Adams Papers

To John Adams from Benjamin Franklin, 8 May 1782

From Benjamin Franklin

Passy, May 8. 1782


Mr Oswald, whom I mention’d in a former letter which I find you have received, is returned and brought me another Letter from Lord Shelburne of which the above is a Copy.1 It says Mr Oswald is instructed to communicate to me his Lordships Thoughts. He is however very sparing of such Communication. All I have got from him, is that “the Ministry have in Contemplation, the allowing Independence to America on Condition of Britains being put again into the State she was left in by the Peace of 1763” which I suppose means being put again in Possession of the Islands France has taken from her. This seems to me a Proposition of selling to us a Thing that is 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;2 Mr Oswald tells me that Mr Lawrens will soon be here also.3 Yours of the 2d Inst is just come to hand. I shall write you on this Affair hereafter by the Court Couriers, for I am certain your Letters to me are open’d at the Post-Office either here or in Holland, and I suppose mine to you are treated in the same manner. I inclose the Cover of your last that you may see the Seal.4

With great Respect, I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant.

B Franklin

When you write per Post please to put your Letter under Cover to Mr Grand.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dr Franklin. May 8. 1782.” Filmed at 28 April, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 356, because Lord Shelburne’s letter of 28 April (see note 1) was copied above Franklin’s letter of 8 May.

1Richard Oswald, a Scottish merchant, slave trader, and Henry Laurens’ friend and business associate, would serve as the principal British representative during the Anglo-American peace negotiations. He and Laurens traveled to the Continent in April, and while Laurens conferred with JA in the Netherlands, Oswald journeyed to Paris for talks with Franklin as Lord Shelburne’s representative in preliminary peace discussions, which Franklin described in his letter of 20 April to JA. Following his meeting with Franklin, Oswald returned to London to report to Shelburne but was back in Paris on 4 May, bringing with him Shelburne’s letter to Franklin of 28 April (DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, repr. edn., New York and London, 1959–1960; 22 vols. description ends ; vol. 12:412, 432–433). There, in addition to what Franklin says about the letter, Shelburne indicated that Charles James Fox’s representative would be arriving at Paris soon and that ships were being readied to transport American prisoners to America for exchange (Franklin, Papers description begins The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, William B. Willcox, Claude A. Lopez, Barbara B. Oberg, Ellen R. Cohn, and others, New Haven, Conn., 1959–?. description ends , 37:234–236).

2Franklin met Thomas Grenville, son of George Grenville, the author of the Stamp Act, later in the day when Richard Oswald brought him to Passy to pay his respects (Morris, Peacemakers description begins Richard B. Morris, The Peacemakers: The Great Powers and American Independence, New York, 1965. description ends , p. 271). For Franklin’s report on his dealings with Grenville, see his letter of 2 June, below.

3Laurens did not arrive in Paris until 28 Nov., just in time to sign the preliminary peace treaty on the 30th (Laurens, Papers description begins The Papers of Henry Laurens, ed. Philip M. Hamer, George C. Rogers Jr., David R. Chesnutt, C. James Taylor, and others, Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003; 16 vols. description ends , 16:xlv).

4Not found.

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