Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Adams, 3 December 1782

From John Adams

ALS: Library of Congress; copy: Massachusetts Historical Society

Paris Decr 3. 1782


The Moments we live in, are critical and may be improved, perhaps to advantage, for which purpose I beg Leave to propose to your Consideration, whether it is not proper for Us to write to Mr Dana at Petersbourg, acquaint him with the Signature of the Preliminaries, inclose to him an authentic Copy of them and advise him to communicate it to the Ministers of the Empress, and to all the Ministers of the neutral Powers at her Court, together with a Copy of his Commission to Subscribe to the Principles of the armed Neutrality. The present Seems to me, the most proper Time for this Step.

The United States are as much interested in the Marine Treaty as any Power,9 and if We take this Step We may with Propriety, propose, if not insist upon an Article in the definitive Treaty respecting this matter, which will be as agreable to France And Spain as to the United Provinces.1

I have heretofore mentioned to Mr Jay a Similar proposal, who approved it, and I will propose it again to day to him and Mr Laurens.2 If you approve the measure, you will be so good as to order an authentic Copy to be made of the Preliminary Treaty, that We may prepare a Letter the first Time We meet.

I have the Honour to be, Sir, your most obedient

J. Adams

His Exy. B. Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The “Marine Treaty” was Empress Catherine II’s League of Armed Neutrality, designed to further the rights of neutrals to carry noncontraband items to belligerents. In sending Dana to Catherine’s court, Congress hoped she would not only recognize the independence of the United States, but also admit it to the League: XXXIV, 188n.

1After sending this letter, JA met with Dutch Minister Brantsen. JA observed to him that the peace commissioners intended to send Dana a copy of the preliminary treaty “that he might commence his Negotiations with the neutral Powers, and if he succeeded We could then make common Cause with Holland, and insist on an Article [in the final peace treaty] to secure the Freedom of Navigation. This Idea he received with great Pleasure, and said he would write about it to the States [General]”: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 87. The insertions are ours.

2He met with each of them while awaiting BF’s response: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 88.

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