Diary of John Adams, volume 4

July 25. 1778.

fifth of November 1779

Instructions from Congress
Sir 16 October 1779

You will herewith receive a Commission giving you full Power, to negotiate a Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, in doing which you will conform to the following Information and Instructions.

First. The United States are sincerely desirous of Peace and wish, by every means consistent with their Dignity and Safety, to spare the further Effusion of Blood. They have therefore, by your Commission and these Instructions laboured to remove the Obstacles to that Event, before The Enemy have evidenced their Disposition for it…. But as the great Object of the present defensive War on the part of the Allies is to establish the Independence of the United States, and as any Treaty, whereby this End cannot be obtained, must be only ostensible and illusory, You are therefore to make it a preliminary Article, to any proposition14, that Great Britain shall agree to treat with the United States as sovereign, free And independent.

Secondly. You shall take especial Care also, that the Independence of the said States be effectually assured and confirmed by the Treaty or Treaties of Peace, according to the form and Effect of the Treaty of Alliance with his Most Christian Majesty; and You shall not agree to such Treaty or Treaties, unless the same be thereby so assured and confirmed.

Thirdly. The Boundaries of these States are as follow, vizt. These States are bounded North, by a line to be drawn from the Northwest Angle of Nova Scotia, along the highlands, which divide those Rivers which empty themselves into the River St. Lawrence, from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean, to the Northwestermost head of Connecticut River, thence down along the middle of that River to the forty fifth degree of North Latitude, thence due West, in the Latitude of Forty five degrees North from the Equator, to the Northwestermost Side of the River St. Lawrence or Cadaraqui, thence straight to the South end of Lake Nipissing and thence straight to the Source of the River Mississippi: West, by a Line to be drawn along the middle of the River Mississippi, from its Source to where the said Line shall intersect the thirty first degree of North Latitude: South, by a Line to be drawn due East from the Termination of the Line last mentioned in the Latitude of Thirty one degrees North from the Equator, to the Middle of the River Appalachicola, or Catahouchi, thence along the Middle thereof, to its Junction with the Flint River, thence straight to the 182head of St. Mary's River, and thence down along the Middle of St. Mary's River to the Atlantic Ocean: And East by a Line to be drawn along the Middle of St. Johns River, from its Source to its Mouth in the Bay of Fundy, comprehending all Islands within twenty Leagues of any part of the Shores of the United States and lying between Lines to be drawn due East, from the Points where the aforesaid Boundaries between Nova Scotia on the one Part and East Florida on the other Part, shall respectively touch the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Ocean. You are therefore strongly to contend, that the whole of the said Countries and Islands lying within the Boundaries aforesaid And every Citadel, Fort, Post, Place, harbour and Road to them belonging, be absolutely evacuated by the Land and Sea Forces of his Britannic Majesty, and yeilded to the Powers of the States to which they respectively belong, in such Situation as they may be, at the termination of the War. But notwithstanding the clear right of these States, and the importance of the Object, yet they are so much influenced by the Dictates of Religion and Humanity, and so desirous of complying with the earnest requests of their Allies, that if the Line to be drawn from the mouth15 of the Lake Nipissing to the head of the Mississippi, cannot be obtained without continuing the War for that purpose, You are hereby empowered to agree to some other Line between that Point and the River Mississippi, provided the same shall in no part thereof be to the Southward of Latitude Forty five degrees North: And in like manner, if the Eastern Boundary above described cannot be obtained you are hereby empowered to agree, that the same shall be afterwards adjusted by Commissioners to be duely appointed for that purpose, according to such Line as shall be by them settled and agreed on as the Boundary between that part of the State of Massachusetts Bay formerly called the Province of Maine and the Colony of Nova Scotia agreably to their respective Rights: And You may also consent that the Enemy shall destroy such Fortifications as they may have erected.

Fourthly. Although it is of the Utmost Importance to the Peace and Commerce of the United States, that Canada and Nova Scotia should be ceded and more particularly that their equal and common Right to the Fisheries should be guarantied to them, Yet a desire of terminating the War, hath induced Us not to make the Acquisition of these Objects an Ultimatum on the present Occasion. 16


Fifthly. You are empowered to agree to a Cessation of Hostilities during the Negotiation, provided our Ally shall consent to the same, and provided it shall be stipulated that all the Forces of the Enemy shall be immediately withdrawn from the United States.

Sixthly. In all other matters not above mentioned You are to govern yourself by the Alliance between his most Christian Majesty and these States; by the Advice of our Allies, by your Knowledge of our Interests, and by your own discretion, in which We repose the fullest Confidence.

Done at Philadelphia, the Sixteenth day of October, in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Seven hundred and Seventy nine, and in the fourth Year of our Independence.

By The Congress of the United States of America Saml. Huntington President Attest Cha Thomson Secy.
The Honble. John Adams Esq. Minister Plenipotentiary, appointed to negotiate a Treaty of Peace.