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AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT. 8vo, $3.00, net. Postage extra.

A CENTURY OF AMERICAN DIPLOMACY: Being a Brief Review of the Foreign Rela- tions of the United States, 1776-1876. 8vo, #3-5°-












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The present work is the outgrowth of a series of lectures delivered in the School of Diplomacy of the Columbian University. Two motives have influenced their publication. The first is the hope of the author that by a study of this review of the diplomatic con- duct of our most distinguished statesmen, the young men of the country may have their patriotism quick- ened, and be inspired with a new zeal to assist in maintaining the honorable position of our government in its foreign relations. Few may be able to enter the diplomatic service, but every citizen may exercise an influence in so shaping our foreign policy that the government shall continue to occupy a worthy position among the nations of the earth. The other motive is the belief that, in view of the recent enlarged political and commercial intercourse of the United States with other powers, a succinct history of the diplomatic affairs of the government from its foundation would be opportune, and that it might be useful in the solu- tion of the questions of foreign policy now so urgently presented to the American people.

It has been deemed best not to include a review of


the events of the last quarter of a century, as they are yet fresh in the memory of the present generation. The only exception to this course is found in the sketch of the Monroe Doctrine, in Chapter XII. To enable students to further pursue their investigations on the topics presented, citations are given of authorities or original sources of information on most important events. It is to be noted that citations of treaties of the United States are not given, for the reason that they all appear in the " Treaties and Conventions be- tween the United States and other Powers " (govern- ment edition of 1889), arranged alphabetically as to countries and in chronological order. It is regretted that the engagements of a busy professional life have prevented the author from treating the subjects more exhaustively or from giving a more extended list of citations. Acknowledgment is made of courtesies ex- tended, in the preparation of the work, by Mr. Andrew H. Allen, the efficient librarian of the Department of State.

Washington, September, 1900.




State of international law in 1776

Organization of the diplomatic service of the Colonies

Silas Deane, first foreign representative .

Beaumarchais and his relation to the Colonies

Marquis de Lafayette goes to America ....

Congress drafts a treaty with France .....

Benjamin Franklin, commissioner, his character and services

Embarrassments attending colonial representatives in Europe

Negotiations with the French court and the treaties of 1778

Reception of French minister by Congress

Franklin's trouble with his colleagues ....

Appointed sole minister to France


1 3 9 11 17 19 22 26 28 32 35 39



The relation of Spain to the Colonies 41

The armed neutrality of Northern Europe 42

Negotiations with Holland 43

John Adams's trouble with Vergennes, the French Minister of For- eign Affairs . ° 43

Adams's success in, and treaty with Holland ..... 47

The American diplomatic representatives in Europe ... 49 The great object of their labors to secure recognition of independ- ence .......•»• .52

Initiation by Franklin of negotiations with Great Britain . » 53

Arrival of Jay and his participation in the negotiations ... 59


Complications in the negotiations 60

Arrival of Adams and his support of Jay ..... 63

The questions at issue and terms of the treaty of peace and inde- pendence .......... 64

Departure of commissioners from instructions of Congress . . 66

Favorable reception of the treaty and prophecies as to its effects 69



Incidents attending the negotiation of the treaty of peace . . 73

Jay's objection to Oswald's commission ..... 73

Franklin's proposition as to Canada 74

Washington's objection to French occupation of Canada . . 75

Violation of the instructions of Congress by the commissioners . 77 The preliminary treaty of 1782 becomes the permanent treaty of

1783 80

Count de Vergennes, his services and conduct .... 81

Lord Shelburne's conduct in the negotiations .... 82

Relative merits of Franklin, Adams, and Jay ..... 84

Commercial relations after the war ; Hamburg letter . . 88

Religious questions in diplomacy 90

Treaties with Prussia of 1785, and with other countries . . 92 Return of Franklin and Jay to America, and Adams, minister to

