Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison
RC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of John Francis Mercer, except for the two other signatures. Cover missing. Docketed, “March 25th. 1783 Letter from Repsts in Congress.”
In Congress. March 25th. 1783.
Having dispatched an Express yesterday,1 by whom we communicated to your Excellency, the substance of the important & happy advices, receiv’d by the Ch: du Quesne.2 We now enclose yr. Excellency the days papers,3 in which you will no doubt find many interesting particulars, & have to add, that the Ch: du Quesne, informs us that he has a table, ascertaining the different periods, established for the cessation of Hostilities in different Quarters. viz. in Europe & thence to the Azores within 10 Days after the signing the Preliminaries on the 20th. of January, within two months in America & within four months in the East Indies.4
We have the honor to be with much respect Yr Excellency’s most obedient & very hble Servts,
John F Mercer
Theok: Bland Jr.
J Madison Jr.
3. Probably the Pennsylvania Packet and the Pennsylvania Journal.
4. Either du Quesne was in error or Mercer misunderstood him. By the terms of the two preliminary general peace treaties, one of them between Great Britain and France and the other between Great Britain and Spain, the time periods after the ratification, rather than after 20 January, beyond which captures at sea would become unlawful were (1) twelve days in the English Channel and North Sea, (2) one month in the ocean from the North Sea and English Channel to the Canary Islands “inclusively,” and in the Mediterranean, (3) two months in the ocean from the Canaries to the equator, and (4) five months in all other parts of the world “without any exception” (Frances G. Davenport and Charles O. Paullin, eds., European Treaties, IV, 148–49, 151; Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates description begins William Cobbett, ed., The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803 (36 vols.; London, 1806–20; continued as Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates). description ends , XIII, cols. 350, 353–54).