|Dear Sir||Paris Feb. 7. 1786|
I am honored with yours of Jan. 19. mine of Jan. 12. had not I suppose at that time got to your hands as the receipt of it is unacknoleged. I shall be anxious till I receive your answer to it.
I was perfectly satisfied, before I received your letter, that your
misrepresented or misunderstood or
misrepresented in the case of the Chevalier de Mezieres. your letter however will enable
me to say so with authority. it is proper it should be known that you had not given the
opinion imputed to you, tho’ as to the main question it is become useless, Monsieur de
Reyneval having assured me that what I had written on that subject had perfectly
satisfied the Ct. de Vergennes & himself that this
case could never come under the treaty. to evince still further the impropriety of
taking up subjects gravely on such imperfect information as this court had, I have this
moment received a copy of an act of the Georgia assembly placing the subjects of France
as to real estates on the footing of natural citizens & expressly recognizing
the treaty. would you think any thing could be added after this to put this question
still further out of doors? a gentleman of Georgia assures me General Oglethorpe did not
own a foot of land in the state—I do not know whether there has been any American
determination on the question whether American citizens & British subjects born
before the revolution can be aliens to one another? I know there is an opinion of Ld Coke’s in Calvin’s case that if England & Scotland
should in a course of descent pass to separate kings, those born under the same
sovereign during the union would remain natural subjects & not aliens. common
sense urges strong considerations against this. e. g. natural subjects owe allegiance.
but we owe none.—aliens are the subjects of foreign power we are subjects
of a foreign power.—the king by the treaty acknoleges our independance; how then can we
remain natural subjects.—the king’s power is by the constitution competent to the making
peace, war & treaties. he had therefore authority to relinquish our allegiance
by treaty.—but if an act of parliament had been necessary, the parliament passed an act
to confirm the treaty. &c &c. so that it appears to me that in this
question fictions of law alone are opposed to sound sense.
I am in hopes Congress will send a minister to Lisbon. I know no country with which we are likely to cultivate a more useful commerce. I have pressed this in my private letters.
It is difficult to learn any thing certain here about the French & English treaty. yet, in general, little is expected to be done between them. I am glad to hear that the Delegates of Virginia had made the vote relative to English commerce, tho they afterwards repealed it. I hope they will come to again. when my last letters came away they were engaged in passing the revisal of their laws, with some small alterations. the bearer of this, mr[expansion sign] Lyons, is a sensible worthy young physician, son of one of our Judges, and on his return to Virginia, remember me with affection to mrs[expansion sign] & miss Adams, Colos. Smith & Humphreys and be assured of the esteem with which I am Dr. Sir / Your friend & servant