Important ALS as Secretary of State, one page both sides, 8 x 10, August 30, 1798. Letter to Rufus King, minister plenipotentiary to England, concerning the infamous XYZ Affair. In part: "I received this week the enclosed letter to Mr. Jame Cramond, late of Philadelphia, now residing in London, from John Burlingham of Edenton, to vest in Mr. Cramond the power he had formerly given to Mr. Bayard, relative to his claims for captured property. You will have the goodness to give the letter any additional direction that will ensure its getting to Mr. Cramond's hands.
Mr. Gerry, it seems, has given up the names of X. Y. & Z. in the envoy's dispatches; and I just hear that Talleyrand has denied any knowledge of them! What will Mr. Gerry do with his own statement, in the dispatches, that he & Y. went to M. Talleyrand's together, and referring to Y.'s communications, Talleyrand said that the information Mr. Y. had given him (Gerry) was just, and might always be relied on? And what has he done with his promise made (jointly with his colleagues) 'that the names of Messrs. X. & Y. should in no event be made public'? He was low enough before in the eyes of all men of sense and honor & who had any regard for the honor & dignity of their country: This last act (if true as reported) must sink him to perdition." In fine condition. Accompanied by a handsome custom-made presentation folder with a quarter leather binding.
In July 1797, an American diplomatic commission consisting of John Marshall, Charles Pinckney, and Elbridge Gerry was sent to France to negotiate issues threatening war between the two nations, namely privateering and the illegal seizure of American vessels. With talks at an impasse and French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand requesting a loan and bribes through a group of informal agents, Marshall and Pinckney left France in April 1798. Gerry, also desirous of returning, was informed by Talleyrand that the Directory would declare war if he left France. Despite his reservations concerning Talleyrand’s threats, Gerry remained; negotiations were eventually reopened when Talleyrand sent representatives to The Hague, and Gerry returned home in October 1798. Months earlier on March 20, President Adams turned over the commission report to Congress, redacting and replacing the names of Talleyrand’s agents with the letters X, Y, and Z, and prompting an immediate division amongst his cabinet, with Secretary of State Pickering arguing for a declaration of war.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.