Thomas Jefferson Papers

Resolution Providing for Three Vessels to Transmit Definitive Treaty When Ratified, [26 December 1783]

Resolution Providing for Three Vessels to Transmit Definitive Treaty When Ratified

[26 December 1783]

Resolved that the Agent of Marine be directed1 to have immediately three proper2 vessels ready, viz. one at this Port one at New York, and one at some Port to the Eastward3 to receive and convey to some port in France copies of the ratification of the Definitive treaty of peace between these states and his Britannic majesty when the same shall be completed, leaving to his discretion to engage such merchant vessels as may be ready to sail for Europe, paying the expences of their further detention, if he shall find that mode most eligible on the whole.

MS (DLC: PCC, No. 36, IV); in TJ’s hand, with additions by Hugh Williamson as noted below; endorsed by clerk: “Motion that the Agent of Marine to have three Vessels ready to convey in some port of France Copies of the Ratification of the definitive Treaty of peace.” The resolution bears no date and no reference to it appears in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends (for reasons explained in note to TJ’s resolutions introduced on 27 Dec. 1783, q.v.), but TJ himself stated that he moved this resolution “on the 26th. to save time” (same).

This resolution touched off an acrimonious discussion in Congress: “the debates ran high,” Edward Hand wrote to Jasper Yeates; the Pennsylvania delegates wrote for instructions on this “Question of great Importance … Whether Seven States in Congress Assembled are competent to a Ratification of the Definitive Treaty”; and, after a brief lull following the first skirmish in which TJ was able to block the move to ratify by seven states, a compromise was brought forward by him (Hand to Yeates, 30 Dec. 1783; Penna. Delegates to President Dickinson, 30 Dec. 1783; Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , vii, Nos. 470–1; see following resolutions by TJ and notes there).

1This word interlined in Williamson’s hand in substitution for “desired,” deleted.

2This word interlined by TJ in substitution for “fast sailing,” deleted.

3The preceding fifteen words interlined in Williamson’s hand. These were in substitution for what TJ had written, which was, first: “one in the port of New York, one in the lowest safe port of the Delaware, and one at this place [Annapolis].” This was then changed by TJ to: “one in the port of Boston, one in the port of New-York, and one at this place.” When Williamson in turn altered this reading, he failed to delete the final words “and one at this” though “place” is marked out.

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