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The American Revolution
Revolutionary War: Groping Toward Peace 1781-1783

By the United States in Congress Assembled, A Proclamation, January 14, 1784

Achieving peace with and independence from Great Britain was one thing. Achieving peace within the United States was quite another, especially since the American Revolution was in many respects a civil war. Upon ratifying the Definitive Articles of Peace with Great Britain, the Congress issued the following proclamation [first and second paragraphs] and attached a recommendation [third paragraph]. What was the purpose of the proclamation? What was the purpose of the recommendation Congress made to the states?

View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


Whereas definitive articles of peace and friendship between the United States of America and his Britannic Majesty, were concluded and signed at Paris, on the third day of September, 1783, by the plenipotentiaries of the said United States and of his said Britannic Majesty, duly and respectively authorized for that purpose: which definitive articles are in the words following: [Here insert the treaty as above.]

And we, the United States in Congress assembled, having seen and duly considered the definitive articles aforesaid, did, by a certain act under the seal of the United States, bearing date this 14 day of January, 1784, approve, ratify and confirm the same, and every part and clause thereof, engaging and promising, that we would sincerely and faithfully perform and observe the same, and never suffer them to be violated by any one, or transgressed in any manner, as far as should be in our power; and being sincerely disposed to carry the said articles into execution, truly, honestly and with good faith, according to the intent and meaning thereof, we have thought proper by these presents, to notify the premises to all the good citizens of these United States, hereby requiring and enjoining all bodies of magistracy, legislative, executive and judiciary, all persons bearing office, civil or military, of whatever rank, degree or power, and all others the good citizens of these states, of every vocation and condition, that reverencing those stipulations entered into on their behalf, under the authority of that federal bond, by which their existence as an independent people is bound up together, and is known and acknowledged by the nations of the world, and with that good faith which is every man's surest guide, within their several offices, jurisdictions and vocations, they carry into effect the said definitive articles, and every clause and sentence thereof, sincerely, strictly and completely.

Given under the seal of the United States. Witness his Excellency Thomas Mifflin, our president, at Annapolis, this 14 day of January, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four, and of the sovereignty and independence of the United States of America the eighth.

Resolved, unanimously, nine states being present, That it be, and it is hereby earnestly recommended to the legislatures of the respective states, to provide for the restitution of all estates, rights and properties, which have been confiscated, belonging to real British subjects, and also of the estates, rights and properties of persons resident in districts, which were in the possession of his Britannic Majesty's arms, at any tune between the 30 day of November, 1782, and the 14 day of January, 1784, and who have not borne arms against the said United States, and that persons of any other description, shall have free liberty to go to any part or parts of any of the thirteen United States, and therein to remain twelve months unmolested in their endeavours to obtain the restitution of such of their estates, rights and properties, as may have been confiscated: And it is also hereby earnestly recommended to the several states, to reconsider and revise all their acts or laws regarding the premises, so as to render the said laws or acts perfectly consistent, not only with justice and equity, but with that spirit of conciliation, which, on the return of the blessings of peace, should universally prevail: and it is hereby also earnestly recommended to the several states, that the estates, rights and properties of such last mentioned persons should be restored to them, they refunding to any persons who may be now in possession, the bona fide price, (where any has been given) which such persons may have paid on purchasing any of the said lands, rights or properties since the confiscation.

Ordered, That a copy of the proclamation of this date, together with the recommendation, be transmitted to the several states by the secretary.
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View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

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