Papers of John Adams, volume 14

Proposed Article Regarding Article 7 of the Preliminary Peace Treaty, 28 April 1783 Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Hartley, David Jay, John Laurens, Henry
Proposed Article Regarding Article 7 of the Preliminary Peace Treaty
[28 April 1783]1


His Britannic Majesty agrees, that within Months from this Date, and as much Sooner as may be, he will withdraw all his Armies, Garrisons and Fleets, from the Said United States, and from every Port Place and Harbour within the Same, and without causing 456any Destruction, or carrying away any Negroes, or other Property of the American Inhabitants, and leaving in all Fortifications the American Artillery that may be therein. and to forthwith order and cause all Archives, Records, Deeds and Papers, belonging to any of the Said States or their Citizens, which in the Course of the War, may have fallen into the Hands of his officers, to be immediately restored and delivered to the proper States and Persons to whom they belong, according to the true Intent and Meaning of the 7 Article of the Provisional Treaty of 30 Nov. 1782

And the United states agree that all Persons who may be resident in Places possessed by his said Majestys Arms, and shall choose to remain there after the Evacuation by his Forces shall have Liberty to do so for twelve Months, they conducting themselves peaceably according to the Laws of the state wherein they may be, and as much longer as they may obtain Permission for from the Legislature of Such state

And it is further agreed that so soon as his Britannic Majesty shall have withdrawn all his Armies Garrisons & Fleets, from the Said United States and from every Port Place & Harbour within the same, as above Stipulated, then and from thence forth, All Rivers Harbours Lakes Ports and Places, belonging to the United states or any of them shall be open and free to the Merchants and others subjects to the Crown of Great Britain and their Merchant Vessells, which Said Merchants and Merchant Vessells shall be received, treated and protected like the Merchants and Merchant ships of the state in which they shall be, and be liable to no other Charges or Duties.

And reciprocally all Rivers Harbours, Lakes Ports and Places under the Dominion of his Britannic Majesty Shall, thence forth be open and free to the Merchants and Merchants ships of the said United states and each and every of them, and of the Citizens and People of each and every of them, which Said Merchants and Merchant Vessells Shall be received treated and protected, like the Merchants and Merchant ships of Great Britain, and shall be liable to no other Charges or Duties.

Saving always to the Chartered trading Companies of Great Britain, Such exclusive Use and Trade of their respective Ports and Establishments as neither the subjects of Great Britain nor any the most favoured nation participates in.


MS (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Project. by A. & J.” and “Project of an / Article. made by A. & J.”; filmed at [Dec. 1782 – June 1783].


JA's Diary entry for 28 April indicates that John Jay came to JA's residence and they “drew together a Proposition, for withdrawing the Troops, opening the Ports and quieting the Tories” (JA, D&A , 3:113). The article formed the basis for the three articles agreed to by David Hartley and the commissioners on the 29th, calendared below.

Articles Proposed to David Hartley by the American Peace Commissioners Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Hartley, David Jay, John Laurens, Henry
Articles Proposed to David Hartley by the American Peace Commissioners

[Paris, 29 April 1783]. PRINTED: JA, D&A, 3:114–115. MS (Adams Papers). LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 109. LbC-Tr (Adams Papers); APM Reel 103. The commissioners proposed three articles to David Hartley. The first required that, in accordance with Art. 7 of the preliminary treaty, Britain evacuate all of its forces from the United States. Then each nation's ports would be opened to the merchant ships of the other, essentially with no distinction as to national origin. The second provided for the freeing, by each nation, of those held for the part they played in the war; that is, with regard to the United States, loyalists. The third provided for the repatriation of prisoners of war and reciprocal reimbursement for the cost of caring for them. John Adams indicates that the articles proceeded from proposals he had drafted on the evening of 27 April, which assumed their final form during discussions between the commissioners on 28 and 29 April (JA, D&A, 3:112–115). For the drafting process and Adams’ part in it, see the draft proposals at [ca. 27] and [28 April], above. Hartley's acceptance of the proposals when he met with the commissioners on the 29th seemed to bode well for the negotiations, and particularly for the establishment of the postwar Anglo-American commercial relationship.

This was misleading, however, because the most important article, the first, was an almost verbatim rendering of Art. 4 of the draft treaty agreed to by Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Richard Oswald on 8 Oct. 1782 (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 5:805–807). The Shelburne ministry had rejected the provision and it did not reappear during the November negotiations leading to the preliminary treaty. Its sense had been resurrected in the American Trade Bill debated in February and March, but the debates indicated that Parliament demanded more, rather than fewer, restrictions on Anglo-American trade. That Hartley, a member of Parliament present during those debates and well aware of the position of the Fox-North coalition ministry that he represented, felt free to agree to such an article is an indication of the ultimate futility of the negotiations between himself and the commissioners regarding anything more than minor adjustments to the language of the preliminary treaty. This is underlined by the absence of any of the articles proposed on the 29th from the definitive treaty, but see also Hartley's proposal of 21 May for the article on Anglo-American trade, calendared, below.