does not express some obligation to America for their
t( Before I received your just observations on the sub
ject, I had obtained from the English ministers a resolution
to exchange all our prisoners. They thought themselves
obliged to have an act of parliament 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 as for high treason. I em
powered Mr. Hodgson, who was chairman of the com
mittee that collected and dispensed the charitable sub
scription for the American prisoners, to treat and con
clude on terms of their discharge, and having approved of
the draft he sent me of the agreement, 1 hope the con
gress will see fit to order a punctual execution of it. I
have long suffered with those poor brave men, who with
so much public virtue have endured four or five years hard
imprisonment, rather than serve against their country. I
have done all 1 could afford towards making their situa
tions more comfortable ; but their number was so great,
that 1 could do but little for each ; and that very great
238 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART 111.
villain, Digges, defrauded them of between thrge and four
hundred pounds, which he drew from me on their account.
He lately wrote me a letter, in which he pretended he
was coming to settle 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. Be
ware of him, for he is very artfal, and has cheated many.
1 hear every day of new rogueries committed by him in
tc The ambassador from Sweden to this court applied
to me lately, to know if I had powers that would autho
rise 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 had charged him to tell me, that he had so great an
esteem for me, that it would be a particular satisfaction
to him to leave such a transaction with me. I have per
haps some vanity in repeating 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 thought 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 pleasure to him to think, and he hoped it
would be remembered, that Sweden was the first power
in Europe which had voluntarily offered its friendship to
the United States, without being solicited. This affair
should be talked of as little as possible, till completed "
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
To THE HON. ROBERT MORRIS.
P0s./, June<2,5, 1732.
" For what relates to war and peace, 1
must refer you to Mr. Livingston, to whom I write fully,
1 will only say, that though the English a few months since
seemed desirous of peace, I suspect they now intend to
draw out the negociation into length, till they can see
what this campaign will produce. I hope our people will
not be deceived by fair words, but be on their guard,
ready against every attempt that our insidious enemies
may make upon us. I am, &c."
Wednesday, 26th. I sent away my letters, and went to
see Mr. Oswald. I showed him the draft of a letter to
be addressed to him instead of Lord Shelburne, respecting
the commission or public character he might hereafter be
vested with ; this draft vvas founded on Lord S. s memo
randums, which Mr. Oswald had shown to me, and this
letter vvas 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 S/s memorandums, though he thought they were
given him for that purpose. So I struck that out, and
new modelled the letter, which I sent him next day, as
>r& Sftfjf ;bs^d*tj%^t -4d bki.f*W
SIR, Passy, June 27, 1782.
The opinion I have of your candour, pro
bity, good understanding, and good-will to both countries,
made me hope that you would have been vested with the
character of plenipotentiary to treat with those from
240 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART 111.
America. When Mr. Grenville produced his first com
mission, which was only to treat with Fiance, I did
imagine that the other to treat with us was reserved for
you, and kept back only till the enabling bill should be
passed. Mr. Grenville has since received a second com
mission, which, as he informs me, has additional words,
empowering him to treat with the ministers of any other
prince or stale, whom it may concern ; and he seems to
understand that these general words comprehend the
United States of America. There may be no doubt that
they 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 acknow
ledge us to be such, it hardly seems clear that we could
be intended, at the time that commission was given, the
enabling act not being then passed. So that though I
can- have no objection to Mr. Grenville, nor right to make
it if I had any, yet as your long residence in America has
given you a knowledge of that country, its people, cir
cumstances, commerce, &c. which, added to your expe
rience in business, may b useful to both sides in facili
tating and expediting the negociation, 1 cannot but hope
that it is still intended to vest you with the character
above-mentioned respecting the treaty with America, either
separately or in conjunction with Mr. Grenville, as to the
wisdom of your ministers may seem best. Be it how it
may, J beg you would accept this line as a testimony of
the sincere esteem and respect, with which I have the
honour to be, Sir, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
Friday, June 28. M. de Rayneval called upon me and
acquainted me, that the ministers had received intelligence
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 24!
from England, that besides the orders given to Genera)
Cailetou, to propose terms of re-union 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
teams, they being similar to those now settling with Ire
land. That it would therefore be well for Mr. Jay and
ni to write, and caution the congress against these prac
tices. He said M- de Vergennes wished also to know
what 1 had written respecting the negociation, as it would
be well for us to hold pretty near the same language. I
told him I did not apprehend the least danger that such
emissaries would meet with any success, or that the con
gress 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 to-morrow. I accordingly wrote to Mr. Secretary
Livingston, and to my friend Dr. Cooper, of which the
following are extracts*
*i . isauoa )KffJ lo snjb.-** wofai B uo*
, r To THE HON. ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
SIR, Passy, Jt/we 28, 1782.
