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Letter from John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin to Richard Oswald
Adams, John, 1735-1826; Jay, John, 1745-1829; Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
November 05, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 453-454

ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING LETTER.
[From Executive Letter Book.]

[Copy.]

Sir:

In answer to the Letter you did us the honor to write on the 4th Instant, we beg leave to repeat what we often said in conversation, to-wit: that the restoration of such of the estates of refugees, as have been confiscated by the Laws of particular States, and in many instances have passed by legal titles through several hands will be difficult, besides, Sir, as this is a matter evidently appertaining to the internal polity of the separate States, the Congress, by the nature of our Constitution, have no power to interfere with it.

As to your demand of compensation to those persons we forbear enumerating our reasons for thinking it ill-founded. In the moment of conciliatory overtures, it would not be proper to call certain scenes into view, over which a variety of considerations should induce both parties to draw a veil. Permit us, therefore, only to repeat that we cannot stipulate for such compensations, unless on your part it be agreed to make restitutions to our Citizens for the heavy losses they have sustained by the unnecessary destruction of private property.

We have already agreed to an amnesty more extensive than justice required, and full and as extensive as humanity could demand; we can, therefore, only repeat that it cannot be extended further.

-------------------- page 454 --------------------
We should be sorry if the absolute impossibility of our complying further with your propositions should induce Great Britain to continue the War for the sake of those who caused and prolonged it; but if that should be the case we hope that the utmost latitude will not again be given to its rigours.

Whatever may be the issue of the negotiation, be assured, Sir, that we shall always acknowledge the liberal, manly and candid manner in which you have conducted it, & that we shall remain with the warmest sentiments of esteem & regard, Sir, your most obedient Servants,

(Signed)
JOHN ADAMS,
JOHN JAY,
B. FRANKLIN.