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Congress’ Reply to the Commissioners

June 17.—This day the Congress agreed to an answer to the letters and inclosures sent to them by the commissioners lately arrived at Philadelphia, to treat of reconciliation, of which the following is an extract:1

” The acts of the British Parliament, the commission from your sovereign, and your letter, suppose the people of these States to be subjects of the crown of Great Britain, and are founded on the idea of dependence, which is utterly inadmissible. I am further directed to inform your excellencies,2 that Congress are inclined to peace, notwithstanding the unjust claims from which this war originated, and the savage manner in which it hath been conducted. They will therefore be ready to enter upon the consideration of a treaty of peace and commerce, not inconsistent with treaties already subsisting, when the King of Great Britain shall demonstrate a sincere disposition for that purpose. The only solid proof of this disposition will be an explicit acknowledgment of the independence of these States, or the withdrawing his fleets and armies.” 3

 

1 Letter of Governor Livingston.
2 The answer was drawn by a committee, and sent with the signature of the President.
3 Broadsides, v. i., p. 30, and Gordon, ii. 366. Smythe, in his Diary for July 1, in noting this decision of the Congress, says, “What next? That school of impudence and ingratitude, the Congress, even refuse to listen to the proposals of the commissioners, and say, ’till the British fleets and armies be withdrawn, we will not treat.’ Clinton soon will bring them to their senses, by hanging the leaders higher than Haman’s top-knot, and setting the dupes on the stoniest stools of repentance.”