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Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce

9 Jul. 1785

A Treaty of Amity & Commerce between his Majesty the K. of Prussia & the United–States of America.

His Majesty the K. of Prussia & the United States of America, desiring to fix in a permanent \& equitable/ manner the rules to be observed in the intercourse & Commerce they desire to establish betwn. their respective Countries, his Majesty & the United–States have judged that the said end cannot be better obtained than by taking the most perfect equallity and reciprocity for the basis of their agreements.—

With this view his Majesty the K. of Prussia has nominated & constituted as his Plenipotentiary the Baron Frederick William de Thulemeier his Privy Counsellor of Embassy, & Envoy Extraordinary with their H: Mightinesses, the States–General of the United Netherlands; and the United–states have, on their part, given full powers to John Adams Esqr:, late one of their Ministers Plenipotentiary for negotiating a Peace, heretofore a delegate in Congress from the State of Massachusetts and Chief Justice of the same, and now Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States with his Britannic Majesty—Doctor Benja: Franklin late Minister Plenipotentiary at the Count of Versailles, and an other of their Ministers Plenipotentiary for negotiating a Peace—and Thomas Jefferson, heretofore a Delegate in Congress from the State of Virginia & Governor of the said State, and now Minister Plenipotentiary of the United–States at the Court of his most Christian Majesty, which respective Plenipotentiaries, after having exchanged their full powers, and on mature deliberation, have concluded, settled & signed the followg: articles—

Article. 1st:

There shall be a firm, inviolable and universal Peace & sincere friendship between his Majesty, the King of Prussia, his heirs, successors & subjects, on the one part and the United–States of America and their Citizens on the other, without exception of persons or places.—

Article. 2d.

The subjects of his Majesty, the K. of Prussia, may frequent all the Coasts & Countries of the U:S: of America, and reside & trade there in all sorts of produce, manufactures & mercha: and shall pay within the sd. U:S: no other or greater duties, charges or fees whatsoever than the most favored nations are or shall be obliged to pay: and they shall enjoy all the rights, priviledges & exemptions in Navigation & commerce wh: the most favored nation does or shall enjoy; submitting themselves, nevertheless, to the laws & usages there established, & to wh: are submitted the Citizens of the U:S: and the Citizens & subjects of the most favored Nations.

Article. 3d.

In like manner, the Citizens of the United–States of America may frequent all the Coast & Countries of his Majesty, the King of Prussia, and reside & trade there in all sorts of produce, manufactures and Merchandize, and shall pay in the dominions of his said Majesty no other or greater duties, charges or fees whatsoever than the most favor’d nation is, or shall be obliged to pay: & they shall enjoy all the privileges, rights & exemptions in Navigation & Commerce, wh: the most favor’d nation does or shall enjoy—submitting themselves nevertheless to y[thorn sign]e: laws & usages there establish’d & to wh: are submitted y[thorn sign]e. subjects of his Majesty, the K. of Prussia, and the Subjects & Citizens of the most favored nations.—

Article. 4th.

More especially, each party shall have a right to carry their own produce, manufactures & merchandise in their own or any other vessels to any parts of the dominions of the other, where it shall be lawfull for all the Subjects or Citizens of that other freely to purchace them; and thence to take the produce, manufactures & merchandize of the other, wh: all the sd. Citizens or Subjects shall in like manner be free to sell them; paying in both cases such duties, charges & fees only as are or shall be paid by the most favor’d nation. Nevertheless, the King of Prussia and the United-States of America, & each of them, reserve to themselves the right, where any nation restrains the transportation of merchandize to the vessells of the Country of which it is the growth or manufacture, to establish against such nation retaliating regulations; and also the right to prohibit in their respective Countries the importation & exportation of all merchandise whatsoever, when reasons of State shall require it—In this case, the Subjects or Citizens of either of the contracting parties shall not import or export the merchandise prohibited by the other; but if one of the contracting parties permits any other nation to import or export the same merchandize the Citizens or Subjects of the other shall immediately enjoy the same liberty.—

Article. 5th.

