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Full text of "The diplomatic correspondence of the American Revolution, being the letters of Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, John Adams, John Jay, Arthur Lee, William Lee, Ralph Izard, Francis Dana, William Carmichael, Henry Laurens, John Laurens, M. de Lafayette, M. Dumas, and others, concerning the foreign relations of the United States during the whole Revolution; together with the letters in reply from the secret committee of Congress, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, also the entire correspondence of the French ministers, Gerard and Luzerne, with Congress"

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the entire correspondence of the french ministers, 

ger.\rd and luzerne, with congress. 

Published under the Direction of the President of the United States, from 

the original Manuscripts in the Department of State, conformably 

to a Resolution of Congress, of March 27th, 1818. 


VOL. 111. 







y .>^ 

/ ?^^ 

male's steam press. 
No. 6 Suffolk Buildings, Congress Street, Boston. 




I Page. 

To John Hancock, President of Congress. Nantes, 

December Sth, 1776, 5 

Anoounccs his arrival in France. — Does not assume 
a public character. — Military stores destined for 

To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. 
Nantes, December 8tb, 1776, _ _ - 7 

The Committee of Secret Correspondence to Ben- 
jamin Franklin. Baltimore, January 1st, 1777, 9 

Announcing his appointment as Commissioner to Spain. 

To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Pa- 
ris, January 4lb, 1777, _ - _ _ 9 

Arrives ii\ Paris.— Has an audience with Count de 
Vergennes. — Interview with the Spanish Ambassa- 
dor. — The nation favorable to the American cause. 

To the President of Congress. Paris, January 20th, 

1777, ... - . 1 - 10 

Recommending Captain Balm. 

To the Count d'Aranda, Spanish Ambassador to the 

Court of France. Passy, April 7th, 1777, - 11 

Communicates the propositions of tlie United States 
to Spain. — Congress will also assist France and 
Spain ill ?he conquest of the English sugar islands. 

To General Washington. Paris, June 13th, 1777, 12 

RecommeR<ling Count Kotkouski — Count Pulaski. 

To General Washington. Paris, June 13tb, 1777, 13 

Recommending Baron de Fre>. 



M. Dubourg to B. Franklin. Paris, September 
8th, 1777, - - 14 

Requesting a letter of recommendation for M. Ge- 
rard, who wishes to settle in America. 

To Richard Peters. Passy, September 12th, 1777, 15 

Recommending M. Gerard. 

Remarks on a Loan for the United States, - - 15 

America a safer debtor than Britain, from her general 
industry, frugality, prudence, abilty, and virtue. 

To David Hartley, member of Parliament. Passy, 

October 14th, 1777, ----- 23 

The conduct of Great Britain has rendered submission 
impossible — Cruel treatment of the American pris- 
oners in England. — Propositions for their relief. 

To James Lovell. Paris, December 21st, 1777, 27 

Mr Deane's recommendations of officers — Numerous 
and vexatious applications, with high recommenda- 

To James Hutton. Passy, February 1st, 1778, 29 

Means of reconciling America. 

To David Hartley. Passy, February 12th, 1778, 31 

Alienation of America from Great Britain. — Kindness 
and cordiality df France. — Change of Ministry ne- 
cessary for conciliation. — Subscriptions in England 
for the relief of American prisoners. — Mr Hutton. 

To David Hartley. Passy, February 26lh, 1778, ' 34 

Lord North's conciliatory bills. — Advice to the Eng- 
lish whigs. 

To James Hutton. Passy, Marcii 24th, 1778, - 37 

The Commissioners are ready to treat. 

Note from William Pultney to B. Franklin. March 

29th, 1778, ------ 37 

Desires an interview with Dr Franklin. 

To William Pultney. Passy, March 30th, 1778, 38 

America cannot treat on any terms short of indepen- 
dence — will not treat at all in case of a war against 

To Dr Bancroft. Passy, April 16tb, 1778, - 40 

British Commissioners cannot succeed in America on 
their terms. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. Paris, April 23d, 

1778, ------- 40 

Advises him to take care of his own safety. 

To Count de Vergennes. Passy, April 24th, 1778, 41 

Giving an account of his conversations with Mr Hart- 
ley ; of the visit of Mr Chapman, an agent of Lord 
Shelburne. — The Quebec fleet. 



Count de Vergeimes lu B. Franklin. Versailles, 

April 25th, 1778, 44 

Policy of tlie Knglisli to excite divisions and distrust. 

James Lovcll to B. Franklin. Yorktown, June 20th, 

1778, ----- - _ 45 

Answer to a letter from Brussels. Passy, July 1st, 
1778, ------- 45 

Reply to insinuations against the faith of France. — 
Future prospects of .\tnerica. — Acknowledgment of 
the independency of little consequence to America. 
— The King's political studies. — Peace is to be ob- 
tained only on equal terms. — Ridicules the ofl'ers 
of rewards. 

To James Lovell. Passy, July 22d, 1778, - 52 

Proceedings relative to INIr Deane. — Beaumarchais. — 
Eleventh and twelfth articles of the treaty. — Mr 
Iznrd. — Inconvenience and expense of maintaining 
.several Commissioners instead of one. — War be- 
tween England and France ; war in Gernjany. — 
Difficulty of raisiqg loans. — Drafts of Congress on 
the Commissioners. 

Instructions to B. Franklin, as Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary to the Court of France, - - - 59 

Committee of Foreign Affairs to B. Franklin. Phil- 
adelphia, Ociober 28th, 1778, - - - 02 

Forwarding his new credentials. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, De- 
cember 8th, 1778, - - _ _ - 63 

Depreciation of the currency. 

Dr Price toB. Franklin. London, Jan. 18th, 1779, 64 

Declines removing to America. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, Janu- 
ary 29th, 1779, 65 

English successes in Georgia. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, Feb- 
ruary 8th, 1779, 66 

To David Hartley. Passy, February 22d, 1779, 06 

America cannot relinquish her alliance with France 
to treat with Britain. 

Letter respecting Captain Cook. Passy, March 
10th, 1779, ------ 67 

Recommending tn aflbrd Captain Cook all the assist- 
ance he may need. 

To David Hartley. Passy, March 21st, 1779, - OS 

Delay in the exchange of prisoners. — Losses of the 
English. — Growth of America. 


David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, April 22d, 

1779, ------- 70 

Proposing a truce. — Interests of France. — Advantages 
of adopting some preliminaries. 

Observations by Mr Hartley, - - - - 74 

Enclosed in the preceding. 

Instructions to John Paul Jones, Commander of the 
American Squadron in the service of the United 
States, now in the port of L'Orient, _ - 77 

To David Hartley. Passy, May 4th, 1779, - 78 

Relative to iVIr Hartley's propositions. 

To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Passy, May 
26th, 1779, 81 

Receives his credentials. — Presented to the King. — 
American prisoners in France released. — Caj)tain 
Jones's squadron. — E."5change of prisoners with 
England. — American prisoners there committed for 
high treason. — JSecker unfavorabh' disposed towards 
America. — Accounts of the Commissioners. — Diffi- 
culty of raising a loan. — Charges of William Lee 
and Ralph Izard. — Recommends the appointment ., , i' 
of consuls. — Agents and applications of the sepa- 
rate States. — Barbary Powers. — Disposition of the 
French. — Preparations of Spain. — Preparations in 
J'rance. — Opinion of the Howes, Cornwallis, k.c. of 
the impracticability of the conquest of America. 

To James Lovell. Passy, June 2d, 1779, - - 95 

Currency. — Charges of Mr Lee and Mr Izard. — Com- 
munication between Europe and America. — M. de 
la Luzerne. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, June ' 
13th, 1779, 98 

Enclosing a resolve relative to Beaumarchais's ac- 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, July 

9th, 1779, - - - - . - , - - 98 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, July 
16th, 1779, 99 

Burning of Fairfield. — Compensation of Ministers. — 
Forwards letters to the King of France. — Invoices 
of supplies desired. 

Instructions from Congress to B. Franklin. In Con- 
gress, August 14th, 1779, - - - - 101 

Proposing the mutual guaranty of the fisheries by 
France and the United States. 

To the Marquis de Lafayette. Passy, August 24th, 

1779," 104 

Forwarding him a sword, in the name of the Con- 



Tlie Marquis de Lafayette to B- Franklin. Havre, 

August 29tl), J 779, 104 

Aikiio\vlecls'"S '''<^ rcreplion of llie sword. 

To James Lovell. Passy, September oOtli, 1770, 105 

Supplies. — Receives nnlliiiij; liiiiiseH'. 

To Mr Bridgen. Passy, October 2d, 1779, - 106 

Devices on coins. 

To John Jay, President of Congress. Passy, Octo- 
ber 4iii, 1779, 108 

Bcamn.Trchais's acconn(s. — Supplies. — M. NculVillos 
offers of a loan. — D<'nian(ls of Mr Ross, Mr Izaid, 
anil .Mr Lee. — Inactivity of il.c combin°d fleets. — 
Relations of Holland and England. — Favorable dis- 
position of Portu^jal. — Exchange of prisoners. — 
Jones's cruise in the Englisii waters. — Coinplaints 
of French officers returning fioin America. — Com- 
plaints against .American cruisers — Luxury of the 
Americans — .Monument to General Montgomery — 
Supplies from Spain. 

To James Lovell. Pass/, October 17th, 1779, - US 

Jones's cruise. — Mr Lee and Mr Deane. — Prospect of 
peace. — Return of Commodore Jones. 

To R. Beriistorf, Minister of Foreign Afifairs in Den- 
mark. Passy, December 22d, 1779, - - 121 

Remonstrates against the seizure of the American 
prizes in the ports of Norway. 

To David Hnriley. Passy, February 2d, 17S0, - 125 

America will not treat vviihont her allies. — His former 
offers to pay for the tea destroyed in Boston — Indis- 
position to peace on the part of Enjlaiid. — Ex- 
change of prisoners.— British barbarities in Amer- 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, Feb- 
ruary 24th, 17S.0, 128 

Drafts merely nominal. 

To Samuel Huntington, President cf Congress. 
Passy, March 4th, "1780, - - - - 129 

Seizure of the prizes in Norway. — Quarrel l>clween 
Commodore Jones and Captain Landais. — Nects- 
sity of appoiiiiiiig a consul — Exchange of prison- 
ers — Prospects of England. — Supplies of France. 

From R. Beriiitorl', i\lini.stcr of Foreign Afliiirs in 
Denmark, to B. Frunklin. Copenhagen, 31arch 
8ih, 1780, 134 

On the seizure of the American prizes. 

To James Lovell. Passy, March iGili, 1780, - 135 

Proposcil convcniiou in Lc^ndon. — Airairs of England. 
VOL. 111. B 


To Joseph Reed., President of the State of Penn- 
sylvania. Passy, March 19th, 1780, - - 137 

Mr Piiltney. — Errors corrected. 

Count de Vergennes to B. Franklin. Versailles, 
May 11th, 17S0, 140 

Recommending llie Baron d'Arendl. 

To the Judges of the Admiralty at Cherbourg. 

Passy, May iGth, 17S0, - - - - 140 

'iteqiiesting the release of the neutrrU ship Flora ; the 
carsro, it" English, may be condemned. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, May 22d, 

1780, -■ 141 

Recommending tlic Baron d'Arendt. 

To an Agent of American Cruisers. Passy, May 

30th, 1780, _----- 142 

Fiee ships make fvcc goods. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, May 31st, 

1780, - . - ^43 

Complains of the tronble of maritime affairs.— Diffi- 
culty of meeting the drafts. — .\ccounts of the Com- 
missioners American prizes in Danish ports.— 

Capture of neutral vessels with English cargoes. — 
European powers have adopted the rule, that free 
ships make free goods. — Unfavorable disposition in 
Ein-ope towards England.— Difticulties in tlie ex- 
change of prisoners. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, June Lst, 1780, 149 

Recommending Commodore Jones. 

To C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, June 5th, 1780, - 149 

Respecting neutral ships.— Expresses a wish that all 
private property an.l all i)rivalrt individuals might be 
unmolested.- Letter ..f General Clinton. ^ 

Count de Verijennes to B. Franklin. Versailles, 

June 30th, 1780, - - ~ - - 152 

Or<iers to M. de la Luzerne relative to the trench 
holders cf American paper money. 

Committee of Foreign Affairs to B. Franklin. Phil- 
adelphia, July llih, 1780, - - - - 153 

Making new drafts. 

Committee oV Foreign Affiiirs to B. Franklin. 1 hil- 

adelphia,J.dy 11th, 1780, - - - - 154 

Mr Lim-ens ajjpointed to negotiate a loan in Hol- 
land. . 

Committee of Foreign Affairs to B. Franklin. Phil- 
adelphia, July 1 1th, 1780, - - - - 155 

Communicating the acknowledgment of Congress for 
the attentions of the French Consul in Bergen 



Committee ol Foreien Affairs to H. Dohrman, mer- 
chant, Lisbon. PliiUulelphia, July 11th, 1780, 155 

Infoiming him of his appoindnent as ngcnl of Con- 
gress for tlie relief of Anieiic.niis in distress. 

David Hartley to 13. Franklin. London, July ITth, 
1780, 157 

Enclosing a copy of a conciliatory bill, rejected in the 
House of Commons. 

To C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, July 26th, 1780, - 159 

Messrs Neufviile. — Capture of Charleston of little con- 

To the President of Congress. Passv, August 9lh, 
17S0, - - - - ' - - - 161 

Disputes of Landais and Jones. — Necessity of appoint- 
ing consuls — Mr Adams offends the French Court. 
— The nrmed nuiitralitv. 

To James Lovell. Passy, August lOih, 1780, - 1G7 

Litllc value of pretended confidential information of 
secrets of State — '.^ransniits copies of instruments 
annulling the elcvpnUi and twelfth articles. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, Au- 
gust loth, 1780, 169 

Notifying Dr Franklin of bills to be drawn on him. 

James Love!! to B. Franklin. .Sept. 7th, 1780, - 170 

Enclosing proceedings of relative to new 
dr.ifts. — Increase of taxes for the improvement of 
the currency. 

To C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, Oct. 2d, 1780, - 171 

Relative to .M. Duinas's appointment and services. 

To C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, Oct. 9th, 1780, - 172 

Has recommended M. Dcinias to Mr Laurens as Se- 
cretary — Heqiiests advice as to the manner of apply- 
ing to the Stales-General. 

James Lovell to B'. Franklin. Philadelphia, Octo- 
ber 28th, 17dO, 173 

Requesting him to transmit certain papers to Mr Jav 
at Madrid. 

To Sir Grey Cooper, Baronet, Secretary to the 
Treasury of Great Britain. Passy, November 
7ih, 1780, 174 

Requesting relief for Mr Laurens, prisoner in the Tower. 

Cliarles Vernon, Lieutenant Governor of tlie Toucr 
of London, to Sir Grey Cooper. Hampstead, 
November 27th, 17S0, ' 175 

Mr Laurens's treatment in the Tower. 

Sir Grey Cooper to B. Franklin. London, Novem- 
ber 29ih, nSO, 176 

Respecting Mr Laurens ; enclosing the preceding. 

Instructions fronn Congress to B. Franklin. In Con- 
gress, November 29il), 17S0, - - - 176 
To James Lovell. Passy, December 2(1, 1780, - 179 

Agrees to furnisli the Fronch troops in America with 
provisions, in order to itkhU the drafts of Congress. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, December 
2(1,1780, 180 

Recommending the furnishing of provisions to the 
French troops. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, December 
3d, 1780, 181 

Mr Laurens's ranlivity. — Memorial of Sir Joseph 
Yorke. — Delays in sending supplies. — Capturi; of a 
Portuguese ship with Englifli property by an Amer- 
ican armed vessel. — Recommends that neutral ships 
be not molested. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, De- 
cember 21st, 1780, ----- 184 

Mr Palfrey appointed Consul to France. 

Additional instructions from Congress to B. Frank- 
lin. In Congress, December 27th, 1780, - 185 
To Connl de Vergennes. Passy, Feb. 13tli, 1781, 186 

Transmitting letters of Congress to the King. — Com- 
municates the instructions of Congress. — Critical 
situation of America. — Quotes a letter of General 
Washington on this subject. — Disappointment in 
supplies expected from Spain. — Danger to Europe 
if America is recovered by England. — Necessity of 
immediate aid. 

To Count de Vergennes. Passy, March 6th, 1781 , ISO 

Instructed to airply for an early answer to the appli- 
cation of Congress for more aid. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. March 9th, 1781, - 180 

Proceedings of Congress on several subjects. 

To M. de Rayneval, Secretary to the Council of 

State. Passy, March nth, 1781, - - - 190 

Relative to supplies. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, March 12th, 

1781. - - 192 

Relating his proceedings in obedience to his instruc- 
tions ; the King of France grants a further sum of 
six millions ; Francft declines the mediation of Rus- 
sia and Austria. — Requests to be relieved from pub- 
lic duties on account of his age and infirmities — Re- 
commends his grandson, William Temple Franklin, 
to Congress. 

To Francis Lewis and the Board of Admiralty. 

Passy, March 17th, 1781, " " " ." ^^^ 
Account of the squadron and expedition of Captain 


Jnncs ; disposition of the priors ; affair with Cap- 
tain Landais; ilie Ministry wished it to be consid- 
cied an Aniericwn expedilinn. 

Agreement between Ca|itaiii John Paul Jones and 

llic officers of the squadron, - - - - 205 
James Lovell to B. Franklin. March 31st, 1781, 207 

Miliiarv oper.iiioiis. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, IMay 
9i!., 17S1, ,. - -°3 

Desiring the exchange of Mr Gouverneur and Dr With- 

To y\. de Lafayette. Passy, May Hlh, I7S1, - 209 

Kxpediiion against Arnold. — English policy. — Ap- 
pointment of his successor to the Couit of France. 

To the President of Congress. Passv, May Hlh, 
1731, .-.-'.-- 211 

Supplies. — Excliange of prisoners. — Plans of the Eng- 
glish adniiiiistiaiion. 

To Thomas Lewis. Pas^y-, May iGih, 1781, - 215 


James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, May 

17th, 17S1, 216 

Intro<lucing Dr Putnam. 

Count de Vergennes to B. Franklin. Versailles, 
June Sih, 1781, 216 

Colonel Laurens's purchases in Holland — The grant of 
the King to be expenilcd partly in France. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, June 11th, 

1781, 217 

On the disposition of the French grant. 

To John Adams. Passy, June Uih, 1781, - 218 

Relative to certain expenses of Mr Adams, charged 
on the United Slates. 

The President of Congress to B. Franklin. In 

Congress, June lOth,"! 78 1, - - - - 220 

Appointment of new Ministers for negotiating a peace. 
— Dr Franklin's services neccsiary un this occasion. 

To Major William Jackson. Passy, June 28th, 17SI, 221 

' Directing him to stop the iliipiuent of money in Hol- 

Major William Jackson to B. Franklin. Amsterdam, 
June29ih, 1781, 221 

Reason of his delay at Amsterdam. 

To David Hartley. Passy, June 3Ulh, 1781, - 222 

Informing hiio that Vergennes declines granting him 
a passport. 



Major William Jackson to B. Franklin. Amsterdam, 

July 2d, ]78I, - - - - - - 223 

Rcmonstraling npainst the detention of (he money, 
, obtained from France h_v Colonel Laurens, and de- 
posited wiih M. Fizcaux and Co. Amsterdam. — Com- 
municates his determination to retain tiie money in 
his own liands. — Reasons for retaining the money 
referred to in tiie i)receding letters. 

To Major William Jackson. Passy, July 5il), 1781, 
at si.K in the morning, - _ _ _ _ 227 

Reasons for ordering the detention of the money, 
which was part of tiie grant obtained bv Dr Franiv- 

To Major William Jackson. Passy, July 5t!), 1 78 1 , 229 

Adhering to his former determination relative to the 
deipniion of tiie money. 

To Major William Jackson. Passy, July Gtli, 1781, 229 

Account of the marnier in which the money referred 
to in tlie preceding letters was obiained. — Exertions 
of Dr Franklin in obtaining supplies. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, July lllh, 

1781, ■ - - 232 

Reasons for detaining the money, intended to have 
been shipped at Amstenlani. 

James Lovell to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, July 
21st, 1781, _-.___ 233 

Forwarding duplicates of certain resolutions of Con- 

To C. W. F. Dumas. Passy, August 6lh, 1781, 234 

Entertains little hope of aid from Holland. — Coldness 
of that country. 

To C. W. F. Dumas'. Passy, August lOtb, 1781, 235 

Communicating intelligence from America. — Apolo- 
gises for expressions in his former letter, and re- 
quests that it may not be shown. 

To the President of Congress. Passy, September 

13th, 1781, - - - - ■- - 236 

Interview with the Count de Vergennes on commiini- 

I eating his instructions relative to the negotiations, 

and the letter of Congress to the King. — Accepts the 

appointment of negotiator. — Desires that a Consul- 

Geneial may be appointed for France. 

John Adams to B. Franklin. Amsterdam, Octo- 
ber 4th, 1781, 238 

Relative to certain expenses of the American Ministers. 

Robert R. Livingston to .B. Franklin. Philadel- 
phia, October 20th, 1781, - - - - 238 

Mr Livingston is appointed Secretary of Foreign Af- 

fairs.— Mililaiv operations. — Preparations for an- 
other campaign. 

Robert R. Livingston to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, 
Ociobei- 24tli, 17S1, 242 

Announcing the capitulation of Yorktown. — Expresses 
a wish tiial Dr Frunkliii will accept his new appoint- 
ment as negotiator. 

To Thomas Mc'Keaii, President of Congress. Pas- 
sy, November 5th, 17S1, - - - - 243 

Stale of .\merican prisoners in England. — Difficulties 
in effecting exchanges. — England refuses the media- 
tion of the P.>wers; will treat with the Uniteil StHtes 
only a.s subjects. — Proceedings of Colonel Laurens 
in Holland. — Confusion in shipping the supplies. 

Robert R. Livinsston to B. Frankl.n. Philadelphia, 

November 24iii, 17S1, - - - - 249 

Recommending certain French officers in the Ameri- 
can service. 

Robert R. Livingston toB. Fl^nklin. Pliiladelphia, 
November 26tli, 1781, ----- 250 

Financial dilTiculiies of America. — Importance of a 
French naval Ibrce in the American waters. — The 
commission for negotiating a commercial treaty with 
Great Britain discharged. — Preparations for a new 
campaign. — Su|)posi'd letters of Mr Deane. 

William Alexander to B. Franklin. Paris, Decem- 
ber 15th, 1781, 256 

Retpiesiing information concerning the disposition of 
France and .\merica lo tieat with Great Britain. 

To William Alexander. Passy, Dec. 15ih, 17S1, 257 
To David Hartley. Passy, December 15lh, 1781, 257 

Concerning Mr Hartley's plan for securing the lives of 
the spectators at public spectacles in of fire. 

Robert R. Livinfgslon to B. Franklin. Philadel- 
phia, December I6ih, 1781, - - - - 253 

Military operations. — Enclosing a resolution of Con- 
gress for raising a pillar at Yorktown ; also an or- 
dinance ascertaining what captures on the waters 
ate lawful, with other American State papeis. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, January 
2d, 1762, - - - - - - - 260 

History of his proceedings for promoting negotiations 
I'or peace. — Conciliatory Bill of 178lt, proposed as 
11 basi: ; the question of indupendencc to be waived ; 
a separate treaty v.iih America to be negotiated — 
Communicates these |>ropositions to Lord .North as 
general grounds of negotiation towards peace. — 
Lord North wishes to know if any person is autho- 
rised to treat on the part of America. — Urges the 
'making of overtures for a separate negotiation. 


Remarks on the Conciliatory Bill, - - - 267 

Enclosed in (lie preccdini;. 

Robert R. Livingston to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, 

January 7th, 1782, ----- 2GS 

Suggesting the objects of most importance to be ne- 
goti.ited ; the limits of the United Slates ; extend to 
the Mississippi on the West. — The fisheries; light 
of the Americans to fish on the banks of Newfound- 
land ; sentiments of France on this subject. — Com- 
pensation to American royalists — Restitution of 
records and papers taken from America. 

To David Hartley. Passy, January I5th, 1782, - 2Si 

INo negotiations can be <)per>ed without the concurrence 
^ of France. — Objections to the Conciliatory proi)osi- 

tions — Commissioners authorised to treat. — A for- 
mal acknowledgment of independence not made ne- 
cessary bv the treaty with France. 

To the Count deVergennes. Passy, Jan. 18th, 1782, 285 

Capture of Flemish ships by American privateers — 
English ships furnished with imperial papers after 
a pretended sale of ship and cargo at Ostend. 

Robert R. Livingston to B. Franklin. Phiiadel- 
phia, January 23d, 1782, - - - - 287 

Inttrcepted letters of Mr Deane. — Complains of v/ ant 
of intelligence from Europe. — Encloses resolutions 
of Congress relating to the fisheries and the wes- 
tern limits. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, January 
24th, 1782; ------ 288 

Correcting Dr Franklin's misapprehensions of his 
propositions. — Cases in wliich America might treat 

Explanatory letter to Mr Hartley, referred to in the 

preceding, - - -^- - - - ^93 

Robert R. Livingston to B. Franklin. Philadel- 
phia, January 26ih, 1782, - - - - 294 

Enclosing a convention for the establishment of con- 

To Robert R. Livingston, Secretary of Foreign 

Affairs. Passy, January 28lh, 1782, - - 295 

David Hartley tci B. Franklin. London, February 
1st, n82, ------- 295 

Interview with the INIinister ; he is favorably disposed 
for peace. 

The IVlinister to the Count de Ycrgcnnes. 
Paris, February Gib, 1782, - - - - 

Complains of tiie outrages of Anu;rican armed vessels 
on the coast of Not way. 




Robert R. Livingston to B. franklin. Philadel- 
phia, February 13th, 17S2, - - - - 297 

Pressing for further nssisiance from France. — This 
raensure would be advant-igeous to France herself. 
— "^uirerings of Ameriran prisoners in England. — 
Disturbances in Vermont and New Hampshire. 

To David Hartley. Passy, February 16ih, 17S2, 301 

Acknowledges his misapprehension of Mr Hartley's 
forn'er proposition. — Reasons of jealousy between 
Franco and England ; English Commissioner at 
Dunkirk. — England must take the first step towards 
a peace with America. 

Count de Vergennes to B. Franklin. Versailles, 
February 24th, i7S2, 303 

Enclosing the complaint of the Danish Court respect- 
ing outrages by American vessels on the coast of 
Norway. .^ 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. Feb. 2Sth, 17S2, 304 

Prospects of peace. — The Ministry favorably disposed. 

Edmund Burke to B. Franklin. London, Febru- 
ary 28tli, 1782, 305 

Resolution of the Hou*e of Commons. — Mr Laurens. 

To the Count de Vergennes. Passy, March 3d, 

I7S2, ---.-.- 30G 

Relative to the complaints of the Danish Court. — Ex- 
pects redress for the seizure of American prizes 
in Danish ports. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Passy, March 4ih, 1782, 308 

Complaints against American cruisers. — Influence and 
services of .M. de Lafayette. — Changes in the Brit- 
isii Ministry — Unfriendly disposition of the King. 
— Relations with JVance. — Financial arrangements 
of Mr Morris. — American prisoners. — .Arrival and 
reception of Cornwallis and Arnold in England. — 
.Mr Deane's discontents ; his vindication of .Arnold. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Passy, March 9ih, 1782, 314 

Address of the House of Commons to tiie King against 
continuing the war in America. 

Robert R. Livingston to B. Franklin. Philadel- 
phia, March 9th, 1782, - - - - 315 

Enclosing a letter frwui the Superintendent of Finance. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, Alarch 

11th, 1782, 315 

Mr Digges appointed by the .Ministry to inquire if any 
persons arc authoiised to treat. 

David Hartlev to B. Franklin. London, March 

12th, 1782; 316 

Enclosing the Parliamentary proceedings respecting 



the war with America ; prelude to a general bill to 
enable the administration to treat. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, March 
21st, 1782, 318 

Dissolution of the Ministry. — Is desirous of negotiat- 
ing- (he peace. 

T. Digges to B. Franklin. Amsterdam, March 

22d, 1782, 320 

Appointed by the Ministry to inquire if any persons 
in Europe are commissioned by Congress to treat 
and to make known the disposition of the Ministry 
to open negotiations for a truce. — His communica- 
tions witli Mr Adams. 

John Adams to B. Franklin. The Hague, March 
26th, 1782, 325 

Interview with Mr Digges ; opposes the plan of a truce. 
—Many cities in Holland declare in favor of Ameri- 
can independence. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Passy, March 30th, 

1782, - -' - - - - - 328 

Policy of the Mini.>;try ; to divide America, and to sep- 
arate America and France. — Singular language of 
the bill empowering the King to treat. 

To John Adams. Passy, March 31st, 1782, - 329 

Ptlr Digges's mi.ssion. — Delays of Holland and Spain. 

To David Hartley. Passy, March 31st, 1732, - 330 

The five Commissioners empowered to treat. 

To David Hartley. Passy, April 5th, 1782, - 331 

Has no confidence in Digges. — The Commissioners 
are ready to treat. — Reconciliation spoken of in the 
Parliamentary proceedings more tliaa a mere peace. 
— Acts nccesstiry to effect it. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Passy, April 8th, 1782, 334 

Tiie new Ministry. — Recommending the Prince de Bro- 

To Henry Laurens. Passy, April 12th, 1782, - 335 

Encloses a copy of his commission, empowering him 
to treat. — Treaties and instructions forbid their treat- 
ing without France. 

M. de Rayneval to B. Franklin. Versailles, April 

1 2th, 1782, 336 

The French Minister approves his reply to Mr Hartley. 
— Proposals of the British Ministry for a separate 
treatv with P'rance b3' Mr Forth. 

. To Robert R" Livingston. Passy, April 12lh, 1782, 338 

The new Ministry endeavor to gain over Holland. — 
Capture of St Joseph (Illinois) bv the Spaniards. 

To David Hartley. Passy, April 13111, 1782, - 340 

Insincerity of the late Ministry in their proposals for 

reconciliation ; endeavoring at tlic sann; liuio to 
treat separately with France. 

To John Adams. Passy, April 13ih, 178:2, - 341 

Mr Forihs mission lo the French Ministry ; Canada 
otTered to France to induce her to treat Reparately ; 
answer of the Frencli Court. 

Count tie Vergennes to B. Franklin. Versailles, 

April 23d, 1782, 342 

Enclosing the complaint of the Danisti Court on ac- 
count of the capture of a Danish vessel. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, ?\Iav 1st, 

1782, - - 343 

The late Ministry wiihed for peace on prudential 
gronuds, not for reconciliation ; <noposal of a sepa- 
rate peace was intended to excite distrust in France. 
His brevinte laid before the Ministry, calculated to 
divest the war with America of hatred and jealousy 
against France. 

Robert R. Livinij;ston to B. Franklin. Philadel- 
phia, May 22d,~'l782, 353 

Enclosing a letter to the King ; resolmjons of Congress 
on the application of Sir Guy Caileton to forward 
despatches, and on the subject of prisoners in Eng- 
land. — Disposition towards France in America. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, Mav 25tl), 

1782, - - 356 

Release of the American prisoners in England. — Pros- 
pect of reconciliation. 

Robert R. Livin2;ston to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, 
May 3Uih, 1762, - 357 

Memorial on the subject of prize monoy due Captain 
Jones. — Inquires why the Danish Curt applies to 
France on account of injuries of .\mtrican cruisers. 
— Affair of Captain Hu«ldy, who was hanged by a 
party of soldiers. 

Richard Oswald to B. Franklin. Paris, June 5ih, 

1782, - - 362 

Desirin^ the discharge of Lord Cornwallis's parole. 

To Richard Oswald. Passr, June 5th, 1782, - 363 

Promises to comply with the request to discharge Lord 

John Adams to B. Franklin. The Hague, June 
13th, 1782, 364 

Mr Grenville only cmpowtred to treat with France; 
the .Ministry will be unwilling to make any conces- 
sions. — The' Dutch are disposed to an alliance with 
Amcric;:. — Policy of Russia. 



Robert R. Livingston to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, 

June 23cl, 1782, 306 

People in Amerka not disposed to a separate treaty. 
— Affairs of Captain Hiuidy. — Case of the Ernten. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Passy, June 25th, 1782, 368 

An additional six millions cannot be obtained from 
France. — Mr Grenville is sent with full powers to 
treat with all the belligerent powers together. — Is 
joined by Mr Jay. — An act of Parliament was con- 
sidered necessary to authorise the exchange of the 
American prisoners, ns they were committed for 
high treason.— The Swedish Ambassador expresses 
a wish to treat with Dr Franklin.— ^Services of M. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Passy, June 29th, 1782, 373 

Discharges Lord Cornwallis from his parole. — The in- 
tentions of the British Ministry seem to change with 
success. — Disinclination of the King to America. — 
Agents are sent by the Ministry into America to 
attempt a separate treaty. 


From March 21st to July 1st, 1782. Passy, May 
9th, 1782, 376 

Reasons for keeping a Journal. — V'isited by Lord Chol- 
mondely, by whom he transmits the following. 

To Lord Shelburne. Passy, March 22d, 1782, - 377 

Desires a general peace. 

Lord Shelburne to B. Franklin. London, April 6th, 

1782, 378 

Lord Shelburne appointed Secretary of State ; sends 
Mr Oswald to confer with Dr Franklin. 

Henry Laurens to B. Franklin. London, April 7th, 

1782, 379 

Introducing Mr Oswald. — Desires to effect his ex- 
change. — Conversation with Mr Oswald, in which 
Dr Franklin declares that America will only treat 
in concert with France. 

To Count de Vergennes. Passy, April 15th, 1782, 381 

Stating the mission of Mr Oswald and his proceedings 
thereon, as above. — Mr Oswald has an interview 
with Vergennes, and returns to England. 

To Lord Shelburne. Passy, April 18th, 1782, - 383 

M. de Vergennes declares the King ready to treat 
in concurrence with his allies. — Details of his_con- 
versation with Mr Oswald, as given in the succeed- 
ing letter to Mr Adams. 


Notes lor conversation, _ _ . . _ 388 
To John Adnms. Passy, April 20tli, ITbJ, - 391 

In 11 convcrsatioH witli Mr Oswald, lie observed ihat if 
England desires a reconcilialion much rrparation 
jnust be niacU-, tliat the advaiiiagc to the coinni«rcc 
of England from a peace would depend on a recon- 
ciliation, without »hi;h tlie peace would not Ik; du- 
rable, that it would \-,c politic for England to oflTer lo 
cede Cnnactn. — Desires »he presence of Mr Adams 
and Mr Laurens. 

To Henry Laurens. Passy, April 20tl), 1 782, - 393 

Details of Mr Oswald's proceedings. 

John Adams to B. Franklin. Amst^dani, April 

16th, 1782, - 394 

Giving an arconr.t ol' his intcrvicsv u iili Mr Laurens at 
Haerlem. — Suggests tli« necessity of the cession of 
Canada and Nova Scotia, or at least a stipulation 
that no troops nor fortifications should be main- 
tained on the frontiers. — Mr Lnarens represents the 
new Ministry as feeble and insincere, the nation as 
desirous of a general peace. — Mr Adams proposes 
to Dr Franklin to receive no other messenger who 
is not a plenipotentiary. 

To John Adams. Passy, April 21st, 1782, - 397 

The act of Parliament for exchanging American pris- 
oners as prisoners of war, is a tacit a< iinowledgment 
of independency. — (Circumstances in Holland favora- 
ble for obtaining a loan. 

John Adams to B. Franklin. Amsterdam, May 2d, 

1762, ---...- 399 

Plan of a triple or quadruple alliance.— Difliculty of 
obtaining a loan in Hol'and. 

Henrv Laurens to B. Franivlin. London, April 
20ih, 1782, 401 

Requesting the discharge of Lord Cornwallis in return 
for his own enlargement. — Di.>;position in England is 
Ijecome favorable to the acknow Iedgme4it of inde- 
pendence, and to a general peace. 

Lord Shelburne to B. Franklin. Shelburne House, 
April 20th, 1782, i03 

Mr Oswald is sent back to settle the time and place of 

To Count de Vergennes. Passy, May 4tli, 1782, 406 

Mr Oswald brings information that it has been agreed 
in Council toircat at Parisof agrncral peace, and that 
MrGrenville will be sent for that purpose. 

Count de Vergennes to B. Franklin. Versailles, 
May 5th, 1782, -.-.-. 407 

Appointing an interview with Mr Oswald. 



To John Adams. Passy, May 8ih, 1782, - - 408 

Mr Oswald intimates tl'.at tlie Ministry will acknow- 
ledge the independence of America, on condition 
that Britain is left in the same condition as at the 
peace of 1763. 

Charles J. Fox to B. Franklin. St James, May 

1st, 1782, - - 409 

Expresses his wishes for a reconciliation. — Mr Gren- 
ville is acquainted with his sentiments. — Journal 
continued ; Mr Grenville represents England as rea- 
dy to treat with all the powers. — Dr Franklin ac- 
companies him on an interview with the Count de 
Vergeniies. — They maintain that England sliould 
expect no concessions in return for the acknowledg- 
ment of independence, which was already conquered 
by America — Dr Franklin sees Lafayette, who ex- 
presses a wish to be sent to England. 

To Ml- Secretary Fox. Passv, May 10th, 1782, 415 
To Lord Shelbtirne. Passy, May 10th, 1782, - 416 

Time of treating not yet settled. — Discharge of Ameri- 
can prisoners. 

To Lord Shelburne. Passy, May 13th, 1782, - 418 

Desires that Mr Oswald may be sent to treat. — Journal 
continued. — Conversation with I\Ir Grenville rela- 
tive to the obligations of America to France. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, May 3d, 
17S2, ' - - - - - - - 421 

Favorable prospect of recniiciliation. 

To David Hartley. Passy, May 13th, 1782, - 422 

The release of the American prisoners will tend to pro- 
mote a reconciliation. — Journal continued; Minis- 
ters of the European powers determined not to re- 
turn the visits of the American Ministers. — Anec- 
dote of the Russian Minister and the Count du Nord. 

Henry Laurens to B. Franklin. Ostend, May 17th, 
1782, - - - - - - - 425 

Declines engaging in the negotiatians. — His opinions 
coincide with those of Dr Franklin. — Lord Cornwal- 
lis desires to be discharged. 

To Henry Laurens. Passy, May 25th, 1782, - 429 

Nations are never satisfied with the tenns of a peace. 
— Discharge of l^iord Cornwallis. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, May 13th, 

1782, -._-_- . 433 

Relative to his proceedings with the new >]inistry. — 
Proposes the following preliminaries ; the British 
troops to be withdrawn from America ; a truce 
; made, which shall be converted into a peace, in case 

of a j)cace with the allies of America. — Journal con- 
tinued. — Mr Grenville states that he has received 

lull powers to treat with France and lior allies. — 
The power relates only to France. 

Lord ShelL)unie to B. Franklin. VVhiteliall, May 

2Sth, 17S2, - - - - - '- 440 

Lord Shelburne to B. Franklin. Whitehall, Mav 

29th, 1782, - - - - - '- 440 

Mr Oswald lias received orders to roiurn to Paris, witli 
the necessary instructions. — Journal continued ; Mr 
Grcnville explains the omission of America in the 
power. — His instructions are full, empowering him 
to acknowledge the imiependenceof America. — Con- 
versation on the resolution t»f the Amerilfiins not to 
treat without the allies. — Mr Grcnvillc suggests the 
question, whether it includes Holland and Spain .' 
whether it would be adhered to in regard to Franco 
at all events .' 

To Mr Grenville. Passy, May 31st, 17S2, - - 443 

Re!c;!>iiig Captain .McLeod conditionally frnm his 

To John Adams. Passy, June 2d, 1782, - - 446 

Giving an account ol'aflairs as above related in tiie 
Journal. — Suspects the omission of America in Mr 
Grenville's power. — Journal continued; Mr Oswald 
states that peace is absolutely necestiary, that no 
more money can be raised. 

Jjord Shelburne to Richard Oswald. Whitehall, May, 1782. 449 

Relative to ^Ir Walpole's appointment to negotiate. — 
Journal continued ; Memorandums of Lord Shel- 
burne ; that Commissioners be apjiointed, or any 
character given to Mr Oswald, which h>^ and Dr 
Franklin think proper for treating ; that compen- 
sation be made to the loyalists. — Conversation with 
Mr Oswald on those points. — Russian offer of medin- 
tion to Holland. 

W. H. Hartley to B. Franklin. Soho Square, Mav 

24th, 1782, '- 45.5 

Journal continued ; Release of Lord Cornwallis.— 
Extract from the Evening Post relative to infor- 
mation obtained by Mr Grenville in his visit to Dr 
Franklin ; erroneous statements — Policy of Rus- 
sia to mediate a peace l)elween Britain and Holland, 
and continue the general «ar. — .Major Ross declines 
receiving the conditional discharge of Lord Corn- 

To Richard Oswald. Passy, June 1 1th, 1782, - 460 

Discharge of Lord Cornwnllis. — Journal continued 

Conversation with the Count de \'ergennes relative 
to the attempts to separate France "and America; 
suggests the propriety of a treaty between the allies, 
to support each other in case of a subsequent war 



by England against either. — Mr Ross accepts Lord 
Cornwallis's conditional discharge. — M. Boeris in- 
forms that Holland will decline the mediation of 
Rnssia for a separate treaty. Mr Grenville receives 
full powers, authorising him to treat witii any other 
Prince or State. — Empowered to acknowledge the 
J. independence of America previous to the treaty, 

and to propose the peace of 1763 as a basis. — Sug- 
gests a doubt whether Great Britain will allow Amer- 
ica to be designated by the expression Stale. — Com- 
parison o( Mr Fos and Lord Shelburne ; of Mr Os- 
wald and Mr Grenville. 

M. de Lafayette to B. Franklin. Versailles, Thurs- 
day morning, June 20tb, 1782, - - - 471 

Count dc Vergennes proposes to meet Mr Grenville, 
and adopt measures for an official communication 
to the aillies. — Journal continued. — Arrival of Mr 
Jay. — Visit to the Countde Vergennes, who expresses 
a doubt of the sincerity of the British Court. 

To Richard Oswald. Passy, June 27th, 1782, - 474 

Expresses a wish that he shotdd be employed to treat. 

Doubts whether the word Stale in Mr Grenville's 

powers would apply to America, the Enabling Act 
not having then been passed. — Journal continued. — 
British Agents in America to propose a reunion with 
Great Britain. — Interview with the Spanish Minis- 
ter. — Journal closes. 


To Henry Laurens. Passy, July 2d, 1782,, - 477 

Delays in the opening of the negotiation.— Suggests 
doubts of the sincerity of the British Ministers. 

Robert R. livingston to B. Franklin. Philadelphia, 

July 5th, 1782, - 473 

Enclosing public papers. 

Note from M. de Lalavette 10 B. tranklin. Pans, 

July 9lh, 1782, ------ 479 

r-.Jr Grenville's express arrives. 

To M. de Lafayette. Passy, July 9th, 1782, - 479 

Mr Grenville informs him of changes in the Minister. 
" >4o change is made in the disposition for peace. 

To David Hartley". Passy, July 10th, 1782, - 480 

Complains of the delays in the opening of the negotia- 
tion. — Suspicions. 

To Benjamin Vaughan., July 10th, 1782, 481 

Proposinir certain ameliorations in the conduct of 

To Benjamin Vaiighan. Passy, July lltli, 17S2, 483 

Plan of Lord Shelburne for a icnnion of Aniei ira un- 
der a separate Parliament. — Tlie plan iuiprncticaliie- 

To Richard Oswald. Passy, July 12th, 1782, 484 

Rumors that Lord Slii'lburne's opposition to the abso- 
lute acknow ledpnieni of American independence 
was liie rause of Mr Fox's resignation. 

To the Earl of Shelburne. Passy, July 12th, 17^2, 485 

Cong;ratulations on liis appointment to the treasury. 

To M. de Lalayeite. Passy, July 24th, 1782, " - 485 

Delays in the negotiations. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, July 26th, 

1782, 1-486 

Townshend appointed Secretary for Foreign Aflairs. — 
Mr Oswald receives a place in that department. 

Lord Grantham to B. Franklin. Whitehall, July 
26th, 1782, 488 

Sincerity of the Ministers. — Mr Fitzherbeit. 

Lord Shelburne to B. Franklin. Shelburne House, 

July 27th, 1782, ------ 488 

Acknowledgments for his congratulations. 

To Richard Oswald. Passy, July 2Sth, 1782, - 489 

Affair of Captain .\sgill. — Justification of the proceed- 
ings of General Washington. 

To Count de Vergennes. P.;ssy, August 8th, 1 782, 49 1 

Mr Oswald informs him that his commission is in pre- 

Count de Vergennes to B. Franklin. Versailles, 
August 8th, 1782, - - - - - 491 

Requesting a visit. 

Robert R. Livingstoo to B. Franklin. Philadel- 
phia, August 9ih, 1782, - - - - 492 

Letter of General Carleton and Admiral Digby to Gen- 
eral Washington, dcclaruig that a negotiation for a 
general peace is opened on the ground of indepen- 
dence. — ('ompensation to loyalists; fisheries; wes- 
tern lands. 

To Robert R. Livingston. Passy, Aug. 12th, 1782, 494 

Accounts between France and the United States ; the 
sum of eighteen millions has been received, exclusive 
of the Holland lean, for which the King is guaranty ; 
twelve millions of this a free gift. — Sweden ready to 
treat. — .\ffairs of the expedition of Commodore 
Jones. — .Medals and monument in commemoration 
of the victories of Yorktown and Saratoga. — Delays 
in the negotiation. 


To Robert Morris. Passy, Aug. 12th, 1782, - 498 

DiHiculty of obtainins'' more supplies. — State of Beau- 
marchais's accounts. — State of the United States' 
funds in Europe. 

David Hartley to B. Franklin. London, August 
16th, 1782, - 502 

Regrets the delays in the negotiations. — Believes the 
Ministry sincere. 






YOL. m. 

At the beginning of the Revolution, Dr Franklin 
was in England, where he had resided several years as 
an agent for Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and 
Georgia. He returned to America in the spring of 1775, 
and was shortly after elected a member of Congress. In 
that body he held the rank, to which his great talents and 
patriotism entitled him, and was chosen one of the Commit- 
tee of Secret Correspondence for transacting foreign affairs. 

On the 2Gth of September, ITTG, he was elected a 
Commissioner to the Court of France, in conjunction with 
Silas Deane and Thomas Jefferson. Immediately after 
his appointment he hastened preparations for his depar- 
ture. Meantime Mr Jefferson declined serving, and Ar- 
lliur Lee was chosen in his place. Dr Franklin set off 
from Philadelphia on his voyage, October 2Gth, and en- 
tered Quiberon Bay, on the coast of France, November 
29lh, after a fatiguing passage. He was now seventyone 
years of age. He proceeded to Nantes, where he re- 
mained a few days to recruit himself, and arrived in Paris 
about the 20th of December. Here be found Mr Deane, 
and they were soon after joined by ■Mr Lee. 

Little was done by the Commissioners in Paris for more 
than a year, as France was not then prepared to take an 
open part against England. The success of the American 
arms against Burgoyne became the turning point in the 
French Cabinet, and they immediately consented to make 
treaties of amity and commerce with the United States, 
which were definitively signed on the 6th of February, 

1778. This great work being finished, Congress deemed 
it expedient to dissolve the Commission by appointing a 
Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of France. The 
choice fell on Dr Franklin, and, notwithstanding his advan- 
ced age, and the arduous nature of the office, he accepted 
the appointment, and discharged the entire duties of it to 
the end of the Revolution. 

While holding the place of joint Commissioner in 
France, Congress elected him, on the 1st of January, 
1777, to a separate mission to the Court of Spain. 
Upon this mission, however, he never entered, and it was 
afterwards transferred to Arthur Lee. 

Towards the close of the war, Dr Franklin strenu- 
ously urged Congress to permit him to return to his own 
country, requesting that a successor might be sent out, 
whose years and strength would better qualify him to 
endure the labors and perlbrm the services of his station. 
But Congress did not listen to this petition. His coun- 
sels and experience were thought essential to the man- 
agement of the important concerns then pending. He 
took a leading part in all the negotiations for peace, and, 
in conjunction with John Adams, John Jay, and Henry 
Laurens, signed the preliminary articles, November 30th, 
1782, and the definitive treaty, September 3d, 1 783. 
On the 3d of April, of the same year, he concluded a 
treaty of amity and commerce, with the Swedish Minister 
n Paris, between Sweden and the United States. 

Mr Jcff.M'son at length arrived in Paris as his suc- 
cessor, and Dr Franklin returned to Philadelphia in Sep- 
tember, ] 785, after an absence of nine years, during the 
whole of which time he had been engaged in a most 
active, la!)orious, and successful service for his country. ' 




Nantes. December Stli, 1776. 

In thirty days after we left the Capes of Delaware, we 
came to an anchor in Quiberon Bay. I remained on board 
lour days, expecting a change of wind proper to carry the 
ship into llie river Loire ; but the wind seemed fixed in an 
opposite quarter. I landed at Aury, and with some diffi- 
culty got hither, the road not being well supplied with 
means of conveyance. Two days before we saw land, we 
met a brigantine from Bordeaux belonging to Cork, and 
another from Rochefort belonging to Hull, both of which 
were taken. The first had on board staves, tar, tur- 
pentine, and claret ; the other coniac brandy and flaxseed. 
There is some dilliculty in determining what to do with 
them, as they are scarce worth sending to America, and 
the mind of the French Court, with regard to prizes 
brought into their ports, is not yet known. It is certainly 
contrary to their treaties with Britain, to permit the sale of 
them, and wc have no regular means of trying and con- 


demning them. There are, however, many here, who 
would purchase prizes, we having already had several 
offers from persons who are willing to take upon themselves 
all consequences as to the illegality. Captain Wickes, as 
soon as he can get his refreshment, intends to cruise in the 

Our friends in France have been a good deal dejected 
with the Gazette accounts of advantages obtained against 
us by the British troops. I have helped them here to 
recover their spirits a litde, by assuring them that we still 
face the enemy, and were under no apprehension of their 
armies being able to complete their junction. I understand 
that Mr Lee has lately been at Paris, that Mr Deane is 
still tliere, and that an underhand supply is obtained from 
the government of two hundred brass field pieces, thirty 
thousand firelocks, and some other military stores, v\^hich 
are now shipping for America, and will be convoyed by a 
ship of war. The Court of England (Mr Penet tells me, 
from whom 1 have the above intelligence) had the folly to 
demand Mr Deane to be delivered up, but were refused. 

Our voyage, though not long, was rough, and I feel my- 
self weakened by it, but I now recover strength daily, and 
in a few days shall be able to undertake the journey to 
Paris. I have not yet taken any public character, thinking 
it prudent first to know whether the Court is ready and 
willing to receive Ministers publicly from the Congress, 
that we may neither embarrass her on the one hand, nor 
subject ourselves to the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on 
the other. I have despatched an express to Mr Deane, 
with the letters that 1 had for him from the Committee, 
and a copy of our commission, that he may immediately 
make the proper inquiries, and give me information. In 


ihe mean time I find it generally supposed here, that I am 
sent to negotiate, and that opinion appears to give great 
pleasure, if I can judge by the extreme civilities I meet 
with from numbers of the principal people, who have done 
me the honor to visit me. 

I have desired Mr Deane, by some speedy and safe 
means, to give Mr Lee notice of his appointment. I find 
several vessels here laden with military stores for America, 
just ready to sail ; on the whole, there is the greatest pros- 
pect that we shall be well provided for another campaign, 
and much stronger than we were last. A Spanish fleet has 
sailed with seven thousand land forces foot and some 
horse. Their destination unknown, but supposed against 
the Portuguese in Brazil. Both France and England are 
preparing strong fleets, and it is said, that all the powers of 
Europe are preparing for war, apprehending that a general 
one cannot be very far distant. When I arrive at Paris I 
shall be able to write with more certainty. 1 beg you to 
present my duty to Congress, and assure them of my most 
faithful endeavors in their service. 

^Vith the sincerest esteem and respect, I have the honor 
to be, &LC. 


Nantes, December Stli, 1776. 

After a short but rough passage of thirty days, we an- 
chored in Quiberon Bay, the wind not suiting to enter tlie 
Loire. Captain Wickes did everything in his power to 
make tlie voyage comfortable to me; and I was much 


pleased with what I saw of his conduct as an officer, when 
on supposed occasions we made preparation for engage- 
ment, the good order and readiness with which it was 
done, being far beyond my expectations, and I believe 
equal to anything of the kind in the best ships of the king's 
fleet. He seems to have also a very good set of officers 
under him. I hope they will all in good time be promoted. 
He met and took two prizes, brigantines, one belonging to 
Cork, laden with staves, pitch, tar, turpentine, and claret ; 
the other to Hull, with a cargo of flaxseed and brandy. 
The captains have made some propositions of ransom, 
which, perhaps, may be accepted, as there is yet no means 
of condemning them here, and they are scarce worth send- 
ing to America. The ship is yet in Quiberon Bay, with her 
prizes. I came hither from thence, seventy miles, by land. 
I am made extremely welcome here, where America has 
many friends. As soon as 1 have recovered strengdi 
enough for the journey, which I hope will be in a very 
few days, I shall set out for Paris. My letter to the Pres- 
ident will inform you of some other particulars. 
With great esteem, 1 have the honor to be, he. 


P. S. Decemher lOth. I have just learnt that eighty 
pieces of cannon, all brass, with carriages, braces, and 
everything fit for immediate service, were embarked in a 
frigate from Havre, which is sailed ; the rest were to go in 
another frigate of thirtysix guns. 



Baltimore, January l^t, 1777. 

Congress, relying on your wisdom and integrity, and 
well knowing the importance of the case, have appointed 
you their Commissioner to negotiate a treaty of friendship 
and commerce with the Court of Spain.* The idea of 
Congress on this subject you will find in the instructions 
sent by this opportunity to yourself, and the other Com- 
missioners, at the Court of France. Your commission for 
this special service we have now the honor to enclose 

We arc, with great respect and esteem, honorable Sir, 
yours, &Z.C. 

R. H. LEE, 

Paris, January 4lb, 1777. 

1 arrived here about two weeks since, where I found 
Mr Deane. Mr Lcc has since joined us from London. 
We have had an audience of the ^Minister, Count de Ver- 
gennes, and were respectfully received. We left for his 
consideration a sketch of the })roposed treaty. f We are 

* Sec the Seent Journals of Congress, Vol. 11. pp. 38, 41, 42. 
t See this sketch in the Secret Journals of Congress, Vol. II p. 7. 

VOL. in. 2 


to wait upon him tomorrow with a strong memorial, re- 
questing the aids mentioned in our instructions. By his 
advice, we have had an interview with the Spanish Am- 
bassador, Count d'Aranda, who seems well disposed 
towards us, and will forward copies of our memorials to 
his Court, which will act, he says, in perfect concert with 

Their fleets are said to be in fine order, manned and 
fit for sea. The cry of this nation is for us, but the 
Court, it is thought, views an approaching war with reluc- 
tance. The press continues in England. As soon as we 
can receive a positive answer from these Courts, we shall 
despatch an express with it. 
I am. Gentlemen, Sic. 



Paris, January 20th, 1777. 

Dear Sir, 

The bearer. Captain Balm, is strongly recommended 

to me as a very able officer of horse, and capable of 

being extremely useful to us, in forming a body of men for 

that service. As he has otherwise an excellent character, 

I take the liberty of recommending him to my friends as 

a stranger of merit, worthy of their civilities, and to the 

Congress as an officer, who if employed may greatly 

serve a cause, which he has sincerely at heart. 

With great respect, &i;c. 




Passv," April 7tli, 1777. 


I lelt in your Excellency's hands, to be communicated, 
if you please, to your Court, a duplicate of the commission 
from Congress, appointing me to go to Spain as their Min- 
ister Plenipotentiary. But, as I understand, that the re- 
ceiving such a Minister is not at present thought conven- 
ient, and I am sure the Congress would have nothing done 
that might incommode in the least a Court they so much 
respect, I shall therefore postpone that journey till circum- 
stances may make it more suitable. In the mean time, 
I beg leave to lay before his Catholic Majesty, through the 
bands of your Excellency, the propositions contained in a 
resolution of Congress, dated December 30th, 1776, viz. 

"That if His Catholic Majesty will join with the United 
States in a war against Great Britain, they will assist in re- 
ducing to the possession of Spain the town and harbor of 
Pensacola ; provided the inhabitants of the United States 
shall have the free navigation of the Mississippi, and the use 
of the harbor of Pensacola ; and will, (provided it shall be 
ti-ue, that his Portuguese Majesty has insultingly expelled 
the vessels of these States from his ports, or has confisca- 
ted any such vessels,) declare war against the said King, 
if that measure shall be agreeable to, and supported by, 
the Courts of France and Spain." 

* Passy is a small town about three miles fram Paris, on the banks of 
the Seine. Dr Franklin lived here during the whole of his re.idence in 


It is understood, that the strictest union subsists between 
those two Courts ; and in case Spain and France should 
think fit to attempt the conquest of the English sugar 
islands, Congress have further proposed to furnish provis- 
ions to the amount of two millions of dollars, and to join 
the fleet employed on the occasion, with six frigates of not 
less than twentyfour guns each, manned and fitted for ser- 
vice ; and to render any other assistance which may be 
in their power, as becomes good allies ; without desiring 
for themselves the possession of any of the said islands. 

These propositions are subject to discussion, and to 
receive such modification as may be found proper. 

With great respect, I have the honor to be your Excel- 
lency's most obedient and most humble servant, 



Paris, June 13th, 1777. 


The bearer, M. le Comte Kotkouski, a Polish officer, is 
recommended to me by several persons of worth here, 
as a man of experience in military affairs, and of tried 
bravery. He has lost his family and estate in Poland, by 
fighting there in the cause of liberty, and wishes, by en- 
gaging in the same cause, to find a new country and new 
friends in America. Count Pulaski, who was a General 
of the confederates in Poland, and who is gone to join 
you, is esteemed one of the greatest officers in Europe. 
He can give you the character of this M. Kotkouski, who 
served under him as Lieutenant Colonel. 

It is with regret that I give letters of introduction to 


foreign officers, fearing that you may be troubled with 
more than you can provide for, or employ to their and 
your own satisfaction. When particular cases seem to 
have a claim to such letters, I hope you will e^use my 
taking the liberty. I give no expectations to those who 
apply for them ; 1 promise nothing, I acquaint them that 
their being placed when they arrive is a great uncertainty, 
and .that the voyage being long, expensive, and hazardous, 
I counsel them not to undertake it. This honest gentle- 
man's zeal is not to be discouraged by such means ; he 
determines to go and serve as a volunteer, if he cannot be 
employed immediately as an officer ; but I wish and hope 
that your Excellency may find a better situation for him, 
and that he will be a useful officer. He has the advan- 
tage of understanding English, and will soon speak it 
intelligibly. He also speaks German, and some other 
European languages, and the Latin. 

With the truest esteem and respect, I have the honor to 
be, &tc. 



Paris, June 13th, 1777. 

The person, who will have the honor of delivering this 
to your Excellency, is Monsieur le Baron de Frey, who is 
well recommended to me as an officer of experience and 
merit, with a request that I would give him a letter of 
introduction. I have acquainted him, that you arc raiher 
overstocked with officers, and that his obtaining employ- 
ment in your army is an uncertainty ; but his zeal for the 


American cause is too great lor any discouragements I 
can lay before him, and he goes over at his own expense, 
to take his chance, which is a mark of attachment that 
merits our regard. He will show your Excellency the 
commissions and proofs of his military service hitherto, 
and I beg leave to recommend him to your notice. 
With the sincerest esteem and respect, 




Paris, .Septembei- 8(ii, 1777. 

My dear Sir, 

1 should be much obliged to you, if you would be so 
good as to give a letter of recommendation to some one 
of the chiefs of your army, in favor of a young man full of 
courage, and also of distinguished talents, who is at Bor- 
deaux, ready to embark for America, where he proposes 
to settle himself in Pennsylvania, after having served in 
quality of volunteer, or otherwise, during the war. His 
name is Gerard. He carries with him a little adventure, 
sufficient for supporting him some years, and afterwards, if 
it is there customary, his father will make over to him his 
portion. I interest myself particularly in his flivor, because 
he is the brother in law of one of our honestest commissaries. 

I have the honor to wish you a good day, and to reile- 
rate the assurances of my inviolable attachment. 




Passy, September 12tli, 1777. 

The bearer Monsieur Gerard is recommended to me 
by M. Dubourg, a gentleman of distinction here, and a 
hearty friend to our cause. 1 enclose his letter, that you 
may see the favorable manner in which he speaks of M. 
Gerard. I thereupon take the liberty of recommending the 
young gentleman to your civilities and advice, as he will be 
quite a stranger diere, and to request that you would put 
hini iu die way of serving as a volunteer in our armies. 
1 am, Sir, &:c. 



In borrowing money, a man's credit depends on some, 
or all, of the following particulars. 

First, His known conduct respecting former loans, and 
his punctuality in discharging them. 

Secondly, His industry. 

Thirdly, His frugality. 

Fourthly, The amount and the certainty of his income, 
and the freedom of his estate from the incumbrances of 
prior debts. 

Fifthly, His well founded prospects of greater future 

• This p^ger was written by Dr Franklin in tiie summer of 1777, 
with the view of convincing Europeans, that it was more eligible to 
lend money to the United States at that lime, tlian to England. It 
was translated and sent to different parts of Europe. In Mr Ar- 
thur Lee's letter to the Baron de Scluilenburj, dated Septeml)er 21st, 
1777, he mentions having sent a copy of it to that Minister. 


ability, by the improvement of his estate in value, and by 
aids from others. 

Sixthly, His known prudence in managing his general 
affairs, and the advantage they will probably receive from 
the loan which he desires. 

Seventhly, His known probity and honest character, 
manifested by his voluntary discharge of debts, which he 
could not have been legally compelled to pay. The cir- 
cumstances, which give credit to an individual, ought 
to have^ and will have, their weight upon the lenders of 
money to public bodies or nations. If then we consider 
and compare Britain and America in these several particu- 
lars, upon the question, "To which is it safest to lend 
money ?" We shall find, 

1. Respecting former loans, that America, who bor- 
rowed ten millions during the last war, for the maintenance 
of her army of 25,000 men and other charges, had faith- 
fully discharged and paid that debt, and all her other debts, 
in 1772. Whereas Britain, during those ten years of peace 
and profitable commerce, had made little or no reduction 
of her debt; but on the contrary, from time to time, 
diminished the hopes of her creditors, by a wanton diver- 
sion and misapplication of the sinking fund destined for 
discharging it. 

2. Respecting industry; every man in America is 
employed ; the greater part in cultivating their own lands, 
the rest in handicrafts, navigation, and commerce. An 
idle man there is a rarity ; idleness and inutility are dis- 
graceful. In England the number of that character is im- 
mense, fashion has spread it far and wide ; hence the 
embarrassments of private fortunes, and the daily bank- 
ruptcies arising from a universal fondness for appearance 


and expensive pleasures ; and hence, in some degree, the 
mismanagement of public business ; for habits of business, 
and ability in it, are acquired only by practice ; and where 
universal dissipation, and the perpetual pursuit ^ amuse- 
ment are the mode, the youth educated in it can rarely 
afterwards acquire that patient attention and close applica- 
tion to affairs, which are so necessary to a statesman 
charged with the care of national welfare. Hence their 
frequent errors in policy, and hence the weariness at pub- 
lic councils, and backwardness in going to them, the con- 
stant unwillingness to engage in any measure that requires 
thought and consideration, and the readiness for postponing 
every new proposition ; which postponing is therefore the 
only part of business they come to be expert in, an expert- 
ness produced necessarily by so much daily practice. 
Whereas in America, men bred to close employment in 
their private affairs attend with ease to those of the public 
when engaged in them, and nothing fails through negli- 

3. Respecting fnigalify ; the manner of living in 
America is more simple and less expensive than in Eng- 
land ; plain tables, plain clothing, and plain furniture in 
houses prevail, with few carriages of pleasure ; there an 
expensive appearance hurts credit, and is avoided ; in 
England it is often assumed to gain credit, and continued 
to ruin. Respecting public affaiits, the difference is still 
greater. In England the salaries of officers and emolu- 
ments of olnbe are enormous. The king has a million 
sterling per annum, and yet cannot maintain his family free 
of debt ; secretaries of state, lords of treasury, admiralty, 
&tc. have vast appointments ; an auditor of the exchequer 
has sixpence in the pound, or a fortieth part of all the pub- 
roL. III. 3 


lie money expended by the nation ; so that when a war 
costs forty millions, one million is paid to him ; an inspec- 
tor of the mint, in the last new coinage, received as liis fee 
£65,000 sterling per annum ; to all which rewards no 
service these gentlemen can render the public is by any 
means equivalent. All this is paid by the people, who 
are oppressed by taxes so occasioned, and thereby ren- 
dered less able to contribute to the payment of necessary 
national debts. In America, salaries, where indispensable, 
are extremely low ; but inuch of the public business is 
done gratis. The honor of serving the public ably and 
faithfully is deemed sufficient. Public sjJirit really exists 
there, and has great effects. In England it is universally 
deemed a nonentity, and whoever pretends to it is laughed 
at as a fool, or suspected as a knave. The comuiittees of 
Congress which form the board of war, the board of trea- 
sury, the board of foreign affairs, the naval board, that 
for accounts, &,c. all attend the business of their respective 
functions without any salary or emolument whatever, 
though they spend in it much more of their time, than any 
lord of the treasury or admiralty in England can spare 
from his amusements. A British Minister lately com- 
puted, that the whole expense of the Americans in their 
civil government, over three millions of people, amounted 
to but £70,000 sterling, and drew from thence a conclu- 
sion, that they ought to be taxed, until their expense was 
equal in proportion to that which it costs Great Britain to 
govern eight millions. He had no idea of a contrary con- 
clusion, that if three millions may be well governed for 
£70,000, eight millions may be as well governed for three 
times that sum, and that tficrefore the expense of his own 
government should be diminished. In that corrupted 


nation, no man is ashamed of being concerned in lucrative 
government jobs, in wiiich llie public money is egregiously 
misapplied and squandered, the treasury pilhiged, and 
more numerous and heavy taxes accumulated, to^he great 
oppression of the people. But the prospect of a greater 
number of such jobs by a war is an inducement with 
many to cry out for war upon all occasions, and to oppose 
every proposition of peace. Hence the constant increase 
of the national debt, and the absolute improbability of its 
ever being discharged. 

4. Respecting the amount and certainty of income, 
and solidity of security ; the whole thirteen Stales of 
America are engaged for the payment of every debt con- 
tracted by the Congress, and the debt to he contracted by 
the present war is the only debt they will have to pay ; all, 
or nearly all, the former debts of particular Colonies being 
already discharged. Whereas England will have to pay 
not only the enormous debt this war must occasion, but all 
their vast preceding debt, or the interest of it, — and while 
America is enriching itself by prizes made upon the Brit- 
ish commerce, more than ever it did by any commerce of 
its own, under the restraints of a British monopoly, and the 
diminution of its revenues, and of course, less able to dis- 
charge the present indiscreet increase of its expenses. 

6. Respecting prospects of greater /uYMre ability Brit- 
ain has nonc^ittch. Her islands arc circumscribed by the 
ocean ; and excepting a few parks or forests, she has no 
new land to cultivate, and cannot therefore extend her im- 
provements. Her numbers, too, instead of increasing from 
increased subsistence, are continually diminishing from 
growing luxury, and the increasing difficulties of maintain- 
ing families, which of course discourage early marriages. 


Thus she will have fewer people to assist in paying her 
debts, and that diminishing number will be poorer. , 
America, on the contrary, has, besides her lands already 
cultivated, a vast territory yet to be cultivated ; which, 
being cultivated, continually increases in value with the 
increase of people ; and the people, who double them- 
selves by a natural propagation every twentyfive years, 
will double yet faster by the accession of strangers, as 
long as lands are to be had for new families ; so diat 
every twenty years there will be a double number of 
inhabitants obliged to discharge the public debts; and 
those inhabitants being more opulent may pay their 
shares with greater ease. 

G. Respecting prudence in general affairs, and the 
advantages to be expected from the loan desired ; the 
Americans are cultivators of land ; those engaged in 
fishery and commerce are few, compared with the others. 
They have ever conducted their several governments with 
wisdom, avoiding wars and vain expensive projects, de- 
lighting only in their peaceable occupations, which must, 
considering the extent of their uncultivated territory, find 
ihcm employment still for ages. Whereas England, ever 
unquiet, ambitious, avaricious, imprudent, and quarrel- 
some, is half of the time engaged in war, always at an 
expense infinitely greater than the advantages to be ob- 
tained by it, if successful. Thus they made war against 
Spain in 1739, for a claim of about £95,000, (scarce a 
groat for each individual of the nation) and spent forty mil- 
lions sterling in the war, and the lives of fifty thousand 
men ; and finally made peace without obtaining satisfac- 
tion for the sum claimed. Indeed, there is scarce a 
nation in Europe, against which she has not made war on 


some frivolous pretext or other, and thereby impriulenily 
accumulated a debt, that has brought her on the verge of 
bankruptcy. But the most indiscreet of all her wars is 
the present against America, with whom she might lor 
ages have preserved her profitable connexion cJiily by a 
just and equitable conduct. She is now acting like a mad 
shop keeper, who, by beating those that pass his doors, 
attempts to make them come in and be his customers. 
America cannot submit to such treatment, without being 
first ruined, and, being ruined, her custom will be worth 
nothing. England, to effect this, is increasing her debt, 
and irretrievably ruining herself. America, on the other 
hand, aims only to establish her liberty, and that freedom 
of commerce which will be advantageous to all Europe j 
and by abolishing that monopoly which she labored 
under, she will profit infinitely more than enough to repay 
any debt, which she may contract to accomplish it. 

7. Respecting character in the honest payment of debts; 
the punctuality with which America has discharged her 
public debts was shown under the first head. And the 
general good disposition of the people to such punctuality 
has been manifested in their faithful payment of private 
debts to England, since the commencement of this war. 
There were not wanting some politicians (in America) 
who proposed stopping that payment, until peace should 
be restored, d^teging, tliat in the usual course of commerce, 
and of the credit given, there was always a debt existing 
equal to the trade of eighteen months ; that the trade 
amounting to five millions sterling per annum, tlie debt 
must be seven millions and a half; that this sum paid to 
the British merchants would operate to prevent that dis- 
tress, intended to be brought upon Britain, by our stoppage 


of commerce with her ; for the merchants receiving this 
money, and no orders with it for farther supplies, would 
either lay it out in public funds, or in employing manufac- 
tures to accumulate goods for a future hungry market in 
America upon an expected accommodation, by which 
means the funds would be kept up and the manufacturers 
prevented from murmuring. But against this it was al- 
leged, that injuries from ministers should not be revenged 
on merchants ; that the credit was in consequence of pri- 
vate contracts made in confidence of good faith ; that 
these ought to be held sacred and faithfully complied whh ; 
for that, whatever public utility might be supposed to arise 
from a breach of private faith, it was unjust, and would in 
the end be found unwise, honesty being in trudi the best 
policy. On this principle the proposition was universally 
rejected ; and though the English prosecuted the v,'ar with 
unexampled barbarity, burning our defenceless towns in 
the midst of winter, and arming savages against us ; the 
debt was punctually paid, and the merchants of London 
have testified to the Parliament, and will testify to all the 
world, that from their experience in dealing with us they 
had, before the war, no apprehension of our unfairness, 
and diat since the war they have been convinced that their 
good opinion of us was well founded. England, on the 
contrary, an old, corrupt government, extravagant and 
profligate nation, sees herself deep in debt, which she is in 
no condition to pay, and yet is madly and dishonestly run- 
ning deeper, without any possibility of discharging her debt 
but by a public bankruptcy. 

It appears, therefore, from the general industry, frugal- 
ity, ability, prudence, and virtue of America, that she is a 
much safer debtor than Britain ; to say nothing of the sat- 


isfaclion generous maids must have in reflecting, that by 
loans to America they are opposing tyranny, and aiding the 
cause of liberty, whicli is the cause of all mankind. 


Passy, October l-4tli, 1777. 

Dear Sir, 

I received duly your letter of May 2d, 1777, including 
a copy of one you had sent me the year before, which 
never came to iiand, and which it seems has been the case 
with some I wrote to you from America. Filled, though 
our letters have always been, with sentiments of good will 
to both countries, and earnest desires of preventing their 
ruin and promoting their mutual felicity, I have been appre- 
hensive that if it were known that a correspondence sub- 
sisted between us, it might be attended with inconvenience 
to you. I have therefore been backward in writing, not 
caring to trust the post, and not well knowing who else to 
trust with my letters. But being now assured of a safe 
conveyance, I venture to write to you, especially as I think 
the subject such a one as you may receive a letter upon 
wiilioui censure. 

Happy should I have been, if the honest warnings I 
gave, of the fatal separation of interests as well as of affec- 
tions, that n^t attend the measures commenced while I 
was in England, had been attended to, and the horrid mis- 
chief of this abominable war been thereby prevented. I 
should still be happy in any successful endeavors for restor- 
ing peace, consistent with the liberties, the safety, and the 
honor of America. As to our submitting to the govern- 
ment of Great Britain, it is vain to ti)ink of it. She has 


given us, by her niimlDerless barbarities, (by her malice in 
bribing slaves to murder their masters, and savages to mas- 
sacre the families of farmers, with her baseness m reward- 
ing the unfaithfulness of servants, and debauching the virtue 
of honest seamen, intrusted with our property) in the pros- 
ecution of the war, and in the treatment of the prisoners, 
so deep an impression of her depravity, that we never 
again can trust her in the management of our affairs and 
interests, tt is now impossible to persuade our people, as I 
long endeavored, that the war was merely ministerial, and 
that the nation bore still a good will to us. The infinite 
number of addresses printed in your gazettes, all approving 
the conduct of your government towards us, and encourag- 
ing our destruction by every possible means, the great ma- 
jority in Parliament constantly manifesting the same senti- 
ments, and the popular public rejoicings on occasion of any 
news of the slaughter of an innocent and virtuous people, 
fighting only in defence of their just rights ; these, together 
with the Etecommendations of the same measures by even 
your celebrated moralists and divines, in their writings and 
sermons, that are still approved and applauded in your 
great national assemblies, all join in convincing us, that you 
are no longer the magnanimous enlightened nation we onco 
esteemed you, and that you arc unfit and unworthy to gov- 
ern us, as not being able to govern your own passions. 

But, as I have said, 1 should be nevertheless happy in 
seeing peace restored. For though if my friends and the 
friends of liberty and virtue, who still remain in England, 
could be drawn out of it, a continuance of this war to the 
ruin of the rest would give mc less concern. I cannot, as 
that removal is impossible, but wish for peace for their 
sakes, as well as for the sake of humanity, and preventing 
further carnage. 


This wish of mine, icieflcctive as it may be, induces 
me to mention to you, thai between nations long exas- 
perated against each other in war, some act of generosity # 
and kindness towards prisoners on one side has softened 
resentment, and abated animosity on the other, so as to 
bring on an accommodation. You in England, if you wish 
for peace, have at present the opportunity of trying this 
means with regard to the prisoners now in your gaols. 
They complain of very severe treatment. They are far 
from their friends and families, and winter is coming on, 
in which they must suffer extremely, if continued in their 
present situation ; fed scantily on bad provisions, without 
warm lodging, clothes, or fire, and not suffered to invite or 
receive visits from their friends, or even from the humane 
and charitable of their enemies. 

I can assure you, from my own certain knowledge, that 
your people, prisoners in America, have been treated with 
great kindness ; they have been served with the same ra- 
tions of wholesome provisions with our own troops, com- 
fortable lodgings have been provided for them, and they 
have been allowed large bounds of villages in the healthy 
air, to walk and amuse themselves with on their parole. 
Where yon have thought fit to employ contractors to sup- 
ply your people, these ^itractors have been protected and 
aided in their oj)erations. Some considerable act of kind- 
ness towards our people would take off the reproacii of in- 
humanity in thai res[)ect from the nation, and leave it 
where it ought with more certainty to lay, on the conduc- 
tors of your war m America. This I hint to you, out of 
some remaining good will to a nation I once loved sin- 
cerely. But as things are, and in my present ten)per of 
mind, not being over fond of receiving obligations, I shall 

VOL. III. 4 


content myself witli proposing, that your government would 
allow us to send or employ a commissary to take some 
care of those unfortunate people. Perhsps on your repre- 
sentations this might speedily be obtained in England, 
though it was refused most inhumanly at New York. 

If you could have leisure to visit the gaols in which 
they are confined, and should be desirous ol' knowing the 
truth relative to die treatment they receive, I Vv'ish yon 
would take the trouble of distributing among the most 
necessitous according to their wants, five or six hundred 
pounds, for which your drafts on me here shall be punc- 
tually honored. You could then be able to speak with 
some certainty to the point in Parliament, and this might 
be attended with good effects. 

If you cannot obtain for us permission to send a commis- 
sary, possibly you niay faid a trusty, humane, discreet per- 
son at Plymouii), and another at Portsmoutli, who would 
undertake to communicate what relief we may be able to 
afford those nnfortimate men, martyrs to the cause of lib- 
erty. Your king v/ill not reward you for taking this trou- 
ble, but God will. I shall not mention the gratitude of 
America ; you will have what is better, the applause of 
your own good conscience. Our captains have set at lib- 
erty above two hundred of your people, made prisoners by 
our armed vessels and l)roughL into France, besides a great 
number dismissed at sea on your coasts, to whom vessels 
were given to carry diem in. But you have not returned 
us a man in exchange. ]l we had sold your people to the 
Moors at Sallce, as you have many of ours to the African 
and East India Conspanies, could you have complained? 

In revising what i have written, I found too much 
warmth in it, and was about to strike out some parts. Yet 


i let ihem go, as ihey will afibrd you Uiis one reflection ; 
"If a man naturally cool, and rendered still cooler by old 
age, is so warmed by our treatment of liis country, how 
much must those people in general be exasperated against 
us ? And why are we making inveterate enemies by our 
barbarity, not only of the present inhabitants of a great 
country, but of their infinitely more numerous posterity ; 
who will in future ages detest the name of Englishman, as 
much as the children in Holland now do those of Alva and 
Spaniard.^^ This will certainly happen, unless your con- 
duct is speedily changed, and the national resentment falls, 
where it ought to fall heavily, on your ministry, or perhaps 
rather on the king, whose will they only execute. 

With the greatest esteem and atlection, and best wishes 
for your prosperity, I have the honor to be, dear sir, Sic. 



Paris, December 21sf, 1777. 

1 see in a vote of Congress, shown me by Captain 
Franval, that Mr Deane is 2h»owned in some of his agree- 
ments with officers. I, who am upon the spot, and know 
the infinite difficulty of resisting the powerful solicitations of 
great men, who if disobliged might have it in their power to 
obstruct the supplies he was then obtaining, do not wonder, 
that being then a stranger to the people, and unac(]uainted 
with the language, he was at first prevailed on to make 
some such agreements, when all were recommended, as 
they always are, as officiers experimentes, braves commc leurs 
€pees, pleins de courage, des talents, et de zele, pour notre 


cause, he. &.c. in short mere Cesars, each of whom would 
have been an invaluable acquisition to America. You can 
have no conception how we are still besieged, and worried 
on this head, our time cut to pieces by personal applica- 
tions, besides those contained in dozens of letters by every 
post, which are so generally refused, that scarce one in a 
hundred obtains from us a simple recommendation to 

I hope, therefore, that favorable allowance will be made 
to my wordiy colleague, on account of liis situation at the 
time, as he has long since corrected that mistake, and daily 
approves himself to my certain knowledge an able, faithful, 
active, and extremely useful servant of the public ; a testi- 
mony 1 think it tny duty to take this occasion of giving to 
his merit, unasked, as, considering my great age, I may 
probably not live to give it personally in Congress, and I 
perceive he has enemies. 

You will see the general news in the papers in par- 
ticular ; 1 can only say at present, that our affairs go well 
here ; and that 

I am, with much respect, Sir, &-c. 


* A letter from Dr Franklin to (lie President of Congress, respecting 
Mr Deane, dated March 31st, 1778, will be found iu Mr Deane's Cor- 
respondence, Vol. I. p. 120, 



Passy, Fcbruan- 1st, 1778. 

My dear old Friend, 

You desired, that if I had no proposiiion to make, 1 
would at least give my advice, 

I think it is Ariosto who says, that all things lost on 
earth, are to be found in the moon ; on which somebody 
remarked, that there must be a great deal of good advice 
in the moon. If so there is a good deal of mine formerly 
given and lost in this business. I will, however, at your 
request give a little more, but without the least expecta- 
tion, that it will be followed ; for none but God can at the 
same time give good counsel, and wisdom to make use 
of it. 

You have lost by this mad war, and the barbarity with 
which it has been carried on, not only the government and 
commerce of America, and the public revenues and private 
wealth arising from that commerce, but what is more, you 
have lost the esteem, respect, friendship, and affection of 
all that great and growing people, who consider you at 
present, and whose posterity will consider you, as the worst 
and wickedest nation upon earth. A peace you may un- 
doubtedly obtain, by dropping all your pretensions to 
govern us ; and by your superior skill in huckstering nego- 
tiation, you may possibly make such an apparently advan- 
tageous bargain, as shall be applauded in your Parliament ; 

* This gentleman was for many years Secretary to the Society of 
Moravians, and sustained a very estimable character. He seems to 
have gone to Paris on some private agency with reference to a peace. 
An intimate friendship subsisted between him and Dr Franklin. He 
died in England, on the 25th of April, 1795, in his SOlh year. 


but if you cannot, with the peace, recover the aftections 
of that people, it will not be a lasting nor a profitable one, 
nor will it afford you any part of that strength, which 
you once had by your union with them, and might (if 
you had been wise enough to take advice) have still 

To recover their respect and afieciion, you must tread 
back the steps you have taken. 

Instead of honoring and rewarding the American advi- 
sers and j)romoters of this war, you should disgrace them ; 
with all those who iiave inflamed the nation against America 
by their malicious writings ; and all the ministers and gen- 
erals who have prosecuted the war with such inhumanity. 
This would show a national change ol' disposition, and a 
disapprobation of what had passed. 

In proposing terms, you should not only grant such as 
the necessity of your affairs may evidently oblige you to 
grant, but such additional ones as may show your gene- 
rosity, and thereby demonstrate your good will. For 
instance, perhaps you might, by your treaty, retain all 
Canada, Nova Scotia, and the Floridas. But if you would 
have a real friendly as well as able ally in America, and 
avoid all occasion of future discord, which will odierwise 
be continually arising on your American frontiers, you 
should throw in those countries. And you may call it, if 
you please, an indenmification for die burning of their 
towns, which indemnification will otherwise be some lime 
or other demanded. 

I know your people will not see the utility of such mea- 
sures, and will never follow them, and even call it inso- 
lence and impudence in me to mention them. 1 have, 


however, complied with your desire, and am, as ever, your 

affectionate friend, 


P. S. Fehniftry ]2th, 177S. I wrote the above 
some time before I received yours, acquainting me with 
your speedy and safe return, which gave me pleasure. I 
doubted after I had written it, whether it would be well to 
send it ; for as your proud nation despises us exceedingly, 
and demands and expects absolute and humble submission, 
all talk of treaty must appear imprudence, and tend to 
provoke rather than conciliate. As you still press me by 
your last to say something, 1 conclude to send what 1 had 
written, for I think the advice is good, though it must be 
useless ; and I cannot, as some amongst you desire, make 
propositions, having none committed to me to make ; but 
we can treat if any are made to us ; which however we do 
not expect. I abominate with you all murder, and I may 
add, that the slaughter of men in an unjust cause is nothing 
less than murder ; I therefore never think of your present 
ministers and their abettors, but with the image strongly 
painted in my view, of their hands, red, wet, and dropping 
with the blood of my coimtrymen, friends, and relations. 
No peace can be signed by those hands. 
' - Peace and friendship will, nevertheless, subsist for ever 
between Mr Hutton and his affectionate friend, 

B. F. 


Passy, Fehruary 12lh, 17TS. 

Dear Sir, 
A thousand tlianks for your so readily engaging in the 
means of relieving our poor captives, and the pains you 


have taken, and the advances you have made for that pur- 
pose. I received your kind letter of the 3d instant, and 
send you enclosed a bill of one hundred pounds. I much 
approve of Mr Wren's prudent, as well as benevolent con- 
duct in tbe disposition of the money, and wish him to con- 
tinue doing what shall appear to him and to you to be right, 
which I am persuaded will appear the same to me and my 
colleagues here. I beg you will present him, when you 
write, my respectful acknowledgments. 

Your " earnest caution and request, that nothing may 
ever persuade America to tbrow themselves into the arms 
of France, for tbat times may mend, and that an Ameri- 
can must always be a stranger in France, but that Great 
Britain may for ages to come be their honie," marks the 
goodness of your heart, your regard for us, and love of 
your country. But when your nation is hiring all the cut- 
tbroats it can collect, of ail countries and colors, to destroy 
us, it is hard to persuade us not to ask or accept aid from 
any power, that may be prevailed with to grant it ; and 
this only from the hope, that though you now thirst for our 
blood, and pursue us with fire and sword, you may in some 
future time treat us kindly. This is too much patience to 
be expected of us ; indeed I think it is not in human 

The Americans are received and treated here in France 
with a cordiality, a respect, and affection they never ex- 
perienced in England when they most deserved it ; and 
which is now (after all the pains taken to exasperate the 
English against them, and render them odious as well as 
contemptible) less to be expected there than ever. vYud I 
cannot see why we may not, upon an alliance, hope for a 
continuance of it, at least as much as the Swiss enjoy, 


with whom Fiance liave maintained a faithful friendship for 
two hundred years past, and whose people appear to live 
here in as much esteem as llie natives. America has been 
forced and driven into the arms of France. She was a 
dutiful and virtuous (laughter. A cruel mother in law 
turned her out of doors, defamed her, and sought her life. 
All the world knows her innocence, and takes her part ; 
and her friends hope soon to see her honorably married. 
They can never persuade her return and submission to so 
barbarous an enemy. In her future prosperity, if she forgets 
and forgives, it is all that can be reasonably expected of 
her. I believe she will make as good and useful a wife as 
she did a daughter, that her husband will love and honor 
her, and that the family, from which she was so wickedly 
expelled, will long regret the loss of her. 

I know not whether a peace with us is desired in Eng- 
land ; I rather think it is not at present, unless on the old 
impossible terms of submission and receiving pardon. 
Whenever you shall be disposed to make peace upon equal 
and reasonable terms, you will find little difficulty, if you 
get first an honest Ministry. The present have all along 
acted so deceitfully and treacherously, as well as inhumanly, 
towards the Americans, that 1 imagine, that the absolute 
want of ail couOdence in them will make a treaty, at 
present, between them and tiie Congress impracticable. 

The subscription for die prisoners will have excellent 
efiecls in favor of JLngland and Englishmen. The Scotch 
subscriptions for raising troops to destroy us, though 
amounting to much greater sums, will not do their nation 
half so much good. If you have an opportunity, I wish 
you would express our respectful acknowledgments and 
thanks to your committee and contributors, whose bcnefac- 
roL. in. 5 



tions wili make our poor people as comfortabie as their 
situation can permit. Adieu, my dear friend. Accept my 
thanks for the excellent papers you enclosed to me. Your 
endeavors for peace, though unsuccessful, wili always be a 
comfort to you, and in time, when this mad war shall be 
universally execrated, will be a solid addition to your 

I am ever, with the highest esteem, <k.c. 


P. S. An old friend of mine, Mr Hutton, a chief of 
the Moravians, who is often at the Queen's palace^ and is 
sometimes spoken to by the King, was over here lately. 
He pretended to no commission, but urged me much to 
propose some terms of peace, which 1 avoided. He has 
written to me since liis return, pressing the same thing, and 
expressing with some confidence his opinion, that we might 
have everything short of absolute independence, &.c. En- 
closed I send my answers open, that you may read 
them, and if you please copy, before you deliver or for- 
ward them. They will serve to show you more fully my 
sentiments^ thougii they serve no other purpose. B. F. 


Fassy, February 26tli, 1778. 

Dear Sir, 
I received yours of the 1 8th and 20th of this month, 
with Lord North's proposed bills. The moie I see of the 
ideas and projects of your Ministry, and their little arts and 
schemes of amusing and dividing us, the more I admire the 
prudent, manly, and magnanimous propositions contained 


in your intended motion for an address to the King. What 
reliance can we have on an act expressing itself to be only 
a declaration of the intention of Parliament, concerning the 
exercise of the right of iniposing taxes in America, when in 
the bill itself, as well as in the title, a right is supposed and 
claimed, whicii never existed ; and a present intention only 
is declared not to use it, which may be changed by another 
act next session, with a preamble, that this intention being 
found expedient, it is thought proper to repeal this act, and 
resume the exercise of the right in its full extent. If any 
solid permanent benefit was intended by this, why is it 
confined to the Colonies of North America, and not ex- 
tended to the loyal ones in the sugar islands ? But it is 
now endless to criticise, as all acts that suppose your 
future government of the Colonies can be no longer 

In the act for appointing Commissioners, instead of full 
powers to agree upon terms of peace and friendship, with 
a promise of ratifying such treaty as they shall make in 
pursuance of those powei-s, it is declared, that their agree- 
ments shall have no force nor effect, nor be carried into 
execution till approved of by Parliament ; so that every 
thing of irnportance will be uncertain. But they are 
allowed to proclaim a cessation of arms, and revoke their 
proclamation, as soon as in consequence of it our militia 
have been allowed to go home ; they may suspend the 
operation of acts, prohibiting trade, and take off that sus- 
pension when our merchants, in consequence of it, have 
been induced to send their ships to sea ; in short, they may 
do everything tliat can have a tendency to divide and dis- 
tract us, but nothing that can afford us security. Indeed, 
Sir, your Ministers do not know us. We may not be quite 


SO cunning as they, but we have really more sense, as well 
as more courage, than they have ever been willing to give 
us credit for; and I am persuaded, these acts will rather 
obstruct peace than promote it, and that they will not 
answer in America the mischievous and malevolent ends 
for which they were intended. In England they may in- 
deed amuse the public creditors, give hopes and expecta- 
tions, that shall be of some present use, and continue the 
mismanagers a little longer in their places. Voila tout ! 

In return for your repeated advice to us, not to conclude 
any treaty with the House of Bourbon, permit me to give 
(through you) a little advice to the whigs in England. 
Let nothing induce them to join with the tories in sup[)ort- 
ing and continuing this wicked war against the whigs of 
America, whose assistance they may hereafter want to 
secure their own liberties ; or whose country they may be 
glad to retire to for the enjoyment of them. 

If peace, by a treaty with America upon equal terms, 
were really desired, your Commissioners need not go rfiere 
for it ; supposing, as by the bill they are empowered " to 
treat with such person or persons, as in their wisdom and 
discretion they shall think meet," they should happen to 
conceive, that the Commissioners of the Congress at Paris 
might be included in that description. 

I am ever, dear Sir, &ic. 


P. S. Seriously, on further thoughts, I am of opinion, 
that if wise and honest men, such as Sir George Saville, 
the Bishop of St Asaph, and yourself, were to come over 
here immediately with powers to treat, you might not only 
obtain peace with America, but prevent a war with France. 



Passy, Marcli 24tli, 1778. 

My dear old friend was in the right, not " to call in 
v]uostion the sincerity of my words, where I say, Fchruary 
the 12th, n-e can treat if auy propositions are made to ns." 
They were true then, and are so still, if Britain has not 
declared war with France ; for in that case we shall un- 
doubtedly think ourselves obliged to continue the war as 
long as she does. But methinks you should have taken us 
at our word, and have sent immediately your propositions 
in order to prevent such a war, if you did not choose it. 
Still I conceive it would be well to do it, if you have not 
already rashly begun the war. Assure yourself, nobody 
more sincerely wishes perpetual peace among men than I 
do ; but there is a prior wish, that they would be equitable 
and just, otherwise such peace is not possible, and indeed 
wicked men have no right to expect it. 

Adieu ! I am ever yours most afTectionately, 



March 29th, 1778. 
Mr Williams returned this morning to Paris, and will be 
glad to see Dr Franklin, whenever it is convenient for the 
Doctor, at the Hotel Frasiliere, Rue Tournon. It is near 
the hotel where he lodged when the Doctor saw him a 
fortnight ago. He does not propose to go abroad, and 
therefore the Doctor will find him at any hour. He un- 
derstands that INIr Alexander is not yet returned from 
Dijon, which he regrets. 

