Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Charles James Fox, 1 May 1782

From Charles James Fox8

Copy:9 Library of Congress; AL (draft): Public Record Office; transcripts: Massachusetts Historical Society, National Archives (two)

St. James’s 1. May 1782


Though Mr. Oswald will no doubt have informed you of the nature of Mr. Grenville’s Commission,1 yet I can not refrain from making use of the opportunity his going offers me, to assure you of the esteem and Respect which I have borne to your character, and to beg you to believe that no change in my situation has made any in those ardent wishes for reconciliation which I have invariably felt from the very beginning of this unhappy Contest. Mr. Grenville is fully acquainted with my sentiments upon this subject, and with the sanguine hopes which I have conceived that those with whom we are contending are too reasonable to continue a contest2 which has no longer any object either real or even imaginary.—

I know your liberality of mind too well to be afraid lest any prejudices against Mr. Grenville’s Name3 may prevent you from esteeming those excellent qualities of heart and head which belong to him, or from giving the fullest credit to the sincerity of his wishes for Peace in which no Man in either country goes beyond him. I am with great truth and Regard, Sir, your most obedient humble Servant

C. J. Fox

Benjamin Franklin Esq.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Who was more concerned at the moment with preventing Shelburne’s gaining control over the French negotiations than with gaining a footing in the American negotiations, given BF’s recent endorsement of Shelburne’s man Oswald as a negotiating partner: Fox to Richard Fitzpatrick, April 28, in Lord John Russell, ed., Memorials and Correspondence of Charles James Fox (4 vols., London, 1853–57), I, 316.

9Made from the original under BF’s supervision, this copy is a more accurate text than the draft, which lacks a dateline, salutation, and complimentary close, and varies slightly in wording. This copy is in BF’s journal of the peace negotiations, as are two of the transcripts.

1Fox sent his representative Thomas Grenville (for whom see our headnote to Shelburne’s letter of April 6) to Paris not only to negotiate with Vergennes, but also to open a channel of communication with BF in case negotiations with France failed. He was not given full powers and Fox’s instructions left him the option of speaking privately or officially; in either case he was to inform both Vergennes and BF about the cabinet’s terms for peace with America. In essence, Britain would acknowledge American independence, evacuate New York, Charleston, and Savannah, return to France the islands of St. Pierre, Miquelon, and St. Lucia, and restore India to its prewar condition if France returned all her conquests: Fox’s instructions to Grenville, April 30, 1782, in Giunta, Emerging Nation, I, 367–9. Grenville’s letter of introduction to Vergennes is published in Lord John Russell, ed., Memorials and Correspondence of Charles James Fox (4 vols., London, 1853–57), IV, 178–9.

2Fox here drafted but deleted “of which the object is at length entirely gone”.

3Thomas Grenville was a son of the late George Grenville, who as prime minister had been responsible for the passage of the Stamp Act and other legislation unpopular in America.

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