Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Peace Commissioners to Alleyne Fitzherbert, [20 February 1783]

The American Peace Commissioners to Alleyne Fitzherbert

AL (draft):6 Massachusetts Historical Society

[February 20, 1783]


We have recd. the Letter wh you did us the Honor to write on the 18th. Inst, together with the Passports mentioned in it.

His britannic Majesty’s Proclamation of the 14th. Instant has our entire approbation, and we have the Honor of transmitting to you, herewith enclosed, a Declaration perfectly correspondent with it.7

It appears to us important to both Countries that a System be speedily adopted to regulate the Commerce between them; and it gives us pleasure to inform you that we are authorized to form one, on Principles so liberal, as that british Merchants shall enjoy in America & her Ports & Waters, the same Immunities and Priviledges with her own; provided that a similar Indulgence be allowed to those of our Country, in common with british Merchts. in general—8

We presume that such a System will on consideration appear most convenient to both; if so, we shall be ready to include it in the definitive Treaty—

We flatter ourselves that this overture will be considered as a Mark of our Attention to the Principles adopted in the Preamble of our Preliminaries, and of our Desire to render the commercial Intercourse between us free from Embarrassing & partial Restrictions—

We have the Honor to be with great Regard & Esteem Sir Your most obt & very hble Servt

Sketch of a Letter.
to Mr Fitzherbert.9

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6In Jay’s hand.

7The following document.

8JA suggested such a clause in his 1776 model Franco-American commercial treaty. In 1780 he anticipated the British would suggest such a clause in the peace treaty: Adams Papers, IV, 260, 266, 290–1; IX, 84–5. BF made a similar suggestion to Oswald on July 10, 1782, as the third of his advisable articles (XXXVII, 600), and the American commissioners included it in Article 4 of their first draft treaty (XXXVIII, 193–4). See also BF’s sketch of articles to be included in the definitive treaty: XXXVIII, 434. This proposal resembles Article 24 of the third Family Compact (pacte de famille) signed by France and Spain on Aug. 15, 1761, and later joined by the Bourbon rulers of the Duchy of Parma and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies: Parry, Consolidated Treaty Series, XLII, 97–8. It too envisaged a commercial relationship deeper than that between two unrelated states.

9These two notations appear on the verso. The first was written by John Thaxter, Jr. JA added the second.

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