To Robert R. Livingston1
Princeton [New Jersey]
July 23d. 1783
It happens My Dear Sir that both Mr. Maddison and myself are here. We have talked over the subject of your letter to him,2 and need not assure you how happy we should both be to promote your wish; but the representation continues so thin, that we should have little hope that any thing which is out of the ordinary course and has somewhat of novelty in it could go through. We therefore have concluded it would be to no purpose to make the experiment in the present state of things; but shall sound towards a more full representation; though we fear the strictness of the ideas of many Gentlemen will be a bar to the success of the measure. You shall hear from me further on the subject. Mr. Maddison does not write himself as this letter contains both our ideas but he presents his compliments and the assurances of his esteem.
The future destination of Congress cannot now be ascertained. There is an address signing from the citizens of Philadelphia amounting to an invitation to return. Many are of opinion on conciliatory principles, that it will be prudent to do it, till the question respecting permanent residence is decided. Others are much disinclined to a return from different motives.
We have nothing new except an annunciation from Mr. Rivington in a letter to Mr. Izard of the arrival of the definitive treaty.3 He adds that New York was by the treaty to have been evacuated the 21st of this month. When we are more enlightened I will write you details or rather I will bring them.
We have been for some time in point of representation at sixe’s and sevens; when we get to nine I will not forget the money commission you gave me.
Present me respectfully to Mrs. Livingston & the rest of the ladies
Adieu My Dr Sir Yr. Obed servt
ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.
1. After his retirement as Secretary for Foreign Affairs in May, 1783, Livingston returned to New York. This letter is addressed to him at “Clermont,” his country estate.
2. On July 15, 1783, Livingston wrote to James Madison:
“I have this moment been informed that the definitive treaty is concluded & in consequence of it give you this trouble. I believe I mentioned to you that if Congress had made no appointment of a secretary for foreign affairs before the arrival of the treaty it would give me great pleasure to be permitted to sign it in that character & thus conclude my political carrier.…
“I should write Coll Hamilton also on this subject having before mentioned it to him but I presume he must by this time be upon his return if however he should still be with you as I have the fullest confidence in his friendship I pray you to show him this.…” (New-York Historical Society.)
3. James Rivington, publisher of The Royal Gazette, had written to Ralph Izard, a delegate to the Continental Congress from South Carolina, that the frigate Mercury had arrived in New York with the definitive peace treaty.