Resolution of Congress Releasing Jefferson from His Commission to Negotiate Peace
April 1st. 1783.
By the United States in Congress Assembled
Resolved that the Secretary for foreign affairs inform the Hon’ble T. Jefferson in Answer to his Letter of the 13th. of March that Congress consider the Object of his Appointment so far advanced as to render it unnecessary for him to pursue his Voyage, and that Congress are well satisfied with the readiness he has shewn in undertaking a Service which, from the present Situation Affairs, they apprehend can be dispensed with.
Extract from the Minutes.
Chas Thomson Secy
MS (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Thomson. Another copy, entirely in Thomson’s hand, together with a tabulation of the vote, is in PCC, No. 25, ii, 191.
TJ’s letter to Livingston of 13 Mch. was laid before Congress by Livingston on the same date (Livingston’s letter of transmittal is in PCC, No. 79, III, 29). Five days later Madison reported to Randolph that TJ “is still left in dubio as to his destination” (Madison to Randolph, 18 Mch. 1783, Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , vii, No. 103). The committee to whom TJ’s letter of 13 Mch. had been referred (along with letters from Adams, Dana, and Laurens respecting their resigning their commissions as ministers) reported on 1 Apr. (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 , xxiv, 225–6); the vote on this particular resolution is recorded and is printed in same, p. 226, note; Theodorick Bland was one of five who voted against releasing TJ from his appointment. On 24 Mch. Livingston noted in his “Despatch Book” (PCC, No. 126, under date) the receipt of a letter from Lafayette of the 5th of Feb. announcing that the preliminaries for a general peace had been signed at Paris on 20 Jan. This appears to have been the first word received, and Livingston at once sent the letter to Congress, an express to Washington, and a circular letter to the governors announcing the fact. This news was decisive in determining Congress to cancel TJ’s commission. “The mission of Mr. Jefferson,” Madison wrote to Randolph, “has been entirely superceded by the latest advices. He will set out in a few days for Virga.” (8 Apr. 1783; Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , vii, No. 140).