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new proposals by Mr. Adams, which granted to British subjects the right of collecting their debts by agency of the American courts, refused all indemnity to refugees, demanded liberal boundaries, and equal rights with Great Britain as to the fisheries. These Strachey conveyed to London, leaving behind him a note in which he predicted a failure of the negotiation, should they not be modified. The ministry was, however, in such a strait that peace was a necessity, and the ultimate granting of the demands made by the American commissioners, a light matter when compared with it. Hence Strachey returned to France with instructions to offer concessions regarding boundaries, to maintain the former position regarding the fisheries and refu. gees, until the determination of the American commissioners became evident, then to recede and accept their terms.
The fisheries question coming up, after some discussior, Strachey offered to concede the fishing at a distance of more than three leagues from the coast, as a privilege, but declined to yield it nearer the shore. Adams claimed the fisheries of the high seas as a right, that of the waters within the jurisdiction of Great Britain as a concession. The British commissioners made one more stand, avowing their readiness to yield the liberty but not the right of fishing. Adams answered in a bold, determined, vehement speech, saying that he had come to the conference to protect the rights of America to the fishery, and that he would accept no other expression in lieu thereof. This was a bold stand, for the commercial mission under which he originally went to France, had been revoked, and the matter of the fisheries was then not even held as an ultimatum by the United States. He turned to Lau. rens, who had joined the commission, for corroboration and support, which he received in liberal measure. Jay, though perhaps less warm in his approval, also acquiesced. The British commissioners, deeming that they had carried resistance as far as their instructions demanded, announced their willingness to accept the terms proposed, and, on the same day, the 29th of November, 1782, was signed the provisional treaty of peace. The victory was indeed a grand one. The negotiation of so favorable a peace by the inexperienced diplomatists of an infant nation, hampered by the weak. ness of their Congress, furtively opposed by the wily minister of France, dealing with a nation so arrogant and unbending as England—it was indeed an accomplishment excusing a measure of pride. No other man upon the commission did so much to literally and inflexibly support the demands of America as did Adams, and the maintenance of her boundaries and fisheries may justly be ascribed to him.
The preliminary treaty could, of course, only become effective when a peace should be concluded between the other belligerent powers and Eng. land. There had never been a thought, on the part of any one of the Amer. ican commission, of overlooking the obligation which bound them to make a common peace as they had made a common war with France. Yet Ver.
gennes was not free from suspicion that they might make such an attempt. When the result of the conference was first reported to him, he expressed his approval, and complimented the commissioners upon the skill and tact which had brought their labors to so happy an issue. Later, however, when Jay offered him the opportunity to send dispatches to America, in the vessel which was to bear the announcement of their own success, he appeared much discontented, and taxed them with being in great haste to communicate the result of their own work, without taking any pains to ascertain the condition of the French negotiation, so that their preliminary treaty might, in fact, have the same weight and effect as if it were definitive. He, however, accepted the offer of their vessel, and sent serious complaints regarding the conduct of the commissioners, particularly as related to the independent negotiation. This action on his part would have had much greater effect, had it been taken earlier. Coming with the news of the preliminary treaty, it lost half its force. It drew, however, from Livingston, secretary of Congress, a rebuke and admonition, which were ill-timed and undeserved. This action excited much indignation among the members of the commission, and was answered in an elaborate official statement of facts and arguments.
In spite of all misunderstandings and mistrust, delays, cavillings, and insincerity, France, Spain, and England at last settled upon terms of peace, and the definitive treaty, which formally admitted America to the family of nations, was signed on the 3d of September, 1783. With this act, Mr. Adams regarded his mission in Europe as completed. He had accomplished all he had sought, the alliance with Holland, the loan which released America from desperate straits, and the peace. Hence he applied for permission to return home. Congress and the people were, however, too well satisfied with what he had done in Europe, to consent to give up his services. He had, in certain private letters, expressed regret that the revocation of his former commission had left no one in Europe with power to negotiate a commercial treaty with England. This suggestion reached Congress, and, instead of his wished for permission to return to his home, he received notice of his appointment, in connection with Messrs. Franklin and Jay, for that service.
FURTHER FOREIGN SERVICE-THE VICE-PRESIDENCY.
DAMS was not at once permitted to assume his duties upon the new
commission for negotiation with Great Britain. The arduous labors of several successive years, and his long exposure to the miasmatic poison of the low countries, had combined to undermine his health; already he had passed through an attack of fever at the Hague, and now, having barely completed his peace mission in Paris, he was again prostrated. His illness was long and serious; in its course it was deemed necessary to remove him from his hotel, in the heart of Paris, to the quiet home of a friend, in the suburbs. There he gradually improved, until he reached convalescence; long rides and drives in the Bois de Boulogne, and the pleasant by-ways of Auteuil, brought slowly back a measure of his strength. Still he did not gain as fast as he should, and, under advice of his physicians, he sailed for England in October, 1783, made the journey with comfort, and was ensconced at the Adelphi hotel, in London. Through the intervention of his great and honored countryman, Benjamin West, he obtained access to Buckingham and Windsor palaces, and, by a strange coincidence, stood in the house of lords when the poor, veak oid king made his address, presenting to the house the Prince of Wales, that day attained majority, and at the same time confessing that the war which he had provoked, had brought only defeat, disaster, and humiliation.
Though the change of air and scene had proven beneficial to Mr. Adams, it was found that he still required something more, and he was recommended to try the effect of the waters at Bath. Hence, he left London and was just becoming domesticated in the gay English watering place, when came word that the American loan, negotiated with Holland, had been exhausted ; that the drafts of the American treasury upon the Barings had been protested for non-acceptance, and were in danger of being proested for non-payment. At the same time he received urgent directions to