transports, on board of which are six thousand troops; that the ships of war are destined part for the West Indies, and part with the troops for North America.

The rupture between England and the United Provinces has hitherto proved very prejudicial to the latter, as they were exceedingly vulnerable by having so great a number of merchant ships at sea. On our voyage we captured a British privateer in company with a Venetian ship, of which she had made a prize, contrary to the laws of nations. This appeared to me a happy opportunity for[Pg 208] manifesting the determination of Congress to maintain the rights of neutral powers, as far as depends on them. After a short consultation, Captain Barry and his officers very readily acceded to the liberation of the Venetian, and the complete restoration of the cargo and property, which were very valuable. The captain was accordingly left to pursue his voyage, and the privateer was brought into port. Mr Palfrey, our consul, is not yet arrived at this port; it is generally feared that this ship foundered in a storm, which separated her and the Franklin in the commencement of their voyage, as she has not been heard of since.

I have the honor to be with the profoundest respect, &c.



Passy, March 20th, 1781.


I had the honor to write to your Excellency from L'Orient the 11th instant. On my journey hither, I met the Marquis de Castries, and obtained a hasty conference with him, in which I insisted principally on the necessity of a constant naval superiority on the American coast. He observed on his pert, that the dispositions of the fleet were already made; that it was not in his power to alter them; that it was necessary at the present juncture to make naval exertions in more places than one; that the French West India possessions, a nearer interest, must naturally be first secured; at the same time he repeatedly assured me, that the United States had a very considerable share in the present armament, the movements of which he was[Pg 209] going to accelerate; that he hoped a maritime superiority would exist on the part of the allies, but that it must depend upon the events of war. He excused himself from descending into particulars, and urged me to proceed with all possible despatch to Versailles. Upon my arrival here, I found that the letter of Congress to his Most Christian Majesty, of the 22d of November, 1780,[16] had been delivered by our Minister Plenipotentiary; that he had proceeded to negotiate the succors solicited by Congress, and had received the following communication from the Count de Vergennes.

"It is impossible for his Majesty to favor a loan in this kingdom, because it would prejudice those which he has occasion to make himself for the support of the war; but his Majesty, in order to give a signal proof of his friendship for the United States, grants them under the title of a donation, a sum of six millions livres tournois. As the American army is in want of arms, clothing, &c. Dr Franklin will be so good as to deliver a note of them. The articles will be procured of the best quality, and on the most reasonable terms. General Washington will be authorised to draw for the remaining sum, but the drafts are at long sight, in order to facilitate the payment at the royal treasury. The Courts of Petersburg and Vienna have offered their mediation. The King has answered, that it will be personally agreeable to him, but that he could not accept it as yet, because he has allies whose concurrence is necessary. Dr Franklin is requested to acquaint Congress of this overture and the answer, and to engage them to send their instructions to their Pleni[Pg 210]potentiaries. It is supposed that Congress will eagerly accept the mediation."

In my first interview with the Count de Vergennes, I represented to him, in the strongest terms, the insufficiency of the above mentioned succor, and the danger to which France was exposed of losing all her past efforts in favor of America, unless the requests of Congress were complied with. I afterwards addressed to him the enclosed letter, in which I transcribed the result of my conference with General Washington on the objects of my mission, contained in a letter from the General to me of the 15th of January. In consequence of the Count de Vergennes' desire, that I would select from the estimate of the Board of War the articles of most urgent necessity, I extracted a list in which I confined myself to the artillery, arms, military stores, clothing, tents, cloth, drugs, and surgical instruments, and accompanied it with a letter.

My personal solicitations have not been wanting to hasten an answer to these letters, and render them favorable. The constant language of the Count de Vergennes is, that our demands are excessive, that we throw the burthen of the war upon our ally, that the support of it in different parts of the world has cost France exertions and expenses, which fully employ her means, that the public credit, however well established, has its limits, to exceed which would be fatal to it. He adds, at the same time, the strongest assurances of the good will of our ally. This Minister and M. de Maurepas inform me, that nothing can be determined until the return of the Marquis de Castries, which will be the day after tomorrow; that the matter must be deliberated, and that they will consider what can be done. My expectations are very moderate.

[Pg 211]We have received no intelligence of the sailing of the Brest fleet. It consists of twentyfive sail, five of which are destined for the East Indies with troops, but it is said they will be detained for want of transports. The remaining twenty are to proceed to the West Indies, where ulterior dispositions will be made, of which the Chevalier de la Luzerne is instructed. The British fleet, of twentyeight sail of the line, with the convoy for Gibraltar, sailed the 13th instant, and Commodore Johnston's squadron put to sea the same day. The Spanish fleet is likewise at sea.

I am firmly of opinion, that the British in the present moment of success will not accede to those preliminaries, which France and the United States can never depart from, and, consequently, that the news of the mediation of Petersburg and Vienna should have no other effect, than to redouble our ardor and exertions for the campaign.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[16] See this letter in the Secret Journals of Congress, Vol. II. p. 343.

Memorial to the Count de Vergennes.

As in presenting a Memorial to your Excellency on the objects of my mission, I should necessarily repeat in part a conference, which I had by order of Congress with General Washington, previous to my departure, I prefer presenting your Excellency with such extracts from it as relate to my purpose. They are as follows.

"1. That considering the diffused population of these States, the composition and temper of a part of its inhabitants, the want of a sufficient stock of national wealth as a foundation for credit, and the almost extinction of com[Pg 212]merce, the attempts we have been compelled to make for carrying on the war, have exceeded the national abilities of this country, and by degrees brought it to a crisis, which render immediate assistance and efficacious succor from abroad indispensable to its safety.

"2. That notwithstanding from the confusion always attendant on a revolution, from our having had governments to frame, and every species of civil and military institution to create, from that inexperience in affairs necessarily incident to a nation in its commencement, some errors may have been committed in the administration of our finances, to which a part of our embarrassments are to be attributed; yet they are principally to be attributed to our essential want of means; to the want of a sufficient stock of wealth as mentioned in the first article, which, continuing to operate, will make it impossible, by any merely interior exertions, to extricate ourselves from these embarrassments, restore public credit, and furnish the funds requisite for the support of the war.

"3. That experience has demonstrated the impracticability of maintaining a paper credit, without funds for its redemption; the depreciation of our currency was in the main a necessary effect of the want of those funds, and its restoration is impossible for the same reasons, to which the general diffidence, that had taken place among the people, is an additional, and in the present state of things, an insuperable obstacle.

"4. That the mode, which for want of money has been substituted for supplying the army, by assessing a proportion of the productions of the earth, has hitherto been found ineffectual, has frequently exposed the army to the most calamitous distress, and from its novelty and incompatibility[Pg 213] with ancient habits, is regarded by the people as burthensome and oppressive, has excited serious discontents, and, in some places, alarming symptoms of opposition. This mode has besides many particular inconveniences, which contribute to make it inadequate to our wants, and ineligible but as an auxiliary.

"5. That from the best estimates of the annual revenues, which these States are capable of affording, there is a balance to be supplied by credit. The resource of domestic loans is inconsiderable, because there are, properly speaking, few monied men, and the few there are can employ their money more profitably otherwise; added to which, the instability of the currency and the deficiency of funds have impaired the public credit.

"6. That the patience of the army, from an almost uninterrupted series of complicated distress, is now nearly exhausted, their wants carried to an extremity, which has recently had very disagreeable consequences, and demonstrate, the absolute necessity of speedy relief, a relief not within the compass of our means. You are too well acquainted with all their sufferings, for want of clothing, for want of provisions, for want of pay.

"7. That the people being dissatisfied with the mode of supporting the war, there is danger to apprehend, that evils actually felt in prosecuting it may weaken the cause which began it, evils founded not on immediate sufferings, but on a speculative apprehension of future sufferings from the loss of their liberties; there is danger that a commercial and free people, little accustomed to heavy burthens, pressed by impositions of a new and odious kind, may not make a proper allowance for the necessity of the conjuncture, and may imagine they have only exchanged one tyranny for another.

[Pg 214]"8. That from all the foregoing considerations result, 1st, the absolute necessity of an immediate, ample, and efficacious succor of money, large enough to be a foundation for substantial arrangements of finance to revive public credit, and give vigor to future operations. 2dly, the vast importance of a decided effort of the allied arms on this continent the ensuing campaign, to effectuate once for all the great object of the alliance, the liberty and independence of these United States. Without the former, we may make a feeble and expiring effort the next campaign, in all probability the period to our opposition; with it we should be in a condition to continue the war as long as the obstinacy of the enemy might require. The first is essential; both combined, would bring the contest to a glorious issue, crown the obligations which America already feels to the magnanimity and generosity of her ally, and render the union perpetual by all the ties of gratitude and affection, as well as mutual interest, which alone render it solid and indissoluble.

"9. That next to a loan of money, a constant naval superiority is the most interesting; this would instantly reduce the enemy to a difficult, defensive war, and by removing all prospects of extending their acquisitions, would take away the motives for prosecuting it. Indeed, it is not to be conceived, how they could subsist a large force in this country if we had the command of the seas to interrupt the regular transmission of supplies from Europe. This superiority, with an aid of money, would enable us to convert the contest into a vigorous offensive war. I say nothing of the advantages to the trade of both nations, nor how much it would facilitate our supplies. With respect to us, it seems to be one of two deciding points, and it appears[Pg 215] to be the interest of our allies, abstracted from the immediate benefits to this country, to transfer the naval war to America. The number of ports friendly to them and hostile to the British, the materials for repairing their disabled ships, the extensive supplies towards the subsistence of their fleet, are circumstances which would give them a palpable advantage in the contest of the sea. No nation will have it more in its power to repay what it borrows than this. Our debts are hitherto small. The vast and valuable tracts of unlocated lands, the variety and fertility of climates and soils, the advantages of every kind, which we possess for commerce, insure to this country a rapid advancement in population and prosperity, and a certainty (its independence being established) of redeeming in a short term of years the comparatively inconsiderable debts, it may have occasion to contract. Notwithstanding the difficulties under which we labor, and the inquietudes among the people, there is still a fund of inclination and resource in the country equal to great and continued exertions, provided we have it in our power to stop the progress of disgust, by changing the present system, and adopting another more consonant with the spirit of the nation, and more capable of activity and energy in measures of which a powerful succor of money must be the basis.

"The people are discontented, but it is with the feeble, oppressive mode of conducting the war, not with the war itself; they are not unwilling to contribute to its support, but they are unwilling to do it in a way that renders private property precarious, a necessary consequence of the fluctuation of the national currency, and of the inability of government to perform its engagements oftentimes [Pg 216]coercively made. A large majority are still firmly attached to the independence of these States, abhor a re-union with Great Britain, and are affectionate to the alliance with France. But this disposition can ill supply the means customary and essential in war, nor can we rely on its duration amidst the perplexities, oppressions, and misfortunes, that attend the want of them."

From those extracts it will appear to your Excellency, that the fate of America depends upon the immediate and decisive succor of her august ally, in the two points of a specific loan and a naval superiority. The most accurate calculation of the expense requisite for a vigorous campaign, and the interior means which Congress have of defraying that expense, prove that there is a deficiency of the full sum solicited by Congress. The grant of six millions, which his Majesty is pleased to make under the title of a donation to the United States, will be acknowledged with the liveliest emotions of gratitude by affectionate allies, at the same time it would be frustrating the gracious intentions of his Majesty towards his allies, and betraying the common cause of France and America, to encourage a belief, that the above mentioned aid will enable the United States to surmount the present perilous juncture of our affairs. The reasoning in the foregoing extracts will evince how inadequate the sum is to the present exigency.

I must likewise remark to your Excellency, that the credit in bills of exchange is subject to difficulties and disadvantages, which render such a resource very unfit for the conduct of the war. Bills are obnoxious to the vicissitudes and speculations of commerce, and it is easy to foresee, that his Majesty's allies would be great sufferers by their drafts, and at the same time be incapable of giv[Pg 217]ing that vigor and energy to their operations, which would be derived from specie. The same enlightened policy and generous regard for the rights of mankind, which prompted France to espouse the cause of America, still dictate the conduct which she is to pursue; they demand every effort on her part to prevent America from being reduced to the British domination, her commerce, and those sources of wealth being restored to the tyrant of the European seas, the ancient rival of France; but on the contrary, the abasement of this rival, and the establishment of a faithful ally, united by all the ties of gratitude, affection, and the most permanent mutual interests. To those invaluable purposes give me leave to repeat to your Excellency, that the decisive measures in the foregoing extracts are necessary.

I submit to your Excellency, whether the objection to his Majesty's favoring a loan in the name of Congress, may not be obviated by an additional loan in the name of his Majesty, on account of the United States, for which Congress will be accountable. The excellent state of the finances of this kingdom, the exalted state of public credit, must unquestionably give the greatest facility for this purpose, and it may be clearly proved, that giving decisive succor in this article at the present juncture will be infinitely more advantageous, than suffering the war to languish, by affording partial and inadequate assistance. Supposing that fortunate casualties, at this time very improbable, should enable us to continue the war upon its present footing, I beg leave to repeat to your Excellency, that the greatest promptness in this business is essential. The British, by being in possession of two States, fertile in grain, timber, and naval stores, have acquired new anima[Pg 218]tion, and fresh resources for the war, and every day, according to present appearances, brings America nearer to the period of her efforts.


Questions proposed to Colonel Laurens; with his Answers to them.

Paris, March 29th, 1781.

"1st. To what number can the United States increase their continental troops?

"2dly. What will be the expense of the number fixed?

"3dly. This expense is to be distinguished into pay and appointments, clothing, arms, ammunition, and provision.

"4thly. What does the artillery of the United States consist of, and what is the number of carriages?

"5thly. What is the number of provision wagons?

"6thly. What are the plans of General Washington, in case his army should amount to fifteen, twelve, or ten thousand men, independently of the French troops?"

After answering the foregoing questions generally, both with respect to the northern and southern army, I added the following remarks.

The plans of General Washington are absolutely subordinate to the succors, which his Most Christian Majesty will be pleased to grant to his allies. If Congress obtain the succor in money and military effects, and the naval superiority which they solicit, they will be enabled to revive public credit, to make solid arrangements of finance, to give activity to the resources of the country, to augment their troops, to appease their discontents, and to rein[Pg 219]force General Washington with a select corps of ten thousand militia.

With the addition of this force and the French troops, the General will be in condition to undertake the siege of New York. It is unnecessary to say how glorious and decisive the success of this operation would be for the common cause; it is equally unnecessary to add, how much the promptness of succor from France would contribute to it.

The expense of artillery required for this operation will be found in the estimate delivered; that of clothing, &c. for the army in its present state, will be found in deducting a quantity proportioned to the number of men; but it is impossible to represent too strongly, that this excess far from being superfluous, is absolutely necessary to recruit the army in general; a precaution which is indispensable, unless we should choose to hazard all upon the event of a single operation. That the Congress besides, owes great arrearages of clothing to the soldiers, and that as the estimate of Indian presents has not been included in the present demand, we may be obliged perhaps to sacrifice a part of the clothing now solicited, to maintain the friendship of some of the tribes attached to France and America, and that it is of the greatest importance to prevent them from joining the hostile tribes, who in conjunction with the English tories ravage the country, destroy our harvests, put to flight and massacre all the inhabitants on the western frontier, from New York to Virginia. We may more especially expect, that this diversion will be employed during the siege of New York. It is to be added, that a number of men will be found who have already served, who would eagerly rejoin their ancient standards, provided[Pg 220] they had the assurance of proper treatment, instead of the misery and sufferings which they have hitherto experienced. That the army would be augmented, notwithstanding the daily loss in the trenches, by levies perfectly accustomed to fire.

The extreme weakness of the southern army is attributable to the following causes.

1st. That two of the States that furnish quotas to this army are invaded by the British.

2dly. That they have all a great many prisoners in the hands of the enemy, and that their troops in general have been wasted, as well by the excessive marches, which they have undergone in carrying succors to the southward, as by the different misfortunes which have happened there.

The naval superiority of the British, and the rapidity of their movements by sea, secured to them the capture of Charleston, and all their southern successes; enjoying the advantages they have had in their power, to transport a body of troops, with all requisites in ammunition and provision, from one end of the continent to the other in fourteen days, to attack a feeble point; while the American succors, wasted by a march of two months, commenced in the rigors of winter, and without intermission from the fatigues of a campaign, could only arrive to increase the public calamity, by being beat in detail.



Versailles, April 9th, 1781.


Since I had the honor of writing to your Excellency, on the 23d ultimo, I have employed the most unremitting[Pg 221] efforts to obtain a prompt and favorable decision relative to the objects of my mission. After many difficulties and delays, with the details of which it is needless to trouble Congress, the Count de Vergennes communicated to me yesterday his Most Christian Majesty's determination to guaranty a loan of ten millions, to be opened in Holland, in addition to the six millions granted as a gratuitous gift, and the four millions appropriated for the payment of bills of exchange drawn by Congress on their Minister Plenipotentiary. The purchase money of the clothing, which must be an affair of private contract, and the value of the military effects which may be furnished from the royal arsenals, are to be deducted from the six millions.

I shall use my utmost endeavors to procure an immediate advance of the ten millions from the treasury of France, to be replaced by the proposed loan, and shall renew my solicitations for the supplies of ordinance and military stores on credit, that the present of six millions may not be absorbed by those objects, and the purchase of necessary clothing. The providing this article I fear will be attended with great difficulties and delays, as all the woollen manufactories of France are remote from the sea, and there are no public magazines of cloth suitable to our purposes. The cargo of the Marquis de Lafayette will I hope arrive safe under the convoy of the Alliance; and by satisfying our immediate necessities prevent the delays above mentioned from having any disagreeable consequences.

The Marquis de Castries has engaged to make immediate arrangements for the safe transportation of the pecuniary and other succors destined for the United States, and has repeatedly assured me, that the naval superiority will be[Pg 222] established on the American coast the ensuing campaign. The French fleet, he informs me, was on the 27th ultimo sixty leagues west of Cape Finisterre, proceeding to its destination, in good order and with a favorable wind.

I do myself the honor to transmit to your Excellency extracts of the most conspicuous letters of an intercepted mail, taken in a packet bound from Falmouth to New York. Your Excellency will have been informed, that the Court of London have referred the offered mediation of Russia, between England and the United Provinces, to a general pacification. I have been some days stationary at Versailles for the facility of seeing the different Ministers, and accelerating their deliberations. Being just apprized of an opportunity from Nantes to America, I take the liberty of sending this short provisional letter, lest upon my return to Passy I should not have time to write more fully.

I have the honor to be, &c.


Memorial from Colonel John Laurens to Count de Vergennes.

The underwritten, special Minister of the United States of America, has the honor to represent to his Most Christian Majesty in behalf of Congress and by their orders, that the crisis is extreme, and that it demands prompt and decisive succors.

The United States claim with confidence the power and good will of their august ally. They had requested,

1st. A loan of twentyfive millions.

2dly. A naval superiority on the American coast.

[Pg 223]3dly. Arms and ammunition, materials for clothing, equipments and tents, estimates of which have been laid before the Ministry.

The underwritten, being informed by the Count de Vergennes of the King's intentions with regard to pecuniary succors, earnestly offers in the name of the Congress the homage of the most lively gratitude, but at the same time it is his duty to represent, that although this succor tends to the object which his Majesty has in view, it is nevertheless demonstrated in the present state of affairs, that it is insufficient, considering the urgent necessities of the army and the administration, its engagements and debts, the exhausted condition of America, the absolute deficiency of resources and specie, and the enormous expense essential to the vigorous support of the war. It is on this account, that the underwritten earnestly entreats his Majesty to grant, on credit to the United States of America, the artillery, arms, ammunition, &c. which shall be drawn from his Majesty's arsenals and magazines, as a very considerable sum must be absorbed for the payment of clothing and other articles to be collected in France.

The underwritten further entreats his Majesty to consider, that the operation of a loan in Holland cannot be terminated in less than three months, that the delay of this result may commit the safety of America, and the common cause, lose the fruit of all the expense and sacrifices hitherto made; a single instant is precious, the least delay becomes of the most dangerous consequence, while the successes of the British multiply their resources and give them new energy.

The loan which will be opened in Holland under the auspices of his Majesty, favored by the guarantee which he is pleased to grant, cannot fail of success.

[Pg 224]The underwritten flatters himself, therefore, that his Majesty will find no inconvenience in ordering the immediate advance of ten millions to be delivered at the disposal of the United States, which will be returned to his royal treasury by means of the loan in question.

Events of the greatest importance depend upon this disposition equally good and indispensable. The underwritten would think himself deficient in his duty, if he did not persevere in entreating his Majesty to adopt and order it.

The arrival of this sum is necessary to give a vigorous impulse to the organisation of administration in the present state of things, renew the tone of parts which have lost their energy, and revive public credit by making the resources of the country concur in the expenses of the war, which resources cannot be turned to account without coin to determine them.

If it is impossible to make it a part of the general arrangement to grant safe means of conveyance for the whole of this sum, the underwritten entreats his Majesty to cause as considerable a portion as possible to be remitted immediately, and to fix a very early date for the departure of the remainder.

The underwritten further earnestly solicits, that a naval superiority be permanently maintained on the American coast. The practicability and success of all military operations and the event of the war, depend directly and even exclusively on the state of the maritime force in America.

The British, by preserving this advantage, will be able to accomplish all their plans by the rapidity of their movements. The facility of transporting themselves everywhere secures them a series of successes, which are ren[Pg 225]dered still more decisive by the certainty of finding no opposition in defenceless points.

It is by these means that they have been able lately to possess themselves of a very important maritime point in North Carolina, and, by effecting a sudden junction between two divisions of their army, have been able to penetrate to the granary of that State. This position is the more favorable to the enemy, as he encloses between his army and the port of Wilmington, of which he is master, a considerable number of Scotch colonists attached to the interests of England, and who will be determined, perhaps, by his successes to declare themselves openly. Such consequences are to be expected from great successes in all civil wars. If his Majesty thinks proper to oppose a naval superiority to the British, they will be obliged to recall their troops from the interior country to reunite for the defence of the most important maritime points, the communication between which will be cut off, and the choice of attacks left to the allies.

The abasement of Great Britain, the dismemberment of its empire, the inestimable commercial advantages arising to France, present great interests, and merit powerful efforts. If this opportunity be neglected, if too much be left to chance, if time be lost, and the means employed be insufficient, the British pride will know neither bounds nor restraint; our object will be missed perhaps forever; it is easy to foresee how fatal the consequences would be to the French islands.

The underwritten renews the assurances of the most inviolable attachment on the part of the United States. Whatever may be the decision of his Majesty on these representations, his goodness towards his allies will never be[Pg 226] effaced from their hearts; they will support the common cause with the same devotion to the last extremity, but their success must necessarily depend upon their means.


Paris, April 18th, 1781.


Paris, April 24th, 1781.


I had the honor of addressing to your Excellency a letter on the 9th instant, conformably to which I presented the Memorial now sent, after preparing the way for it by as many conferences as an intervening vacation would permit. In the course of these I discovered that it was impossible to obtain any further detachment of ships of force from hence; consequently, that the sum of specie to be sent immediately to America would be limited by the means of conveyance, and that successive epochs must divide a risk, which would be too considerable if simultaneous.

In pursuance of these ideas Count de Vergennes declared to me, that it had been solemnly determined to send no more than two millions in a frigate with me, and to have the remainder transmitted afterwards at different periods; this sum appeared to me so inconsiderable, compared with our necessities, that I thought it my duty to make the warmest remonstrances on the subject, and the succeeding day I delivered the Memorial above mentioned. In the mean time I have been employed in engaging a conveyance from Holland, which is so unexceptionable as to enable me to demand with confidence an additional sum for the first remittance of specie. The conveyance alluded to is[Pg 227] the Indian, a vessel having the dimensions of a seventyfour gun ship, mounting twentyeight French thirtysix pounders on her main deck, and twelve twelves on her quarter deck and forecastle, sold by the Chevalier de Luxembourg to the State of South Carolina for the term of three years, loaded in part with articles of clothing, &c. on said State's account, nearly ready for sea, but reduced to the impossibility of sailing for want of ten thousand pounds sterling to discharge an accumulation of debts contracted in port. In these circumstances Captain Gillon, her present commander, has applied to me in the most pressing terms for assistance, and has offered to cede me the cargo which he has on board, on condition of furnishing the means of extricating himself from his present difficulties. As there appeared to me a happy coincidence in this matter, of the interests of the State and the Continent, I determined to accept his offer, annexing certain conditions, as will be seen in the enclosure.[17]

The advantages in favor of the continent are in the first place a very important and considerable gain of time in forwarding supplies of clothing, as no considerable quantity could have been obtained at the proper seaport of France at an earlier date than the 10th of June. Secondly, the excellence of the conveyance removes a powerful objection on the part on the Ministry against augmenting the first remittance of specie.

The advantages on the part of the State are, that she will be able to avail herself of the services of her ship, of which without the present interposition there would not be the least prospect, and besides, she will derive her share in common with the other members of the Union from the general advantages.

[Pg 228]I have not as yet received a definitive answer from the Count de Vergennes to my last Memorial and subsequent applications, but I learn from M. Necker, that the following will be the distribution of what relates to his department, viz. that two millions will be sent in the frigate with me, one million on board the Indian, and that it is besides in agitation to make an arrangement with Spain for assigning a sum of specie at Vera Cruz, to be transported from thence by a frigate to be ordered on that service from one of the West India Islands.

I have reason to apprehend an unfavorable answer to my request, that the military effects from the public arsenals should be granted on credit. The expense of these articles will make a considerable deduction from our pecuniary resources. Your Excellency will observe that the same difficulties exist with respect to these objects, as with regard to the manufactures of cloth, the great deposits of them all being situated in the interior country, remote from the sea. The cargo of the Marquis de Lafayette, that of the Indian, (including the additional purchases, which I have directed to be made in order to complete her tonnage) and the supplies collected at Brest, or on their way thither, will nearly include the most essential articles of the Board of War's estimate. The purchases in France are made under the direction of an Intendant in the War Department. Those in Holland are made by M. de Neufville & Son, whom I employed because they appeared to possess the confidence of our Minister Plenipotentiary in that country.

I found great difficulties and delays likely to attend the plan of casting howitzers of English calibre in France. The scarcity of materials, the great danger of a want of precision in the proportions, and the facility with which we[Pg 229] cast shells in America, induced me to substitute six inch howitzers of French calibre, to those demanded by the Board of War. This size, in the opinion of the most experienced artillerists, is preferable to the larger, their effects being the same, and their inferior size rendering them much more manageable, as well as less expensive of ammunition. A certain number of shells will accompany the howitzers, but it will be necessary that the Board of War should give immediate orders for making a larger provision of them. Their dimensions may be taken from those with the French artillery under General Rochambeau.

The same reasons as those above mentioned, determined me to substitute the French twelve-inch mortar to the thirteen inch of English calibre, as there was no other way of procuring them but by having them cast, and the same observation is to be made with respect to their shells as with respect to those of the howitzers. A store-ship, freighted by government, is to proceed under convoy of the frigate on board which I shall sail, and will be charged with such supplies as can be collected in time at Brest.

As soon as I shall have accomplished all that requires my presence here, which I flatter myself will be in a few days, I shall proceed to Brest, to do everything that can depend on me for hastening the departure of the frigate. I shall in the mean time despatch Captain Jackson, an officer of great intelligence and activity, who accompanied me from America, with instructions to exert his utmost efforts to get the Indian to sea without loss of time.[18]

I have the honor to be, with the greatest veneration, &c.



[17] Missing.

[18] For a correspondence on this subject between Dr Franklin and Captain Jackson, see Franklin's Correspondence, Vol. III. pp. 121, 232.

[Pg 230]

Memorial from John Laurens to the Director-General of Finance.

The underwritten, special Minister of the United States of North America, renews his representations to the Director-General of Finance, upon the necessity of augmenting the present remittance of pecuniary succors destined for America. He cannot repeat too often, that upon the quantity and seasonableness of these succors, the fate of his Majesty's allies must necessarily depend.

He entreats him to recollect, that in the first discussion with regard to the sum, the difficulties which opposed an immediate remittance, more proportionate to the urgent necessities of the United States, were unconnected with reasons of finance. With respect to the apprehension of exposing ourselves to simultaneous risks that would be too considerable, which was the principal reason alleged, he thinks himself warranted in saying, that comparing the sum with the risk, the strictest laws of prudence would not be violated in shipping the amount of six millions on board of two frigates, well armed and good sailors, despatched from ports distant from each other.

The plan of procuring money from Vera Cruz or the Havana, the success and speedy execution of which were regarded as certain, would have dispensed government from making any very considerable remittance from hence at the present moment, but as according to the Director-General's own account, there is reason to apprehend a delay, which would render this plan delusive, the underwritten sees no other remedy, than in augmenting the sums remitted from hence, as far as the present means of conveyance will authorise, and seconding this first remittance by a de[Pg 231]finitive arrangement for having it closely followed by the remainder.

With regard to the distribution between the two ships, the underwritten would prefer committing the most considerable portion of the specie to the frigate in Holland, on account of her very superior force.

He has the honor to apprize the Director-General, that he has authorised Mr W. Jackson, Captain of infantry in the service of the United States, to give receipts for the sum destined to be shipped in Holland, and that he will himself sign receipts for the sum to be shipped at Brest.


Paris, April 29th, 1781.


Paris, May 15th, 1781.


Since I had the honor of writing to your Excellency on the 24th ult. my prospects of pecuniary succor have suffered a very unfavorable change, first in the suspension and I apprehend the total failure of the plan of procuring a sum of specie at Vera Cruz, to be transmitted immediately from thence for the service of the United States. This arrangement which the Spanish agent at this Court was at first very desirous of making with M. Necker, and which would have been a convenience to the finance of this country, was prevented from being carried into execution by the arrival of intelligence, that the treasure had been safely transported from Vera Cruz to the Havana; in consequence of which the agent declined engaging to furnish the money on any other terms than by a schedule[Pg 232] of bill of exchange, payable at six months' sight. M. Necker has since made him an offer of a profit on the money to be supplied at the Havana, and the agent has written to his Court on the subject, but it does not appear to me, that the offer is likely to be accepted. As soon as I was apprized of this, I delivered the preceding Memorial to the Director-General of Finance.

In addition to this disappointment we have received notice from Holland of the total refusal of the Dutch to countenance the proposed loan of ten millions on account of the United States. M. Necker was of opinion, that the Dutch would lend more readily on this footing than to France alone, as there would be a double security; but the event has proved, that its being a concern of the United States was sufficient for political reasons to occasion the overthrow of the business. I have uniformly insisted from the beginning upon the necessity of securing this aid to the United States from the finances of France, and while I pleaded the fertility of her resources, and facility of borrowing in her own name, I have enlarged upon the fatal consequences to which we should be exposed by referring the matter to an uncertain and dilatory operation. I apprehend some new efforts are making on the subject of the loan. His Majesty in the mean time engages to supply the failure of the loan from the finances of his kingdom. The future transmissions of specie are to be concerted between the Minister of Marine and the Director-General of Finance, and Count de Vergennes has promised me to urge them upon the subject. I have not been able to obtain any greater augmentation of the sums destined to be embarked at Brest and in Holland, than half a million at the first, and nearly the same sum at the latter.

[Pg 233]With respect to the maritime succors so repeatedly solicited, I am authorised only in general terms to assure Congress, that such dispositions are made for detaching from the West Indies, as give every reason to hope a naval superiority will exist on the part of the allies in America; that the fleet will probably remain on that station three months, and that it will be time on my arrival to commence the most vigorous preparations for co-operating with it.

Immediately on closing this packet, I shall set out for Brest, and use my utmost efforts to accelerate our sailing. My frigate is ready in the roads. If any delay arises it will be owing to the store ship, which she will have under convoy.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect,


P. S. Those despatches will be delivered to your Excellency by Captain Jackson of the first South Carolina regiment, whose zeal for the service made him cheerfully undertake the journey to Holland, for the purpose of accelerating the departure of the Indian, and to whom I am much indebted for his assistance in this country.

J. L.



Versailles, May 16th, 1781.

Congress has directed Mr Laurens to solicit from the King an aid of money, and to request his guarantee for a loan. In consequence his Majesty has been pleased to[Pg 234] grant six millions tournois,[19] in form of a gift, and he has likewise agreed to be security for a loan of ten millions, to be opened in Holland, for account of Congress; and if that loan should meet with difficulties, he has even resolved to supply it out of his own finances, as soon as possible. The six millions, which his Majesty has granted, have been employed in the following manner; two million five hundred thousand livres are sent to Brest, there to be shipped; one million five hundred thousand are sent to Amsterdam, to be likewise shipped there; about two millions are to be employed in payment for the goods, which Mr Laurens was directed to purchase. Besides the sum above mentioned, his Majesty has been pleased to grant Dr Franklin four millions to discharge the bills of exchange drawn on him by Congress. In case the loan, which is to be opened in Holland on account of the Americans, should fail of success, his Majesty will be under the necessity of supplying it. It is understood, that the United States shall repay his Majesty the sum of ten millions, in order to fulfil the engagements, that shall be entered into in Holland.

The operations of the campaign, of which his Majesty has given a plan to the commander of his fleet in America, form the second object, in which the United States are interested; and without being able to fix the attention of Congress or General Washington upon the moment when his fleet shall appear on the coast of North America, he assures them, that the success of their armies makes a principal part of his views for the ensuing campaign. It[Pg 235] is therefore proper, that, upon the arrival of Colonel Laurens, the United States should put themselves in condition to take advantage of the operations of his fleet in America.



[19] These six millions were not obtained "in consequence" of Colonel Laurens's solicitation, but were granted to Dr Franklin, before Colonel Laurens's arrival. See Franklin's Correspondence, Vol. III. p. 230, and also Colonel Laurens's letter above, dated March 20th;—also the following letter of September 2d.


Philadelphia, September 2d, 1781.


Happy in this opportunity of renewing the assurances of my inviolable duty and attachment to the United States, in Congress assembled, I have the honor of submitting to them a supplementary report of the negotiation, with which they were pleased to intrust me, by their commission of the 23d of December, 1780.

Previous to my arrival in France, the letter from Congress of the 22d of December to his Most Christian Majesty had been delivered, and the application for succors supported by our Minister Plenipotentiary, the result of which was a gratuitous donation from the King of France of six millions of livres, to be drawn for by General Washington at distant periods, and an offer to provide clothing and other supplies for the army, the expense to be deducted from the donation above mentioned. The disproportion between this and the necessities of the United States upon which their demand was founded, as well as the exceptionable manner of touching the money, determined me without delay to renew the negotiation, in which I had the concurrence of our Minister Plenipotentiary, and the advantage of his counsels.

After my first interview with the Count de Vergennes, I presented, in form of a memorial, a copy of which has[Pg 236] been transmitted to Congress, an extract of a letter from General Washington, written in consequence of my conference with him by order of Congress, making such small additions as were suggested by the state of the business. The advantage of the General's credit in Europe made me prefer his letter to any common form of memorial, especially as he had treated the principal objects of my mission in a manner no less full and explicit than conformable to the ideas of Congress.

I accompanied it with the estimate of the Board of War, after making a deduction of many articles, the demand of which I apprehended would throw an unfavorable cast on the whole business. A translated duplicate of the complete estimate had been long since delivered by Dr Franklin. The Count de Vergennes exclaimed vehemently against the exorbitance of the demand, to which the strength of our army was so disproportioned, adding, that duplicate cargoes of such value could not be afforded, and that the articles demanded would exhaust all our money; for he refused to understand as I did, the intention of Congress to solicit the supplies in addition to the loan.

Argument and expostulation on this subject were fruitless. In pursuance of his definitive request, I formed a reduced list accompanied by a letter, a copy of which has been transmitted. An allowance was made for the Lafayette's cargo, as well as a very imperfect sketch of it could enable me. This list was immediately referred to the War Department. In all my interviews with the Ministers, I endeavored to represent in their strongest light the following important articles. That notwithstanding the unalterable determination of the United States to support their independence, notwithstanding the virtue and firm[Pg 237]ness of the citizens in general, the immense pecuniary resources of Great Britain, and her constant naval superiority were advantages too decisive to be counterbalanced by any interior exertions on the part of the United States. That these must infallibly impose a term to the efforts of a nation, whose extended maritime and inland frontier rendered her obnoxious to sudden descents and incursions on all sides; whose army was consequently exposed to excessive marches, attended with insupportable expense of money and waste of soldiers, that the exhausted state of their finances reduced Congress to the impossibility of calling the natural resources of the country into activity; that the aggravated calamities of a war, which in its principles had been precautionary, began now to produce dangerous uneasinesses and discontents; that we had concealed enemies to contend against; that the British left no measures unattempted either of open force or secret intrigue; and finally, unless instant succor were afforded as solicited by Congress, that France was in danger of losing all the fruits of the part she had hitherto taken in the contest; that if instead of being actuated by a generous and enlightened policy, the Court of France had systematically protracted the war, in order that Britain and America might mutually exhaust themselves, while she had reserved her power to decide only in the last extremity, this period with respect to America had arrived; that the importance of the objects of the war on one hand, and the mischiefs of suffering Great Britain to re-annex to herself the resources of America, demanded the greatest exertions; that the honor of the King, as well as the national interest, was engaged, and that, considering the flourishing state of the French marine and finances, the succor solicited was as easy as, considering our situation, it was indispensable.

[Pg 238]I endeavored, above all, to hasten their determinations. The general language held by the Ministry was, that the demands of Congress were excessive; that to induce succor from their ally, there should be greater exertions on the part of the United States; that the King had the greatest good will towards them, but that the expenditures of the war were immense; the necessity of supporting a maritime war in different quarters, and the indispensable defence of his own colonies, limited his power of giving assistance; that the public credit of France, however good, had its limits, which it were dangerous to exceed; that the administration of the American finances was not calculated to inspire confidence; that a dangerous wound had been given to our public credit by the resolution of the 18th of March, 1780, a measure, which, however judicious it might have been in time of peace, was exceedingly pernicious in time of war; that the application of Congress was tardy, and by its suddenness excluded expedients which might otherwise have been employed for our relief; that with regard to the national interest and honor, France had been a great kingdom, and the King a powerful monarch, when America was composed of feeble colonies.

To this kind of discourse I answered, by enlarging on the natural and political disadvantages of America in the present contest, the fertile resources of the British, their power and activity; the impossibility of our supporting a paper credit without a foundation of specie, adding, that the continental currency must have died a natural death if it had not been checked at a late stage of depreciation, by the act of Congress in question; that persons, who had clamored most on this subject, had been instrumental in hastening the discredit of our paper, by various commer[Pg 239]cial speculations, but that the downfall of the currency must be attributed principally to a want of funds for its support; for this object Congress were renewing their application in the most pressing terms; that the King of France's glory could not but suffer if the British triumphed in the present dispute, as his consideration in Europe would be lessened by it; that his interests besides, and those of his kingdom, would certainly be deeply wounded by a re-accession of America to Great Britain, and that the same fleet and army, which should prove decisive there, would be at hand to possess themselves of the French islands.

The Marquis de Castries, Minister for the Marine Department, being absent, and a vacation produced some delay, I waited on this Minister immediately on his return to Court, and observed to him that the most important decisions relative to the common cause of France and America had been suspended on account of his absence; urged him particularly on the great point of a naval superiority, reminding him, that the British Marine was the principal instrument of their power; that the efforts of the allies to reduce this force could nowhere be made with such a prospect of success as on the American coast; that it would be very easy after a decisive campaign in America, in which his personal glory was so much interested, to transport a sufficient force from the continent to reduce any British island; that in the mean time the French islands would be in the most perfect security. He repeated nearly what he had said at our first interview, with stronger assurances of his prospect of a naval superiority the ensuing campaign.

In a word I used every argument of national interest, and added such personal motives as I thought applicable to the different Ministers.

[Pg 240]On the 8th of April Count de Vergennes communicated to me his Most Christian Majesty's determination to become security for a loan of ten millions of livres, to be opened on account of the United States in Holland; that he had immediately despatched a courier extraordinary to M. de la Vauguyon with a letter relative to this business; that I had reason to be satisfied with this in addition to the donation of six millions, and four millions that had been appropriated to the payment of bills drawn on Mr Franklin. I pressed him by many arguments to leave an opening for the remaining five millions; exposed the false policy of incomplete succors; observed that Congress had solicited no more than was necessary; that there should be no other limits to the present succor than the invincible bounds of possibility; that it was not the condition on which the money was obtained, but the sum and opportuneness of remitting it, that were above all important; that in this point of view I would prefer converting the donation into a loan, if it would make the advance more convenient to the French finances, and facilitate the augmentation of the total sum, destined for the United States. I repeated the same thing to the Director-General of Finance, but their answer was, the King had passed his word and could not retract.

I entreated both M. de Vergennes and M. Necker not to abandon the United States to the operation of a loan, but to secure us from the finances of France the sum in question, and above all, to make immediate arrangements for the remittance of it.

In the mean time I pressed the Minister of Marine on the subject of ships, but I found that it was far from the intention of the Court to furnish the means for remitting any considerable sum immediately. Count de Vergennes[Pg 241] urged the imprudence of exposing such precious succors to a simultaneous risk, and the necessity of dividing the danger by successive remittances, adding besides, that as permission had been given to draw, an allowance was to be made on this account, and a provisional sum for payment retained; that pursuant to those ideas it had been solemnly determined to send no more than two millions in a frigate with me. I observed, that the first difficulty would be obviated by proportioning the escort to the value of the specie; with regard to the other objection, I gave it as my opinion, that no bills would be drawn in consequence of the mode for touching the donation of six millions. The Count said, that I was not sufficiently impressed with what had been already done on our account, and appealed to our Minister Plenipotentiary. In addition to the warmest verbal remonstrances on the subject, I presented the Memorial, a copy of which was forwarded to Congress.

In these circumstances I was induced to make an arrangement with Captain Gillon, of the frigate South Carolina, in order to secure an unexceptionable conveyance for a further remittance of specie, as well as for other reasons to be mentioned hereafter. This conveyance being approved by the Ministry, it was proposed by M. Necker, that one million should be remitted by this opportunity, two in the frigate from France as above mentioned, and that an arrangement should be made with the Spaniards for a further remittance from Vera Cruz, agreeably to an offer from their agent in Paris. Unfortunately, while this latter plan was in agitation, the agent received intelligence that the whole of the Spanish treasure destined for Europe had arrived safe at the Havana, in consequence of which[Pg 242] he changed the terms of his first proposal, from an order payable at sight, to bills at six months' date; this, joined to the disagreeable intelligence from Holland of the failure of the loan proposed on account of the United States, occasioned my giving a Memorial to the Director-General, and insisting, in several interviews with him, on the necessity of something decisive in his department, adding, that the administration could not pursue a better plan for securing the triumph of Great Britain than the present system of giving inadequate and dilatory succor to America.

All that I could obtain was an addition of half a million to the specie to be embarked at Brest, and about the same sum to that in Gillon's ship. The Director-General informed me, that he had passed the sum of the proposed loan to the debit of the King's finances, and repeated his assurances, that our further remittances should be made successively.

I have already informed Congress, that the reduced list of supplies had been referred to the War Department, where it had to undergo a recopying and more methodical distribution under several heads. I used my endeavors to hasten the decisions on this subject, and to procure orders at least with respect to some particular articles, the providing of which obviously required a more early notice than others; but he said no partial arrangement could be made, and that a decision must be definitively given in council upon the whole business, previous to his engaging in the execution of his part.

On the 1st of April I received a letter from M. de Corney, Provincial Commissary, informing me, that the Marquis de Segur had appointed M. de Viemerange in conjunction with him to confer with me on the objects of the[Pg 243] estimate, and the time and means of procuring them. I immediately repaired to Versailles for this purpose.

As the ancient administration for clothing the French troops was abolished, and each regiment in France makes its own contracts for habiliments and equipments, there exists no public magazine of supplies in this way, either in the War or Marine Department, and there was no other resource for this article than the remainder of some supplies at Brest, which had been provided for General Rochambeau's army; it was proposed then to cede these to the United States, and continue the provision upon the same terms as had been settled for the King's service. The quantity was extremely inconsiderable, compared even with the reduced list, which I had presented; the time proposed for augmenting it was long, and my prospects upon the whole were very discouraging, but the impracticability of doing better in present circumstances obliged me to yield. The difficulties and delays, however, which occurred in this transaction, and a persuasion that it would not be so economical as I had at first been taught to expect, were powerful additional motives with me for accepting Captain Gillon's offer relative to the South Carolina frigate, in order to avail myself of the supplies in his possession, and to complete his vacant tonnage by purchases in Holland, where the vicinity of the seaport and manufacturing towns insured despatch. Copies of all the papers, relative to the supplies, are in the hands of the Minister Plenipotentiary. I apprized him of the necessity of watching the punctual execution of the terms of Sabatier & Co's agreement, notwithstanding the superintendence of the War Department. The artillery, arms, ammunition, and encamping supplies, were to be collected at Brest[Pg 244] from different arsenals in Brittany and elsewhere, at the same rates at which they were provided for the national service.

When the subject of casting howitzers, conformably to the British calibre, came to be more minutely and definitively discussed, difficulties with respect to the scarcity of materials, the danger of errors in the proportion, the want of a proper person to inspect the business, in a word, objections of different kinds were started; these, added to the facility of casting shells in America, determined me finally to substitute six inch howitzers of French calibre. Experience has proved, on a comparison of their effects with those of the larger sized howitzers, that the difference is trifling, and that the former will answer all the purposes of the latter, while their proportions render them more manageable, and economise ammunition. The French artillerists, enlightened by this discovery, have determined the reform of all their larger howitzers.

Upon my arrival at Brest I found the whole of the articles agreed to be furnished for the first convoy were not yet arrived. In these circumstances I substituted some articles which I found in the magazine there, that there might not be any further loss of time, and that there should be the least possible interval between our sailing and the embarcation of the specie, which once commenced could not be kept secret in passing through a number of hands, and might be a temptation to enterprises on the part of the enemy. The same motive determined me not to shift the whole of the money into cases, which would have been more portable. This precaution became indispensable however with respect to two of the casks, that had suffered too much from the violent shaking on the road to be[Pg 245] embarked in that condition, and although all the casks are double, I apprehend the most scrupulous care will be necessary in their debarcation and removal. I send herewith the Chevalier de l'Angle's receipt for the specie on board the frigate Resolve, the copy of the Treasurer's note at Brest, and invoices of the cargoes on board the Cibelle and the Olimpe. Besides these, the whole of the surgical instruments, drugs, and tin and wire for camp kettles, agreeably to the Board of War's estimate, are supplied upon the same footing as the other articles. The drugs and tin I expect in the brigantine Active. In addition to the list, I left a statement of the ulterior demands. These, in addition to the cargo expected by Gillon, and the invoices already cited, include the total of the supplies.

The deduction of money for their payment was incompatible with so ample a provision, as prudence might otherwise have dictated. Necessitated to confine myself to a reduced list of the most indispensable articles, in order to leave the sum for remittances as unimpaired as possible, I avoided every purchase and additional expense of workmanship, that could be readily supplied by our artisans and manufacturers at home, as the money expended here, besides accomplishing the primary object, after descending in various channels to the encouragement of arts, and animation of industry among ourselves, would return its contribution to the great reservoir of public resources.

I am sorry not to be able to give Congress a more satisfactory and definitive account of Captain Gillon's proceedings. The papers sent herewith will show the measures I had taken, and all the intelligence I had received relative to this business previous to my departure. Relying on the zeal and activity of Captain Jackson, aided by[Pg 246] the counsels of the Minister Plenipotentiary in Holland, I cannot apprehend any improper delay.

