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The Emerging Nation: A Documentary History

of the
Foreign Relations of the United States

under the
Articles of Confederation, 1780-1789

Mary A. Giunta
Editor-in-Chief and Project Director

J. Dane Hartgrove, Associate Editor

Norman A. Graebner, Peter P. Hill, Lawrence S. Kaplan

Consulting Editors

Volume II

Richard B. Smith
Project Publication Specialist, 1994

Mary-Jane M. Dowd
Editor and Project Director, 1985-1991

National Historical Publications and Records Commission


The cover illustration is taken from a photograph of the die of the Great
Seal of the United States, adopted in 1782 and engraved by Robert Scot of
Philadelphia. For further information on the design, adoption, and use of
the Great Seal, see Richard S. Patterson and Richardson Dougall, The Eagle


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The emerging nation: a documentary history of the foreign relations of the
United States under the Articles of Confederation, 1780-1789 / Mary A.
Giunta, editor in chief; J. Dane Hartgrove, associate editor; Norman A.
Graebner, Peter P. Hill, Lawrence S. Kaplan, consulting editors; Richard
B. Smith, project publication specialist; Mary-Jane M. Dowd, editor and
project director.

xxi pps, 1057 pps 150mm x 225mm
Includes bibliographical references and index.

Contents: v. 1. Recognition of independence, 1780-1784 — v. 2. Trials
and tribulations, 1780-1785 — v. 3. Toward federal diplomacy, 1780-1789.

ISBN 0-16-048498–7 (vol. 1: alk. paper). – ISBN 0-16-048499–5
(vol. 2: alk. paper). – ISBN 0-16-048500–2 (vol. 3: alk. paper).

1. United States-Foreign relations—1783-1815–Sources. 2. United
States-Foreign relations—1775-1783–Sources.
I. Giunta, Mary A. II. Hartgrove, J. Dane. III. Dowd, Mary-Jane M.




For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328

ISBN 0-16-048499-5

The Emerging Nation: A Documentary History of the Foreign Relations of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, 1780-1789, traces the battles of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and others to establish a credible international presence for the United States of America as a new nation.

This is an extraordinary collection of documentary materials brought together from universities, libraries, historical societies, and private organizations, including the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and French, British, and other European repositories. The collection of diplomatic despatches, treaties, private letters, and other documents is an essential record of the formative years of United States diplomacy.

These documents provide teachers and students with a basic reference work. They brim with information and insights valuable to historians, political scientists, government officials, lawyers, and other individuals interested in the development of early United States foreign policy. They provide insight into how a new nation gains diplomatic stature and shapes a foreign policy out of the ashes of war and amidst divergent interests at home and abroad.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission is proud to present this three-volume documentary record of the beginnings of United States foreign policy.

John W. Carlin Archivist of the United States

and Chair, National Historical Publications and Records Commission

General Introduction

We believe that God has hardened the heart of the
Pharaoh, so that he cannot let the people go, till the
first-born of his land are destroyed, 'till the hosts are
overthrown in the midst of the sea, and till poverty
and distress like the lice of Egypt shall have covered
the land.'

So declared the first Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the Articles of Confederation, Robert R. Livingston, in a letter to John Jay as he attacked King George Ill's refusal to make peace during the waning days of the American Revolution. But through diplomatic negotiations peace did come, a peace that challenged American leaders - John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Livingston, among others - to secure the new nation, to forge in diplomatic arenas the freedom gained on the battlefield. In the letters, despatches, and other documents that record their actions, one can see their struggles to gain recognition from foreign powers, to negotiate treaties and agreements with other countries, and to protect the sovereign rights of the United States. One can see their efforts to defend American claims to western territories in the face of attempts to define U.S. borders in narrow terms, and one can see the intrigues that aroused political jealousies and competitive interests among the American states. In like manner, in letters, despatches, and other documents of their European counterparts, one can see attempts to maintain authority and to increase influence in world affairs through diplomatic schemes and negotiations.


Robert R. Livingston to John Jay, 9 May 1782, National Archives, RG 360: Papers of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, item 79, v. 1, pp. 714-723 (LBC); M247, reel 105.

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