The Merchants, Commanders of Vessels or other Subjects or Citizens of either party shall not, within the ports or jurisdiction of the other, be forced to unload any sort of Merchandise into any other vessells, nor to receive them into their own, nor to wait for thier being loaded longer than they please.—

Article. 6th..

That the vessells of either party, loading within the ports or jurisdiction of the other may not be uselessly harrassed or detained, it is agreed that all examinations of Goods, required by the laws, shall be made before they are laden on board the vessell, & that there shall be no examination after; Nor shall the vessell be searched at any time unless Articles shall have laden therein, clandestinely & illegally: in which case the person, by whose order they were carried on board, or who carried them without order, shall be liable to the laws of the land where he is; but no other person shall be molested, nor shall any other Goods nor the vessell be seized or detained for that Cause.—

Article. 7th.

Each Party shall endeavour, by all the means in their power, to protect and defend all vessells and other effects belonging to the Citizens or Subjects of the other, which shall be within the extent of their jurisdiction by sea or land, & shall use all their efforts to recover & cause to be restored to the right Owners their Vessells, & Effects which shall be taken from them within the extent of their said Jurisdiction.—

Article. 8th.

The vessells of the Subjects or Citizens of either party, coming on any Coast belonging to the other, but not willing to enter into port, or being entered into port and not willing to unload their Cargoes, or break bulk, shall have liberty to depart and to pursue their voyage without molestation & without being obliged to render accompt of their Cargoes, or to pay any duties, charges, or fees whatsoever, except those establish’d for vessells entering into port & appropriated for the maintenance of the Port itself, or of other establishments for the safety & convenience of Navigators, which duties, charges, & fees shall be the same, & shall be paid on the same footing as in the case of Subjects or Citizens of the Country where they are established.—

Article. 9th.

When any vessell of either party shall be wreck’d, founder’d, or otherwise damaged on the Coasts or within the dominions of the other, their respective Subjects or Citizens shall receive, as well for themselves as for their vessells & Effects the same assistance which be would be due to the Inhabitants of the Country where the damage happens, and shall pay the same charges and dues only as the said Inhabitants would be subject to pay in a like case: and of the operations of repair shall require that the whole or \any/ part of the Cargo be unloaded, they shall pay no duties, charges, or fees on the part wh: they shall relade & carry away—The antient & barbarous rights to wrecks of the Sea shall be entirely abolished with respect to y[thorn sign]e: Subjects or Citizens of the two contractg: Parties.—

Article. 10th.

The Citizens or Subjects of each party shall have power to dispose of their personal Goods within the jurisdiction of the other, by testament, donation or otherwise, and their Representatives, being Subjects or Citizens of the other party, shall succeed to their said personal Goods, whether by testament or ab intestato, and may take possession thereof either by themselves, or by others acting for them & dispose of the same at their will, paying such dues only as the Inhabitants of the Country, where in the sd. Goods are, shall be subject to pay in like cases: And, in case of the absence of the Representative, such care shall be taken of the sd. Goods, & for so long a time, as wd. be taken of the Goods of a Native in like case, untill the Lawful owner may take measures for receiving them. And if question shall rise among several Claimants to wh.of them the sd. Goods belong, the same shall be decided finally by the laws & judges of the land wherein the sd. Goods are: And, where, on the death of any person holding real-estate within the territories of the one party, such real estate wd. by the laws of the land descend on a Citizen or Subject of the other, were he not disqualified by alienage, such subject shall be allowed a reasonable time to sell the same and to withdraw the proceeds without molestation & exempt from all kind of detraction on the part of the Government of the respective States. But this article shall not derogate, in any manner, from the force of the laws already published, or heretofore to be published by his Majesty, the K. of Prussia to prevent the emigration of his Subjects.—

Article. 11th.

The most perfect freedom of Conscience & worship is granted to the Citizens or Subjects of either party within the jurisdiction of the other, without being liable to molestation in that respect for any cause, other than an insult on the religion of others. Moreover, when the Subjects, or Citizens of the one party shall die within the jurisdiction of the other, their bodies shall be buried in the usual burying Grounds, or other decent & suitable places, and shall be protected from violation or disturbance.—

Article. 12th.