England ........... 94

Jay as Secretary of Foreign Affairs 96

Foreign embarrassments owing to inefficiency of the Confeder- ation 99

Diplomatic representatives of the Revolutionary period . . 101



The defects of the Confederation lead to the Constitutional Con- vention 103

Division of powers under the Constitution 104

Discussion in the " Federalist " of provisions relating to foreign

affairs 106

Jay on the negotiation and ratification of treaties . . . 107

Hamilton on the powers and diplomatic functions of the President . Ill



Possible conflict of powers in foreign affairs .... 114

Hamilton in defense of a vigorous executive 118

No provision in the Constitution for a cabinet .... 120 Action of first Congress under the Constitution in creating the

Department of State 122

Powers and duties of Secretary of State 126

Other than diplomatic duties of the Department of State . . 128

The Great Seal of the United States 129

Organization and growth of the department 130

Division of its business into bureaus 131

Future needs of the Department of State 134



Washington puts the new government into operation . . . 136

Jefferson appointed Secretary of State 137

Influence on him of residence in Paris 138

His style of living there 139

Jefferson's doubtful attitude respecting the new constitution . 141

His views not in harmony with those of his cabinet colleagues . 143

His quarrel with Hamilton 144

Abuse of Washington by Freneau, a State Department clerk . 1 17

Ratification of consular treaty with France .... 148

Improvement of the public credit and foreign commerce under the

Constitution 149

Discordant views as to the validity of the French treaty of alliance 151

Arrival of Genet, minister of the French Republic . . . 153

The proclamation of neutrality 154

Dismissal of Genet 156

Jefferson's opposition to the proclamation of neutrality . . 157

His retirement as Secretary of State and appointment of Randolph 158 Jay appointed special envoy to London and negotiates the treaty of

1794 with Great Britain 159

Strong opposition to the treaty 161

Ratification of the treaty and Randolph's downfall . . . 162

Defense of Jay treaty 165

Invention of the cotton-gin and its influence on the country . . 166

Discussion in Congress as to the power of the House over a treaty 167

Jefferson's Mazzei letter 170


Pickering succeeds Randolph as Secretary of State . . . 171

Monroe as minister to France ........ 172

War threatened with France during Adams's administration . 176 The X Y Z correspondence, and withdrawal of the American com- missioners from Paris . 176

Appointment of a new commission and peace secured through new

treaties 178

Adams's trouble with his party and defeat of the Federalists . . 180

John Marshall, Secretary of State and Chief Justice .' . . 181



The new era of democracy ......

James Madison, Secretary of State, his qualities and services Jefferson's greatest achievement, the purchase of Louisiana Sketch of events preceding the treaty with France Livingston opens negotiations for New Orleans Monroe appointed special envoy to France Events in Europe unexpectedly secure the whole of the vast tory to the United States ......

Protest of the Spanish government against the transfer Constitutional difficulty presented in the acquisition Other grounds of objection ......

Influence of the acquisition on the country

Suppression of the Barbary piracy .

Jefferson's social customs as President ....

His troubles with the foreign diplomats

The defiance of the Spanish minister ....

The dismissal of the British minister ....

Participation of foreign ministers in Burr's conspiracy . The Logan Act, its origin and difficulty of enforcement Close of Jefferson's administration and the rising war-cloud


185 185 187 188 190 191

192 196 198 201 203 205 208 211 217 220 223 226 231



Embarrassments confronting Madison as President Unwise choice of Robert Smith as Secretary of State . His retirement, and James Monroe his successor

233 233 234



Causes of the war of 1812 with Great Britain .... 235

The attack on the Chesapeake ....... 237

The paper blockades 238

British visitation and impressment ...... 239

Declaration of war by Congress 240

Opposition in New England to the war 241

The negotiations for peace 243

No settlement of issues, but a welcome peace .... 245

The results of the war 248

Retirement of Madison, and advent of Monroe as President . 249

John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, sketch of his life . . 250

