Benjamin Franklin Papers

Thomas Mifflin to the American Peace Commissioners, 14 January 1784

Thomas Mifflin to the American Peace Commissioners

Press copies of copies:3 South Carolina Historical Society, American Philosophical Society; copies: Massachusetts Historical Society, National Archives

Annapolis 14th. Jany. 1784.—


This day, nine States being represented in Congress, Vizt: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, together with one Member from New-Hampshire, and one Member from New-Jersey,4 The Treaty of Peace was ratified by the unanimous Vote of the Members;5 This being done, Congress by an unanimous Vote, ordered a Proclamation to be issued, enjoyning the strict and faithful Observance thereof, and published an earnest Recommendation to the several States in the very Words of the 5th. Article—6 They have likewise resolved, that the Ratification of the Definitive Treaty of Peace between the United States & Great Britain, be transmitted, with all possible Dispatch, under the Care of a faithful Person, to our Ministers in France, who have negotiated the Treaty; to be exchanged; and have appointed Colonel Josiah Harmar to that Service.7 He will have the Honor of delivering to you the Ratification; together with Copies of the Proclamation of Congress and of their Recommendation to the States conformably to the 5th. Article.8

I take the Liberty of recommending Colonel Harmar to you as a brave and deserving Officer and am, with the highest Respect & Esteem, Gentlemen, Your obedient, and most humble Servant.

(signed) Thomas Mifflin.

[In Franklin’s hand:] To their Excellencies John Adams, B. Franklin, John Jay, & Henry Laurens Esquires.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The two copies from which these press copies were made are in the hand of L’Air de Lamotte, as is the copy at the Mass. Hist. Soc., which is endorsed by JA.

4Nine states were required for ratification, but each state had to have two delegates present in order to be represented. That condition was not met until Jan. 14, when S.C. delegate Richard Beresford, who had been ill in Philadelphia, arrived in Annapolis: Smith, Letters, XXI, XXV; JCC, XXVI, 22; Edmund C. Burnett, The Continental Congress (New York, 1941), pp. 591–3.

5See JCC, XXVI, 22–9. The ratification and proclamation (mentioned below), drafted by TJ in December, are also in Jefferson Papers, VI, 456–65.

6The proclamation is in JCC, XXVI, 29–30. Pursuant to Article 5 of the treaty (XL, 572–3), Congress issued a recommendation to the state legislatures that they provide for the restitution of estates, rights, and properties confiscated from British subjects and from persons resident in areas possessed by the British between Nov. 30, 1782, and Jan. 14, 1784, who had not borne arms against the United States: JCC, XXVI, 30–31.

7JCC, XXVI, 29. Josiah Harmar of Pennsylvania (ANB), who had achieved the rank of brevet colonel in the army by 1783, was at this time serving as Mifflin’s private secretary: Dwight L. Smith, “Josiah Harmar, Diplomatic Courier,” PMHB, LXXXVII (1963), 420–30. For his Jan. 14 instructions from Mifflin see Smith, Letters, XXI, 274–5; an extract in BF’S hand is at the APS.

8Copies of the proclamation and recommendation, in the hand of Charles Thomson, are among BF’S papers at the APS. No copies of the ratification have been located among the papers of the American peace commissioners, though the copy that Hartley retained (in the hand of his secretary) is at the Clements Library: Smith, “Josiah Harmar, Diplomatic Courier,” p. 30.

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