Decoding Revolutionary Correspondence

December 13, 1781, from Robert R. Livingston to John Jay

Code/Cipher: WE007
Source: Papers of the Continental Congress, Roll 105, Page 334 [also numbered Sheet 48] (Code appears from Page 335)
Manuscript: PCC at Footnote.com
Jay Papers ID 570; ID 5190; ID 11360; ID 12769; ID 7926 ("copied and deciphered by Jay"); ID 813 (draft)
Electronic Text of Wharton (The Libary of Congress | American Memory)
Searchable Text of Sparks (Google)

In Plaintext

My last letter, of the 28th of November, sent by the Marquis de la Fayette, must for the most part have been unintelligible to you, owing to an unfortunate mistake of Mr. Thomson, who delivered me a cipher sent by Mr. Palfrey, which you never received, instead of that sent by Franks. The duplicate enclosed is in the last, so that you will no longer be at a loss for my meaning. Since the date of that letter the enemy have thought it prudent to abandon Wilmington, in North Carolina.

(plaintext lines omitted)

Your letter of the 20th of September has been received and read in Congress. They have not been pleased to direct any particular answer thereto, so that you are to consider it as their wish that you execute the commission with which they have entrusted you.
I was not in Congress at the time the instruction of which you complain was given but have heard it justified upon mis[?]principles, which arise out of our local politics. It was done before your appointment so that it would not imply the [smallest] distrust of your zeal or abilities.
There were and always will be a variety of different country interests among the [representatives] of so [many] a country. To bring them to concur in one point in which each must sacrifice something was extremely difficult, and would [have] been attended with the most dangerous delays as they then supposed.
They knew that the peace was absolutely in the power of France and they thought it more prudent to interest [her] generosity, like to give her a plea to do as she chooses from our inserting upon what she might deem unreasonable or not being what we insisted upon.
You will easily see, my Dear Sir, that your abilities and address will not be less serviceable to your country in the management of this business, than in any other of the great affairs in which they have hitherto been employed.
The minister has communicated to me a letter from the Count De Vergennes, explaining his master's satisfaction
at the confidence reposed in him and assuring that nothing but the absolute necessity shall induce him to make the smallest sacrifice of the interests we have entrusted to his care [and] that he has no reason to conclude from the operation of the present campaign that such necessity will exist.
He expresses great pleasure at your appointment. I ought also to tell you that Dr. Franklin has accepted the Commission with marks of satisfaction. From Mr Adams, we have not heard since. I congratulate you upon the determination of Spain at length to open the way to a treaty, though I must confess I have no great hope of success in it from the character of the negotiator.
We wait with the utmost impatience your next dispatches. We have heard that you have offered the navigation of the Mississippi but we are ignorant upon what conditions. And what is still worse, we hear that the answer to this important offer is delayed. The ground on which we stand enables us to speak in a firmer tone than we have done.
You are acquainted with facts. The rest may safely be left to your judgement, on which we have the greatest reliance. My mean [letter?] may be of use to you if you think that Spain really wishes to be connected with us and only stand aloof to take advantage of our necessity.

You ... see that I neglect no opportunity of writing.
(lines in plaintext omitted)
A ~ over signifies e. A . under, s -- final

