Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Oswald, 12 July 1782

To Richard Oswald

LS:9 Public Record Office; AL (draft): Library of Congress; copies: Public Record Office (two), Library of Congress, William L. Clements Library

Passy, July 12. 1782


I inclose a Letter for Lord Shelburne,1 to go by your Courier, with some others of which I request his Care. They may be put into the Penny Post. I have received a Note informing me, that, “some Opposition given by his Lordship to Mr Fox’s decided Plan of unequivocally acknowledging American Independency, was one Cause of that Gentleman’s Resignation;” this, from what you have told me, appears improbable. It is farther said “that Mr Grenville thinks Mr. Fox’s Resignation will be fatal to the present negociation.”2 This perhaps is as Groundless as the former. Mr Grenville’s next Courier, will probably clear up Matters. I did understand from him that such an Acknowlegment was intended previous to the Commencement of the Treaty; and untill it is made, and the Treaty formally begun, Propositions & Discussions seem on Consideration, to be untimely; nor can I enter into Particulars without Mr Jay, who is now ill with the Influenza. My Letter therefore to his Lordship, is merely complimentary on his late Appointment. I wish a Continuance of your Health, in that at present sickly City,3 being with sincere Esteem, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

P.S. I send you inclosed the late Resolutions of the State of Maryland; by which the general Disposition of People in America may be guess’d, respecting any Treaty to be proposed by Genl. Carleton, if intended, which I do not believe.4

Richd. Oswald Esqre.

Notation: B. Franklin to Mr. Oswald In Mr. Oswald’s of the 12th. of July5

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9In WTF’s hand, except for the last seven words of the complimentary close, which are in BF’s hand.

1Immediately below.

2Oswald wrote to Shelburne on July 11 that BF had recently received a communication “from some person in England, who is no friend to the late changes” [in the British government]: Lord John Russell, ed., Memorials and Correspondence of Charles James Fox (4 vols., London, 1853–57), IV, 251.

3The influenza epidemic had by this time reached as far west as Brest: Hector to Castries, July 1, 1782, Archives de la Marine, B3 DCCXX: 18–19.

4This was the same resolution that BF had sent Vergennes on July 6, above.

5In a covering letter to Shelburne, dated 3:00 P.M. on July 12, Oswald expressed concern that BF had received a report “of a Reserve intended in the Grant of Independence.” Oswald claimed it was the first time he had heard of it and informed Shelburne, “I have in my Letters to your L[ordshi]p, & in Conversation with Dr Franklin, alwise supposed that the Grant was meant to be absolute & unconditional—which last, however, is a Term I never used, thinking such qualification unnecessary.” He enclosed the present letter, saying that BF put “Stoppage upon the preliminaries of Settlement,” and asked Shelburne to send him instructions. Public Record Office. Earlier that day Oswald wrote a memoir to Shelburne describing how to restore British rule in America. Unknown to BF, Oswald was a longstanding opponent of American independence: Charles R. Ritcheson, “Britain’s Peacemakers, 1782–1783: ‘To an Astonishing Degree Unfit for the Task’?” in Hoffman and Albert, eds., Peace and the Peacemakers, pp. 79–82.

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