Disarmament on the Great Lakes ...... 252

The northeast fisheries 254

Efforts to secure Florida ........ 256

Jackson's invasion of Florida 258

The treaty of 1819 for its acquisition ....... 260

Recognition of the Spanish-American republics .... 263

Treaty with Russia, settling claims on northwest coast of America 265

Successful close of Monroe's administration ..... 266

The presidential contest of 1824, and election of J. Q. Adams . 268

Henry Clay, Secretary of State, and the " corrupt bargain " charge 268

His successful management of the office ..... 270

Department of State no more the stepping-stone to presidency . 272



Jackson's administration a new era in government .... 273

Martin Van Buren, Secretary of State ..... 273 The " Peggy O'Neil " scandal and its influence on the future of the

secretary 274

His nomination to London and rejection by the Senate . . 275

Succeeded by Edward Livingston as Secretary of State . . . 278

The French treaty imbroglio ....... 278

John Forsyth, Secretary of State under Van Buren . . . 279

The Canadian Rebellion 280

Independence of Texas recognized 280

Daniel Webster, secretary under Harrison, and his great reputation 281 The northeastern boundary dispute and the Webster-Ashburton

treaty 282


American wives of foreign diplomats 283

The " battle of the maps " 284

The McLeod case, the Creole, and right of search . . . 287

Relations of the United States with China ..... 289

Recognition of the Kingdom of Hawaii 293

President Tyler's interest in the annexation of Texas, and Webster's

resignation 295

John C. Calhoun, secretary, and his treaty for the annexation . 297 Rejection of the treaty and annexation of Texas by joint resolution

of Congress 300

Election of Polk, and James Buchanan, his Secretary of State . 301

The Oregon boundary question ....... 302

Its treaty settlement and "Fifty-four-forty, or fight" . . 307

Prominent statesmen on the expansion of the republic . . . 309



Resolution of Congress that war exists " by the act of Mexico " . 314

The war not a popular measure 316

Mr. Trist, peace commissioner and his negotiations . . . 317

The treaty of peace, and strange experience of its negotiator . . 318

Tragic death of J. Q. Adams 319

Ratification of the treaty of peace ; its protocol .... 320

Judgment of history on Texas and the Mexican War . . 321

Treaty with Colombia and the Isthmus transit .... 324 John M. Clayton, Secretary of State under Taylor, negotiates the

Isthmus Canal treaty 325

Daniel Webster returns to the department on the accession of Fill- more ............ 326

