11 March 1782
Whereas a proposition was made by me on the 6th day of December last to General Sir Henry Clinton to the following effect "That Commissioners mutually appointed should meet at such time and place as might thereafter be agreed upon for the purposes of obviating all difficulties in exchanges—for liquidating the expenses of maintaining prisoners and for making solid arrangements for providing for them in future" which proposition was acceded to as will appear by letters from him the said General Sir Henry Clinton bearing date the 2d and 23rd of January last.
In Order to carry the said proposition into effect and to make the most liberal, permanent and extensive provision for the exchange release and accommodation not only of prisoners of War but of Citizens who by the fortune of War may fall into the Hands of either party.
You Brigadier General Henry Knox and Governeur Morris Esqr. are hereby appointed and authorized to meet such Commissioners as shall come duly authorized on the part of His Excellency General Sir Henry Clinton at Elizabeth Town in the State of New Jersey on Friday the 15th day of this Month or at any other time and place afterwards to which it may be thought proper to adjourn—with them to treat—confer—determine and conclude upon a Cartel or Cartels either general or special Stipulating for the subsistence—safe keeping—exchanging—liberating and better treating of all land prisoners of War in such manner and on such terms as you may judge expedient and beneficial to the United States: to take such measures for the liberation of Citizens who have not been captured in Arms as may seem expedient, or to negotiate any separate treaty concerning such Citizens for the mutual prevention of any future Captures—Provided such Cartel—Cartels and agreement establish Rules for the similar treatment of Prisoners of War and Citizens captured by either power in all cases whatever—You are likewise authorised and empowered to liquidate and settle all past accounts respecting the maintainance and support of Prisoners of War or of the Prisoners under the Convention of Saratogaand whereas numberless inconveniencies and distresses have mutually arisen and happened for want of some permanent establishment for subsisting—safe keeping and exchanging Marine Prisoners, I have by letter of the 26th of February last proposed to His Excellency Robert Digby Esqr., at present commanding His Britannic Majesty’s ships of War upon the American Station, to send Commissioners at the time and to the place before mentioned properly authorised and empowered to treat, confer, determine and conclude upon a Cartel for the exchange and accommodation of all persons in the Naval line—Should therefore Commissioners come properly authorized and empowered by him the said Robert Digby Esqr. or other senior Officer commanding His Britannic Majestys ships of War upon the American Station, you are authorized and empowered to treat, confer, determine and conclude upon, with them, a Cartel or Agreement either general or special for the subsisting—safe keeping—and exchanging all Marine Prisoners of War—provided such Cartels or Agreements establish Rules for the similar treatment of marine Prisoners captured by either power in all cases whatever.
For all which this shall be your Warrant and your engagements being mutually interchanged shall be ratified and confirmed by me. Given under my hand and seal at Philada this 11th day of March 1782.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.