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THE

DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE

OF THE

AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

BEING

THE LETTERS OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, SILAS DEANE, JOHN ADAMS, JOHN JAY,
ARTHUR LEE, WILLIAM LEE, RALPH IZARD, FRANCIS DANA, WILLIAM
CARMICHAEL, HENRY LAURENS, JOHN LAURENS, M. DUMAS, AND OTHERS,
CONCERNING THE FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES DURING THE WHOLE
REVOLUTION,

TOGETHER WITH

THE LETTERS IN REPLY FROM THE SECRET COMMITTEE OF CONGRESS, AND THE
SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

ALSO,

THE ENTIRE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE FRENCH MINISTERS, GERARD AND LUZERNE
WITH CONGRESS.


Published under the Direction of the President of the United States,
from the original Manuscripts of the Department of State, conformably
to a Resolution of Congress, of March 27th, 1818.


EDITED

BY JARED SPARKS.


VOL. I.


BOSTON:

N. HALE AND GRAY & BOWEN.

G. & C. & H. CARVILL, NEW YORK.


1829.




HALE'S STEAM PRESS.

Nos. 6 Suffolk Buildings, Congress Street, Boston.




_Resolution of Congress of March 27th, 1818._

Resolution directing the Publication and Distribution of the
Journal and Proceedings of the Convention, which formed the
present Constitution of the United States.

_Resolved_, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled, that the Journal of the
Convention, which formed the present Constitution of the United
States, now remaining in the office of the Secretary of State, and all
acts and Proceedings of that Convention, which are in possession of
the Government of the United States, be published under the direction
of the President of the United States, together with the Secret
Journals of the Acts and Proceedings, and the Foreign Correspondence
of the Congress of the United States, from the first meeting thereof,
down to the date of the ratification of the definitive treaty of
peace, between Great Britain and the United States, in the year
seventeen hundred and eightythree, except such parts of the said
foreign correspondence, as the President of the United States may deem
it improper at this time to publish. And that one thousand copies
thereof be printed, of which one copy shall be furnished to each
member of the present Congress, and the residue shall remain subject
to the future disposition of Congress.

[Approved March 27th, 1818.]




ADVERTISEMENT.


The Correspondence between the old Congress and the American Agents,
Commissioners, and Ministers in foreign countries, was secret and
confidential during the whole revolution. The letters, as they
arrived, were read in Congress, and referred to the standing Committee
of Foreign Affairs, accompanied with requisite instructions, when
necessary, as to the nature and substance of the replies. The papers
embracing this correspondence, which swelled to a considerable mass
before the end of the revolution, were removed to the department of
State after the formation of the new government, where they have
remained ever since, accessible to such persons as have wished to
consult them for particular purposes, but never before published. In
compliance with the resolution of Congress, of March 27th, 1818, they
are now laid before the public, under the direction of the President
of the United States.

On the 29th of November, 1775, a Committee of five was appointed to
correspond with the friends of America in other countries. It seems to
have been the specific object of this Committee, to gain information
in regard to the public feeling in Great Britain towards the Colonies,
and also the degree of interest which was likely to be taken by other
European powers in the contest, then beginning to grow warm on this
side of the Atlantic. Certain commercial designs came also under its
cognizance, such as procuring ammunition, arms, soldiers' clothing,
and other military stores from abroad. A secret correspondence was
immediately opened with Arthur Lee in London, chiefly with the view of
procuring intelligence. Early in the next year, Silas Deane was sent
to France by the Committee, with instructions to act as a commercial
or political agent for the American Colonies, as circumstances might
dictate. This Committee was denominated the _Committee of Secret
Correspondence_, and continued in operation till April 17th, 1777,
when the name was changed to that of the _Committee of Foreign
Affairs_. The duties and objects of the Committee appear to have
remained as before, notwithstanding the change of name.

