Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Adams, 13 April 1782

To John Adams

LS:6 Massachusetts Historical Society; copy: Library of Congress

Passy April 13th. 1782.


Inclosed with this I send to your Excellency the Pacquet of Correspondence between Mr Hartley and me which I promised in my last.7 You will see that we have held nearly the same Language8 which gives me Pleasure.

While Mr Hartley was making Propositions to me, with the Approbation or Privity of Lord North, to treat separately from France, that Minister had an Emissary here, a Mr Forth, formerly a Secretary of Lord Stormonts, making Proposals to induce this Court to treat with [without] us. I understand that several Sacrifices were offer’d to be made, and among the Rest Canada to be given up to France.9 The Substance of the Answer appears in my last Letter to Mr Hartley. But there is a Sentence omitted in that Letter which I much liked, viz: “that whenever the two Crowns should come to treat, his most Christian Majesty would shew how much the Engagements he might enter into were to be rely’d on by his exact observance of those he already had with his present Allies.”1

If you have received anything in consequence of your Answer by Digges, you will oblige me by communicating it. The Ministers here were much pleased with the Account given them of your Interview, by the Ambassador.2

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

B Franklin

You will be so good as to return me the Papers when you have a good Opportunity.
His Exy J. Adams Esqre

Endorsed: Dr Franklin. Ap. 13. 1782

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6In WTF’s hand. BF added the postscript, which is not on the copy.

7Of March 31, above.

8As JA had held with Digges.

9We do not know the source of BF’s information, but we doubt Forth made an offer concerning Canada. Vergennes made no mention of it in his letters to La Luzerne and Montmorin, cited in our annotation of Gérard de Rayneval to BF, April 12. Forth’s mission provoked a number of rumors: Richard B. Morris, The Peacemakers: the Great Powers and American Independence (New York, Evanston, and London, 1965), p. 254. Vergennes had asked Ambassador La Vauguyon to inform JA about the Forth mission under condition of secrecy: Vergennes to La Vauguyon, April 4, 1782 (AAE).

1The letter to Hartley is immediately below. BF was following Gérard de Rayneval’s suggested draft; see Rayneval’s letter of April 12. The omitted sentence was used, however, by Vergennes in a May 9 interview with Thomas Grenville; see BF’s journal of the peace negotiations.

2La Vauguyon to Vergennes, March 27, 1782 (AAE), gives full details provided by JA about his meeting with Digges.

Index Entries