Captain Jackson alone was intrusted with the secret of the specie to be embarked, I enjoined him not to communicate it to any one, until the moment when it should become necessary to embark it; and, that the bankers might not be apprized of its destination, I sent the order for it enclosed to him.

I used every argument, at taking leave of the several Ministers, that I thought could influence them, and previous to my departure from Brest, renewed my solicitations in writing. I imagine some further effort will have been made relative to the loan in Holland, but at all events the ten millions are to be supplied from the King of France's finances. The Marquis de Castries, and M. Necker, were to concert the future remittances; they gave me fair promises on the subject, and Count de Vergennes assured me he would press them; he likewise gave me some hopes of credit for the supplies of military stores. The naval superiority, it is expected, will be established on the American coast for a sufficient time to enable us to enterprise something important.

Enclosed herewith is an answer from the Most Christian King to my letter of credence. Count de Vergennes informed me, that an answer to the other letter of Congress had been already despatched.

At taking my leave of his Most Christian Majesty, he desired me to renew his assurances of affection to the United States. The succeeding day his Majesty honored me with the accustomed present of his portrait. Republican strictness, and the utility of the precedent, lead me to refer it to the supreme representative of the majesty of the[Pg 247] American people, the organ of that sovereign will to which I am devoted.

The Resolve sailed from Brest, with the Cibelle and Olimpe under her convoy, the 1st of June. The judicious precautions, and unwearied attention of the Chevalier de l'Angle, commander of the frigate, relative to his convoy, during a passage in which we experienced every contrariety, deserve the highest applause.

I entreat the further orders of Congress, being exceedingly solicitous to lose no time in rejoining the army.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, &c.


P. S. My first intention was to have steered for Philadelphia, but learning from a vessel, which we pursued for the purpose of intelligence, that Count de Grasse was not arrived, I judged it most prudent to make a safe eastern port, and arrived at Boston the afternoon of the 25th ult.

J. L.


Philadelphia, September 6th, 1781.


In consequence of the desire of the committee of conference on the subject of my mission to France, I do myself the honor to communicate to Congress all the information I am possessed of relative to the present situation of Henry Laurens, and the prospect of his enlargement or exchange. It appears from the letter of a gentleman in London, who had access to him under certain restrictions, that though the rigor of his confinement[Pg 248] was in some degree abated, he still labored under several interdictions and restraints, as unprecedented as illiberal, and that the British Court still affected to consider him as amenable to their municipal laws, and maintained the idea of a future trial.

After I had finished the general business with which Congress had charged me, I consulted the several Ministers at the Court of France upon the proper measures to be taken, when such a flagrant violation of the laws of nations had been offered in the person of a public Minister, and solicited their intervention and assistance. They all declared, that however anxious they were to restore to his country a citizen, so valuable by his services, they had not the least hope, that any benefit would be derived from their interference, the British Court being as little disposed to gratify the Court of France, as they were to gratify the United States; and the unanimous opinion of these gentlemen further was, that nothing would determine the British to pursue a reasonable conduct in the present case, but the most exact retaliation on the part of Congress. For this purpose they advised, that one or more British prisoners of sufficient note and importance to cause a sensation by their own complaints, or those of their friends, to their Court, should be held as security for the safety of Mr Laurens, and that their mode of confinement and treatment should invariably follow the rule of the conduct of the British government towards him.

In addition to the report, which I had the honor to make the 2d instant, I take the present opportunity of enclosing to Congress the duplicate account of the frigate Alliance's disbursements, by Messrs Gourlade and Moylan of L'Orient. The misfortune of Mr Palfrey left us without other[Pg 249] resource, than an application to a mercantile house. The persons above mentioned offered their services, and were recommended. The sum total appeared both to the Minister Plenipotentiary and myself very considerable for the short stay of the vessel in port, and the charge of advanced officers' pay unprecedented; but Captain Barry had signed the original account, and M. Moylan's house had advanced the money, and offered every authentic voucher. I thought myself obliged to write from Brest, requesting Dr Franklin to order payment after necessary security.

I found myself under the necessity of drawing, under the authority of Congress, for three hundred and fifty louis, on their Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of France. Fifty of these were given to Mr Jackson on his departure for Holland. On my arrival at Boston, I borrowed on my private credit forty guineas, twentyfive of which have been paid for the purchase of saddles, and the expense of the journey, including that of an express with the despatches from France for the French Minister and army, and that of an escort of dragoons, which it became prudent, on account of my papers, to take from Danbury to a place a few miles on this side of the North River.

I had recourse to the State of Rhode Island for horses, &c. a particular account of which will be given to the Board of War.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest veneration, &c.


[Pg 250]

[Pg 251]


[Pg 252]

[Pg 253]Charles William Frederick Dumas was a native of Switzerland, but he passed a large portion of his life in Holland, chiefly employed as a man of letters. He was a person of deep learning, versed in the ancient classics, and skilled in several modern languages, a warm friend of liberty, and an early defender of the American cause. About the year 1770, or a little later, he published an edition of Vattel, with a long preface and notes, which were marked with his liberal sentiments.

When Dr Franklin was in Holland on his way to France, a short time before his return to his own country, at the beginning of the Revolution, he became acquainted with M. Dumas. Having thus witnessed his ability, his love of freedom, and his zeal in favor of America, he considered him a suitable person to act as agent in promoting our affairs abroad. When the Committee of Secret Correspondence in Congress was formed, towards the close of the year 1775, of which Dr Franklin was chairman, it was resolved to employ M. Dumas for executing the purposes of the Committee in Holland. A letter of general instructions was accordingly written to him by Dr Franklin in the name of the Committee, and from that time M. Dumas commenced a correspondence with Congress, which continued without interruption during the Revolution, and occasionally to a much later period. He acted at first as a secret agent, and after John Adams went to Holland as Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States,[Pg 254] M. Dumas performed the office of Secretary and translator to the Minister. On the departure of Mr Adams for Paris, to engage in the negotiations for peace, M. Dumas remained in the character of Chargé d'Affaires from the United States. In this capacity he exchanged with the Dutch government the ratification of the treaty, which had been previously negotiated by Mr Adams.

It will be seen by M. Dumas's correspondence, that his services were unremitted, assiduous, and important, and performed with a singular devotedness to the interests of the United States, and with a warm and undeviating attachment to the rights and liberties for which they were contending. Congress seem not to have well understood the extent or merits of his labors. He was obliged often to complain of the meagre compensation he received, and of the extreme difficulty with which he and his small family contrived to subsist on it. Both Mr Adams and Dr Franklin recommended him to Congress as worthy of better returns, but with little effect. This indifference to his worth and his services while living renders it the more just, that his memory should be honored with the respect and gratitude of posterity.

M. Dumas was still living in 1791, when Mr John Quincy Adams went to Holland as Minister from this country, but he died soon afterwards at an advanced age.

[Pg 255]



Philadelphia, December 19th, 1775.

Dear Sir,

I received your several favors of May 18th, June 30th, and July 8th, by Messrs Vaillant & Pochard, whom if I could serve upon your recommendation, it would give me great pleasure. Their total want of English is at present an obstruction to their getting any employment among us; but I hope they will soon obtain some knowledge of it. This is a good country for artificers or farmers, but gentlemen of mere science in Les Belles Lettres cannot so easily subsist here, there being little demand for their assistance among an industrious people, who, as yet, have not much leisure for studies of that kind.

I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising State make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly, that copy which I kept, (after depositing one in our own[Pg 256] public library here, and sending the other to the College of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed,) has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author. Your manuscript "Idée sur le Gouvernement et la Royauté," is also well relished, and may, in time, have its effect. I thank you, likewise, for the other smaller pieces, which accompanied Vattel. "Le court Exposé de ce qui est passé entre la Cour Britanique et les Colonies, &c." being a very concise and clear statement of facts, will be reprinted here for the use of our new friends in Canada. The translations of the proceedings of our Congress are very acceptable. I send you herewith what of them has been farther published here, together with a few newspapers, containing accounts of some of the successes Providence has favored us with.

We are threatened from England with a very powerful force to come next year against us. We are making all the provision in our power here to prevent that force, and we hope we shall be able to defend ourselves. But as the events of war are always uncertain, possibly, after another campaign, we may find it necessary to ask aid of some foreign power. It gives us great pleasure to learn from you, that "all Europe wishes us the best success in the maintenance of our liberty." But we wish to know whether any one of them, from principles of humanity, is disposed magnanimously to step in for the relief of an oppressed people, or whether if, as it seems likely to happen, we should be obliged to break off all connexion with Britain, and declare ourselves an independent people, there is any State or Power in Europe, who would be willing to[Pg 257] enter into an alliance with us for the benefit of our commerce, which amounted, before the war, to near seven millions sterling per annum, and must continually increase, as our people increase most rapidly. Confiding, my dear friend, in your good will to us and our cause, and in your sagacity and abilities for business, the Committee of Congress, appointed for the purpose of establishing and conducting a correspondence with our friends in Europe, of which Committee I have the honor to be a member, have directed me to request of you, that as you are situated at the Hague, where Ambassadors from all the Courts reside, you would make use of the opportunity, which that situation affords you, of discovering, if possible, the disposition of the several Courts with respect to such assistance or alliance, if we should apply for the one or propose for the other. As it may possibly be necessary, in particular instances, that you should, for this purpose, confer directly with some great Ministers, and show them this letter as your credential, we only recommend it to your discretion, that you proceed therein with such caution, as to keep the same from the knowledge of the English Ambassador, and prevent any public appearance, at present, of your being employed in any such business, as thereby, we imagine, many inconveniences may be avoided, and your means of rendering us service increased.

That you may be better able to answer some questions, which will probably be put to you concerning our present situation, we inform you, that the whole continent is very firmly united, the party for the measures of the British Ministry being very small, and much dispersed; that we have had on foot the last campaign an army of near twentyfive thousand men, wherewith we have been able,[Pg 258] not only to block up the King's army in Boston, but to spare considerable detachments for the invasion of Canada, where we have met with great success, as the printed papers sent herewith will inform you, and have now reason to expect that whole Province may be soon in our possession; that we purpose greatly to increase our force for the ensuing year, and thereby, we hope, with the assistance of well disciplined militia, to be able to defend our coast, notwithstanding its great extent; that we have already a small squadron of armed vessels to protect our coasting trade, which have had some success in taking several of the enemy's cruisers and some of their transport vessels and store-ships. This little naval force we are about to augment, and expect it may be more considerable in the next summer.

We have hitherto applied to no foreign power. We are using the utmost industry in endeavoring to make saltpetre, and with daily increasing success. Our artificers are also everywhere busy in fabricating small arms, casting cannon, &c. Yet both arms and ammunition are much wanted. Any merchants, who would venture to send ships laden with those articles, might make great profit; such is the demand in every Colony, and such generous prices are, and will be given, of which, and of the manner of conducting such a voyage, the bearer, Mr Story, can more fully inform you. And whoever brings in those articles is allowed to carry off the value in provisions to our West Indies, where they will fetch a very high price, the general exportation from North America being stopped. This you will see more particularly in a printed resolution of the Congress.

We are in great want of good engineers, and wish you[Pg 259] could engage and send us two able ones in time for the next campaign, one acquainted with field service, sieges, &c. and the other with fortifying sea-ports. They will, if well recommended, be made very welcome, and have honorable appointments, besides the expenses of their voyage hither, in which Mr Story can also advise them. As what we now request of you, besides taking up your time, may put you to some expense, we send you, for the present, enclosed, a bill for one hundred pounds sterling, to defray such expenses, and desire you to be assured that your services will be considered and honorably rewarded by the Congress.

We desire, also, that you would take the trouble of receiving from Arthur Lee, agent for the Congress in England, such letters as may be sent by him to your care, and of forwarding them to us with your despatches. When you have occasion to write to him to inform him of anything, which it may be of importance that our friends there should be acquainted with, please to send your letters to him under cover, directed to Mr Alderman Lee, merchant, on Tower Hill, London, and do not send it by post, but by some trusty shipper, or other prudent person, who will deliver it with his own hand. And when you send to us, if you have not a direct safe opportunity, we recommend sending by way of St Eustatia, to the care of Messrs Robert & Cornelius Stevens, merchants there, who will forward your despatches to me.

With sincere and great esteem and respect, I am, &c.


[Pg 260]


Philadelphia, March 22d, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you lately by Mr Story, and since by another conveyance. This line will be delivered to you by Mr Deane, who goes over on business of the Congress, and with whom you may freely converse on the affairs committed to you in behalf of that body. I recommend him warmly to your civilities. Messrs Vaillant & Pochard continue close at their new business, and are already able to subsist by it; as they grow more expert, they will be able to make more money.

Mr Deane will inform you of everything here, and I need not add more, than that I am, with esteem and respect, &c.



Utrecht, April 30th, 1776.


I received on the 6th instant at the Hague, from Mr Thomas Story, the despatches of the 19th December, 1775, of which he was the bearer.

I am deeply penetrated by the honor done me, and the confidence reposed in me by the committee appointed by the General Congress to maintain the correspondence between the American United Provinces and Europe, and of which you, Sir, are one of the worthy members. I shall die content if the remainder of my life can be devoted to the service of so glorious and just a cause. I accept, therefore, joyfully the commission you have be[Pg 261]stowed, and whatever you may think fit to give me in future, and I promise a hearty good will and an untiring zeal. I hope my ability will justify the favorable opinion you entertain of me. This promise on my part is in fact an oath of allegiance, which I spontaneously take to Congress; receive it as such.

When I remarked in my last letter to you, "that all Europe wishes you the most happy issue in your defence of your liberty," I meant the unprejudiced, equitable, humane, European public; in a word, the citizens of universal society, men in general. You must except from this number the holders of English funds, and those Courts of Europe who have an understanding with England; these, far from assisting you, will sacrifice you to their interests or their fears. The allies, which under such circumstances are suitable for you, are France and Spain; for it is their interest that you should be free and independent of England, whose enormous maritime power fills them with apprehensions. I have, therefore, opened myself to the French Minister, and a copy and translation of your requests and letters of credence to me have been for a fortnight in his hands. In the conversation I had with this Minister I observed, that the wishes of his nation are for you. He said, that there was one difficulty in affording aid to the Colonies; if they should be reconciled with England, they would assist her against the power which had aided them, and would imitate the dog in the fable. I had no reply to make to this, except that in this case reasonable beings were concerned, that if they saw the object was not to deprive them of the liberty for which they were contending, but to assure it to them, they would not be so ungrateful as to join against their benefactors, those[Pg 262] who wished to destroy that liberty. Finally, he desired to know from me positively, what I would ask for the Colonies of his Court. I answered, that you wished to be informed, 1. If the King of France would, from motives of humanity and magnanimity, interpose his mediation on behalf of an oppressed people and effect a reconciliation, which should preserve to them all the liberties they formerly enjoyed. 2. In case such a reconciliation could not be effected, would the nations, subjects of the house of Bourbon, be willing to accede to an alliance with the Colonies, with the advantages of an immense commerce? He was pleased with the former proposition to offer to his young king the glory of conferring peace on the subjects of others as well as on his own. The other proposition is not disagreeable to him, were it not for the dreadful war which would ensue in Europe. I then delivered to him, together with your letter, a memorial, showing how important it was for France not to allow the subjugation of the Colonies. The whole was sent to his Court about a fortnight since, and if the answer should be delayed it will be of no disadvantage. Meanwhile, we have gained this advantage, that an opening is made, which must dispose France in your favor, and engage her to tolerate and secretly to encourage even any assistance your vessels can derive from France, Spain, and the Indies. I have, therefore, in the extract, copied exactly what you pointed out to me as the most necessary, as engineers, arms, munitions, &c.

I have done all this with the most profound secrecy. The person of whom I have spoken to you required it from me, and promised it in return, so that no one in this country, excepting him and me, knows anything of it. It is more advantageous to you and safer for me, that I should not be known as your agent.

[Pg 263]Mr Story, not daring to take two letters with him to England, one for Arthur Lee, the other for Mrs Hannah Philippa Lee, left them in safe keeping with me, and he did well. I learn by two letters, which I have received from Mr A. Lee, of the 20th and 23d of April, that on Mr Story's landing in England, they took from him a letter, which I had sent by him for Mr Lee; fortunately it was not signed with any true name, and could give no information to your adversaries. They have, therefore, committed this additional violence to no purpose. I have sent those letters to a friend at Rotterdam, according to the request of Mr Lee, and that friend informs me under date of May 3d, that he has forwarded the packet by a captain of a sloop, one of his old friends, who promised him to deliver them himself to the address which I put upon them by Mr Lee's directions. The sudden departure of the vessels will prevent me from informing you whether they have been safely delivered. I shall do it by some future opportunity. I joined to the packet a cypher for Mr Lee, like that I sent to you, but grounded on different words, so that we shall be able to communicate with each other in perfect safety. I informed him also, that I had the honor of writing you frequently, so that he can send his letters through me, if he has no better way.

I know an engineer over thirty years of age, able, experienced, and very well qualified not only in his branch, but in the whole art of war; in a word, a fine officer, but very inadequately rewarded. I shall not be able to speak with him for several weeks, when I will propose to him the service of the Colonies. But as he is a widower, without means, and has several children, it will probably be necessary if he accepts, to make him some advances to enable[Pg 264] him to go over. I will give you an account in due time of the conversation I shall have with him.

I have endorsed today your bill of exchange of £100 sterling to the order of M. Rey, bookseller at Amsterdam. Good reasons prevented me from doing it sooner and at any other place than Amsterdam. May the conscientious use which I shall make of this fund entirely satisfy your wishes, and the confidence with which you have honored me. I am persuaded of the generosity of Congress, and I pray heaven that I may deserve by my services to be the object of it, when God shall have blessed their labors for the welfare and prosperity of the Colonies, either by a firm and sincere reconciliation, or by the success of your righteous and just arms. In reality, I hope much more than I fear on this point. The wisdom of Congress, so constantly manifested, the perfect union and harmony which prevail there, encourage me more and more. By this rare, happy, and admirable union, much more surely than by all the alliances in the world, you are, and you will finally be superior to your enemies, however formidable they may appear. Concordiâ res parvæ crescunt, discordiâ maximæ dilabuntur; may this great truth and the sublime words of Themistocles to Eurybiades, who raised a weapon against him in the Council, "Strike but hear," be constantly present to your minds and hearts as well as to those of your constituents. What power will then be able to withstand yours? Ascribe the freedom of this address to the enthusiasm with which I am animated for your union, the noblest edifice that liberty has ever reared. In it centres all that the political world contains attractive for me.

I thank you, Sir, for your fatherly kindness to the two French gentlemen. They are young, and ought not there[Pg 265]fore to entertain even the idea of being an instant a burden to any one, and a useless load to society.

I am very glad that the Statement of the Points in Dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies has been approved, so far as to cause it to be printed for the instruction of your friends, the Canadians. This is the only effect of that paper, for the printer not having sold enough of his journals to be at any other expense than the impression, has ceased to pay the author of those pieces. I have obtained his address for the purpose of engaging him to assist me in refuting the Jew, Pinto, whose venal pen has been employed in the most insolent manner against the Americans. A certain person, whom you know, regrets having allowed himself to be dazzled by his financial system, so far as to approve it without reserve in a letter, or advertisement, at the head of the treatise on "Circulation;" for although there are some good things in it here and there, yet that person has long since bean enlightened, in regard to many false brilliants, which the Jew passed on for genuine.

As for the Idea on Government and Royalty, I learn with pleasure, that it has been agreeable, and that the time will perhaps come when it will receive more attention. This idea renders me more happy and proud, than if I had written the Iliad; for I think with Phædrus, nisi utile est quod fucimus, stulta est gloria. It is a seed, which I thought myself bound to sow in your country, the only place in the known world where it could spring up. I consider that idea more and more practicable and true, and of all political systems the most completely proof against all objections. It requires only to be developed. God grant that[Pg 266] we may soon be able to do it in peace and at leisure. I shall then beg you, Sir, with the estimable and learned author of the Pennsylvania Farmer, to correspond with me on this subject, and to prove it, if not to our contemporaries, at least to posterity.

I thank you, Sir, for the Journal of Congress from the 10th of May to the 1st of August, 1775, which you have had the kindness to send me; be good enough to complete it by sending what precedes and follows; for we have here nothing authentic relating to your affairs. All that we know of you, we get from the gazettes, imperfectly, by scraps, in a vague and uncertain manner, a mixture of truth and falsehood.

May 9th. I have just received the following letter without signature. "You will perhaps be tempted to come to the fair at the Hague. I shall have the honor to renew the expressions of my sincere esteem. I shall be at your orders every day at noon or sooner, if you will write me from your lodgings to let me know what hour will be most convenient for you. We shall be able to moralise some moments upon subjects, which we have already discussed. I have but little to say to you, which I shall do with a sincerity and candor, which I trust you will approve." I shall make this visit Saturday night, so as to return here Sunday night or Monday, not being able to do it otherwise. I shall send this letter today to Amsterdam, as they tell me the vessels will else sail without it. I shall therefore give you an account of the conversation in another letter, either by the same vessel or by some other. I am sorry to be obliged to leave you in suspense on a subject so interesting.

Receive, Sir, for all the members of Congress in gene[Pg 267]ral, and for yourself, Mr Dickinson and Mr Jay in particular, the sincere assurances of my profound respect.



[20] M. Dumas commonly wrote his despatches in French, but sometimes in English. It has not been thought necessary to designate between those translated, and those written originally in English. Although he wrote the language with a good deal of accuracy, yet foreign idioms and other defects will occasionally be perceived. In some instances the editor has taken the liberty to make free corrections of the author's style, and to omit a good deal of irrelevant matter.


Utrecht, May 14th, 1776.


I wrote the 9th to the person who wrote me the letter of the 6th, of which I have given you a copy, that if what he had to say to me was pressing, I would go and return in two succeeding nights, to be with him Sunday the 12th, which is between the two; but if the interview could admit a week's delay, I should be able to make the journey more conveniently. He answered the next day, 10th of May, as follows.

"I have received, Sir, the letter you did me the honor to write. I obey instantly the order you have given to answer you as to the day when I shall be able to have the pleasure of seeing you. As what I shall have the honor of saying to you is not pressing, you may put off, till Saturday next, eight days hence, that is to say the 18th of this month, the visit with which you flatter me. Nay, I take the liberty to anticipate you in the offer of expenses in all cases where your good offices will be useful to me. Flat[Pg 268]tered, honored as I am with the acquaintance I have made with you, I should be very sorry to be a burden to you, and to abuse your kindness.

"I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Sir, at your command."

Do not think, Gentlemen, that a childish vanity leads me to recite to you this letter, and to take to myself sincerely the compliments which are addressed to me.

May 21st. I am at length returned from my journey, with which I have been much satisfied, because I think you will have reason to be so. After we had conversed some time on the great and very late news of the evacuation of Boston by your enemies, as a new mark of the wisdom of your operations, our friend, (whose name I have promised not to reveal,) said, the King of England does not forget himself, nevertheless, as you see; and he showed me in a gazette a prohibitory edict very severe, of the Empress Queen of Hungary, against all exportation of arms and munitions from her States for America. I had already seen it, and I told him so. But what you do not know, said he, is that the King has demanded this of the Empress by a letter written with his own hand. I gave him to understand, that I hoped his Court would not be so partial. You shall know, he replied, for you will comprehend it. As to your first demand, the mediation of the King cannot take place whilst the Colonies are subjects of the King of England, who, besides, would not accept it. As to your second demand, the King is a true knight, his word is sacred. He has given it to the English to live in peace with them. He will hold to it. While France is not at war with the English, he will not ally himself against them with the Colonies, and will not furnish aids to the latter. But on the other[Pg 269] hand, for the same reason, the Americans have the same protection and liberty as all other English to resort to France, to export thence merchandise, arms, and munitions of war, without however forming magazines of them in France, which is not permitted by any nation. Besides, added he, the Colonies have no need that either France or Spain should enter into this war. Commerce alone will furnish to the Americans all that they want to defend themselves.

I am of his opinion. I think even that it will be more advantageous to you and to France also, that she should not be hasty to declare openly for you. Once more, gentlemen, your union, your constant love of liberty, your fortitude in turning from all that looks like luxury and in despising it, your hatred of tyranny and despotism, which are the sad fruits of luxury; in fine, all your republican virtues will render you superior to your enemies, and invincible even without allies. These, however, will not be wanting, be assured, for it cannot be thought, that with what is passing in your part of the world, ours can long remain at peace. The time will come when your friends will show themselves, and when your alliance will not only be accepted but sought. Meanwhile you have struck a great and wise blow in driving your enemies from Boston. They publish, that they have evacuated the place, with profound political motives; the public laughs at this pretence.

I forgot to mention to you, that the person in question offered to reimburse to me the expenses of my journey; and that I answered they were already paid. On which he requested me to tell him at least in what he could do me a favor. I answered, that he was doing me such in[Pg 270] rendering great services to the Americans. Finally, he desired me to correspond from time to time with him. I engaged to do it, and shall not fail. Thus it depends only on you, Gentlemen, to render this correspondence more and more interesting. On my part I will be vigilant to profit by all events that can make any change in Europe. Those which happen in America will require, without doubt, that you give me frequently new instructions and orders provided always with letters of credence, or at least with one that will serve for the time, as you judge proper. I know to whom to address myself to ask for intelligence at the Court of France, and to have an answer in a few days.

June 6th. Here you have a copy of a letter from London, dated May 21st. You know well from whom it is.[21] I have sent to him under the envelope the two letters which Mr Story had left with me, and I added a cypher, which he has already used with success.

"Everything is safe. I shall write you fully next week by our friend Story. One Hortalez will apply to you on business that concerns our friends. He has your address. Be so good as to assist him."[22]

I expect these gentlemen with impatience, and shall do all that depends on me for your service and theirs.

I trust you will always answer me speedily, and inform me if my letters reach you. I will send you once more a general copy of my preceding letters, to supply the loss of one or both, in case the vessels that carry them are lost or are taken.

[Pg 271]When I promised the Minister, with whom I had an interview on your affairs, not to name him to you, it is only until you expressly require that I make him known to you; for in that case you may know him when you will.

In about eight days I shall leave Utrecht for a country house within seven leagues of the Hague, where I expect to pass the summer.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[21] The person here referred to is Arthur Lee. See Arthur Lee's Correspondence, Vol. II. p. 16.

[22] This note refers to Beaumarchais, who proposed to go to Holland, when he saw Mr Lee in London. But he afterwards altered his mind and returned directly to Paris.


August 10th, 1776.


Mr Arthur Lee in his letter of the 11th of June observes, that "Mr Story goes from hence directly to America. A French gentleman named Hortalez having something to negotiate for the Congress, I have given him your address." On the eve of my departure from Utrecht, on the 21st of June, I wrote as follows to the person whom you know.[23]


"In the hope that you have consented to make me understand that I shall be one day useful to you, I think it my duty to advise you, that I shall depart tomorrow from this city to pass the summer at a country house half way from here to ——. I shall receive there in all safety your orders, if you send your letters to, &c.

[Pg 272]"I propose also, to pass to —— as soon as I can, merely to profit by the permission you have given me to render you my services from time to time. Without having any new plan to propose, the work already marked out has need of your good directions, and I shall be very sorry to fail of the honor of an interview with you at least once more before your departure, if it is near."

To this I received the following answer, dated June 23d.


"I have received the letter you did me the honor to write me the 21st of this month. You flatter me with the hope of seeing you at —— to which you are brought near by the residence you intend to make during the summer at a country house. This proximity will afford you opportunity to make journeys, by which I shall profit with much pleasure. I am sensible of the esteem which is your due, and of the advantage of meriting the friendship of an experienced man like yourself, uniting literature to the duties of society. I shall listen to you always with an eager desire of profiting by your counsels, and this on all subjects that have engaged your thoughts. I do not yet know the time that I shall remain at ——. Perhaps it will be sufficiently long to enjoy often the honor of receiving you. This depends on the orders of my Court. We are in the least active, or most dissipated season. Business will not flourish much till the fall of the leaves, or even not get warm till the return of snow. I speak of the old world; for I wish not to extend the picture too much.

"Have you any news of the Doctor and his friends? I shall be obliged to you to follow my instructions in this respect. I will bear willingly the charge of an express, whom you may send to me when you shall judge proper;[Pg 273] otherwise write uniformly by the post. Should I be on a journey, I shall have the honor to inform you of my residence and address. I do not know how to express to you sufficiently, Sir, the desire I have to serve you and to deserve a place in your thoughts."

About fifteen days after, I replied to this letter as follows.


"The letter with which you honored me, dated 23d of June, has given me the assurance, which was needed to console me for the disappointments that have detained me here. Perhaps I shall be at the Hague on Sunday morning. Be assured, Sir, that if anything comes to my knowledge worthy of your attention, you shall be informed of it immediately. I have no reason to expect soon to receive news directly. I have written two letters by two different vessels, that have sailed from Amsterdam for St Eustatia; and I expect when another vessel departs to despatch a third. Before I have an answer much time will pass, and in this time many events. There is, however, a man charged with some commission on their part, to whom they have given my address at Leyden; and I have received two letters from that city, the one of the 21st of May, the other of the 11th of June, in which they pray me to render him service. This is all that I know of him, for the man has not yet appeared.

"The more I am favored with your letters, Sir, the more I wish to deserve your good opinion. In the meantime, I ought to be on my guard against too much presumption, and to think how natural it is to give a gracious reception to the servant for the love of the master. I own[Pg 274] to you, Sir, that in giving an account to the Doctor and his friends of our correspondence, I have thought proper to forewarn them thereon. They will be informed of the obliging interest with which you ask news of them. I hope that the time will come, when you will be able to permit me to reveal your name.

"After having thought long and much, it seems to me, that in order to answer completely their intention, I ought to present myself also to the Hotel d'Espagne, to be known there simply as charged with such a commission, to open to myself thereby ways of serving my constituents on diverse occasions, which may present themselves at one moment or another, and not incur the blame, which may be reflected even on these gentlemen, of having neglected a power so worthy of their efforts. For the rest, I shall not do or say anything in this respect till I have had the honor of seeing you, Sir, and I pray you to believe that I shall observe scrupulously, the conduct and the discretion that you have had the goodness to prescribe to me."

In consequence, I have again conferred with this gentleman. He went to dine at that same house, said that I had been with him, and that I told him I would go also to the other house the next day at eleven o'clock. I went in fact, and was received tête à tête with great ceremony in the hall of audience. I opened briefly my business and drew out a memoir to read to him. He told me that he could not hear me without the order of his master. I read, notwithstanding, and he did not stop his ears. I prayed him to receive and keep the memoir. He refused, alleging continually that he could do nothing without orders. I drew out then my originals and showed him my three sig[Pg 275]natures, which he looked at eagerly. In separating, I asked him to keep my name concealed at ——. He said to me that he would keep it secret everywhere. He asked me, however, if that was my true name. I assured him it was; he paid me some personal compliments, and we parted. I learnt on the next day by another channel, that he had, notwithstanding, given an account to his master of this visit; which suffices me, for I have need, as you know, of only one of these good houses. I am always very politely received, and as a friend. This is all that I ask. I do not multiply too much my visits, but to render them always desirable, I never appear there without having something interesting to say; and to this end, the letters of my worthy correspondent at London are very useful to me. This last has addressed to me lately a person, whose conversation, joined to the contents of the letter of which he was bearer, has served me in the composition of a memoir which they approve, and I have reason to think they have sent.

This person has induced me to write a letter to you, dated the 4th of August, by way of Bordeaux to St Domingo, under an envelope of Mr Caton, merchant at Port St Nicholas in that island, of which here is an extract.

"A gentleman belonging to Jamaica, a particular friend of Dr Franklin, and very well known to him, has charged me to write to him, to assure him on good authority, of the singular esteem that he has for him and his friends; that they ought to think, and that he prays him to let them know it, that the present voice of Parliament is the voice of the English people; that there exists, and gathers strength, a great body, which, in truth, is not the strongest, but which regards the cause of the Americans as its own,[Pg 276] their safety and liberty as its own, which will prefer to see them independent rather than subjugated, and which will make, at the future meeting of Parliament, the greatest efforts in their favor; that the basis of this party is already forty Peers, and one hundred and sixty members of the Commons."

The letter which this gentleman brought me began thus; "This will be delivered to you by Mr Ellis, a friend of Dr Franklin, of liberty, and of America. He is a philosopher, very well instructed on the subject of America, and, I trust, will be both an agreeable and useful acquaintance while he remains near you." This assuring me, I discovered to him that I was the man whom he was seeking, provided with credentials and orders from Congress sufficient to do all the good offices that his friends could wish to render. Thereupon I showed him my credentials; he was satisfied with them, and we exchanged addresses. He promised to write me; and we separated satisfied with each other.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[23] Meaning the person with whom he had the interview, mentioned in the preceding letter, doubtless the French Ambassador.


London, July 6th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

This will be delivered you by Mr Ellis, a friend of Dr Franklin, of liberty, and of America. He is a philosopher, very well instructed on the subject of America, and, I trust, will be both an agreeable and useful acquaintance while he remains near you.

I thank you for your favor of the 21st of last month. By the last advices from America, General Howe was pre[Pg 277]pared to sail for Halifax, and, it is imagined, to land at New York, where he will certainly be strongly opposed. He numbers ten thousand regulars, and it will be fortunate for us, if he makes his attempt before he is joined by the Germans, who sailed the 6th of May.

The Americans have taken post upon the river Richelieu and the lakes, so that Montreal, not being tenable, is evacuated. General Lee is in Virginia, with ten thousand men, expecting Lord Cornwallis and General Clinton. General Washington commands at New York, and General Ward in Boston.

The strange timidity de la Cour Française requires great patience and management; but I think it will at last be brought to act an avowed and decided part. When that happens, Angleterre must submit to whatever terms they please to impose, for she is totally incapable of sustaining a war with France.




Paris, July 26th, 1776.


The enclosed letter from Dr Franklin will hint at my business in this city, where I arrived the 7th instant, and I should have sent forward this earlier, had I not had hopes of having the honor of presenting it to you in person. This I now find I cannot expect, without delaying it beyond all bounds. I therefore forward it by the common conveyance, and inform you that my address in this city is to Messrs Germany, Guardot & Co. bankers; that I shall tarry here till the last of August, when I propose going to Dunkirk,[Pg 278] thence to Amsterdam and Hamburg, in which journey I hope for the pleasure of seeing you. In the meantime, I shall be happy in a correspondence with you on the subject of the dispute between the United Colonies and Great Britain, or any other that shall be agreeable to you; and I wish to be informed if I shall be in danger of any disagreeable treatment in my journey through Holland, in a private capacity, though it should be known that I was in the service of the United Colonies. It has been suggested to me, that I might meet with some interruption or difficulties from the friends of the British Ministry, which occasions my making this inquiry.

I have the honor to be, &c.


P. S. I read and understand the French language tolerably well, though I am unable to write it.


London, August 13th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I answered your last letter immediately. I now enclose you several pamphlets, which contain such an authentic state of facts, and such arguments on the American question, as will enable its advocates with you to maintain their ground against the pensioner of this Court. I beg particularly, that you will send some of them to the gentleman who has answered Pinto, the pensioner of this Court.

The pamphlet entitled the Rights of Great Britain, &c. is full of the grossest falsehoods. A very material one is exposed by the enclosed extracts from the acts of Parlia[Pg 279]ment, granting bounties upon American produce, which proves by their own words, that those bounties were given for their own interests only. Yet that pamphlet has given a long list of the amount of those bounties, and charged it to the Colonies. The fact is, as Dr Smith, a Scotchman, and an enemy to American rights, has stated it, in his late labored and long expected book on the Wealth of Nations. "Whatever expense," says he "Great Britain has hitherto laid out in maintaining this dependency, has really been laid out in order to support their monopoly." Speaking of the debt incurred last war, he says,—"This whole expense is, in reality, a bounty, which has been given in order to support a monopoly. The pretended purpose of it was to encourage the manufactures, and to increase the commerce of Great Britain." The operation of this monopoly against the Colony he states thus,—"The monopoly of the Colony trade, therefore, like all the other mean and malignant expedients of the mercantile system, depresses the industry of all other countries, but chiefly that of the Colonies."

When you write to the Congress it would be well, I think, to mention that as all the evils have been produced by Scotch counsel, and those people prosecute the business with more rancor and enmity, a distinction ought to be made between the treatment of them and other people, when made prisoners.

We expect every day some decisive news from New York. The last gazette gives us no reason to fear anything but the chance of war, against which no prudence can provide. We have certain intelligence from Canada, that it will be the last of August before the boats will be ready upon Lake Champlain for the Ministerial army; so that there is no possibility of their joining Howe. They are[Pg 280] putting eleven ships of the line in commission, here, which is kept very secret, or it would shake the stocks exceedingly.




Paris, August 18th, 1776.


Your favor of the 8th, and one earlier, but without a date, are before me, and I return you my thanks for the attention paid to mine, and more especially for the good opinion you entertain of my countrymen, and your tenders of service. The business before me is of such a nature, that I must be detained some time in this city. If I take a journey to Holland, it will be my choice to make it as a private gentleman; as such I am in Paris, and that character I shall keep, unless obliged to alter it. Parade and pomp have no charms in the eyes of a patriot, or even a man of common good sense; but at the same time, I can never submit to the changing of my name, unless I am convinced that so humiliating a step will promote the service of my country. I can pass unnoticed under that name, as well as any other, whilst I conduct in every other step as a private gentleman. I have now but little hopes of being in Holland till October, before which, such intelligence may arrive from America, as may alter my present designs.

The declaration of independency, made by the United Colonies, is announced in the English papers, but I have received no despatches on the event, though I am in daily expectation of them. You ask me two questions in your[Pg 281] first letter; to the former, I answer at once affirmatively, that I have a certain prospect of succeeding in my business; but as to the latter, or second query, I cannot so readily reply, for I know not how far the knowledge of me and my concerns may have extended. I am here as a private merchant, and appear as such, whatever suspicion may circulate. As such, I can travel, I trust, in your country, which I most ardently wish to see, and the more so on account of the kind, simple, and engaging invitation you have given me. It really affected me, and brought instantaneously to view those happy and peaceful scenes of domestic felicity, to which I am at present a stranger. You have all I can give you, a grateful acknowledgment of your kindness, and depend that I will in person acknowledge it on my first arrival in Holland.

It is the policy of the United Provinces of Holland to be neuter to every attention. The United Colonies only wish them to keep steady to their only true system of policy in the present case; and give me leave to say, that a reflection on their former struggles must show them in what point of light the Americans are to be considered. The United Colonies ask no aid or alliances. Let Britain court every, even the most petty and mercenary power in Europe, the United Colonies only ask for what nature surely entitles all men to, a free and uninterrupted commerce and exchange of the superfluities of one country for those of another; and the first power in Europe, which takes advantage of the present favorable occasion, must exceed every other in commerce.

But I am rambling. I pray to know in your next letter, what sums are due to Holland from the government of England. Whether the King of Prussia is wholly inatten[Pg 282]tive to the present proceedings, and on which side his wishes are. Omnia tentanda. I really hope to be at the Hague in October, and promise myself great pleasure in seeing you and your lady, to whom, though otherwise unknown, since you have introduced me, you cannot refuse presenting my best respects.

I am, with great esteem, &c.



London, September 10th, 1776.


The 27th ult. and the 7th instant, in the absence of my brother, Arthur Lee, your two letters for him came safe to my hands. My brother is now on the continent, and perhaps may write to you from where he is. The declaration of independence on the part of America, has totally changed the nature of the contest between that country and Great Britain. It is now on the part of Great Britain a scheme of conquest, which few imagine can succeed. Independence is universally adopted by every individual in the Thirteen United States, and it has altered the face of things here. The tories, and particularly the Scotch, hang their heads and keep a profound silence on the subject; the whigs do not say much, but rather seem to think the step a wise one, on the part of America, and what was an inevitable consequence of the measures taken by the British Ministry. In short every one wants to form his judgment by the event of the present campaign, as something decisive is expected to happen from the arrangements under General and Lord Howe, and General Carleton, before the meeting of Parliament, which will be the 24th of October.

[Pg 283]In the meantime every effort is made to prevent France from taking any open or even private part with America, for which purpose Mr Stanley, Mr Jenkinson, one of the Lords of the Treasury, and confidential friend of Lord Bute, and of the Solicitor-General, Mr Wedderburne, have been at Paris some time to aid the negotiations of the British Minister, Lord Stormont. As far as money will answer their purpose, it will not be spared. The French are generally acute enough in observing what is for their interest, but most people here are at a loss to conceive what plan they have in view, as they have not hitherto, as we know of, taken any part with America.

The public papers will tell you all the material news we have from America, but in general it is supposed the Americans will stand greatly in want of arms, ammunition, and artillery, to oppose such a force as is sent against them, and it is evident they have not experienced officers sufficient to manage such extensive operations as they have in hand. Should you have occasion to write to me, you may address, under cover, as you do to my brother.

I am, with esteem, Sir, &c.



Paris, September 11th, 1776.


I have to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 29th ultimo, of the 2d, 5th and 7th of this month, and at the same time to make my excuses for not answering them earlier; which was owing to my hurry of business, in part, and part to my hopes of being able to send you something[Pg 284] agreeable from America, when I should next write you. Forgive therefore this seeming inattention, and accept my warmest thanks for the kind sentiments, which you and your good lady entertain for me and my country. The cause of the Americans is the cause of mankind in general, and naturally interests the generous and the good in every part of the world.

The measures you took before my arrival, respecting this Court, were perfectly right, and you may rely on my secrecy as to your concerns. Our commerce is now on as good a footing in this kingdom and in Spain, as the commerce of any other nation; and I trust will very soon have an important preference. When I said in a former letter we wanted only a friendly intercourse by way of commerce, I had not the vanity to suppose the actual assistance of European powers was not an object deserving attention; but I must say seriously, that if the American commerce can be established with the trading powers of Europe, and if those powers of Europe would protect that commerce, it would be all the assistance necessary; and the Colonies by land would be more than equal to anything Great Britain could bring against them. You are entirely right in saying, that the House of Bourbon are the allies we should first and principally court. France is at the head of this House, and therefore what is done here is sure to be done by the whole. This, therefore, requires my whole attention, and I can only say to you, my prospects are nowise discouraging.

As to the King of Prussia, I will in my next explain more fully my meaning, and at the same time send to you a state of the United Colonies, of their commerce, of their present contest, with some thoughts or observations[Pg 285] on the manner in which Europe must be affected, and what part they ought to take in the present important crisis. My name and business have long since been known to the British Ambassador here, and to the Court of London; and they have remonstrated, but finding remonstrances to no purpose, they have wisely determined to take no notice of me, as I do not appear as yet in a public character.

Let me ask of you, if a workman skilful in the founding of brass and iron cannon can be engaged in Holland to go to America? Also, if I can engage two or three persons of approved skill in lead mines, to go to America on good engagement. Your answer will oblige me, and by the next post I will write you more particularly. The British arms will not, probably, effect anything in America this season, as they had not begun to act the 8th of August, and that brings winter to the very door, as I may say, and an indecisive campaign must prove to Great Britain a fatal one.

I am, &c.



London, September 23d, 1776.

Dear Sir,

My absence from town till now prevented my answering your two last favors of September 3d.

By our latest and best accounts from America the die is now cast, and we may every day expect to hear of a decisive action at New York; decisive I mean as to the fate of General Howe and New York, but not of America, which depends very little upon the event of New York being taken or saved.

[Pg 286]There is a public torpor here, which, without being superstitious, one may regard as a visitation from heaven. The people in general think the declaration of independence as a thing of course, and do not seem to feel themselves at all interested in the vast consequences, which that event must inevitably draw after it. The Ministry have by certain manœuvres contrived to keep up the demand for, and price of manufactures; and while trade and manufactures apparently prosper, the people are so deaf, that wisdom may cry out in the streets and not be heard. But the course of the seasons is not more fixed, than it is certain that these ministerial arts must be temporary in their operation and fatal in their issue; because the more men are flattered, the more desperate they are when the calamity comes upon them. Already the West India Islands begin to cry out, as you will have seen in the address from the Island of Barbadoes. The great number of captures lately made of West India ships by the Americans, have already had very visible effects upon the Royal Exchange. Holland taking the alarm, which the least movement on the part of France would produce, must shake our stocks to the foundation, and give an equal shock to a deluded prince and a deluded people.

The characters you desire me to touch upon are such as seldom occur in the same period. Lord Sandwich has been noted through a long life for everything in word and deed, directly opposite to honesty and virtue. With moderate abilities, and little real application, he maintains an appearance of both by impositions and professions, which at a time so averse to inquiry as the present pass for facts. Lord George Germain, though cradled in England, has all the principles of a Scotchman; subtle, proud, tyrannical,[Pg 287] and false. In consequence of his patronising the Scots, they have always been his panegyrists and his advocates, and as they are a people indefatigable in all interested pursuits, they have procured him a character for ability, which he very little deserves. Dissimulation and craft in worldly occurrences too often pass for real wisdom; and, in that sense, Lord George is a wise man. Such a man could not long pass unnoticed and unpatronised by a Court, which searches with Lyncean eyes for the basest hearts, and is actuated by Scotch principles and Scotch counsels. Lord Suffolk is a peer of sullen pride and arbitrary principles. He listed in the public cause with Mr Wedderburne, under the banner of George Grenville; and while his life gave the hope of success in getting preferment, they were the loudest in opposition; but immediately upon his death, they made their terms, and have been ever since the most devoted tools of the Court. Lord Suffolk recommends himself very much to the King, by an indefatigable attention to the little detail business of his department, and an obsequiousness that knows no bounds. Lord Rochford is by birth a tory, and is linked with Lord Mansfield; but his fears have made him withdraw himself upon an ample pension, for he is persuaded, that France will soon strike a blow, which will endanger the heads of those who conduct these measures.

I have been apprized by Hortalez, that the business for which I recommended him to you is to be transacted through France, which is the reason of your not seeing him.

I do not conceive you need be under any alarm about intercepted letters, as the Ministry have too much upon their thoughts, and too many more immediately dangerous and known opponents at home, to suffer them to look[Pg 288] abroad for victims. Their success must be certain and decisive before they will venture to attack the friends of America in Europe, and provoke retaliation. I flatter myself with being as much within the eye of their enmity as any man can be. But I think that the enmity of bad men is the most desirable testimony of virtuous merit.




September 30th, 1776.


After having sent to your correspondent at St Eustatia, whose address you gave me in your letter of the 12th of December, 1775, my third letter of which you have here annexed a large extract, I commence my fourth despatch.

M. Hortalez, of whom Mr Arthur Lee spoke in two of his letters, has not yet appeared; nor have I received the letter that you say you have written to me between that of the 12th of December, 1775, and that of the 2d of March, 1776. The non-appearance of this gentleman, and of the letter here referred to, disquiets me somewhat, not only because all that comes to me from you, Gentlemen, and from your friends, is dear and precious to me, but also, and above all, because I fear that the service of the general Congress may suffer by it.

The bearer of your letter of the 2d of March, (Silas Deane) arrived at Paris the 7th of July, whence he sent it to me with one of his own, dated the 26th. I have another from him of the 18th of August, in which he re[Pg 289]marks to me, "that he has a certain prospect of succeeding in his business." He proposes also to visit Holland.