* Mr Pultnej- writes under the assumed name of Williams. 



Passv, March 30th, 1778. 


When I first had the honor of conversing with yon on 
the subject of peace, I mentioned it as my opinion, that 
every proposition, which implied our voluntarily agreeing 
to return to a dependence on Britain, was now become im- 
possible ; that a peace on equal terms undoubtedly might 
be made; and that though we had no particular powers to 
treat of peace with England, we had general powers to 
make treaties of peace, amity, and commerce, with any 
State in Europe, by which I thought we might be author- 
ised to treat with Britain ; who, if sincerely disposed to 
peace, might save time and much bloodshed by treating 
with us directly, 

I also gave it as my opinion, that in the treaty to be 
made, Britain should endeavor, by the fairness and gene- 
rosity of the terms she offered, to recover die esteem, 
confidence, and affecdon of America, without which the 
peace could not be so beneficial, as it was not likely to 
be lasting ; in this I had the pleasure to find you of my 

But I see by the propositions you have communicated 
to me, that the Ministers cannot yet divest themselves of 
the idea, that the power of Parliament over us is constitu- 
tionally absolute and unlimited ; and that the limitations 
dicy may be willing now to put to it by treaty are so 
many favors, or so many benefits, for which we arc to make 

As our opinions in America are totally different, a treaty 
on the terms proposed appears to me utterly impracticable, 


cither here or iliere. Here we certainly cannot make it, 
having not the smallest authority to make even the decla- 
ration specified in the proposed letter, without which, if I 
understood you right, treating with us cannot be com- 

I sincerely wish as much for peace as you do, and 1 
have enough remaining of good will for England to wish 
it /or her sake as well as for our own, and for the sake of 
humanity. In the present state of things, the proper means 
of obtaining it, in my opinion, are to acknowledge the in- 
dependence of the United States, and then enter at once 
into a treaty w-ith us for a suspension of arms, with the usual 
provisions relating to distances ; and another for establish- 
ing peace, friendship, and commerce, such as France has 
made. This might prevent a war between you and that 
kingdom, which in the present circumstances and temper 
of the two nations an accident may bring on every day, 
though contrary to the interest and without the previous 
intention of either. Such a treaty we might probably now 
make, with the approbation of our friends ; but if you go 
to war with thenj, on account of their friendship for us, we 
are bound by ties, stronger than can be formed by any 
treaty, to fight against you with them, as long as the war 
against them shall continue. 

May God at last grant that wisdom to your national 
councils, which he seems long to have denied them, and 
which only sincere, just, and humane intentions can merit 
or expect. 

VV'ith great personal esteem, I have the honor to be, 

Sir, &:c. 



TO BK r.A:^caoFT. 

Tassy, April IGth, HTS. 

Dear Sir, 
I wish you would assure our friend, that Dr Franklin 
never gave any such expectations to Mr Pultney. On the 
contrary, he told him, that the commissioners could not 
succeed in their mission, whether they went to recover the 
dependence or to divide. His opinion is confirmed by the 
enclosed resolves, which perhaps it may not be amiss to 
publish in England. Please to send u;ie the newspaper. 

Yours affectionately, 



Paris, Ajiiil 23d, 1778. 

Dear Sir, 

I will take care ol' all your commissions. This moment 
a second packet of infinite value is received, which I shall 
clierish as a mark of afifection from you. I opened the 
letter by mistake, which came with it, and soon saw it was 
not for me. I hope you will excuse it. 1 choose rather 
to throw myself upon your goodness for the excuse, than 
anything else. 1 shall not set out till between one and 
two ; therefore, if you will be so good as to send me 
another copy, I will take care of it and deliver it safely. 

God bless you, my dear friend. No exertion or en- 
deavor on my part shall be wanting, that wc may some 
time or other meet again in peace. Your powers are infi- 
nitely more influential than mine. To those powers I 
trust my last hopes. I will conclude, blessed are the 
peace makers. 

Your afleciionate frienil, 



P. S. U tempestuous liuies should come, take care 
of your own safety ; events are uncertain, and men may 
be capricious. 

I thank you for your kind caution, but liaving nearly 
finished a long life, I set but litde value on what remains of 
It. Like a draper, when one chaffers with him for a rem- 
nant, I am ready to say, "As it is only the fag end, I will 
not differ witli you about it ; lake it for what you please." 
Perhaps the best use such an old fellow can be put to, is 

to make a martyr of him. 



Passy, April 24th, 177S. 


Mr Hartley, a member of Parliament, an old acquain- 
tance of mine, arrived here from London on Sunday last. 
He is generally in the opposition, especially on American 
questions, but has some respect for Lord North. In con- 
versation he expressed the strongest anxiety for peace 
with America, and appeared extremely desirous to know 
ray senuments of the terms, which might probably be ac- 
ceptable if offered ; whetlier America would not, to obtain 
peace, grant some superior advantages in trade to Britain, 
and enter into an alliance offensive and defensive; wheUier, 
if war should be declared against France, we had obliged 
ourselves by treaty to join with her against England. 

My answers have been, that the United States were 
not fond of war, and with the advice of their friends 
would probably be easily prevailed with to make peace 
VOL. rn. 6 


on equitable terms ; but we had no terms committed to 
us to propose, and I did not choose to mention any ; that 
Britain, having injured' us heavily by making this unjust 
war upon us, might think herself well off, if on repara- 
tion of those injuries we admitted her to equal advan- 
tages with other nations in commerce ; but certainly she 
had no reason to expect superior ; that her known fond- 
ness for war, and the many instances of her readiness to 
engage in wars on frivolous occasions, were probably suffi- 
cient to cause an immediate rejection of every propo- 
sition for an offensive alliance with her ; and that if she 
made war against France on our account, a peace with 
us, at the same time, was impossible ; for that having 
met with friendship from that generous nation, when we 
were cruelly oppressed by England, we were under 
ties stronger than treaties could form, to make common 
cause ; which we should certainly do to the utmost of 
our power. 

Here has also been with me a Mr Chapman, who says 
he is a member of the parliament of Ireland, on his way 
home from Nice, where he had been for the recovery of 
his health. He pretended to call on me only from mo- 
tives of respect for my character, he. But after a few 
compliments, he entered on a similar discourse, urging 
much to know what terms would satisfy America, and 
whether, on having peace and independence granted to 
us, we should not be willing to submit to the navigation 
act, or give equivalent privileges in trade to Britain. The 
purport of my answer to him was in short, that peace was 
of equal value to England as to us, and independence we 
were already in possession of; that, therefore, England's 
offer to grant them to us could not be considered as pro- 


jx)sing any favor, or as giving her a right to expect pecu- 
liar advantages in commerce. By his importunity, I 
found his visit was not so occasional as he represented it ; 
and from some expressions, I conjectured he might be 
sent by Lord Shelburne to sound me, and collect some in- 
formation. On the whole, I gather from these conversa- 
tions, that the opposition as well as the Ministry are per- 
plexed with the present situation of affairs, and know not 
which way to turn themselves, whether it is best to go 
backward or forward, or what steps to take to extricate 
that nation from its present dangerous situation. 

I tliought it right to give your Excellency an account of 
these interviews, and to acquaint you with my intention of 
avoiding suchliereafter, as I see but little prospect of util- 
ity in them, and think they are. very liable to hurtful mis- 

By advices from London we learn, that a fleet for Que- 
bec, with goods valued at five hundred thousand pounds 
sterling, is to sail about the end of tliis month, under con- 
voy only of a single frigate of thirty guns, in which is to go 
Governor Haldimand. 

Enclosed I send a paper I have just received from Lon- 
don. It is not subscribed by any name, but I know the 
hand. It is from an old friend of general and great ac- 
quaintance, and marks strongly the present distress and 
despair of considerate people in England. 

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, your 
Excellency's, &:c. 



M^'''*'* r. 'N ■''> ;.i l.i''--^ .• 



Versailles, April 25th, 1778. 

I have made known to the King, Sir, the substance of 
the letter, which you did me the honor of writing to me 
yesterday ; and 1 am directed by his Majesty to express 
to you the satisfaction he has experienced from the infor- 
mation, which you have communicated on your conferen- 
ces with Mr Hartley. The grand principle of the English 
policy has always been to excite divisions ; and it is by 
such means she expects to sustain her empire ; but it is 
not upon you, nor upon your colleagues, that she can prac- 
tise such arts, with success. I entertain the same senti- 
ments of confidence in the United Stales. As to the rest, 
it is impossible to speak with more dignity, frankness, and 
firmness, than you have done to Mr Hartley ; he has no 
reason to be very well satisfied with his mission. I doubt 
whether this member of Parliament has any mission for 
us ; but he desires to see me, and I expect him in the 
course of the morning. I should not be at all surprised, 
if his purpose be to sow distrust between us, by proposing 
a double negotiation. That I can obviate ; but whatever 
passes between us, however trifling it may be, you shall be 
made acquainted with. 

1 have the honor to be, with the most perfect consider- 
ation. Sir, your most humble and most obedient servant, 



Vorktowu, June iUtli, 1778. 


By a most unlucky mistake, I did not forward the re- 
solve of the 5ih of May, with the ratifications of the 
treaties sent in that month, in the packets A B C, but I 
have sent it in D E via INIariinique, and now forward it 
via Boston in F G, not allowing myself to wait for the 
coDCurrence of the Committee in a joint letter. 

Our troops were in the city of Philadelphia on the 
morning of the ISih. The intentions of the enemy in 
evacuating it cannot yet be explained. Our army is in 
motion and will press them. The Gazettes contain every 
thing material. By the arrival of Messrs Simeon Deane, 
May 2d, Courter, May 18th, Stevenson, June 10th, Hol- 
ker and Carmichael, June ISth, we have the favors of 
yourself and other friends in continuance. Commissioners 
will be particularly nominated to transact affairs for us at 
Lisbon and the Hague, if those Courts are well disposed 
towards us. We are now growing anxious about our 
worthy friend J. Adams. 

Your most humble servant, 


Fo7- the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


Passy, July 1st, 1778. 


I received your letter, dated at Brussels the IGth past. 

My vanity might possibly be flattered by your express- 
ions of compliment to my understanding, if your proposals 
did not more clearly manifest a mean opinion of it. 


You conjure me in the name of the omniscient and just 
God, before whom I must appear, and by my hojies of 
future fame, to consider if some expedient cannot be found 
to put a stop to the desolation of America, and prevent 
the miseries of a general war. As I am conscious of 
having taken every step in my power to prevent the 
breach, and no one to widen it, I can appear cheer- 
fully before that God, fearing nothing from his justice 
in this particular, though I have much occasion for his 
mercy in many odiers. As to my future fame, 1 am 
content to rest it on my past and present conduct, with- 
out seeking an addition to it in the crooked, dark paths, 
you propose to me, where I should most certainly lose it. 
This, your solemn address, would therefore have been 
more properly made to your sovereign and his venal 
Parliament. He and they, who wickedly began, and 
madly continue, a war for the desolation of America, are 
alone accountable for the consequences. 

You endeavor to impress me with a bad opinion of 
French faith ; but the instances of their friendly endeavor.*? 
to serve a race of weak princes, who, by their own im- 
prudence, defeated every attempt to promote dieir interest, 
weigh but litde with me, when I consider the steady 
friendship of France to the Thirteen United States of 
Switzerland, which has now continued inviolate two hun- 
dred years. You tell me that she will certainly cheat us, 
and that she despises us already. I do not believe that she 
will cheat us, and I am not certain that she despises us ; 
but I see clearly that you are endeavoring to cheat us by 
your conciliatory bills ; that you actually despised our un- 
derstandings when you flattered yourselves those artifices 
would succeed ; and that not only France, but all Europe, 
yourselves included, most certainly and for ever would 


despise us, if we were weak enough to accept your insid- 
ious propositions. 

Our expectations of the future grandeur of America arc 
not so magnificent, and therefore not so vain or visionary, 
as you represent them to be. The body of our people 
are not merchants, but humble husbandmen, who delight 
in the cultivation of their lands, which, from their fertility 
and the variety of our climates, are capable of furnishing 
all the necessaries and conveniences of life without ex- 
ternal commerce ; and we have too much land to have 
the least temptation to extend our territory by conquest 
from peaceable neighbors, as well as too much justice to 
think of it. Our militia, you find by experience, are suffi- 
cient to defend our lands from invasion ; and the com- 
merce with us will be defended by all the nations who find 
an advantage in it. We, therefore, have not the occasion 
you imagine, of fleets, or standing armies, but may leave 
those expensive machines to be maintained for the pomp 
of princes, and the wealth of ancient states. We pro- 
pose, if possible, to live in peace with all mankind ; and 
after you have been convinced to your cost, that there 
is nothing to be got by attacking us, we have reason to 
hope that no other power will judge it prudent to quar- 
rel with us, lest they divert us frorh our own quiet in- 
dustry, and turn us into corsairs preying upon theirs. 
The weight therefore of an independent empire, which 
you seem certain of our inability to bear, will not be so 
great as you imagine. The expense of our civil gov- 
ernment we have always borne, and can easily bear, 
because it is small. A virtuous and laborious people may 
be cheaply governed. Determining as we do, to have 
no offices of profit, nor any sinecures or useless appoint- 


ments, so common in ancient or corrupted states, we can 
govern ourselves a year, for the sum you pav in a single 
department, or for what one jobbing contractor, by the 
favor of a Minister, can cheat you out of in a single article. 
You think we flatter ourselves, and are deceived into 
an opinion that England 7nust acknowledge our inde- 
pendency. We, on the other hand, think you flatter 
yourselves in imagining such an acknowledgment a vast 
boon, which we strongly desire, and which you may 
gain some great advantage by granting or withholding. 
We have never asked it of you ; we only tell you, 
that you can have no treaty with us but as an inde- 
pendent State ; and you may please yourselves and 
your children with the rattle of your right to govern us, 
as long as you have' done with that of your King's being 
King of France, without giving us die least concern, if 
you do not attempt to exercise it. That this pretended 
right is indisputable, as you say, we utterly deny. Your 
Parliament never had a right to govern us, and your King 
has forfeited it by his bloody tyranny. But I thank you 
for letting me know a little of your mind, that even if the 
Parliament should acknowledge our independency, the 
act would not be binding to posterity, and that your nation 
would resume and " prosecute the claim as soon as they 
found it convenient from the influence of your passions, 
and your present malice against us. W^e suspected be- 
fore, that you would not be actually bound by your con- 
ciliatory acts, longer than till they had served their purpose 
of inducing us to disband our forces ; but we were not 
certain, that you were knaves by principle, and that we 
ought not to have the least confidence in your offers, 
promises, or treaties, though confirmed by Parliament. 


I now indeed recollect my being informed, long since, 
when in England, that a certain very great personage, 
then young, studied much a certain book, entitled Arcana 
imperii. I had the curiosity to procure the book and read 
it. There are sensible and good things in it, but some 
bad ones ; for, if I remember rightly, a particular king is 
applauded for his politically exciting a rebellion among his 
subjects, at a time when they had not strength to support 
it, that he might, in subduing them, take away their privi- 
leges, which were troublesome to him ; and a question is 
formally stated and discussed, Whether a prince, ivho, to 
appease a revolt, makes jyromises of indemnity to the 
revolters, is obliged to fulfil those promises 9 Honest 
and good men would say, aye ; but this [jolilician says, as 
you say, no. And he gives this pretty reason, that though 
it was right to make the promises, because otherwise the 
revolt would not be suppressed, yet it would be wrong to 
keep them, because revolters ought to be punished to 
deter future revolts. 

If these are the principles of your nation, no confidence 
can be placed in you ; it is in vain to treat with you, and 
the wars can only end in being reduced to an utter ina- 
bility of continuing them. 

One main drift of your letter seems to be to impress me 
with an idea of your own impartiality, by just censures of 
your Ministers and measures, and to draw from me propo- 
sitions of peace, or approbations of those you have enclosed 
to me, which you intimate may by your means be conveyed 
to the King directly, without the intervention of those Minis- 
ters. You would have me give them to, or drop them for, 
a stranger whom I may find next Monday in the church of 
Notre Dame, to be known by a rose in his hat. You your- 

VOL. III. 7 


self, Sir, are quite unknown to nie ; you have not trusted 
me with your true name. Our taking the least step 
towards a treaty with England through you, might, if you 
are an enemy, be made use of to ruin us with our new and 
good friends. I may be indiscreet enough in many things; 
but certainly, if I were disposed to make propositions 
(which I cannot do, having none committed to me to make) 
I should never think of delivering them to the Lord knows 
who, to be carried to the Lord knows where, to serve no 
one knows what purposes. Being at this time one of the 
most remarkable figures in Paris, even my appearance in 
the church of Notre Dame, where I cannot have any 
conceivable business, and especially being seen to leave or 
drop any letter to any person there, would be a matter of 
some speculation, and rhight, from the suspicions it must 
naturally give, have very mischievous consequences to our 
credit here. The very proposing of a correspondence so 
to be managed, in a manner not necessary where fair deal- 
ing is intended, gives just reason to suppose you intend the 
contrary. Besides, as your Court has sent Commission- 
ers to treat with the Congress, with all the powers that 
would be given them by the crown under the act of Par- 
liament, what good purpose can be served by privately 
obtaining propositions from us ? Before those Commission- 
ers went, we might have treated in virtue of our general 
powers, (with the knowledge, advice, and approbation of 
our friends) upon any propositions made to us. But 
under the present circumstances, for us to make proposi- 
tions, while a treaty is supposed to be actually on foot 
with the Congress, would be extremely improper, highly 
presumptuous with regard to our constituents, and answer 
no good end whatever. 


I wriic this letter to you, notwithstanding, (which I think 
1 can convey in a less mysterious manner, and guess it 
may come to your hands ;) I write it because I would let 
you know our sense of your procedure, which appears as 
insidious as that of your conciliatory bills. Your true way 
to obtain peace, if your Ministers desire it, is to propose 
openly to the Congress fair and equal terms, and you may 
possibly come sooner to such a resolution when you find 
that personal flatteries, general cajolings, and panegyrics 
on our virtue and ttfisdom are not likely to have the effect 
you seem to expect ; the persuading us to act basely and 
foolishly in betraying our country and posterity into the 
hands of our most bitter enemies, giving up or selling of 
our arms and warlike stores, disinissing our ships of war 
and troops, and putting those enemies in possession of our 
forts and ports. 

This proposition of delivering ourselves bound and gag- 
ged, ready for hanging, without even a right to complain, 
and without a friend to be found afterwards among all 
mankind, you would have us embrace upon the faith of an 
act of Parliament ! Good God ! an act of your Parlia- 
ment I This demonstrates that you do not yet know us, 
and that you fancy we do not know you ; but it is not 
merely this flimsy failh that we are to act upon ; you offer 
us hope, the hope of places, pensions, and peerages. 
These, judging from yourselves, you think are motives 
irresistible. This offer to corrupt us. Sir, is with me your 
credential, and convinces me that you are not a private 
volunteer in your application. Tt bears the stamp of Brit- 
ish court character. It is even the signature of your King. 
But think for a moment in what light it must be viewed in 
America. By places, you mean places among us, for you 


take care by u special article to secure your own to your- 
selves. We must then pay the salaries in order to enrich 
oiH'selves with these places. But you will give us pen- 
sions, probably to be paid too out of your expected Amer- 
ican revenue, and which none of us can accept without 
deserving, and pcriiaps obtaining, a svs-pension. Peer- 
ages ! alas ! Sir, our long observation of the vast servile 
majority of your peers, voting constantly for every measure 
proposed by a minister, however weak or wicked, leaves 
us small respect for that title. We consider it as a sort of 
tar-and-feather honor, or a mixture of foulness and folly, 
which every man among us, who should accept it from 
your King, would be obliged to renounce, or exchange for 
that conferred by the mobs of their own country, or wear 
it with everlasting infamy. 

I am, Sir, your humble servant, 



Passv, Julv 22d, 1778. 
1 received your favor of May 15lh, and was glad to find 
that mine of December 25ih had come to hand. Mr 
Deanc's brother writes it was not signed, which was an ac- 
cidental omission. Mr Deane is himself 1 hope with you 
long before this time, and 1 doubt not every prejudice 
against him is removed. It was not alone upon the pro- 
ceedings of Congress, that I formed my opinion that such 
prejudices existed. I am glad to understand that opinion 
was groundless, and that he is likely to come back with 
honor in the commission to Holland, where matters are 
already so ripe for his operations, that he cannot fail 
(with his abilities) of being useful. 


You mention rormcr letters of the Committee, by which 
we might have seen the apprehensions of the resentment ot" 
foreign oflicers, Sec. Those letters never came to hand. 
And we, on our part, are amazed to hear, that the Com- 
mittee had had no line from us for near a year, during 
which we had written, I believe, five or six long and par- 
ticular letters, and had made it a rule to send triplicates of 
each, and to replace those that we happened to hear were 
lost, so that of some there were five copies sent, and as I 
hear that Captain Young is arrived, who had some of 
them, I think it probable that one of each, at least, must 
have come to your hands before this time. jMr Deane's 
information, however, may supply the want of them, 
whose arrival, as he went with a strong squadron of men 
of vvar, is more likely than that of this vessel, or any other 
single one by which we might send more copies. 

The affair with M. de Beaumarchais will be best settled 
by his assistance after his return. We find it recom- 
mended to us, but we know too little of it to be able to 
do it well without him. 

There has been some inaccuracy in sending us the last 
despatches of the Committee. Two copies of the con- 
tract with M. Francy, and the invoices came by the same 
vessel. Captain Niles. And though one of your letters 
mentions sending enclosed a resolution of Congress, rela- 
tive to two articles of the treaty, that resolution is not 
come to hand. There are circumstances in the affair of 
tliose articles, that make them, in my opinion, of no con- 
sequence if they stand, while the proposing to abrogate 
them has an impleasing appearance, as it looks like a 
desire of having it in our power to make that commercial 
kind of war, which no honest State can begin, which no 


good friend or neighbor ev^er did, or will begin, which has 
ahvays been considered as an act of hostility, that provoked 
as well as justified reprisals, and has generally produced 
such as rendered the first project as unprofitable as it was 
unjust. Commerce among nations, as well as between 
private persons, should be fair and equitable, by equiva- 
lent exchanges and mutual supplies. The taking unfair 
advantage of a neighbor's necessities, though attended with 
temporary success, always breeds bad blood. To lay 
duties on a commodity exported, which our neighbors 
want, is a knavish attempt to get something for nothing. 
The statesman who first invented it had the genius of a 
pickpocket, and would have been a pickpocket if fortune 
had suitably placed him. The nations, who have practised 
it, have suffered fourfold as pickpockets ought to suffer. 
Savoy, by a duty on exported wines, lost the trade of 
Switzerland, which thenceforth raised its own wine ; and 
(to waive other instances) Britain, by her duty on exported 
tea, has lost the trade of her Colonies. But as we pro- 
duce no commodity that is peculiar to our country, and 
which may not be obtained elsewhere, the discouraging 
the consumption of ours by duties on exportation, and 
thereby encouraging a rivalship from other nations in the 
ports we trade to, is absolute folly, which indeed is mixed 
more or less with all knavery. For my own part, if my 
protest were of any consequence, I should protest against 
our ever doing it, even by way of reprisal. It is a mean- 
ness with which I would not dirty the conscience or char- 
acter of my country. 

The objections stated against the last of the two articles, 
had all been made and considered here ; and were sent, 
I imagine, from hence by one who is offended, that they 


were not thouglit of weight sufficient to stop the signing of 
the treaty, till the King should, in another council, recon- 
sider those articles, and after agreeing to omit them, order 
new copies to he drawn, though all was then ready en- 
grossed on parchment as before settled. 1 did not think 
the articles of much consequence ; but I thought it of con- 
sequence, that no delay should be given to the signing of 
the treaty after it was ready. But if I had known that 
those objections would have been sent to the Committee, I 
should have sent the answers ihey received, which had 
been satisfactory to all the Commissioners when the treaty 
was settled, and until the mind of one* of them was 
altered by the opinion of two other persons. f It is now 
too late to send those answers. But I wish for the future, 
if such a case should again happen, that Congress would 
acquaint their Commissioners with such partial objections, 
and hear their reasons before they determine that they 
have done wrong. In the meantime this only to you in 
private ; it will be of no use to communicate it, as the 
resolutions of Congress will probably be received and 
executed before this letter comes to hand. 

Speaking of Commissioners in the plural, puts me in 
mind of inquiring if it can be the intention of Congress to 
keep three Commissioners at this Court ; we have indeed 
four with the gentleman intended for Tuscany, who con-> 
tinues here, and is very angry that he was not consulted in 
making the treaty, which he could have mended in several 
particulars ; and perhaps he is angry with some reason, if 
the instructions to him do, as he says they do, require Ui» 

* Arthur Lrc. — Sec his Cotrespomicncc, Vol. II. p. 127. 
t Ralph Izard and William Lee. — Sec Mr Izard's Corrospondcnc^» 
Vol. II. p. 372. 


to consult bim. We shall soon have a fifth, for the envoy 
to Vienna not being received there, is, I hear, returning 
hither. The necessary expense of maintaining us all, is, 
I assure you, enormously great. I wish that the utility 
may equal it. I imagine every one of us spends nearly as 
much as Lord Stormont did. It is true, he left behind 
him the character of a niggard ; and when the advertise- 
ment appeared for the sale of his household goods, all 
Paris laughed at an article of it, perhaps very innocently 
expressed, "C/ne grande quaniite du linge de table, qui 
n^a jamais servi.^^ *^Cela est tres vraisemblable" say 
they, ''car il ■n'a jamais donne a manger.'''' But as to 
our number, whatever advantage there might be in the 
joint counsels of three for framing and adjusting the ar- 
ticles of the treaty, there can be none in managing the 
common business of a resident here. On the contrary, all 
the advantages in negotiation that result from secrecy of 
sentiment, and uniformity in expressing it, and in com- 
mon business from .despatch, are lost. In a Court, too, 
where every word is watched and weighed, if a number of 
Commissioners do not every one hold the same language, 
in giving their opinion on any public transaction, this 
lessens their weight ; and when it may be prudent to put 
on, or avoid certain appearances of concern, for example, 
or indifference, satisfaction, or dislike, where the utmost 
sincerity and candor should be used, and would gain credit, 
if no semblance of art showed itself in the inadvertent dis- 
course, perhaps of only one of them, the hazard is in pro- 
portion to the number. And where every one must be 
consulted on every particular of common business, in an- 
swering every letter, Stc. and one of them is offended if 
the smallest thing is done without his consent, the difficulty 


of being often and long enough together, the different 
opinions, and the time consumed in debating them, the 
interruptions by new applicants in the time of meeting, 
&ic. &:c. occasion so much postponing and delay, that cor- 
respondence languishes, occasions are lost, and the busi- 
ness is always behindhand. 

I have mentioned the difficulty of being often and long 
enough together ; this is considerable, where they cannot 
all be accommodated in the same house ; but to find three 
people whose tempers are so good, and who like so well 
one another's company and manner of living and convers- 
ing, as to agree well themselves, though being in one 
house, and whose servants will not by their indiscretion 
quarrel with one another, and by artful misrepresentations 
draw their masters in to take their parts, to the disturb- 
ance of necessary harmony, these are difficulties still 
greater and almost insurmountable. And in consideration 
of the whole, I wish Congress woulil separate us. 

The Spanish galiots, which have been impatiently ex- 
pected, are at length happily arrived. The fleet and 
army returning from Bra/il is still out, but supposed to be 
on the way homewards. When that and the South Sea 
ships are arrived, it will appear whether Spain's accession 
to the treaty has been delayed for the reasons given, or 
whether the reasons were only given to excuse the delay. 

The English and French fleets of nearly equal force 
are now both at sea. It is not doubted but that if they 
meet, there will be a battle, for though England through 
fear affects to understand it to be still peace, and would 
excuse the depredations she has made on the commerce of 
France, by pretences of illicit trade, &c. yet France con- 
siders the war begun, from the time of the King's message 
roh. in. 8 


to Parliament, complaining of the insult France had given 
by treating with us, and demanding aids to resist it, and the 
answer of both Houses offering their lives and fortunes. 
And the taking several frigates are deemed indisputable 
hostilities. Accordingly, orders are given to all the fleets 
and armed ships to return hostilities, and encouragement 
is offered to privateers, &,c. An Ambassador from Spain 
is indeed gone to London, and joyfully received there, in 
the idea that peace may be made by his mediation. But 
as yet we learn nothing certain of his mission, and doubt 
his effecting anything of the kind. 

War in Germany seems to be inevitable, and this oc- 
casioning great borrowings of money in Holland and else* 
where, by the powers concerned, makes it more difficult 
for us to succeed in ours. When we engaged to Congress 
to pay their bills for the interest of the sums they should 
borrow, we did not dream of their drawing on us for other 
occasions. We have already paid of Congress' drafts, 
to returned officers, eightytwo thousand two hundred and 
eleven livres, and we know not how much more of that 
kind we have to pay, because the Committee have never 
let us know the amount of those drafts, or their account 
of them never reached us, and they still continue coming 
in. And we are now surprised with advice of drafts 
from Mr Bingham, to the amount of one hundred thousand 
more. If you reduce us to bankruptcy here, by a non- 
payment of your drafts- consider the consequences. 
In my humble opinion, no drafts should be made on us 
without first learning from us that we shall be able to 
answer them. 

M. de Beaumarchais has been out of town ever since the 
arrival of your power to settle with him. I hope he will 


be able to luniish the supplies mentioned in the invoice and 
eoDtract. The settlement may be much better made with 
the assistance of Mr Deane, we being not privy to the 

We have agreed to give INlonsieur Dumas two hundred 
louis a year, thinking that he well deserves it. 

With great esteem, I have the honor to be, &c. 



We, the Congress of the United States of North Amer- 
ica, having thought it proper to appoint you their IMinister 
Plenipotentiary to the Court of His Most Christian Maj- 
esty, you shall in all things, according to the best of your 
knowledge anrl abilities, promote the interest and honor 
of the said States, at that Court, with a particular attention 
to the following instructions. 

1 . You are immediately to assure His Most Christian 
Majesty, that these States entertain the highest sense of his 
exertions in their favor, particularly by sending the respec- 
table squadron under the Count d'Estaing, which would 
probably have terminated the war in a speedy and honor- 
able manner, if unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances 
had not intervened. 

You are further to assure him, that they consider this 
speedy aid not only as a testimony of his Majesty's fidelity 
to the engagements he has entered into, but as an earnest 
of that protection, which they hope iVom his power and 
magnanimity, and as a bond of gratitude to the union. 
founded on mutual interest. 


2. You shall, by the earliest oppoitunity, and on every 
necessary occasion, assure the King and his Ministers, that 
neither the Congress, nor any of the States they represent, 
have at all swerved from their determination io be inde- 
pendent in July, 1776. But as the declaration was made in 
the face of the most jiovverful fleet and army, which could 
have been expected to operate against them, and without 
any the slightest assurance of foreign aid, so, although 
in a defenceless situation, and harassed by the secret 
machinations and designs of intestine foes, they have, under 
the exertions of that force, during those bloody campaigns, 
persevered in iheir determination to be free. And that 
they have been inflexible in this determination, notwith- 
standing the interruption of their commerce, the great suf- 
ferings they have experienced from the want of those 
things, which it procured, and the unexampled barbarity of 
their enemies. 

3. You are to give the most pointed and positive assur- 
ances, that although the Congress are earnestly desirous of 
peace, as well to arrange their finances and recruit the 
exhausted state of their country, as to spare the further 
effusion of blood, yet they will faithfully perform their 
engagements, and afford every assistance in their power 
to prosecute the war foi the great purposes of the alli- 

4. You siiall endeavor to obtain the King's consent to 
expunge from the treaty of commerce the eleventh and 
twelfth articles, as inconsistent with that equality and re- 
ciprocity, which form the best security to perpetuate the 

5. You are to exert yourself to procure the consent of 
the Court of France, that all American seamen, who may 


be taken on board of British vessels, may, if they clioose, 
be permitted to enter on board of American vessels. In 
return for which, you are authorised to stipulate, that all 
Frenchmen who may be taken on board of British vessels, 
by vessels belonging to the United States, shall be deliv- 
ered up to persons appointed for that purpose by His Most 
Christian Majesty. 

6. You are to suggest to the Ministers of His Most 
Christian Majesty the advantage, that would result from 
entering on board the ships of these States British sea- 
men, who may be made prisoners, thereby impairing the 

• force of the enemy, and strengthening the hands of his 

7. You are also to suggest the fatal consequences, which 
would follow to the commerce of the common enemy, 
if, by confining the w^ar to the European and Asiatic seas, 
the coasts of America could be so far freed from the Brit- 
ish fleets, as to furnish a safe asylum to the frigates and 
privateers of the allied nations and their prizes. 

S, You shall constantly inculcate the certainty of ruining 
the British fisheries on the Banks of Newfoundland, and 
consequently the British Marine, by reducing Halifax and 
Quebec ; since, by that means they would be exposed to 
alarm and plunder, and deprived of the necessary supplies 
formerly drawn from America. The plan proposed to 
Congress for compassing these objects is herewith trans- 
mitted for your more particular instruction.* 

9. You are to lay before the Court the deranged state 
of our finances, together with the causes thereof; and show 
the necessity of placing them on a more respectable 

"• For a copy of this Plan, see the Secret Journals, Vol 11. p. 111. 


footing, in order to prosecute the war with vigor on ihe 
part of Araerica. Observations on that subject are here- 
with transmitted,* and more particular instructions shall be 
sent, whenever the necessary steps previous thereto shall 
have been taken. 

10. You are, by every means in your power, to pro- 
mote a perfect harmony, concord, and good understanding, 
not only between tlie allied powers, but also between and 
among their subjects, that the connexion so favorably begun 
may be perpetuated. 

1 1 . You shall in all things take care not to make any 
engagements, or stipulations, on the part of America, with- 
out the consent of America previously obtained. 

We pray God to further you with his goodness in the 
several objects hereby recommended ; and that he will 
have you in his holy keeping. 

Done at Philadelphia, the 2Glh day of October, 177S. 
By the Congress. 

H. LAURENS, President. 


Philadelphia, October 28th, 1778, 

As the Marquis de Lafayette will deliver this, we refer 
you to his conversation, in addition to the gazettes, for an 
account of the movements of the enemy. He will doubt- 
less gain some further knowledge of them, than we are 
yet possessed of before he leaves Boston. We shall 
speedily have opportunities of forwarding duplicates and 
triplicates of what he now carries ; and upon any material 
" See the Secret Journals, Vol. H. p. 118. 


event we shall ilcs|)atcli a vessel occasionally. Enclosed 
with other papers is a resolve of Congress of the 22cl, 
which we have ufticially sent to all the Commissioners. 

We must earnestly request, that, as we shall have oppor- 
tunities of frequently conveying to you gazettes and other 
species of intelligence, you would strive to communicate, 
in the speediest and best way, to tlie gentelmen at the 
other Courts, what they are alike interested to know, that 
they may prosecute in the best manner the service of these 
States abroad. An exact copy of your credentials is 
among the papers herewith sent. 

We wish you success in your new commission, and arc, 
witli much regard, &:c. 

R. H. LEE, 


Philadelphia, December 8ih, 1778. 


By Mr Cummins, on the 28th of last month, I for- 
warded several papers of importance, triplicates of which 
.Air Bromfield, the bearer of this, will deliver. But an ac- 
cident then took place obliging me to hold back a letter, 
which I had written lo you. Time was wanting in which 
to write another, the vessel having fallen down to Reedy 
Island, and the express being mounted. My letter was 
chiefly on the circumstances of an intended plan of opera- 
tions, which was enclosed, but detained for alterations lo 
be made in Congress. 

Our only important struggle now is with our ciu rency. 
Wo shall be able at least lo keep it from growing worse ; 


but we want the aid of skilful financiers, and of monied 
men, to bring about any considerable appreciation, as you 
will more clearly perceive by one of the papers herewith 
to be delivered. 
I am, Sir, he. 

Foi- the Committee of Foreign Jlffairs. 


London, January IStli, 1779. 

Doctor Price returns his best thanks to the Honorable 
Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams, for con- 
veying to him the resolution of Congress of the 6th of Oc- 
tober last,* by which he is invited to become a member of 
the United States, and to give his assistance in regulating 
their finances. It is not possible for him to express the 
sense he has of the honor, which this resolution does him, 
and the satisfaction with which he reflects on the favorable 
opinion of him which has occasioned it. But he knows 
himself not to be sufficiently qualified for giving such assist- 
ance ; and he is so connected in this country, and also ad- 
vancing so fast in die evening of life, that he cannofthink of 
a removal. He requests the favor of the Honorable Com- 
missioners to transmit this reply to Congress, with assuran- 

* In Congress, October dth, 1778. — "Resolved, That the Honorable 
Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams, or nny of them, be 
directed forthwith to apply to Dr Price, and inform him that it is the 
desire of Congress to consider him a citizen of tlie United States ; and 
to receive his assistance in regulating their finances. That if he shall 
think it expedient to remove with his family to America, and afford sucli 
assistance, a generous provision shall be made for requiting his services." 


ces ihat Dr Price feels the wannest gratitude for the notice 
taken of him, and iliat he looks to the American States, as 
now the hope, and likely soon to become the refuge of 


Philadelphia, January 29th, 17:9. 


By the way of Martinique, I send you a large course of 
newspapers. In those of late date you will see, that the 
enemy are exerting their force but too successfully in 
Georgia. We hope the Count d'Estaing will be able to 
operate with us by a detachment from his fleet, so that we 
may wrest from our foes the fruits of their present success. 
You will know by letters from Martinique, whether these 
our hopes are well or ill founded. 

We have not had a line from you since the short letter 
of information respecting Byron's sailing, which you signed 
jointly with Mr Adams. I hope this does not arise from 
any other circumstance, than want of a good conveyance for 
important despatches. We have had a few short letters 
from Mr Adams, with gazettes. Late as it is, I enclose a 
quadruplicate of your credentials ; and I wish you success 
and every satisfaction in your important agency, being 
with much respect. 
Sir, &:c. 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 

VOL. III. 9 



Philadelphia, February 8th, I7t9. 

The Marquis de Lafayette having sailed from Boston 
the day before the arrival there of letters sent from hence 
for you by the President of Congress, 1 now forward to 
you duplicates of those letters, with a course of news- 
papers via St Eustatia, having a very fine opportunity to 
that Island, and hoping they will reach you securely fronit 
thence in a Dutch bottom. 
T am, &ic. 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


Passy, Febmary 22d, 1779- 

Dear Sir, 
I received your proposition for removing the slnmbling- 
block. Your constant desire of peace ought to endear 
you to both sides ; but this proposition seems to be natu- 
rally impracticable. Wc can never think of quitting a solid 
alliance, made and ratified, in order to be in a state for 
receiving unknown proposals of peace, which may vanish 
in the discussion. The truth is, we have no kind of faith 
in your government, which ai)pears to us as insidious and 
deceitful as it is unjust and cruel ; its character is that of 
the Spider in Thomson, 

cunning and fierce, 

Mixture abhorr'd ! 

Besides, we cannot see the necessity of our relinquishing 


our alliance with Franco in order to a treaty, any more 

than of vour relinquisliinH; yours with Holland. 

I am, very affectionatelv, vours, 

' ' N. A.* 


Passy, March 10th, 1779. 

To all Captains and Commanders of armed Ships, acting 
by Commission from the Congress of the United States 
of America, now at War with Great Britain. 

A ship having been fitted out from England, before the 
commencement of this war, to make discoveries of new 
countries in unknown seas, under the conduct of that most 
celebrated navigator, Captain Cook, — an undertaking 
truly laudable in itself, as the increase of geographical 
knowledge facilitates the communication between distant 
nations, in the exchange of useful products and manufac- 
tures, and the extension of arts, whereby the common en- 
joyments of human life are muitiplied and augmented, and 
science of other kinds increased, to the benefit of mankind 
in general, 

This is therefore most earnestly lo recommend to eveiy 
one of you, that in case the said ship, which is now ex- 
pected to be soon in the European seas on her return, 
should happen to fall into your hands, you would not con- 
sider her as an enemy, nor suffer any plunder to be made 
of the effects contained in her, nor obstruct her immediate 
return to England, by detaining her or sending her into 
any other part of Europe or America, but that you would 
treat the said Captain Cook and his people with ail 

• North America. 


civility and kindness, affording them, as common friends 
to mankind, all the assistance in your power, which they 
may happen to stand in need of. In so doing, you will 
not only gratify the generosity of your own dispositions, 
but there is no doubt of your obtaining the approbation 
of Congress, and of your own American owners. 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 


Minister Plenipotentiary from the Congress of the 
United States to the Court of France. 


Passy, March 21st, 1779. 

?■■ Dear Sir, 

I received duly yours of the 2d instant. I am sorry 
you have had so much trouble in the affair of the prison- 
ers. You have been deceived as well as I. No cartel 
ship has yet appeared ; and it is now evident, that the 
delays have been of design, to give more opportunity of 
seducing the men by promises and hardships to seek 
their liberty in engaging against their country ; for we 
learn from those who have escaped, that there are persons 
continually employed in cajoling and menacing them ; rep- 
resenting to them that we neglect them i that your gov- 
ernment is willing to exchange them ; and that it is our 
fault it is not done ; that all the news from America is 
bad on their side ; we shall be conquered and they will 
be hanged, if they do not accept the gracious offer of 
being pardoned, on condition of serving the King, Sic. 
A great part of your prisoners have been kept these six 
months on board a ship in Brest road, ready to be de- 


livered ; where I am afraid Uicy were not so comforta- 
bly accommodated, as they might have been in French 
prisons. They are now ordered on shore. Doctor Ban- 
croft has received your letter here. He did not go to 

Knowing how earnestly and constantly you wish for 
peace, I cannot end a letter to you without dropping a 
word on that subject, to mark that my wishes are still in 
unison with yours. After the barbarities your nation has 
exercised against us, I am almost ashamed to own that I 
feel sometimes for her misfortunes and her insanities. 
Your veins are open, and your best blood continually run- 
ning. You have now got a little army into Georgia, and 
are triumphing in that success. Do you expect ever to see 
that army again.' I know not what General Lincoln or Gen- 
eral Thomson may be able to effect against them, but if 
they stay through the summer in that climate, there is a 
certain General Fever, that I apprehend will give a good 
account of most of them. Perhaps you comfort yourselves 
that our loss of blood is as great as yours. But as physi- 
cians say, there is a great difference in the facility of repair- 
ing that loss between an old body and a young one. Amer- 
ica adds to her numbers annually one hundred and fifty 
thousand souls. She, therefore, grows faster than you can 
diminish her, and will out-grow all the mischief you can 
do her. Have you the same prospects ? But it is un- 
necessary for me to represent to you, or you to me, the 
mischiefs that each nation is subjected to by the war ; we 
aH see clear enough the nonsense of continuing it ; the 
difficulty is, where to find sense enough to put an end to it. 

Adieu, my dear friend, and believe me, &x. 




London, April '22d, 1779. 

My Dear Friend, 

The bearer of this, and some other papers, is a very 
sensible and worthy gentleman, with whom I had the 
pleasure of contracting an acquaintance since the com- 
mencement of the American troubles, originally upon the 
business of the American prisoners. It is a satisfaction to 
me at all times to have found him a friend to the restora- 
tion of peace between the two countries. It has likewise 
been an additional satisfaction and confirmation to me in 
my own thoughts upon that subject, to find that his senti- 
ments, I think upon most, or all of the subjects upon 
which we have conversed, have coincided with mine. 
We both seem possessed of the opinion, that some plan of 
opening a negotiation upon preliminaries, which each side 
might find to be a sufficient security to itself, might be 
practicable ; and then your sentiment, which you gave 
me in a letter some years ago, might have its free scope 
and effect, viz, A little time given for cooling might have 
excellent ejects. 

The sentiments I have opened to you in my late letters 
for some months past, and which I have reduced in an 
enclosed paper into a more specific shape, seem to me, 
upon very repeated reflection, to promise the fairest 
ground of good expectation. These propositions origi- 
nate from myself, as a mediator ; I have communications 
with both sides, but certainly no authority to make propo- 
sals from either ; and perhaps neither side, if I were to 
make the propositions separately to each, (being myself 
unauthorised) might give me positive consent. Each side 

diplomatic; CORRKSPONDENCE. 71 

separutcly might say, No, from what is called political 
prudence ; and yet each side might secretly wish that the 
offer could be made, with a done first, from the other 
party. I think the proposition of a truce for five or seven 
years, leaving all things in the present dispute m statu quo, 
must be advantageous to all parties, if it were only in con- 
sideration that a general satisfactory peace to ail parties 
may come among the excellent effects of time given for 
cooling. We can but fight it out at last. War never 
comes loo late ; wisdom may step in between. These 
matters have stolen upon us, and have arisen to great and 
formidable consequences, from small and unexpected be- 
ginnings ; but henceforward, we should know by experi* 
ence what to expect. If the rage of war could but be 
abated for a suflicient lengdi of time for reason and reflec- 
tion to operate, I think it would never revive. I cannot 
pretend to forecast the result of any negotiation, but 1 think 
war would not revive ; which is all that I want for my 
argument. Peace is a bonum in se ; whereas the most 
favorable events of war are but relatively lesser evils ; cer- 
tainly they are evils ; mala in se, not bo7ia in se. 

I hope that a cessation of hostilities would produce a re- 
newal of reflection ; but even to take the argument at the 
worst advantage, the two parties arc at a cooling distance 
of three thousand miles asunder. If the flames of war 
could be but once extinguished, does not the Atlantic 
ocean contain cold water enough to i)revent their bursting 
out again? I am very strongly of opinion that the two 
nations of Great Britain and North America, would ac- 
cord to the proposition of a truce for cooling. I cannot 
say whether a British ministry would accord to it, because 
rhey will not tell me ; nor can I sav whether an American 


Plenipotentiary would accord to it, because, probably^ yoK 
will not tell me, I put myself into your hands, however, 
when I tell you frankly, I am of opinion that both would 
accord to it, if there could be a done first on either side, 
to bind the bargain fast. You have the odds of me in this 
matter, because you know one half of the question ; and 
I cannot give you any proof on the other side, but only 
my own presumptive judgment upon observation, and 
upon a course of reasoning in my own thoughts. 

But for France. My judgment would be, that if the 
proposition of the proposed preliminaries should be agree- 
able to America, France would do very unhandsomely 
to defeat it by their refusal. I likewise think it the in- 
terest of France, because their interest leads them to go 
to a certain point, and no further. There is a disparity 
in the operation of the terms of the alliance on the part 
of France, and on the part of America. The more vig- 
orously France interposes, the belter for America; in 
proportion to their exertions, they create, less or more, 
a diversion of the British force ; this reasoning goes 
straight forward for America ; but it is not so with 
France. There is a certain point to France, beyond 
which their work would fail, and recoil upon themselves ; 
if they were to drive the British Ministry totally to aban- 
don the American war, it would become totally a French 
war. The events of a twelvemonth past seem to bear tes- 
timony to this course of reasoning. The disadvantage upon 
the bargain to America is, that the efficacy of the French 
alliance to them presupposes their continuance in the war. 
The demur to France is, that the liberation of their new 
ally recoils with double weight of the war upon themselves, 
without any ulterior points of advantage in view, as de- 


pendent upon that alliance. 1 think the interest ol all 
parties coincides with the proposition ol preliminaries. 

The proposed preliminaries appear to me to be just 
and equitable to all parties ; but the great object with me 
is to come to some preliminaries. I could almost add, 
whatever those preliminaries might be, provided a suspen- 
sion of arms for an adequate term of years were one, I 
think it would be ten thousand to one against any future 
renewal of the war. It is not necessary to enter at large 
into the reasons which induce me to think, that the British 
Ministry, as well as the American Plenipotentiary, would 
consent to the terms of the proposed preliminaries ; for 
indeed I do not know that I am founded in that opinion 
with respect to either, but still I believe it of both. But 
what can a private person do in such a case, wishing to be 
a mediator for peace, having access to both parties, but 
equally uncertain of the reception of his mediation on 
either side .-* I must hesitate to take any public step, as by 
a proposition in Parliament, or by any other means to 
drive the parlies to an explanation upon any specific pro- 
posals ; and yet I am very unwilling to let the session pass 
without some proposition, upon which the parties may 
meet, if they should be so inclined, as I suspect them to 
be. I have been endeavoring to feel pulses for some 
month?, but oil is dumb show. I cannot say that I meet 
with anything discouraging, to my apprehension, either as 
10 equitableness or practicability of the proposition for pre- 
liminaries. If I could but simply receive suilicient en- 
couragement, that I should not run any liazard of obstruct- 
ing any other practicable propositions by obtruding mine, 
1 should be very much satisfied to come forward in that 
VOL. in. 10 


case with mine, to furnish a beginning at least, which 
might lead to peace* 

There is nothing that 1 wish so much as to have an 
opportunity of seeing and conversing with you, having 
many things to say to you ; but if tiiat cannot yet happen, 
I have only to say, that whatever communication you may 
think proper to make to me, which may lead to peace, you 
may be assured that I shall be most strenuous in apply- 
ing it to that end. In all cases of difficulty in human 
life, there must be confidence somewhere, to enable us to 
extricate nations from the evils attendant upon national 
disputes, as they arise out of national passions, jealousies, 
and points of honor. I am not sure whether the extreme 
caution and diffidence of persons in political life be not 
the cause, almost as frequently, of the unnecessary pro- 
traction of the miseries of vfar, as of the final production 
of any superior good to any State. Peace now is better 
than peace a twelvemonth hence, at least by all the lives 
that may be lost in the meanwhile, and by all the accu- 
mulated miseries that may intervene by that delay. When 
I speak of the necessity of confidence, I would not have 
you to think, that I trust to all professions, promiscuously, 
with confidence ; my thoughts are free respecting all 
parties ; and for myself, if I thought it necessary for the 
end of attaining any additional confidence in your esteem, 
to enable me to co-operate the more efTectually towards 
the restoration of peace, there is nothing that I would 
wish you to be assured of but this ; that no fallacious 
offers of insincerity, nor any pretexts for covering secret 
designs, or for obtaining unfair advantages, shall ever pass 
through my hands. 


Believe me truly to be, not only a lover of my country, 
but a sincere friend to peace and to the rights of mankind ; 
and ever most-aftectionntely yours. 


Observations hy Mr Hartley. 

Lord North consented to Mr Hartley's proposition, for 
endeavoring to procure from the American Plenipotenti- 
ary or Plenipotentiaries some opening, that they would be 
willing to commence a parley, on propositions of peace 
between Great Britain and America ; and supposed the 
terms, which Mr Hartley had in view, would be something 
like a tacit cession of independence to America, with a 
truce for a certain term of years, to serve as a basis for 
a general treaty of accommodation and final settlement. 

This last application (which was made on the 20th of 
April, 1779) of Mr Hartley to Lord North, after several 
previous conferences on the subject, is the ground of the 
present confidential communication with Dr Franklin, on 
the part of Mr Hartley, who states to Dr Franklin, as he 
did to Lord North, that an auspicious beginning of a ne- 
gotiation is dimidium facti. 

Mr Hartley's ideas of the probable course of the nego- 
tiation would be to the following effect ', 

1. Five Commissioners (or any three of them) to be 
appointed on the part of His Britannic Majesty to treat, 
consult, and agree upon the final settlement and pacifica- 
tion of the present troubles, upon safe, honorable, and per- 
manent terms, subject to ratification by Parliament. 

2. That any one of the aforesaid Commissioners may 
be empowered to agree, as a preliminary, to a suspension 


of hostilities by sea and land, for a certain term of five 
or seven years. 

3. That any one of the aforesaid Commissioners be 
empowered to agree, as a second preliminary, to suspend 
ihe operation and effect of any and all acts of Parliament 
respecting America, for a certain term of five or seven 

4. That it is expected, as a third preliminary, that 
America should be released, free and unengaged, from any 
treaties with foreign powers, which may tend to embarrass 
or defeat the present proposed negotiation. 

5.. That a general treaty for negotiation shall be set on 
foot as soon as may be, after the agreement of the fore- 
going; preliminaries. 

J\". B. A doubt seeming to arise from Lord North, 
relative to the probability of any explanatory communica- 
tion on the part of Dr Franklin, Mr Hardey expressed, 
he thought it possible, that as a known friend to peace, 
he might be considered by Dr Franklin as a depot of 
any communications, which may serve from time to time 
to facilitate the terms of peace ; which therefore prevents 
this communication from being considered as any direct 
overture from Lord North to Dr Franklin, or from Dr 
Franklin to Lord North ; but as it is merely a mediato- 
rial proposition of Mr Hartley, as a private person, for 
the purpose of bringing the parties to a parley. 



To John Paul Joncis, Commander of the American 
Squadron in the Service of the United States, now in 
the Port of L' Orient. 

1st. His Majesty, having been pleased to grant some 
troops for a particular expedition, proposed to annoy our 
common enemy, in which the sea-1'orce under your com- 
mand might have an opportunity of distinguishing itself, 
you are to receive on board the ships of war, and the other 
vessels destined for that purpose, the troops that shall pre- 
sent themselves to you, afford them such accommodation 
as may be most proper for preserving ilieir health, and 
convey them to such port or place as their commander shall 
desire to land tliem at. 

2dly. When the troops are landed, you are to aid, by 
all means in your power, their operations, as they will be 
instructed in like manner to aid and support those you may 
make with your ships, that so by this concurrence and union 
of your different forces, all that such a compounded 
strength is capable of may be effected. 

3dly. You are during the expedition never to depart 
from the troops, so as not to be able to protect them in 
case of a repulse, and in all events you are to endeavor 
to effect their complete re-embarkation on board the ships 
and transports under your command, when the expedition 
shall be ended. 

4thly. You are to bring to France all the English sea- 
men you may happen to take prisoners, in order to com- 
plete tlie good work you have already made such progress 
in, of delivering by an exchange the rest of our countrymen 
now languishuig in the gaols of Great Britain. 


5thly. As many of your officers and people have lately 
escaped from English prisons, either in Europe or America, 
you are to be particularly attentive to their conduct towards 
the prisoners, which the fortune of war may throw into your 
hands, lest resentment of the more than barbarous usage by 
the English in many places towards the Americans should 
occasion a retaliation, and an imitation of what ought rather 
to be detested and avoided, for the sake of humanity and 
for the honor of our country. 

6thly. In the same view, although the English have 
burnt wantonly many defenceless towns in Amorica, you 
are not to follow this example, unless where a reasonable 
ransom is refused, in which case your own generous feel- 
ings, as well as this instruction, will induce you to give 
timely notice of your intention, that sick and ancient per-:- 
sons, women, and children may be first removed. 

Done at Passy, this 28th day of April, 1779. 

Minister Plenipotentiary from the United 

States to the Court of France. 


Passy, May 4th, 1779. 

Dear Sir, 

J received your several favors, viz. one of April the 10th, 
one of the 20th, and two of the 22d, all on the same day, 
but by different conveyances. 

I need not repeat, what we have each of us so often re- 
peated, the wish for peace. 1 will begin, by frankly assur- 
ing you, that though I think a direct, immediate peace, the 
best mode of present accommodation for Britain, as well as 


for America, yet if that is not at this time practicable, and 
a truce is praciicahle, I siiouid not be against a truce; but 
this is merely on motives of general humanity, to obviate 
the evils men devilishly inflict on men in time of war, and 
to lessen as much as possible the similarity of earth and 
hell. For with regard to particular advantages, respect- 
ing the States I am connected with, I am persuaded it is 
theirs to continue the war, till England shall be reduced to 
that perfect impotence of mischief, which alone can prevail 
with her to let other nations enjoy, ^^Pcace, Liberty, and 
Safety." I think, however, that a ahort truce, which must, 
therefore, be an armed truce, and put all parties to an al- 
most equal expense with a continued war, is by no means 

But this proJDOsition of a truce, if made at all, should be 
made to France at the same time it is made to America. 
They liave each of them too much honor, as well as too 
much sense, to listen separately to any propositions, which 
tend to separate them from each other. 

I will now give you my thoughts on your ideas of a 
negotiation, in the order you have placed them. If you 
will number tliem in your copy, you will readily see to 
which my observations refer, and 1 may therefore be more 

To the 1st, — I do not see the necessity or use of five 
Commissioners. A number of talkers lengthens discus- 
sions, and often embarrasses instead of aiding a settlement. 
Their different particular views, private interests, and jeal- 
ousies of each other, are likewise so many rubs in the way, 
and it sometimes happens, that a number cannot agree to 
what each privately thinks reasonable, and would have 


agreed to, or perhaps proposed, if alone. But this as the 
parties please. 

To the 2d, — The term of twentyone years would be bet- 
ter for all sides. The suspension of hostilities should be 
expressed to be between all parties at war ; and that the 
British troops and ships of war now in any of the United 
States be withdrawn. 

To the Sd, — ^This seems needless, and is a thing that may 
be done or omitted as you please ; America has no con- 
cern about those acts of parliament. 

To the 4th, — The reason of proposing this is not under- 
stood, nor the use of it, nor what inducement there can be 
for us to agree to it. When you come to treat with both 
your enemies, you may negotiate away as much of these 
engagements as you can ; but powers, who have made a 
firm solid league, evidently useful to both, can never be 
prevailed with to dissolve it, for the vague expectation of 
another in nuhibus ; nor even on the certainty, that another 
will be proposed, without knowing what are to be its arti- 
cles. America has no desire of being free from her en- 
gagements to France. The chief is, that of continuing 
the war in conjunction with her, and not making a separate 
peace ; and this is an obligation not in the power of Amer- 
ica to dissolve, being an obligation of gratitude and justice 
towards a nanon, which is engaged in a war on her account, 
and for her protection ; and would be forever binding, 
whether such an article existed or not in the treaty ; and 
though it did not exist, an honest American would cut off 
his right hand, rather than sign an agreement with England 
contrary to the spirit of it. 

To the 5th, — As soon as you please. 

If you had mentioned France in your proposed suspen- 


sion of arms. 1 slioukl have iinniediately sliowii it to the 
Minister, and have endeavored to support lliat idea. As it 
stands, I am in douht wliether I shall communicate your 
paper or not, though by your writing it is so fair it seems 
r.s if you intended it. If I do. 1 shall acqiKiint you with 
the result. 

The bill, of which you send me a copy, was an excel- 
lent one at the time, and might have had great aixl good 
effects,, if, instead of telling us haughtily, that our hum- 
ble petition should receive no answer, the Mijiistrv had 
received and enacted that bill into a law. It might have 
erected a wall of brass round England, if such a measure 
liad been adopted, when Friar Bacon's brazen head cried 
out, TIME 15 ! But the wisdom of it was not seen, till after 
the fatal ay of timk's past ! 

I am. mv dear friend, Scr. 



Pai>!y. May 2Gih. 1779. 

The Marcjuis de Lafayette, who arrived here the 11th of 
February, brought inc yours of October 28th, and the new 
commission, credentials, and instructions, which the Con- 
gress have honored me with. I have not since had an op- 
portunity of writiuL', that I could trust, for I see by several 
instances, the orders given to private captains to throw their 
despatches into the sea, when likely to be taken, are some- 
tinoes neglected, and sometimes so badly executed, that the 
letters are recovered by the enemy, and m-jch inconvenience 
has attended their interception. You mention, that you 
should speedily have opportunities of forwarding duplicates, 

VOL. III. 11 


and triplicates of the papers ; none of them has ever come 
to hand, nor have I received any other line from you of 
later date. 

I immediately acquainted the Minister of Foreign Affairs 
with my appointment, and communicated to him as usual, 
a copy of my credential letter, on which a day was named 
for my reception. A fit of the gout prevented my attend- 
ance at that time, and for some weeks after, but as sooft 
as I was able to go through the ceremony 1 went to Ver- 
sailles, and was presented to the King, and received in all 
the forms. I delivered the letter of Congress into his Maj- 
esty's owii hands, who in the most gracious manner ex- 
pressed his satisfaction. And 1 have since constantly 
attended the levee every Tuesday, with the other Foreign 
Ministers, and have taken every proper occasion of repeat- 
ing the assurances I am instructed to give, of the grateful 
sentiments of Congress, and their determined resolution to 
fulfil religiously their engagements. Much pains is con- 
stantly taken by the enemy to weaken the confidence of 
this Court in their new allies, by representing our people 
as weary of the war, and of the government of Congress ; 
which body, too, they represent as distracted by dissensions, 
&ic. but all this has very little eflect ; and when on some 
occasions it has seemed to make a little impression, and 
create some apprehensions, I have not found it difficult to 
remove them. And it is my firm opinion, that notwith- 
standing the great losses suffered by the commerce of this 
kingdom, since the commencement of the way, the disposi- 
tion of the Court to continue it (til! its purpose of estab- 
lishing our independence is completed,) is not the least 
changed, nor their regard for us diminished. 

The end of that part of the instructions, which relates to 


American seamen, taken by the French in English ships, 
had already been obtained, Captain Jones having had ibr 
some lime an order from Court, directed to the keepers of 
the prisoners, requiring them to deliver to him sucii Amer- 
icans as should be found in their hands, that they might be 
at liberty to serve under his command. Most of them have 
accordingly been delivered to him, if not all. The Minis- 
ter of die Marine, having entertained a high opinion of him, 
from his conduct and bravery in taking the Drake, was de- 
sirous of employing him in the command of a particular 
enterprise, and to that end requested us to spare him, 
which we did, and sent the Ranger home, under the com- 
mand of his Lieutenant. Various accidents have hitherto 
postponed his equipment, but he now has the command of 
a fifty gun ship with some frigates, all under American 
commissions and colors, fitted out at the King's expense, 
and will sail, it is said, about the 1st of June. 

The ]Marquis de Lafayette was, with some land troops, 
to have gone with him, but I now understand the Marquis 
is not to go, the plan being a little changed. The Alliance 
being weakly manned at first, and tlie Captain judging it 
necessary to be freed from ihirlyeight of his men, who iiad 
been concerned in a conspiracy, and unwilling to take 
French seamen, 1 thought it best to send him directly 
home, as his ship might be of some protection to the ves- 
sels then about sailing to America, and Mr Adams, who 
was desirous of returning soon, might be acccnimodated 
witli a passage in a swift sailing vessel. I accordingly 
offered her as a convoy to the trade at Nantes, but the 
gentlemen concerned did not think fit to wait for gelling 
ready, as a French convoy offered, for at least part of the 
voyage, and the Minister requesting she might be added to 


Captain Jones's little squadron, and offering to give a pas- 
sage to Mr Adams in the frigate with the new Ambassa- 
dor, and to complete the Alliance's compliment of men, 
I thought it best to coniiniio her a little longer in ELiro[)e, ' 
hoping she may, in the projected cruise, by her extraordi- 
nary swifinebs, he u aieans of taking prisoners enough to 
redeem tlie rest of our countrymen, now in the English 
gaols. With this view, as well as to oblige the Minister, 1 
ordered her to join Captain Jones at L'Orient, and obey 
his orders, where she is now accordingly. There have 
been great misunderstandings beiu'een the officers of that 
ship and their Captain, and great discontents among the 
men for want of clothes and money. I liave been obli- 
ged to make great advances to appease those discontents, 
and \ nou- hope the authority and prudence of Captain 
Jones will be able to remove, or at least to prevent, the 
ill effects of those misunderstandings. The conspirators 
are detained in prison, and will remain there subject to 
such directions as Congress may think fit to give concern- 
ing them. The courts here would not, because they prop- 
erly could not, undertake to try them ; and we had not 
Captains enough to make a Court martial for the purpose. 
The scndins them to America, with (n'icience to convict 
then), will be a great trouble and expense, and perhaps 
their offence cannot be so clearly made out as to justify a 
punishment sufficient to deter by its exemplary severity. 
Possibly, the best use that can be made of them, is to give 
them in exchange for as many Americans isi tlic cartel 
now operating here. The perfidious conduct of the Eng- 
lish and Scotch sailors in our service, a good deal discour- 
ages the idea of taking them out of those prisons in order 
to employ them ^ 


This cartel is at length brought about by the indefati- 
gable endeavors of an old friend of mine, and a long de- 
clared one to America, Mr Hartley, member of Parliament 
for Hull. The ship employed has already brougiit us one 
cargo from the prison at Plymouth. The number was in- 
tended for a hundred, but proved ninelyseven, and she is 
returned with as many in exchange, to bring us a second 
number from the prison at Portsmouth. This is to con- 
tinue till all are exchanged. The Americans arc chiefly 
engaged with Captains Jones and Landais. This ex- 
change is the more remarkable, as our people were all 
committed as for high treason. 

Agreeable to the seventh instruction, I have earnestly 
recommended the reduction of Halifax and Quebec. The 
Marquis de Lafayette joined me warmly in the application 
for this purpose, and I hope we shall in due time see some 
good effects from it. I have also in various ways, and 
through different channels, laid before the Ministry the 
distressed state of our finances in America. There seems 
a great willingness in all of them to help us, exce|)t in the 
Controller, Monsieur Necker, who is said not to be well 
disposed towards us, and is supposed to embarrass every 
measure proposed to relieve us by grants of monev. It is 
certain, that under the resolution, perhaps too hastily de- 
clared, of the King's imposing no new taxes on his sub- 
jects for this year, the Court has great difficulties in 
defraying present expense, the vast exertions to put the 
navy in a condition to equal that of England having cost 
immense sums. 

There is also a prevailing opinion, that the most effec- 
tual service to us is to be expected from rendering their 
marine superior to that of England. The King has, how- 


ever, to encourage our loan in Holland, been so good as 
10 engage under his hand, to be security for our pay- 
ment of the interest of three millions of livres, but that 
loan has not yet amounted to more than about eighty 
thousand florins. Doctor Price, whose assistance was re- 
quested by Congress, has declined that service, as you 
will see by the copy of his letter enclosed. To me it 
seems, that the measure recommended by the wisdom of 
Congress, for diminishing the quantity of paper by taxes 
of large nominal sums, must have very salutary effects. 

As to your finances here, it is fit that you should know 
the stale of them. When the Commissioners of Con- 
gress made the proposition of paying the interest at Paris 
of the nioney borrowed in America, they understood the 
loan to be of five millions of dollars. They obtained from 
government sums more than sufficient for the interest of 
such a sum. That sum has been increased, and if they 
could otherwise have provided for it, they have been from 
time to time drained by a number of unforeseen expen- 
ses, of which the Congress had no knowledge, and of 
others, occasioned by their orders and drafts ; and the 
cargoes sent to the Commissioners by the Committee 
have some of them been treacherously run away with by 
the seamen, or taken by the enemy, or, when arrived, 
have been hitherto a))plied toward the payment of debts, 
the tobaccos to the Farmers-General according to con- 
tract, and the rice and indigo to JMessrs Hortalez &i Co. 
from whom, by the way, we have not yet been able to 
procure any account. 

I have lately employed an accountant, die son of our 
banker, to form complete books of our accounts, to be 
sent to Congress. They are not yet ready. When they 

DiPLo.M.vnr coriRi'SPONDRNcr; s? 

are, I shall send them by the first safe opportunity. In 
the meantime, I may just mention some particulars of our 
disbursements. Great quantities of clothing, arms, ammu- 
nition, and naval stores, sent from time to time ; payment 
of bills from Mr Hinghani, one hundred thousand livres ; 
Congress bills in favor of Haywood St Co. above two 
hundred thousand ; advanced to Mr Ross, about twenty 
thousand pounds sterling ; paid Congress drafts in favor 
of returned officers, ninetythrec thousand and eighty livres; 
to our prisoners in England, and after their escape to 
help them home, and to other Americans hero in distress, 
a great sum ; I cannot at present say how much ; sup- 
plies to Mr Hodge for fitting out Captain Cunningham^ 
very considerable ; for the freight of ships to carry over 
the supplies, great simis ; to Mr William Lee, and Mr 
Izard, five thousand five hundred |)ounds sterling ; and 
for fitting the frigates Raleigh, Alfred, Boston, Providence, 
Alliance, Ranger, &tc. I imagine not less than sixty or 
seventy thousand livres each, taken one with another ; and 
for the maintenance of the English prisoners, I believe, 
when I get in all the accounts, I shall find one hundred 
thousand livres not sufficient, having already paid above 
sixtyfive thousand on that article. And now the drafts of 
the Treasurer of die loans, coming very fast upon me, the 
anxiety 1 have suffered, and the distress of mind lest I 
should not be able to pay them, has for a long time been 
very great indeed. 

To apply again to this Court for money for a particular 
purpose, which lliey had already over and over again pro- 
vided for and furnished us, was extremely awkward ; I 
therefore repeated the ireneral applications, which we had 
made when together, for aids of money, and receiveil the 


general answers, that the expense of government for the 
navy was so great, that at present it was exceedingly diffi- 
cult to furnish the necessary supplies. That France, by 
sending a fleet to America, obliged the enemy to divide 
their forces, and left them so weak on the continent, as to 
aid. us by lessening our expense, if it could not by giving 
us money, he. Slc. and I was asked if we did not receive 
money from Spain ? I know indeed of some money re- 
ceived from thence, and I have heard of more, but know 
not liow much, Mr Arthur Lee, as Minister for Spain, 
having taken to himself all the management of that affair, 
and will account to Congress. I only understand, that 
there is none of it left to assist in paying Congress bills. I 
at length obtained, as abovementioned, the King's hon for 
payment of the interest of three millions, if I could borrow 
it in Holland, or elsewhere, but though two eminent houses 
in Amsterdam have undertaken it, and had hopes of suc- 
cess, they have both lately written to me, that the great 
demands of money for Germany and for England had 
raised interest above our limits, and that the successes of 
the English in Georgia and St Lucia, and in destroying 
the French trade, with the supposed divisions in Congress, 
all much magnified by the British Minister, and the press- 
ing application to borrow by several of our States sepa- 
rately, had made the monied people doubtful of our stabil- 
ity, as well as our ability to repay what might be lent us, 
and that it was necessary to wait a more favorable mo- 
ment for proceeding with our loan. 

In this situation, I have been applied to by Mr William 
Lee, and lately through our banker, by Mr Izard, for more 
money for their expenses, and I am told there is much 
anger against mc for declining to furnish them, and that I 


am charged with dUohtying an order of Congress,* and 
with cruelly attempting to distress gentlemen, who are in 
the service of their country. They have indeed produced 
to me a resolve of Congress, empoivering them to draw on 
the Commissioners in France for their expenses at foreign 
Courts ; and doubtless Congress, when that resolve was 
made, intended to enable us to pay those drafts ; but as 
that has not been done, and the gentlemen (except Mr 
Lee for a few weeks) have not incurred any expense at 
foreign Courts, and if they had, the five thousand five hun- 
dred guineas, received by ib.ern i:i about nine months, 
seemed an ample provision for it, and as both of them 
might commnnd money from England, I do not conceive 
that I disobeyed an order of Congress, and dint if I did, 
the circumstances will excuse it ; and I could have no in- 
tention to distress them, because I must know it is out of 
my power, as ilieir private fortunes and credit will enable 
them at all times to pay iheir own expenses. 

Jn short, the dreadful consequences of ruin to our pub- 
lic credit, both in America and Europe, that must attend 
protesting a single Congress draft for interest, after our 
funds were out, would have weighed with me against the 
j)ayment of more money to those genilemen, if tlie demand 
had oUicrwise been well founded. I am, however, in the 
judgment <»f Congress ; and if I have done amiss, must 
submit dutifully to their censure. Thanks to- God, 1 have 
this last week got over the difficulty, so far as relates to the 
bills, which will all be punctually |)aid ; but if the Navy 
Board sends more ships here to be fitted, or the Congress 
continue to draw for the payment of other debts, the ships 

• See Mr Izard's Correspondence, Vol. If. p. 446. 
▼OL. III. 12 


will be disappointed, and I shall probably be made a bank- 
rupt, unless funds are at the same time sent over to dis- 
charge such demands. 

With, regard to the fitting out of ships, receiving and 
disposing of cargoes, and purchasing of supplies, I beg 
leave to mention, that besides my being wholly unac- 
quainted with such business, the distance I am from the 
ports renders my having anything to do wmUi it extremely 
inconvenient. Commercial agents have indeed been ap- 
pointed by iMr William Lee, but they and the captains 
are continual!}' writing for my opinion or orders, or leave 
to do this or that, by which much time is lost to them, and 
much of mine taken up to little purpose, from my igno- 
rance. I see clearly, however, that many of the captains 
are exorbitant in their demands, and in some cases 1 think 
those demands are too easily complied with by the agents, 
perhaps because the commissions are in propoi tion to the 
expense. 1 wish, therefore, the Congress would appoint 
the consuls they have a right to appoint by the treaty, 
and put into their hands all that sort of employment. I 
have in my desk, I suppose, not less than fifty applications 
from different port?, praying the appointment, and offering 
to serve gratis for die honor of it, and the advantage it 
gives in trade; but I im.aginc that if consuls are ap- 
pointed, they will be of our own people from America, 
who, if they should make fortunes abroad, might return 
with them to their country. 

The commissions demanded by the agents seem to mc 
in some cases very high. For instance, Mr Schweighau- 
ser, in a late account, charges five per cent on the simple 
delivery of the tobaccos to the officer of the Farmers- 
General in the port, and by that means makes the com- 


mission on the delivery of the two last cargoes amount 
to about six hundred nnd thirty pounds sterling. As 
there was no sale in the case, he has, in order to cal- 
culate the commission, valued the tobacco at ninety livres 
the hundred weight, whereas it was, by our contract with 
the Farmers, to be delivered at about forty livres. 1 got 
a friend, who was going upon change, to inquire among the 
merchants what was the custom in such cases of delivery. 
1 send enclosed the result he has given me of his in- 
(juiries. In consequence, 1 have refused to pay the com- 
mission of five per cent on this article ; and I know not 
why it was, as is said, agreed with him at the time of his 
appointment, that he should have five per cent on his 
transactions, if the custom is only two per cent, as by my 

I have mentioned above the applications of separate 
States to borrow money in Europe, on which I beg leave 
to remark, that when the General Congress are endeavor- 
ing to obtain a loan, these separate attempts interfere, 
and are extremely inconvenient, especially where some of 
the agents are empowered to offer a higher interest, and 
some have powers in that respect unlimited. We liav'e 
likewise lately had applications from three several States 
to this Court, to be furnished with great quantities of 
arms, ammunition, and clothing, or with money upon credit 
to buy them ; and from one State to be supplied with 
naval stores and ships of war. These agents, finding that 
they had not interest to obtain such grants, have severally 
applied to me, and seem to think it my duty, as Minister 
for the United States, to support and enforce their particu- 
lar demands. I have endeavored to do so, but I find the 
Ministers do not like these separate applications, and seem 


to think ilutt they should properly come only tlirough Con- 
gress, to whom the several States in such cases ought first 
to make known their wants, and then the Congress could 
instruct their Minister accordingly. Tiiis would save the 
King's Ministers a good deal of trouble, and the several 
States the ex:))ense of these particular agents ; concerning 
whom 1 would add a little remark, that we have in 
America, too readily, in various instances, given faidi to 
the pretensions of strangers from Europe, and who ofFer 
their services as persons who have powerful fr'^-^nds, and 
great interest in their own country, and by that means ob- 
tain contracts, orders, or commissions, to procure what 
we want, and who, when tiiey come here, are totally un- 
known, and have no other credit hut what such commis- 
sions give them, or if known, the commissions do not add 
so much to their credit as they diminish tliat of their 

I have received two letiers from a Frenchman, settled 
in one of the ports of Barbary, oflering himself to act as 
our Minister with the Emperor, with whom he pretended 
to be intimate, and acquainting me that his imperial Maj- 
esty wondiued we had i)e\ er sent to Uiank him for being 
the (irst power on this side ol the Atlantic that had ac- 
knowledged our inde})endence, and opened his ports to 
us ; advising that we should send the Emperor a present. 
On inquiry at the ofiice in whose department Africa is in- 
chided, I learnt die character of this man to be such, that 
it was not safe to have any correspondence with him, and 
therefore I did not answer his letters. 1 suppose Congress 
has received the memorial we presented to tiiis Court re- 
specting the Barbary States, and requesting the King's 
good offices with them, agreeable to the treaty ; and also 


the answer, expressing ilie King's readiness to perlbnu 
those good offices whenever the Congress should send us 
instructions, and make provision for the necessary pres- 
ents;* or if those papers liavo not yet got to liand, they 
will be found among the copies carried over by JMr Ad- 
an)s, and therefore I only mention them by way of re- 
membrance. Whenever a treaty with die Emperor is in- 
tended, I suppose some of our naval stores will be an ac- 
ceptable present, and the expectation of continued supplies 
of such stores, a powerful motive for entering into and 
continuing a friendship. 

I should send you copies of several other memorials and 
public papers ; but as Air Adams goes in the same ship, 
and has the whole of our transactions during his time, it is 
not so necessary by this vessel. The disposition of this 
nation in general continues friendly towards us and our 
cause, and I do not see the least diminution of it, except 
among the West India merchants and planters, whose 
losses have rendered tiiem a little discontented. Spain 
has been long acting as a mecHator, but arming all the 
time most vigorously. Her naval force is now very great 
indeed, and as her last proposition of a long truce, in 
which America should be included and treated as inde- 
pendent in fact, though not expressly acknowledged as 
such, has been lately rejected by England, it is now 
thought, that her open junction with France in the war is 
not far distant. 

The Commissioners hL-re uuve a power in general 
terms to treat of peace, friendship, and commerce with 
European States, but I apprehend this is scarce explicit 

" Correspondence of the Commissioners nt Ihe Court of France. 
Vol. I. pp. 431, 453, 462. 


enough to authorise me to treat of sucli a truce, if the 
proposition should again come upon the tapis. I there- 
fore wish the Congress to consider of it, and give such 
powers as may be necessary to whom they may think 
proper, that, if a favorable opportunity of making an advan- 
tageous treaty should offer, it may not be missed. 

Admiral Arbuthnot, who was going to America with a 
large convoy and some troops, has been detained by a 
little attempt upon Jersey ; and contrary winds, since that 
affair was over, have dctainexl him further, till within these 
few days. 

Since I began writing tliis letter, i have received a 
packet from the Committee, by way of Eustatia and Hol- 
land, sent by Mr Lovell, containing his letters of December 
the Sth, January the 29th, and February the 8th, with 
one from the President, dated January the 3d. Several 
papers are mentioned as sent with them, and by other op- 
portunities, but none are come to hand, except the resolu- 
tion to postpone the attempt on Canada, and these are the 
first despatches received here since the date of those sent 
by the Marquis de Lafayette. 1 have just received a let- 
ter from Mr Bingham, acquainting me, that the ship Deane, 
and the General Gates, are just arrived at Martinique, and 
apply to him to be careened, refitted, and procure a fresh 
supply of provisions ; and that though he has no orders, he 
must draw upon me for the expense. I think it right to 
acquaint you thus early, that I shall be obliged to protest 
his bills. 

I have just obtained from his Majesty orders to the 
government of Guadaloupe, to make reasonable reparation 
to Captain Giddens of Newbury for the loss of his vessel, 
sunk in mistake by a battery of that island. Great prepar- 


ations are making here, with much activity in all the sea 
ports, taking; up transports, and building small vessels proper 
for the landing of troops, kc. so thai many think an in- 
vasion of England or Ireland is intended. The intention, 
whatever it is, may change, hut the opinion of such an in- 
tention, which seems to prevail in England, may tend to 
keep their troops and siiips at home. 

General and Lord Howe, Generals Cornwallis and 
Grey, Colonel Montresor, and Captain Hammond, and 
others, have formally given it as their opinion in Parlia- 
ment, that the conquest of America is impracticable. 
This week, as we hear, John Maxwell, Joseph Galloway, 
Andrew Allen, John Patterson, Theophilus Morris, Enoch 
Story, and Jabez Fisher are to be examined to prove the 
contrary. One would think the first set were likely to be 
the best judges. 

Be pleased to present my dutiful respects to the Con- 
gress, and assure them of my most faithful services. 
I have the honor to be, k.c. 



Passv, June 2d, J779. 

I received a few days since, via Eustatia and Holland, 
the triplicates of your several favors, of December the 8th, 
January the 29th, and February the 8th. The preceding 
copies of the same dates jiever came to hand. I thank 
you very much for the newspapers, though the disputes 
I see in them give me pain. You observe rightly, that the 
want of good conveyances obstructs much the punctualitv 
of your correspondence. The number of long letters T 


have written to America has almost discouraged me from 
writing, except by such an opportunity r.s this. You may 
judge of the uncertainty of letters getting to hand, when I 
tell you, that though you mention the having sent me quad- 
ruplicates of my credentials, only those by the Marquis de 
Lafayette have yet appeared. 

I am glad to understand, that you are taking measures 
to restore the value of your money, by taxing largely to 
reduce the quantity. I believe no financier in the world can 
put you upon a more effectual method. The English have 
had a little flow of spirits lately, from their success against 
the trade of France, and the news of the imagined con- 
quest of Georgia, but the growing apprehension of a war 
with Spain, also, begins to sober them, and, like people who 
have been drunk with drams, they now seem to have both 
the head and heart ache. Tlie late letters from tlience are 
in a more humble style, and some printed papers by the 
last post, known to be ministerial, appear intended to pre- 
pare the minds of the people for propositions of peace. 
But these ebbs and flows are common v,'ith them, and the 
duration of neither is to be relied on. 

As I do not find, by any of yours, that a long letter of 
mine to you in .July last, has come (o hand, I send you here- 
with a copy of it, (though now a little stale,) as it serves to 
show my continued good opinion of a gentleman, who, by 
the papers you have sent me, seems to be hardly used. I 
have never meddled witi) the dispute between him and Mr 
Lee, but the suspicion of having a good will to him has 
drawn upon me a great deal of ill will from his antagonist. 
The Congress iiave wisely enjoined the ministers in Eu- 
rope to agree with one another. I had always resolved to 
have no quarrel, and have, therefore, made it a constant rule 


to answer no^angry, alironting, or abusive letters, of wliicli 
I have received many, and long ones, from Mr Lee and 
Mr Izard, wlio, 1 understand, and see indeed by the pa- 
pers, have been writing liberally, or rather illiberally, against 
me, to prevent, as one of them says here, any impressions 
my writings against them might occasion to their preju- 
dice, but I have never before mentioned them in any of 
my letters. 

Our scheme here for packet boats did not continue.* I 
wish Congress could fall on some method of sending some 
little light vessels once a month, to keep up a correspon- 
dence more regular. Even the receiving of letters of a 
certain date, though otherwise of no importance, might serve 
to refute the false news of our adversaries on both sides of 
the water, which have sometimes too long their intended 
effect before the truth arrives. 1 see that frequently little 
pilot boats, of twentyfive or thirty tons burthen, arrive 
safe from Virginia; the expense of such would not be 

I beg leave to recommend earnestly to your civilities 
I\I. le Chevalier de la Luzerne, who goes over to succeed 
M. Gerard, as the King's Minister to the Congress. He 
bears here a most amiable character, has great connexions, 
and is a hearty friend to the American cause. 

With great esteem, I am. Sir, your most obedient and 
most humble servant, 


* This scheme may be found in the Correspondence of the Com- 
missioners, Vol. I. p. 284. 

VOL. IIL 13 



Philadelphia, June 13th, 1779. 

By way of Martinique I forward to you gazettes, jour- 
nals, and one or two pamphlets. The situation of things 
in Congress has been such for some time past, that the 
Committee of Foreign Affairs have been drawn on to look 
daily for some interesting decisions to communicate to you, 
which must account for their silence many weeks. I am 
once again left alone, and therefore in too delicate circum- 
stances to give you any detail of matters agitated, but not 
concluded, respecting your commission. I enclose a late 
resolve,* to which I beg your attention, and 1 entreat that 
you will believe me to be, with much respect, Sir, your 
most obedient servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign ^^ffairs. 


Philadelphia, Julv 9fh, 1779. 

I send by this opportunity journals and gazettes, with 
some letters, whicli were to have gone by way of Martin- 
ique some time ago, with others that I hope will reach you 
by that channel. 1 add a complete set of Journals, as far 
as they are printed, viz. 1st volume, 2d volume, and from 

* In Congress, June 5th, 1779. — "Resolved, that the Committee for 
Foreign Affairs be directed to write immediately to the Commissioners 
at the Court of France, and desire them to transmit an account of 
their proceedings in Mr Beaumarchais's accounts, pursuant to the order 
of Congress of the 13th day of April, 1778." 


January 9tli to June I2tli this year, with two spare pam- 
phlets ol" Nos. 2, 3, 11, 12, to make those aheady sent 
complete. Perhaps I may have the honor of writing again 
before the vessel sails out, though she is now falling down 
the river. 

Your most obedient humble servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


Philadelphia, July ](>ih, 177*;. 


We find by the Minister of France, that your appoint- 
ment has given high satisfaction to his Court, and we are 
encouraged to expect proofs of its most confidential reli- 
ance upon your character. We have not had a line from 
you of this year's date ; indeed, I believe your latest is 
November the 7th, 1778. Two days ago we received 
several letters from Doctor Lee and one from Mr Izard ; 
the latter of March 4th, the former up to April Gth. The 
vessel was from Rochclle about the middle of IMay. 

It was unfortunate that we did not get the information of 
Mr Lee earlier,'respecting the designs of the enemy against 
Connecticut. They had accomplished a part of them a 
few days before. Will no one under a commission from 
these United States retaliate on the coast of England, for 
the burning of our beautiful Fairfield. A single privateer 
might, I think, show there a striking sample of the species 
of war carried on by Britain against America. We are 
told this evening, that General Lincoln has bed an advan- 



ta«"e over Prevost, in an open field fight, in which the mili- 
tia behaved to admiration, on the 20th of June. 

We forward two letters for "our great, faithful, beloved 
friend and ally, Louis Sixteenth, King of France and Na- 
varre." We submit, however, the superscription to your 

You will manage the invoices by your best abilities. 
The probability of success was held out to us by one, who 
doubtless makes known by this opportunity how much our 
present circumstances render such aids essential to us. A 
report of the treasury, respecting the just stipend of our 
late and present Ministers at foreign Courts, is not quite 
(Iclermined upon. A decision is peculiarly necessary as 
lo Mr Lee and Mr Tzard, after the proceedings here of 
June 8th. I put u|) for you a set of the .Journals, which 
have been printed this year, adding some spare numbers 
to complete what have been sent in part of No. 15. 

Presuming from report, and a jiassage of a letter from 
Doctor Lee, that Mr Adams is on his return hither, we do 
not write to him more. Should he remain in France, we 
beg he maybe made acquainted with the cause of our 
omission. Good as this opportimity is, we expect a much 
better one shortly, wlicn w^e shall renew assurances of be- 
ing, he. 


For the Committee of Foreign Jlffairs. 

P. S. The letters and papers respecting M. de Fran- 
cy's agency, were only this day delivered to us from the 
Secretary's office ; but M. de Francy had sextuples be- 



In Cono^ress, August 14th, 1779. 


Having deLennined, iu order to put a period to the pres- 
ent war, conformably to the humane dispositions, which 
sway the allied powers, that we would not insist on a direc. 
acknowledgment by Great Britain of our right in the fish- 
eries, this important matter is liable to an incertitude, whicl: 
may be dangerous to the political and commercial interests 
of the United Slates ; we have therefore agreed and re- 
solved, that our right should in no case be given up ; liiat 
we would not form any treaty of commerce with Great 
Britain, nor carry on any trade or commerce whatsoever 
with her, unless she shall make an express stipulation on 
that subject ; and that if she shall, after a treaty of peace, 
disturb the inhabitants of these States in the exercise of it, 
we will make it a common cause to obtain redress for the 
parties injured. 

But notwithstanding the precautions, as Great Britain 
may again light up the flames of war, and use our exer- 
cise of the fisheries as her pretext ; and since some doubts 
may arise, whether this object is so efTectually guarded by 
the treaty of alliance with His Most Christian Majesty, that 
any molestation therein on the part of Great Britain is to 
be considered as a casus feder is, you are to endeavor to 
obtain of his Majesty an explanation on that subject upon 
ihe principle, that notwithstanding the high confidence re- 
posed in his wisdom and justice, yet considering the uncer- 
tainty of human affairs, and how doubts may be afterwards 
raised in tlie breasts of his royal successors, the great im- 
portance of the fisheries renders the citizens of these Slates 


very solicitous to o!)tain his Majesty's sense with relation 
to them, as the best security against the ambition and ra- 
pacity of the British Court. For this purpose, you will 
propose the following article, in which nevertheless such 
alterations may be made, as the circumstances and situation 
of affairs shall render convenient and proper. Should 
the same be agreed to and executed, you are inmiediately 
to transmit a copy thereof to our Minister at the Court of 

Whereas by the treaty of alliance between the IMost 
Christian King and the United States of North America, 
the two parties guaranty mutually from that time, and for 
ever, against all other powers, to wit ; the United States 
10 His Most Christian Majesty, the possessions then apper- 
taining to the crown of France in America, as well as 
those which it iTiay acquire by the future treaty of peace ; 
and His IMost Christian Majesty guaranties, on his part, to 
the United States, their liberty, sovereignty, and indepen- 
dence, absolute and unlimited, as well in matters of gov- 
ernment as commerce, and also their possessions, and the 
additions or conquests, that their confederation might obtain 
during the war, according to tlie said treaty ; and the said 
parties did further agree and declare, that in case of a rup- 
ture between France and England, the said reciprocal 
guarantee should have its full force and effect, the moment 
such w^ar should break out ; and whereas doubts may here- 
after arise how far the said guarantee extends to this case, 
to ; that Great Britain should molest or disturb the 
subjects and inhabitants of France, or of the said States, in 
taking fish on the banks of Newfoundland, and other the 
fishing banks and seas of North America, formerly and 
usually frequGulcd by the subjects and inhabitants respec- 


lively ; and whereas the said king and ihe United States 
have thought proper to determine witii precision the true 
intent and meaning of the said guarantee in this respect ; 

Now, therefore, as a further demonstration of their mu- 
tual good will and affection, it is hereby agreed, concluded, 
and determined as follows, to wit ; that if, after the con- 
clusion of the treaty or treaties, which shall terminate the 
present war, Great Britain shall molest or disturb the sub- 
jects or inhabitants of the said United States in taking fish 
on the banks, seas, and places formerly used and fre- 
quented by them, so as not to encroach on the territorial 
rights, which may remain to her after the termination of the 
present war as aforesaid ; and war should thereupon break 
out between the said United Slates and Great Britain, or 
if Great Britain shall molest or disturb the subjects and 
inhabitants of France in taking fish on the banks, seas, and 
places, formerly used and frequented by them, so as to en- 
croach on the territorial rights of Great Britain, as afore- 
said, and war should thereupon break out between France 
and Great Britain, in either of those cases of war, as afore- 
said, His Most Christian Majesty and the said United 
States shall make it a common cause, and aid each other 
mutually with their good offices, their counsels, and their 
forces, according to tlie exigence of conjunctures, as be- 
comes good and faithful allies ; provided always, that noth- 
ing herein contained shall be taken or understood as con- 
trary to, or inconsistent with the true intent and meaning of 
the treaties already subsisting between His Most Christian 
Majesty and the said States ; but the same shall be taken 
and understood as explanatory of, and conformable to those 

I have the honor to be, &:c. 

JOHN JAY, President. 



Fassv, August 24tli, 1779. 

The Congress, sensible of your merit towards the 
United States, but unable adequately to reward it, deter- 
mined to present you with a sword, as a small mark of 
their grateful acknowledgment. Tbey directed it to be 
ornamented with suitable devices. Some of the principal 
actions of the war, in which you distinguished yourself by 
your bravery and conduct, are therefore represented upon 
it. These, with a few emblematic figures, all admirably 
veil executed, make its principal value. By the help of 
?he exquisite artists France atlbrds, I find it easy to ex- 
])rcs3 everything but the sense we have of your worth, 
and our obligations to you. For this, figures, and even 
words, are found insufficient. I thcrefor{! only add, that, 
with the perfect esteem, 

I have the honor to be, &,c. 


r. S. My grandson goes to Havre with die sword, 
and will have the honor of presenting it to you. 