The status of Cuba ..327

Anti-Spanish riot in New Orleans ....... 327

The Hungarian revolt and the Webster-Hiilsemann correspond- ence 329

The Perry expedition and opening of Japan ..... 333

Webster's successful career ....... 335

William L. Marcy, secretary under Pierce ..... 335

The Koszta affair, naturalization and expatriation . . . 336

The reciprocity treaty with Canada 337

The Marcy diplomatic dress circular 339


The heydey of the filibuster 341

The case of the Black Warrior 343

The Ostend Manifesto . 345

The Declaration of Paris and the Marcy amendment . . . 347

Buchanan, President ; Lewis Cass, Secretary of State . . . 349

Efforts at slavery extension 350

Abolition of the Danish Sound dues ...... 353

Mexican disorder, and the coming Civil War .... 355



William H. Seward chosen Secretary of State by Lincoln . . 357

The great danger to the Union, European intervention . . 358

Mr. Seward's intemperate dispatch and the President's corrections . 360

His " Thoughts for the President ' ' and delusion as to the war . 362

Recognition of the Confederates as belligerents .... 365

The Trent affair 367

Unfriendly cooperation of Great Britain and France ; Russia de- clines 372

Hostile attitude of British government and ruling classes . . 373

The cotton famine in England and the working classes . . . 375

French and British efforts at intervention ..... 378

The building of Confederate cruisers in British ports, and escape

of the Alabama .......... 384

Effect in England of the proclamation of emancipation . . 392

The ironclads and the mission of Forbes and Aspinwall to England 397

Other unofficial missions and agents in Europe .... 398

The invaluable services of Charles Francis Adams, minister in

London 399

Tributes of the nations on the death of Lincoln .... 400



The situation of affairs in Mexico ...... 401

French occupation and Seward's notice to withdraw . . . 402

Laying of the Atlantic cable ....... 403

Events leading to the purchase of Alaska ..... 404

Friendship of Russia for the United States .... 405



The treaty for the cession of Alaska . . . ... . 406

Opposition to the treaty in the House ...... 407

Relation of the United States to the progress of Japan . . . 410

The friendly policy towards China ...... 415

Review of Mr. Seward's services in the Department of State . 417

Hamilton Fish, Secretary of State under President Grant . . 417

The Cuban insurrection . 418

Rejection of treaty annexing San Domingo .... 419

Extradition cases of Winslow, Tweed, and Arguelles . . . 419

Claims against Great Britain on account of Confederate cruisers 421

Joint High Commission and treaty of 1871 ..... 423

Arbitration of the Alabama claims ...... 424

Charles Sumner and his relations with the administration . . 428

Mr. Motley's dismissal as minister to England .... 431

Trouble with Catacazy, Russian minister ..... 432

Relations with Hawaii and Samoa ...... 435

Successful management of the department by Mr. Fish . . . 436 Review of the influence of American diplomacy on international

law 436




Difficulty in definition and practical application . . Outgrowth of Declaration of Independence and Washington's


Jefferson's early declarations .....

Events preceding the announcement of the doctrine . The text of the doctrine in the President's message, Dec. 2 The principle and scope of the doctrine The effect of its announcement ....

The part of Mr. Canning in its promulgation

The Panama Congress and the doctrine .

President Polk's attempt to apply it to Yucatan .

The Clayton-Bulwer treaty, a disregard of the doctrine

Its application to Cuba ......

Its application to Mexico .....

Extension of the doctrine to isthmus canals Its latest application to the Venezuela boundary Secretary Olney's exposition of the doctrine


438 440 441 444 445 447 448 451 454 456 458 459 461 467 468


The effect on Europe of President Cleveland's enforcement of it . 473

Its principles affirmatively and negatively stated . . . 475


List of Secretaries of State 479

Index .,,„... 483


Map of North America, showing the boundaries of the United States, Canada, and the Spanish Possessions, according to the Proposals of the Court of France .... opposite page 60

The United States after the Treaty of 1783 ... 75

The Louisiana Purchase, 1803 185

The Oregon Territory in Dispute 302

Mexican ceded Territory, 1845-48 314




The British North American colonies sought for admission into the family of nations in a transition epoch in the development of international law and diplomacy. These were the offspring of the latter period of the Middle Ages. Diplomacy could have no existence in the Roman Empire, because Rome would permit no relation with any other state, save that of subjection on the part of the other. Diplomatic nego- tiations necessarily imply a certain equality of rela- tions. It was not until the modern nations began to be evolved from the chaos resulting from the over- throw of the Roman Empire, and they assumed some degree of stability, and recognized in each other an equality in international intercourse, that international law became a formative code of principles controlling the conduct of nations. Although the treatises of Gro- tius had been written a hundred years, the eighteenth century, which records the revolt of the American colonies, repeatedly witnessed the disregard of this code and its principles set aside by the more powerful nations.


The definition and etymology of the word diplomacy illustrate its history. It may be at this day defined to be the art of conducting the intercourse of nations with each other. A fuller definition is found in the Century Dictionary: "The science of the forms, cere- monies, and methods to be observed in conducting the actual intercourse of one state with another, through authorized agents on the basis of international law ; the art of conducting such intercourse, as in negotiat- ing and drafting treaties, representing the interests of a state or its subjects at a foreign court," etc. It is a word of modern origin, not found in Johnson's Dic- tionary, issued about the middle of the last century, being derived from the word diploma, the significance of which grew out of the practice of sovereigns of the mediaeval period, following the Roman method of pre- servation of important documents, in having their royal warrants, decrees, and finally their treaties carefully in- scribed on parchments or diplomas. The knowledge of these ancient documents became a special study by a class of officials, who, in that period, were intrusted with the framing of treaties.1 The word is said to have been first used in French by Count de Vergennes, Min- ister of Louis XVI., and in English by Burke, contem- poraries in our Revolutionary period.

