Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Revolution and Founding Fathers (1765 - 1784) Offerings


Other Early Republic (1784 - c.1830) Offerings


Charles Thomson (One of Only Two Men to Sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4) Sends Treaty of Paris Proclamation Officially Ending the Revolutionary War
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

Charles Thomson of Pennsylvania served as Secretary of the Continental and Confederation Congresses throughout their entire fifteen-year existence, from 1774 to 1789. In that position, he signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th. With a very small executive department, the role was much more than clerical; especially when Congress was not in session, he essentially acted as the prime minister of the pre-Constitutional United States.

This letter to the governor of Georgia transmitted printed copies of the Proclamation of the Treaty of Paris and Congressional Resolution (both no longer present), written by Thomas Jefferson, recommending that the states restore the confiscated property of all British subjects who had “not borne arms against the...United States” in a “spirit of conciliation.” The recipient, John Houstoun, had taken office as governor of Georgia one week earlier.

CHARLES THOMSON. Manuscript Letter Signed, to Georgia Governor John Houstoun, January 16, 1784, Annapolis, Maryland. 1 p., 6¼ x 7¾ in.

Inventory #27680       Price: $37,500

Complete Transcript

                                                                        Secretary’s Office January 16th 1784


            In pursuance of an Order of the United States in Congress Assembled I have the honor of transmitting you the enclosed Proclamation and recommendation and

                                                                        am with all due respect / Your Excellency’s

                                                                        most obedient & most hum Servt

                                                                        Chas Thomson

His Excellency / The Governor of Georgia

The original enclosures are no longer present.

Historical Background
Negotiation to bring the American Revolutionary War to an end began in Paris in April 1782. They completed a draft treaty on November 30, 1782, which the Confederation Congress approved in April 1783, but representatives of both sides did not sign the Treaty of Paris until September 3, 1783. The Confederation Congress, temporarily convened at Annapolis, Maryland, ratified the Treaty of Congress on January 14, 1784.

Immediately after ratification, the Confederation Congress passed the following resolutions, written by Thomas Jefferson.

Resolved, That a proclamation be immediately issued, notifying the said definitive treaty and ratification to the several states of the union, and requiring their observance thereof in the form following:

By the United States in Congress assembled,


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.[1]

-- --

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.[2]

Ordered, That a copy of the proclamation of this date, together with the recommendation, be transmitted to the several states by the secretary.[3]

Congress ordered John Dunlap to print broadsides of the ratification as well as the separate “recommendation” proclamation. This letter from Thomson enclosed printed copies of both.

Georgia’s Revolutionary War History
Chartered in 1732, Georgia was the youngest of the thirteen colonies that became the United States. It was also the most remote and the most sparsely populated. As the conflict brewed, Royal Governor Sir James Wright used his influence and patronage to keep Georgia aligned with the Crown. Despite those efforts, in January 1775, five of twelve parishes sent representatives to a Provincial Congress in Savannah which met to respond to Britain’s punishment of Boston. Governor Wright adjourned the legislature to prevent it from supporting the Provincial Congress.

Georgia’s first overt revolutionary act occurred in Savannah on May 11, 1775, less than a month after Lexington and Concord. Patriots broke into a powder magazine and removed the gunpowder, sending some of it to South Carolina and concealing the rest in their cellars. In June 1775, a patriot Council of Safety was elected, and in July, the Provincial Congress appointed delegates to the Continental Congress.

By the time Wright called the legislature to reconvene in November, the province was in patriot hands. After a small British fleet arrived off Savannah in mid-January 1776, the patriots briefly took Governor Wright prisoner, but he escaped on February 11 to the HMS Scarborough. During the night of March 2-3, overcoming militia opposition, British troops seized a number of rice boats for provisions. After an exchange of prisoners and capture of several arriving vessels, the British fleet departed for Nova Scotia with 1,600 barrels of rice and the deposed governor.