Havre, 29lli, 1779. ' 


Whatever expectations might have been raised from the 

sense of past favors, the goodness of the United States for 

me has ever been such, that on every occasion it far sur- 

[jasses any idea I could have conceived. A new proof of 


that flaliering iriuli, 1 lind iii ihe noble preseiu which Con- 
fess has been pleased to honor nie wiih, and which is 
ofierod in sucli a inanuer by your Excellency, as will ox- 
ceeil anything hui liie leelinss of my unbounded graiiiude. 

Ill some of tl>e devices 1 cannot help finding loo honora- 
ble a reward for those slight services, which in concert with 
my fellow soldiers, and under the godlike Anierican hero's 
orders, 1 bad the good luck to render. The sight of these 
ac-tkjns, where I was a witness of Anierican bravery and 
patriotic spirit, 1 shall ever enjoy with that pleasure, which 
becomes a heart glowing wilii love for the nation, and the 
most ardent zeal for their glory and happiness. Assurances 
of gratitude, which I beg leave to present to your Excel- 
lency, are much too inadequate to my feelings, and nothing 
but those sentiments may properly acknowledge your kind- 
ness towards me. The polite manner in which ?Ur Frank- 
lin was pleased io deliver that iiiesiimable sword, lays nie 
under great obligations to hiu), and demands my particular 

W ilh the most perfect respect, 1 havu tlie honor to 
ho. ;icr. 



P.issv, Sipteinbcr 30tl., 1779. 

I have within these few days received a number of 
despatches from you, which have arrived by the Mercury 
and other vessels. Hearing this Instant of an opportunity 
from Bordeaux, and that the courier sets out from 
V'ersailles at five this evening, I eiiibrace it just to let you 
know, that I have delivered the letters from Congress to 

VOL. III. 14 


the King, and have laid the invoices of supplies desired 
(with a translation) before the Ministers, and though I 
have not yet received a positive answer, I have good rea- 
son to believe I shall obtain most of them, if not all. 
But as this demand will cost the ("ourt a vast sum, and 
their expenses in the war are prodigious, T beg I may not 
be put under the necessity, by occasional drafts on me, 
of asking for more money than is required to pay our bills 
for interest. I must protest those I have advice of from 
Martinique and New Orleans, (even if they were drawn 
by permission of Congress) for want of money ; and 1 
wish the Committee of Commerce would caution their 
correspondents not to embarrass me with their bills. 

I put into my pocket nothing of the allowance Con- 
gress has been pleased to make me. 1 shall pay it all 
in honoring their drafts and supporting their credit, but 
do not let me be bnrthened with supporting the credit of 
every one, who has claims on the Board of Commerce 
or the navy. J shall write fully by the Mercury. 

1 send you some of the latest newspapers, and have the 
honor to be, &,c. he. 



I'a&sy, October 2d, 177i>. 

Dear Sir, 
I received your favor of the 1 7th past, and the two 
samples of copper are since come to hand. The metal 
seems to be very good, and the price reasonai)le, but I 
have not yet received the orders necessary to justify my 
making the purchnsc proposed. There has. indeed, been 


an iuleiition to strike copper coin, that may not only bu 
useful as small change, but serve other purposes. In- 
stead of repealing continually upon every half penny, the 
dull story, that every body knows, and what it would have 
been no loss to mankind if nobody liad ever known, that 
George the Third is King of Great Britain, France, and 
Ireland, he. he. to put on one side some important pro- 
verb of Solomon, some pious moral, some prudenrial or 
economical precept, the frequent inculcation of which, by 
seeing it every time one receives a [)iece of money, might 
make an impression upon the mind, especially of young 
persons, and tend to regulate their conduct ; such as on 
some, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisiIo7n ; 
on others, Honesty is the best policy ; on others. He that 
by the plough would thrive, himself must either lead or 
drive ; on others, Keep thy shop, and thy shop ivill keep 
thee ; on others, A penny saved is a penny got ; on others. 
He that buys ivhat he has no need of will soon be forced 
to sell his necessaries ; on others. Early to bed and early 
to rise, will make a man healthy, wealthy, and ivisr. ; and 
so on, to a great variety. 

The other side it was proposed lo lill with good designs, 
drawn and engraved by the best artists in France, of all 
the different species of barbarity with whicii the English 
have carried on the war in America, expressing every 
abominable circumstance of their cruelty and inhumanity 
that figures can express, to make an impression on the 
minds of posterity, as strong and durable as that on the 
copper. This resolution has been a long time forborne, 
but the late burning of defenceless towns in Connecticut, 
on the flimsy pretence that the people fired from behind 
their houses, when it is known to have been jiremedi- 


tated, and oi'dered from England', will, probabij^ give the 
finishing provocation, and may occasion a vast demand for 
your metal. 1 thank yon for your kind wishes respect- 
ing my health. I return them most cordially fourfold into 
your own bosom. 

; ,, B. FRANKLIN. 

;i'., TO JOHN JAY, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. ^,, October 4th, 1779.'"" 

I received the letter your Excellency did me the honor 
to write to me of the of June last, enclosing acts of 
Congress, respecting bills of exchange for two millions four 
hundred thousand livres tournois, drawn on me in favor of 
M. de Beaumarchais. The bills have not yet appeared, 
but I shall accept them when they do, relying on the care 
of Congress to enable me to pay them. As to the accounts 
of that gentleman, neither the Commissioners, when we 
were all together, nor myself since, have ever been able to 
obtain a sight of them, though repeatedly promised, and I 
begin to give over all expeciation of them. Indeed if I 
had them, 1 should not be able to do much with them, or 
to controvert anything I might doubt in them, being unac- 
quainted with the transactions and agreements on which 
they must be founded, and having small skill in accounts. 
Mr Ross and Mr Williams, pressing me to examine and 
settle theirs, I have been obliged to request indifferent 
persons, expert ia such business, to do it for me, subject to 
the revision of Congress ; and I could wish that my time 
and attention wore not taken up by any concerns in mer- 


cantile aUaiis, and ilierehy diverted from others more im- 

The letters o( Congress to the King were very gra- 
ciously received. 1 have earnestly pressed the supplies 
desired, and ihe Ministers (who are extremely well dis- 
posed towards us) are now actually studying the means of 
furnishing them. The assistance of Spain is hoped for. 
We expect to hear from thence in a few days. The quan- 
tity is great, and will cost a vast sum. I have this day ac- 
cepted three of your drafts, part of the three hundred and 
sixty thousand livres, drawn for on the 9th of June, but 
when 1 ask for money to pay them, I must mention, that 
as they were drawn to purchase military stores, an abate- 
ment equal to the value may be made of the quantity de- 
manded from hence, for I am really ashamed to be always 
worrying the Ministers for more money. And as to the 
private loans expected, I wrote in a former letter, that our 
public credit was not yet sufficiently established, and that 
the loan in Holland had not exceeded eighty thousand 
florins, to which there has since been no addition. A Mr 
Neufville came from thence to me last spring, proposing to 
procure great sums, if he might be employed for that pur- 
pose, and the business taken away from the house that had 
commenced it. His terms at first were very extravagant, 
such as that all the estates real and personal in the Thirteen 
Provinces should be mortgaged to him ; that a fifth part of 
the capital sum borrowed should every year, for five years, 
be laid out in commodities, and sent to Holland, consigned 
to him, to remain in his hands till the term (ten years) 
stipulated for final payment was completed, as a security 
for the punctuality of it, when he was to draw the usual 
commissions ; that all vessels or merchandise coming from 


America to Europe should be consigned to him or Ins 
correspondents, &;c. he. As 1 rejected these with some 
indignation, he came down to the more reasonable one of 
doing the business as it was done by the other house, who, 
he said, could do no more, being destitute of the interest 
which he possessed. 

I did not care abruptly to change a house, that had in 
other respects been very friendly and serviceable to us, and 
thereby throw a slur upon their credit, without a certainty 
of mending our affairs by it, and therefore told Mr Neuf- 
ville, that if he could procure and show me a list of sub- 
scribers, amounting to the, sum he mentioned, or near it, 
1 would comply with his proposition. This he readily and 
confidently undertook to do. But after three months, 
during which he acquainted me from time to time, that the 
favorable moment was not yet come, I received, instead of 
the subscription, a new set of propositions, among the terms 
of which were an additional 07ie per cent, and a jiatent from 
Congress, appointing him and his sons '■^Commissioners for 
Trade and JVavigniion, and Treasurers of the General 
Congress and of every private State of the Thirteen United 
States of JVoj-th America, through the Seven United Pro- 
vinces," with other extravagancies, which I mention, that it 
may be understood why I have dropped a correspondence 
on this subject with a man, who seemed to me a vain 
promiser, extremely self-interested, and aiming chiefly to 
make an appearance without solidity, and who I understand 
intends applying directly to Congress, some of his friends 
censuring me as neglecting the public interest in not com- 
ing into his measures. 

The tnUh is, I have no expectations from Holland, 
while interest received there from other nations is so high, 


and our credit there so low ; while particular American 
States offer higlier interest than the Congress, and even our 
offering to raise our interest tends to sink our credit. My 
sole dependence now is upon this Court ; 1 think reason- 
able assistance may be obtained here, but I wish I may not 
be obliged to fatigue it too much with my applications, lest 
it should grow tired of the connexion. 

Mr Ross has lately demanded of mc near twenty thou- 
sand pounds sterling, due to him from the Committee of 
Commerce, but I have been obliged to refuse him, as well 
as an application made last week by Mr Izard for more 
money, though he has already had 2500 guineas, and 
another from Mr Arthur Lee, diongh he has had five hun- 
dred guineas since the news of his being out of this Cora- 
mission.* He writes me, that he will return to America 
forthwith, if I do not undertake to supply his expenses. 
As F see no likelihood of his being received at Madrid, I 
could not but approve his resolution. 

We had reason to expect some great events, from the 
action of the fleets this summer in the Channel, but they 
are all now in port, without having effected anything. 
The junction was late, and the length of time the Brest 
fleet was at sea, equal to an East India voyage, partly on 
the hot Spanish coast, occasioned a sickness among the 
people, that made their return necessary ; they had chased 
the English fleet, which refused combat. The sick men 
are recovering fast since they were landed ; and the pro- 
posed descent on England does not yet seem to be quite 
given up, as the troops are not withdrawn from the ports. 

Holland has not yet granted the succors required by the 

• Halpli Izard i Corrcspomlcnce, Vol. II. p 446 ; ami Ai timr Lre's 
Correspondence, p. 'I&l, 268, 272. 


English, nor even given an answer to the requisition pre- 
sented by Sir Joseph Yorke. The aids will he refused, 
and as the relbsal be disagreeable, it will be post- 
poned from time to time. The expectations of assistance 
from Russia and Prussia seem also to have failed the 
English, and they are as much at a loss to find efiective 
friends in Europe, as they have been in America. 

Porliigal seems to have a better disposition towards us 
than heretofore. About thirty of our people, taken and 
set ashore on one of her islands by the English, were 
maintained coinfortal)!y by the Governor, during their stay 
there, furnished widi every necessary and sent to Lisbon, 
where, on inquiry to whom payment was to be made for 
the expense ihey had occasioned, they were told, that 
no reimbursement was expected, that it was the Queen's 
bounty, who had a plcasiu-c in showing hos})ilality to stran- 
gers in distress. I Isave presented thanks, by die Por- 
tuguese Ambassador here in behalf of Congress, and I 
am given to understand, that probably in a litde time the 
ports of that nation will be open to us, as well as those of 
Spain. What relates to Spain, [ suppose Mr Lee informs 
you of. 

The sword ordered by Congress for the jManjuis de 
Lafayette being at length finished, i sent il down to him 
at Havre, where ho was with the troops intended for the 
invasion. I wrote a letter with il, and received an answer, 
copies of which ! enclose, together with a description of 
the sword, and drawings ol' the work upon it, which was 
executed by the best artists in Paris, and cost altogether 
two hundred guineas. The present has given him great 
pleasure, and some of the circumstances have been agree- 
able to the nation. 


Our cartel goes on, a second cargo of American prison- 
ers, one hundred and nineteen in number, being arrived 
and exchanged. Our privateers have dismissed a great 
number at sea, taking their written paroles to be given up 
in exchange lor so many of our people in their gaols. 
This is not yet quite agreed to on the other side, but some 
expectations are given me that it may take place. Cer- 
tainly, humanity would find its account in die practice of 
exchanging on parole, as all the horrors of imprisonment, 
with the loss of time and health, might be prevented by it. 

We continue to insolt the coasts of these lords of the 
ocean with our little cruisers. A small cutter, which was 
fitted out as a privateer at Dunkirk, called the Black 
Prince, has taken, ransomed, burnt, and destroyed above 
thirty sail of their vessels within these three months. The 
owners are about to give her a consort, called the Black 
Princess, for whom they ask a commission. The pris- 
oners brought in serve to exchange our countrymen, 
which makes me more willing to encourage such arma- 
ments, though they occasion a good deal of trouble. Cap- 
tain, now Commodore Jones, put to sea this summer with 
a little squadron, consisting of a ship of forty guns, the 
Alliance, another frigate of twenty, with some armed cut- 
ters ; all under American colors, with Congress conmiis- 
sions. He has sent in several prizes, has greatly alarmed 
the coast of Ireland and Scotland, and we just now hear 
that going north about, he fell in with a nun)ber of ships 
from the Baltic, convoyed by a fifty gun ship and a 
twentyfour gun frigate, both of which he took after an 
obstinate engagement, and forced several of the others 
ashore. This news is believed, but we wait the con- 
firmation and the particulars. 
VOL. iir. 1.5 


The blank commissions remaining, of those sent to us 
here, are all signed by Mr Hancock, wliich occasions some 
difRcuky. If Congress approves of my continuing to issue 
commissions, I wisli to have a fresh supply, with the other 
necessary instructions, rules, bonds, &c. of which none are 
now left. 

M. le Comte de Mallebois, esteemed one of the best 
Generals in this country, and who loves our cause, has 
given me a memorial, containing a project for a corps here 
for your service, which I promised to lay before Congress, 
and accordingly enclose a copy. I know nothing of the 
sentiments of Congress on the subject of introducing 
foreign troops among us, and therefore could give no ex- 
pectation that the plan would be adopted. It will, how- 
ever, i)e a pleasure lo him lo know, that his good will to 
serve them has been acceptable to the Congress. 

A Major Borre, who has ijcen in America, and some 
other officers who have quitted our service in disgust, en- 
deavor to give an idea, that our nation docs not love the 
French. I take all occasions to place in view the regard 
shown by Congress to good French officers, as a proof 
that the slight lliesc gcnllcMnen complain of is particular to 
themselves, and i)robal)ly the efiect of their own misbe- 
havior. 1 wisli lor the future, when any of this sort of 
people leave our armies to come home, some Ihtle sketch 
of their conduct or character may be sent me, with the 
real causes of tiieir resignation or departure, that I may be 
the more able to juslily our country. 

Here are returned in the last cartel a nuuiber of French 
sailors, who had engaged with Captain Cunningham. 
Were taken in coming home in one of his prizes, and 
have been nenr two years in English prisons. They de- 


inand their wages and share of prize money. I send their 
claim, as taken before the oflicers of the classes at Dun- 
kirk. I know nothing of the agreement which they allege 
was made with them. Mr Hodge perhaps can settle the 
affair, so that they may have justice done them. These 
sort of things give me a great deal of trouble. Several of 
those men liave made personal applications to me, and I 
must hear all their stories, though 1 cannot redress them. 
I enclose also the claim of two gunners, upon a prize 
made by the Boston, Captain Tucker. 1 am persuaded 
that Congress wish to see justice done to the meanest 
stranger that h.i-^ scivod ihfm. It is iusiico that estab- 
lishes a nation. 

The Spanisii /vituassiniDi- licr<' (iclu itciI nic several 
complaints against our cruisers. I imagine that all the in- 
juries complained of are not justly chargeable to us, 
some of the smaller Englisii cruisers having pillaged Span- 
ish vessels under American colors, of which we have proot 
upon oath. And also, that no such American privateers, 
as are said to have committed these robberies after coming 
out of Nantes, have ever been known there, or in any 
other part of France, or even to have existed. But if any 
of the complaints are well founded, I have assured the 
Ambassador that the guilty will be punished, and repara- 
tion made. 

The Swedish Ambassador also complains of iIjj taking 
of a ship of his nation by Captain Landais, the master of 
which lays his damages at sixty thousand livres. I un- 
derstand it was his own fault that he was stopped, as he 
did not show his papers. Perhaps this, if proved, may 
enable us to avoid the damages. 

Since writing the above, 1 have received the following 


further particulars of the action hetvveen Commodore 
Jones and the English men of war. The fortyfour gun 
ship is new, having been but six months off the stocks ; 
she is called the Serapis ; the other of twenty guns is the 
Countess of Scarborough. He had before taken a num- 
ber of valuable prizes, particularly a rich ship bound to 
Quebec, which we suppose he may have sent to America. 
The English, from mistaken intelligence, imagining he had 
a body of troops with him to make descents, have had all 
their northern coasts alai'med, and have been ])ut to very 
expensive movements of troops, &.c. 

The extravagant luxury of our country, in the midst of 
all its distresses, is to me amazing. When the difficulties 
are so great to find remittances to pay for the arms and 
ammunition necessary for our defence, I am astonished 
and vexed to find upon inquiry, that much the greatest 
part of the Congress interest bills come to pay for tea, 
and a great part of the remainder is ordered to be laid out 
in gewgaws and superfluities. It makes me grudge the 
trouble of examining, and entering, and accepting them, 
which indeed takes a great deal of time. 

I yesterday learnt from M. de Monthieu, diat every- 
thing necessary for equipping two frigates, of thirtysix guns 
each, such as sailcloth, cordage, anchors, &ic. &c. which 
we sent to the Congress from hence two years since, 
remains stored in the warehouses of his correspondent, Mr 
Carrabass, at Cape Francois, having never been called for. 
Probably by the miscarriage of letters, the Navy Board 
never heard of those goods being there. I shall, never- 
theless, leave the application I have lately made for mate- 
rials for a frigate of thirtysix guns to take its course. 
But I send you herewith copies of two invoices of the 


cargo of tlie Tlierese, one of which is what was sent by 
us, tlie other by M. de Beaumarchais, to the end that 
inquiry may be made after the whole. 

On this occasion give me leave to remark, that of all 
the vast quantities of goods we have sent you by many 
different vessels since my being in France, we never 
were happy enough to receive the least scrip of acknowl- 
edgment that they had ever come to hand, except from 
Mr Langdon, of a cargo arrived at Portsmouth, and I 
think of one more. This is doubtless owing to the in- 
terruption our correspondence has met with, and not alto- 
gether to neglect. But as such advices of receipt may 
be made in short letters, it would be well to send more 
copies. The following is a matter of less importance. 
It is two years, I believe, since I sent the monument of 
General Montgomery. I have heard that the vessel 
arrived in North Carolina, but nothing more. I should 
be glad to know of its coming to hand, and whether it is 
approved. Here it was admired for the goodness and 
beauty of the marble, and the elegant simplicity of the 
design. The sculptor has had an engraving made of if, 
of which I enclose a copy. It was contrived to be 
affixed to the wall within some church, or in the great 
room where the Congress met. Directions for putting it 
up went with it. All the parts were well packed in 
strong cases. 

With the greatest respect, he 


P. S. October 28th. I kept the packet in hopes of 
sending a more explicit account of what might be expected 
in regard to the supplies. The express, which was daily 


expected from Spain, when I began this letter, arrived but 
a few days since. I am now informed, that Court is un- 
derstood to be in treaty with the Congress in America, to 
furnish a sura of hard money there, and on that account 
excuses itself from sharing in the expense of furnishing 
these supplies. This has a liltle deranged the measures 
intended to be taken here, and 1 am now told, that the 
whole quantity of goods demanded can hardly be furnished, 
but that as soon as the Court returns from Marly, the Min- 
isters will consult and do the best they can for us. The 
arms, I hear, are in liand at Charleville. I am unwilling 
to keep the packet any longer, lest she should arrive on our 
coasts too far in the winter, and be blown off. I therefore 
send away the despatches ; but if I have the result of the 
Council in time to reach her by post, I will send it in a 
separate letter. The hearty good will of the ministry may 
be depended on ; but it must be remembered, that their 

present expenses are enormous. 

B. F. 


Passy, October 17th, 1779. 

The foregoing is a copy of my last. I have now before 
me your several favors therein mentioned, viz. of June 
13th, July 9th and 16ih, and August 6th. I received the 
Journals of Congress from January 1st to June 12th, 
which you took care to send me ; but the volumes 1 and 
2, which you mention, are not yet come to hand. I hear 
they are at Madrid. I know not how they came there, 
nor well how to get them from thence. Perhaps you 
can easier send me another set. 


As I hear of the arrival of the Chevalier de la Luzerne, 
by whom 1 wrote a long letter lo your Committee, I pre- 
sume you have received it, and that it is not necessary to 
send more copies. By this opportunity I write largely to 
the President. You ask, " will no one, under a commis- 
sion from the United States," &c. Enclosed I send you 
a copv of the instructions I gave lo Commodore Jones, 
when it was intended to send with him some transports 
and troops to make descents in England.* Had not the 
scheme been altered, by a general one of a grand invasion, 
I know he would have endeavored to put some considera- 
ble towns to a high ransom, or have burnt them. He 
sailed without the troops, but he nevertheless would iiave 
attempted Leith, and went into the Firth of Edinburgii with 
that intention, but a sudden hard gale of wind forced him 
out again. The late provocations, by the burning of Fair- 
field and other towns, added lo the preceding, have at 
length demolished all my moderation, and were such an- 
other expedition to be concerted, I think so much of that 
disposition would not appear in the instructions. But I see 
so many inconveniences in mixing the two nations together, 
that I cannot encourage any further proposal of the kind. 
This has ended better than I expected, and yet a mortal 
difference has arisen between Captains Jones and Landais, 
that makes me very uneasy about the consequences. I 
send you the journal of the cruise. 

I am glad to understand, that Congress will appoint some 
person here to audit our accounts. Mine will give but 
little trouble, and I wish much to have them settled. And 
for the future, I hope 1 shall have none to settle but what 
relate to my expenses. 

* Sec p. 77, of tl»c f)i'c#ciii volume. 


The quarrel you mention, between Mr Deane and Mr 
Lee, I have never meddled with, and have no intention to 
take any part in it whatever. I had and have still a very 
good opinion of Mr Deane, for his aeal and activity in the 
service of his country ; I also thought him a man of integ- 
rity. But if he has embezzled public money, or traded 
with it on his private account, or employed it in stockjob- 
bing, all which I understand he is charged with, I give him 
up. As yet, I think him innocent. But he and his ac- 
cusers are able to plead their own causes, and time will 
show what we ought to diink of them. 

I send you widi this, a piece written by a learned friend 
of mine on the taxation of free States, which I imagine 
may give you some pleasure. Also a late royal edict, 
for abolishing the remains of slavery in this kingdom. 
Who would have thought, a few years since, that we 
should live to see a king of France giving freedom to 
slaves, while a king of England is endeavoring to make 
slaves of freemen. 

There is much talk all over Europe of an approaching 
peace by the mediation of Russia and Holland. I have 
no information of it to be depended on, and believe we 
ought to lay our account on another campaign, for which 
I hope you will receive in time the supplies demanded. 
Nodiing is wanting on my part to forward them ; and I 
have the satisfaction to assure you, that I do not find the 
regard of this Court for the Congress and its servants in 
any respect diminished. We have just heard from Nor- 
way, diat two of the most valuable prizes taken by the 
Alliance, Captain Landais, in the squadron of Commodore 
Jones, are safe arrived at Bergen, viz. the ship from Lon- 
don to Quebec, laden with naval stores, and that from Liv- 


erpool to New York and Jamaica. They were letters of 
marque, of twentytwo guns and eightyfour men each ; I 
wish we may get them safe to America. The squadron 
itself is got into Holland, with the two prize men of war, 
where they are all refitting:;. Great damage has been done 
to the English coal trade, and four hundred prisoners iiave 
been taken, which will more than redeem the rest of our 
people from their captivity in England, if we can get them 
safe from Holland to France ; but 1 suppose the English 
will endeavor to intercept us, and recover their ships, if 

With great esteem for yourself and the Committee, I 
have the honor to be, &:c. 



Passy, December 22d, 1779. 

I have received a letter from .AI. de Ciiezaulx, Consul 
of France at Bergen in Norway, acquainting me that two 
shipB, viz. the Betsey and the Union, prizes taken from the 
English on their coasts by Captain Landais, Commander 
of the Alliance frigate, appertaining to the United States of 
North America, which prizes having met with bad weather 
at sea, that had damaged their rigging, and had occasioned 
leaks, and been weakly manned, had taken shelter in the 
supposed neutral port of Bergen, in order to repair their 
damages, procure an additional number of sailors, and the 
necessary refreshments ; that they were in the said port 
enjoying, as they conceived, the common rights of hospi- 

VOL. III. 16 


tality, established and practised by civilized nations under 
the care of the above said Consul, when, on the 28th of 
October last, the said ships, with their cargoes and papers, 
were suddenly seized by officers of his Majesty, the King 
of Denmark, to whom the said port belongs ; the Ameri- 
can officers and seamen turned out of their possession, and 
the whole delivered to the English Consul. 

M. de Chezaulx has also sent me the following as a 
translation of his Majesty's order, by which the above pro- 
ceedings are said to be authorised, viz. "The English Min- 
ister having insisted on the restitution of two vessels, which 
had been taken by die American privateer called the Alli- 
ance, commanded by Captain Landais, and which were 
brought into Bergen, viz. the Betsey of Liverpool, and the 
Union of London, his Majesty has granted this demand on 
this account, because lie has not as yet acknowletlged the 
independence of the Colonies associated against England, 
and because that these vessels for this reason cannot be 
considered as good and lawful prizes. Therefore, the said 
two ships shall be immediately liberated and allowed to 
depart with their cargoes." By a subsequent letter from 
the same Consul, 1 am informed, that a third prize belong- 
ing to the United States, viz. the Charming Polly, which 
arrived at Bergen after the others, has also been seized 
and delivered up in the same manner ; and that all the 
people of the diree vessels, after being thus stripped of their 
property, (for every one had an interest in the prizes) were 
turned on shore to shift for themselves, without money, in 
a strange place, no provision being made for their subsist- 
ence, or for sending them back to their country. 

Permit me, Sir, to observe on this occasion, that the Uni- 
ted Slfites of America have no war but with the English ; 


they have never done any injury to other nations, particu- 
larly none to the Danish nation ; on the contrary, they are 
in some degree its benefactors, as they have opened a 
trade of wiiich the English made a monopoly, and of 
which the Danes may now have their share, and by divid- 
ing the British Empire, have made it less dangerous to its 
neighbors. They conceived, that every nation whom 
they had not offended was by the rights of humanity their 
friend ; they confided in the hospitality of Denmark, and 
thought themselves and their property safe when under the 
roof of his Danish Majesty. But they find themselves 
stripped of that property, and the same given up to their 
enemies, on this principle only, that no acknowledgment 
had yet been formally made by Denmark of the indepen- 
dence of the United States ; which is to say, that there is 
no obligation of justice towards any nation witii whom a 
treaty, promising the same, has not been previously made. 
This was indeed the doctrine of ancient barbarians, a doc- 
trine long since exploded, and which it would not be for 
the honor of the present age to revive, and it is hoped, that 
Denmark will not, by supporting and persisting in this de- 
cisioq, obtained of his Majesty apparently by surprise, be 
the first modern nation, that shall attempt to revive it.* 

"* '•The ancients," says Vallel, "did not conceive themselves bound 
under any obligation towards a people with whom they were not con- 
nected by a treaty of friendship. At length tlie voice of nature was 
heard by civilized nations ; they acknowledged all mankind as broth- 
ers." An injustice of the same kind, done a century or two since by 
some English in the East Indies, Grotius tells us "was not without iti> 
partisans, wiio maintaincil, that by the ancient laws of England, no one 
was liable to punishment in that kingdom for outrages committed 
against foreigners, when no treaty of alliance had been contracted with 
them." But this principle he condemns in the strongest terms. — History 
of the Troubles in the A'elher lands, Boole IGlh. 


The United States oppressed by, and at war with one 
of the most powerful nations of Europe, may well be sup- 
posed incapable in their present infant state of exacting 
justice from other nations not disposed to grant it; but it 
is in human nature, that injuries as well as benefits received 
in times of weakness and distress, national as well as per- 
sonal, make deep and lasting impressions ; and those Min- 
isters are wise, who look into futurity and quench the first 
sparks of misunderstanding between two nations, which, 
neglected, may in time grow into a flame, all the conse- 
quences whereof, no human prudence can foresee, which 
may produce much mischief to bodi, and cannot possibly 
produce any good to either. I beg leave, through your 
Excellency, to submit these considerations to the wisdom 
and justice of his Danish Majesty, who I infinitely respect, 
and who, I hope, will reconsider and repeal the orders 
above recited, and that, if the prizes which I hereby re- 
claim in behalf of the United States of America, are 
not actually gone to England, they may be stopped and 
re-delivered to M. de Chezaulx, the Consul of France at 
Bergen, in whose care they before were, with liberty to 
depart for America when the season shall permit. But if 
they should be already gone to England, I must then claim 
from his Majesty's equity the value of the said prizes, 
which is estimated at fifty thousand pounds sterling, but 
which may be regulated by the best information that can 
by any means be obtained. 

With the greatest respect, I am. Sir, he. 




Passy, February 2d, 1780. 

Dear Friend, 

It is some time since 1 procured the discharge of your 
Captain Stephenson. He did not call here in his way 
home. I hope he arrived safely, and had a happy meet- 
ing with his friends and family. 

I have long postponed answering your letter of the 29th 
of June. A principal point in it, on which you seemed to 
desire my opinion, was, the conduct you thought America 
ought to hold, in case her allies should, from motives of 
ambition or resentment of former injuries, desire her to 
continue the war, beyond what should be reasonable and 
consistent with her particular interests. As often as I took 
up your letter in order to answer it, this suggestion dis- 
pleased me, and I laid it down again. I saw no occa- 
sion for discussing such a question at present, nor any 
good end it could serve to discuss it before the case should 
happen ; and I saw inconveniences in discussing it. I 
wish therefore you had not mentioned it. For the rest, I 
am as much for peace as ever I was, and as heartily de- 
sirous of seeing the war ended, as I was to prevent its 
beginning ; of which your ^linisters know I gave a strong 
proof before I left England, when, in order to an accom- 
modation, I offered at my own risk, without orders for so 
doing, and without knowing whether I should be owned in 
doing it, to pay the whole damage of destroying the tea at 
Boston, provided the acts made against that Province were 
repealed. This offer was refused. I still think it would 
have been wise to have accepted it. If the Congress 
have therefore intrusted to others rather than to me, the 


negotiations for peace, wlien such shall be set on foot, as 
has been reported, it is perhaps because they may have 
heard of a very sinjijular opinion of mine, that there hardly 
ever existed such a thing as a bad peace, or a good war, 
and that I might therefore easily be induced to make im- 
jn'oper concessions. But at the same time they and you 
may be assured, th;U I should think the destruction of our 
whole country, and the extirpation of our whole people, 
preferable to the infamy of abandoning our allies. 

As neither you nor I are at present authorised to treat 
of peace, it seems to little purpose to make or consider 
propositions relating to it. 1 have had so many such put 
into my hands, that I am tired of them. 1 will however 
give your proposal of a ten years' truce this answer, that, 
though I think a solid peace made at once a much better 
tiling, yet, if the truce is practicable and the peace not, I 
should be for agreeing to it. At least J see at present no 
sufficient reasons for refusing it, [)rovided our allies ap- 
prove of it. But this is merely a private opinion of mine, 
which jierhaps may be changed by reasons, that at present 
do not offer themselves. This, however, 1 am clear in, 
that withdrawing your troops will be best for you, if you 
wish a cordial reconciliation, and that the truce should 
produce a peace. To show that it was not done by com- 
pulsion, being required as a condition of the iruce, they 
might be withdrawn beforehand, for various good reasons. 
But all this is idle chat, as 1 am persuaded, that there is 
no disposition for peace on your side, and that this war 
will yet last many years. 1 know nothing and believe 
nothing of any terms offered to Sir Henry Clinton. 

The prisoners taken in the Serapis and Countess of 
Scarborough being all treated for in Holland, and ex- 


changed there, I hope Mr Brown's son is now safe at 
home with his father. It grieved me, that the exchange 
there, which you may remember I immediately proposed, 
was so long delayed. Much human misery might have 
been prevented by a prompt compliance ; and so might a 
great deal by the execution of parole promises taken at 
sea ; but since I see no regard is paid to them in England, 
I naiist give orders to our armed ships that cruise in Eu- 
rope to secure their prisoners as well as Uiey can, and 
lodge them in French or Spanish prisons. I have written 
something on this affair to Mr Hodgson, and sent to him 
the second passport for a cartel to Morlaix, supposing you 
to be out of town. The number of prisoners we now 
have in France is not easily ascertained. I suppose it 
exceeds one hundred ; yet you may be assured, that the 
number which may be brought over by the two cartels 
shall be fully exchanged, by adding to those taken by us as 
many as will make up the compliment out of those taken 
by the French, with whom we have an account since the 
exchange in Holland of those we carried in there. I wish 
therefore you would, as was proposed, clear your prisons 
of the Americans, who have been so long confined there. 
The cartels, that may arrive at Morlaix, will not be de- 

You may have heard, that accounts upon oath have 
been taken in America, by order of Congress, of the Brit- 
ish barbarities committed there. It is expected of me to 
make a school book of them, and to have thirtyfive prints 
designed here by good artists, and engraved, each expres- 
sing one or more of die different horrid facts, to be in- 
serted in the book, in order to impress the minds of chil- 
dren and posterity with a deep sense of your bloody, and 


insatiable malice and wickedness. Every kindness I hear 
of, done by an Englishman to an American prisoner, makes 
me resolve not to proceed in the work, hoping a recon- 
ciliation may yet take place. But every fresh instance of 
your devilism weakens that resolution, and makes me 
abominate the thought of a reunion with such a people. 
You, my friend, have often persuaded me, and I believed 
it, that the war was not theirs, nor approved by them. 
But their suffering it so long to continue, and the v/retched 
rulers to remain who carry it on, makes me think you 
have too good an opinion of them. 

Adieu, my dear friend, he. 



Philadelphia, February 24th, 1780. 

I forward the gazettes to Boston for you, as usual, 
without knowing when they will find a passage from 
thence. Your letters of September the 30th, and one 
from Arthur Lee, of December the 8th, came to hand 
two days ago, your prior being May the 2Gih, received 
August the 17lh. I hope you have got newspapers from 
me often, though I have written few letters. The Com- 
mercial Committee is impressed with your sentiments 
respecting drafts. They arc a mere name at present. I 
hope that branch will, for a time, be conducted by the 
Admiralty Board, till a new arrangement can be formed, to 
be executed by persons not members of Congress. We 
are about calling on the States according to their staples, 


SO that the prospect of suitable remittances is enlarged. 
This plan is consequent upon a resolve of December the 

I am, with great respect, Sir, &c. 


P. S. The Chevalier de la Luzerne expressed to me 
anxiety because we do not correspond in cypher. 1 early 
communicated to you from Baltimore a very good one, 
though a little tedious, like that of M. Dumas. I enclose 
you a sample at this time. 


Passy, March 4ih, 1780. 

M, Gerard, under whose care 1 understand the des- 
patches from Congress to ine were forwarded, is not yet 
arrived here, and I liave not received them. I cannot, 
therefore, at present answer anything that may be con- 
tained in them. He is, however, expected next week, 
and I may afterwards have time to write further by the 
Alliance. Mr Adams is come, but did not bring dupli- 
cates of those despatches. I have, in obedience to the 
order of Congress, which he produced to me, furnished 
him with one thousand louis d'ors. 1 have also given a 
credit to Mr Jay upon the correspondent of our banker at 
Madrid for an equal sum. 1 have not yet heard of his 
arrival there. His letter to me was froni C-idiz, of the 
28th of January. 

In my last I gave some account of the success of our 
little squadron under Commodore Jones. Three of tiieir 

VOL. III. 17 


prizes sent into Bergen, in Norway, were at the instance 
of the British Minister seized by order of the Court of 
Denmark, and delivered up to him. I have, with tlie 
approbation of the Ministry here, drawn up and sent to 
that Court a memorial reclaiming those prizes. It went 
through the hands of tlie French Minister residing there, 
who has delivered it ; but I have yet no answer. 1 un- 
derstand from tiie French Consul at Bergen, that the 
prizes remain still in that port, and it is said there is some 
hope that the order may be reversed, but this is doubtful, 
and I suppose the Congress will innnediately consider this 
important aflair, and give me such instructions upon it as 
they may judge proper. With this, I send a copy of the 

During the cruise a mortal quarrel took place between 
the Commodore and Captain Landais. On their arrival 
in Holland, M. de Sartine, Minister of the Marine, pro- 
posed to me the sending for Landais, in order to inquire 
into his conduct. I doubted the propriety d my med- 
dling in the aflair, but Captain Landais' friends conceiving 
it a measure that might be serviceable to him, and pressing 
it, I complied, and he came accordingly to Paris. I send 
the minutes of the inquiry for the consideration of Con- 
gress. 1 have not presumed lo condemn or acquit him, 
doubling as well my own judgment as my authorit}-. He 
proposes to demand a (-ourt Martial in America. In his 
absence irom the ship, the Commodore took the command 
of her, and on quilting the Texcl made a cruise through 
die channel to Spain, and is since returned to L'Orient, 
where the ship is now refuting in order to return to Amer- 
ica. Captain Landais has not ap[)lied to me to be re- 
placed in her, and I imagine has no thought of that kind. 


having before on several occasions expressed to me and 
others his dissatisfaction with his officers, and his incli- 
nation on that account to (jnit her. Captain Jones will 
therefore carry her home, unless he should he prevailed 
with to enter another service, which, however, I think is 
not likely, though he has gained immense reputation all 
over Europe for his ijravcry. 

As v^essels of war under my care create mo a vast 
deal of business, of a kind too, that I am unexperienced 
in, and by mv distance from the coast is very difficult to 
be well executed, I must repeat my earnest request, that 
some person of skill in such affairs may be appointed in 
the character of Consul, to take charge of them. I im- 
agine that much would by that means be saved in the 
expense of their various refittings and supplies, which to 
me appears enormous. 

Agreeable to the order of Congress, I have employed 
one of the- best artists here in cutting the dies for the 
medal intended for M. de Fleury. The price of such 
work is beyond my expectation, being a thousand livres for 
each die. 1 shall try if it is not possible to have the ethers 
done cheaper. 

Our exchange of prisoners has been for some time past 
at a stand, the English admiralty refusing, after long con- 
sideration, to give us any men in return for those who had 
been dismissed by our armed vessels on parole, and the 
actual prisoners we had being all exchanged. When the 
squadron of Commodore Jones arrived in the Texel with 
five hundred English prisoners, I proposed exchanging 
there ; but this v/as rjeclined, in expectation, as 1 heard 
from England, of retaking them in their way to France. 
The stay of our ships in Holland, through the favor of the 

J32 B£.\ja:\IL\ franklin. 

States, beiiig ))i'olona,e(J, and the squadrons stationed to in- 
tercept us being tired iA cruising ior us, the British Min- 
istry consented at length to a cartel with France, and 
brought Frenchiuen to Holland to exchange for those 
prisoners instead of Americans. These proceedings have 
occasioned our poor people to be kept longer in confine- 
ment, but the Minister of the Marine, having given orders 
that I should have as many English, another cartel 
charged with Americans is now daily expected, and 1 
hope in a few months to see them all at liberty. This 
for their sakes, and also to save expense ; for their ioQg 
and hard imprisonment induces many to hazard attempts 
of escaping, and those who get away through London and 
Holland, and come to Paris in their way to some sea- 
port in France, cost one with another, I l)elieve, near 
twenty pounds sterling a head. 

The delays in the exchange have 1 think been length- 
ened by the Admiralty, partly with the view of breaking 
the patience of our peo})le, and inducing them to enter the 
English service. They have spared no pains lor this pur- 
pose, and have prevailed with some. The number of 
these has not indeed been great, and several of them lost 
iheir lives in the blowing up of the Quebec. I am also 
lately informed from London, that the flags of truce with 
prisoners from Boston, one of which is seized as British 
property, will obtain no Americans in exchange ; the re- 
turned English being told, that they had no authority or 
right to make such agreements with rebels, he. This is 
not the only instance in which it appears, that a few late 
successes have given that nation another hou?- of insolence. 
And yel their aflairs upon the whole wear a very unprom- 
ising aspect. They have not yet been able to find any 


allies in Europe. Holland grows daily less and less dis- 
posed to comply with tlieir requisitions ; Ireland is not sat- 
isfied, but is making new demands ; Scotland, and the 
Protestants in England are uneasy, and the associations of 
counties in England, with committees of correspondence 
to make reforms in the government, all taken together, 
give a good deal of apprehension at present, even to their 
mad .Ministers, while their debt, on the point of amount- 
ing to the amazing sum of two hundred millions, hangs as 
a millstone upon the neck of their credit, and must ere 
long sink it beyond redemption. 

The disposition of this Oiurt continues as favorable 
as ever, though it cannot comply with all our demands. 
The supplies required, in the invoice sent me by the Com- 
mittee, appeared too great and numerous to be immedi- 
ately furnished. Three millions of livres were, however, 
granted me, with which, after deducting what will be 
necessary to pay the interest bills, and other late drafts of 
Congress, I could not venture on ordering more than ten 
thousand suits of clothes. With these, w^e shall have fif- 
teen thousund arms and accoutrements. A good deal 
of the cloth goes over in the Alliance, purchased by Mr 
Ross, which, it is computed, may make seven or eight 
thousand suits more. But although we have not obtained 
that invoice of goods, this Court being at immense ex- 
pense in the preparations for the next campaign, I have 
reason to believe that a part of those preparations will be 
employed in essential assistance to the United States, and 
I hope effectual, though at present I cannot be more par- 

I have sent to ]Mr Johnson the vote of Congress relative 
to the settlement of the accounts. He has expressed his 


readiness to enter on the service. Mr Deane is soon ex- 
pected here, whose presence is very necessary, and I hope 
with his help they may be gone througii without much 
difficulty. I could have wished it had suited Mr. Lee to 
have been here at the same time. 

The Marquis de Lafayette, who, during his residence 
in France, has been extremely zealous in supporting our 
cause on all occasions, returns again to fight for it. He is 
infinitely esteemed and beloved here, and I am persuaded 
will do everything in his power to merit a continuance of 
the same affection from America. 

With the greatest respect, I have the honor to be, Sic. 




Copenliagen, Marcli Stli, 1780. 

Were you a person less known and respected, I should 
have been quite at a loss on the subject of the letter, which 
I have had the honor of receiving from you, which did not 
come to hand till the 31st of January. I should have con- 
sidered it as a measure calculated to place us under a new 
embarrassment as painful as the first ; but there is i)o fear 
nor risk with such a sage as you are, Sir, generally res- 
pected by that universe, which you have enlightened, and 
known for that prevailing love for truth, which characterises 
the good man and the true philosopher. These are the 
titles, which will transmit your name to the remotest pos- 
terity, and in which I am particularly interested at the time, 


when tlie situation of affairs imposes on me the necessity 
of divesting ntyself of every public character, in writing to 
you, and only to aspire at appearing to you what I truly 
am, the passionate friend of peace, truth, and merit. 

This mode of thinking not only decides my personal sen- 
timents with respect to you, but also those 1 have respect- 
ing the unfortunate affair, which you have thought fit to 
mention to me, and which, from its commencement, has 
given me the utmost pain. You will readily agree with 
me. Sir, in granting that there are perplexing situations in 
which it is impossible to avoid displeasing one party. You 
are too equitable not to enter into ours. There would be 
no consolation in such cases, nor would the persons who 
have been led into them ever be forgiven, were it not 
that opportunities sometimes present themselves of being 
heard, and preventing in future such essential embar- 

The Baron de Blome will speak to you in confidence, 
and with the utmost freedom on this subject, and if my 
wishes can be accomplished I shall be recompensed for all 
my pains, and there will only remain the agreeable recol- 
lection of having had the satisfaction of assuring you, from 
under my hand, of that superior and perfect esteem with 
which 1 have the honor of being, Sir, &.c. 



Passy, iMaich IGih, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 
The Marquis de Lafiiyetie, our firm and constant friend, 
returning to America, I have written a long letter by him 


to the President, of which a copy goes by this ship. M. 
Gerard is since arrived, and I have received the des- 
patches you mentioned to me, but no letter in answer to 
mine, a very long one, by the Chevalier de la Luzerne, 
nor any acknowledgment that it came to hand. 

By the many newspapers and pamphlets I send, you will 
see the present state of European affairs in general. Ire- 
land continues to insist on complete liberty, and will proba- 
bly obtain it. The meetings of counties in England, and 
the committees of correspondence they appoint, alarm a 
good deal the Ministry, especially since it has been pro- 
posed to elect out of each committee a few persons to as- 
semble in London, which, if carried into execution, will 
form a kind of Congress, that will have more of the confi- 
dence and support of the people than the old Parliament. 
If the nation is not too corrupt, as I rather think it is, some 
considerable reformation of internal abuses may be ex- 
pected from this. With regard to us, the only advantage 
to be reasonably expected from it is a peace, the general 
bent of the nation being for it. 

The success of Admiral Rodney's Heet against our allies 
has a little elated our enemies for the present, and prob- 
. ably they will not now think of proposing it. If the 
approaching campaign, for which great preparations are 
making here, should end disadvantageously to them, they 
will be more treatable, for their debts and taxes are daily 
becoming more burthensome, while their commerce, the 
source of their wealth, diminishes, and though they have 
flattered themselves with obtaining assistance from Russia 
and other powers, it does not appear they are likely to 
succeed ; on the contrary, they are in danger of losing 
the neutrality of Holland. 


Their conduct with regard to the exchange of prison- 
ers has been very unjust. After long suspense and affected 
delays for the purpose of wearing out our poor people, 
they have finally refused to deliver us a man in exchange 
for those set at liberty by our cruisers on parole, A letter, 
which 1 enclose from Captain Mitchell, will show the treat- 
ment of the late flags of truce from Boston. There is no 
gaining anything from these barbarians by advances of 
civility or humanity. 

Enclosed I send for Congress the justification of this 
Court against the accusation published in the late English 

Willi ^reat esteem, &:r. 



l'a>sv. March 19th, 1780. 

I have just received the par.iphlet you did mc the honor 
to send me by M. Gerard, and have read it with pleasure. 
Not .only as die clear state of facts it does you honor, but as 
it proves the falsehood of a man, who also showed no re- 
gard to truth in what he said of me, "that I approved of the. 
propositions he earried over.''' The truth is this. His 
brother, Mr Pultney, came here with those propositions ; and 
after stipulating, that if I did not approve of them, I should 
not speak of them to any person, he communicated them to 
me. I told him frankly, on his desiring to know my senti- 
ments, that 1 nil) NOT approve of them, and that 1 7cas 
sure they would not be accepted in ^Jmerica. But, I said, 
there are two other Commissioners here ; I will, if you 
VOL. m. 18 


please, show your propositions to them, and you will hear 
their opinions. I will also show them to the ministry here, 
without whose knowledge and concurrence we can take no 
step in such affairs. No, said he, as you do not approve 
of them, it can answer no purpose to show them to any- 
body else ; the reasons that weigh with you will also weigh 
with thenj ; therefore 1 now pray that no mention may be 
made of my having been here, or my business. To this 
I agreed, and therefore nothing could be more astonishing 
to me, than to see in an American newspaper, that direct 
lie, in a letter from jMr Johnstone, joined with two other 
falsehoods relating to the time of the treaty, and to the 
opinion of Spain i 

In proof of the above I enclose a certificate of a I'riend 
of Mr Pullney's, the only person present at our interview ;- 

' TO B. VRANKf.lN. 

Dear Sir, 
I send you fidjoiiied the certilicate yon desire, and am iierfectly con- 
vinced, fiom conversations 1 have since had with Mr Pultney, that no- 
body was authorised to hold the language, which lias been imputed to 
him on that subject; and as I have a iiigli opinion of his candor and 
worth, 1 know it must be jiaiufiil to him to be brought into question in 
matters of fact with persons he esteems. I could wish that this matter 
may receive no further publicity, than what is necessary for your justi- 

fani,&i< W.ALEXANDER. 

Paris, March 19th, 1780. 
I do hereby certify wliom it may concern, that I was with Mr Pult- 
ney and Dr Franklin at Paris, when in a conversation between them, 
on the subject of certain propositions for a reconciliation with America, 
ofiered by Mr Pultney, Dr Franklin said, he did not approve of them, 
nor did he tliink they would be approved in America, but that he would 
communicate them to his colleagues and the Fiench ministry. This 
Mr Pultney opposed, saying that it would answer no good end, as he 
was persuaded, that what weighed with Dr Franklin would weigh also 
with them ; and therefore desired, that no mention might be made of 


and 1 do it the rather at this time, because I am informed 
that another calumniator (the same wlio formerly in his 
private letters to particular members accused you, with 
Messrs Jay, Duane, Langdon, and Harrison, of betraying 
the secrets of Congress in a correspondence with the min- 
istry) has made this transaction with jMr Pultney an article 
of accusation against me, as having approved the same 
propositions. He proposes, I understand, to settle in your 
government. I caution you to beware of him ; for in 
sowing suspicions and jealousies, in creating misunderstand- 
ings and quarrels among friends, in malice, subtility, and 
indefatigable industry, he has I thbk 110 equal. 

I am glad to see that you continue to preside in our new 
State, as it shows that your public conduct is approved by 
the people. You have had a difficult time, which required 
abundance of prudence, and you have been equal to the 
occasion. The disputes about the Constitution seem to 
have subsided. It is much admired here, and all over 
Europe, and will draw over many families of fortune to 
settle under it, as soon as there is a peace. The defects 
that may on seven years' trial be found in it can be amen- 
dedj when the time comes for considering them. 

With great and sincere esteem and respect I have the 

honor to be, &c. 


his having offered such propositions, or even of his having been here 
on such business ; but that the whole might be buried in oblivion, agree- 
able to what had been stipulated by Mr Pultney, and agreed to by Dr 
Franklin, before the propositions were produced ; which Dr Franklin 

jiccordinglv promised. 





\'eisaillus, IVIav lltii, 1780. 


The Baroi) de Goltz has warmly entreated nie to 
recommend to you the Baron d'Areridt, a Prussian officer 
in the service of the United States. I the more readily 
acquiesce in satisfying his demand, as you will certainly 
take a j)leasure in ohliging this ^Minister, as lar as in your 

The Baron d'Areudt will himself explain the different 
matters, in which he thinks he wants your aid witii Con- 

I have the honor of heing, with great sincerity, &ic. 



l\assy, May 16ili, 1780. 


J h.ave received the proch vtrhuuv, and other papers 
you did me the honor to send me, agreeable to the 11th 
article of the regulation of the 27th of September, 1778. 
These pieces relate to the taking of the ship Flora, 
whereof was Captain Henry Roodenberg, bound from 
Rotterdam to Dublin, and arrived at Cherbourg, in 
France, being taken the 7th day of April, by Captain 
Dowlin, commander of the American privateer the Black 

It appears to me from the above mentioned papers, that 
the said sliip Flora is not a good prize, the same belong- 
ing to the subjects of a neutral nation ; but that the cargo 


is really the property of the subjects of the Kiiii^ of Eng- 
land, though attempted to he masked as neutral. 1 do 
therefore request, that after the cargo shall be landed, you 
would cause the said ship Flora to be immediately re- 
stored to her captain, and that you would oblige the cap- 
tors to pay him his full freight according to his bills of 
lading, and also to make good all the damages he may have 
sustained by plunder or otherwise ; and 1 further request, 
that as the cargo is perishable, you would cause it to be 
sold immediately, and retain the produce deposited in your 
hands, to the end, that if any of the freighters, being sub- 
jects of their High Migiiiinesses the Stales-Generals, will 
declare upon oath, that certain parts of the said cargo were 
bona fide shi|)ped on their own account and risk, and not 
on the account and risk of any British or Irish subjects, the 
value of such parts may be restored ; or, that if the 
freighters, or any of them, should think fit to appeal from 
tliis judgment to the Congress, the produce so deposited 
may be disposed of according to their final determination. 
I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Passv, May "2(1, 1780. 

The Baron d'Arendt, Colonel in the armies of the Uni- 
ted States, having expressed to me a desire of returning to 
the service in America, though not entirely cured of his 
wound, which occasioned his voyage to Europe, I endeav- 
ored to dissuade him from the undertaking. But he 
having procured a letter to me from M. de Vergonnes, of 
which I send your Excellency a copy herewith, I have 


been induced to advance him tvventyfive louls d'ors towards 
enabling him to proceed. To justify his long absence, he 
intends laying before Congress some letters from William 
Lee, which he thinks will be sufficient for that jDurpose. 
With great respect, he. 



Passy, May 30lh, 1780. 

In my last, of the 27th instant, I omitted one thin^ I 
had intended, viz. to desire you would give absolute 
orders to your cruisers not to bring in any more Dutch 
vessels, though charged with enemy's goods, unless contra- 
band. All the neutral States of Europe seem at present 
disposed to change what had before been deemed the law 
of nations, to wit ; that an enemy's property may be taken 
wherever found ; and to establish a rule that free ships 
shall make free goods. This rule is itself so reasonable, 
and of a nature to be so beneficial to mankind, that I can- 
not but wish it may become general. And I make no 
doubt but that the Congress will agree to it, in as full an 
extent as France and Spain. In the meantime, and until 
I have received their orders on the subject, it is my inten- 
tion to condemn no more English goods found in Dutch 
vessels, unless contraband ; of which I thought it right to 
give you this previous notice, that you may avoid the 
trouble and expense likely to arise from such captures, 
and from the detention of them for a decision. With 
great regard, and best wishes for the success of your en- 

1 have the honor to be, &;c. 




Passy, Mav Slst, 1780. 


I wrote to your Excellency the 4lh of March past, to 
go by this ship, the Alliance, then expected to sail im- 
mediately. But the men refusing to go till paid their 
sjjares of prize money, and sundry difliculties arising with 
regard to the sale and division, she has been detained thus 
long to my great mortification, and I am yet uncertain 
wiien 1 shall be able to get her out. The trouble and 
vexation which these maritime affairs give me is incon- 
ceivable. I liave often expressed to Congress my wish 
to be relieved from them, and that some person better 
acquainted with them, and better situated, might be ap- 
pointed to manage tiiem ; much money as well as time 
would, I am sure, be saved by such an appointment. 

The Alliance is to carry some of the cannon long since 
ordered, and as much of the powder, arms, and clothing, 
(furnished by government here) as she, together with a 
frigate, the Ariel, we have borrowed, can take. I hope 
they may between them take the whole, with what has 
been provided by Mr Ross. This gentleman has, by 
what I can learn, served the Congress well in the quality 
and prices of the goods he has purchased. 1 wish it had 
been in my power to discharge his balance here, for which 
he has importuned me rather too much. We furnished 
him with about twenty thousand pounds sterling to dis- 
charge his first accounts, which he was to replace as soon 
as he received remittances from the Committee of Com- 
merce. This has not been done, and he now demands 
another nearly equal sum, urging as before, that the 


credit of the States as well as his own will be hurt by 
my refusal. 

Mr Bingham too complains of me for refusing some of 
his drafts, as very hurtful to his credit, though he owns he 
had no orders from Congress to authorise those drafts. I 
never undertook to provide for more than the payment of 
the interest bills of the first loan. The Congress have 
drawn on me very considerably for other purposes, which 
has sometimes greatly embarrassed me, but I have duly 
accepted and found means to pay their drafts ; so that 
their credit in Europe has been well supported. But'if 
every agent of Congress in different parts of the world is 
permitted to run in debt, and draw upon me at pleasure to 
support his credit, under the idea of its being necessary to 
do so for the honor of Congress, the difliculty upon me 
will be too great, and I may in fine be obliged to protest 
the interest bills. I therefore beg that a stop n«ay be put 
to such irregular proceedings. 

Had the loans proposed to be made in Europe suc- 
ceeded, these practices niight not have been so inconve- 
nient, but the number of agents from separate States run- 
ning all over Europe, and asking to borrow money, has 
given such an idea of our distress and poverty as makes 
every body afraid to trust us, I a;n niuch pleased to find 
that Congress has at length resolved to borrow of our own 
people, by making their future bills bear interest. This 
interest duly paid in hard u^.oney, to sucli as require hard 
money, will fix the value of ihe principal, and even make 
the i)ayment of the interest in hard money for the most 
part unnecessary, provided always that the quantity of prin- 
cipal be not excessive. 

A great clamor has lately been made here by some 


merchants, who say they have large sums in their hands 
of paper money in America, and that they are ruined by 
some resolution of Congress, which reduces its value to 
one part in forty. As I have had no letter explaining 
this matter, I have only been able to say, that it is proba- 
bly misunderstood, and that 1 am confident the Congress 
have not done, nor will do, anything unjust towards stran- 
gers, who have given us credit. I have indeed been almost 
ready to complain, that I hear so little and so seldom from 
Congress, or from the Committee of Correspondence, but 
I know the difhculty of communication, and the frequent 
interruption it meets in this time of war, I have not yet 
received a line this year, and the letters written by the 
Confederacy, as I suppose some must have been written 
by her, have not yet come to hand. 

1 mentioned, in a former letter, my having communi- 
cated to ]Mr Johnson of Nantes, the order of Congress 
appointing him to examine the account, and his accept- 
ance of the appointment. Nothing, however, has yet been 
done in pursuance of it ; for Mr Deane having written that 
he might be expected here by the middle of March, and 
as his presence would be very useful in explaining the 
mercantile transactions, I have waited his arrival to re- 
quest :\Ir Johnson's coming to Paris, that his detention 
here from his affairs at Nantes might be as short as possi- 
ble. Mr Deane is not yet come ; but as we have heard 
of the arrival of the Fendant in Martinique, in which ship 
he took his pa<isage, we imagine he may be here in some 
of the first ships from that island. 

The medal for M. do Fleury is done and delivered to 
his order, he being absent ; I shall get the others prepared- 
as soon as possible by the same hand, if I cannot find a 

VOL. III. 19 


cheaper equally good, which 1 am now inquiring after. 
Two thousand livres appear to mc a great sum for the 

With my last I sent a copy of my memorial to the Court 
of Denmark. I have since received an answer from the 
Minister of that Court for Foreign Affairs, a copy of which 
I enclose. It referred me to the Danish Minister here, 
with whom 1 have had a conference on the subject. He 
was full of professions of tlie good will of his Court to the 
United States, and would excuse the delivery of our prizes 
to the English; as done in conformity to treaties, which "it 
was necessary to observe. He had not the treaty to show 
mc, and I have not been able to find such a treaty on 
inquiry. After my memorial, our people left at Bergen 
were treated widi the greatest kindness by an order from 
Court, their expenses during the winter that they had 
been detained there all paid, necessaries furnished to 
them for their voyage to Dunkirk, and a passage thither 
found for them all at the King's expense. I have not 
dropped the application for a restitution, but shall continue 
to i)ush it, not without some hopes of success. I wish, 
however, to receive instructions relating to it, and I think 
a letter from' Congress to that Court might forward the 
business ; for I believe they are sensible they have done 
wrong, and are apprehensive of the inconveniences that 
may follow. Widi this I send the protests taken at Ber- 
gen against the proceeding. 

The Alliance, in her last cruise, met with and sent to 
America a Dutch ship, supposed to have on board an 
English cargo. The owners have made application to 
nie. 1 have assured them, that they might depend on.the 


justice of our courts, and that if liiey could prove their 
property there, it would be restored. JM. Dumas has writ- 
ten to me about it. I enclose his letter, and wish despatch 
may be given to the business, as well to prevent the incon- 
veniences of a misunderstanding with Holland, as for the 
sake of justice. 

A ship of that nation has been brought in here by the 
Black Prince, having an English cargo. I consulted with 
Messrs Adams and Dana, who informed me that it was an 
established rule with us in such cases to confiscate the 
cargo, but to release the ship, paying her freight, &c. 
This I have accordingly ordered in the case of this ship, 
and hope it may be satisfactory. But it is a critical time 
with respect to such cases, for whatever may formerly have 
been the law of nations, all the neutral powers at the in- 
stance of Russia seem at present disposed to change it, 
and to enforce the rule that free ships shall make free 
goods, except in the case of contraband. Denmark, Swe- 
den, and Holland, have already acceded to the proposi- 
tion, and Portugal is expected to follow. France and 
Spain, in their answers, have also expressed their appro- 
bation of it. I have, therefore, instructed our privateers 
to bring in no more neutral ships, as such prizes occasion 
much litigation, and create ill blood. 

The Alliance, Captain Landais, look two Swedes in 
coming hither, who demand of us for damages, one, up- 
ward of sixty thousand livres, and the other near five hun- 
dred pounds sterling ; and I cannot well see how the de- 
mand is to be settled. In the newspapers that I send, the 
Congress will see authentic pieces expressing the sense of 
the European powers on the subject of neutral navigation. 


I hope to receive the sense of C'ongress lor my future gov- 
ernment, and for the satisfaction of the neutral nations now 
entering into the confederacy, which is considered here as 
a great stroke against England. 

In truth, that country seems to have no friends on this 
side of the vvater ; no other nation wishes it success in its 
present war, hut rather desires to see it effectually hum- 
bled ; no one, not even their old friends the Dutch, will 
afford them any assistance. Such is the mischievous effect 
of pride, insolence, and injustice on the affairs of nations, 
as well as on those of private persons ! 

The English party in Holland is daily diminishing, and 
the States arc arming vigorously to maintain the freedom 
of their navigation. The consequence may possibly be a 
war with England, or a serious disposition in that mad 
nation to save what they can by a timely peace. 

Our cartel for the exchange of American prisoners has 
been some time at a stand. When our litde squadron 
brought near five hundred into Holland, England would 
not at first exchange Americans for them there, expect- 
ing to take them in their passage to France. But at 
length an agreement was made between the English and 
French ambassadors, and 1 was persuaded to give them 
up, on a promise of having an equal number of Eng- 
lish delivered to my order at Morlaix. So those were ex- 
changed lor Frenchmen. l?ut the English now refuse to 
take any English in exchange for Americans, that have not 
been taken by American cruisers. They also refuse to 
send me any Americans in exchange for their prisoners 
released, and sent home by the two flags of truce from 
Boston. Thus they give up all pretensions to equity and 


honor, and govern ihemselves by caprice, passion, and 
transient views of present interest. 

Be pleased to present my duty to Congress, and believe 
me to be with great respect, your Excellency's, k.c. 



Passy, June 1st, 1780. 

Commodore Jones, who by his bravery and conduct 
has done great honor to the American flag, desires to have 
that also of presenting a line to the hands of your Excel- 
lency. I cheerfully comply with his request, in recom- 
mending him to the notice of Congress, and to your 
Excellency's protection, though his actions are a more 
effectual recommendation, and render any from me un- 
necessary. It gives me, however, an opportunity of show- 
ing my readiness to do justice to merit, and of professing 
the esteem and respect with which I am 

Your Excellency's, k.c. 



Passy, June 5th, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 
The gendeman, vyhose name you wished to know, in one 
of your late letters, is M. fVesthuysen, Echevin et Conseiller 
de la ViUe de Harlem. I shall probably send an order to 
that place for some of the types, of which you have sent me 
the prices, before 1 leave Europe. I think them very good 
and not dear. 


A Dutch ship belonging to Messrs Little, Dale, h Co. 
of Rotterdam, being brought into France as having an En- 
glish cargo on board, I have followed your opinion with 
regard to the condemnation of the cargo, which I think the 
more right, as the English have in the West Indies confis- 
cated several of our cargoes found in Dutch ships. But 
to show respect to the declaration of the Empress of Russia, 
I have written to the owners of our privateers, a letter of 
which I enclose a copy, together with a copy of the judg- 
ment, for your use, if you hear of any complaint. 1 ap- 
prove much of the principles of the confederacy of the 
neutral powers, and am not only for respecting the ships as 
the house of a friend, though containing the goods of an 
enemy, but I even wish for the sake of humanity, that the 
law of nations may be further improved, by determining, 
that even in time of war, all those kinds of people who are 
employed in procuring subsistence for the species, or in 
exchanging the necessaries or conveniences of life, which 
are for the common benefit of mankind, such as husband- 
men on their lands, fishermen in their barques, and traders 
in unarmed vessels, shall be permitted to prosecute their 
several innocent and useful employments without interrup- 
tion or molestation, and nothing taken from them, even 
when wanted by an enemy, but on jjaying a fair price for 
the same. 

1 think you have done well to print the letter of Clinton, 
for though [ have myself had suspicions whether some 
parts of it were really written by him, yet I have no doubt 
of the facts stated, and think the piece valuable, as giving 
a true account of the state of British and American affairs 
in that quarter. On the whole, it has the appearance of a 
letter written by a general, who did not approve of the 


expedition he was sent upon, who had no opinion of the 
judgment of those who drew up his instructions, who had 
observed, that the preceding commanders, Gage, Burgoyne, 
Keppel, and the Howes, had all been censured by the jMin- 
isters for having unsuccessfully attempted to execute inju- 
dicious instructions with unequal force, and he therefore 
wrote such a letter, not merely to give the information con- 
tained in it, but to be produced in his vindication, when 
he might be recalled, and his want of success charged 
upon him as a crime ; though, in truth, owing to the folly 
of the ^Ministers, who had ordered him on impracticable 
projects, and persisted in them, notwithstanding his faithful 
informations, without furnishing the necessary number of 
troops he had demanded. In this view much of the letter 
may be accounted for, without supposing it fictitious ; and 
therefore if not genuine, it is ingeniously written. But 
you will easily conceive, that if the state of public facts it 
contains were known in America to be false, such a pub- 
lication there would have been absurd, and of no possible 
use to the cause of tlie country. 

I have written to M. Neufville concernins: the bills vou 


mention. I have no orders or advice about them, know 
nothing of them, and therefore cannot prudently meddle 
with them ; especially as the funds in my power are not 
more than sufficient to answer the Congress bills for inter- 
est and other inevitable demands. He desired to know 
whether I would engage to reimburse him, if he should 
accept and pay them ; but as 1 know not the amount of 
tliera, I cannot enter into any such engagement; for 
though, if they are genuine Congress bills, I am persuaded 
all possible care will be taken by Congress to provide for 
their punctual payment, yet there are so many accidents, 


by which remittances are delayed or intercepted in the 
time of war, that I dare not hazard for these new bills the 
possibility of being rendered unable to pay the others. 
With great esteem, 1 am, Sic. 



Versailles, June 30th, 1780. 


I did not until this day receive the letter, which you did 
me the honor to write to me on the 24th of this month. 

You request, in consequence of an application made to 
you by Mr Adams, that the orders given to the Chevalier 
de la Luzerne relative to a resolution of Congress of the 
18th of March last should be revoked, or at least sus- 
pended, as that Plenipotentiary is able to prove, that those 
orders are founded on false reports. 

Mr Adams on the 22d sent me a long dissertation on 
the subject in question, but it contains only abstract reason- 
ings, hypothesis, and calculations, which have no real 
foundation, or which at least do not apply to the subjects 
of the King, and in fine principles, than which nothing can 
be less analogous to the alliance subsisting between his 
Majesty and the United States. 

By this, Sir, you can judge that the pretended proofs 
mentioned by Mr Adams are not of a nature to induce us 
to change our opinion, and consequently cannot effect a 
revocation or suspension of the orders given to the Che- 
valier de la Luzerne. The King is so firmly persuaded, 
Sir, that your private opinion respecting the effects of that 
resolution of Congress as far as it concerns strangers, and 
especially Frenchmen, differs from that of Mr Adams, 


that he is not apprehensive of laying you under any em- 
barrassments by requesting you to support the representa- 
tions, which liis Minister is ordered to make to Congress. 
And that you may be enabled to do this with a complete 
knowledge of the case, his Majesty has commanded me 
to send you a copy of my letter to Mr Adams, the ob- 
servations of that Plenipotentiary, and my answer to him. 

The King expects that you will lay the whole before 
Congress, and his Majesty flatters himself that that as- 
sembly, inspired with principles different from those which 
Mr Adams has discovered, will convince his Majesty, that 
they know how to prize those marks of favor, which the 
King has constantly shown to the United States. 

However, Sir, the King does not undertake to point 
out to Congress the means, which may be employed to in- 
demnify the French, who are holders of the paper money. 
His Majesty, with respect to that, relies entirely on the 
justice and wisdom of that assembly. 
I have the honor to be, &:c. 



, Philadelphia, July 11th. 1780. 

After the repeated remon.stranccs, which you have 
made to Congress on the subject of bills of exchange, the 
enclosed resolution we are well aware will need an apol- 
ogy. We regret, that you should have so much trouble, 
and be put to so many expedients in matters of this kind, 
VOL. III. 20 


well knowing how delicate a point it is to solicit further 
advances, after so many have already been made. Con- 
gress, attending to vour letters and representations, have 
taken this step with reluctance ; but the present crisis, 
when not only the preparations for a vigorous campaign 
call for large expenditures, but the expectation of a co- 
operating force makes great additions necessary, has in- 
duced them to risk the sum mentioned. The bills will not 
be drawn faster than indispensable exigencies may require, 
and it is to be hoped, that this mode of commanding cash 
will not be again resorted to. 
We are, Sir, he. 



Philadelphin. July lltli, 1780. 


Congress having appointed the Honorable Henry Lau- 
rens to solicit a loan of money in the United Provinces of 
the Low Countries, in order to facilitate his success the en- 
closed resolution has been passed. We need say nothing 
to explain or urge it, except that it is thought a mark of 
attention and confidence due to those powers named in it, 
that their interest, if the state of politics inclines them to 
exert it, will have a good effect; and, that the want of 
money makes this loan a very capital object to the United 
States. You will, we are sure, give Mr Laurens every 
assistance in your power, and solicit the countenance of 
the Court where you reside to forward his negotiations. 

Until IVIr Laurens shall arrive, Mr Adams is commis- 


sioned and em])o\vered 10 undertake that business, and, 
in case of liis disability, Mr Dana is in like manner com- 
missioned and empowered. 

VV'e arc, Sir, your humble servants, 


Philadelphia, July lltli, 1780. 

We arc 10 communicate to you, that Congress enter- 
tain a favorable sense of the attention and services of 
Mons. de Chezaulx, his Most Christian Majesty's Con- 
sul at the port of Bergen in Norway, in the late affair of 
the prizes sent in there by the squadron commanded by 
Captain Jones, and we beg you will present, through the 
proper channel, the acknowledgment to be made for the 
polite respect shown to the interests of the citizens of 
these States. 

We are, Sir, your very humble servants, 



Philadclphii, July lltli, 1780. 

Mr George Anderson, of Virginia, having informed us of 
the humane and benevolent attention uniformly given by 
you to die cidzens of these States, who have been so un- 
fortunate as to be captivated at sea and carried into the 
ports of Portugal, we represented the same to Congress, 


to whom it gave much pleasure to know, that those men 
had found a patron and friend disposed to alleviate their 

The enclosed Resolve constitutes you an Agent of 
Congress, and you will, from time to time, receive powers 
and instructions from that body through this Committee. 
At present we need only say in general, that the affairs of 
the citizens of America, applying for relief in captivity, are 
committed to your discretion, and your countenance and 
advice in matters of business are solicited for others. 

We wish to learn from you in what manner you would 
be repaid, trusting that though the war in which this repub- 
lic is engaged oppresses it with expense, and calls now 
for all its resources, you will by no means fail in the end 
of compensation. 

You must be governed in your advances on account of 
these United States more by that economy, which their 
circumstances make essential, than by the liberality of your 
own habits, which American subjects in distress will prob- 
ably but too often stimulate. You ought to know that 
Doctor Franklin and others, who have advanced monies 
to Americans under the misfortune of captivity, have trans- 
mitted receipts regularly, so that due charges may be made 
against those who are in public service, and repayment 
may be had of those who are in condition to make it while 
in private employ. 

You will correspond with our Ministers and Agents in 
France, Spain, and Holland, whenever you may thereby 
promote the interests of these United States, for which you 
have manifested already so much regard. 

We are, Sir, your most humble servants, 



London, July 17tli, 1780. 

Mv Deal- Friend, 
Enclosed I send you a copy of a conciliatory bill,* which 
was proposed in the House of Commons on the 27th of 
last month. It was rejected. You and I have had so 

* Draft of a proposed Bill for Conciliation icitk .America. 
A Bill to invest the Crown with sufficient Powers to treat, consult, and 

finally to agree upon the Means of restoring Peace with the Prov- 
inces of North America. 

Whereas many unfortunate subjects of contest have of late years 
subsisted between Great Britain and the several Provinces of North 
America, iiereinafter recited, viz.. New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, 
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the 
three lower counties on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Caro- 
lina, South Carolina, and Georgia, which have brought on tlic calami- 
ties of war between Great Britain and the aforesaid provinces, to the 
end therefore that the further effusion of blood may be prevented, and 
that peace may be restored, may it please your Majesty that it be en- 
acted, and be it enacted by the Kings Most Excellent Majesty, by and 
with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and 
Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority 
of the samt, that it shall and may be lawful for his Majesty, by letters 
patent, under the great seal of Great Britain, to authorise and empower 
anv person or persons, to treat, consult, and finally to agree with any 
person or persons properly authorised on the part of the aforesaid 
provinces of North America, upon the means of restoring peace be- 
tween Great Britain and the aforesaid provinces, according to the pow- 
ers in this act contained. 

And be it further enacted, that in order to facilitate the good pur- 
poses of this act, his Miijesty may lawfully enable any such person or 
persons, so appointed by his Majesty's letters patent, as aforesaid, to 
order and proclaim a cessation of hostilities, on the part of his Majes- 
ty's forces, by sea and land, for any time, and under any conditions 
or restrictions. 

.\nd be it further enacted, that in order to l.ty a good foundation for 


much intercourse upon tlie subject of" restoring peace be- 
tween Great Britain and America, that I think there is 
nothing further leil to be said upon tiie subject. You will 
perceive by tlic general tenor oC the bill, that it proposes a 
general power to treat. It chalks out a line ol' negotiation 

a cordial reroncilialioH and lasting peace l)et\veeii Great Britain and 
the aforesaid provinces of North America, In- restoring- an amicable in- 
tercourse between the same as soon as possible, his Majesty may law- 
fully enable any such person or persons, so appointed by his Majesty's 
letters patent, as aforesaid, to enter into and to ratify from time to 
lime, any article or articles of intercourse and pacification, which jyti- 
cle or articles, so entered into and ratified from time to time, shall re- 
main in full force and eftect ior tiie certain term of ten years, from 
the first day of August, one thousand seven iiundred and eighty. 

Provided also, and be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, 
lliat in order to remove any obstructions, whicli may arise to the full 
and effectual execution of any article or articles of intercourse and 
])acification, as before mentioned, that it shall and may be lawful for 
his Majesty, by any instrument under his si?n manual, countersigned 
by one or more of his Majesty's i)rincipal Secretaries of State, to au- 
thorise and empower any such person or persons, so appointed by his 
Majesty's letters patent, as aforesaid, to suspend for the term of ten 
years from the first day of August, one thousand seven iiundred and 
eightv, the operation and efl'ect of any act or acts of Parliament, which 
are now in force, respecting the aforesaid provinces of T-Torlh .America, 
or any clause or clauses, proviso or provisos, in any s;ich act or acts 
of Parliament contained ; inasmuch as they, or any of tliem, may ob- 
struct the full effect and execution of any sucli article or articles of in- 
tercourse and pacification, which may be entered into and ratified as 
beforementioncd, between Great Britain and tiie aforesaid provinces of 
ISorth America. 

And be it further enacted, tiiat in order to establish perpetual recon- 
cilement and peace between Great Britain and the aforesaid provinces 
of North America, it is hereby required, and be it enacted, that all or 
any article or articles of intercourse and pacification, which siiall be 
entered into and ratified, for the certain term of ten years, as before- 
mentioned, shall from time to time be laid before the two Houses of 
Parliament, for their consideration, as the perpetual basis of reconcile- 


in very general terms. I remain in the sentiments which 
I ever have, and wiiich 1 heheve I ever shall entertain, viz. 
those of seeking peace upon honorable terms. I shall 
always be ready, and most desirous to join in any meas- 
ures which may facilitate peace. 

I am ever your most alfeciionate, 



Passy, July 26th, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 

1 wrote to Messrs de Neufville by the last post, in 
answer to theirs of the 1 4th. I hope they received my 
letter. It signified, that i could accept the bills drawn on 
Mr Laurens. 1 find by a vote of Congress on the 4th of 
March, that they then stopped drawing, and I am in- 
formed no more bills have been issued since. I could not 
relish those gendemen's proposal of mortgaging all our 
tstatesy for the little money Holland is likely to lend us. 
But I am obliged to them for their zeal in our cause. 

I received, and thank you for the protest relating to the 
election of the coadjutor. You seem to be too much 
afiected with the taking of Charleston. It is so far a 
damage to us, as it will enable the enemy to exchange a 
great part of the prisoners we had in our hands, otherwise 

ment ami i)eace between Great Britain and the aforesaid provinces of 
North America ; and that any such article or articles of intercourse and 
pacification as bcforcmcntioncd, when the same shall have been con- 
firmed in Fariianient, shall remain in full force and effect forever. 

And be it further enacted, that this act shall continue to bf in force 
until the thirtyfirst day of December, one thousand .'.even hundred aud 


their afl'airs will not be much advanced by it. They have 
successively been in possession of the capitals of five prov- 
inces, viz. Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Pennsyl- 
vania, New York, and Georgia ; but were not therefore in 
possession of the provinces themselves. New York and 
Georgia still continue their operations as free States ; and 
so I suppose will South Carolina. The cannon will be re- 
covered with the place ; if not, our furnaces are constantly 
at work in making more. The destroying of our ships by 
the English, is only like shaving our beards, which will 
grow again. Their loss of provinces is like the loss of a 
limb, which can never again be united to their body. I 
was sorry to hear of your indisposidon. Take care of 
yourself. Honey is a good thing for obstructions in the 
reins. I hope your health is by this time re-established. 

I am less committed than you imagine in the affair be- 
tween Jones and Landais. The latter was not dispos- 
sessed by me of his command, but quitted it. He after- 
wards took it into his head to resume it, which the 
former's too long stay at Paris gave him an opportunity 
of effecting. Captain Jones is going in the Ariel frigate 
to America, where they may settle their affairs as they 

The captain commandant of Dunkirk, who occasioned 
the loss of our despatches, is himself taken by the Eng- 
lish. I have no doubt of the truth of what Mr White 
told you about the facility with which the tax was col- 

The same Baron de WuliTen has not pleased me, having 
left little debts behind him unpaid, though I furnished him 
with twenty guineas. As he had been with his brother at 
Venloo, before he saw you, where he might get 
I wonder at his borrowing of you. 


; ' 


This will be delivered to you by his Excellency John 
Adams, whoui I earnestly recommend to your best civili- 
ties. He has never been in Holland, and your counsels 
will be of use to him. 

My best wishes attend you, being ever, &ic. 



Passv, August 9th, 1780. 


With this your Excellency will receive a copy of my 
last, dated ^lay 31st, the original of which, with copies of 
preceding letters, went by the Alliance, Captain Landais, 
who sailed the beginning of last month, and who I wish 
may arrive safe in America, being apprehensive that by 
her long delay in port, from the mutiny of the people, who 
after she was ready to sail refused to weigh anchor till tlieir 
wages were paid, she may fall in the way of the English 
fleet now out, or that her crew, who have ever been in- 
fected with disorder and mutiny, may carry her into Eng- 
land. She had, on her first coming out, a conspiracy for 
that purpose, besides which, her oflicers and Captain 
quarrelled with each other, the Captain with Conmiodore 
Jones, and dierc have been so many broils among them, 
that it was impossible to get the business forward wj)ile she 
staid, and she is at length gone, without taking the quan- 
tity of stores she was capable of taking, and was ordered 
to lake. 

I suppose the conduct of that Ciiptuiu will be inquired 

into by a Court Martial. Captain Jones goes home in die 

Ariel, a shij) we have borrowed of government here, and 

carries one hundred and fortysix chests of arms, and four 

vol,. III. 21 


hundred barrels of powder. To take the rest of the 
stores, I have been obliged to freight a ship, which being 
well armed and well manned will, I hope, get in safe. 
The clothes for ten thousand men are, I think, all made 
up ; there are also arms for fifteen thousand, new and 
good, with two thousand barrels of powder. Besides 
this, there is a great quantity of cloth I have bought, of 
which you will have the invoices sent by Mr Williams ; 
another large quantity purchased by Mr Ross ; all going 
in the same ship. 

The little authority we have here to govern our arftied 
ships, and the inconvenience of distance from the ports, 
occasion abundance of irregularities in the conduct of both 
men and officers. \ hope, therefore, that no more of those 
vessels will be sent hither, till our code of laws is per- 
fected respecting ships abroad, and proper persons ap- 
pointed to manage such affairs in the sea ports. They 
give me infinite trouble ; and though I endeavor to act for 
the best, it is without satisfaction to myself, being unac- 
quainted with that kind of business. 1 have often men- 
tioned the appointment of a consul or consuls. The 
Congress have, perhaps, not yet had time to consider that 

Having already sent you, by different conveyances, 
copies of my proceedings with the Court of Denmark, 
relative to the three prizes delivered up to the English, 
and requested the instructions of Congress, I hope soon 
to receive them. 1 mentioned a letter from the Congress 
to that Court, as what I thought might have a good effect. 
I have since had more reasons to be of that opinion. 

The unexpected delay of Mr Deane's arrival has 
retarded the settlement of the joint accounts of the com- 


mission, he liaving had the cl)ief management of ihe com- 
mercial part, and being therefore best able to explain 
difficulties. I have just now the pleasure to hear that the 
Fier Rodrique, with the convoy from Virginia, arrived at 
Bordeaux all safe except one tobacco ship, that foundered 
at sea, the men saved, and I have a letter from Mr Deane 
that he is at Rochelle, proposes to stop a few days at 
Nantes, and then proceed to Paris, when I shall endeavor 
to see that business completed with all possible expedition. 
Mr Adams has given offence to the Court here, by 
some sentiments and expressions contained in several of 
his letters written to the Count de V'ergenncs. 1 mention 
this with reluctance, though perhaps it would have been 
my duly to acquaint you with such a circumstance, even 
were it not required of me by the Minister himself. He 
has sent me copies of the correspondence, desiring I 
would conimunicate them to Congress ; and I send them 
herewith.* Mr Adams did not show me his letters be- 
fore he sent them. I have, in a former letter to Mr 
Lovell, mentioned some of the inconveniences that attend 
the having more than one Minister at the same Court, one 
of which inconveniences is, that they do not always hold 
the same language, and that the impressions made by one, 
and intended for the service of his constituents, may be 
effaced by the discourse of the other. It is true, that 
Mr Adams's proper business is elsewhere, but the time 
not being come for that business, and having nothing else 
here wherewith to employ himself, he seems to have en- 
deavored supplying what he may suppose my negotiations 
defective in. He ihinks, as he tells mc himself, diat 

* These letters will be found in Mr Adams's Correspondence in the 
mooth of June, 1780. 


America has been loo iVee in expressions ol" gratitude to 
France ; for that she is more obliged to us than we to 
her ; and that we should show spirit in our applications. 
J apprehend that he mistakes his ground, and that this 
Court is to be treated with decency and delicacy. The 
Kjng, a young and virtuous Prince, has, I am persuaded, 
a pleasure in reflecting on the generous benevolence of the 
action in assisting an oppressed people, and proposes it as 
a part of tiie glory of his reign. 1 think it right to in- 
crease this pleasure by our thankful acknowledgments, 
and that such an expression of gratitude is not only "our 
duty, but our interest. A different conduct seems to me 
what is not only improper and unbecoming, but what may 
be hurtful to us. Mr Adams, on the other hand, who, at 
the same time means our welfare and interest as much as 
J, or any man can do, seems to think a little apparent 
stoutness, and a greater air of independence and boldness 
in our demands, will procure us more ample assistance. 
It is for the Congress to judge and regulate their aflairs 

M. de Vergennes, who appears much offended, told me 
yesterday that he would enter into no further discussions 
with Mr Adams, nor answer any more of his letters. He 
is gone to Holland to try, as he told me, whether some- 
thing might not be done to render us less dependent on 
France. He says the ideas of this Court and those of 
the people in America are so totally different, that it 
Is impossible for any Minister to please both. He ought 
to know America better than I do, having been there 
lately, and he may choose to do what he thinks will best 
please the people of America. But when I consider the 
expressions of Congress in many of their public acts, and 


particularly in their letter to the Chevalier do la Luzerne, 
of the 24th of May last, I cannot but imagine that he 
mistakes the sentiments of a few for a general opinion. It 
is my intention, while I stay here, to procure what advan- 
tages 1 can for our country, by endeavoring to please this 
Court ; and I wish I could prevent anything being said 
by any of our countrymen here, that may have a contrary- 
effect, and increase an opinion lately showing itself in 
Paris, that we seek a difference, and with a view of 
reconciling ourselves to England. Some of them have of 
late been very indiscreet in their conversations. 

I have received, eight months after their date, the in- 
structions of Congress relating to a new article for guaran- 
tying the fisheries. The expected negotiations for a peace 
appearing of late more remote, and being too much occu- 
pied with other affairs, 1 have not hittierto proposed that 
article. But I purpose doing it next week. It appears so 
reasonable and equitable, that T do not foresee any diffi- 
culty. In my next I shall give you an account of what 
passes on the occasion. 

The silver medal ordered for the Chevalier de Fleury, 
has been delivered to his order here, he being gone to 
America. The others for Brigadier General Wayne, and 
Colonel Stewart, 1 shall send by the next good opportunity. 
The two thousand pounds I furnished to, Messrs Adams 
and Jay, agreeable to an order of Congress, for themselves 
and Secretaries, being nearly expended, and no supplies to 
them arriving, I have thought it my duly to furnish them 
with further sums, hoping the supplies promised will soon 
arrive to reimburse me, and enable me to pay the bills 
drawn on Mr Laurens in Holland, which I have engaged 
for, to save the public credit, the holders of those bills 


threatening othervvays to protest them. Messrs de Neuf- 
villes of Amsterdam had accepted some of them. I have 
promised those gentlemen to provide for the payment be- 
fore they become due, and to accept such others as shall 
be presented to me. I hear, and hope it is true, that the 
drawing of such bills is stopped, and that their number and 
value is not very great. 

The bills drawn in' favor of M. de Beaumarchais for 
the interest of his debt are paid. 

The German Prince, who gave me a proposal some 
months since for furnishing troops to the Congress, has 
lately desired an answer. I gave no expectation that it 
was likely you would agree to such a proposal, but being 
pressed to send it to you, it went with some of my former 

M. Fouquet, who was employed by Congress to instruct 
people in making gunpowder, is arrived here, alter a long 
passage ; he has requested me to transmit a memorial to 
Congress, which I do enclosed. 

The great public event in Europe of this year, is the 
proposal by Russia of an armed neutrality for protecting the 
liberty of commerce. The proposition is accepted now 
by most of the maritime powers. As it is likely to become 
the law of nations, that free ships should make free goods, 
I wish the Congress to consider, whether it may not be 
proper to give orders to their cruisers not to molest for- 
eign ships, but conform to the spirit of that treaty of 

The English have been much elated with their success 
at Charleston. The late news of the junction of the French 
and Spanish fleets, has a little abated their spirits ; and I 
hope that junction, and the arrival of the French troops 


and ships in North America, will soon produce news, that 
may afford us also in our turn some satisfaction. 

Application has been made to me here, requesting that 
I would solicit Congress to permit the exchange of Wil- 
liam John Mawhood, a Lieutenant in the 17th regiment, 
taken prisoner at Stony Point, July 15th, 1779, and con- 
fined near Philadelphia, or if the exchange cannot conven- 
iently be made, that he may be permitted to return to En- 
gland on his parole. By doing this at my request, the 
Congress will enable me to oblige several friends of ours, 
who are persons of merit and distinction in this country. 

Be pleased, Sir, to present my duty to Congress, and 
believe me to be, with great respect, &.c. 


-P. S. A similar application has been made to nie in 
favor of Richard Croft, Lieutenant in the 20th regiment, a 
prisoner at Charlottesville. I shall be much obliged by 
any kindness shown to that young gentleman, and so will 
some friends of ours in England, who respect his father. 

B. F. 


Passy, August 10th, 1780. 

I received on the 12th of June, 17S0, copies of your 
several favors of April the 29th, 1779, June the 13th, 
1779, July the 9th and 16th, August and September the 
16th, 1779. You will see by this what delays our cor- 
respondence sometimes meets with. I have lately receiv- 
ed two of fresher date, viz. February the 24th, and May 
the 4th. I thank you much for the newspapers and 


journals you have from time to time sent me ; I endeavor 
to make full returns in the same way. I could furnish a 
multitude of despatches with confidential informations 
taken out of the papers I send you, if I chose to deal in 
that kind of manufacture ; 1 know the whole art of it, for 1 
have had several volunteer correspondents in England, 
who have in their letters for years together communicated 
to me secrets of state, extracted from the newspapers, 
which sometimes came to hand in those papers hy the 
same post, and sometimes by the post before. You and 
I send the papers themselves. Our letters may apjrear 
the leaner, but what fat they have is their own. 

I wrote to you die I'Tth of October, and the IGth of 
March, and have sent duplicates, some of which I hope 
got to hand. You mention receiving one of September 
the 30th, and one of December the 30th, but not that of 
October the 17tb. The cypher you have communicated, 
either from some defect in your explanation, or in my 
comprehension, is not yet of use to me ; for I cannot un- 
derstand by it the little specimen you have written in it. If 
you have that of M. Dumas, which I left with Mr Morris, 
we may correspond by it when a kw sentences are re- 
quired only to bo written in cypher, but it is too tedious for 
a whole letter. 

1 send herewith copies of the instruments annulling the 
1 1th and 12th articles of the treaty.* The treaty printed 
here by the Court omitted them, and ncmibered the subse- 
quent articles accordingly. 

I write fully to the President. The frequent hinderan- 
ces the Committee of Correspondence meet with in writing 

* For these instruments, see the Correspondence of the Conunis- 
sioners in Paris, Vol I. p. 432. 


as a committee, which nppear from the excuses in your 
particular letters, and the many parts of my letters, that 
have long been unanswered, incline me to think, that your 
foreign correspondence would be best managed by one 
secretary, who could Write when he had an opportunity, 
without waiting for the concurrence or opinions of his 
brethren, who cannot always be got conveniently together. 
My chief letters will, ih«-efore, for the future be addressed 
to the President, till further orders. 

I send you enclosed some more of Mr Hartley's letters. 
He continues passionately to desire peace with America, 
but wishes we could be separated from France. 

With great esteem, &:c. 



Philadelphia, August 15th, 1780. 


Though I cannot ]>rocure the signatures of the Com- 
mittee of Foreign Affairs at this moment, nor the resolve 
of Congress respecting bills to be drawn on you for one 
hundred thousand dollars, passed two or three days ago, 
the bills payable at ninety days sight, yet I should be 
blameable if I did not thus far notify you. 7'lie breach 
upon our taxes at the southward by the possession, which 
the enemy have there, made this disagreeable step neces- 
sary for the express purpose of s'lpporlinic General Gates 
in thai department. 

Notwithstanding the mention made in our journals long 
ago of giving you a Secretary, no vote has lately been 
taken for the purpose. 

VOL. III. 22 


Mr Laurens will be able, on any questions from you 
in corresponding, to give you whatever the gazettes do not 
convey. I am, Sir, your most humble servant, 


For the Committee of Foreign Affairs, 

P. S. August 21th, 1780. I now add the resolves. 


Spptember 7tl), 1780. 


With triplicate and duplicate of former dates I have to 
enclose to you some further proceedings of Congress, 
respecting bills of exchange drawn upon you, and to ac- 
knowledge the receipt of your letter of May the 31st. I 
think I can venture now to assure you, that not a single 
draft more will be made upon you, let the occasion be 
ever so pressing ; but you must be entreated to work with 
all energy as to the past. You cannot conceive of the 
whole train of necessities, which led to such decisions, 
after what you had vvi-itten. Congress have lately called 
for three millions more than formerly, estimating in silver, 
to be paid by the last of December. Nothing but the 
weight of taxes will put an end to the levity with which 
our currency is treated. 

New York has empowered its delegates to cede part of 
her western claims, and it is recommended to others to 
relinquish also a portion, and Maryland is anew invited to 
close the ratification of the confederating articles. We 
must as a whole show more vigor than of late. 