Diplomacy and its code international law are the outgrowth of the conflict of nations in recent cen- turies, the slow but steady development and triumph of justice and the principles of humanity over tyranny and force, resulting in the amelioration the horrors

1 Encyclopaedia Britannica, " Diplomatics."


of war and the greater reign of reason. Diplomatic history treats of high motives and the progress of just principles, and in recent times the wars of the nations and their political disputes have resulted in the evolu- tion of a recognized code of universal and impartial justice as applied to the governments of the world. There is no more striking illustration of this fact than the diplomatic history of the United States. A new nation in a new world, untrammeled by the traditions and institutions of past ages, born to power and great- ness almost in a day from the beginning of its po- litical existence it made itself the champion of a freer commerce, of a sincere and genuine neutrality, of re- spect for private property in war, of the most advanced ideas of natural rights and justice ; and in its brief existence of a century, by its example and its persistent diplomatic advocacy, it has exerted a greater influence in the recognition of these elevated principles than any other nation of the world.

The study, therefore, of our diplomatic history be- comes most important and profitable. In view of its past record, the United States occupies to-day a con- spicuous and interesting position among the nations. Called by the fortunes of war and its enlarged wealth and power to great responsibilities, if it shall prove true to its past history, it must not lower its standard of universal justice, or lose its interest in the better- ment of the human race. It has been well said that it is impossible to separate the policy of the government from the conscience of the nation.

The diplomatic record which our country has made


in the first century of its existence is one in which any American citizen may take just pride, and in the fol- lowing pages I propose to direct the attention of the reader, although within a brief compass, to the salient features of that record.

In entering upon this review, the first epoch which calls for examination is that which embraces the period from the earliest formation of the union of the colonies to the adoption of the Constitution of 1787. The diplomatic relations of the rising nation were of slow growth, and were gradually developed by the necessi- ties of the struggle for independence. By the Articles of Confederation the Continental Congress was em- powered to make peace and declare war, to send and receive ambassadors and make treaties and alliances, but it could only enter upon the latter with the assent of nine of the thirteen States. It is doubtless from this provision that the Federal Constitution took the. clause requiring all treaties for their ratification to receive a two-third vote of the Senate.

Originally the Confederation was without executive officers, and all its business, both foreign and domes- tic, was conducted through committees. In 1775 a " Secret Committee on Foreign Correspondence " was appointed, of which Benjamin Franklin and John Jay were members, and in 1777 it was changed to the " Committee on Foreign Affairs." The personnel of this committee was frequently changed ; Thomas Paine acted as its secretary for some time, but he was finally dismissed for misconduct in office. Through these committees all the foreign relations of the Colonies


were conducted up to 1781, when the committee was abolished, and a " Department of Foreign Affairs " was established. By that time a considerable diplomatic representation had been sent to Europe, the treaties of alliance and of commerce with France had been neffoti- ated, and important relations with other nations were being established. The conduct of these relations through a committee had proved most unsatisfactory. Mr. Lovell, the only member at that time who seemed to take an interest in its business, wrote in August, 1779, " There is really no such thing as a Committee of Foreign Affairs existing no secretary or clerk further than I persevere to be one and the other. The books and the papers of that extinguished body lay yet on the table of Congress, or rather are locked up in the secretary's private box." *

Congress finally took the matter in hand, and ap- pointed a committee which submitted the plan for the organization of the department, and in its report states : "That the extent and rising power of the United States entitle them to a place among the great poten- tates of Europe, while our political and commercial interests point out the propriety of cultivating with them a friendly correspondence and connection. That, to render such an intercourse advantageous, the neces- sity of competent knowledge of the interests, views, rela- tions, and systems of those potentates, is obvious. . . . That to answer those essential purposes the committee are of opinion that a fixed and permanent office for the Department of Foreign Affairs ought forthwith to be