I have before told you, that the letters I received had contributed much to render my visits, my letters, and memoirs agreeable in a certain quarter. This will be seen from the following note, which I received a short time since, dated August 26th. After having spoken to me of a service, which he had consented to render me in his country, where I had some affairs to settle, and which we had agreed upon as a pretext to mark our interviews, the writer thus proceeds; "Madame —— has taken the trouble to send me your letters, and I beg you to send me by her all interesting particulars, including the narration of the person whom you expect, (Silas Deane.) I pray you to send me all that you have received since your last letter. I receive packets from all quarters; it pertains to my office. So I shall receive with gratitude whatever you may have the goodness to send me."

I have sent to him open, with a flying seal, the letter that I wrote you by St Domingo. We agreed on this verbally, and he promised me to send it to Bordeaux well recommended. I have cause to think that this letter has been forwarded and pleased certain persons, on whose account I had expressed, at the close of the letter, that when by legislation and a wise constitution you shall have crowned the work of your liberty, I shall die content with having seen a great King and a great Republic sincerely wish the good of the people.

I received some days ago another letter from Mr Deane, dated at Paris, 14th of September. All the letters that I have received from him, as well from you, are precious to me, and this one doubly so, since besides the kind expres[Pg 290]sions with which it is filled, my zeal for your cause is recompensed by the testimony that I have well served it.

If I continue not to sign my name,[24] it is not from fear, but because I think your service requires that I remain yet some time unknown, at least until Mr Deane arrives here, for then I shall be known everywhere for the most zealous American in all the Republic, and it will be my pride. All that can come of it will be the loss of my present post; but in this case I am sure that Congress will indemnify me by a subsistence suitable for me and mine, seeing that I shall be able to continue useful to them as much and even more than in time past, because I shall not be encumbered with other duties, and all my faculties will be employed in the service of America. I have been much mortified in not being at liberty, as I have expressed to Mr Deane. I should have flown to Paris to assist him, at least by the knowledge I have of many European languages.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[24] M. Dumas usually signed his despatches with a fictitious name.


Philadelphia, October 1st, 1776.


I have just time to acknowledge the receipt of your two packets, with the pamphlets enclosed, the contents of which are very satisfactory. You will hear from me more fully in a little time.

With great esteem, I am, Sir, &c.


P. S. We have a great force brought against us here, but continue firm.

[Pg 291]


Paris, October 3d, 1776.

Dear Sir,

Since my last, in which I mentioned the King of Prussia, I have obtained a method of sounding that monarch's sentiments more directly through another channel, which voluntarily offering, I have accepted, and therefore waive writing on the subject for the present anything, save that you may undoubtedly serve the United States of America most essentially in this affair in a few weeks from this. The attention to my business here, which is not merely political, but partly commercial, the critical situation of affairs at this Court, and the anxious suspense for the events at New York and Canada have actually fixed me here, and the having received no intelligence for some time past has well nigh distracted me. I have, however, favorable prospects, and the most confirmed hopes of effecting my views in Europe. I am too much engaged to say more in this, and will be more particular in my next.

I am, &c.



Paris, October 6th, 1776.


Yours of the 1st instant I received, and observe by the contents, that Mr Lee is returned to London. I have not seen Mr Ellis. In answer to your queries; first, a reconciliation between Great Britain and the United States of America is improbable ever to take place; it is absolutely[Pg 292] impossible, until after the sitting of Parliament. Secondly, Admiral Howe joined his brother early in August, and sent on shore to General Washington a letter, which was returned unopened, as no title was given to General Washington; a second was sent, and met the same fate. The Congress justified the General in his conduct, and ordered him to receive no letters, except they were directed to him with his proper title. Lord Howe sent to the Governors of several Colonies his proclamation, which, by the army and people of New York, was treated with contempt and ridicule.

Thus matters continued until the 20th of August, when General Howe had collected his whole force, and was preparing to attack New York. On the other side, all the eminences and advantageous posts near the city were secured and fortified, and the Americans strongly entrenched on them; the city of New York fortified with batteries next to the water, and all the principal streets with barriers across them, and, at the same time, the houses filled with combustibles ready to be set on fire, should the city be found tenable. The two men-of-war, which had passed up the river above the city, were returned terribly damaged by attacking a battery. This, in a word, was the state of affairs in New York on the 20th of August, from which important news may be expected every hour.

Thirdly, I know what Dr Franklin's sentiments were when I left America, and that nothing but a miracle could convert him to wish for an accommodation on other terms, than the independence of the Colonies. Depend upon it, my good friend, the Ministry of Great Britain labor incessantly to propagate stories of an accommodation, for it is well known, that they despair of reducing the Colonies by[Pg 293] arms this campaign; at the close of which, the national debt will amount to nearly £150,000,000 sterling, part of which will remain unfunded; and where are their resources for supporting the next campaign? He that can discover the philosopher's stone can answer.

To your fourth query, you will excuse my answering more, than that your conjecture is not far out of the way. My letter will inform you why I must still delay sending what I promised you the 14th ultimo. In the meantime, Sir, you may add to indigo and rice, tobacco, logwood, redwood, sugar, coffee, cotton, and other West India produce, which pass through the hands of the North Americans, in payment for their supplies to the West India Islands, which cannot exist without their produce. Also, in course of trade, spermaceti oil and salt-fish may be supplied to Prussia and Germany as cheap, or cheaper from the Colonies, than from Holland and Germany. The United Colonies exported to Europe chiefly, indeed, to Great Britain, fish-oil, whalebone, spermaceti, furs, and peltry of every kind, masts, spars, and timber, pot and pearl ashes, flax-seed, beef, pork, butter and cheese, horses and oxen; to the West Indies chiefly, wheat-flour, bread, rye, Indian corn, lumber, tobacco, iron, naval stores, beeswax, rice, and indigo, &c. &c. to the amount of more than £4,000,000 sterling annually, and for some years past, and received the pay in European manufactures; and when I remind you that the inhabitants of that country double their number every twenty years, and inform you that this exportation has increased for the last century in the same ratio, you will be able to form some idea of this commerce, and of how much importance it is to Europe. I hope, by the coming post, to send you some favorable[Pg 294] news from America, and I may not add to this without missing the post.

I am, with the most sincere esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant,



Paris, October 9th, 1776.


I wrote you by last post. This comes by Mr Carmichael, a gentleman of Maryland, in America, who has for some time lived with, and assisted me in my business. You can have the fullest confidence in him, and as he knows I place the most absolute in you, it would be trifling to swell a letter with news or observations, of both which he can viva voce satisfy you. He will communicate to you his business in Holland, and I am sure you will assist him to the utmost of your power. He can tell you what an anxious and laborious life I lead here; and, what adds to my misfortune, how impossible it is, in the present critical situation of affairs, for me to quit this post for a single day; much more it is as yet impossible for me to leave long enough to visit you in Holland, which having long promised to myself, and anticipated with pleasure, the disappointment greatly chagrins me. To have so kind and hospitable, and, at the same time, so judicious and safe a friend, inviting me to what must at once yield me the purest pleasure and the most solid advantage, viz. an interview, and not to be able to profit by it at once, is a misfortune I feel most sensibly.

Mr Carmichael can give you the best intelligence of our present affairs in America, and his observations and in[Pg 295]ferences will be from the best grounds, and made with precision and judgment. My most grateful and respectful acknowledgments to your lady, whom I yet may have the honor of waiting on in the course of a month.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Paris, October 13th, 1776.


Before the receipt of this, you will have seen Mr Carmichael, to whom I refer you on many subjects. Yours of the 8th I received since his departure, and have only to ask of you to procure the proper testimonials of this very extraordinary and cruel proceeding at H——, respecting Mr Shoemaker, a family of which name I knew in Philadelphia. These testimonials will be a proper ground to go upon in demanding satisfaction, which I do not think, however, had best be asked, until the independence of the Colonies has been formally announced; and proper powers for this step have been delayed strangely, or, perhaps, interrupted. Your zeal in this cause reflects honor on your private, as well as public sentiments of justice and rectitude, and I will transmit to the honorable Congress of the United States in my first letters a copy of your memoir. I am still without intelligence of any kind from America, save that on the 20th of August a battle was hourly expected at New York. No prospect of reconciliation. The British forces in Canada are not likely to effect anything this season; and, consequently, all hopes in England rest on the event of a single action at New York, which the public are made[Pg 296] to believe will prove decisive; and so it may, if the fate of the day should be for us, and the enemy have no retreat or resources in America; but by no means decisive if it incline the other way. I trouble you with the enclosed for Mr Carmichael.

I am, with great respect, &c.



Amsterdam, October 22d, 1776.


I enclose a letter, which I expected to deliver ere this in person. I arrived here last Friday, and had so many inquiries to make to gratify Mr Deane's curiosity, that it has not been in my power to attend to you so soon as I could wish. For fear that I should not be able to leave this tomorrow, to do myself the honor of waiting upon you, I have sent this letter. When I come to the Hague, I shall put up at the Hotel de Turenne, where you will do me much pleasure to leave your address particularly. The knowledge I have had of you for many months by Mr Deane and others, makes me regret every moment that delays me here, and denies me the pleasure of assuring you in person, how much I am, what every true American is,

Your very humble servant,


[Pg 297]


Philadelphia, October 24th, 1776.


Our worthy friend, Dr Franklin, being indefatigable in the labor of his country, and few men so qualified to be useful to the community of which he is a member, you will not be surprised that the unanimous voice of the congress of delegates from the United States of America has called upon him to visit the Court of France, in the character of one of their Commissioners for negotiating a treaty of alliance, &c. with that nation. He is the bearer of this letter, and on his arrival will forward it. To him we refer you for information as to the political state of this country; our design in addressing you at this time being only to continue that correspondence, which he has opened and conducted hitherto on our behalf.

We request to hear from you frequently; and if you make use of the cypher, the Doctor has communicated the knowledge of it to one of our members. Your letters, via St Eustatia, directed to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, then put under a cover to Mr Robert Morris, merchant, Philadelphia, and that letter covered to Mr Cornelius Stevenson, or Mr Henricus Godet, merchants at St Eustatia, or under cover to Mr Isaac Gouveneur, merchant at Curraçoa, will certainly come safe, and if you can send with them regular supplies of the English and other newspapers, you will add to the obligation. The expense of procuring them shall be reimbursed, together with any other charges, and a reasonable allowance for your time and trouble in this agency. The members of this committee, styled the Committee of Secret Correspondence, are[Pg 298] John Jay, Thomas G. Johnson, Robert Morris, Richard Henry Lee, William Hooper, and John Witherspoon; and as vacancies happen by death or absence, the Congress fill them up with new members, which we mention for your information, and with great respect and esteem remain, Sir, your most obedient, humble servants,



Amsterdam, October 27th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

You owe to my forgetfulness what ought only to proceed from my respect, yet I will not quarrel with anything that gives me an opportunity of writing to you.

I left the Memoir on Commerce in your hands, and it is necessary I should have it as soon as possible. I send you Common Sense, but you must look on my presents as Indian ones, for I, like they, expect much larger in return; as much as you please, and I am sure you can spare a great deal of what I send you. My present is only the rough material of America, your returns will be elegant and superb manufactures of Europe.

The English mail is not arrived. I have a very angry letter from Mr William Lee on the subject I mentioned to you, respecting Dr B. I am happy to know that I acted for the public good, and that, without partiality to any person, will, I hope, always be the rule of my conduct.

I am, &c.


[Pg 299]


London, November 15th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

The indispensable business of my profession has hitherto prevented me from complying, as I wished, with the desire of your very obliging favors.

You will have seen, by the proceedings of Parliament, how decided the King is in prosecuting the American war. For, in truth, he alone is Minister, and his will governs with absolute sway. At the same time the powers which he has given to Lord Howe appear, from his declaration in America, to be most ample. That, however, I rather attribute to what is deemed the art of government, than to any pacific or redressing intention. We can never forget the perfidy of making Lord Botetourt declare to the assembly, that the revenue acts should be repealed, when in fact no such thing was intended or done; and the Secretary of State being ordered to tell the agents of Congress, that his Majesty had received their petition very graciously, and from the importance of it would lay it before his two Houses of Parliament, when, at the same time, the same Secretary wrote, by his Majesty's commands, to all the governors of America, denominating that very Congress an illegal meeting, their grievances pretended, and ordering them to prevent their meeting again. These facts are too decisive to leave a doubt of the credit that is due to the promises of this Court, and, at this very time, they are abusing the Howes for negotiating; the language of Court being, "we sent them to use their hands, and they are employing their heads."

The Rockingham part of the opposition are determined[Pg 300] upon seceding from Parliament, in which Lord Shelburne, Lord Camden, and the Duke of Grafton refuse to accompany them for two reasons; 1st, because the feelings of the public are not high enough for so decisive a measure; and, 2dly, because the others will not agree to make the great fundamental abuse of the constitution, as well as the temporary misconduct of government, the groundwork of that secession. In a word, because they will not declare, that the object of the measure is to obtain the abolition of corruption, and not merely the change of those who minister it. This schism will, however, reduce opposition so as to leave the Court at perfect ease from that quarter.

I thank you for the magnanimity of your sentiments towards our friends, on the supposition that the late occurrences are events of consequence. I am by no means of that opinion. After the affair of Long Island, the loss of New York was inevitable; but is not the successful army still faced and kept at bay, by that over which it is supposed to have obtained, these decisive advantages? Could any one expect more from a new raised army, than that it should face the disciplined invaders, almost equal in numbers, and much superior in equipments, to win its way by inches. Where, then, is the ground for despair, when our friends are looking the enemy in the face, and he does not dare to attack them? Of two things, Sir, you may be satisfied, that the advantage on Long Island was obtained neither by the superiority of the troops nor of the General, but by his having bribed the officer who commanded the first pass,[25] who giving up his post, without suffering a gun to be fired, enabled Clinton to march in the night and take[Pg 301] the left wing of the Americans, so as to put them between two fires, from much superior numbers, with an immense train of artillery. The other fact is, that the officer who brought the last despatches declares, that the American lines upon New York island cannot be forced, but with a certainty of so much loss as cannot be hazarded. General Howe will therefore try his former art of treachery and corruption, from which alone I am satisfied we have anything to fear.

The talk of the Congress having sent Deputies to Staten Island, to negotiate with Lord Howe is not, that I know of, authenticated.




[25] This wants proof before it can be adopted as a historical fact.


Without date.

Dear Sir,

I am still indebted to you for your favors of the 29th ultimo, and the 15th instant, to which I should earlier have replied, but for a slight indisposition, and much chagrin at some unfavorable news. However, I am recovering in health, with which my spirits return, and I keep ever in my mind the motto de republicâ nil desperandum. I counted the cost when I entered the lists, and balanced private fortune, ease, leisure, the sweets of domestic society, and life itself in vain, against the liberties of my country; the latter instantly predominated, and I have nothing to complain of, though much to grieve at, occasioned by the miscarriage or delay of my full powers for open and public application. I sent you a memoir on American commerce, and wish to know your sentiments on that subject. The vessel detained at Bilboa has been[Pg 302] dismissed, and the commissary reprimanded for her detention, and ordered to lend the Captain every assistance he needed. This is a great point gained. I must suspend saying anything on the proposals of officers for entering the service of the American States, as also anything further on the other artists I wrote about, until I receive intelligence, which I hourly have long expected, and which I think cannot possibly be far off, as I despatched a vessel early in September, express, with an account of my situation, and that of affairs here; besides, a war is evidently at hand here in Europe.

Mr Carmichael warmly described the kind reception you gave him, and your zeal for the interest of the United States, and friendship for me, which he might have spared, as every one of your letters demonstrates the sincerity and disinterestedness of your friendship, as well for my country as for myself; and as you value your being the first Plenipotentiary of the American States, I equally value myself on your friendship and correspondence in the part I have the honor of acting with you in this important scene, and am happy to think, that to the present or coming actors in, or spectators of, the foundation and rise of this State in a new world, our correspondence will show that our sentiments ever coincided. Be not discouraged, my dear friend, America must come off in the end triumphant, and under new and unprecedented laws, liberty, and commerce, be the happy asylum for the sons of men in future ages. Whatsoever disappointments I may meet with, I never will despair of my country, for which I shall count it my glory to suffer all things, if it receive any advantage therefrom, and if not, I shall at least enjoy the pleasure, the unalienable pleasure, resulting from a consciousness of[Pg 303] having done all in my power for its happiness, and connectedly for the happiness of mankind in general.

The temper of the times is in favor of America, and it is now as fresh and striking an object to Europe as when first discovered and called the new world. It is among my principal mortifications, that I cannot have a few days at least personal conversation with you; but the situation of affairs here will not allow of a moment's absence, which Mr Carmichael, I doubt not, explained to you. With persons in public or private, who are friendly, yet equally apprehensive of consequences, willing to aid, yet timid, and at the same time not well acquainted and informed, the task you are sensible is as laborious as delicate, and at a time when events bear down arguments, one cannot be released a moment from the closest attention to everything rising real or imaginary. Your lady's kind preparations for me, Mr Carmichael most affectionately mentioned, and I will, life permitting, the moment I can quit Paris, in person acknowledge, as far as words are capable of expressing, how sensible I am of this more than hospitable kindness, since to provide for and receive the stranger on arrival is the duty of hospitality, but here is a work of supererogation, and though no Roman Catholic myself, yet so catholic as not the less to love and esteem generous actions on all occasions. My most respectful and affectionate regards, with my ardent wishes for your mutual felicity, attend you.

I am, &c.


P. S. Pray for what sum per annum can a young man be educated at Leyden, adhering to the strictest economy?

[Pg 304]


Paris, December 13th, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I am indebted for two letters, and the same cause of my neglect, viz. a hurry of business still subsisting, I cannot make amends by a long letter in this, but the substance will be agreeable, which is, that Dr Franklin is arrived at Nantes, and I expect him at Paris tomorrow. He left Philadelphia the last of October, and everything was favorable in America. On his passage the ship he was in made two prizes on this coast. I received a letter from my venerable friend on his landing, who was in high spirits and good health. Here is the hero, and philosopher, and patriot, all united in this celebrated American, who, at the age of seventyfour, risks all dangers for his country. I know your heart rejoices with me on this occasion.

I am, with respect, &c.



Havre, January 21st, 1777.

Dear Sir,

Were I to acknowledge the receipt of all the letters you mention having written, it would be necessary to apologise for my silence; this I fear would require a detail long enough to need still another apology, which would be making it a labor ad infinitum. I shall, therefore, only say, that from the heart of Germany, I am now on the borders of the Atlantic, and that I have been on the gallop ever since I parted with you at Leyden. No Saint in the cal[Pg 305]endar ever ran through countries with more zeal to gain inhabitants for heaven, than I have to do miracles on earth. But unfortunately it is not an age for miracles. I am at present here to botch up a piece of work, which was originally well imagined but badly executed.

You will no doubt have our Paris news from the prophet, who draws down fire from heaven. I shall, therefore, only give you my comment on the text, which is, that France has done too much and much too little. Too much, since she alarmed England, and made that country put itself in a better posture of defence than before; or at least, strengthened the hands of her Ministers for that purpose; much too little, because, depending even on that little, we looked not out elsewhere in time.

I am, &c.



Paris, January 26th, 1777.

Dear Sir,

My having quitted London some time since to join my colleagues here, is the reason you did not hear from me, as you complain in your last letter to Mr Deane. As I am soon to leave this place for one very remote,[26] I am afraid this will be the last letter I shall have the honor of writing to you.

There are so many and more immediate calls for the attention of the Congress, that we are not surprised at not receiving any intelligence from them. We learn too, from Havre, that despatches for us have been intercepted at sea, so that we remain totally uninformed by authority rela[Pg 306]tive to the state of things in America. We hope the best, and if the powers of Europe are not so totally blind to their own interest as to refuse maintaining that freedom and enjoyment of our commerce, which our declaration of Independence offers them, their support will save us much distress and blood. The liberties, however, and redemption which we work out through labor and endurance will be more precious.

By accounts from London, the press for seamen produces little, though their merchant ships are stopped in their ports, and insurance from Jamaica, with convoy, is risen to twentyfive per cent. During the last war it never amounted to more than seven.

Our cruisers, therefore, appear to do their duty. Had we anything of a fleet to assist them, England would soon repent of a war, they have so unjustly engaged in, and from which they have not wisdom to retreat.

No nation seems more interested in opening our commerce, by abolishing the British monopoly, than the Dutch. The carrying trade by which they flourish must be greatly increased by the change. It would also very infallibly reduce that natural power and superiority at sea, which the English exercise with so much insolence, and the sinews of which are derived from America by their usurpation and tyranny; and yet, such is the pusillanimity of the times, the States are crouching to the English, and in effect aiding them in confirming that tyranny and those advantages. It is astonishing, that the smallest power in Europe should fear Great Britain, at a time when she is set at defiance by America alone, yet in its infancy, and laboring under so many disadvantages.

I wish you every happiness, &c.



[26] A journey to Spain.

[Pg 307]


Paris, January 29th, 1777.

My dear friend may be assured, that the omission of writing to him for so long a time either by Mr Deane, or myself, was not in the least owing to any want of respect, or change of sentiment towards him, but merely from the extreme hurry we have been engaged in ever since my arrival, which has prevented our writing to many other of our correspondents. I now enclose several letters, one of which was written by me when in Philadelphia, and sent via Martinique; Mr Deane has but this day received it; another that I wrote soon after my arrival, which has been mislaid.

I hope you and yours are in good health, and good spirits, as we are, not doubting of the success of our affairs, with God's blessing. We have nothing to complain of here.

I have taken a lodging at Passy, where I shall be in a few days, and hope there to find a little leisure, free from the perpetual interruption I suffer here, by the crowds continually coming in, some offering goods, others soliciting offices in our army, &c. I shall then be able to write you fully. Be of good cheer, and do not believe half what you read in the English gazettes.

With great esteem, I am ever,


[Pg 308]


London, March 21st, 1777.


Government here has received within these ten days past, several expresses from General Howe, at New York, in North America, as late as the 19th of last February, which are, in every respect, very disagreeable indeed. He writes in severe terms against General Heister, whom he calls an old woman in the field, and a stupid and incorrigible blockhead in the cabinet; he also says, that the Hessians and other Germans are the worst troops under his command, and are not fit to be trusted in any business; he has, therefore, desired several particular English officers to be sent to command them; some of them that he has pointed out have refused to go on such a forlorn hope; but General Burgoyne, much against his will, is, it seems, obliged to go, and one Colonel Charles Gray, who was only a Lieutenant-Colonel upon half pay, has agreed to go, being appointed to a regiment, with the rank of a Major-General in America.

General Howe has with some difficulty and considerable loss got his troops back to New York, that had attempted to make good their situation at Brunswick, in the Jersies. He has recalled the greater part of those troops that had been sent to Rhode Island. At New York they were in the greatest distress for all kinds of fresh provisions and vegetables; at the same time, a fever, similar to the plague, prevailed there, that in all probability before the Spring will carry off to the Elysian shades, at least one half of the troops that remain there, and prepare an immediate grave for the Germans, and all the other troops that are about to[Pg 309] be sent to that infected place. At the same time we learn that the American army under General Washington increases in numbers every day, and being accustomed to the climate, have kept the field in all the severe weather. Notwithstanding this melancholy prospect of affairs, our papers talk of a foreign war, but in my opinion we are in no condition to engage in one, for you may be assured, that we have not in the kingdom sailors enough to man fifteen ships of the line, though you may see thirty or forty ships put in commission, as the public prints will tell you. And as to soldiers, the draft for America has been so great, that we have not ten thousand in the whole island, yet our Ministers have lately attempted to bully the States of Holland by a high flying memorial relative to the conduct of some of their governors in the West Indies. It might, however, be attended with very serious consequences if the Hollanders were to take their money out of the English funds.


P. S. If you please, insert the foregoing in the Dutch, Brussels, Francfort and Hamburg papers.


Paris, April 2d, 1777.


Mr Carmichael, who has regularly corresponded with you, has given you the salutation from time to time for myself. I have really had no leisure for several months to write a single letter, but what the instant necessity of the time required, and am much obliged to you for the regular information we have through him from you. Enclosed I[Pg 310] send you a bill for one thousand florins, which you will receive, and credit the Congress for the same. As you have said nothing, at any time, on the subject of your disbursements for the Congress, the Commissioners are ignorant of your situation in that respect, and have desired me to send you the enclosed bill, and to ask of you to favor them with the general state of your disbursements, and to assure you that they are too sensible of the services you are rendering their country, to wish you to remain without an adequate reward. We have no intelligence of any kind from America since the 1st of March last, and you have been informed of the situation of our affairs at that time.

I am, &c.



The Hague, April 12th, 1777.


The letter of the date of October 24th, 1776, with which you have honored me, did not arrive till the 4th of February of this year. Sensible, as I ought to be, Gentlemen, of the great honor you do me in charging me to continue with you the correspondence, which Dr Franklin commenced and maintained with me on the affairs of the United States, I am only able to repeat, what I have written to him and to the honorable Committee of Foreign Affairs, of which he was then a member, that I will ever impose on myself a sacred law to answer your confidence and expectation. You will have here annexed a copy of letters, which have been written to me by the[Pg 311] French Ministers at the Hague, the Abbé Desnoyers and the Duc de la Vauguyon. You will easily conjecture the contents of those, which I wrote to them, and which are too long to recite here; moreover, a copy of the whole was not preserved.

As to what you add, Gentlemen, that my expenses and labors shall be reimbursed and compensated, I have the honor to say to you, that I should esteem myself the most happy of men, in being able to make without return all the advances and services of which you have need, to sustain this memorable war. The Supreme Being, who sees the depth of my heart, is witness to the truth of this sentiment in all its extent. But to my great regret, although without shame, I avow myself as poor in means as rich in good will. The draft remitted to me by Dr Franklin, of one hundred pounds sterling, on London, has been paid. On the other hand, since I received Dr Franklin's letter and the orders of the Committee, I have not hesitated to sacrifice to a commission so important, so honorable, and so agreeable to my principles and taste, not only a small running pension of sixty pounds, which a bookseller paid me for a part of my time, that was devoted to a work, an account of which I communicated to Dr Franklin some years since, but also about seventy pounds, which I have already received for part of the work delivered, without which, considering my other actual duties, it would have been impossible for me to have time to attend to the execution of these orders. If I add to this at least fifty pounds, that I have spent in postages, travelling charges, and other expenses, I find myself at this time seventy pounds at least in advance. But I should be very sorry, Gentlemen, that what I say here, should turn you an in[Pg 312]stant from the important duties requiring your constant attention. For the same reason, I have been unwilling to interrupt with these details the occupations of our gentlemen at Paris. If (which God forbid) America have not the success which my heart desires, her misfortunes will afflict me infinitely more than my loss. But if, on the contrary, I shall have the satisfaction to see liberty established and her prosperity secured, I doubt not she will render me an ample indemnity and reward.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Paris, April 28th, 1777.


Although nothing new has happened to us here worthy of notice, I take up my pen merely to assure you, that our want of punctuality is not owing to want of friendship or respect. To entertain you with continued complaints of the inactivity of the European powers, is a subject which I wish to banish as much from my thoughts, as I do our enemies from our country. We are now acting a play which pleases all the spectators, but none seem inclined to pay the performers. All that we seem likely to obtain from them is applause. When I say all, I mean anything that will materially help our cause. This campaign will decide the fate of the war, though it may not finish it. The want of resolution in the House of Bourbon to assist us in the hour of distress will be an argument with our people, if successful, to form no binding connexions with them. If conquered, they will follow the conduct of the unsupported Scots, in the war of 1745.

[Pg 313]In the meantime, they, to secure the little assistance which other Princes may be induced to give them, must offer a share of that commerce to others, which France might have wholly to itself. England is now offering to relinquish a share of a lucrative commerce to France, on condition that the latter shuts its ports against us. But a few weeks ago an English agent assured me, that the English Administration saw through the designs of the House of Bourbon, saw that they meant to weaken us both, and by that means command us, and he offered every security America could wish, to preserve its liberties as they stood in the year 1763, and a repeal of such acts as bound their trade previous to that, only that they must so far comply with the King's humor, as not to give up his sovereignty, which would be of no use to him, were the privileges of the Americans extended to the latitude mentioned.

To be the instrument of inducing my countrymen to accept these terms, the possession of an affluent income was offered to be secured to me in any part of the world I chose, whether successful or not in the attempt. You may judge how our conference ended. One reason why I am induced to stay in Europe is, that I should be obliged to give, in America, a faithful account of the situation of their affairs in Europe; as I am sure that the picture would be worth more to England, than their subsidies to your hero, the Margrave of Hesse. We shall never be the subjects of the British Crown, I believe, but unless openly assisted by a power in Europe, we shall be an impoverished people, unable to distress our enemies abroad, or to assist our friends. I am so confident myself of the interior weakness of England, that I would sacrifice my life on the issue, that if France, Spain, and the Emperor,[Pg 314] would only agree to acknowledge the independence of the United States, there would not be occasion to strike a blow; from that moment the credit of England would be no more inspirited by such a resolution taken in our favor in Europe; we would drive her armies from America, and soon her fleets from our coasts; but these generous resolutions subsist not in European politics. I hoped to have soon seen you, but your last letter, and one from Sir George Grand, have altered my resolution on that head. I have been laboring here to put you in such a situation as to enable you to follow the dictates of your own generous hearts in serving us more effectually, but the torpedo has struck us too.




Philadelphia, May 8th, 1777.


We have received your several favors to the first of May,[27] and shall always have a grateful memory of your sentiments and exertions in our cause. But as we have new Commissioners settled in France, we think it needless that you should be at the trouble of forwarding to us from time to time, that collection of papers, which we formerly mentioned to you. We shall inform our friends at Paris of our opinion on this head, and leave it to them to point out the way in which your zeal may be most useful to them and us, with the least degree of trouble to yourself and injury to your domestic interests.

[Pg 315]The humility of the Count de Welderen's Memorial seems to have been followed by some positive orders to our disadvantage in the West Indies. We doubt not you will continue to give our Commissioners at Paris the fullest information on all such points, from whom we shall consequently obtain it.

We have the honor to be, &c.



[27] Thus in the original, but probably an error in the month, as this letter is dated on the eight of May.


Paris, May 9th, 1777.


At length we have an opportunity of discovering, what we have long imagined, the arts which the English government has made use of to circulate their various falsehoods through Europe, respecting their affairs in America. Their packet from Hardwick to Helvoetsluys is fallen into our hands, with every letter from the Ministry and others, though I make no doubt, that they will give out, that their most important letters are saved. Such a report will answer more ends than one. It will set at peace the alarmed consciences, or rather apprehensions of their correspondents. We have it under Lord Suffolk's Secretary's hands, Mr Fraser, and Mr Eden, that government had no advices from New York on the last of April, but that at this particular period, when the eyes of all the world would be upon them, viz. when opening the budget, it was necessary to toss out a tub to the whale, for which reason [Pg 316]it was thought necessary to —— General Washington, and to put Mr Dickenson at the head of five thousand men, in the lower counties of Delaware. A very curious reason is given for promulgating the latter lie, that the less probability there appears to be in it, the more readily the world will believe it; for will they imagine that Ministers dare circulate what no one will imagine true? And they appeal to former untruths of similar absurdity, which had their effect, and when found false were overlooked by the indulgent public.

The line of Sir Joseph Yorke's conduct is marked and curious, as well as that of their Minister at another Court; our plan did not wholly take effect, or we should have had his despatches likewise.

The miserable Prince of Hesse affords his friends in England some merriment, but he can make use of the old adage,—let them laugh who win. He has the absurdity to be angry with your Gazetteer of Utrecht, and the English news writers; and his Minister there is ordered to complain on the subject. The reflections of the English Minister, Lord Suffolk, on this complaint, are as curious as they are just, and merit well reaching the Prince. If he bribes me with a part of his slave-money, he shall have the letter at length, signed "Suffolk." I always said, and have now proof positive before me, that in the height of English arrogance and success, their Chatham-aping Minister, Lord George Germain, meant to hold the same language to France, that they unfortunately did to Holland, and were prepared, should this Court show the least refractoriness, to begin the same game they played in 1756. An open war they have never feared from France, for they were well assured that would not be the case, but the French preparation gave them a good excuse for arming[Pg 317] completely, and for drawing money from the people, and the American Minister, Lord George Germain, was too shrewd to let slip an opportunity. We paid so much respect to your States, that we would not seize Sir Joseph Yorke's messenger in the packet from Helvoetsluys, for we could have boarded her with as much ease as the others.

I have not time to communicate the thousand little particulars, which have lately been inspected by me, but hope to have a future opportunity of doing it. Our captain, being in search of bank bills, and bills of exchange, did not pay much attention to personages, for which I am heartily vexed; however, good nature must make allowances. This matter will occasion a little bustle, perhaps a great deal. I had rather be sent home to fight manfully, or to make peace politically, than to be in this miserable shilly-shally way here. I have the pleasure to acquaint you that Hopkins's squadron, all but two, have got to sea, so that Sir Peter Parker may write information to the Ministry, and this will be giving a good account of them as he promised. Our levies went on swimmingly, and had the Howes, sent out from here, arrived there when it was intended they should, we should have pushed Howe again to Halifax.

I am, &c.



Passy, near Paris, May 12th, 1777.


Last night we received a packet from North America with some advices, of which I send you the substance. I[Pg 318] see your letters now and then to Mr Deane and Mr Carmichael, and thank you for the kind mention made of me in them. I am so bad a correspondent, that I do not desire a letter from you directly.

But I am nevertheless, with great esteem, dear Sir, your affectionate friend,


P. S. I suppose Mr Deane has sent you the bill.


Amsterdam, May 16th, 1777.


I send you, with some gazettes, an extract of my last despatch, and a piece entitled "Advice to the Hessians," which, having passed about in manuscript through this country, was afterwards printed in a handbill, and at length inserted in the periodicals. The day before yesterday, the 14th, the bookseller Rey received from the Hague the following note, which he immediately sent to me at a country house, where I am residing, thinking I might know the person interested, which I do not. "Mr Rey is desired to inform the author of 'Advice to the Hessians' to quit Holland immediately. Orders are despatched to arrest him." I am not at present at the Hague, but as soon as I shall be able to return thither I will inform myself of this affair. In the meantime I think it is false that they have given such orders, and that this letter was only written to intimidate, as was that written from Cassel to one of our journalists.

I am sorry not to be able to devote all my time to your service. I might contract many connexions and acquaint[Pg 319]ances, and make some useful journeys, profiting by favorable circumstances and moments both at the Hague and Amsterdam, which I am now obliged to let escape, not being able to go and remain as long as is necessary in these cities.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Paris, June 7th, 1777.


I understand that the British Minister's emissaries are very busy in Holland propagating reports of an accommodation between the Congress and Great Britain. They are playing the same game here. I have long since been convinced that there is no action too atrocious for them to attempt, nor any report too ridiculous and improbable for them to propagate to serve their purposes. The last authentic intelligence from Congress, or from New York, was about the 10th of April, when there was not the least prospect of any accommodation. The sole overture that had been made was a hint, I may say, from General Lee, that Lord and General Howe wished to renew a conference with the Congress, and to open a treaty, to which the Congress replied they would neither confer nor treat till their independence should be acknowledged. You will therefore see at once how very little ground there is for such kind of assertions.

I have seen such strange and unexpected events, as well as been witness to such extraordinary conduct, that I am almost beyond being surprised at anything; yet should an accommodation take place between those contending na[Pg 320]tions, whilst the Congress have the least prospect of foreign succor and support, I confess I shall be greatly surprised. But if the British Ministry, as they roundly assert, are assured that no power in Europe will countenance the United States in their independence, and if they can bring the Congress to believe the same, who will be surprised if they make terms, and accommodate, rather than hazard longer a contest with the most formidable power in Europe, and its allies, without prospect on their part of aid or support? I say, who will be surprised, or rather who will not be surprised, should they still persist in continuing the war unsupported? However, I, who know my countrymen perfectly, and the principles by which they are actuated, do not believe they will ever accommodate on terms lower than independence; yet in the same situation, and with the same offers made them, I am certain any other people in the world would accommodate.

You are not to impute what I say to vanity. I am not raising my countrymen above every other nation in the world; far from it; but they are a new people, and have certain notions, that are either new in the world, or have been so long unpractised upon, and unheard of, except in the speculations of philosophers, that it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to compare them with any other nation. Unprejudiced reason, and plain common sense, will enable the few to judge; but the many, the ninetynine of one hundred at least, will determine as usual by the event. I am not fond of bold assertions or predictions, but I dare hazard my credit upon it, that either no accommodation on any terms will take place, or, if it does, a war in Europe will be the immediate consequence; and I submit it to the consideration of those Ministers and politicians, who are afraid[Pg 321] to offend Great Britain now, whilst America alone employs more than her whole natural force, how they will be able to contend with her when at peace and on good terms, perhaps in alliance with America.

Universal monarchy has at many periods been feared from the House of Bourbon, and England has been exhausted to prevent it; she has engaged allies pretendedly to keep the balance of power in Europe, as it is ridiculously and unintelligibly termed by European politicians; but you will permit an American to give his sentiments; they may at least divert and make you smile. From the period when the feudal system prevailed over all Europe, when every lord was sovereign, to this hour, the number of kingdoms or distinct powers in Europe has been decreasing, and if we look three centuries back, and reckon up the distinct powers then existing and compare them with those of the present, and extend our view forward, the whole must at some not very distant period be brought into one; for not an age passes, and scarce a single war without annihilating or swallowing up several of them. But from what quarter is this universal empire in Europe to originate? I answer negatively; not from the House of Bourbon, though formidable for its connexions and alliances in the South; but I will venture to predict, that if Great Britain, by forming an accommodation of friendship and alliance with the United States, renders herself, as by that measure she easily can, mistress of that world, by taking the affairs of the East Indies into her own hands, she will be in possession of exhaustless treasure, and in 1780 the charter of the East India Company expires, when both the territory and commerce will be at her disposal. Add to all this her strict and close alliance with[Pg 322] Russia. I say, that laying these circumstances together, it is easy to foresee, that Great Britain, America, and Russia united, will command not barely Europe, but the whole world united.

Russia like America is a new State, and rises with the most astonishing rapidity. Its demand for British manufactures, and its supplies of raw materials, increase nearly as fast as the American; and when both come to centre in Great Britain, the riches as well as power of that kingdom will be unparalleled in the annals of Europe, or perhaps of the world; like a Colossus with one foot on Russia and the East, and the other on America, it will bestride, as Shakspeare says, your poor European world, and the powers which now strut and look big, will creep about between its legs to find dishonorable graves.

I dare say you smile at my prophecy, but you will observe it is a conditional one, and I am persuaded, like most other prophecies, will neither be believed nor understood, until verified by the event, which, at the same time, I am laboring like my good predecessors of old, (who prophecied grievous things,) to prevent taking place if possible; for it is my ultimate and early wish that America may forever be as unconnected with the politics or interests of Europe, as it is by nature situated distant from it, and that the friendly ties arising from a free, friendly, and independent commerce may be the only ties between us.



[Pg 323]


Paris, June 13th, 1777.


We are still without any news from America, except what we get by the way of England. The campaign was not opened the end of April, Howe being scarce of provisions, and without forage. I have seen a letter from an English officer in the service, dated the 25th of that month, and have been much pleased with the sight of it; a horrid pleasure, which derives its source from the prospect of human misery. The flux raged much in the army of the Philistines, as the saints of New England style it, owing to their food, salted meat, and no vegetables. I believe a certain brig, from a place called Rotterdam, has fallen into the hands of the chosen people, for one of my countrymen crossed the Atlantic in a small vessel of about twenty tons, on purpose to take her; at least he informs me that he had carried into Cherbourg a brig laden with about two hundred hogsheads of Geneva, some pitch, oil, &c. from Rotterdam; which said articles will, before this reaches you, be metamorphised into louis d'ors of France.

I have crossed the Chesapeake in this very ferry boat, in which my bold countryman crossed the Atlantic. I had been told by a man high in office in England, that resistance was a chimera in us, since their armed vessels would swarm so much in our rivers, as even to intercept the ferry-boats. His assertions are verified vice versa; our ferry-boats ruin their commerce. You smile, and think me amusing you. Be assured that is not the case. This very little boat took on her passage another brig of two hundred tons from Alicant, and sent her into America;[Pg 324] she also took four or five vessels in the Channel, chiefly smugglers, and plundered them of their cash, and the Captain being a good natured fellow let them go, as he did a transport, which he took in sight of a man-of-war, and was obliged to give her up, bringing off, however, with him his people. He has promised for the future to burn those he cannot send in, and I believe will be as good as his word. This is the way the English serve not only ours, but the French vessels, which they take on our coast. The Captain tells me, he was told this last circumstance by several French Captains, whom he saw prisoners, (himself a prisoner) at New York. The eyes of this Court will be opened, it is to be hoped, before it is too late, a war being inevitable, in my opinion, to force an accommodation. They will unite with us on our own terms, and discerning from the past how little effective assistance we have to hope from France for the future, will make a war with this nation one article of the Federal Union. Whichever strikes first will probably succeed. Our valuable commerce is more hurt on the French coast than on our own. We have lost above £60,000 sterling, from South Carolina only, all which was coming to be laid out for French manufactures. It is a fact at present, that the manufacturers of this country cannot execute so fast as they receive orders.

The English papers published by the authority of General Howe, at New York, tell with triumph, that one of their cruisers has sunk a twenty gun French ship at some distance from the Delaware, and every soul perished. We have some fears that this is the Amphitrite. Another ship was taken, French property, a few leagues from the harbor of St Pierre, which she had just quitted. If they[Pg 325] dare do this in their present critical situation, what will they not dare if successful, or at peace and united with us?

I wrote you before what I repeat again, that had General Howe got possession of Philadelphia last winter, as insolent a Memorial as that presented by Sir Joseph York, would have been presented by Lord Stormont here, and had not their demands been instantly complied with, the immediate destruction of the French commerce would have been the consequence. All the navy, all the army contracts are made, for five years, in England. Letters of marque were given to contractors, and friends of government, for what? To cruise against our trade? No; but to be ready at a signal given, to enrich themselves by the first captures on the French nation; for the gleanings of our commerce are no object to a private adventurer, assured as the English Ministry are of the pacific intentions of this Court. From the quarter I mentioned to you in my last, they will try his patience, and they do right, for the only hope they now have of conquering us is to deprive us of the means of resistance, and the hopes of foreign aid, which keeps up the spirits of the people. If the Amphitrite is really lost, General Washington will open the campaign without any of their military stores, so long promised, and so vainly expected, except about twelve thousand muskets.

We expect with impatience direct news from America; the moment it arrives I will communicate it to you. The gentlemen are well, and beg me to present compliments.

I am, Dear Sir, yours, &c.


P. S. You will not mention publicly, for particular[Pg 326] reasons, the history of the little privateer. When the Captain of our small privateer boarded the transport, and told him he was his prisoner, he very insolently asked where his ship was, not conceiving that any person would have crossed the ocean in so small a boat.


June 14th, 1777.


I have escaped, as much as I am able, from my chains, to make journeys to the Hague, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam, in order to maintain and increase useful acquaintances; and when I obtain any light I communicate it to friends. The great majority, almost the whole of our merchants, are for you. The regencies of our cities, and among others Amsterdam, seem to take part with the Court, which is allied with and friendly to England. But all this is precarious, and will change with your fortune. Let us hear of a successful campaign, and your friends will show themselves, your partizans will multiply; they will lose by degrees this panic terror for a power, that is not loved by the multitude. These persons are chiefly large annuitants, whose hearts are in the sources of their income.

Another important truth, which I have learned at Amsterdam, is that no banking house is willing to take part, to the amount of a shilling, in the loan of five millions sterling, which England has raised, because they were not content with the offered premium and with her solidity, nor sure of selling the stock in detail. Distrust increases here, in proportion as England sinks. The premium[Pg 327] ought to be two and a half per cent, but we know that in England even the bankers are content with their sales in detail at five eights per cent.

I have made acquaintance and connexion with a House, to whom I shall address in future all my despatches for you, and under cover to whom you may in safety address to me your letters, viz. Messrs Lalande & Fynge, merchants, Amsterdam. If you will send me regularly, by your vessels going to St Eustatia and Curaçoa, one at least of your best public papers to the address above pointed out, or in the packets of friends in France, I will make good use of it for your service in our periodical papers. They complain everywhere of knowing nothing of your affairs, but what the English wish Europe should know; and on this subject we have often to wait some months before the truth is unfolded from a heap of impostures, which do not fail sometimes to answer the malice of your enemies in leaving false impressions on minds, which I wish to be able to destroy in their birth.

I have the Honor to be, &c.



August 22d, 1777.


In spite of my extreme circumspection, your enemies are not altogether without knowledge of me, and, not able to persecute me openly, are endeavoring secretly to deprive me of my post in this country. I sent an account yesterday to Paris, and today to a certain person at the Hague, of what has happened to me. I am sustained in[Pg 328] all my losses by the firm resolution to live and die the faithful servant of United America, and by consequence, also, with the most profound respect for the honorable General Congress and yourselves. God bless your just arms.

September 5th.—It would be useless for me to give you copies of the last letters that I wrote to Paris. They chiefly concern myself; and I await their answers. I will say only in general here, that from the moment when I was first honored with your orders and your confidence, I have devoted to you in every event, my person, services, and fidelity; and this for the love I bear to your cause, and on the most perfect conviction of its justice. I have conducted myself in the execution of your orders with all imaginable prudence, circumspection, and patience. At last, however, I am the victim of the suspicions and implacable hatred of your enemies. They have found it an easy task to injure me indirectly in the sordid, ungrateful, and treacherous heart of a person on whom my fortune depended, and who is devoted to them. I should be ruined, with my family, if I had not firm confidence of receiving in your service the annual stipend allotted for their subsistence, of which I have been deprived. To this injustice they have added the insult of tempting me by deceitful offers, which I rejected with disdain, because I could not accept them without exposing your secrets, or at least degrading the character with which you have honored me, in the eyes of those who have knowledge of it. My refusal has exasperated them against me; they will secretly ruin me as far as they are able. But I have said enough of myself.

Your enemies have begun to take the Dutch vessels in[Pg 329] Europe as well as in America; among others, one for St Eustatia. They are impatient at Amsterdam to know how the Regency will take this; and they write me that this circumstance will, probably, be the cause of the detention of vessels, bound for the Islands, two months in this port.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, October 14th, 1777.


If I do not speak to you in all my letters, of the person with whom you know I am connected at the Hague, it is not because this connexion does not continue daily, but because it is sufficient to give an account of our conferences to your honorable commission in Europe, and also, considering the time that my packets are on the way, my reports would be as superfluous and useless to you, as they would be long and difficult to decypher, or dangerous to transmit without cypher. The enemy alone would be able to profit by them. Moreover, I doubt not but your Commissioners transmit to you the result of all that passes.

Our States-General are assembled; and they have begun with labors, which by no means please your enemies. The first was to make a claim directly, in the name of their High Mightinesses, upon the English Minister for the Dutch vessel destined for St Eustatia, and taken in the Channel by an English vessel of war, under the pretext that the vessel was American built. (The Dutch had purchased her at Halifax.) Our States have sent instruc[Pg 330]tions on this subject to their Envoy at London, with orders to have discontinued whatever process has been instituted by the captor before the English Judges against this vessel; and an order also to the owners of the vessel and cargo not to plead before the Judges, because they have proved here, that they had conformed in all things to the laws of this country, and to its conventions with Great Britain. We are impatient here to learn the answer of England.

