Volume X Part 5

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TO JOHN JAY, SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Mount Vernon, November 25th, 1784.

Dear Sir,

Although I hope in a few days to have the pleasure of seeing you, I must beg leave to mention a matter, which has not a little hurt my feelings. You probably know that on my way, pa.s.sing through New York, and particularly on my visit to Albany, it was intimated my presence at the Indian treaty would be of some use to the public. At Fort Schuyler I was desired to speak to the Indians, which I did, and the Commissioners had the papers filled up with their other transactions.

But copies were taken, which was thought then a matter of no consequence. The enclosed letter from Mr St John, and the gazette that accompanied it, will show you that from the most obliging and humble motives in the world, he attempted to translate and print such incorrect parts of the relation as he had been able to come at. Had his kind intentions only given him an instant to reflect, he might have seen the impropriety of that measure, but in the meanwhile, it looks as if it had my consent; and such deviation is it from the manner in which our servants of the United States ever did business, that out of respect for Congress, for the Commissioners, and myself, I could not rest easy until the matter should be fully explained.

Enclosed in my letter to the French Consul, which, after you have taken out such extracts as you think proper, I beg you will seal up and send by the bearer. Indeed, my Dear Sir, upon your friendship I depend to have this little circ.u.mstance officially laid before Congress, and should these letters be worth their reading, it will be, I hope, a satisfactory explanation of the affair.

In the first days of next month I shall have the pleasure to meet you at Trenton, and at that time will have the opportunity of conversing with you on several subjects. No answer from you ever came to hand.

I have the honor to be, &c.

LAFAYETTE.

TO JOHN JAY.

Versailles, February 8th, 1785.

Dear Sir,

After thirty days pa.s.sage, I was safely landed at Brest, and am so lately arrived in Paris, that I had better refer you to your Ministerial intelligence. In consequence of Austrian demands upon the Dutch, and the gun these have fired at ---- forty thousand men were sent to the Low Countries by the Emperor, and a second division was in motion the same way, when France gave orders for two armies to be got in readiness, the one, probably, in Flanders, and the other in Alsace.

Holland is gathering some troops, the greater number purchased in Germany, and will have at the utmost, thirty thousand men in the field. Count de Maillebois, an old and able French General, has been demanded by them. Russia seems friendly to the Emperor; and although the Stadtholder is a friend to the King of Prussia, while the patriots are wholly attached to France, yet Prussia will, no doubt, side in politics with France, and the Stadtholder will command his own country's troops.

A grand plan is spoken of, whereby the Emperor would endeavor to obtain Bavaria, and in return, give the Low Countries to the Palatine House; a bargain, which betters and increases the Imperial forces.

Under these circ.u.mstances, negotiations cannot but be very interesting. Although the freedom of Holland, and the protection of the German Princes, are very proper objects for France to support, yet a war with the Emperor must be peculiarly disagreeable to the Court.

It will certainly be avoided, if consistent with the liberties of Holland, with faith, and dignity; and, upon the whole, I am strongly of opinion, that no war will take place, at least for this year. The appearance of things, however, is still warlike enough to have made it proper for me to be arrived at the time I did; an idea, I confess, the more necessary for the situation of my mind, as I most heartily lamented the shortness of this visit to America, and the obligation I had been under to give up favorite plans, and break off more agreeable arrangements. The officers of the regiments under marching orders, Colonels excepted, have joined their corps. But I hope matters will be compromised; and such at least is my private opinion; but even they, who know more than I do on the subject, would, perhaps, find it difficult to form a precise one.

The Ministers of Congress will, no doubt, inform you of the situation of their negotiations in Europe. You will have seen M. de Castine's compliance with engagements. He had taken a letter to me, which Mr Morris laid before Congress. Nothing new was granted, and although the suspended decisions about flour and sugars were favorable to them, the French merchants have complained of what has been obtained. In every country, mercantile prejudices wear off by little and little.

I beg, my Dear Sir, you will forgive the hurry in which I write. Be pleased to remember me to all our friends.

I have the honor to be, &c.

LAFAYETTE.

TO JOHN JAY.

Paris, March 19th, 1785.

