Papers of John Adams, volume 14

Proclamation of the Cessation of Hostilities by the American Peace Commissioners, 20 February 1783 Adams, John Franklin, Benjamin Jay, John
Proclamation of the Cessation of Hostilities by the American Peace Commissioners
[20 February 1783]1

By the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America for making Peace with Great Britain

A Declaration

of the Cessation of Arms, as well by Sea, as Land, agreed upon between His Majesty the King of Great Britain and the United States of America

Whereas Preliminary Articles, were Signed, at Paris, on the thirtieth Day of November last, between the Plenipotentiaries of his Said 282 image 283 image 284Majesty the King of Great Britain, and of the Said States, to be inserted in, and to constitute the Treaty of Peace, to be concluded, between his Said Majesty and the Said United States, when Terms of Peace Should be agreed upon between his Said Majesty, and his most Christian Majesty: And Whereas Preliminaries for restoring Peace, between his Said Majesty the King of Great Britain, and his most Christian Majesty, were Signed at Versailles, on the twentieth Day of January last, by the respective Ministers of their Said Majesties: And Whereas Preliminaries for restoring Peace, between his Said Majesty the King of Great Britain and his Majesty the King of Spain, were also Signed at Versailles on the Twentieth Day of January last, by their respective Ministers: and Whereas, for putting an End to the Calamity of War, as Soon and as far as possible, it hath been agreed, between the King of Great Britain, his most Christian Majesty, the King of Spain, the States General of the United Provinces, and the United States of America as follows, that is to Say.

That Such Vessells and Effects, as Should be taken in the Channel, and in the North Seas, after the Space of Twelve Days, to be computed, from the Ratification of the Said Preliminary Articles, Should be restored on all Sides; That the Term Should be one Month from the Channel and the North Seas as far as the Canary Islands, inclusively, whether in the Ocean or the Mediterranean; Two Months from the Said Canary Islands, as far as the Equinoctial Line or Equator, and lastly five Months, in all other Parts of the World, without any Exception, or any other more particular Description of Time or Place.

And Whereas the Ratifications of the Said Preliminary Articles, between his Said Majesty, the King of Great Britain, and his most Christian Majesty, in due Form were exchanged by their Ministers, on the third day of this instant February, from which Day the Several Terms abovementioned, of Twelve Days, of one Month of two Months and of five Months, are to be computed, relative to all British and American Vessells and Effects.

Now therefore, We, the Ministers Plenipotentiary, from the United States of America, for making Peace with Great Britain do notify to the People and Citizens of the Said United States of America, that Hostilities on their Part, against his Britannic Majesty, both by Sea and Land, are to cease, at the Expiration of the Terms herein before Specified therefor, and which Terms are to be computed, from the third day of February instant. And We do, in the name and by the Authority of the Said United States, accordingly warn and 285enjoin all their Officers and Citizens, to forbear all Acts of Hostility, whatever, either by Land or by Sea, against his Said Majesty, the King of Great Britain, or his Subjects, under the Penalty of incurring the highest Displeasure of the Said United States.

Given at Paris the Twentieth Day of February, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven hundred and Eighty Three

John Adams [SEAL] B Franklin [SEAL] John Jay [SEAL]

MS (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Declaration of an Armi- / stice, made by the American / Ministers, on the 20. Feb. / 1783.” Dft (Adams Papers). LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 109. LbC-Tr (Adams Papers); APM Reel 103.


See George III's reciprocal proclamation of 14 Feb., and note 2; and for a reproduction of the American proclamation, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 7, both above.

From Samuel Vaughan Jr., 21 February 1783 Vaughan, Samuel Jr. Adams, John
From Samuel Vaughan Jr.
Friday 2 oClock [21 February 1783]

Mr Vaughan Junr. presents his best respects to Mr Adams. His Brother being out, & not intending to return before dinner, Mr V Junr. took the liberty of opening Mr Adams’ note:1 He is sorry to find Mr Adams is indisposed, & is sorry, also, he has not a newspaper of any date by him: Mr V however had the pleasure of receiving letters from London last night; there was nothing new, excepting the effect of the signature of the Preliminary Articles,—the Stocks rose to 70 odd. & the Articles were to have been laid before Parliament last Teusday.2 These circumstances were not contained in Mr Vaughan's letters, but were communicated by the person who brought them. Mr Vaughan Junr. begs leave to express his warmest wishes for Mr Adams recovery.

RC (Adams Papers). Filmed at [1783?].


Not found.


For the parliamentary debates over the preliminary peace treaty that actually began on Monday, 17 Feb., see JA's 25 Feb. letter to Jeremiah Allen, and note 4, below.

To Francis Dana, 22 February 1783 Adams, John Dana, Francis
To Francis Dana
Dear Sir Paris February 22. 1783

I was honoured Yesterday with yours of 15 Jany. O.S.1 You must have learnt, sometime that the Peace is made, and the Armistice. 286You can no longer hesitate to make known your Errand. Whether the Advice of the Marquis de Verac is for it or against it, I should think you would now go to the Minister.—2 Your Instructions are Chains Strong Chains.— Whether you shall break them or no as We have been obliged to do, you are the only judge.— There is a Vulcan at Versailles whose constant Employment it has been to forge Chains for American Ministers.— But his Metal has not been fine and strong enough, nor his Art of fabricating it, Sufficiently perfect, to be able to hold a Giant or two who have broken them in Pieces like morcels of Glass.

It is a miserable Situation however to be in, and it is a melancholly Thing for a Man to be obliged to boast that he has departed from Instructions, who has So Sacred a regard to Instructions, and who thinks them when given upon true Information binding upon him in a moral Point of View as well as a political,. But in Such Cases where We know that Instructions are given upon mistaken Information, where We know that if the Principal were upon the spot & knew the Circumstances he would be of the same mind with Us, what shall We say? What shall We do.— Must We ruin our Country in Obedience to an Instruction issued in Error, Misinformation, or Want of Intelligence.? An Admiral is ordered to Sea, the Comte D’Estang for Example with the combined Fleet of Seventy Sail of the Line. He is not to open his orders, untill he arrives in the Latitude of 20.— On his Arrival in this Latitude he opens his orders, and finds them positive And Express, to Set Fire to the Magazine of Powder, in every ship in his Fleet.— What Shall he do? go to the Bottom in good Company? No.— I will return into Port with my Fleet Says the Admiral and lie at my Masters Mercy. Some of his servants have deceived him.

I have written to Congress a Resignation, and expect the Acceptance of it, and to go home in the Spring.

your Sincere Fnd & humble sert.

J. Adams.

I have a Letter from John at Gottenburg 1. Feb.— expects to be at the Hague by the last.3

RC (MHi:Dana Family Papers); internal address: “Mr Dana”; endorsed: “Mr: J. Adams's Letter / Dated Feby: 22d. 1783. N.S. / Recd. March 16th.—O.S.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.


[26 Jan.], above.


Presumably Count Ivan Osterman, the Russian vice chancellor responsible for the day-to-day conduct of foreign affairs. See Dana's letter of [7 March], below.


A second postscript, dated 23 Feb., concerned possible treaty negotiations with Austria. JA included a verbatim transcription 287of the first two paragraphs of William Lee's 18 Feb. letter, above, and the substance of the first sentence of the second paragraph of JA's 23 Feb reply, below. JA then ended the postscript by advising Dana “immediately to communicate your Mission, to the Minister of the Emperor and the Ministers of all the other Courts which have acceded to the Armed Neutrality.” In JA's Letterbook the body of the letter is in John Thaxter's hand, but the second postscript is by JA.