Verification Dump

(Page 335[Sheet 49])
I was not in
Congress at the time the
255 <in[inn]> 270 <str> 29 <uc[uck,uk]> 207 <tion> 403 <of> 101 <which>
487 <you> 137 <com> 467 <pla[play]> 255 <in[inn]> 4 <wa> s-276 <give> 491 <n> 470 <but> 386 <have> 548 <hear> 118 <d> 20 <it>
515 <just> 411 <i> 95 <fifty[fi?]> 348 <ed> 44 <up> 107 <on> 9 <mis> 404 <pri[pry]> 491 <n> 223 <ci[cy]> 381 <pl> es101 <which> ,
arise out of our local politics. It was done
before your appointment so that it would
281 <not> 42 <im>
381 <pl> 269 <y> 332 <th> e 55 <home> 542 <al[all]> 511 <est> 237 <dis> trust403 <of> 245 <your>
27 <z> 8 <ea> 104 <l> 382 <or> 190 <ab> 188 <il[ill]> 411 <i> 480 <ti[ty]> es259 <their[there]> 294 <where> 166 <and>
always will be
392 <a> 568 <ua> 43 <ri[ry]> 458 <e> 480 <ti[ty]> 403 <of> 164 <dif> 182 <fer> [ent]
228 <country> 468 <inter> 511 <est> s13 <among> 332 <th> ~435 <r> ~213 <pr> ~84 <sen> [ta] 48 <super> [should be 480 <ti[ty]>?] 589 <col>[should be 80<u>.?] s403 <of>
588 <so> [many]392 <a> 228 <country> tobringthem456 <to[too]> 355 <con> 240 <c> 331 <ur>
255 <in[inn]> 107 <on> ~point255 <in[inn]> 101 <which> 359 <each> 518 <mu> 395 <st> 155 <sa> 240 <c>
527 <ra> [should be 43 <ri[ry]> ] 95 <fifty[fi?]> 240 <c> ~30 <some> 47 <thi[thy]> 360 <ng> 4 <wa> sextremelydifficult,
and would [have] been attended with the most dangerous
delays as
449 <they> 142 <then> 333 <su> 352 <p> 260 <po> 162 <s> 348 <ed> 449 <they> 35 <kn>
507 <ew> 38 <that> 332 <th> ~352 <p> 8 <ea> 240 <c> ~4 <wa> sabsolutely255 <in[inn]> 322 <ho> [should be 332 <th> ]~
260 <po> 504 <wer> 403 <of> 261 <france> 166 <and> 449 <they> 39 <tha[tho?]> 399 <ug> 446 <h> 544 <t> 20 <it> 198 <mor> ~
213 <pr> 49 <ud> 328 <ent> 456 <to[too]> 468 <inter> 511 <est> 447 <assembly> [should be "her"?] generocity 33 <like> 456 <to[too]>

