Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes, 23 December 1776

The American Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

ALS:3Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères

Paris, Dec. 23. 17764


We beg Leave to acquaint your Excellency, that we are appointed and fully impowered by the Congress of the United States of America, to propose and negotiate a Treaty of Amity and Commerce between France and the said States. The just and generous Treatment their Trading Ships have received, by a free Admission into the Ports of this Kingdom,5 with other Considerations of Respect, has induced the Congress to make this Offer first to France. We request an Audience of your Excelly. wherein we may have an Opportunity of presenting our Credentials; and we flatter ourselves, that the Propositions we are instructed to make, are such as will not be found unacceptable. With the greatest Regard, we have the Honour to be, Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servants

B Franklin
Silas Deane
Arthur Lee

His Excelly. the Count de Vergennes.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3In BF’s hand.

4BF had joined Deane in Paris on the 21st, and Lee had arrived the next day. The commissioners lost no time in requesting an audience to begin their mission, and Vergennes saw them on the 28th. Force, 5 Amer. Arch., III, 1415; BF to the committee of secret correspondence below, Jan. 4.

5A diplomatic exaggeration: the French government had tacitly encouraged American traders, but they had had considerable difficulty in purchasing and loading war supplies. Crout, “Diplomacy of Trade,” pp. 70–88, 109–12, 122–3, 129, 144–6.

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