In mine of the 25th instant I omitted men-
tioning, 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 dis
charged, 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 exchange, I sent to that General the
paper, of which the enclosed is a copy ; * and I see by
1 See page 221 of this volume.
VOL. II. Q
242 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PAKT HI.
the English papers, that his Lordship immediately on the
receipt of it, appeared at Court and has taken his seat in
the House of Peers, which he did not before think war
rantable. My authority for doing this appeared question
able to myself, but Mr. Laurens judged it deducible from
that respecting General Burgoyiie, 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
\ve know not what they are, the treaty with us is not yet
commenced. MivGreuville 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
ministry, which for some weeks past have appeared some
what equivocal and uncertain. 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 respect
ing the acknowledgment of our independence ; and we
have pretty good information that some of the ministry
still flatter the King with the hope of recovering his sove
reignty 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 that we can have no safety in them at
present. The King hales us most cordially. If he is
once admitted to any degree of power or government
amongst us, however limited, it will soon be extended by
corruption, artiiice, and force, till we are reduced to ab-
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 43
solute subjection ; and that the more easily, as by receiv
ing him again for our King, we shall draw upon ourselves
the contempt of all Europe, who now admire and respect
us, and shall never again find a friend to assist us. There
are, it is said, great divisions in the ministry on other
points as well as this ; and those who aim at engrossing
the power flatter the King with this project of re-union ;
and it is said have much reliance on the operation of pri
vate agents sent into America to dispose minds there in
favour of it, and to bring about a separate treaty there
with General Carleton. I have not the least apprehension
that congress will give into this scheme, it being inconsis
tent with our treaties as well as with our interest; but I
think it will be well to watch these 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 Holland, joined
with ours, not to treat of a particular but a general peace,
notwithstanding the separate tempting offers to each, will
in the end give us the command of that peace. Every
one of the other powers see clearly their interest in this,
and persist in that resolution : the congress, I am per
suaded, 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 Mr. 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, I have the honour to be, &c.
t>l 31S <V~
244 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART HI.
EXTRACT OF A LETTER TO DR. COOPER, BOSTON.
, ; c^orfT.
Passy, June 28, 1 782.
"Our public affairs are in a good situation
here. England having tried in vain to make a separate
peace with each of the powers she is at war with, has at
length agreed to treat for a general peace with them alto
gether ; and at Paris, if we all continue firm in the re
solution not to separate, we shall command the terms. I
have no doubt of this steadiness here ; and though we are
told that endeavours are making on your side the water to
induce America to a re-union on the terms now granting
to Ireland, and that powers are sent to General Carleton
for that purpose, I am persuaded the danger of this pro
ject will appear so evident, that if offered it will be imme
diately rejected. We have no safety but in our indepen
dence. With that we shall be respected, and soon become
great and happy. Without it we shall be despised, lose
all our friends, and then either be cruelly oppressed by
the King who hates and is incapable of forgiving us, or
having all that nation s enemies for ours, shall sink with it.
1 am ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
M. de Rayneval (who is Secretary to the Council of
State,) calling again in the evening, I gave him copies of
the preceding letters to peruse, and show to M. de Ver-
geunes ; to convince them that we held no underhand
dealings here. I own I had at the same time another view
hi it, which was that they should see I had been ordered
to demand farther aids, and had forborne to make the de-
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 24.0
mand, with my reasons ; hoping that if they possibly could
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 Rayneval told Mr. Jay and me this morning, that it
would be well for us to wait upon him, and he had autho
rity to assure us we should be well received. We accord
ingly concluded to wait on his Excellency next morning.
