Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Huntington: Two Letters, 19 June 1781

From Samuel Huntington: Two Letters

(I) LS: American Philosophical Society; copies: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, National Archives; (II) LS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Library of Congress; copy: National Archives


Philadelphia June 19. 1781


You will receive herewith enclosed a Letter addressed to his most Christian Majesty, with a Copy of the same for your Information,7 also a Commission constituting yourself with the four other Gentlemen therein named, our Ministers for negotiating Peace; also another Commission & Duplicate authorizing the same Ministers to accept of the Mediation of the Emperor of Germany and Empress of Russia, in one of which the Emperor is first named & in the other the Empress, (to be made Use of as Circumstances shall render it expedient).

I have also herewith enclosed, Instructions (in Cyphers) for your Government,8 in Addition to those formerly given Mr Adams for negotiating Peace. A Letter in Answer to yours of the 12th of March last9 will also accompany this.

You will please to communicate immediately to Mr Adams & Mr Jay the Receipt of these important Dispatches.

Mr Secretary Thomson desires you would be so good as to send him the Machine with proper Directions to be used for striking Copies of Letters as mentioned in yours of the 12th of March.1

For Want of Time myself I must refer you to Mr Lovell’s Dispatches2 for american Intelligence in general—

I have the Honor to be, with the highest Respect Sir Your most obedient & most humble Servant

Sam. Huntington,

The Honble Doctor Franklin

Endorsed: Commissions


Philadelphia June 19th 1781


Congress have received your letter of the 12th of March last with the papers enclosed.—

The prospect of conferences being soon opened in Europe under the mediation of the imperial courts of Petersburg and Vienna for accommodating the disputes between the belligerent powers, which must necessarily involve the essential interests of these United States, has determined us to encrease the number of our Ministers for negotiating a peace with Great Britain. We have therefore added yourself Messrs. Jay, H. Laurens and T. Jefferson to Mr. J. Adams to repair to such place as shall be fixed on for transacting this important business.—

A compliance with your request to retire from public employment would be inconvenient at this particular conjuncture, as it is the desire of Congress to avail themselves of your abilities and experience at the approaching negotiation. Should you find repose necessary after rendering the United States this further service Congress in consideration of your age and bodily infirmities will be disposed to gratify your inclination. You will present the letter to his Most Christian Majesty and communicate to him the instructions to our Ministers for negotiating a peace attended with such memorial as your prudence shall suggest and the importance of the subject requires.

By order of Congress

Sam. Huntington

The Honble Benjamin Franklin Esq

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7A June 13 letter expressing gratitude to Louis for French assistance, reporting that Congress had taken under consideration the communications from La Luzerne (for which see the headnote to the peace commissioners’ commissions of June 15), and promising that BF would inform him of the results of their deliberations: JCC, XX, 638–9. BF’s copy is at the APS.

8The two commissions and the commissioners’ instructions are above, June 15.

9XXXIV, 443–8.

1XXXIV, 443n; see also XXXIII, 115–17; XXXIV, 371n.

2Lovell, the most active member of the committee for foreign affairs, did not write BF until July 21, below. His silence at this time may not be accidental. He was an opponent of the instructions given the peace commissioners as being too subservient to France and was suspicious of BF for the same reason: William C. Stinchcombe, The American Revolution and the French Alliance (Syracuse, N.Y., 1969), pp. 165–8.

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