(Page 336[Sheet 50])
276 <give> 427 <her> 392 <a> 381 <pl> 8 <ea> 456 <to[too]> 203 <do> 392 <a> s 393 <un> [should be 363 <sh> ] ~ 17 <ch> 175 <o> [o]
162 <s> [es] 476 <from> 236 <our> insertingupon334 <what> 362 <hand> [should be 363 <sh> e] 211 <mi[my]> 25 <ght> 118 <d>
458 <e> 406 <em> 393 <un> 435 <r> 8 <ea> 588 <so> 594 <na> 536 <bl> ~382 <or> 281 <not> 441 <b> ~
389 <ing> 334 <what> 109 <w> ~255 <in[inn]> 297 <si[sy]> 395 <st> 348 <ed> 44 <up> 107 <on> you
will easily see, my Dear Sir, that your abilities and
address will not be less serviceable to your country
in the man[a]gement of this business, than in any other
of the great affairs in which they have hitherto been
employed. The minister has communicated to me a
letter from the Count De Vergennes, explaining his
mastres satisfaction
76 <ar> 332 <th> ~355 <con> 95 <fifty[fi?]> 350 <den> 240 <c> ~435 <r> ~
260 <po> 162 <s> 348 <ed> 255 <in[inn]> 110 <him> 166 <and> and assuring that
309 <no> 471 <um> [should be 47 <thi[thy]> ] 360 <ng> 470 <but> 332 <th> ~ 540 <fo> 190 <ab> 588 <so> lu544 <t> ~491 <n>
131 <ec[eck,ek]> e297 [s]<si[sy]> 480 <ti[ty]> 300 <shall> induce him to make the smallest
sacrifice
403 <of> 332 <th> ~468 <inter> 511 <est> s109 <w> ~386 <have> 228 <country> [should be 328 <ent> ] 249 <ru>
395 <st> 348 <ed> 546 <thirteen> [should be 456 <to[too]> ] 88 <his> 219 <car> ~ [and] that he has no reason to
conclude from the operation of the present Campaign
38 <that> 333 <su> 17 <ch> 491 <n> ~240 <c> 458 <e> 162 <s> 297 <si[sy]> 480 <ti[ty]> 279 <wil[will]> 501 <ex>
411 <i> 395 <st> 446 <h> ~ expresses great pleasure at your
appointment. I ought also to tell you that Dr.
Franklin has accepted the Commission with marks
of Satisfaction from Mr Adams we have not heard
since. I congratulate you upon the determina-
tion of Spain at length to open the way to a
Treaty
39 <tha[tho?]> 411 <i> 518 <mu> 395 <st> 355 <con> 5 <f> 458 <e> 162 <s> [s] 411 <i>
386 <have> 309 <no> 208 <gr> 8 <ea> 544 <t> 490 <hope> 403 <of> 333 <su> 240 <c> [c] 458 <e> 162 <s> s
255 <in[inn]> 20 <it> 476 <from> 332 <th> ~484 <char> 465 <act> 36 <yo> [should be 86 <er[err]> ] 403 <of> 322 <ho> [should be 332 <th> ] ~ 491 <n> 458 <e>
539 <go> 480 <ti[ty]> 392 <a> 456 <to[too]> 435 <r> we wait with the utmost
impatience your next dispatches, we have heard
38 <that> 487 <you> 386 <have> 98 <off> 36 <yo> [should be 86 <er[err]> ] 348 <ed> 332 <th> ~53 <navy> 128 <ga> 207 <tion>
403 <of> 332 <th> e9 <mis> 297 <si[sy]> 297 <si[sy]> 352 <p> 351 <pi[py]> 470 <but> 109 <w> ~76 <ar> ~227 <ig>
576 <nor> 598 <ant> 44 <up> 107 <on> 334 <what> 335 <bermuda> [should be 355 <con> ] 419 <di[dy]> 207 <tion> s and what

(Page 337[Sheet 51])
is still worse, we hear that the
431 <an> 566 <sw> 86 <er[err]> to this
important
98 <off> 86 <er[err]> 411 <i> ~s118 <d> 346 <el> 39 <tha[tho?]> [should be 392 <a> ] 269 <y> 348 <ed> the ground
on which we stand
216 <en> 551 <able> s 800[should be 80 <u> s] 456 <to[too]> 41 <sp> 8 <ea> 479 <k> 255 <in[inn]>
392 <a> 421 <fir> 57 <m> 86 <er[err]> 456 <to[too]> 491 <n> e337 <than> 109 <w> ~386 <have> 301 <don> e you are
acquainted with facts, the rest may safely be left to
your judgement, on which we have the greatest reliance
211 <mi[my]> 112 <mean> 411 <i>[should be 104<l>?] 440 <et> 86 <er[err]> may be of use to you if you think
that
194 <Spain> 435 <r> 8 <ea> 104 <l> 122 <li[ly]> 73 <wi> 493 <shi> 458 <e> s 556 <even> [should be 456 <to[too]> ] 441 <b> e 335 <bermuda> [should be 355 <con> ] [n]
131 <ec[eck,ek]> 544 <t> 348 <ed> 140 <with> 80 <u> s and only stand 392 <a> 396 <lo> 403 <of> 456 <to[too]>
177 <take> 494 <ad> 568 <ua> 491 <n> [t] 93 <ag> e403 <of> 236 <our> 491 <n> 45 <ui[uy]> 8 <ea> [should be 458 <e> ] 440 <et> [should be 240 <c> ] 458 <e>
162 <s> 297 <si[sy]> 480 <ti[ty]>
......
A ~ over signifies 458 <e> a . under 162 <s> -- 95 <fifty[fi?]> 594 <na> 104 <l>



First posted on 23 September 2008. Last modified on 15 October 2008.
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