In the first years of the war, it was customary for the Commissioners
and Ministers abroad to address their letters to the Committee, or to
the President of Congress. In either case the letters were read in
Congress, and answered only by the Committee, this body being the
organ of all communications from Congress on foreign affairs. The
proceedings of Congress in relation to these topics were recorded in a
journal, kept separately from that in which the records of other
transactions were entered, and called the _Secret Journal_. This
Journal has recently been published, in conformity with the same
resolution of Congress, which directed the publication of the foreign
correspondence.

Robert R. Livingston was chosen Secretary of Foreign Affairs on the
10th of August, 1781, when the Committee was dissolved, and the
foreign correspondence from that time went through the hands of the
Secretary. As the responsibility thus devolved on a single individual,
instead of being divided among several, the business of the department
was afterwards executed with much more promptness and efficiency.

The plan adopted, in arranging the papers for publication, has been to
bring together those of each Commissioner, or Minister, in strict
chronological order. As there is much looseness, and sometimes
confusion in their arrangement as preserved in the Department of
State, this plan has not always been easy to execute. The advantage of
such a method, however, is so great, the facility it affords for a
ready reference and consultation is so desirable, and the chain of
events is thereby exhibited in a manner so much more connected and
satisfactory, that no pains have been spared to bring every letter and
document into its place in the exact order of its date. Thus, the
correspondence of each Commissioner, or Minister, presents a
continuous history of the acts in which he was concerned, and of the
events to which he alludes.

It will be seen, that letters are occasionally missing. These are not
to be found in the archives of the government. The loss may be
accounted for in several ways. In the first place, the modes of
conveyance were precarious, and failures were frequent and
unavoidable. The despatches were sometimes intrusted to the captains
of such American vessels, merchantmen or privateers, as happened to be
in port, and sometimes forwarded by regular express packets, but in
both cases they were subject to be captured. Moreover, the despatches
were ordered to be thrown overboard if the vessel conveying them
should be pursued by an enemy, or exposed to the hazard of being
taken. It thus happened, that many letters never arrived at their
destination, although duplicates and triplicates were sent. Again, the
Committee had no Secretary to take charge of the papers, and no
regular place of deposit; the members themselves were perpetually
changing, and each had equal access to the papers, and was equally
responsible for their safe keeping. They were often in the hands of
the Secretary of Congress, and of other members who wished to consult
them. Nor does it appear, that copies were methodically taken till
after the war. In such a state of things, many letters must
necessarily have been withdrawn and lost. When Mr Jay became Secretary
of Foreign Affairs, in the year 1784, that office had been made the
place of deposit for all the foreign correspondence which then
remained. Under his direction, a large portion of it was copied into
volumes, apparently with much care, both in regard to the search after
papers, and the accuracy of the transcribers. These volumes are still
retained in the archives of the Department of State, together with
such originals as have escaped the perils of accident, and the
negligence of their early keepers.

The letters of the Committee of Congress to the agents abroad were
few, scanty, and meagre. This may be ascribed to two causes. First,
there was really very little to communicate, which was not known
through the public papers; and, secondly, it was not made the duty of
any particular member of the Committee to write letters. Hence the
agents frequently complained, that their despatches were not answered,
and that they were embarrassed for want of intelligence. When Mr
Livingston came into the office of Foreign Affairs, a salutary change
took place in this respect. His letters are numerous, full, and
instructive.

In preparing the papers for the press, according to the spirit of the
resolution of Congress, the first rule has been to print such matter
only as possesses some value, either as containing historical facts,
or illustrating traits of character, or developing the causes of
prominent events. In such a mass of materials, so varied in their
character and in the topics upon which they treat, it has not always
been easy to discriminate with precision in regard to these points.
The editor can only say, that he has exercised his best judgment to
accomplish the end proposed. His task has been rendered still more
perplexing, from the disputes, and even quarrels, which existed
between the early American Commissioners, and with the effects of
which a large portion of their correspondence is tinged. No worthy
purpose can be answered by reviving the remembrance of these
contentions at the present day; but, at the same time, such
particulars ought to be retained, as will exhibit in their proper
light the characters of the persons concerned, and show how far their
altercations operated to the public good or injury.



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