If one of the contracting Parties shd. be engaged in a war with any other power, the free intercourse & commerce of the Subjects or Citizens of the party remaining neuter with the belligerent Powers shall not be interrupted: On the contrary, in that case as in full peace, the vessells of the neutral party may navigate freely to & from the ports & on the Coasts of the belligerent Parties, free vessells making free Goods; insomuch that all things shall be adjudged free wh. shall be on board a free vessell, belonging to the neutral Party, altho’ such things belong to an Enemy of the other: And the same freedom shall be extended to persons who shall be on board a free vessell, altho’ they should be enemies to the other party—unless they be Soldiers, in actual service of such Enemy.—

Article. 13th.

And, in the same case of one of the contracting parties being engaged in war with any other power, to prevent all the difficulties & misunderstandings that usually arise respecting the merchandise heretofore called Contrabande, such as Armes, Ammunition & Military Stores of any kind, no such articles, carried in the vessells or by the Subjects or Citizens of one of the parties to the enemies of the other, shall be deemed Contraband so as to induce Confiscation or Condemnation & a loss of Property to Individuals: Nevertheless, it shall be lawful to stop such vessels & Articles, & to detain them for such length of time as the Captors may think necessary to prevent the inconvenience or damage that might ensue from their proceeding; paying, however, a reasonable Compensation for the loss such Arrest shall occasion to the Proprietors: And it shall further be allowed to use in the service of the Captors the whole or any part of the military Stores so detained, paying the owners the full value of the same—to be ascertained by the current price at the place of its destination. But, in the case supposed of a vessell stopped for articles heretofore deemed contraband, if the Master of the vessell stopped will deliever out the Goods, supposed to be of contraband nature, he shall be admitted to do it, & the vessell shall not in that case be carrd. into any port, nor further detained, but shall be allow’d to proceed on her Voyage.

Article. 14th.

And in the same case where one of the parties is engaged in a war with another power, that the vessells of the neutral party may be readily & certainly known, it is agreed that they shall be provided with Sea-letters or Passports, which shall express the name, property & burthen of the Vessell, as also the name & dwelling of the Master; [whis] Passports shall be made out in good & due form, (to be settled by Conventions between the parties whenever occasion shall require) shall be renewed as often as the vessell shall return into port, and shall be exhibited whensoever required, as well in the open Sea as in port—But, if the sd. vessell be under Convoy of one or more vessells of war, belonging to the neutral party, the simple declaration of the Officer, commanding the Convoy, belongs to y[thorn sign]e: party of wh: he is, shall be considered as establishing the fact & shall relieve both parties from the trouble of further examination.—

Article. 15th.

And, to prevent entirely all disorder and violence in such cases, it is stipulated, that when the vessells of the neutral party, sailing without convoy, shall be met by any vessell of war, public or private, of the other party, such vessell of war shall not approach within Cannon shot of \said /the neutral vessell, nor send more than two or three men, in their boat on board the same, to examine her Sea-letters or passports: And all persons, belonging to any Vessell of war, publick or private, who shall molest, or injure in any manner whatever, the people, Vessel or effects of the other party, shall be responsible in their persons and property, for damages and interest, sufficient security for which shall be given by all Commanders of private armed Vessells, before they are commissioned.—

Article. 16th.

It is agreed, that the Subjects or Citizens of each of the contracting parties, their vessells and effects shall not be liable to any Embargo or detention on the part of the other for any military expedition, or other public or private purpose whatsoever—And in all cases of seizure, detention or arrest for debts contracted or offenses committed by any Citizen or Subject of the one party, within the jurisdiction of the other, the same shall be made & prosecuted by order & authority of law only, & accordg. to the regular course of proceedings usual in such Cases.—

Article. 17th.

If any vessell or effects of the neutral power be taken by an enemy of the other, or by a Pirate, and retaken by that other, they shall be brought into some port of one of the parties and delivered into the custody of the Officers of that port, in order to be restored entire to the true proprietor, as soon as due proof shall be made concerning the property thereof.

