Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Joseph-Mathias Gérard de Rayneval, 4 September 1782

To Joseph-Mathias Gérard de Rayneval

ALS: Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères

Passy, Sept. 4. 1782


With this you will receive the Boxes you desired of Mint Drops.2 They came by Mr Oswald’s Courier, who arrived this Morning. He has been with me,3 and tells me he has a Letter from Mr Secry. Townsend, acquainting him, that the King has consented to declare the Independence of America, authorizing him to make it the first Article in the Treaty, in which he is now ready to proceed.4 I hope Mr Jay will agree to this.

The Royal George, a Ship of 100 Guns, Admiral Kempenfeldt being on board, sank a few days since at Spithead, as she lay at Anchor. She had 700 Men on board, and went down so suddenly, that 400 of them, with the Admiral himself, were drowned in her.5

I have the honour to be, with great Regard, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

The Death of the King’s youngest Son6 is given as the Reason of the Delay of the Courier.
M. de Raynevall.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2See Hodgson’s Aug. 26 letter.

3That is, Oswald. BF asked whether Oswald had an answer to the Americans’ desire for “a previous Declaration of their Independence before a commencement of Treaty”: Oswald to Townshend, Sept. 10, in Morris, Jay: Peace, p. 351.

4Townshend to Oswald, Sept. 1, in Giunta, Emerging Nation, I, 545–7. The letter also authorized Oswald to offer BF’s necessary articles (XXXVII, 599–600), with the understanding that the Canadian boundary be confined to pre-1774 limits, and that the fishing rights not include the right to dry fish on the Newfoundland coast, as BF did not specifically request it. If these terms were accepted, and the American commissioners insisted on it, Oswald could (as a “very last resort”) inform them that the King would recommend to Parliament that it acknowledge American independence apart from the treaty negotiations. The cabinet had submitted these terms to the King on Aug. 29: Fortescue, Correspondence of George Third, VI, 118; see also Godfrey Davies and Marion Tinling, “The Independence of America: Six Unpublished Items on the Treaty in 1782–83,” Huntington Library Quarterly, XII (1948–49), 213–14; Harlow, Second British Empire, I, 274–6.

5Some 900 people were drowned when the Royal George sank on Aug. 29: David Syrett, The Royal Navy in European Waters during the American Revolutionary War (Columbia, S.C., 1998), p. 161. For Kempenfeldt see XXXVI, 557n.

6Prince Alfred died on Aug. 26, one month shy of his second birthday: E. B. Fryde et al., eds., Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed., London, 1986), p. 47.

Index Entries