John Adams

Special Message

February 18, 1799

Gentlemen of the Senate:

I transmit to you a document which seems to be intended to be a compliance with a condition mentioned at the conclusion of my message to Congress of the 21st of June last.

Always disposed and ready to embrace every plausible appearance of probability of preserving or restoring tranquillity, I nominate William Vans Murray, our minister resident at The Hague, to be minister plenipotentiary of the United States to the French Republic.

If the Senate shall advise and consent to his appointment, effectual care shall be taken in his instructions that he shall not go to France without direct and unequivocal assurances from the French Government, signified by their minister of foreign relations, that he shall be received in character, shall enjoy the privileges attached to his character by the law of nations, and that a minister of equal rank, title, and powers shall be appointed to treat with him, to discuss and conclude all controversies between the two Republics by a new treaty.



PARIS, the 7th Vendemiaire of the 7th Year of the French Republic, One and Indivisible.

The Minister of Exterior Relations to Citizen Pichon, Secretary of Legation of the French Republic near the Batavian Republic:

I have received successively, Citizen, your letters of the 22d and 27th Fructidor (8th and 13th September). They afford me more and more reason to be pleased with the measure you have adopted, to detail to me your conversations with Mr. Murray. These conversations, at first merely friendly, have acquired consistency by the sanction I have given to them by my letter of the 11th Fructidor. I do not regret that you have trusted to Mr. Murray's honor a copy of my letter. It was intended for you only, and contains nothing but what is conformable to the intentions of Government. I am thoroughly convinced that should explanations take place with confidence between the two Cabinets, irritation would cease, a crowd of misunderstandings would disappear, and the ties of friendship would be the more strongly united as each party would discover the hand which sought to disunite them. But I will not conceal from you that your letters of the 2d and 3d Vendemiaire, just received, surprised me much. What Mr. Murray is still dubious of has been very explicitly declared, even before the President's message to Congress of the 3d Messidor (21st June) last was known in France. I had written it to Mr. Gerry, namely, on the 24th Messidor and 4th Thermidor; I did repeat it to him before he sat out. A whole paragraph of my letter to you of the 11th Fructidor, of which Mr. Murray has a copy, is devoted to develop still more the fixed determination of the French Government. According to these bases, you were right to assert that whatever plenipotentiary the Government of the United States might send to France to put an end to the existing differences between the two countries would be undoubtedly received with the respect due to the representative of a free, independent, and powerful nation.

I can not persuade myself, Citizen, that the American Government need any further declarations from us to induce them, in order to renew the negotiations, to adopt such measures as would be suggested to them by their desire to bring the differences to a peaceable end. If misunderstandings on both sides have prevented former explanations from reaching that end, it is presumable that, those misunderstandings being done away, nothing henceforth will bring obstacles to the reciprocal dispositions. The President's instructions to his envoys at Paris, which I have only known by the copy given you by Mr. Murray, and received by me the 21st Messidor (9th July), announce, if they contain the whole of the American Government's intentions, dispositions which could only have added to those which the Directory has always entertained; and, notwithstanding the posterior acts of that Government, notwithstanding the irritating and almost hostile measures they have adopted, the Directory has manifested its perseverance in the sentiments which are deposited both in my correspondence with Mr. Gerry and in my letter to you of the 11th Fructidor, and which I have hereinbefore repeated in the most explicit manner. Carry, therefore, Citizen, to Mr. Murray those positive expressions in order to convince him of our sincerity, and prevail upon him to transmit them to his Government.

I presume, Citizen, that this letter will find you at The Hague; if not, I ask it may be sent back to you at Paris.

Salute and fraternity,


John Adams, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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