James Madison Papers

Motion of Instruction to Secretary for Foreign Affairs, [17 October] 1782

Motion of Instruction to
Secretary for Foreign Affairs

MS (NA: PCC, No. 36, I, 405). In JM’s hand. For the official copy of this instruction, in the hand of Charles Thomson, see Parke-Bernet Galleries Catalogue No. 2419 (22 March 1966), item No. 103, p. 32.

[17 October 1782]

That1 the Secy. of F. A.2 inform the several ministers of the U. S. in Europe3 that it is the desire & express direction of Congress that they transmit full & frequent communications as well of their proceedings with the Courts at which they respectively reside, as of those which relate to negociations for peace; and also of all such other transactions & events as may in any manner concern the U. States.4

1This motion, introduced by JM and seconded by James Duane, was adopted by Congress on 17 October 1782 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 663).

2Robert R. Livingston.

3John Adams, Francis Dana, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens.

4Judging from JM’s letters in July, August, and September, his motion reflected the annoyance of members of Congress because they had heard infrequently from the “ministers of the U. S. in Europe” during those months. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 448; 450, n. 17; JM to Randolph, 5–6, 13, 20, and 27 August, 3, 10, and 16–17 September; JM to Pendleton, 6 and 20 August 1782. Coincidentally, Congress listened on 17 October to dispatches just received from two of those “ministers.” See Report on Alliance with the Netherlands, 22 October 1782, n. 1. After the return of Livingston to Philadelphia on 29 October (Conversation between Livingston and La Luzerne, 23 September 1782, ed. n.), he apparently neglected to forward a copy of the resolution to any of the ministers except Dana (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 862).

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