1 The Department of State, its History and Functions (1893), pp. 7, 15.


established as a remedy against the fluctuations, the delays, and indecision to which the present mode of managing our foreign affairs must be exposed." * The committee thereupon recommended that a Secretary of Foreign Affairs be appointed, and proceeded to set forth his duties. He was to keep an office, employ suitable clerks, and conduct the foreign correspondence of the government. It was provided that all his communica- tions were to be laid before Congress ; he was " to transmit abroad such communications, as Congress shall direct, to the ministers of these United States, and others at foreign courts, and in foreign countries ; the secretary shall have liberty to attend Congress, that he may be the better informed of the affairs of the United States, and have an opportunity of explaining his re- ports respecting his department."

While the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Con- federation possessed little of the independent action of the Secretary of State under the Constitution, he enjoyed one privilege not granted to the latter, to wit, the right of attending and taking part in the deliberations of Congress.

We learn from a report to Congress in 1782 that the entire force of the department consisted of the secre- tary, at a salary of $4,000 ; two assistant secretaries, at salaries of $800 and $700 respectively; and of one clerk at $500 ; making a total of four officials at a cost of $6,000.2 The first secretary was Robert R. Living- ston, a member of the celebrated Livingston family of New York which rendered such important service to the

1 2 Secret Journals of Congress, 580. 2 5 lb. 93.


country during and after the Revolution. He was a member of the committee which framed the Declaration of Independence, and was later the minister to France who negotiated the purchase of Louisiana. He was succeeded in 1783 by John Jay, whose services we shall have frequent occasion to consider in the succeeding chapters, one of the negotiators of two of the most important treaties of our country's history, and the first Chief Justice of the United States.

Some idea of the peculiar relation existing at that period between the Continental Congress, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and our ministers abroad, may be formed from the following extract from a report sub- mitted by the secretary to Congress in 1782 :

" Dr. Franklin has a part of Mr. Chamont's house at Passy ; he keeps a chariot and pair, and three or four servants, and gives a dinner occasionally to the Ameri- cans and others. His whole expense, as far as I can learn, is very much within his income. Mr. Adams lives in lodgings ; keeps a chariot and pair, and two menservants. He has hitherto retained a private sec- retary, who will, in the absence of Mr. Dana, it is pre- sumed, be paid by Congress. I have lately heard that Mr. Adams was about to take a house. Mr. Dana's salary, even if he should assume a public character in a country where the relative value of money is so high, that, if I am well informed, an elegant house may be hired for fifteen guineas a year, is very ample. Of Mr. Jay's manner of living, I have been able to give no account, but I should conclude from the price of the necessaries of life in that part of Spain in which he


lives, from the port the court and the people about it maintains, and above all, from its sitting in different parts of the kingdom, that to live in the same style with Dr. Franklin, his expenses must amount to nearly the double of theirs. But as every conjecture of this kind must be very uncertain, all I can do is to lay before Congress the relative expense, as far as I can learn it, between the different places at which the ministers reside, taking Philadelphia for a standard. Paris, if wine, clothing, and wages of servants are included, is about twenty per cent, cheaper than Philadelphia; Amsterdam, ten ; and at Madrid the expenses of a family are some- what higher than at this place. But from the unsettled state of those who follow the court, their traveling equipage and charges must greatly enhance this expense. Congress will make their own deductions from these facts, after allowing for their inaccuracy." *

It may be said to the credit of the Congress, that though it concerned itself with these petty details, it made liberal allowances to its diplomatic representatives abroad, considering the poverty of its treasury and the large demands upon it for the conduct of the war. The annual allowances to Dr. Franklin and Messrs. Adams and Jay were over $11,000 each a more liberal sum than is granted to our representatives at those capitals to-day, if the relative cost of living is taken into con- sideration.