Article. 18th.

If the Citizens or Subjects of either party, in danger from tempests, Pirates, Ennemies, or other accident, shall take refuge with their vessells or effects, within the harbors or jurisdiction of the other, they shall be received, protected and treated with humanity and kindness, and shall be permitted to furnish themselves, at reasonable prices, with all refreshments, provisions and other things necessary for their sustenance, health and accommodation, and for the repair of their vessells.—

Article. 19th.

The vessells of war, public and private, of both parties, shall carry freely, wheresoever they please, the vessells and effects taken from their enemies, without being obliged to pay any duties, charges, or fees to Officers of Admiralty, of the Customs or any others: Nor shall such prises be arrested, searched, or put under legal process when they come to or enter the ports of the other party; but may freely be carried out again, at any time, by their Captors, to the places expressed in their Commissions, which the Commanding Officer of such vessells shall be obliged to shew. But no vessell which shall have made Prises on the Subjects of His most Christian Majesty, the King of France, shall have a right of Assylum in the Ports or Havens of the said United-States; and if any such vessell be forced therein, by tempest or danger of the Sea, they shall be obliged to depart as soon as possible, accordg: to the tenor of the treaties existing betwn: his sd. Most Christian Majesty & the sd. United-States.—

Article. 20th.

No Citizen or Subject of either of the contracting Parties shall take, from any Power, with which the other may be at war, any Commission or Letter of Marque for arming any vessell to act as a Privateer against the other, on pain of being punished as a Pirate: nor shall either party hire, lend or give any part of their naval or military force to the Enemy of the other, to aid them offensively or defensively against that other.—

Article. 21st.

If the two contracting Parties should be engaged in war against a common enemy, the followg: points shall be observed between them. 1st. If a vessell of one of the parties, retaken by a privateer of the other, shall not have been in possession of the ennemy more than 24. hours, she shall be restored to the first owner, for one third of the value of the vessell & Cargo: But, if she shall have been more than 24. hours in the possession of the ennemy, she shall belong wholly to the Re-captors. 2nd. If in the same case the recapture were by a public vessell of war of the one party, restitution shall be made to the Owner for one thirtieth part of the value of the vessell & Cargo, if she shall not have been in possession of the Enemy more that twenty-four hours, and one tenth of the sd. value where she shall have been longer; which Sums shall be distributed in gratuities to the Recaptors—3rd. The restitution in the Cases aforesaid shall be after due proof of property, and surety given for the part to which the Recaptors are entitled. 4th. The vessells of war, public and private, of the two Parties shall be reciprocally admitted, with their prizes, into the respective Ports of each; but these Prizes shall not be discharged nor sold there, untill their legality shall have been decided according to the laws & regulations of the State to which the Captor belongs, but by the Judicatures of the place into which the Prize shall have been conducted. 5th. It shall be free to each party to make such regulations as they shall judge necessary for the conduct of their respective vessells of war, publick & private, relative to the Vessells which they shall take and carry into the Ports of the two Parties.—

Article. 22d.

Where the Parties shall have a common Ennemy, or shall both be neutral, the vessells of war of each shall, upon all occasions, take under their protection the vessells of the other, going the same course, and shall defend such vessells, as long as they hold the same course, against all force & violence, in the same manner as they ought to protect & defend vessells belonging to the Party of which they are.

Article. 23d.

If war should arise between the two contracting Parties, the merchants of either Country, then residing in the other, shall be allowed to remain nine months to collect their debts and settle their affairs; and may depart freely, carrying off all their effects without molestation or hindrance: And all Women and Children—Scholars of every faculty, Cultivateurs of the earth, Artizans, Manufacturers, and fishermen, unarmed and inhabiting unfortified towns, villages or places, & in general all others, whose occupations are for the common subsistance and benefit of mankind, shall be allowed to continue their respective employments and shall not be molested in their persons, nor shall their houses or goods be burnt or otherwise destroyed, nor their fields wasted by the armed force of the enemy, into whose power, by the events of war, they may happen to fall: but, if any thing is necessary to be taken from them, for the use of such armed force, the same shall be paid for at a reasonable price—And all merchant & trading vessells employed in exchanging the products of different places, and thereby rendering the necessaries, conveniences and comforts of life more easy to be obtained and more general, shall pass free and unmolested.—And neither of the contracting Parties shall grant or issue any Commission to any private armed vessells, empowering them to take or destroy such trading vessells or interrupt such Commerce.—

Article. 24th.

