Adams Papers

From John Adams to Benjamin Franklin, 3 December 1782

To Benjamin Franklin

Paris Decr. 3. 1782


The Moments we live in, are critical and may be improved, perhaps to advantage, for which purpose I beg Leave to propose to your Consideration, whether it is not proper for Us to write to Mr Dana at Petersbourg, acquaint him with the Signature of the Preliminaries, inclose to him an authentic Copy of them and advise him to communicate it to the Ministers of the Empress, and to all the Ministers of the neutral Powers at her Court, together with a Copy of his Commission to Subscribe to the Principles of the armed Neutrality. The present Seems to me, the most proper Time for this Step.

The United States are as much interested in the Marine Treaty as any Power, and if We take this Step We may with Propriety, propose, if not insist upon an Article in the definitive Treaty respecting this matter, which will be as agreable to France And Spain as to the United Provinces.

I have heretofore mentioned to Mr Jay a Similar proposal, who approved, it, and I will propose it again to day to him and Mr Laurens. If you approve the measure, you will be so good as to order an authentic Copy to be made of the Preliminary Treaty, that We may prepare a Letter the first Time We meet.1

I have the Honour to be, Sir, your / most obedient

J. Adams

RC (DLC:Franklin Papers); internal address: “His Exy. B. Franklin Esqr.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 108.

1 After writing this and a similar letter to Henry Laurens of the same date (ScL [ScU]: Kendall Coll.), JA indicated in his Diary that he visited Gerard Brantsen, the Dutch peace negotiator. The two men discussed at length the preliminary peace treaty and the prospects for Francis Dana’s proposed negotiations with Russia and the other neutral powers. JA told Brantsen that should Dana be successful “we could then make common Cause with Holland, and insist on an Article to secure the Freedom of Navigation,” which is essentially the same position JA took in the second paragraph of this letter. JA then raised the subject of the letter to Dana with John Jay and Henry Laurens, his conversations with them apparently similar to that with Brantsen (JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:85–88). Franklin replied affirmatively later on the 3d, as did Laurens on the 4th (both Adams Papers). The commissioners’ letter to Dana is dated 12 Dec., but see also JA’s 6 Dec. letter to Dana, both below.

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