I received your Letter of the 6th instant informing me of the arrival of a packet by which you have official intelligence that the preliminary articles of Peace with France and Spain were signed at Paris the 20th of January last, that the ratifications have been since exchanged and that his Brittanic Majesty has ordered a cessation of arms to be proclaimed as well by sea as by land, and that you propose agreeably to his orders, to issue a similar proclamation and to set at liberty your prisoners of War. This interesting intelligence was communicated to the United States in Congress, who tho’ they had yet received no official accounts would immediately have made it the basis of pacific measures without entertaining doubts of its authencity, or yielding to suspicions which would tend to prolong the calamities of War, but while these measures were under consideration, they received from their Ministers official advices of the agreement between them and the Court of Great Britain relative to a cessation of hostilities on which they have founded the enclosed proclamation: they have likewise under consideration measures for the discharge of the prisoners. Those measures will be carried into effect as soon as possible after they are determined on.
It cannot be doubted Sir, as you justly observe, that Congress will embrace the earliest opportunity to perform the stipulations contained in the 5th as well as every other of the provisional articles, immediately after the same shall have been ratified. In the meanwhile it must be obvious to your Excellency that a recommendation to restore to the Loyalists the estates they have forfeited, will come with less weight before Legislatures composed of men whose property is still withheld from them by the continuance of his Britannic Majesty’s Fleets and armies in this Country, than it will do when Peace and the full enjoyment of their rights shall have worn down those asperities which have grown out of eight years War. This reflection will I doubt not induce you to give every facility in your
I give the fullest credit Sir to your assurances that you are ready to cultivate the Spirit of harmony and good will between the Subjects & Citizens of his Britannic Majesty & these States, since I find them warranted by the humanity which has uniformly distingushed your command in America. But Sir, time only, with liberality in those who govern in both Countries can entirely efface the remembrance of what has passed, & produce that perfect good will, which I sincerely concur with you in wishing to cultivate.