Dear Sir,

I have been honored with your letter of January the 19th, and am happy to hear that federal ideas are thriving in America. The more I see, hear, and think in Europe, the more I wish for every measure that can ensure to the United States, dignity, power, and public confidence.

Your three Ministers being in Paris, they will, of course, acquaint you with the present state of America, and also of European politics.

Great Britain perseveres in her ill-humor. Spain in her ill-understood policy. On my arrival, I repeated what I had written; namely, the idea of getting New Orleans, or at least to advise the Spaniards to make it a free port. The former is impossible. As to the second, I had no positive answer, but I am sure my opinion was not thrown away.

However, I confess it is difficult to make converts of a Spanish cabinet. You know them better than I do.

Negotiations in Europe are still going on, and there is every reason to hope this will be terminated without bloodshed. Enclosed you will find a declaration, which has been published officially in some measure, in the Leyden Gazette. Count de Maillebois is now in Holland, where they are raising troops, and where parties run very high. In the meanwhile, the Emperor had another plan in view, of which I wrote to you in my last letters; it was to exchange his dominions in the Low Countries for the Electorate of Bavaria. But, fortunately for all the members of the empire, the Duke of Deux Ponts, nephew and heir to the Elector, has firmly opposed it. A report had been spread, that the Emperor had intended to surprise Maestricht. But although matters are not yet finally settled, I am pretty certain there will not be this year any Dutch war, nor Bavarian war, both of which could not fail to involve France. It is, however, difficult to be decided in an opinion upon a matter, which the ideas of one man may derange.

You speak to me of the introduction of flour in the West Indies. My wishes and my efforts are not unknown to you. But such clamors have been raised by the merchants against what we lately have obtained, that our efforts now, must be directed towards holding it fast. Those people are encouraged by the narrow politics of England, who, say they, have all the trade of America. I have appointed a conference with the Duc de la Vauguyon, who is setting out for Spain, and I will tell him everything I know respecting the Mississippi.

Your Ministers will, probably, write to you respecting the Algerine business. What information I can collect will be presented to them.

I have the honor to be, &c.

LAFAYETTE.

TO JOHN JAY.

Paris, May 11th, 1785.

Dear Sir,

This opportunity being very safe, Congress will have been fully informed by their Minister and the bearer, Mr John Adams's son, who is himself very well fit to give them proper intelligence.

The appearances of a war are more and more remote. Politicians do, however, look towards the Ottoman Empire. The Emperor is restless.

The Empress of Russia is ambitious; the King of Prussia is old; a King of the Romans is to be elected; an arrangement for Bavaria, a reason or a pretence, an interest or a whim might set fire to combustible matters; but it is not expected for the present.

As it seems to me that favors granted to American importations are one of the best services that can be rendered to American trade, I wish it had been possible to obtain a total abolition of duties upon whale oil. But in this moment government are taken up with a scheme to revive that fishery in France. It was therefore necessary to follow a round about course, and Mr Adams is charged with some private proposals, which may be advantageous.

In a few days I intend visiting Nismes, Montpellier, and Roch.e.l.le, which are manufacturing and trading towns. I hope my little journey may not be quite useless; after which I shall go to Berlin and Silesia, to Vienna and Bohemia, where the King of Prussia, and the Emperor, at several periods of the summer, have grand manoeuvres executed by their troops. Should I in those visits find the least opportunity to gratify my zeal for the United States, I should think myself more happy than I can expect, and as much so as your patriotic heart can feel.

With the most sincere regard and affection, I have the honor to be, &c.

LAFAYETTE.

TO JOHN JAY.

Vienna, September 6th, 1785.

Dear Sir,

The enclosed is a Memorial in behalf of M. d'Argaynarats, which has been recommended to me by persons of the most respectable character.

It seems M. d'Argaynarat's situation is very particular, and the distress of himself and family very urgent. As in the number of pet.i.tions that may be received, it is not possible for Congress to be acquainted with the family affairs of individuals, I hope it is not improper for me to lay before them this particular case; and while it is officially presented by others, not to withhold my certificate of the accounts which respectable characters have given me about M.

d'Argaynarat's present distresses.

With the highest and most affectionate regard, I have the honor to be, &c.

LAFAYETTE.

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