Their second debate was on a petition in very strong terms, signed by a hundred of the principal commercial houses of Amsterdam, (except the house of Hope, devoted to England) for the purpose of asking a convoy for their vessels going to the West Indies.

I have all this from the best authority; as also that the party of your enemies in this country, though yet considerable, are visibly losing their influence, and cannot fail to seccumb, especially if the English continue to seize our vessels, and if they wish to engage this Republic to involve itself in a war on their account; for we desire here to be at peace with all the world.

I have the honor to be, &c.



December, 16th, 1777.


I congratulate you, and the honorable Congress, and all United America with all my heart. This news (Burgoyne's capture) has made the greatest possible sensation in this country; a deep consternation among those who have all their interest in England; a marked joy among[Pg 331] those who hate your enemies. My correspondent at Amsterdam writes thus. "Many thanks for the prompt advice of the affair so glorious for our friends. Letters from England received here this morning confirm it entirely. All was in motion today in our cafés and on the exchange. The royalists here are entirely depressed, and even fear the like catastrophe for General Howe, if he hazard himself further into the country." This news has made an astonishing impression everywhere; all is considered lost to the English.

December 19th.—I have received advice from my correspondents, to whom I had forwarded packets according to your orders, by which they inform me, under date of 26th of September and 18th of October, of having received and forwarded my packets for you. My correspondent at Amsterdam, who transmitted them to me, has pointed me to the following passage. "The Anti-Americans are not yet recovered from their fright; they see the Americans at present with a different eye, and desire strongly that the Ministry may be changed, that by mild means we may obtain peace as favorable as possible." Another writes from Rotterdam; "I received on the 11th, the account of the victory of General Gates. It was pulled out of my hands. I pray you as soon as you receive advice, that Howe has done as well as Burgoyne, to let me have the great pleasure of knowing it first, that I may regale many persons with the news. You cannot think what a bustle there is yet in all companies and cafés about this affair, and how they fall on the English Ministers."

We have confirmation from Germany of the increasing obstructions, which the levying of recruits against America meets with.

[Pg 332]I this moment learn that the States-General have despatched messengers of State extraordinary to all the Provinces; and it cannot be doubted that the contents of their despatches, which are kept secret, relate only to the catastrophe which the English have suffered in America, and to the consequences which it is presumed it will have, as well on this side of the ocean as on the other.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, April 14th, 1778.


I have the satisfaction of being able to apprize you, that since the declaration of France, made here the 18th of March, affairs have taken in this country a most favorable turn. My last journey to Amsterdam has not been useless. But I cannot trust to paper, and to the vicissitudes of so long a voyage, the detail of my operations. I constantly give information to your honorable Commissioners, to whom I write almost every post. I will say only in general, that the cabal of your enemies fails in all the attempts it has made to engage this Republic to put herself in the breach for them. The Republic is firmly determined to the most perfect neutrality, if there be war; and I wait only the letters of the honorable Commissioners at Paris, whom I have requested to propose a friendship and commerce direct and avowed between your States and theirs.[28]

We are preparing a third piece upon credit. I will add copies of it to my packet when it is printed.

[Pg 333]At the moment I am about to seal my packet, I learn for certain, "that Lord Chatham on the 7th of April in the House of Lords pleaded with so much warmth for not giving up the dependence of America, nor giving away the Americans, because he considered them a hereditament of the Prince of Wales, the Bishop of Osnaburgh, and the whole royal line of Brunswick, that he fainted away, but was soon recovered by the aid of two physicians. He confessed however that he did not know what the means were of preserving both."

I have the honor, &c.



[28] On this subject see a letter to M. Dumas in the Commissioners' Correspondence, Vol. I. p. 463.

[29] For a letter from the Committee of Foreign Affairs to M. Dumas, dated May 14th, 1778, see the Correspondence of the Commissioners in France, Vol. I. p. 386.


July 27th, 1778.


Directed by the Plenipotentiaries of the United States of America in Paris, to send you the annexed copy of a treaty of amity and commerce concluded between France and the said United States, with the testimony of the high esteem and consideration they have for you in particular, and for all the honorable members of the Regency of Amsterdam in general, I acquit myself of these orders with all the satisfaction and eagerness, which my respectful devotion to the interest of this Republic dictates. The Plenipotentiaries pray you, Sir, to communicate this treaty in such a manner that copies of it may not be multiplied, until they have written me that it may be published and in the hands of all the world. I have carried this morning to Mr —— a like copy with the same request.

[Pg 334]I add to this a proclamation of Congress that I have received, and the communication of which I think will give you pleasure. It will appear in the Gazettes in French and Dutch, and ought to satisfy all the maritime powers, no less than it does honor to the sagacity and equity of Congress.

I am, with the truest respect, &c.



Amsterdam, July 31st, 1778.


I am much obliged to you for the kindness you have done, in sending me the copy of the treaty of amity and commerce, concluded between France and the United States of America. And as it was at the request of the Plenipotentiaries of the said United States, may I venture to ask you to testify to those gentlemen the gratitude of the Regency of Amsterdam in general, and my own in particular, for this mark of distinction. May we hope that circumstances will permit us soon to give evidence of the high esteem we have for the new republic, clearly raised up by the help of Providence, while the spirit of despotism is subdued; and let us desire to make leagues of amity and commerce between the respective subjects, which shall last even to the end of time. What troubles me is, that it is not in our power to make the other members of the government do as we could wish; in which case the Republic would be at once disposed to another course. But I am persuaded that the Americans are too wise not to penetrate the true causes, or to attrib[Pg 335]ute the inaction of —— until the present time to any want of esteem and affection for the United States.

This Republic is full of people who think rightly, but there will be found here, as elsewhere, partizans of a certain system, who, by their ignorance or stupidity, or by the wickedness of their hearts and abominable vices, hinder the people from doing as much as they could wish. I expect to hear important news in the actual circumstances of Europe, and am impatient to receive some, which may have a good effect on the affair in question. I shall take care that the abovementioned treaty does not go into bad hands, and that no copy be made before the time.[30]



[30] For other particulars on this subject, see the Correspondence of the Commissioners in France, Vol. I. pp. 376, 456, 463.


The Hague, August 17th, 1778.


I have had the honor of informing you, that I intended answering your favor of the 31st of July last, wherein you did me the honor of charging me to send to the Plenipotentiaries of the United States of America, in Paris, the testimony of the satisfaction that had been given to the honorable Regency of your city and to you in particular, by the transmission of a copy of their treaty of amity and commerce with France. Not only has your request been complied with, by transmitting to those gentlemen a copy of your letter,[Pg 336] but I did more; for having occasion at the same time to write to America directly, I have added another copy for Congress. That body, therefore, will, without delay, be informed of the benevolent sympathy which the Republic in her turn feels for her worthy sister, as also of the happy effects which this sympathy cannot fail to produce, when the obstacle unfortunately attached to the ship shall have lost the power of obstructing her progress. Meantime, continue, Sir, by your patriotic efforts, to clear away difficulties, to provide means, and to hasten the moment of a connexion so desirable on both sides, and present and future generations will bless your name and your memory.

You will have seen by the gazettes, and especially by that of Leyden, with what unanimity and dignity the United States disdained the propositions, injurious to their good, great, and august ally, as well as to their own majesty, made to them by the British Commissioners. I have in hand and will show you the authentic proofs of this, as well as of the horror, which the Americans have, of ever returning under the iron sceptre they have broken. This confounds the falsehoods, that have been uttered and kept up with so much complacency in this country. Will they never cease to give credit to such impudent assertions? I cannot forbear to transcribe what a friend[31] has written to me. This friend does not know in detail what I have been doing here. He had asked me how I advanced. I had told him festino lente.

"In general," says he, "I am not disposed to precipitation, especially in important affairs. But I can[Pg 337]not help saying, that there may be some danger of the good people in Holland losing some advantages in commerce with America by their too great caution. I have reason to believe, that the British Ministry have already sent orders to their commissioners to give up the point of independence, provided they can obtain some exclusive benefit in America."

I wish, however, that we could concert some new movement. There is yet time to think of it before the meeting of the assembly. In all that concerns myself, I can only promise my best efforts.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[31] William Lee, who was at this time in Francfort.


The Hague, December 3d, 1778.


The act of despotism, which I announced to you in my letter of the 16th,[32] was consummated on the 18th of November. The resolution adopted by the majority had a specious design, to wit, to refuse the commissaries which the English Ambassador demanded, to agree that the article of naval stores, legalized by the treaty of 1674, should be for the future contraband; but in the end, all was spoiled by the refusal of convoy to ships carrying these articles to France.

But Amsterdam has inserted in the acts a formal protest, by which this resolution is declared null, by its having been adopted in a manner contrary to the constitution, which requires unanimity in this case.[Pg 338] The protest indicates, at the same time, the consequences which this affair may have. They may be very serious if they push the city to extremities. The first will be the closing of the public chest, as far as concerns her contribution towards the expenses of the confederation. This city alone pays about one quarter of all the expenses of the republic, and if they should push things to extremity she may ask succors of France, who certainly would not suffer her to be oppressed. The Ministerial gazettes in England announce this to their nation as a great success. Qui vult decipi decipiatur. On the other side, France threatens to seize in her turn English property on board of Dutch ships, and to deprive these of the favors they enjoy in her ports, if the Republic does not cause her flag to be respected by the English, according to treaties. On the fifteenth, the States of the Province will be reassembled.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[32] Missing.


Presented by His Excellency, the Duc de la Vauguyon, Ambassador of France, to the States-General of the United Provinces.

The Hague, December 7th, 1778.

High and Mighty Lords,

The conviction which the king, my master, has had, that their High Mightinesses, animated with a desire to perpetuate the perfect harmony which subsists between France and the States-General, would conform[Pg 339] themselves scrupulously, in existing circumstances, to the principles of the most absolute neutrality, has induced his Majesty to include the United Provinces in the order that he made in the month of July last, concerning the commerce and navigation of neutrals. His Majesty has less room to doubt of the perseverance of their High Mightinesses in these principles, because they have given him repeated assurances, and because they are the basis and most solid guarantee of the repose and prosperity of the Republic. His Majesty, however, thinks he ought to procure, in this respect, an entire certainty; and it is with this view that he has directed me to demand of your High Mightinesses an explanation, clear and precise, of your final determination, and to declare to you that he will decide according to your answer to maintain or annul, so far as concerns the subjects of your High Mightinesses, the orders which he has already given.

To make better known to your High Mightinesses the views and intentions of the king, my master, I have the honor to observe to you, that his Majesty flatters himself that you will procure to the flag of the United Provinces all the freedom which belongs to it as a consequence of their independence, and to their commerce all the integrity which the law of nations and treaties secure to it. The least derogation from these principles would manifest a partiality, the effect of which would impose on him the necessity of suspending not only the advantages that his Majesty has insured to your flag, by his order in favor of neutrals, but also the material and gratuitous favors, which the commerce of the United Provinces enjoys in the ports[Pg 340] of his kingdom, without any other consideration than the good will and affection of his Majesty for your High Mightinesses.



The Hague, December 18th, 1778.


I have seen our friend. There are two committees at work, one for the new remonstrances occasioned by the English, the other on the answer to be made to the Memorial of the French Ambassador.

December 19th, forenoon. The Admiralty it was said would not be in favor of an answer, till next week; but measures were taken to make them pass one this morning, in which were verba pretereaque nihil; there was nothing changed in the restriction of convoy as to naval provisions. The Ambassador having been notified of it, sent today, early in the morning, to the Grand Pensionary a note so energetic that it will be difficult to avoid giving a precise answer, yes or no, which will save or lose to the Seven Provinces the commerce of France.

December 19th, evening. In spite of the note of the Ambassador, the English party has prevailed in the provincial Assembly, and all except Amsterdam have adopted by a majority the opinion of the Admiralty. Thereupon, Amsterdam delivered her protest, in which she confirmed her former protest against the resolution of the 18th of November. She declared further, that she held herself irresponsible and discharged of all inju[Pg 341]rious consequences to the Republic, which the unsatisfactory answer they had given France might have. Our friend has caused me to read this protest, which is moderate but energetic.

December 22d. I have a copy of the resolution and protest. I know on good authority that the Court of London has declared, that it is no better satisfied with the resolution adopted on the 18th of November. Thus those who have wished to be wholly subservient to that Court are very badly paid for their complaisance. The above resolution, adopted by the majority of the States of Holland, on the 19th of this month, has not yet been presented to the States-General. The Assembly of Holland, which was to have separated this week, adjourned to Tuesday next. The Deputies of the cities will depart on Thursday, to seek, it is said, new instructions for another answer, such as the Ambassador can receive. Those of Amsterdam remain here, because they have no need of an ad referendum.

December 24th. The British Court has communicated to the Republic its order, which declares liable to seizure neutral ships carrying to France munitions of war, military and naval. This order is directly contrary to the resolution of the 18th of November, by which the States refuse to permit this article to be put in question, which treaties secure to them.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 342]


The Hague, December 25th, 1778.


Your friends here do all that they can to bring about future connexions between the two Republics. The phrase, that I have underlined in the Declaration,[33] expresses nothing else than the authentic information, which the city of Amsterdam has of the disposition by which a majority is influenced in the Republic. See in it then only the wish of the city, that your virtuous perseverance in a union, on which alone depends your sovereignty, may frustrate this influence. It can do nothing against you without unanimity; but, without this same unanimity, all the good will of the city can at the present time do nothing more for you, as to the conclusion of a treaty of amity and commerce, than project it, in order to have it ready when it shall be able to propose it with some appearance of success. A copy of the Memorial, presented on the 7th of December, by the French Minister to their High Mightinesses, was sent to me by himself, on the 8th, to be communicated to you.

They have sent me from Amsterdam, with the same intent, a copy of the protest of the city against the resolution adopted by the majority for refusing convoy to naval articles. This important paper is very long, (20 pages in folio.) Expecting that I may be able to send it to you, translated and copied, I will transcribe for you, Gentlemen, what a good Dutch citizen, to whom I lent it, thought of it. "It is scarce possible[Pg 343] for me," said he, "to paint the vexation with which I have read the resolve adopted by the majority. A document at once puerile, jesuitical, and made unintelligible, as I think, from design, to conceal the palpaple contradictions and absurdities of which it is full. I can compare it to nothing better than to a serpent, which hides its ugly head under the tortuous folds of its horrible body. The protest, on the contrary, is the finest document of its kind, that I remember to have seen. As precise as it is luminous, it presents at once, and gathers, so to speak, into a single focus, all the reasons for the opposite sentiment, in a manner to strike all eyes which are not voluntarily closed to its light. But we live in the midst of a people, who do not hesitate to call white black, and black white, provided it favors the party of the Boreases of England and of our country." The States of Holland assembled yesterday. They have named two committees to deliberate, the one on the answer to be made to the Court of France, the other on the new complaints to which the English have just given cause. We shall not know the result till next week.

In the circumstances, Gentlemen, in which you see things, it will be necessary that I should be provided with a letter of credence from your honorable Congress, like, mutatis mutandis, that which I received from it under date from the 9th to the 12th of December, 1775, and of which I made use at the Court of France, in April, 1776; with this difference, that the other being unlimited and accommodated to existing circumstances, that which I now ask for should be limited to this Republic, and conformable to the present situation[Pg 344] and dignity of the American confederation, to the end that I may be able to produce it to whomever it shall be proper, and to labor with all requisite credit and weight, in concert with your friends in this country, on the proposal of amity and commerce between the two Republics. Such a paper becomes every day more necessary; and I dare say, that it will be necessary to the United States that I should be provided with it as soon as possible, so as not to give it publicity, which everywhere, except in France and Spain, seems to have no good effect; but to continue, as I have done hitherto, to increase and strengthen your friends here, and to hinder your enemies from realising, at the expense of this Republic, the fable of the monkey who drew his chestnuts from the fire with the cat's paw. Malo esse quam videri ought to be the constant maxim of all those, who are called to serve so fine a cause as that of the American Union. It is certainly mine. It is this that dictates the precise answer, which I have yet to give to what you had the goodness to write concerning me, in the letter with which you honored me, under date of the 14th of May of this year, to wit; "We shall write particularly to the gentlemen at Paris, respecting the injuries you have received from our enemies, and shall instruct them to pay the strictest attention to our engagements made to you at the commencement of our correspondence."

These gentlemen, in sending me the letter, wrote me nothing on this business, and I have not drawn on them for more than I had agreed with Mr Deane, towards the end of the past year, to be necessary for me to live here in a style of mediocrity, and with much[Pg 345] economy, namely, two hundred louis d'ors this year. I shall continue on this footing, drawing always a hundred louis d'ors every six months, till it please your honorable Congress to fix my stipend. In expectation that the situation of affairs will permit the United States to observe in respect to me, or in case of my death, in respect to my daughter, the wise magnanimity that befits sovereigns, I will serve them, with the same zeal as if they gave me double, and with more inward satisfaction than if any other Power should give me ten fold. I can assure you, Gentlemen, that from the beginning, I have done for the whole American people, as I would do for a friend in danger. For the rest, I am well satisfied and grateful for the obliging things you have written me on this subject, and I do not ask new assurances. It is sufficient for me, that you know my true sentiments, and that you will have the goodness to make them known to the honorable Congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[33] This Declaration is missing.

[34] Several letters from M. Dumas, on the affairs of Holland, in the year 1778, may be found in the Commissioners' Correspondence, in the first volume of the present work.


The Hague, January 1st, 1779.


On the 19th of December, the Grand Pensionary of Holland, before going to the Assembly of the States of Holland, received from the Duc de la Vauguyon,[Pg 346] Ambassador of France, a note, explanatory of the Memorial presented to their High Mightinesses the 7th, as follows.

"The king, determined to have perfect certainty of the final resolution of the States, flatters himself that their High Mightinesses will explain themselves in a clear and precise manner, upon the point of perfect neutrality, which his Majesty is persuaded that they do not wish to swerve from. He expects that they will preserve to the flag of the United Provinces all the liberty that belongs to them, in consequence of their independence, and to their commerce all the integrity that the law of nations secures to it, and that treaties confirm to it. But this liberty will become illusory, and this integrity violated, if their High Mightinesses do not maintain it by a suitable protection, and if they consent to deprive their subjects of convoy, without which they cannot enjoy, in their full extent, the rights which they have acquired and claim. A resolution of whatever nature it be whose effect should be to deprive them of a protection so legitimate, whether for all branches of their commerce in general, or in particular for articles of naval stores of any kind, would be regarded under present circumstances as an act of partiality derogatory to the principles of an absolute neutrality, and would inevitably produce the consequences mentioned in the Memoir, which has been sent to their High Mightinesses. It is especially to this essential object, and with the further intention to observe a neutrality thus described, that the king asks of their High Mightinesses an answer clear and precise."

[Pg 347]The same morning the States of Holland adopted by a majority the following answer, previously advised on the 16th by the Admiralty.

"That their High Mightinesses have always set, and will set, much value on a good understanding with his Majesty, and that they would cultivate willingly his friendship and affection for this State, by all means which insure the independent repose of the Republic, and contribute to their perfect neutrality in the existing differences between his Majesty and the king of Great Britain. That their High Mightinesses do not fear to declare with openness and candor to his Majesty, that their design is to adhere scrupulously to the said neutrality, in firm confidence that the two powers will be satisfied, and that they will permit to their High Mightinesses the peaceable enjoyment of it. That the commerce and navigation of the Republic, being one of its principal means of subsistence, its free exercise their High Mightinesses have strongly at heart. Their High Mightinesses flatter themselves also that the two powers are inclined, and will be persuaded to leave to them the course which the law of nations and treaties guaranty, and that if any discussion takes place on this subject, it will be attributed solely to the moderation and caution of their High Mightinesses, in compliance with the suggestions of prudence, if to measures adapted to the protection of their commerce and their free navigation, without distinction as to the property of the cargoes, and to the support of their neutrality, they add others, intended to avoid all occasions of misunderstanding; that their High Mightinesses are too firmly convinced of his[Pg 348] Majesty's justice, to doubt that he will be satisfied with this candid exposition of the sentiments of their High Mightinesses, or that he will continue to observe, in his treatment of neutrals, and consequently of the subjects of their High Mightinesses, the rules, which his Majesty has himself considered to be conformable to the law of nations; and that he will continue in the disposition, on which the commerce, at present existing between the subjects of both powers, to the mutual advantage of both parties, is founded."

The resolution adopting this answer was invalidated at the same time by the following protest.

"The Deputies of the city of Amsterdam, adhering to their protest and note inserted on the 18th of November last, against the resolution adopted the same day, on the final remonstrance of the merchants of this country, on the subject of the seizure of their vessels by the English, and the carrying them into English ports, as is therein more fully detailed, have declared, that they cannot agree to the resolution of their Noble and Grand Mightinesses, adopted this day on the Memorial presented to their High Mightinesses by the Duc de la Vauguyon, wherein he demands the observance of an exact neutrality during the existence of the troubles with England in general, and the maintenance of the freedom of the flag of the Republic, as well as of the commerce and navigation of this country to the French ports in particular; unless in the meantime should be given by the said resolution the clear and precise answer demanded by the said Memorial, and on which depends in great part the commerce of this country to the ports of France, declaring also that they would not be in any manner responsible for the evils that come upon the com[Pg 349]merce and navigation of the Republic, as well from the present resolution as from that of the 18th of November last."

This has not hindered the States-General from adopting also the answer. On the 30th of December it was carried, by the agent of their High Mightinesses, to the Ambassador, who did not accept it, as not being such as the King demanded. On which they have determined to send it to M. de Berkenrode, at Paris, to endeavor to cause it to be accepted by his Majesty.

On my return here on Tuesday evening, I went to see our friend. Nothing has yet been done; but in spite of all that can be done tomorrow, said he, things will finally go well. He told me also, that the credit of Sir Joseph Yorke with a certain great personage was manifest more and more, and that there was no longer room to doubt that the latter had secret engagements with the Court of London.

I was the next day at the house of the French Ambassador. Their High Mightinesses had sent him their answer to the Memorial, and he had sent it back, as not admissible. He has in his pocket the Declaration of the King, by which the subjects of the State are excluded from his order in favor of neutrals, and deprived of the privileges which they enjoy in the ports of the kingdom. It will be soon published. This affair will do as much good to the Anti-English in these provinces, as the taking of Bergen-op-zoom did them harm thirty years ago. The time will come when they will be obliged to have recourse to the city of Amsterdam, to remove the proscription, which too much complaisance to the Court of London is drawing upon these Provinces.

Late on Wednesday I went to see our friend. He could only give me one moment. The answer of the[Pg 350] States-General to the Memorial of the French Ambassador is the same as that adopted by a majority in the States of Holland, excepting some additions which are not material. The Deputies have not even consulted their respective Provinces thereon; another blow given to the constitution. One of the Deputies, with whom I had some conversation, gave me as the only excuse;—"It is not the first time we have done it." I have seen a letter from an able hand, in one of the Provinces, wherein much censure and heavy reproaches are cast on this method of proceeding. Friesland can least of all dispense with the commerce of France.

January 2d. There is today a grand concert at the Hotel de France. The Court is there. The Ambassador does the reverse of what is practised at the theatre; he began with the farce, and will finish with the tragedy. They flatter themselves here, that he will not press matters, because they have given him to understand that they have convoked the Admiralty to deliberate more fully on the convoys. But they do not say what all the world knows, that they have sent the rejected answer to the Ambassador of the Republic at Paris to endeavor to have it accepted by the King. Labor lost.

Our friend is fortunate in all this. He has the finest part to perform, and he will perform it to his glory. He advances rapidly in the paths of former great men of the Republic. On the other side, the firmness of Amsterdam is seconded very seasonably by the Memorial.

I doubt not, Gentlemen, but the result has made you see the importance of what has passed here, and how far my proceedings have been useful in the business, to bring it to the point where it now is.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 351]


The Hague, January 12th, 1779.


The States of Holland assemble tomorrow. Our friend comes this evening and I shall see him. They are here every day more embarrassed. Far from the answer to the Memoir sent by their High Mightinesses to their Ambassador at Paris being accepted, the Ambassador of France has received an express from his Court, the purport of which we shall know at the same time with the result of the deliberations of the States of Holland.

January 13th. The Assembly today has been occupied only with simple formalities. I know on very good authority, that Amsterdam will have permission to trade to the French Isles in America, as well directly as by way of St Eustatia and Curaçoa; and I have been authorised to inform certain armed houses [maisons armés] of it, in order that they may be able to speculate in advance upon it.

January 14th. They wished to resolve today by a majority for a delay of four months longer for the convoys of ship timber. All at once Haerlem is ranged on the side of Amsterdam, and Alcmaer has taken the matter ad referendum; which has much displeased a grand personage present. The Grand Pensionary cried out also much upon it, and wished to engage the Deputies of this city to accede to the opinion of the majority; but they alleged the orders of their city in excuse. This is the cause that the resolution cannot be passed till next week. It will be such, moreover, that the Court of France will regard it as derogatory to perfect neutrality; for the majority will always prevail, but then Amsterdam, Haerlem and perhaps[Pg 352] Alcmaer will protest. You see, Gentlemen, that the opposition not only sustains itself, but gains ground. This opposition was almost nothing six months ago; it was a feeble plant that could only stand by bending when the wind blew; now it is a solid and robust body, well supported, which resists all the efforts of the English party, which has broken them, and which will succeed at length in prevailing over this party, and will restore to the Republic its ancient dignity.

January 16th, morning. Yesterday, the 15th, in the evening, the Ambassador sought me out to go and confirm, on his part, to our friend, that this morning he should present a Memorial to the President of their High Mightinesses, with the new order of the King, which excludes the commerce and navigation of —— from the favors which France permits neutrals to enjoy on the sea and in her ports, and preserves them only to the flag of the city of Amsterdam, and that after that he should, (though against usage) make the circuit of the hotels of all the cities of Holland, and testify to their respective Pensionaries the regret and repugnance with which the King will see himself forced by themselves to publish the said order. I waited at the Hotel de France till two o'clock in the morning, to give to the Ambassador, who supped abroad, the answer of our friend. He sent it off the same night by express to his Court, and I hold myself ready this morning to report on his part to our friend the manner in which all shall pass.

16th, evening. This morning the Ambassador, after having presented his Memorial to the President of their High Mightinesses, made the rounds to give information of it to the Grand Pensionary of Holland, to the Secretary of their High Mightinesses, to the Prince Stadtholder, to the Pen[Pg 353]sionaries of the cities of Amsterdam, Dort, Brille, and Rotterdam. He was nearly two hours with the Deputies of this last city. He testified to all of them the regret of the King in having to withdraw from them his favors, and to permit one patriotic city alone to enjoy them. All manifested more discontent at this distinction, than at the privation, and there is danger of I know not what fatal consequences. They pretend that it is a thing without example and against their constitution to treat with one city only. The Ambassador replied to them, that this was a wrong view, that there was neither treaty nor convention between France and Amsterdam, but that he merely let this place continue to enjoy what she enjoyed before, and that the Republic ought to be on the contrary well satisfied that by means of this city she would not lose all. The next week he will see the Pensionaries of the other cities. For the rest I am of opinion that all this will be arranged yet satisfactorily, and that the Republic, seeing that the thing is serious, will take the part of giving satisfaction to France.

January 17th. I gave the Ambassador today an account of the discourse that I held yesterday with our friend. I must return tomorrow with the Ambassador. I only tell you, Gentlemen, the essentials, and spare you the detail of messages, which they charge me with, whose result only is interesting. My interposition saves the noise there would be from too frequent interviews between persons who are watched.

January 20th. The two Pensionaries of Amsterdam went this morning on the part of their city to the house of the Ambassador, to give thanks, and to say that they hoped his Majesty would not deprive the other confederates of favors, which he is willing to preserve to them.[Pg 354] Thence they went to the Grand Pensionary, to give him information of this proceeding. In place of sour looks and altercations, which they expected as well at the States of the Province today as elsewhere, they were agreeably surprised to find themselves treated everywhere with much respect. Those of Rotterdam, among others, sought their intercession for their city. The merchants of Rotterdam came to implore the protection of the gentlemen of Amsterdam, who properly sent them away to their own magistrates. The Ambassador, on his part, notified this morning the Grand Pensionary by word of mouth, and afterwards, at his request, by a note in form of a letter, that the King has fixed the 26th of January to publish the new order, if he should not receive such an answer as he demands.

January 21st. Nothing is done yet. The advice of the Admiralty proposed today to the States of Holland is in contradiction with itself. They annul in truth their famous resolution of the 18th of November, as to the restriction of convoy, (from which they wished then to exclude ship timber) but would suspend the adoption of the resolution as to the extension of these convoys, until the time when they would assign their crews. This is only pushing time by the shoulders; it is the Lernean hydra, whose heads started up in place of those that were destroyed. For they agree on all the rest. There were yesterday only altercations and reproaches, to which those of Amsterdam answered with as much moderation and decency as firmness. All has been deferred till tomorrow, and if they will decide the affair by the majority, Amsterdam will protest anew.

January 22d. Nothing yet is done in the Assembly of Holland. The Grand Pensionary had proposed a draft of[Pg 355] a resolution, which Amsterdam would not agree to, because there were terms, which appeared deceptive, and which were susceptible of a different explanation at the Court of London from what it might receive at that of France. The principal is this; they would delay the final resolution for the extension of convoy to the 26th, the day when the Admiralty must assign the crews and armaments. Now this extension will only signify in relation to one of the powers, the force of the convoys; in relation to the other, the suspension of convoy for ship timber. Those of Haerlem have, therefore, proposed some amendments. If all acquiesce, they may tomorrow adopt a unanimous resolution that may, perhaps, satisfy France.

January 23d. Yet undecided. All the cities, meanwhile, are of one mind with Amsterdam, on the plan proposed by Haerlem. But a great personage, with the majority of the nobility, still dispute about the terms. Pending this, a courier has been despatched today to Paris, to obtain, if possible, a further delay of a week in favor of the city of Amsterdam, which strongly interceded in behalf of the others. It remains to be known if this courier can arrive in time on the 26th. Amsterdam has declared today that she will remain firm and immovable, and will neither suffer herself to be forced or deceived. A very strong expression.

January 29th. Contrary to all appearances they have not resolved anything today. The answer proposed by the Admiralty was so obscure and ambiguous, that Amsterdam has given notice, that she will protest again that it was only necessary to communicate to France the resolution of the 26th instant, by which the republic repealed[Pg 356] that of the 18th of November, which displeased France, and embraced the most perfect neutrality. They were not willing to follow this advice, and they have again prolonged the Assembly till Tuesday or Wednesday next. They wish to deceive us, said our friend, but they will not succeed.

February 4th. The Assembly of Holland resolved today, by a majority, on the answer to be given to France, referred from yesterday, against which Amsterdam with Haerlem has renewed formally her protestation of the 19th of December. After which the Assembly separated. It will meet again the 25th of February.

February 16th. The States-General have not yet made answer to the Ambassador. The Deputies of the Provinces have declared, that they were not authorised thereto by their constituents.

I am returned from Amsterdam, where I have been to see if the four new Burgomasters, who have entered upon office, are in the same disposition as those of the past year; and I have found that all goes on well; as also if the merchants intend to profit forthwith by the privileges conceded to them. A letter will not admit of the details, which I have communicated hereon to the Ambassador of France. The paper here annexed, which I have drawn up and circulated, will give you a summary view of all that has passed of interest.

Our friend has sent me the materials for a plan of a treaty between the two Republics. I am occupied with it. As soon as it is drafted, I will make copies for America and Paris.

The long silence that America keeps, and the rumors which are industriously spread, and which nobody has au[Pg 357]thentically contradicted, of divisions that prevail there, of the submission even of two or three of the most Southern States, and even of Virginia, make me see and experience more reserve and timidity, on the part even of those of Amsterdam, than in the past year. I pray God to guard America from traitors as well as from open enemies.

February 24th. There is a letter from the Prince Stadtholder to the States of the Province of Friesland, which will have serious consequences, because it is very partial to England and against France. I had the good fortune, Friday the 19th, to be able to procure an authentic copy of it for the Ambassador. I learned the same day, that it was printed at Amsterdam. It sells, circulates rapidly, and makes much noise.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, March 1st, 1779.


I have nothing to add to the extracts here annexed, except to press anew the necessity there is that the most honorable Congress send me a commission in all its forms of Chargé d'Affaires, and agent of the United States of America in the United Provinces of the Low Countries, with power to manage and watch over their political interests, and those of the navigation and commerce of the American Union, as well near their High Mightinesses the States-General of the United Provinces of the Low Countries, now and at all times when opportunity shall be presented, as near each Province, city, and individual of this Republic.

[Pg 358]The opposition formed, sustained, and consolidated against the enormous influence which your enemies had over this republic, is the work of three persons, of whom I have the honor in my sphere to be one.

With orders and powers more precise on the part of Congress, I should have been able to contract long since, with merchants of this country, for useful expeditions, and to defeat divers adventurers and intriguers, who, falsely boasting of full powers and of credentials which they have not, have abused and much deceived the people and compromised the dignity and credit of the United States. The little I have been able to do in this respect, has been done with a pure zeal, and a disinterestedness and discretion, which I dare propose as an example to others, who may be called to a similar service. I can boldly defy all the world to accuse me of having in any case preferred my own interest to that of the American people.

My request, at the commencement of this letter, has for its object the service of the United States of America, as much at least as the proper care of my fortune, of my family, my honor and credit, my character and safety. The earliest of your agents and correspondents, Gentlemen, in Europe, out of Great Britain, has risked all these things from the time he received and accepted this honor, with a confidence equal to that with which it was offered.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 359]


The Hague, April 29th, 1779.


In all this month nothing has passed remarkable here, unless it be the Memorial presented by the English Ambassador. But in this interval I have taken part in a secret operation, which has confided the credit and secrets of America to a House at Amsterdam, truly patriotic, and not suspected of collusion with the enemy. Dr Franklin is fully apprized of it all.

Here is an extract from a letter to him.

"The States of the Province of Holland have assembled here this morning. It is only an ordinary session; and our friend said to me pleasantly, 'We have only come to hold the fair.' He foresees also that the resolution of the States-General, as to convoy, will not be such as to engage France to revoke or mitigate her last edict of navigation. One of the first Houses of Amsterdam, and whose predilection for England is known, has sold £60,000 of English funds. This has revived the idea of a declaration from Spain, and has depressed the English funds at Amsterdam from three to four per cent. There is a shower of pamphlets here, both in French and Dutch, against the last Memoir of Sir Joseph Yorke."

For a long time, Gentlemen, we have heard nothing here of American affairs, but through the wicked channel of your enemies, who do not cease to paint the Americans as a people disunited and discordant. These eternal repetitions, and their pretended success in Georgia, do not fail to disquiet your friends and to embarrass all my endeavors.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 360]


The Hague, May 15th, 1779.


I have already had the honor of informing you many times, that some of my frequent letters to Passy are of a nature not to be communicated to you, even in abridgement, through the risk that my packets run of being intercepted; such are, particularly, divers letters written to Dr Franklin, from the 25th of January to the 29th of April. There is a cabal of Genevan and Swiss bankers, as well in France as at Amsterdam, friendly to your enemies, which does as much injury as it can under the mask of friendship. It was my duty to unmask some of them to Dr Franklin, and to make known to him a safe Anti-English patriotic House, having the confidence of the magistracy of Amsterdam. The Ministry in France know it.

Upon the last petitions of the merchants of Dort, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Friesland, the States-General, after having previously deliberated and advised, and then reconsidered the affair, adopted on Monday, the 26th of April, the resolution to equip for the service of the current year, 1779, thirtytwo vessels of war, as follows;

4 vessels of 60 guns, 350 men = 240 guns, 1400 men.
1 " 60 " 340 " = 60 " 340 "
1 " 60 " 290 " = 60 " 290 "
8 " 50 " 300 " = 400 " 2400 "
2 frigates 40 " 250 " = 80 " 500 "
8 " 36 " 230 " = 288 " 1840 "
7 " 20 " 150 " = 140 " 1050 "
1 snow 12 " 100 " = 12 " 100 "
32 vessels and frigates, 1280 guns, 7920 men.

[Pg 361]Of these thirtytwo vessels and frigates, the College of Admiralty of Meuse will furnish

1 vessel of 60 guns 350 men = 60 guns 350 men.
1 " 50 " 300 " = 50 " 300 "
3 frigates 36 " 230 " = 108 " 690 "
1 " 20 " 150 " = 20 " 150 "
1 snow 12 " 100 " = 12 " 100 "
7 vessels and frigates, 250 guns 1590 men.

The College of Amsterdam,

2 vessels of 60 guns 350 men = 120 guns 700 men.
4 " 50 " 300 " = 200 " 1200 "
2 frigates 40 " 250 " = 80 " 500 "
2 " 36 " 230 " = 72 " 460 "
2 " 20 " 150 " = 40 " 300 "
12 vessels and frigates, 512 guns 3160 men.

The College of Zealand,

1 vessel of 60 guns 350 men.
1 " 60 " 290 "
1 " 50 " 300 "
1 frigate 36 " 230 "
1 " 20 " 150 "
5 ves. &c. 226 guns 1320 men.

The College of West Friesland and the Quarter of the North,

1 frigate of 36 guns 230 men = 36 guns 230 men.
2 " 20 " 150 " = 40 " 300 "
3 frigates 76 guns 530 men.

[Pg 362]The College of Friesland,

1 vessel of 60 guns 340 men = 60 guns 340 men.
2 " 50 " 300 " = 100 " 600 "
1 frigate 36 " 230 " = 36 " 230 "
1 " 20 " 150 " = 20 " 150 "
5 vessels and frigates, 216 guns 1320 men.

The expense of this enrollment of seven thousand nine hundred and twenty men amounts, at thirtysix florins a head, by the month, to two hundred and eightyfive thousand seven hundred and twenty florins each month, and for fourteen months, to three millions nine hundred and ninetyone thousand six hundred and eighty florins, of which the moiety (or one million nine hundred and ninetyfive thousand eight hundred and forty florins) is taken from the appropriation de la petition de guerre of the 3d of November of the past year, and the other moiety from the appropriation des droits augmentés d'entrée et de gabelle.

The payments will be made to the respective Colleges of Admiralty on the usual footing, to wit, the quarter of the whole charge of each vessel, when the vessel shall be equipped, the half when the vessel shall have served twelve months after the enlistment of the crew, and fourteen months if it is a vessel continued in the service after having been equipped for former service. The resolution enjoins on the Admiralty to hasten the equipments, to the end that every month there may be a convoy for the ports of France and England; for Lisbon and the Mediterranean as often as wanted; and for the West Indies twice a year.

I got a knowledge of this resolution the 1st of May, in the evening. The next day I apprized the French Ambassa[Pg 363]dor, who would not believe it at first. I gave him a copy, and sent a translation to Passy. The secrecy with which they adopted it, and kept it unknown many days, shows that they wished to prevent its publicity, and as it is yet a little deceptive as to ship timber, which is neither named nor excepted, it will not be, probably, communicated to the French Ambassador. It is important, as serving to support the Province of Holland against the other Provinces, all devoted to the Court.

On the 11th of May, the body of merchants of Amsterdam presented an address to the Admiralty to hasten the convoy in consequence of the above resolve of the 26th of April, on the faith of which they had already made their speculations and taken their measures, especially as to ship timber.

On the 14th I learned that the Admiralty not having answered satisfactorily the above address of the merchants of Amsterdam, the latter had prepared an address to their High Mightinesses, to remonstrate more strongly than ever. On the other side, the excitement and murmurs increasing at Rotterdam, whence the merchants threaten to withdraw and establish themselves at Amsterdam, the Deputies of Rotterdam have made a proposition to the Provincial Assembly, that they shall finally adopt, in concert with the other Provinces, or, in case of their default, with Holland alone, a decided resolution, and measures to put an end to all these differences, and to prevent the total ruin of the city of Rotterdam. The proposition has been committed.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 364]


Passy, September 2d, 1779.


I desire you may repair immediately to Amsterdam to render all the services that may depend on you to a squadron under command of Mr Jones, bearing the American flag, which is bound to the Texel.

The vessels which compose this squadron are,

Bon Homme Richard, Capt. Jones, 42 guns.
Alliance, Capt. Landais, 36 guns.
Pallas, Capt. Cottineau, 30 guns.
Cerf, Capt. Varages, 18 guns.
Vengeance, Capt. Ricot, 12 guns.

Vessels which may have joined.

Monsieur, Capt. ——, 40 guns.
Grandville, Capt. ——, 12 guns.
Mifflin, Capt. ——, 22 guns.

It is necessary that you require of the commandants of these vessels the greatest circumspection not to offend the Dutch and not to afford subject for any complaint.

If this squadron has need of any refreshments or aid, you will address yourself to M. De Neufville to procure them.

As soon as said squadron arrives, I wish you to advise me of it, that I may take the necessary measures to send to the Americans the supplies of which they may have need.

I have the honor to be, &c.


Approved, B. FRANKLIN.

[Pg 365]


The Hague, September 14th, 1779.


Political affairs continue here on the same footing as I left them. Convoys are not granted, not even for vessels and cargoes of which there is no dispute, because they are unwilling that vessels loaded with timber should take advantage of the opportunity, and join themselves to the fleet under convoy. On the other side, Leyden has at length joined the party of Amsterdam, which consists, at present, of eight or nine cities in favor of the deliberations for the Province to provide separately for the protection of its commerce; otherwise all the trafficers in wool, who do a great business in this article, among others for Flanders, both French and Austrian, will retire from Leyden to Amsterdam.

The Ambassador of France wishes that the great city had shown itself less inflexible against the army augmentation, and that it had set off this augmentation against unlimited and effectual convoys. I am not of this opinion. I think they would thereby put a dangerous weapon into the hands of the Anglomanes, and that the convoys would be no less evaded, and the republican party led by the nose. Our friend reasons better, in wishing that his country should be a commercial, and not a mediating power in Europe. In fact, since from the acknowledgment of the Anglomanes themselves there is little to fear for the Republic, (for on the part of the English it is clear that it is not military but naval forces that she wants); and since both are so much at the disposal of the Anglo[Pg 366]manes, it is as well for us and for the Republic itself that they should remain on the old footing; and this probably will happen; for commerce, seeing they do not protect it, will not the next year pay the double of the right of entry and the excise; and this will reduce the fleet of the Republic from thirty two to twentytwo vessels, great and small.

September 20th. The Court of France has made a declaration here, that it has prohibited throughout the kingdom, the importation of cheese from North Holland. This interdict will not be removed until the cities of North Holland have acceded to the affair of convoy.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, September 20th, 1779.


Returned from Passy, where I have been detained some weeks longer than I had expected, and during which, affairs have not suffered here from my absence, because I constantly kept up correspondence with our great and worthy friend in this country; returned also from Amsterdam, where I was ordered to go for some secret business; I have the honor to send you herewith the public papers, which will apprize you of what has happened throughout Europe these last few months; you will see also by my letter to Dr Franklin, the present state of affairs in this Republic.

Dr Franklin has not yet had leisure to send me back the plan of a future treaty with this Republic, to which he is to join his remarks.

[Pg 367]I am to set out immediately for Texel, with letters and secret instructions to Commodore Jones's squadron, whose arrival there I expect every hour; therefore I must finish here abruptly, and defer writing to his Excellency, the President of Congress, concerning his letter of the 3d of January last to Dr Franklin, also a resolution of Congress about Colonel Diricks, of December 23d, 1778. I only add here, that I have no doubt the Colonel is fitter for fighting battles than for negotiating a treaty or a loan.

Neufville, too, seems to me, as well as to the gentlemen at Passy, to have promised more than he can now effectuate respecting a loan; however, I still recommend his house to other good American merchants, as a house very proper to deal with in the mercantile line. But ne sutor ultra crepidam.

I have the honor to be, &c.


Agreement between John Paul Jones and Captain Pearson.

It is hereby agreed between John Paul Jones, Captain in the American navy, Commander of the continental squadron now in the road of Texel; and Richard Pearson, Captain in the British navy, late Commodore of the British Baltic fleet, and now a prisoner of war to the United States of North America; as follows.

1st. Captain Jones freely consents, in behalf of the United States, to land on the Island of Texel the dangerously wounded prisoners now in his hands, to be there supported and provided with good surgeons and medicine,[Pg 368] at the expense of the United States of America, and agreeable to the permission, which he has received from the States-General of Holland, to guard them with sentinel in the fort on the Texel, with liberty to remove them again from thence at his free will and pleasure.

2dly. Captain Pearson engages, in behalf of the British Government, that all the British prisoners that may be landed as mentioned in the last article shall be considered afterwards as prisoners of war to the United States of America, until they are exchanged, except only such as may in the meantime die of their wounds.

3dly. Captain Pearson further engages, in behalf of the British Government, that should any of the British subjects, now prisoners of war in the hands of Captain Jones, desert or abscond, either from the fort on the Texel or otherwise, in consequence of the first article, an equal number of American prisoners shall be released, and sent from England to France by the next cartel.

4thly. And Captain Jones engages, on the part of the United States, that if any of the prisoners who shall be landed should die while on shore in his custody in the fort, no exchange of them shall be claimed.

Done on board the American frigate the Pallas, at anchor in the Texel, this 3d day of October, 1779.


[Pg 369]


Amsterdam, October 8th, 1779.

High and Mighty Lords,

Captain Riemersma, commanding in the absence of Vice-Admiral Reynst, in the Road of the Texel, has informed us by message, of the entry into the said road of five vessels, viz. two French frigates, one American frigate, and two prizes made by them, under command of Paul Jones, who has addressed himself in person to said Captain Riemersma, and has asked him if he might put on shore the English Captains, and hire also a house for the recovery of the wounded; the said Captain demanding thereon our orders, and asking besides if he should return this visit.

On which we have answered to Captain Riemersma, that we could not grant the request made by the commander of these vessels, to put on shore the English Captains, nor permission to hire a house on shore to put his sick and wounded in; that for the rest, we suppose that the instructions received from his Most Serene Highness would enable the said Captain to comport himself suitably.

Besides, that he the Captain ought to look out, that for unloading, or in advancing further into the Roadstead than is necessary for protection from storms and other accidents, he should not contravene by his vessels the Placard of their High Mightinesses, of November 3d, 1756.

We have the honor to submit all this to the view of your High Mightinesses, hoping that our conduct will be so fortunate as to meet your approbation, &c.

[Pg 370]

Placard of 1756, referred to in the above Letter.

"The States-General of the United Provinces, to all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting. Be it known, that having been advised that some vessels of war or foreign privateers, abusing the liberty that was granted them of resorting to and anchoring in our harbors, in case of want or accident, and of bringing with them the vessels or effects taken by them from their enemies, have undertaken to sell or dispose of their said prizes, which is directly against our intention, and may give rise to a misunderstanding between us and our neighbors, which we desire to prevent as much as is in our power, by all possible means, having considered what may best conduce to this end, we have thought good to declare, ordain and resolve as follows.