The Declaration of Independence was not only a challenge to Great Britain ; it was the assertion by the colonies of their right to an independent place among

1 3 Secret Journals, 128.


the nations of the earth, and an appeal to the nations to recognize the justice of that claim. It opened up to Congress a new duty, and another field of effort besides the contest of arms in which the Colonies had engaged with the mother country the new relation which they were to sustain towards the governments of Europe. Two views of our foreign intercourse were entertained : the one, that we should not send ministers to foreign courts until some assurance was obtained that they would be received ; and the other, that for the attain- ment of our independence we should seek good relations, if not alliances, with the nations unfriendly to England. These opposing views were well expressed in Congress by Franklin and Adams. Said Franklin : " A virgin state should preserve the virgin character, and not go abroad suitoring for alliances ; but wait with decent dignity for the application of others." " I think," said John Adams, " we have not meanly solicited for friend- ships anywhere. But to send ministers to any great court in Europe, especially the maritime courts, to pro- pose an acknowledgment of the independence of America and treaties of amity and commerce, is no more than becomes us, and in my opinion is our duty to do." 1 The latter view so harmonized with the necessities of the situation that it was readily adopted by Congress.

The first representative sent abroad went in strange contrast with our diplomats of later days. Information had been received through friends of Dr. Franklin that France was inclined to render the cause aid in a surrep- titious manner, but that it could not appear publicly as

1 Trescot's Diplomacy of the Revolution, 16, 17.


our friend. Congress thereupon decided to send to Paris an authorized agent. Silas Deane, a member of that body from Connecticut, has the distinction of being the first named American diplomat. His mission was to ascertain the disposition of the French government, and to obtain much needed material and supplies for the army. His letter of instructions, prepared by the Committee on Secret Correspondence, is an interesting document. It is dated March 3, 1776, and bears the distinguished signatures of Franklin, Benjamin Harri- son, Dickinson, Robert Morris, and John Jay. It sets forth the character he is to assume, of a merchant eno^ed in the West Indian trade, furnishes him the names of various friends of America he is to put him- self in contact with, describes the military supplies most needed, how he is to conduct himself towards the French government if he can secure audience with Count de Vergennes, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and does not omit such details as to how he can secure the best " opportunity of acquiring Parisian French." *

A curious statement as to the knowledge possessed by the American envoys in Europe of the language and methods of diplomacy is found in a letter of John Adams three years later. In transmitting his accounts to the Treasury Board, he says : " I found myself in France ill-versed in the language, the literature, the science, the laws, customs, and manners of that country, and had the mortification to find my colleagues very little better informed than myself, vain as this may seem." He thereupon incloses an account for " a large

1 2 Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Whar- ton's edition, 78.


collection of books . . . calculated to qualify one for conversation and for business, especially the science of negotiation." * Mr. Deane is said to have acquired a sufficient knowledge of French for conversation only. Dr. Franklin spoke the language imperfectly, and was able " to write bad French."

Deane's departure from the United States was made secretly ; he traveled under the assumed name of " Timo- thy Jones " and in the character of a merchant, and, it is said, carried with him a supply of invisible ink with which to write his reports. His presence and real char- acter were soon discovered by the vigilant British am- bassador, and his expulsion from France was demanded, but refused.

He reached France in the summer of 1776, and found the cause of the Revolution in a fair way to receive very substantial aid. Dr. Duborg, the friend and cor- respondent of Franklin, had been untiring in his efforts, and had secured from the royal arsenals, in a mysterious way, some fifteen thousand stand of arms, and could have obtained brass cannon by the same method, he writes, but " for the circumstance of their bearing the king's arms and cipher, which made them too discover- able."