I am, Sir, your most humble servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 



Passy, October 2d, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 

I received duly your several letters of the 12th, 15th, 
17th, 19th, and 2lst of September. I am much pleased 
with the intelligence you sent me, and with tlie papers you 
have had printed. 

Mr Searle is a military officer in the Pennsylvania 
troops, and a member of Congress. He has some com- 
mission to execute for that province, but none that I know 
of from Congress. He lias an open letter for you from 
Mr Lovell, which he has shown me. It is full of expres- 
sions of his c.'^teem ; and I understand from Mr Searle, 
that you stand exceedingly well with the Committee and 
with the Congress in general. I am sorry to see any 
marks of uneasiness and apprehension in your letters. 
M. Chaumont tells me, that you want some assurance of 
being continued. The Congress itself is changeable at 
the pleasure of their electors, and none of their servants 
have, or can hav6, any such assurance. If, therefore, any- 
thing better for you, and more substantial should offer, 
nobody can blame you for accepting it, however satisfied 
they may be with your services. But as to the continu- 
ance of what you may enjoy, or of something as valuable in 
the service of the Congress, I think you may make your- 
self easy, for your ajipointment seems more likely to be 
increased than diminished, though it does not belong to 
me to promise anything. 

Mr Laurens was to sail three days after Mr Searle, who 
begins to fear he must be lost, as it was a small vessel he 
intended to embark in. He was bound directly to Hol- 


I enclose some extracts of letters from two French offi- 
cers of distinction in the army of M. de Rochambeaii, 
which are pleasing, as they mark the good intelligence that 
subsists between the troops, contrary to the reports circu- 
lated by the English. 

They will do perhaps for your Leyden Gazette. 
With great esteem and affection, I am ever, &,c. 


Passy, October 9th, 1780. 

Dear Sir, 

I received yours of the 29th of September and 3d of 
October. It is a very good addition you have made to 
your Memoir for the Ministers of Russia and Sweden. I 
am glad to find you are again on such good terms with the 
Ambassador, as to be invited to his comedy. 1 doubt not 
of your continuing to cultivate that good understanding. I 
like much your insertions in the gazettes. Such things 
have good effects. 

Your information relative to the transactions at Peters- 
burgh and in Denmark are very hiteresting, and afforded 
me a good deal of satisfaction, particularly the former. 
Mr Searle will have the pleasure of Seeing you. I recom- 
mend him warmly to your civilities. He is much your 
friend, and will advise Mr Laurens to make you his secre- 
tary, which 1 hope you will accept. I have given it as my 
opinion, that Mr L. can nowhere find one better qualified, 
or more deserving. The choice is left to that Minister, 
and he is empowered to give a salary of £500 sterling a 
year. I am in pain on account of his not being yet ar- 


rived, but I hope you will see him soon. I request you 
would find means to introduce Mr Searle to the Portu- 
guese Ambassador. Pray consider the enclosed papers, 
and after advising with your friend, give me your opinion 
as to the manner of the application to the States-General, 
wljfther I should make it through their Ambassador, or 
directly with a letter to the Grand Pensionary, or in what 
other manner. You know we wrote to him formerly, and 
received no answer. 

With great esteem, I am, &;c. 


P. S. You say nothing of Mr Adams ? How do you 
stand with him ? What is he doing ? 


Philadelphia, October 2Sth, 1780. 


A Committee was appointed on the Gth to draft "a letter 
to our Ministers tit the Courts of Versailles and .Madrid, to 
enforce the instructions given by Congress to Mr Jay, by 
their resolutions of the 4th instant, and so to explain the 
reasons and principles on which the same are founded, 
that they may respectively be enabled to satisfy those 
Courts of the justice and equity of the intentions of 

That Committee reported a draft of a letter to Mr .lay, 
"and that a copy of it be communicated to Doctor Frank- 
lin, together with the resolution directing the draft." 

There is no member of the Committee for Foreign 
Affairs attending Congress but myself, nor have the Com- 


mittee had a secretary or a clerk since T. Paine's resig- 
nation. I must entreat you, therefore, Sir, to excuse the 
economy of my request, that you would transmit to Mr 
Jay all the papers which happen to reach you directed for 
him, taking copies of such as are left open, for your infor- 
mation. I persuade myself you will readily communicate 
to Mr Adams what appears so much connected with his 
commission, though it has not been specially ordered by 
the report of the Committee on the draft. 
I am. Sir, your most humble servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


Passv, November 7tli, 1780. 

I understand that Mr Laurens, an American gentleman, 
for whom I have a great esteem, is a prisoner in the Tower, 
and that his health suffers by the closeness and rigor of his 
confinement. As I do not think that your affairs receive 
any advantage from the harshness of this proceeding, I 
take the freedom of requesting your kind interposition, to 
obtain for him such a degree of air and liberty, on his 
parole or otherwise, as niay be necessary for his health 
and comfort. The fortune of war, which is daily chang- 
ing, may possibly put it in my power to do the like good 
office for some friend of yours, which I shall perform with 
much pleasure, not only for the sake of humanity, but in 
respect to the ashes of our former friendship. 
With great regard, I have the honor to be, &z;c. 




Uanipstead, November 27th, 17S0. 

Dear Sir, 

I am much ashamed to ihiiik that I shall appear so dila- 
tory in answering the favor of your letter, but the truth is, 
I was not in town when the messenger left it in Cork 
Street, and by the neglect of my servants I received it 
only on Sunday last. I went immediately to the Tower, to 
know from Mr Laurens himself if he had any cause of com- 
plaint, and if he had availed himself of the indulgence al- 
lowed him by the Secretary of State, of walking within the 
Tower whenever it was agreeable to himself. His answer 
to me was full and frank to tiie questions, that he had re- 
ceived every reasonable indulgence since his confinement, 
and that by the liberty allowed him of walking, he found his 
health much mended. He said, at the same time, that he 
had always thought himself highly honored by the distin- 
guished place of his confinement, and regretted much it 
was not in his power to make known to all the world, the 
acknowledgments he had more than once made to me 
upon this subject. 

I beg you will do me the favor to communicate these 
particulars to I^ord George Germain as soon as con- 

I have the honor to be, dear Sir, k.c. 




London, November 29(1), 1780, 

I have received the honor of your letter, in which you 
acquainted me, that you understood that the health of Mr 
Laurens suffered by the closeness and rigor of his confine- 
ment in the Tower, and after complaining of the harshness 
of the proceeding, you request me to endeavor to obtain 
for Mr Laurens such a degree of air and liberty, as may 
be necessary for his health and comfort. The enclosed 
letter, which I received from the Lieutenant Governor of 
the Tower, will show that I have not been inattentive to 
your request, and at the same time prove, that the intelli- 
gence you receive of what passes in this country, is not 
always to be depended on for its accuracy and correctness. 
I have the honor to be, Sac 



In Congress, November 29th, 1780. 

The letters to His Most Christian Majesty, which ac- 
company these instructions, you will deliver without loss 
of time ; you will on all occasions, and in the strongest 
terms, represent the unalterable resolutions of these United 
States to maintain their liberties and independence, and 
invariably to adhere to the alliance at every hazard, and in 
every event. That the misfortunes of the last campaign, 
instead of repressing, have redoubled their ardor. That 
Congress are resolved to employ every resource in their 


power to expel the enemy from every part of the United 
States, by the most vigorous and decisive co-operation witli 
the marine and troops of their iiiustrions ally ; that they 
have called for a powerful army and ample supplies of 
provisions, and tliat the States are disposed efteclually to a 
coiBj)liance with their requisitions. That if, in aid of our 
own exertions, the Court of Spain can be prevailed on to 
assume a naval superiority in the American seas, to furnish 
the arms, ammunition, and clothing; specified in the esti- 
mate herewith transmitted, and to assist us with the loan 
mentioned in the letter, we Halter ourselvrs, that under 
the divine blessing the war must be speedily terminated, 
with glory and advantage to both nations. To procure 
these necessary aids you will employ unremitted attention 
and your iitniost abilities ; your own knowledge of our 
circumstances, and the fiict suggested in the letter, will 
supply you with abundant argument to enforce our requi- 

Vou will give Colonel Palfrey, late Paymaster Gene- 
ral for our armies, and now om* Consul in France, all the 
support which is ne^cessary for the exercise of his Consular 
functions, as well as for the effectual execution of the 
special authority and instructions, which he will communi- 
cate. The sufferings of our army for the want of the 
clothing and arms, which the grant of His Most Christian 
Majesty, and your own despatch gave us reason to expect, 
and the absolute and increasing necessity of tlieir being 
immediately forwarded to give efficacy to our future oper- 
ations, will especially impress upon you the dangerous 
consequences of a further disappointment. 

With respect to the loan, we foresee, that the sum we 
VOL. III. 23 


ask will be greatly inadequate to our wants. We wish, 
however, to depend as much as possible on our internal 
exertions. In this negotiation the state of our finances 
requires, that you should endeavor to procure as long a 
respite after the war for payment of the principal as may 
be in your power. You may agree for an interest not 
exceeding the terms allowed or given on national security, 
in endeavoring to suspend the discharge of the interest for 
two or three years if possible. 

The loan must prove ineffectual, unless the specie is 
actually remitted. Experience has shown, that the nego- 
tiations of bills is attended with insuperable loss and dis- 
advantage. His Most Christian Majesty, we are persuad- 
ed, will see in the strongest light the necessity of des- 
patching an effective naval armament to the American 
seas. This is a measure of such vast moment, that your 
utmost address will be employed to give it success. By 
such a conveyance the specie may be remitted by differ- 
ent ships of war with a prospect of safety. 

You are instructed to procure a correspondence with 
Monsieur Stephen d'Andiberi Caille, Consul for unrep- 
resented nations at the Court of the Emperor of Morocco. 
Assure him in the name of Congress, and in the most 
respectful terms, that we entertain a sincere disposition to 
cultivate the most perfect friendship with the Emperor of 
Morocco, and are desirous of entering into a treaty of 
commerce with him, and that we shall embrace a favorable 
opportunity to announce our wishes in form. You are to 
take upon yourself, as far as may be consistent with your 
present functions, the office of adjusting preliminaries for a 
treaty with that Prince, according to the articles herewith 
forwarded ; provided, that you shall conceive it for the 


honor anil interest of the United Stales to make siicli 
overtures, and it shall he agreeable to the Court at which 
you reside. 

1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



Passv, December 2<I, 1780. 


I duly received your several lavors of August the loth, 
and September the Tih, with tlie resolves of Congress for 
drawing on nie bills extraordinary, to the amount of near 
three hundred thousand dollars. To keep up the credit 
of Congress I had already engaged for those drawn on 
Mr Laurens. \ou cannot conceive how mucii these 
things perplex and distress me : for the practice of this 
government being yearly to apportion the revenue to the 
several expected services, any after demands made, which 
the treasury is not furnished to supply, meet with great 
difficulty, and are very disagreeable to the Ministers. To 
enable me to look these drafts in the face, 1 have agreed 
to a proposal contained in the enclosed letter to the Presi- 
dent of furnishing provisions to the King's forces in Amer- 
ica, which proposal I hope will be approved and executed, 
and that the Congress will strictly comply with the as- 
surance you iiave given me, not to draw on me any 
more without first knowing that they have funds in my 

I wrote to you more fully by Captain Jones. He sailed 
sometime since in the Ariel, but met with a severe storm, 


that entirely dismasted liini, and obliged him to put back 

for France. He has been long refitting, but will sail again 

soon. Every thing goes well here. 

With 2;reat esleein, &c. 



I'iissv, l><'C(,nibci -^ii, 178(!. 

The many nuilual advantages, llial must arise frora car- 
rying into execuiion the jiroposition already communicated 
to Congress, of furnishing provisions to the King's forces 
in America, to ho paid for here, have, I rriake no doubt, 
already induced them to begin diat operation. But as the 
proposition has lately bi;en renewed to me, on occasion oi 
my requesting further aids of money, to answer the unex- 
pected drafts drawn upon me ordered by the resolutions of 
May and August last, which drafts it is absolutely necessary 
1 should find funds to pay ; and as the Congress have long 
desired to have the means of forming funds in Europe, 
and an easier, cheaper, and safer method cannot possibly 
be contrived, and as 1 see by the journals of February, 
that the several Stales were to furnish provisions in quan- 
tities instead of supplies in money, whereby much will be 
in die disposition of Congress, 1 (latter myself that they 
will not disapprove of my engaging in their behalf with the 
Minister of the Finances here, that they will cause to be 
delivered for the'King's land and sea forces in North Am- 
erica such provisions, as may be wanted from time to time, 
to the amount of four hundred thousand dollars, the said 
provisions to he furnished at the current prices, for which 
they might be bought with silver specie. 


1 have conslanilv done mv utmost to su[)i)oit the credit 
of Congress, by procuring wherewith punctually to pay all 
their drafts, and I have no doubt of their care to support 
mine in this instance by fulfdling honorably my engage- 
ment ; in which case, receipts in due form should be taken 
of the person to whom the provisions arc delivered in the 
several States, and those receipts sent to me here. 

With great respect, &c. 


P. S. This value, 4U0,000 dollars, is to be considered 
as exclusive of any provisions already furnished, but the 
receipts for those should also be sent me, if not paid for 


Fassv, December 3d, 1780. 


I duly received the letter your Excellency did me the 
honor of writing to me on the 12th of July past, by Mr 
Searle, and have paid the bills drawn on me by order of 
Congress in favor of the President and Council of Penn- 
sylvania, for one thousand pounds sterling, which were pre- 
sented by him. He is at present in Holland. 

The news of iMr Laurens having been taken must have 
reached you long since ; he is confined in the Tower, but 
of late has some more liberty for taking air and exercise 
than first was allowed hini. Certain papers found with 
him relating to the drafts of a treaty proposed in Holland, 
have been sent over to the Stadtholder, who laid them be- 
fore their High Mightinesses, who communicated them to 
the government of the city of Amsterdam, which justified 


the transaction. This has drawn iVorn England a memo- 
rial, delivered by Sir Joseph Yorke, demanding that the 
Pensionary and Magistrates of that city shonld be pun- 
islied, and declaring that the King will resent a refusal of 
the States to comply with this demand. What answer will 
be given to this insolent memorial we do not yet know. 
But I hear it has produced much displeasure in Holland, 
and it is thought to have occasioned a more prompt acces- 
sion to the armed neutrality, whicli had before met with 
obstructions from the English party there. 

We have met with a variety of unaccountable delays and 
difficulties in the affair of shipping the clothing and stores. 
The Alliance went away without taking her part. The 
Ariel sailed, but met a storm at sea that dismasted her, and 
obliged her to retin-n to France. Slie is nearly again ready- 
to sail. iMr Ross, with his cargo of clothes in the Duke of 
Leinster, sailed under convoy of the Ariel, but did not re- 
turn with her, and 1 hope may get safe to America. The 
great ship we hired to come to L'Orient, and take in the 
rest of what we had to send, has been long unexpectedly- 
detained at Bordeaux. I am afraid the army has suffered 
for want of the clothes ; but it has been as impossible for 
me to avoid, as it was' to foresee these delays. 

The late Minister of the Marine here, M. de Sartine, is 
removed, and his place sup})lied by M. le Marquis de Cas- 
tries. But this change does not effect the general system 
of the Court, which continues favorable to us. 

I have received a copy of the resolutions of Congress ol 
the 19th of May, and the 9lh, 15th, 23d, and 30th of Au- 
gust, directing bills to be drawn on me for near 300,000 
dollars. 1 shall accept the bills, hoping the Congress will 
approve of, and readily comply with the pro[)Osition, con- 


tainetl in a letter to your Excellency, accompanying this, 
dated the 2d instant. Probably an answer may arrive 
here before many of those bills shall become due, as few 
of them are yet arrived. If that answer ratifies the agree- 
ment I have made, 1 shall have no difliculty in finding 
mesNis to pay the rest. If not, 1 shall scarce be able to 
bear the reproaches of merchants, that 1 have misled them 
to their loss by my acceptations, which gave a promise of 
payment, Uiat not being fulfilled, has deranged their affairs, 
to say nothing of the power I am told the Consul's Court 
here has over the persons, even of Ministers, in the case 
of bills of exchange. Let me, therefore, beg your Excel- 
lency to use your endeavors with Congress, that this mat- 
ter may be immediately attended to. 

Mr Jay, no dbubt, has acquainted you with his (iillicul- 
ties respecting the drafts upon him. I am sorry I cannot 
extricate him, but I hope he will still find means. 

The Mars, an armed ship beloiiging to the State of 
ISIassachusetts, in her way to France, took and sent to 
New England a Portuguese ship bound to Cork, with salt, 
belonging to some mercliants there. The Portuguese Cap- 
tain, who is brought in here, complains heavily of ill usage 
and plunder, besides taking his vessel, and the Ambassador 
of that nation has communicated to nie these complaints, 
together with all the papers proving the property of the 
vessel, &.C. representing at the same time the good dispo- 
sition of the Queen towards our States, and his wishes tliat 
nothing might lessen it, or tend to prevent or delay a com- 
plete good understanding between the two nations. I ad- 
vised that the owners should send over their claim, and 
empower some person to prosecute it, in which case I did 
not doubt our courts would do them justice. 1 hope the 


Congress may think fit to take some notice of this affair, 
and not only forward a speedy decision, but give orders to 
our cruisers not to meddle with neutral ships for the future, 
it being a practice apt to produce ill blood, and contrary to 
the spirit of the new league, which is approved by all Eu- 
rope ; and the English property found in such vessels will 
hardly pay the damages brought on us by the irregular 
proceedings of our Captains, in endeavoring to get at such 

With the greatest respect, 1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



;/ , , •, Philadelphia, December 21st, 1780. 

The bearer, William Palfrey, our late Paymaster Gen- 
eral, has been appointed Consul in France, with powers 
adequate to a general agency in our commercial concerns 
there. But, while I take up my pen to introduce him to 
your patronage, I ought to use it rather, perhaps, by way 
of apologising for myself, in the line of a member of the 
Committee of Foreign Affairs, from whom you will find 
no letter. There was a prospect of much business being 
committed to you by this opportunity, but it was alto- 
gether depending upon the President and Secretary to 
transmit it. which, it seems, they were prevented from 
doing, by an arrangement being but partly accomplished, 
which Congress has thought fit to connect with those 
affairs. This proceeding is of a nature not to admit of 
my enlarging upon it, because -neither my head nor heart 
suggests anything of eulogium, and my conscience forbids 
me to pursue the usual style of minorities. 


The Journals which 1 send you will show that we lia\ e 
had no letter from you since that of May last, except 
two short ones lately, respecting the private concerns of 
two officers, Baron d'Arendt, and another, whose name is 
not now in my memory. Colonel Palfrey will be able to 
givGi^ou information additional to the gazettes. 
I am, Sir, your most humble servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


In Congress, December 27lli, 1780. 


Since your last instructions* Congress have thought it 
expedient to send Colonel John Laurens, with powers to 
negotiate specially the important affairs to which they more 
immediately relate. This gentleman, from the nature of 
his services and situation, has had opj)ortunities of informa- 
tion, which peculiarly qualify him for giving to His Most 
Christian Majesty a more lively idea of our circumstances, 
of our indispensable wants, and of the great advantages 
which must result to the allies from his Majesty's comply- 
ing with our request. 

The negotiation is, besides, so critically imi)ortant, that 
it was deemed highly requisite by the mission of this 
special Minister, to guard against the accident of your want 
of health, and the consequent delay in making the ap- 

Notwithstanding this appointment, should the duplicates 

* See above, p. 176. 
VOL. III. 24 


of the despatches reach you before this Minister's arrival, 
you will consider it as the desire of Congress, that you 
take, with all possible expedition, every step in your power 
for effecting the business, or at least for disposing His Most 
Christian Majesty and his Ministers to take a favorable 
impression from the representation which Colonel Laurens, 
from his advantages of fuller information, may be better 
able to make. 

It is intended, and it is well known to be his own dispo- 
sition, to avail himself of your information and influence, 
and Congress doubt not that the success of this measure 
will be much promoted by the assistance he will derive 
from you ; and they desire you to consider your attention 
to him as a matter, which will be very satisfactory to Con- 
gress and advantageous to your country. 
I. have the honor to be, he. 



Passy, February 13th, 1781. 

1 have just received from Congress their letter for the 
King, which I have the honor of putting herewith into the 
hands of your Excellency. I am charged at the same time, 
to "represent in the strongest terms, the unalterable resolu- 
tion of the United States to maintain their liberties and in- 
dependence ; and inviolably to adhere to the alliance at 
every hazard, and in every event; and that the misfortunes 
of the last campaign, instead of repressing, have redoubled 
iheir ardor ; that Congress are resolved to employ every re- 
source in their power to expel the enemy from every part 


of the Tnited States, by the most vigorous and decisive 
co-operation with marine and other forces of their illustri- 
ous ally ; that they have accordingly called on the several 
States for a powerful army and ample supplies of provis- 
ions ; and that the States are disposed effectually to 
comply with tiieir requisitions. That, if in aid of their 
own exertions, the Court of France can be prevailed on to 
assume a naval superiority in the American seas, to furnish 
tlie arms, ammunition, and clothing, specified in the esti- 
mate heretofore transmitted, and to assist with the loan 
mentioned in the letter, they Hatter themselves, that under 
the divine blessing, the war must speedily be terminated, 
with glory and advantage to both nations." 

By several letters to me from intelligent persons, it ap- 
pears, that the great and expensive exertions of the last 
year, by which a force was assembled capable of facing 
the enemy, and which accordingly drew towards New 
York, and lay long near that city, was rendered ineffectual 
by the superiority of the enemy at sea, and that their 
successes in Carolina had been chiefly owing to that su- 
periority, and to the want of the necessary means for 
furnishing, marching, and paying the expense of troops 
sufficient to defend that province. The Marquis de La- 
fayette writes to me, that it is impossible to conceive, 
without seeing it, the distress which the troops have 
suffered for want of clothing, and the following is a para- 
graph of a letter from General Washington, which I ought 
not to keep back from your Excellency, viz. " I doubt 
not that you are so fully informed by Congress of our po- 
litical and military State, that it would be superfluous to 
trouble you with anything relative lo eidier. If I were 
to speak on topics of the kind, it would be to show that 


our present situation makes one of two things essential 
to us; a peace, or the most vigorous aid of our allies, 
particularly in the article of money. Of their disposition 
to serve us, we cannot doubt; their generosity will do 
everything which their means will permit." They had in 
America great expectations, I know not on what founda- 
tion, that a considerable supply of money would be ob- 
tained from Spain ; but that expectation has failed, and 
the force of that nation in those seas has been employed 
to reduce small forts in Florida, without rendering any 
direct assistance to the United States ; and indeed the 
long delay of that Court, in acceding to the treaty of com- 
merce, begins to have the appearance of its not inclining to 
have any connexion with us ; so that for effectual friend- 
ship, and for the aid so necessary in the present conjunc- 
ture, we can rely on France alone, and in the continuance 
of the King's goodness towards us. 

I am grown old. 1 feel myself much enfeebled by my 
late long illness, and it is probable I shall not long have 
any more concern in these affairs. I therefore take this 
occasion to express my opinion to your Excellency, that 
the present conjuncture is critical, that there is some 
danger lest the Congress should lose its influence over the 
people, if it is found unable to procure the aids that are 
wanted ; and that the whole system of the new govern- 
ment in America may thereby be shaken. That if the 
English are suffered once to recover that country, such an 
opportunity of effectual separation as the present may not 
occur again in the course of ages ; and that the possession 
of those fertile and extensive regions, and that vast sea- 
coast, will afford them so broad a basis for future greatness, 
by the rapid growth of their commerce, and breed of sea- 


men nnd soldiers, as will enable ihem to become the terror 
of Europe, and to exercise with impunity that insolence, 
which is so natural to their nation, and which will increase 
enormously with the increase of their power. 

1 am, with great respect, your Excellency's, he. 


Passy, March 6th, 1781. 

By perusing the enclosed instructions to Colonel Lau- 
rens and myself, your Excellency will see the necessity I 
am under of being importunate for an answer to the appli- 
cation lately made for aids of stores and money. As 
vessels are about to depart for America, it is of the utmost 
importance that the Congress should receive advice by 
some of them, of what may or may not be expected. 1 
therefore earnestly entreat your Excellency to communi- 
cate me, as soon as possible, the necessary information. 
With sincere esteem, I am, &:c. 



March 9th, 1781. 


I forward gazettes, journals, and some particular Re- 
solves of Congress, via Amsterdam. 

The arrival of die Ariel has given us despatches from 
you, long expected, of June 1st, August 9ih, December 
23d. Congress had, before the receipt of your letters of 
February 19th, written to Mr Adams, January 10th, and 


signified their concurrence in opinion with Count de Ver- 
gennes. as to the lime and circumstances of announcing 
his (Mr Adams's) powers to Great Britain. They had 
also on December 12lh expressed their sentiments upon 
his letters of June 24th, enclosing to them his correspon- 
dence relative to the act of March 18th, calling in the old 
paper money. 

I send you extracts from the Journals for your fuller 
information on these points, and I shall forward yet for a 
time all acts of Congress intended for your guidance when- 
ever they are finished ; but I most earnestly look for the 
appointment of a Secretary for Foreign Affairs, agreeably 
to their determinations of January 10th. Such an officer 
may authoritatively communicate his opinions, and in many 
ways make your station more easy and reputable to you, 
than it can have been under great want of information of 
our circumstances. 

Your most humble servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


Passy, March lltli, HSL 

1 have examined the list of supplies wanted in America, 
which 1 received yesterday from you, in order to mark as 
desired what may be most necessary to forward thither. 
As that list is of old date, and I do not know what part 
of it may have been already procured by other channels, 
and I understand by my letters that a new list has been. 


made out, which is given to Colonel Laurens, and though 
mentioned to be sent to me also is not yet come to my 
hands, I have thought it may be well for the jiresent to 
order the making of a quantity of soldiers' and ofiicers' 
clothing, equal to one third part of what has been de- 
maiwled from page 31 to page 42 inclusive ; and to collect 
and get ready also one third of the other articles men- 
tioned in the said pages, which I have marked with a red 
line in the margin, the whole to be sent by the first good 
opportunity. I think it would be well also to send five 
thousand more good fusils, with fifty tons of lead, and two 
hundred thousand flints for fusils. If these could go with 
the fleet, it would be of great service. More powder is 
not necessary to be sent at present, as there goes in the 
Marquis de Lafayette the remainder of the two thousand 
barrels granted last year, and also two hundred tons of salt- 
petre, which they will make into powder. For the other 
articles that may be wanted, as Colonel Laurens will come 
fully instructed, as well by the list given to him as from his 
own observation and experience in the army, and from the 
information he will receive from General Washington, with 
whom and the Marquis de Lafayette he was to consult 
before his departure, I conceive it will be best to wait a 
little for his arrival. 

I return the lists, and having by some unaccountable 
accident mislaid and lost die paper you gave me, contain- 
ing what Count de Vergennes said to me yesterday, I 
must beg the favor of you to repeat it, and send it by the 
bearer. I am ashamed to give you this trouble, but I wish 
to be exact in what I am writin:: of it to Congress. 
With the greatest esteem, &cc. 




Pass}', March 12tl), 1781. 

I had the honor of receiving on the 13th of last month 
your Excellency's letter of the 1st of January, together 
with the instnictioos of November 28th, and December 
27th, a copy of those to Colonel Laurens, and the letter to 
the King. I immediately drew a memorial, enforcing as 
strongly as 1 could the requests that are contained in that 
letter, and directed by the instructions, and I delivered the 
same with the letter, which were both well received ; but 
the Ministry being extremely occupied with other weighty 
affairs, and I obtaining for some time only general answers, 
that something would be done for us, he. and Mr Laurens 
not arriving, I wrote again and pressed strongly for a de- 
cision on the subject, that I might be able to write explic- 
itly by this opportunity, what aids the Congress were or 
were not to expect, the regulation of their operations for 
the campaign depending on the information I should be 
enabled to give. 

Upon this I received a note, appointing Saturday last 
for a meeting with the Minister, which I attended punc- 
tually. He assured me of the King's good will to the 
United States, remarking, however, that being on the spot, 
I must be sensible of die great expense France was 
actually engaged in, and the difficulty of providing for it, 
which rendered the lending us tvventyfivc millions at pres- 
ent impracticable ; but he informed me, that the letter 
from the Congress, and my memorials, had been under his 
Majesty's consideration, and observed, as to loans in gen- 
eral, that the sum wo wanted lo borrow in Europe was 


large, and that the depreciation of our paper h;ul hurt our 
credit on this side of tlie water ; adding also, that the King 
could not possibly favor a loan for us in his dominions, be- 
cause it would interfere with and be a prejudice to those 
he was under the necessity of obtaining himself to support 
the t^ar ; but that, to give the States a signal proof of his 
friendship, his Majesty had resolved to grant them the sum 
of six millions, not as a loan, but as a free gift. This sum 
the Minister informed me was exclusive of the three mil- 
lions, which he had before obtained for me to pay the Con- 
gress drafts for interest, &:.c. expected in the current year. 
He added, that as it was understood the clothing, &tc. with 
which our army had been heretofore supplied from France, 
was often of bad quality and dear, the Ministers would 
themselves take care of the purchase of such articles as 
should be immediately wanted, and send them over ; and 
it was desired of me to look over the great invoice, that 
had been sent iiither last year, and mark out those arti- 
cles ; that as to the money remaining after such purchases, 
it was to be drawn for by General Wasiiingfon, upon M. 
d'Harvelay, Garde du Trcsor Royal, and the bills would 
be duly lionored : but it was desired they might be drawn 
gradually as the money should be wanted, and as much 
time given for the payment after sight as conveniently 
could be, that the payment might be more easy. 

I assured the ^Minister, that the Congress would be very 
sensible of this token of his Majesty's continued goodness 
lowards the United States ; but remarked, that it was not 
the usage with us for the General to draw, and proposed 
that it might be our Treasurer, who should draw the bills 
for the remainder ; but I was told that it was his Majesty's 
order. And 1 afterwards understood from the Secretary 
VOL. in. 25 


of the Council, that as the sum was intended for the sup- 
ply of the army, and could not be so large as we had 
demanded for general occasions, it was thought best to put 
it into the General's hands, that it might not get into those 
of the different Boards or Committees, who might think 
themselves under a necessity of diverting it to other pur- 
poses. There was no room to dispute on this point, every 
donor having the right of qualifying his gifts with such 
terms as he thinks proper. 

I took widi me the inv^oice, and having exa^nined it, I 
returned it iamjedialely with a letter, of which a copy is 
enclosed, and I suppose its contents will be followed, un- 
less Colonel Laurens on his arrival should make any 
changes. I hope he and Colonel Palfrey are safe, though, 
as yet, not heard of. 

After the discourse relating to the aid was ended, the 
Minister proceeded to inform me, that the Courts of Pe- 
tersburgh and Vienna had offered their mediation ; that 
the King had answered, that it would to him personally be 
agreeable, but that he could not yet accept it, because he 
had allies whose concurrence was necessary. And that 
his Majesty desired I would acquaint the Congress with 
this offer and answer, and urge their sending such in- 
structions as they may think proper to their Plenipoten- 
tiary, it being not doubted that they would readily accept 
the proposed mediation, from their own sense of its being 
both useful and necessary. I mentioned that I sup- 
posed Mr Adams was already furnished with instructions, 
relating to any treaty of peace that might be proposed. 

I must now beg leave to say something relating to myself, 
a subject with which I have not often troubled the Con- 
gress. 1 have passed my seventyfifdi year, and I find that 


the long and severe fit of the gout, which I had the Inst 
winter, lias shaken mo exceedingly, and I am yet far h'om 
having recovered the bodily strength 1 before enjoyed. I 
do not know that my mental faculties are impaired ; per- 
haps I shall be the last to discover that ; but 1 am sensible 
of great diminution in n!y nctivity, a quality I think par- 
ticularly necessary in your Minister for this Court. I am 
afraid, therefore, that your affairs may some time or other 
sufier by my deficiency. I find also that the business is 
too heavy for me, and too confining. The constant at- 
tendance at home, which is necessary for receiving and 
accepting your Bills of Exchange, (a matter foreign to my 
ministerial functions) to answer letters, and perform other 
parts of my employment, prevents my taking the air and 
exercise, which my annual journeys. formerly used to afford 
me, and which contributed much to the preservation of my 
health. There are many other little personal attentions, 
which the intirmiiies of age render necessary to on old 
man's comfort, even in some degree to the continuance of 
his existence, and with which business often interferes. 

I have been engaged in public affairs, and enjoyed pub- 
lic confidence, in some shape or other, during the long 
term of fifty years, and honpr sufficient to satisfy any 
reasonable ambition, and f have no other left but that of 
repose, which I hope the Congress will grant me, by 
sending some person to supply my place. At the same 
time, I beg they may be assured, that it is not any the 
least doubt of their success in the glorious cause, nor any 
disgust received in their service, that induces me to de- 
cline it, but purely and simply the reasons abovementioned. 
And as I cannot at present undergo the fatigues of a sea 
voyage, (the last having been almost too much for me) and 


would not again expose myself to the hazard of capture 
and imprisonment in this time of war, I purpose to re- 
main here at least till the peace ; perhaps it may be for 
the remainder of my life ; and if any knowledge or ex- 
perience I have acquired here may be thought of use to 
my successor, I shall frealy communicate it, and assist 
him with any influence I may be supposed to have, or 
counsel that may be desired of me. 

I have one request more to make, which, if I have 
served the Congress to their satisfaction, I hope they will 
not refuse me ; it is, that they will be pleased to take 
under their protection my grandson, William Temple 
Franklin. I have educated him from his infancy, and I 
brought him over with an intention of placing him where 
he might be qualified for the profession of the law ; but 
the constant occasion I had for his service as a private 
Secretary during the time of the Commissioners, and more 
extensively since their departure, has induced me to keep 
him always with me ; and indeed being continually disap- 
pointed of the secretary Congress had at different times 
intended me, it woukl have been impossible for me, with- 
out this young gentleman's assistance, to have gone througli 
the business incumbent on me. He has therefore lost so 
much of the time necessary for law studies, that I think it 
rather advisable for him to continue, if it may be, in the 
line of public foreign affairs, for which he seems qualified 
by a sagacity and judgment above his years, and great dili- 
gence and activity, exact probity, a genteel address, a 
facility in speaking well the French tongue, and all the 
knowledge of business to be obtained by a four years' con- 
stant employment in die Secretary's office, where he may 
be said to have served a kind of apprenticeship. After all 


the allowance I am capable of making for the partiality of 
a parent to his ortVpring, 1 cannot but think he may in 
time make a very able foreign Minister for Congress, in 
whose service his fidelity may be relied on. But I do not 
at present propose him as such, for (hough he is now of 
agofa few years more of experience will not be amiss. 
In the meantime, if they should think fit to employ liim as 
a Secretary to their IMinister at any European Court, I 
am persuaded they will have reason to be satisfied with his 
conduct, and I shall be thankful for his appointment as a 
favor to me. 

My accounts have been long ready for the examination of 
some person to be appointed for that purpose. Mr Johnson 
having declined it, and Mr Dana residing at present at 
Paris, I requested him to undertake it, and to examine at 
the same time those of Mr Deane ; but he also declines 
it, as being unacquainted with accounts. If no fresh ap- 
pointment has been made by Congress, I think of desiring 
Mr Palfrey to perform that service when he arrives, 
which I hope will be approved, for I am uneasy at the 

With great respect, I have the honour to be, &cc. 


Passy, March 17th, 1781. 


I received the honor of yours, dated January the 2d, 
containing sundry questions relating to the ship Alliance, 
and the expedition under the command of John Paul 

I apprehend, that the letters and papers sent by the 


Alliance, if they came to your hands, and those which 
went in the Ariel, taken together, would pretty well inform 
you on the most of the particulars you inquire about, and 
the deficiencies might be supplied by Captain Jones him- 
self and others, who were engaged in the expedition. But 
as I learn from Colonel Laurens, that his arrival was not 
heard of at Boston the Uth of February, though he sail- 
ed the 1 8th of December, and possibly he may have mis- 
carried, I shall endeavor to answer as well as I can your 
several queries, and will hereafter send you duplicates of 
the papers that may be lost. 

But I would previously remark, as to the expedition in 
general, that this Court having, I suppose, some enterprise 
in view, which Captain Jones, who had signalised his bra- 
very in taking the Drake, was thought a proper person to 
conduct, had soon after that action requested we would 
spare him to them, which was the more readily agreed to, 
as a difference subsisted between him and his Lieutenant, 
which laid us under a difficulty, that was by that means got 
over. Some time passed, however, before any steps were 
taken to employ him in a manner agreeable to him, and 
possibly the first project was laid aside, many difficulties 
attending any attempt of introducing a foreign officer into 
the French marine, as it disturbs the order of their promo- 
lions, &1C. and he himself choosing to act rather under the 
commission of Congress. However, a project was at 
length formed of furnishing him with some of the King's 
ships, the officers of which were to have temporary Amer- 
ican commissions, which being posterior in date to his 
commission, would put them naturally under his command 
for the time ; and the final intention, after various changes, 
was to intercept the Baltic fleet. 


The Alliance was at iliut time under orders to carry Mr 
Adams back to America, but the JMinister of the Marine, 
by a written letter requesting I would lend her to strengthen 
the little squadron, and ollering a passage for Mr Adams 
in one of the King's ships, I consented to the request, 
hoping, that besides obliging the Minister, I might obtain 
the disposition of some prisoners to exchange for our coun- 
trymen in England. 

Quesdon \st. " Whether the ships with which the 
frigate Alliance was concerted in an expedition, of which 
Captain John Paul Jones had the command, were the 
property of private persons, and if so, who were the owners 
of those ships ?" 

Answer. The ships with which the Alliance was 
concerted, were 1st. The Bon Homme Richard, bought 
and fitted by the King, on purpose for Captain Jones. 
2dly. The Pallas frigate. 3dly. The Vengeance, a cor- 
vette. 4thly. The Cerf, a cutter. All belonging to the 
King, and the property of no private person whatever, as 
far as I have ever heard or believe. 

Two privateers, the Monsieur and the Granville, were 
indeed with the little squadron in going out; I suppose 
to take advantage of the convoy, but being on their own 
account, and at their own discretion, the Monsieur quitted 
company on the coast of Ireland, and the Granville re- 
turned about the same lime to France. I have not iieard, 
that the Monsieur ever claimed any part of the prizes. 
The Granville has made some claim, on account not only 
of what were taken, while she was with the squadron, but 
of the whole taken after her departure, on this pretence, 
that some prisoners being put on board of her, and losing 
company, she found herself obliged to go back with them, 


not having wherewith to maintain them, he. but this claim 
is opposed by the other ships, being regarded as frivolous, 
as she was not concerted. The claim, however, is not yet 
decided, but hangs in the courts. These circumstances 
show, that these vessels were not considered as a part of 
the armament. But it appears more plainly by the Con- 
cordat of the Captains, whereof I send you a copy. Who 
the owners were of those privateers I have not heard. 1 
suppose they may be inhabitants of Bordeaux and Gran- 

Question 2d. "Whether any agreement was made 
by you, or any person in your behalf, with the owners of 
the ships concerted with the Alliance in that expedition, 
respecting the shares they were severally to draw of the 
prizes, which might be taken during said expedition?" 

Answer. I never made any such agreement, nor any 
person in my behalf. I lent the vessel to the King simply 
at the Minister's request, supposing it would be agreeable 
to Congress to oblige their ally, and that the division, if 
there should be anything to divide, would be according to 
the laws of France, or of America, as should be found 
most equitable. But the Captains before they sailed en- 
tered into an agreement, called the Concordat abovemen- 
tioned, to divide according to the rules of America, as 
thev acted under American commissions and colors. 

Qiiestion 3d. " Whether the Serapis and Scarborough, 
and other captures made during said expedition, were di- 
vided among the captors, and the distribution made accord- 
ing to the resolutions of Congress, and if not, what mode 
was pursued in making the distribution ?" 

Answer. No division has yet been made of the Serapis 
and Scarborough. It is but lately that I have heard of 


the money being ready for division at L'Orient. I suppose 
the mode will be that agreed on by the captains. 

(Question 4th. " What were the net proceeds of the 
Serapisj Scarborough, and tiie other prizes taken during 
the said expedition ?" 

Answer. I have not yet heard what were the net pro- 
ceeds of the prizes, nor have I seen any account. As soon 
as such shall come to my hands, 1 will transmit it to you, 
and will endeavor to obtain it speedily. No satisfaction 
has yet been obtained for the prizes carried into Norway, 
and delivered up by the King of Denmark. 

(Question 5th. "What benefit the United States of 
America have received from the prisoners made during 
said expedition ?" 

Answer. I did expect to have had all the prisoners 
taken by the squadron, to exchange for Americans, in con- 
sideration of my having lent the Alliance, and Captain 
Pearson engaged in behalf of the British government by 
a written instrument, tliat those set on shore in Holland 
should be considered as prisoners of war to the United 
States, and exchanged accordingly. But I was, neverthe- 
less, disappointed in this expectation. For an exchange of 
all the prisoners being proposed to be made in Holland, it 
was found necessary at that lime by the Dutch govern- 
ment, in order to avoid embroiling their State with Eng- 
land, that those prisoners should be considered as taken by 
France, and they were accordingly exchanged for French- 
men, on the footing of the French cartel with England. 
This I agreed to on the request of the French Ambassa- 
dor at the Hague, anti also to avoid the risk of sending 
them by sea to France, (the English cruising with seven 
ships off the Texel to retake them) and as it would be 
VOL. III. 26 


more convenient and certain for us to have an equal num- 
ber of English delivered to me by France at or near Mor- 
laix, to be sent over in the cartel. But the English gov- 
ernment afterwards refused very unjustly to give any 
Americans in exchange for English, that had not been 
taken by Americans. So we did not reap the benefit we 
hoped for. 

(Question 6th. " What orders were given to Captain 
Landais ?" 

Answer. That he should obey the orders of Captain 

Question 1th. " What was the ground of dispute be- 
tween Captain Jones and him ?" 

Answer. That when at sea together, he refused to 
obey Captain Jones's orders. 

Question 8th. " Wliat were the disbursements on the 
Alliance, from the time of her first arrival in France, until 
she left that kingdom ?" 

Answer. The disbursements on the Alliance from the 
time of her first arrival in France, till the commencement 
of the cruise under Captain Jones, as appears by the ac- 
counts of Mr Schweighauser, agent appointed by William 
Lee, amounted to which I paid. The dis- 

bursements on her refit in Holland were paid by the 
King, as were also those on her second refit after her re- 
turn to L'Orient, as long as she was under the care of 
Captain Jones. But Captain Landais, when he resumed 
the command of her, thought fit to take what he wanted 
of Mr Schwcighauser's agent, to the amount of 31,668 
livres, 12s. 3d., for which, being contrary to my orders 
given to Mr Schweighauser, on his asking them upon the 
occasion, I refused to pay, (my correspondence with him 


will show you my reasons) and of those paid by the King 
I have no account. 

(luestion 9th. " Why the Alliance lay so long at Port 
L'Orient, after her arrival there from the Texel, and in 
general every information in your power respecting the 
Alliance and the expedition referred to?" 

Answer. Her laying so long at L'Orient was first oc- 
casioned by the mutinous disposition of the officers and 
men, who refused to raise the anchors till they should 
receive wages and prize money. I did not conceive they 
had a right to demand payment of wages in a foreign 
country, or anywhere but at the port they came from, no 
one here knowing on what terms they were engaged, what 
they had received, or what was due to them. The prize 
money I wished them to have, but as that could not soon 
be obtained, I thought it wrong in them to detain the 
vessel on that account, and as I was informed many of 
them were in want of necessaries, I advanced twentyfour 
thousand livres on account, and put it into Captain Jones's 
hands to relieve and pacify them, that they might go more 
willingly. But they were encouraged by some meddling 
passengers to persist. The King would have taken the 
prizes and paid for them, at the rate per gun^ ^c. as he 
pays for warlike vessels taken by his ships, but they 
raised a clamor at this, it being put into their heads, that it 
was a project for cheating them, and they demanded a 
sale by auction. The ^Minister, who usually gives more 
when ships are taken for the King than they will pro- 
duce by auction, readily consented to this when I asked 
it of him, but then this method required time to have 
them inventoried, advertised in different ports, to create 
a fuller concurrence of buyers, he. Captain Jones came 


up to Paris to hasten the proceedings. In his absence, 
Captain Landais, by the advice of Mr Lee and Commo- 
dore Gillon, took possession of the ship and kept her long, 
writing up to Paris, waiting answers, he. 

I have often mentioned to Congress the inconvenience 
of putting their vessels under the care of })ersons living 
perhaps one hundred leagues from the port they arrive 
at, which necessarily creates delays, and of course enor- 
mous expenses, and for a remedy I have as often re- 
commended the appointment of consuls, being very sensible 
of my own insufficiency in maritime afiairs, which have 
taken up a vast deal of my time, and given me abun- 
dance of trouble, to the hinderauce, sometimes, of more 
important business. I hope these inconveniences will now 
be soon removed by the arrival of Mr Palfrey. 

As the Ministry had reasons, if some of the first plans 
had been pursued, to wish the expedition might be under- 
stood as American, the instructions were to be given by 
me, and the outfit was committed to Monsieur de Chau- 
mont, known to be one of our friends, and well acquainted 
with such affairs. Monsieur le Marquis de Lafayette, who 
was to have been concerned in the execution, can proba- 
bly acquaint you with those reasons. If not, J shall do it 
hereafter. It afterwards continued in the hands of M. de 
Chaumont to the end. I never j)aid or received a farthing 
directly or indirectly on account of the expedition ; and 
the captains having made him their trustee and agent, it is 
to him they are to apply for tlieir proportions of the cap- 
tures. There may be something, though I believe very 
little, coming to the United States from the Alliance's 
share of a small ransom made contrary to orders. 

No account has been rendered to me of that ransom. 


liierefore I cannot say how much, but I will inquire about 
it and inform you iiereafter. 

Most of the colliers taken were burnt or sunk. The 
ships of war taken, 1 understand belong wholly to the 
captors. If any particulars remain, on which you desire 
infoTmation, be pleased to mention them. I think it my 
duty to give you all the satisfaction in my power, and shall 
do it willingly. 

Being with great regard, Gentlemen, &ic. 



Betioeen Captain John Paul Jones and the Officers of 

the Sqnaclro7U 


Agreement between ]Messieurs John Paul Jones, Cap- 
tain of the Bon Homme Richard ; Pierre Landais, Captaia 
of tlie Alliance ; Dennis Nicolas Cottineau, Captain of the 
Pallas ; Joseph Varage, Captain of the Stag ; and Philip 
Nicolas Ricot, Captain of the Vengeance ; composing a 
squadron, that shall be commanded by the oldest officer of 
the highest grade, and so on in^ succession in case of death 
or retreat. None of the said commanders, whilst they are 
not separated from the said squadron, by order of the 
Minister, shall act but by virtue of the brevet, which they 
shall have obtained from the United States of America, 
and it is agreed that the flag of the United States shall be 

The division of prizes to the superior officers and crews 
of the said squadron, shall be made agreeably to the 
American laws ; but it is agreed, that the proportion of the 
whole, coming to each vessel in the squadron, shall be 


regulated by the Minister of the Marine Department of 
France, and the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United 
States of America. 

A copy of the American laws shall be annexed to the 
present agreement, after having been certified by the com- 
mander of the Bon Homme Richard ; but as the said laws 
cannot foresee nor determine as to what may concern the 
vessels and subjects of other nations, it is expressly 
agreed, that whatever may be contrary to them shall be 
regulated by the Minister of the French Marine, and the 
Minister Plenipotentiary of (he United States of America. 

It is likewise agreed, that the orders given by the Min- 
ister of the French Marine, and the Minister Plenipoten- 
tiary of the United States of America, shall be executed. 

Considering the necessity there is of preserving the in- 
terests of each individual, the prizes that shall be taken 
shall be remitted to the orders of Monsieur le Ray de 
Chaumont, Honorary Intendant of the Royal Hotel of Inva- 
lids, who has furnished the expenses of the armament of 
the said squadron. 

It has been agreed, that M. le Ray de Chaumont be 
requested not to give up the part of the prizes coming to 
all the crews, and to each individual of the said squadron, 
but to their order, and to be responsible for the same in his 
own proper name. 

Whereas the said squadron has been formed for the 
purpose of injuring the common enemies of France and 
America, it has been agreed that such armed vessels, 
whether French or American, may be associated there- 
with, as by common consent shall be found suitable for the 
purpose, and that they shall have such proportion of the 
prizes, which shall be taken, as the laws of their respective 
countries allow them. 


In case of the death of any one of the beforemen- 
tioned commanders of vessels, he shall be replaced 
agreeably to the order of the tarift; with liberty, how- 
ever, to choose whether he will remain on board his own 
vessel, and give up to the next in order the command 
of ihe vacant ship. 

It has moreover been agreed, that the commander of 
the Stag shall be excepted from the last article of this 
present agreement, because in case of a disaster to M. 
de Varage, he shall be replaced by his second in com- 
mand, and so on by the other officers of his cutter, the 









March Slst, 1781. 

I send you a few newspapers, and the last monthly 
journals which have come from the press. The enemy 
will tell their own story of the naval engagement on the 
16th. They have ventured nearer to truth in Rivington's 
Royal Gazette than almost at any one time before, since 
the very commencement of hostilities. Our allies con- 
ducted most gallantly, and the enemy are so convinced of 
the activity of the French commander, that they have not 
ventured to remain in the Chesapeake Bay, to do all the 


damage which the event of the battle had put in their 

I send you General Greene's account of an affair be- 
tween him and Cornwallis on the loth. It differs but 
little from the prints. I will endeavor to have it struck at 
the press. You shall have it, at least, with our good 
Secretary's attestation, which is in the best credit, even 
with the enemy. 

The opportunity of sending is too precarious to admit 
of my enlarging. 

Your most humble servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


Philadelphia, May 9th, 1781. 


Mr Samuel Curson and Mr Isaac Gouverneur, Jun. of 
St Eustatia, after that place was taken, were sent to Eng- 
land in the Vengeance man of war, Commodore Hotham, 
stripped of everything but their wearing apparel ; their 
books, papers, and slaves having been taken from them, 
and Mrs Gouverneur, with a young infant, turned out of 
doors. Special severity, it is supposed, has been shown to 
them in consequence of their acting as agents to Congress. 
Doctor John Witherspoon, Jun. also, who was surgeon of 
the De Graafl' letter of marque, taken at St Eustatia, is 
sent to England in the y\limena man of war, and very 
hardly treated on account of his father being a member of 
Congress, as is supposed. 

Your particular attention to the exchange of these per- 


sons will tend to give confulence to all, who being con- 
nected specially with Congress are exposed to captivity, 
and will also very particularly oblige I he relations ol" these 
unfortunates, who liave requested Congress to mention 
these circumstances to you. 
^Your most humble servant, 

For the Committee of Foreign Affairs. 


Passy, May 14lh, 17S1. 

Dear Sir, 

You are a very good correspondent, wliich I do not de- 
serve, as I am a bad one. The truth is, I have too much 
business upon my iiands, a great deal of it foreign to my 
function as a minister, which interferes with my writing 
regularly to my friends. But I am neverdieless extremely 
sensible of your kindness in sending me such frequent and 
full intelligence of the state of affairs on your side of the 
water, and in letting me see by your letters, that your 
health continues, as we;! as your zeal for our cause and 

I hope, tiial by tiiis inuti iiit; ship, which has the honor 
of bearing your name, is safely arrived. She carries cloth- 
ing for nearly twenty thousand men, with arms, ammunition, 
kjc. which will supply some of your wants;, and Colonel 
Laurens will bring a considerable addition, if Providence 
favors his passage. Vou will receive from him the par- 
ticulars, which makes my writing more fully by him unne- 

Your friends have heard of your being gone against the 

TOL. III. 27 


traitor Arnold, and are anxious to hear of your success, 
and that you have brought him to punishment. Enclosed 
is a copy of a letter from his agent in England, captured 
by one of our cruisers, and by which the price or reward 
he received for his treachery may be guessed at. .Judas 
sold only one man, Arnold three millions. Judas got for 
his one man thirty pieces of silver, Arnold not a halfpenny 
a head. A miserable bargain ! especially when one con- 
siders the quantity of infamy he lias acquired to himself, 
and entailed on his family. 

The English are in a fair way of gaining still more ene- 
mies ; they play a desperate game. Fortune may favor 
them as it sometimes does a drunken dicer ; but by their 
tyranny in the East, they have at length roused the powers 
there against them, and I do not knovv that they have in 
the West a single friend. If they lose their India com- 
merce, (which is one of their present great supports,) and 
one battle at sea, their credit is gone, and their power fol- 
lows. Thus empires, by pride, folly, and extravagance, 
ruin themselves like individuals. M. de la Motte Piquet 
has snatched from between their teeth a good deal of their 
West India prey, having taken twentytwo sail of their 
homeward bound prizes. One of our American privateers 
has taken t\vo more, and brought them into Brest, and two 
were burnt; there were thirtyfour in coinpany, with two 
men of war of the line and two frigates, who saved them- 
selves by flight, but we do not hear of their being yet got 

I think it was a wise measure to send Colonel Laurens 
here, who could speak knowingly ol' the state of the army. 
It has been attended with all the success that perhaps 
could reasonably be expected, though not with all that was 


wished. He has fully justitied your character of him, and 
returns ihorouglily possessed of my esteem ; but that can- 
not and ought not to please him so much, as a little more 
money would have done for his beloved army. This Court 
continues firm and steady in its friendship, and does every- 
thuig it can for us. Can we not do a little more for our- 
selves ? My successor (for I have desired the Congress 
to send me one) will find it in the best disposition towards 
us, and I hope he will take care to cultivate that disposi- 
tion. You, who know the leading people of both coun- 
tries, can perhaps judge better than any member of Con- 
gress of a person suitable for this station. I wish von may- 
be in a way to give your advice, when the matter is agi- 
tated in that assembly. I have been long tired of the trade 
of minister, and wished for a little repose before I went to 
sleep for good and all. I thought 1 might have held out 
till the peace, but as that seems at a greater distance than 
the end of my days, I grow impatient. I would not, 
iiowever, quit the service of the public, if I did not sin- 
cerely think that it would be easy for the Congress, with 
your counsel, to find a fitter man, God bless you, and 
crown all your labors with success. 

With the highest regard and most sincere affection, I 
am, dear Sir. Sec. 



Pa&iv, M.iy 14lh, 1781. 

I did myself the honor of writing to your Excellency 
pretty fully on the 12ih of March, to which I beg leave to 


refer. Colonel Laurens arriving soon alter, we renewed 
the application for more money. 

His indefatigable entleavors have brought the good dis- 
positions of this Court to a more speedy determination of 
making an ndditiun, than could well have been expected 
so soon after the former grant. As he will have an oppor- 
tunity of acquainting you personally will) all the ])art:culars 
of importance, a circumstantial account of the transaction 
from me is unnecessary. 1 would only mention, that as it 
is the practice here to consider cariy in the year the proba- 
ble expenses of the can)paign, and appropriate the reve- 
nues to the several necessary services, all subsequent and 
unexpected demands are extremely inconvenient and disa- 
greeable, as they cannot be answered without difficulty, 
occasion much embarrassment, and are sometimes iiriprac- 
ticable. If, therefore, the Congress have not on this occa- 
sion obtained all they wished, diey will impute it to the right 
cause, and not suppose a want of good will in our friends, 
who indeed are such, most firmly and sincerely. 

The whole supply for the current year now amounts to 
twenty millions ; but out of this are to be paid your usual 
drafts for interest money, those in favor of M. de Beau- 
marchais, and those heretofore drawn on Mv Jay and Mr 
Laurens, which 1 have already eiUier paid or engaged for, 
with the support of your several Ministers, he. k,c. which 
I mentiori, that the Congress may avoid embarrassing my 
successor with drafts, which perhaps he may not have 
the means in his hands of honoring. Besides paying the 
second year's salaries of Messrs Adams and Dana, Jay 
and Carmichacl, T have furnished Mr Dana with £1,500 
sterling credit on Petersburgh, for which place I suppose 
he is now on his wav. 


You will receive from Holland advices ot" the late de- 
claration of that Court, with regard to the English refusal 
of its mediation, and of the assistance requested by the 
States-General. I hope Mr Dana will find it well disposed 
towards us. 

I have received no answer yet to my letters relating to 
the proposed mode of lodging funds here, by supplying the 
French fleet and army. Having as yet heard nothing of 
Colonel Palfrey, and it being now more than four months 
since he sailed, there is great reason to fear he may be 
lost. If that should unhappily be the case, the Congress 
cannot too soon appoint another consul, such an offi- 
cer being really necessary here. Your Minister Plenipo- 
tentiary has hitherto had all that sort of business upon his 
hands, and as I do not now speak for myself, I may speak 
more freely, I think he should be freed from the burden of 
such affairs, from all concerns in making contracts for fur- 
nishing supplies, and from all your bill of exchange busi- 
ness, he. &LC. that he may be more at liberty to attend to 
the duties of his political function. 

The prisoners in England are increasing by the late 
practice of sending our people from New York, and the 
refusal of the English Admirality to exchange any Ameri- 
cans for Englishmen not taken by American armed vessels. 
I would mention it for the consideration of Congress, 
whether it may not be well to set apart five or six hun- 
dred English prisoners, and refuse them all exchange in 
America, but for our countrymen now confined in En- 

Agreeably to the vote of Congress, and your Excellen- 
cy's letter of the 4th ojf January, I have requested the as- 
sistance of this Court for obtaining the release of Mr 


President Laurens. It does not yet appear that the thing 
is practicable. What the present situation is of that unfor- 
tunate gentleman, may be gathered from the enclosed 

I hope the Alliance, with the ship Marquis de Lafayette 
under her convoy, is by this time arrived, as they sailed 
the 27th of March. 1 flatter myself that the supplies of 
clothing, &LC. which they carry, will be found good of the 
kind, and well bought. I have by several late opportunities 
sent copies of the government letters talien in the New 
York packet. Your Excellency will see, that they are 
written in the perfect persuasion of our submitting speedily, 
and that the Commissioners are cautioned not to promise 
loo much, with regard to the future constitutions to be 
given us, as many changes of the old may be necessary, 
&,c. One cannot read those letters from the American 
Secretary of State, and his Under-Secretary, Knox, without 
a variety of reflections on the state we should necessarily 
be in, if obliged to make the submission they so fondly 
hope for, but which I trust in God they will never see. 
Their affairs in the East Indies, by the late accounts, grow 
worse and worse ; and twentytwo ships of the prey they 
made in the West are wrenched out of their jaws by the 
squadron of M. de la Motte Piquet. 

I mentioned in a former letter, my purpose of remaining 
here for some time after 1 should be superseded. I mean 
it with the permission of Congress, aixl on the supposition 
of no orders being sent me to the contrary ; and 1 hope it 
will be so understood. 

With the greatest respect, I have the honor to be, he. 

* The reference here is to the letters of Sir Grey Cooper, and Mr 
Charles Vernon. See this volume, pages 174, 175, 176. 



Passv, Mav 16tli, 1781. 


I received the letter you did me the honor of writing 
to me the 1st of January. The bill for four thousand 
foffr hundred and forty four IMexican dollars, which you 
remitted to Mr Schweighauser, being refused payment by 
Mr Jay, for want of a regular endorsement by iMr Lau- 
rens, in whose favor it was drawn, and which endorse- 
ment could not now be obtained, Mr Scinveighauser 
applied to me, informing me that he should not send the 
things ordered by your Board, unless the bill was paid ; 
and it appearing on the face of the bill, that it was drawn 
for public service, I concluded to take it up, on which 
he has purchased the things and shipped them. Colonel 
Laurens has put on board some other supplies for the 
army, and I suppose she will now sail directly. 

The drafts from Congress upon mo for various services, 
and those on Mr Jay and jNIr Laurens, all coming upon 
me for payment, together with the expenses on the ships, 
&c. &tc. have made it impracticable for me to advance 
more for loading the Active ; but as we have obtained 
lately promises of a considerable aid for this year, I shall 
now try what I can do, as the money comes in, towards 
supplying what is demanded in the invoice you mention. 
You will receive, I hope, twentyeight cannon, and a large 
quantity of powder and saltpetre, by the ship Marquis de 

I have by several opportunities written in answer to your 
questions relative to the ship Alliance. 
I have the honor to be, &:c. 


P. S. Please to present my respects to the Board. 



Philadelphia, May 17th, 1781. 

Doctor Putnam, whose letter is enclosed, by the uni- 
formity of his attachment to our public cause, merits your 
patronage. And I enclose for your information some 
former proceedings of Congress, in which this same gentle- 
man is interested ; requesting, Sir, that you Would obtain 
a knowledge of the proceedings consequent upon efforts 
which M. Gerard has undoubtedly made to obtain com- 
pensation for the sloop, which Count d'Arband restored to 
the Governor of Antigua, after it had been taken by Doc- 
tor Putnam and others. 

Your most humble servant, 




Versailles, June Sth, 178i. 


I have received the letter you did me the honor to write 
ine on the 4th instant. I do not know whether Mr Laurens 
has purchased the clothing in Holland on account of Con- 
gress ; I only know (and you were likewise informed of it 
at the same time) that this officer was to emjiloy for his 
purchases in France part of the six millions, which the 
King has granted to Congress, and that the residue of this 
sum was intended to be sent to America, with a view of 
re-establishing the credit of the United States. 

If Mr Laurens, instead of paying ready money in Hoi- 


land, Ijas conlenled himself with giving hills on you, I have 
no concern in it, and the Kins; can furnish no means for 
your reiinhursemcnt. 

As to the monies arising from the loan opened in Hol- 
land, we have no pretensions to regulate the employment 
offliem, as they heloiJg to the United States. You must, 
therefore, Sir, apply to Congress for the power of dis- 
posing of them, in discharge of the drafts drawn on you 
from all quarters. 

] have the honor of heing, &.c. 



Passy, June 11th, 1781. 


I have lately done myself the honor of wriiing'largely to 
your Excellency by divers conveyances, to which I beg 
leave to reVer. This is chiefly to cover the copy of a letter 
I have just received from the INIinister, relative to the dispo- 
sition of the late loans ; by which will be seen the situa- 
tion I ain in with respect to my acceptances of the 
quantities of bills drawn by Congress on Mr Jay, Mr Lau- 
rens, Mr Adams, and myself, which I entered into, in the 
expectation, which both Colonel Laurens and myself en- 
tertained, that a part of these loans might be applied to the 
payment of these bills, but which I am now told cannot 
be done without an express order from Congress. 

1 shall endeavor to change the sentiments of the Court 
in this respect, but I am not sure of succeeding. I must 
therefore request that a resolution of Congress may imme- 
diately be sent, empowering me to apply as much of those 
VOL. irr. 2S 


loans as shall be necessary for the discharge of all such 
drafts of Congress, or for the repayment of such sums, as 
I may in the meantime be obliged to borrow for the dis- 
charge of those drafts. 

I have the honor to be, &.c. 



Fussy, June lltli, 1781. 

Mr Grand has communicated to me a letter from your 
Excellency to him, relating to certain charges in your 
account, on which you seem to desire to have my opin- 
ion. As we are all new in these matters, T consulted, 
when I was making up my iiccount, one of the oldest 
foreign Ministers here, as to the custom in such cases. 
He informed me, that it was not perfectly uniform witli 
the Ministers of all Courts, but that in general, where a 
salary was given for service and expenses, the expenses 
understood were merely those necessary to the man, such 
as housekeeping, clothing, and coach ; but that the rent 
of the hotel in which he dwelt, the payment of couriers, 
the postage of letters, the salary of clerks, the stationary 
for his bureau, with the feasts and illuminauons made on 
public occasions, were esteemed the expenses of the 
Prince, or State that appointed hiui, being for the service 
or honor of his Prince or nation ; and cither entirely, or in 
great part, expenses that, as a private man, he would have 
been under no necessity of incurring. These, therefore, 
were to be charged in his accounts. He remarked, it was 
true that the Minister's housekeeping as well as his house 
was usually, and in .some sort necessarily more expensive, 


than those of a private person, but this he said was con- 
sidered in his salary to avoid trouble in accounts ; but 
that where the Prince or Slate had not purchased or built 
a house for their Minister, which was sometimes the case, 
they always paid his house rent. 

F* have stated my own accounts according to this in- 
formation ; and I mention them, that if they seem to you 
reasonable, we may be uniform in our charges, Hy your 
charging in the same manner ; or if objections to any of 
them occur to you, that you would communicate them to 
me for the same reason. 

Thus you see my opinion, that the articles you men- 
tion of courtage, commission, and port de leltres, are 
expenses that ought to be borne, net by you, but by the 
United States. V^et it seems to me more proper, that you 
should pay thetn, and charge them with the other articles 
abovementioned, than that they should be paid by me, 
who, not knowing the circumstances, cannot judge (as you 
can) of the truth or justice of such an account when pre- 
sented, and who, besides, have no orders to pay more on 
your account, than your net salary. 

With regard to that salary, though your receipts to 
Fitzeaux and Grand, shown to me, might be quite suffi- 
cient to prove they had paid you the sums therein men- 
tioned, yet, as there are vouchers for them, and which 
they have a right to retain, I imagine it will be clearest, if 
you draw upon me, agreeably to the order of Congress, 
and if this is quarterly, it will be the most convenient to me. 
With great respect, I have the honor, &:c. 




In Congress, June 19tli, 1781. 

Congress have received your letter oi the 12th of March 
last, with the papers enclosed. The prospect of confer- 
ences being soon opened in Europe, under the mediation 
of the imperial Courts of Petersburg!! and Vienna, for ac- 
commodating the disputes between the belligerent powers, 
which must necessarily involve the essential interests of, 
these United States, has determined us to increase the 
number of our ministers for negotiating a peacewith Great 
Britain. We have, therefore, added yourself, Messrs Jay, 
H. Laurens, and Thomas Jefferson to Mr Adams, to re- 
pair to such place as shall be fixed on for transacting this 
important business. 

A compliance with yoin- re([uest to retire from public 
employment would be inconvenient at this particular junc- 
ture, as it is the desire of Congress to avail themselves 
of your abilities and experience at the approaching nego- 
tiation. Should you find repose necessary after render- 
ing the United States this further service, Congress, in con- 
sideration of your age and bodily infirmities, will be dis- 
posed to gratify your inclination. 

You will present the letter to His Most Christian Ma- 
jesty, and communicate to him the instructions to our Min- 
isters for negotiating a peace, attended with such a memo- 
rial as your prudence shall suggest, and the importance of 
the subject requires. 

With great esteem, I am, &-c. 

President of Congress. 



Passy, June 28tli, 1781. 


Since my acceptance olyoiir bills, 1 have applied to the 
Ministry for more money to discharge the other engage- 
ments I entered into for payment of the Congress bills 
drawn on Holland and Spain. I find so much difficulty, 
and even impossibility of obtaining it at this time, that I am 
under llie absolute necessity of stopping the cash that is in 
Holland, or of ruining all the credit of the States in Eu- 
rope, and even in America, by stopping payment. 

This is therefore to order, that, in case the said cash 
has been delivered to you by Messrs Fizeaux and Grand, 
you would immediately return it into their hands to remain 
there at my disposal. I am sorry that this operation is 
necessary, but it must be done, or the consequences will be 

I have the honor to be, Uc. 



Amsterdam, June 29th, 1781. 

I have tlie honor to inform your Excellency that I got 
to Amsterdam on Tuesday morning. It has been thought 
advisable to wait a few days, that we may sail with a Dutch 
squadron of fourteen sail, destined as a convoy to the Bal- 
tic. The loss of the ship Marquis de Lafayette, which is 
confirmed by Lloyd's list, renders every precaution neces- 
sary, and essential to prevent a furthe»- disappointment in 


I hope your Excellency will approve of the reasons 
for delaying our departure, which must be amply compen- 
sated by the benefit of a convoy through the North Sea. I 
beg leave to request that Colonel Laurens's servant may be 
informed, should he apply to your Excellency, that, if he 
leaves Paris immediately and travels with despatch, he 
will reach this place in time to embark with us for Amer- 
ica. Any commands, which your Excellency may please 
to honor me with, and which may be transmitted by him, 
will be faithfully attended to. 

I beg you will present my best respects to your grand- 

I have the honor to be, with profound respect, &ic. 



Passy, June 30th, 1781. 

I received my dear friend's kind letter of the 15th in- 
stant, and immediately communicated your request of a 
passport to the Count dc Vergennes. His answer, which I 
have but just received, expresses an opinion, that the cir- 
cumstance of his granting a passport to you, as you mention 
the purpose of your coming to be the discoursing with me 
on the subject of peace, might, considering your character, 
occasion many inconvenient reports and speculations, but 
that he would make no difficulty of giving it, if you as- 
sured me that you were authorised for such purpose by 
your ministry, which he does not think at all likely ; other- 
wise he judges it best that I should not encourage your 
coming. Thus it seems T cannot have at present the 
pleasure you were so kind as to propose for me. 1 can 


only join with you in earnest wishes for peace, a blessing 

which 1 shall hardly live lo see. 

With the greatest esteem and respect, I am ever, dear 




Amsterdam, July 2d, 17S1. 


I was yesterday honored with your Excellency's letter 
of the 2Sth ult. while at the Texel, superintending some 
matters relating to the ship. Equally concerned for the 
cause, as surprised at the manner in which iNIr Fizeaux was 
resolved to execute it, in case the money had been already- 
shipped, I must beg leave to inform you fully of this busi- 
ness, and to "request your Excellency's final determination 

Colonel Laurens, as your Excellency knows, was sent 
by Congress to the Court of Versailles, with a special com- 
mission ; the purport of his mission you are well acquainted 
with ; it was to obtain certain supplies in specie and mili- 
tary stores. 

By the most unremitting assiduity, he so far succeeded 
as to procure, amongst others, a sum of money to be ship- 
ped in Holland by the South Carolina frigate, which was 
deemed, by the Court of France, a safe and convenient 
conveyance, as it would divide the risk which must have 
been incurred by placing the whole on board of one vessel. 
That sum was sent to this place by M. Necker, and lodged 
in the house of Fizeaux and Grand, to be by them deliv- 
ered to me, agreeably to the following order, the original 


of which is now in my possession, having very fortunately 
for me recovered it from them after they received your 


"Paris, May 12th, 1781. 

" Gentlemen, 
" This letter will be delivered to you by Mr William 
Jackson, captain of infantry in the service of the United 
States, to whom I request you to deliver the 130,655 dol- 
lars, and the 720,000 livres in crowns, which you have re- 
ceived on my account by the way of Brussels. Mr Jack- 
son will give you a receipt for it, in which he will express 
that these two sums have been delivered to him pursuant 
to the intention of Mr .John Laurens, an American officer 
now at Paris, whose orders he will follow on this subject. 
You will be pleased to send me afterwards this receipt, 
with a statement of all the expenses due to you. I will 
have them reimbursed here to M. Grand. 
" T am, Gentlemen, &c. 


M. M. Grand, Fizeaux, & Co. Amsterdam." 

Messrs Fizeaux and Grand have, in pursuance of your 
Excellency's directions, refused to deliver it. This, Sir, 
being a distinct transaction, executed altogether at the 
instance of the honorable John Laurens, special Min- 
ister at the Coin-t of Versailles from the United States, and 
by him committed to my further care, I conceive myself 
indispensably bound to remonstrate to your Excellency, 
on the late order given by you to Messrs Fizeaux and 
Grand, directing the detention of that money, and to in- 
form you that if they are not repealed, I must embark 


without it ; and however I may lament the disappointment 
and distress in which this measure must invoh'e Congress, 
whose arrangements are undoubtedly taken on the cer- 
tainty of this supply being sent from Europe ; however 
inucli^niay regret Colonel Laurens's absence which in- 
duces it, I shall possess the pleasing reflection of having 
done my duty, in demanding, conformably to the inten- 
tions of M. Necker, and by his order, that money which 
the Court of France had accorded to the United States by 
the application of Colonel Laurens, in virtue of his special 
commission, and which was particularly and expressly des- 
tined to reanimate the credit of the continental currency. 
The ship waits for nothing else but this money. I shall 
attend your Excellency's ultimate decision thereon, which 
I expect to receive by return of the express, who only 
waits your commands. 

I have the honor to !)e, &:,c. 


/-*. S. M. Fizeaux informed jne that he had resolved 
to arrest the ship, had the money been on board. I need 
not inform your Excellency, that a like opportunity may 
not again offer to transport this essential supply, rendered 
still more so by the capture of the ship Marnuis de La- 

W. .1. 

My fever, wiiich was greatly increased by my late jaunt 
to Passy, will not admit of my waiting upon your Excel- 
lency in person, and I am persuaded your justice will ren- 
der it luinecessary, after diis representation. 

W. J. 
VOL. in. 29 



' Amsterdam, July 2d, 178L 


Since the departure of my express, I find myself oblig- 
ed, in conformity to Colonel Laurens's instructions (from 
which, as his agent I cannot recede, unless compelled 
thereto by forcible means, and which unless such are prac- 
tised against me, I must carry into execution) to retain the 
money, which he has confided to my care, and which the 
Minister of Finance's order makes deliverable to me spe- 
cially ; and to arrest it in the hands of M. Fizeaux, should 
he continue to refuse the delivery of it but by your Excel- 
lency's orders. 

I reiy upon your Excellency's attachment to the welfare 
of America, to prevent this painful operation, which must 
inevitably take place should your determination decide 
otherwise, for as this money is subject to no other control 
in Europe, but the immediate order of the Court of 
France, I cannot relinquish my charge of it, but by their 
special order. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Amsterdam, July 2d, 1781. 


Your Excellency will not wonder at the determination 

whicli I have adopted, to arrest the money now in M. 

Fizeaux's hands, (and which 1 have communicated to you 

by a second express this afternoon) when you reflect, that 


this money is absolutely committed to my charge lor a 
special purpose, and that I stand accountable lor the exe- 
cution ol' this commission. Your Excellency must likewise 
be sensible, that you cannot have the disposal of it, as it 
was obtained without either your knowledge or concur- 
rence by Colonel Laurens, appointed special Minister for 
that purpose. These considerations, and the knowledge I 
have how much America must suffer from a disappoint- 
ment in this supply, about to be transported by so excellent 
a conveyance, must plead my excuse individually for this 
plain and candid avowal of circumstances, and my deter- 
mination thereon. I am further persuaded, that the Court 
of France is not disposed, was there even a shadow of an 
excuse for an alteration of the allotment of this money, to 
infringe their honor and injure the essential interests of 
America by detaining it. 1 must therefore again entreat 
your Excellency's repeal of those orders to M. Fizcaux, 
which now detain the ship and supplies so much required 
in America. 

I have the honor to be, kc. 



Passv, Julv 5tli. 178), at 6 in the nioriiin<'. 


I have this instant received your letter of the 2d, urging 
the delivery of the money. I must be short in my reply, 
as your express waits. 

Colonel Laurens indeed obtained a promise of ten mil- 
lions, to be raised by a loan in Holland. I understood 
while he was Ijere, that that loan was in train, and that the 


million and a half to be sent with yon was a part of it. T 
since learn, that iiotliing has yet been obtained in Holland, 
that the snccess is not yet certain, and that the money in 
question is a part of the six millions I had obtained before 
his arrival, upon the strength of which I accepted the bills 
drawn on his father, and on Mr Jay, and without which 
acceptances the Congress' credit in America would have 
been ruined, and a loss incurred of twenty per cent upon 
the protests. I cannot obtain UiOre money here at present, 
and those bills being accepted must be paid, as well as 
those I accepted on your earnest request, for the great 
uncx[)ecled purchase you made in Holland. 

Colonel Laurens has cairied two millions and a half of 
that six millions with him, which will serve till the loan in 
Holland j)roduces a further supply. In the meantime I 
cannot suffer the credit of our country to be destroyed, if 
by detaining this money it may be saved. And if I wero 
to consent to its going, our banker would be obliged to 
arrest great part of it as belonging to the States, he being in 
advance for them, which would occasion much disagreeable 
noise, and very ill consequences to our credit in Europe. 

I find by Mv Viemerange's account just received, that 

Mr Laurens's orders have more than absorbed all the mo- 

nev h(! did not take with him. I applaud the zeal you have 

both shown in the aftliir, but 1 see, that nobody cares liow 

much i am distressed, provided they can carry their own 

points. 1 must, therefore, take what care I can of mine, 

theirs and mine being ecjually intended for the service of 

the public. 1 am sorry to learn, that the vessel is detained 

for this express. I understood by your last, that she waited 

for convoy. 1 heartily wish you a good voyage, and am, with 

great esteem, Sec. 




Pas«v, .lulv 5th, 1781. 


1 received your letter ot the 2d instant, by your first 
express, this morning at six, answered it, and sent him 
away immediately. I have just now received your second 
express of the same date, in which you tlirealen me 
with a proceeding, that I apprehend exceedingly impru- 
dent, as it can answer no good end to you, must occasion 
much scandal, and be thereby very prejudicial to the af- 
fairs of the Congress. 

But I cannot, liierefore, consent to sufler their bills, to 
the amount of more than a million accepted and expected, 
10 go back protested for want of this money. I have noth- 
ing to change in the answer abovementioned. You wjll 
however follow your own judgment, as I must follow 
niine, and you will take upon yourself the consequences. 
I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Fassy, July Gih, 1781. 


I received and answered two of your expresses yester- 
day morning, and in the evening I received a third letter 
from you, all dated the 2d instant. 

In this last you tell me, " that I must be sensible I can- 
not have the disposal of the money, as it was obtained 
without either my knowledge or concurrence, by Colonel 
Laurens, appointed special Minister for that purpose." I 
do not desire to diminish the merit of Colonel Laurens. 


I believe he would have been glatl, if it had been in his 
power to have procured ten times the sum ; and that no 
application or industry on his part for that purpose would 
have been wanting. But I cannot let this injurious asser- 
tion of vours pass, without expressing my surprise, that 
you, who were always with that gentleman, should be so 
totally ignorant of that transaction. The six millions, of 
which he took with him two and a half, of which one and 
a half were sent to Holland, and of which more than the 
remainder is ordered in stores from hence, was a free gift 
from the King's goodness (not a Joan to be repaid with 
interest,) and was obtained by nuj application, long before 
Colonel Laurens's arrival. 

I iiad also given in a list of the stores to be provided, 
though on his coming 1 cheerfully gave up the further pros- 
ecution of that business into his hands, as he was better 
acquainted with the particular wants of the army, than I 
could be, and it was one of the purposes of his appoint- 

Thus no part of the aHair was done witliout my '7mo?i'- 
leclge and concurrence,^'' except the sending a million and a 
half of the specie to Holland. This was indeed a secret 
to me. I had heard of that sum's being ready there to 
embark, but I always till lately understood it to be a part ol 
the Dutch loan, which 1 am about to mention, or I should 
certainly have opposed that operation. What Colonel 
Laurens really obtained, and a great service I hope it will 
prove, was a loan upon interest of ten millions, to be bor- 
rowed on the credit of this Court in Holland. I have not 
heard, that this loan has yet produced anything, and, 
therefore, I do not know that a single livre exists, or has 
existed in Europe, of his procuring for the States. On 


the contrary, lie and you have drawn from me considerable 
sums, as necessary for your expenses, and he left me near 
forty thousand livres to pay for the Alliance, and, moreover, 
engaged me in a debt in Holland, which I understood 
might amount to about fifteen thousand pounds sterl- 
ing, and which you contrived to make fifty thousand 

When T mentioned to him the difliculty I should find to 
pay the dralts, he said, you have the remainder of the six 
millions. He gave me no account of the dispositions he 
had made, and it is but lately I have learnt, that there is 
no remainder. To gratify you, and to get that ship out, 
which could not have stirred without me, I have engaged 
for the vast sum abovementioned, which I am sure I shall 
be much distressed to pay, and therefore have not de- 
served at your hands the affront you are ndvised to menace 
me with. 

And since I find you make it a point of reflection upon 
une, that I want to apply money to the payment of my en- 
gagements for the Congress, which was obtained by Colonel 
Laurens for other purposes, I must request, that you will 
upon this better information take occasion to correct that 
error, if you have communicated it to any other person. 

By the letters you showed me, that had passed between 
Mr Adams and you, I perceived he had imbibed an opin- 
ion, that Colonel Laurens had, as he expressed it, done 
more for the United States in the short time of his being 
in Europe, than all the rest of their Diplomatic Corps 
put together. I should never have disputed this, be- 
cause 1 had rather lend a little credit lo a friend, than take 
any from him, especially when I am persuaded he will 
make a good use of it ; but when his friends will make 


such suppositious credit a matter of reproach to me, it Is 
not right to continue silent. 

As to the safety of the excellent conveyance you men- 
tion, I must own, 1 have some doubts about it, and I fear 
I shall hear of the arrival of that ship in England, before 
she sees America. Be that as it may, I am clear that no 
use can possibly be made of the money in America for 
supporting the credit of the States, equal in any degree to 
the effect it must have for the same purpose, when applied 
to the payment of their bills here, which must otherwise 
go back protested. And I am sure it will be exceedingly 
prejudicial to their credit, if by the rash proceeding you 
threaten, this situation of their affairs becomes the subject 
of public talk and discussion in Europe. 
1 am, &ic, 


P. S. I request you would read again and consider 
Well my first letter to you on this subject. The reasons 
therein contained subsist still in their full force. 


Passv, July llth, 1781. 

' Sir, 

The ninnber of Congress bills that have been drawn on 
the Ministers in Spain and Holland, which I am by my ac- 
ceptances obliged to pay, as well as those drawn upon 
myself, the extreme importance of supporting the credit of 
Congress, which would he disgraced in a political, as well 
as a pecuniary light, through all the Courts of Europe, if 
those bills should go back protested, and the unexpected 
delays arising with regard to the intended loan in Holland, 


all those considerations have compelled nie to stop the one 
million five hundred thousand livres, which were to have 
been sent by way of Amsterdam. As soon as more 
money can be furnished to me by this Court, I shall take 
care to replace that sum, and forward with it as great an 
addition as possible. I am now soliciting supplies of 
clothing, arms, ammunition, kc. to replace what has been 
unfortunately lost in the ^larquis cle Lafayette ; and hope 
to succeed. 

Captain Jackson, who is truly zealous for the service, 
has been exceedingly solicitous and earnest with me to 
induce me to permit the money to go in this ship, but for 
the reasons abovementioned, 1 find it absolutely necessary 
to retain it for the i)resent, which I doubt not will be ap- 
proved by Congress. 

With great respect, 1 have the honor to be, &.c. 



Pliiladelphia, July 21jt. 1781. 

It does not appear that the resolutions of June 26th, 
affecting yourself and colleagues, as well as Mr Dana, 
have been transniitted. Mr President Mc Kean will take 
other opportunities of writing. I think it essential, how- 
ever, in the meantime, to forward duplicates, which may 
serve for inlorrnation, and perhaps authority, to all con- 

Vour humble servant. 

For the Commit tee of Foreign Affairs. 
P. S. Please to give copies where proper. 

VOL. IM. 30 



Passy, August 6th, 1781. 

Dear Sir, 

I have received several letters from you lately, en- 
closing others for the President of Congress, and for 
Spain, all of which are sealed and forwarded, except the 
last for the President, contained in yours of the 26tii past, 
which shall go by the first opportunity. The reading of 
those letters gave me much information, and therefore 
pleasure ; though since the fixing of Mr Adams there 1 
do not attend so much to the affairs of your country as 
before, expecting indeed but little from it to our advan- 
tage ; for diough it was fornserly in the same situation w^ith 
us, and was glad of assistance frotn other nations, it does 
not seem to fed lor us, or to have the least irtclination to 
help us ; it appears to want magnanimity. 

Some writer, I forget who, says, that Holland is no 
longer a nation, but a great aliop ; and I begin to think it 
has no other principles or sentiments but those of a shop- 
keeper. You ran judge of it b.etter than 1, and I shall be 
happy to find myself mistaken. You will oblige me, how- 
ever, by continuing the history either directly to me, or in 
your letters to Congress ; but when you enclose a sealed 
letter in anoUier to me, please to observe to place the 
second seal on one side, and not directly over the first ; 
because the heal of the second is apt to deface the im- 
pression of the first, and to attach the paper to it, so as to 
endanger tearing the enclosed in opening the cover. 

With best wishes for your health and prosperity, I am 
ever, dear Sir, 8ir. 



P. S. I pity the writer of the enclosed, though I have 
no other acquaintance with hiin, than having seen him 
once at Hanover, where he then seemed to live genteely 
and in good credit. I cannot conceive what should re- 
duce him to such a situation, as to engage himself for a 
soldier. If you can procure him any friends among the 
philosophers of your country, capable of relieving hini, I 
wish you could do it. If not, and he must go to the 
Indies, please to give him three or four guineas for me, to 
buy a few necessaries for his voyage. B. F. 

TU C. W. b\ DUMAS. 

Fiissy, August loth, 1781. 

Dear Sir, 

Enclosed I send you a late paper received from Rhode 
Island. You will see in it the advantages our troops have 
gahied in South Carolina. Late advices directly from 
Philadelphia say, that the enemy have now nothing left in 
Georgia, but Savannah ; in South Carolina, but Charles- 
ton ; nor in North Carolina, but Wilmington. They are, 
however, in force in Virginia, where M. de Lafayette has 
not sufficient strength to oppose them, till the arrival of 
the reinforcements, which were on their march to join 
him from Maryland and Pennsylvania. 

In looking over my last to you, I apprehend I miiy have 
expressed myself perhaps a little too hardly of your coun- 
try ; 1 foresee you will tell me that we have many friends 
there ; I once thought so loo ; but I was a little out of 
humor when I wrote, on understanding that no loan could 
be obtained there for our use, though the credit of this 
kincidom was offered to be en2;as:cd for assurinir th 


rnent, and so much is lent freely to our enemies. You 
can best tell the reason ; it will be well not to let my letter 
be seen. ■••;'-,'*, 

I am ever, dear Sir, he 



Passy, September 13th, 1781. 


I duly received the two letters your Excellency did me 
the honor of writing to me, both dated the 19th of June, 
together with the letter addressed to the King and the 
three Commissioners, with the instructions relative to the 
negotiations for peace. I immediately went to Versailles 
and presented the letter, which was graciously received. 
I communicated also to Count de Vergennes a copy of 
your instructions after having decyphered them. He read 
them while I was with him, and expressed his satisfaction 
with the unreserved confidence placed in his Court by 
the Congress, assuring me that they never would hav^e 
cause to regret it, for that the King had the honor of the 
United States at heart, as well as their welfare and inde- 
pendence. Indeed this has already been manifested in 
the negotiations relative to the Plenipotentiaries, and I 
have had so much experience of bis Majesty's goodness to 
us, in the aids afforded us from time to time, and of the 
sincerity of this upright and able Minister, who never 
promised me anything which he did not punctually per- 
form, that I cannot but think the confidence well and ju- 
diciously placed, and that it will have happy effects. 

I have communicated to Mr Adams and to Mr Jay 
the purport of your despatches. Mr Adams already had 


received ilie same ; by the lirst safe conveyance I shall 
acquaint the Congress with the steps that have been 
taken in the negotiation. At present I would only say, 
that the settling of preliminaries meets with difficulty, and 
will probably take much time, partly from the remote- 
ness of the mediators, so that any relaxation of our war- 
like preparations in expectation of a speedy peace, will be 
imprudent as it may be pernicious. 

I am extremely sensible of the honor done me by the 
Congress in this new appointment. 1 beg they would 
accept my thankful acknowledgments ; and since they 
judge 1 may be serviceable, though I had requested leave 
to retire, I submit dutifully to their determination, and 
shall do my utmost to merit in some degree the favor- 
able opinion they appear to have of me. I am the more 
encouraged in this resolution, as within the last three 
months I find my health and strength considerably re- 

I vvish, however, that a consul general may soon be ap- 
pointed for this kingdom ; it would ease me of abundance 
of troublesome business to which I am not equal, and 
which interferes with my own important functions. 

The King having graciously complied with my request, 
of replacing the supplies lost in the Marquis de Lafayette, 
many hands are employed in providing them, who work 
hard to have them ready and shipped, so that they 
may arrive before winter. 

With the highest respect, 1 have the honor to be, &ic. 


P. (S. The copying machine for Mr Secretary Thomp- 
son is in hand, and will soon be finished and sent to him. 



- ' -. • Amsterdam, October 4th, 17SI. 

- Sir, '" 

Your Excellency's letter of June 11th, is yet unan- 
swered. I have the honor to agree with your Excellency 
in opinion, that it is reasonable that articles of rent of the 
hotel, payment of couriers, postage of letters, salaries of 
clerks, stationary for the bureau, and feasts and illumina- 
tions made upon public occasions, should be deemed ex- 
penses of the States. Indeed, otherwise it will be impos- 
sible for American Ministers to live in any such manner as 
is expected of them, both by Europeans and Americans. 

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect. Sir, 

&c. &c. 



Philadelphia, October 20tl), 1781. 

Dear Sir, 
Congress having lately thought it advisable to alter the 
arrangement of their great executive departments, and to 
dissolve the Boards and Committees under whose direction 
they formerly were, I am to inform you, that they have 
done me the honor to appoint me their Secretary of For- 
eign Affairs; in which capacity they have made it my 
duty, as it will always be my inclination, to maintain an 
intimate and regular correspondence with you. I have 
this day taken the oaths of office, and as the recital of for- 
tunate events is the most pleasing task annexed to it, 1 
shall give you a short sketch of the state of our military 
operations. . * > .,.-., 


Wlieu General \Vasliingtoii was fully apprized, iluu 
Count de Grasse was to visit this Continent, he made 
every provision for the attack of New York, where the 
enemy had about six thousand troops, and seven ships of 
the line, which were thought inadequate to its defence. 
He collected the troops, as well those of allies as our own, 
and made a movement towards New York. The delay of 
our recruits in coming in, a small reinforcement to the 
enemy from Europe, and some other circumstances, gave 
us reason to he apprehensive for the event of this attempt, 
though the magnitude of the object still urged t!ie General 
to undertake it. It was the enemy's place of arms, the 
repository of their magazines, and the only harbor for large 
ships left them on this side of Halifax. Every preparation 
was accordingly made, when some circumstances deemed 
unfortunate at the time, but which like many others of our 
supposed evils have in the end been productive of good, 
occasioned an alteration in the destination of Count de 
Grasse. He sailed for the Chesapeake. The General 
still appearing to prosecute his first design moved his army, 
and made such preparations as induced the enemy to be- 
lieve, il)at he meant to possess himself of Staten Island, 
as preparatory to his design up^n New York. 

In the meantime the army filed off through Hackensack 
and Newark, to keep up the deception, and arrived by 
expeditious marches at the head of the Elk. Count de 
Grasse arrived at the critical moment, and Coruwallis, at 
the head of about seven thousand men, found himself 
completely invested at Yorktown by an army of near four- 
teen ilrousand regular troops. The British fleet, which 
arrived at New York about the time that Count de Grasse 


reached the Chesapeake, made an ineffectual attempt to 
relieve their army. They were defeated and compelled to 
return to New York, after losing the Terrible, a seventy- 
four, and two frigates ; by which means, a junction of the 
fleet from Rhode Island was formed with that under the 
Count de Grasse. It arrived the day after the action, and 
narrowly escaped falling in with the English fleet. 

Our batteries were opened on the 7th. The enemy hav- 
ing evacuated their principal outworks and been repulsed 
in one or two sallies, our second parallel was begun on the 
lull, within three hundred yards of their lines, and the 
least sanguine among the ollicers fix the end of the month 
as the era of Cornwailis's captivity. His whole force at 
York, and on the opposite side of the river, including 
seamen and regulars, amounts to about seven thousand 

The enemy sailed from Sandy Hook yesterday, with 
twenty three ships of the line, and three tiftys, with several 
frigates, and a number of fire ships. They have nine 
thousand of their best troops, if we are rightly informed, 
on board their ships of war. They are resolved to make 
some attempt for the relief of Cornvvallis, whose capture 
must draw after it the loss of all the posts they hold in the 
Southern States, and the total !iiin of their aliiiirs in 
America. Georgia has re-established her government, 
where the enemy have no other footing than in Savannah. 
South Carolina is about doing the same. General Greene 
has very prudently wasted the strength of the enemy, 
and raised the confidence of the militia, by fighting them 
vi detail. His late victory, which i enclose you an ac- 
count of, in his own words, afTords the most promising 


prospect of speedily recovering the possession of tliat 

Congress are, however, looking forward to another cam- 
paign. They have voted twentyfive thousand men for the 
ensiling year. These, when raised and appointed, to- 
gether witli the success which lias liitherto, and which we 
may promise ourselves will still continue to attend the al- 
lied arms, will enable you to open your diplomatic cam- 
paign with great advantage, and permit you. Sir, to rejoice 
in the close of that great work, to which you have so sed- 
ulously and ably contributed. 

