GEORGE III, (1738-1820), King of Great Britain and Ireland. Autograph letter signed ("G.R.") to his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Carmarthen, Queens House, "11.P.M.," 27 May 1785. ¼ page, 4to, integral blank docketed by recipient "Queens House. May 27 1785. The King," light browning, mounting remnants on integral leaf, otherwise in very good condition.
GEORGE III CONFESSES THAT "THE ARRIVAL OF A MINISTER FROM AMERICA IS THE MOST UNPLEASANT POLITICAL EVENT THAT COULD HAPPEN TO ME"
A brief but remarkably revealing letter in which the King candidly displays his torn emotions over the prospect of facing rebel turned diplomat John Adams. It was Secretary of State Lord Carmarthen's delicate duty to arrange the prescribed ceremony that would introduce the first American ambassador to the King, who boldly writes from Queen's House (later expanded to become Buckingham Palace): "Lord Carmarthen can easily imagine that the arrival of a Minister from America is the most unpleasant political event that could happen to me; I do not object to his delivering his Credentials Wednesday."
George III had certainly not forgotten the inflammatory accusations against him made by Adams and his fellow American rebels in their Declaration of Independence. For all his many faults, he was not in fact a plundering, murdering tyrant, bent on "the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States." King George's American policies were part of a complex power play in London between throne and Parliament that got badly out of hand. The King hoped his American taxes would win popular support by lifting burdensome duties off the shoulders of Britons, but his Whig enemies turned the issue into a question of political principle, adding a dash of xenophobia: a Hanoverian king was trying to undermine the long-held rights of Englishmen in America. In the end, George--inexperienced, incompetent, and ill-served by a succession of ministerial advisors--proved unable to effectively deal with the American rebellion.
The Whigs won the parliamentary battle, but at the cost of the American colonies. It is not surprising, therefore, to see George III unenthusiastic about having to relive all this unpleasant recent history by meeting the first U.S. ambassador to Great Britain--an Adams no less, a family name that "had been a stench in the nostrils of George III for almost twenty years." (Page Smith, 2:629) The tenor of the dreaded meeting, which took place on June 1, proved more congenial than either Adams or the King expected (For Adams's report of this meeting see Lot 167). Coached by Carmarthen that his address was to be both short and highly complimentary of the King, Adams struck exactly the right note, avoiding reference to the past and expressing the hope that future relations between America and Britain would see the restoration of "esteem, confidence, and affection" between their two peoples. He hoped that the reconciliation between two peoples who "have the same language, a similar religion, and kindred blood" would "form an epoch in the history of England and of America." The King, obviously moved, speaking with a slight tremor, commented that "the language you have now held is so extremely proper and so justly adapted to the occasion, that I must say that I not only receive with pleasure the assurance of the friendly dispositions of the United States, but that I am very glad that the choice has fallen upon you to be their minister."