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Letter from Francis Godolphin Osborne, Duke of Leeds to John Adams
Leeds, Francis Godolphin Osborne, Duke of, 1751-1799
February 28, 1786
Volume 18, Pages 549-550

-------------------- page 549 --------------------
BRITISH MINISTER'S ANSWER TO THE AMERICAN MINISTER'S MEMORIAL.
[From Executive Letter Book.]


St. James, February 28th, 1786.

(Copy.)

Sir:

In answer to the Memorial you did me the honor to deliver me on the 8th December, I have to observe to you, Sir, that it is his Majesty's fixed determination, upon the present as well as every other occasion, to act in perfect conformity to the strictest principles of Justice and Good Faith.

The 7th Article of both the provisional and definitive Treaties, between his Majesty and the United States clearly Stipulates the withdrawing with all convenient Speed, his Majesty's Armies, Garrisons and Fleets from the said United States, and from every port, place and harbor, within the same, and no doubt can possibly arise respecting either the letter or spirit of such an engagement.

The 4th Article of the same Treaties as clearly stipulates that Creditors on either side, shall meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value in Sterling money of all bona fide Debts heretofore contracted.

The little attention paid to the fulfilling of this Engagement on the part of the Subjects of the United States in general and the direct breach of it, in many particulr Instances, have already reduced Many of the Kings Subjects to the Utmost degree of difficulty and distress; nor have their applications for Redress to those whose situations in America naturally pointed them out as the Guardians of public faith, been as yet successful in obtaining them that justice, to which, on every principle of Law, as well as of Humanity, they were clearly and indisputably entitled.

The engagements entered into by Treaty ought to be mutual and equally binding on the respective contracting parties, it would therefore be the height of folly, as well as injustice, to suppose one party alone is obliged to a strict observance of the public faith, while the other might remain free and deviate from its own engagements; as often as convenience might render such deviation necessary tho' at the expence of its own National credit and importance.

-------------------- page 550 --------------------

I flatter myself however, Sir, that Justice will speedily be done to British Creditors, and I can assure you, Sir, that whenever America shall manifest a real determination to fulfil her part of the Treaty, Great Britain will not hesitate to prove her sincerity, to cooperate in whatever points depend upon her, for carrying every Article of it into real and complete effect.

The enclosed paper contains a state of the Grievances complained of by Merchants and other British subjects, having Estates, Property and Debts due to them in the several States of America.

I am Sir, your most humble Servt.,
CAERMARTHEN.