And to prevent the destruction of Prisoners of war, by sending them into distant & inclement Countries, or by crowding them into close and noxious places, the two contracting Parties solem\n/ly pledge themselves to each other & to the world that they will not adopt any such practice; they neither will send the Prisoners, whom they may take from the other, into the East-Indies or any other part of Asia or Africa; but that they shall be placed in some part of their dominions in Europe or America, in wholesome situations; that they shall not be confined in dungeons, prisonships or Prisons, nor be put into irons, nor bound nor otherwise restrained in the use of their limbs; that the Officers shall be enlarged upon their paroles within convenient districts, and have comfortable quarters; and the common men be disposed in Cantonments, open and extensive enough for air and exercise, and lodged in Barracks, as roomly and good as are provided by the Party, in whose power they are, for their own troops; That the Officers shall be daily furnished, by the party in whose power they are, with as many rations, and of the same articles and quality as allowed by them, either in kind or by commutation, to Officers of equal rank in their own Army, and all others shall be daily furnished by them with such rations as they shall allow to a common Soldier in their own service; the value whereof shall be paid by the other party, on a mutual adjustment of Acco’ts: for the subsistance of Prisoners, at the close of the war; And the said Accompts shall not be mingled with or set off against any others, nor the ballances due on them be witheld as a satisfaction or reprisal for any other article, or for any other cause, real or pretended whatever: That each party shall be allowed to keep a Commissary of Prisoners of their own appointment with every seperate Cantonment of Prisoners, in the possession of the other; which Commissary shall see the Prisoners as often as he pleases, shall be allowed to receive and distribute whatever Comforts may be sent to them by their friends, and shall be free to make his reports, in open letters, to those who employ him: But if any Officer shall break his parole or any other prisoner shall escape from the limits of his Cantonment, after they shall \have/ been designated to him, such individual Officer or other Prisoner shall forfeit so much of the benefit of this article, as provides for his enlargement on parole or Cantonment. And it is declared, that neither the pretence that war dissolves all treaties, nor any other whatever, shall be considered as annulling or suspending this and the next preceding article; but, on the contrary, that the state of war is precisely that for which they are provided, and during which they are to be as sacredly observed, as the most acknowledged articles in the law of Nature and Nations.—

Article. 25th.

The two contracting Parties grant to each other the liberty of having, each in the Ports of each other, Consuls, Vice-Consuls, Agents and Commissaries of their own appointment, whose [sanctions] shall be regulated by particular agreement, whenever either Party shall chuse to make such appointment: But if any such Consuls shall exercise Commerce they shall be submitted to the same laws and usages to which the private individuals of their nation are submitted, in the same place.—

Article. 26th.

If either party shall hereafter grant to any other nation any particular favor in navigation or Commerce, it shall immediately become common to the other party, freely where it is freely granted to such other nation, or on yielding the Compensation where such nation does the same.—

Article. 27th.

His Majesty the K. of Prussia and the United-States of America agree that the present treaty shall be in full force during the term of 10. years fm. the exchange of Ratifications, and if the expiration of that term should happen during the course of a war between them, then the Articles, before provided, for the regulation of their Conduct during such a war, shall continue in force untill the conclusion of the Treaty, which shall re-establish peace: and that this treaty shall be ratified on both sides, & the ratifications exchanged within one year fm. the day of its signatures.—

In testimony whereof the Plenipotentiaries, beforementioned, have hereto subscribed their names & affixed their Seals at the places of their respective residence, & at the dates expresed under their several Signatures.—

Thomas Jefferson.

Benjamin Franklin.

John Adams.

(MHi: Adams Papers).
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