"Hereafter all vessels of war and foreign privateers, whatever they may be, which shall enter into the roadsteads, rivers and waters, of this State, shall hoist on their arrival the flag of the nation to which they belong, and not advance further into said rivers and waters, than to secure themselves from tempests and other perils, without permission of the College of Admiralty, in the district in which they may be. They shall abstain from every act which may offend or aggrieve any one, whether stranger or subject of the State, but conduct on the contrary, in said waters in a manner not to harm or give cause of complaint to any one, under penalty not only of not receiving any assistance, but also of being expelled by force. In case that any vessel of war or privateer having letters of reprisal refuse to hoist on arrival its flag, or may be in the said waters and rivers without permission of the College of Ad[Pg 371]miralty in the district where they are, the crew will be regarded and treated as pirates. All officers of vessels of war or foreign privateers, which shall enter into the mouths of rivers of this State with their vessels and prizes, or with their prizes only, shall be bound to abstain from announcing or publishing in any manner said prizes, from discharging them in whole or in part, from selling or disposing of them; but they shall keep or retain them entire, and put to sea with them, returning in the same state as when they arrived; under pain of being deprived of said prizes, which shall be seized by the officers of this State and kept by the College of Admiralty of the district, till the counsellors of said College, having taken cognizance of the fact, shall judge proper to dispose of them agreeably to the exigency of the case.

"And to the end that these orders may be better executed, all officers and masters of privateers, which shall anchor in the harbors of this State, shall be holden to give notice at the first place where they shall come, of the cause of their arrival to the officers charged by the State with the inspection of the entry of vessels, to present to said officers their commissions, and especially to declare what prizes they have made, on what nation they have made them, and in general in what their cargoes consist. Moreover the said vessels of war or privateers shall permit the said officers to put persons on board said prizes to guard them, and prevent anything from being sold or discharged contrary to the present decree, and in this manner they shall put to sea with their prizes, and depart from the harbors of this State.

"And to give more effect to our intentions, and the better to prevent all difference on this subject, we advise by these[Pg 372] presents all the inhabitants of this State, and others who reside here, that they will have to conform to their provisions, and will be careful of taking upon themselves to purchase, accept, or take for their own account, part or the whole of any prize brought into the harbors of this State under any pretext whatever, and also of aiding or facilitating, with their persons, vessels, or boats the sale, discharge, or removal of said prizes; under penalty, not only that all the effects they shall have acquired against the present decree, (without receiving any compensation for what they have disbursed, or their arrears of wages,) shall be seized by the College of Admiralty of the District, and confiscated to the profit of whom it may concern; but also that the party shall be condemned to the payment of one thousand florins, one third of which shall be to the use of the State, one third to the informer, whose name shall remain secret, and the remaining third for the officer who shall have received the complaint.

"And in order that no person may pretend ignorance, we desire and request the Lords the Committee of Roads and the Deputies of the States of the respective Provinces immediately to announce, publish and post up the present Placard wherever need shall be, and as it is customary to practise. We enjoin moreover and command the Counsellors of the Admiralty, the Advocate of the Treasury, the Admirals, Vice-Admirals, Captains, Officers and Commandants, as also the Commissaries, and Commissioners of Search in the harbors and other places to execute and cause to be executed the present order; to proceed and cause proceedings to be had against offenders, without any connivance, favor, dissimulation or agreement; for we have thus judged necessary for the service of the State.

[Pg 373]"Done and concluded at the Assembly of their High Highnesses the States-General at the Hague, the third of November, one thousand seven hundred and fiftysix."


Amsterdam, October 12th, 1779.

High and Mighty Lords,

To satisfy the orders of their High Mightinesses and their resolution of the 8th of this month, wherein it has pleased them to demand our opinion and our consideration of the annexed Memorial of Sir Joseph Yorke, Ambassador Extraordinary from his Majesty the King of Great Britain near the Republic, we take the liberty to answer respectfully their High Mightinesses, that we had the honor to inform them by our letter of the 8th of this month of the entry of five ships; and at the same time of the answer we had given to Captain Riemersma, commanding at that time in the Roads of the Texel, on the request that had been made to him by Captain Paul Jones, the said answer containing in substance that in the belief that these ships would depart on the first opportunity, we should not grant the debarkation and the stay on shore which was asked for, of two English Captains, nor permit the hiring of a house to transport the sick and wounded; and that moreover we charged the said Captain to keep watch there; that to provide that these ships should be in security and safe from storms and other accidents, would not contravene the placard of your High Mightinesses of November 3d, 1756, which we regard as the rule according to which all foreign ships of war whatever they be, and from whatever port[Pg 374] they come, which enter into the harbors or roadsteads of the Republic ought to be treated, and as having been given with the view that the said foreign ships should put to sea with their prizes, without discharging them in whole or in part and without selling them or disposing of them in any manner; that for these reasons, it has appeared to us that the seizure of the said ships and officers and sailors would be a contravention of the said placard; that besides, humanity requires that the said ships may stay to effect any repairs of which they have need, and to procure to the sick and wounded all the alleviations necessary, for the administering of which it is expedient that they be brought on shore.

On which we have judged it proper to make representation to their High Mightinesses, whether it would not be proper to charge Captain Riemersma, commandant at the Roadstead of the Texel, and to give him order to permit the debarkation of the sick and wounded from said ships, to enable them to receive the most prompt assistance; which we should have already granted ourselves upon the requests, which have been addressed to us on behalf of said sick and wounded, if we could have thought we had a right to do it without the authorisation of their High Mightinesses; submitting in this respect all final determinations to their high wisdom, and to their better opinion.

Deliberating on this, the Deputies of the Province of Holland and of West Friesland have taken a copy of the above letter to be more amply communicated; and nevertheless it has been found good and determined that a copy of said letter should be put into the hands of M. de Linden de Hemme and other deputies for marine affairs to see, examine and take into consideration the opinion of the Commissioners of the respective Colleges of Admiralty, and to make report thereon to the Assembly.

[Pg 375]


Extract from the records of their High Mightinesses.

October 15th, 1779.

M. de Heekeren de Brantzenburg, President of the Assembly, has imparted to their High Mightinesses, that he was informed by Sir Joseph Yorke, of the deplorable condition of the sick and wounded who are on board the English vessels Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, taken by Paul Jones and brought into the Texel, and who, as humanity requires, not only has not refused them accommodation, but even has procured them all the assistance and all the supplies possible, and submitted to the consideration of their High Mightinesses if it would not please them without delay to authorise the College of Admiralty of Amsterdam to have put on shore the said sick and wounded, to be there tended and nursed.

On which, having deliberated, it has been thought good and decreed, that without prejudice to ulterior deliberations of their High Mightinesses on the Memorial, which has been sent to them on this subject by Sir Joseph Yorke, the 8th of this month, everything continuing in this respect in the same state, it be written to the College of Admiralty of Amsterdam to authorise it, and it is authorised by the present resolution to permit not only that the sick and wounded, who are in said vessels, be landed or put on board a hospital ship, as soon as one can be prepared for this purpose, but besides that they be furnished by the ships of war of the Republic now in the Roadstead, with the medicines and provisions necessary, and that the surgeons of said ships of war may bestow their care in the treatment of those sick and wounded who shall be debarked. It being[Pg 376] well understood, that by this arrangement nothing shall be accounted to be changed relative to the condition of said sick and wounded; that their High Mightinesses will not be responsible for those, who may be able to take advantage of the opportunity for escape, and that under any pretext, either to guard the prisoners or to maintain discipline, there may not be allowed to go on shore armed men, more than three or four, and armed only with their swords; that finally, nothing may be done in said department and dependencies but with the knowledge and under the authority of the officer commanding the vessels of the Republic, which are in the Roadstead, and of those in whose jurisdiction shall be the place where the sick and wounded may be debarked.


Their Noble and Grand Mightinesses, the Lords States of Holland and of West Friesland, in their Assembly of Thursday, the 21st of October, 1779, having resolved to qualify their Deputies in the Generality to conform in the Assembly of their High Mightinesses to the following advice;

They are of opinion, that they should answer the Memorial of Sir Joseph Yorke, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of his Britannic Majesty, presented the 8th of this month, that their High Mightinesses be informed that a short time since there entered into the Texel three frigates, viz. two French, and one styling itself American, commanded by Paul Jones, having with them two prizes, made by them at sea, named Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, designated in his Memorial.

[Pg 377]That their High Mightinesses, having for more than a century constantly observed and manifested by successive placards, that they would not in any manner give any judgment for or against the legality or illegality of the acts of those who not sailing under these provinces make prizes at sea and bring them into the roadsteads of this country, not opening their ports to them on any other terms than for them to put in, in case of tempest, or other disasters, and obliging them to return with them to sea as they brought them in, they would not undertake to examine whether the prizes brought in by said three frigates belong to the French or to the Americans, whether they are legal or illegal, but must abandon all this to the decision of those who have jurisdiction, and that they would compel them altogether to return to sea, for that, subject here to be retaken as if they had never landed in this country, they will be judged by the proper tribunal; inasmuch as the Ambassador will acknowledge himself, that he would have no less a right to reclaim them, if they belonged to English subjects, than if they were vessels of the King, which they happened to be in this case; and by consequence, this would not authorise their High Mightinesses to bring it before the tribunals of this country, any more than the person of Paul Jones.

That with respect to acts of humanity, their High Mightinesses have already manifested to the Ambassador their eagerness to exercise them in regard to the wounded on board said vessels, and that they have given orders in consequence.

They would be of opinion, moreover, that they ought to answer the College of Admiralty of Amsterdam, that their High Mightinesses approve what is done; that in conform[Pg 378]ity to their placard of the 3d of November, 1756, which prohibits the overhauling and breaking up of the cargoes of prizes, for the purpose of securing them from recapture, and allowing to the captor the right of disposing of them, they persist in it also in the case of the prizes, Serapis and Countess of Scarborough; authorising said College to do what is in their power that the said five frigates depart, the sooner the better, and to take care that there be not delivered to them nor carried on board any munitions of war or naval stores, but such things only as they want in order to put to sea and reach the first foreign port, to prevent all suspicion of their equipment and arming in this country.


The Hague, October 29th, 1779.


I ought to advise you, that M. de Sartine has informed me, that he has renounced the intentions that I had been charged to communicate to you, and that you will find at Dunkirk orders for your final destination. I learn with much pleasure, that the necessary repairs of the ships, which you command, will be completed immediately, and that you have received all the assistance you could, and ought to expect. I desire very earnestly that success shall again reward your valor. No person will be more rejoiced at it than myself. Believe me, with the sincerest sentiments, &c. &c.


[Pg 379]


The Hague, October 29th, 1779.

High and Mighty Lords,

In thanking your High Mightinesses for the orders your humanity has dictated in relation to the wounded, who were on board two vessels of the King, the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, I only discharge the orders of his Majesty in renewing the most strong and urgent demand for the seizure and restitution of said vessels, as well as for the enlargement of their crews, who have been seized by the pirate Paul Jones, a Scotchman, a rebellious subject and state criminal.

The sentiments of equity and justice of your High Mightinesses leave no room to doubt, that in taking into a more mature deliberation all the circumstances of this affair, you will recognize readily the justice of a demand, founded as well on the most solemn treaties, which have subsisted more than a century between the Crown of Great Britain and the United Provinces, as on the principles of the law of nations, and the custom of friendly and allied States.

The stipulations of the treaty of Breda, of the 31st of July, 1667, confirmed and renewed expressly in that of 1716, and in all the subsequent ones, are too clear and incontestible in this respect not to be felt in all their force.

The King considered it derogatory to his dignity, as well as to that of your High Mightinesses, to expose the particulars of a case so notorious as that in question, or to cite to the ancient friends and allies of his Crown analogous examples of other Princes and States.

[Pg 380]I shall confine myself to the remark, that the placard of your High Mightinesses, in prescribing to the captains of foreign ships of war to show their letters of marque or commissions, authorise you according to the general custom of Admiralties to treat as pirates those, whose letters are found to be illegal for not being issued by a sovereign power.

The character of Paul Jones, and all the circumstances of the affair, cannot by their notoriety be unknown to your High Mightinesses. Europe has her eyes fixed on your resolution. Your High Mightinesses know too well the value of good faith, not to give an example of it on this important occasion. The least deviation from a rule so sacred, in weakening friendship among neighbors, produces often unfortunate consequences.

The King has always made it his pride to cultivate the friendship of your High Mightinesses. His Majesty persists steadfastly in the same sentiments; but the English nation does not think itself bound, by any of its proceedings, to have its citizens detained prisoners in a port of the Republic by an outlaw, a subject of the same country, and who enjoys the liberty of which they are deprived.

It is for all these reasons, and many others equally solid, which cannot escape the great penetration and sagacity of your High Mightinesses, that the undersigned hopes to receive a ready and favorable answer to the above, conformable to the just expectation of the King, his master, and of the British nation.


[Pg 381]


Their High Mightinesses, the States-General of Holland, have granted permission to us to land on the Island of Texel, a number of wounded British prisoners of war now in our hands, to guard them by our American soldiers in the fort of that Island, with the draw bridges hauled up or let down at our discretion, and to remove them again from thence to our ships at our free will and pleasure, and dispose of them afterwards as though they had not been landed. Therefore you are hereby appointed Governor-General over the wounded, and the soldiers, that are destined this day to conduct them there, until further orders.

These wounded prisoners are to be supported and provided with good surgeons and medicine, and with necessary attendance at the expense of the United States. The Commissary of the Admiralty, who resides on the Texel, has undertaken, by our orders, to furnish you with the necessary provisions; and surgeons, medicine and bedding, &c. are sent from the squadron. In short, these prisoners, together with such other sick and wounded as we may hereafter see fit to send to your care in that fort on the Texel, are to be treated with all possible tenderness and humanity. And you are to take care that no person under your command may give any cause of complaint whatever to the subjects or government of this country; but, on the contrary, to behave towards them with the utmost complaisance and civility.

For which this shall be your order.

[Pg 382]Given on board the American ship of war, the Serapis, at anchor in the Road of Texel, November 1st, 1779.



Texel, November 4th, 1779.


This morning the commandant of the Road sent me word to come and speak to him on board his ship. He had before him on the table a letter, which he said was from the Prince of Orange. He questioned me very closely, whether I had a French commission, and if I had, he almost insisted upon seeing it. In conformity to your advice, I told him that my French commission not having been found among my papers since the loss of the Bon Homme Richard, I feared that it had gone to the bottom in that ship; but that, if it was really lost, it would be an easy matter to procure a duplicate of it from France. The commandant appeared to be very uneasy and anxious for my departure. I have told him, that as there are eight of the enemy's ships laying wait for me at the south entrance, and four more at the north entrance of the Port, I was unable to fight more than three times my force; but that he might rest assured of my intention to depart with the utmost expedition, whenever I found a possibility to go clear.

I should be very happy, Sir, if I could tell you of my being ready. I should have departed long ago, if I had met with common assistance; but for a fortnight[Pg 383] past I have every day expected the necessary supply of water from Amsterdam, in cisterns, and I have been last night only informed, that it cannot be had unless I send up water casks. The provisions too, that were ordered the day I returned to Amsterdam from the Hague, are not yet sent down, and the spars that have been sent from Amsterdam are spoiled in the making. None of the iron work that was ordered for the Serapis is yet completed, so that I am, even to this hour, in want of hinges to hang the lower gun ports. My officers and men lost their clothes and beds in the Bon Homme Richard, and they have as yet got no supply. The bread that has been twice a week sent down from Amsterdam to feed my people has been, literally speaking, rotten; and the consequence is, that they are falling sick. It is natural, also, that they should be discontented, while I am not able to tell them that they will be paid the value of their property in the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, if either or both of them should be lost or taken after sailing from hence.

Thus you see, Sir, that my prospects are far from pleasing. I have but few men, and they are discontented. If you can authorise me to promise them, at all hazards, that their property in the prizes shall be made good, and that they shall receive the necessary clothing and bedding, or money to buy them with, I believe I shall soon be able to bring them again into a good humor. In the meantime, I will send a vessel or two out to reconnoiter the offing and to bring me word. Whatever may be the consequence of my having put into this harbor, I must observe that it was[Pg 384] done contrary to my opinion, and I consented to it only because the majority of my colleagues were earnest for it.

I am under a very singular obligation to you, Sir, for your kind letter, which you did me the honor to write to me on the 29th of last month. It shall be my ambition to get clear of my present embarrassment, and to merit, what I so much esteem, the good opinion of your Excellency and of the Court, by my future service in support of the common cause.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Helder, November 9th, 1779.


To fulfil my promise, it is my duty by the first post to give information to your Excellency, that in spite of the bad roads and dark nights I arrived here this morning. I saw immediately M. Cottineau, from whom here is a letter enclosed to your Excellency. There was a violent storm, which prevented me from going on board the Serapis. Nevertheless, having found means to make known my arrival to the Commodore, he came on shore this evening for half an hour only in order that he might reach his ship again before night. He will send his boat tomorrow for me to breakfast with him, to converse longer on our affairs, and it may be to make a visit together to the Vice-Admiral.

In the meantime I have already learnt, that not only the Commodore has not written anything at all[Pg 385] on what has given us uneasiness, but even that he has not said anything, of which they can make an authentic use; that he showed to M. Riemersma, on his arrival, as well as to the other Captains his commission, which is American, not having any other; that he will give me a copy, with a declaration signed at the bottom by himself, that he had shown it; and that as to the cartel made between himself and Captain Pearson, they have had no other surety for its basis, than the permission of this government to put on shore the wounded prisoners, without changing in any manner their condition, having taken upon them, besides, each one on his part, to engage their respective sovereigns. All, therefore, that I shall be able to do further in this respect will be to get signed by Mr Jones the copy he sent me of this cartel. The crowded inns leave me no place for a lodging but the house of a peasant, where I write this letter as I can. I fear that notwithstanding the good will of the Commodore, he will not be in condition to depart in fifteen days; and on examining things closely, and comparing the complaints of one with those of another, as to the delays, I find that the great and true cause is this bad Roadstead, distant from Amsterdam twentyfive leagues by water.

The copy of the resolution of the 21st of October, which I have sent to the Commodore, is a paper very necessary to him.

They will not be able longer to impose on him or spread snares for him. His way will be clear. He regrets only that it had not been sooner.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 386]


On board the Serapis, November 11th, 1779.


According to my letter of the day before yesterday, I was yesterday morning on board the Serapis. The weather was so thick in the evening, that there was no chance of sending anything on shore that night. The Commodore and myself, with great difficulty, went to make a visit to the Dutch Vice-Admiral, in which all that has been said was so well cleared up, that nothing can (at least on our part) cause a change in the state of things as they were after the 21st of October. The result of the visit is, in substance, that they do not much approve the expedient of providing two different flags in order to make use of one in default of the other; that they rather preferred that the whole squadron should have been entered under the flag and commission of France, as not being liable to any difficulties; but since what had been done could not be otherwise, they desire and expect that the squadron shall depart with the first fair wind; as also that there shall not be in this Roadstead any transportation of prisoners on board the King's cutters that are here; which the Commodore promised.

Today we have been with M. Ricot on board one of the cutters, where we found the two captains, Messrs de la Laune and de la Bourdonnoie, who received us with all the cordiality and manifested all the good will imaginable. They do for us what they can, and M. de la Laune will inform your Excellency of it.

I hope to be able to depart for Amsterdam the morning after tomorrow, if I can without danger be put on shore[Pg 387] tomorrow, with the satisfaction of having by my journey hither cleared up, and much accelerated affairs; in a word, of having been useful. I see no possibility of being able to write to Dr Franklin. He cannot, therefore, know anything, nor, consequently, the Minister, except what your Excellency shall judge worthy to be communicated in your despatches, of the contents of my letters, &c.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, November 11th, 1779.


I have received the letter that you addressed to me the 9th of this month, and that of M. Cottineau, which was annexed. I learn with pleasure what you tell me relative to the object, which induced me to urge your departure. I hope you will not delay to give me, in this respect, details yet more satisfactory, and perfectly conformable to the intentions I have unfolded to you.

M. Cottineau represents to me the extreme inconvenience, which results from the impossibility of putting on shore the sick and wounded among the prisoners.

I think it would be proper that you might see with prudence and discretion, if it would not be possible to obtain permission of the Admiralty; but it would be necessary, in order to ask it, to be very sure beforehand that you will not be refused.

You know the truth of my inviolable sentiments.


[Pg 388]


The Hague, November 12th, 1779.


I have just received orders from the Minister of the Marine, which I must communicate to you, and it is necessary that you return here immediately. You will please to say to Mr Jones, that he ought not to set sail before I have imparted to him the instructions, which have been sent, as it will be necessary to suspend his departure till a new order; but not to lose an instant in hastening the repairs.

I have the honor to be, &c.



November 13th, 1779.


Yesterday I was at the Texel with the Commodore, to adjust affairs with a Commissioner of the Admiralty, as to the light-house dues, so as to satisfy everybody; but this morning the Dutch Vice-Admiral sought me in his boat, to repeat to me what he had already said to the Commodore, that he ought to depart with the first good wind; in consequence, I have been with Captain Ricot and the commandant of the Scarborough on board of the French cutter to adjust things, of which I will give a verbal account to your Excellency.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 389]


Amsterdam, November 17th, 1779.


They write me from the Hague, that the States of Holland adopted yesterday, by a majority, a resolution to compel Mr Jones to depart. I inform you of it, that you may lose no time in returning to the Texel and executing the necessary arrangements.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, December 9th, 1779.


On the 16th and 17th of November, the French Ambassador having given us a meeting at Amsterdam, apprized us of the intention of the King, to wit, that the cruise should terminate at the Texel, and that the prizes should be conducted into France by two French Captains of the squadron. Captain Jones on his part had an order from Dr Franklin to go on board the Alliance. On the 18th and 19th we returned to the Texel. The following days we effected these changes. The Dutch Vice-Admiral (a decided tory, who had succeeded the brave Captain Riemersma, a good republican and friend to the Americans) perceived it and disturbed us very much, particularly after having received the resolution of the 19th of November, and the instructions of his Court on this subject.

Every day he pressed and threatened us, though the wind was always contrary. On the 24th of November,[Pg 390] among others, the officer second in command came to read to us a paper, which he afterwards put in his pocket. I had anticipated the contents, and made, on my part, a writing, which I likewise read to him as follows.

"The Commodore loses not a moment in providing for his departure with the first good wind, in his vessel, the Alliance, and he will give the signal for departure to the others, which will follow him if they can. He thinks he cannot give a stronger proof of his respect for the resolution of their High Mightinesses. Thus the threats of the Vice-Admiral are superfluous and against the very terms of this resolution of their High Mightinesses. He cannot go on board any other vessel than the Alliance, without counteracting the designs of his superiors.

"As to the prizes, the placard of 1756, and of course the designs of their High Mightinesses, are scrupulously observed, in that they have not disposed of or changed anything, and that when they depart they may be recaptured. I require for the future every order or threat in writing, in order to send copies to the General Congress and to Dr Franklin."

November 28th. Having sent again to hasten us, I made him confess with a loud voice, in presence of our crew, and of his own rowers, that he required an impossibility; a declaration which I made the pilot sign afterwards. Then he let us alone during ten days.

December 8th. The wind appearing favorable, his officer found us ready to depart; but the wind changing, it was necessary to cast anchor again, after it had been already weighed.

By the extract of the resolution of the 26th November you will see, Gentlemen, that the Stadtholder had taken on him[Pg 391]self to apply to the Alliance only, what had been resolved in regard to the whole squadron, and especially to the prizes; that the States-General have approved it, and that thus they have thought they might dispense with consulting the Province of Holland on this new case. They are not content with this arbitrary procedure, and will make new protests, copies of which they have promised to furnish me. The others on their side appear to think that they have gone too far, as may be seen by the letter of the Vice-Admiral, which certainly is not written without order. As to the arrangement made on the 16th and 17th, I suspend my opinion till I see where the whole will end. But I highly applauded Mr Jones for having answered the Dutch Admiral as he did.

I have the honor to be, &c.



December 10th, 1779.


The following intelligence will show in what manner the States-General have proceeded respecting Sir Joseph Yorke's demand for the seizure of Paul Jones's prizes.

Leyden, November 25th. "The publicity of the claims, which Sir J. Yorke, Ambassador of Great Britain, has made by order of his Court on the occasion of the entry of Paul Jones with his prizes into the Road of the Texel, having excited the attention of Europe to this affair, on which subject the spirit of party on both sides has spread sundry unfounded reports, we think ourselves under obligation to communicate to our readers the definitive resolution, which the States-General took in relation to it last Friday; a[Pg 392] resolution which reconciles the most scrupulous obligations of neutrality with the friendship which subsists between Great Britain, and this Republic. Here is the translation of it.

'Wednesday, Nov. 19th, 1779. Having deliberated by resolution on the Memorial presented by Sir Joseph Yorke, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of his Majesty, the King of Great Britain, to their High Mightinesses, on the 29th of last month, to renew in pursuance of the precise orders of his said Majesty, the most urgent instances for the seizure and restitution of two of the King's ships, Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, as well as for the release of their crews, which a certain Paul Jones had seized, as is more fully related in the registers under date of the 29th of last month, it has been resolved and determined to answer the aforesaid Memorial of Sir Joseph Yorke; that upon the reiterated instances which the Ambassador has made, by order of his Court, for the seizure and restitution of the ships Serapis and Countess of Scarborough, as well as for the release of the crews of said vessels, which a certain Paul Jones has taken, and with which he has entered into the Road of the Texel, their High Mightinesses have repeatedly taken into mature consideration all the circumstances of this affair, and they find themselves under the necessity of requesting his Majesty to consent, that their High Mightinesses should persist in their ancient maxim, which is, that without interfering in any decision upon the legality or illegality of prizes brought into their ports, they should compel them to put to sea, their High Mightinesses judging, that this maxim itself is founded on treaties.

'But for evident proof that they do not desire, that any[Pg 393] supplies may be furnished from this country to the inhabitants of his Majesty's American Colonies, they gave orders immediately on the arrival of Paul Jones, that he should not be furnished with any munitions of war or other articles, except those of which he would have need in order to put to sea, and reach the nearest port in which he might be admitted. That their High Mightinesses will also give orders, that he set sail as soon as his vessels can put to sea, and when wind and weather will permit, and even will compel him in case it should be required. That their High Mightinesses are assured, that it will be evident thereby, that they persist invariably in the declaration made to his Majesty, "that they desire to do nothing from which it might lawfully be inferred, that they recognize the independence of the Colonies of his Majesty in America," and that they grant to Paul Jones neither supplies nor harbor, but that following solely the treatment which they have at all times been accustomed to give to those, who come into their Roads to obtain for a time shelter against the disasters of the sea, they do not concern themselves with what passes on the sea, and without taking cognizance of it, they leave and cause to be restored everything to the state in which it was a short time before the vessels came into the country. That their High Mightinesses flatter themselves, that his Majesty and the English nation, for whom their High Mightinesses have all possible respect, will be satisfied with these dispositions, without insisting further on the claim they have made; that an extract from the resolution of their High Mightinesses will be sent to Sir Joseph Yorke, by the agent, Vander Burch de Spierinxhoek.

'That, moreover, directions shall be given to the College of Admiralty at Amsterdam, to cause it to be signified and[Pg 394] made known to Paul Jones, that their High Mightinesses are assured, that having only put in to place his injured vessels in shelter from the dangers of the sea, there has been sufficient time to put them in condition for sea, and that consequently they desire that he should make sail as soon as possible, when the wind and weather shall be favorable, and withdraw from this country; forasmuch as their High Mightinesses cannot permit him to continue here, and as the season of winter which is approaching may create greater inconveniences in this respect; so that to avoid them it is necessary that he allow no favorable opportunity to escape of putting to sea. That this is the serious intention of their High Mightinesses, and that they cannot delay; but if he should not comply, it would oblige them to take measures that would not be agreeable to him.

'That, however, to allow no mistake on this point, and to prevent delays, his Serene Highness will be required, and he is hereby required, to give orders to Vice-Admiral Reynst, or to the officer commanding in the Roadstead of the Texel to effect with all possible discretion that the aforesaid Paul Jones depart with his prizes as soon as wind and weather will permit; not to admit any delay in this respect, that the nature of the case does not require, and to provide, if need be, by all suitable means, not excepting force, that the orders of their High Mightinesses be executed in the Roadstead.'"

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 395]


The Hague, December 11th, 1779.


I send you the following intelligence relating to further proceedings in regard to Captain Paul Jones.

"Circumstances having changed in regard to the squadron of Paul Jones in the Texel, the States-General have thought proper to suspend the effect of their resolution of the 19th of November, by another, which their High Mightinesses adopted on the 26th of the same month. It appears that on the 4th inst. they received a letter from the Prince Stadtholder, in which his Serene Highness informs them 'that, conformably to their said resolution of the 19th of November, he had sent the necessary orders to Vice-Admiral Reynst, commanding in the Road of the Texel, that he would conduct with all possible discretion, and that he would effect by all suitable means, not excepting even force, that Paul Jones should put to sea with the vessels under his command and with his prizes. But that after Paul Jones had declared he was ready to obey the orders of their High Mightinesses, and that as soon as he should be in condition he would profit by the first occasion to take the sea, it happened on the 25th of November, that Vice-Admiral Reynst having sent Captain Van Overmeer on board the Serapis, to notify again, in the most formal manner the commanding officer, that he must be provided with a pilot, and depart with the first favorable wind; he was answered, that this vessel was no longer commanded by Paul Jones, but by the French Captain, Cottineau de Cosgelin, who had taken possession in the name of the King of France.' The Prince Stadtholder referred, be[Pg 396]sides, to the letter itself of Vice-Admiral Reynst, as well as to the pieces thereto annexed; and his Serene Highness added, 'that in awaiting the final orders of their High Mightinesses he had provisionally written to Vice-Admiral Reynst not to use force till further orders, in regard to those vessels whose commanders should prove, that they were provided with a commission from the King of France; the preceding orders remaining nevertheless in their full force in regard to the Alliance, actually commanded by Paul Jones;' and that he at the same time charged the above named Vice-Admiral 'to take care that conformably to the Placard of their High Mightinesses of the 3d of November, 1756, none of the prisoners, who were not brought into the Road on board said ship Alliance, should be carried away in this ship;' his Serene Highness flattering himself that their High Mightinesses would approve his proceedings in this business. Upon which their High Mightinesses having deliberated, immediately thanked the Prince Stadtholder for the communication that his Serene Highness had made, and approved in all respects his procedure in the affair of which he had written them, reserving to themselves a further deliberation on the part to be taken on this occasion."

I have the honor to be, &c.



Alliance, Texel, December 13th, 1779.


Perhaps there are many men in the world, who would esteem as an honor the commission, that I have this day[Pg 397] refused. My rank from the beginning knew no superior in the marine of America; how then must I be humbled, were I to accept a letter of marque! I should, Sir, esteem myself inexcusable were I to accept, even a commission of equal or superior denomination with that I bear, unless I were previously authorised either by Congress or some other competent authority in Europe, and I must tell you that on my arrival at Brest from my expedition, in the Irish Channel, Count d'Orvilliers offered to procure for me from Court a commission of Captain des Vaisseaux, which I did not then accept for the same reason, although the war between France and England was not then begun, and of course the commission of France would have protected me from an enemy of superior force.

It is matter of the highest astonishment to me, that after so many compliments and fair professions, the Court should offer the present insult to my understanding, and suppose me capable of disgracing my present commission! I confess that I have not merited all the praise, that has been bestowed on my past conduct; but I also feel that I have far less merited such a reward! Where profession and practice are so opposite, I am no longer weak enough to form a wrong conclusion. They may think as they please of me; for when I cannot continue my esteem, praise or censure from any man is to me a matter of indifference.

I am much obliged to them, however, for having at least fairly opened my eyes and enabled me to discover truth from falsehood.

The prisoners shall be delivered, agreeably to the orders which you have done me the honor to send me from his Excellency the American Ambassador in France.

I will also, with great pleasure, not only permit a part[Pg 398] of my seamen to go on board the ships under your Excellency's orders, but I will also do my utmost to prevail with them to embark freely; and if I can now or hereafter, by any other honorable means facilitate the success or the honor of his Majesty's arms, I pledge myself to you as his Ambassador, that none of his own subjects would bleed in his cause with greater freedom than myself, an American.

It gives me the more pain, Sir, to write this letter, as the Court has enjoined you to propose what would destroy my peace of mind, and my future veracity in the opinion of the world.

When with the consent of Court, and by order of the American Ambassador, I gave American commissions to French officers, I did not fill up those commissions to command privateers! nor even for a rank equal to that of their commissions in the marine of France. They were promoted to a rank far superior; and why! not from personal friendship, nor from my knowledge of their personal abilities, the men and their characters being entire strangers to me, but from the respect which I believed America would wish to show for the service of France. While I remained eight months at Brest, seemingly forgotten by the Court, many commissions, such as that in question, were offered to me; and I believe, (when I am in pursuit of plunder,) I can still obtain such a one without application to Court.

I hope, Sir, that my behavior through life will ever entitle me to the continuance of your good wishes and opinion, and that you will take occasion to make mention of the warm and personal affection, with which my heart is impressed towards his Majesty.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 399]


Alliance, Texel, December 13th, 1779.


I have this day had the honor to receive your Excellency's orders of the 6th current, respecting the prisoners taken in merchant ships, and, at present, on board the Alliance. And I hope that the within copy of my letter to the Duc de la Vauguyon will meet your approbation; for I am persuaded, that it could never be your intention or wish, that I should be made the fool of any great R—— whatsoever, or that the commission of America should be overlaid by the dirty piece of parchment, which I have this day rejected! They have played upon my good nature too long already; but the spell is at last dissolved. They would play me off with assurances of the personal and particular esteem of the King, to induce me to do what would render me contemptible, even in the eyes of my own servants! Accustomed to speak untruths themselves, they would also have me give, under my hand, that I am a liar and a scoundrel! They are mistaken, and I could tell them what you did your wayward servant, "We have too contemptible an opinion of one another's understanding to live together." I could tell them too, that if M. de C—— had not taken such sage precaution to keep me honest by means of his famous concordat, and to support me by means of so many able colleagues, these great men would not now have been reduced to such mean shifts, for the prisoners would have been landed at Dunkirk the day that I entered the Texel, and I should have brought in double the number.

We hear that the enemy still keeps a squadron cruising[Pg 400] off here; but this shall not prevent my attempts to depart whenever the wind will permit. I hope we have recovered the trim of this ship, which was entirely lost during the last cruise; and I do not much fear the enemy in the long and dark nights of this season. The ship is well manned, and shall not be given away.

I have sent to Congress three copies of my late transactions in Europe, down to the 7th of this month, and M. Dumas has undertaken to forward them.

I need not tell you I will do my utmost to take prisoners and prizes in my way from hence.

I am ever, with sentiments of the most lively affection and esteem, your Excellency's most obliged, and most humble servant,



Alliance, December 13th, 1779.


I have received your esteemed favor from Amsterdam. I leave the enclosed letter for his Excellency, Dr Franklin, open for your perusal; I also send a copy of my letter to the Duc de la Vauguyon. I shall be glad of your remarks on both. The occasion that produced them was the most extraordinary that ever happened to me; and language cannot express my astonishment at so unworthy a proposition.

Adieu, my dear friend. I am, in cool blood, yours,


[Pg 401]


Amsterdam, December 17th, 1779.


I made a request to you yesterday, that you would take the trouble to come on board my vessel, from which you excused yourself; and again this morning. I also make request by this present, that you will have the goodness to inform me how I ought to consider the Alliance, on board of which you are; as a vessel of the King of France or of America? In the first case, I expect you will show me the commission of his Majesty, and that you will hoist the French flag and pendant, confirming it with a salute from your guns; and, in the second case, I expect that you will not neglect any opportunity to depart according to the orders of their High Mightinesses.

I am, Sir, &c.



Alliance, Texel, December 17th, 1779.


In answer to the letter, which you have done me the honor to write me this day, I must observe, that I have no orders to hoist the flag of France on board the Alliance; nor can I take upon me to hoist, in this port, any other than American colors, unless I receive orders for that purpose from his Excellency, Benjamin Franklin.

In the meantime, it is my wish to find a favorable opportunity to sail from hence; and whenever the pilot will take upon him to conduct this ship to sea, I will give him[Pg 402] my best assistance. Should I receive any new orders, I shall not fail to communicate my situation to you.

I am, &c.



Alliance, Texel, December 17th, 1779.

I am, my Dear Sir, to acknowledge your sundry kind favors from Amsterdam. I thank you for your advice, which, by my last, as well as the enclosed, you will see I had followed before the appearance of your letters. Let not that circumstance disquiet you; for I have made myself some compliments on my thinking in many points so like you. Know me always your affectionate friend,



Helder, December 17th, 1779.


I thank you for your politeness in communicating to me what Vice-Admiral Reynst had written you. I perceive by this letter, that you would give great pleasure, if you would display the royal flag. Meanwhile, I can make no more entreaty, if you persist in not using the commission, which I was charged to send you. Reflect that all the French here, in the service of the King, have strongly at heart to maintain the Republic in sentiments favorable to the allies of his Majesty. It is in conformity with these[Pg 403] views, and for the good of the common cause, and only for this transient object, that the commission, for the origin of which you imagine a thousand ill-natured motives, and which, finally, you refuse to accept, has been addressed to you.

You know all that I have had the honor to say to you on this subject has been as well for your personal quiet, as for the honor and satisfaction of the common allies.

I am still at your service, if you desire it, and I will continue to act with the same earnestness as heretofore for the advantage of this cause, and for your own interests. The Ambassador has expressed to you the same sentiments. My dispositions and my orders are entirely conformed thereto.

I am, Sir, &c.



Alliance, at Sea, December 27th, 1779.


I am here, with a good wind at east, under my best American colors. So far you have your wish. What may be the event of this critical moment, I know not. I am not, however, without good hopes. Through the ignorance or drunkenness of the old pilot, the Alliance was last night got foul of a Dutch merchant ship, and I believe the Dutchman cut our cable.

We lost the best bower anchor, and the ship was brought up with the sheet anchor so near the shore, that this morning I have been obliged to cut the cable, in order to get clear of the shore, and that I might not lose this opportunity of escaping from Purgatory.

[Pg 404]I wish Mr Hoogland would have the sheet and best bower anchors taken up, that they may either be sent to France, or sold, as M. de Neufville may find most expedient.

The pilot knows where the anchors lie, and unless he assists willingly in taking them up, he ought not, in my opinion, to be paid for his service on board here.

Adieu, my dear friend. Present my best respects to your family, and to the good patriot; and believe me to be always affectionately yours,



The Hague, December 30th, 1779.


This day I have received a letter from Captain Jones, of which a copy is here joined. I hope in a short time to hear of his safe arrival. The prizes, Serapis and Scarborough, and the two French ships, Pallas and Vengeance, are still riding under French colors and captains.

The good Alliance, while here, has caused me much anxiety and trouble. Now she leaves me exposed to the ill-nature of my old foes in this country, whom, however, I dread not so much as certain false friends, highly incensed now against me, for not having found me as blind and complaisant to their particular views as they had expected I would be. The formal confirmation by Congress of my character as agent of the[Pg 405] United States, which I have already spoken of in my former despatches, and which I must entreat you to procure for me, will silence them. Indeed I cannot be quiet nor safe without such a testimonial.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Passy, January 27th, 1780.

Dear Sir,

I received yours of the tenth instant. I shall be glad to learn how the taking of the Dutch ships has been accommodated. We have yet no news of the Alliance, but suppose she is cruising. We are more in pain for the Confederacy, which sailed on the 28th of October, from the Capes of Delaware. There is some hope that she went to Charleston, to take in Mr Laurens, as some passengers arrived in France, who left Philadelphia several weeks after her sailing, say it was a general opinion she would call there before she departed for Europe.[35]

I send you enclosed a translation of a letter, which I think I sent you the original of before. Perhaps it may serve our Leyden friend.

I am sorry you have any difference with the Ambassador, and wish you to accommodate it as soon as possible. Depend upon it that no one ever knew from me, that you had spoken or written against any person. There is one, concerning whom I think you sometimes receive erroneous information. In one par[Pg 406]ticular, I know you were misinformed, that of his selling us arms at an enormous profit; the truth is, we never bought of him.

I am ever, with great esteem, &c.



[35] See the history of the voyage of the Confederacy in John Jay's Correspondence, Vol. VII. p. 174.


The Hague, March 15th, 1780.


Since my last letter of the 30th of December, the ice has so obstructed our waters, and my ill health has been such, as not to permit me to write till now. I send you herewith the plan of a treaty to be concluded between the United States and the Seven United Provinces of the Low Countries, as soon as the circumstances will permit it. A great deal of its materials has been furnished me by the Pensionary of Amsterdam, who, as well as Dr Franklin, has examined and corrected it. If Congress shall be pleased to do the same, and send me the plan back again, with powers to carry on a negotiation on such terms, then nothing will remain but to watch opportunities, which may perhaps very soon present themselves.

I am told that Mr Laurens will soon come over here as Plenipotentiary. I shall be very glad of it, and promise to be his fidus Achates in every sense, for the public as well as his own service.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 407]


The Hague, March 21st, 1780.


Honored since many years with the correspondence and friendship of Dr Franklin, I received in April, 1776, by an express, (Mr Thomas Story,) instructions and credentials from the Committee of Foreign Affairs, signed B. Franklin, J. Dickenson, and J. Jay, at Philadelphia, dated December 9th and 12th, for founding the dispositions of the several European Courts towards the American confederates, and making proposals of intercourse and alliance to those I should find inclined to accept them; "recommending to my discretion, to proceed in this affair with such caution, as to keep the same from the knowledge of the English Ambassador, and prevent any public appearance, at present, of my being employed in any such business, as thereby they imagine many inconveniences may be avoided, and my means of rendering service to America increased. They sent me, for the present, enclosed a bill for one hundred pounds sterling to defray expenses, and desired me to be assured, that my services will be considered and honorably rewarded by Congress." By another letter of the 2d of March, 1776, Dr Franklin "recommended to my correspondence, the bearer, Mr Silas Deane."

In the meantime I had addressed myself to the Court of France, with a deep interest in your concerns, and to the account I gave the Committee of Foreign Affairs of my negotiation, Dr Franklin answered in the following terms on the 1st of October;—"I have just time to acknowledge the receipt of your two packets, with the pamphlets enclosed, the contents of which are very satisfactory. You[Pg 408] will hear from me more fully in a little time." He soon after came over, and brought me a letter from the same committee, signed Robert Morris, Richard H. Lee, J. Witherspoon, W. Hooper, wherein they expressly "desire me to continue that correspondence, which he had opened and conducted, and they write me on behalf of Congress, requesting to hear from me frequently, promising me the reimbursement of expenses, and a reasonable allowance for my time and trouble in this agency." The committee wrote me two other letters, August 8th, 1777; and May 14th, 1778, in the latter of which they "acknowledge that I had so early and warmly espoused their cause, and aided it with such judgment and resolution, that they shall write particularly to the gentlemen at Paris, respecting the injuries I had received from their enemies, and shall instruct them to pay the strictest attention to the engagements made to me in behalf of Congress, at the commencement of our correspondence."

By some dark manœuvres of those enemies, who by intercepters and spies had got at last some general knowledge of my operations, I had been defrauded not only of the sum of six hundred pounds sterling due to me, but also of a livelihood, which had rendered me hitherto, yearly, three hundred pounds sterling. However, I did not apply to the Commissioners for the above sum; and after having received for the course of the whole year, 1777, only one hundred pounds sterling, I obtained two hundred pieces a year for 1778, and twenty five pieces more for the ordinary charges and expenses of the following years. With this small sum of two hundred and twenty five pieces to live on in a country like this, I have been obliged, not only to dismiss my servant, but to make other reductions in my house,[Pg 409] which makes my little family, as well as myself, unhappy, because they apprehend I have undone them. I keep them up, however, with the confidence I have in the justice and magnanimity of Congress, who, when affairs become more prosperous, will not forget me, nor my daughter, a good child of thirteen years old, who, from the beginning of this war, has been taught to pray fervently for the United States.

This State, by its constitution, can make no war, nor any treaty with a sovereign power, without a unanimity of all its provinces and cities. And as there is a very strong party in favor of England, there is not the least probability that they will conclude a treaty with the United States, before England permits them to do so by setting them the example. The only, but very necessary thing, therefore, which remained to be done here, was to hinder the English from drawing this Republic into their quarrel, which, by her immense wealth and public credit would have had very bad consequences against America. And to this your humble servant has greatly and daily co-operated these three years past. We found a very weak opposition, which is now strong enough to resist the torrent.

Besides the Commissioners at Paris, to whom I constantly communicate all that passes, Mr William Lee, who, from September, 1776, to May, 1779, was my correspondent, knew my exertions. He wrote to me so early as December 26, 1777, in these terms. "Though I have not for some time past, had the pleasure of your correspondence, yet I have not been a stranger to your continued exertions in the cause of humanity and liberty, for which thousands yet unborn will bless your memory." Even with respect to a treaty, I left the matter not untried. For[Pg 410] immediately after the conclusion of the treaty between the United States and France, I concerted with the city of Amsterdam and the Commissioners at Paris to communicate the said treaty, by means of the Great Pensionary of Holland, to their High Mightinesses, together with a letter of Dr Franklin to the Great Pensionary, inviting them to treat on the same footing, mutatis mutandis, whenever they should think fit; on which an answer was politely declined for the present. Of this curious transaction, I sent at that time, an account to Paris, as well as to the Committee of Foreign Affairs. One of the letters of the First Pensionary of Amsterdam, our great and worthy friend, dated July 31, 1778, has been translated, and printed in the Baltimore Journal, with these words at the head of it, "Letter of a steady friend of America, at the Hague." I have besides in my power the proofs of all this in several letters of the honorable gentlemen at Paris and at Amsterdam. Mr William Lee knew this too, when he concerted with M. de Neufville, a merchant of Amsterdam, at Francfort first, and then at Aix la Chapelle, unknown to me, to get a Declaration from M. Van Berckel, the Pensionary, of the friendly dispositions of the city of Amsterdam, which this good gentleman delivered, thinking Mr William Lee was one of the Commissioners at Paris. A like Declaration M. Van Berckel delivered to me on the 23d of September, 1778,[36] with an explanatory letter of the expression, dès que l'indépendence des Etats-Unis en Amérique sera reconnue par les Anglais, because I told him, such a condition would hurt the honorable Congress, and make them[Pg 411] pay no attention at all to a Declaration, which would appear to them insignificant. Both the Declaration and letter[37] will be found in the records of the Committee aforesaid, to whom I sent copies of them towards the end of 1778. As to the sketching and proposing a treaty, his opinion and mine also were, that it was premature at that time; and therefore we postponed it till the last summer, when he delivered me some papers, out of which, and of the French treaty, I have made the sketch, reviewed afterwards and corrected by him and by Dr Franklin, of which I have despatched on the 19th of this month three different copies to the Committee aforesaid, and which I expect back again, with the corrections of Congress, and with instructions and credentials for proposing it on the first opportunity, which in the meantime I am carefully watching.

It is with a very painful concern I mention to your Excellency this attempt of Mr Lee to undermine me in this manner; when I thought he had enough ado to fulfil his commissions through Germany, and therefore was very open and unaware in my letters to him. It is with the same concern, I learn just now by a letter of a very worthy servant of the United States, that his brother Arthur Lee, has complained against me in a Memorial to Congress, as if I had extolled Dr Franklin at his expense in the Leyden Gazette. Whoever told him so, has told him an absolute falsehood. This assertion may perhaps receive, even in his own mind, additional strength, by my ingenuously telling him, however, that his being at enmity with Dr Franklin, will not hinder me to retain still in my bosom a most[Pg 412] tender respect and love for the latter. I am sure he will do the same when dispassionate.

I recommend myself to the protection of Congress, and am with the deepest respect, &c.



[36] See this letter and the Declaration in the Correspondence of the Commissioners in France, Vol. I. pp. 456, 457, 483.