Saturday, June 29. We went together to the Spanish
ambassadors, \vho received us with the greatest civility and
politeness. He spoke with Mr. Jav on the subject of
the treaty they were to make together, and mentioned in.
general as a principle, that the two powers should consider
each other s conveniency, and accommodate and compen
sate 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, said he, if there is a certain thing which
would be convenient to each of us, but more convenient
to one than to the othe^ it should be given to the one to
whom it would be most convenient ; and compensation
be made by giving another thing to the other for the same
reason. I suppose he had is 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 learned from him that
the expedition against Providence had failed, but no advice
\va$ yet received of it. At our going out he took pains
himself to open the folding doors for us, which is a
high complimfent here, and told us he would return our
visit (rendre son devoir), and then fix a day ^Yith us for
246 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART III.
dining with him. 1. dined with Mr. Jay and a company
of Americans at his lodgings.
Sunday, July 1. Mr. Grenville called on me.
[This JOURNAL does not appear to have been further
n:>continued : but the NEGDCJATIONS will be found
completed by the authentic Correspondence and Do-
which follow, ]
To THE HON. HENRY LAURENS.
Siu, Passy, July Q f 1782.
I received the letter you did me the honour
of writing to me from Lyons the 24th past.
I .wonder a .little at Mr. *. * * not acquainting you
whether your name was in the commission or not. I be
gin to suspect from various circumstances that the British
ministry, elated perhaps too much by the success of Ad
miral Rodney, are not in earnest to treat immediately, but
rather wish delay. They eem to hope that farther suc
cesses may enable them to treat more advantageously ; or,
as some suppose, that certain propositions to be made to
congress by General Carleton, may render a treaty here
with us unnecessary. A little bad news, which it is pos
sible they may yet receive from the same quarter, will
contribute to set them right ; and then we may enter seri
ously upon the treaty ; otherwise 1 conjecture it may not
take place till after another campaign. Mr. Jay is arrived
here. >Mr. Grenville and Mr. Oswald continue here.
Mr. Oswald has yet received no commission ; and that of
Mr. Grenville does riot very clearly comprehend us,
according to British ideas ; therefore requires explica*
PART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. J47
tion. When 1 know more you shall have farther informa
Not having an immediate answer to what 1 wrote you
concerning the absolution of Lord Cornwallis s parole,
and Major Ross coining over hither from him to press it ;
I gave him the 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, 8cc. B. FRANKLIN.
FROM GOVERNOR POWNALL TO DR. FRANKLIN.
DEAR SIR, Richmond Hill, July 5, 1782.
I have, by rny friend Mr. Hobart, sent a
printed copy of the three memorials which I published on
the subject of America, one addressed to the sovereigns
of Europe, and two others addressed to the sovereign of
I hope you received my letter of May 13, 1782, for
warded by Mr. Bridgen.
As it is possible you may see Mr. Hobart, he can in
form you from me, as well as of his own knowledge, of
the steps we took upon the ground of your communica
tions to him and me. l< That there were persons autho
rized to. treat of peace, and that such persons were willing
to give to reasonable measures taken to that end, every
assistance in their power." He can inform you also en
the circumstances which attended those steps ; and of the
effect which they missed in the direct line, as of the effect
they actually have in an oblique one. As from the be
ginning of this matter of trying to bring on negociation
for peace, I considered him as joined with me in ^ur
248 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART III,
endeavours ; so I have given to him a memorandum
which I made on the course of this business. He will
communicate to you every thing which is not improper
for a man of honour to communicate to the minister of a
people at war with us : nor will he abstain from commu
nicating any thing which that minister, wishing peace to
our country, ought to be apprized of, respecting the effects
of his friendly offers. He will do every thing which a
man of honour ough> to do, and he will do nothing that a
man of honour ought not to do.
I have desired him to give a paper of queries, respect
ing modes and terms of settling in America, which people
of this old world, and of the old country may in future
be admitted to receive. I am, not only for my friends,
but personally interested to gain information on that head :
and as 1 wish that which will not deceive them or myself,
I apply to you.
May God send peace on earth. I hope among the
general blessings it will bring, it will restore me to the
communication and enjoyment of my old and long valued
friendship with you. May you live to see, and have
health to enjoy, the blessings which T hope it may please
God to make you the instrument of communicating to
mankind. I am, dear Sir, your friend and very humble
servant, T. POWNALL.
To THE HON. MR. HOBART.
