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John Adams met him and judged him severely. In 1783 he was appointed a commissioner to sign the Definitive Treaty of Peace.
These things belong to history. Though perhaps not generally known, they are accessible. I have presented them for their intrinsic value and prophetic character, but also as the introduction to an unpublished letter from Hartley, which I received some time ago from an English friend, who has since been called away from important labors. The letter concerns emigration to our country, and the payment of the national debt. The following indorsement explains its character:
“Note. This is a copy of the material portion of a long letter from D. Hartley, the British Commissioner in Paris, to Lord Sydenham, January, 1785. The original was sold by C. Robinson, of 21 Bond Street, London, on the 6th April, 1859, at a sale of Hartley's MSS. and papers, chiefly relating to the United States of America. It was Hartley's copy; in his own hand.
“The lot was No. 82 in the sale catalogue. It was bought by J. R. Smith, the London bookseller, for £2 6s. Od. “I had a copy made before the sale.
“ Joseph Parkes. “ LONDON, 18 July, '59."
The letter is as follows:
“My LORD, - In your Lordship's last letter to me, just before my leaving Paris, you are pleased to say that any information which I might have been able to collect of a nature to promote the mutual and reciprocal interests of Great Britain and the United States of America would be extremely acceptable to his Majesty's government. .... Annexed to this letter I have the honor of transmitting to
your Lordship some papers and documents which I have received from the American ministers. One of them (No. 5) is a Map of the Continent of North America, in which the land ceded to them by the late treaty of peace is divided by parallels of latitude and longitude into fourteen new States.
“ The whole project, in its full extent, would take many years in its execution, and therefore it must be far beyond the present race of men to say, “This shall be so.' Nevertheless, those who have the first care of this New World will probably give it such directions and inherent influences as may guide and control its course and revolutions for ages to come. But these plans, being beyond the reach of man to predestinate, are likewise beyond the reach of comment or speculation to say what may or may not be possible, or to predict what events may hereafter be produced by time, climates, soils, adjoining nations, or by the unwieldy magnitude of empire, and the future population of millions superadded to millions. The sources of the Mississippi may be unknown; the lines of longitude and latitude may be extended into unexplored regions; and the plan of this new creation may be sketched out by a presumptuous compass, if all its intermediate uses and functions were to be suspended until the final and precise accomplishment, without failure or deviation, of this unbounded plan. But this is not the case; the immediate objects in view are limited and precise ; they are of prudent thought, and within the scope of human power to measure out and to execute. The principle, indeed, is indefinite, and will be left to the test of future ages to determine its duration or extent.
“I take the liberty to suggest thus much, lest we should be led away to suppose that the councils which have produced these plans have had no wiser or more sedate views than merely the amusement of drawing meridians of ambition and high thoughts. There appear to me to be two
solid and rational objects in view : the first is, by the sale of lands nearly contiguous to the present States, (receiving Congress paper in payment according to its scale of depreci. ation,) to extinguish the present national debt, which I understand might be discharged for about twelve millions sterling. ...
“It is a new proposition to be offered to the numerous common rank of mankind in all the countries of the world, to say that there are in America fertile soils and temperate climates in which an acre of land may be purchased for a trifling consideration, which may be possessed in freedom, together with all the natural and civil rights of mankind. The Congress have already proclaimed this, and that no other qualification or name is necessary but to become settlers, without distinction of countries or persons. The European peasant, who toils for his scanty sustenance in penury, wretchedness, and servitude, will eagerly fly to this asylum for free and industrious labor. The tide of emigration may set strongly outward from Scotland, Ireland, and Canada to this new land of promise.
“A very great proportion of men in all the countries of the world are without property, and generally are subject to governments of which they have no participation, and over whom they have no control. The Congress have now opened to all the world a sale of landed settlements where the liberty and property of each individual is to be consigned to his own custody and defence. .... These are such propositions of free establishments as have never yet been offered to mankind, and cannot fail of producing great effects in the future progress of things. The Congress have arranged their offers in the most inviting and artful terms; and lest individual peasants and laborers should not have the means of removing themselves, they throw out inducements to moneyed adventurers to purchase and to undertake the settlement by commission and agency, without
personal residence, by stipulating that the lands of proprietors being absentees shall not be higher taxed than the lands of residents. This will quicken the sale of lands, which is their object.
"For the explanation of these points, I beg leave to refer your Lordship to the documents annexed, Nos. 5 and 6,namely, the Map, and Resolutions of Congress, dated April, 1784. Another circumstance would confirm that it is the intention of Congress to invite moneyed adventurers to make purchases and settlements, which is the precise and mathematical mode of dividing and marking out for sale the lands in each new proposed State. These new States are to be divided by parallel lines running north and south, and by other parallels running east and west. They are to be divided into hundreds of ten geographical miles square, and then again into lots of one square mile. The divisions are laid out as regularly as the squares upon a chessboard, and all to be formed into a Charter of Compact.
They may be purchased by purchasers at any distance, and the titles may be verified by registers of such or such numbers, north or south, east or west : all this is explained by the document annexed, No. 7, namely, The Ordinance for ascertaining the mode of locating and disposing of lands in the Western Territory. This is their plan and means for paying off their national debt, and they seem very intent upon doing it. I should observe that their debt consists of two parts, namely, domestic and foreign. The sale of lands is to be appropriated to the former.
" The domestic debt may perhaps be nine or ten millions, and the foreign debt two or three. For payment of the foreign debt it is proposed to lay a tax of five per cent. upon all imports until discharged, which, I am informed, has already been agreed to by most of the States, and probably will soon be confirmed by the rest. Upon the whole, it appears that this plan is as prudently conceived and as judiciously ar
ranged, as to the end proposed, as any experienced cabinet of European ministers could have devised or planned any similar project.
“The second point which appears to me to be deserving of attention, respecting the immense cession of territory to the United States at the late peace, is a point which will perhaps in a few years become an unparalleled phenomenon in the political world. As soon as the national debt of the United States shall be discharged by the sale of one portion of those lands, we shall then see the Confederate Republic in a new character, as a proprietor of lands either for sale or to let upon rents. While other nations may be struggling under debts too enormous to be discharged either by economy or taxation, and while they may be laboring to raise ordinary and necessary supplies by burdensome impositions upon their own persons and properties, here will be a nation possessed of a new and unheard-of financial organ of stupendous magnitude, and in process of time of unmeasured value, thrown into their lap as a fortuitous superfluity, and almost without being sought for.
“When such an organ of revenue begins to arise into produce and exertion, what public uses it may be applicable to, or to what abuses and perversions it might be rendered subservient, is far beyond the reach of probable discussion
Such discussions would only be visionary speculations. However, thus far it is obvious, and highly deserving of our attention, that it cannot fail becoming to the American States a most important instrument of national power, the progress and operation of which must hereafter be a most interesting object of attention to the British American dominions which are in close vicinity to the territories of the United States ; and I should hope that these considerations would lead us, inasmuch as we value those parts of our dominions, to encourage conciliatory and amicable correspondence between them and their neighbors."