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Events of 1779 continued-Proceedings of Congress-Ultimatum of Negotiations for Peace.-Instructions to the Ministers at foreign Courts.Mr. Jay appointed Minister to Spain. Mr. Adams to negociate a peace with Great Britain-Further emission of Bills of Credit.-Lieutenant Colonel Talbot made a Captain in the Navy-Gold Medal presented to Major Lee.Mr. Huntington elected President.-Convention Troops ordered to be fed with Indian Corn-Chevalier de la Luzerne presents his Credentials to Congress, and is received as Minister from France-Regulation of prices.-Loans from Spain and Holland Communication from the French Minister.—Cruize of Captain Paul Jones.-Action between the Bon Homme Richard, and Serapis.--The Countess of Scarborough surrenders to the Pallas. Jones enters the Texel--Remonstrance of the British Ambassadour, and reply of their High Mightinesses, the States General.
BEFORE We proceed to relate the further operations of the two armies, it will be proper to look at the measures pursued by Congress, in consequence of the late conference held with Monsieur Gerard. Having agreed upon the demands which should be made in their negotiation for peace, Congress on the 14th of August, wrote to their Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of France, in the following terms. "Having determined, that we would not insist on a direct acknowledgment by Great Britain of our rights in the fisheries, this important matter is liable to an incertitude, which may be dangerous to the political and commercial interests of the United States, we have therefore agreed and resolved, that the common right of fishing shall in no case be given up; and that if
after a treaty of peace with Great Britain, she shall molest the citizens or inhabitants of the United States, in taking fish on the Banks of Newfoundland and other fisheries of the American seas, any where excepting within the distance of three leagues of the shore of the territories remaining to Great Britain at the close of the war, such molestations, being in the opinion of Congress a direct violation and breach of the peace, shall be a common cause of the said States, and the force of the Union be exerted to obtain redress for the parties injured. But notwithstanding these precautions, as Great Britain may again light up the flames of war, and use our exercise of the fisheries as her pretext; and since some doubts may arise whether this object is so effectually guarded by the treaty of alliance with his most Christian Majesty, that any molestation therein on the part of Great Britain is to be considered as a casus fœderis, you are to endeavour to obtain of his Majesty an explanation on that subject, upon the principle, that, notwithstanding the high confidence reposed in his wisdom and justice, yet considering the uncertainty of human affairs and how doubts may be afterwards raised in the breasts of his royal successors, the great importance of the fisheries renders the citizens of these states very solicitous to obtain his Majesty's sense with relation to them, as the best security against the ambition of the British Court. For this purpose you shall propose the following articles, in which, nevertheless, such alterations may be made, as the circumstances and situation of affairs shall render convenient and proper. Should the same be agreed to and executed, you are immediately to transmit a copy thereof to our Minister at the Court of Spain.
Whereas by the treaty of alliance between the most Christian King and the United States of North America, the two parties guaranty mutually from that time and forever, against all other powers, to wit, the United States to his most Christian Majesty the possession then appertaining to the Crown of France in America, as well as those which it may acquire by a future treaty of peace; and his most Christian Majesty guaranties on his part to the United States, all their liberty, sovereignty and independence, absolute and unlimited, as well in matters of government as commerce, and also their possessions and the additions or conquests that their confederation may obtain during the war, according to the said treaty. And whereas the said parties did further agree and declare that in case of a rupture between France and England, the said reciprocal guarantee should have its full force and effect the moment such a war should break out :-And whereas doubts may hereafter arise how far the said guarantee extends to the case, to wit, that should Great Britain molest or disturb the subjects or inhabitants of France, or the said States, in taking fish on the Banks of Newfoundland, and other of the fishing banks and seas of North America, formerly and usually frequented by the subjects and inhabitants respectively :-And whereas the said King and the United States have thought proper to determine with precision the true interest and meaning of the said guarantee in this respect, now therefore as a further demonstration of this natural good will and affection, it is hereby agreed, concluded and determined as follows, to wit, that if after the conclusion of the treaty or treaties which shall terminate the present war, Great Britain shall molest or disturb the subjects or
inhabitants of the United States, in taking fish on the banks, seas and places, formerly used and frequented by them, so as not to encroach on the territorial rights, which may remain to her after the termination of the present war as aforesaid, and war should thereupon break out between the United States and Great Britain or if Great Britain shall molest or disturb the subjects and inhabitants of France, in taking fish on the banks, seas and places formerly used and frequented by them, so as not to encroach on the territorial rights of Great Britain as aforesaid, and war should thereupon break out between France and Great Britain; in either of these cases of war as aforesaid, his most Christian Majesty and the said United States shall make it a common cause, and aid each other mutually with their good offices, their councils, and their forces according to the exigence of conjunctures, as becomes good and faithful allies. Provided always that nothing herein contained shall be taken or understood, as contrary to or inconsistent with the true intent and meaning of the treaties already subsisting between his most Christian majesty and the said states, but the same shall be taken and understood, as explanatory of and conformable to those treaties."
The following were the instructions agreed upon to the Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain. "Congress have come to the following resolution, That if his · Catholic majesty shall accede to the treaties between France and the United States of America, and in the concurrence with them continue the present war with Great Britain for the purpose expressed in the treaties aforesaid, he shall not thereby be precluded from securing to himself the Floridas on the contrary, if he shall obtain the Floridas from Great Britain, these
United States will guaranty the same to his Catholic Majesty; provided always that the United States shall enjoy the free navigation of the river Mississippi into and from the sea. You are therefore to communicate to his most Christian Majesty, the desire of Congress to enter into a treaty of alliance, and of amity and commerce, with his Catholic Majesty, and to request his favourable interposition for that purpose; at the same time you are to make such proposals to his Catholic Majesty as in your judgment, from circumstauces, will be proper for obtaining for the United States of America, equal advantages with those which are secured to them by the treaties with his most Christian Majesty, observing always the resolution aforesaid as the ultimatum of these United States. You are particularly to endeavour to obtain some convenient port or ports below the 31° of north latitude on the river Mississippi free for all merchants' vessels, goods, wares and merchandise belonging to the inhabitants of these states. The distressed state of our finances, and the great depreciation of our paper money, incline Congress to hope, that his Catholic Majesty, if he shall conclude a treaty with these states, will be induced to lend the money; you are therefore to present to him the great distress of these states on that account, and to solicit a loan of five millions of dollars upon the best terms in your power, not exceeding six per cent. per ann. effectually to enable them to cooperate with the allies against the common enemy: but before you make any proposals to his Catholic Majesty, for a loan, you are to endeavour to obtain a subsidy, in consideration of the guarantee aforesaid."