Among the most important of the early friends of the colonies was Caron de Beaumarchais, an excep- tionally unique and fantastic character of the last half of the eighteenth century. He was of lowly origin, by occupation a watchmaker ; he developed great talents in business and purchased an office which gave him a certain standing with the nobility ; in early years he

1 lb. 327.


showed marked taste for music, which was cultivated in his education, and he became one of the first operatic composers and authors of his day ; his personal beauty and grace of manner won him a favorable marriage, but the early and sudden death of his wife raised against him the charge of poisoning, which he refuted, only to be renewed on his second marriage with a rich widow and her early demise. He was a daring speculator and at various periods was the possessor of a fortune ; his musical talent, his reputation as an author, his boldness of character and chivalrous address made him a great favorite in the court and political circles of Louis XV. and Louis XVI. At the outbreak of the Revolution he conceived the design of becoming the secret agent of the French government in furnishing material aid to the revolted colonies of the traditional enemy of France. He made journeys to London, where he met Arthur Lee, of Virginia, a young barrister, who had succeeded Franklin as agent for the colony of Massachusetts, and had enlisted Lee in his scheme. How far he had pro- gressed with the French government may in part be seen by the following letter of Count de Vergennes, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, addressed to the king, with the early date of May 2, 1776, two months before the arrival of Deane, which also illustrates the view which the French government entertained of its duty as a neutral :

" Sire : I have the honor of laying at the feet of your Majesty the writing authorizing me to furnish a million of livres for the service of the English colonies. I add also the plan of an answer I propose to make to



the Sieur Beaumarchais. I solicit your approbation to the two propositions. The answer to M. de Beaumar- chais will not be written in my hand, nor even that of either the clerks or secretaries of my office. I shall employ for that purpose my son, whose handwriting cannot be known. He is only fifteen years old, but I can answer in the most positive manner for his dis- cretion. As it is important that this operation should not be suspected, or at least imputed to the govern- ment, I entreat Your Majesty to allow me to direct the return of the Sieur Montaudoin to Paris. The apparent pretext for that proceeding will be to obtain from him an account of his correspondence with the Americans, though in reality it will be for the purpose of employing him to transmit to them such funds as Your Majesty chooses to appropriate to their benefit, directing him, at the same time, to take all necessary precautions, as if, indeed, the Sieur Montaudoin made the advance on his own account. On this head, I take the liberty of requesting the orders of Your Majesty. Having ob- tained them, I shall write to the Marquis de Grimaldi [Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs], inform him in detail of our proceedings, and request his cooperation to the same extent." 1

Immediately after Deane's arrival in Paris, he came into relations with Beaumarchais, and the relief by way of war materials to the American army was greatly accelerated. In September, 1776, Deane wrote to Robert Morris, " I shall send you in October clothing for 20,000 men, 30,000 muskets, 100 tons gunpowder,

1 2 Dip. Cor. Rev. (Wharton) 89.


200 brass cannon, 24 mortars, with shot, shell, etc., in proportion." x And in November he obtained credit to the amount of $2,500,000. Meanwhile the scheme of Beaumarchais had taken definite shape. Ever since the revolution of the British Colonies had assumed an organized existence he had been active with his facile pen, and had labored by his personal interviews to bring the French government to the support of the Colonies. He first enlisted Vergennes in his scheme, and French historians of the period give him credit for finally win- ning the approval of the king to the rebel cause and to the plan which his fertile brain had devised. In a memorial to Louis XVI. as early as February, 1776, he wrote : " If it be replied that we cannot assist the Americans without wounding England and without drawing upon us the storm which I wish to keep off, I reply that this danger will not be incurred if the plan I have so many times proposed be followed that of secretly assisting the Americans without compromising ourselves. ... If Your Majesty has not at hand a more clever man to employ in the matter, I undertake and answer for its execution without any one being compromised, persuaded that my zeal will supply my want of talent better than the talent of another man could replace my zeal." 2

The king having finally approved the scheme, it was agreed with Count de Vergennes that Beaumarchais should establish a mercantile house under the fictitious style of " Roderique Hortalez et Cie," whose business

1 2 Dip. Cor. Rev. (Wharton) 148.

2 3 Lome'iiie's Beaumarchais and His Times, 122.


it would be to " sell " to the Colonies the military sup- plies which France could not, without incurring