Securing American Independence: John Jay and the French Alliance

By Frank W. Brecher | Go to book overview

APPENDIX B

Secretary Livingston's Unsent Analysis of “The Present State of Europe” (December 1781)

Sir,

Presuming as well from the preamble of the resolutions for organizing the department of foreign affairs as from the nature of my appointment that I am not to consider myself as a mere executive officer through whom dispatches are to be forwarded, but that I am to digest such plans with respect to foreign negotiations as I conceive the United States interested in promoting, to submit them to the examination of Congress, to attend their debates, to collect their sentiments and make them the thematic rule of my conduct.

I take the liberty to submit to their examination what I conceive to be the present politics of the leading powers of Europe so far as they may be interested in our affairs, and from them I shall endeavor to draw such deductions as I conceive applicable to our present situation. As I feel the importance of the station in which Congress have done me the honor to place me, I shall not diminish its dignity by a language less free [than] I thought myself entitled to hold while I was honored with a seat in Congress….

As a peace [i.e., a negotiation for peace] will probably be made under the mediation of the Empire and Russia, it must necessarily take its completion from the views and interests of the mediators. The Emperor, not being a maritime power, can have no direct interest in our freedom or dependence except so far as it will alter the balance of power in Europe, and so far unfortunately he is directly engaged against us. The House of

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