Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Richard Oswald, 14 January 1783

To Richard Oswald

ALS: William L. Clements Library; copies: Library of Congress (two), Massachusetts Historical Society, Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society

Passy, Jany. 14. 1783.


I am much oblig’d by your Information of your intended Trip to England.5 I heartily wish you a good Journey, and a Speedy Return; & request your kind Care of a Pacquet for Mr Hodgson.

I enclose two Papers that were read at different times by me to the Commissioners; they may serve to show if you should have Occasion, what was urg’d on the part of America on certain Points; or they may help to refresh your Memory.6 I send you also another Paper which I once read to you separately. It contains a Proposition for improving the Law of Nations, by prohibiting the Plundering of unarm’d & usefully-employ’d People. I rather wish than expect that it will be adopted. But I think it may be offer’d with a better Grace by a Country that is likely to suffer least & gain most by continuing the antient Practice, which is our Case, as the American Ships laden only with the Gross Productions of the Earth, cannot be so valuable as yours fill’d with Sugars or with Manufactures.— It has not yet been consider’d by my Colleagues; but if you should think or find that it might be acceptable on your side, I would try to get it inserted in the General Treaty.7 I think it will do honour to the Nations that establish it.

With great & sincere Esteem, I am, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

R. Oswald Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Oswald left on Jan. 15, taking the present letter with him. In a Jan. 15 letter to Shelburne, Fitzherbert commented on it. He complained of the “monstrous injustice of introducing fresh articles in the treaty,” although he doubted BF would insist on them: Giunta, Emerging Nation, I, 752–3. Oswald had told Fitzherbert a month earlier that the American commissioners were talking about inserting new commercial stipulations in the final treaty, and Fitzherbert expressed his outrage in a letter to Strachey of Dec. 19: Giunta, Emerging Nation, I, 725–7.

6The enclosures were probably BF’s letter to Oswald of Nov. 26, which he read to the commissioners the same day (according to his own notation), and BF’s proposed Article 5, published above under the day he read it to the commissioners, Nov. 29. Both concern the question of compensation for Loyalists.

7When WTF published this letter, he printed as the enclosure BF’s “thoughts” on privateering and the Sugar Islands—the two short essays (run together as one piece) that we published in XXXVII, 617–20—and the article that BF proposed for the final treaty that summarized those thoughts (above, under Dec. 13): WTF, Memoirs, II, 420–2.

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