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no conjecture on whom the choice will ultimately fall.
The offers of New York and Maryland of a seat for Congress are postponed till October next, in order to give time for other offers, and for knowing the sense of the States on the subject. Copies of those acts are to be sent to the Executives of each State.
Congress have resumed, at length, the cession of Virginia. The old obnoxious report was committed, and a new report has been made, which, I think, a fit basis for a compromise. A copy of it is enclosed for the Governor. I have also transcribed it in my letter to Mr. Jones. As it tacitly excludes the pretensions of the companies, I fear obstacles may arise in Congress from that quarter. Clark, from New Jersey, informed Congress, that the Delegates from that State, being fettered by instructions, must communicate the plan to their constituents. If no other causes of delay should arise, the thinness of Congress at present will prove a material one. I am at some loss for the policy of the companies in opposing a compromise with Virginia. They can never hope for a specific restitution of their claims; they can never even hope for a cession of the country between the Alleghany and the Ohio by Virginia; as little can they hope for an extension of a jurisdiction of Congress over it by force. I should suppose, therefore, that it would be their truest interest to promote a general cession of the vacant country to Congress; and in case the titles of which they have been stripped, should be deemed reasonable, and Congress should be disposed to make any equitable
compensation, Virginia would be no more interested in opposing it than other States.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
. Philadelphia, June 10, 1783. Dear Sir,
Congress have received two letters from Mr. Laurens, dated London, one on the fifteenth of March, and the other the fifth of April. In the former he persists in the jealousy, expressed in his letter of the 24th of December, of the British Councils; he says that Shelburne had boasted of his success in gaining the provisional treaty without the concurrence of France, and of the good effects he expected to draw from that advantage. Mr. Laurens's remark was, that admitting the fact, which he did not, although it might disgrace and even prove fatal to the American Ministers, it could have no such effects on the United States. His second letter expresses more confidence in the Duke of Portland and Mr. Fox. These Ministers have withdrawn the subject of commerce with the United States from Parliament, and mean to open negotiations for a treaty with their Ministers in Europe. Mr. Fox asked Mr. Laurens, whether these had powers for that purpose. His answer was, that he believed so; that he had seen a revocation of Mr. Adams's commission noticed in the gazettes, but that he considered the paragraph as spurious. From this it would seem, that Mr. Adams had never communicated this diminution of his powers to his colleagues. These letters leave us in the suspense they found us as to the definitive treaty. Mr. Laurens thinks that no such event could have been relied on under Shelburne's administration. He was, on the fifth of April, setting out for Paris with Mr. David Hartley, successor to Mr. Oswald, from whence he should proceed to America, unless a definitive treaty was near being concluded. Notwithstanding the daily arrivals from every quarter, we get not a line on the subject from our Ministers at Versailles.
Mr. Dumas has enclosed to Congress sundry papers, from which it appears that the Dutch indulge a violent animosity against the French Court for abandoning their interests, and the liberty of navigation, by a prémature concluding of the preliminaries. Complaints of this kind are made through Dumas to Mr. Adams, with inquiries whether the American Ministers had powers to concert engagements with the United Provinces, His Most Christian Majesty, and His Catholic Majesty, for maintaining the rights asserted by the neutral Confederation; or, if the two last decline, with the United Provinces alone. The answer of Mr. Adams is not included, but references to it import that it was satisfactory, and that negotiations were to be opened accordingly. It is certain, notwithstanding, that no powers equal to such a transaction were ever given generally to the Ministers; and that, as far as they were given, they were superseded by the commission to Mr. Dana. This correspondence commenced in January, and is brought down to late in March; and yet no intimation whatever concerning it has been received from the Ministers themselves.
Congress have lately sent instructions to the Ministers in Europe, to contend, in the final treaty, for such amendment of the article relating to British debts as will suspend payment for three years after the war, and expressly exclude interest during the war.
Mr. Livingston has taken his final leave of the Department of Foreign Affairs. He would have remained, if such an augmentation of his salary had been made as would have secured him against future expense. But besides the disinclination of several members to augment salaries, there was no prospect of a competent number of States for an appropriation of money until he must have lost the option of Chancellorship of New York. No successor has been yet nominated, although the day for a choice has passed. I am utterly at a loss to guess on whom the choice will ultimately fall. Arthur Lee will be started, if the defect of a respectable competitor should be likely to force votes upon him.
The general arrangement of the foreign system has been suspended by the thinness of Congress, in part, and partly by the desire of further information from Europe. I fear much the delay will be exceedingly protracted. Nothing but final resignations of the Ministers abroad, and the arrival of Foreign Ministers here, will effectually stimulate Congress into activity and decision on the subject. How far, and at what time, the first cause will operate, is precarious. The second seems less so. Mr. Van Berkel has sent directions for proper provisions for his reception in the next month. A Swedish gentleman, recommended by Dr. Franklin as a philosopher, and by the Count de Vergennes as an intended Minister, has been here for some time. From the temper of Spain, a mission from that Court also is not improbable.
The treaty of commerce with Great Britain is another business suspended by the same cause. The Assembly have instructed us to reserve to Congress a revisal after it shall have been settled in Europe. This will give force to the doctrine of caution hitherto maintained by us."
Philadelphia, June 17, 1783. DEAR Sir,
The definitive treaty is not yet on this side the water; nor do we yet hear what stage it is in on the other side. Mr. Dana informs us, in a letter of the seventeenth of February, that, in consequence of proper encouragement, he had finally announced himself at the Court of St. Petersburg, but does not gratify us with a single circumstance that ensued. The Gazette of this morning, enclosed, contains the latest intelligence from the British Parliament which I have seen.
'The measure of furloughing the troops enlisted for the war has been carried into effect with the main army, and will save a great expense to the public. The prospect which it presented to the officers who were to retire from their subsistence, without receiving the means of subsistence elsewhere,