Benjamin Franklin Papers

Jonathan Williams, Jr., to William Temple Franklin, 15 February 1783

Jonathan Williams, Jr., to William Temple Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes Feb. 15 1783.

My dear Billy.

The americans here do not understand the 23d Article of the Treaty, & I request you will as soon as may be do me the Favour to explain, whether, By the Canary Islands is meant only the Latitude of those Islands, & thus on a line of Latitude, Ships may in one month be in Safety in any Longitude if not to the Southard of the Canaries; or whether it is meant that the Canary Islands are to be considered as a Point which must not be passed either westward or Southward.4 You will see that the explanation of this may save a months Time, or on the other Hand prevent Ships running into Danger. I request an immediate answer & am most affectionately my dear Billy ever Yours

J Williams J

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Billy Franklin / chez Son excellence le Docteur Franklin / à Passy / Pres Paris

Note by Franklin: It is the Latitude of the Canary Islands

Notation: Williams, 15. Feby. 1783.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4JW is here inquiring about Article 22 (not 23) of the preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain and France, to which America agreed when the general armistice was signed on Jan. 20; see the annotation of BF to Livingston, Jan. 21; Bondfield to BF, Jan. 26. The relevant section of Article 22 said that prizes would be restored for a period of one month if taken between the Channel and North Sea “as far as the Canary Islands, inclusively, either in the Ocean or in the Mediterranean.” BF addressed this ambiguity in the following document.

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