In 1787 when the founders of the American Republic were framing the Constitution they encountered many difficulties in the work of construction, but none greater than the bringing together on terms of equality under one general government of the slave-holding and the non-slave-holding states. The South was willing to enter the Union provided always that its peculiar labor and institutions received adequate protection in that instrument.
The second volume of The Selected Papers of John Jay opens in January 1780 with Jay's arrival in Spain on his first diplomatic mission abroad. It ends in June 1782 with his departure for France to join Benjamin Franklin in negotiating a peace treaty with Great Britain. Jay's mission in Spain was to seek recognition of American independence, a treaty of alliance, and financial aid, despite Spain's refusal to receive any American diplomat as representative of an independent nation. His personal letters supplement the public correspondence with American, Spanish, and French officials and financiers. The documents provide a case study of the perils of negotiating from a position of political, military, and, especially, financial weakness, and delineate the conflicts that plagued Spanish-American relations for decades. They also demonstrate the additional strains on Jay's household caused by social isolation, insufficient funds, separation from their often endangered families, and routine detention and inspection of their mail. Jay's Spanish experience set the stage for his independent stance during the peace negotiations and magnified his determination to create a stronger, more unified nation that would be treated with respect abroad. Access to people, places, and events in the volume is facilitated by detailed annotation, illustrations, a biographical directory, and a comprehensive index. The publication of this volume has been supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
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