[37] The Explanatory Letter is missing, but a letter from the Commissioners in relation to the subject of it may be seen as above, p. 476.


Passy, March 29th, 1780.

Dear Sir,

It is some time since I have written to you, having nothing material to communicate; but I received duly your letters of February 1st, 18th, 25th, March 2d, 11th, 13th, 17th, and 23d; and thank you for the intelligence they contain. The last this minute came to hand, and I shall answer it separately.

I pray you to assure M. —— of my respect, and that it was only on one packet for him that I put my name, when I thought to have sent it by a friend. The baseness of the post-office opening it surprises me. No other letter for him has since passed through my hands. If any others come to me for him, I shall send them under cover to you.

I forwarded your letter to Captain Jones. I do not know which of his English pilots it was, mentioned in yours to ——. I know he has been generous to an excess with them. Explain to me, if you please, the fact that is the subject of that letter, and who Mr Gordon is.

I am curious to know what the States will do about the confiscation of the goods taken in Byland's convoy.

I received your large packets; that for Captain Jones shall be carefully sent to him. I thank you for the philo[Pg 413]sophical pieces, which I will read attentively as soon as I have time. The original acts of confederation are very curious, and will be acceptable to Congress.

I am ever, my Dear Sir, yours affectionately,



The Hague, April 13th, 1780.


Since the Memorial presented to their High Mightinesses by the Plenipotentiary of Russia, (of which, as well as of the Declaration[38] of his Court to those of Versailles, Madrid, and London, I join here copies in the Leyden Gazette,) the Provincial States of Holland are deliberating on the invitation of the Empress, and I am sure (knowing it from a very good hand) the resolution of this Province will be taken within the next week, agreeably to the views of the Empress, and to the general wishes of all good men. Now as the resolutions of this Province are commonly adopted by the others, there is very good hope that this Republic will take a step, which must accelerate a general pacification.

This intelligence is thought, not only by myself, but by many others, very important for the United States. The most devoted partisans of the English Court here, seeing that they cannot, without rendering themselves too odious, prevent such a resolution from being taken, do what they can to enervate it by obscure and ambiguous expressions, which they propose to be inserted; but our good men take care to sweep the dust which the others throw in their way.

[Pg 414]As to the two other objects, which at present take up this Republic, viz. the unlimited convoys, and the assistance which the English Court demands from this Republic, the Province of Holland has already, several weeks ago, unanimously resolved the former, and declined granting the succors, as being not within the casus fœderis by this war. To this resolution the Provinces of Friesland, Overyssel, and Groningen, have successively acceded; and it is expected the three others will do the same.

I advised the Committee of Foreign Affairs by my letter of June 21st, 1779, to think of sending here, aliquem e medio vestrum pietate gravem ac meritis virum; it is now time for such a man to be here, at first incognito, till it should be proper to display the character of Plenipotentiary. Some American friends here have told me, that Mr Laurens, formerly President of Congress, was designed to come over for this purpose. I should be very glad to have him already arrived. Whenever he comes, he may dispose of my faithful services.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[38] See this Declaration and the Memorial in John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. IV. pp. 488, 490.


Passy, April 23d, 1780.

Dear Sir,

I am much pleased with the account you give me of the disposition with which the proposals from the Empress of Russia have been received, and desire to be informed from time to time, of the progress of that interesting business.

I shall be glad to hear of your reconciliation with —— because a continuance of your difference will be extremely inconvenient. Permit me to tell you frankly, what I formerly hinted to you, that I apprehend you suffer yourself[Pg 415] too easily to be led into personal prejudices, by interested people, who would engross all our confidence to themselves. From this source have arisen, I imagine, the charges and suspicions you have insinuated to me, against several who have always declared a friendship for us in Holland. It is right that you should have an opportunity of giving the carte du pays to Mr Laurens, when he arrives in Holland. But if in order to serve your particular friends, you fill his head with these prejudices, you will hurt him and them, and perhaps yourself. There does not appear to me the least probability in your supposition, that the —— is an enemy to America.

Here has been with me a gentleman from Holland, who was charged, as he said, with a verbal commission from divers cities, to inquire whether it was true, that Amsterdam had, as they heard, made a treaty of commerce with the United States, and to express in that case their willingness to enter into a similar treaty. Do you know anything of this? What is become, or likely to become of the plan of treaty, formerly under consideration?

By a letter from Middlebourg, to which the enclosed is an answer, a cargo seized and sent to America, as English property, is reclaimed partly on the supposition, that free ships make free goods. They ought to do so between England and Holland, because there is a treaty which stipulates it; but there being yet no treaty between Holland and America to that purpose, I apprehend that the goods being declared by the Captain to be English, a neutral ship will not protect them, the law of nations governing in this case as it did before the treaty abovementioned. Tell me if you please your opinion.

With sincere esteem and affection, I am ever,


[Pg 416]


The Hague, May 21st, 1780.


The express sent to Petersburg, with the answer of the States-General, has not yet returned. In the meantime it is known here by a despatch of the Resident of the Republic at Petersburg, that the news of the Provincial Resolution of Holland, which always gives the tone to the others, has caused there a very agreeable sensation, not only to the Court of Russia, flattered to see the Republic enter into its views, but also to the foreign Ministers resident there; and that the Prussian Minister, above all, expressed himself very strongly on the insolence of the English, and on the indignity of their procedure to the Republic; in fine, that the system of the armed neutrality to humiliate the English, gains force more and more at the Court, and among the powers; which is very visible in the conversations among the ministers.

I wrote some days ago to Amsterdam, to advise them to offer to the State every fifth sailor of their merchant ships, in order to take away the pretext for the scarcity of sailors in the fleet of the Republic; and I recommended to them to prevent evil minded persons presenting a counter address. They answered me, that the address demands of the States the prompt protection of commerce, and offers them whatever they may wish to draw from that commerce, whether it be the every fifth or third seaman; and that though all have not signed it, no one will dare to oppose it. This address will be presented next week; and if I can have a copy of it soon enough, I will add hereto a copy or translation.

[Pg 417]We flatter ourselves soon to see Mr Laurens arrive here, as we have been assured. It is time for the politics as well as for the credit of America that some person, as distinguished as himself, should come here. He cannot yet display a public character; but his presence will do none the less good among the friends of America in this country. I wish he was already with us.

I was going, Sir, to close this packet, when I received the visit of M. Van de Perre, partner of M. Meyners, who form together the most eminent commercial house at Middlebourg, in Zealand. He begs me to support the claim that he has made through Messrs I. de Neufville & Son, and by another way also to Congress on the ship Berkenbos, bound from Liverpool to Leghorn, and loaded with herrings and lead for Dutch and Italian account, taken by John Paul Jones, Captain of the Continental frigate Alliance. M. Van de Perre is of the most distinguished family in Zealand, Director of the East India Company, nephew of M. Van Berckel, First Counsellor, Pensionary of Amsterdam, the brave republican of whom all my letters make mention, and who is the great friend of Americans. I have no need to say anything more to recommend the affair of this vessel to Congress.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Paris, June 6th, 1780.


I thank you for your letter, in answer to mine of the 21st of May, and for your kind congratulations on my arrival here.

[Pg 418]Mr Brown, with whom you took your walks in the neighborhood of Paris, has been gone from home some weeks, on his way hence. I should have had much pleasure if I had been one of the party. I have rambled in most of the scenes round this city, and find them very pleasant, but much more indebted to art than to nature. Philadelphia, in the purlieus of which, as well as those of Baltimore and Yorktown, I have often sought health and pleasure in the same way, in company with our venerable Secretary, Charles Thompson, will in future time, when the arts shall have established their empire in the new world, become much more striking. But Boston above all, around which I have much oftener wandered, in company with another venerable character, little known in Europe, but to whose virtues and public merits in the cause of mankind, history will do justice, will one day present scenes of grandeur and beauty, superior to any other place I have ever yet seen.

The letter of General Clinton, when I transmitted it to you, was not suspected to be an imposition. There are some circumstances, which are sufficient to raise a question, but I think none of them are conclusive, and upon the whole I have little doubt of its authenticity. I shall be much mortified if it proves a fiction, not on account of the importance of the letter, but the stain that a practice so disingenuous will bring upon America. When I first left America, such a fiction, with all its ingenuity, would have ruined the reputation of the author of it, if discovered, and I think that both he and the printer would have been punished. With all the freedom of our presses, I really think, that not only the government but the populace would have resented it. I have had opportunities of an extensive ac[Pg 419]quaintance with the Americans, and I must say, in justice to my countrymen, that I know not a man that I think capable of a forgery at once so able and so base. Truth is indeed respected in America, and so gross an affront to her I hope will not, and I think cannot go unpunished.

Whether it is genuine or not, I have no doubt of the truth of the facts, in general, and I have reasons to believe, that if the secret correspondence of Bernard, Hutchinson, Gage, Howe, and Clinton could all be brought to light, the world would be equally surprised at the whole thread of it. The British administration and their servants have carried towards us from the beginning a system of duplicity, in the conduct of American affairs, that will appear infamous to the public whenever it shall be known.

You have seen Rodney's account of the battle of the 17th of April. The sceptre of the ocean is not to be maintained by such actions as this, and Byron's, and Keppel's. They must make themselves more terrible upon the ocean, to preserve its dominion. Their empire is founded only in fear—no nation loves it. We have no news.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Extracted from the Resolutions of the Council of that City of the 29th of June, 1780, and inserted in the Acts of the Provincial Assembly of Holland, at the Hague, July 1st, 1780.

The Deputies of the city of Amsterdam, in the name and on the part of their constituents, in order to justify[Pg 420] themselves to posterity, have declared in the Assembly of their Noble and Grand Mightinesses that their Committee is of opinion that it is necessary, without loss of time, to write on the part of their High Mightinesses to M. de Swart, their Resident at the Court of Russia, and charge him to enter into a conference, the sooner the better, with the Commissioners of her Imperial Majesty of Russia, and of other neutral powers in the place of his residence and elsewhere, where it shall be judged suitable, in order to conclude together a convention for the mutual protection of the commerce and navigation of neutral powers, on the basis of the declaration made by her Majesty to the belligerent powers, and of the resolution adopted on this subject by their High Mightinesses, on the 24th of April last, adding to it only, that said M. de Swart shall take for the rule of his conduct the simplicity which her Imperial Majesty of Russia herself has proposed in the explanations which she made on five points at the request of his Swedish Majesty, and which M. de Swart has communicated to their High Mightinesses, to the end, that with such a provisional convention, they would be well pleased to decree together the reciprocal protection of the merchant ships of each other, which, fortified with the requisite papers shall be nevertheless insulted on the sea; so that these merchant vessels being in reach of one or more vessels of war of one of the allied powers, wherever it may be, they may receive, in virtue of such an alliance, any assistance; and that at the same time the contracting powers engage to put to sea, provisionally, all the vessels of war they can, and to give to the officers who shall command them necessary orders and instructions that they may be able to fulfil these general, salutary and simple views.

[Pg 421]And that, further, as to arrangements to be made for the future, which may require more particular detail, and which cannot be adjusted with the expedition which the present perilous state of the navigation of the neutral powers in general, and of this Province in particular demands, M. de Swart will reserve all this for a separate article, of which her Imperial Majesty of Russia made mention in the above named explanations, and that he will declare in regard to this that their High Mightinesses have given thereon their final and precise orders, in which they will constitute one or more Plenipotentiaries who will be able to treat of the necessary arrangements on this subject with the neutral powers.

That said constituents, to give greater weight to their present advice, add further to the above, that if this advice was rejected, and if the affair was negotiated on the basis of the previous opinion, exhibited on the 23d of June last, in the Assembly of Holland, the consequence of it will be that the Russian squadron, which, according to orders of her Imperial Majesty of Russia, must have already put to sea, will appear in the seas bordering on this country, without giving any protection to the commerce of this country; while, on the other side, though commerce has been a long time charged with double duties, their High Mightinesses, meantime, grant it no protection, because the Colleges of Admiralty of this country profess themselves unable to do it, or at least to put to sea sufficient convoys to avoid affronts like those which the squadron under the orders of Rear-Admiral de Byland had lately endured.

That from this total failure of protection to the navigation of this country, on the one side, and from the continual insults of which their High Mightinesses every[Pg 422] day receive grievous complaints on the other, there must naturally ensue an entire suspension of the commerce of this country; and thence, it is easy to foresee, that this commerce will be diverted and take its course by other European channels, and that the burdensome impositions with which it is charged, in order to obtain means for its protection being continued, will precipitate its ruin.

That in this confusion of affairs, and in the extreme necessity in which they find themselves, to take advantage of an offer of assistance and succor so generously and magnanimously made and proposed by her Imperial Majesty of Russia to this State, on a footing so easy and so little burdensome; the Lords Constituents will leave posterity to judge of the weight of the reasons alleged by some members of the Assembly of their Noble and Grand Mightinesses in the deliberation on this subject, as if the acceptance of said means for the necessary protection of the commerce of this country, and in particular of foreign succor, could be considered a means of drawing on a war on the part of those, against whom it is found necessary to defend ourselves, in making use of said means to all lawful purposes; and as if we ought, for this reason, to decline the said offer of assistance, unless her Imperial Majesty of Russia, beside her said magnanimous plan of re-establishing the liberty of the seas, will also engage with the other neutral powers to guaranty to this nation all its possessions fixed and immovable, both in and out of Europe.

That the Lords Constituents will only remark, that in order that such an attack on the fixed and immova[Pg 423]ble possessions of the Republic may appear likely, it would be necessary at least, to allege some plausible reasons or pretexts to defend it, in the eyes of all Europe, from the most manifest injustice and violence; whereas it is clear that such hostilities could not have any foundation on a protection of commerce to which their High Mightinesses find themselves absolutely forced by the open violation of the treaty of commerce concluded with England in 1674; that thus the probability of an attack of this sort, seeing the manifest injustice of such an enterprize, must vanish; and this especially, if we consider the great number of enemies that England has drawn upon her, and that it would be madness to increase the number; that such being the case, the said suppositions are of too small weight and too far removed from all probability to refuse the means which are offered of protecting the commerce of the subjects of the State, and that to refuse an aid so powerful while it is not in a condition to protect its commerce by its own unaided forces, will be evidently to renounce all protection possible, while the burdensome imposts under which commerce, in expectation of some protection, has a long time groaned, and still groans, would, against all reason, remain in their rigor.

That in addition to this the Lords Constituents will remark further, that it appears by the successive despatches of M. de Swart to their High Mightinesses on this affair, that he insists strongly on hastening the business, and on sending, the sooner the better, necessary instructions for this purpose, after the example of Sweden, who has already instructed her Minister to[Pg 424] conclude the said convention. That this is the more necessary because we know that all sorts of indirect means are set to work to deprive the Republic of the advantage of an alliance so beneficial, and to involve it in a war with France.

From this it is clear that such pernicious views will be accomplished, if not only they put off the completion of the convention, but also, as is but too apparent, if they evade it altogether by making her Imperial Majesty of Russia propositions of guaranty, which not only are entirely foreign to the plan which this Princess has laid before the eyes of Europe, but which her Majesty, in the explanations she has given, has roundly declared she would never listen to.

In fine that the Lords Constituents are of opinion, that it is necessary to satisfy the wishes of her Imperial Majesty of Russia, by making the declaration in question on the part of their High Mightinesses to the belligerent powers, and by assuring her Majesty that as soon as said convention shall be signed, their High Mightinesses will make the said declaration to the Courts of the belligerent powers.

Meantime the committee referred thereon to the better advice of the honorable Council. On which, having deliberated and the voices having been taken, the Burgomasters and Counsellors thanked the committee for the trouble they had taken and agreed to the above advice.


[Pg 425]


Philadelphia, July 10th, 1780.


I know not how I can profess all the regard which I feel for you, without appearing, on the one hand, to do it upon slight grounds, or, on the other, to have delayed it too long.

I have been steadily in Congress without once visiting my family in Boston, since January, 1777, and from May, that year, have been a member of the Committee of Foreign Affairs; consequently, I am well informed of your truly republican spirit, your particular affection for these States, and your industry in their service, most of your numerous letters, down to December 30th, 1779, having come to hand.

The honorable gentleman who will deliver this, being also a member of Congress, has a just esteem for you, and promises himself much advantage from an opportunity of conversing with you. Mr Searle is well able to make a due return of the benefits from the fund of his intimacy with American state affairs, his extensive commercial knowledge, and his science of mankind gained by former travels.

I shall shortly write to you again by another respectable gentleman of our assembly, and I will use every means to make him the bearer of what you have so rightfully solicited, as a faithful first correspondent of our Committee, from whom you will, probably, have regular official letters under a new arrangement of a secretaryship, which has been vacant from the days of a confusion excited by an in[Pg 426]discreet and illiberal publication here, on the 5th of December, 1778, and which you have read with grief.

In the meantime, I hope you will receive kindly this individual testimony of cordial friendship, from, Sir, your very humble servant,



The Hague, July 15th, 1780.


Since my last of the 21st of May, nothing has passed of much interest in the Assemblies of this Province, to deserve repetition. I send an account of all that passes to Dr Franklin at Paris, almost every post. The fitting out of ships of the Republic for convoy goes on slowly, and the resolutions in this respect, and for the negotiations with Russia, drag equally slow. The English party, led by the English Ambassador, and by another person who leads the majority here, continue to perplex, delay, and cross everything; and he who is at the head of all, follows their impulses. In a word, the English intrigue more here than in all Europe besides. The difficulties they excite in Germany and foment on the subject of the coadjutor of Munster and Cologne, are intended to embarrass this Republic, and hinder it from being successfully occupied in the re-establishment of its navy. It was in agitation to make choice of a Prince of Austria for coadjutor, and, of consequence, for future Elector of Cologne. The King of Prussia is opposed to it; and France also. England, in the name of Hanover, favored the views of the House of Austria. This may kindle a war in Germany.

The protest here annexed of the minority in the Chapter[Pg 427] of Munster, is a paper as important as it is well done. I received it in German and translated it, and while I am writing this, a copy of it is making.

I have nothing more to add, except that a body of ten thousand Prussians, quartered in Westphalia, have orders to hold themselves ready to march to Munster on the first signal.

The misfortune of Charleston has animated the courage of the Anglomanes here, and filled our friends with consternation. I do my best to encourage them, and I succeed. In spite of the intrigues of the English, they will gain nothing important here, because there must be unanimity in the resolutions for war or peace.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, July 22d, 1780.


As everything is here in the inactivity of summer, nothing new has occurred. The States of the Province of Holland do not assemble till the 26th of this month. It is to be wished that we may soon receive news from America, which will raise again the courage of the friends of the United States, to whom the misfortune of Charleston has caused much pain, in proportion as it has reanimated those who favor your enemies. The latter, in the meantime, forge and utter every day rumors injurious to the United States, such as, that they are about to submit. "The Congress," say they, "is disunited and ready to dissolve; the southern Provinces successively yield, and they flatter themselves in England, that those in the north will follow[Pg 428] their example." The King himself flatters his Parliament with this idea. I can, for the present, only oppose patience to all this, and keep myself mostly out of sight; for they look on me as a lost man, and one who will be soon abandoned by America herself. Besides, my feeble health, which has not been able to resist this shock and a concurrence of many others, forces me to this inaction for a time.

Two Plenipotentiaries depart hence to regulate at Petersburg with the Empress of Russia, the armed neutrality. The Court of Denmark has followed the example of Russia, in making the same declarations to the other powers. It appears that the affair of Munster will not trouble the peace of Germany. This election must be made the 16th of next month, and, probably, the Archduke will be coadjutor.

July 24th. The sudden declaration of Denmark, unforeseen by all the world, much embarrasses those here who hope to see the armed neutrality fail. Amsterdam has protested against sending Plenipotentiaries to Petersburg, to whom embarrassing instructions have been given. She wishes, with reason, that they would be content simply to send full powers to M. de Swart, Resident of the Republic at Petersburg, with orders to conform to the resolution of their High Mightinesses, which is positive and clear on the accession to said armed neutrality. It is expected that Sweden will make, on the first opportunity, a like declaration. Then the opposition will not be able to force the Republic to recede, without making themselves odious.

We hope by the next post, among other things, to receive good news from the combined fleet of the Count de[Pg 429] Guichen and Don Solano; as also from M. de Ternay, and from the continent.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Madrid, July 24th, 1780.

Dear Sir,

I confess myself very remiss in not answering your favor of the 21st ultimo sooner. The removal of the Court from Aranjues to this city, and a bilious disorder which has oppressed me more than a month, and which still afflicts me, have in part, been the reason. I have no news to communicate to you, which can console you for our late misfortunes; I can assure you, however, that they do not deject me. Per aspera ad astra. Heaven does not intend to exempt us from the adversities, which have befallen other nations, who struggled for their liberty, by giving as almost full and instantaneous enjoyment of it. I have full confidence in the perseverance of our countrymen. They will, I hope, act with more vigor in consequence of their misfortunes. I have received letters from America, dated in the end of April, and the 1st of May, which speak of the loss of Charleston as certain, and which predict other successes of the enemy in the Northern States, but which show no despondency.

I shall pay implicit obedience to the request you make me, with respect to your family, and you may rely upon me, when I tell you that as long as I have any influence, or any friends in the councils of America, they shall not want strenuous advocates, and this[Pg 430] letter will always be a memento that would put me to the blush, should I be deficient in a promise, which I think myself even in justice to my country obliged to endeavor to fulfil in the best manner possible. The Spanish, or rather allied fleet, has returned to Cadiz, except a few vessels which cruise near that port. The Count de Estaing is expected at St Ildefonso in about a week, the Count being now at that place. I go there this week.

I see that the Courier de l'Europe mentions that Mr Jay has received his congé, &c. &c. Not a word of truth. The English papers sent our commissioners from France frequently, yet a treaty was made by these same congéd commissioners. I have received your cypher safe. Begin when you please your observations on men and things. I shall be much obliged to you, to separate and seal up all the letters you have ever received from me, unless it be this, under a cover for me, which, in case of death, which heaven forbid, you will direct to me, delivered to my orders.

My best compliments to your family, and Messrs de Neufville, and believe me ever, your friend and servant,



The Hague, July 25th, 1780.


The 21st of March last I had the honor to write your Excellency a long letter on my own concerns, of which I annex here an extract. I add here, that when[Pg 431] I received the first commission of the committee on the part of Congress, dated in December, 1775, in which they honored me with their orders and credentials, I did not solicit to be employed; I did not even think of it. But chosen and named, by this respectable body, in a manner as unexpected as it was definite and authentic, to serve essentially the United States, my ardent thoughts and life were consecrated with zeal to the cause of the United States. Persuaded that it was the cause of humanity, of liberty, and of virtue, I have sacrificed everything to this noble service, during nearly five years, with all possible zeal and fidelity. The Congress also testified to me soon after, that they were well satisfied with my services. I have corresponded assiduously since that time with the Committee of Foreign Affairs, with the Plenipotentiaries of the United States at Paris, and with a number of other servants of America. I have raised up, cemented and nourished in Holland a considerable party in their favor, whereby I have drawn upon myself the hatred of a party more powerful, which wishes to see me perish, and which has already done me all the wrong and all the mischief of which it was capable. I have participated in the adverse fortune of America, in the just confidence that the United States and their Congress will have my interest at heart, as I have constantly and successfully had theirs, and as their magnanimity, their dignity, and their honor require in the eyes of the European public.

I have yet fully this confidence; and it is this which caused me to solicit, more than a year since, in several of my letters to the Committee of Foreign Af[Pg 432]fairs, a formal confirmation of my agency on the part of Congress, for my safety and quiet. I beg, Sir, that you will second my request and obtain for me a resolution as favorable as my demand is just.

I know that some Americans, whom I honor in other respects, have entertained and propagated the idea, that a commission of the honorable Committee of Foreign Affairs was not so valid as one of Congress. One of them said so to me. I will not, Sir, give myself up to an idea so injurious, as to think, that Congress would refuse to ratify what their Committee has done; and the engagements it has made, but this body is not always composed of the same persons; it has many other affairs; it may forget me, and I may be cruelly supplanted, abandoned, and consequently at the age of sixty years, ruined with my family, without resource and without means. I put, then, my cause into the hands of your Excellency, to endeavor to obtain for me, as promptly as possible, the satisfaction I desire, and to send me the commission I solicit. The service of the United States requires it, and this will not interfere with the powers of Minister Plenipotentiary, who may be sent here; on the contrary, I shall be useful to him, if God spares my life.

One consideration, also, to which I pray Congress to give their attention, is that far from being recompensed for my past labors, the two hundred and twenty five louis d'ors or guineas which I draw yearly for my subsistence and to defray the expenses of journeys, postages, &c. charges, which, from prudence, and considering circumstances, I have never carried to the account, are not sufficient; and I have been obliged[Pg 433] constantly to expend my own in addition. Besides my age, the privation not only of a copyist, which the service demanded, but even of a valet, which I have been obliged also to deny myself in order to be able to subsist, for about three years, makes my life extremely sad and painful.

In perfect trust that Congress will consent to give attention to my petition, and to my state, I commend myself with my wife and daughter to their protection.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Ariel, Road of Croix, September 8th, 1780.

I dare say, my dear friend, my silence for so long a time must have an extraordinary appearance to you, and have excited in your mind various conjectures not much to my advantage. I will now endeavor to make some atonement by confessing the truth. I have been ashamed to write to you on account of the strange variety of events that have taken place, and detained me in port, from the 10th of February until this date.

I wish to pass over these events for the present in silence, choosing rather to suffer a little ill-natured misconstruction, than to attempt explanations before the matters are brought to a proper and final decision. I hope it will then appear, that I have been not very fairly treated, and that my conduct has been blameless. M. D. C. pursued his resentment to such a length as obliged me in April to pay a visit to the Minister, greatly against my will at that moment, for I then thought myself neglected, and not very well used by him;[Pg 434] but I was most agreeably undeceived by the very friendly reception I met with. My every demand was granted respecting the prizes; it became me therefore to be very modest. I found that I had C. alone to thank for the altercations at the Texel. I had the happiness to be feasted and caressed by all the world at Paris and Versailles, except himself. He, however, looked guilty; we did not speak together, not because I had any determined objection, for I love his family, but he could not look me in the face, and fled whenever chance brought us near each other.

Without studying it, I enjoyed over him a triumph, as great as I could wish to experience over Jemmy Twitcher. His Majesty ordered a superb sword to be made for me, which I have since received, and it is called much more elegant than that presented to the Marquis de Lafayette. His Majesty has also written, by his Minister, the strongest letter that is possible in approbation of my conduct, to the President of Congress, offering to invest me with the Cross, an institution of military merit, which I carry with me for that purpose, to the Chevalier de la Luzerne. The Minister of Marine has besides addressed a very kind letter to myself, and I have also had the like honor shown me by the other Ministers. I continue to receive constant marks of esteem, and honorable attention from the Court, and the ship I now command was lent to the United States in consequence of my application. Nothing has detained me from sailing for this past month, but that my officers and men are still without wages or prize money. There is a strange mystery, which when explained, must surprise you. C., who pretends to exercise authority over these moneys, will I fear persist in withholding them, till he obliges me to lay a second complaint before the Minister against him,[Pg 435] and if I am reduced to the necessity of this step, he will not come off so well as he has hitherto done, on the score of betraying secrets.

I will take care of your packets, and as I expect to remain but two or three days longer, I hope to hear from you through the hands of our friend R. M. of Philadelphia. Let me know how Mr Round Face, that went lately from Paris to the Hague, is proceeding? I understand he has gone to Amsterdam. I wish he may be doing good. If he should inadvertently do evil, as a stranger, I shall, as his fellow-citizen, be very sorry for it, but you being a native will hear of it. I confess I am anxious about his situation. The man has a family, and in these troublesome times, I wish he were at home to mind his trade and his fireside, for I think he has travelled more than his fortune can well bear. Present my respects to Madam and the virgin muse. I got many little pieces addressed to me while near the Court, but I made very little return.

I am, my dear philosopher, with unalterable regard, yours.



The Hague, September 12th, 1780.


There has been a great dearth of news for some time, which is happily interrupted by the capture of the English East and West India fleets, by the combined fleets of France and Spain, as your Excellency will see by the accompanying journals. Important as this event is in itself, we consider it here as the presage of what we are to hope[Pg 436] in America; the capture of the twelve English vessels bound to Quebec, made by the Americans off Newfoundland, and the failure of General Kniphausen at Springfield, is an agreeable foretaste of what we may expect from the combined operations of the French and Continental forces. There is nothing going on here, the States of Holland having done nothing in their present session, except to deliberate on a petition of the merchants of Amsterdam, for the free passage into France of naval stores and copper, by the canals of Flanders and Brabant, until the navigation of the Republic is better protected. The inaction of the States-General still greater; they are awaiting the letters from their Plenipotentiaries, who must have arrived at Petersburg.

We learn from London, that the King has dissolved the present Parliament, and will convoke a new one. In Ireland, although the majority of the Parliament are subservient to the Court, the associations of the disaffected increase. The Russian, Danish, and Swedish squadrons in concert, protect the commerce of their respective nations; and this Republic protects nothing. The combined fleet of Spain and France is at sea, and is expected to show itself in the Channel. The Archduke Maximilian has been chosen coadjutor, and consequently future Elector of Cologne, and Bishop of Munster. The Prince and Princess of Orange expect daily a visit from the King of Sweden, on his return from Spa. The Prince of Prussia is at Petersburg; the Emperor is returned to Vienna. The King of Prussia is engaged with the review in Silesia.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 437]


The Hague, October 3d, 1780.


I have just seen our friend. Their High Mightinesses have received a courier from Petersburg, with a convention drawn up by the Empress. Our friend is well satisfied with the conduct of the Plenipotentiary of the Republic and their despatches, which are,

1st. The convention founded on that made between the northern Courts, to which are added two articles. One of them has for its object the restitution of the vessels taken from the Republic; the other is, that in case the Republic should, on account of this convention be attacked, molested, or injured, the other powers shall take part and make common cause with her and will defend her. To this is added a separate article, importing that the design of the armed neutrality is, to endeavor as soon as it is perfected, to make peace between the belligerent powers.

2dly. The despatches inform us, that the Ministers Plenipotentiary learned from the Minister of Prussia, that the English Envoy at Petersburg had declared to her Imperial Majesty, that his Court would pay due respect to the armed neutrality of the northern powers, provided Holland was excluded from it.

Our friend informed me with great pleasure, that this Republic will not be able to retreat; that it must sign in spite of the opposition of the temporizers, who have now no pretence for delay, without rendering themselves absolutely odious, and becoming responsible for consequences. The French Ambassador has also received despatches from the French Minister at Petersburg.

[Pg 438]Our friend has no doubt but the King of Prussia will accede to the convention. And, very probably, the Emperor will do the same. For the Empress was so well pleased with his visit, that she made him a present of a man of war. And we have no longer any doubts of the accession of Portugal.

I have it from the best authority, that the Empress will not relinquish her simple and noble plan to establish for the nations a maritime code equally honorable and beneficial to all. Besides, there are two circumstances, which confirm me in this.

1st. The apparent concert between the northern Ministers and those of France, Spain, and Prussia, with the cabinet at Petersburg.

2dly. The orders given in Russia and Sweden, to fit out immediately for sea new fleets equal to those they have already fitted out.

The King of Sweden, in his passage here, as well as his whole journey, discovered very little regard for the English. A good deal of pains was taken to induce him to accept an invitation to sup with Sir Joseph Yorke. He supped twice with the French Ambassador, who entertained him twice with a play, which was acted at a theatre fitted up for the purpose. His Excellency, the Ambassador, was so obliging as to present me himself, with six tickets to attend the two plays with my wife and daughter.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 439]


London, October 6th, 1780.

Mr Henry Laurens was brought to town last night, rather in better health. He was lodged that night in the messenger's house in Scotland Yard, and denied all sort of communications with his friends, or those who wished to speak to him. He was examined at noon at Lord George Germain's, and committed by a warrant of Justice Addington, a close prisoner to the Tower, with orders that no person whatever should speak to him. These people are so foolishly changeable, that most likely in a few days the severity of his confinement may be relaxed. At present, two men are always in the same room with him, and two soldiers without.

October 10th. Since my last, of the 6th, there has been no material incident relative to Mr Henry Laurens's commitment; nor is the rigor of his confinement abated. No person whatever can speak to him, but in hearing and sight of the two attendant messengers. It is said, that the Secretary of State's order will produce admittance to his room, but nothing else. Some of his tory relations, and a Mr Manning, a merchant of the city, and a correspondent of Mr Laurens, have made attempts to speak to him, but did not succeed. He is wise enough to be cautious whom he speaks to. It is generally thought that this rigor will be taken off in a few days, and that his friends, who are now backward for fear of any stir that may be disadvantageous to him, will have admittance. Almost every person is crying out, shame upon this sort of treatment of Mr Laurens.

October 17th. It was not until the 14th instant, that[Pg 440] any person whatever was permitted to see Mr Laurens in the Tower. On that day, after repeated applications for admission, Mr Manning and Mr Laurens junior, a youth of sixteen or eighteen years, who has been some years at Warrington school, were permitted to see him. An order went signed from the three Secretaries of State, Hillsborough, Stormont, and Germain, to the Governor of the Tower, permitting the two gentlemen above named to visit Mr Laurens for half an hour; the warrant expressly intimating that their visit was to be limited to that time, and that they could not, a second time, see him without a new order. The Governor sent a note to Mr Manning, that he had received such an order from the Secretaries of State, and he, with young Laurens, went accordingly last Saturday morning. They found him very ill, much emaciated, but not low spirited, and bitter against the people of England for their harsh treatment of him. He spoke very handsomely of Captain Keppel, who took him and the Lieutenant to London; but from the period of putting his foot on shore, he was treated with a brutality, which he could never expect from Englishmen.

His weakness from sickness, and his agitation on seeing his son, took up the first ten of the thirty minutes allowed him to converse with his friends. The rest was filled with bitter invectives against the authors of his harsh treatment. His outer room is but a very mean one, not more than twelve feet square, a dark, close bed-room adjoining, both indifferently furnished, and a few books on his table; no pen and ink or newspaper has been yet allowed him, but he has a pencil and a memorandum book, in which he occasionally notes things. The warden of the Tower, and a yeoman of the guard are constantly at his elbow, though[Pg 441] they never attempt to stop his conversation. Mr Manning and his child being the first visitors he has had, perhaps Mr Laurens was led to say everything he could of the severity of his treatment, in order that it might be known abroad, and contradict the general report of his being exceedingly well treated. He has hitherto declined any physical advice, or the visits of any of those creatures near him, who may be put in with a view to pump. Mr Penn is making application and will probably see him. It is doubtful if the son will again get leave. His harsh treatment being now pretty generally known, every one is crying out shame against it, and they accuse a great personage, known by the name of White Eyes, as the immediate author of it.[39]


[39] For other particulars on this subject, see Franklin's Correspondence, Vol. III. pp. 174, 176, 305. Also, Henry Laurens's Correspondence, Vol. II. p. 463.


Amsterdam, December 19th, 1780.


Since my last, they have advised in the States of Holland, not to answer at all to the Memorial of Sir Joseph Yorke. This I think is the best they can do in these circumstances. But Sir Joseph Yorke has presented a new Memorial, as offensive at least as the preceding one, and the several provinces are now deliberating on its contents.[40] But their resolution, I am assured, will not please the British Court.

[Pg 442]I had the honor some days ago of presenting Mr Searle to the French Ambassador, and of serving them both as an interpreter in an interesting conversation, as to the best method of expelling the enemy out of the United States, and of putting a speedy end to the war in America. The intention of a majority of fifteen out of the eighteen cities of Holland, by disavowing the conduct of Amsterdam concerning the projected treaty, is visibly to leave no pretext at all to Great Britain for attacking this Republic on other grounds than that of resentment for her accession to the armed neutrality.

December 26th. The States of this Province have taken unanimously the provisional resolve, of putting the project of a treaty between the United States and this Republic, together with the letter of the city of Amsterdam, concerning the same, into the hands of the Provincial Court of Justice, to be examined by them, and to decide if there is any constitutional law of the Union, which can be said to have been violated by the Regency of Amsterdam in this affair. Supposing for a moment, this should be the case, the high sheriff of the city would then be requested to pursue the violators of such a law. But as this cannot be the case, the said States, who are to assemble on the 5th of January, will take the final resolution; 1st, of asking satisfaction of the Court of Great Britain, for her indecent Memorials; and 2dly, of laying the whole proceedings before the Northern Courts, and showing them the false pretence under which the said Court endeavors to conceal her resentment against this Republic for her accession to the armed neutrality.

December 27th. The States having acquainted Sir Joseph Yorke with the aforesaid provisional resolve, he re[Pg 443]fused to receive the communication; and on the 25th inst. he set out early in the morning, according to the orders of his King, for Antwerp. The very day of his leaving the Hague, the Committee of Holland residing constantly at the Hague, sent circular letters to the several cities of this Province, acquainting them with this event, and summoning them for coming immediately with proper instructions from their cities, to form a speedy, cordial, and vigorous resolve. One of these letters has been shown to me in the original.

December 28th. Consequently, the Second Pensionary and other Deputies of the city of Amsterdam, have set out this morning for the Hague, where all will meet tomorrow. The First Pensionary, M. Van Berckel, will follow them, as soon as he shall see himself justified by the decision of the Court of Holland.

The Hague, January 12th, 1781. Last Monday, a courier, who left Petersburg on the 19th of December, arrived with despatches to the Grand Pensionary of Holland, containing, "that the Empress, satisfied with that of their High Mightinesses, of November 27th, had seen, with indignation rather than astonishment, the two last Memorials of Sir Joseph Yorke; that she was greatly disposed in favor of the Republic; that the convention would soon be signed, and the acts of it sent by another courier." Yesterday was resolved, and today begins the distribution of letters of marque, both for men of war and privateers. The decision of the Court of Justice of Holland, cannot come out before the 15th of February, because of the absence of several of its members; but everybody knows already, that it cannot but be a good one. Till then M. Van Berckel will not appear here.

[Pg 444]January 23d. On the 21st the Grand Pensionary of Holland received a letter from M. de Swart, the Dutch Resident at Petersburg, of which the following extract is taken by myself from an authentic copy communicated to me. "January 5th. On the 31st of December last, the Dutch Plenipotentiaries and M. de Swart had a final conference with the Russian Plenipotentiary, when, having settled the matter of command in case of their men of war or squadrons meeting or acting jointly, in the same manner as this Republic is used to do with all other Crowns, and the whole transaction having been laid before the Empress, and approved by her, the accession of this Republic to the treaties of Russia, Sweden, and Denmark, for the mutual protection of the trade and navigation of their subjects, has been concluded and signed on January 4th, by the Plenipotentiaries of the parties, and the acts of it despatched (they also arrived here on the 21st) to be ratified by their High Mightinesses. During the whole transaction of this treaty, the English had left no artifice untried, in order to get the Republic excluded from this alliance; and even to the last moment, they strived most desperately against her admission. But the Empress and her Ministry, unshaken, rejected their Memorials with firmness, and even with indignation."

With all my heart I congratulate the United States upon this happy event; an event which must accelerate the humiliation of their proud enemy, and assert with the acknowledged liberty of America, that of the seas through the world; the latter of which cannot be obtained without the former.

Couriers have been sent from hence, eleven days ago, for the purpose of asking from the three Northern Powers[Pg 445] the stipulated succor, as being attacked in resentment, for having acceded to their alliance. The money which this Republic has now occasion to take up from her subjects, will greatly increase the difficulty of the English in obtaining money, and sink their stocks still more.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[40] These two Memorials are contained in John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. V. pp. 372, 386.


Philadelphia, December 24th, 1780.


Your letter of the 7th of January last was long on its passage, and, I am sorry to say, has remained too long in my possession without an answer, which you must attribute entirely to the multiplicity of employments, in various ways, that occupy very fully my whole time. Had I complied with the dictates of that respect and esteem, which Dr Franklin first, and your steady adherence to this country since inspired, you would have heard from me immediately; but men who are involved in much business, as I am, cannot follow their inclinations, but must submit to such things as call most pressingly for their attention.

The letter you enclosed to me, for Messrs Sears & Smith, I sent forward immediately, and you may depend on me for much more important services, when in my power to render them to you or any of your friends.

After serving my country in various public stations for upwards of four years, my routine in Congress was finished; and no sooner was I out, than envious and malicious men began to attack my character, but my services were so universally known, and my integrity so clearly proved, I have, thank God, been able to look down with contempt[Pg 446] on those that have endeavored to injure me; and what is more, I can face the world with that consciousness, which rectitude of conduct gives to those who pursue it invariably.

You will excuse me for saying so much of myself. I should not have mentioned the subject had I not been attacked; and as I think no man ought to be insensible to applause and approbation, I cannot help wishing to retain that opinion you have been pleased to entertain of me.

As I maintain my acquaintance amongst the present members of Congress, you will be assured I will most cheerfully promote your interest whenever I can, for I feel the force of your observations on that subject.

Mr Carmichael is returned to Europe, and Mr Deane is about embarking for France, and I dare say you will hear from them both.

I most sincerely wish an honorable, happy, and speedy end to the war we are engaged in; and with sentiments of great esteem and respect, I remain,



The Hague, February 5th, 1781.


A courier, despatched by the Russian Ambassador here on the 29th of December last, with the news of Sir Joseph Yorke having left the Hague by order of his Court without taking leave, has come back again with letters from the Dutch Plenipotentiaries at Petersburg to the Great Pensionary, the contents of which are still very satisfactory; so that there is no doubt nor uneasiness concerning a favorable answer, which they expect here, but not before the end of[Pg 447] this month, to the demands made, by a courier despatched from hence on the 12th of January last.

By letters from Ostend we are told, that the Russian Minister at London had left that Court without taking leave. If this proves true, or whenever else the expected rupture between Russia and Great Britain will be fully ascertained, then it will be time to set on foot a negotiation with the four new allied powers, for the acknowledgment of the independency of America, and making treaties with her of amity and commerce. The first, and perhaps only application for this purpose, must then be made to Russia; and I am now carefully watching the moment when such an application will be proper, and attended with the prospect of success, in order to inform Mr Adams and take with and under him, such measures as may be necessary. Till then we must keep them close, and make no application to this Republic, which, since her accession, cannot and will not make any private step without the quadruple alliance, of which Russia is the leading power; and, as I have good reasons to think, well disposed towards the United States.

I have been repeatedly assured, that the exportation of the two thousand lasts of grain to England from Ostend, has been refused at Brussels to Sir Joseph Yorke, and that he is going, if not already gone, from Antwerp to Ostend, to embark for England. This gives no great opinion of the pretended negotiation set on foot between the Emperor and Great Britain.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 448]


The Hague, February 22d, 1781.


The expected courier from the Dutch Plenipotentiaries at Petersburg has not yet arrived. They think his departure thence has been delayed till the coming back of another whom they had sent to London. The decision of the Court of Holland concerning the conduct of the Regency of Amsterdam is not yet given, and will not come out for some weeks. The pretended reason of this new delay is that M. Van Citters, one of the Counsellors of that Court, must go to Zealand, because of the sickness of his mother. The true reason may be, to get rid here of certain gentlemen as long as possible, and to gratify their —— by deferring their justification. A little more resolution, when it was perhaps more proper to dare than to waver, would have spared them such a trick. But now their honor and dignity not suffering them to appear here till they are justified, those that cannot but justify them, will delay the doing it as long us they can.

March 2d, 1781. In consequence of orders brought by a courier despatched to the Russian Ambassador here, he has presented a Memorial[41] to their High Mightinesses, importing that the Empress was willing to interpose her mediation between this Republic and England, to bring on an accommodation. The Court of Justice of this Province will meet on Monday next, to draw up their decision concerning the conduct of Amsterdam.

I am, with the greatest respect, &c.



[41] See this Memorial in John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. V. p. 468.

[Pg 449]


The Hague, March 5th, 1781.


Since the Memorial presented on the 1st instant to their High Mightinesses by the Russian Ambassador, offering the mediation of the Empress between them and Great Britain, a letter of February 9th has been received here, written by the Dutch Plenipotentiary at Petersburg, of which being decyphered, the Grand Pensionary of Holland, instead of delivering copies as usual, has only permitted the inspection and perusal to the several members of the States. It gives the following account of the assurances made to them by the chief Minister of the Empress, Count Panin, viz. 1st. That the Empress is still in the same favorable dispositions towards the Republic, and that he himself will support, with all his power, the just claim of the Dutch, to have all the vessels returned to them, which the English have taken from them since their accession to the armed neutrality. 2dly. That the mediation offered by the Court of Vienna, to procure, by the good offices of that Court, in conjunction with that of Russia, a peace between the belligerent powers, will not be accepted without the preliminary condition sine qua non, of Great Britain's acknowledging the independency of the United States, and the rights of the neutral powers in matters of commerce and navigation. 3dly. That the Empress had seen, with great satisfaction, the propositions made by the Dutch Plenipotentiaries to the several northern Crowns, for being supplied by them, on conditions to be agreed on, with a[Pg 450] sufficient number of men of war; and that the number they wanted was ready for the service of their High Mightinesses.

There was a report current here, and through the whole country, of three encampments to take place this summer in this Province. A great personage has assured a gentleman in distinguished station, that this had never been his intention. I have it from the gentleman himself. The same assures me, "the Court of Justice was now busy with making up the decision concerning the conduct of the Regency of Amsterdam. They had taken the advice of an eminent lawyer; he had seen this advice; it was a very good one."

Mr Adams favored me yesterday both with his presence, and with the sight of the despatches of December last, which he has received from your Excellency. I shall do my best to second his operations; heartily wishing that things may ripen, and our endeavors be crowned with success. To this hope let me join that of the so often solicited attention of Congress to my long and faithful services, and to the circumstances in which they have involved me.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, March 22, 1781.


The States of this Province separated last week, to meet again the next week. The Provinces have given their agreement to the mediation offered by[Pg 451] Russia. This affair, I fear, will prove a lingering business, as well as that of the decision of the Court of Justice of Holland, which, I am told, is drawn up in a manner that will not at all satisfy the Regency of Amsterdam, and consequently will not be suffered to be delivered; and so things will remain in statu quo, God knows how long. All this is owing to the devices of the friends of Great Britain in this country, and not in the least to any disaffection from Russia, &c. How can people be helped, that will not be helped? In the meantime, the enemies carry on with success their perfidious scheme. Congress by this time must have heard of their taking St Eustatia, filled with riches, a great part of which they say is American property. And now they pretend by this stroke to have cut off the great resource of America for continuing the war, and to force her into submission.

I have from good authority, that the English have refused the mediation of Russia. This surprises me not at all, because I am sure their arrogancy and stubbornness will never let them acknowledge either the independence of the United States, or the rights of neutrality, till their heads are broken; a blessed work, fit for heaven only and America to achieve, while European politicians take time to consider.

April 2d. They expect here very interesting news from Petersburg towards the end of this month, as there are two couriers gone thither, the one from hence on the 23d of March, the other from England much about the same time. The merchants of Amsterdam, who have a great share in the effects seized on at St Eustatia, having resolved to send Deputies to[Pg 452] the English Ministry, in order to have them restored to them, and having invited the merchants of Rotterdam to join with them in this Deputation, the latter have answered, that with men capable of acting so ruffianlike, they would rather let them keep all that they had robbed, than debase themselves by courting the robbers. This noble answer would be still more so, if Rotterdam had lost as much at St Eustatia as Amsterdam; there being, as for that, a very great difference.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Nimeguen, April 28th, 1781.


