George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert R. Livingston, 12 March 1783

Philadelphia 12th March 1783

Dear Sir

The Washington Packet arrived this morning, I have not yet had leisure to read all my Letters, but as an Express is ready to go early to Morrow, I rather chuse to rely upon your goodness to excuse a letter written in extreme haste; than to hold myself inexcusable, by not informing you of what we yet know of the State of our Negotiations, none of my Letters are of a latter date than the 24th December, all difficulties had then been removed with respect to us, and the preliminaries were signed, they consist of nine Articles—The

1st Acknowledges our Independance
2d Describes our Boundaries, which are as extensive as we could wish.
3d Assertains our Rights as to the Fishery, and puts them upon the same footing, that they were before the war
4th Provides that all British Debts shall be paid.
The 5th and 6th are enclosed for your perusal, as they are like to be the least satisfactory here.
7th Stipulates that Hostilities shall immediately cease, and the British Troops be withdrawn without carrying off any property, or dismantling
Fortifications—That Records and Archives shall be restored
8th Stipulates that the Navigation of the Missisippi shall be open to us and Great Britain
9th That all Conquests made in America after the Ratification shall be restored

These Preliminaries are only provisional upon the determination of a peace with France—whose negotiations have not made such progress as ours, I beleive they find themselves very much embarrassed by the demands of their other Allies.

The Count de Vergennes in a Letter of the 25th December says.

"I cannot foresee the issue—For difficulties arise from the disposition we have shewn to remove them—It would be well Sir, to prepare Congress for every Event—I do not dispair I rather hope, but all is yet uncertain."

But Sir, whatever the Event of the Negotiations may be, I persuade myself the Enemy will leave these States—Mr Oswald has made propositions to our Ministers upon this subject—proposing that they might be permitted to embark without molestation, and endeavour to recover West Florida from the Spaniards—This last communication (which you will consider as confidential) I thought might be important to your Excellency, by attending to their conduct, you will be able to judge if they mean to pursue this system, or if it was only thrown out to deceive.

I enclose also for your perusal extracts from the addresses not having time to have them copied at large—they are mere Echo’s to the speech—supplies were voted without any dissenting Voice.

I must pray your Excellency to send on the enclosed Packets any Expence it occasions will be paid by the Governor. I have the honor to be Dear Sir with the most respectful Attachment Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Robt R. Livingston

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


c.12 March 1783

Article 5th

It is agreed that the Congress shall earnestly recommend it to the Legislatures of the respective States to provide for the restitution of all Estates, Rights, and Properties which have been confiscated belonging to real british Subjects; and also of the Estates, Rights, and Properties of Persons resident in Districts in the possession of his Majesty’s Arms, and who have not borne Arms against the said United States; And that Persons of any other description shall have free Liberty to go to any Part or Parts of any of the thirteen United States, and therein to remain twelve Months unmolested in their Endeavours to obtain the Restitution of such of their Estates, Rights and Properties as may have been confiscated, and that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several States a reconsideration and revision of all Acts or Laws regarding the Premises, so as to render the said Laws or Acts perfectly consistent not only with Justice and Equity, but with that spirit of Conciliation which on the return of the blessings of Peace should universally prevail. And that Congress shall also earnestly recommend to the several States, that the Estates, Rights and Properties, of such last mentioned Persons shall be restored to them, they refunding to any Persons who may be now in possession the bonâ fide Price (where any has been given) which such Persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said Lands, Rights or Properties since the Confiscation.

And it is Agreed that all Persons who have any interest in confiscated Lands, either by Debts, Marriage Settlements, or otherwise shall meet with no lawful Impediment in the prosecution of their just Rights.

Article 6th

That there shall be no future confiscations [made] nor any prosecutions commenced against any Person or Persons, for, or by reason of the part, which he or they may have taken in the present War, and that no person shall on that account suffer any future loss or damage either in his Person Liberty or Property, and those who may be in confinement on such Charges at the time of the Ratification of the Treaty in America shall be immediately set at Liberty, and the prosecutions so commenced be discontinued.

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