Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from David Hartley, 2 April 1779

From David Hartley

ALS: American Philosophical Society; transcript: Library of Congress

London April 2 1779

My Dear friend

I writ you word in my last that the first hundred of the American prisoners were sailed, therefore I hope that business is in a fair way of getting forward—6 Peace you know is always my object. If any advice of mine may be influential I assure you it is not, nor ever will be wanting. I am just at this moment more anxious for the depending events than I can express. If the State of things in Europe shd plunge us all in to a general war, I know not when the end wd come. The misery & destruction wd be universal, and America itself might think the assistance of France dearly bought, if they are to have no settled peace, till a war originally beginning in America, & from American concerns, but afterwards becoming a general European war, shd come to its termination. I think that it is the object of all parties to stop the farther madness of war: But where shall we find sense enough to do it? I think it might be practicable nearly upon the grounds wch I have stated in some of my former letters to you. If any negotiation cd be opened by the intervention of any person or persons, in whom the respective parties cd have Confidence, that wd afford the best, and I shd hope, some probable foundation.7 Good faith & a national Confidence must lay that foundation. As to myself I can only say, that if that office shd ever be offered to me, consistently with those principles of Justice, and sound policy, (as I think them) wch have been and allways will be the rule of my conduct, I shall be ready to devote the utmost of my labours & attention, towards procuring for all parties a just, safe, honorable & permanent peace. Your affecte


To Dr Franklin

Addressed: To Dr Franklin

Endorsed: M Hartley

Notation: April 2. 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6See the postscript of his March 30 letter. Only ninety-seven of the prisoners actually sailed; two had already died and one was “dangerously ill.” Charles Herbert, A Relic of the Revolution (Boston, 1847), p. 227.

7Hartley had frequently expressed a desire for peace between England and America. The grounds upon which he thought it might be achieved, however, had shifted over the spring and summer of 1778. In May his proposals had included independence for America, although within a federal alliance: XXVI, 465–6. By August he had eliminated American independence from his propositions, concentrating instead upon ending armed hostilities, freeing prisoners, opening trade, and negotiating a truce for five years: XXVII, 243, 502–3. The “person or persons” who might open a negotiation was, of course, Hartley himself. See XXVIII, 417–18.

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