James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Maury, 24 March 1783

To James Maury

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Although the cover is missing and the name of the addressee does not appear in the letter, its contents strongly suggest that JM was writing to James Maury of Fredericksburg, Va. Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 (1892), p. 122, prints a portion of the letter and adds at the close, “To J. Maury.” For Maury, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 114, n. 8.

Phila. March 24–1783

Dear Sir

By a cutter despatched by the Ct. d’Estaing & the Marquis de la fayette from Cadiz on Feby 14 & which arrived here last evening we have it confirmed that the preliminary articles for a general peace were signed in Jany.1 The day of the signature as well as of the cessation of hostilities are omitted in the abstract rcd. by the Secretary of F. A.2 The changes produced in the possessions of the belligerent parties as nearly as I can recollect them are that as to the Fisheries France cedes to G. B. the Coast from Cape Bonavista &c in N. foundland, & with some small exceptions makes restitution in W. Indies. In the W. Indies she receives back St. Lucia. In the E. Indies her losses are also restored. Spain retains Minorca & W. Florida which is to extend to 32°. N. L. from Mississippi to head of St. Mary’s. G. B. cedes to her E. Florida & receives back the Bahamas. The Dutch possessions in general are restored. There are a few conditions annexed which I do no[t] call to mind.3 Nothing is said as to the Navigation of the Mississippi. I beg the favr. of you to [send?] this as soon as you shall have perused it to my father.4 & am Dr Sir

Yr friend & Servt.

J. Madison Jr.

P.S. The Preliminiaries appr. to have [been] signed on the 20th. of Jany.

2Lafayette’s letter of 5 February from Cadiz to Robert R. Livingston, secretary for foreign affairs, summarizes many of “the preliminary articles” but fails to mention 20 January 1783 as the day when they were signed (NA: PCC, No. 156, fols. 316–21). From the postscript (q.v.), it is obvious that before sealing the present letter JM had been told only of the probable date. This uncertainty contrasts with the unqualified assertion of the date in his letter to Randolph and in the letter of the delegates to Harrison on 24 March (qq.v.). For this reason, JM almost certainly wrote to Maury early that morning before Congress convened and before the other two letters were penned.

Although Alleyne Fitzherbert, the English commissioner who signed the preliminary treaty of a general peace, released on 20 January a “Declaration” suspending hostilities, to which Adams and Franklin on behalf of the United States appended their formal assent on the same day, the “Proclamation” of King George III of England “declaring the cessation of arms” was not issued until 14 February 1783 (Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., VI, 223–24, 251–52). See also Delegates to Harrison, 25 Mar., and n. 4. For Fitzherbert, see Jefferson to JM, 7–8 Feb. 1783, n. 12.

4James Madison, Sr., at Montpelier, about thirty-five miles west of Fredericksburg.

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