the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

2 the man most responsible for this rather

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2 The man most responsible for this rather extraordinary achievement was John Jay. In part, Jay’s influence was a function of chance and circumstance. Thomas Jefferson had declined the offer to serve on the American negotiating committee, citing the recent death of his wife. His replacement, Henry Laurens of South Carolina, was captured at sea and thrown into the Tower of London. John Adams was moving between Leyden, The Hague, and Amsterdam, trying to negotiate a loan from the notoriously tightfisted Dutch bankers. That left Jay and Benjamin Franklin to handle what Jay called “the skirmishing business.” And a flare-up of gout caused Franklin to delegate most of the backroom diplomacy to Jay. The most important meeting occurred on August 3, 1782, when Jay met with the Spanish minister, Count Aranda. It was diplomatically necessary to consult with Aranda because France was bound to Spain by treaty, and the American negotiators were under strict orders from the Confederation Congress “to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or truce without their [French] knowledge and concurrence.” As Jay and Aranda bent over a map of North America, Aranda drew a line from what is now Lake Erie, south through central Ohio, and down to the Florida panhandle, near modern-day Tallahassee. Everything east of that line, Orlando declared, belonged to the United States, and everything west belonged to Spain. Jay did not need to draw a line. He simply pointed his finger at the Mississippi River. 3 Jay immediately roused Franklin from his sickbed and declared that it had become clear that the long- term interest of America required that they disregard their instructions—he tossed his clay pipe into the fireplace for emphasis—and negotiate a separate treaty with Great Britain without any consultations with France. Franklin resisted, but Jay insisted. At stake was nothing less than the continental destiny of the American republic. Jay then proceeded to lead the American negotiations with the British delegation, making recognition of American independence and the Mississippi as the western border the two nonnegotiable items. 4 When Adams came down from Holland, Jay had already composed a first draft of the treaty. After meeting with Jay for several hours, Adams recorded his stunned sense of agreement with everything Jay had done. “Nothing has ever struck me more forcibly or affected me more instinctively,” Adams wrote in
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his diary, “than our entire coincidence of principles and opinions.” Adams was most pleased with Jay’s decision to bypass the French, despite the instructions from the Congress. “It is glorious to have broken such infamous orders,” Adams declared, “or so it will appear to all posterity.” Humility was not a natural act for Adams, but he went to his grave acknowledging that in the Paris peace negotiations, Jay was “of more importance than any of the rest of us, indeed of almost as much weight as all the rest of us together.” 5 Unlike Morris and Hamilton, Jay did not have to leap from impoverished oblivion to center stage.
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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