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fact to be ascertained was simply, that there was a commission in Europe to treat and conclude: but that there was not one person in Great Britain who could affirm or prove that there was such a commission, although it had been announced in the gazettes."
I desired him, and he promised me, not to mention Mr. Laurens to the ministry without his consent, (and without informing him that it was impossible he should say any thing in the business, because he knew nothing of our instructions,) because, although it was possible that his being in such a commission might induce them to release him, yet it was. also possible it might render them more difficult concerning his exchange.
The picture he gives of the situation of things in England is gloomy enough for them. The distresses of the people, and the distractions in administration and parliament, are such as may produce any effect almost that can be imagined.
The only use of all this I think is to strike decisive strokes at New York and Charlestown. There is no position so advantageous for negociation, as when we have all an enemy's army prisoners. I must beg the favour of you, Sir, to send me, by one of the Comte de Vergennes's couriers to the Duc de la Vauguion, a copy in letters of your peace instructions. I have not been able to decypher one quarter part of mine.. Some mistake has certainly been made.
Ten or eleven cities of Holland have declared themselves in favour of American independence, and it is expected that to-day or to-morrow this province will take the decisive resolution of admitting me to my audience. Perhaps some of the other provinces may delay it for three or four weeks. But the Prince has declared, that he has no hopes of re.. sisting the torrent, and therefore that he shall not attempt it. The Duc de la Vauguion has acted a very friendly and honorable part in this business, without, however, doing any ministerial act in it. With great respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, yonr most obedient and most humble servant,
To ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, Esg.
for Foreign Affairs.
Passy, March 30, 1782. The newspapers which I send you by this conveyance, will acquaint you, with what has since my last passed in parliament. You will there see a copy of the Bill brought in by the Attorney-General, for empowering the King to make peace with the Colonies. They still seem to flatter themselves with the idea of dividing us; and rather than name the Congress, they empower him generally to treat with any body or bodies of men, or any person or persons, 8c. They are here likewise endeavouring to get us to treat separately from France, at the same time they are tempting France to treat separately from us, equally without the least chance of success. I have been drawn into a correspondence on this subject, which you shall have with my next. I send you a letter of Mr. Adams's just received, which shows also that they are weary of the war, and would get out of it if they knew how. They had not then received certain news of the loss of St. Christopher's, which will probably render them still more disposed to peace. I see that a bill is also passing through the House of Commons for the exchange of American prisoners, the purport of which I do not yet know. In my
last I promised to be more particular with respect to the points you mentioned as proper to be insisted on in the treaty of peace. My ideas on those points, I assure you, are full as strong as yours. I did intend to have given you
my reasons for some addition, and if the treaty were to be held on your side the water, I would do it: otherwise it seems on second thoughts to be unnecessary, and if my letter should be intercepted may be inconvenient. Be assured I shall not willingly give up any important right or interest of our country, and unless this campaign should afford our enemies some considerable advantage, I hope more may be obtained than is yet expected.
Our affairs generally go on well in Europe. Holland has been slow, Spain slower, but time will I hope smooth away all difficulties. Let us keep up not only our courage but our vigilance, and not be laid asleep by the pretended half peace the English make with us without asking our consent. We cannot be safe while they keep armies in our country. With great esteem, I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,
To J. ADAMS, Esg.
Passy, March 31, 1782. I received yours of the 10th instant, and am of opinion with you, that the English will evacuate New York and Charlestown, as the troops there after the late resolutions of parliament must be useless, and are necessary to defend their remaining islands, where they have not at present more than 3000 men.
The prudence of this operation is so obvious, that I think they can hardly miss it; otherwise I own, that considering their conduct for several years past, it is not reasoning consequentially to conclude they will do a thing, because the doing it is required by
Yours of the 26th is just come to hand. I thank you for the communication of Digges's message. He has also serrt me a long letter, with two from Mr. Hartley. I shall see M. de Vergennes to-morrow, and will acquaint you with
1 The following was Mr. Digges's Account of what passed between him and Mr. Adams, as communicated by him to Lord Shelburne, March 30, 1782, and communicated to Dr. Franklin by Mr. Oswald.
Mr. Adams, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens and Mr. Jefferson are the Commissioners in Europe to treat for peace.
Their powers are to treat and conclude with the Ambassadors, Plenipotentiaries, or Commissioners of the States with whom it may
Each of them are vested with equal powers relative to the establishment of Peace; and a majority of them, or any one (the others got being able to attend) can treat and conclude.
- Mr. Adams cannot speak to any proposition of a direct tendency to truce or peace £om England, without consulting his colleagues, and from them it must be expected to go to the French miuister; the other Belligerent Powers having as yet no right to expoot information about any proposition for peace.
There may, however, questious be asked Mr. Adams and his colleagues, that they may not think essentially necessary to communicate to the French Court; and any proper messenger sent to ask such questions will be answered with confidential secresy.
Mr. Digges read over Mr. Adams's commission; it is datod the 15th of June, 1781, and his powers (which are exactly the same as the other four) are as full as possible, and go to conclude as well as treat for peace.
Mr. Adams's first commission appointed him to the Court of Great Britain, and this was in force until about the beginning of September, 1781, when the above commission, jointly with the other four, was received in Europe; and it was so altered by Congress for no other reason than some ill treatmeut of the Americans by the British army in South Carolina, and from the unfavorable treatment shewn Mr. Laurens in the Tower.
Mr. Digges has Mr. Adams's assurance that any questions put to him as to further consulting upon the mode of opening a parley or entering into a treaty, shall be confidentially and secretly answered; and although his (Mr. Adams's) name stands first in the commission,
every thing material that passes on the subject. But the ministry by whom Digges pretends to be sent being changed, we shall by waiting a little see what tone will be taken by their successors. You shall have a copy of the instructions by the next courier. I congratulate you cordially on the progress you have made among those slow people. Slow however as they are, Mr. Jay finds his? much slower. By an American, who goes in about ten days to Holland, I shall send you a packet or correspondence with Mr. Hartley, though it amounts to little. With great esteem, I have the honor to be your Excellency's most obedient and most humble servant,
To David HARTLÈY, Esq. M.P.
Passy, March 31, 1782. I have just received your favors of March 11 and 12, forwarded to me by Mr. Digges, and another of the 21st per post. I congratulate you on the returning good disposition of your nation towards America, which appears in the resolutions of parliament, that you have sent me: and I hope the change of your ministry will be attended with salutary effects. I continue in the same sentiments expressed in my former letters; but as I am but one of five in the commission, and have no knowledge of the sentiments of the
any direct propositions made to Doctor Franklin will be equally attended to.
Mr. Digges leaves these memorandums with Lord Shelburne for the purpose of his Lordship communicating them to any others of the present administration whom Mr. D. has not the honor to know.
1 The Spaniards.