I need not tell you, Sir, how anxious I shall be to hear 
from you on every occasion. Nothing short of the most 
constant and regular information will satisfy the expecta- 
tions of Congress. We have much to learn, and but few 
opportunities of acquiring information. Your situation 
enables you not only to let us know what passes with you, 
but to extend your inquiries to Courts where we have no 
Ministers, and of whose politics wc would not choose to bo 
ignorant, though they may but remotely concern us at 
present. For my own part, 1 freely confess, that I rely 
much upon your knowledge and experience to supply my 
want of both. 

I propose to write so frequently to you as to keep you 
fully informed, not only of what is, but of what is not 
done, since the last may sometimes be as important to 
you as the first. 

As far. Sir, as you may find a similar task consistent 
with your health, your leism-e, and your various avoca- 
tions, you will render us essential services in imposing it 
upon yourself. 

Congress having resolved, tliat all communications with 

TOL. III. 31 


iheir Ministers abroad, shall pass through this office, you 
will do me tlie honor, Sir, to direct in future all your public 
letters to me. 

I have the lionor to be, he. 



Pl.iladdphia, October 24th, 1781. 

Dear Sir, 

I three days since did myself the honor to write to 
you, informing you of my appointment to the Secretary- 
ship of Foreign Aftairs ; and preparing yoti for the happy 
event which has taken j)lace. Enclosed you have the 
capitulation of Yorktown and Gloucester, by which a army of 5000 men was surrendered to the allied 
arms of France and America ; and no inconsiderable fleet, 
with SOO seamen, to the navy of His Most Christian 

Since n)y last, which was written the day after 1 entered 
upon office, I have seen yours of the 14th of May. There 
are many things in it which deserve the attention I mean 
to pay it, when the first hurry diat the intelligence I com- 
nujnicalc occasions is over. Bui, Sir, there is a part 
which 1 cannot delay to take notice of, because I feel my- 
self interested in opposing the resolution that you seem to 
have formed of quitting the station, which, for the honor 
of the United States, you now hold. 1 shall be impatient 
till I hear, that you comply with the wishes of Congress on 
this subject, as comnnniicated long since. Though the 
new powers with wliich you are invested impose additional 
burllKMis upon you, yet as they at once contain the amp- 


lest testimonials of the approbation of Congress, and di- 
rectly lead to the completion of the great cause in which 
you so early engaged, I cannot but flatter myself that you 
will take it upon you. I sent with my first letter to you 
one to the Count dc Vergcnnes, informing him of my 
appointment. You will do me the honor to present it. 

I am, Sir, &:c. 



Passv, November 5th, 1781. 


Herewith you will receive a copy of my last ; since 
which"! have been honored with two letters from the late 
President, the one dated March 2d, relating to Cajitain 
Jones's cross of merit, which 1 have communicated as 
directed ; the other, dated July 5th, respecting the release 
and exchange of Mr Laurens. 

Having no direct communication with the British INIinis- 
ters, and Mr Burke appearing, by a letter to me, warmly 
interested in favor of his friend. General Burgoyne, to 
prevent his being recalled 1 have requested and empower- 
ed him to negotiate that exchange, and I soon expect his 
answer. The late practice of sending to England prison- 
ers taken in America, has greatly augmented the number 
of those unfortunate men, and proportionally increased the 
expense of relieving them. The subscriptions for that 
purpose in England have ceased. The allowance I have 
made to them of sixpence each per week during the sum- 
mer, though small, amounts to a considerable sura ; and 
during the winter, I shall be obliged to double, if not 


treble it. The Admiralty there will not accept any Eng- 
lish ill exchange, but such as have been taken by Ameri- 
cans, and absolutely rei'use to allow any ol' the paroles 
given to our privateers by English prisoners discharged at 
sea, except in one instance, that of fiftythree men taken in 
the Snake sloop, by the Pilgrini and Rambler, which was 
a case attended, as they say, with some particular circum- 
stances. I kno\v not what the circumstances were, but 
shall be glad to see the (iftythree of our people, whom they 
promised to send me by the first cai^tel. 1 have above 
five hundred other paroles solemnly given in writing, by 
which the Englishmen promised either to send our people 
in exchange, or to surrender themselves to me in France, 
not one of which has been regarded, so little faith and 
honor remain in that corruj)ted nation. Our privateers, 
when in the European seas, will rarely bring in their pris- 
oners when they can get rid of them at sea. Some of 
our poor brave countrymen have been in that cruel cap- 
tivity now near four years. I hope the Congress will take 
this matter into immediate consideration, and find some 
means for their deliverance, and to prevent the sending 
more from America. By my last accounts, the number now 
in the several prisons amounts to upwards of eight hundred. 
1 request also some direction from Congress (having 
never received anv) respecting the allowance to be made 
to them while they remain there. They complain that 
the food given them is insufficient. Their petition to the 
English government to have an equal allowance w^ith the 
French and Spanish prisoners has been rejected, which 
makes the small pecuniary assistance I can send them 
more necessary. If a certain number of English prisoners 
could l)e set apart in Ameiica, treated exactly in the same 


manner, and their exchange rel'used till it should be agreed 
to set these at liberty in Europe, one niight hope to suc- 
ceed in procuring tiie discharge of our people. Those, 
who escape and pass througli France to get home, put me 
also to a great expense lor their land journies, which could 
be prevented if they could be exchanged, as they would 
be landed here in ports. 

The Ambassador of Venice told me, that he was 
charged by the senate to express to me their grateful 
sense of the friendly behavior of Captain Barry, com- 
mander of the Alliance, in rescuing one of the ships of 
their State from an English privateer, and setting her at 
liberty ; and he requested me to communicate this ac- 
knowledgment to Congress. There is a complaint from 
Holland against Captain Jones, for having taken the brig- 
antine Berkenbosch and sending her to America, and I 
have been desired to lay before Congress the enclosed de- 
positions relating to that capture, and to request their 
attention to it. 

The Ambassador of Portugal also frequently asks me if 
I have received any answer to their complaint, long since 
sent over. I wish it was in my power to give one of some 
kind or other. But none has yet come to my hands, f 
need not mention the importance of attending to the small- 
est complaints between nations, the neglect of them having 
sometimes very serious consequences. 

The mediation proposed is not agreed to by England, 
who refuses to treat with our United States but as a Sov- 
ereign with subjects, and I apprehend that a change in that 
resolution is only to be expected from time, the growing 
insupportable expense of the war, or a course of misfor- 
tunes in the progress of it. The spirits of that nation have' 


been continually kept up by the flattering accounts sent 
over, of our being weary of the contest, and on the point 
of submission. Their Ministers, as appears by their inter- 
cepted letters, have been themselves so far deceived as to 
expect daily those submissions, and to have the pleasure of 
laying them before the King. We may, perhaps, be able 
to guess a little by the King's speech at the approaching 
new session of Parliament, whether they still continue 
under this delusion. As long as it subsists peace is not 
to be expected. 

A loan has been proposed to be obtained for us of the 
States of Holland on d)c credit of this government. All 
public operations arc slow in that country, and though the 
affair is at length said to be concluded, it is not yet exe- 
cuted. Considerable advances have, however, been made 
here in expectation of being reimbursed by it. The 
last aids granted us have been so absorbed by my pay- 
ment of the drafts on Mr Jay and Mr Adams, and accep- 
tance of those for the enormous unexpected purchases in 
Holland, which were to have gone in Captain Gillon's 
ship, but left behind, that I shall have nothing to spare for 
extraordinaries, unless son^c of the Holland loan comes 
soon into my hands. 1 am now told from Amsterdam, 
that the two ships freighted there to carry those goods are 
detained, as their contract was to sail under convoy of the 
South Carolina, which left them ; and they must now take 
more men to defend them, and of consequence claim a 
higher freight, and to have it paid before they sail, unless I 
W'ill buy the ships, and send them on account of Congress, 
neither of which is in my power to do. It was vi^ith reluc- 
tance I engaged in that affair, having litde confidence in 
Captain Gillon's management, and fearing some embarrass- 


ment of our credit, I consented in fine to engage for the 
payment of ten thousand pounds sterling, being the value of 
the goods suitable for Congress, said to be already shipped 
in that vessel, and as there was said to be still some room, 
and she was thought a safe conveyance, I concluded to 
furnish an additional sum to Gil that supposed vacancy, 
which I limited to five tliousand pounds sterling more. 
You will judge of my surprise, when I saw the accounts of 
that additional purchase, which amounted, instead of five, 
to fifty thousand pounds sterling. I at first absolutely re- 
fused to pay for them. But Captain Jackson came to me 
from ihence express, urged that the purchase was made 
by order of Colonel Laurens ; that the goods were on 
board ; that if I would not undertake to pay for them, 
they must be relanded, and returned or sold, which would 
be a public disgrace to us ; that they were all articles ex- 
ceedingly wanted in America, &,c. &,c. In fine, I was 
prevailed on, and accepted the bills, and was obliged to 
go with lliis after-clap to the Ministers, a proceeding 
always disagreeable, after tlie dispositions of the funds of 
the year have been arranged ; and more so in this case, as 
the money was to be paid for the manufactures of other 
countries, and not laid out in those of this kingdom, by 
whose friendship it was furnished. This fresh grant was 
at first absolutely refused j at length I obtained it, and I 
hoped the difiiculty was over. 

But after all, the ofiicers declare the ship was over- 
loaded, that there was not room to lodge the people and 
provisions, nor to act in fighting her j the goods are turned 
out into two other ships, those arc left, and it is now pro- 
posed to mc, either to buy them, or to advance a freight 
nearly equal to their value. I cannot make a new demand 


for this purpose ; and I shall not wonder if this govern- 
ment, observing how badly our shipping and transporting 
the supplies are managed, should take that business for the 
future entirely into their own hands, as they have begun to 
do in the case of replacing the cargo of the Marquis de 
Lafayette, and indeed, till some active, intelligent person, 
skilled in maritime affairs, is placed here as consul, 1 can- 
not but think it will be much better executed, and more 
for our advantage. Some considerable parts of that new 
cargo are already shipped, and the rest I hear are in great 

The very friendly disposition of this Court towards us 
still continues, and will, I hope, continue forever. From 
my own inclination, as well as in obedience to the orders 
of Congress, everything in my power shall be done to 
cultivate that disposition ; but 1 trust it will be remem- 
bered, that the best friends may be over burthened ; that 
by too frequent, loo large, and too importunate demands 
upon it, the most cordial friendship may be wearied, and 
as nothing is more teazing than repeated, unexpected 
large demands for money, I hope the Congress will ab- 
solutely put an end to the practice of drawing on their 
Ministers, and thereby obliging them to worry their re- 
spective (yourts for the means of payment. It may have 
otherwise very ill effects in depressing the spirit of a 
IMinistcr, and destroying that freedom of representation, 
which, on many occasions, it might be proper for him 
to make use of 

I heartily congratulate you, Sir, on your being called 
to the honorable and important office of President, and 
wish you every kind of prosperity. 


Be pleased to present my dutiful respects to the Con- 
gress, and believe me to be, with great and sincere 
esteeni and respect. &:c. 



Philadelphia, November 24th, 1781 


Major General du Portail will have the honor to present 
this. Congress, in consideration of their long and faithful 
services in this country, have granted permission to him 
and Colonels de Laumoy and de Gourion, to revisit their 
friends in Europe for the winter. 

As the merit of these gentlemen has procured for them 
particular marks of the esteem of Congress, they wish 
them to be distinguished by the notice of their sovereign, 
and for that j)urpose have directed that they be recom- 
mended to you, and that you be requested to present them 
at Court, in such a manner as will bespeak for them the 
attention tliey justly merit. 

Congress are persuaded that this task will be particu- 
larly agreeable to you, as they are indebted to your care 
for the useful services of these gentlemen, and as nothing 
is more acceptable to a man of real merit, thnn to be made 
the means of displaying it in others. 

This is the third letter I have had the honor to write to 

you since my entering upon office, and you will find it 

numbered in the margin accordingly. I beg you will be 

pleased to number all your letters to me in the same man- 

voL. in. 32 


ner, that I may know those which by any means may be 
prevented from coming to hand, 
I have the Ijonor to be, he, 



Philadelphia, November 26th, 1781. 

Dear Sir, 

The Marquis de Lafayette, who has obtained leave to 
revisit his family for the winter, does me the honor to be 
the bearer of this, and duplicates of two former letters to 
you. The degree of estimation in which he is held here, 
you will collect from the enclosed resolutions relative to 
him, so that you may converse freely with him, and I 
doubt not that he will be able to satisfy your inquiries on 
many important questions relative to this country, on which 
account I may confine myself more to general heads tlian 
I would otherwise do. 

As to intelligence, there is little of importance, the army 
all having gone into winter quarters, after the late glorious 
campaign, the enemy having been defeated on every hand. 
A party of about six hundred of them, who fell upon the 
vs^estern frontier of New York, were the last that quitted 
the stage ; having been driven off by an inferior number 
of militia, with the loss of their leaders, and many privates 
killed, and about fifty, including the wounded, made pris- 
oners. A body of troops is detached to the southward to 
reinforce General Greene, with orders to attempt Wilming- 
ton on their way, which the enemy occupy with about five 
hundred men, and keep up a connexion with the disaffected 
counties in North Carolina. - -' 


We have not in a long time heard either from you or 
Mr Jay, so that we are much in the dark respecting the 
probable prospect ot" a negotiation this winter, or rather are 
led to conclude from your silence, that the prospect is ex- 
tremely remote ; in which case, all your objects will con- 
centre in preparing for the ensuing campaign, and direct- 
ing the operations as far as possible to this country. The 
success of the combined operations this summer will give 
great weight to your arguments, especially as they are such 
as would deserve, independent of that, the most serious 
attention. But, Sir, you will have a difficult card to play, 
to induce France to do wh;U not only our but her interests 
essentially require. Never was there a time in which 
money was more necessary to us than at j)resent. The 
total abolition of paper, the Icni^th of the war, the restricted 
commerce we have carried on for the first five years of it, 
the arrears of debts, and the slender thread by which public 
credit hangs, put it totally out of our power to make any 
great exertions without the immediate supplv of money. 
Taxation will be carried as far as it can go, but this will 
fall very far short of our wants. The richest nations in Eu- 
rope, unable to carry on a war by taxation only, are com- 
pelled to borrow. How then will it be expected that a 
nation, which has had every difficulty to struggle with, an 
enemy uitlie heart of its country, and all its considerable 
towns at one time or another in their possession, a superior 
navy on its coasts, and the consequential ruin of its agricul- 
ture and commerce, how, I say, can it be expected that 
such a nation should find resources within itself for so long 
and bloody a war ? And yet in this situation, we are 
alarmed by our advices from you, by representations from 
the Minister of France, by assurances from e\ ery quar- 


.ust expect no I'm-ther assistance in money. 
,ot possible that France, alter having done so 
us, after having brought us within view of the 
javen, should oblige us to lose the advantage of all 
..s done ; and yet be assured that the most serious 
c jquence may attend her stopping her hand at this crit- 
ical time. Public credit, which is growing very fast, will 
drop to the ground. The contracts made for the ensuing 
campaign must be given up; the troops, who were made to 
expect pay in specie, will be dissatisfied ; and upon the 
least ill fortune, a ftulure in supplies will show their discon- 
tents ; recruiting will be checked, and the conclusion of the 
war on those advantageous terms, which one vigorous exer- 
tion next spring in this country would secure, will be post- 
poned to a later period, when in fact all we wish, to enable 
us to accomplish these great objects, is less than one year's 
continuance of the war will cost France. You will, there- 
fore, show the necessity of setting our credit upon a firm 
basis, the prospect we have of accomplishing it, from die 
great confidence in the integrity and abilities ol the finan- 
cier, from the economy which is introduced into our de- 
partments, from the industry which money excites, and 
which a fluctuating medium had destroyed, and from the 
total debility which much attend anoUier shock to public 

You are })erfocliy acquainted. Sir, with the natural re- 
sources of the country, you know the value of our exports, 
and the security they afford for any debt that we may con- 
tract ; in short, there are a thousand arguments on this sub- 
ject, which will suggest themselves to you, not one of 
which will you, upon this occasion, omit to urge, since you 
must be perfectly convinced of its importance in every 


view, both to France and to us. The Superintendent will 
write more fully upon this subject, which relates so par- 
ticularly to iiis department. 

I would beg leave to remind you of another want, which 
we depend on your representations, and the good disposi- 
tions of the Court of Versailles, to remove. The chase 
here seems to be pretty well over, the enemy, tired of run- 
ning across the country, have taken to their burrows, and 
the whole business that remains to us, is to take measures 
for unearthing them next spring. In order to this, ships are 
absolutely necessary. The situation of New York and 
Charleston renders them untenable against a naval force, 
and extremely strong against an attack by land ; besides 
that success in such an operation would not be decisive, 
since, after putting us to immense expense of men and 
ammunition of every kind, while they keep the command 
of the water, they might change their position and be as 
troublesome as ever. At any rate, the reduction of both 
these places, from their distance, and the difficulty of re- 
moving the men and stores, cannot be effected the same 
campaign without a naval force, and with it, it will be the 
business of a few weeks. The advantage to France, inde- 
pendent of her interests as they stand connected with ours, 
in keeping a great naval force on this continent, is obvious. 

1st. The expense to which they put the English, by 
obliging them to maintain an equal force at this distance 
from home, at four times the cost at which the French 
navy may be maintained in this country ; which, with pro- 
per management, need not exceed what they expend even 
in France. 

2dly. The number of seamen they employ in the 
transport service, being so many deducted from what might 


supply their navy, with the same expense as if so em- 

Sdlij. The protection afforded to the trade on this 
coast, and the prospect of capturing the enemy's victuallers, 
and the consequent ruin of their affairs. 

4thly. But above all, the decided advantage it will 
afford our combined operations, and the speedy termination 
of the war, by an advantageous peace. It is true, France 
may have other objects, which may interfere with theae. 
To this we can say nothing ; she must judge for herself. 
All we can do is to point out what we conceive will be 
most useful to her as well as to us, and submit to her 
determination. It would be well, however, if we were 
apprized of it as soon as possible. 

If a negotiation should open this viMnter, or there should 
be a probable prospect of it, you will do me the favor to 
give me the earliest advices of it. There are many delicate 
points, on which you would like to know the sentiments of 
people on this side of the water, which I will endeavor to 
acquaint you with. 

I should inform you, that Congress have discharged the 
commission for negotiating a treaty of commerce with 
Great Britain, and taken that burthen from Mr Adams's 
shoulders ; that in compliment to the Marquis de Lafay- 
ette, they have made him the bearer of a letter to the King 
of France, v.hich I enclose ; that in answer to your favor 
of the 11th of June, they have passed the enclosed reso- 

Mr xMorris will write to you on this subject, and enable 
you to discharge the bills. Should France send a fleet 
next spring, it would be advantageous to have it unin- 
cumbered with such orders, as may prevent its taking 


advantage of circumstances. This has unhappily preven- 
ted tliis campaign from being absolutely decisive. But 
neither this, nor any other great object can escape your 
observation, bent as it is upon promoting the happiness of 
your country. 

In order to enable you to meet the claim of the lories 
to the properly that has been confiscated, I am endeavor- 
ins: to collect for you an accurate account of the damages 
wantonly done by the enemy in this country, which will at 
least serve to set against that claim. 

Congress are preparing for an active campaign. They 
have directed eight millions of dollars to be raised by tax. 
There is not, however, the least idea that this, or even one 
half of it, will be collected in the time specified ; you will 
not, therefore, suffer the Court to deceive themselves, by 
hopes of exertions founded on this measure, but urge again 
and again the absolute necessity of supplying money. 

I have conversed so freely with the Marquis de Lafay- 
ette on the general state of our politics, that I would rather 
refer you to him, than trouble you with a longer letter on 
the subject. 

I cannot however close this, without desiring you to 
inquire whether any intercepted letters from Mr Deane to 
persons in this country have been published in Europe. 
Rivington has given us many, which are generally believed 
to be his. 

The Marquis will satisfy your inquiries about them. 

I am, dear Sir, with sentiments of the highest respect 

and esteem, &ic. 




Paris, December 15(h, 1781, 

My Dear Sir, 

I told you the last time I had the pleasure of seeing 
you at Passy, that I would make a trip to London, but had 
no notion it would be so soon. On coming to town last 
evening, I found such pressing letters, that I propose set- 
ting off this evening, or tomorrow at latest. I would have 
called, if possible, to receive your commands, but as I ami 
pinched in time, I must content myself with sending for 
them. The bearer will call for them an hour after re- 
ceiving this letter. 

I shall probably be interrogated about the dispositions in 
this country to peace. My own idea is, that you seek 
only your independence, and that this country, were that 
secured, will be moderate in other m.atters, as the object 
of the war does not seem to be conquest. Let me know 
if this is proper language. I notice that a courtly argu- 
ment has been used in Parliament for continuing the conti- 
nental war, that withdrawing would make you insolent, 
and give France exclusive advantages. Were it not 
proper that this were contradicted flatly? Any commissions 
vou may have will be taken care of, and I shall be back, 
barring accidents, in three weeks. 

Wishing you everything that is good, I remain, with 

equal esteem and respect, dear Sir, your most obedient 

humble servant. 




r.issy, December 15tli, 17S1. 

Dear Sir, 

I thank you for inlorrnini;; me of your inteiKied journey. 
You know so well the prevailing sentiments here, and mine 
in particular, that it is unnecessary for me to express them; 
tind having never heen helieved on that side of the water, 
it would be useless. 1 will say, however, that I think the 
language you mention very proper to be held, as it is the 
truth ; though the truth may not always be proper. 

Wishing you a good voyage, and happy return to your 
children, I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, yours, &ic. he. 



Tassy, December loth, 1T81. 

My Dear Friend, 
I received your favor of September 26th, containing 
your very judicious proposition of securing the spectators 
in the opera and play houses from the danger of fire. I 
communicated it where I thought it might be useful. You 
will see by the enclosed, that the subject has been under 
consideration here. Your concern for the security of life, 
even the lives of your enemies, does honor to your heart 
and your humanity. But what are the lives of a few idle 
haunters of play iiouses, compared with the many thou- 
sands of worriiy men and honest industrious fanulics, 
butchered and destroyed by this devilish war! O! that 
we could find some happy invenlinn to slop (he ppreading 
of the flames, and put an end to so horrid a confiagration ! 
Adieu, I am ever yours most aflectionately, 


VOL. HI. '33 



I'hiUidtlpliia, December 16th, 1781 

Dear Sir, 

Since my last, of which 1 send you a duplicate by this 
conveyance, nothing material has happened here, unless it 
be the evacuation of Wilmington, which is, perhaps, the 
most important post of conniiunication with the disaffected 
people of the country of any they have held in America. 
The tories of North Carolina possessed a boldness and 
spirit, which were not found elsewhere, and upon occasion 
appeared o|)eniy in arms. They are by these means aban- 
doned to the enemy, ant! the resentment of th.eir country. 

The cypher, which I shall use with you, is No. 4 of 
those sent by Mr Morris ; in that, the duplicate is written 
which went uncyphered by the Marquis de Lafayette. 

I enclose a resolution of Congress for erecting a pillar 
to commemorate the victory at Yorktowfi. 1 must re- 
quest your assistance in enabling uk; to carry it into effect, 
so far as it relates to me, by sending the sketch tliey 
require, with an estimate of the expense with which it will 
be attended. I could wish it to be such, as may do honor 
to the nations, whose union it designs to celebrate, and for 
that reason should think the execution ought to be de- 
ferred till our finances arc in a better situation than they 
are at present ; but as this lies with Congress only, you 
will be so obliging as to enal)le me to do my duty, by lay- 
ing the sketch before them as soon as you can conven- 
iently get the same executed. 

1 have also the honor to enclose an ordinance of Con- 
i^ress, which comprises all their former resolutions with, 
respect to captures, with the addition of some others; 
among them, one for "prohibiiing the importation of British 
o-oods," unless such as may have been taken from the 


enemy. Tliis will make some arraiigemeiUs with the ( "oiiit 
of France necessary. The high duties upon prize goods 
consumed in France render them considerable articles ol" 
exportation, and unless some mode is fallen upon to evi- 
dence their having been captured, they will he liable to 
seizure here. I would propose that the Lieutenants of the 
Admiralty, or some other officers in the seaport towns, 
should, to an inventory of the goods shipped, annex a cer- 
liBcate under hand and seal, of their having been captured 
from the enemy, and that this should be done without any 
charge to the purchaser. You, Sir, who are better ac- 
quainted with the interior of the government of France, 
than I can be supposed to be, will be pleased to suggest 
some mode of executing this business ; or if none better 
presents itself, to use means for carrying what I propose 
into effect. I send by this conveyance a number of 
American papers, and beg in return to be favored with 
those of France, or any new publication that may deserve 

I am, dear Sir, with creat respect and esteem, he. 


1. An ordinance, ascertaining what captures on the 
waters shall be lawful. 

2. Resolve, directing the Secretary of Foreign Affairs 
to prepare a sketch of emblems, he. 

3. Resolves for raising eight millions of dollais, and 
the proportion of each Slate. 

4. Recommendoiions to the several States for enact- 
ing laws against the infraction of tlic laws of nations. 

5. Letter to Messrs Wallace, Johnson, and Muir, at 



London, January 2d, 1782. 

My Dear Friend, 

I have received the favor of yours of the 1 5th of De- 
cember by Mr Alexander. I most heartily join with you in 
the wish, that we could find some means to stop the 
spreading flames of this devilish war. I will not despair. 
The communications, which he has imparted to me from 
you, have revived my hopes of peace. I laid them before 
the Minister immediately. We are at a suspense for 
the present upon a very material preliminary. I did in- 
tend writing to you at the present pause, that we might 
make our ground good as we go on, but an accident which 
has happened obliges me to do it without delay. For 
having had a most essential question transmitted to me 
from Lord North for explanation, when I would have ap- 
plied to Mr Alexander, I could not find him ; and now 1 
find that he has left his hotel these four or five days, and 
his return being uncertain, I must apply to you. I will 
state to you what has passed. 

Upon my first interview with Mr Alexander, he told me, 
that the late events would make no difference in the pros- 
pect of peace ; that America had no other wish than to 
see a termination of this war ; that no events would make 
them unreasonable on that subject, which sentiments like- 
wise your letter expresses ; and that no formal recognition 
of independence would be required. I thought this a very 
fair opening ; but the next point, which he explained to me, 
seemed to bo still more material towards peace, viz. that 
America was disposed to enter into a separate treaty with 
Great Britain, and their allies were disposed to consent to 
it. I believe that it has been the unfortunate union of 


cominoii couse between America and France, which has 
for liie last three years turned aside the wish of the people 
of England for peace. 1 verily believe (so deep is the 
jealousy between England and France,) that this country 
would fight for a straw to the last man, and the last shilling, 
rather than be dictated to by France. 1 therefore con- 
sider this as the greatest rub out of the way. I have often 
argued this point with you upon former occasions, having 
at all times foreseen, that it would be the greatest rub in 
the road to peace, and I have often stated it to you as 
an act of justice due to America from her allies, not to 
drag her through a war of European resentments and 
jealousies, beyond her original views and engagements ; 
and moreover, I think the separation of the causes in the 
negotiation promises mucii the shortest road to a general 

Upon Mr Alexander's opening thus much to me, I told 
him 1 would apply for the earliest opportunity of laying 
these matters before the Minister. Accordingly on Friday 
morning, December the 21st, I applied through the means 
of tlie Earl of Guilford, father to Lord North, a noble- 
man of a most respectable character, advanced in years, 
and attached by every possible tie to a son now in the most 
arduous situation. 1 therefore requested the favor through 
his hands, as giving me the most conciliatory access to the 
Minister, to whom I was preparing to make an application 
for peace. After the appointment was made witli Lord 
North for Friday evening, I returned to Mr Alexander, to 
consider the specific manner and terms in which I should 
make my application. It had occurred to me, from what 
Mr Alexander had stated to me, that the Conciliatory Jiill,* 

' See tliit hill alcove, pp. 157, 158 


whicli 1 had moved in the last Parliament, on June the 
27th, 1780, would still serve as a foundation to proceed 
upon ; I therefore carried it with me. 

He told me, that he and you knew the sense of the bill 
\ery well, and that it would be entirely consonant to your 
sentiments, that I should state it to Lord North, as drawing 
an outline for a negotiation of peace. However, to avoid all 
errors, I read the bill through to him, and explained the 
view of each clause, viz. the style of Provinces of JVonh 
America, a general phrase, to avoid any term denoting 
dependence or independence ; the truce for an indefinite 
term ; the articles of intercourse for ten years certain ; to 
restore an amicable correspondence, and to abate animos- 
ities; the suspension of certain acts of Parliament; to 
avoid every possible question of dependence or indepen- 
dence ; and to finish the work, by a ratification of each 
article of intercourse as agreed to, thereby to prevent all 
possible return of war. I compared the articles of inter- 
course for a short term, and their ratification into a perma- 
nent peace, to a well known mode of proceeding in the 
laws of England, by lease and release, from temporary to 
perpetual amity and peace. 

ITpon these grounils I took my commission from him for 
Lord North, viz. the question of dependence or indepen- 
dence suh silentio, a separate treaty widj America, and to 
stale the Conciliatory Bill of June, 1780, as the outline of 
negotiation. 1 saw Lord North in the evening, and stated 
the foregoing propositions to him, as I have now stated 
them to you. After having stated the compromise suh 
silentio and the s.^parate treaty, I left with Lord North the 
copy of the bill of June, 1780, together with a paper, en- 
titled. Conciliatory Propositions, as explanatory of that 


bill, both enclosed with this. The next morning, viz. 
Saturday, December the 22d, I saw Mr Alexander, and 
reported to him what I had stated to Lord North, and 
showed him a copy of the paper, entitled Conciliatory 
Propositions. * He told me, that I had executed my com- 
mission perfectly to his intelligence of the matter. I 
should tell you, that at the conclusion of my conversation 
with Lord North, we both settled Jointly the result thus ; 
" I recommend to your Lordship the propositions, which I 
have had the honor of stating to you, as general grounds 
of a proposed negotiation, leading totvards peace, under 
liberal constructions.''^ Lord North said in answer, " so I 
understand them." 

Upon this footing, matters rested for some days. On 
Sunday last, December the 30th, I received a message 
from Lord North, through the means of Lord Guilford, 
requesting an explanation of this point, viz. " Who is au- 
thorised to treat on the part of America? vvhether you or 
Mr Adams, or both jointly ; and whether the propositions 
above stated would be acknowledged, as general grounds 
of negotiation towards peace, by the person or persons 
authorised to treat ; because it was necessary, before he 
could lay a matter of so great importance before the Cabi- 
net Council, that he should be entitled to say, these 
propositions and general outlines come to me from respon- 
sible and authorised persons." The moment I received 
the request of Lord North, I agreed entirely with the ne- 
cessity of an explanation on that head. I had partly ex- 
pected such an inquiry, and it gave me satisfaction when 
it came, as I thought it the (irst reply towards a parley. 
If the propositions had not gained some attention, it would 
have been of very little importance to have inquired 


whence they came. As to the caution itself, it appears to 
me not only prudent but indispensable. The forms of 
caution in such cases are the essentials of caution. I had 
determined on my own account before this message to 
have written to you, that I might have received your senti- 
ments directly from yourself without any other interven- 
tion, that we might proceed with caution and certainty in a 
matter of such infinite importance. This message has 
only quickened my despatch. The two points of expla- 
nation requested, 1 take to be these ; whether the outlines 
above recited are properly stated, always considering that 
they imply no further than general grounds of negotiation 
towards peace, under liheral constructions ; and secondly, 
by what authorised person or persons any answer on this 
subject would he accepted ; in short, a requisition of cre- 
dentials preparatory to a formal answer, which is so much 
the more necessary on the supposition of a favorable re- 
ception of the first hint towards negotiation. 

When 1 last saw Mr Alexander, viz. about four or five 
days ago, he had met with some desponding impressions, 
as if the Ministry were indisposed to peace, and that 
things would not do, &c. He did not tell me upon what 
ground he had forn)ed such apprehension ; however, lest 
he should have imparted any such by letter to you, \ will 
state that point to you, because it may have infinite ill con- 
sequences to be too touchy on such occasions. A prema- 
ture jealousy may create the very evil it suspects. The 
Ministry in this country arc not everything. The sense of 
the people, when really expressed and exerted, would be 
most prevalent. Suj)pose then it were a proved point, 
that every man in the Ministry were in his heart adverse 
to peace. What then ? vvithiiold all overtures ! By no 


means. I slionkl advise ilie very contrary in the strong- 
est manner. I slionlil say, let the overtnrcs be made so 
much the more public and explicit by those who do wish 
for peace. It is the unfortunate state of things, which; has 
hitherto bound the cause of P^'rancc to any possible treaty 
with America, and which .has thereby thrown a national 
damp upon any actual public exertions to jirocure a nego- 
tiation for peace with America. 1 have the strongest 
opinion, that if it were publicly known to the people of 
England, that a negotiation might be opened with Anjerica, 
upon the terms above specified, that all the Ministry to- 
gether, if they were ill disposed to a man, would not ven- 
ture to thwart such a measure. 

But why should it be supposed, that the Ministry, to 
a man, are ill disposed to a peace ? Suppose them to be 
half and half, and the public wish and voice of the people 
in favor of negotiation, it is evident on which side the bal- 
ance would incline. But why should wc seek to throw a 
damp prematurely upon any chance ? ^Vhy presume even 
against any individual ? 1 grant, that it would be a bitter 
trial of iiumility to be brought to a formal recognition of 
independence at the haughty conmiand of France, and I 
believe every part of the nation would proceed to evcrv 
extremity before they would submit to that. But if that 
touchy point can be provided for, sub silentio, anri if the 
proposed treaty with America may be carried on free 
from control by France, let us give the cause of peace a 
fair trial ; at the worst we shoidd but be where wc were 
if' we should fail. But why should we expect to fail, 
when the greatest rub is removed, by the liberty of entei- 
ing separately i.ito a treaty ? 1 think it a most favorable 
event, leading towards peace. Give us a truce with its 
VOL. III. 34 


concomitants, and a little time so given for cooling will 
have most excellent effects on both sides. Eternal peace 
and conciliation may then follow. 

I send this to you by the quickest despatch, that we 
may bring this point to a fair issue before the meeting of 
Parliament. God prosper the blessed work of peace. 

1 am ever yours most aflectionately, 


r. S. January Sth, 17S2. Since writing this letter, 
I have seen Mr Alexander, and shall see him from time to 
time to comiiiunicate with him. I do not suppose I shall 
have an answer from Lord North till the preliminary points 
are so settleil, as to enable him to give an answer in form. 
The Ministry might undoubtedly give a short negative, if 
they thought proper ; but 1 do not expect that. You may 
be assured, that I have and shall continue to enforce every 
argument in the most conciliatory manner to induce a ne- 
gotiation. I am very sorry for i\h' A.'s confinement, on his 
ov(7n account, and on that of his friends, and because pro- 
bably in the future state of this business his personal exer- 
tions may be very serviceable in the cause of peace. 
Every assistance and every exertion of mine will always 
be most licarlily devoted to that cause. 1 have nothing 
further to add, either upon my own reflections or from my 
subsequent conversations with Mr Alexander, to what I 
have stated in the foregoing letter, li we once make a 
good beginning upon the plan there stated, I should hope 
that such a negotiation, founded on such principles, would 
promise fair to produce every salutary and pacific conse- 
quence in the event. 

1). II. 



In the title and preamble of the bill, the words Provinces 
of North America are used as general words, neither im- 
plying dependence or independence. 

Clause i. The Truce is taken from ihu Conciliatory 
Act of 177S, and is indefinite as to the proposed duration 
of the truce. Under this clause it might be proposed to 
negotiate three points, viz. the removal of the British 
troops from the Thirteen Provinces of North America, and 
connectedly with this article, a stipulation for the security 
of the friends of the British government. The third arti- 
cle might be a stipulation, that the respective parties, dur- 
ing the continuance of the truce, should not either di- 
rectly or indirectly give assistance to the enemies of each 

Clausk II. Articles of Intercourse and Pacification. 
Under this clause some arrangements might be settled, for 
establishing a free and mutual intercourse, civil and com- 
mercial, between Great Britain and the aforesaid Provinces 
of North America. 

Clause hi. Suspension of certain Acts of Parlia- 
ment. By this clause a (vee communication may be kept 
open between the two countries, during the negotiation for 
peace, without stiunbling against any claim of rights, which 
might draw into contest the (piestion of dependence or 

Clause iv. The Ratification by Parliament. The 
object of this clause is to consolidate peace and concilia- 
tion, step by step, as the negotiation may proceed ; and to 
prevent, as far as possible, any return of war, after the 
first declaration of a truce. J3y the operation o{ this 


clause, a leinj)orary truce may be converted into a perpet- 
ual and permanent peace. 

Clause v. A Temporary Act. This clause, creating 
a temporary act for a specific purpose of negotiation in 
view, is taken from the act of 1778. 


Pl.iladclpliia, January 7fli, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
As it does not appear improbable, that the humiliation 
and misfortunes of Great Britain may produce the same 
sentiments, which a spirit of moderation dictates to the 
other belligerent powers, and lead her to concur with 
them in their wishes for peace, it cannot he improper 
to acquaint you with the o!)jecls America most wishes to 
attain, and to furnish you with the arguments on which 
they found their claim to them. For such is the con- 
fidence, not only in the justice of His Most Christian 
Majesty, but in his friendship, that they firmly [)ersuadc 
themselves, that he will not only preserve for them their 
undoubted rigiits, but tliat he will even go so far as to 
procure for them those advantages they may reasonably 
demand, on the close of a successful war; and I am 
perfectly satisfied, that the loose hints that a detail of 
their sentiments may afford you, and our other Commis- 
sioners, will be strengthened and improved by your lights 
in such manner, as to come before his Majesty in the 
most advantageous form. 

The first point of discussion will be the limits of the 

United States. The instructions given Mr Adams on the 

day of last, explain the wishes of Con- 


gress on that subject, nor can they admit of many doubts, 
except so far as they relate to our souilieni extent. 
The boundan.' between us and Canada being very well 
ascertained by grants, charters, proclamations, and other 
acts of government, and more particularly by the settle- 
ments of people, who are engaged in the same cause with 
us, and who have the same rights with the rest of the sub- 
jects of the United States. 

Our western and noriluvestcrn extent will probably bo 
contested with some warmth, and the reasoning on that 
subject be deduced from general principles, and from 
proclamations and treaties with the Indians. 

Tiie subject is undoubtedly intricate and delicate, yet, 
upon candid investigation, I believe it will appear, that our 
extension to the Mississippi is founded in justice ; and that 
our claims are at least such as the events of the war give 
us a right to insist upon. Your situation, furnishing you 
amply with the various documents on which Great Britain 
founded her claim to all the country east of the Mississippi 
previous to the treaty of Paris, I will not trouble you with 
references to them, which would at any rale be imperfect, 
from the want which prevails here of books and papers. 
Taking it for granted, that the King of Great Britain was 
entitled to that extent of country, (which he at least cannot 
contravene) it only remains to examine how far he con- 
siders it as within the limits of some of the United States, 
because he can no more pretend to abridge those limits, 
than claim any other right of which the United States 
are in possession. 

His idea of these limits is apparent from charters 
granted by the crown ; and from recent grants made by its 
representatives in several of the States, it appears that they 


considered their aiitbority to grant lands to the westward, 
as coextensive with the right of Great Britain, unless they 
were restricted by their interference with other govern- 
ments. Upon this principle, the servants of the crown in 
New York granted land on the borders of Lake Erie, to 
the westward of Niagara. And Virginia, even after the 
proclamation in 1763, patented considerable tracts upon 
the Ohio, far beyond die Appalachian mountains. It is 
true, the several governments were prohibited at different 
times from granting lands beyond certain limits, but these 
were clearly temporary restrictions, which the policy of 
maintaining a good understanding with tiie natives dictated, 
and were always broken through after a short period, as is 
evinced by the grants abovementioned, made subsequent 
^ to the proclamation in 1 7G3. And indeed the proclama- 
tion itself furnishes a substantial argument of the opin- 
ion of Britain, with respect to the right which some 
of the States had to extend to the westward of the limits 
it prescribed, otherwise it would not have been neces- 
sary to prohibit their governors from granting, as their 
patents would, in sucli cases, have been invalid, and them- 
selves subjected to the censure of their master upon whom 
they were dependent. Unless, therefore, these proclama- 
tions absolutely destn-yed the right, ihey must be consider- 
ed as proofs of its existence at least, and after diey were 
issued. The slightest examination of them shows, that 
they did not take away, but restrained an existing right, 
and the subsequent grants by the governors evidence 
that they were, as is before asserted, mere temporary 
restrictions. The same reasoning applies to the treaty at 
Fort Stanwix, and to other agreements taken from treaties 
with the Indians. Strong evidence in our favor is also 


found in the map made by the King's geograjihcr, in which 
Virginia and tlie Carolinas are laid down as extending to 
the Mississippi, shortly after the last war. Arguments may 
be drawn against us by the Quebec Bill, but as this is one 
of the laws that occasioned die war, to build anything 
upon it would be to urge one wrong in support of another. 
But lliis matter may perhaps be seen in a different light, 
and our pretensions placed upon a more extensive basis 
by recurring to general principles, and asking whence 
Great Britain derived her risilit to the waste lands in 

Evidently, from the allegiance wiiich a subject is sup- 
posed to carry with him wherever he goes, even though he 
dislikes his constitution and seeks one that pleases him 
better, upon this false principle, the oppressed subjects 
of Great Britain, seeking freedom in the wilds of America, 
were supposed to extend to it the sovereignty of tlie king- 
dom they had left. The rights of the King of Great 
Britain then to America were incident to i)is right of sov- 
ereignty over those of his subjects that settled America, 
and explored the lands he claims. For the idea of right 
derived from mere discovery, and the vain ceremony of 
taking possession without planting and continuing that pos- 
session, is now fully exploded. If then we admit what is 
necessary to our independence, that the right of sovereignly 
over the people of America is forfeited, it must follow, 
that all rights founded in that sovereignty are forfeited with 
it; and that upon our setting up a new sovereign in 
America, the rights which the first claimed as such, de- 
volve upon the second. Upon liiis principle. Great Britain 
is left without a foot of land in America beyond the limits 
of those governments which acknowledge her juiisdiction. 


It is in vain to say, that the King of Great Britain 
holds these back lands by a cession from other powers. 
Since those cessions were grounded upon a prior claim, 
derived through the people of America, and only served to 
confirm the right which they gave the King of Great 
Britain while he was their sovereign, and which he loses 
with his sovereignty over them. This mode of reasoning 
is warranted by the practice Great Britain uniformly held 
of treating with the Indian nations through their American 
governors, who have frequently executed with them the 
most solemn acts, and sometimes extended the King's 
protection to tlie nations who occupy the waste lands, 
which are the subject of our present claim. The 
expense of retaining these in iiiendshin almost always 
devolved upon the respective States, who, till lately, par- 
ticularly in New York, voted the sums necessary to sup- 
port smiths among them, and to procure the presents 
which were annually made them. From hence, then, it 
follows, that if the King of Great Britain has any right 
over the back lands in America, it must be as King of 
the neople of America ; ceasing to be King of those peo- 
ple, his right also ceases. If he has no right over the 
back lands, but merely as protector of the savage nations 
that inhabit them, that connexion and duty also devolve 
upon us, since they evidently claimed that protection from 
him as King of the Colonies, and through the governors 
of those Colonies, and not as sovereign of a country three 
thousand miles from them. This country having chosen a 
new sovereign, they may rigiitfully claim its protection. 

There is some reason to believe, that Great Britain con- 
sidered their rights in many instances as extending no 
further than their right of preemption and protection, as 


may be inferred from passages in the negoliations for a 
peace wiili France in the year 17G1, referred to in the 
margin. This suggests a new idea, which, however, 1 am 
not warranted by any act of Congress in mentioning, and 
therefore you will only consider it as the sentiment of an 
individual. If the mediators should not incline to admit 
our claim, but determine on restricting our limits, either by 
tlie extent of our grants, the course of the mountains, the 
sources of the rivers, or any other of those arbitrary rules 
that must be sought for when solid principles are relin- 
quished, perhaps it would not be difficult to bring them to 
agree, that the country beyond those limits belongs to the 
nations which inhabit it ; that it should enjoy its inde- 
pendence under the guarantee of France, Spain, Great 
Britain, and America, and be open to the trade of those 
whose lands border upon them. 

This, though restrictive of our rights, would free us from 
the well grounded apprehensions, that the vicinity of Great 
Britain and her command of the savages would give us. 
They already possess Canada and Nova Scotia ; should 
that immense territory, which lies upon the rear of the 
States, from the Gulf of St Lawrence to the Gulf of Mex- 
ico, be acknowledged to be vested in Great Britain, it will 
render our situation truly hazardous. The lands, as you 
know, arc infinitely better than those on the coast; they 
have an open communication with the sea by the rivers St 
Lawrence and tho Mississippi, and with each other by 
those extensive inland seas with which America abounrls. 
They will be settled with the utmost vapidity from Europe, 
but more particularly from these Slates. Attachment to 
the government, freedom from taxes, a propect of bettering 
their fortunes, and the fertility of the soil, will invite nuin- 
vor,. III. S.'S 


bers to leave us. This, co-operating with the leaven of dis- 
satisfaction, which will continue to work here for many 
years, may produce the most dangerous effects, especially 
upon the Southern States, which will, from the nature of 
their soil and husbandry, be thinly settled for many years, 
while the lands, which lie near them beyond the moun- 
tains, will soon be filled with a hardy race of people inim- 
ical to them, who to their own strength will be enabled to 
join that of the savages, subject to their command. 

If it is an object with the maritime powers to lessen the 
power, and by that means diminish the dangerous domin- 
ion that Great Britain has in some measure usurped over 
the ocean, they must prevent her possessing herself of the 
country in question, since, besides the whole fur and pel- 
try trade, that she will thereby engross, the demands of 
this great country will give a new spring to her manufac- 
tures, which, though the Floridas should be ceded to Spain, 
will find their way into it by the river St Lawrence, and 
through the numerous lakes and rivers which communicate 
with it. Add to this, that settlements are already formed 
beyond the Appalachian mountains by people who acknow- 
ledge the United States, which not only give force to our 
claims, but render a relinquishment of their interest highly 
impolitic and unjust. These, and a variety of other rea- 
sons, which will suggest themselves to you and the gentle- 
men joined in the commission with you, will doubtless be 
uro-ed in such terms as to convince the Court of France, 
that our mutual interests conspire to keep Great Britain 
from any territory on this continent beyond the bounds of 
Canada. Should the Floridas be ceded to Spain, she will 
certainly unite with you on this point, as the security of 
that cession will depend upon its success. 


The Fisheries will probably be anothei- source of litiga- 
tion, not because our rights are doubtful, but because Great 
Britain has never paid much attention to rights, which inter- 
fere with her views. 

The arguments on which the [)eople of America I'ound 
their claim to fish on the Banks of Newfoundland arise, 
first, from their iiavin^ once formed a part of the British 
empire, in which state they always enjoyed, as fully as 
the people of Britain themselves, the right of fishing on 
those Banks. They have shared in all the wars for the 
extension of that right, and Britain could with no more jus- 
lice have excluded ihem from the enjoyment of it, (even 
supposing that one nation could possess it to the exclusion 
ol' anotlier,) while they formed a part of that empire, than 
they could exclude the people of London or Bristol. If 
so, the only inquiry is, how have we lost this right. If we 
were tenants in common with Great Britain, while united 
with her, we still continue so, unless by our own act we 
have relinquished our title. Had we parted with mutual 
consent, we should doubtless have made partition of our 
common rights by treaty. But the oppressions of Great 
Britain forced us to a separation, (which must be admitted, 
or we have no right to be independent) and it cannot cer- 
tainly be contended that those oppressions abridged our 
rights, or gave new ones to Britain. Our rights then are 
not invalidated by this separation, more particularly as we 
have kept up our claim from the connnencement of the 
war, and assigned the attempt of Great Britain to exclude 
us from the fisheries as one of the causes of our recurring 
to arms. 

The second ground upon which we place our right to 
fish on the Banks of Xewfonndland, provided we do not 


come within such distance of the coasts of other powers, as 
the law of nations allows them to appropriate, is the right 
which nature gives to all mankind to use its common bene- 
fit, so far as not to exclude others. The sea cannot in its 
nature be appropriated ; no nation can put its mark upon 
it. Though attempts have sometimes been made to set 
up an empire over it, they have been considered as unjust 
usurpations, and resisted as such, in turn, by every mari- 
time nation in Europe. The idea of such empire is now 
fully exploded by the best writers. 

The whale fishery in every sea, and even upon the 
coasts of princes, who do not exercise it themselves, is con- 
sidered as a common right, and is enjoyed by those nations 
that choose to pursue it. The cod fishery, upon the Dogger 
Bank, and other parts of the European seas, is claimed 
exclusively by no nation. The herring fishery is carried 
on daily by the Dutch on the coast of England, and if the 
Banks of Newfoundland are not equally common, it is be- 
cause some nations have relinquished their rights, and 
others find it impossible to exercise them, for want of har- 
bors to receive their vessels, or shores to dry their fish on. 

When we say we are willing to exercise it under these 
inconveniences, there can certainly be no further dispute 
about our right, and the only remaining questions will be 
the distance that we ought to keep from the shores pos- 
sessed by the enemy; though, strictly speaking, from our 
first principle, we have a common right in them. 

This subject is treated so much at large by Grotius and 
Valtel, that I do not think it necessary to detail argurnents, 
which, lliough urged by people here from their feelings, 
you will find much better stated there. Give me leave 
however to urge some, that may arise from our particular 


circuinslances. All the New England States are much 
interested in this point ; the Slate of Massachusetts more 
particularly ; it has no staple ; it does not raise its own 
bread ; its principal commerce consisted before the war 
in fisli, which it supplied to the rest of tlie continent in 
exchange for rice, Hour, &cc, and to the West Indies for 
rum, sugar, and molasses. It shipped little to Europe ; 
first, because it could not fish so cheap as the people of 
England ; secondly, because their fish was not so well 
cured in general, owing to their fishing at improper seasons, 
and to Uieir using salt which is said to be of a more harsh 
nature, than what the European vessels bring out with 
them. Should this State and New Hampshire, which is 
almost in similar circumstances, be excluded from the fish- 
eries, they must be reduced to great distress. It will be 
impossible for tliem to pay for the necessaries they must 
receive from abroad. Tliey will see with pain their sister 
States in the full enjoyment of the benefits, which will result 
from their independence, while their own commerce is 
checked, and their State impoverished. They will con- 
sider their interests as sacrificed to the happiness of others, 
and can hardly forbear to foster that discontent, which may 
be productive of disunion, and the most dangerous di- 

An idea has also gone forth, and it is fomented by the 
disaffected, that France wishes, from interested views, to 
monopolise the fisheries ; or, at least to exclude all other 
competitors but Great Britain. Those, who have attended 
to the disinterested conduct of France during the war, op- 
pose to this sentiment the honor and good faith of their 
ally, the little interest that he can have in excluding a 
people from a right, which would not interfere with his, 


since France does little more than supply herself; and the 
New England fishevy, for the most part, only supplies the 
continent and islands of America. They see the care with 
which France has endeavored to cultivate a good under- 
standing between that Kingdom and these States, and 
they are persuaded so inconsiderable an object will not be 
put in competition with the harmony, which ought to sub- 
sist between them, or administer Ibod to those unworthy 
jealousies. And so much does this sentiment prevail in 
Congress, that dieir prospects have not induced them to 
alter your instructions ; more particularly as they have re- 
ceived through the Minister of France assurances, that his 
Majesty was pleased with the proofs Congress had given 
him of their confidence, and that he would in no event 
make any sacrifices of their essential interests, which ne- 
cessity should not compel him to do; that he had no 
reason to apprehend from die events of the war, that such 
necessity would exist. These events have become so- 
much more favorable since the date of the letter, which 
contained these assurances, that Congress persuade them- 
selves his Majesty will not be driven to make sacrifices 
equally painful to him and injurious to us ; but that, as we 
owe our success in war to his magnanimity and generosity, 
we may be ccjually indebted to his justice and firmness for 
an honorable peace. 

It is not improbable, that Great Britain will endeavor to 
make some sdpulations in favor of their American parti- 
zans, who have been banished the country, or whose prop- 
erty has been forfeited. You will doubdess be sensible of 
the inconvenience and danger, to which their return will 
subject us, and the injustice of restoring to them what they 
have so justly forfeited ; while no compensation is made to. 


US for the loss of properly, and the calamities they have 

There can be little doubt, that every society may right- 
full v banish from among them those, who aim at its sub- 
version, and forfeit the property, which they can only be 
entitled to by the laws, and under the protection of the 
society, which ihey attempt to destroy. Without troub- 
ling you, therefore, on the point of right, I will just men- 
tion a few of the consequences that would result from 
a stipulation in their favor. 

In the first place, it will excite general dissatisfaction 
and tumults. They are considered here as the authors 
of the war. Those who have lost relations and friends 
by it, those who have been insulted by them while starv- 
ing in prisons and prison-ships, those who have been 
robbed and plundered, or who have had their houses 
burned and their families ill treated by them, will, in 
despite of all law, or treaties, avenge themselves, if the 
real or supposed authors of these calamities ever put 
themselves in their power; nor will the government be 
able to prevent what the feeling of the body of the peo- 
ple will justify. 

Should they be permitted to reside among us, they 
will neglect no means to injure and subvert our consti- 
tution and government, and to sow divisions among us in 
order to pave the way for the introduction of the old 
system. They will be dangerous partisans of the enemy, 
equally unfriendly to France and to us, and will show 
themselves such upon every occasion. To restore their 
property m many instances is now become impossible. 
It has been sold from hand to hand ; the money arising 
from it has been sunk by depreciation in the public treas- 


ury. To raise the value by taxes, or to wrest the lands 
from the hands of the proprietors, is equally unjust and 
impossible. Many of the very people, who would demand 
the restitution, have grown rich by the spoil and plunder 
of this country. Maiiy others, who were beggars at the 
beginning of this war, owe their present affluence to the 
same cause. 

So that at least the account between the two nations 
should be liquidated, before any claim can be set up by the 
aggressors. How far it will be possible to obtain a com- 
pensation for the injuries wantonly done by the enemy, 
you will be best able to judge ; be assured that it is 
anxiously desired. 

Give me leave to mention to you the necessity of stipu- 
lating for the safe delivery of all records, and other papers 
of a public and private nature, which the enemy have pos- 
sessed themselves of 5 particularly of the records of New 
York, which Mr Tryon sent to England ; and the pri- 
vate papers of many gentlemen of the law in different 
parts of the continent, by v/hich the rights of individuals 
may be materially aflected. 

Thus, Sir, I have touched upon the principal points, that 
America wishes to attain in the peace, which must end this 
bloody war. Perhaps in so doing 1 have given both you 
and myself unnecessary trouble, since 1 have urged nothing 
but wiiat your own knowledge of the country, and that of 
the other gentlemen in the commission, would have sug- 
gested to you. However, conceiving that circumstances 
might render it necessary for you to declare, that you 
spoke nothing more than tlie prevailing sentiments of your 
Court, this letter will serve to vouch for the assertion. 

Should the Floridas he ceded to Spain, as there is 


nothing Congress have more at heart than to maintain that 
friendly intercourse with them, which this revolution has 
happily hegun, it will be essential to fix their limits pre- 
cisely, for wliich purpose the instructions to INIr Adams 
will serve as your directions. 

Affairs liere are in the same state that they were when 
I last wrote, except that the enemy in South Carolina 
have called in all their outposts, and shut themselves up in 
Charleston, where they will be closely invested when Gen- 
eral St Clair joins, which must have liappened about the 
last of December. The brilliant expedition to St Eusta- 
tia does the highest honor to the Marquis de Bouille and 
the French nation. 1 /latter myself that it will be of sin- 
gular use in Mr Adams's negotiations. 

I have the honor to be, dear Sir, he. k,c. 



Passy, January 15th, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
I received a few days since your favor of the 2d instant, 
in which you tell me, that Mr Alexander had informed 
you, "America was disposed to enter into a separate treaty 
with Great Britain." I am persuaded, that your strong 
desire for peace has misled you, and occasioned your 
greatly misunderstanding Mr Alexander ; as I think it 
scarce possible he should have asserted a thing so utterly 
void of foundation. I remember that you have, as you 
say, often urged this on former occasions, and that it al- 
ways gave me more disgust than my friendship for you 
VOL. III. 36 


permitted mo to express. But since you have now gone so 
far as to carry such a proposition to Lord North, as arising 
iVoni us, it is necessary tiiat I should be explicit with you, 
and tell you plainly, that I never had such an idea, and I 
believe there is not a man in America, a few English 
tones excepted, that would not spurn at the thought of 
deserting a noble and genei-ous friend, for the sake of a 
truce with an unjust and cruel enemy. 

I have again read over your Conciliatory Bill, with the 
manuscript propositions that accompany it, and am con- 
cerned to find, that one cannot give vent to a simple wish 
for peace, a mere sentiment of liumanity, without having it 
interpreted as a i/isjwsition to submit to any base conditions 
that may he oflered us, rather than continue the war ; for, 
Oil no other supposition could you propose to us a truce of 
ten years, during which we are to engage not to assist 
France, while \ou continue the war with her. A truce 
too, wherein nothing is to !)e mentioned that may weaken 
your pretensions to dominion over us, which you may 
therefore resume at the em\ of the term, or at pleasure ; 
when we should have so covered ourselves with infamy, 
by our treachery lo our first friend, as that no other nation 
can ever alter 1)0 disposed to assist us, however cruelly 
vou might think lit to treat us. Believe me, my dear 
friend, America has too much understanding, and is too 
sensible of the value of the world's good opinion, to forfeit 
it ;dl by such perfidy. The Congress will never instruct 
their Commissioners to obtain a peace on such ignominious 
terms ; and tbougli there can be but few things in which 
r should venture to disobey theiv orilers, yet, if it were 
possible ibr them to give me such an order as this, I should 
certainlv refuse to act ; I should instantly renounce their 


commission, and banish niysell Ibrevor Irom so inlaiiions a 

We aru a lillle aaiLiilious loo ol your esteem ; and as 
1 think we have acquired some share of it, by our manner 
of making war with you, I trust we shall not hazard the 
loss g>f it, by consenting meanly to a dishonorable peace. 

Lord North was wise in demanding of you some autho- 
rised acknowledgment of the proposition from authorised 
persons. He justly thought it too improbable to be relied 
on, so as to lay it before the Privy Council. You can 
now inform him, that the whole has been a mistake, and 
tijat no such proposition as that of a separate peace has 
been, is, or is ever likely to be made by me ; and I be- 
lieve by no otiier authorised person whatever in behalf of 
America. You may further, if you please, inform his 
Lordship, that Mr Adams, IVlr Laurens, Mr Jay, and my- 
self, have long since been empowered, by a special com- 
niission, to treat of peace whenever a negotiation shall be 
opened for that purpose ; but it must always be under- 
stood, that this is to be in conjunction with our allies, con- 
formably to the solemn treaties made with them. 

You have, my dear friend, a strong desire to promote 
peace, and it is a most laudable and virtuous desire. Per- 
mit me then to wish, that you would, in order to succeed 
as a mediator, avoid such invidious expressions as may 
have an eliect in ])reventing your purpose. You tell me 
that no stipulation for our independence must be in the 
treaty, because you " verily believe, so deep is the jealousy 
between England and France, that England would fight 
for a straw, to the last man and tlie last shilling, rather 
than be dictated to by France." And again, that, " the 
nation would proceed to every extremity, rather than be 


brought to a formal recognition of independence at the 
haughty command of France." My dear Sir, if every 
proposition of terms for peace, that may be made by one 
of the parties at war, is to be called and considered by the 
other as dictating, and a hanghty command, and for that 
reason rejected, with a resolution of fighting to the last 
man rather than agree to it, you see that in such case no 
treaty of peace is possible. 

In fact we began the war for independence on your 
government, which we found tyrannical, and this before 
France had anything to do with our afiairs ; the article in 
our treaty whereby the " two parties engage, that neither 
of them shall conclude either truce or peace with Great 
Britain, without the formal consent of the other first ob- 
tained ; and mutually engage, not to lay down their arms 
until the independence of the United States shall have 
been formally or tacitly assured, by the treaty or treaties, 
that shall terminate the war," was an article inserted at 
our instance, being in our favor. And you see, by the ar- 
ticle itself, that your great difliculty may be easily got over, 
as a formal acknowledgment of our independence is not 
made necessary. But we hope by God's help to enjoy 
it ; and I suppose we shall fight for it as long as we are 

I do not make any remarks upon the other propositions, 
because I think, that unless they were made by authority, 
the discussion of them is unnecessary and may be inconve- 
nient. The supposition of our being disposed to make a 
separate pence I could not be silent upon, as it materially 
affected our reputation and its essential interests. If I 
have been a little warm on that offensive point, reflect on 
your repeatedly urging it, and endeavor to excuse me. 


Whatever may be the fate of our poor countries, let you 
and tnc die as we have lived, in peace with each other. 

Assuredly I continue, with great and sincere esteem, my 
dear friend, yours most affectionately, 



Pnssy, January 18th, 1782. 


I received the letter your Excellency did me the honor 
of writing to nie this day, enclosing a Memorial,* which 
relates to the interests of some subjects of the Emperor, 
residing at Ostend, who allege that a ship of theirs has 
been taken by an American privateer, and carried into 
Boston, on pretence that the property was English, k.c. I 
shall immediately transmit the Memorial to Congress, as 
desired. But there being Courts of Admiralty established 
in each of the United States, I conceive, that the regular 
steps to be taken by the complainants would be an appli- 
cation for justice to those Courts by some person on the 
spot, duly authorised by them as their agents, and in case 
the judgment of the Court is not satisfactory, that then 
they appeal to the Congress, which cannot well take cog- 
nisance of such matters in the first instance. 

The merchants of Ostend may possibly not have as yet 
correspondents established in all the States, but any mer- 
chant of credit in the country would transact such business 
on receiving their request, with the proper power of attor- 
ney; or if His Imperial Majesty should think fit to appoint a 
Consul General to reside in those States, such an officer 

• Sec this Memorial iu Franklin's Works, Vol. V. p. 122. 


might at all limes assist his compatriots with liis counsels 
and protection, in any aliairs that they might have in that 
country. I am the more jjarlicular in mentioning this to 
your Excellency, because I apprehend these cases may 
hereafter be frequent, and if the complaints are to be 
addressed to you antl me, we are likely to have a great 
deal of trouble, as 1 am informed that it is become a daily 
practice for outward bound English ships to put into Os- 
tend, make a formal pretended sale of ship and cargo to a 
merchant of the place, who furnishes imperial papers for 
the voyage under his own name, and receives a certain 
sum per cent for the operation. 

This is said to be a branch of great profit to the Flem- 
ish merchants, and that a very great number of English 
ships are now at sea with such papers, and I suspect even 
from their own manner of stating the transaction, that the 
ship and cargo reclaimed by the complainants are of that 
kind. This seems to me an abuse of the neutralitv, as 
these fictitious profits arc adtled to the advantage of real 
carriage for the belligerent nations, they make it too much 
the intci'est of neutral neighbors to foment wars and obstruct 
peace, that such profits may continue. x\nd if it is to be 
understood as a settled point, that such papers are to 
protect English properly, the filters out of privateers from 
France, Spain, Holland, and America, will in another 
year be all ruined, for they will find none but Flemish 
ships upon the ocean. 

With the greatest respect, Sec. 




Pliiladelphia, .laiuiarv 23il, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 

An express just going to the Chesapeake, gives me an 
opportunity of sending by the Hernnione, a resolution 
passed yesterday. My letters by this conveyance are so 
long, that they leave me nothing to add, unless it be, that 
we have just received letters from Mr Deane, (copies are 
enclosed) which confirm the authenticity of those published 
in his name by ^Ir Riviiigton, mentioned in my former 
letters. In one of those publications he expressly advises 
a return to the government of Great Britain ; and, as this 
could not be effected through Congress, that it should be 
done by committees, which the people should choose for 
that express purpose. These, of which I now send you 
copies, were delivered here by the person to whom Mr 
Deane gave them, so that there can be no doubt of their 

We have nothing new except what you will learn from 
the papers herewith transmitted. As I doubt not you are 
upon the most confidential terms with the Marquis de La- 
fayette, I could wish him to see my last letter. You will 
observe, that 1 have omitted (for reasons that you will 
easily conceive) to make use of the arguments, which may 
be derived from the 11th and I2th articles of our treaty 
with France. The Commissioners will exercise their own 
discretion in applying them, when a negotiation shall be 

We were much surprised r.t not receiving a single line 
by the frigate, which lately arrived at the Chesapeake, 
from any one of oiu- foreign Ministers. It is upwards of 


three months since we have had a letter of intelligence from 
Europe. Congress complains of these neglects, (for such 
they consider them) and I flatter myself, that in future, as 
a channel is now open through this office for a regular 
correspondence, this cause of complaint will be removed, 
and that letters and papers will be lodged with our consuls 
to go by every conveyance. 

Be persuaded, Sir, that 1 shall omit no opportunity to 
give you every information, which may contribute to your 
private amusements or the public benefit. 
I have the honor to be, &lc. 


P. S. I have this moment received resolutions from 
Congress, (copies of which I enclose) which serve 
to show their sense of the importance of the fisheries 
and their western extent, and add new weight to the 
arguments which I had the honor to urge. You will be 
pleased to transmit copies of them to Mr Jay and Mr 


London, January 24th, 1782. 

My Dear Sir, 
1 received yours of the 15th instant this day. I must 
take the earliest opportunity of setting you right in one mis- 
take, which runs through your whole letter, and which to 
you, under that mistake, must be a very delicate point. 
You seem to apprehend that America has been stated in 
the proposition to Lord North, as "disposed to enter into 
a separate treaty with Great Britain ;" but you meet the 
condition, viz. in the words immediately following, "«7?t? 


that their allies were disposed to consent to it.'''' There 
cannot possibly be any supposition of treachery to allies, in 
any proposition to which they may consent. A separate 
treaty, with the consent of the allies of America, was the 
proposition communicated to me by Air Alexander, and 
which I laid before the Minister, and which I reported 
back again to Mr Alexander in writing, when I showed him 
the paper entitled "Conciliatory Propositions," which I 
took care to reduce to writing, with a view of avoiding mis- 
takes ; therefore, I have not misunderstood Mr Alexander. 
I have since seen Mr A. many times, and he has always 
stated one and the same proposition, viz. that America 
was disposed to enter into a separate treaty, because 
their allies ivere disposed to consent that they should; 
therefore there cannot exist a suspicion of treachery. It 
occurred to me once while I was writing, to bar against 
that misconstruction, but having speci6ed tlie consent of 
the allies of ^imerica in the same sentence, I could not 
conceive such a misconstruction to have been possible. 

You have mistaken another point greatly. Vou say, 
"a truce for ten years." There is not in the bill any such 
disposition or thought ; on the contrary, it is specified in 
the enclosed paper that it is kept indefinite, for the sole 
purpose of avoiding the suspicion uhich you have sug- 
gested. The truce may be for twenty, or fifty, or one 
hundred years; in my opinion the longer the better. 
But in any case, what I mean now lo state is the indefinite 
term in the bill. The articles of intercourse are only i)ro- 
posed for ten years certain, just to strew the way with in- 
viting and conciliatory Aicilities, in the hope that a little 
lime given for cooling would confirm a perpetual peace. 
If I were permitted to be the mediator, I should certainly 
VOL. III. 37 


propose the truce for twenty years ; but if no more thafl 
ten years could be obtained, I would certainly not refuse 
such a ground of pacification and treaty. 1 refer you 
to several of my letters tvvo or three years ago, for the 
justification of my sentiments on that head. 

Another point; look at all my letters since 1778, and 
see if I have at any time suggested any breach of treaty or 
of honor ; on the contrary, I think a faithless nation, if ex- 
terminated, would not deserve the pity of mankind. I 
speak of all 1 know in the treaty between America and 
France, and what I think reasonable upon the case itself. 
If America is further bound than we know of, they must 
abide by it. I speak to the apparent and public founda- 
tion of the treaty, article second, with the provision of 
tacitly, from article eighth ; and now I refer you to my 
letter to you, as long ago as April 10th, 1779 ; "If beyond 
this essential and directed end, and upon grounds totally 
unconnected with that alliance^ not upon motives of magna-^ 
nimity for the relief of an innocent people, but from dis- 
tinct and unconnected motives of private European sen- 
timents, America should be dragged into the consequence 
of a general European war, she may apply to France 
the apostrophe of the poet, speaking in the person ai 
Helen to Paris, ^^non hoc pollicitiis tuce.^^ You see, there- 
fore, that our sentiments have been uniform, and as I think, 
reasonable, because I still remain in those sentiments. 

Suppose, for instance, (and yod may call it the case of 
a straw if you please) that Great Britain and France should 
continue the war for ten years, on the point of a com- 
missary at Dunkirk, aye or no ; — would it be reasonable, 
or a casus foederis, that America should be precluded 
from a separate treaty for ten years, and therefore io- 


volved in iJje consequential war, alier the essential and 
direct ends of the treaty of Febiuary Gth, 177S, were 
accomplished ? As lar as my judgment goes, upon the 
knowledge of such facts as are public, I should think 
it was neither reasonable rwr a casus fcederis. This is 
the breviate of tlie argument, in which there is no thought 
or suggestion of any breach of faith or honor. I did con- 
clude that France was disposed to give their consent, be- 
cause Mr Alexander informed me so, and because I 
thought it reasonable that France should consent, and 
reasonable that America should enjoy the benefit of that 
consent. I transmitted it to Lord North, as a proposition 
temperate and pacific on liie part of America, and con- 
sented to by their allies, and on no other ground did I 
transmit or propose it. All that your letter tells me, is, 
"that America will not break with her allies, and that her 
Commissioners will not entertain such a thought;" but give 
me leave to add, that they, as honest men, cannot disdain 
such a thought more than I do ; every honest man ought 
to disdain the oiiice, or the thought of proposing a breach 
of faith to them. I have often told you., that such an 
office or sucii a thought shall never be mine. 

But you have not told me that France would not be 
disposed to consent to a separate treaty of peace, for that 
ally whose peace was the original declared object of the 
alliance, in the case supposed, viz. of certain supposed 
or real pimctillios between two proud and belligerent na- 
tion?, which might possibly involve Ainerica for years in 
a war totally unconnected with the objects of the alliance. 
Besides, if any rubs should occur in the road to a general 
peace, France is too proud a nation to say, that beyond 
the policy of contributing to the separation of America 


from Great Britain in any contest of rivalship, they can- 
not meet their rivals in war, without the assistance cf 
America. I cannot conceive that the Minister of a great 
belligerent nation could entertain such a thought, as affec- 
ting their own sense of honor, or be so unreasonable to 
their allies, as to withhold consent to their peace, when the 
essential and direct ends of the alliance were satisfied. 
Observe, 1 do not contend against a general peace ; on the 
contrary, I mean to recommend the most prudent means 
for producing it. But, as an anxious lover of peace, 1 feel 
terrors which dismay me, and 1 consider the dangers 
which may obstruct a general peace, arising from the 
pride and prejudices of nations, which are not to be con- 
trolled in their heat by arguments of reason or philosophy. 

Can any man in reason and philosophy tell me, why 
any two nations in the world are called natural enemies, as 
if it were the ordinance of God and nature ? I fear it is too 
deeply engraved in the passions of man, and for that 
reason 1 would elude and evade the contest with such pas- 
sions. 1 would strew the road to peace with flowers, and 
not with thorns. Haughty, and dictating, and commands, 
are no words of mine ; 1 abhor them, and I fear them. I 
would elude their force by gentle means, and step by step. 
In article eighth, there are the following words ; "By the 
treaty or treaties that shall terminate the war." Let us 
have one treaty begun, and I think the rest would follow. 
I fear when contending passions are raised, lest we should 
lose all by grasping at too much. 

January 25th. I have just seen Mr Alexander, and 
have talked the matter over with him. I send you a copy 
of his sentiments upon it, which, for the sake of avoiding 
further mistakes, he committed to paper, and which, I 


think, jusiity me in saying, that I understood from him, that 
France was disposed to give their consent, as he explained 
it to me, and as 1 explained it to tlie Minister. He did not 
say, nor did [ understand iiim to say, that he was authorised 
by the Frencli Ministry, or by any one else, to declare that 
France had bound herself to consent, or that any such 
requisition had been made to her ; but that it was his opin- 
ion that France would consent, and that I might proceed 
upon that presumption, so far as to recommend overtures 
of negotiation. Accordingly, the phrase of my letter to 
you is, that he explained to me, that their allies were dis- 
posed to consent. You see what liis opinion is on this 
day ; and as you have not told me that France will con- 
sent, the reasonable probability which still remains with 
me, for the hopes of opening an amicable treaty, remains 
as it did. 

I could not delay saying thus by the very first mail, 
upon a point equally delicate to me as well as to yourself. 
My dear friend, I, beg of you not to think, either that you 
can be considered as capable of entertaining, or that 1 
should be capable of suggesting any unworthy or dishonor- 
able propositions. If there has been any misunderstanding, 
it is now cleared up ; and the ground for negotiation re- 
mains open as before. I therefore still entertain my hopes. 
I am ever your alfeciionate, 


Explanatory Letter to Mr Hartley, referred to in the 

Dear Sir, 
As I had not the opportunity of seeing your correspon- 
dence at this time, I was unable to prevent the misunder- 


Standing that seems to have arisen. There is no proposi- 
tion of which I am more convinced, than that, ^'Nothing 
can be done without tl)e concurrence of allies." But, as 
the chief obstruction towards an accommodation seemed to 
me to lie in the personal character of some, who have great 
weight in this matter, and as the object of the war (the in- 
dependence of America) seems, in the opinion of all men, 
to be secured, my own opinion was, and still is, that there 
was so much wisdom and moderation wliere prejudice 
prevents us from seeing it, that, provided the ends of the 
war are accomplished to the satisfaction of all parties, they 
uill be very ready to let us out of it in the most gentle 
manner, by consenting equally that the business shall go on 
in one, two, or three separate deeds, as shall be most pala- 
table here ; and to doubt that our friends^ are desirous of 
finishing the contest, with the approbation of their allies, is 
to doubt their understanding. 

I am, with the greatest esteem, yours, &ic. 



Philadclpliia, January 2611), 1782. 

Dear Sir, 

I do myself the honor to enclose you a convention for 
the establishment of Consul, which has just passed Con- 
gress. You will find that you are empowered either to 
sign it in France, or if any alterations are made to send 
it here to be executed. 

Nothing new since I wrote you ; we are still in the 
dark with respect to European intelligence, not having 
heard I'roni any gentleman in public character since the 


0th of October, wlien we had a sliort letter from I\Ir 

1 have the honor to be, Sir, with great respect and es- 
teen), your most obedient humble servant. 



Pa>sy, January iSth, 17S2. 

I received at the same time, your sc^veral letters of Oc- 
tober 20ih, 24lh, and November 26th, which I j)urpose 
to answer fully by the return of the Alliance. Having 
just had a very short notice of the departure of this ship, 
I can only at present mention the great pleasure your ap- 
pointment gives me, and my intention of corresponding 
with you regularly and frequently, as you desire. The 
information contained in your letters is full and clear ; I 
shall endeavor that mine, of the slate of affairs here, may 
be as satisfactory. 

With great esteem, &:c. 



London, February 1st, 1782. 

My Dear Friend, 

1 write to you one line by this mail, only to tell you 

that I have seen the Minister since I last wrote to you, 

and that he never did entertain the idea one moment of 

any propositions being thrown out on your part, in ilie least 


degree inconsistent vvitii the strictest honor and faith to the 
allies. I had no occasion to guard against, or to explain 
any such thought, having at all times conveyed the con- 
trary to him in the most explicit terms. I transmit this to 
you for your full satisfaction. We have had much conver- 
sation on the subject of peace, which you may be sure I 
have most zealously endeavored to enforce. I should not 
do him justice, if I did not add that I believe his wishes are 
for peace, and that he gives the most serious attention to 
every argument, and to the suggestion of every practica- 
ble means on that subject. I have stated many things for 
his consideration, and for consultation with others, after 
which I shall see him again. I heartily wish the result 
may be favorable to the prospect of peace. 
I am ever your affectionate, 




Paris, February 6th, 1782. 

Three American vessels, one of which was three masted, 
and called the Norfolk, Captain Lines, and two brigs, the 
Ariel, Captain Mailer, and the Virginia, Captain Hodshead- 
son, all three armed in Philadelphia, committed a most 
grievous outrage on the 2d of December last on the coast 
of Norway, where they seized two English merchantmen 
and burnt them, after plundering them and sending away 
their crews. The circumstances are more particularly de- 
tailed in the protest enclosed, made on the spot.* It has 

• See this protest in Fraiililiirs Works, Vol. V. p. 12y. 


moreover been proved by the report of his Danish Majes- 
ty's p^rand bailifTat Christiansand, that the aforesaid Amer- 
ican vessels having ancliored in the port of Fleckeroe, be- 
fore their meeting witli the Englishmen, and displayed 
French colors, he had asked of the French Consul infor- 
mation respecting their sea paper?, and that the latter, on 
examining their contents, declared that they were not fur- 
nished with any letters of marque on the part of Congress. 
Their conduct proves this also in having burnt their prizes, 
jiotwithstaiiding the offers of ransom made them by ilie 
English captains. It therefore follows, that they can only 
be considered as pirates, whose crimes are greatly aggra- 
vated bv a manifest infraction of his Danish IMnjesty's ter- 
ritorial rights. 

The undersigned, his Envoy Extraordinary, has received 
precise orders to communicate these particulars to his Ex- 
cellency, the Count de Vergennes, requesting with every 
possible confidence the intervention of his Most Christian 
Majesty with the United States of America, to effect not 
only the punisliment of the guilty persons, but also to obtain 
an indemnification for the vessels and cargoes that were 
burnt, of which an exact statement shall be furnished ; and 
this satisfaction is due to repair the excesses committed on 
his Majestv's territory. 



Pliilailelnliia, February 13i.':, He-. 

We have been cxlrcmcly alarmed at some commtniica- 
lions, which the Minister of France made uje from liis last 
letters. They look extremely as if the Count de Vergennes 


imagined, that neither Spain nor Holland was anxious for 
our success. They discourage the idea of a loan from 
them, or even from France. Our letters from Holland 
confirm these conjectures, so far as they relate to that 
State. Mr Adams seems almost to despair of doing any- 
thing with respect to an alliance or loan, and from Mr Jay 
WG have heard nothing in a very long time, and are igno- 
rant of any steps he may liave taken since the appointment 
of M. Del Campo to treat with him. 

These mortifying disappointments oblige us, though re- 
luctantly, to call upon France for further assistance. Your 
solicitations will be infinitely useful to your country, if they 
procure for it what I will venture to pronounce essential to 
their safety. In this spirit, tlie instruction, which I do my- 
self the honor to enclose, has passed Congress, and a 
second resolution, which I also enclose, which leads to such 
information as will enable you to convince the Court of 
France, that their navy can nowhere be more effectually 
employed to distress the common enemy than in America. 
I own this consideration is a great relief to my feelings, 
when we make these importunate demands for money ; 
and 1 hope it will enable you to jiress them with some de- 
gree of dignity. 

That France can aid us is not to be doubted, for it 
is certain she never carried on a war that distressed her 
finances less. She has no expensive subsidies to pay ; 
her money is expended either at home, or in a country 
from which it returns. Her army is not greatly increased, 
and her commerce under the protection of her fleets en- 
joys a security, that it seldom has experienced before. I 
would not, however, have you suppose, that this is the 
language I hold here. 1 know too well the necessity of 


making every exenion, uiiicli in our present inipoveiisliecl 
situaiion we are capable of; and 1 neglect no means, 
which my present station puts in my power to call forth. 

Congress have taken every wise measure lor that |)ur- 
pose, and I firmly persuade myself, tUat we shall be able 
to form the most vigorous co-operation with such force as 
his jMajesty may please to send out. I am confident that 
the peace mijst be made in America. Every blow here is 
fatal to the grand object of the present war ; to the hopes, 
to the wishes, and to the pride of Great Britain. Other 
conquests she expects to have restored upon a peace ; 
what is lost here she knows to be lost forever. 

The daily complaints that we receive from seamen con- 
fined in Eni^land concur with humanity, and the national 
honor, to render some expedient for their relief necessary. 
I need not, I am persuaded, recommend this to your par- 
ticular care. We have not yet obtained, at least as far as 
1 can learn, a compensation for the prisoners taken by Paul 
Jones and returned to England. Is it impossible, either to 
settle a cartel in Europe, or to have the Americans con- 
fined there sent to New York for exchange .'' The last 
proposition is so much in favor of England, that it would 
probably be acceded to, and yet such is the distress of the 
people who have been long confined, that it would be de- 
sirable to have the offer made. 1 am just now applied to 
by a Mrs Simmonds, whose husband is the mate of a ves- 
sel, and has been two years confined in Mill Prison ; it 
would be an act of charity to attempt lo procure his relief. 
You will do me the favor to collect and transmit a list of 
tlie numbers confined in England, and, as far as possible, 
for the satisfaction of their friends, of the names. 

We have not a word of intellieence to communicate, 

300 BE',.\JA?.ihN FRA.NkLIN. 

unless it be soine iitlle disturbances in the country, vvhicli 
has been distinguished by the names ol" New Hampshire 
Grants, and Vermont ; and which it a^ay be proper to 
mention to you, since tlie facility witli uhich the British de- 
ceive themselves, and the address with which they deceive 
others, may render it a matter of moment in Europe, 
though in lact it is none in America. The bulk of the 
people of that country are ^'- JS'eiu England Presbyterian 
Whigs.'"' Some of those, in possession of the powers of 
government, have more address than principle. Finding 
themselves exposed to inroads from Canada, they have 
tampered with that government, and pretended to be willing 
to form a treaty of neutrality with them during the war, and 
to return to the obedience of Britain on a peace. Tiiis 
has jiad the efiect they intended, and in sonie measure de- 
feated an expedition, which the enemy made last year, and 
retained their main body in inaction at Ticonderoga, while 
the parties they sent to the westward were beaten and dis- 
persed by our militia. The secret has been discovered, is 
disavowed by the people, and such measures are now 
taken, that by the time the King of Great Britain and his 
Council, (before whom the propositions now lie) have 
formed a plan in consequence of them, they will be made 
tlie means of drawing them into new difficulties. 

i presume that you keep up a constant correspondence 
with Mr .lay and ]Mr Adams, and assist them with your in- 
formation and advice. I must beg the lavor of you to 
transmit them this intelligence, that they may be prepared 
to meet any assertions of the enemy on that head. I take 
leave to repeat to you my desire to have the papers and 
political publications sent regularly to this oflice. 

1 have the lienor to be, &:c. 



Passv, February 16th, 17S2. 

Dear Sir, 

I received your favor ol" the 24tli past. You have 
taken pains to rectify a mistake of mine relating lo the aim 
of your letters. 1 accept kindly your replication, and I 
hojie you will excuse my error, when you reflect, Uiat I 
knew of no consent given by France to our treating sep- 
arately of peace, and that there has been mixed in some of 
your conversations and letters various reasonings, to show, 
that if France should require something of us that was un- 
reasonable, we then should not be obliged by our treaty to 
join with her in continuing the war. As there had never 
been such requisiuon, what could I think of such dis- 
courses ? I thougiit as I suppose an honest woman would 
think, if a gallant should entertain her with suppositions of 
cases, in which infidelity to her husband would be justifi- 
able. Would not she naturally imagine, seeing no other 
foundation or motive for such conversation, that if he co'ild 
once get her to admit the general principle, his intended 
next step would be to persuade her, that such a case ac^ 
tually existed. Thus knowing your dislike of France, 
and your strong desire of recovering America to England, 
I was impressed with the idea, that such an infidelity on 
our part would not be disagreeable to you ; and that you 
were therefore aiming to lessen in my mind the horror I 
conceived at the idea of it. But we will finish here by 
mutually agreeing, that neither you were capable of pro- 
posing, nor I of acting on such principles. 

I cannot however forbear endeavoring to give a little 
possible utility to this letter, by saying sonn.eihing on )our 


case of DunPiirk. You do not see why two nations should 
be deemed natural enemies to each other. Nor do I, 
unless one or both of them are naturally mischievous and 
insolent. But I can see how enmities long continued, 
even during a peace, tend to shorten that peace, and to 
rekindle a war ; and this is when either party, having an 
advantage in war, shall exact conditions in the treaty of 
peace, that are goading and constantly mortifying to the 
other. I take this to be the case of your " Commissioner 
at Dunkirk." What would be your feelings if France 
should take, and hold possession of Portsmouth, or Spain 
of Plymouth, after a peace, as you formerly held Calais, 
and now hold Gibraltar ? Or on restoring your ports, 
should insist on having an insolent Commissioner stationed 
there, to forbid your placing one stone upon another by 
way of fortification ? You would probably not be very 
easy under such a stipulation. If therefore you desire a 
peace, that inaybe^rm and durable, think no more of such 
extravagant demands. It is not necessary to give my 
opinion further on that point, yet I may add frankly, as 
this is merely private conversation between you and me, 
that I do think a faithful ally, especially when under obli- 
gations for such great and generous assistance as we have 
received, should fight as long as he is able, to prevent, as 
far as his continuing to fight may prevent, his friends being 
compelled again to suffer such an insult. 

My dear friend, the true pains you are taking to restore 
peace, whatever may be the success, entitle you to the 
esteem of all good men. If your Ministers really desire 
peace, methinks they would do well to empower some per- 
son to make propositions for that purpose. One or other 
of the parties at war must take the first step. To do this 


belongs properly to the wisest. America being a novice 
in such affairs, has no pretence to that character ; and in- 
deed, after the answer given by Lord Storrnont (when we 
proposed to him something relative to the mutual treatment 
of prisoners with humanity) that " the King's Miimters re- 
ceive no applications from rebels, unless when they come to 
implore his Majesty's clemency" it cannot be expected, 
that we should hazard the exposing ourselves again to such 
insolence. All I can say further at present is, that in my 
opinion your enemies do not aim at your destruction, and 
that if you propose a treaty you will find them reasonable 
in their demands, provided that on your side thej meet with 
the same good dispositions. But do not dream of dividing 
us ; you will certainly never be able to effect it. 

With great regard and afTection, I am ever, dear Sir, 
your most obedient and most humble servant, 




Versailles, February 24th, 1782. 

You will find enclosed an official despatch,* which has 
been sent me from the Court of Copenhagen, respecting 
some excesses that are said to have been committed near 
the Coast of Norway, by three American vessels. I make 
no doubt but you will take the earliest opportunity to 
transmit it to Congress, that they may decide agreeably to 
the principles of the laws of nations ui)on the claim of his 
Danish Majesty. 

1 have the honor, iSic. 

dp: vergennes. 

* See above, p. 296. 



February 28th, 17S2. 

My Dear Friend, 

I have not as yet anything to conaniunicate to you. f 
have upon many occasions recornniended the road to peace' 
in the most earnest way. I am not without hopes. I 
think I may venture to say, that the arguments which I 
have stated have made an impression. I have not expect- 
ed to receive the final answer from Lord North, till after the 
Parliamentary arrangements of the year are settled. I 
am just for three or four days in the country, upon a little 
business, but upon a furlough, as I may say, with the knowl- 
edge of Lord North, who, during the budget week, cannot 
possibly want to see me. I have therefore taken that 
week for a liule private business in the countiy, and if 
Lord North should happen io wish to see mc, my brother 
keeps watch, and is to send ex})iess for me. Public re- 
))ort v.'il! tell you, that on Friday last there was a division 
in the house on an A.merican question, of one hundred and 
ninetyfour to one hundred and ninetythroc. 

I cannot answer for the dispositions of Ministers, but in 
point of justice 1 ought to say, that I think, and as far as I 
can judge from the conferences wliich I ha\'C had, that I 
have found good dispositions towards peace. 1 do not 
pledge ni}'self, because 1 mny be deceived ; however, that 
is my opinion ; and I say thus much lest my silence should 
appear susjjicious, and create alienation in other parties. 
1 tliink 1 have seen good dis|)ositions from the first com- 
mencement of my conferences on peace. My brother 
sends me word, that Mr Alexander is to return by the 
next mail. I ihoreiore write dils to send either liy him or 


at least mi the same packet. I have had much conversa- 
tion with liiin, and lie will tell you that I have done my 
utmost to serve the cause of peace. 1 will conclude this 
with a quotation, which I have applied to another person in 
argument respecting peace. 

Consiilere patrisc, parccre afflictis, fer:i C£B<!e abstinerc, 
Ira; Icmpus dare, oibi quictem, scculo pacrm si;o, 
Ha-c suinnia virtus, — hac cccliim ]ietilur viii. 

God bless you and prosper our pacific endeavors. [ shall 
probably write again to you soon. 
Your affectionate, 



London, February 2Slli, 1762. 

Dear Sir, 
Your most obliging letter demanded an early answer. 
It has not received the acknowledgment which was so 
justly due to it. But Providence has well supplied my 
deficiencies, and the delay of the answer has made it 
much more satisfactory, than at the time of my receipt of 
your letter I dared to promise myself it could be. I con- 
gratulate you, as the friend of America ; I trust, as not the 
enemy of England ; I am sure, as the friend of,n]ankind ; 

* Tliis letter wai written in answer to one from Dr Franklin, re- 
questing Mr Burke to negotiate an exchange of Henry Laurens, wlicn 
in the Tower, for Gcnornl Bur;jo_vnc. Mr Laurens was at the time 
nnderrsome mistake in regard to this subject, as he supposed, that Mr 
15i:rke first af>])licd to Dr Franklin to effect such an exchange, and im- 
agined that Dr Franklin neglected him ; whereas he took the most prompt 
and eiViciont means in his power to procure Mr Laurens's release. Sec 
Henry Laurens's letter, dated May 30fb, 1782, Vol. II. p. 463. 

VOL. III. 39 


on the resolution ot'tlie House of Commons, carried by as 
nicijoriiy of nineteen, at two o'clock this morning, in a very 
full house. It was the declaration of two hundred and 
thirlylbur ; 1 think it was the opinion of the whole. I 
trust it will lead to a speedy peace between the two 
branches of the English nation, perhaps to a general 
peace ; and that our happiness may be an introduction to 
that of the w'orld at large. 1 most sincerely congratulate 
you on the event. I wish I could say, that I had accom- 
plished my connnission. Difficulties remain. But as Mr 
Laurens is released from his confinement, and has recov- 
ered his liealth tolerably, he may wait, 1 hope, without a 
great deal of inconvenience, for the final adjustment of his 
troublesome business. He is an exceedingly agreeable 
and honorable man. I am much obliged to you for the 
honor of his acquaintance. He speaks of you as I do ; 
and is perfectly sensible of yoiu- warm and friendly inter- 
position in his favor. 

I have the honor to be, with the highest possible esteenti 
and regard, dear Sir, your most faithful and obedient 

humble servant. 


P. S. General Burgoyne presents his best compli-- 
ments to you, with his thanks for your obliging attentions 
towards him. 

TO Tut-: COUNT i)t; vi3kgi:nnes. 

t'assv, March M, 1782. 

I received the letter your Excellency did me the honor 
of writing to me, the 24th past, enclosing an official paper 
on the part of the Danish Court, relating to the burning of 


some English vessels on the coast of Nonvny, by three 
American ships. I shall not fail to transmit the same im- 
mediately to the Congress, who will, I make no doubt, 
inquire into the facts alleged, and do thereupon what shall 
appear to be just and right, it being their constant and 
earnest desire to avoid giving any offence to neutral 
nations, as will appear by their instructions to all armed 
vessels, of which I have the honor to present a copy. 

