PICKERING, TIMOTHY, Secretary of State under Washington and Adams. Letter signed in full as Secretary of State to Sylvanus Bourne, U.S. Consul General in Amsterdam; Department of State, Philadelphia, 30 July 1799. One page, 4to, integral address leaf with panel, marked ''Duplicate'' and franked ''Department of State of the United States of America,'' small seal hole. Fine condition.
PICKERING, TIMOTHY, Secretary of State under Washington and Adams. Letter signed in full as Secretary of State to Sylvanus Bourne, U.S. Consul General in Amsterdam; Department of State, Philadelphia, 30 July 1799. One page, 4to, integral address leaf with panel, marked "Duplicate" and franked "Department of State of the United States of America," small seal hole. Fine condition.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE VOWS THAT "WE SHALL NOT SUBMIT TO A REPETITION OF INDIGNITIES" BY FRANCE
A fine letter written at the height of the Quasi-War with France which had developed in the wake of the Genet Affair, the "X,Y,Z" Affair and other provocations, in which the Secretary of State alludes to the special peace mission which ultimately averted the threat of war, and vows that the U.S. will not submit to further "indignities." "I have this moment received your letter of May 10th by the case of your friend Mr. Wm. Taylor of Baltimore, to whom I transmit this for conveyance. In answer to your question -- Whether your services will be wanted in Holland when Mr. [William Vans] Murray [Minister to the Netherlands] goes to Paris. I observe, that I do not think any object so important as to detain you, contrary to your proposed arrangements for coming to America is likely to occur. Besides, Mr. Murray's absence cannot be of great length, if he with the other Envoys [Patrick Henry and Oliver Ellsworth] should go to Paris: We have not yet received the answer of the French Government. Of one thing I may venture to assure you, they will not remain in Paris to be neglected or trifled with: We shall not submit to a repetition of indignities...."
Pickering (1745-1829) had become Secretary of State in August 1795. His fear of the revolutionary movement in France clouded his judgement and led him to pursue strongly anti-French policies. In the wake of diplomatic crises and France's continued interference with American ships, Congress had in the spring of 1798 empowered American ships to "repel by force" any assault and ordered the Navy to seize French naval vessels interfering with American merchantmen. In the surge of anger over these French provocations, Washington had been called from retirement to command the army in the belief the nation would be invaded by French troops (see Washington's letter to Secretary of War McHenry on the subject in lot ). President Adams, alarmed that the nation might be drawn into a full-scale war it was ill-prepared to fight, sent a final peace mission, consisting of Patrick Henry, Oliver Ellsworth and William Vans Murray, Minister to the Netherlands, to Paris to negotiate with Talleyrand, who was equally anxious to avoid armed conflict. The commission was graciously received by Napoleon, First Consul, and generous terms were offered for a settlement which the American negotiaters accepted, bringing the Quasi-War to an end with the signing of the Convention of 1800.