George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert R. Livingston, 9 April 1783

Philadelphia 9th Apl 1783

Dear Sir

I am now to reply to your Letter of the 29th of March, & again to offer you my congratulations on the farther evidence of a general peace having been concluded & ratified—I enter into yr Excellencys feelings on this interesting event the prospect of being soon relieved from the cares[,] the distresses, the Labours, the difficulties which for the last seven years have embittered your enjoyments—the consciousness of having merited the gratitude & esteem of the present and future generations, the hope of seeing your country in full possession of the blessings you have so largely contributed to procure for her, must excite emotions which will perhaps make the best part of your reward, at least in this world—How much is it to be lamented that shadows, clouds, & darkness still obscure our future prospects? But sir, while the depravity & interestedness of which you so justly complain pervade the mass of the people, which our Legislatures are beset by factions while Justice is kept waiting at their door, while national faith, & national honor as things of little moment, we can hardly hope that our distresses will terminate with the war. Already I see a wish in men of influence in their states to [elude] the operation of our treaty advantagious as it is to us And I much fear that in some States so little integrity will be found as to lead them only to refuse to pay the debts contracted with England notwithstanding the express stipulation in the treaty—I should send your Excellency a copy of the Marquis De Lafayettes letter to me were this to go by any other conveyance than the common post—The paragraph you send me contains the outlines of it.

Nothing would give me more pleasure than to be able to promote this object of his as I feel the obligations he has imposed upon us—But I am satisfied that the measure would meet wth very great difficulty in Congress, where notwithstanding the generous conduct of our ally many view her with jealous Eyes and reasons (which to say the least) are plausible, may be urged against it. The honor of the nation seems to require that it should be represented by a native—that it should not appear to act under foriegn influence—too close a connection with France might render her foes jealous of us—the court of St James’s might consider this as an insulting step, a variety of other considerations of a similar nature oppose themselves so much to this measure that tho my personal friendship for the Marquis induces me to [concur] with your Excellency in your wish that he may be gratified as far as possible. Yet I have barely reconciled myself to it, when I have & shall have reason to hope that I may propose it with success I shall leave no means unessayed to effect it. Comparing the present treaty with our provisional articles I am at a loss to determine whether hostilities ceased between us & Great Britain the 3d of Feby the 3d of March or the 3d of April as our treaty seems to imply it is to take effect from the signature of the treaty between France & Great Britain hostilities must have ceased on their ratifying it. if hostilities were to cease between us at the same time that they ceased between them & France, then it becomes a question what is meant by as far as the western Islands &c.? If it means, as one would suppose, in the same latitude, then hostilities ceased on a very considerable part of our coasts on the 3d of March—If it ref[ers] to the actual distance thus the term of two [months] must be given—This is a very important question on the determination of which much property will depend—I have the honor to be Dear Sir with very great respect & esteem Your Excellencys Most Obt hum. Servt

Rob. R. Livingston

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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