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ulation on her part, not to molest or disturb the inhabitants of the United States, in taking fish, on the banks of Newfoundland, and other fisheries in the American seas, any where, excepting within the distance of three leagues of the shores of the territories remaining to Great Britain at the close of the war, if a nearer distance could not be obtained by negociation. To ensure the right of fishing, as well as the observance of such stipulation, congress, also, by a solemn resolution, declared, that if, after a treaty of peace, Great Britain should molest the citizens of the United States, in taking fish in the places and limits above specified, the same would be a violation and breach of the peace, that the states would make it a common cause, and that the force of the union should be exerted to obtain redress ; and they also pledged their faith to the several states, that, without their unanimous consent, no treaty of commerce should be entered into, nor any trade or commerce carried on with Great Britain, without the above stipulation on her part.
On the question of making the fisheries a common cause, the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, were in the affirmative, and the states of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, in the negative. Special instructions were sent to Dr. Franklin, to procure from the French king an explanatory article as to the extent of his guarantee in the treaty of alliance; declaring that in case, after the conclusion of the war, Great Britain should molest the Americans in the fisheries, he would make it a common cause.
Congress had now become satisfied, that the public interest did not require that ministers should be continued at any of the courts of Europe, except those of Versailles and Madrid. They were sensible, also, of the impolicy of having more than one commissioner at any foreign court. Serious divisions had arisen between the American commissioners in Europe, and which had, also, produced divisions in congress. In April, 1779, therefore, congress declared, that ministers plenipotentiary on the part
of the United States, were for the present only necessary, at the courts of Versailles and Madrid. The American ministers at the other courts were, therefore, recalled. And they, also, not long after, very wisely decided, that the United States should be represented at a foreign court, by one minister only.—This policy has since been pursued by the general government, except on extraordinary occasions, and for important temporary objects.
Congress offer to guaranty the Floridas to Spain, if she would accede to the treaties
John Adams appointed Minister to negociate peace-John Jay, Minister to the Court of Madrid-French Minister communicates to Congress the views of the Spanish Court concerning the western country and the navigation of the Mississippi -Spain requires the United States to relinquish all claim to the country west of the Alleghany mountains, and to the right of navigating the Mississippi—In answer to · this, Congress send their Ministers a statement of their claim to the western lands, to be communicated to the courts, both of France and Spain-Congress give additional instructions to Mr. Adams concerning a truce-Mr. Jay's instructions varied concerning the navigation of the Mississippi below latitude 31°—Mr. Jay arrives in Spain, in the spring of 1780—Spanish Minister requires of him particular information concerning the United States—Mr. Jay confers with the Spanish Minister-Is informed that the King would not accede to the treaties—His situation very unpleasant-Is much embarrassed by bills drawn upon him by Congress—Spanish Minister engages to furnish money for the United States Neglects to comply with his engagement-Henry Laurens appointed Minister to Holland-Negociations be. tween the pensionary of Amsterdam, and the American Minister, William Lee, concerning a treaty of commerce-Laurens taken on his passage to Holland, and committed to the tower—His papers fall into the hands of the British—War between Great Britain and Holland-Mr. Adams appointed Minister to Holland in the room of Mr. Laurens Presents a memorial to the Dutch government–The subject referred to the several provinces—This creates great delay-Mr. Adams demands a categorical answer—Is at last received as a Minister, and concludes a commercial treaty-Armed neutrality in Europe-Principles of it approved by Congress-Mediation of the Empress of Russia, and the Emperor of Germany-Communicated to Congress by the French Minister-Congress again take up the subject of instructions relative to the terms of peace-Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens, and Mr. Jefferson, associated with Mr. Adams-New instructions given—Terms of peace placed under the control of France, except as to independence-Articles proposed by the mediators relative to the United States-Mr. Adams opposed to the articles, and refused to appear at the proposed congress, but as the representative of an independent nation-Answer of the court of France to the articles concerning American-The British King refuses to admit the interference of any foreign power between him and his revolted subjects, or to admit any person for them at the congress—This puts an end to the mediation.
THOUGH Spain had joined in the war against Great Britain, she had not acceded to the treaties between France and America, and was, therefore, under no obligation to continue the war, for.
POLITICAL AND CIVIL HISTORY, &c.
the purpose of securing the independence of the United States. To induce her to do this, congress, on the 17th of September, 1779, declared, “ that if his catholic majesty should accede to the said treaties, and in concurrence with France and the United States, continue the present war with Great Britain, for the purposes expressed in the treaties, he shall not, thereby, be precluded from securing to himself the Floridas : On the contrary, if he should obtain the Floridas from Great Britain, the United States would guaranty the same to his catholic majesty; provided, that the United States should enjoy the free navigation of the river Mississippi into and from the sea."*
On the 26th of September, congress proceeded to the election of a minister to negociate peace with Great Britain.
The members were equally divided between John Adams and John Jay, both of whom had been nominated the day preceding; and after two unsuccessful ballots, the subject was postponed. •
The divisions in congress between these two statesmen, who had borne so conspicuous a part in the political concerns of their country, and who possessed so large a share of the public confidence, arose, in no small degree, from local feelings and interests. The states at the north preferred Mr. Adams on account of the fisheries ; and those at the south were not, probably, without their fears, that his partiality for the fisheries, might induce him, to give up some other points deemed equally important to other parts of the union.
In the mean time, congress came to the resolution of sending a minister to Spain ; and the next day Mr. Jay was appointed envoy to the court of Madrid, and Mr. Adams to negociate a treaty of peace with Great Britain. Mr. Jay was intrusted with the important business of procuring the accession of Spain, to the treaties the United States had made with France. In case his catholic majesty required additional stipulations, he was at liberty to propose such as should be “analogous to the principal aim of the alliance, and conformable to the rules of equity, reciprocity and friendship.” If Spain should accede to the treaties,
Secret Journals of Congress, vol. 2, p. 249. VOL. II.
and in concurrence with France and the United States, continue the war, for the purposes therein expressed, he was instructed to offer her the Floridas on the terms and conditions contained in the above-mentioned resolution.
For the beneficial enjoyment of the navigation of the Mississippi below latitude 31°, he was instructed to procure some convenient port on the Mississippi, below that latitude, for the use of the citizens of the states. He was, also, directed to obtain a loan of five millions of dollars ; before making any propositions for a loan, however, he was to solicit a subsidy, in consideration of the guarantee of the Floridas. *
Mr. Jay sailed for Spain the latter part of the year, but being driven by a storm to the West Indies, he did not arrive in that country until March, 1730.
Before noticing the transactions of the American minister at the court of Madrid, we would state, that in November, 1779, Mr. Gerard was succeeded by the chevalier de la Luzerne, as minister from the French court. The new minister was intrusted with important communications for congress.
He officially announced the failure of the negociations in Europe, under the mediation of Spain; and informed the American government, “ that he had it in command to impress upon the minds of congress, that the British cabinet had an almost insuperable reluctance to admit the idea of the independence of these United States, and would use every possible endeavor to prevent it.
“That they had filled several of the courts of Europe with negociations, in order to excite them to a war against France, or to obtain succors; and were employing the most strenuous endeavors to persuade the several powers that the United States were disposed to enter into treaties of accommodation. That many persons in Europe were actively employed in bringing such treaties to perfection; and that they had no doubt of their success. That the objects which the British cabinet hoped for, from these measures, was to destroy the superiority which France had at
* Secret Journals of Congress, vol. 2, pp. 261, 262, and Note 8.