As a friend to humanity, it is hoped you will be so good as to relieve, by your correspondence with Congress, a good family from their uneasiness on account of the fate of a son, of whom, notwithstanding all our inquiries, during these two last years, by the way of France, Spain and Holland, we have not been able to get any positive intelligence. This son, Frederick Charles Bedaulx, cannot be unknown to Congress, to their War Office, and to the commanders of their army; having been engaged in their service since the year 1776, when he embarked for St Eustatia; but the vessel being taken, he escaped from Falmouth, and went over with the Marquis de Lafayette; and in consequence of a capitulation made before his first going, served and distinguished himself there as Lieutenant-Colonel, in which quality he commanded the[Pg 453] infantry of the Pulaski Legion. For more than two years we have had no letter from him, and of many letters, which were delivered for him to Mr Deane, when he was Minister from the United States at Paris, we do not know if one has been received by M. Bedaulx. According to some loose reports, being sick, he had been removed to Philadelphia, where he died. But this has been contradicted since by other people, who say he is still living, and sent away or confined by the intrigues of some enemy.

Sure of the principles of probity and honor with which he has been brought up, we cannot think he has been wanting in his duty; and on the other hand, after so many repeated applications made to Congress, and to the body in which he has served, we cannot but be surprised and troubled to find them absolutely silent. You will oblige me, his uncle, Sir, his worthy father, and a whole family, by helping us out of this cruel uncertainty.

I have the honor to be, &c.

Major-General in the Dutch Service.


The Hague, May 1st, 1781.


Since my last letter there has been no opportunity to write to America. This time has been employed in getting useful intelligence, and preparing all things with Mr Adams for the step he will take on Friday next, of presenting his Memorial to their High Mightinesses. This[Pg 454] evening I carried a card from him to the Grand Pensionary, who will receive a preparatory visit from him tomorrow morning. It is still uncertain whether he will be admitted at present, or if they will advise for a medium. The expected courier is not yet arrived from Petersburg.

A good French translation of the Memorial was absolutely necessary to be presented with the original. I am happy to have made it to the satisfaction of Mr Adams, and this translation will be read to their High Mightinesses, whenever the Memorial shall be laid before them.[42]

May 2d. I have attended Mr Adams to the Grand Pensionary. When he told him, that his intention was to present himself on Friday next, to the President of their High Mightinesses, in quality of Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States, and that he had likewise credentials from the same to his Serene Highness, the Prince of Orange, the Pensionary answered, that he apprehended a difficulty would arise against his admission in such a character, from their High Mightinesses having not yet acknowledged the independence of America. Mr Adams having replied, that this objection, since the war had broken out between Great Britain and this Republic seemed to have lost all its weight, the Pensionary agreed, that it was true at least both nations had now the same enemy; however, he would make his report to his masters and to the Prince of the notice given him.

May 4th. This morning his Excellency went to the Grand Pensionary with a copy of his Memorial, which he declined to receive, saying it was not the usage, when Memorials were presented to the President of their High Mightinesses, to deliver copies of them to the Grand Pen[Pg 455]sionary of Holland; and that it would be more proper to deliver one to the Graphiary of the States-General. This we judged proper to delay till after the audience at the President's, who received his Excellency with great politeness, but declined charging himself with the Memorial, alleging his acceptance of it would imply an acknowledgment he could not take upon himself, but must reserve it to their High Mightinesses, to whom he would immediately report the case. His Excellency told him, that to avoid misconstructions, he should find himself obliged to lay his Memorial before the whole world, by publishing it immediately. At this the President smiled; and they parted. It was now become improper to carry a copy to the Graphiary, and therefore we dispensed with it. The President went into the Assembly of the States-General, and made the report, which having been recorded, the Deputies of all the Provinces (except those of Zealand, who remained silent) asked a copy of the report, to transmit it to their respective Provinces, when it will be matter of deliberation in their Provincial Assemblies.

From the President, we went to the Baron de Larrey, Privy Counsellor, &c. to the Prince of Orange, to whom his Excellency delivered another Memorial, in a sealed letter for the said Prince, which the Baron promised to deliver immediately to the Prince. He did so; and the Prince having summoned M. Fagel the Graphiary, and the Grand Pensionary, consulted with them what was to be done with the letter; two hours after, when we were ready to dine, the Baron came at the inn, with the letter unopened, and a polite excuse from the Prince, that he could not receive it, till after their High Mightinesses should have resolved if and when he was to be admitted in the character, which he had set forth with them.

[Pg 456]May 11th. Mr Adams setting out last Saturday for Amsterdam, left me his order to publish the Memorial with the original French translation, made by your servant, acknowledged and signed by his Excellency, and to procure also a Dutch translation; which I have performed today, by distributing through the cities a sufficient number of each.

May 16th. All the public journals of this country have inserted the Memorial, which is now generally known, pleases and puzzles at once everybody.

M. Van Berckel, the First Pensionary of Amsterdam, presented on the 4th instant a very spirited address to the States of Holland, petitioning them, either to be impeached, that he might defend himself, or formally declared not guilty.

May 19th. This day the cities of Dort and Haerlem, by an annotation in the registers of Holland, have formally declared their accession to the proposition of Amsterdam, and with thanks acknowledged the true patriotism of this last city. The other cities have taken the proposition ad referendum; and the final resolution on it will be taken by the next Assembly.

June 6th. I presented yesterday a letter from Mr Adams to the President of their High Mightinesses, and another to the Privy Counsellor of the Prince of Orange, with a copy to each, of the accession of Maryland to, and the final ratification of, your Confederation. I had sealed up the papers, and put on the covers the proper superscriptions. They received them, and desired me to come today for an answer. Accordingly I have waited on them this morning. They both had opened, and consequently read the contents, but said they could not keep them, and that I must take them back.

[Pg 457]The President seemed to me much embarrassed, and a little cavilling on my having delivered to him the letter from Mr Adams, without adding the quality of Minister Plenipotentiary, assumed in the subscription; by which omission he pretended I had deceived him; otherwise he would not have received the letter. I denied any intention to conceal from him a quality, which he knew as well as I and the whole nation, Mr Adams had openly assumed. He put them in my hat, and I told him I would, out of respect for the head of this Republic, keep in deposito the papers, which in time might be thought of greater importance to them than now. The other gentleman received me with the greatest cordiality; and apologising very frankly for restoring me the papers (likewise opened,) desired me repeatedly to understand, and to give to understand, that this was a mere formality; and that while the admission of Mr Adams was under deliberation of the several Provinces, the Prince could not be beforehand with their High Mightinesses, nor their High Mightinesses with their constituents, in such a matter of the first importance.

June 16th. I have been happy with the presence of Mr Adams, and with his approbation of my conduct. The States of Holland have separated. Their next meeting, after the 27th instant, may be very stormy, not only on account of the proposition of Amsterdam, but also on that of a verbal remonstrance made by the same city to a great personage, desiring him to exclude from all political business the Duke of Brunswick, formerly his tutor, when a minor; a message which has exceedingly hurt them both.

June 22d. The great city persists in her late de[Pg 458]mand to the Prince of Orange, concerning the desired exclusion of the aforesaid great man, having, since the verbal proposition, sent the same by writing to the great personage, and to the Grand Pensionary. Thus the fermentation rises, and draws to a very interesting crisis, which probably will decide itself within a fortnight, either into some catastrophe, or into a ridiculus mus. I learn just now, that the Duke of Brunswick presented yesterday to their High Mightinesses a long letter to justify himself. Many, even unconcerned people, think it an improper step, because he is, in fact, not vested with any public department, and therefore not answerable, nor to be brought to account. His position seems to me near akin to that of Lord Bute.[43]

July 4th. There has been made mention, in the Provincial Assembly, by the Grand Pensionary, but a very slight one, of the Duke of Brunswick's letter to their High Mightinesses as taken ad referendum by the several Provinces. The nobility has acquainted the Provincial Assembly with the desire of the Stadtholder of presenting to their High Mightinesses, a proposition of his own, for having inquired into the causes of the defenceless state and inactivity of the Republic, and the means to be taken, &c. But the cities have declined countenancing it, and even the taking it ad referendum, because there was already such a proposition made by the city of Amsterdam, a membrum integrans of the Republic, on which they had received their instructions. The Stadtholder was present, and visibly disappointed.

[Pg 459]Yesterday I was shown in confidence a despatch just now received from Petersburg, purporting an insinuation[44] made to the Dutch Plenipotentiary, by that Court; "That the said Court had agreed with the Emperor of Germany, to treat at Vienna for procuring a general pacification between the belligerent powers; and if therefore their High Mightinesses should be inclined to intrust both their Imperial Majesties with a mediation in behalf of this Republic, they might make overtures in consequence to Prince Galitzin, the Russian Minister at the Hague." The republicans here are of opinion, that, instead of this, vigorous measures should be taken immediately with the belligerent powers; to which the opposite party will by no means listen.

July 10th. The offered mediation will be accepted, even by the advice of the patriots; because they apprehend, if they do not, the opposite party would continue to insist upon begging for peace directly in England, either by the good offices, as they call them, of the Sardinian Envoy at London, who is entirely at their and the British Court's devotion, or by sending deputies from hence. The final resolution of this Province, concerning the important proposition of Amsterdam, is delayed till the next ordinary Assembly, by cavilling on the expression of next Assembly, used in the proposition, as if this Assembly, an extraordinary one, was but a prolongation of the last.

July 13th. The report which was current on the 10th, of the Emperor being inclined to support the[Pg 460] Duke of Brunswick has proved false. I know from the best authority, that quite the reverse is true. When the monarch arrived, the Duke sent to him for permission to wait on him. Instead of which the Emperor went immediately himself to the Duke. What passed between them is not known. But the Duke having soon after returned the visit, he was observed coming back with visible marks of discomposure. The following day, the Emperor dining at the Prince of Orange's seat, called the House in the Wood, showed himself very gentle in his address to the Princess of Orange, and to everybody else, but to the Duke, to whom he said not a single word, being remarkably cold to him, which apparently was the cause of the Duke's withdrawing sooner than any other. Besides this, the Emperor has explained himself with other great men here this very day, by saying the Regents of Amsterdam did their duty as brave patriots. He spent the evening at the French Hotel, where he discoursed much with the French and Russian Ambassadors. The Grand Pensionary, although invited repeatedly by the Prince himself, excused himself from dining at the House in the Wood, because he was ill.

I have the honor to be, &c.



[42] See this Memorial in Mr Adams's Correspondence, Vol. V. p. 481.

[43] See the above remonstrance against the Duke of Brunswick, and his reply, in John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. VI. pp. 70, 76.

[44] See John Adams's Correspondence, Vol. VI. p. 146.


The Hague, August 23d, 1781.


Since my last, the Provincial States of Holland have been separated till last week.

[Pg 461]I was not unacquainted with the negotiation set on foot by the French Ambassador here for a loan of five millions of florins, or five hundred thousand pounds, at four per cent, nor with his notes lately presented for this purpose to the Graphiary, M. Fagel; and although the Ambassador does not yet know that I am acquainted with it, I thought myself obliged to abstain discreetly from writing or speaking about it for obvious reasons. I am now happy with the assurance given me, that the proposition of this loan is committed, and will soon be agreed by their High Mightinesses, either by their taking up the money themselves, and lending it to France, or by their countenancing and warranting the taking it up directly by France; the only secret, or at least not publicly acknowledged particular of this agreement, will be the destination of this money in behalf of the United States. This true account is given me by a friend, who has it officially from the mouth of the Grand Pensionary.

The Baron Lynden had written and delivered into the hands of the President of the States-General, a letter to their High Mightinesses, containing the reason which engaged him to resign his Embassy to Vienna, and to decline any other, viz; the unconstitutionality of a foreigner's (the Duke of Brunswick,) being the only counsel to the Stadtholder, for internal as well as external politics and administration of this Republic. This letter the Baron had been prevailed upon to desist from having read to their High Mightinesses; and he took it out of the hands of the President, in presence of the Grand Pensionary of Holland, and of the Graphiary of their High Mightinesses, reserving to himself, however, the liberty of presenting it again, whenever he should think it convenient. Some persons (your servant for one) have been favored with the[Pg 462] perusal of this letter. This compliance having somewhat discredited the Baron among the patriots, he brought his letter back on Tuesday last to the President; telling him it must be laid open to their High Mightinesses without any further delay, otherwise, he should publish it by printing.

August 24th. I have been favored by the Baron de Lynden with the sight, 1st of a letter written by him last Monday to the Stadtholder, in which he tells him, that seeing him still influenced and prepossessed in favor of, and directed by the Duke of Brunswick, he found his own honor and conscience did not suffer him to withhold any longer from their High Mightinesses and from his country, the abovementioned letter; 2dly. The answer of the Stadtholder, telling him, that it was for the sake of the Baron personally, that he had endeavored to persuade him to suppress that letter; but seeing him now determined to pull off the mask, and join with his adversaries, he gave him up to his own reflections; 3dly. The reply of the Baron, viz.; that whereas his Highness was sorry for the letter's being presented for his (the Baron's) sake only, he was determined to present it for the same sake, which he did accordingly; and the letter has been read to their High Mightinesses, the Baron himself being present at the second reading, or resumption, as they call it, the day following.

The original of a very noble and unanimous resolution of the city of Dort, respecting the Duke of Brunswick, where he is considered merely as a military servant of the Republic, and where the conduct of the Regency of Amsterdam is vindicated, has been read confidentially to me. Several other authentic and interesting pieces are in my[Pg 463] hands, viz., 1st. A resolution of the city of Dort, of June 25th last, in which their Deputies are ordered to insist upon the important propositions of Amsterdam of May 18th being taken into serious consideration; and principally upon a good plan of operations during this war being concluded with France and her allies. 2dly. The reports of the several Admiralties of this Republic, showing their having accomplished the building, equipping, and putting into service ships, according to the orders of their High Mightinesses; to which the Admiralty of Amsterdam has added a remark, which has much displeased this Court, viz. that, after having done their duty in this matter, an account of the most proper application and disposition of the forces set in readiness, for the protection of this country, must not be asked from them, but from the higher power, which had the direction of their exertions; 3dly. A resolution of the Province of Holland, for another squadron to be speedily ordered to convoy to the Baltic, not only the merchant fleet of Amsterdam, lying in the Texel roads, which, after the glorious action of the 5th, against Parker, has been obliged to come back, but also those of Rotterdam, whose merchants, in a spirited address, have complained of being neglected. I would fain join herewith translated copies of these voluminous and interesting pieces, but without the aiding hand of a clerk, such a task is impossible for me to perform.

August 30th. To shorten the business of the abovementioned loan, probably, their High Mightinesses will open it themselves on their own credit, by warranting the capital and interest at four per cent, for surety of which they will receive, in that case, a general bond from France. Regularly they may pay no more than three per cent for[Pg 464] themselves, and notwithstanding such small interest, the course of their paper is at twelve, fourteen, and even sixteen per cent purchase above the capital sum. By this method, if pursued, the subscription at four per cent will be rapidly completed.

September 2d. A very interesting resolution of August 28th, of one of the principal cities of this Province, was received the day before yesterday by her Deputies here, of which the substance is as follows.

"Having been informed by their Deputies of the contents of two notes, which they were told by the Grand Pensionary had been presented successively to the Graphiary of their High Mightinesses by the French Ambassador; and being desirous of facilitating the use which the Court of France intends to make of the proposed loan, because such a compliance with her desire will not only fasten a most necessary confidence between that Court and this Republic, but also annoy directly the common enemy, by strengthening the Congress of North America, in whose behalf his Majesty the King of France intends, according to certain secret informations, to dispose of the whole loan, so that the said Congress may the better carry on the war against Great Britain;—Resolved; that the Deputies of this city at the Assembly of this Province, shall be, and are hereby qualified, when the business shall be reported to the Assembly, to favor with all their power the conclusion of it, and moreover to advise and further a resolution, that may promote the intents and purposes aforesaid. Besides this, when done, our said Deputies at the Provincial Assembly are charged herewith, pursuant to our resolution of June 25th last, to insist by way of proposition, upon their Noble and Grand Mightinesses taking into serious de[Pg 465]liberation the proposition laid before them by the Regency of Amsterdam on the 18th of last May, and bring forth a final resolution about the same; and particularly upon the Deputies of this Province, in the Assembly of the States-General, being ordered to direct things there to such effect, that the French Court may be requested by their High Mightinesses to deliberate with them on the manner of acting jointly, by communicating the plans of operation; a measure which must visibly clog the enemy, and directly fortify the affair of this Republic."

September 12th. Last Thursday they were busy at the Assembly of this Province in deliberating on the Duke's letter to their High Mightinesses. The votes of eight cities, viz. Dort, Haerlem, Delft, Leyden, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Gorcum, and Schiedam, were directly against it. The speeches of Haerlem and Leyden, which being written were read, have been admired. The points wherein the eight agree, are 1st. The impropriety of the Duke's addressing himself by letter (when as a military servant he should have done it by request) to their High Mightinesses, which are by no means competent judges, when he should have applied to the true and only Sovereign here, viz. to the Province of Holland. 2dly. That of any foreigner whatever being in fact the only counsel of the eminent chief of this Republic. 3dly. That, without crediting or countenancing current charges of corruption, this foreigner's being hated and suspected by the bulk of this nation, as not patriotic, produces the same effect, and forbids his having any management, or influence, direct or indirect, in public affairs. 4thly. That the nobility's constantly opposing the advices of the cities is a circumstance, which will at last ruin this Republic. 5thly. That the cities have[Pg 466] the constitutional right of remonstrating against whomsoever they think proper, according to the resolutions of 1586, 1622, and 1663, which last is the strongest act of indemnity for the purpose. With all that they could not come to a resolution; the nobility, with the ten other cities, pretending their not having yet enough considered the matter. I think the Duke will dispute the ground with some success, as long as he can preserve his old influence over his pupil; but, on the other hand, he will by no means obtain the satisfaction he craves.

I have been favored, by a very good patriot, with the sight of the two short notes of the French Ambassador. The contents are, that the King being satisfied with the notice given him of their being now disposed to exert all their powers for annoying the enemy, his Majesty proposes to them an occasion for distressing them greatly, by their consenting to a loan of five millions of florins, at four per cent a year, payable every six months, which interest as well as the capital the King should procure to be paid exactly at their expiration. The destination of the money in behalf of the United States has been added verbally.

There are two very strong propositions against the Duke made by the Quarter of Westergo in Friesland, to which that of Ostergo, and part of Sevenwolde, have acceded. The first is inserted already in the Leyden Gazette; the second the Gazetteer hesitates as yet to insert, because it is very violent against their High Mightinesses. If he does not, I shall translate and transmit it.

September 13th. I am just now informed, that this Province has consented in the loan for France, by their resolutions of the 7th and 10th inst.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 467]


The Hague, October 11th, 1781.


On the 12th of September the Baron Lynden wrote a letter to the Prince of Orange, telling him, that after he had so much complied with the wishes of his Highness, as to withhold for a considerable time his letter from their High Mightinesses, he had expected from the honor of his Highness, that the Embassy for Vienna would not be disposed of in behalf of another, till there was a greater necessity for it than there is at present, and till his own motives for refusing a post, which in every other respect would have been very delightful to himself, had been attended to; but seeing himself not fairly treated, by another's (the Count of Waffenaar Twickels, who, however, has not yet dared to accept it) being appointed to it, he should be obliged if his Highness should go on, without paying regard to the present letter, to publish it with the foregoing ones that had passed between his Highness and him, together with what he knew from the late Counts of Rhoon and Bentinck, concerning a secret Act, by which his Highness, when of age, had promised the Duke, that he should ever be his only counsel.

A very unfaithful account having since been circulated of this letter, the Baron makes no difficulty of showing it to those whom he wishes to be undeceived, and probably he will at last publish it with the others. In the meantime, I have seen the original draft. Several very violent Dutch pamphlets have been published within a few days, not only against the Duke, but[Pg 468] even against the Stadtholder and against the Stadtholdership in general, and the whole Orange dynasty, the last of which is a masterly performance, but too large for me to translate. There is more moderation in the considerations herewith enclosed; and therefore I have consented without difficulty to get them printed, at the request of some very good people, as your Excellency will see, by the annexed copy of my letter to their society at Rotterdam.

The States of Holland have met again this morning. I have not heard if any of the Provinces, besides Holland and Friesland, have consented to the loan proposed by France, in the manner I told your Excellency in my last. They are too much taken up at present with their domestic quarrels.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Philadelphia, November 28th, 1781.


It is necessary to inform you, that the correspondence with you will in future be through the office of Foreign Affairs, at the head of which Congress have done me the honor to place me, as will appear by the enclosed resolutions.

I have before me your interesting letters from December to July. The minute detail into which you go, of the facts in which either your government or ours is concerned, is highly acceptable to Congress. You will not, therefore, fail to continue it; and from time to time transmit, in addition thereto, such papers[Pg 469] and pamphlets as serve to throw light on the politics of the United Provinces, or of the Northern Powers. Dr Franklin will defray the expense to which this may put you. Be pleased to subscribe for the Leyden and Amsterdam Gazettes, and transmit them to me as opportunity offers. We have as yet received no account from Mr Adams of the presentation of his Memorial, or the reception it met with, nor any other particulars on this interesting subject, than what you have related. We consider this as a proof of his reliance upon your exactness in the relation.

You have before this heard the variety of agreeable events, which have with the divine blessing taken place in America. The particulars of the capture of Cornwallis and General Green's victory are sent to Mr Adams, though you will probably have them earlier by way of France. Our affairs here are in such a situation, that even our enemies have given up the idea of conquest, or the most distant expectation of our re-union with Great Britain, whose unheard of cruelties have excited the most inveterate hatred. This is perhaps the moment in which other nations might, by a generous and decided conduct, take their place in our affections; and before our tastes were so formed as to give the preference to the fashions or manufactures of any one country, to establish their commerce with us on the ruin of that of Britain. I wish both for your sake and ours, that the United Provinces knew how to avail themselves of this invaluable opportunity by entering boldly into commercial connexions with us, and by ingratiating themselves into our affections by some such act of friendship as would strike the senses[Pg 470] of the people. But alas! this is too daring for your Councils, and is rather to be wished than expected.

It gives me pain to inform you, that Lieutenant-Colonel Bedaulx is dead. It will, however, be some consolation to his friends, (in whose sorrows I sympathise) to hear, after what has been injuriously repeated to them, that his reputation was untarnished, and that he died, with the character of a man of honor and a soldier, fighting in the cause of freedom at Savannah.[45]

Congress are very sensible of your attention to their interest, and wish the situation of their finances would admit of their rewarding it more liberally, but having retrenched expenses of every kind, and reduced the salaries as low as the strictest frugality requires, they do not think it expedient at this time to make any additions to that allowed you by Dr Franklin, which they will direct him to pay regularly. You will be pleased in future to direct your letters, not to the President, but to me, as Secretary of the States for Foreign Affairs; and when you favor us with anything written in French or Dutch, to give it in the original language. This may save you some trouble, and enable us in quoting it to make use of the original expression, which you know is often very necessary. As you appear to labor under a mistake, with respect to Mr Searle, I take the liberty to inform you that he is not a member of Congress, his delegation having expired before he left America. I cannot close my letter without congratulating you on the spirit and gallantry of Admiral Zoutman, and his officers and men. Had[Pg 471] Britain known that your Van Tromps and De Ruyters were still alive, she would have thought the treasures of your islands too dearly purchased by provoking their resentment.

It will give you pleasure to hear that the British have been foiled in every quarter of this country. A considerable body of them with a number of Indians, who crossed the lakes from Canada upon a ravaging expedition, with no nobler view than that of burning farm houses, and scalping women and children, were met twice and defeated, with considerable loss in killed and prisoners, by an inferior number of militia.

Congress are engaged in preparations for the most vigorous exertions as soon as the spring shall open, from which, by the blessings of Divine Providence, we have the highest reason to promise ourselves success.

I am, Sir, with great esteem and respect, &c.



[45] See General Bedaulx's letter to M. Dumas on this subject, above, p. 452.


Amsterdam, January 7th, 1782.


It would require a volume and several hands, to relate the events of which I have been a daily witness, and not seldom an active one, since my last despatch of October 11th. Indifferent health, as well as prudence, has forbidden me to write down and send a journal of them, as I formerly did. The rage of the English, and of their faction here, is increased with their late disappointments; and while things draw nearer to some conclusion, my own experience and that of others has taught me not to trust too much to any public conveyance.

[Pg 472]I heartily congratulate Congress upon the glorious event of the 19th of October last, which has given joy to our friends and confusion to our enemies here.

The loan of five millions of guilders to France in behalf of the United States having been unanimously agreed to by their High Mightinesses has been subscribed in one day; and this stock is no more to be had under two per cent above the capital.

Tomorrow the States of Holland will meet again at the Hague, to deliberate about the offered mediation of Russia, already accepted by Great Britain, for a peace between the latter and this Republic. In spite of the English faction, I have good reason to foretell that two conditions, sine quibus non, will be insisted on as preliminaries by the Republic. 1st. All the rights of a free and unlimited navigation offered to this Republic, in virtue of former treaties as well as of her being part of the armed neutrality. 2dly. That this negotiation for a particular peace shall not hinder the Republic in the meantime, and till concluded, from concerting measures with France for carrying on the war. Without these clauses expressed in the resolution that is to be taken this or next week, I am assured that none will be taken, because it is a matter which requires unanimity.

After having managed an interview between Mr Adams and some gentlemen at the Hague, I have accompanied him hither during the vacation time. Tomorrow we intend to go back to the Hague, where we have agreed with the said gentlemen, and with the French Ambassador, upon Mr Adams's addressing their High Mightinesses for a categorical answer on the errand of his mission.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 473]


The Hague, January 15th, 1782.


According to my last of the 7th instant, I went with Mr Adams on the 9th to the President of their High Mightinesses, to whom his Excellency having made his requisition, I repeated it, that the President might understand it exactly, in the same terms as are to be seen in the Leyden Gazette here sent, where I have got them inserted; and he promised to make his report accordingly. After this, having received word from the Grand Pensionary of Holland, where we intended to go, that being himself very sick, he could receive nobody but by the means of his Secretary, I alone made the communication to the latter the same morning. The day following, being Thursday, we were received by M. Fagel, the Graphiary of their High Mightinesses, who, after I had read to him the requisition, told us, "that the President had made report of it to the States-General, and that the Deputies of all the Provinces had taken it ad referendum, to be transmitted to their several Provinces; that the same had been done respecting the first report in May last, without any instruction being hitherto received about it; and, therefore, some patience more was necessary for a categorical answer."

The reception met with from the President and the said Ministers was duly polite. From them we went round to the deputations of the eighteen cities of this Province, now assembling here, who received us, without exception, with a very good humored cordiality, thanking us for our kind communication, of which they promised to make report to their cities, and assuring us, that they wished earnestly for[Pg 474] a speedy establishment of amity and good harmony between both Republics; to which several of them added, affectionately, that they loved the Americans.

January 17th. This morning those of Dort have loudly complained in the Assembly of Holland, of the disregard shown by the other Provinces, and even by part of this Province, to the common welfare, roundly declaring that they will not consent to the proposed mediation for a peace with Great Britain, unless it should be agreed and resolved before, to concert measures with France for carrying on the war without any truce, till peace should be fairly concluded. The same city, with that of Leyden, I am assured, will soon insist also in the Assembly, upon due attention being paid to our requisition.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, January 30th, 1782.


Last Friday, the co-operating with France against the common enemy would have been resolved upon, if the little city of Briel had not voted with the nobility, for resolving, at the same time, the acceptance of the mediation proposed by Russia for a particular peace with Great Britain, which the other refused to do. Neither of these points being agreed on, they have adjourned till Tuesday, the 5th of February.

Before their parting, Dort and six other principal cities inserted their protest against the unconstitutional manner of carrying on the correspondence by their High[Pg 475] Mightinesses with the Emperor, concerning the abolition of the barrier treaty and the dismantling of the barrier cities without consulting the Provinces about it; threatening to recall their Deputies at the States-General. This unexpected step has much frightened and humiliated the latter. Probably the next week will decide, first of all, the business of concerting measures with France, and then that of the mediation, of which they are determined to limit the acceptance by such clauses as may disappoint the friends of Great Britain.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, March 29th, 1782.


It is with great satisfaction that I find myself authorised to begin an official correspondence with you, by congratulating the United States on the acquisition of two illustrious sisters, whose example will be speedily followed by five others. On the 26th of February last, Friesland, and yesterday Holland adopted the Provincial resolutions to instruct their Deputies in the States-General, to direct affairs in that body in such a manner as to procure Mr Adams's admission for the purpose of presenting his credentials from the United States to their High Mightinesses. This is an acknowledgment of your independence, and opens the road to negotiation. I have received triplicates of your favor, and shall have the honor of answering more fully on the first opportunity.

I hope the two pamphlets accompanying this, —— and [Pg 476]——, which are very celebrated, rare, and valuable here, will reach you in safety.

I am, &c.


P. S. The names of Messrs Gyzelaer, Zeeberg, Van Berckel, and Vischer, Pensionaries of the cities of Dort, Haerlem and Amsterdam, are worthy of being remembered with the highest esteem by every true American.


Amsterdam, April 4th, 1782.


The 29th ult. I had the honor to address you a packet under cover to Dr Franklin at Paris, with a short letter, in which I had the satisfaction to commence the honor of my official correspondence with you, in congratulating the United States on the acquisition of two illustrious sisters, whose example will be followed by five others, as you will see by the papers annexed.

I congratulate you, Sir, and myself also on your elevation to the high post that you fill, and I recommend my interests and my character to your attention before Congress. I shall communicate to Dr Franklin the account of my expenses for the pamphlets and other charges, which I have already begun, and which I shall continue to forward to you according to your orders, and I shall draw on him for the amount. I purchased, in February last, for Mr Adams and by his order, at a cheap rate, a hotel at the Hague, where we shall live happily together, if God please, the first of next month. This purchase, besides the economy of it, has produced politically very good effects.[Pg 477] Only France, Spain and now the United States, possess hotels as their own at the Hague. All the other foreign Ministers occupy, at a dear rate, hired hotels.

There is no longer cause to blame the slowness of this nation on our affairs. Its inclination for us, like a spring pressed by a strong hand, is escaping and declares for us nobly, by an accumulation of addresses of corporations, which appear from all parts. I think that before the end of this month, Mr Adams will be admitted to present his letters of credence. I came to him here for a secret transaction concerted with our friends at the Hague, which must make our triumph over Anglomany complete. On his part, he went this morning to confer with the French Ambassador at the Hague. He will return here on Saturday, where I shall keep him company till the end of next week. Our sure and permanent address will be for the future, à l'Hôtel d'Amérique à la Haie en Hollande.

I am, Sir, &c.



Amsterdam, May 2d, 1782.


Your favor of the 30th I had the honor to receive yesterday, with Mr Nolet's letter and your answer. What shall I say to this affectionate, as well as polite invitation to dine at Schiedam? I am now, and shall be a long time exceedingly fatigued with the affair of the loan, which takes up the greater part of my attention and time. The treaty of commerce is also, you know, under consideration, and the merchants of the American Coffee House have[Pg 478] proposed a public dinner here; but I have begged to be excused. You see the difficulties, for which reasons I earnestly wish, that our kind friends of Schiedam would be so good as to excuse us; but I will leave the whole to you, and if I cannot be excused, I will conform to the day you agree upon. But there is another affair, which not only perplexes me in this business of the dinner, but in many other matters of importance. There is a serious negotiation going on for peace, between the Courts of London and Versailles, and Dr Franklin, who has sent me the whole, has invited Mr Laurens, Mr Jay, and me to Paris, to consult and treat. This may make it necessary to go at a short warning.

I hope you are in possession of the house at the Hague, and advise you to live in it. Your answer to Mr Nolet is very just.

It is my opinion, with submission to Congress, that it is the interest and duty of the United States, to send you a commission to be Secretary of this Legation, and Chargé d'Affaires, with a salary of five hundred pounds sterling a year during the time that there is a Minister here; and at the rate of a thousand a year, when there is not; and you have my consent to transmit this opinion to Congress, by sending an extract of this letter, or otherwise by as many ways as you please. I shall write the same myself. I wrote as much more than a year ago, but know not whether the letter has been received, as a vast number of my letters have been thrown overboard, and many taken.

If the dinner at Schiedam should be agreed on, there will be no difficulties in finding a way for us three to go all together. All that is before said about the negotiation for peace, you know must be kept secret. But if I go to[Pg 479] Paris, I shall break up my house here entirely, and dismiss all my servants.

I have the honor to be, with compliments to the ladies, &c.



The following verbal message, on the part of Mr Adams to the Secretary of the city of Schiedam, was given by M. Dumas, on the 8th of May, 1782.


The diversity of sentiments which exists in this Republic, in relation to the circumstances in which it stands to the United States of America, having appeared to Mr Adams capable of causing some embarrassment to the merchants of Schiedam, if he accepted their polite invitation, he has thought that he could not better prove the regard and affection which he has for those gentlemen, than by declining their polite request. He has therefore charged me, Sir, to assure you of his extreme sensibility, for the honor and friendship they have manifested in his person to his Sovereign; and of his intention, not only to make mention of it in his first despatches to Congress, but also to show on all occasions how much he is disposed to reciprocate this cordial civility, by every means in his power.



The Hague, May 10th, 1782.


Since my last of the 4th of April, I have not had a moment of leisure, by a succession of agreeable occupations,[Pg 480] which have brought us rapidly to the result which I predicted to you.

The voice of the people has made itself heard from all parts. The Provinces having successively sent their resolutions here annexed to the Generality, the 19th of April was the great day when the unanimous resolution of their High Mightinesses was adopted to admit Mr Adams; and on the 20th in the morning he went to present his letters of credence to the President of the week. On Monday, at nine o'clock in the morning, I went par etiquette to the house of his Excellency, the French Ambassador, to ask of him the hour when Mr Adams should come and impart to him officially his admission, and in the meantime we were to leave our cards at the houses of all the members of the States-General. The visit to the Ambassador was made in form, and publicly returned in the same way. That of the Envoy of Spain, not requiring the same ceremonial as the rank of the Ambassador, we had given him notice on Sunday evening in a familiar visit, under a condition previously agreed, that he would return it in like manner the next day; and he kept his word. Monday, the 22d, I went to ask audience for Mr Adams, of his Serene Highness, the Stadtholder, who granted it immediately. We dined on Tuesday, the 23d, with the French Ambassador, who had invited all the Corps Diplomatique, and they all attended. Wednesday morning we made the tour of the cities of Holland at their hotels with cards. We left also cards of notification at the hotels of the Ministers of foreign neutral Courts, who probably have written to their Courts to know if they should return the visit. There has been no return of it but from the Minister of Liege. The same morning I went to ask audience for Mr Adams[Pg 481] of her Royal Highness the Princess of Orange, which immediately took place.

Monday, 6th of May. Mr Adams was present at a breakfast with M. Boreel, Deputy of the States-General, where he had been invited with all the Court and the Corps Diplomatique.

An address having been presented on Monday, the 22d, to Mr Adams, by six Deputies of the body of merchants of Schiedam, having at their head the Secretary of the city, who invited him at the same time to a grand festival, which they wished to give him, I had the happiness yesterday to excuse him from this festival without dissatisfying these gentlemen, as you will see by the copy of my verbal message to the Secretary.

Add to all this, Sir, the confusion of our removal into the Hotel of the United States of America, which is not yet over, and will not be for several weeks, and you may well have some indulgence for the imperfection of my present correspondence.

Sunday last, after dinner, at the request of the French Ambassador and of our friends here, and with the consent of Mr Adams, I made a journey by post to Amsterdam, charged with a secret commission relating to a concert of operations in this country, which the Anglomanes appeared willing to trouble by some intrigue, and I returned the next day. All is now settled to the satisfaction of France; and the Anglomanes are frustrated.

Day before yesterday we were again at a familiar and friendly dinner at the house of the French Ambassador, with whom Mr Adams was very much satisfied.

I give you, Sir, only a sort of index, very imperfect, of the principal events, which have passed here lately. I[Pg 482] leave to Mr Adams, who presented on Monday, the 22d of April, the sketch of a treaty of amity and commerce to their High Mightinesses, to enlarge. I write from memory, not having been able to keep a journal, still less one of my going and coming, my secret interviews, conferences, and negotiations, which were necessary to prepare and bring about what has been done, and which ought not yet to be trusted to paper. No one has better characterised the truly national revolution, which has taken place here, than the French Ambassador, in saying, that the Dutch nation had avenged itself, with the greatest success, of all the political and other evils, which the English have done them since Cromwell; and the Envoy of Spain, who said to Mr Adams, that he had struck the greatest blow, which had been given in Europe for a long time.

I conclude by recommending, Sir, to your attention and to that of Congress, the copy of a letter which Mr Adams wrote me from Amsterdam the 2d of this month. I have not had a moment of leisure to write the present despatch sooner; nor by consequence to make a prompt use of this letter according to the intention of Mr Adams, and which, nevertheless, interests the United States as much as myself. It surprised and affected me very agreeably, and it was no doubt, his intention so to surprise. You know, Sir, or you may know by the papers of your department, since the end of 1775, the intimate part I have had in political affairs without interruption, in executing faithfully the orders of Congress, unsolicited, but accepted on my part with an ardor, which I am bold to say, has never changed, and which has drawn upon me personally all the enemies, open and concealed, of America, and has cost me and my family great persecutions, mortifications, losses and sacrifices.[Pg 483] I should fear, therefore, to weaken the letter, so energetic and so honorable to me, of Mr Adams, (who told me by word of mouth, a few days since, that he was surprised Congress had not before made such a disposition on the subject of my affairs,) if I should add anything more, except that I have never had any other principle in my actions, especially in these six or seven years of faithful and painful labor, than the service of humanity, of the United States, and of their honorable Congress; and if in my last sigh, I could add to this testimony of my conscience the idea of having retained, the esteem and friendship of all your respectable Ministers, both in Europe and America, and especially yours, Sir, which will be very dear to me, and which I pray you to bestow on me, I shall contentedly close my days with the words of Horace in my mouth; non ultima laus est principibus placuisse viris.

I am, with the most sincere respect,


P. S. May 12th. There arrived here yesterday a second proposition of Fox for peace with this Republic. It will be presented tomorrow to the States-General; a new snare, which is happily foreseen and escaped. I shall speak of it in my next.


The Hague, June 1st, 1782.


My last was of the 10th of May. Since that time I have been constantly occupied with the French Ambassador and the good patriots of this country in counter[Pg 484]acting the pretended mediators for a separate peace between Great Britain and this Republic; and we have so far succeeded that Holland has adopted a good resolution in relation to it, which is all ready and which will nearly destroy this manœuvre of the Anglomanes. On the 21st and 22d of May, I made at the request of the Ambassador a journey to Dort, where was ready a sketch of a resolution (since matured and perfected) of which I at the same time made a translation for the Ambassador. We shall see the effect this will have.

I know that one of the principal Ministers of the Republic, on the good will of whom we begin to rely a little more than formerly, has declared that he has in his pocket the full proofs of the intention of the British Ministry to amuse and deceive the Republic, which I hope to see soon irrevocably pledged not to make a peace except in conjunction with the three other belligerent powers. I cannot explain myself more at present. If it were not for the disaster of De Grasse in the West Indies, which delays our progress a little, we should be already more advanced.

June 18th. The abovementioned resolution, although printed on the 5th, was not finally decreed by the States of Holland till the 12th instant, with some changes, after which they separated, not to come together again for about three weeks. In this interval, the cities will have examined the report of the Admiralty, on the treaty of amity and commerce between the United States and this Republic; and I am assured that this treaty will be brought to a conclusion at the first sitting. There will be a question also at that time on the nomination of a Minister of this Republic to[Pg 485] reside near Congress; the Prince having declared his willingness to propose it to the same assembly.

I accompanied Mr Adams yesterday morning to an audience with the Prince at the Château du Bois; and he supped there the same day with the Prince, the Princess, and many foreign Ministers. The stay of Grenville at Paris, and his pretended instructions to negotiate peace, have all the air of being only a trick of the Court of London; and I think it will require one more campaign to bring them to talk seriously of a general peace, or rather to ripen the revolution or civil war, which has appeared to me for a long time springing up in their bosom, and which will bring about finally the catastrophe of this great tragedy. May the catastrophe be only fatal to the authors of the evil, and turn to the happiness of the human race in general, and especially to that of the United States.

June 20th. The Ambassador has informed us, that the combined fleet departed from Cadiz the 4th instant, and in great confidence that Mr Grenville, who is at Paris, has received from his Court full powers more ample, to treat with all the belligerents. This is well, if his powers are explicit and sincere. But to trust to them it seems necessary that the British Court should declare, that it recognises the United States for a belligerent power, otherwise it will be a Proteus; it will escape from us when we think to hold it, and will pretend to do us a great favor by condescending to a truce, which would be more pernicious to America than the war. It would draw on the United States a host of evils. It would leave, in the opinion of all the world, not excepting your allies and yourselves,[Pg 486] an idea of the uncertainty of your independence, which would never be effectual, and derogate, by consequence, explicitly from the 2d, 3d, 8th and 9th articles of your treaty of alliance with France, so justly admired; would degrade your power, your credit, your dignity; would open the door to distrust, to dissensions, to corruption and treachery among yourselves, to combinations against you in Europe; would put you under the necessity of keeping a standing army, &c. &c. &c. God preserve the United States from this Pandora's box! If ever Congress could have had a thought, in the most difficult times, to have recourse to this dangerous palliative of the evils of war, the present moment should inspire it with one very different, which will infallibly bring to terms an enemy fatigued, exhausted and ruined, and will assure to the United States, with peace, the respect, the regard and friendship of all powers. An unbounded solicitude for the safety, the prosperity and glory of the United States will serve, I hope, as an apology for the boldness with which I dare to expose here my sentiments to Congress, of whose firmness and magnanimity, as well as of those of its ministers, I have an idea as great, in proportion, as my opinion of the intentions of the enemy and of its favorers, is small.

The Academy of Franequer in Friesland has caused to be exhibited on occasion of a celebration in honor of the connexion between the United States and this Republic, beautiful fire works, with an illumination. On a triumphal arch you may read this distich;

Plus valet una dies, quæ libera ducitur, acta,
Quam mali sub domini sæcula mille jugo.

[Pg 487]There has been struck at Leuwarde in Friesland, to perpetuate the same event, and all that was resolved in their Provincial Diets of February and April last, a medal representing a Frieslander stretching out his right hand to an American, in token of fraternity, and rejecting with his left the advances made to him by an Englishman. We are invited to dinner on Sunday by the French Ambassador, who augurs better than we do of Grenville's mission. God grant that he may be right.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, August 16th, 1782.


At length the treaty of commerce has passed, and was approved day before yesterday in the States of Holland; and the States-General proposed immediately a conference with Mr Adams, to put a final hand to it.

August 19th. The States of Holland separated on the 17th, after having resolved and decreed instructions for the Plenipotentiaries, which the Republic sends to treat with Mr Fitzherbert, in conjunction with France and her allies. They talk, among other things, of acting in all respects in a communicative manner, and in concert with the Ministers of the King of France, and the other belligerent powers, in the preparatory and preliminary negotiations, which they may begin with the Ambassador of Great Britain, to do nothing without them, and to be assured above all of the sincere and unequivocal intentions of the British king, to leave for the future the Republic in the[Pg 488] full enjoyment of the rights of neutrality, established in the Russian declaration of the 28th of February, 1780.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Philadelphia, September 5th, 1782.


It was not till within these few weeks, that I received your favor of the 4th of April last, together with the interesting paper it enclosed, since which time we are informed that your prediction relative to the reception of Mr Adams has been verified. It would have given me great pleasure to have learned so important an event, with the steps that immediately led to it from your pen. Your usual punctuality induces me to believe that your letters have been unfortunate, since I cannot ascribe this omission to neglect. When you do me the honor to write again, be pleased to enter minutely into the subject; since everything that relates to it is not only important in itself, but will be so much the object of curiosity hereafter, that it should have a place among our archives.

It would be a great advantage to you and to us, if you maintained such a correspondence with your sea-ports as would enable you to avail yourselves of every opportunity of writing to us, as it would give your letters the charms of novelty, and preserve to you the character of attention, and to us, as it would enable us to confirm or contradict the accounts, that we continually receive by private letters, or through the enemy's papers, some time before we have your relation of them.

The enemy have at length evacuated Savannah, and in[Pg 489] all probability Charleston, by this time; since, on the 7th of August they gave notice in general orders for the tories to prepare themselves for such an event. Their fleet, consisting of fifteen sail of the line, arrived yesterday at Sandy Hook. The French fleet, under the Marquis de Vaudreuil had arrived some time before at Boston, where he unfortunately lost one of his ships, which struck upon a rock and sunk in the harbor. Congress, willing to testify their sympathy in this misfortune, have presented the America, a ship of seventyfour guns, to his Most Christian Majesty. She is in such a state that she can in a short time be fitted to join his fleet.

We wait with the utmost impatience some account from Europe of the state of the negotiations for a general peace.

The caution of the enemy in keeping within their posts, will probably render this an inactive campaign, though we never had a finer or better appointed army than at present.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Philadelphia, September 12th, 1782.


Just after I had closed the letter you will receive with this, I was honored by your despatches from the 10th of May to the 9th of July inclusive. You will easily believe, Sir, that I received great pleasure from the important intelligence they communicate; and the more so as we had been long in the dark with respect to your transactions.

I am sorry that the packet which is to carry this, leaves me no time to enlarge, but this will be the less necessary, as I shall write very fully to Mr Adams.

[Pg 490]With respect to your own affairs, I can only say that you have my sincerest wishes for your prosperity and promotion. I have already reported upon the subject, but what the issue will be, I cannot yet venture to predict. I know Congress to be very sensible of your assiduity and attachment; and if anything prevents their rewarding them as they would wish, it will be the present state of their finances, which requires the most rigid economy.

The change in the British Administration will induce, it is imagined, a similar change in measures here. We are in hourly expectation of hearing of the evacuation of Charleston, which had been formally announced to the inhabitants, who came out in crowds to demand pardon with the concurrence of General Leslie. It is probably too late to countermand that order, although they will in all likelihood still retain New York, contrary to what had appeared to have been their determination, before the arrival of the packet. Happily the continuance of the war will be much less burdensome to us now, than at any former period; not only because habit has reconciled us to it, and introduced system in our mode of conducting it, which makes it less inconvenient to the individual, but because I think I may say without boasting, that there is not at this time a better disciplined or a better disposed army in the world; scarce a man among them who has not been repeatedly in action. They are now, too, completely clothed and armed, an advantage they never before enjoyed. We are at present just in the situation in which free people should always wish to be. Peace will not come unwelcomed, nor war unprepared for.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 491]


The Hague, September 27th, 1782.


My last came down to the 4th of September. There has been an important resolution of this day taken by the States of Holland, constituting a commission of five Deputies, accompanied by the Grand Pensionary, to seek of the Prince the cause of the bad state of the maritime forces of the Republic, and of their inactivity.

October 3d. The abovenamed committee have been received by the Prince with all the honors due to Sovereigns, and have opened conferences with him. The same day, their High Mightinesses in secret session having deliberated on the Memorial of the French Ambassador, by which he had made them a proposition "to send ten ships of war to Brest, to be there joined by the vessels of the King, and to act with them against the common enemy, either in Asia or Europe," have resolved, that the Prince be requested to designate immediately the demanded squadron, viz. five vessels of sixty guns, three of fifty, two frigates, and a cutter for this purpose, to depart if the winds will permit before the 8th of October, to avoid the risk which would attend them after that time of being intercepted by an enemy of superior force.

