Papers of John Adams, volume 14

453 Proposed Articles for an Anglo-American Commercial Treaty, [ca. 27 April 1783] Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Hartley, David Jay, John Laurens, Henry
Proposed Articles for an Anglo-American Commercial Treaty
[ca. 27 April 1783]1


Commerce to be in force for Five Years unless sooner altered by a Treaty of Commerce2

1. It is agreed that so soon as his Britannic Majesty, shall have withdrawn all his Armies Garrisons and Fleets, from the Said United states and from every Port Place and Harbour within the Same, according to the 7 Article of the Provisional Treaty of 30 Nov. 1782

all Ports in the Dominions of either Party shall be mutually open for Intercourse and Commerce.3

2. The King of Great Britain agrees for the Repeal of the Prohibitory Acts of 16 Geo. 3 Chapt. 5.—and by Instructions according to the Laws of Great Britain, to the Commissioners of his Customs and other officers to remove all Obstructions to American ships, either entering inwards or clearing outwards, which may arise from any Acts of Parliament, heretofore regulating the Commerce of the American States, under the Description of British Colonies and Plantations, so as to accommodate every Circumstance to the Reception of their ships as the ships of independent States.4

3. All Duties, Drawbacks, Bounties Rights Priviledges and all other Money Considerations Shall remain respecting the United states of America and each of them, their Citizens and People upon the Same footing as they now exist respecting the Province of Nova scotia in America.5 all this subject however to Regulations or Alterations by any future Acts of the Parliament of Great Britain.

4. On the Part of the United States of America it is agreed that all Laws prohibiting the Commerce with Great Britain shall be repealed.6

5. It is agreed, on the Part of the same states, that all Ships and Merchandizes of the British Dominions Shall be admitted upon the same Terms as before the War, excepting any Imposts heretofore laid. All this however subject to future Regulations or Alterations by the Legislature of American States respectively.—7

MS (Adams Papers); endorsed: “A. Project of / Articles of Commerce / from Mr Hartleys.”; filmed at [Dec. 1782 – June 1783].


For JA's drafting of this plan, see the Draft Articles to Supplement the Preliminary Anglo-American Peace Treaty, [ca. 27 April], descriptive note and note 1, above. The 454reference in the endorsement to “Mr Hartleys” is to David Hartley's “Breviate of the Treaty viz Provisional for Intercourse & Commerce between G. B. & the United States of America,” which he enclosed in his 12 March letter to Benjamin Franklin and which JA used as the basis for his draft (Adams Papers; Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:290–291). For JA's modification of Hartley's plan, see notes 2, 3, 5, and 7.


The five-year limit was not in Hartley's proposal.


In Hartley's proposal the first article read, “that all Ports shall be mutually open for Intercourse and Commerce.”


With minor changes in wording, this article is virtually identical to Art. 2 in Hartley's proposal.


In Hartley's proposal the remainder of this sentence read “or as if the aforesaid States had remained dependent upon Great Britain.”


With minor changes in wording, this article is identical to Art. 4 in Hartley's proposal.


With minor changes in wording, this article is virtually identical to Art. 5 in Hartley's proposal, but there it is followed by an Art. 6 that reads “the Principles & Spirit of this Treaty to be supported on either Side by any necessary supplemental arrangements No tacit Compliance on the Part of America in any subordinate Points to be argued at any time hereafter to the Prejudice of their Independence.—”