When I published the memorials which I
had prepared for the King, January 1, 1782, I prefixed a
PAUT III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. 249
prefatory explanation of the publication, stating, as far as
was safe so to do, the state of the propositions of treaty,
and the circumstances attending the reception and final
refusal of them.
I could not think it proper to name the person with
whom I had corresponded, who was authorized to treat of
peace, and was willing to promote it, because I knew the
insidious falsehood of those who both hate and fear him,
would, when once his name was committed with the pub
lic, represent him in any light that might tend to diminish
and destroy the trust and confidence which he so de
servedly has from his employers. The memorials there
fore speak of persons in the plural, and the preface in its
communications to the public keeps close to that ex
I could not venture to tell the public, nor could I ven
ture to write to this person, the fact that he specifically
and personally was excepted to, in an opprobrious manner.
Because the same persons who are his enemies, having pro
scribed me, would have been glad of making such my com
munications an occasion of charging me with crimes, which,
notwithstanding they have been in constant watch, they have
never yet been able to do. For although I know they have
whispered such in the closet, they never have dared to
assert any such matter as fact in public. What I did, I
thought right in point of honour to ail concerned or in
terested, and I went as far as I dared venture to go in the
publications which 1 made.
As this exception to the integrity and good faith of my
correspondent, was made upon the very first overture
which I made by all the ministers, I made a point, in all
the memorials which I drew up for presentation (had the
250 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART 111*
offers been admissible,) of founding my offers on the in
tegrity and good faith of this person (p. 32), and in this
communication to the public of marking him (preface, p.
10), as a man of honour and good faith.
1 could not venture to communicate to my correspon
dent, much less to the public, those matters, which,
though not officially communicated to me, these my ene
mies would have represented as a betraying to the enemy
the secrets of government. But it is fit, if not absolutely
necessary, to make this memorandum of these things, that
the truth, when the proper time shall come, may be
known to all whom it doth concern ; and it is further fit
that this memorandum should be communicated to you
now, as the proposing of your services was included in
the offers made as a condition sine qua non.
Between the 6th of December, 1781, and the end of
January, 1782, during which time the ministry kept me in
suspense as to what resolution they would take, as to what
answer they would give ; or whether they would give me
any answer at all ; or whether they would deign to admit
me and my propositions to a hearing ; they dishonourably
towards me, and as I think towards my correspondent
also, profited of the fact communicated by me to them,
viz. " that there were persons authorized to treat of peace ;
and, that these persons were disposed to give such treaty
every assistance in their power :" and sent one person
(i have been told it was Mr. Oswald,) to Holland, a per
son, if not actually the same person, to Ghent, and a Mr.
Forth to Fiance, to try if they could not get upon the
same ground by other ways, and through other persons.
1 have been told and believe it, that they understood that
Mr. Adams was (disgusted with the Dutch government)
VART III. OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.
ready to accede to ours. Also that Mr. at Ghent
was already gained. This person they hurried off to
America ; and they gave instructions to General Carletou
to open the ground of treaty in America. In short they
tried any ground and every person except him who was
excepted to. And when they found that they could not
get in at any door in Europe, they affected to interpret this
disappointment into a fact, " That the American ministers
were either not empowered or not willing to treat ; that
the offer was now clearly a trap laid by a faithless and
When I first made my offer I was asked whether I
would go to Ghent or Holland, which I peremptorily re
fused. I was then asked why I would not, 1 said I knew,
nothing of the person in Holland, and as to the person at
Ghent, I would have no communications there. The
only person I would have communications with, was him
that I knew had powers, whom 1 knew to be, notwith
standing all provocations to the contrary, invariably con
sistent with his duty to his own country, a well-wisher and
friend to this, whom from experience I knew to be a mau
of honour and good faith, whom I could trust, and who
would trust me. This person and this line was rejected ;
I will not aggravate the colour of facts by saying how.
I was informed that during this period they were talking
with Mr. Laurens as a more practicable man, as one who
had by acknowledging himself amenable to the laws and
courts of this country, and by the act of giving bail had
by implication acknowledged (at least de facto}, ihe sove
reignty of Great Britain, and that the. ministers of the
States were criminals against this country. This gentle^
man therefore, and his surety Mr. Oswald, were fixed
252 PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE PART III.
upon as the persons through whom business might go.
What was the nature of the matters of business on which
they were communicated with, I do not know.