October 11th. The officer designated to command the said squadron arrived here the 4th, while the wind coming round, became all at once favorable on the 5th to depart; and he reported to the Prince, who did not communicate the report until the 7th, in secret session, that the squadron was not in a state to go to Brest, for want of provisions, cordage, sails, anchors, clothes for the seamen, and[Pg 492] other necessary articles;[46] on which the committee abovenamed presented themselves today to the Prince, to express their surprise and ask an explanation. The Prince professed that he had no account to render but for the past, and none for the present or the future; at least till a new resolution of their Noble and Grand Mightinesses. On their side, the committee conceiving with reason "that the resolution which was committed to them, contained particular instructions to look into the points which it specified, and particularly a general order to report on all subjects relating to the marine, and especially the direction of the present war, as much as should appear to them necessary to dissipate all obscurity," have in consequence made their report to the Assembly.

October 16th. Their Noble and Grand Mightinesses having deliberated on the report, all the cities were ready to conform to it except Schiedam, la Brille, and Medemblick, which have taken it ad referendum, the final resolution being deferred; but it will be adopted as reported next week, at least by the majority, which is sufficient in this case.

His Excellency Mr Adams departed this morning, the 16th of October, for Paris. In taking leave of the President and Secretary of their High Mightinesses the States-General, he did me the honor to present me as Chargé d'Affaires of the United States; which is an indispensable custom. He had before advised the Grand Pensionary of it, to whom I shall make tomorrow a visit of politeness in consequence.

October 18th. A young officer, (De Witte,) convicted[Pg 493] of high treason, for having attempted to assist the enemy in an invasion of the coast of Zealand, was about to be tried by the High Council of War, which is wholly dependent on the Prince, when the States of Holland solemnly signified to the Prince that he ought to cause prosecution to be stayed before this tribunal, as incompetent, and carry it up before the Court of Justice of Holland and Zealand. This High Council of War, is, besides, odious to the nation, and regarded as tyrannical and unconstitutional.

I have not spoken in this letter of our treaty of amity and commerce with this Republic, signed finally by both parties the 8th of this month, because Mr Adams will give you this detail better than I can. I shall content myself with saying, that I have every reason to be persuaded that he is satisfied with the zeal, with which I have fulfilled the tasks which he has required of me, in the operations which have preceded this signature, and pray God that the United States may gather from it the most abundant fruits.

October 22d. I am anxious to see an answer to the extract I sent to your Excellency, agreeably to the wish and permission of Mr Adams, of a certain letter which he wrote me. For so long as I am not openly recognised and suitably sustained by Congress, my precarious condition here is cruel, in the midst of the Anglomanes, who wish to see me perish ignobly, and in the bosom of a family whose complaints and reproaches I fear more than death. Mr Laurens, in his hasty passage through this country, was perfectly sensible of it. He knows that I serve the United States constantly, without respect of persons. "You have been slighted," are his own words; and when I testified to him my regrets for his departure from Europe, he had the goodness to add, that these regrets were contrary to my[Pg 494] interest. Permit me, Sir, to commend them to you, and if Mr Laurens has returned to you safely, as I hope, on the arrival of this, will you express to him the sentiments of the most affectionate respect which I retain for him, as well as for all the great men in America, who have served under the sublime principles, which have animated me as well as them; and in which I, as well, as they, will live and die.

I am, with great respect, &c.



[46] The 12th of September, the Prince on his return from the Texel, reported positively to their High Mightinesses, that all was there ready, that the vessels were in a condition for sea and for action, and waited only for his orders.


The Hague, November 15th, 1782.


Yesterday morning, after a conference with his Excellency the Duc de la Vauguyon, I went in a post chaise to Rotterdam and Dort, in order to advise our friends in these two cities of some changes about to be made in the instructions of their Ministers Plenipotentiary at Paris, to deprive the English Minister of all pretext for conferring with those of the other belligerent powers without them. I succeeded to the satisfaction of his Excellency, and our friends were duly informed and disposed, when they received this morning, while I was returning, letters on this subject from the Grand Pensionary. My journey has gained the time which would have been lost, if they had, on re-assembling here taken the thing ad referendum.

November 17th. I had the pleasure to receive this morning, on behalf of the Ambassador, absent at Amsterdam, the news of the re-admission of M. Van Berckel, First Pensionary of Amsterdam, to the Assembly of their Noble and Grand Mightinesses, where he will re-appear on the 20th, radiant as the sun, disjectis nubibus.

[Pg 495]There has arrived a circular letter from Friesland, to take away from the Prince the direction of affairs. I shall have it, and will add it to the gazettes.

November 18th. On my return, Friday evening, I found, Sir, your favors of the 5th and 12th of September, to which I can only answer succinctly, that the present may not be delayed.

I have thought a long time how much it might be advantageous both for Congress and for me, as you observe, Sir, if I could enter into a minute and frequent detail of all that passes here within the sphere of my action. But let Congress remember at last that qui vult finem, vult media, being both essential and subsidiary. I labor all day. Often I have scarcely time left to note briefly for myself what is done or said. I am alone. It is necessary to copy the same despatches four times, if one would hope for their arrival. I could have many things to say on all this. But to what good, if Congress does not say it also? I have not put my light under a bushel. I have made it shine constantly before both worlds, for the service of the United States, since they have called me here.

If the truths I transmit come more slowly than the falsehoods of the enemy, which they may serve to contradict, it is because they may forge stories as they please, but not the truth which arrives when it can, and which besides, cannot always be hazarded prematurely, still less be foretold, especially when the enemy might profit by it.

As to peace, we know not here what has been done about it at Paris. My opinion is, that two or three more campaigns will be infinitely more salutary to the American Confederation than a patched-up peace,[Pg 496] which shall leave the enemy possessor of Canada, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland; whence he would not cease nor be slow to vex you by all manner of means, perhaps to divide you, which will be worse.

But let us wait what Parliament says at the end of this month. Then we may be able to say of the Congress of Peace, what the poet Rousseau, in his Ode to Fortune, said of a hero becoming man again;

Le masque tombe, George reste,
Et le Romain s'évanouit.

And so much the better, I think, for America and for this Republic. I am, with very great respect, Sir,


P. S. I thank you, Sir, for the excellent letter of Mr Payne to the Abbé Raynal. If it is possible I shall publish it in French.


The Hague, December 12th, 1782.


Some days ago I was about to prepare a new despatch, touching affairs on the carpet here, when an unforeseen event prevented me. It is nothing less than a conspiracy, which might be termed Catilinarian, if there had been an able Catiline in it; but they only had the intention of the Roman, without his sagacity.

We were congratulating ourselves here on the despatches from Paris, which informed the Grand Pensionary, much to the regret of the conspiracy, of the news of the signing of preliminaries between the Min[Pg 497]isters of the United States and Great Britain. We were only surprised at the oath of secrecy exacted of the members of the Assembly, before communicating to them the contents of despatches so well suited to reassure and relieve the nation of the fear, which, to excite discontent, it had been industriously endeavored to inspire, that it would be deceived and abandoned by the other powers, when on the 5th and 6th, the festival of St Nicholas, famous in this country, which they seemed disposed to make another St Bartholomew's, the conspiracy broke out and failed. Persons were sent about during these two days, with the Orange cockade in their hats and an address of thanks in their hands, applauding the good management of the marine, and at night about thirty men, paid and intoxicated, made a noisy procession through the streets and squares, to endeavor to raise the populace, who, however, would not sign, nor join the seditions, to make an attack, as they foolishly expected, on every person obnoxious to them. Saturday, 7th, they endeavored, in order to renew the scene the following Monday, to gain the peat carriers, who answered, that the troubles of 1748 had taught them to be more wise for the future. The evening of the same Saturday they hinted secretly to the Pensionaries of Dort and Amsterdam (remaining in the city) that they must not depart on their peril. But they, disregarding the danger, immediately went to require the Grand Pensionary to convoke an extraordinary Assembly on Monday. He obeyed in spite of himself, and despatched couriers during that night.

On Monday morning, the 9th, the Assembly adopted[Pg 498] by the large majority of sixteen, against two cities (la Brille and Enkhuisen) and to the confusion of the nobles and the Stadtholder, who were present, a resolution (a true quousque tandem) in which the Court and the officers of justice, municipal and provincial, are strongly censured for having looked on without interfering, and in which the Provincial Court of Justice is ordered to prosecute the affair criminally; and the Counsellor Deputies, to provide that for the future like disorders shall not be committed. The same day the Provincial Court of Justice assembled in consequence, and named two Commissioners of its own body, and another fiscal not suspected, to attend to the examination of the conspiracy. The Counsellor Deputies have likewise named a commission, to effect what is enjoined on them. From these two commissions are excluded the old Provincial Fiscal of Justice, who has besides a quasi gout, and the Grand Bailiff of the Hague, who, on the part of the nobles, is of the Council of Deputies, and who prudently declined before rejection, for both are under censure by the resolution.

The Court, alarmed at the consequences which they feared from all this, engaged M. Thulemeyer, Envoy of Prussia, to act for them, who, in continuation of a certain measure, which he took about two months ago by order of his Court, has been this morning to the Deputies of Dort, Haerlem, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, to tell them "that his Majesty has learned with displeasure the dissensions which have place in the Republic, that, without wishing to meddle, in the domestic affairs of the Republic,[47] the interest that his Majesty[Pg 499] takes equally in the welfare of their High Mightinesses and of the Prince, his kinsman, does not permit him to look with indifference on any diminution of the rights of the Stadtholder; and that he would guaranty that this Prince should not abuse his prerogatives; and he hoped by this step that harmony would be re-established." Amsterdam has answered, "That they were surprised to find the King so misinformed, that for themselves, they did not know that they had ever diminished the rights of the Stadtholder, and that the Stadtholder himself had never complained of it to the States; that this would no doubt have been done, if the fact had been true; that, as for the rest, they would write to their city what the Envoy had said to them, that it might if it should judge proper write directly to the King, to inform him better, and put his Majesty also in a way to know those who had thus imposed on him."

This answer evidently confounded the Envoy. The other cities have answered the same in substance.

December 13th. The committee charged with arrangements for sending a Minister of the Republic to the United States, made its report yesterday to the Assembly of the States of Holland, the members of which took it ad referendum. This Minister is to have twenty thousand florins per annum, and ten thousand for his outfit.

This morning the committee of five has returned again to the Prince.

The resolution of Zealand, that the prisoner Witte[Pg 500] should be delivered to the Provincial Court, is received, and the Prince will yield.

The deliberation on the circular letter of Friesland, interrupted by the disturbance, which in history may be denominated the Cockade Conspiracy, to distinguish it from that of the Gunpowder Plot, will be resumed next week.

I am, Sir, &c.



[47] The expression in italics was added by the Envoy, in his address to the gentlemen of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, because those of Dort asked him, if the King pretended to meddle in the domestic concerns of the Republic? Haerlem was not able to receive him.


The Hague, December 17th, 1782.


This morning the Minister of Prussia, M. Thulemeyer, has again visited the Deputies of the eighteen cities of Holland, to inform them of a Memorial, which he has presented to their High Mightinesses against a certain libel, in which, among other calumnies, is an insinuation, that the Princess attempted to imitate the conduct of a certain Empress in relation to her husband.

It has been replied to him, "that their Noble and Grand Mightinesses, as well as their High Mightinesses, had long since done everything in their power against libels by severe placards; that the further measures, which seemed to be expected of them, and which, perhaps, were suitable enough in arbitrary governments, could not be adopted in this Republic, of which the liberty of the press is the Palladium; that it is like every other good thing, the use of which is free to all, and the abuse subject to the animadversion of the bailiffs and fiscals; that the Minister knows how lately their Noble and Grand Mightinesses have had reason to complain of the negligence of those officers of[Pg 501] justice; that the Princess, the Prince, and the whole House of Orange, more nearly connected with them than with the King, his master, did not need any foreign commendation to make themselves beloved and respected by the nation, and protected by the Sovereign, &c."

December 21st. The three ostensible exciters of the Cockade Conspiracy, protected by an invisible hand, have escaped from justice and fled to Cranenberg, a village in the Duchy of Cleves. The Court having sent its officers to arrest them at the peril of the complainants, the Regency of Cleves, contrary to the law of nations, has refused to allow the arrest. This morning the States held an extraordinary session to deliberate on the subject, and, notwithstanding the opposition of the nobles, adopted a resolution, requiring the court of justice to make a solemn demand of the fugitives at Cleves, in the name of the Sovereign; on Friday next, a letter will be addressed on this subject directly to the King of Prussia, and Duke of Cleves.

The Grand Bailiff of Utrecht (Count d'Athlone) has lost, with costs of suit, his case against the editor of a weekly newspaper, (de Post van den Neder-Rhein) which for about two years has produced a wonderful impression on the nation. This is a brilliant victory of the patriots over their enemies. Some of the expressions, which have given offence were, la brouette va de travers, qu'il-y-a une main invisible qui gâte tout, &c.

In Friesland, the majority of the eleven cities, which form the fourth Quarter of the Sovereignty, have annulled the influence of the Court on the appointment of their circuits. Thus the resolution of the Province, so disagreeable to the Court, will be unanimous.

[Pg 502]December 24th. I have just been confidentially informed, on condition of my writing an account of the fact to my friends at Dort and Amsterdam, that this morning the Prince went to declare to their High Mightinesses, that, on the resolution of Zealand, taken on the report of the court of justice, although there was much to be said relative to that report, he was ready, under leave of their High Mightinesses, to transfer the prisoner Witte from the hands of the High Council of War to those of the court of justice. On which the Grand Pensionary first protested with a loud voice, that it was necessary to wait till Friday for the resolution of the Sovereign thereon; and then, in a low voice, he intimated to the President, that it might be done by a majority. The prisoner will, therefore, be transferred to night.

On Wednesday last, a courier despatched from hence to anticipate the demand of the court of justice, arrived at Cleves the same night, caused the gates to be opened, the three conspirators, who were abed, to be called, conducted them hastily out by the other gate, and after going some distance on foot, stowed them away in a carriage, which, according to appearances, carried them to Hanover.

December 26th. The accompanying note I sent to M. Van der Hoop, Fiscal of the Admiralty of Amsterdam, in consequence of the request presented at Amsterdam by the agents of an American letter of marque. My demand of a passport for these people, to protect them from being made prisoners when ashore, has been granted. I congratulate myself, that my first public measure has been, like all my other measures, secundum libertatem. It has been suggested to me to make another against a certain libel, "The Magic Lantern," in which America and her[Pg 503] worthy Plenipotentiary here have been roughly handled. I replied, that I would do nothing, which could afford any pretext for violating the liberty of the press; of which the present instance of abuse deserved only contempt.

I am, &c.



The Hague, January 11th, 1783.


This morning their Noble and Grand Mightinesses adopted a resolution conformable to the report hereto annexed, relative to the mission of a Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States, with instructions to their Deputies of the Province in the States-General, to press the conclusion of this matter by the States. This evening, between ten and twelve o'clock, one of the gentlemen, coming to take leave of me until Tuesday week, concerted with me the measures it would be proper to take during his absence, to make the choice fall, if the plan succeeds, on a person who will be as agreeable to the United States, as he is esteemed by the patriots of this country. I shall give information of it by letter next Tuesday to Mr Adams.

Yesterday arrived some despatches from the Plenipotentiaries of the Republic at Paris, with the reply of his Britannic Majesty to the preliminaries which had been proposed; this reply is not satisfactory.

I am, Sir, &c.


[Pg 504]


The Hague, January 20th, 1783.


This morning M. Thulemeyer, Envoy of Prussia, presented the Memorial hereto annexed to their High Mightinesses. I shall say nothing about it, because I should have too much to say, and because it is better to see what they will say whom it concerns.

Tomorrow the Chamberlain, Baron de Heide, will set out for Paris, sent by the Prince, to give his Most Christian Majesty a good opinion of his patriotism, his measures, and his disposition.

The cities of Guelderland and Overyssel continue, after the example of those of Friesland, to raise their heads one after another.

February 22nd. I have yet to give you an account of a secret and important negotiation and correspondence, between the gentlemen here and our Ministers at Paris, which has been carried on by my intervention for more than a month. But besides that it will take much time to copy all these letters, the subject will not allow me to risk the copies at sea, until the vessels can navigate with more safety. The article relating to the liberty of the seas is the subject of discussion; this matter they wish to see definitively arranged previously to the general peace, and with good reason.

I congratulate the United States on the signature of the preliminaries between the United States, France, and Spain on one side, and England on the other. God grant that the peace may follow soon, and a permanent peace; which cannot be without solidly establishing the principles[Pg 505] of the armed neutrality between these powers and the Republic.

I am, &c.


P. S. Next Friday this Province will propose the Baron de Dedem, Lord of Peckendam, &c. as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic near the United States. The other party is canvassing warmly, but secretly against him. All appearances, however, are in favor of this good patriot, and I recommend him beforehand as such to your Excellency. He is a cousin-german of M. de Capelle du Pol, formerly a correspondent of your uncle, the Governor of the Jersies.


January 20th, 1783.

High and Mighty Lords,

The King had flattered himself, that the amicable representations and intimations, which the undersigned has made, by the express order of his Majesty, to several distinguished members of the States-General of the United Provinces, on the subject of the present unhappy excitement, which manifests itself at present in Holland, would produce the desired effect, conformably to the positive assurances he had received on this point. But his Majesty has learned with as much displeasure as surprise, that these domestic troubles, instead of being quieted are constantly increasing, and that it is even meditated to deprive the Prince Stadtholder of the command of the army and navy, and thus to strip him of his chief prerogatives of hereditary Captain-General and High Admiral. The[Pg 506] King cannot believe that this is the general sentiment and desire of the nation, and of the rulers of the State. His Majesty on the contrary is persuaded, that it is only the private wish of a few individuals, who are inimical to the Most Serene House of Nassau, from personal hatred or private views, without regard to the true welfare and common interest of the State.

Every good Dutchman will remember with gratitude, that the foundations of his present liberty and prosperity were laid by the Princes of the illustrious House of Orange-Nassau, and acquired in part at the price of their blood; that this House has formed, and established on a firm basis, the present constitution of the Republic, and after extraordinary vicissitudes and revolutions, in some respects resembling the present crisis, has rescued the Republic from the perils which threatened it, and re-established it in its former lustre. It is not to be doubted, that the welfare and safety of the Republic depend on the preservation of that form of government, which has so happily subsisted for two centuries, and of the Stadtholderate, which is inseparable from it. Every good Dutch patriot must feel persuaded of the truth of this. All the neighboring powers appear equally convinced of it, and are able to see that dissensions, not less dangerous than inexcusable, the consequences of which may prove not less ruinous to this Republic, than they have been to other States under similar circumstances, subsist and constantly increase in violence in the bosom of the United Provinces. These powers are all equally interested in the maintenance of the Dutch Republic. The King is more particularly so, both from his consanguinity to the Most Serene House of Orange, and from his being the nearest neighbor, and the[Pg 507] constant and sincere friend of the Republic. His Majesty is persuaded he knows it from the most positive assurances, that the Prince Stadtholder has the purest and most salutary views of the good of the Republic, and the support of the present constitution; that if evil disposed persons attribute to him any other intentions, it is an insinuation as destitute of all probability, as it is injurious to his character and his enlightened policy; that the Prince will follow and execute undeviatingly the principles adopted and established by the sovereign power of the United Provinces, and will for the future remove even a suspicion of the contrary.

The undersigned, Envoy Extraordinary, has the honor to submit all these important considerations to their High Mightinesses, the States-General of the United Provinces. He is directed by the most precise orders of the King, to recommend them to their most serious reflections, and to urge their High Mightinesses to reject and repel all propositions and opinions calculated to diminish the lawful prerogatives of the Stadtholderate, and change the form of their government, so long established and so happily preserved; but on the other hand, to take effectual measures to quiet the internal troubles, to check the attempts of the factious, to put a stop to their calumnies, and to restore not only the harmony of the State, but also the authority and respectability of the Prince Stadtholder, and of all engaged in the government of the Republic.

His Majesty flatters himself, that their High Mightinesses will receive his representations as the counsel and exhortations of a neighbor, who is their true and sincere friend, who is not indifferent to the fate of the Republic, but who will always feel the liveliest and warmest interest in the preservation of its constitution.


[Pg 508]


The Hague, January 24th, 1783.


The sudden and unexpected manner in which we have received the news of the signing of the preliminaries, by all the belligerent powers, except that in which we are most interested here, filled our friends at first with apprehensions; but after having recovered from their first surprise, M. Van Berckel, at the suggestion and on the request of the Grand Pensionary, in a secret conference, proposed the most dignified and sure method of attaining the object desired and desirable to all. The Grand Pensionary adopted it with eagerness, and it was, that M. Van Berckel should request me to consult you, as early as possible, on this method. It is as follows.

"To accelerate the negotiation of a general peace, and to prevent ulterior discussions between their High Mightinesses and Great Britain, on the question of free and unlimited navigation. Mr Adams is requested to declare, whether he is authorised by Congress to accede to the armed neutrality, already concluded between certain powers of Europe, or to enter into a similar negotiation with France, Spain, and the United Provinces.

"In either case their High Mightinesses would make the same proposition to France and Spain, in order to prevent discussions on the subject of the liberty of the seas, which may retard the general peace, and assist the Republic in concluding a peace on her part with Great Britain, which may otherwise be delayed by difficulties, arising from particular stipulations or arrangements to be made with England on this subject.

[Pg 509]"The definitive treaty between England and the Republic might then be concluded, with a reserve of the natural right of all nations, who are in the enjoyment of this right, unless they should modify it by particular treaties on the subject of contrabands, recognised as such by the contracting parties.

"Mr Adams is requested to communicate his ideas on this subject as speedily as possible, and to add his views on the means of furthering such a negotiation, and hastening the conclusion of the general peace; since it appears, that the Republic could meanwhile accede to the armistice, which must result from the signing of the preliminaries of peace by the other belligerent powers, and treat with England on all the points in dispute."

It is for you to decide, if you will confer ministerially with M. Brantzen on this matter.

It only remains for me to present to you the compliments of M. Van Berckel, with the warmest expression of his esteem; he has just left me, to give me an opportunity of writing the above.

I am, &c.



[48] See Mr Adams's reply to this letter, Vol. VII. p. 13.


The Hague, January 28th, 1783.


You have probably received today my letter of the 24th, sent by a courier of the French Ambassador. It is of the utmost importance to those on behalf of whom I wrote it, and they wait with anxiety for your answer, because the[Pg 510] effect they expect it to produce, is in their opinion alone able to repair the immense and unpardonable fault, (I use their words) which has been committed in abandoning, sacrificing, and deluding them. This is their own language even to the Ambassador, who wishes them to enter upon this negotiation directly with the French Minister, and in that case promises them complete success; this they flatly refuse. He said to me and to them too, that he thought you would make no difficulty in taking it upon yourself, but that your colleagues would probably oppose it. They replied, that, not seeing any reason why any opposition should be made to the joint adoption of the measure by the three belligerents, rather than leave it to the caprice of the Minister of a single power, they should consider any such opposition as owing to the influence of such Minister; that then it would be useless to apply any longer to them for any negotiations whatever, and in that case his Excellency must in future be contented to apply to their High Mightinesses, without requiring them and their cities to expose themselves farther to contempt and danger.

I have thought it my duty, in so important an affair, to inform you fully of all the circumstances. I will add, that the nation is indignant at the last act of the French Minister, and that he will lose their confidence entirely, if he intrigues against that measure, which they propose with an entire reliance on your candor and your good intentions.

Yesterday I read to the Grand Pensionary in extenso the copy of the preliminaries between America and Great Britain, with which you have favored me. I then read it to other friends, but no one shall have a copy until you grant permission.

M. de Gyzelaer, whom I have seen this morning, and[Pg 511] Messrs Van Berckel and Visscher, with whom I supped last evening, have directed me to give their most respectful compliments to your Excellency.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, January 30th, 1783.


The letters I had the honor to write you on the 24th and 28th inst., are the most faithful picture of the sentiments of our republicans. I have added nothing of my own; on the contrary I have softened the matter as much as possible. If the affair cannot be arranged as I have proposed, the credit of France here is gone forever. I send you copies of letters relative to this subject, as I promised. France and our republicans have been from that time, the object of the bitterest sarcasms and raillery of the evil-disposed; and our republicans, without losing their courage in opposition to their domestic adversaries, are indignant, and have no longer any confidence in what is said to them by the French Ministry to color what is past, or to engage them to adopt further measures. They pity the Duc de la Vauguyon personally, and say that he is sacrificed, and that he is deprived of all the fruits of his wise measures, indefatigable industry, and splendid success here, by a stroke of a pen. They declare besides, that they will not be ruled, influenced, or kept in leading-strings by France nor by England, and that whatever may be proposed by France, they will not carry it to their cities, without sufficient guaranties in their pockets. If you carry the measure I have proposed, it will be, in my opinion, an important po[Pg 512]litical stroke, of the greatest advantage to the United States, because it will establish their credit, dignity, and glory here forever. Your judgment and profound penetration, render it unnecessary for me to enter into long reasonings on this subject. It is enough that this measure will be equally advantageous to all, since all will participate in it, and will guaranty it to each other.

The Count de Llano requested me this morning to communicate to him the Preliminaries, of which the Duc de la Vauguyon told him I had a copy. He was satisfied with my reasons for declining to give him a copy, and with the verbal account I gave him of their substance. I have done the same favor to M. Asp.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, February 4th, 1783.


Your favor of the 29th has fully satisfied the gentlemen; and the Pensionary, M. Van Berckel, in the name of all, has directed me to thank you, and to assure you that it is precisely what they wanted, and what they hoped would be done by you and your colleagues; and that you may rely entirely on them, as they rely perfectly on you, in subsequent proceedings. I have also communicated it to the Grand Pensionary, who appeared to think with them, and I have been assured from good authority, that he has no less reason than France, to desire that the English party should no longer prevail here. I have the respects of all to present to you; I am delighted to find them so easy to be satisfied; for it appears to me that they ask nothing[Pg 513] more than the mutual guarantee, which is provided for in the treaties of America with this Republic and with France. They are determined not to sign, until the article relating to navigation shall be in the terms proposed, and not to cede Negapatnam; and they fear that if France does not find some remedy for this difficulty, she will again lose the confidence and favor of this nation, which are of more importance to her than Tobago.

The Count de Vergennes, to excuse the precipitancy in signing the treaty, has said to the Ministers of the Republic at Paris, that, on one side, America, who declared herself exhausted, feared an insurrection if the taxes were increased, demanded through Dr Franklin twenty millions for the ensuing campaign, if there were one, and wished to enjoy peace and her treaty, rather than to risk the continuance of the war, which might prevent the execution of it; and on the other, Spain, who, equally exhausted, demanded this conclusion absolutely—had compelled France to sign so precipitately; but that this does not affect the intention of his Majesty not to conclude, unless their High Mightinesses are included in the general peace and are satisfied. God grant it may be so. It appears that the Ambassador and the Grand Pensionary have received, each by his own courier the same assurances. The latter, however, has not yet imparted his despatches to our other friends. I have taken care to treat the nation with the Boston proclamation in the papers of the day.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 514]


The Hague, February 18th, 1783.


Our friends are well satisfied with the repeated declarations I have made them from you and your colleagues. They will act in consequence, in regard to the Court of France, including that of Spain, and above all to your Excellencies. They appear convinced that the measure can and ought to succeed. At all events they direct me to propose the following question, to obtain an answer thereto, favorable, if possible, which will assure and tranquilise them.

"If their High Mightinesses should propose to France to sign a convention, founded on the principles of the armed neutrality, for the preservation of the freedom of navigation, conjointly with Spain, the United States, and the United Provinces of the Low Countries; in case France and Spain should appear disposed to postpone such a convention, or should decline entering into it before the signing or concluding of the definitive treaty; would Mr Dana, and, during his absence, Mr Adams, either alone, and as Minister of the United States near this Republic, or with his colleagues, be ready to sign such a provisional convention, when proposed to them in the name of their High Mightinesses, between the United States and the United Provinces?"

It is believed here, that without such a treaty, either between France, Spain, the United States and the United Provinces, or in defect of the two first, at least between the two last powers, nothing can save from the shame of the definitive treaty this Republic, which joined in the war[Pg 515] only for the liberty of the seas, and which has made it a condition sine qua non in its preliminaries.

It is much to be wished that one of these arrangements were practicable, as this would at once pave the way for the definitive treaty. At least there would be no other difficulty than that relating to Negapatnam, and to the commerce to the Moluccas, on which I have just read the report of the seventeen directors of the Company, which opposes the strongest objections to the yielding of either.

My opinion is, always with submission to your better judgment, that your acquiescence in the demand of these gentlemen may be founded on three considerations. 1st. On the resolution of the United States of October 5th, 1780, communicated by you to their High Mightinesses by a letter of March 8th, 1781, and on which you have observed to me, that your powers for that purpose were not recalled. 2dly. On the circumstance that their High Mightinesses are a party to the armed neutrality, to which Mr Dana is waiting the pleasure of another party to admit the United States. 3dly. On the fact, that the only point in question is in regard to the mutual guarantee, which you have already acceded to in the treaty of amity and commerce concluded with their High Mightinesses.

Praying you to pay my respects to Messrs Franklin, Jay, Laurens, and Brantzen, I am, &c.



The Hague, March 4th, 1783.


This note is intended merely to correct a statement I had the honor to make you a few days since, via Amster[Pg 516]dam. By an unexpected change, M. Van Berckel, Burgomaster of Rotterdam, and brother of the celebrated Pensionary of Amsterdam, instead of M. de Dedem, has been nominated by the Province of Holland, and accepted by their High Mightinesses, for Minister Plenipotentiary near the United States. What I have said, however, of the patriotism of one, is entirely applicable to the other, and it is with the greatest satisfaction and cordiality that I recommend him to your confidence and friendship.

This morning their High Mightinesses have adopted a resolution, conformable to that of Holland, relative to the instructions to their Plenipotentiary at Paris, to exert himself to effect a general pacification. Thus there will soon be an opportunity to congratulate the United States on the completion of this momentous affair.

I have the honor to be, &c.



The Hague, March 4th, 1783.


This morning their High Mightinesses adopted a conclusion conformable to the opinion of the Province of Holland, on the instructions to be given to their Plenipotentiaries to obtain a general peace. This conclusion is unconstitutional, as it was not adopted unanimously. The Deputies of three Provinces, Friesland, Zealand, and Groningen, have declared they are not yet authorised to give their consent. But this will come.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 517]


The Hague, March 5th, 1783.


It is with as much confidence in your goodness, as zeal to serve the worthy Minister, who will represent this Republic to yours, that I hasten to transmit you the copy hereto annexed, of a letter he has just written to me.

I will add, that M. Van Berckel intends to embark at Rotterdam for Philadelphia within three months at the latest. He will take his two sons with him, and when his house at Philadelphia is ready, he will send for his wife and three daughters, and reside permanently during the rest of his life near the Congress, who will find him as amiable as he is estimable. I am very sorry to lose him, but much rejoiced that the United States will make the acquisition. You will consider it, I hope, not unreasonable, if desiring to serve to the extent of my power my most respectable friend, whom you will soon receive as yours, no less on account of his personal virtues, than of his political character, which will connect him more closely with you than with any other person, I take it for granted not only that you will pardon, but be gratified with the liberty I take of addressing this commission to you, with a request, that you will confide the execution of it to some gentleman, in whom you can place entire confidence, and who will discharge it according to the wishes of, and on the most advantageous terms for M. Van Berckel; so that on his arrival he may find the house hired and at his command, the coach made, and the horses ready for use.

The expenses will be paid by M. Van Berckel on his arrival, or even sooner, if necessary and possible in so short a time.

[Pg 518]If I could have an answer to this before he sets sail, which will be in May or June at the latest, it would confer a great obligation on him. He will make the passage in a good frigate.

I am, &c.


P. S. M. Van Berckel speaks English very well. If this circumstance is fortunate for him, it will be no less so for those with whom he is to be connected in America.


The Hague, March 6th, 1783.


You must have already received, as well as the Ministers of France and Spain, the overture of the Ministers of this Republic at Paris, to begin the negotiation by a treaty of a mutual guarantee of the liberty of the seas. These gentlemen rely principally on the repeated promises I have made them on your part, confident that the American Plenipotentiaries will not allow themselves to be influenced by Shelburne and company, who, they say, understand each other like robbers at a fair. You will have no difficulty in understanding the allusion. If this convention could be made before the signing of the definitive treaty, the republicans here would triumph. A certain person having objected to me, that England might take umbrage if this treaty were made before the other, "Indeed!" I replied, "how long is it since France began anew to fear giving umbrage to England?"

Your declaration concerning the armistice has been in[Pg 519]serted in the gazettes according to your wish; as has also the English proclamation.

I am, &c.



The Hague, March 27th, 1783.


While the powers are taking a siesta to digest the provisional peace, previous to putting the finishing hand to it, I can only speak to you of the domestic affairs of this Republic.

1st. Five Provinces have conformed to the opinion of Holland, for the criminal process on account of the disobedience of the squadron, which should have sailed from Brest in the beginning of October last. The opinion of Guelderland, the States of which will assemble next month, is the only one wanting.

2dly. There is a provisional report of seven of the principal cities of Holland, which the others have taken ad referendum, to require explanations from the Prince on the last Memorial of M. Thulemeyer, Envoy of Prussia, by declaring whether he really has to complain of the loss of any prerogatives constitutionally belonging to him; or if the remonstrances of the King on that point are not founded on a mistake? Those who are suspected of being the only focus from which this, brutum fulmen, (shall I call it) or this will o' the whisp, has proceeded, are doing all they can to prevent a majority, which would convert this report into a resolution. If they cannot succeed in this, the nobles, that is, the Prince, whom they allow to dispose of their vote, will delay the resolution by pretending[Pg 520] not to be ready to vote. But then the others can appoint a day on which they must be ready, and, meanwhile, they will print the report; which will increase the difficulty of the Court, and, perhaps, of the kind M. Thulemeyer, in saving themselves from the dilemma, I will not say with honor, which is impossible, but without mortification.

3dly. The city of Alcmaer, by a formal deputation, has declared to the Prince, that in future it will dispose not only of nominations, but also of the consequent elections without his participation; asserting that this right belongs to it in virtue of certain ancient privileges. It persists in its design, and the Prince, who it was said at first, had intended to complain to the States of the Province by letter, has renounced his intention, for want of any solid objections to the measure.

4thly. The arrangement of the military jurisdiction is another formidable operation for him, which will begin next week to occupy the serious attention of the States of Holland.

5thly. Finally the court of justice continues to make rigid and minute examinations on the affair of St Nicholas, or of the 6th of December last, and is preparing a full report, which will be published, and which, as I am assured from good authority, will demonstrate that it was an actual conspiracy, the leaders of which were certain nobles and placemen, almost all of whom are already discovered.

Congress will see by these specimens, that the republican party here is far from being discouraged by the approaches of peace, as some flattered themselves, and others feared or foretold they would be.

[Pg 521]The Prince has lost the enthusiastic love, which the large part of the nation bore him; this loss is irreparable, and the conduct he is induced to adopt renders it more and more incurable. In the Provinces, as for instance, Overyssel, Utrecht and Guelderland, where he was the most absolute, they are still more alienated, irritated, and disgusted with abuses, than in this. I do not say that this will or ought to end in a revolution, but a considerable diminution of his usurped and unconstitutional power, will, according to all appearances, be the result. The course of these people and that of the cabinets, negotiating a peace, may be compared to the hare and the tortoise in the fable; the former began with long leaps, and rapid strides, and after these preliminaries fell asleep at a little distance from the goal, thinking it easy for him to reach it at any moment; our tortoise, in spite of his tardy movements, may yet attain some of his objects, before the hare awakes.

I see constantly and confidentially the French Ambassador and the Chargé d'Affaires of Sweden, sometimes likewise the Minister of Spain. I cannot serve the first in the present circumstances with so much success as formerly; my friends wish to see the wrongs of which they complain redressed, before they can rely with their former confidence on future promises; it is not his fault and I pity him, but, after all, I cannot say that my friends are wrong.

The other diplomatic agents appear to be here merely to vegetate and kill time, sometimes at what they call the Court, sometimes with each other.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 522]


The Hague, April 18th, 1783.


Our friends are returned here to meet, provided with good instructions, not only in regard to the military jurisdiction but also to other subjects, which it will be agreeable here to see on the carpet of their Noble and Grand Mightinesses the States of Holland. Those of Dort are in substance as follows;

I. To grant the annual requisition of the Council of State for the department of war, except the forty or fortyfive thousand florins, which the High Council of War expend for the Province annually, and which the city wishes to be struck off. The six other Provinces together pay about thirty thousand florins besides, for the support of the Council.

II. To exert themselves in inquiring into and reforming abuses which have been introduced into the army, and particularly, 1st. to prevent in future titular promotions, by which a prodigious number of officers are created with higher titles than their rank and pay entitle them to, which does not fail to cost the country 600,000 florins annually to no purpose; 2dly. To abolish the venality of the companies and other posts, which has existed for some time.

In Friesland they are equally firm. A Westphalian, having defrauded the revenue, was condemned to ten years' hard labor in prison. The Regency of Munster having solicited his pardon the Counsellor Deputies of Friesland, principally devoted to the Court, reported therein to the States of Friesland that the[Pg 523] case was pardonable, but that the right of pardon being devolved on the Prince by the abdication of the right by the States, it was necessary to refer the affair to him. To disavow this pretended abdication, and because the case is one of those called royal cases, the States in opposition to this report granted the pardon without consulting the Prince.

In a fortnight, a man imprisoned for disturbances on the 8th of March, the birthday of the Prince, will be whipped, at Rotterdam. Two other of these fellows are in prison at Delft, for having committed similar disorders at Overschie, a village near Rotterdam, in the jurisdiction of Delft. As they broke into houses they are in danger of being hung. A body of three hundred volunteers, of young men of the best families of Rotterdam, has been formed to maintain public order in case of any similar disturbances. They exercise daily, and have petitioned to be authorised by their Regency. They will succeed, through the influence of the Burgomaster Van Berckel, who prevails in the legislative body of the city, notwithstanding the opposition of the Burgomaster Van der Heim, who is devoted to the Court, and who has the majority in the executive.

The French Ambassador will set out next Monday, on a visit of several months to France. Meanwhile M. de Berenger, Secretary of Legation, will attend to the business of the embassy.

I have been requested to sound Mr Dana, to know, "whether, in case their High Mightinesses should think proper to send full powers to their Minister at Petersburg, to conclude a treaty with the Minister of the[Pg 524] United States, on the principles of the armed neutrality, Mr Dana could enter on such a negotiation." I have written him in consequence.

April 23d. On the 20th, the French Ambassador gave a farewell dinner, at which I had the honor to be present.

I wrote to Mr Adams a letter on the 11th, of which I yesterday received an answer dated the 16th, and this morning waited upon M. Fagel, the Secretary, to say to him, that I had the satisfaction to be able to free their High Mightinesses from all anxiety on the point of titles, by assuring them, that the United States had adopted no other, than that of the United States of America in Congress assembled, and that the qualification of Friends and Allies, which their High Mightinesses will add, did not require to be enriched by any epithets. You see, Sir, added I, that in America they practise the maxim of Boerhaave, sigillum veri simplex. He approved this remark, and politely thanked me for the information. On leaving him I went to communicate the same thing to the Pensionaries of Dort and Amsterdam, who said to me, smiling, there is still one little thing, that puzzled the Secretary; it is not customary in Holland to say you in addressing any one, and he has been able to find no expression but El Edelere (Your Noblenesses) in addressing the Congress. I answered in the same tone, that the Americans recognise no other nobility than that of soul, and that as the simple address would not, in my opinion, be disagreeable to them, if the Secretary used it without any appendages.

I have the honor to be, &c.


[Pg 525]


Without date.


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letters to March 4th inclusive. I am sorry to find by them, that the ferment occasioned by the causes you explain, continues to work. How far it may be necessary to purge off the impurities, which your government has contracted by long inaction, I will not pretend to say. It is certain, however, that the want of harmony in its different branches has had the most melancholy effects upon your operations the last war; and deprived you of important advantages in the conclusion of it. Though I sincerely wish that the struggles of your patriots may be attended with the same happy consequences with ours, yet I take the liberty to remind you, that your public character puts you in a delicate situation with respect to them, that as a foreign nation, whatever we may wish, we have no right to express those wishes, or in any way to interfere in the internal disputes of our allies, that our conduct should show, that we were the enemy of no party, except so far as their measures were inimical to us. You will not, Sir, consider this as a reproof, for I have not the smallest reason to believe, that you have not made these reflections yourself, and acted conformably thereto. On the contrary, I rather conclude, that you have, from the long habit in which you have been of conducting public affairs which require prudence and delicacy. I only mention it, therefore, as a caution which will not probably, but may possibly be necessary to one who is animated by the spirit of freedom, and may as a patriot be hurried beyond the limits we should prescribe to our Ministers.

[Pg 526]You will be pleased to discontinue in future all the Dutch papers, and send us only the Leyden Gazette, the Courrier du Bas Rhin, and the Courrier de l'Europe, together with such publications on political subjects, written in French, as may be worth our attention. I commit the enclosed letters to Mr Dana to your care.

Nothing has yet been done in your affairs, though they lay before Congress; a variety of important matters have pressed of late for their consideration, and you are too well acquainted with popular assemblies to be surprised at the slowness of their proceedings.

We have returned the prisoners on both sides, and Congress have made a considerable reduction in the army, by permitting those who are enlisted for the war to return home on furlough. We cannot yet learn with certainty from General Carleton, when he means to evacuate New York. I sincerely rejoice at M. Van Berckel's appointment, and wish you had informed me when we might expect him here, where the patriotic character of his family cannot but ensure him an agreeable reception.

I am, Sir, &c.



The Hague, May 8th, 1783.


The great blow of the suppression of the High Council of War, and the restriction of the military jurisdiction, was finally and decisively struck in the States of Holland last week, as your Excellency will see by the resolutions and publications in the gazettes sent with this; there is no doubt[Pg 527] that the other Provinces will conform to that of Holland. Thus have the republicans gained a signal victory over the other party, and which would never have happened but for the war, which has so humbled the English and the Anglomanes.

I have seen the last despatches of the Plenipotentiaries of this Republic at Paris, to the Grand Pensionary of the 25th and 28th of April, and of M. Tor, Secretary of M. Brantzen at London, of the 18th of April, received here the 3d of May, from M. Brantzen. It appears from these letters, that they could not agree, either at Paris or London, upon the articles of peace between this Republic and Great Britain. The Secretary, Mr Fox, with whom M. Tor had two conferences, made evasive answers, and this man of the people does not seem to have the same esteem for the republicans as formerly. He put two singular questions to M. Tor; 1st. why they were so dissatisfied with the Prince of Orange in the United Provinces? 2dly. what impression the measures of the King of Prussia in favor of the Prince had made? M. Tor in turn evaded these questions, which lead us to conclude, that this man of the people is no better than the others. Meanwhile the Deputies of Dort and Schoonhoven, have proposed the reform of several great abuses in the army; 1st. The creation of supernumerary officers, by raising them above their actual rank, and excusing them from service. 2dly. The venality of posts. 3dly. The introduction of foreign officers in the national regiments. These propositions have been committed. In due time I shall give an account of the report of the committee, and of its result.

I am, &c.


[Pg 528]


The Hague, May 25th, 1783.


The States of Holland will assemble next Wednesday, and meanwhile I have nothing interesting to add to what the annexed papers contain, except that the last letters from Paris of the 16th and 19th, inform me that nothing has yet been done to forward the conclusion of the general definitive treaty.

I learn from good authority, that Mr Harris, British Minister at the Court of St Petersburg, is intended for that post here, after everything is settled. I shall communicate this intelligence to our friends at Dort and Amsterdam this evening. They will be pleased with it, for they feared the return of Sir Joseph Yorke and his old arts, which under present circumstances would be injurious here, without being of any real benefit to England.

I take the liberty to recommend to the attention and kindness of the United States and their citizens, Captain Riemersma, commander of the Overyssel, ship of the line, who will sail from the Texel after the 19th June, carrying M. Van Berckel to Philadelphia. He is a brave officer, an excellent patriot, a constant friend of liberty and of America, and he received the squadron of Commodore Paul Jones in the Texel in 1779, in a very friendly manner, for which he was punished by the Anglomanes, whose intrigues effected his removal from the command of the Road, and who have ever since prevented him from being employed and advanced; in this they have injured only their country; for he is wealthy, and it is not interest, but honor and taste for the profession, which induce him to serve.

I am, &c.


[Pg 529]


The Hague, June 5th, 1783.

The undersigned, Chargé d'Affaires of the United States of America, has the honor to inform their High Mightinesses, that in the absence of the Minister Plenipotentiary, for reasons known to their High Mightinesses, he has intrusted to him the honor of laying before them the treaty and convention concluded between the two Republics on the 7th of October last, and since ratified by the United States in Congress assembled; and also of receiving in exchange the ratifications of their High Mightinesses.

The undersigned congratulates himself on being permitted to discharge a duty so congenial to his zeal for the United States, to his respect for their High Mightinesses, and to his attachment to a nation, in the bosom of which he has had the pleasure of living for many years.


By order of Mr Adams I sent this note to the Secretary, M. Fagel, and a copy to the Grand Pensionary, Van Bleiswick. M. Fagel has requested several days to allow time for the clerks to prepare the ratification of their High Mightinesses, "which," he said to me, "I should communicate with great pleasure to Mr Adams if he were here, and I shall communicate it to you, Sir, with the same pleasure."


[Pg 530]


The Hague, June 19th, 1783.


Our ratification cannot be ready until next Monday. If you will call on me at Court on Monday morning, at one o'clock, I shall be able to exchange the ratifications with you.

I am, &c.



The Hague, June 20th, 1783.


Yesterday I received a note from the Secretary of their High Mightinesses, of which I annex a copy. I shall therefore receive the act there mentioned next Monday, and shall keep it until I can transmit it to Mr Adams, according to his orders.

The city of Gorcum has followed, by a large majority, the example of Dort, Schoonhoven, Rotterdam, Schiedam, and Alcmaer, by a resolution abolishing the influence of the Prince, on the nominations to vacant places; there is nothing left him but the right, which the constitution secures to him, of choosing among several persons nominated. This week their Noble and Grand Mightinesses will deliberate on the abolition of the venality of military offices.

This contradicts the notion, which it was attempted to inculcate, that the ardor for reform would relax, at the end of the war.

I am, &c.


[Pg 531]


The Hague, June 23d, 1783.


At one o'clock this afternoon, an exchange of the ratification of the treaty and convention concluded the 7th of October last, between the United States and the United Provinces of the Low Countries, took place in the business hall between the Secretary of their High Mightinesses and your servant. I keep these two acts, according to the orders of Mr Adams, to place them in his hands on his return. They are authenticated according to the usage of this country, with the seal of the Republic, enclosed in two large silver boxes attached to each, on which are engraven the arms of the Union.

M. Van Berckel sets out today from Amsterdam for the Texel, and I am in haste to send this by him.

I have only to assure you of, &c.




Omitted words, shown as blank spaces in the original, have been transcribed as four hyphens ('——').

Spelling variations between letters have been preserved.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Diplomatic Correspondence of the
American Revolution, Vol. IX, by Various


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