Thomas Jefferson Papers

Report of the Committee on Jefferson’s Compromise Motion concerning Ratification, [3 January 1784]

Report of the Committee on Jefferson’s Compromise Motion concerning Ratification

[3 January 1784]

Whereas it is stipulated in the definitive treaty of peace between the United states of America and his Britannic majesty that the ratifications of the said treaty shall be exchanged on or before the 3d. day of March next, and there now remains before that period little more time than is requisite for the passage of the said ratification across the Atlantic; And Congress consisting at present but of 7. states, these differ in opinion; some of them considering 9. as requisite under the Confederation to the establishment of every treaty, while others are of opinion that 9. having ratified the Provisional treaty and instructed their ministers to enter into a definitive one conformable thereto, which is accordingly done, seven may under these particular circumstances ratify what has been so declared by 9 to have their approbation; and those of the former opinion being equally desirous with the latter that no power which it may be supposed they possess should remain unexercised for the final ratification of this instrument, provided it may be done with the preservation of good faith towards the other contracting party, and without importing that Congress has given any Express1 opinion that the said ratification is authorized by the Confederation:2

Resolved therefore that the states now present in Congress do declare their approbation and, so far as they have power, their ratification of the said treaty: that the Ratification in the usual Form3 be duly attested under the seal of the states and transmitted to our ministers with instructions to keep the same uncommunicated and to propose to the other contracting party a convention extending the time for the exchange of ratifications 3. months further: that the said ministers be informed that so soon as 9 states shall be present in Congress the said treaty shall be submitted to them and their ratification when obtained shall be transmitted also: that if they should receive the ratification by 9. states before the ultimate point of time allowed for exchange this alone be used and the former cancelled: that if it should not be received in time, they then produce the act of the 7. states and give the same in Exchange4 informing the other contracting party that the said treaty came to hand when Congress was not in session,5 that 7. states only had yet assembled; that this ratification has been expedited with their unanimous consent and offering it in exchange for theirs.6

MS (DLC: PCC, No. 29); in TJ’s hand, with several interlineations in the hand of Hugh Williamson; endorsed by Thomson: “Report of Mr. Jefferson &c. relative to ratification of def. treaty. Entd. Read Jany 3. 1784.” See notes to preceding document.

1This word interlined in Williamson’s hand.

2TJ originally wrote: “whether the said ratification be or be not authorized,” &c. and then altered the passage to read as above.

3Preceding five words interlined in the hand of Williamson and the word “same” encircled, probably to indicate that it was deleted and the interlineation substituted for it.

4Preceding six words interlined in the hand of Williamson.

5This passage in italics was underlined, perhaps by Thomson and no doubt indicating that, during the debate in Congress, it was pointed out that the statement was truthful only in a technical sense, for the treaty had arrived during the interval between Congress’ adjournment from Princeton to Annapolis.

6The following was deleted at this point: “With an assurance that it will be followed by another expedited in all it’s forms by nine states so soon as they shall be assembled which shall be delivered to them also.”

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