In the meantime, as it is natural to expect, that those 
who exact a rigorous observation of the laws of nations 
when their own interest or honor seems affected, should be 
themselves ready to show an example of their own regard 
for those laws, where the interest of others is concerned, 
I cannot but ho[)e the Court of Denmark will at length 
attend to a demand, long since made by me, but hitherto 
without eftect, that they would restore to the United 
States the value of three vessels, amounting to fifty thous- 
and pounds sterling. These vessels were fair and good 
prizes, which had been made by our ships of war, not on 
the coast of Denmark, but far distant on the high seas, and 
were sent into Bergen as into a port truly neutral, but 
there, contrary to the laws of hospitality, as well as the 
otiier laws of nations, they were forcibly wrested out of 
our hands by the government of that place, and delivered 
back to our enemies. The Congress have not lost sight 
of this violence, but constantly expected justice from the 
equity and wisdom of bis Danish Majesty. 
1 am, with the greatest respect. Sec. 




Passy, March 4th, 1782. 


Since I wrote the two short letters, of which I herewith 
send you copies, I have been honored with yours, dated 
the 16th of December. 

Enclosed I send two letters from Count de Vergennes, 
relating to certain complaints from Ostend and Copenha- 
gen against our cruisers. I formerly forwarded a similar 
complaint from Portugal, to which I have yet received no 
answer. The Ambassador of that kingdom frequently 
teazes me for it. I hope now that by your means this 
kind of affairs will be more immediately attended to -, ill 
blood and mischief may be thereby sometimes prevented. 

The Marquis de Lafayette was at his return hither re- 
ceived by all ranks with all possible distinction. He daily 
gains in the general esteem and aflection, and promises to 
be a great man here. He is warmly attached to our 
cause ; we are on the most friendly and confidential foot- 
ing with each other, and he is really very serviceable to 
me in my applications for additional assistance. 

I have done what 1 could in recommending Messieurs 
Duportail and Gouvion, as you desired. I did it with 
pleasure, as I have much esteem for them. 

I will endeavor to procure a sketch of an emblem for 
the purpose you mention. This j)uts me in mind of a 
medal I have had a mind to strike, since the late great 
event you gave me an account of, representing the United 
States by the figure of an infant Hercules in his cradle, 
strangling the two serpents ; and France by that of Min- 
erva, sitting by as his nurse, with her spear and helmet, 


and her robe specked with a few Jkiirs de lis. Tiie ex- 
tinguishing of two entire armies in one war is what has 
rarely happened, and it gives a presage of the futin-e force 
of our growing empire. 

I thank you much for the newspapers you have been 
so kind as to send me. I send also to you, by every 
opportunity, packets of the French, Dutch, and English 
papers. Enclosed is the last Courier of Europe^ wherein 
you will find a late curious debate on continuing the war 
with America, which the Minister carried in the affirma- 
tive only by his own vote. It seems the nation is sick of 
it ; but die King is obstinate. There Is a change made of 
the American Secretary, and another is talked of in the 
room of Lord Sandwich. But I suppose we have no 
reason to desire -such changes. If the King will have a 
war with us, his old servants are as well for us as any he 
is likely to put in their places. The Ministry you will see 
declare, that the war in America is for the future to be 
only defensive. I hope we shall be too prudent to have 
the least dependence on this declaration. It is only thrown 
out to lull us ; for, depend upon it, the King hates us cor- 
dially, and will be content with nothing short of our extir- 

I shall be glad to receive the account you are preparing 
of the wanton damages done our possessions. I wish you 
could also furnish me with one, of the barbarities commit- 
ted on our people. They may both be of excellent use on 
certain occasions. I received the duplicate ot yours in 
cypher. Hereafter, I wish you would use that in which 
those instructions were written, that relate to the future 
peace. I am accustomed to that, and I think it very good 
and more convenient in the practice. 


The friendlv disposition of this Court towards us con-^ 
tinucs. VVe have someiimes pressed a little too hard, 
expeciiriH;, and demanding, pcrliaps, more than we ought, 
and have used improper arguments, which may have oc- 
casioned a little dissatisfaction, hut it has not been lasting. 
In my opinion, the surest way to obtain liberal aid from 
others, is vigorously to help ourselves. People fear assist- 
ing the negligent, the indolent, and the careless, lest the 
aids they afford should l)e lost. I know we have done a 
great flcal, but it is sail! we arc apt to be supine after a 
little success, and too bac inward in furnishing our contin- 
gents. This is really a generous nation, fond of glory, and 
particularly that of protecting the oppressed. Trade is 
not the admiration of their noblesse, who always govern 
here. Telling them tlieir commerce will be advantaged by 
our success, and that it is their interest to help us, seems 
as much as to siy, help us, and wc shall not be obliged to 
you. Such indiscreet and improper language has been 
sometimes held here by some of our people, and produced 
no good effects. 

The constant harmony subsisting between the armies of 
the two nations in America, is a circumstance that has 
afforded me infinite pleasure. It should be carefully cul- 
tivatcil. 1 hope nothing will happen to disturb it. The 
French oflicers, who have returned to France this winter, 
sj/cak of our people in the handsomest and kindest man- 
ner ; and there is a strong desire in many of the young 
noblemen to go over to light for us ; tiiere is no restraining 
some of them ; and several changes among the officers 
of their army have lately taken place in consequence. 

You must be so sensible of the utility of maintaining a 
perfect good understanding with the Chevalier de la Lu- 


ierne, that I need say nothing on that head. The afiairs 
of a distant people in any Court of Europe will nKvays be 
much affccied, by the representations of tlie INlinister of 
that Court residing among them. 

We have here great quantities of supplies, of all kinds, 
ready to be sent over, and which would have been oi', their 
way before this time, if the unlucky loss of the transports, 
that were under M. de Guichen, and other demands for 
more ships, had not created a difficulty to tind freight for 
them. 1 hope, however, that you will receive them with 
the next convoy. 

The accounts we have of the economy introduced by 
Mr jNIorris begin to be of service to us here, and will by 
decrees obviate the inconvenience, that an opinion of our 
disorders and mismanagements had occasioned. I inform 
him by this conveyance of the njoney aids we shall have 
this year. The sum is not so great as we could wish ; and 
we must so much the more exert ourselves. A small in- 
crease of industry in every American, male and female, 
with a small diminution of luxury, would produce a sum 
far superior to all we can hope to beg or borrow from all 
our friends in Europe. 

There are now near a thousand of our brave fellows 
prisoners in England, many of whom have patiently en- 
dured thfe hardships of that confinement several years, 
resisting every temptation to serve our enemies. Will not 
your late great advantages put it in your power to do 
something for their relief? The slender supply I have 
been able to afford, of a shilling a week to each, for their 
greater comfort during the winter, amounts weekly to 
£50 sterling. An exchange would make so many of our 
countrymen happy, add to our strr-ngth, and diininish our 


expense. Jjut our piivalcei's who cruise in Europe will 
not be at the trouble of bringing in llieir prisoners, and I 
have none to exchange for iheni. 

Generals Cornwallis and Arnold are both arrived in En- 
gland. It is rejjorted, that the former, in all his conversa- 
tions, discourages the })rosecution of the war in America; 
if so, he will of course be out of favor. We hear much of 
audiences given to the latter, and of his being present at 

You desire to know whether any intercepted letters of 
Mr Deaae luive been 'published in Europe .'' I have seen 
but one in the English papers, that to Mr Wadsworth, and 
none in any of the French and Dutch papers, but some may 
have been i)rinted, that have not fallen in my way. There 
is no doubt of their being all genuine. His conversation, 
since his return 'from America, has, as I liave been in- 
formed, gone gradually uiorc and more into that style, 
and at length come to an open vindication of A)-nold's 
conduct ; and within these few days he lias sent me a 
letter of twenty full pages, recapitulating those letters, and 
threatening to write and publish an account of the treatment 
he has received from Congress, he He resides at Ghent, 
is distressed both in mind and circumstances, raves and 
writes abundance, and I imagine it will end in his going 
over to join his friend Arnold in England. I had an ex- 
ceeding good opinion of bin) when he acted with me, and 
1 believe lie was then sincere and hearty in our cause. 
But he is changed, and his character ruined in his own 
country and in tins,, so lliat 1 see uo other but England to 
which he can now retire. He says that wc owe him about 
XI 2,000 sterling, and his great .complaint is, that wc do 
not settle his accounts and pay him. Mr Johnston having 


declined tlie service, I proposed engaging Mr Searle to 
undertake it, but Mr Deane objected to him, as being bis 
enemy. In niy opinion be was, for that reason, even filter 
for tbe service of Mr Deane, since accounts are of a math- 
ematical nature, and cannot be changed by an enemy, 
while that enemy's testimony, tliat he had found them well 
supported by authentic vouchers, would have weighed 
more than the same testimony from a friend.* 

With regard to negotiations for a peace, I see but little 
probability of their being entered upon seriously this year, 
unless the English ^Minister had failed in raising his funds, 
which it is said he has secured, so that we must provide 
for another campaign, in which I hope God will continue 
to favor us, and humble our cruel and haughty enemies ; a 
circumstance which", whatever ^Ir Deane may say to the 
contrary, will give pleasure to all Europe. 

This year opens well, by the reduction of Port xMahon, 
and the garrison prisoners of war, and we are not without 
hopes, that Gibraltar may soon follow. A few more signal 
successes in America will do much towards reducing our 
enemies to reason. Your expressions of good opinion with 
regard to me, and wishes of my continuance in this em- 
ployment, are very obliging. As long as the Congress think 
I can be useful to our affairs, it is my duty to obey their 
orders; but 1 should be happy to see them better executed 
by another, and myself at liberty, enjoying, before I quit 
the stage of life, some small degree of leisure and tran- 

With great esteem, &:r. 


•Sec Deanes Correspondence, Vo!..l, p. 217. 
VOL. III. 40 



Passy, March 9th, 1782. 


I have just received the honor of yours dated January 
the 7th. Your communications of the sentiments of Con- 
gress, with regard to many points tliat may come under 
consideration in a treaty ol' peace, give me great pleasure, 
and the more, as tliey agree so perfectly with my own 
opinions, and furnish me with additional arguments in dieir 
support. I shall be more particular on this subject in my 
next, for having notice from Captain Barry last night, that 
he will not go to Brest, as I expected, to take in some of 
our goods, but will sail immediately on the return of the 
post, which sets out today, 1 am obliged to be short. 

You will see in the enclosed newspapers the full debate 
in the House of Commons, on the subject of declining the 
w^ar with North America. By private advices I learn, 
that the whole o|)positIon, now become the majority, went 
up in a body with the address to tlic King, who answered 
that he v/ould pay a due regard to the advice of bis faith- 
ful Commons, and employ his forces witii more vigor 
against the ancient enemies of the nation, or to that pur- 
j)ose ; and that orders were immediately given for taking 
up a great numl)er of large trans[)orls, among which are 
many old India ships, whence it is conjectured, that they 
intend son)e great effort in the West Indies, and perhaps 
mean to cai'iy off their troops and stores from New York 
and Charleston. I hop?, however, that we shall not, in 
expectation of this, relax in our [)reparaiions for the ap- 
proaching campaign. I will procure tbc books you write 
for, and send {!iem as soon as possible. 


Present my duty to the Congress, and believe me to be, 

with sincere esteem, &:o. 



Fhihidelphia, March ytU, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
The enclosed letter Ironi the Superintendent ol' Finance 
was written in consequence of the resolutions of which I 
sent you a copy in my last. I then detailed so fully on 
the subject, that 1 can give you no further information on 
lliat head, than is contained in the enclosed, which, as I 
was just going out of town, I have requested Mr iMprris to 
put in his cypher. 

I have the honor to be, &:c. 



London, Marcli 1 1th, 1782. 

My Dear Friend, 
Mr Digges, who will deliver this to vou. informs rr.e, 
that having been applied to for the purpose of conimuni- 
cating with ]\Ir Adams, on the subject of his commission 
for treating of peace, he is now setting out for Amsterdam, 
and that he intends afterwards to go to Paris to wait upon 
you. I understand the occasion to ha\'e arisen, by some 
mention having been made in Parliament by General Con- 
way, of persons not far off having authority to treat of 
peace, which was supposed to allude to Mr Adams, and 
some friends of his in London. The Ministry were there- 
fore induced to make some inquiries themselves. This is 
what I am informed of the matter. 


When ihe proposal was made to Mr Digges, he con- 
sulted me, I believe from motives of caution, that he might 
know what ground he had to stand upon ; but not in the 
least apprized that I been in any degree in course of 
corresponding with you on the subject of negotiation. As 
I had informed tlie Ministry from you, that other persons 
besides yourself were invested with powers of treating, I 
have nothing to say against their consuhing the several 
respective parlies. That is their own concern, 1 shall at 
all times content myself with observing the duties of my 
own conduct, attending to all circumstances with circum- 
spection, and then leaving the conduct of others to their 
own reasons. I presume that ^Ministry have only done 
what others would have done in their situation, to procure 
the most ample information that the case will admit. I 
rest contented to act in my own sphere, and if my exer- 
tions can be applied to any public good, 1 shall always be 
ready to take my part with sincerity and zeal. 

i am, my dear friend, your ever afiectionate, 



London, March li2tli, 1782. 

My Dear Friend, 
Enclosed with this I transmit to you the public Parlia- 
mentary proceedings respecting the American war. If 
you will compare these proceedings with some others in 
several of the counties of this kingdom about two years 
ago, you will at once see the reason why many persons, 
who from principles of general and enlarged philanthropy 
do most certainly wish universal peace to mankind, yet 
seem restrained in their mode of endeavoring to obtain 


ibat object. We must accommodate our endeavors to 
praclicabiiities, in llie strong hope, that if the work of 
peace was once begun, it would soon become general. 
Parliament having declared their sentiments by their pub- 
lic proceedings ; a general bill will soon pass to enable 
administration to treat with America, and to conclude. 

As to the sincerity of the Ministry, that will be judged of 
by their conduct in any treaty. The first object is to pro- 
cure a meeting of qualified and authorised persons. You 
have told me that four persons are empowered by a special 
commission to treat of peace. Are we to understand that 
each separately has power to conclude, or in what man- 
ner? The four persons whom you have mentioned are ia 
four different parts of the world, viz. three of them in 
hostile States, and the fourth under circumstances very 
peculiar for a negotiator. When I told Mr Laurens that 
his name was in the commission, I found him entirely 
ignorant of every circumstance relating to it. 1 under- 
stand that the Ministry will be ready to proceed towards 
opening a negotiation as SiX)n as the bill shall pass, and 
therefore it is necessary to consult time, and place, and 
manner, and persons, on each side. The negotiation it- 
self will speak the rest. 

I have been informed, that some gentlemen in this coun- 
try (not in administration) have lately entered into a cor- 
respondence with Mr Adams, relating to his commission 
of treating for peace, and that dieir previous inquiries 
having been spoken of in public, the ^Ministry have been 
induced to make some inquiry themselves from Mr Ad- 
ams on that subject. In whatever way a fair treaty may 
be opened, by whomsoever or with whomsoever, I shall 
heartily wish good success to it for the common good and 


peace of mankind. 1 know tliese to be your sentiments, 
and 1 am conlident that they wil! evei* remain so, and hope 
that you will believe the same of me. 
I am ever your most affectionate, 



Lomlo!), Rlarch 21st, 1782. 

TMy Dear Friend, 
You v.-i!I have heard before tliis can rcacli you, that 
Lord North declared yesterday in the House of Com- 
mons, that his Majesty intended to change his Ministers. 
The House is adjourned for a few days to give time for 
the formation of a new Ministry. Upon this occasion, 
therefore, I must apply to you, to know whether you 
would wish me to transfer the late negotiation to the suc- 
cessors of the late Ministry ; in these terms ; (vide yours 
to me of January 15th, 1782,) viz. "that you are em- 
powered by a special commission to treat of peace, when- 
ever a negotiation for that purpose shall be opened. That 
it must be always understood, that it is to be in conjunc- 
tion with your allies, conformable to the solemn treaties 
made with them. That the formal acknowledgment of 
the indej)endence of America is not made necessary." 
And may I add, that upon these terms you are disposed 
to enter into a negotiation. It is not known who will 
succeed the late Ministry, but from the circumstances 
which preceded its dissolution, we are to hope that they 
will be disposed to enter into a negotiation of peace, upon 
fair and honorable terms. I have no doubt that there 
were some persons in the late Ministry of that disposition. 


I told vou in my last letters to you, of the lltli and 
12 ih instant, that 1 had received information, whilst I was 
In the course of correspondence with the Ministry myself, 
on the subject of peace, that some part of the Ministry 
were transmitting some communications or inquiries upon 
that subject with Mr Adams, unknown to rae. 1 had in- 
formed the MinisUy from you, of the names of the four 
persons empowered to treat. I saw the ISIinister upon the 
occasion. (I should now call him the late iMinister.) I 
took the liberty of giving him my opinion upon the matter 
itself. So far as it related personally to me, I expressed 
myself fully to him, that there was no occasion that such 
a step should have been taken unknown to me, for that 
I was very free to confess, that if they thought my par- 
tiality towards peace was so strong, that they could drive a 
better bargain through another channel, I could not have 
any right of exclusion upon them. 1 relate this to you, 
because I would wish to have you make a corresponding 
application to your own case. If you should think that 
my sirons; desire for peace, although most laudable and 
virtuous i7i itself, should mislead me, and that my being as 
you may suppose misled, may be of any prejudice to the 
cause committed to your trust, I desire by no means to 
embarrass your free conduct by any considerations of pri- 
vate or personal regard to myself. Having said thus 
much, 1 will now add, that 1 am not unambitious of the 
office of a peace maker ; that I flatter myself the very 
page which 1 am now writing will bear full testimony from 
both sides, of the impartiality of my conduct. And I will 
add once more, what I often said and repeated to each 
side, viz. that no fallacy or deception, knowing, or suspect- 
ing it to be such, shall ever pass through my hands. 


Believe me, I sympathise most cordially and sincerely 

with you in every anxiety of yours lor peace. 1 liope' 

things are tending (allliough not without rubs) yet in the 

main, to that end — soon ! as soon as the course of human 

life may he expected to operate on the great scale and 

course cf national events, or rather in (he creation and 

establishment of a new world. I am sometimes tempted 

to think myself in patient expectation the elder sage of 

the two ; I say the elder, not the better. 

Yours, Sic. 



Amsterdam. March 22tl, 17S2. 


I left England a few days back, and until n)y conversadonr 
and some consultations with IMr Adauis, on a matter which 
will be mentioned to you by him, and more particularly 
explained in this letter, my determination was to have seen 
you, as well on that business as on a matter of much 
consequence to my private reputation. I fee! the disad- 
vantages under which 1 labor, when writing to you on a 
matter, which cannot be e'splained or cleared up but by 
])ersonal conversation. T do not give u[) my intended pur- 
])osc of personally speaking to }ou ; but it being found 
better and more convenient to i7iy jiurpose to return im- 
mediately hence to England, and from thence to Paris, 
in preference to going first to Paris, it must be unavoidably 
delayed for some days. 

It would take up more than the length of a letter to ex- 
))lain the whole opening and progression of a matter I am 
here upon, which was and is meant to be jointly comtnuni- 


cated lo you with Mr Adams ; I will therefore take the 
liberty to <;ivc you an abbreviation of it in as lew words as 
I can. 

About a fortnight ago a direct requisition from the Minis- 
try, througli Lord Beauchamp, was made to JMr R. Penn, 
10 know if he could ascertain that any person or persons in 
Europe were ccmmissioned hy Congress to treat for peace, 
whether they ivere now willing to avail themselves of such 
commission, and of the present sincere disposition in the 
Ministry to treat, and ivhether they umdd receive an ap- 
pointed Commissioner to speak for a truce, and mention a 
place for the meeting, ^-c. 

Mr Penn's referring Lord Beauchamp to me, as know- 
ing the nature of Mr Adams's former con)mission, was 
the sole cause of my being privy to, or a party, in the 
matter. I had various meetings with Lord 13eauchamp 
in company with Mr Penn on the subject ; the particu- 
lar memorandums of which, and Lord Beauchamp's state- 
ment of what the Ministry wanted to obtain, together with 
every other circumstance relative to the matter, [ regu- 
larly consulted Mr Laurens and Mr D. Hartley upon ; 
and the result was, my taking the journey hither, and to 
Paris, in order to put the questions (as they are before 
stated from Lord B. to j\lr Penn) and to bring an answer 
thereto. I am well convinced, by Lord Beaucliamp's 
pledge of his personal honor, as well as from iMr Hartley's 
telling me he knew the matter to come directly from Lord 
Norlh, (for he visited him more than once to ascertain the 
fact) that it is a serious and sincere requisition from the 
^Ministry, and that they will immedioiely take steps to open 
a treaty, provided I go back with assurances, that there is 
a power vested in Americans in Europe to treat and con- 
roL. III. '11 


elude, and that they are willing to avail themselves of such 
power when properly applied to. 

1 have stated the whole transaction to Mr Adams, read 
every memorandum I had made, informed him of every 
circumstance I knew, and when I put the questions (as 
they are before stated from Lord Beauchamp to Mr Penn) 
he replied, "that there were certainly Commissioners in 
Europe, of which body he was one, who had powers to 
treat and conclude upon peace ; that he believed them 
willing to enter into such a treaty, provided a proper ofier 
was made ; but that no questions now, or to be made in 
future, could be answered by liim, without previously con- 
sulting his colleagues, and afterwards acquainting the Min- 
isters of the belligerent powers thereof." Mr Adams 
recommended that aiiy future questions might be made 
directly to you, for that the present, as well as any sub- 
sequent propositions, would be immediately conimunicated 
to you and to M. de Vcrgennes. 

His answers to my questions were nearly what I fore- 
told and expected, and are substantially what Lord Beau- 
chaniji seemed so anxious to procure. When I relate this 
answer to liis Lordsliip, my business will be finished in 
that quarter. I will here explain to you my only motive 
for being a messenger from him, whom I had never known 
nor been in company wilh before. It will enable me to 
say, "I have done one favor for you, and I claim of you 
another, viz. to obtain a restoration ol' my papers from 
Lord Hillsborough's office, which were in a most illegal 
and unjustifiable manner seized from me near a twelve- 
month ago, and are yet withheld, notwithstanding the 
personal applications for them from Lord Coventry, Lord 
Nugent, and Mr Jackson, each of whom has explained 


the injurv and vcrv exlraordiiiary miscliief the want of my 
papers lor so long a time has and is now doing me." 

On my first conversation with Mr Adams, I had con- 
cluded to go to you, partly by his advice to do so, but as 
ilie expense of two jouruies, where one may serve, is of 
some import to me, and from supposing your answer would 
be substantially the same as that from Mr Adams, I have 
thought it better to go back immediately to London, and 
tlien set out for Paris, with the probability of being able 
to bear my papers. 

1 will take the liberty to trouble you with another 
letter, if anything occurs on my arrival in London. I 
am to leave this with Mr Adams for forwardance ; and 
for the present, I have only to beg a line acknowledg- 
ing die receipt of it. If your letter is put under a cover 
to Mr Stockdale, Bookseller, Piccadilly, London, it will 
the more readily get to hand. 

I am, with great respect. Sir, your very obedient ser- 


F. S. Ualtiui, Aiurch 2bih. — On my last visit to Mr 
Adams, Friday evening, to explain to him the substance of 
the foregoing letter, and ask his forwardance of it to you, 
we had some further conversation on the matter, the 
ultimate conclusion of which was, that it was thought 
better I did not send the annexed letter to you, or mention 
my business with him, until my going in person from Eng- 
land. Mr Adams's reasons were these. That if I made 
the communication then, he should be necessitated to state 
the ractter in a long letter to you and others of his col- 
leagues ; that the matter as it then stood was not of such 
importance, but he could save himself the trouble of the 


explanation ; and lliat as he recommended any future 
questions or applications to be made directly to you, your 
situation making it more convenient sooner to inform the 
French Court thereof, he tliought my letter had better 
be postponed, and the substance of it given in person as 
soon as I could possibly get from London to Paris. I 
acquiesced, though reluctantly, and having thought much 
on the matter on my journey hither, I have at length de- 
termined to forward the foregoing letter with this postcript, 
and at the same time to inform Mr Adams of my exact 
feelings on the matter, viz. that my wishes and intentions, 
which, when I left England, were to see and make known 
the matter to you, that through Mr Hardey or some other 
channel you iriust hoar that I had been at Amsterdam, 
and my seemingly tm-ning my back ui)on you might be 
thought oddly of; and finally, that I could not answer for 
carrying the enclosure from Mr Hartley back to England, 
not knowing the consequence it might be of. I hope and 
think I have done right in this matter. 

The purpose for my moving in the business I went to 
Mr Adams upon, has, 1 own, been with a double view 
of serving myself in a matter of much consequence to me, 
for after delivering tlie explanations I carry, I can with 
some degree of right, and a very great probability of suc- 
cess, claim as a gratuity for the trouble and expense I 
have been at, the restoration of n)y papers; the situation of 
which I have already ex[)lained to Lord Beauchamp, in 
order to get him to be a mover for them, and 1 have very 
little doubt that a icw days will restore them to me, and 
give me an opportunity to speedily speak to you on a matter, 
which gives me much uneasiness, vexation, and pain. 
Excuse the hurry in which I write, for I am very near 

Dll'LOMATIC COKRi:srONl)Ei\CE. 325 

the period of embarkation. Paul VVciilwoitli embarked 
this day lor England. 1 trod on his lieels the chief of 
the way from the Hague, which he left suddenly. Gen- 
eral Fawcctt is on his road hence to Hanover. 

T. D. 


The Hague, March 26lh, 1782. 

One day last week I received at Amsterdam a card 
from jNIr Digges, enclosing two letters to me from David 
Hartley. The card desired to see me upon business of 
importance ; and the letters from Mr Hartley contained an 
assurance, that to his knowledge the bearer came from 
tlie iiighest authority. I answered the card, that in the 
present situation of affairs here and elsewhere, it was im- 
possible for me to see any one from England without 
witness ; but if he were willing to see me in the presence 
of Mr Thaxter, my secretary, and thai I should communi- 
cate whatever he should say to me to Dr Franklin, and the 
Count de Vergennes, 1 should wait for him at home at ten 
o'clock ; but that I had rather he should go to Paris with- 
out seeing me, and communicate what he had to say to 
Dr Franklin, whose situation enabled him to consult the 
Court without any loss of time. At ten, however, he 
came, and told me a long story about consultations with 
Mr Penn, Mr Hartley, Lord Beauchamp, and at last Lord 
North, bv whom he was finally sent, to inqi.ire of me, if I, 
or any other, had authority to treat with Great Britain of a 
truce. I answered, that "I came to Europe with full 
powers to make peace, that those powers had been an- 
nounced to the public upon my arrival, and continued in 


force until last summer, when Congress sent a new com- 
mission, containing the same powers to four persons, whom 
I named ; that if the King of England were my father, 
and I the heir appareiit to Ir.a throne, 1 could not advise 
him ever to think of a truce, because it would be but a 
real war under a simulated appearance of tranquillity, and 
would end in another open and bloody war, without doing 
any real good to any of the parties." 

He said that "the Ministry would send some person of 
consequence over, perhaps General Conway, but they 
were apprehensive that he would be ill treated or ex- 
posed." I said, "that if they resolved upon such a 
measure, I had rather they would send immediately to Dr 
Franklin, because of his situation near the French Court. 
But there was no doubt, if they sent any respectable per- 
sonage, properly authorised, who should come to treat 
honorably, he would be treated with great respect ; but 
that if he came to me, I could give him no opinion upon 
anything without consulting my colleagues, and should 
reserve a right of communicating everything to them, and 
to our allies." 

He then said, that "his mission was finished ; that the 
fact to be ascertained was simply, that there was a com- 
mission in Europe to treat and conclude ; hut that there 
was not one person in Great Britain, who could affirm or 
prove that there was such a commission, although it had 
been announced in the gazettes." 

I desired him, and he promised me, not to mention Mr 
Laurens to the Ministry without his consent, (and with- 
out informing him, that it was impossible he should say 
anything in the business, because he knew nothing of our 
instructions) because, although it. was possible that his 


bein"- in sucli a commission might induce tliem to release 
him, yet it was also possible it might render ihcm more 
diflicull concerning his exchange. 

The pictnre he gives of the situation of things in Eng- 
land is gloomy enough for them. The distresses of the 
people, and the distractions in administration and Parlia- 
ment, are such as may produce any efiect almost that can 
be imagined. 

The only use of all this 1 think is to strike the decisive 
strokes at New York and Charleston. There is no po- 
sition so advantageous for negotiation, as when we have all 
an enemy's army prisoners. 1 must beg the favor of you, 
Sir, to send me, by one of the Count de Vergennes' 
couriers to the Due de la Vauguyon, a copy in letters of 
your peace instructions. I have not been able to decy- 
pher one quarter part of mine. Some mistake has 
certainly been made. 

Ten or eleven cities in Holland have declared them- 
selves in favor of American independence ; and it is 
expected that today or tomorrow this Province will take 
the decisive resolution of admitting me to my audience. 
Perhaps some of the other Provinces may delay it for 
three or four weeks. But the Prince has declared, that 
he has no hopes of resisting the torrent, and, therefore, that 
he shall not attempt it. The Due de la Vauguyon has 
acted a very friendly and honorable part in this business, 
without, however, doing any ministerial act in it. 

With great respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, your 
most obedient and most humble servant, 




Passy, March 30th, 1782. 


In mine of the ninth instant 1 acknowledged the receipt 
of yours of January 7th, and 1 have not since received any 
of later date. The newspapers, which I send you by this 
conveyance, will acquaint you with what has, since my last, 
passed in Parliament. You will there see a copy of the 
bill, brought in by the Attorney General, for empowering 
the King to make peace with the colonies. They still 
seem to flatter themselves with the idea of dividing us ; 
and rather than name the Congress, they empower him 
generally to treat with any body or bodies of men, or any 
person or persons, &fc. Tliey are here likewise endeavor- 
ing to get us to treat separately from France, at the same 
lime they are tempting France to treat separately from us, 
equally without the least chance of success. I have been 
drawn into a correspondence on this subject, which you 
shall have with my next. 

I send you a letter of Mr Adams's, just received, which 
shows also that they are weary of the war, and would get 
out of it if they knew how. They had not then received 
the certain news of the loss of St Christopher's, which will 
probably render them still more disposed to peace. I see 
that a bill is also passing through the House of Commons, 
for the exchange of American prisoners, the purport of 
which I do not yet know. 

In my last, I promised to be more particular with res- 
pect to the points you mentioned, as proper to be insisted 
on in the treaty of peace. My ideas on those points are, 
I assure you, full as strong as yours. 1 did intend to have 


given you my reasons for some addition, and if the treaty 
were to be held on your side the water, 1 would do it ; 
otherwise, it seems on second thoughts to be unnecessary, 
and, if my letter should be intercepted, may be inconve- 
nient. Be assured, I shall not willingly give up any im- 
portant right or interest of our country, and unless this 
campaign should afford our enemies some considerable 
advantage, I hope more may be obtained than is yet ex- 

I have purchased for you nil the books you desired, ex- 
cept four, which we have sent for to England. I shall 
request our excellent friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, to 
take them under his care, and I hope they will get safe to 
hand. The others shall follow by the first opportunity, 
after I receive them. 

Our affairs go on, generally, well in Europe. Holland 
has been slow, Spain slower, but rime will I hope smooth 
away all difficulties. Let us keep up, not onlv our cour- 
age, but our vigilance, and not be laid asleep by the pre- 
tended half peace the English make with us without asking 
our consent. We cannot be safe while thev keep armies 
in our country. 

With great esteem, &,c. 



Passy, March, 1782. 


1 received yours of the 10th instant, and am of opinion 

with you, that the English will evacuate New York and 

Charleston, as the troops there, after the late resolutions of 

Parliament, must be useless, and are necessary to defend 

roL. III. 42 


their remaining islands, where they have not at present 
more than three thousand men. The prudence of this 
operation is so ohvious, that I think they can hardly miss 
it; otherwise, I own, that considering their conduct for 
several years past, it is not reasoning consequentially to 
conclude they will do a thing, because the doing it is re- 
quired by common sense. 

Yours of the 26th is just come to hand. I thank you 
for the communication of Digges's message. He has also 
sent me a long letter, with two from Mr Hartley. I shall 
see M. de Vergennes tomorrow, and will acquaint you 
with everything material that passes on the subject. But 
the Ministry, by whom Digges pretends to be sent, being 
changed, we shall, by waiting a little, see what tone will be 
taken by their successors. You shall have a copy of the 
instructions by the next courier. I congratulate you cor- 
dially on the progress you have made among those slow 
people. Slow however as they are, Mr Jay finds his* 
much slower. By an American, who goes in about ten 
days to Holland, 1 shall send you a packet of correspon- 
dence with Mr Hartley, though it amounts to little. 

With great esteem, I have the honor to be your Excel- 
lency's most obedient and most humble servant, 



Passy, March 31st, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
I have just received your favors of March the 1 1th and 
12th, forwarded to me by Mr Digges, and another of the 
21st per post. 1 congratulate you on the returning good 

* Tl»e Spaniards , 


disposition of your nation towards America, wliicli appears 
in the resolutions ol" Parliament, that you have sent me ; 
and 1 hope the change of yoiu- Ministry will be attended 
with salutary ertects. I continue in the same sentiments 
expressed in my former letters ; but as I am but one of 
five in the coiimiission, and have no knowledge of the sen- 
timents of the others, what has passed between us is to be 
considered merely as private conversation. The five per- 
sons are Messrs Adams, Jay, Laurens, Jefferson, and 
myself; and in case of the death or absence of any, the 
remainder have power to act or conclude. I have not 
written to JMr Laurens, having constantly expected him 
here, but shall write to him next post ; when I shall also 
write more fully to you, having now only time to add, 
that I am ever, with great esteem and affection, dear Sir, 
your most obedient and most humble servant, 



Passy, April 5lli, 1782. 

My Dear Friend, 
1 wrote a few lines to you the 31st past, and promised 
to write more fully. On perusing again your letters of the 
11th, 12th, and 21st, I do not find any notice taken of 
one from me, dated February the IGth. I therefore now 
send you a copy made from it in the press. The uncer- 
tainty of free transmission discourages a free communica- 
tion of sentiments on these important affairs ; but the inu- 
tility of discussion between persons, one of whom is not 
authorised, but in conjunction with others, and the other 
not authorised at all, as well as the obvious inconveniences 


that may attend sucli previous handling ot" points, that are 
to be considered, when we come to treat regularly, is 
widi me a still more effectual discouragement, and deter- 
mines me to waive that part of the correspondence. 

As to Digges, 1 have no confidence in him, nor in any- 
lliing he says, or may say, of his being sent by Ministers. 
Nor will I have any communication with him, except in 
receiving and considering the justification of himself, which 
he pretends he shall be able and intends to make, for his 
excessive drafts on me, on account of the relief I have 
ordered to the prisoners, and his embezzlement of the 

You justly observe in yours of the 12th, tliat the first 
object is to procure a " meeting of qualified and author- 
ised persons," and that you understand the Ministry will be 
ready to proceed towards opening a negotiation as soon as 
the bill shall pass, and therefore it is necessary to consult 
time and place, and manner and persons, on each side. 
This you wrote while the old Ministry existed. If the 
new have the same intentions, and desire a general peace, 
they may easily discharge Mr Laurens from those engage- 
ments, which nmke his acting in the commission improper, 
and except Mr Jefferson, who remains in America, and is 
not expected here, we the Commissioners of Congress can 
easily be got together ready to meet yours, at such place 
as shall be agi'eed to by the powers at war, in order to 
form the treaty. God grant, that there may be wisdom 
enough assembled to makcj if possible, a peace that shall 
be perpetual, and that the idea of any nations being natural 
enemies to each other, may be abolished for the honor of 
human nature. 

With resard to those who may be commissioned from 


your government, wliatever personal preferences I may 
conceive in my own mind, it cannot become me to express 
them. I only wish for wise and honest men. ^^ ith such, 
a peace may be speedily concluded. With contentious 
wranglers the negotiation may be drawn into length, and 
finally frustrated. 

I am pleased to see in the votes aiid Parliamentary 
speeches, and in your public papers, that in mentioning 
America, the word reconcilMiion is often used. It cer- 
tainly means more than a mere peace. It is a sweet ex- 
pression. Revolve in your mind, my dear friend, tlie 
means of bringing about this reconciliation. When you 
consider the injustice of your war with us, and the barba- 
rous manner in which it has been carried on, the many 
suffering families among us from your burning of towns, 
scalping by savages, &ic. kc., will it not appear to you, 
that though a cessation of the war may be a peace, it may 
not be a reconciliation ? Will not some volui^tary acts of 
justice, and even of kindness on your part, have excellent 
effects towards producing such a reconciliation ? Can 
you not find means of repairing in some degree those in- 
juries? You have in England and Ireland twelve hun- 
dred of our people prisoners, who have for years bravely 
suffered all the hardships of that confinement, rather than 
enter into your service, to fight against their country. 
Methinks you ought to glory in descendants of such virtue. 
What if you were to begin your measures of reconciliation 
by setting them at liberty r I know it would procure for 
you the liberty of an equal number of your people, even 
without a previous stipulation ; and the confidence in our 
equity, with the apparent good will in the action, would 
give very good impressions of your change of disposition 


towards us. Perhaps you have no knowledge of the opin- 
ions lately conceived of your king and country, in Amer- 
ica ; the enclosed copy of a letter will make you a little 
acquainted with them, and convince you how impossible 
must be every project of bringing us again under the do- 
minion of such a sovereign. 

With great esteem, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient 

and most humble servant, 



Passy, April 8th, 1782. 


Since my last, an extraordinary revolution has taken 
place in the Court of England. All the old Ministers are 
out, and the chiefs of the opposition are in their places. 
The newspapers that I send will give you the names as 
correctly as we yet know them. Our last advices mention 
their kissing hands, but they had yet done nothing in their 
respective offices, by which one might judge of their pro- 
jected measures, as whether they will ask a peace, of 
which ihey have great need, the nation having of late suf- 
fered many losses, men grown extremely scarce, and Lord 
North's new taxes proposed as funds for the loan meeting 
with great opposition ; or whether they will strive to find 
new resources, and obtain allies to enable them to please 
the King and nation by some vigorous exertions against 
France, Spain, and Holland. 

With regard to America, having while in opposition - 
carried the vote for making no longer an offensive war with 
us, they seem to have tied their own hands from acting 
against us. Their predecessors had been tampering with 


this Court for a separate peace. The King's answer gave 
me °-reat pleasure. It will be sent to j\I. de la Luzerne, 
and by him communicated to Congress. None of their 
attempts to divide us meet with tiie least encouragement, 
and I imagine the present set will try other measures. 

Wy letters from Holland give pleasing accounts of the 
rapid progress our affairs are making in that country. The 
packet from M. Dumas, which I forward with this, will 
give you the particulars. The Prince de Broglie will do 
me the favor of delivering this to you. He goes over to 
join the French army with the more pleasure, as it is em- 
ployed in the cause of liberty, a cause he loves, and in 
establishing the interests of America, a country for which 
he has much regard and affection. I recommend him 
earnestly to the civilities and services it may be in your 
power to render him, and I request you would introduce 
him to the President of Congress, and to the principal 
members civil and military. 

Our excellent friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, will sail 

in about three weeks. By that time we may have more 

interesting intelligence from England, and I shall write you 


With great esteem, k,c. 



Passy, April 12lli, 1782. 


I should sooner have paid my respects to you by letter, 

if I had not till lately expected you here, as I understood 

it to be your intention. Your enlargement gave me great 

pleasure, and I hope that the terms exacted by the late 


Ministry will now be relaxed, especially when they are 
informed, that you are .one of the Commissioners appointed 
to treat of peace. Herewith I send you a copy of the 
commission ; the purport of which you can communicate 
to the Ministers if you find it proper. If they are dis- 
posed to make peace with us and our allies at the same 
time, 1 will, on notice from you, send to Mr Jay to prepare 
for meeting at such time and place as shall be agreed on. 

As to our treating separately, and quitting our present 
alliance, which the late ministry seemed to desire, it is im- 
possible. Our treaties and our instructions, as well as the 
honor and interest of our country, forbid it. I will com- 
municate those instructions to you, as soon as 1 have ihe 
pleasure of seeing you. If you have occasion for money ,^ 
please to acquaint me with the sum you desire, and I will 
endeavor to supply you. 

With very great esteem and respect, I have the honor to 

be, Sir, he. 




Versailles, April 12th, 17S2. 
I have laid before the Count de Vergennes, the dif- 
ferent letters, which Mr Hartley bad written to you, as well 
as your proposed reply ; the Minister has given his entire 
approbation to the manner in which you have expressed 
yourself. 1 subjoin a postscript concerning Mr Forth ;* 
the Count de Vergennes, who has given it a perusal, finds 

* Mr Forth was a secret agent sent ofer to France by the British 
Ministry, to propose a separate treaty with the French Court, 


thai yoii may witluut Impropriety transmit it to your cor- 

I have the honor to be, Sir, with the most sincere attach- 
ment, your very humble and obedient servant, 


P. S. Since my letter was written, Sir, I have con- 
sidered anew the different overtures which it embraces. 
In your opinion, the late English Minister sincerely desired 
a reconciliation with us, and proposed with this view a sep- 
arate peace. At the time you were transmitting this 
wish of Lord North to me, this exininister employed an 
emissary here to sound the Minister of France on the pa- 
cific disposition of his Court, and offer very advantageous 
propositions. You will be able to judge from this, Sir, of 
the opinion which I ought to have of the intention of Lord 
Nordi and his colleagues. To convince you of the truth 
of the suggestions which I communicate, I will confide to 
you, that the emissary was a Mr Forth, and that he was 
charged to reply to the English ^Minister, ''that the King of 
France is as desirous of peace as the King of England; 
and that he would accede to it as soon as he coidd with 
dignity and safety ; hut it is a matter of the last import- 
ance for His Most Christian Majesty to Icnow, ivhether the 
Court of London is disposed to treat on equal terms unth 
the allies of France.'^ Mr Forth lias set XDut for Lon- 
don with this answer ; but it is probable he will not arrive 
till after the Ministers, who have sent him, have retired 
from office. 

You may. Sir, without the least hesitation, make use of 
these details if you judge it expedient. They will make 
known to the Minister in place the principles of the Court 
roL. III. 4.3 


of France, and tliey will convince liim, I iiope, that the 
project of disuniting us will be as illusory as it will prove 
injurious to us. As to the reply sent by Mr Forth, I can- 
not foresee (if the new ministers are instructed on this 
point) in what manner they will think they ought to con- 
sider it ; if they love peace, as they have persuaded the 
English nation and all Europe, they need not be embar- 
rassed ; France has opened a way in which they can, in 
my opinion, act without wounding the dignity of their mas- 
ter ; if they do not adopt it, they flatter themselves, without 
doubt, that the chance of war will procure for England the 
success, which heretofore has been denied her ; it will be 
for Providence to crown or frustrate their hopes. 


Passv, April 12th, 1782. 

Being at Court on Tuesday, I learnt from the Dutch 
Minister, that the new English Ministry have offered, 
through the Ministers of Russia, a cessation of arms to 
Holland, and a renewal of the treaty of 1674. M. de 
Berkenrode seemed to be of the opinion, that the offer 
was intended to gain time, to obstruct the concert of oper- 
ations with France for the ensuing campaign, and to pre- 
vent the conclusion of a treaty with America. It is ap- 
prehended, that it may have some effect in strengthening 
the hands of the English party in that country, and retard 
affairs a little, but it is hoped, that the proposal will not be 
finally agreed to. It would indeed render the Dutch ridic- 
ulous. A, having a cane in his hand, meets his neighbor 
B, who happens to have none, takes the advantage and 


gives him a souml drubbing. B, having found a slick, 
and coming to return the blows he received, A says, my 
old friend, why should we quarrel ? We are neighbors, 
let us be good ones, and live peaceably by each other as 
we used to do. If B is so easily satisfied, and lays aside 
his stick, the rest of the neighbors, as well as A, will laugh 
ai him. This is the light in which I stated it. Enclosed 
I send you a copy of the proposition. 

I see by the newspapers, that the Spaniards, having 
taken a little post called St Joseph, pretend to have made 
a conquest of the Illinois country. In what light does this 
proceeding appear to Congress ? While they decline our 
oflered friendship, are they to be suffered to encroach 
on our bounds, and shut us up within the Appalachian 
mountains ? I begin to fear they have some such project. 

Having seen in the English prints an article from Lis- 
bon, that two American ships, under French colors, being 
arrived in that port, were seized by the government, I 
asked the Portuguese Ambassador if it was true. He said 
he had no advice of it, as he certainly should have had if 
such a thing had happened ; he therefore did not give the 
least credit to it, and said, we might make ourselves (M^r- 
fectly easy ; no such treatment would in his opinion be 
offered us in their ports ; and he further observed, on the 
falsehood of English newspapers, their having lately as- 
serted, that the Congress had issued letters of marque for 
cruising against the Portuguese. 

With great esteem, he. 




Fassy, April 13tli, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 

Since mine of the Cnh, 1 liavc ihought further of lh(3 
subject of our late letters. You were of opinion, that the 
late Ministry desired sincerely a reconciliation with Amer- 
ica, and with that view a sejwrate peace with us was pro- 
posed. It happened, that, at the same time, Lord North 
had an emissary here to sound the French Ministers with 
regard to peace, and lo make them very advantageous 
propositions, in case they would abandon America. You 
may judge from hence, my dear friend, what opinion I 
must have formed of the intentions of your Ministers. To 
convince you of the truth of this, I may acquaint you, that 
the emissary was a Mr Forth ; and that the answer given 
him to carry back to the English Ministers, was, ^^that the 
King of France is as desirous of j[)eace as the King of 
England ; and that he woidd accede to it as soon as he 
coidd with dignity and safety ; hut it is a matter of the last 
importance for His Most Christian JMajcsty to know, 
whether the Court of London is disjwsed to treat on equal 
terms tmth the allies of France^ 

Mr Forth went off with this answer for London, but 
probably did not arrive till after the dismission of the Min- 
isters that sent him. You may make any use of this in- 
formation, as you judge proper. The new Ministry may 
see by it the principles that govern this Court ; and it will 
convince them, I hope, that tlie project of dividing us is 
as vain as it would be to us injurious. 1 cannot judge 
what they will think or do in consequence of the answer 
sent by Mr Forth, if they have seen it. If they love 


peace, as they have persuaded the English iialioii and all 
Europe to believe, they can be under no dilliculty. 
France has opened a path, which in my opinion ihey may 
use, without hurling the dignity of their master, or the 
honor of the nation. If they do not choose it, they doubt- 
less flatter themselves, that a war ""may still produce suc- 
cesses in favor of England, that have hitherto been with- 
held. The crowning or frustrating such hopes belongs 
to Divifie Providence ; may God send us all more wis- 
dom ! 

1 am ever, my dear friend, yours most afl'ectionately, 



Passv, April 13th, 1782. 


Enclosed with this, 1 send to your Excellency the packet 
of correspondence between Mr Hartley and me, which 1 
promised in my last. You will see, that we held nearly 
the same language ; which gives me pleasure. 

While ^Ir Hartley was making propositions to me, with 
the approbation or privily of Lord North, to treat sepa- 
rately from France, that Minister had an emissary here, a 
Mr Forth, formerly a Secretary of Lord Stormont's, mak- 
ing proposals to induce this Court to treat without us. I 
understand, that several sacrifices were ofiered to be made, 
and among the rest Canada to be given up to France. 
The substance of the answer appears in my last letter to 
Mr Hartley. But there is a sentence omitted in that let- 
ter, which I much liked, viz. " that whenever the two 
Crowns should come to treat, His Most Christian Majesty 


ivonld shoio how much the engagements he might enter into 
ivere to be relied on, hij his exact observance of those he 
already had with his present (dlics.^^ 

W you liave received anylhing in eoiiscquence of your 
answer by Digges, you will oblige me by communicating 
it. The Ministers here were much jDleased with the ac- 
count given them of your interview by the Ambassador. 

With great respect, I am, Sir, your Excellency's, he. 




Vci-sail!cs, April 23d, 17S2. 

The Baron dc Blome has just sent me the annexed 
Memorial, and die only use 1 can make of it is to com- 
municate it to you, persuaded that you will forward it to 

1 have the honor to be, &,c. 


Complaint from Denmark against an vdmcrican Privateer 

culled the Henri/. 


The Court of Denmark has been informed, that the 
ship Providence of Christiana in Norway, destined from 
London for St Thomas, a Danish Island, with a cargo of 
divers merchandise, lias been stopped in the latitude of 
Antigua, by an American privateer called the Henry, 
Captain Thomas Benson, and has been conducted into a 


port of New England, under llic pretence, that the cargo 
might be English property. 

As this act is prejudicial to the credit, security, and lib- 
erty of the Danish flag, the underwritten has been charg- 
ed, by order of his Court, to communicate the same to his 
Excellency the Count de Vergennes, requesting, that he 
will be pleased to effect, by his intervention, a prompt and 
entire restitution of the said vessel and cargo, with dam- 
ages proportioned to the unjust detention ; and that he will 
be kind enough at the same time to endeavor to obtain, 
that precise orders be given to the American privateers 
not to trouble in anywise the navigation and commerce of 
Denmark, but to respect its flag. 

The Court lias the greater right lo expect this compli- 
ance on the part of the Americans, as they continue to 
enjoy every liberty, and to find every assistance in its 
American islands, and they will always experience the 
same kind treatment on the part of Denmark, provided 
they correspond by proceedings equally amicable. 



London, I\Iay 1st, 1782. 

My Dear Friend, 
I have received a packet from you containing several 
letters of various dates. As I shall probably have a safe 
opportunity of conveyance to you when Mr Laurens leaves 
this countiy, I am now sitting down to write to you an 
omnium kind of letter of various matters as they occur. 
The late i\Iinistry being departed, I may now speak of 
things more freely- I will take a sentence in one of your 
letters for my lexl. Vide yours of April I3ih, 1782, in 


which you say, you were of opinion, thai the late Ministry 
desired sincekely a reconciliation with America, and with 
that view a separate peace with us was proposed. I 
must qualify this sentence much before I can adopt it as 
my opinion. As to reconciliation, I never gave much 
credit to them for that wish. It is a sweet expression. It 
certainly means more than peace. The utmost I ever 
gave the late Ministry credit for, was a wish for peace. 
And 1 still believe, that the wisest among them grew from 
day to day more disposed to peace, or an abatement of 
the war, in proportion as they became more alarmed for 
their own situations and their responsibility. Had the war 
been more successful, 1 should not have expected much 
relenting towards peace or reconciliation. That this has 
always been the measure of my opinion of them, I refer 
you to some words in a letter from me to you, dated Janu- 
ary 5di, 1760, for proof — "but for the point of sincerity ; 
why, as to that, I have not much to say ; I have at least 
expected some hold upon their pn/r/erice." 

My argument runs thus, it is a bargain for you (Minis- 
ters) to bo sincere now. Common prudence may hint to 
you to look to yourselves. It has amazed me beyond 
measure, that this principle of coinmon selfish prudence 
has not had the effect which T expected. I have not 
been disposed to be deceived by any conciliatory profes- 
sions, which I considered only as arising from prudence, 
and I hope that 1 have not led you into any deception, 
having so fully explained myself to you on that head. 
Had the American war been more prosperous on the part 
of the late Ministry, I do not believe the late resignation 
would ])ave tal<cn place. Rut it is evident, from the 
proposition to the Court of France, which you i)ave com- 


rouiiicatecl to ine, (and whicli I have communicated to the 
present ■Ministry with your letter) that even to the last 
hour some part of tlie late Ministry were still set upon the 
American war to the last extremity ; and probably another 
«nore prudent part of the iNIinistry would proceed no fur- 
ther } which, if it be so, may reasonably be imputed as the 
cause of the dissolution of the late ■Ministry. 

These have been the argument?, which 1 have always 
driven and insisted upon with the greatest expectation 
of success, viz. prudential arguments from the total im- 
practicability of ihc war, responsibilify, Sic. 1 have been 
astonished beyond measure, that these arguments have not 
sooner had their effect. If I could give you an idea of 
the many conferences, wiiich I hnvo had upon the subject, 
I should tell you, ' that many times Felix has trembled. 
When reduced by the terror of responsibility either to re- 
nounce the American war, or to relinquish their j)laces, 
they have chosen the latter; which is a most wretched 
and contemptible retribution either to their country or to 
mankind, for the desolation in which they have involved 
every nation, that tiiey have ever been connected with. 
Peace they would not leave behind them. Their legacy 
to their country, and to mankind has been, let darkness 
he the hurier of the dead ! 

As to the proposal of a separate peace arising from a 
desire of reconciliation, it certainly was so on the part of 
the people of England, but on the part of the late Ministry, 
it probably arose from the hopes of suggesting to France 
ideas of some infidelity on lbs part of America towards 
them. If you should ask me, why I have seemed to con- 
spire with this, my answer is very plain. In the first 
place, if I could have prevailed with the late Ministry to 
VOL. 111. 44 


have actually made an irrevocable offer, on their own 
part, of a separate peace to Americaj that very offer 
would in the same instant have become on their part also 
a consent to a general peace ; because they never had any 
wish to a separate contest with France, and America being 
out of the question, they would have thought of nothing 
after that but a general peace. I never could bring them 
even to this. They wished that America should make the 
offer of a separate treaty, for obvious views. My pro- 
posal was, that they should offer irrevocable terms of peace 
to America. If they had meant what they pretended, and 
what the people of England did really desire, they would 
have adopted that proposition. Then the question would 
have come forward upon the fair and honorable construction 
of a treaty between France and America, the essential and 
direct end of which was fully accomplished. Wlien 1 
speak of Great Britain offering irrevocable terms of peace 
to America, J mean such terms as would have effectually 
satisfied the provision of the treaty, viz. tacit independence. 
1 send you a paper entitled a Breviate, which I laid 
before the late Ministry, and their not having acted upon 
it, was a proof to me that the disposition of their heart to 
America was not altered, but that all their relenting arose 
from the impracticability of that war, and their want of suc- 
cess in it. But desponding as they were at last, it was not 
inconsistent with my expectations of their conduct, that they 
should make great offers to France to abandon America. 
It was the only weapon left in their hands. In course of 
negotiating with the late Ministry, I perceived their cour- 
age drooping from time to time, for the last three or four 
years, and it was upon that ground I gave them credit for 
an increasing disposition towards peace. Some dropped 


oft", oihers sunk under the load of folly, and at last they 
all failed. My argument ad homines to liie late Ministry 
might be slated thus. If you clout kill them, t/uij luill kill 
you. But the war is impracticable on your pari ; ergo, 
the best thing you can do for your own sake is to make 
peace. This was reasoning to men, and through men to 
things. But there is no measure of rage in pride and dis- 

Spicula coeca relinquunt 
Inlixa vents, aniuiasque in vulnere ponunt. 

So much for the argument of the breviate, as far as it 
respected the late Ministry. It was a test which proved 
that they were not sincere in their professions. If they 
had been in earnest to have given the war a turn towards 
the House of. Bourbon, and to have dropped the Ameri- 
can war, a plain road lay before them. The sentiments 
of the people of England were conformable to the argu- 
ment of that breviate ; or rather 1 should say, what is the 
real truth, that the arguments of the breviate were dic- 
tated by the notoriety of that sentiment in the people of 
England. ]My object and wish always has been to strike 
at the root of the evil, the American war. 

If the British nation have jealousies and resentments 
against the House of Bourbon, yet still the first step in 
every case would be to rescind the American war, and 
not to keep it lurking in the rear, to become hereafter, 
in case of certain eveuis, a reversionary war with Amer- 
ica for unconditional terms. This reversionary war was 
never the object of the people of England; therefore 
the argument of the breviate was calculated bona fide to 
accomplish their views, and to discriminate the fallacious 
pretences of the late administration from the real wishes 


of tlie country, as expressed in the circular resolution of 
many counties in the year 1780, first moved at York, 
on March 28th. 1780. Every other principle and every 
mode of courluct only imply, as you very justly express 
it, a secret hope that war may still produce successes, and 
then — . The designs which have been lurking under this 
pretext could not mean anytiiing else than this. Who 
knows but that we may still talk to America at last. The 
only test of clear intentions would have been this, to have 
cut up the American war, and all possible return to it lor 
any cause, o;- under any pretext. I am confident that tlie 
sentiment of the people of England is, and always has 
been, to procure peace and reconciliation with America, 
and to vir.dicate the national honor in. the contest with the 
House of Bourbon. If this intention hiid been pursued in 
a simj)le and direct manner, i am confident that the iionor 
and safety of llie British nation would long ago have beeii 
established in a general peace with all the belligerent 
jjowers. These are the sentiments upon which I have 
always acted in those negotiations, which I have had upon 
the subject of peace with the late Ministry ; reconcilia- 
tion v.-itli America, and peace with all the world, upon terms 
consistent with the honor and safety of my own country. 

Peace must be sought in such ways, as promise the 
greatest degree of practicability. The sentiments of indi- 
viduals as ])hilanthropisis may be overborne by the [)ower 
of ancient prejudices, which loo frequently prevail in the ag- 
gregates of nations. In such case, the philanthropist, who 
wishes the good of his own countiy and of mankind, must 
be the bulrush bending to the storm, and not the sturdy 
oak, imavailingly resisting. National prejudices are, I 
hope, generally upon the decline. Reason and humauity 


gain ground every clay against their natural enemies, folly 
and injustice. The ideas of nations being iwtural ene- 
mies to each other are generally reprobated. But still 
jealousies and ancient rivalships remain, which obstruct the 
road to peace among men. If one belligerent nation will 
entertain a standing force of three or four hundred thou- 
sand fighting men, other nations must have defended fron- 
tiers and barrier towns, and the barrier of a neighboring 
island, whose constitution does not allow a standing military 
force, must consist in a superiority at sea. It is necessary 
for her own defence. If all nations by mutual consent 
will reduce their offensive powders, which they only claim 
under the pretext of necessary defence, and bring forward 
tJie reign of the millennium ; then away with your frontiers 
and barriers, and your Gibraltars, and the key of the 
Baltic, and all the hostile array of nations, 

Aspera coinpositis nitcscant saecula bellis 

These must be the sentiments of every philanthropist in his 
interior thoughts. But if we are not to seek peace by 
some practicable method, accommodated to the remaining 
prejudices of the multitude, we shall not in our own time, 
I fear, see that happy day. If Great Britain and France 
are ancient rivals, then, until the reign of the millennium 
shall approach, arrange that rivalship upon equitable terms, 
as the two leading nations of Europe, set them in balance 
to each other ; the one by land, the other by sea. Give 
to France her elevated rank among the nations of Europe. 
Give to Great Britain the honor of her flag, and the securi- 
ty of her island by her wooden walls, and there would be 
no obstruction to general and perpetual peace. The preju- 
dices of disrespect between nations prevail only among the 
inferior ranks. Believe me, for one at least, I have the 


highest sentiments of respect for the nation of France. I 
have no other sentiments of hostility but what are honor- 
able towards them, and which, as a member of a rival 
State at war with them, consists in the duty of vigilance 
which I owe towards the honor and interests of my own 
country. ' I ain not conscious of a word or a thought, 
which on the point of honor I would wish to have con- 
cealed from a French Minister. 

In the mode which I have proposed of unravelling the 
present subjects of jealousy and contest, I would make my 
proposals openly to France herself. Let America be fi-ee, 
and enjoy happiness and peace forever. If France and 
Great Britain have jealousies or rivalships between them- 
selves, as European nations, I then say to France, let us 
settle these points between ourselves, if unfortunately we 
shall not be able by honorable negotiation to compromise the 
indispensable points of national honor and safety. This 
would be my language to France, open and undisguised. 
In the meanwhile I desire you to observe, that it would 
not be with reluctance that I should offer eternal freedom, 
happiness, and peace to America. You know my thoughts 
too well to suspect that. I speak only as in a state of war, 
desirous to arrange the complicated interests, and to secure 
the respective honor of nations. My wishes are, and always 
have been for the peace, liberty, and safety of mankind. 
In the pursuit of those blessed objects, not only this 
country and America, but France herself and the House 
of Bourbon, may justly claim the conspiring exertions of 
every free and liberal mind, even among their temporary 
enemies and rivals. 

I am, he. 



Brcviatt mentioned in the preceding Letter. 

February Ith, 17S2. — It is stated, that America is dis- 
posed to enlei- into a negotiation of peace with Great 
Britain, without requiring any formal recognition of inde- 
pendence ; always understood, that they are to act in con- 
junction with their allies, conformable to treaties. 

It is therefore recommended to give for reply, that the 
Ministers of Great Britain are likewise disposed to enter 
into a negotiation for peace, and that they are ready to 
open a general treaty for that purpose. 

If the British Ministers should see any objection to a 
general treaty, but should still be disposed to enter into a 
separate treaty with America, it is then recommended to 
them to oft'er such terms to America as shall induce her to 
apply to her allies for their consent, that she should be per- 
mitted to enter into a separate treaty with Great Britain. 
The condition of which being the consent of allies, no 
proposition of any breach of faith can be imderstood to be 
required by them, by the requisition of a separate treaty. 

The British Ministers are free to make any propositions 
to America, which they may think proper, provided they 
be not dishonorable in themselves, which in the present 
case is barred by the supposition of consent being ob- 
tained. In this case, therefore, if they should be inclined 
to offer a separate treaty, it is recommended to them to 
offer such terms to America, as should induce her to be 
desirous of closing with the proposal of a separate treaty, 
on the grounds of national security and interests, and like- 
wise such as may constitute to them a case of reason and 
justice, upon which they may make requisition to their allies 
for their consent. It is suggested, that the offer to America 


of a truce of sufficient length, together with the rennoval of 
the British troops, would be equivalent to that case, which 
is provided for in the treaty of February 6th, 177S, be- 
tween America and France, viz. tacit independence ; and 
the declared ends of that alliance being accomplished, it 
would not be reasonable that America should be dragged 
on by their allies in a war, the continuance of which, 
between France and (Glreat Britain, could only be caused 
by separate European jealousies and resentments (if un- 
fortunately for the public peace any such should arise) 
between themselves, independent and unconnected with 
the American cause. It is to be presumed, that France 
would not in point of honor to her allies refuse her con- 
sent so requested, as any rivalship or punctilios between 
her and Great Britain, as European nations, (principles 
which too frequently disturb the peace of mankind) could 
not be considered as casus fczderis of the American alli- 
ance ', and their pride as a belligerent power would not 
permit them to claim the assistance of America as neces- 
sary to their support, thereby proclaiming their nation 
unequal to the contest in case of the continuance of a war 
with Great Britain, after the settlement and pacification with 
America. Their consent, therefore, is to be presumed. 
But if they should demur on this point, if Great Britain 
should be disposed to concede tacit independence to 
America by a long truce, and the removal of the troops, and 
if the obstruction should evidently occur on the part of 
France, under any equivocal or captious construction of a 
drfensive treaty of alliance between America and France, 
Great Britain would from thenceforward stand upon ad- 
vantage ground, either in any negotiation with America, or 
in the continuance of a war including America, but not 


arising; from any lurUier resentments of Great l^ritain 
towards America, but imposed reluctantly upon both 
parlies by the conduct of the Court of France. 

These thoughts are not suggested with any view of giv- 
ing any preference in favor of a separate treaty above a 
general treaty, or above any plans of separate but concomi- 
tant treaties, like the treaties of Munster and Osnaburgh, 
but only to draw out the line of negotiating a separate 
treatv, in case the British Ministry should think it ncces- 
sarv to adhere to that mode. But in all cases it should 
seem indispensable to express some disposition, on the part 
of Great Britain, to adopt either one mode or the other. 
An absolute refusal to treat at all must necessarily drive 
America into the closest connexion with France, and all 
other foreign hostile powers, who would take tiiat advan- 
tage for making every possible stipulation to the future 
disadvantage of British interests, and above all things 
would probably stipulate, that America should never make 
peace with Great Britain, without the most formal and ex- 
plicit recognition of their independence, absolute and un- 


Philadelphia, May 22il, 17S2. 
Dear Sir, 

] expected to iiavc written you a long letter, more par- 
ticularly as it is some time since you have received any 
information froui this country, the enemy having effectually 
blocked up our ports for some months past. But I find 
myself so extremely hurried, that I have hardly leisure to 
VOL. III. 4r> 


write this, liie vessel by which it is to be sent going sooiiei 
than I apprehended. 

You will receive herewith a letter to His Most Christian 
Majesty, which yon will present, and a copy, which you 
will be pleased to deliver to the Count de Vergennes. 
This I believe is the usual form. You will also receive in 
the enclosed papers an accouni ot" the marks of respect, 
with which the annunciation of the birth of the Dauphin 
was received. These are of some importaiice, at a time 
v.dien Great Britain is endeavoring to represent us as weary 
of the alliance, and anxiously wishing to return to our 
connexion with them. It is probable, that the late changes 
in the British Administration, and the conciliatory meas- 
ures tlie.y propose, may excite apprehensions of our firm- 
ness. 1 have the pleasure of assuring yo. I, that it has not 
produced the least effect ; all orders of people seem to 
agree, that it should redouble our vigilance, and while it 
argues the u'eakness of the enemy, it serves as a spring to 
our exertions. 

Sir Guy Carlelon, shortly after his arrival, wrote a com- 
plimentary letter to General Washington, sending him an 
account of his appointment, and the prints which contained 
the Parliamentary debates, and requesting leave to send 
his Secretary wilii despatches to Congress. The General 
refused the jiassport, till he had the sense of Congress 
thereon ; and upon Sir Guy's letter being laid before them- 
(hey came to the resolution enclosed. 

Tiie j)apers I send you contain also resolutions of the 
State of Maryland, and of the Executive Council of Penn- 
sylvania, which I believe speak the language of all the 
States, whicii will, I doubt not, moke similar declarations 
when their legislatures shall be convened. So that you 


may safely assure His ^lajcsty's iMinistcrs, that no art whicli 
Great Rriiain can put in practice will have tlie least influ- 
ence in lessening the attachment of the people of this coun- 
try to tlie principles ol the alliance. It is true their 
expectations of powerful assistance this campaign are very 
high. They saw with some pain last year, that the fleet 
was withdrawn when the enemy were absolutely at their 
feet, and when one month's stay would have reduced either 
New York or Charleston. They look eagerly for the 
return of the fleet. They generally believe this to be the 
last campaign in America. There is no knowing what ef^- 
fect a disappointment in this hope would have. I 'believe, 
from the present view of things, that they would bear it 
with fortitude, but I should be sorry to see it put to the trial. 

Our trade has suffered astonishingly of late ; the influ- 
ence which this will have upon our internal resources is 
much to be apprehended. It is to be wished, that France 
would see the great advantages she would derive from 
keeping a superiority on this coast, where her fleets would 
be maintained cheaply while they protected our commerce, 
and compelled England eitlier to risk her army, or to keep 
a regular fleet here at five times their expense. Enclosed is 
a statement of our trade drawn up by Mr Morris. You are 
requested to conmiunicate this to the Court of V^ersaillos, 
and to use every means in your power to bring the Court 
to concur in adopting it. 

1 also enclose a resolution of Congress, to request you 
to apply for the prisoners due to us, in oi'der that they may 
be sent here and exchanged for our seamen, who are con- 
fined without the hops of relief. Is it impossible to devise 
some means for the enlargement of those, who are confined 
in Endand ? Can no cartel be settled ? Or no means 


devised lor sending iheiii here to be exeliauged ? Their 
case is re-ally pitiable. 

1 iiuve the honor to be, ^c. &ic. 



London, .May 2.Jtli, 1782. 

.My Dear Friend, 

Yours of the loth instant I received by Mr Oswald. 1 
did not doubt but thai the news of a general and absolute 
release of tiie American prisoners, which Lord Shelburne 
was so good as to communicate to me, in answer to that 
pari of your letter of the 5th of April, in which you speak 
so pathetically of srveet reconciliation, would give you much 
sincere and heartfelt pleasure. God send that it may be 
the happy omen of final reconcHiaiion and durable peace. 
I should be very happy to hear that good news from you, 
and in any way to contribute to it. Having on that sub- 
ject communicated the ])reliminaries, dated May, 1782, to 
Lord Shelburne, yoi\ may be assured that 1 have no res- 
ervations upon that head respecting America, in any cir- 
cumstances or condition whatever. You know all my 
thoughts upon that subject, and the principles upon which 
they are founded, and therefore that they are not change- 

It v.ould giv(» me the greatest pleasure, if 1 could hope 
for any opj)ortunity of seeing you. I could say many 
things, which are otherwise incommunicable, and which 
perhaps would contribute to facilitate the road to peace. 
I think 1 see in many parts much matter to work with, out 
of whicli a peace, honorable to all parties and upon dura- 


ble itiiiiciplei:, ini2;lii be established. j\'o degrading or 
morlij'ijiiig cundiiiuns to shorten peace and rekindle war. 
Perhaps 1 might not say too much if 1 were to add, that 
simply the adoption of reason among nations, and the mere 
rectification of obsolete and gothic absurdities, which carry 
no gratification, would afford a fund of remuneration to all 
parties for renouncing those objects of mutual contention, 
wtiicii, in the eye of reason, are no better than creatures of 
passion, jealousy, and false pride. Until the principles of 
reason and equity shall be adopted in national transactions, 
peace will not be durable amongst men. 

These are reflections general to all nations. As to the 
mutual concerns between Great Britain and North Amer- 
ica, reconciliation is the touchstone to prove those hearts, 
which are without alloy. If I can be of any assistance to 
you, in any communications or explanations conducive to 
peace, you may command my utmost services. Even if 
a French Minister were to overhear such an offer, let him 
not lake it in jealous part. Zealously and affectionately 
attached to my own country and to America, I am never- 
theless most perfectly of accord with you, that justice and 
honor should be observed towards all nations. Mr Oswald 
will do me the favor to convey this to you. I heartily wish 
him success in his pacific embassy. 

Yours ever most affectionately, 



Philadelphia, May 30th, 1782. 
Dear Sir, 

Since my last of the 22d instant, 1 have been honored 

with yours of the 30th of ]March, together with the letter 


from Mr Adams to you enclosed, and the papers, for 
which I am extremely oWiged to you. 

I am not at all disappointed at the manner in which 
the British administration have declared their wish for 
peace, or at the reluctance they show in parting with this 
country. To a proud nation the loss of o,000,000 subjects 
is mortifying. Every journeyman weaver in every petty 
village in England conceived himself a sovereign, even 
while working for the slaves of his supposed subjects. 
It requires a degree of magnanimity, of which they are 
incapable, to surrender with dignity what they are no longer 
able to hold. But they must suppose the politics of the 
rest of the world to move upon weaker principles than 
their own, if they imagine the offers they propose to hold 
out to the belligerent powers will detach them from their 
alliance with each other, till all the objects of it are 
attained. Of what avail would the cessions they made in 
the West Indies be to France, if we were again connected 
with England. What security would she have for those 
cessions, or even for the rest of her islands ? What she has 
offered to Spain I know not. To us she has offered noth- 
ing, as I have yet heard, but her friendship and the bless- 
ings of her government. A seven years' enmity has 
taught us to put very little value on the former ; and the 
present happiness of tlie people of England and Ireland 
has enabled us to form a just estimate of the latter. 

I have told you, that we have nothing to apprehend here 
from the offers of Britain. I have had no reason since to 
change that opinion. The way, however, to put it out of 
doubt is to enable us to expel the enemy from this conti- 
nent. The task is not difficult, and the object is sufH- 
ciently important not to let it depend upon other ope- 


I am instructed to prepare a memorial to the Court of 
Versailles, on the subject of the prize money due to Paul 
Jones, and the officers and men that sailed under his com- 
mand. Continual complaints are made on that subject. 
Surely M. de Chaumont has had sufficient time to setde 
this business. I must beg the favor of you to press it, and 
to draw and present a memorial to the Court, if it can- 
not otherwise be accomplished. Mr Barclay will have 
orders to receive the money for them. 1 enclose an ex- 
stract of a letter from Captain Jones on the subject, 
together with the list of the ships and their force, agreeable 
to which the division should be made. 

I also send his account of the detention of the brigantine 
Berkenbosch, together witii a copy of De Nief's certificate, 
that the property belonged to British owners. This I 
think at first view is a sufficient justification of his conduct, 
and I hope will be deemed satisfactory, especially when it 
is considered that our courts are open for a further prose* 
cution of the inquiry, if any injury has been unjustly sus- 
tained. I shall lake the earliest opportunity to inquire into 
the other cases you mention. If I am rightly informed, 
the insult to the Court of Norway is already avenged, the 
vessels, which are said to have committed it, having been 
lost at sea. This puts a stop to any further inquiry about 
it. I shall however endeavor to get this fact more fully 
ascertained, and write to you again. I should be glad to 
know on what ]irinciple these applications are made to the 
Court of France. If the powers, who suppose themselves 
injured, consider us as the subjects of Great Britain, they 
should carry their complaints to the Court of St James's. 
If they consider us as independent of them, they should 
address themselves to us or to you directly. 


I am very happy to find you have not lost sight of the 
prizes detained by the Danish Court, and that you so hap- 
pily availed yourself of the opportunity they afforded you, 
to renew your application. This object ought to be pushed, 
not so much on account of the value of the vessels, as to 
show that we know what is due to ourselves. 

Enclosed is a resolution of Congress on the subject of 
accounts, which you will be pleased to take the earliest 
opportunity to carry into execution. 

You draw an agreeable picture of the French Court, 
and their favorable dispositions. They stand very high in 
llie esteem of this country ; and though we sometimes en- 
tertain the hope of repaying by our commerce and alliance 
the friendship they have shown us, we are not on that 
account the less sensible of our obligation to them. The 
distrust and jealousies, which secret enemies have endea- 
vored to excite, have died away. One successful exer- 
tion in our favor will secure to them forever the affections 
of this country. I take an interest in the happiness of the 
Marquis de Lafayette, which makes me learn widi great 
pleasure the reception he has met with. No man is more 
worthy of the esteem he enjoys, both at home and here. 
I have forborne to write to him for some time, in expecta- 
tion that he was on his way. The same reasons restrain 
me now. Should any extraordinary event have detained 
him, you will be so obliging as to mention this as my 
aoolocy. I am charmed with your idea of a medal to per- 
petuate the memory of York and Saratoga. The thought 
is simple, elegant, and strikingly expressive of the subject. 
1 cannot however but flatter myself, that before it can be 
executed, your Hercules will have tasked your invention 
for a new emblem. 


I enclose a miinber of letters, that have passed between 
Generals Washington, Clinton, Robinson, and Sir Guy, 
chiefly on the subject of Captain Huddy, who, iiaving been 
taken prisoner and confined some time at New York, was 
carried by a Captain Lippincott and a party of soldiers to 
the Jersey shore, and there hanged without the least pre- 
tence. You will see an account of the whole transaction 
in some of the papers I sent. The General, in pursuance of 
his determination, has ordered the lot to be cast among the 
British Captains. It has fallen upon the Honorable Cap- 
tain Asgill of the Guards, who is now on his way to camp. 
A friend of his, Captain Ludlow, is gone to New York to 
see if anything can be done to save him. It is really a 
melancholy case, but the repeated cruelties of this kind, 
that have been practised, have rendered it absolutely neces- 
sary to execute the resolution to retaliate, which we have 
so often taken, and so frequently been prevented, by our 
feelings, from carrying into execution. 

We are yet totally ignorant of the event of the battle 
fought on the 12th of April, in the West Indies, of which 
you will see various and contradictory accounts in our 
papers. You will have more certain information in Eu- 
rope. Providence is taken by the Spaniards. Gillon com- 
manded the fleet on the occasion. He yesterday came to 
this port with a number of the Havana vessels, for which 
we were in ^reat pain. 

1 have the honor to be, &tc. 

vol.. iir. 40 



Talis, June otli, 1782. 


While ]\Ir Lanrens was under coDfinement in England, 
he jM'oniised, that on condition of his hcing liberated upon 
his parole, he would a])ply to you for an exchange in favor 
of T>iord Cornwallis, by a discharge of his Lordship 
granted upon the surrender of his garrison at the village of 
York in Virginia ; and, in case of your being under any 
difliculty In making such exchange, he undertook to write 
to the Congress, and to request it of that assembly, mak- 
ing no doubt of obtaining a favoraljle answer, widiout loss 
of time. 

This ])roposal, signed by Mr Laurent's hand, I carried 
and delivered, I think, in the month of December last, to 
his Majesty's dien Secretaries of State, which was duly 
attended to ; and in conseciuence thereof JM'; Laurens was 
soon after set at full liberty. And though not a prisoner 
under parole, yet it is to be hoped, a variation in the mode 
of discharge will not be sujjposcd of any essential dif- 

And with respect to Mv Laurens, 1 am satisfied lie will 
consider himself as much interested in the success of this 
application, as if his own discharge had been obtained 
under the form, as proposed by the representation, which I 
delivered to die Secretaries of State, and, T make no 
doubt, will sincerely join my Lord Cornwallis in an ac- 
knowledgment of your favor and good offices, in granting 
his Lordship a full discharge of his [)arolc abovementioned. 

I liave the honor to be, v.ith much respect, Sir, your 
most obedient Immblc servant. 



P. S. Major Ross has got no copy of Lord Coinwal- 
lis's parole. He says it was in the coirmon form, as in 
like cases. 

Since writing tlie above, I recollect I was under a mis- 
take, as if the proposal of exchange came Grst from Mr 
Laurens ; whereas, it was made by his Majesty's Secreta- 
ries of State to me, that Mr Laurens should endeavor to 
procure the exchange of Lord Cornwallis, so as to be dis- 
charged himself. Which proposal I carried to Afr Lau- 
rens, and had from him the obligation abovementioned, 
upon which the mode of his discharge was settled. 

R. O. 


J'assy, June 5th, 17S2. 


I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to 
me, respecting the parole of Lord Cornwallis. You are 
acquainted with what I wrote some time since to Mr Lau- 
rens. Tomorrow is post day from Holland, when possibly 
I may receive an answer, with a paper drawn up by him 
for the purpose of discharging that parole, to be signed by 
us jointly. I suppose the staying at Paris another day will 
not be very inconvenient to Major Ross, and if I do not 
hear tomorrow from ^Nlr Laurens, I will immediately, in 
compliance with your request, do what I can towards the 
liberation of Lord Cornwallis. 

I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir, your 
most obedient humble servant, 




The Hague, June IStli, 1782, 

I had yesterday, at Amsterdam, the honor of receiving 
your Excellency's letter of June the 2d. 

The discovery, that Mr Grenville's power was only to 
treat with France, does not surprise me at all. The Brit- 
ish Ministry are too divided among themselves, and have 
too formidable an opposition against them, in the King and 
the old Ministers, and are possessed of too little of the 
confidence of the nation, to have courage to make conces- 
sions of any sort, especially since the news of their suc- 
cesses in the East and West Indies. What their vanity 
will end in God only knows ', for my own part, I cannot 
see a probability, that they will ever make peace, until 
their finances are ruined, and such distresses brought upon 
them, as will work up their parties into a civil war. 

1 wish their enemies could by any means be persuaded 
to carry on the war against them in places, where they 
might be sure of triumphs, instead of insisting on pursuing 
it where they are sure of defeat. But we must take pa- 
tience, and wait for time to do what wisdom might easily 
and soon do. 

I have not as yet taken any engagements with the Dutch 
not to make peace without them ; but I will take such en- 
gagements in a moment, if the Dutch will take them, and 
I believe they would very cheerfully. I shall not propose 
it, however, till 1 have the concurrence of the Due de la 
Vauguyon, who will do nothing without the instructions of 
liis Court. I would not delay it a moment from any ex- 
pectation, that the English will acknowledge our iridepen- 


dence aiul make peace with us, because I have no such 
expectations. Tlie pcnnaiicnt Iriendship of the Dutcli may 
be easily obtaiucd by the United States ; that ol England, 
never; it is gone with the days before the flood. If we 
ever enjoy the smallest degree of sincere friendship again 
from England, I am totally incapable of seeing the charac- 
ter of a nation or the connexion of things ; which however 
may be the case for what 1 know. They have brought 
themselves into such a situation ! Spain, Holland, Amer- 
ica, the armed neutrality, have all such pretensions and 
demands upon them, that where is the English Minister, 
or IMember of Parliament, that dares vote for the con- 
cession to them ? The pretensions of France I believe 
would be so nwderate, that possibly they might be acced- 
ed to. But it is much to be feared, that Spain, who de- 
serves the least, will demand the most ; in short, the work 
of peace appears so impracticable and chimerical, that I 
am happy in being restrained to this country, by my duty, 
and by this means excused from troubling my head much 
about it. 

I have a letter from America, that informed me, that Mr 
Jay had refused to act in the commission for peace ; but if 
he is on the way to Paris, as you suppose, I presume my 
information must be a mistake, which I am very glad of. Mr 
Laurens did me tlie honor of a very short visit, in his way 
to France, but I was verj- sorry to learn from him, that in 
a letter to your Excellency from Ostend, he had declined 
serving in the commission for peace. I had vast pleasure 
in his conversation, for I found him possessed of the most 
exact judgment concerning our enemies, and of the same 
noble sentiments in all things, which I saw in him in 


What is the system of Russia ? Does siie suppose, that 
England has too many enemies upon her, and that their 
demands and pretensions are too high ? Does she seek to 
embroil affairs, and to light up a general war in Europe ? 
Is Denmark in concert with her, or any other power? 
Her conduct is a phenomenon. Is there any secret nego- 
tiation or intrigue on foot to form a party for England 
among the powers of Europe, and to make a balance 
against the power of the enemies of England ? 

The States of Holland and several other provinces have 
taken a resolution against the mediation for a separate 
peace ; and this nation seems to be well fixed in its sys- 
tem, and in the common cause. 

My best respects and affections to my old friend, Mr 
Jay, if you please, 1 have the honor to be, Sir, your most 
obedient and most humble servant, 



Philadelphia, June 23d, 17S2. 

Dear Sir, 
This will be sent with duplicates of some of my former 
letters to the southward, to embrace the first opportunity, 
that shall offer from thence. By so uncertain a convey- 
ance you can expect nothing. Nor indeed does our 
present situation furnish anything, that calls for your im- 
mediate attention, unless it be the unanimity with which 
the people of all ranks agree in determining to listen to no 
proposals from England, which have not the alliance 
with France for their basis. Perhaps the joy they have 
discovered, in celebrating the birth of the Dauphin, will be 


considered as .i proof of ilieir sincere alfacliujenl to ihc 
present illustrious uionarch of France and his family. 

Leslie has endeavored to bring General Greene to agree 
to a suspension of arms for the Southern Department, 
which he has very prudently refused. 

Notliing has yet been determined, or rather executed, 
with respect to Captain Asgill. The enemy are holding a 
Court Martial on Lippincott, the executioner of Captain 
Huddy ; on their decision the life of Captain Asgill will 
depend. Such is the melancholy necessity, which the 
cruelty of the enemy has imposed. 

You enclosed a letter froni the Count de Vergennes, on 
the subject of the pension duo M. Tousard. Congress 
are too sensible of that gentleman's merit to deprive him 
of it. But as it is necessary, that everything of this kind 
be transacted at one office, it is proper that he direct some 
person as his agent to apply to the Treasury office here, 
and produce your certificate of the time to which the last 
payment was made, or at least transmit a statement of his 
account, on which the balance will be paid, and his pen- 
sion regularly settled with his attorney in future. 

The case of the briganline Ernten has been decided 
upon in the inferior courts, and in the Court of Appeals. 
The latter have been prevailed upon at my request to give 
a rehearing, which is not yet determined. Should its 
determination be against the vessel or cargo, on a convic- 
tion, that she was British property, Congress will not 
choose to interfere in the execution of the sentence, which 
the court they have instituted is competent to award. 

1 could wish to know from you what allowance you 
make to your private Secretary, and to have an accurate 
estimate of those conliiii;ent expenses of your office, which 


you think ought to be charged as distinct from yoirr 

I enclose a copy of a letter from Mr Deane to Gov- 
ernor Trumbull, with his answer, which you will please to 
forward. A copy of the answer is also enclosed. 
I have the honor to be, he. 



Pa>sv, June Sotli, 178?. 


i have received your respective letters of January 26tli 
and February 13th. The first was accompanied with a 
form of a convention for the establishment of consuls. 
Mr Barclay having been detained these six monUis in Hol- 
land, though in continual expectation of returning hither, I 
have yet done nothing in that business, thinking his pres- 
ence might be of use in settling it. As soon as he arrives 
I shall move the completion of it. 

The second enforces some resolutions of Congress, sent 
me with it, respecting a loan of 12,000,000 of livres, to be 
demanded of France for the current year. I had already 
received the promise of six millions, together with the 
clearest and most positive assurances, that it was all the 
King could spare to us, that we must not expect more, 
that if (h'afts and demands came upon me beyond that sirm, 
it behoved me to take care how I accepted them, or where 
I should find funds for the payment, since I could certainly 
not be further assisted out of the royal treasury. Under 
this declaration, with what face could I ask for another six 
millions? It would be saying, you are not to be believed. 


you can spare more ; you are able to lend me twice the 
sum if you were but willing. If you read my letter to Mr 
Morris of this dale, I think you will be convinced how im- 
proper any language, capable of such a construction, would 
be to such a friend. I hope, however, that the loan Mr 
Adams has opened in Holland for three millions of florins, 
which it is said is likely to succeed, will supply the defi- 

By the newspapers I have sent you will sec, that the 
general disposition of the British nation towards us had 
been changed. Two persons have been sent here by the 
new ministers, to propose treating for peace. They had 
at tirst some hopes of getting the belligerent powers to 
treat separately, one after another, but finding that imprac- 
ticable, they have, after several messengers sent to and 
fro, come to a resolution of treating with all together for 
a general peace, and have agreed, that the place shall be 
Paris. Mr Grenville is now here with full powers for that 
purpose, (if they can be reckoned full with regard to Amer- 
ica, till a certain act is completed for enabling his Majesty to 
U-eat, &;c, which has gone through the Commons, and has 
been once read in the House of Lords.) I keep a very par- 
ticular journal of what passes every day in the affair, which 
is transcribing to be sent to you. I shall, therefore, need 
to say no more about it in this letter, except, that though 
1 still think they were sincere at first in their desire of peace, 
yet since their success in the West Indies, I imagine, that I 
see marks of tiieir desiring rather to draw the negotiations 
into length, that they may take the chance of what the 
campaign shall produce in their favor, and as there arc so 
many interests to adjust, it will be prudent for us to sup- 
pose, that oven another campaiicn may pass before all can 
VOL. in. .]7 


be agreed. Something too may happen to break off the 
negotiations, and we should be prepared for the worst. 

I hoped for the assistance of Mr Adams and Mr Lau- 
rens. The first is too much engaged in Holland to come 
hither, and the other declines serving ; hut I have now the 
satisfaction of being joined by Mr Jay, who happily arrived 
here from Madrid last Sunday. The IMarquis de Lafayette 
is of great use in our affairs here, and as the campaign is 
not likely to be very active in North America, I wish I 
may be able to prevail with him to stay a few weeks lon- 
ger. By him you will receive tlic journal aljovementioned, 
which is already pretty voluminous, and yet the negotia- 
tions cannot be said to be opened. 

Ireland you will see has obtained all her demands tri- 
umphantly. I meet no one from that country, who does 
not express some obligations to America for tlicir success. 

Before I received your jtist obscr\ ations on the subject, 
I had obtained from the English T^Iinistcrs a resolution to 
exchange all our prisoners. They thought themselves 
obliged to hiwe an act of Parliament about it for authorising 
the King to do it, this war being different from others, as 
made by an act of Parliament declaring us rebels, and our 
people being committed lor high treason. 1 empowered 
Mr Hodgson, who was chairman of the committee, that 
collected and dispensed the charitable subscriptions for 
the American prisoners, to treat and conclude on the terms 
of their discharge, and having approved of the draft he sent 
me of the agreement, I Ijope Congress will see fit to order 
a punctual execution of it. I have long suffered with those 
poor brave men, who \Aiih so much public virtue have 
endured four or five years hard imprisonment, rather than 
serve against their country. I have done all I could afford 


towards making tlieir situation more comfortable ; but their 
numbers were so great, that I could do but liltle lor each, 
and that very great villain, Digges, defrauded them of be- 
tween three and four hundred pounds, which he drew from 
me on dieir account. He lately wrote me a letter, in which 
he pretended he was coming to setde with me, and to 
convince me, that I had been mistaken with regard to his 
conduct ; but he never appeared, and I hear he is gone to 
America. Beware of him, for he is very artful, and has 
cheated manv. I hear evory nay of now roiruLrlcs com- 
mitted by him in Enghuul. 

The Ambassador from lo mis vJoun ap^jneil to 
me lately to know, if 1 had powers that would authorise my 
making a treaty with his master in behalf of the United 
States. Recollecting a general power, that was formerly 
given to me with the other Commissioners, I answered in 
the affirmative. He seemed much pleased, and said the 
King had directed him to ask the question, and charged 
him to tell me that he had so great esteem for me, that it 
would be a particular satisfaction to him to have such a 
transaction with me. I have perhaps some vanity in re- 
peating this ; but I think too, that it is right that Congress 
should know it, and judge if any use may be made of 
the reputation of a citizen for the public service. In case 
it should be Uiought fit to employ me in that business, it 
will be well to send a more particular power, and proper 
instructions. The Ambassador added, that it was a pleas- 
ure to him to think, and he hoped it would be remem- 
bered, that Sweden was the first power in Europe, which 
had voluntarily offered its friendship to the United States 
vviUiout being solicited. This affair should be talked of as 
little as possible till completed. 


I enclose another coniplaint from Denmark, which 1 
request you will lay before Congress. I am continually 
pestered with complaints from French seamen, who were 
with Captain Cunningham in his first cruise from Dun- 
kirk ; from others who were in the Lexington, the Alliance, 
he. being put on board prizes that were retaken, were 
never afterwards able to join their respective ships, and so 
have been deprived of the wages, he. due to them. It is 
for our national honor, that justice should be done them if 
possible ; and I wish you to procure an order of Congress 
for inquiring into their demands, and satisfying such as 
shall be found just, ft may be addressed to the Consul. 

I enclose a note from M. de Vergennes to me, accom- 
panied by a memoir relating to a Swiss, who died at 
Edenton. If you can procure the information desired, it 
will much oblige the French Ambassador in Switzerland. 

I have made the addition you directed to the cypher. I 
rather prefer the old one of Dumas, perhaps because 1 
am more used to it. I enclose several letters from that 
ancient and worthy friend of our country. He is now 
employed as secretary to Mr Adams, and I must, from a 
long experience of his zeal and usefulness, beg leave to 
recommend him warmly to the consideration of Congress, 
with regard to his appointments, which have never been 
equal to his merit. As Mr Adams writes me the good 
news, that he shall no loiiger be obliged to draw on me for 
liis salary, I suppose it will be proper to direct his paying 
that which shall be allowed to M. Dumas. 

Be pleased to present my duty to the Congress, and be- 
lieve me to be, with great esteem and regard, 




Passy, June 29H), 1782. 

In mine of the 25th instant, I omitted mentioning, that 
at the repeated earnest instances of Mr Laurens, who had 
given such expectations to the Ministry in England, when 
his parole or securities were discharged, as that he could 
not think himself at liberty to act in public affairs, till the 
parole of Lord Cornwallis was absolved by me in ex- 
change, I sent to that General the paper of which the 
enclosed is a copy ;* and I see by the English papers, 
that his Lordship immediately on the receipt of it ap- 
peared at Court, and has taken his seat in the House of 
Peers, which he did not before think was warrantable. 
My authority for doing this appeared questionable to my- 
self, but Mr Laurens judged it deducible from that respect- 
ing General Burgoyne, and, by his letters to me, seemed 
so unhappy till it was done, that I ventured it, with a 
clause, however, as you will see, reserving to Congress 
the approbation or disallowance of it. 

