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Letter from Benjamin Hawkins and Hugh Williamson to Alexander Martin
Hawkins, Benjamin, 1754-1816; Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819
August 23, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 864-866

HONS. HU. WILLIAMSON AND BENJ. HAWKINS TO GOVERNOR MARTIN.
[From Executive Letter Book.]

Princeton, August 23rd, 1783.

Sir:

Since our last private Letters, we have received the enclosed of the 17th Instant from Sir Guy Carlton. The other six numbers are these referred to in Sir Guy’s Letter. These enclosures with these we

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formerly sent, make the whole of the correspondence on this subject. We observed on the 16th that Congress had received letters from Mr. Lawrens dated London, June 17th, informing them Mr. Fox had given him assurances that positive orders for the removal of the British forces from New York were actually dispatched. These are the orders alluded to probably in Sir Guy Carlton’s Letter, and if, as he seems to assert, it is to depend on Congress and the respective Legislatures to facilitate the evacuation, by abating the fears of the Loyalists it naturally follows that altho Congress should earnestly recommend the completion of the 4th, 5th & 6th articles of the provisional Treaty, the British forces could not be removed from New York until the British General knew the effect of such earnest recommendations, & how much the fears of the Loyalists were abated; as he observes he should shew an indifference to the feelings of humanity, as well as to the honor and interest of his nation, to leave any of the Loyalists that were desirous to quit the Country a prey to the violence they conceive they have so much cause to apprehend. As this Letter warrants no other conclusion the evacuation cannot possibly take effect till late in the fall or perhaps early in the ensuing Spring. Congress have judged proper to suspend the recommendations stipulated by the Treaty, as well as the sending forward the Treaty to the several States, altho it is ratified: and whether they will do anything further in this business until they hear from their Ministers at Paris is at present uncertain.

We are well satisfied that your Excellency must be in a very disagreeable suspence respecting the whole of this important affair, and we lament it is not in our power to remove it, having received no letters from our Ministers at Paris since February. Mr Lawrens informs us that the British Ministry from late accounts are in a tottering state, and should the late premier receive the reins which were plucked out of his hand, he apprehended every thing in his power will be attempted to embarrass our proceedings. Eight years experience is sufficient to teach us, that we have every thing to fear, & nothing to expect from the British Empire, but what springs from our own, & the generous exertions of our magnanimous Ally. Certainly the explanation given by Sir Guy Carlton of the article respecting the negroes, is not warranted if we understand the language it is expressed in; and we should have supposed it to spring from the

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politics of the British Court had not the General avowed it as an opinion of his own, and you will observe his reasoning on it is as fallacious as their whole conduct has been deceitful & wicked.

The fears of the British Ministry respecting the trade of America begin to subside. Their boast of perfect reciprocity while they were reduced, and compelled as it were, for their political safety to enter into the provisional treaty with us, appears now to mean enjoyment on one part and restrictions on the other. Mr. Lawrens supposes this change to have been wrought by the sudden and expected arrival of divers Ships and Cargoes from different parts of the United States into England. We long foresaw and feared this evil, but it was impossible with effect to offer a check to it: the mercantile interest about Congress being so powerful & opposed to the least suspension of an immediate & free trade with all the World. Every circumstance proves our precipitancy to be extreme folly: and unless Congress should be able wisely and immediately to interpose, no treaty can be made, that will bind all the States, as no treaty could be made, that would in every thing suit the different interests of all the different States.

The Contractors for supplying the Spanish navy & army, have given a preference to the Americans to supply them with such articles as are wanted, Vizt. Masts, spars, tar, pitch, grain and rice. We submit to your Excellency whether as our State will (unrivalled by the United States) be able to furnish the greatest part of these articles, it would not be prudent for the Legislature to attend to the Inspection Laws. If we should be guilty of any frauds, the Spaniards will certainly reject our commerce and depend for supplies from the Baltic.

We have the honor to be, &c.,
BENJAMIN HAWKINS,
HUGH WILLIAMSON,
His Excellency Governor Martin.