By early March, Archibald Bulloch, John Houstoun, Dr. Lyman Hall, Button Gwinnett, and George Walton were appointed to represent Georgia in the Continental Congress. In April, though, Bulloch was chosen as President and Commander in Chief of Georgia, keeping him there. Houstoun also remained to work with the Committee of Safety.

Gwinnett served briefly as president of Georgia, and Hall and Walton both later served as governor. Walton was expelled due to conflict with Gwinnett, and was censured for supporting a duel in which his ally General Lachlan McIntosh killed Gwinnett.

When the Revolutionary War reached a stalemate in the north, British commanders turned south, looking for Loyalist allies. In December 1778, a British expeditionary force captured Savannah. Early in 1779, they captured Augusta, but soon abandoned it. Former Governor Wright returned to Savannah in July 1779, making Georgia the only colony restored to royal rule.  Following a two-month siege in the spring of 1780, General Benjamin Lincoln was forced to surrender his 5,000 men, and Charleston fell to the British.

The Franco-American victory at Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1781, effectively ended the war. The British withdrew from Savannah in July 1782 and from Charleston that December. The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, formally ending the war, was ratified in 1784.

Note: The Georgia State Archives, established in 1918, holds only a handful of records pertaining to the Revolutionary War.

Charles Thomson (1729-1824) was born in Ireland to Scots-Irish parents. After his mother’s death, his father set out with his sons to the British colonies, but his father died at sea, and Thomson and his brothers were separated in America. A blacksmith in Delaware cared for him, and he received an education in Pennsylvania. In 1750, he became a Latin tutor in Philadelphia. After becoming a leader of Philadelphia’s Sons of Liberty, he served as secretary to the Continental and Confederation Congresses through their entire history, from 1774 to 1789. Thomson and Congress President John Hancock were the only two men actually to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. In 1782, Thomson took the work of three previous committees to create a final design for the Great Seal of the United States. He remained the keeper of the seal until the creation of the new federal government when the role passed to the Secretary of State. In April 1789, Thomson traveled to Mount Vernon to notify George Washington of his election as the first president. He resigned as secretary of Congress in July 1789. Political disagreements kept him from a position in the new federal government. He spent the next two decades preparing the first English translation from the Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament and the first American translation of the New Testament, published in 1808.

John Houstoun (1744-1796) was born in the Georgia colony to Scots immigrants and educated in Savannah, where he read law. He was admitted to the bar and began a law practice in Savannah. He married Hannah Bryan; they had no children. They built a home nine miles northwest of Savannah. Although he was appointed to the Governor’s Council, Houstoun was one of the leaders of the revolutionary movement in Georgia. He was an original member of the Committee of Correspondence to support Boston against the Intolerable Acts. He was a representative to the Provincial Congress of Georgia, which elected him to the First Continental Congress, but he declined to serve. He served as a representative of Georgia to the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and was reappointed for 1776 but did not attend, remaining in the colony to oppose Loyalist efforts. From January 1778 to January 1779, Houstoun served as the second revolutionary Governor of Georgia. That year, he led the Georgia militia in an abortive attempt to seize the British port of St. Augustine, Florida. When the British captured Savannah in December 1778, Houstoun went into hiding. When the British evacuated Savannah in 1782, he returned home and was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. He served as Governor of Georgia from January 1784 to January 1785. He served as the first mayor of Savannah from 1790 to 1791, after which he served as a justice of the Superior Court of Georgia.

Condition: Nearly separated along integral fold with splitting to an edge of one horizontal fold. Uneven toning with scattered soiling and foxing.

[1]By the United States in Congress Assembled, A Proclamation” Annapolis, John Dunlap, 1784, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

[2]By the United States in Congress Assembled, January 14, 1784,” Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

[3]Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Volume XXVI. 1784 January 1—May 10 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1928), 29-31.

Add to Cart Ask About This Item Add to Favorites