The enabling act is now said to be passed, but no copy 
of it is yet received here, so that as the bill first printed 
has suffered alterations in passing through Parliament, and 
we know not what they are, the treaty with us is not yet 
commenced. ]Mr Grenville expects his courier in a few 
days, with the answer of his Court to a paper given him 
on the part of this. That answer will probably afford us a 
clearer understanding of the intentions of the British Min- 
istry, which for some weeks past have appeared somewhat 

* Sec above, p. 362. 


equivocal and uncerlr.'ni. It looks as if, since their late 
success in the West Indies, they a little repented of the 
advances they had made in their declarations, respecting 
the acknowledgment of our independence ; and v,e have 
pretty good inforiiiation, that some of the Ministers still 
flatter the King with the hope of recovering his sover- 
eignty over us, on the same terms as are now making 
with Ireland. However willing we might have been at the 
commencement of this contest to have accepted such con- 
ditions, be assured we can have no safety in them at 
present. The King hates us most cordially. If he is once 
admitted to any degree of power and government among 
us, liowever limited, it will soon be extended by corruption, 
artifice, and force, till we are reduced to absolute subjec- 
tion, and tiiat the more easily, as, by receiving him again 
for our King, we shall drav; upon us the contempt of all 
Europe, wlio now adnnre and respect us, and shall never 
again find a friend to assist us. There are, it is said, 
great divisions in the ?Jinistry on other points as well as 
this, and those who aim at engrossing the power, flatter 
the King v.ith this project of reunion, and, it is said, have 
much reliance on the operations of jjrivate agents sent into 
America to dispose minds there in lavor of it, and to bring 
about a separate treaty there with General Carlelon. I 
have not the least apprehension, that Congress will give into 
this scheme, it being inconsistent with our treaties, as well 
as with our interest ; but I think it will be well to watch 
the emissaries, and secure, or banish immediately, such as 
shall be found tampering and stirring up the people to call 
for it. 

The firm united resolution of France, Spain, and Hol- 
land joined with ours, not to treat of a particular, but a 


general peace, nolwiilistandiDg ihe separate tempting ofl'crs 
to each, will in the end give us the command of that 
peace. Every one of the other powers see clearly its in- 
terest in this, and persists in that resolution. The Con- 
gress I am persuaded are as clear sighted as any of them, 
and will not depart from the system, which has been 
attended with so much success, and promises to make 
America soon both great and happy. 

I have just received a letter from iMr Laurens, dated at 
Lyons, on his journey into the south of France for his 
health. Mr Jay will write also by this opportunity. 
With great esteem, 1 have the honor to be, &ic. 




Passy, May 9(h, 1782. 

As since the change of the Ministry in England, some 
serious professions have been made of their disposition lo 
peace, and of their readiness to enter into a general treaty 
for that purpose ; and as the concerns and claims of five 
nations are to be discussed in that treaty, which must 
therefore be interesting to the present age, and to pos- 
terity, 1 am inclined to keep a journal of the proceedings 
as far as they come to my knowledge, snd to make it 
more complete, I will first endeavor to recollect what has 
already past. Great affairs sometimes take their rise from 
small circumstances. My good friend and neighbor Mad- 
ame Brillon, being at Nice all last winter for her health, 
with her very amiable flimily, wrote to me that she had 
met with some English gentry there, whose acquaintance 
proved agreeable ; among them she named Lord Cholmon- 
dcly, w^ho she said had promised to call in his return to 
England, and drink tea with us at Passy. He left Nice 
sooner than she supposed, and came to Paris long before 
her. On the 21st of IMarcli, I received the following note, 

"Lord Cholmondely's compliments to Dr Franklin; he 
sets out for London tomorrow evening, and should be glad 


to see him for five mimitos before he went. I-iord Chol- 
raondely uill call upon liim at any time in the mornine; he 
shall please to appoint. 

Thursday evening. Hotel de Chartres." 

I wrote for answer, that 1 should be at home all the 
next morning, and glad to see his Lordship if he did me 
the honor of cal!ing on me. He came accordingly. I 
had before no personal knowledge of this nobleman. We 
talked of onr friends whom he left at Nice, then of affairs 
in England, and the late resolutions of the Commons on 
Mr Conway's motion. He told me that he knew Lord 
Shelburne had a great regard for me, that he was sure 
his Lordship would be pleased to hear from me, and that 
if I would write a line he should have a pleasure in carry- 
ing it. On which I wrote the following. 


Passy, ■March 22d, 1782. 

"My Ix)rd, 
"Ix)rd Cholmondely having kindly offered to take a letter 
from me to your Lordship, I embrace the opportunitv of 
assuring the continuance of my ancient respect for your 
talents and virtues, and of congratulating you on the re- 
turning good disposition of your country in favor of Amer- 
ica, which appears in the late resolutions of the Commons. 
1 am persuadedjt will have good effects. 1 hope it will 
lend to produce a general peace, which I am sure your 
Lordship, with all good men, desires, which I wish to see 
before I die, and to which I shall, with infinite pleasure, 
contribute everything in my power. 
Toi>. III. 48 


"Your friends, the Abbe Morellet and Madame Helvetius, 
are well. You have made the latter very happy by your 
present of gooseberry bushes, which arrived in five days, 
and in excellent order. With great and sincere esteem, 
I have the honor to be, &ic. he. 


Soon after this we heard from England, that a total 
change had taken place in the Ministry, and that Lord 
Shelburne had come in as Secretary of State. But I 
thought no more of my letter, till an old friend and near 
neighbor of mine many years in London appeared at 
Passy, and introduced a Mr Oswald, whom he said had a 
great desire to see me, and Mr Oswald, after some little 
conversation, gave me the following letters from Lord 
Shelburne and Mr Laurens. 


London, April 6th, 1782. 

"Dear Sir, 
"I have been favored with your letter, and am much 
obliged by your remembrance. I find myself returned 
nearly to the same situation, which you remember me to 
have occupied nineteen years ago, and 1 should be very glad 
to talk to you as I did then, and afterwards in 1767, upon 
the means of promoting the happiness of mankind, a sub- 
ject much more agreeable to my nature, than the best con- 
certed plans for spreading misery and devastation. I have 
had a high opinion of the compass of your mind, and of 
your foresight. I have often been beholden to both, and 
shall be glad to be so again, as far as is compatible with 
your situation. Your letter discovering the same disposi- 
tion, has made me send to you Mr Oswald. I have had 

Ull'LOMATlC E. 379 

a longer acquaiiilance wiih liim, than even 1 iiave had the 
pleasure to have with you. 1 helieve him an honest man, 
and, after consulting some oi" our connnon Iriends, 1 have 
thought him the fittest for the purpose. He is a pacifical 
man, and conversant in those negotiations, which are most 
interesting to mankind. This has made me prefer him to 
any of our speculative friends, or to any person of higher 
rank. He is fully apprized of my mind, and you may 
give full credit to everything he assures you of. At the 
same time, if any other channel occurs to you, I am ready 
to embrace it. I wish to retain the same simplicity and 
good faith, which subsisted between us in transactions of 
less importance. 1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



London, April 7th, 1782. 

"Dear Sir, 

"Richard Oswald, Esquire, who will do me the honor of 
delivering this, is a gentleman of the strictest candor and 
ijitegrity. I dare give such assurances from an experience 
little short of thirty years, and to add, you will be per- 
fectly sale in conversing freely with him on the business he 
will introduce, a business, which Mr Oswald has disinter- 
estedly engaged in, from motives of benevolence, and from 
tlie choice of the man a persuasion follows, that the Elec- 
tors mean to be in earnest. 

"Some people in this country, who have too long indulg- 
ed themselves in abusing everything American, have been 
pleased to circulate an opinion, that Dr Franklin is a very 
cunning man, in answer to which, 1 have remarked to Mr 
Oswald, 'Dr Franklin knows very well how to manage 


a cunning man, but when the Doctor converses, or treats 
with a man of candor, there is no man more candid than 
liimself.' 1 do not know whether you will ultimately 
agree on political sketches, but I am sure, as gentlemen, 
you will part very well pleased with each other. Should 
you. Sir, think proper to communicate to me your senti- 
ments and advice on our affairs, the more amply the more 
acceptable, and probably the more serviceable; Mr Oswald 
will take charge of your despatches, and afford a secure 
means of conveyance. 

"To this gentleman I refer you for general information of 
a journey, which I am immediately to make, partly in his 
company, at Ostend, to file off for the Hague. I feel a 
willingness, infirm as i am, to attempt doing as much good 
as can be expected from such a prisoner upon parole. As 
General Burgoyne is certainly exchanged, (a circumstance, 
by the by, which possibly might have embarrassed us, had 
your late propositions been accepted) may I presume at 
my return to offer another Lieutenant General, now in 
England, a prisoner upon parole, in exchange ; or what 
shall I offer in exchange for myself, a thing in my own 
estimation of no great value ? I have the honor to be, 
with great respect, and, permit me to add, great reverence, 

Sir, he. 


I entered into conversation with Mr Oswald. He was 
represented in the letter as fully apprized of Lord Shel- 
burne's mind, and I was desirous of knowing it. All 1 
could learn was, that the new Ministry sincerely wished 
for a peace, that they considered the object of the war,' 
to France and America, as obtained. That if the inde- 
pendence of the United States was agreed to, there was 


no oilier |)uiiii in tlispiile, luitl theierore iioiliing to iiiiidei 
a j)acilication. That tliey wero ready to treat of Peace, 
hut he iiiiimatod, that if France should insist upon terms 
too humiliating to England, they could still continue the 
war, having yot great strength, and many resources left. 
1 let him know, that America would not treat but in con- 
cert with France, and that my colleagues not being here, 
I could do nothing of importance in the afiair ; but that, if 
he pleased, I would present him to M. de Vergennes, 
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He consenting, 
I wrote and sent the following letter. 


Passv, April 15tli, 1782. 

"An English nobleman, Lord Cholmondely, lately re- 
luming from Italy, called upon me here, at the time when 
we received the news of the first resolutions of the House 
of Commons, relating to America. In conversation he 
said, that he knew his friend. Lord Shelburnc, had a great 
regard for mc, that it would be pleasing to him to hear of 
my welfare, and receive a line from me, of which he. Lord 
Cholmondely, should like to be the bearer, adding, if there 
should be a change of Ministry, he believed Lord Shel- 
burne would be employed. I thereupon wrote a few 
lines, of which I enclose a copy. This day I received an 
answer, which I also enclose, together with another letter 
from Mr Laurens. They both, as your Excellency will see, 
recommend the bearer, INIr Oswald, as a very honest, sen- 
sible man. I have had a little conversation with him. He 
tells me, that there has been a desire of making a separate 
peace with America, and continuing the war wiili France 


and Spain, but thai now all wise people give up that idea 
as impracticable, and it is his private opinion, that the 
Ministry do sincerely desire a general peace, and that they 
will readily come into it, provided France does not insist 
upon conditions too humiliating for England, in which case 
she will make great and violent efforts, rather than submit 
to them, and that much is still in her power, &c. 

"I told the gendeman, that I could not enter into particu- 
lars with him, but in concert with the ^Ministers of this 
Court. And I proposed introducing him to your Excel- 
lency, after communicating to you the letters he had 
brought me, in case you should think fit to see him, with 
which he appeared to be pleased. I intend waiting on you 
tomorrow, when you will please to acquaint me with your 
intentions, rnd favor me with your counsels. He had 
heard nothing of Forth's mission, and the old ?f]inistry had 
not acquainted the new with that transaction. Mr Laurens 
came over with him in the same vessel, and went from 
Ostend to Holland. With great respect, I am, &lc. 


The next day, being at Court with the Foreign jMinis- 
ters, as usual on Tuesdays, ! saw ]\1. de Vergennes, who 
acquainted me, that he had caused the letters to be trans- 
lated, had considered the contents, and should like to see 
Mr Oswald. We agreed that the interview should be on 
Wednesday at 10 o'clock. Immediately on my return 
home, I wrote to Mr Oswald, acquainting him with what 
had passed at Versailles, and proposing, that he should be 
with me at half past eight the next morning, in order to 
proceed thither. I received from him the following 


Paries, April I61I1. 

"I have the honor of yours by the bearer, and shall be 
sure to wait on you tomorrow, at half past eight, and am, 

with much respect, &;c. 


He came accordingly, and we arrived at Versailles 
punctually. M. de Vergennes received him with much 
civility. Mr Oswald not being ready in speaking French, 
M. de Rayneval interpreted. ^Ir Oswald at first thought 
of sending an express, with the account of the conversa- 
tion, which continued near an hour, and was offered a 
passport, but finally concluded to go himself; and I wrote 
the next day the letter following. 


Pussy, April 18th, 1782. 

"My Lord, 

"I have received the letter your Lordship did me the 
honor of writing to me on the 6th instant. I congratulate 
you on your new appointment to the honorable and im- 
portant office you formerly filled so worthily, which must 
be so far pleasing to you, as it affords you more opportu- 
nities of doing good, and of serving your country essen- 
tially in its great concerns. 

"I have conversed a good deal with Mr Oswald, and am 
much pleased with him. He appears to mc a wise and 
honest man. I acquainted him, that I was commissioned, 
with others, to treat of and conclude a peace. That full 
powers were given us for that purpose, and that the Con- 
gress promised in good faith to ratify, confirm, and cause 
to be faithfully observed, the treaty we should make ; but 


that we would not treat separately from France, and I 
proposed introducing him to the Count de Vergennes, 
to whom I communicated your Lordship's letter containing 
Mr Oswald's character, as a foundation for the interviews. 
He will acquaint you, that the assurance he gave of His 
Britannic Majesty's good dispositions towards peace was 
well received, and assurances returned of the same good 
dispositions in His Most Cliristian Majesty. 

"With regard to circua)stances relative to a treaty, M. de 
Vergennes observed, that the King's engagements were 
such, that he could not treat without the concurrence of 
his allies, that the treaty should, therefore, be for a gene- 
ral, not a partial peace, that if the parties were disposed to 
finish the war speedily by themselves, it would perhaps be 
best to treat at Paris, as an Ambassador from Spain vvas 
already there, and the Commissioners from America might 
easily and soon be assembled there. Or, if they chose to 
make use of the proposed mediation, they might treat at 
Vienna ; but that the King was so truly willing to put a 
speedy end to the war, that he would agree to any place 
the King of England should think proper. 

"I leave the rest of the conversation to be related to your 
Lordship by Mr Oswald, and that he might do it more 
easily and fully, than he could by letter, 1 was of opinion 
with him, that it would be best he should return imme- 
diately and dojt viva voce. Being myself but one of the 
four persons now in Europe, commissioned by the Coti- 
gress to treat of peace, I can make no propositions of 
much importance without lliem. I can only express my 
wish, that, if Mr Oswald returns hither, he may bring with 
him the agreement of your Court to treat for a general 
peace, and the proposal of place and time, that I may im- 


mediately write to Messrs Adams, Laurens, and Jay. I 
suppose, that in tliis case, your Lordship will think it pro- 
per to have Mr Laurens discharged from the engagements 
he entered into, when he was admitted to bail. 1 desire 
no otheV channel of communication between us, than that 
of Mr Oswald, which 1 think your Lordship has chosen 
with much judgment. He will be witness of my acting 
with all tiie simplicity and good faith, which you do me the 
honor to expect from me, and if he is enabled, when he 
returns hither, to communicate more fully your Lordship's 
mind on the principal points to be settled, I think it may 
contribute much to the blessed work our hearts are en- 
gaged in. 

"By the Act of Parliament relative to American prison- 
ers, I see the King is empowered to exchange them. I 
hope those you have in England and Ireland may be sent 
home soon to their country, in flags of truce, and exchang- 
ed for an equal number of your people. Permit me to 
add, that I think it would be well if some kindness were 
mixed in the transaction, with regard to their comfortable 
accommodation on sliipboard, as these poor unfortunate 
people have been long absent from their families and 
friends, and rather hardly treated. With great and sin- 
cere respect, 1 have ihe honor to be, my Lord, &:c. 


To the account contained in this letter, of what passed 
in the conversation with the Minister, I should add his 
frank declaration, diat, as the foundation of a good and 
durable peace should be' laid in justice, whenever a treaty 
was entered upon, he had several demands of justice to 
make from England. Of this, says he, I give you jire- 
voL. III. 40 


vious notice. What these demands were, he did not par- 
ticnlarly say. One occurred lo me, viz. 'reparation for the 
injiuy done in taking a number of French siiips by surprise, 
before the declaration of the preceding war, contrary to the 
law of nations. Mr Oswald seemed to wish to obtain some 
propositions to carry hack with him, but M. de Vergcnnes 
said to him very properly, there are four nations engaged 
in the war against you, who cannot, till they have con- 
sulted and know each other's minds, be ready to make 
propositions. Your Court being without allies and alone, 
knowing its own mind, can express it immediately. It is 
therefore more natural lo expect the first proposition from 

On our return from Versailles, Mr Oswald took occasion 
to impress me widi ideas, that the present weakness of the 
government of England, witli regard to continuing the 
war, was owing chiefly to the division of sentiments about 
it. That in case France should make demands too humil- 
iating for England to submit to, the spirit of die nation 
would be roused, unanimity would prevail, and resources 
would not be wanting. He said there was no want of 
money in the nation, that the chief difficulty lay in the 
finding out new taxes to raise it, and, perhaps, that diffi- 
culty might be avoided by shutting up the Exchequer, 
stopping the payment of the interests of the public funds, 
and applying diat money to the support of the war. I 
made no reply to this, for 1 did not desire to discourage 
their stopping payment, which I considered as cutting the 
throat of the public credit, and a means of adding fresh 
exasperation against them witli the neighboring nations. 
Such menaces were besides an encourageiiient with me, 
remembering the adage, that they ivho threaten arc afraid. 

du'Lomatic cokresponde.nck. js? 

The next morning, when I Imd written the above letter 
to Lord Shelbiirnc, I went with it to IMr Oswald's lodgings, 
and gave it to him to read before I sealed it, that in case 
anything might be in it with which he was not satisfied, 
it might be corrected ; but ho expressed himself nuich 

In going to him, I had also in view the entering into a 
conversation, which might draw out something of the mind 
of his Court on the subject of Canada and Nova Scotia. 
I had thrown some loose thoug)its on paper, which I in- 
tended to serve as memorandums for my discourse, but 
without a fixed Intention of showing them to him. On his 
saying that he was obliged to me for the good opinion I 
had expressed of him to Lord Shelburne in my letter, and 
assuring me, that he had entertained the same of me, I 
observed, that I perceived Lord S. had placed great con- 
fidence in him, and as we had happily the same in each 
other, we might possibly, by a free communication of sen- 
timents, and a previous settling of our own minds on some 
of the important points, be the means of great good, by 
impressing our sentiments on the minds of those with 
whom they might have influence, and where their being 
received might be of importance. I then remarked, that 
his nation seemed to desire a reconciliation, that to obtain 
this, the paity which liad been the aggressor and had cru- 
elly treated the other, should show some marks of concern 
for what was past, and some disposition to make repara- 
tion ; that perhaps there were things, which America 
Plight demand by way of reparation, and which England 
might yield, and that the efTect would be vastly greater if 
they appeared to be voluntary, and to spring from return- 
ing good will ; that I, iherelore, wished England would think 



of ollbring sometliiiig to i-elicve those, who had suffered by 
its scalping and burning parties. Lives indeed could not 
be restored nor compensated, but the villages and houses 
wantonly destroyed might be rebuilt, &c. I then touched 
upon the affair of Canada, and, as in a former conversa- 
tion he had mentioned his opinion, that the giving up of 
that country to the English, at tlie last peace, had been a 
politic act in France, for that it had weakened the ties be- 
tween England and her Colonies, and that he himself 
had predicted from it the late revolution, 1 spoke of the 
occasions of future quarrel that might be produced by her 
continuing to hold it, hinting at the same time, but not ex- 
pressing too plainly, that such a situation, to us so danger- 
ous, would necessarily oblige us to cultivate and strengthen 
our union witli France. He apjieared much struck with 
my discourse, and, as I frequently looked at mv paper, he 
desired to see it. After some little delay, I allowed him to 
read it ; the following is an exact copy. 


"To make a peace durable, what may give occasion for 
future wars should if practicable be removed. 

"The territory of the United States and that of Can- 
ada, by long extended frontiers, touch each other. 

"The settlers on the irontiers of the Anu;rican prov- 
inces are generally the most disorderly of the people, 
who, being far removed from the eye and control of their 
respective governments, are more bold in committing of- 
fences against neighbors, and are forever occasioning com- 
plaints and furnishing matter for iVesh differences between 
their States. 


"By ihc late debates in Parliament, and public writings, 
it appears that Britain desires a reconciliation with the 
Americans. It is a sweet word. It means much more 
than a mere peace, and what is heartily to be wished for. 
Nations make a peace whenever they are both weary of 
making war. But if one of them has made war ujx)n the 
other unjustly, and has wantonly and unnecessarily done 
it great injuries, and refuses reparation, there may, for 
the present, be peace, the resentment of those injuries 
will remain, and will break out again in vengeance when 
occasions offer. These occasions will be watched for by 
one side, feared by the other, and tlie peace will never be 
secure ; nor can any cordiality subsist between them. 

"Many houses and villages have been burnt in America 
by the English and their allies, the Indians. I do not 
know that the Americans will insist on reparation ; per- 
haps they may. But would it not be better for England 
to offer it ? Nothing would have a greater tendency to 
conciliate, and much of the future commerce and return- 
ing intercourse between the two countries may depend 
on tJie reconciliation. Would not the advantage of recon- 
ciliation by such means be greater than the expense ? 

"If then a way can be proposed, which may tend to 
efface the memory of injuries, at the same time that it 
takes away the occasions of fresh quarrels and mischief, 
will it not be worth considering, especially if it can be 
done, not only without expense, but be a means of saving ? 

"Britain possesses Canada. Her chief advantage from 
that possession consists in the trade for peltry. Her ex- 
penses in governing and defending that settlement must be 
considerable. It might be humiliating to her to give it up 
on the demand of America. Perhaps America will not 

390 BE.NJAMIN FKANKLIN. [Journal. 

demand it ; sorae of lu^r political rulers may consider the 
fear of sucli a neighbor, as a means of keeping the thir- 
teen States more united among themselves, and more 
attentive to military iliscipline. But on the mind of the 
people in general, would it not have an excellent effect, if 
Britain should voluntarily offer to give up this Province ; 
though on these conditions, that she shall in all times 
coming have and enjoy the right of free trade thither, un- 
incumbered with any duties whatsoever ; that so much of 
the vacant lands there shall be sold, as will raise a sum 
sufficient to pay for the houses burnt by the British troops, 
and their Indians ; and also to indemnify the royalists for 
the confiscation of their estates ? 

"This is mere conversation matter between Mr Oswald 
and i\Ir Franklin, as the former is not empowered to make 
propositions, and tlie latter cannot make any without the 
concurrence of his colleagues." 

He then told me, that nothing in his judgm.ent could be 
clearer, more satisfactory and convincing, than the reason- 
ings in that paper ; that he would do his utmost to impress 
Lord Shclburne with them ; that, as his memory might not 
do them justice, and it would be impossible for him to ex- 
press them so well, or state them so clearly as I had writ- 
ten them, he begged I would let him take the paper with 
him, assuring me that he would return it safely into my 
hands. I at length complied with this request also. We 
parted exceeding good friends, and he set out for London. 

By the first o[)|)ortunity after his departure, I wrote the 
following letter to Mr Adams, and sent the papers therein 
mentioned, that he might fully be apprized of the proceed- 
ings. I omitted only the paper of jYoies for Conversation 


with Ml- Oswald, but gave, the substance, as appears in the 
letter. The reason of my omitting it was, that, on renec- 
lion, I was not pleased witli my having hinted a reparation 
to lories for their forfeited estates, and I was a little 
ashamed of my weakness in permitting the paper to go out 
of my hands. 


Passv, April 20th, 1782. 


"I hope your Excellency received the copy of our in- 
structions, which I sent by the courier from Versailles, 
some weeks since. 1 wrote to you on the 13th, to go by 
Captain Smedley, and sent a packet of correspondence with 
Mr Hartley. Smedley did not leave Paris so soon as I 
expected ; but you should have it by this time. 

"With this I send a fresh correspondence, which I have 
been drawn into, viz. 1st, A letter I sent to Lord Shel- 
burne before he was a Minister. 2dly, His answer since 
he was a Minister, by Mr Oswald, odly, A letter from 
^Ir Laurens. 4thly, My letter to M. de Vergennes. 
5thly, My answer to Lord Shelburne. Gthly, My answer 
to Mr Laurens. Tthly, Copy of Digges's report. These 
papers will inform you pretty well of what passed between 
me and Mr Oswald, except that in a conversation at part- 
ing, I mentioned to him, that I observed they spoke much 
m England of obtaining a reconciliation with the Colonies ; 
that this was more than a peace ; that the latter might 
possibly be obtained without the former ; that the cruel 
injuries constantly done us by burning our towns, Uc. had 
made deep impressions of resentment that would long re- 
main ; tliat much of the advantage to the commerce of 
England from a peace would depend on a reconciliation ; 


that the peace without reconciliation would j)robably not 
be durable 5 that after a quarrel between friends, nothing 
tended so much to conciliate, as ofiers made by the ag- 
gressor of reparation for injuries done by him in his 
passion. And I hinted, that if England should make us a 
voluntary offer of Canada, expressly for that purpose, it 
might have a good effect. 

"Mr Oswald liked much the idea, and said they Avere 
too much straitened for money to make us pecuniary repa- 
ration, but he should endeavor to persuade their doing it 
this way. He is furnished with a passport to go and re- 
turn by Calais, and 1 expect him back in ten or twelve 
days. 1 wish you and Mr Laurens could be here when 
he arrives, for I shall much want your advice, and cannot 
act without your concurrence, if the present crisis of 
your affairs prevents your coming, I hope, at least, Mr 
Laurens will be here, and we must communicate with you 
by expresses, for your letters to me by post are generally 
opened. I shall write by the next post, requesting Mr 
Jay to be here also as soon as possible. 

"1 received your letter advising of your draft on me foi 
a quarter's salary, which will be duly honored. With great 
esteem, 1 have the honor to be, &ic. 


SupjKDsing Mr Laurens to be in Holland wiUi Mr 
Adams, I, at the same time, wrote to him the follow- 
ing letter. 



Pussy, April '20ili, 1782. 


'•I received, by Mr Oswald, the letter you did me the 
honor of writing to me on the 7th instant. He brought 
me also a letter from Lord Shelburne, which gave him the 
same good character that you do, adding, 'He is fully ap- 
prized of my mind, and you may give full credit to every- 
thing he assures you of.' Mr Oswald, however, could 
give me no other particulars of his Lordship's mind, hut 
that he was sincerely disposed to peace. As the message 
seemed, therefore, rather intended to procure or receive 
propositions than to make any, 1 told Mr Oswald that 1 
could make none but in concurrence with my colleagues 
in the commission, and that if we were together, we should 
not treat but in conjimction with France ; and I proposed 
introducing him to M. de Vergennes, which he accepted. 

"He made to that Minister the same declaration of the 
disposition of England to peace, who replied, that France 
had assuredly the same good disposition ; that a treaty 
might be immediately begun, but it must be for a general, 
not n particular peace. That, as to the place, he thought 
Paris might be the most convenient, as Spain had here 
already an Ambassador, and the American Commissioners 
could easily be assembled here ; this, upon a supposition of 
the parties treating directly with each other without the 
intervention of mediutors, but if the mediation was to be 
used, it might be at Vienna. The King, his master, how- 
ever, was so truly disposed to peace, that he would agree 
to any place that the King of England should choose, and 
would, at the treaty, give proof of the confidence that 
might be placed in any engagements he should then enter 
VOL. II!. r>o 


into, by the fidelity and exactitude with which he should 
observe those he already had with his present allies. 

"Mr Oswald is returned with these general answers by 
the way of Calais, and expects to be here again in a few- 
days. I wish it might bo convenient for you and Mr 
Adnms to be hei-c at the same time ; but if the present 
critical situation of afiairs there, makes his being in Hol- 
land necessary just now, I hope you may, nevertheless, be 
here, bringing widi you his opinion and advice, I have 
proposed to Lord Sheiburne, to discharge you from the 
obligations you entered into at the time of your enlarge- 
ment, that you may act more freely in the treaty he 

"I had done myself the honoi- of writing to you a few 
days before the arrival of Mr Oswald. My letter went by 
]\lr Young, your Secretary, and enclosed a copy of your 
commission, with an olfer of money if you had occasion 
for any. Hoping that you will not return to England be- 
fore you have been at Paris, I forbear enlarging on the 
state of our affairs here and in Spain. M. de Vergennes 
told me he should be very glad to see you here. 1 found 
Mr Oswald to answer perfectly the character you gave me 
of him, and was much pleased with him. I have the 
honor to l)e, Ike. &c. 


Just after I had despatched these letters, ] received the 
following from Mr Adams. 


Amsterdam, April 16tli, 1782. 

"Yesterday noon, Mr William Vaughan, of London, came 
to my house with I\Ir Laurens, the son of the Presideut, 


and brought me a line from the latter, and told me the 
President was at Haerleni, and desired to see me. I went 
to Haeriem and found my old friend at the Golden Lion. 
He told me he was come partly for liis health and the 
pleasure of seeing me, and partly to converse with me, 
and see if he had at present just ideas and views of things, 
at least to see if we agreed in sentiment, having been 
desired by several of the new Ministry to do so. I asked 
him if he was at liberty ? He said no, that he was still 
under parole, but at liberty to say what he pleased to me. 
I told him that 1 could not communicate to him, being 
a prisoner, even his own instructions, nor enter into any 
consultation with him as one of our colleagues in the com- 
mission for peace ; that all I should say to liim would be 
as one private citizen conversing with another ; but that 
upon all such occasions, I should reserve a right to com- 
municate whatever should pass to our colleagues and allies. 
"He said that Lord Shelburne, and others of the new 
Ministers, were anxious to know whether there was any 
authority to treat of a separate peace, and whether there 
could be an accommodation ii[X)n any terms short of inde- 
pendence ; that he had ever answered them that nothing 
short of an express or tacit acknowledgment of our inde- 
pendence, in his opinion, would ever be accepted, and that 
no treaty ever would, or could be made separate from 
France. He asked me, if his answers had been right ? I 
told him that I was fully of that opinion. He said that the 
new Ministers had received Digges's report, but his ciiar- 
acter was such, that they did not choose to depend upon 
it ; that a person by the name of Oswald, I think, set off 
for Paris to see you, about the same time he came avvav 
to see me. 

396 BEiNJAMi.N FKANKLIN. [Journal, 

"1 desired bim, between bim and nie, to consider, with- 
out saying anything of it to the Ministry, whether we could 
ever have a real peace, with Canada or Nova Scotia in the 
bands of the English ? And whelber we ought not to insist, 
at least, upon a stipulation, that they should keep no stand- 
ing army, or regular troops, nor erect any fortifications 
upon the frontiers of either ? That, at present, I saw no 
motive that we bad to be anxious for a peace, and if the 
nation was not ripe for it upon proper tei'uis, we might 
wait patiently till they should be so. 

"I found the old gentleman perfectly sound in iiis system 
of politics. He has a very poor opinion, both of the in- 
tegrity and abilities of the new Ministry, as well as the old. 
He thinks they know not wiiat they are about ; diat they 
are spoiled by the same insincerity, duplicity, falsehood, 
and corruption, with the former. Lord Shelburne still flat- 
ters the King with ideas of conciliation and a separate 
peace, &lc. yet the nation, and the best men in it, are for 
universal peace and an express acknowledgment of Ameri- 
can independence, and many of the best are for giving up 
Canada and Nova Scotia. His design seemed to be solely 
to know how far Digges's reijort was true. After an hour 
or two of conversation, I returned to Amsterdam, and left 
liiin to return to London. 

"These are all but artifices to raise the stocks, and if you 
think of any method to put a slop to them, 1 will cheer- 
fully concur vvitb you. They now know sufficiently, that 
oiu' coiuniission is to treat of a general peace, and with 
persons vested with equal powers ; and if you agree to it, 
I will, never to see another messenger that is not a Plenipo- 

"it is expected that the seventh Province, Guelderland, 


will this day acknowledge American Independence. 1 
think ue are in such a situation now, that we ought not, 
upon any consideration, to think of a truce, or anything 
short of an express acknowledgment of tiie sovereignty of 
the United States. 1 should he glad, however, to know 
your sentiments upon this point. I have the honor to 
be, &;c. 


To the above, 1 immediately wrote the following answer. 


Passv, April 21st, 1782. 


"I have just received the honor of yours, dated the 16th 
instant, acquainting me with the interview between youv 
Excellency and Mr Laurens. I am glad to learn, that his 
political sentiments coincide with ours, and that there is a 
disposition in England to give us up Canada and Nova 

"I like your idea of seeing no more messengers, that are 
not Plenipotentiaries ; but I cannot refuse seeing again Mr 
Oswald, as the Minister here considered the letter 10 me 
from Lord Shelburne as a kind of authentication given 
that messenger, and expects his return with some explicit 
propositions. I shall keep you advised of whatever passes. 

"The late act of Parliament, for exchanging American 
prisoners as prisoners of war, according to the law of 
nations, anything in their commitments notivithstanding, 
seems to me a renunciation of their pretensions to try our 
people as subjects guilty of high treason, and to be a kind 
of tacit acknowledgment of our independency. Having 
taken this step, it will be less difficult for them to acknowl- 


edge it expressly. They are now preparinn; transports to- 
send the prisoners home. I yesterday sent tlie passports 
desired oi" me. 

"Sir George Grand shows me a letter from I\Ir Fiz- 
eaux, in which, he says, that it" advantage is taken of the 
l)resent entliusiasm in iavor of America, a loan might be 
obtained in Holland, of live or six millions of florins, for 
America, and if their house is empowered to open it, he 
has no doubt of success ; but that no time is to be lost. I 
earnestly recommend this matter to you, as extremely 
necessary to the operations of our fmaiicier, Mr Morris, 
who, not knowing that tlie greatest j)art of the last five 
niiifious had been consumed by purchase of goods, &c. in 
Eurojie, writes me advice of large drafts, that he shall be 
obliged to make upon me this summer. 

"This Court has granted us six nnllions of livi-es for the 
current year ; but it will fall vastly short of our occasions, 
there being large orders to fuliil, and near two millions and 
a half to pay i\l. Beaumarchais, besides the interest, bills, 
&.C. The house of Fizeaux and Grand is now ai)pointed 
banker ibr France, by a special commission from the King, 
and will, on that, as well as other accounts be, in my opin- 
ion, the (itlest for this oi)eration. Your Excellency being 
on the s|)ot can belter judge ol" llie terms, &cc. and man- 
age wilii that house the whole business, in which I should 
be glad to have no other concern than that of receiving as- 
sistance from it, when pressed by the dreaded drafts. With, 
great respect, I am, Sir, he. 


In reply to this, Mr Adams wrote to me as follows. 



Amsterdam, Mav 2d, ITSiJ 


"I am honored with your tavor ol' the 20th of April, and 
Mr Laurens's son proposes to carry the letter to his father 
forthwith. The instructions by the courier from Versailles 
came safe, as all other despatches by that channel no 
doubt will do. The correspondence with Mr Hartley I 
received by Captain Smedley, and will take the first good 
opportunity by a private hand to return it, as well as that 
with the Earl of Shelburne. 

"Mr Laurens and jMr Jay will, 1 hipe, be able to meet 
at Paris, but when it will be in my power to go, I know 
not. Your present negotiation about peace falls in very 
well to aid a proposition, which I am instructed to make, as 
soon as the Court of Versailles shall judge proper, of a 
triple or quadruple alliance. This matter, the treaty of 
commerce, which is now under deliberation, and the loan, 
will render it improper for me to quit this station, unless in 
case of necessity. If there is a real disposition to permit 
Canada to accede to the American association, I should 
think there would be no great difficulty in adjusting all 
things between England and America, provided our allies 
are contented too. In a former letter, I hinted that I 
thought an express acknowledgment of our independence 
might now be insisted on, but I did not mean that we 
should insist upon such an article in the treaty. If they 
make a treaty of peace with the United States of Amer- 
ica, this is acknowledgment enough for me. 

"The affair of a loan gives me much anxiety and fatigue. 
It is true I may open a loan for five millions, but I confess 


i have no hopes of obtaining so much ; the money is not to 
be had. Cash is not infinite in this country. Their profits 
by trade have been ruined for two or three years, and 
there are loans open for France, Spain, England, Russia, 
Sweden, Denmark, and several other powers, as w-ell as 
their own national, provincial, and collegiate loans. The 
undertakers are already loaded with burthens greater than 
they can bear, and all the brokers in the republic are so 
engaged, that there is scarcelv a dnrat to be lent but what 
is promised. 

"This is the true cause why we should not succeed, yet 
they will seek an hundred other pretences. It is consid- 
ered such an honor, and such an introduction to American 
trade to be the house, that the eagerness to obtain the title 
of American banker is prodigious. Various houses have 
pretensions, which they set up very high, and let me choose 
which I w^ill, I am sure of a cry and a clamor. I have 
taken some measures to endeavor to calm the heat, and give 
a general satisfaction, but have as yet small hopes of success. 
I would strike with any house, that would insure the money, 
but none will undertake it now it is offered, although sev- 
eral were very ready to affirm that they could, when it 
began to be talked of. Upon inquiry, they do not find the 
money easy to obtain, which I could have told them 
before, it is to me, personally, perfectly indifferent which 
is the house, and the only question is, which will be able to 
do best for the interest of the United States. This ques- 
tion, however simple, is not easy to answer. But I think 
it clear, after very painful and laborious inquiry for a year 
and a half, that no house whatever will be able to do 
much. Enthusiasm at some times, and in some countries, 
may do a great deal, but there has, as yet, been no en- 


tnusiasin in this country lor America strono; enough to 
untie many purses. Another year, if the war continues, 
perhaps we may do belter. I liave the honor to be, &w. 


During Mr Oswald's absence, I received the following 
from Mr Laurens. 


London. April 20th. 1782. 

"I wrote to you on the 7th instant, by Mr Oswald, since 
which, that is to say, on the 2Sth, I was honored by the 
receipt of your letter of the 12th, enclosing a copy of the 
commission for treating for peace, by the hands of Mr 
Young. The recogrrizance exacted from me by the late 
Ministry, has been vacated and done away by the present ; 
these have been pleased to enlarge me without formal con- 
ditions, but, as 1 would not consent that the United States of 
America should be outdone in generosity, however late 
the marks appeared on this side, I took upon me to assure 
Lord Shelburne, in a letter of acknowledgment for the part, 
which his Lordship had taken for obtaining my release, that 
Congress would not fail to make a just and adequate return. 
The only return in my view, is Lieutenant General Lord 
Cornwallis. Congress were pleased sometime ago, to offer 
a British Lieutenant General for my ransom, and as I am 
informed, a special exchange of Jjord Cornwallis for the 
same subject was lately in contemplation, it would afford 
me very great satisfaction to know, that you will join mc in 
cancelling the debt of honor, whirl) we have impliedly in- 
curred, by discharging his Lordship from the obligations of 
his parole. 

VOL. in. 51 

402 BENJAMIN FRANKLii\. [Journal. 

"For my own part, though not a bold adventurer, I think 
I shall not commit myself to the risk of censure, by acting 
conjunctly with you in such a bargain. I entreat you, Sir, 
at least, to reflect on this matter ; I shall take the liberty of 
requesting your determination when I reach the continent, 
which will probably happen in a few days. 

"Lord Cornwallis, in a late conversation with me, put 
the following case. 'Suppose,' said his Lordship, 'it shall 
have been agreed, in America, that Lord Cornwallis should 
be offered in exchange for Mr Laurens, don't you tiiink, 
although you are now discharged, 1 ought to reap the in- 
tended benefit ?' A reply from the feelings of the heart, 
as I love fair play, was prompt ; 'Undoubtedly, my Lord, 
you ought to be, and shall be, in such case, discharged, and 
I will venture to take the burthen upon myself.' Certain 
legal forms, I apprehend, rendered the discharge of me, 
without condition, unavoidable ; but 1 had previously re- 
fused to accept of myself for nothing, and what I now aim 
at was understood as an adequate return ; it is not to be 
doubted, his Lordship's question was built on this ground. 

"I had uniformly and explicitly declared to the people 
here, people in the first rank of importance, that nothing 
short of independence in terms of our treaty of alliance, 
would induce America to treat for truce or peace, and that 
no treaty could be had without the consent of our ally first 
obtained ; in a word, if you mean to have peace, you must 
seek for a general peace. The doctrine was ill relished, 
especially by those whose power only could set the machine 
in motion ; but having, since my return from Haerlem, 
asserted in very positive terms, that 1 was confirmed in my 
former opinions, the late obduracy has been more than a 
little softened, as you will soon learn from the worthy friend, 


by whom I nrldressed )oii on the 7ih, who two days iigo 
set out on his return to Passy and V^ersailles, with, I be- 
licvp, a more permanent commission than the former. 

'•Accept my thanks, Sir, for the kind offer of a supply of 
money. I know too well how much you have been ha- 
rassed for that article, and too well, how low our American 
finances in Europe are ; therefore, if I can possibly avoid 
it, I will not further trouble you, nor impoverish them, or 
not till the last extremity. Hitherto 1 have supported my- 
self without borrowing from anybody, and I am determined 
to continue living upon my own stock while it lasts ; the 
stock is indeed small ; my expenses have been and shall 
be in a suitable modest style. I pray God to bless you. I 

I'.ave the honor to be, 8cc. 


P. S. "I judged it proper not only to show the peace 
commission to Lord Slielburne, but to give his liOrdship a 
copy of it, from an opinion that it would work no evil, 
being shown elsewhere." 

On the 4th of I\Iay, ^Ir Oswald returned, and brought 
ine the following letter from Lord Slielburne. 


Slielburne House, April 20th, 1782. 

"Dear Sir, 
"1 have received much satisfaction in being assured by 
you, that the qualifications of wisdom and integrity, which 
induced me to make choice of Mr Oswald, as the fittest 
instrument for the renewal of our friendly intercourse, have 
also recommended iiim so effectually to your approbation 
and esteem. I most heartily wish the influence of this first 
communication of our mutual sentiments may be extended 
to a happy conclusion of all our public differences. 

404 BENJAML\ FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

"The candor with which the Count de Vergennes ex- 
presses His Most Christian Majesty's sentiments and wishes, 
on the subject of a speedy pacification, is a pleasing omen 
of its accomplishment. His Majesty is not less decided in 
the same sentiments and wishes, and it confirms his Majes- 
ty's Ministers in their intention to act in like manner, as 
most consonant to the true dignity of a great nation. \n 
consequence of these reciprocal advances, Mr Oswald i 
sent back to Paris, for the purpose of arranging and settling 
with you the preliminaries of time and place. And I have 
the pleasure to tell you, that Mr Laurens is already dis- 
charged from those engagements, which he entered into 
when he was admitted to bail. 

"It is also determined, that Mr Fox, from whose depait- 
ment that communication is necessarily to proceed, shall 
send a proper person, who may confer and settle imme- 
diately with the Count de Vergennes the further measures 
and proceedings, which may be judged proper to adopt 
toward advancing the prosecution of this important busi- 

"In the mean time, Mr Oswald is instructed to commu- 
nicate to you my thoughts upon the principal objects to be 
settled. Transports are actually preparing for the purpose of 
conveying your prisoners to America, to be there exchang- 
ed, and we trust, that you will learn, that due attention has 
not been wanting to their accommodation and good treat- 

"1 have the honor to be, with very sincere respect, dear 
Sir, your very faithful and obedient humble servant, 


Having read the letter, I mentioned to Mr Oswald the 
part, which refers me to him for his Lordship's sentiments. 


He acquainted me, that they were very sincerely disposed 
to peace ; t!iat the whole Ministry concurred in the same 
disposition ; that a good deal of confidence was placed in 
my character for open, lionest dealing; ; that it was also 
generally believed, I had still remaining some part of my 
ancient atlbction and regard for Old England, and it was 
hoped it might appear on this occasion. He then showed 
me an extract from die Ministers of Council, but did not 
leave the pnper wuh me. As well as I can remember, it 
was to this purpose. 

"At a Cabinet Council, held April 27th, 1TS2, Present, 
Lord Rockingham, Lord Chancellor, Lord President, Lord 
Camden, &:c. tec. to the number of fifteen or twenty, being 
all Ministers, and great officers of State, 

"It was proposed to reprer-ent to his Majesty, that it 
would be well for Mr Oswald to return to Doctor Franklin 
and acquaint him, that it is agreed to treat for a general 
peace, and at Paris ; and that the princi;)al points in con- 
templation are, the allowing of American Independence, on 
condition that England be put into the same situation, that 
she was left in by the peace of 1763." 

Mr Oswald also informed me, that he had conversed 
with Lord Shelburne on the subject of my paper of .Yotes, 
relating to reconciliation. That he had shown him the 
paper, and had been prevailed on to leave it with him a 
night, but it was on his Lordship's solemn promise of re- 
turning it, which had been complied with, and he now re- 
turned it to mc. That it seemed to have made an impres- 
sion, and he had reason to believe that matter might be 
settled to our satisfaction towards the end of the treaty ; but 
in his own mind he wished it might not be mentioned at 
the beginning. That his Lordship indeed said, he had not 



imagined rcparaiion wonlci be expected, and he wondered 
I should not know whether it was intended to demand it. 
Finally, iMr Oswald acquainted me, that as the business 
now likely to be brought forward more parliculaily apper- 
tained to the department of the other Secretary, Mr Fox, 
lie was directed to announce another agent coming from 
that department, who might be expected every day, viz. 
the honorable Mr Grenville, brother to Lord Temple, and 
son of the famous Mr George Grenville, formerly Chancel- 
lor of the Exchequer. I immediately wrote the following 
note to the Count de Vergennes. 


Passy, M;iy 4lli, 1782. 

"I have the honor to acquaint your Excellency, that Mr 
Oswald is just returned froiii London, and is now with me. 
lie has delivered me a letter from Lord Sheli)urne, which 
1 enclose for your perusal, together with a copy of my let- 
ter, to which it is an answer. He tells me, that it has 
been agreed in Council to treat at Paris, and to treat of a 
general peace; and that, as it is more pariicidarly in the 
department of ]\lr Fox to regulate the circumstantials, a 
gentleman, Mr Grenville, to be sent by him for that pur- 
pose, may be daily expected here. :\Ir Oswald will wait 
on yoin- Excellency wlienevcr you shall think lit to receive 
him. I am, with respect, &wC. 


And the next day I received the following answer. 




Versailles, Mi«y otli, 1TS2. 

'•I have received the letter, which you did me llie honor 
to write to me the 4th instant, as also lliose which accom- 
panied it. I will see you with your friend, with pleasure, 
at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning. I have the honor to 

be, Sec. 


Accordinglv, on Monday morning I went with ]Mr Os- 
wald to Versailles, and we saw the Minister. Mr Oswald 
acquainted him with the disposition of his Court to treat 
for a general peace, and at Paris ; and he announced ^Ir 
Crenville, who he said was to set out about the same time 
with him, but as he would probably come by way of Os- 
tend, might be a few days longer on the road. Some 
general conversation passed, agreeable enough, but not of 

In our return, Mr Oswald repeated to me his opinion, 
that the affair of Canada would be settled to our satisfac- 
tion, and his wish that it might not be mentioned, til! to- 
wards the end of the treaty. He intimated too, that it was 
apprr-heoded, the greatest obstructions in the treaty might 
come from the part of Spain ; but said, if she was unrea- 
sonable, there were means to bring her to reason. That 
Russia was a friend to England, had lately made great dis- 
coveries on the back of North America, could make es- 
tablishments there, and might easily transport an army 
from Kamsckalka to the Coast of Mexico, and conquer all 
those countries. This appeared a little visionary at pres- 
ent, but I did not dispute it. 


On the whole, I was able to draw so little from Mr Os- 
wald of the sentiments ol' Lord Shelbiirne, who had men- 
tioned him as intrusted with the communication of them, 
that I could not Init wonder at liis being sent again to me, 
especially as Mr Grenville w'as so soon to follow. 

On Tuesday I was at Court, as usual on that day. M. 
de Vergennes asked me if Mr Oswald had not opened 
himself fm'ther to me ? I acquainted iiim with the siglit I 
had had of llie n^inute of Council, and of the loose ex- 
pressions contained in it, of what was in contemplation. 
He seemed to think it odd, that he liad brought nothing 
more explicit. 1 supposed Mv Grenville might be better 
furnisljed. The next morning I wrote the following letter 
to Mv Adams.. 


Passv, Mav Sfh, 17S2, 

"Mr Oswald, whom I mentioned in a former letter, 
which I find yon have received, is returned, and brought 
me another letter from Lord Shelburne, of which the 
above is a copy. It says Mr Oswald is in.structed to com- 
n^unicate to mc his Lordship's thoughts. He is, however, 
very spari)ig of such communication. All I have got from 
him is, that the Ministry have in contemplation the allow- 
ing independence to America, on condition of Britain being- 
put again into the state ,shc was left in by the peace of 
1763, which 1 suppose means being put again in the pos- 
session of die islands, which France has taken from her. 
This seems to mo a proposition of selling to us a thing, 
that was already our own, and making France pay the 
price they are pleased to ask for it. 


«Mr Grenville, who is sent by Mr Fox, is expected here 

daily. Mi- Oswald tells me, that ]Mr Laurens will soon be 

here also. Yours of the 2d instant is just come to hand. 

I shall write to you on this afHiir hereafter, l)y the Court 

couriers, for I am certain, that your letters to me are 

opened at the Post Office, either here or in Holland, and 

I suppose that mine to you are treated in the same manner. 

1 enclose the cover of your last, that vou may see the seal. 

With 2;reat respect. I am. Sir, &,c. 


I had but just sent away this letter, when Mr Oswald 
came in, bringing with him Mr Grenville, who was just ar- 
rived. He save me tlie following letter from Mr Secretary 


?: Tames'?, Mnv 1st, 1782. 


"Though Mr Oswald will, no doubt, have informed you 
of the nature of Mr Grenville's commission, yet I cannot 
refrain from making use of the opportunity that his ^oing 
ofters me, to assur^ you of the esteem antl respect, which 
1 have borne to your character, and to beg you to believe, 
that no change in my situation has made any in those 
ardent wishes for reconciiiaiion, which I have invariably felt 
frojr. the very beginning of tliis unhappy contest. 

"Mr Grenville is hdly acquainted with my sentiments 
upon this subject, and with the sanguine hopes, which I 
have conceived, that those with whom we are contending 
are too reasonable to continue a contest, which has no lon- 
ger any object, either real or even imaginary. I know your 
liberality of mind too well to be ofraid, lest any j)rejndices 
against Mr Grenville's nnmf may prevent yon from es- 
voL. HI. 52 


teeming those excellent qualities of heart and head, which 
belong to him, or from giving the fullest credit to the sin- 
cerity of his wishes for peace, in which no man in either 
country goes beyond him. I am, with great truth and 

regard, &ic. 

C. J. FOX." 

I imagined the gentlemen had been at Versailles, as I 
supposed Mr Grenville would first have waited on M. de 
Vergennes before he called on me. But finding, in con- 
versation, that he had not, and that he expected me to 
introduce him, 1 immediately wrote to that Minister, ac- 
quainting him, that Mr Grenville was arrived, and desired 
to know^ when his Excellency would think fit to receive 
him, and I sent an express with my letter. 

I then entered into conversation with him on the subject 
of his mission, Mr Fox having referred me to him, as being 
fully acquainted with his sentiments. He said that peace 
was really wished for by everybody, if it could be ob- 
tained on reasonable terms, and as the idea of subjugating 
America was given up, and both France and America had 
thereby obtained what they had in view originally, it was 
hoped, that there now remained no obstacle to a pacifica- 
tion. That England was willing to treat of a general 
peace with all the powers at war against her, and that the 
treaty should be at Paris. 

I did not press him much for further particulars, sup- 
posing they were reserved for our interview with M. de 
Vergennes. The gentlemen did me the honor of staying 
to dinner with me, on the supposition, which 1 urged, that 
my express might be back before we parted. This gave 
me an opportunity of a good deal of general conversation 
with Mr Grenville, who appeared to me a sensible, judi- 


cious, intelligent, good tempered, and well instructed 
young man, answering well the character .Mr Fox had 
given me of him. 

Thev left me, however, about six o'clock, and n)y 
messenger did not return till near nine. He brought me 
the answer of the Count de V^ergennes, that he w as glad 
to hear of Mr Grenville's arrival, and would be ready to 
receive us tomorrow, at half past ten or eleven o'clock. 1 
immediately enclosed his note in one to I\Ir Grenville, re- 
questing him to be with me at Passy by eight, that we 
might have time to breakfast before we set out. I have 
preserved no copy of these three last mentioned notes, or I 
should have inserted them, as I think that though they 
seem of almost too trifling a nature, they serve usefully 
sometimes to settle dates, authenticate facts, and show 
something of the turn and manner of thinking of the writers 
on particular occasions. The answer 1 received was as 

" ^Ir Grenville presents his compliments to Mr Frank- 
lin, and will certainly do himself the honor of waiting upon 
]Mr Franklin tomorrow morning at eight o'clock." 

" Rue de Richelieu, Wednesday night." 

We set out accordingly the next morning in my coach, 
and arrived punctually at Count de Vergennes', who re- 
ceived Mr Grenville in the most cordial manner, on ac- 
count of the acquaintance and friendship that had formerly 
subsisted between his uncle and the Count de Vergennes, 
when they were ambassadors together at Constantinople. 

After some little agreeable conversation, Mr Grenville 
presented his letters from Mr Secretary Fox, and, I think, 
from the Duke of Richmond. When these were read, the 

412 BE.NJAAD.N FUA.-vKLI.N, [JoLinial. 

^ubjecl ot' peace was entered iipon. Wluit my memory 
retains of the discom-se amouuts to little more than this, 
that after mulual declarations uf the good dispositions ot 
the two Courts, Mr (irenville having intimated that in case 
England gave America independence, France, it was ex- 
pected, would restore the conquests she had made of Brit- 
ish islands, receiving back those of x\ii(}uelon and St Pierre. 
And the original object of the war being obtained, it was 
supposed that Frances would be contented with that. The 
Minister seenjed to smile at the proposed exchange, and 
remarked, the otter ol giving independence to America 
amounted to little. - America," said he, " does not ask 
it of you ; there is Mr l''rnnklin, he will answer you as to 
that jioint." " To be sure," 1 said, " we do not (K^nsider 
ourselves as under any necessity of bargaining for a thing 
that is our own, which we liave bought at the expense oi 
nuich Ijloud and treasure, and which we are in possession 
of." •• As to our being satislled with the original object of 
K,e war," continued he, '• look back to the conduct of your 
nation in former wars, h: the last war, for example, what 
was the object? It was the disputed right to some waste 
lands on liie Ohio and the frontiers of Nova Scotia. Did 
vou content yourselves with the recovery ol those lands .'' 
No, you retained at the peace all Canada, all Louisiana, 
all Florida, Crenada, and other West India islands, the 
greatest part of the Northern Fisheries, with ail your con- 
quests in Africa and the East Indies." Something being 
mentioned of its not being reasonable that a nation, after 
making an unprovoked and unsuccessful war upon its 
neighbors, should expect to sit down whole, and have 
everything restored, which she had lost in such a war, 
J think Mr (irenville remarked, the war had been provoked 


by the encouragement given by France to the Americans 
to revolt. On which the Count de V'ergennes grew a little 
warm, and declared firmly, that the breach was made, and 
our independence declared, long before we received the 
least encomagement from France ; and he defied the 
world to give the smallest proof of d)e contrary. *' There 
sits," s;iid he, " JMr Franklin, who knows tlie fact, and can 
contradict me if I do not speak the truth." 

He repeated to Mr Grenville, what he had before said to 
JMr Oswald, respecting the King's intention of treating fairly 
and keeping faithfully the conventions he should enter 
into, of which disposition he should give at the treaty con- 
vincing proofs by the fidelity and exactitude, with which he 
should observe his engagements with liis present allies, and 
added, tliat the points which the King had chiefly in view 
VfBTe justice and dignity ; these he could not depart from. 
He acquainted Mr Grenville, that he should immediately 
write to Spain and Holland, communicate to those Courts 
what had passed, and request their answers ; that, in the 
meantime, he hoped JNIr Grenville would find means of 
amusing himself agreeably, to which he should be glad to 
contribute ; that he would communicate what had passed 
to the King, and he invited him to come again the next 

On our return, Mr Grenville expressed himself as not 
quite satisfied with some part of the Count de Vergennes' 
discourse, and was thoughtful. He told me that he had 
brought two State messengers with him, and perhaps, after 
he had had another interview widi the JMinisler, he might 
despatch one of them to London. I then requested leave 
to answer, by that opportunity, the letters I had received 
from Lord Shelbunie and Mr Fox, and he kindly prom- 

414 BENJAMiiN FRANKLLV. [Journal, 

ised to acquaint me in time of tlie messenger's departure. 
He did not ask me to go with him the next day to Ver- 
sailles, and I did not offer it. 

The coming and going of these gendemen were observed, 
and made much talk at Paris, and the Marquis de La- 
fayette having learned something of their business from the 
Minister, discoursed with me about it. Agreeably to the 
resolutions of Congress, directing me to confer with him, 
and take his assistance in our affairs, I communicated to 
him what had passed. He told me that during the treaty 
at Paris for the last peace^ the Due de Nivernois had 
been sent to reside in London, that this Court might, 
through him, state what was from time to time transacted 
in the light they thought best, to prevent misrepresenta- 
tions and misunderstandings. That such an employ would 
be extremely agreeable to him on many accounts ; that as 
he was now an American citizen, spoke both languages, 
and was well acquainted vvidi our interests, he believed he 
might be useful in it ; and that as peace was likely from 
appearances to take place, his return to America was 
perhaps not so immediately necessary. I liked the idea, 
and encouraged his proposing it to the Ministry. He then 
wished I would make him acquainted with Messrs Oswald 
and Grenville, and for that end proposed meeting them at 
breakfast with me, which 1 promised to contrive if I could, 
and endeavor to engage them for Saturday. 

Friday morning, the 10th of May, I went to Paris, and 
visited Mr Oswald. I found him in the same friendly dis- 
positions, and very desirous of good, and seeing an end put 
to this ruinous war. But I got no further sight as to the 
sentiment of Lord Shelburne respecting the tern)s. I told 
him die Marquis de Lafayette would breakfast with me 


tomorrow, ami as he, Mr Oswald, might have some curi- 
osity to see a person who had in this war rendered liini- 
self so remarkable, I proposed his doing me the same 
honor. He agreed to it cheerfully. I came home intend- 
ing to write to Mr Grenville, who 1 supposed might stay 
and dine at Versailles, and therefore did not call on him. 
But he was returned, and I found the following note from 

Paris, May lOtli. 

" Mr Grenville presents his compliments to i\Ir Frank- 
lin ; he proposes sending a courier to England at ten 
o'clock tonight, and will give him in charge any letters 
Mr Franklin may wish to send hy him." 

I sat down immediately, and wrote the two short letters 
following to the Secretaries of State. 


Pnssy, Mav 10th, 1782. 

» Sir, 

" I received the letter you did me the honor of v/riting 
to me by Mr Grenville, whom I find to be a sensible, judi- 
cious, and amiable gentleman. The name, I assure you, 
does not with me lessen the regard his excellent qualities 
inspire. 1 introduced him as soon as possible to Count 
de Vergennes ; he will himself give you an account of his 
reception. I hope his coming may forward the blessed 
work of pacification, in which, for the sake of humanity, 
no lime should be lost, no reasonable cause as you observe 
existing at present for the continuance of this abominable 
war. Be assured of my endeavors to put an end to it. 

"I am much flattered by the good opinion of a person 
1 have long highlv esteemed, and I hope it will not be 



lessened by my conduct in the affair, that has given rise to 
our correspondence. \Vith great respect, I have the 
honor to be, fee. 



Pa>sv. Mav 10th, 1782. 

"My Lord, 

"1 have received the lionor of your Lordship's letter, 
dated the 28th past, by Mr Oswald, infonning me dial he 
is sent bade to settle with n)e die preliminaries of time and 
place. Paris, as the place, seemed to me yesterday to be 
agreed on, between Mr Grenville and M. de Vergennes, 
and is perfectly agreeable to me. The time cannot well 
be setded till this Court has received answers from Madrid, 
and the Hague, and until my colleagues are arrived. I ex- 
pect daily Messrs Jay and Laurens. Mr Adams doubts 
whether he can lie here, but tiiat will not hinder our pro- 

"It gave me great pleasure to hear Mr Laurens is dis- 
charged entirely from the obligations he had entered into. 
I am much obliged by the readiness with which your 
Lordship has conferred that favor. Please to accept my 
thankful acknowledgments. 

"I am hapi)y too, in understanding from your letter, that 
transports are actually preparing to convey our prisoners to 
America, and diat attention will be paid to their accommo- 
dation and good treatment. Those people on their return 
will be dispersed through every jxirt of America, and the 
accounts they will have to give of any marks of kindness 
received by them under die present Ministry, will lessen 
much the resentment of their friends against the nation, for 
the hardships they suffered under the past. 


"Mr Oswiild rests here awhile by my advice, as I think 

his presence hkely lo be useful. With ^reat, ami sincere 

respect. 1 have the honor to be, Sic. 


And I sent ihem to Mr Grenville with the following note. 

'•iNIr Franklin presents his compliments to Mr Grenville, 
and thanks him for the information of his courier's depart- 
ure, and his kind offer of forwarding Mr Frrtiiklin':? letter ; 
he accepts the favor and encloses two. 

"The Mtuquis de Lafayette and Mr Oswald will do 
Mr Franklin the honor of breakfasting with him tomorrow, 
between nine and ten o'clock. Mr Franklin will also be 
happy to have the company of Mr Grenville if agreeable to 
him. He should have waited upon Mr Grenville today 
at Paris, hut lie imagined Mr Grenville wns at Versailles. 

"Passy. Friday evening, May 10th.'' 

To whir-h Mr Grenvill-j sent m^ this answer. 

"Mr Grenville presents his compliments to Mr Franklin, 
nnd will, with great pleasure, do himself the honor of 
breakfasting; with Mr Franklin tomoiTOw between nine and 
ten o'clock. Mr Grenville was at Versailles today, ami 
should have been sorry if Mr Franklin should have given 
himself the trouble of calling at Paris this morning. The 
courier shall certainly take particidar care of Mr Fiank- 
lin's letteis. 

"Paris. Friday, Vr.y lOi!,." 

The gentlemen all met accordingly, had a i;ood deal of 
conversation at, and after breakfast, staid till after one 
o'clock, and parted much pleased with each other. 
VOL. in. 53 


The Monday following, I called to visit Mr Grenville. 
I found with him Mr Oswald, who told me lie was just 
about returning to London. I was a little surprised at the 
suddenness of the resolution he had taken, it being, as he 
said, to set out the next morning early. J conceived the 
gentleman was engaged in business, so I withdrew, and 
went to write a kw letters, among which was the following 
to Lord Shelburne, being really concerned at the thought 
of losing so good a man as Mr Oswald. 


Passy, May 13tli, 17S2. 

"My Lord, 

"I did myself the honor of writing to your Lordship a 
few days since, by Mr Grenville's courier, acknowledging 
the receipt of yours of the 28th past, by Mr Oswald. 

"I then hoped that gentleman would have remained 
here some time, but his affairs, it seems, recall him sooner 
than he imagined. I hope he will return again, as I es- 
teem him more, the more I am acquainted with him, and 
believe Iiis moderation, prudent counsels, and sound Judg- 
ment may contribute much, not only to the speedy con- 
clusion of a peace, but to the framing such a peace as may 
be firm and lasting. With great respect, 8ic. 


I went in the evening to Mr Oswald's lodging with my 
letters, when he informed me his intention was to return 
immediately hither from England, and, to make the more 
despatch in going and returning, he should leave his car- 
riage at Calais, as the embarking and debarking of carriages 
in the packet boats often occasioned a tide's delay. I did 
not inquire the reason of this movement. Wc had but 

lillle coiiveisalion, lor Mr Cienvillc coming; in, 1 soon after 
wished liim ii good journey niul retired, that I might not 
interrupt their consultations. 

Since liis departure, Mr Grenville has made me ii 
visit ; and entering into conversation with me, exactly of 
the same tenor with the letters I formerly received from 
Mr Hartley, stating suj)posilions that France might insist 
on points totally diflcrent from what had been the object 
of our alliance, and that, in such case, he should imagine 
we were not at all bound to continue the war lo obtain 
such points for her, &c. I thought I could not give him 
a better answer to this kind of discourse, than what I 
had given in two letters to Mr Hartley, and, therefore, 
calling for those letters, I read them to him. He sniiled, 
and would have turned the conversation ; but I gave a 
little more of my sentiments on the general subject of 
benefits, obligation, and gratitude. I said I thought peo- 
ple had often imperfect notions of their duty on those 
points, and that a state of obligation was to many so 
uneasy a state, that they became ingenious in finding out 
reasons and arguments to prove that they had been laid 
under no obligation at all, or that they had discharged it, 
and they too easily satisfied themselves with such argu- 

To explain clearly my ideas on the subject, I stated a 
case. A, a stranger to B, sees him about to be im- 
prisoned for a debt by a inercilcss creditor, he lends him 
the sum necessary to preserve his liberty. B then be- 
comes the debtor of A, and, after some time, repays the 
money. Has he then discharged the obligation ? No. Ho 
has discharged the money debt, but the obligation remains, 
and he is a debtor for the kindness of A, in lendiug him 

420 beaJaah.n fra:nkijin. [Jo irrial. 

the sum so senboiuiui}-. IT B .should aileruards (ind A i/i 
the sauic circ:umsianv.ts, that he. B, liad been in wiieii 
A lent him the uioiiev, he may tiieu discharge this obli- 
gation uv debt (jl kindness in jjd/t. by lending him an equal 
sufM. Ill pari. 1 said, aiid not wluilhj, because, when A 
lent B the uioney, there iiatl been no j)ri()r benefit received 
to induce hiii; to it. And, ihorelore, it' A shoidd a second 
time need die same assistanc-<', 1 ihougiit B, if in his 
power, w .is in duly bouiid to aiibrd it to him. 

Mr Gr<'nvilie conceived that it was carrying gratitude 
veiy !ar, to ai>ply this lioclrine to our siiualion in respect 
to I" ranee, who was really the parly served untX obliged by 
our separation irom Etigland, as it lessened the power of 
her rival and relahvely increased her own. 

i told him \ w^is so strongly impressed with die kind 
;;ssi.-iaiic>- aiii^rded us by i'^rance in our di.-uess, and the 
generous and noble manner in which it was granted with- 
out exacting ov stipulating ]br a .single privilege, or particu- 
lar advantage lt> herseli in otu' connnerce, or otherwise, 
that 1 could never sutler m\se!i lo think of sucii reason- 
ings lor icsseuiiig the obligation, and I iioped, and indeed, 
did not doubt but ni} countryuien were uil ol the same 

'J'hus he gained nodnng oi the [)oint he came to pusii ; 
\ve parted, however, in good iiumor. His conversation i.? 
always polite, and his manner pleasing. As he expressed 
a strong desire to discouise widi nie on the means of a 
reconciliation with America, 1 |)roniised to consider ihe 
subject, and appointed Saturday the firs! day of June, for 
our conversation, when he proposed lo call on me. The 
.same day I received another letter irom m}- old friend. Mr 
Hartle}'. Our lormcr corres[)ondence on the subject oi 

peace since the beginning ol liiis year, I have kept by 
itself, as it preceded this, was in the time of the old Min- 
istry, JUid consisted wholly of letters iimiiixeil with per- 
sonal conversation. This being the first letter Iroin him 
under the new Ministry, and as it may be followed by 
others, which may relate to the negotiation, I insert it here, 
with my answer, and shall continue to insert the future 
letters I may receive from him relative 10 the same subject. 


London, May 3d, 17b2 

•'My Dear F'riend. 

"I write to you only one line, just to inform yon, that a 
general order is issued by our government fur the release 
of all the American prisoners everywhere. I have had 
this from Lord Shelburne, who informed me, that the or- 
der was not partial or conditional, but general and abso- 
lute. I heartily congratulate you upo.i this first step 
towards sweet reconciliation. I hope other things will 
follow. I had a long conversation with Lord Shelburne 
relating to America, in which he expressed himself in most 
favorable terms. I s'nall have the honor of seeing and 
conversing with you again. But at present, as you know, 
certain matters are depending from your side of the water. 

"Mr Laurens is entirely at liberty. I see him very fre- 
quently, and when you see him he will tell you many 
things from me, which have occurred to me in my poor 
endeavors to protnote the cause of peace. Da pacem, 
Domine, in diebus nosiris. Your affectionate, &;c. 




i'assy, Miiy 13lli, 1782. 

"My Deal- Friend, 
"1 liuvc just received your favor of the 3d instant. 1 
thank you much for the good news you give me, that 'an 
order is issued by your government for the release of all 
the American prisoners cvcrijiolicrc, an order not partial 
or conditional, but general and ahsohite.'' I rejoice with 
you in this step, not only on account of the u.nhappy cap- 
lives, who by it will be set at liberty and restored to their 
friends and families, but as I think it will tend greatly to- 
wards a reconciliation, on which alone the hope of a dura- 
ble peace can be founded. I am much indebted to your 
good brother for a very kind and obliging letter, which 
was mislaid when it should have been answered. I beg 
you would present to him my thankful acknov>'ledgtnents 
and my very sincere respects. I join with you most 
heartily in the prayer that ends your letter, Da paccm, 
Doniine, in diebus nostris. I am ever, my frieiul, yours 

most afTectionately, 


Our business standing still at present, till the return of 
Mr Oswald, gives n)e a void, diat 1 may fdl up with two or 
three circumstances, not at present connected with this 
intended treaty, but which serve to show something of 
the disposition of Courts who have, or may have a concern 
in it. 

Mr Jay had written to me, from time to time, of die un- 
accountable delays he had met with since his residence at 
the Court of Spain, and that he was now no nearer in the 
business he had been charged with, than when he first 


arrived. Upon the first coming of Mr Oswald, and the 
apparent prospect of a treaty, 1 wrote to press his coming 
hither, and, being a little out of humor with that Court, I 
said, they have taken four years to consider whether they 
should treat with us, give them forty, and let us mind 
our own business; and I sent the letter under cover to 
a person at Madrid, who I hoped would o[)en and read 

It seems to me, that we have in most instances, hurt our 
credit and importance, by sending all over Europe, beg- 
ging alliances, and soliciting declarations of our indepen- 
dence. The nations, perhaps, from thence seemed to 
think, that our independence is something they have to 
sell, and that we do not offer enough for it. Mr Adams 
has succeeded in Holland, owing to their war with Eng- 
land, and a good deal to the late votes in the Commons 
towards a reconciliation, but the Ministers of the other 
jx)wers refused, as I hear, to return his visits, because our 
independence was not yet acknowledged by their Courts. 
1 had heard here, by good luck, that the same resolution 
was taken by several of them not to return the visits I 
should make them (as they supposed) when I was first re- 
ceived here as Minister Plenipotentiary, and disappointed 
their project by visiting none of them. In my private 
opinion, the first civility is due from the old resident to the 
stranger and new comer. My opinion indeed is good for 
nothing against custom, which I should have obeyed, but 
for the circumstances, that rendered it more prudent to 
avoid disputes and affronts, though at the hazard of being 
thought rude or singular. 

While I am writing, something ridiculous enough on this 
head has happened to me. The Count du Nord, who 

424 ■ BExXJAMIN FRAMKLIN'. rJoiiinaL 

is son of the Empress of Russia, arriving at Paris, order- 
ed, it seems, cards of visit lo he sent to all the Foreign 
Ministers, One of them, on vvltich was written, ^-Le 
Comte dii .N'ord ct Ic Prince Bariathiski,'''' was hrouglit 
to me. It was on Monday evening last. Being at Court 
the next day, i inquired of an old Minister, my friend, 
what was the etiquette, and whether the Count received 
visits. The answer was, JVon ; on se fait ecrire ; voila 
tout. This is done hy passing the door, and ordering 
your to he written on tlie porter's hook. Accord- 
ingly, on Wednesday I passed the house of Prince Baria- 
tlnski, Ambassador of Russia, where the Count lodged, 
and left my name on the list of each. I thought no more 
of the matter; hut this day, May the 24th, comes the 
servant who l)rought the card, in great affliction, saying he 
was like to he ruined by his mistake in bringing the card 
here, and wishing to obtain from me some paper, of i 
know not what kind, for I did not see him. In the after- 
noon came my friend, Mr Leroy, who is also a friend of 
ti)c Piince's, telling me how much he, the Prince, was 
concerned at the accident, thai both himself and the Count 
had great personal regard for n»e and my character, but 
that our independence not yet being aeknovvledged by the 
Court of Russia, it was impossible for him to jiermit him- 
self to moke me a visit as Minister. 1 told M. Leroy it 
was not my custom to seek such honors, though I was 
very sensible of then? when conferred upon me ; that i 
should not have voluntarily intruded a visit, and that, in 
this case, I had only done what 1 was informed tiie eti- 
quette required of me ; but if it would be attended with 
any inconvenience to Prince Bariatinski, whom I much 
esteemed and respected, I thought the remedy was easy, 


easy, ho Imd only to crnso my nainc out of his book of 
visits received, and I woulil burn their card. 

All the Northern Princes are not ashamed of a little 
civility committed towards an American. The King of 
Denmark, travelling in England under an assumed name, 
sent me a card, expressing in strong terms his esteem for 
me, and inviting mc to dinner with him at St James's. 
And liie Ambassador from the King of Sweden lately 
asked me, whether I had powers to make a treaty of com- 
merce with their kingdom, for he said his master was 
desirous of such a treaty with the United States, had di- 
rected him to ask me the question, and had charged him to 
tell me, that it would flatter him greatly to make it with a 
person whose character he so much esteemed, he. Such 
compliments might make me a little proud, if we Ameri- 
cans were not naturally as much so already as the porter, 
who being told he had with his burthen jostled the Great 
Czar, Peter, then in London, walking the street ; ^^Poh ! 
says lie," "jce ore all Czars here." 

I did not write by Mr Oswald to Mr Laurens, be- 
cause, from some expressions in his last to me, I expected 
him here, and I desired Mr Oswald, if l>e found him 
slill in London, or met him on the road, to give him 
that reason. I am disappointed in my expectation, lor 
I have now received (May 2.Jlh) the following letter from 


O.sii-iHl, Mav ITdi, 17S-2. 

"I had the honor of addressing you on the 30ih uit. 
by post, a duplicate of which will accompany this, in 
order to guard against tlie effect of a miscarriage in the 
TOL. in. 54 



first instance, and I be<^ leave to refer you to the con- 

''On the 10th current and no sooner, your very 
obliging favor of the 20th preceding reached me in Lon- 
don. Being then on the point of leaving that place, I 
deferred a repl}- until my arrival on this side. This hap- 
pened yesterday, loo late to catch the post of the day, 
except by a single letter, j)nt into my hands, 1 believe, by 
Dr Price, which 1 sent forward. 

"I sincerely and heartily thank you, Sir, for the cordial 
contents o( your last letter ; i)ut, from the most mature re- 
flection, and taking into consideration my present very 
infirm state of health, 1 have resolved to decline accepfing 
the honor intended me by Congress, in the commission for 
treating with Great Britain, and I find the less difficulty in 
coming to this deternjination, from a persuasion in my own 
mind that my assistance is not essential, and that it was 
not the view or expectation of our constituents, that every 
one named in the commission should act. I purpose to 
repair to, or near Mr Adams, and inquire of him whether 
1 may yet be serviceable under the commission to which I 
had been first apjjointed, tliat lor borrowing money for the 
use of the United States; if he sjjcaks in tlje afiirmative, 
J shall, thougli much against my own grain, as is well known 
at our little Court, proceed in the mission with diligence 
and fidelity ; otherwise, I sh;d! take a convenient opportu- 
nity of returning to give an account there, of having in the 
course of two years and upwards done nothing, excepting 
only tin; making a great number of rebels in the enemy's 
country, and reconciling tiiousands to the doctrine of abso- 
luie and uniimiied independence; a doctrine, which 1 
asserted and maintained with as much freedom in the 

UII'LOM.MK" CORRt:Sl'O.M)r.M.'l::. .\27 

Tower ot" I^oiulon, as 1 ever hail clone in the Stale House 
r.l Philadelphia, and having contentedly submitted to the 
loss of my estate, and being ready to lay down my life in 
support of it, I had the satisfaction of perceiving the 
coming of converts every day. I must not, however, 
conclude this head without assuring you, that should you 
think proper to ask questions respecting American com- 
merce, or the interest *of any particular State, I will answer 
with candor and the best judgment I am possessed of, but 
of that judgment I sincerely protest I have the utmost 
diffidence. God prosper your proceedings in the great 
work ; yon shall be called blessed by all the grateful of 
the present generation, and your name will be celebrated 
by posterity. I feel myself happy in reflecting, that, in the 
great outlines of a treaty, our opinions exactly coincide, 
that we shall not want the countenance and assistance of 
our great and good ally, and that you have so honest a 
man as Mr Oswald to deal with for preliminaries. I know 
him to be superior to chicanery, and am sure he will not 
defile his mind by attempting any dirty thing. 

"I entreat you, Sir, to present my humble respects to 
i\I. de Vergennes, and thank iiis Excellency for his polite 
expressions respecting me, and be so good as to say all 
that shall appear necessary in excuse for my non-nppear- 
ance at his Court. 

"Lord Cornwallis called on me the day before I left 
London, and was, as you may siippose, very anxious to 
know when he might probably hear from me on the sub- 
ject of his release ; let me, therefore, request your 0|)iniou 
in answer to what 1 had the honor of writing in my last 
concerning that aflair. I wish it may prove satisfactory to 
his Lordship, by enabling me, with your consent and con- 



currencc, to cancel a debt, which does not set easy upon 
me, and wiiich cannot with honor to our country remain 
unpaid. I think we shall not, it is impossible we should, 
incur displeasure by doing an act of common justice, and 
our authority may be fairly implied. 

"His Lordship declares he has no intention of returning 
to America, but desires to be 'reinstated in his legislative 
and military character in his own country, and I am of 
opinion, that in the former he will rather be friendly to us 
than otherwise. For my own part, if the war continues, I 
should not be uneasy if his Lordship were to go to the 
Chesapeake again. 

'•I have a thousand compliments and good wishes to 
present to, you from friends in England, where, males and 
females, 1 am sure you have at least so many, that your 
own remembrance will lead you to individuals of your old 

"Tomorrow I intend to proceed to Brussels, and thence, 
probably, to the Hague and Amsterdam ; my movements 
must, unavoidably, be,, as slow as water carriage. My 
weak under limbs cannot bear continual thumping on the 
pavement in the rough machines of this country, and the 
feebleness of my pocket will not admit the indulgence of 
a more convenient vehicle. I beg, Sir, you will write to 
.me at the house of Mr Edward Jennings, or under the 
protection of any other friend in that city, that will be at 
the trouble of finding out a voyager, who is at all times, 
and in all places, with the highest esteem and respect, 
Sir, he. 


To the above, I wrote the following answer. 

DllLOMAllC CORKlIbl'OMDE.NCE. .[■I'i) 


Pussy, May 2.5lli, 1782. 


'*l ain now lionorc(t with yours of the 17tli. 1 litullje- 
fore received one of llie Tlh, which remained unanswered, 
because I'roni the words in it, 'when 1 reach the Conti- 
nent, wliich will probably happen in a lew days,' I flatter- 
ed myself with the "jileasure of seeing you here. That 
hope is disappointed by your last, in which you tell mo you 
are determined not to act in the commission for treating 
of peace with Great Britain. I regret your taking this 
resolution, principally because 1 am persuaded, that your 
assistance must iiave been of great service to our country. 
But I have besides some private or particular reasons, that 
relate to myself. 

"To encourage me in the arduous task, you kindly tell me 
i shall be called blessed, ^c. I have never yet known of a 
peace made, that did not occasion a great deal of popular 
discontent, clamor, and censure on both sides. This is, 
perhaps, owing to the usual management of the leaders 
and Ministers of the contending nations, who, to keep up 
the spirits of their people for continuing the war, generally 
represent the state of their own affairs in a better light, 
and that of the enemy in a worse, than is consistent with 
tJie truth ; hence the populace on each side expect better 
terms than can really be obtained, and are apt to ascribe 
their disappointment to treachery. Thus the peace of 
Utrecht, and that of Aix la Chapellc, were said in Eng- 
land to have been influenced by French gold, and in 
France, by Englislj guineas. Even the last peace, the 
most glorious and advantageous for England that ever she 
made, was, you may remember, violently decried, and the 

430 ^ BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

makers as violently abused. So that the blessing promised 
to peace-makers, I i'ancy, relates to the next world, for in 
this they seem to have a greater chance of being cursed. 
And, as another text observes, that in Hhe multitude of 
counsellors there in safety,'' which I think may mean safety 
to the counsellors as well as to the counselled, because if 
they commit a fault in counselling, the blame does not fall 
upon one or a few, but is divided among many, and the 
share of each is so mucli the lighter, or because when a 
number of honest men are concerned, the suspicion of 
their being biassed is weaker, as being more improbable ; 
or, because defendit numerus ; for all these reasons, but 
especially for the support your established character of in- 
tegrity would afibrd me against the attacks of enemies, if 
this treaty take place, and I am to act in it, I wish for 
your presence, and the presence of as many of the Com- 
missioners as possible, and I hope you will reconsider and 
change your resolution. 

"In the meantime, as you have had opportunities of con- 
versing with the new Ministers, and other leading people 
in England, and of learning their sentiments relating to 
terms of peace, &;c. I request you would inform me by 
letters of what you think important. Letters from you will 
come safer by the Court courier than by th.e post, and I 
desire you would, if you should continue determined not 
to act, communicate to me your ideas of the terms to be 
insisted on, and the j)oints to be attended to respecting 
commerce, fisheries, boundaries, and every other material 
circumstance, that may be of importance to all or any of 
the United States. 

"Lord Shelburne having written to me on the subject of 
the wished for peace, I acquainted him in my answer, sent 


by onr ffiencl, Mr Oswald, that you were one of the Com- 
missioners, appointed by Congress to treat with Britain, 
and that I imagined his Lordship would therefore think 
proper to discharge you entirely from the obligations you 
entered into, when you were admitted to bail, that you 
might be at liberty to act freely in the cor.imission. He 
wrote to me in reply, th;il you were accordingly discharged 
immediately. His* Lordship mentioned nothing of any 
exchange being expected for you, nevertheless 1 honor 
your sensibility on the point, and your concern for the 
credit of AmerFca, that she should not be outdone in gen- 
erosity by Great Britain, and will cheerfully join with you 
in any act, that you may think ))roper, to discharge in re- 
turn the parole of Lord Cornwallis, as far as in our power 
may lie ; but we have no express authority for that pur- 
pose, and the Congress may possibly, in the meantime, 
have made some other arrangement relative to his ex- 
change. I conceive, that our acts should contain a clause, 
reserving to Congress the final approbation or disallowance 
of the proceeding ; and I have some douht whether Lord 
Cornwallis will think himself well freed of his engage- 
ments, and at liberty to exercise lys military employments, 
by virtue of any concession in his favor made by persons, 
who are not vested with authority for that purpose. So that, 
on the whole, perhaps the best and surest way will be our 
writing immediately to Congress, and strongly recommend- 
ing the measure. However, I will do what you shall 
think best. 

"I heartily wish you success in any endeavors you may 
use in Holland for raising a loan of money. We have 
pressed rather too hard on this Court, and we still want 
more than they can conveniently spare us; but I atn 


sorry, that too scrujDulous regard to our wants and difficul- 
ties should induce you, under the present inOrtnity of your 
lower ]imbs, to deny yourself the necessary comfort of an 
easy carriage, rather tiian make any use of the public as- 
sistance, when the public nnist be much in your debt. I 
beg you would get over that difficulty, and take of me 
what you may liavc occasion for. 

"The letter you forwarded to nie was from America's 
constant friend, the good Bishop of St Asaph. He 
speaks of you in terms of the highest esteem snd re- 

"Mr Oswald has gone back again to London, but 
intended to return again immediately. Mr Grenville re- 
mains here, and has received power to treat, but no fur- 
ther steps can be taken till Spain and Holland have em- 
powered Ministers for the same purpose. 

"I shall inform you and Mr Adams, (if he does not 
come) of the proceeding from time to time, and request 
your counsel in cases of any difficulty. I hope you will 
not think of hazarding a return to America before a peace, 
if we find any hopes of its being soon obtained ; and 
that if you do not find you can be useful in the manner 
you wish, in Holland, you will make me happy by your 
company and counsel here. With groat and sincere es- 
teem, &tc. 


May the 26th, I received the following letters and pa- 
pers from Mr Hartley. 


[One of these letters is dated j\Iay 1st, which, together 
with a paper called the lircviatc, is printed above, pp. 343, 


London, May 13lli, 17S2. 

"My dear friend, 

"I wrote you a long letter dated May 1st, 17S2, by iMr 
Laurens, who left London on Saturday last, but 1 will add 
a few lines now by a conveyance, which I believe will 
overtake him, just to tell you two or three things, which I 
believe I omitted in my last. Perhaps they may not be of 
any consequence, but as they relate to my own conduct, I 
could wish to have you understand them. 

"After several conferences with the late Ministry, I gave 
in the paper, called the Breviate, on the 7th of February, 
but I never received any answer from them. They re- 
signed on the 20th of March. Upon the accession of the 
new Ministry, I heard nothing from them upon the subject, 
nor indeed did I apply to them. I did not know whether 
that paper would not come into their hands by succes- 
sion, and I doubted whether it might not be more proper 
for me to wait till I heard from them. While I remained 
doubtful about this, I received your letters, which deter- 
mined me to go to Lord Shelbiirne. This was about the 
beginning of the present month. 1 communicated to him 
some extracts, such as those about the prisoners, Sic. and 
likewise the whole of your letter of April 13th, containing 
the offer of the late Ministry, the King of France's answer, 
together with your reflections in the conclusion respecting 
peace. As you had given me a general permission, 1 left 
with him a copy of the whole lotter. 

"Upon the occasion of this interview. Lord Shelburne 
VOL. III. 55 


lold me that he had made much inquiry in the offices for 
the correspondence and papers, which had passed between 
the late Ministry and me, but that he could not meet with 
them. He expressed a regret, that he had not conversed 
with me at an earlier day, with many civilities of that kind. 
' In short, I had been backward to intrude myself, and he 
expressed regret that he had not sent for me. 

"Upon this opening on his part, I stated to him the sub- 
stance of what passed between the late Ministry and my- 
self, and I left a copy of the Breviate with him. He gave 
me a very attentive audience, and I took that opportunity 
of stating my sentiments to him, as far as I could, upon 
every view of the question. Upon his expressing his re- 
gret that he had not seen rne sooner, I told him that I 
always had been, and always should be, most ready to give 
any assistance in my power towards the work of peace. I 
say the same to you. 

"I do not believe that there is any difference of senti- 
ment between you and me, ^er^ona//?/, in our own minds 
upon independence, he. he. But we belong to different 
communities, and the right of judgment, and of consent 
and dissent, is vested in the community. Divide inde- 
pendence into six millions of shares, and you should have 
been heartily ivelcome to my share from the beginning of 
the war. Divide Canada into six millions of shares, I 
could find a better method of disposing of my share, than, 
by offering it to France, to abandon America. Divide the 
rock of Gibraltar into six millions of pieces, 1 can only 
answer for one portion. Let Reason and Justice decide 
in any such case, as universal umpires between contending 
parties, and those who wish well to the permanent peace 
of mankind, will not refuse to give and to receive equal 


"I agree with you, thai the equitable and the pliilo^ophi- 
cal principles of politics can alone form a solid foundation 
of permanent peace ; and llie contraries to iheni, thoiigli 
highly patronized by nations themselves, and their Minis- 
ters, are no better than vulgar errors ; but nations are 
slow to convictions from the i)ersonal arguments of indi- 
viduals. 'They are jealous in honor, seeking the bubble 
reputation even in the cannon's mouth.' But until a con- 
firmed millennium, founded upon wiser principles, shall be 
generally established, the reputation of nations is not mere- 
ly a bubble. It forms their real security. 

"To apply all this, in one word, let all nations agree, with 

one accord, to beat their swords into ploughshares, and 

their spears into pruning hooks, or give me wooden walls 

to Great Britain ! I have nothing further to add. My 

reason for writing this, was just to communicate to you in 

what position I had delivered over my conferences and 

arguments with the late ^Ministry into the hands of the 

present. And 1 will conclude with your own words, may 

God send us all more wisdom. I am ever, most afiec- 

tionatelv, vours, &x. 


"P. S. May llt/i, 17S2. Since writing the above, 1 
have likewise led a copy of the enclosed preliminaries 
with Lord Shelburne." 


May, 17S2. 

"L That the British troops shall be wiilulrawn from the 
Thirteen Provinces of North America, and a truce made 
between Great Britain and the said Provinces, for 
years. (Suppose ten or twenty years.) 

"2. That a negotiation for peace shall bona fide be 
opened between Great Britain and the allies of America. 


"3. If the proposed negotiation between Great Britain 
and the allies of America should not succeed so far as to 
produce peace, but that war should continue between the 
said parties, that America should act, and be treated as a 
neutral nation. 

"4. That whenever peace shall take place between 
Great Britain and the allies of America, the truce between 
Great Britain and America shall be converted into a per- 
petual peace, the independence of America shall be admit- 
ted and guarantied by Great Britain, and a commercial 
treaty settled between them. 

"5. That these propositions shall be made to the Court 
of France, for communication to the American Commis- 
sioners, and for an answer to the Court of Great Britain." 

The same day Mr Grenville visited me. He acquaint- 
ed me, that his courier was returned, and had brought 
him full powers in form to treat for a peace ivith France 
and her allies. That he had been at Versailles, and had 
shown his power to M. de Vergennes, and left a copy with 
him. That he had also a letter of credence, which he 
was not to deliver till France should think fit to send a 
Minister of the same kind to London ; that M. de Ver- 
gennes had told him, that he would lay it before the King, 
and had desired to see him again on Wednesday. That 
Mr Oswald had arrived in London, about an hour before 
the courier came away. That Mr Fox in his letter had 
charged him to thank me for that which I had written, and 
to tell me, that he hoped I would never forget, that he 
and I were of the same country. 

I answered, that I should always esteem it an honor to 
be owned as a countryman of Mr Fox. He had request- 


ed mc at oui last interview, that if 1 saw no iinpiopiiely in 
doing it, I would lavor him with a sight of the treaty of 
alliance between France and America. I acquainted him 
that it was printed, but that if he could not readily meet 
with a copy, 1 would have one written for him. And as 
he had not been able to lind one, 1 this day gave it to 

He lent me a London gazette, containing Admiral 
Rodney's account of his victory over M. de Grasse, and 
the accounts of other successes in the East Indies, assuring 
me, however, that these events made not the least change 
in the sincere desire of his Court to treat for peace. 

Id the afternoon the INIarquis de Lafayette called upon 
me. I acquainted him with what Mr Grenville had told 
me respecting the credential letter, and the expectation 
that a person on the part of this Court would be sent to 
London with a commission similar to his. The Marquis 
told me he was on his way to Versailles, and should see 
M. de Vergennes. We concluded, that it would now be 
proper for him to make the proposition we had before 
talked of, that he should be the person employed in that 

On INIonday, the 27th, I received a letter from INIr Jay, 
dated the 8th, acquainUng me, that he had received mine 
of the 21st and 22d past, and had concluded to set out for 
Paris about the 19th, so that he may be expected in a 
few days. 

I dined this day with Count d'Estaing, and a number of 
brave marine ofiicers, that he had invited. We were all 
a litUe dejected with the news. I mentioned, by way of 
encouragement, the observation of the Turkish bashaw, 
who was taken with his fleet at Lepanto, by the Venetians. 

438 ' BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

"Ships," says he, "are like my master's beard, you may 
cut it, but it will grow again. He has cut off from your 
government all the Morea, which is like a limb, which you 
will never recover." And his words proved true. 

On Tuesday I dined at Versailles with some friends, so 
was not at home when the Marquis de Lafayette called to 
acquaint me, that M. de Vergennes informed him, that the 
full power received by Mr Grenville from London, and 
communicated by him, related to France only. The 
Marquis left for me this information, which I could not un- 
derstand. On Wednesday 1 was at Court, and saw the 
copy of the power. It appeared full with regard to treat- 
ing with France, but mentioned not a word of her allies. 
And, as M. de Vergennes had explicitly and constantly, 
from the beginning, declared to the several messengers, Mr 
Forth, Mr Oswald, and Mr Grenville, that France could 
only treat in concert with her allies, and it had in conse- 
quence been declared on the part of the British Ministry, 
that they consented to treat for a general peace, and at 
Paris, the sending this partial power seemed to be insid- 
ious, and a mere invention to occasion delay, the late dis- 
asters to the French fleet having probably given the Court 
of England fresh courage and other views. 

