Property of the Brooklyn Historical Society, sold to benefit the collections fund
ADAMS, John (1735-1826). Autograph letter signed ("J. Adams") TO HENRY LAURENS, Paris, 3 December 1782. 2 pages, bifolium, with Laurens's transcription of his 4 December reply written on blank integral leaf. Fine.
ADAMS DISCUSSES THE SIGNING OF THE PRELIMINARY TREATY WITH BRITAIN AND MENTIONS "DR. FRANKLIN" AND JAY
ADAMS HOPES TO STRENGTHEN AMERICA'S HAND IN RUSSIA as he tries to convince his fellow peace commissioners to send word of the Preliminary Treat to America's ambassador at St. Petersburg. "You have no doubt been informed," Adams writes, "that Mr [Francis] Dana now in Petersbourg, has a Commission to treat with the Neutral Powers, and to Subscribe the late marine Treaty. The Question is whether this is not the most proper Time for him to communicate his Mission to the two Imperial Courts [Russia and Austria] and to all the other neutral Courts. I have written this morning a Card to Dr Franklin upon the Subject. I wish you would think of it, and judge whether we ought not to write to Mr Dana, Information of the Signature of the preliminaries, and send him a Copy of them. It is also a Question whether we shall advise him to communicate them to the neutral Courts or whether we shall communicate them to their Ministers here. Mr Jay and I have several times conversed upon this Subject and have been of the same opinion."
Laurens immediately replies that he thinks the subjects merits "the immediate attention of the American Commissioners," and "if other Gentlemen concur, I shall be ready to wait on you & them at any time and place to be appointed." Dana--Adams's former private secretary--was appointed by Congress to the Russian court in 1781, but Catherine the Great refused to recognize him. In 1780 she had formed the League of Armed Neutrality, which asserted the rights of neutral powers to trade non-military goods with belligerents. This measure favored the Americans, of course, and the U.S. hoped--too optimistically--that Russia and other members of the League would be inclined to sign commercial treaties with America. Now, with the signing of the Preliminary Treaty ("the Signature of the preliminaries," Adams calls it), Adams hopes Dana's position could be strengthened. It wasn't. Unable to speak either Russian or French, he remained isolated in the Russian capital and returned home in 1783, without ever gaining Russian recognition or any commercial treaties.