Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert R. Livingston, enclosing Jefferson’s Appointment as a Peace Commissioner, 13 November 1782

From Robert R. Livingston, enclosing Jefferson’s Appointment as a Peace Commissioner

Philadelphia, 13th. Novr. 1782.


I have the honor to transmit a resolution of Congress, appointing you one of their1 Ministers Plenipotentiary for negociating a peace. I rejoice in this fresh proof of their confidence in your Virtue and abilities. The sacrifices you have heretofore made to the interests of your Country, induce me to hope that you will suffer no personal consideration to prevent their being employed in its service upon this important occasion.

I have the honor to be, Sir With the greatest respect and esteem Your most obedt humble Servt.,

Robt R. Livingston

By the United States in Congress Assembled


November 12th. 1782.

That the appointment of Thomas Jefferson Esquire, as a Minister Plenipotentiary for negotiating peace on the fifteenth day of June 1781. be and the same is hereby renewed, and that on his acceptance thereof, he be invested with all the Powers and be subject to all the Instructions which have been or may be issued by Congress to the Ministers Plenipotentiary for negotiating peace in the same manner as if his original appointment had taken effect.

Chas. Thomson Secy.

RC (MHi); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Livingston; endorsed by TJ: “Livingston Rob. R. Phila. Nov. 13. 1782 recd Amphthill [sic] Nov. 25. 1782. Renewal of Appmt. of June 15. 1781. as Min. Plenipy. for negociating peace.” Dft (NHi). Tr (DLC: PCC, No. 119). Enclosure (filed with RC in MHi) in a clerk’s hand, signed by Thomson; also endorsed by TJ. The original resolution, in James Madison’s hand, is in DLC: PCC, No. 36, i; endorsed by Charles Thomson: “Motion of Mr Madison Passed 12 Novr 1782.”

The Journals state that the resolution renewing TJ’s appointment (see Huntington to TJ, 15 June 1781, and enclosure) was made on the motion of Madison, seconded by Theodorick Bland, but Madison’s “Notes of Debates” add the following details: “The reappointment of Mr. Jefferson as Minister Plenipo: for negotiating peace was agreed to unanimously and without a single adverse remark. The act took place in consequence of its being suggested that the death of Mrs. J. had probably changed the sentiments of Mr. J. with regard to public life, and that all the reasons which led to his original appointment still existed, and indeed, had acquired additional force from the improbability that Mr. Laurens would actually assist in the negotiation” (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , xxiii, 720, 848). How correctly TJ’s friends in Congress judged his feelings is clear from his immediate and favorable reply to the present letter; see under 26 Nov. 1782, and see also TJ’s “Autobiography” (Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed.,The Writings of Thomas Jefferson,“Letterpress Edition,” N.Y., 1892–1899 description ends i, 71–2).

1Livingston first wrote, in the draft, the word “Commissioners” and then interlined “Ministers Plenipotentiary.”

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