M. de Vergennes said he should see Mr Grenville on 
Thursday, and would speak his mind to him, on the sub- 
ject very plainly. "They want, said he, "to treat with us 
for you, but this the King will not agree to. He thinks it 
not consistent with the dignity of your state. You will 
treat for yourselves ; and every one of the powers at war 
with England will make its own treaty. All that is neces- 
sary for our conjinon security is, that the treaties go hand 
in hand, and are signed all on the same day." 


Prince Baiiaiiiiski, the Russian Ambassador, was par- 
ticularly civil to me this day at Court, apologised for wliat 
passed relating to the visit, expressed himself extremely 
sensible of my friendship in covering the affliir, which 
might have occasioned to him very disagreeable conse- 
quences, &:c. The Count du Xord came to jNI. de Ver- 
gennes, while we were drinking coffee, after dinner. He 
appears lively and active, with a sensible, spirited counte- 
nance. There was an opera at night for his entertainment. 
The house being richly finished with abundance of carving 
and gilding, well illuminated with wax tapers, and the com- 
pany all superbly dressed, many of the men in cloth of 
tissue, and the ladies sparkling with diamonds, formed 
altogether the most splendid spectacle my eyes ever be- 

I had some little conference today with ^I. IM. Berken- 
rode, Vanderpierre and Boeris, the Ambassador of Holland 
and the agents of the Dutch East India Company. They 
informed me, that the second letter of Mr Fox to the media- 
ling Minister of Russia, proposing a separate peace with 
Holland, made no more impression than the first, and no 
peace would be made but in concurrence with France. 

The Swedish Minister told me he expected orders from 
his Court relative to a treaty, &ic. 

I had, at our last interview, given i\Ir Grenvillc a ren- 
dezvous for Saturday morning, and having some other en- 
gagements for Thursday and Friday, though 1 wish to 
speak with him on the subject of his power, I did not go 
to him, but waited his coming to me on Saturday. On 
Friday, May 31st, Mr Oswald called on me, being just 
returned, and brought me the following letters from Lord 
Shelburne, the first of which had been written before his 




Whitehall, May 28th, 1782. 

"I am honored with your letter of the 10th instant, and 
am very glad to find that the conduct, which the King has 
empowered me to ohserve towards Mr Laurens, and the 
American prisoners, has given you pleasure. I have signi- 
fied to Mr Oswald his Majesty's pleasure, that he shall con- 
tinue at Paris till he receives orders from hence to return. 
In the present state of diis business, there is nothing for me 
to add, but my sincere wishes for a happy issue, and to 
repeat my assurances, that nothing shall be wanting on my 
part which can contribute to it. I have the honor to be, 
with very great regard, 



Whitehall, May 29th, 1782. 

"I have the honor to receive your letter of the 13th of 
May, by Mr Oswald. It gives me great pleasure to find 
my opinion of the moderation, prudence, and judgment of 
that gentleman confirmed by your concurrence. For I 
am glad to assure you, that we likewise concur in hoping 
that those qualities may enable him to contribute to the 
speedy conclusion of a peace, and such a peace as may 
be firm and long lasting. In that hope he has the King's 
orders to return immediately to Paris, and you will find 
him, I trust, properly instructed to co-operate in so desira- 
ble an object. I have the honor to be, Sic. 



I had not then time to con»erse much with Mr Oswald, 
and he promised to come and breakfast with me on INIon- 

Saturday, June Cuh. Mr Grenville came, according to 
appointment. Our conversation began by my acquainting 
iiini tliat I had seen the Count de V^ergennes, and had 
perused tl)e copy left with him of the power to treat. 
That after what he, iMr Grenville, told me of its being to 
treat with France and her allies, I was a Httle surprised to 
find in it no mention of the allies, and that it was only to 
treat with the King of France and his Ministers ; that, at 
V'ersailles, there was some suspicion of its being intended 
to occasion delay, the professed desire of a speedy peace 
being, perhaps, abated in the IJritish Court since its late 
successes ; but that I imagined the words relating to the 
allies might have been accidentally omitted in transcribing, 
or that, perhaps, he had a special power to treat with us 
distinct from the other. He answered, that the copy was 
right, and that he had no such power in form, but that his 
instructions were full to that purpose, and that he was sure 
the Ministers had no desire of delay, nor any of excluding 
us from the treaty, since the greatest part of those instruc- 
tions related to treating with me. That, to convince me 
of this sincerity of his Court respecting us, he would ac- 
rjuaint me with one of his instructions, though, perhaps, the 
doing it now was premature, and therefore a little inconsist- 
ent with the character of a politician, but he had that con- 
fidence in me that he should not hesitate to inform me, 
(though he wished that at present it should go no fur- 
ther,) he was instructed to acknowledge tlic independence 
of America, previous to the commcnrement of ilic treaty. 
And he said he could only account for the omission of 

VOL. HI. 50 


America in the povveii, by supposing that it was an old 
official form copied from that given to Mr Stanley, when 
he came over hither before the last peace. Mr Grenville 
added that he had, immediately after his interview with 
the Count de Vergennes, despatched a courier to London, 
and hoped, that with his return the difficulty would be re- 
moved. That he was perfectly assured their late success 
had made no change in the disposition of his Court to 
peace, and that he had more reason than the Count de 
Vergennes to complain of delays, since five days were 
spent before he could obtain a passport for his courier, and 
then it was not to go and return by way of Calais, but to 
go by Ostend, which would occasion a delay of five days 
longer. Mr Grenville then spoke much of the high opin- 
ion the present Ministry had of me, and their great esteem 
for me, their desire of a perfect reconciliation between the 
two countries, and the firm and general belief in England, 
that no man was so capable as myself of proposing the 
proper means of bringing about such a reconciliation, add- 
ing that if the old Ministers had formerly been too litde 
attentive to my counsels, the present were very differently 
disposed, and he hoped that in treating with them, I would 
totally forget their predecessors. 

The time has been when such flattering language, as 
from great men, might have made me vainer, and had 
more effect on my conduct, than it can at present, when I 
find myself so near the end of life as to esteem lightly all 
personal interests and concerns, except that of maintaining 
to the last, and leaving behind me the tolerably good char- 
acter I have hitherto supported. 

Mr Grenville then discoursed of our resolution not to 
treat without our allies. This, says ho, can only properly 


reiale to France, with whom you have a treaty of alliance, 
but you have none with Spain, you have none with Hol- 
land, ll' Spain and Holland, and even if France should 
insist on unreasonable terms of advantage to themselves, 
after you have obtained all you want, and are satisfied, can 
it be right that America should be dragged on in a war for 
their interest only ? He stated this matter in various lights 
and pressed it earnestly. I resolved, from various reasons, 
to evade the discussion, therefore answered, that the in- 
tended treaty not being yet begun, it appeared unnecessary 
to enter at present into considerations of that kind. The 
preliminaries being once settled and the treaty commenced, 
if any of the other powers should make extravagant de- 
mands on England, and insist on our continuing the war 
till tliose were complied with, it would then be lime enough 
to consider what our obligations were, and how far they 
extended. The first thing necessary was for him to pro- 
cure the full powers, the next for us to assemble the plen- 
ipotentiaries of all the belligerent parties, and then propo- 
sitions might be mutually made, received, considered, 
answered, or agreed to. In the meantime I would just 
mention to him, that though we were yet under no obligations 
to Spain by treaty, wc were under obligations of gratitude 
for the assistance she had afforded us ; and as ]Mr Adams 
had some weeks since commenced a treaty in Holland, the 
terms of which 1 was not yet acquainted with, I knew not 
but that we might have already some alliance and obligations 
contracted there. And perhaps we ought, however, to 
Lave some consideration for Holland on this account, that 
it was in vengeance for the friendly disposition shown by 
some of her people to make a treaty of commerce with us, 
that England bad declared the war against her. 


He said it would be hard upon England, if having given 
reasonable satisfaction to one or two of her enemies, she 
could not have peace with those till she had complied with 
whatever the others might demand, however unreasonable, 
for so she might be obliged to pay for every article four 
fold. I observed, that when she made her propositions, 
the more advantageous they were to each, the more it 
would be the interest of each to prevail with the others to 
accept those offered to them. We then spoke of the re- 
conciliationj but his full power not being yet come I chose 
to defer entering upon that subject at present. I told him 
I had thoughts of putting down in writing the particulars 
that I judged would conduce to that end, and of adding my 
reasons, that this required a little time, and I had been hin- 
dered by accidents ; which was true, for I had begun to 
write, but had postponed it on account of his defective 
power to treat. But I promised to finish it as soon as 
possible. He pressed me earnestly to do it, saying, an 
expression of mine in a former conversation, that there still 
remained roots of good wiU in America towards England, 
which if properly taken care of might produce a reconcilia- 
tion, had made a great impression on his mind, and given 
him infinite pleasure, and he hoped I would not neglect fur- 
nishing him with the information of what would be neces- 
sary to nourish those roots, and could assure me, that my 
advice would be greatly regarded. 

Mr Grenville had shown me at our last interview a letter 
from the Duke of Richmond to him, requesting him to 
prevail with me to disengage a Captain McLeod, of the 
artillery, from his parole, the Duke's brother, Lord George 
Lenox, being appointed to the command of Portsmouth, 


and desirins; to lune him as his aid-do-camp. I had 
promised to consider of it, and this morning I sent him the 
following letter. 


Passy, Muy 31st, 1782. 

"I do not find, thai. I have any express authority to ab- 
solve a parole given by an English officer in America, but 
desirous of complying widi a request of the Duke of Rich- 
mond, as far as may be in my power, and being confident, 
that the Congress will be pleased with whatever may 
oblige a personage they so much respect, I do hereby con- 
sent, that Captain McLeod serve in his military capacity 
in England only, till the pleasure of the Congress is known, 
to whom I will write immediately, and who, I make no 
doubt, will discharge him entirely. I have the honor to 

be, Jkc. 


America had been constantly befriended in Parliament 
by the Duke of Richmond, and I believed the Congress 
would not be displeased, that this opportunity was taken 
of obliging him, and that they would by their approbation 
supply the deficiency of my power. Besides, I could not 
well refuse it, after what had passed between Mr Laurens 
and me, and what I had promised to do for that gentle- 

Sunday, June 2d. The Marquis de Lafayette called 
and dined with me. He is uneasy about the delay, as 
he cannot resolve concerning his voyage to America, till 
some certainty appears of there being a treaty or no treaty. 
This day I wrote the following letter to Mr Adams. 

446 -BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 


Passy, June 2d, 1782. 


"Since mine of May 8th, I have not had anything ma- 
terial to communicate to your Excellency. Mr Grenville 
indeed arrived just after I had despatched that letter, and 
I introduced him to M. de Vergennes, but, as his mission 
seemed only a repetition of that by Mr Oswald, the same 
declaration of the King of England's sincere desire of 
peace, and willingness to treat at Paris, which were an- 
swered by the same declarations of the good dispositions of 
this Court, and that it could not treat without the concur- 
rence of its allies, I omitted writing till something should 
be produced from a kind of agreement, that M. de Ver- 
gennes would acquaint Spain and Holland with the over- 
ture, and Mr Grenville would write for full powers to treat, 
and make propositions ; nothing of importance being in the 
meantime to be transacted. 

"Mr Grenville accordingly despatched a messenger for 
London, who returned in about twelve days. Mr Gren- 
ville called on me, after having been at Versailles, and ac- 
quainted me. that he had received the power, and had left 
a copy of it with M. de Vergennes, and that he was there- 
by authorised to treat with France and her allies. The 
next time I went to Versailles, I desired to see that copy, 
and was surprised to find in it no mention of the allies of 
France, or any one of them, and, on speaking with M. de 
Vergennes about it, I found he began to look upon the 
whole as a piece of artifice to amuse us, and gain time ; 
since he had uniformly declared to every agent who had 
appeared there, viz. to Forth, Oswald, and Gretiville, that 


ihe King would not treat without ll'.e concurrence of liis 
allies, and yet England had given a power to treat with 
France onlv, which showed she did not intend to treat at 
all, but meant to continue the war. 

"I had not till yesterday an opportunity of talking with 
Mr Grenville on the subject, and expressing my wonder, 
that, after what he told me, there should be no mention 
made of our States in his conmiissiotij he could not ex- 
plain this to my satisfaction, but said, he believed the 
omission was occasioned by their co|)ying an old commis- 
sion given to jMr Stanley at the last treaty of peace, for he 
was sure the intention was, that he should treat with us, 
his instructions being fully to that purpose. I acquainted 
him, that 1 thought a special commission was necessary, 
without which we could not treat with him. 1 imagine, 
that there is a reluctance in their king to take this first 
step, as the giving such a commission would itself be a 
kind of acknowledgment of our independence. Their late 
success against Count de Grasse may also have given them 
hopes, that by delay and more successes they may make 
that acknowledgment and a peace less necessary 

"Mr Grenville has written to his Court for further instruc- 
tions. We shall see what the return of his courier will 
produce. If full power to treat with each of the powers 
at war against England does not appear, I imagine 
the negotiation wmH be broken off. ]Mr Grenville, in his 
conversation with me, insists much on our being under no 
engagements not to make ^ peace without Holland. I 
have answered him, that I know not but that you may have 
entered into some, and if there should be none, a general 
pacification, made at the same time, would be best for us 
all, and that I believe neither Holland nor we could be 


prevailed on to abandon our friends. Wliat happens fur- 
tiier shall be immediately communicated. 

"Be pleased to present my respects to Mv Laurens, to 
whom I wrote some days since. Mr Jay, 1 suppose, is on 
his way hither. With great respect, he. 

' ., ,: R. FRANKLIN." 

On Monday the 3d, Mr Oswald came according to ap- 
pointment. He told me he had seen and had conversa- 
tions with Lord Slielburne, Lord Rockingham, and Mr 
Fox. That their desire of peace continued uniformly the 
same, though he thought some of them were a little too 
much elated with the late victory in the West Indies, and 
when observing his coolness, they asked him if he did not 
think it a very good thing ; yes, said he, if you do not 
rate it too high. He went on with the utmost frankness to 
tell me, that the peace was absolutely necessary for them. 
That the nation had been foolishly involved in four warsj 
and could no longer raise money to carry them on, so 
that if they continued, it would be absolutely necessary for 
them to stop payment of the interest inoney on the funds, 
which would ruin their future credit. He spoke of stop- 
ping on all sums above £1000, and continuing to pay on 
those below, because the great sums belonged to the rich, 
who could better bear the delay of their interest, and the 
smaller sums to poorer persons, who would be more hurt, 
and make more clamor, and diat the rich might be quieted 
by promising them interest upon d)eir interest. All this 
looked as if the matter had been seriously thought on. 

Mr Oswald has an air of great simplicity and honesty, 
yet I could hardly take this to be merely a weak con- 
fession of their deplorable state, and thought it nilght be 


rather intended as a kind of intimidation, by showing us 
that they had still that resource in their power, which he 
said would furnish five millions a year. But, he added, 
our enemies may now do what they please with us, they 
hare the ball at their foot, was his expression, and we 
hope they will show their moderation and magnanimity. 
He then repeatedly mentioned the great esteem the Minis- 
ters had for me, that 'they, with all the considerate people 
of England, looked to, and depended on me for the 
means of extricating the nation from its present desperate 
situation ; and that, perhaps, no single man had ever in 
his hands an opportunity of doing so much good as I had 
at this present time, with much more to that purpose. He 
then showed me a letter to him from Lord Shelburne, 
partly, I suppose, that I might see his Lordship's opinion 
of me, which, as it has some relation to the negotiation, is 
here inserted. He left it with me, requesting that I 
would communicate it to Mr Walpole. 


Whitehall, Mav 21st, 1762. 

"It has reached me, that Mr Walpole esteems himself 
much injured by your going to Paris, and that he con- 
ceives it was a measure of mine, intended to take the 
present negotiation with the Court of France out of his 
hands, which he conceives to have been previously com- 
menced through his channel, by Mr Fox. I must desire 
that you will have the goodness to call upon Mr Walpole, 
and explain to him distinctly, how very little foundation 
there is for so unjust a suspicion, as I knew of no such 
intercourse. ^Ir Fnx declares, he considered what had 
VOL. HI. 57 


passed between him and Mr Walpole, of a mere private 
nature, not sufficiently material to mention to the King or 
the cabinet, and will write to Mr Walpole to explain this 
distinctly to him. 

"But if yon find the least suspicion of this kind has 
reached Dr Franklin, or the Count de Vergennes, I 
desire this matter may be clearly explained to both. I 
have too much friendship for Dr Franklin, and too much 
respect for the character of the Count de Vergennes, 
with which I am perfectly acquainted, to be so indiffer- 
ent to the good opinion of either, as to suffer them to 
believe me capable of an intrigue, where I have both 
professed and observed a direct opposite course of con- 
duct. In truth, I hold it in such perfect contempt, that, 
liowever proud 1 may be to serve the King in my present 
situation, or in any other, and however anxious I may be 
to serve my country, 1 should not hesitate a moment about 
retiring from any situation which required such services. 
But I must do the King the justice to say, that his Maj- 
esty abliors them, and I need not tell you that it is my 
fixed principle, that no country in any moment can be ad- 
vantaged by them. I am, with great truth and regard, he. 


In speaking further of the Ministry's opinion of the 
great service it might be in my power to render, Mr 
Oswald said, he had told them in one of his conversa- 
tions, that nothing was to be expected of me but con- 
sistency, nothing unsuitable to my character, or inconsistent 
with my duty to my country. I did not ask him the par- 
ticular occasion of his saying tliis, but tiiought it looked 
a litde as if something inconsistent with my duty had been 


talked of or proposed. Mr Oswald also gave me a copy 
of a paper of memorandums, written by Lord Shelbiirne, 

"1. That 1 am ready to correspond more particularly 
with Dr Franklin, if wished. 

"2, That the Enabling Act is passing, with the insertion 
of Commissioners recoAnnended by Mr Oswald ; and, on 
our part, Commissioners will be named, or any character 
given to JNIr Oswald, which Dr Franklin and he may judge 
conducive to a final settlement of things between Great 
Britain and America ; which Dr Franklin very properly 
says, requires to be treated in a very different manner 
from the peace between Great Britain and France, who 
have always been at enmity with each other. 

"3. That an establishment for the loyalists must always 
be on Mr Oswald's mind, as it is uppermost in Lord Shel- 
burne's, besides other steps in their favor to influence the 
several States to agree to a fair restoration or compensa- 
tion for whatever confiscations have taken place. 

"4. To give Lord Shelburne's letter about Mr Wal- 
pole to Dr Franklin." 

On perusing this paper, I recollected that a bill had 
been sometime since proposed in Parliament, to enable his 
Majesty to conclude a Peace or Truce vnth the revolted 
Provinces in Amerira, which I supposed to be the enabling 
bill mentioned, that had hitherto slept, and not having been 
passed, was perhaps the true reason why the Colonies 
were not mentioned in iMr Grenville's commission. Mr 
Oswald thought it likely, and said that the words, "Inser- 
tion of Cointnissioners, recommended by Mr Oswald," 
related to his advising an express mention in the bill of 

452 BEN.iAlMlN FJRANKLlK. [Journal. 

the Coinniissioiiers ;ip[)ointed by Congress lo treat of 
peace, instead of tiie vague denomination of any person or 
jfcrsons, ^c. in tlic first draft of the bill. 

As to the loyalists, I repeated what I had said to him 
when first iiere, that their estates had been confiscated by 
the laws made in particular States where the delinquents 
had resided, and not by any law of Congress, who, indeed, 
had no power, either to make such laws or to repeal them, 
or to dispense with iheni, and, therefore, could give no 
power to their Commissioners to treat of a restoration for 
those people ; that it was an affair appertaining to each 
State. That if there were justice in compensating them, 
it must be due from England rather than America; but, in 
my opinion, England was not under any very great obliga- 
tions to them, since it was by their misrepresentations and 
bad counsels, she had been drawn into this miserable war. 
And that if an account was to be brought against us for 
their losses, we should more than balance it by an account 
of the ravages they had committed all along the coasts of 

Mr Oswald agreed to the reasonableness of all this, and 
said he had, before he came away, told the J\Iinislers, that 
he thought no recompense to those people was to be ex- 
pected from us ; that he had also, in consequence of our 
former conversation on that subject, given it as his opinion, 
that Canada should be given up to the United States, as it 
would prevent the occasions of future difference, and, as 
the govenunent of such a country was v.'orlh nothing, and 
of no importance, if they could have there a free com- 
merce ; that the Marquis of Rockingham and Lord Shel- 
burne, though they spoke reservedly, did not seem very 
averse to it, but that ]Mr Fox appeared to be startled at the 


proposition. He was, however, not witlioiii hopes that ii 
would be agreed lo. 

We now came to another article of the note, viz. "on 
our part Commissioners will be named, or any character 
given to Mr Oswald, which Dr Franklin and he may judge 
conducive to a final settlement of things between Great 
Britain and America." 

This he said was le^t entirely to me, for he had no will 
in the affair; he did not desire to be further concerned, 
than to see it in train, he had no personal views either of 
honor or profit. He had now seen and conversed with 
Mr Grenville, thought him a very sensible young gentle- 
man, and very capable of the business ; he did not, there- 
fore, see any further occasion there was for himself; but if 
I thought otherwise, and conceived he might be further 
useful, he was content to give his time and service, in any 
character or manner 1 should think proper. I said, his 
knowledge of Aiuerica, where he had lived, and with 
ever)' part of which, and of its commerce and circumstan- 
ces he was well acquainted, made me think, that in jier- 
suading the Ministry to things reasonable relating to that 
country, he could speak or write with more weight than 
jMr Grenville, and, therefore, I wished him to continue in 
the service ; and I asked him whether he would like to be 
'oined in a general commission for treating with all the 
powers at war with England, or to have a special commis- 
sion lo himself for treating with America only. He said 
he did not choose to be concerned in treaty with the 
foreign powers, for he was not sufficiently a master of their 
affairs, or of the French language, which, probably, would 
be used in treating ; if, therefore, he accepted of any com- 
mission, it should be that of treating with America. I told 

454 BEiNJAMiN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

him I would write to Lord Shelburne on the subject ; but 
Mr Grenville having sometime since despatched a courier, 
partly on account of the commission, who was not yet re- 
turned, I thought it well to wait a few days, till we could 
see what answer he would bring, or what measures were 
taken. This he approved of. 

The truth is, he appears so good and so reasonable a 
man, that, though I have no objection to Mr Grenville, I 
should be loth to lose Mr Oswald. He seems to have 
nothing at heart but the good of mankind, and putting a 
stop to mischief; the other, a young statesman, may be 
supposed to have naturally a little ambition of recommend- 
ing himself as an able negotiator. 

In the afternoon, M. Boeris, of Holland, called on me, 
and acquainted me that the answer had not yet been given 
to the last memorial from Russia, relating to the media- 
tion ; but it was thought it would be in respectful terms, to 
thank her Imperial Majesty for her kind offers, and to 
represent the propriety of their connexion with France in 
endeavors to obtain a general peace, and that they con- 
ceived it would be still more glorious for her Majesty to 
employ her influence in procuring a general, than a par- 
ticular pacification. M. Boeris further informed me, that 
they were not well satisfied in Holland with the conduct of 
the Russian Court, and suspected views of continuing the 
war for particular purposes. 

Tuesday, June 4th. 1 have received another packet 
from Mr Hardey. It consisted of duplicates of former 
letters and papers already inserted, and contained nothing 
new but the following letter from Colonel Hartley, his 



Soho Square, May 24tl), 1782. 

"Dear Sir, 

" It is with the greatest pleasure I take up niy pen to 
acknowledge your remembrance of me in yours to my 
brother, and to thank you for those expressions of regard 
which I can assure you are niutual. My brother has de- 
sired me to copy some letters and papers, by way of 
sending you duplicates. 1 am particularly happy at the 
employment, because the greatest object of my parliamen- 
tary life has been to co-operate with him in his endeavors 
to put a period to this destructive war, and forward the 
blessed work of peace. I hope to see him again in that 
situation, where he can so well serve his country with 
credit to himself; and while I have the honor of being in 
Parliament, my attention will be continued to promote the 
effects, which will naturally flow from those principles of 
freedom and universal philanthropy vou have both so 
much supported. While I copy his words, my own feel- 
ings and judgment are truly in unison, and I have but to 
add the most ardent wish, that peace and happiness may 
crown the honest endeavors towards so desirable an end. 

"I am, dear Sir, with the greatest respect and esteem, 
yours sincerelv, 


fVednesday, June oth. Mr Oswald called again to ac- 
quaint me, that Lord Cornwallis, being very anxious to be 
discharged from his parole as soon as possible, had sent a 
Major Ross hither to solicit it, supposing ]Mr Laurens might 
be here with me. Mr Oswald told me, what I had not 
heard before, that Mr Laurens, while prisoner in the 

456 BEiNJAMiN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

Tower, had proposed obtaining the discharge of Lord 
Cornvvallis in exchange for himself, and had promised to 
use his utmost endeavors to that purpose, in case he was 
set at liberty, not doubting of the success. I communicated 
to Mr Oswald what had already passed between Mr Lau- 
rens and me, respecting Lord Cornwailis ; which appears 
in the preceding letters, and told him I should have made 
less difficulty about the discharge of his parole, if Mr 
Laurens liad informed me of his being set at liberty in 
consequence of such an offer and promise, and I wished 
him to state this in a letter to me, that it might appear (or 
my justification in what I might, with Mr Laurens, do in 
the affair ; and that he would procure for me from Major 
Ross a copy of the parole, tiiat I might be better ac- 
quainted widi the nature of it. He accordingly in the 
afternoon sent me the following letter. 

[See this letter above, p. 3G2. — Also the answer, p. 3G3.] 

Friday, June 1th. Major Ross called upon me, to 
thank me for the favorable intentions I had expressed in 
my letter to Mr Oswald, respecting Lord Cornwailis, and 
to assure me, that his Lordship would forever remember it 
with gratitude, &;c. I told him it was onr duty to alleviate, 
as much as we could, the calamities of war ; that I ex- 
pected letters from Mr Laurens, relating to the afiliir, after 
the receipt of which I would immediately complete it. Or 
ifldidnot hear from Mr Laurens, I woulfl . speak to the 
Marquis de Lafayette, get his approbation, and finish it 
without further delay. 

Saturday, June Sth. I received some newspapers from 
England, in one of which is the following paragraph. 


From the London Evening Post, of JMaij 30f//, 17S2. 

"ir Import on tlie spot speak triitli, Mr Grenville, in liis 
first visit 10 Dr Franklin, gained a considerable point of 
infarmaiion, as to the powers America had retained for 
treating separately uiili Great Britain, in case her cluims, 
or demands, were granted. 

"The treaty of February 6lh, 177S, was made the basis 
of this conversation ; and b}" the spirit and meaning of this 
treaty, there is no obligation on America not to treat sep- 
arately for peace, after she is assured England will grant 
her independence, and a free commerce with all the world. 

'•The first article of that treaty engages America and 
France to be bound to each other, as long as circumstances 
may require ; therefore, the granting America all she asks 
of England is breaking the bond, by which the circumstan- 
ces may bind America to France. 

"The second article says, the meaning and direct end 
of the alliance is to insure the freedom and independence 
of America. Surely then, when freedom and indepen- 
dence are allowed by Britain, America may, or may not, 
as she chooses, put an end to the present war between 
England and America, and leave France to war on 
through all her mad projects of reducing the power and 
greatness of England, while America feels herself posses- 
sed of what she wishes. 

"By the Sth article of the treaty, neither France nor 
America can conclude peace without the assent of the 
other ; and they engage not to lay down their arms, until the 
independence of America is acknowledged, but this article 
does not exclude America from entering into a separate 
treaty for peace with England, and evinces more strongly 
VOL. III. 58 


than the former articles, that America may enter into a 

separate treaty with England, when she is convinced that 

England has insured to her all that she can reasonably 

I conjecture that this must be an extract from a letter of 
Mr Grenville's ; but it carries an appearance as if he and I 
had agreed in these imaginary discourses, of America's 
being at liberty to make peace without France, and whereas 
my whole discourse, in the strongest terms, declared our 
determinations to the contrary, and the impossibility of our 
acting, not only contrary to the treaty, but the duties of 
gratitude and honor, of which nothing is mentioned. This 
young negotiator seems to value himself on having obtained 
from me a copy of the treaty. I gave it him freely, at his 
request, it being not so much a secret as he imagined, 
having been printed, fust in all the American papers soon 
after it was made, then at London in Ahnon's Remem- 
brancer, which I wonder he did not know ; and afterwards 
in a collection of the American Constitutions, published by 
order of Congress. As such imperfect accounts of our 
conversations find their way into the English papers, 1 must 
speak to this gentleman of its impropriety. 

Sunday, June 9th. Doctor Bancroft being intimately 
acquainted with Mr Walpole, I this day gave him Lord 
Shelburne's letter to Mr Oswald, requesting he would com- 
municate it to that gentleman. Doctor Bancroft said it 
was believed both Russia and the Emperor wish the con- 
tinuance of the war, and aimed at procuring for England a 
peace with Holland, that England might be better able to 
continue it against France and Spain. 

The Marquis de Lafayette having proposed to call on me 


today, I kept back the discliarge of Lord Corinvallis, wliicli 
was written and ready, desiring to have his approbation ol" it, 
as he had in a former conversation advised it. He did not 
coine, but late in the evening sent me a note, acquainting 
me that he had been prevented by accompanying tlie Great 
Duke to the review, but would breakfast with me tomor- 
row morning. 

This day I received a letter from Mr Dana, dated at 
St Petersburgh, April 29th, in which is the following pass- 
age. "We yesterday received the news, that the States- 
General had, on die 19th of this month (N. S.) acknow- 
ledged the independence of the United States. This event 
gave a shock here, and is not well received, as they at 
least profess to have flattered themselves, that the media- 
tion would have prevented it, and otherwise brought on a 
partial peace between Britain and Holland. This resent- 
ment, I believe, will not be productive of any ill conse- 
quences to the Dutch republic." It is true, that while the 
war continues, Russia feels a greater demand for the naval 
stores, and perhaps at a higher price. But is it j)ossible, 
that for such petty interests, mankind can wish to see their 
neighbors destroy each other ? Or has the project, lately 
talked of, some foundation, that Russia and the Emperor 
intend driving the Turks out of Europe, and do they there- 
fore wish to see France and England so weakened, as to 
be unable to assist those people ? 

Monday, June \2th. The Marquis de Lafayette did 
not come till between eleven and twelve. He brought with 
him Major Ross. After breakfast, he told me (Major 
Ross being gone into another room) that he had seen ^Ic 
Grenville lately, who asked him when he should go to 
America. That he had answered, I have staid here 

460 " BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

longer than I shouid otlierwise have done, that 1 might see 
whether we were to have peace or war, but as I see that 
the expectation of peace is a joke, and that you only amuse 
us without any real intention of treating, I think to stay no 
longer, but set out in a few days. On which Mr Grenville 
assured him that it was no joke, that they were very sin- 
cere in their proposal of treating, and four or five days 
would convince the Marquis of it. 

The Marquis then spoke to me about a request of Ma- 
jor Ross's in behalf of himself. Lord Chewton, a Lieuten- 
ant Colonel and Lieutenant Haldane, who were aids-de- 
camp to Lord Cornwallis, that they too might be set at 
liberty witii him. I told the Marquis that he was better 
acquainted with the custom in such cases than I, and being 
himself one of the Generals, to whom their parole had 
been given, he had more right to discharge it than I had, 
and that if he judged it a thing proper to be done, I wished 
him to do it. He went into the bureau, saying he would 
write something, which he accordingly did, but it was not 
as I expected, a discharge that he was to sign, it was for 
me to sign. And the IMajor not liking that which I had 
drawn for Lord Cornwallis, because there was a clause in 
it, reserving to Congress the approbation or disallowance 
of my act, went away without taking it. Upon which I 
the next morning wrote the following to Mr Oswald. 


Passy, June IJtIi, 1782. 

"1 did intend to have waited on you this morning to 

inquire after your health, and deliver the enclosed paper 

relating to the parole of Lord Cornwallis, but being obliged 

to go to Versailles, I must postpone my visit till tomorrow. 


"I do not conceive that I have any niiihority, in virtue 
of my oiiice here, to absolve that parole in any degree ; I 
have, therefore, endeavored to found it as well as 1 could 
on the express power given me by Congress to exchange 
General Bnrgovne for Mr Laurens. A reservation is made 
of contirmation or disapprobation by Congress, not from 
any desire to restrain the entire liberty of that General, but 
because I think it decent and my duty to make such reser- 
vation, and that I might otherwise be blamed as assuming 
a power not given me, if I undertook to discharge abso- 
lutely a parole given to Congress, without any authority 
from them for so doing. With great esteem and res- 
pect, &:c. 


1 have received no answer from ^Ir Laurens. The fol- 
lowing is the paper mentioned in the above letter. 

T/ie Discharge of Lord Cornwallic from his Parole. 

"The Congress having, by a resolution of the llili of 
June last, empowered me to offer an exchange of Genera! 
Burgoyne for the Honorable Henry Laurens, then a pris- 
oner in the Tower of London, and whose liberty they 
much desire to obtain, which exchange, though proposed 
by me, according to the said resolution, had not been ac- 
cepted or executed, when advice was received, that Gen- 
eral Burgoyne was exchanged in virtue of another agree- 
n»ent. And Mr Laurens thereupon having j)roposed 
another Licutenant-General, viz, Lord Cornwallis, as an 
exchange for himself, promising that if set at libci ty, he 
would do his utmost to obtain a confirmation of that propo- 

462 BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. fJoiirnal. 

sal ; and Mr Laurens being soon after discharged, and 
having since urged me earnestly, in several letters, to join 
with him in absolving the parole of that General, which 
appears to be a thing just and equitable in itself; and for 
the honor therefore of our country I do hereby, as far as 
in my power lies, in virtue of the above resolution, or oth- 
erwise, absolve and discharge the parole of Lord Cornwal- 
lis, given by him in Virginia ; setting him at entire liberty 
to act in iiis civil or military capacity, until the pleasure of 
Congress shall be known, to whom is reserved the confir- 
mation or disapprobation of this discharge, in case they have 
made or shall intend to make a difierent disposition. 
"Given at Pussy, this 9th day of June, 1782. 

Minister PlcnipotentUtnj from the United States 
of Jlmcrica to the Court of France.'''' 

I did not well comprehend the Major's conduct in refus- 
ing this paper. He was come express from London, to 
solicit a discharge of Lord Cornwallis's parole. He had 
said that his Lordsliip was very anxious to obtain that dis- 
charge, being unhappy in his present situation. One of his 
objections to it was, that his Lordship with such a limited 
discharge of his ])arole could not enter into foreign service. 
He declared it was not his Lordship's intention to return 
to America. Yet he would not accept the paper, unless 
the reservation was omitted. I did not choose to make the 
alteration, and so he left it, not well pleased with me. 

This day, Tnr.sdaij, June Wth. 1 was at Versailles, and 
had a good deal of conversation with M. de Rayneval, 
Secretary to the Council. 1 showed him the letters I had 
received by Mr Oswald from liOrd Shelburne, and related 


all the consequent conversation 1 had with Mr Oswald. 1 
related to him also the conversation I had had with Mr 
Grciiville. We concluded that the reason of his couriers 
not being returned, might be the formalities occasioning 
delay in passing the enabling bill. I went down widi him to 
the cabinet of Count de V'ergennes, where all was repeated 
and explained. That Minister seemed now to be almost 
persuaded, that the English Court was sincere in its de- 
clarations of being desirous of peace. We spoke of all its 
attempts to separate us, and of the prudence of our holding 
together and treating in concert. I made one remark, that 
as they had shown so strong a desire of disuniting us, by 
large offers to each particular power, plainly in the view of 
dealing more advantageously wiUi the rest, and had reluc- 
tantly agreed to make a general treaty, it was possible, that 
after making a peace with all, they might pick out one of 
us to make war with separately. Against which project 
I thought it would not be amiss, if before the treaties of 
peace were signed, we who were at war against England 
should enter into another treaty, engaging ourselves, that in 
such a case, we should again make it a common cause, 
and renew the general war ; which he seemed to approve 
of. He read Lord Shelburne's letter relating to Mr Wal- 
pole, said that gentleman had attempted to open a nego- 
tiation through the Marquis de Castries, who had told him 
he was come to the wrong house, and should go to Count 
de Vergennes ; but he never had appeared ; that he was an 
intriguer, knew many people about the Court, and was ac- 
customed to manage his atFairs by hidden and roinid-about 
ways ; but, said he, "when people have anything to propose, 
that relates to my employment, I think they should come 
directly to me ; my cabinet is the place where such affairs 


are to be treated." On the whole he seemed rather pleased 
that Mr Walpole had not come to him, appearing not to 
like him. 

I learnt that Mr Jay had taken leave on the 7th past, of 
the Spanish Ministers, in order to come hither, so that he 
may be daily expected ; but I hear nothing of Mr Laurens 
or Mr Adams. 

Wednesday, June I2th. I visited Mr Oswald this 
morning. He said he had received the paper I had sent 
him, relating to the parole of Lord Cornvvallis, and had by 
conversing with Major Ross, convinced him of his error in 
refusing it ; that he saw I had done everything that could 
be fairly desired of me, and said everything in the paper 
that could give a weight to the temporary discharge, and 
tend to |)revail with the Congress to confirm and complete 
it. Major Ross coming in, made an apology for not hav- 
ing accepted it at first, declared his perfect satisfaction 
with it, and said he was sure Lord Cornwallis would be 
very sensible of the favor. He then mentioned the cus- 
tom among military people, that in discharging the parole 
of a general, thai of his aids was discharged at the same 
time. I answered, I was a stranger to the customs of the 
army, that I had made the most of the authority I had for 
exchanging General Burgoyne, by extending it as a foun- 
dation for the exchange of Lord Cornwallis, but that I had 
no shadow of authority for going further ; that the Marquis 
de Lafayette having been present when the parole was 
given, and one of the generals who received it, was I 
thought more competent to the discharge of it than myself; 
and I could do nothing in it. He went then to the Mar- 
quis, who, in the afternoon, sent me the drafts of a limited 
discharge, which he should sign, but requested my appro- 

DIPLOMATIC C0imE5I'0.NDi:.\CE. 405 

bntion of it, of which I made no diflicnhy, though 1 ob- 
served lie had |)iit into it lliai it was by my advice. He 
appears very prudently cautious of doing anything, that 
may seem assuming a power that he is not vested with. 

Friddtf, the I4t/i. M. Boeris called again, wishing to 
know if -Mr Grenville's courier was returned, and whether 
the treaty was like to go on. I coidd give him no infor- 
mation. He told me it was intended in Holland, in an- 
swer to the last Russian Memorial, to say, that they could 
not now enter into a particular treaty with England, that 
they thoit;iht it more glorious for her Imperiid Majesty to 
be the mediatrix in a general treaty, and wished her to 
name the place. I said to him, as yon tell me their High 
Mightinesses are not well satisfied with Russia, and had 
rather avoid her mediation, would it not be better to omit 
the proposition, at least of her naming the place, especially 
as France, England, and America have already agreed 
to treat at Paris? He replied, it might be better, but, 
says he, we have no politicians among us. I advised him 
to write and get that omitted, as I understood it would be 
a week before the answer was concluded on. He did not 
seem to think his writing would be of much importance. 
I have observed, that his colleague, M. Vanderpierre, has 
a greater opinion by far of his own influence and conse- 

Saturday, June \oth. Mr Oswald came out to break- 
fast with me. We afterwards took a walk in the garden, 
when he told me, that Mr Grenville's courier returned last 
night. That he had received by him a letter from Mrs 
Oswald, but not a line from the Ministry, nor had he heard 
a word from them since his arrival, nor had he heard of 
any news brought by the courier. That he should have 
VOL. III. 59 

466 BENJAxMlN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

gone to see Mi- Grenville this morning, but he had omitted 
it, that gentleman being subject to morning headachs, 
whicli prevented iiis rising so early. I said I supposed he 
would go to Versailles, and call on me in his return. We 
had but little further discourse, having no new subject. 

Mr Oswald left me about noon, and soon after Mr 
Grenville came, and acquainted me with the return of his 
courier, and that he had brought the full powers. That 
he, Mr Grenville, had been at Versailles, and left a copy 
with Count de Vergennes. That the instrument was in the 
same terms with the former, except that after the power to 
treat with the King of France, or his Ministers, there was 
an addition of words, importing a power to treat with the 
Ministers of any other Prince or State whom it might con- 
cern. That Count de Vergennes had at first objected to 
these general words, as not being particular enough, but 
said he would lay it before the King, and communicate it 
to the Ministers of the belligerent powers, and that Mr 
Grenville should hear from him on Monday. Mr Gren- 
ville added, that he had further informed Count de Ver- 
gennes of his being now instructed to make a proposition 
as a basis for the intended treaty, viz. the peace of 1763. 
That the proposition intended to be made under his 
first powers, not being then received, w^as now changed, 
and instead of proposing to allow the independence of 
America, on condition of England's being put into the sit- 
uation she was in at the peace of 1763, he was novv au- 
thorised to declare the Independence of America previous to 
the treaty, as a voluntary act, and to propose separately as 
a basis the treaty of 1763. This also Count de Vergennes 
undertook to lay before the King, and communicate to 
me. ' 


jNIr Grenvillc then said to me, he hoped all difficulties 
were now removed, and that we might proceed in the good 
work. I asked him if the enabling bill was passed ? He 
said, no. It passed the Commons, and had been once 
read in the House of Lords, but was not yet completed. 
I remarked, that the usual time approached for the proro- 
gation of Parliament, and possibly this business might be 
onuited. He said there was no danger of that, the Par- 
liament would not rise this year till the middle of July ; 
the India aifairs had put back other business which must 
be done, and would require a prolongation of the session 
till that time. I then observed to him, that, though we 
Americans considered ourselves as a distinct independent 
power, or State, yet, as the British Goverimient had al- 
ways, hitherto, affected to consider us only as rebellious 
subjects, and as the enabling act was not yet passed, I did 
not think it could be fairly supposed, that his Court in- 
tended by the general words, any other Prince or State, 
to include a people whom they did not allow to be a 
State ; and that, therefore, I doubted the sufficiency of his 
power as to treating with America, though it might be 
good as to Spain and Holland. He replied, that he him- 
self had no doubt of the sufficiency of his power, and was 
willing to act upon it. I then desired to have a copy of 
the power, which he accordingly promised me. 

He would have entered into conversation on the topic 
of reconciliation, but I chose still to waive it, till I shoidd 
find the negotiation more certainly commenced ; and I 
showed him the London paper containing the article above 
transcribed, that he might see how our conversations were 
misrepresented, and how hazardous it must be for me 
to make any propositions of the kind at present. He 

468 ■ BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

seemed to treat the newspapers lightly, as of no conse- 
quence, but I observed that before he had finished the 
reading of the article, he turned to the beginning of the 
paper to see the date, which made me suspect that he 
doubted whether it might not have taken its rise from 
some of his letters. 

When he left me, I went to dine with M. de Chaumont, 
who had invited me to meet there Mr Walpole, at his re- 
quest. We shook hands, and he observed that it was near 
two years since we had seen each other. Then, stepping 
aside, he thanked me for having communicated to him 
Lord Shelburne's letter to Mr Oswald, thought it odd 
that Mr Oswald himself had not spoken to him about it ; 
said he had received a letter from Mr Fox upon the affair 
of St Eustatla, in which there were some general words, 
expressing a desire of peace ; that he had mentioned this 
to the Marquis de Castries, who had referred him to Count 
de Vergennes, but he did not think it a sufficient authority 
for him to go to that Minister. It was known that he had 
business with the Minister of the Marine on the other 
affltir, and, therefore, his going to him was not taken notice 
of; but if he had gone to Count de Vergennes, Minister of 
Foreign Affairs, it would have occasioned speculation, and 
much discourse ; that !ie had, therefore, avoided it till he 
sliould be authorised, and had written accordingly to Mr 
Fox ; but that in the meantime, Mr Oswald had been 
chosen upon the supposition, that he, Mr Walpole, and I, 
were at variance. He sj)oke of Mr Oswald as an odd 
kind of man, but that, indeed, his nation were generally odd 
people, &£c. We dined pleasantly together with the fam- 
ily, and parted agreeably, without entering into any particu- 
lars of the business. Count d'Estaing was at this dinner, 


and I met him again in the evening, at Madame Brillon's. 
There is at present among the peoi)le, much censure of 
Count do Grasse's conduct, and a general wish that Count 
d'Estaing had the command in America. 1 avoid med- 
dling, or even speaking on the subject, as improper lor me, 
though I much esteem that commander. 

Siiiuhty, the lOtli. I heard nothing from Versailles. 
I received a letter from Mr Adams, acquainting me he had 
drawn upon me for a quarter's salary, which he hoped 
would be the last, as he now foimd himself in the way of 
getting some money there, though not much. But he says 
not a word in answer to my late letters on public affairs, 
nor have I any line from Mr Laurens, which I wonder at. 
I received also a letter from Mr Carmichael, dated June 
5th, at Madrid. He speaks of Mr Jay being on his 
journey, and supposes he would be with me before that 
letter, so that I may expect him daily. We have taken 
lodgings for him in Paris. 

J\Iondaij, the llth. I received a letter from Mr Hodg- 
son, acquainting me that the American prisoners at Ports- 
mouth, to the number of three hundred, were all em- 
barked on board the transports, that each had received 
twenty shillings' worth of necessaries at the expense of 
government, and went on board in good humor ; that 
contrary winds had prevented the transports arriving in 
time at Plymouth, but that the whole number there now 
of our people, amounting to seven hundred, with those 
arrived from Ireland, would soon be on their way home. 

In the evening the Marquis de Lafayette came to see 
me, and said he had seen Count de Vergennes, who was 
satisfied with Mr Grenville's powers. He asked me what I 
thought of them, and I told him what I had said to Mr 

470 ' BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

Grenville of their imperfection with respect to us. He 
aj^reed in opinion with me. 1 let him know that I pro- 
posed waiting on Count de Vergennes tomorrow. 

He said he iiad signed the paper relating to Major 
Ross's parole, and hoped Congress would not take it 
amiss, and added, that in conversation with the Major, he 
had asked him why England was so hackward to make 
propositions? We are afraid, says the Major, of offering 
you more than you expect or desire. 1 find myself in 
some perplexity with regard to these two negotiators. Mr 
Oswald appears to have been the choice of Lord Shel- 
burne, Mr Grenville tiiat of Mr Secretary Fox. Lord 
Shelburne is said to have lately acquired much of die 
King's confidence. Mr Fox calls himself the Minister of 
the people, and it is certain, that his popularity is lately 
much increased. Lord Shelburne seems to wish to have 
thetnanagement of the treaty, Mr Fox seems to think it 
in his department. I hear that the understanding between 
these Ministers is not quite perfect. Mr Grenville is 
clever, and seems to feel reason as readily as Mr Oswald, 
though not so ready to own it. Mr Oswald appears quite 
plain and sincere ; I sometimes a little doubt Mr Grenville. 
Mr Oswald, an old man, seems now have no desire but 
that of being useful in doing good. Mr Grenville, a young 
man, naturally desirous of acquiring reputation, seems to 
aim at that of being an able negotiator. Mr Oswald does 
not solicit to have any share in the business, but, submitting 
the matter to Lord Shelburne and me, expresses only his 
willingness to serve, if we think he may be useful, and is 
equally willing to be excused, if we judge there is no occa- 
sion for him. INIr Grenville seems to think the whole nego- 
tiation committed to him, and to have no idea of Mr Os- 


vrald's being; concerned in it, and is, thcrctore, willing to ex- 
tend tl)e expressions in his commission, so as to make them 
comprehend America, and this beyond what I think they 
will bear. I imagine we might, however, go on very well 
with either of them, though I rather should prefer Oswald, 
but I apprehend difficulties if they are both employed, 
especially if there is any misunderstanding between their 
principals. 1 must, however, write to Lord Shclburne, 
proposing something in consequence of his offer of vesting 
]Mr Oswald with any commission, which that gentleman 
and I should think proper. 

Tuesday, the ISth. 1 found myself much indisposed 
with a sudden and violent cold, attended with a fcvcrish- 
ness and hcadach. I imagined it to be an eflect of the 
influenza, a disorder now reigning in various parts of Eu- 
rope. This prevented my going to Versailles. 

Thursday, the 20th. Weather excessively hot, and my 
disorder continues, but is lessened, the headach having 
left me. I am, however, not yet able to go to Versailles. 

Friday, the 21s?. I received the following note from 
the INIarquis de Lafayette. 


Versailles, Thursday morning, June 20th, J782. 

'Oly dear Sir, 
"Agreeably to your desire, I have wailed upon the 
Count de V^ergennes, and said to him what I had in com- 
mand from your Excellency. He intends taking the 
King's orrlers this morning, and expects he will be able to 
propose to ^Iv Grenville a meeting for tomoriow, when he 
will have lime to explain himself respecting France and 

472 BExNJAMiN FRANKLIN. [Journal. 

her allies, that he may make an official communication 
both to the King and tlie allied Ministers. What Count 
de Vergennes can make out of this conversation will be 
communicated by him to your Excellency, in case you are 
able to come. In the other case I shall wait upon you to- 
morrow evening with every information I can collect. I 
have the honor to be, very respectfully, &c. 


In the evening the ^Marquis called upon me, and ac- 
quainted me, that Mr Grenville had been with Count de 
Vergennes, but could not inform me what had passed. 

Saturday, the 22d. I\lessrs Oswald and Whiteford 
came and breakfasted with me. i\Ir Oswald had received 
no letters or instructions. I told him I would write to 
Lord Shelburne respecting him, and call on him on Mon- 
day morning to breakfast, and . show him what I proposed 
to write, that it might receive such alterations as he should 
judge proper. 

Sunday, the 23d. In the afternoon Mr Jay arrived, to 
my great satisfaction. I proposed going with him the next 
morning to Versailles, and presenting him to M. de Ver- 
gennes. He informed me, that the Spanish Ministers had 
been much struck with the news from England, respecting- 
the resolutions of Parliament to discontinue the war in 
America, &cc. and that they had since been extremely civil 
to him, and he understood intended to send instructions to 
their Ambassador at this Court, to make the long talked of 
treaty with him here. 

Monday, the 24th. Wrote a note of excuse to Mr Os- 
wald, promising to see him on Wednesday, and went with 
Mr Jay to Versailles. Count de Vergennes acquainted us. 


that he had given to ^Ir Grenville the answer to his pro- 
positions, who had imnjediately despatched it to his Court. 
He read it to iis, and 1 shall endeavor to obtain a copy of 
it. Count de Vergennes informing us, that a frigate was 
about to he despatched for America, by which we might 
wriie, and tiiat the courier who was to carry down tlje 
despatches would set out on Wednesday morning, we 
concluded to omit coming to Court on Tuesday, in order 
to prepare our letters. Count de V'ergennes ap|)eared to 
have some doubts about the sincerity of the British Court, 
and the boti foi of Mr Grenville, hut said the return of 
Mr Grenville's courier might give light. I wrote the 
following letters to Mr Secretary Livingston, and Mr 

Wednesday, the 20th. I sent awny my Iclte'-s, and 
went to see Mr Oswald. 1 showed hi:n the draft of a 
letter to be addressed to him instead of Lord Shelburne, 
respecting the commis^on, or public character he might 
liereafier be vested with; this draft was founded on Lf)rd 
Shelbtirne's memorandums, which Mr Oswald had shown 
to me, and this letter was intended to be communicated by 
him to Lord Shelburne. Mr Oswald liked the mode, but 
rather chose that no mention should be made of his having 
shown me Lord Shelburne's inemorandums, though he 
tho!i2:bt they were given to him for that purpose. So I 
struck that part out, and new modelled the letter, which I 
sent him the next day, as follows. 

• See ilie letter to Mr Livingston, p. 363; the letter to Mr Morrii 
is missing. 

VOL. III. 60 



i Passy, June 27lh, 1732. 

"The opinion I have of your candor, probity, and good 
understanding, and good will to both countries, made me 
hope you would have been vested with the character of 
Plenipotentiary to treat with those from America. When 
Mr Grenville produced his first commission, which was 
only to treat with France, I did imagine that the other to 
treat with us was reserved for you, and kept only till the 
Enabling Bill should be passed. Mr Grenville has since 
received a second commission, which, as he informs me, 
has additional words, empowering hirn to treat with the 
Ministers of any other Prince or State whom it may 
concern, and he seems to understand that those general 
words comprehend the United Stales of America. There 
may be no doubt that they may comprehend Spain and 
Holland, but as there exist various public acts, by which 
the government of Britain denies us to be States, and none 
in which they acknowledge us to be such, it seems hardly 
clear that we could be intended at the time the com- 
mission was given, the Enabling Act not being then passed. 
So that though I ran have no objection to Mr Grenville, 
nor right to make it if I had any, yet as your long resi- 
dence in America has given you a knowledge of that 
country, its people, circumstances, commerce, he. which, 
added to your experience in business, may be useful to 
both sides in facilitating and expediting the negotiation, I 
cannot but hope that it is still intended to vest you with the 
character abovementioned, respecting the treaty with Amer- 
ica, either separately or in conjunction with Mr Grenville, 


as to the wisdom of your Ministers niny seem best. Be it 
as it may, I beg you would accept this line as a tesiiiiiuny 
of the sincere esteem and respect with which, k.c. 


Friday, June 2Sth. M. de Rnyneval called upon me, 
and acquainted me that the ^linisiers had received inlelli- 
gence from England, that besides the orders given to 
General Carleton to propose terms of reunion to America, 
artful emissaries were sent over, to go through the country 
and stir up the people to call on the Congress to accept 
those terms, they being ;iin)ilar to those settling wiih Ire- 
land ; that it would, therefore, be well for IMr Jay and me 
to write and caution Congress against these practices. He 
said Count de Vergennes wished also to know what I had 
written respecting the negotiation, as it would be well foi 
us to hold pretty near the same language. I told him that 
] did not apprehend the least danger, that such emissaries 
would meet with any success, or that the Congress would 
make any treaty with General Carleton. That I would, 
however, write as he desired ; and Mr Jay coming in, 
promised the same. He said the courier would go tomor- 
row. I accordingly wrote the following letter to Mr Se- 
cretary Livingston.* 

M. de Rayneval, who is Secretary 10 the Council of 
State, called again in tiie evening. I gave him copies of 
the three preceding letters 10 peruse and show to Count de 
Vergennes, to convince him that we held no underhand 
dealings liere. I own I had, at the same time, another view 
in it, which was, that they should see I had been ordered 
to demand further aids, and had forborne to make the de- 

• See above, p. 373. 



mands, wlih my reasons, hoping that if they could possibly 
help us to more money, they might be induced to do it. 

1 had never made any visit to Count d'Aranda, the 
Spanish Ambassador, for reasons before mentioned. M. 
de Rayneva! told Mr Jay and me this morning, that it 
wo'u'd be well for us to wait on him, and he had au- 
thority to assure us, we should be well received. We 
accordingly concluded to wait on his Excellency the next 

Saturday, June 29th. Wc went together to the Sj)an- 
ish Ambassador's, who received us with great civility and 
politeness. He spoke with Mr Jay on the subject of the 
treaty they were to make together, and mentioned in 
general, as a principle, that the two powers should con- 
sider each other's conveniency, and accommodate and 
compensate each other as well as they could. That an 
exact compensation might, perhaps, not be possible, but 
should be approached as nearly as the nature of things 
would admit. Thus, says he, if there is a certain thing 
which would be convenient to each of us, but more con- 
venient to one than to the other, it should be given to the 
one to whom it would be most convenient, and conipensa- 
tion made by giving another thing to the other, for the 
same reason. I suppose he had in view something relating 
to boundaries or territories, because, he added, we will sit 
down together with maps in our hands, and, by that means, 
shall see our way more clearly. I learnt from him, that 
the expedition against Providence had sailed, but no ad- 
vice was yet received (^f its success. On our going out, 
he took pains himself to open the folding doors for us, 
which is a high compliment here ; and told us he would 
return our visit, {rendre son devoir) and then fix a day 


with us for ilining ^villl him. I dined with 'Mv Jay and a 
coinpnnv of Americans at his lodgings. 

Sunday, July 1st. Mr Gienville called on me.* 



Passv, J.ilv 2d, 17S2. 


I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to 
me from Lyons the 24th past. 

I wonder a little at Mr not acquainting you whe- 
ther your name was In ihe coinmission or not. J begin to 
suspect, from various circumstances, that the British Min- 
istry, elated perhaps too much hy the success of Admiral 
Rodney, are not in earnest to treat immedinlely, but rather 
\vi!?li delay. They seem to hope ibal further successes 
may enable tiiem to treat more advantageously ; or, as 
some suppose, that certain jiropositions to be made to Con- 
gress by General Carleton, may render a treaty here with 
us unnecessary. A little bad news, which it is possible 
they may yet receive from the same quarter, will contrib- 
ute to set them right ; and then we may enter seriously 
upon the treaty ; otherwise I conjecture it may not take 
place till after another campaign. I\h' Jay is arrived here. 
Mr Grenville and Mr Oswald continue here. Mr Oswald 
has yet received no commission ; and that of Mr Grenville 

• Dr Franlilin's Journal closes here. His ill sintc of iicalili secmg 
to have been the cause of his disconiinuing it. The nairative of the 
negotiaiion is kept up, however, in the letters of Dr Franklin, Mr Jay, 
Mr Adams, and Mr Laurens. 


does not very clearly comprehend us according to British 
ideas; therefore it requires explication. When I know 
more, you shall have further information. 

Not having an immediate answer to what I wrote you, 
concerning the absolution of Lord Cornwallis's parole, and 
Major Ross coming over hither from him to press it, I 
gave him ihe discharge you desired. Enclosed I send 
you a copy. I hear it has proved satisfactory to him; I 
hope it will be so to you. 

Believe me to be, with great esteem, he. 



Philadelphia, July 5th, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
I have the honor to transmit to you a letter from the 
United States in Congress to his Most Christian Majesty, 
together with a copy for your perusal. I also enclose a 
resolution of Congress on the subject of IMr Lee's demands, 
which you will see carried into effect. 

Nothing of moment has occurred since I last wrote you. 
It is very long since we have heard from Europe. We 
wail for your despatches with some degree of impatience. 
I hope they will be sufficiently particular to answer our 

I have the honor to be, Sir, 




Paris, Jiilv 9lh, 1782. 

I liavo the honor to inform you, my dear Sir, llint Mr 
Urcnville's express is arrived tliis morning, by way of Os- 
tend. The gentleman is gone to Versailles. 1 fancy he 
^vill wait upon you, and I will be nmcli obliged to you to let 
me know what your opinion is. I am going to Saint Ger- 
main, but if any intelligence comes to hand, 1 will com- 
municate it as soon as possible. 

1 rest respectfully and afTectionately yours, 



Passy, Ju!y 9t!), 1782. 

Dear Sir, 

Mr Grenville has been with me in liis return from V^er- 
sallles. He tells me that Lord Rockingham being dead, 
Lord Shelburne is appointed First Lord of the Treasury, 
and that Mr Fox has resigned ; so that both the secreta- 
ryships are vacant. Tiiat his communication to Count de 
Vergennes was only, that no change was thereby made 
in the dispositions of that Court for peace, he. and he ex- 
pects another courier with fuller instructions in a few days. 
As soon as I hear more I shall acquaint you with it. 

1 am ever, with great respect and affection, your most 
obedicDt Ijumble servant, 




Passy, July lOtb, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 

I received your favor of the 26lh past by Mr Young, 
and am indebted to you for some preceding. I do not 
know why the good work of peace goes on so slowly on 
your side. Some have imagined that your Ministers, 
since Rodne3''s success, are desirous of trying fortune a 
little further before they conclude the war ; others, that 
they have not a good understanding with eacli other. 
What I have just heard seems to countenance this opin- 
ion. It is said Mr Fox has resigned. We are ready here, 
on the part of America, to enter into treaty with }ou in 
concurrr'nce wiiii our allies, and are disposed to be very 
reasonable ; but if your plenipottniiary, notwithstanding 
that character, is upon every proposition obliged to send a 
courier and wait an answer, v;e shall not soon see the hap- 
py conclusion. It has been suspected, too, that you wait 
to hear the effect of some overtures, sent by General 
Carleton for a separate peace in America. A vessel just 
arrived from Maryland brin^rs us the unanimous resolutions 
of their Assembly, for continuing the war at all hazards, 
rather than violate their faith with Franco. This is a sam- 
ple of the success to be expected fron) such a measure, if 
it has really been taken, which 1 hardly believe. 

There is methinks a point that has been too little consid- 
ered in treaties, the rneans of making them durable. An 
honest peasant, from the mountains^ of Provence, brought 
me the other day a manuscript he had written on the sub- 
ject, and which lie could not piocure permission to print. 
It appeared to me to have much good sense in it ; and 


therefore I got some copies to be struck off for him to dis- 
tribute where he may think fit. I send you one enclosed. 
This man aims at no profit from his pamphlet or his project, 
asks for nothing, expects nothing, and does not even desire 
to be known. He has acquired, he tells me, a fortune of 
near one hundred and fifty crowns a year, (about eighteen 
pounds sterling) with which he is content. This you may 
imagine would not afford the expense of riding to Paris, so 
he came on foot ; such was his zeal for peace, and the 
hope of forwarding and securing it, by communicating his 
ideas to great men here. His rustic and poor appearance 
has prevented his access to them, or his obtaining their at- 
tention ; but he does not seem yet to be discouraged. I 
honor much the character of this veritable philosophe. 

I thank you much for your letters of May the 1st, 13th, 
and 25th, with your proposed preliminaries. It is a pleas- 
ure to me to find our sentiments so concurring on points of 
importance ; it makes discussions as unnecessary as they 
might between us be inconvenient. 

I am, my dear Sir, with great esteem and affection, 
yours ever. 



Passv, Julv lOih, 1782. 

By the original law of notions, war and extirpation were 
the punishnient of injury. Humanizing by degrees, it ad- 
mitted slavery instead of dealJ!. A further step was, the 
exchange of prisoners instead of slavery. . Another, to 
respect more the property of private persons under con- 

VOL. III. 61 


qnest, and to be content with acquired dominion. Why 
should not tlie law of nations go on improving? Ages 
have intervened between its several steps, but as know- 
ledge of late increases rapidly, why should not those steps 
be quickened ? Why should it not be agreed to as the fu- 
ture law of nations, that in any war hereafter the following 
descriptions of men should be undisturbed, have the pro- 
tection of both sides, and be permitted to follov/ their em- 
ployments in surety, viz. 

1. Cultivators of the earth, because they labor for the 
subsistence of mankind. 

2. Fishermen, for the same reason. 

3. Merchants and traders, in unarmed ships, who ac- 
commodate different nations by communicating and ex- 
changing the necessaries and conveniences of lile. 

4. Artists and mechanics, inhabiting and working in 
open towns. 

It is hardly necessary to add, that the hospitals of ene- 
mies should not be molested ; they ought to be assisted. 

In short, I would have nobody fought with, but those 
who are paid for fighting. If obliged to take corn from 
the farmer, friend or enemy, I would pay hirn for it ; the 
same for the fish or goods of the others. 

This once established, that encouragement to war, which 
arises from a spirit of rapine, would be taken away, and 
peace therefore more likely to continue and be lasting. 




Passy, July llth, 17S2. 

Dear Sir, 

In mine of yesterday, wliich went by Mr Young, I made 
no mention of yours of ]May llth, it not being before me. 
1 have just found it. 

You speak of a "proposed dependent State of America, 
which you thought Mv Oswald would begin with." As 
yet I have heard nothing of it. I have all along under- 
stood (perhaps 1 have understood more than was intended) 
that the point of dependence was given up, and that we 
are to be treated with as a free people. I am not sure 
that Mr Oswald has explicitly said so, but I know that Mr 
Grenville has, and that he was to make that declaration 
previous to the commencement of the treaty. It is now 
intimated to me from several quarters, that Lord Shel- 
burne's plan is to retain the sovereignty for the King, giv- 
ing us otherwise an independent Parliament, and a gov- 
ernment similar to that of late intended for Ireland. If this 
be really his project, our negotiation for peace will not go 
very far. The thing is impracticable and impossible, be- 
ing inconsistent with the failh we iiave pledged, to say 
nothing of the general disposition of our people. Upon 
the whole I should believe, that though Lord Shelburne 
might formerly have entertained such an idea, he had pro- 
bably dropped it before he sent Mr Oswald here ; your 
words above cited do iiowever throw a little doubt in my 
mind, and have, with the intimations of others, made me 
less free in communication with his Lordship, whom I 
much esteem and honor, than I should otherwise have 
been. I wish, therefore, you would afford me what you 
can of eclaircissement- 


This letter gomg l)y a courier, will i)robaIjly get to hnnd 
long before the one preceding in date, which went by Mr 
Young, who travels on foot. I therefore enclose the copy 
of it, which was taken in the press. You may return it to 
me when the other arrives. 

By the return of the courier, you may oblige me, by 
communicating what is fairly communicable, of the history 
of Mr Fox's and Lord J. Cavendish's resignation, with 
any other changes made or likely to be made. 

With sincere esteem, I am ever, my dear friend, yours 
most afiectionately, 



Passy, Julj 12th, 1782. 

I enclose a letter for Lord Shelburne, to go by your 
courier, with some others, of which I request his care. 
They may be put into the penny post. I have received a 
note informing me, that "some opposition given by his 
Lordship to Mr Fox's decided plan of unequivocally ac- 
knowledging American independence, was one cause of 
that gentleman's resignation ;" this, from what you have 
told me, appears improbable. It is further said, "that Mr 
Grenville thinks Mr Fox's resignation will be fatal to the 
present negotiation." This perhaps is as groundless as the 
former. Mr Grenville's next courier will probably clear 
up matters. I did understand from him, that such an ac- 
knowledgment was intended previous to the commence- 
ment of the treaty ; until it is made, and the treaty for- 
mally begun, propositions and discussions seem in consid- 
eration to be untimely ; nor can I enter into particulars 


without Mr Jay, wlio is now ill with the intluenza. My 
letter, therefore, to his Lordship is merely compliinen- 
lary on his late appointment. I wish a continuance of 
your health, in that at present sickly city, beinjj with sin- 
cere esteem, Sir, your most obedient and most humble 



P. S. I send you enclosed the late resolutions of the 
State of Maryland, by which the general disposition of peo- 
ple in America may be guessed, respecting any treaty to 
be proposed by General Carleton, if intended, which I do 
not believe. 


Passr, July 12th, 1782. 

My Lord, 

Mr Oswald informing me, that he is about to despatch 
a courier, I embrace the opportunity of congratulating your 
Lordship on your appointment to the treasury. It is an 
extension of your power to do good, and in that view, if 
in no other, it must increase your happiness, which I 
heartily wish. 

Being with great and sincere respect, my Lord, your 
Lordship's most obedient and most himible servant, 



Passy, July 24tli, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
In answer to your questions, Mr Oswald is doing noth- 
ing, having neither powers nor instructions ; and being 


tired of doing nothing, has despatched a courier request- 
ing leave to return. He has,- 1 believe, received no letters, 
since I saw you, from Lord Shelburne. Mr Grenville's 
return hither is, 1 think, doubtful, as he was particularly 
connected in friendship with Mr Fox, but if he stays, I 
suppose some other will be sent, for I do not yet see suffi- 
cient reason to think they would abandon the negotiation, 
though, from some appearances, I imagine they are more 
intent upon dividing us, than upon making a general peace. 
I liave heard nothing further from Mr Laurens, nor re- 
ceived any paper from him respecting Lord Cornwallis. 
And since that General's letter, written after the battle of 
Camden, and ordering not only the confiscation of rebels' 
estates, but the hanging of prisoners, has been made public, 
I should not wonder if the Congress were to disallow our 
absolution of his parole, and recall him to America. 

With everlasting esteem and respect, I am. dear Sir, 
yours most affectionately, 



London, July 26lh, 17S2. 

My Dear Friend, 
You will have heard before you receive this, that Mr 
Thomas Townshend is appointed Secretary of State for 
that department to which the American correspondence 
belongs. He is, and has been for many years, one of my 
inost intimate friends. A more honorable and honest 
man does not exist. I have been requested, in connexion 
vvitii him, to undertake one branch of his office relating to 
America, as instrumental to some necessary arrangements 
in the course of a negotiation for peace with America. 


The point which I have been requested to undertake is 
the case, or rather the diversity of cases, of the American 
refugees. 1 understand, that in the progress of this busi- 
ness, I shall be referred to a correspondence with you, as 
matter may arise. My purpose, therefore, for the present, 
is only to advertise you of this, in case you should have 
any preliminary matter to give or receive elucidation upon. 
I am very ready to undertake any matter, which inay be 
necessary or instrumental towards peace, especially in con- 
nexion with my worthy friend Mr Townshend. 

You know all my principles upon American pacification, 
and siveet reconciliation. I shall always remain in the 
same. But the delegation of a single point to me, such 
as the case of the refugees, does not entitle me to advise 
upon the great outlines or principles of such pacific nego- 
tiations. I shall retain my full reservation in such points 
as events may justify. My personal motive for saying 
this to you is obvious. But, in point of justice to those 
who have at present the direction of public measures in 
this country, I must request that this caution of mine may 
be accepted only as personal to myself, and not bs in- 
ferential upon the conduct of others, where I am not a 
party. Having taken a zealous part in the principles and 
negotiations of peace, I wish to stand clear from any 
collateral constructions, which might affect myself, and at 
the same time not to impose any collateral or inferen- 
tial constructions upon others. 

God prosper the work of peace and good ivill (as the 
means of peace) among men. 

I am ever your affectionate friend, 




Whitehall, July 26th, 1782. 


As ihe first object of my wishes is to contribute to the 
establishment of an honorable and lasting peace, I address 
myself to you without ceremony, upon the conviction that 
you agree with me in this principle. If I was not con- 
vinced that it was also the real system of the Ministers of 
this country, 1 should not now be co-operating with them. 
The step they liad already taken, in sending Mr Grenville 
to Paris, is a proof of their intentions, and as that gentle- 
man does not return to his station there, I trust that the 
immediate appointment o( a person to succeed him, will 
testify my agreement to the principles upon which he was 
employed. I therefore beg leave to recommend Mr Fitz- 
herbert to your acquaintance, who has the King's com- 
mands to repair to Paris. 

As I have not the advantage of being known to you, I 
can claim no pretence for my application to you, but my 
public situation, and my desire to merit your confidence 
upon a subject of so much importance, as a pacification 
between the parties engaged in a calamitous war. 

[ have the honor to be, with great regard, Sir, your 

most obedient humble servant, 



Shelburne House, July 27th, 1782. 

I am much obliged by the honor of your letter of the 
12th instant. You do me most acceptable justice, in sup- 


posing my happiness intimately connected with that of 
mankind, and I can with truth assure you it will give me 
great satisfaction, in every situation, to merit the continu- 
ance of your good opinion. 

I have the honor to be, with very sincere regard and 
esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble 




Passv. Julv 2Sth, 1782. 


I have but this moment had an opportunity, by the de- 
parture of my company, of perusing the letters you put 
into my hands this afternoon, and I return them directly 
without waiting till our interview tomorrow morning, be- 
cause I would not give a moment's delay to the delivery 
of those directed to other persons. 

The situation of Captain Asgill and his family afflicts 
me, but I do not see what can be done by any one here to 
relieve them. It cannot be supposed, that General Wash- 
ington has the least desire of taking the life of that gen- 
tleman. His aim is to obtain the punishment of a delib- 
erate murder, committed on a prisoner in cold blood, by 
Captain Lippincott. If the English refuse to deliver up 
or punish this murderer, it is saying, that they choose to 
preserve him rather than Captain Asgill. It seems to me, 
therefore, that the application should be made to the 
English Ministers for positive orders, directing General 
Carlelon to deliver up Lippincott, which orders being ob- 
tained, should be despatched inimediately by a swift sail- 
voL. III. 62 


ing vessel. I do not think any other means can produce 
the effect desired. The cruel murders of this kind, com- 
mitted by the English on our people, since the commence- 
ment of the war, are innumerable. The Congress and 
their Generals, to satisfy the people, have often threatened 
retaliation, but have always hitherto forborne to execute it; 
and they have been often insultingly told by their enemies, 
that this forbearance did not proceed from humanity, but 
fear. General Greene, though he solemnly and publicly 
promised it in a proclamation, never made any retaliation 
for the murder of Colonel Haynes, and many others in 
Carolina, and the people, who now think if he had fulfilled 
his pron:iise this crime would not have been committed, 
clamor so loudly, that I doubt General Washington cannot 
well refuse what appears to them so just and necessary for 
their common security. I am persuaded that nothing I 
could say to him on the occasion would have the least 
effect in changing his determination. 

Excuse me, then, if I presume to advise the despatch- 
ing a courier immediately to London, proposing to the 
consideration of Ministers the sending such orders to Gen- 
eral Carleton directly. They would have an excellent 
effect in other views. The post goes tomorrow morning 
at ten o'clock, but as nine days have been spent in bringing 
the letters here by that conveyance, an express is pre- 

With sincere esteem, 1 have the honor to be, &;c. 




Tassy, August 8th, 1782. 
Yesterday INIr Oswald communicated to Mr Jay and 
me a paper he had just received from his Court, being a 
copy of the King's order to the Attorney or Solicitor-Gen- 
eral, to prepare a commission to pass the great seal, ap- 
pointing him to treat with us, &:c. and he showed us a letter 
from Mr Secretary Townshend, which expresses his con- 
cern, that the commission itself could not be sent by this 
courier, the officers who were to expedite it being in the 
country, which would occasion a delay of eight or ten 
days ; but that its being then sent might be depended on, 
and it was hoped the treaty might, in the mean time, be 
proceeded on. Mr Oswald left with me a copy of the 
paper, which I enclose for your Excellency's consideration, 
and am, with great respect, Sir, your Excellency's, k.c. 




Vers.iilles, August Sth, 1782. 

I have received, Sir, the letter of this day, with which 
you have honored me, and the copy of the power, which 
Mr Oswald has communicated to you. The form in which 
it appears is not that which is usual on similar occasions, 
but it has not prevented me from forming my opinion in the 
first instance. I have bestowed the greatest attention on 
it, and if you will be so good as to favor cne with a visit on 


Saturday morning, I shall confer with you and Mr Jay, if 
it will be convenient for him to accompany you. 

I have the honor to be, most sincerely, Sir, your most 
humble servant, 



Philadelphia, August 9th, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 

Having written to Mr Jay, who I presume is v.'ith you, 
I do not think it necessary to repeat what I have men- 
tioned to him. We have not heard from you since 
March ; a very long period, considering the interesting 
events that have taken place between that time and this. 
Many vessels have arrived without bringing us a line from 
you. I am apprehensive that Mr Barclay docs not com- 
municate to you the frequent opportunities that offer of 
writing. I shall write to him upon the subject. 

Sir Guy Carleton and Admiral Digby have informed 
the General, that a negotiation for a general peace is now 
on foot, and that the King, his master, has agreed to yield 
the independence of America without making it condi- 
tional. 1 shall enclose a copy of his letter at large, which 
refers to another object ; the exchange of prisoners. This 
great point once yielded, I see nothing that will obstruct 
your negotiations, except three points of discussion, which 
I have before written to you about. I wish it had been 
possible to obtain the estimates I mention, as they might 
have been rendered useful to you upon one of them. But 
the negligence of the Governors, or Legislatures of the 
several Slates, have rendered all my endeavors hitherto 
unsuccessful, notwithstanding repeated promises to give 


this subject their eailiest attention. The restoration of con- 
fiscated property has become utterly impossible, and the 
attempt would throw the country into the utmost confusion. 
The fisheries are too important an object for you to lose 
si^ht of, and as to the back lands, I do not conceive that 
England can seriously expect to derive any benefit from 
tiiem, that will be equivalent to the jealousy that the pos- 
session of them would awaken and keep alive between her 
and this country. I transmit to you a bill for seventyone 
thousand three hundred and eighty livres, being the amount 
of one quarter's salary to yourself, and Messrs Jay, Adams, 
Carmichael, Dana, and Dumas. No provision is made 
for the private Secretaries or contingencies, not having 
been furnished with an account of them. I also send bills 
for the first quarter, commencing in January, so that you 
will, on the receipt of this, be enabled to pay one half 
year's salary to our Ministers and their Secretaries. 

I just now learn, that Carleton has published his and 
Digby's letter to the General. Tiie design of this 
must either be, to see whether the people of tbis country 
will catch so eagerly at the proposition for a peace, which 
yields them their independence, as to be careless about 
the alliance, or to impress us with an idea, that we are 
more indebted for our freedom to the generosity of Great 
Britain,- than to the attention of France to our interests in 
the general treaty. It is not to be doubted, that the good 
sense and the gratitude of this country will defeat both 
tliese objects. 

I have the honor to be, he. 


P. S. If Mr Jay should not be at Paris, I must beg 
you to open and decipher for him the letter of this month, 


and the resolution contained therein, marked on the back, 
below the seal, August, and send it to him by the earliest 


Passy, August 12th, 1782. 


I have lately been honored with your several letters. 
No. 10, March 9th; No. 11, May 22d ; and No. 12, 
May 30th. 

The paper, containing a state of the commerce in North 
America, and explaining the necessity and utility of con- 
voys for its protection, I have laid before the Minister, ac- 
companied by a letter, pressing that it be taken into imme- 
diate consideration ; and 1 hope it may be attended with 

The order of Congress, for liquidating the accounts be- 
tween this Court and the United States, was executed 
before it arrived. All the accounts against us for money 
lent, and stores, arms, ammunition, clothing, &;c. furn- 
ished by government, were brought in and examined, and 
a balance received, which made the debt amount to the 
even sum of eighteen millions, exclusive of the Holland 
loan, for which the King is guarantee. I send a copy of 
the instrument to Mr Morris. In reading it, you will dis- 
cover several fresh marks of the King's goodness towards 
us, amounting to the value of near two millions. These, 
added to the free gifts before made to us at different times, 
form an object of at least twelve millions, for which no re- 
turns but that of gratitude and friendship are expected. 
These, I hope, may be everlasting. The constant good 
understanding between France and the Swiss Cantons, 


and the steady benevolence of tliis Crown towards them, 
afford us a well grounded hope that our alliance may be as 
durable and as happy lor both nations ; there being strong 
reasons for our union, and no crossing interests between 
us. I write fully to JMr iNIorris on money afiairs, who will 
doubtless communicate to you ray letter, so that 1 need 
say the less to you on that subject. 

The letter to the King was well received ; the accounts 
of your rejoicings on the news of the dauphin's birth give 
pleasure here ; as do the firm conduct of Congress, in re- 
fusing to treat with General Carleton, and the unanimous 
resolutions of the assemblies of different States on the 
same subject. All ranks of this nation appear to be in good 
humor with us, and our reputation rises tliroughout Eu- 
rope. 1 understand from the Swedish Ambassador, that 
their treaty with us will go on as soon as ours with Holland 
is finished ; our treaty with France, with such improve- 
ments as that with Holland may suggest, being intended as 
the basis. 

There have been various misunderstandings and n:is- 
nianagements among the parties concerned in the expe- 
dition of the Bon Homme Richard, which have occasioned 
delay in dividing the prize money. JVJ. de Chaumont, 
who was chosen by the captains of all the vessels in the 
expedition as their agent, has long been in a state little 
short of bankruptcy, and some of the delays have possi- 
bly been occasioned by the distress of his affairs. He 
now Informs me, that the money is in the hands of the 
Minister of the Marine. I shall in a few days present 
the Memorial you propose, with one relating to tiie pris- 
oners, and will acquaint you with the answer. Mr I^arclay 
is still in Holland ; when he returns he may take into his 
hands wfiat monev can be obtained on that account. 


I think your observations respecting the Danish com- 
plaints through the Minister of France perfectly just. I 
will receive no more of them by that channel, and will give 
your reasons to justify my refusal. 

Your approbation of my idea of a medal to perpetuate 
the memory of York and Saratoga victories gives me great 
pleasure, and encourages me to have it struck. I wish 
you would acquaint me with what kind of a monument at 
York the emblems required are to be fixed on ; whethei 
an obelisk or a column ; its dimensions ; whether any 
part of it is to be marble, and the emblems carved on it, 
and whether the work is to be executed by the excellent 
artists in that way which Paris affords ; and if so, to what 
expense they are to be limited. This puts me in mind of 
a monument I got made here and sent to America, by 
order of Congress, five years since. I have heard of its 
arrival, and nothing more. It was admired here for its 
elegant antique simplicity of design, and the various beau- 
tiful marbles used in its composition. It was intended to 
be fixed against a wall in the State House of Philadel- 
phia. I know not why it has been so long neglected ; it 
would, methinks, be well to inquire after il, and get it put 
up somewhere. Directions for fixing it were sent with it. 
I enclose a print of it. The inscription in the engraving is 
not on the monument ; it was merely the fancy of the en- 
graver. There is a white plate of marble left smooth to 
receive such inscription as the Congress should think 

Our countrymen, who have been prisoners in England, 
are sent home, a few excepted, who were sick, and who 
will be forwarded as soon as recovered. This eases us of 
a very considerable charge. 


I communicated to the Marquis do LaHiyette the para- 
graph of your letter which related to him- He is still 
here, and as there seems not much likelihood of an active 
campaign in America, he is probably more useful where 
he is. His departure, however, though delayed, is not 
absolutely laid aside. 

The second changes in the IMinistry of England have 
occasioned, or have afforded, pretences for various delays 
in the negotiation for peace. IMr Grenville had two suc- 
cessive imperfect commissions. He was at length re- 
called, and ]Mr Filzherbert is now arrived to replace him, 
with a commission in due form to treat with France, 
Spain, and Holland. Mr Oswald, who is here, is in- 
formed by a letter from the new Secretary of State, that a 
commission, empowering him to treat with the Commis- 
sioners of Congress, will pass the seals, and be sent him in 
a few days ; till he arrives, this Court will not proceed 
in its own negotiation. I send the Enabling Act, as it is 
called. Mr Jay will acquaint you with what passes be- 
tween hitn and the Spanish Ambassador, respecting the 
proposed treaty with Spain. I will only mention, that niy 
conjecture of that Court's design to coop us up wiihin the 
Allegany mountains is now manifested. I hope Con- 
gress will insist on the Mississippi as the boundary, and 
the free navigation of the river from which they could 
entirely exclude us. 

An account of a terrible massacre of die Moravian In- 
dians has been put into my hands. I sent you the papers, 
that you may see how the fact is represented in Euroi)e. 
I hope measures will be taken to secure what is left o*f 
those unfortunate people. 

Mr Laurens is at Nantes, waiting for a passage with his 
VOL. IIL 03 


family to America. His state of health is unfortunately 
very bad. Perhaps the sea air may recover him, and 
restore him well to his country. I heartily wish it. He 
has suffered much by his confinement. 

Be pleased, Sir, to present my duty to the Congress, 
and assure them of my most faithful services. 

With great esteem, I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Passy, August 12th, 1782. 


I have received (many of them at the same time) your 
sundry letters of March the 23d, April Sth and 17th, May 
17th, 18th, two of the 23d and 29th. It would be a satis- 
faction to me, if you would likewise mention from time to 
time the dates of those you receive from me. 

Most of your letters press my obtaining more money 
for the present year. The late losses suffered in the West 
Indies, and the unforeseen necessary expenses the repa- 
ration there and here must occasion, render it more diffi- 
cult, and I am told, impossible; though the good disposition 
of the Court towards us continues perfect. All I can say 
on the head of money, more than I have said in preceding 
letters is, that I confide you will be careful not to bankrupt 
your banker by your drafts ; and I will do my utmost that 
those you draw shall be duly honored. 

The plan you intimate for discharging the bills in favor 
of Beaumarchais, though well imagined, was impracticable. 
I had accepted them, and he had discounted them, or 
paid iheni away, or divided them amongst his creditors. 


They were, therefore, in difterent hands, with whom I 
could not nianagt; the transactions proposed. Besides, I 
had paid tliem punctually when they became due, which 
was before the receipt of your letter on that subject. 
That he was furnished with his funds by the government 
here, is a supposition of which no foundation appears ; he 
says it was by a company he had formed ; and when he 
solicited me to give up a cargo in part of payment, he 
urged, with tears in his eyes, the distress himself and as- 
sociates were reduced to, by our delay of remittances. 
I am glad to see that it is intended^ to appoint a Com- 
missioner to settle all our public accounts in Europe. I 
hope he will have better success with i\I. Beaumarchais 
than I have had. He has often promised solemnly to 
render an account in two or three days. Years have 
since elapsed, and he has not yet done it. Indeed, I 
doubt whether his books have been so well kept as to 
make it possible. 

You direct me, in yours of May 17th, to pay over into 
the liands of Mr Grand, on your account, such monies be- 
longing to the United States as may be in Europe, distinct 
from those to be advanced for the current year. I wquld 
do it with pleasure if there were any such. Tliere may be, 
indeed, some in Holland, raised by the new loan, but that 
is not in my disposition, though I liave no doubt that iMr 
Adams will, on occasion, apply it in support of your credit. 
As to all the aids given by the crown, all the sums bor- 
rowed of it, and all the Dutch loans often millions, though 
the orders to receive have been given to nie, the payments 
from the Tresor Royal have all been made on my orders 
in favor of Mr Grand, and the money again paid away by 
him on my drafts for public services and expenses, as }ou 


will see by his accounts ; so that I never saw or touched a 
livre of it, except what I received from him in discharge of 
my salary, and some disbursements. He lias even re- 
ceived the whole six millions of the current year, 30 that I 
have nothing in any shape to pay over to him. On occa- 
sion of my lately desiring to know the state of our funds, 
that I might judge whether I could undertake to pay what 
you were directed to pay to Mr William Lee, by vote of 
Congress, as soon as the state of public finances would 
admit, Mr Grand wrote me a note, with a short sketch 
of their then supposed situation, which I enclose. You 
will probably have from him, as soon as possible, a more 
perfect account j but this will serve to show, that I could 
not prudently comply uitii your wish, of making that pay- 
ment to Mr Lee, and I have accordingly declined it ; the 
less unwillingly as he is enlided by die vote to interest. 

I send herewith the accounts of the supplies we have 
received in goods, which I promised in my last. 

The sum of their value is included in the setderaeat 
made with this Court, mentioned in a former letter. 
Herewith I also send a copy of the contract, winch has 
been long in hand, and but lately completed. The term 
of the first yearly payment we are to make was readily 
changed at my request, from the first to the third year 
after the peace ; the other marks of the King's bounty 
towards us will be seen in the instrument. The interest 
already due and forgiven amounts to more dian a million 
and a half. What might become due before the peace is 
uncertain. The charges of exchange, commissions, bro- 
kerage, he. of the Dutch loan, amount to more than five 
hundred thousand livres, which is also given, so that we 
have the whole sum net, and are to pay for it but four per 


cent. This liqnid;\lion of oui accounts with the Court 
was completed beluru the vote of Cona,ress directing it 
came to hand. Mv Grand examined^ all the particulars, 
and I have no doubt of ijs being approved. 

Mr Grand, to whom I have communicated your letter 
of April ITth, will soon write to you fully. We shall ob- 
serve the general rule you give respecting the 5ih, Gth, 
7lh, and Slh bills. The attention, care, and pains neces- 
sary to prevent, (by exact accounts of those accepted, and 
an examination of those offered,) impositions which are 
often a(iten)pted by presenting at a distant time, the 2d, 3d, 
iic. are much greater than I could have imagined. jNIuch 
has been saved by that attention, of which of late we keep 
an account ; but the hazard of loss by such attempts might 
be diminished, together with the trouble of examination, 
by making fewer small bills. 

Your conduct, activity, and address as a financier and 
provider lor the exigencies of the State, are much admired 
and praised here, their good consequences being so evident, 
particularly with regard to the rising credit of our country 
and the value of bills. No one but yourself can enjoy 
your growing reputation more than I do. 

Mr Grand has undertaken to pay any balance, that may 
be founfl due to Messrs le Couteulx out of the money in 
his hands. Applying for so small a sum as 5000 livres 
would be giving trouble for a trifle, as all applications lur 
money must be considered in Council. 

Mr Grand having already received the whole six mil- 
lions, either in money or accepted bills, pa3'able at different 
periods, I expect he will deliver up to me the bills for that 
sum, which you have drawn upon nie, the rather as they 
express value received by you. I never heard of any 


mention here of intended monthly payments, or that the 
money could not be obtained but by your drafts. I en- 
close a letter, by which the payment was ordered of the 
last three millions. 

1 observe what you mention of the order, that the Min- 
isters' salaries are to be hereafter paid in America. I 
hereby empower and desire you to receive and remit 
mine. I do not doubt your doing it regularly and timely ; 
for a Minister without money, I perceive, makes a ridicu- 
lous figure here, thougli secure from arrests. I have taken 
a quarter's advance of salary from the 4th of last month, 
supposing it not intended to muzzle immediately the mouth 
of the ox that treadeth out the corn. 
With great esteem, 1 am, &ic. 


P. S. Your boys are well, and JMr Ridley and Mr 
Barclay still in Holland. 


London, August 16th, 1782. 

T'ily Dear Friend, 
Yours 1 received by Major Young, together with the 
work of your veritable philosophe, which is full of human- 
ity. I uas not before that at a loss where I should have 
looked for my vtrltable 2'hilosophe, in the present actual 
scene of public politics. \oin' honest, anxious, and unre- 
mitted endeavors towards the re-establishment of peace, 
must endear you to your own country, and to all mankind. 
Whatever may have been transacted in America, (if it 
can be possible, that the suspicions whicli you mention 


should become true, viz. to tamper with Amprica lor a 
breach of faiili, of which some suspicions seem to be 
thrown out by the Provinces of Maryland and Piiiladel- 
phia,) I can give the strongest testimonies of tlie constant 
honor and good faith of your conduct and corresponden- 
cies ; and my letters to you will bear me equal testimony, 
that I have never thrown out any dishonorable sug'gestions 
to you. When the proposed Congress of your veritable 
philosophe shall meet, neither of us need fear its censures, 
upon the strictest examination of our correspondence. 
We will claim the poet's character of the sincere states- 

"Who knew no thought, but what the world migiif hear." 

In times of suspicion, it must be some satisfaction to both 
of us to know, that no line or word has ever passed be- 
tween us, but what the governments of Great Britain, 
France, and America, might freely peruse as the words of 
good faith, peace, and sweet reconciliation. 

The resolutions of Maryland and Philadelphia, together 
with the slow proceedings of our plenipotentiaries, and 
even the doubt suggested, whether tliey may not be wait- 
ing for events in America, give me much concern. Not 
being informed to a certainty of the state of the negotia- 
tion, I have declined any concern with the Ministry upon 
the subject of the refugees, &£c. My assistance cannot be 
indispensable upon that topic, but I deem it indispensable 
to myself not to be committed in unknown ground, wliich, 
from the points abovementioned, must appear dubious to 
me. These are the reasons which I gave to the Minister 
for declining. I must, at the same time, give him the jus- 
tice of the most absolute and unlimited professions of sin- 


eerily for peace. Wliatever divisions there may have 
l)een, as you say, suspected in the Cabinet, there are some 
of his colleagues still remaining, in whom I have the great- 
est confidence for sincerity and good intentions. The 
public prints of this country have stated what are called 
shades of dirlerence as to the mode. Those opinions, 
wiiich are imputed to Mr Fox, are certainly most suitable 
to my opinions. 1 am free to confess to you, that my 
wishes would have been to have taken the most decisive 
ground relating to independence, he. immediately from the 
27th of March last, viz. the accession of the change of 
^Ministry. But I agree with you in sentiment, viz. to con- 
cur with all the good that offers, when we cannot obtain all 
the good that we might wish. The situation of my senti- 
ments at present is, an unbiassed neutrality of expectation, 
as events may justify. 

I shall be obliged to you for the earliest communications 
of any public events in America, that may come to Europe 
with any public resolutions of Congress or the Provinces, 
•&c., and all memorials or negotiations, which may pass be- 
tween the parties in America. I am very anxious to have 
the earliest information to form my opinions upon, and to be 
prepared accordingly. My utmost endeavors will always 
he exerted to the blessed work of peace. 

I am ever, vour affectionate 




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