Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Robert R. Livingston, 22[–26] July 1783

To Robert R. Livingston

LS,3 press copy of LS, and transcript: National Archives; AL (draft): Library of Congress

Passy, July 22d.[–26] 1783.


You have complained sometimes with reason of not hearing often4 from your foreign Ministers; we have had cause to make the same Complaint, six full Months having intervened between the latest Date of your preceeding Letters, and the receipt of those per Capt. Barney.5 During all this Time we were ignorant of the Reception of the Provisional Treaty, and the Sentiments of Congress upon it, which if we had recd. sooner, might have forwarded the Proceedings on the Definitive Treaty, and perhaps brought them to a Conclusion at a time more favourable than the present. But these occasional Interruptions of Correspondence are the inevitable Consequences of a State of War & of such remote Situations.

Barney had a short Passage, and arrived some Days before Col. Ogden, who also brought Dispatches from you,6 all of which are come safe to hand.

We, the Commissioners, have in our joint Capacity written a Letter to you, which you will receive with this.7 I shall now answer yours of March 26. May 9 & May 31st. It gave me great Pleasure to learn by the first, that the News of the Peace diffused general Satisfaction. I will not now take upon me to justify the apparent Reserve respecting this Court at the Signature, which you disapprove. We have touch’d upon it in our general Letter. I do not see, however, that they have much Reason to complain of that Transaction. Nothing was stipulated to their Prejudice, and none of the Stipulations were to have force, but by a subsequent Act of their own. I suppose indeed that they have not complained of it, or you would have sent us a Copy of the Complaint, that we might have answer’d it. I long since satisfy’d Count de V. about it here.8 We did what appear’d to all of us best at the time, and if we have done Wrong, the Congress will do right, after hearing us, to censure us. Their Nomination of five Persons to the Service, seems to mark that they had some Dependance on our joint Judgment; since one alone could have made a Treaty by Direction of the French Ministry, as well as twenty. I will only add, that with respect to myself, neither the Letter from M. Marbois handed to us thro’ the British Negociators, (a suspicious Channel) nor the Conversations respecting the Fishery, the Boundaries, the Royalists &ca. recommending Moderation in our Demands, are of Weight sufficient in my Mind to fix an Opinion that this Court wish’d to restrain us in obtaining any Degree of Advantage we could prevail on our Enemies to accord; since those Discourses are fairly resolvable, by supposing a very natural Apprehension, that we, relying too much on the Ability of France to continue the War in our Favour, & supply us constantly with Money, might insist on more Advantages than the English would be willing to grant, and thereby lose the Opportunity of making Peace so necessary to all our Friends.9

I ought not however to conceal from you that one of my Colleagues1 is of a very different Opinion from me in these Matters. He thinks the French Minister one of the greatest Enemies of our Country, that he would have straitned our Boundaries to prevent the Growth of our People, contracted our Fishery to obstruct the Increase of our Seamen, & retained the Royalists among us to keep us divided; that he privately opposes all our Negociations with foreign Courts, and afforded us during the War the Assistance we received, only to keep it alive, that we might be so much the more weaken’d by it: That to think of Gratitude to France is the greatest of Follies, and that to be influenc’d by it, would ruin us. He makes no Secret of his having these Opinions, expresses them publickly, sometimes in presence of the English Ministers;2 and speaks of hundreds of Instances which he could produce in Proof of them, none however have yet appear’d to me, unless the Conversations & Letter abovementioned are reckoned such. If I were not convinced of the real Inability of this Court to furnish the farther Supply’s we asked,3 I should suspect these Discourses of a Person in his Station, might have influenced the Refusal; but I think they have gone no farther than to occasion a Suspicion, that we have a considerable Party of Antigallicans in America, who are not Tories, and consequently to produce some Doubts of the continuance of our Friendship. As such Doubts may hereafter have a bad Effect, I think we cannot take too much Care to remove them; and it is therefore I write this to put you on your guard, (believing it my Duty, tho’ I know that I hazard by it a mortal Enmity) and to caution you respecting the Insinuations of this Gentleman against this Court, & the Instances he supposes of their Ill-Will to us, which I take to be as imaginary as I know his Fancies to be, that Count de V. and myself are continually plotting against him & employing the News Writers of Europe to depreciate his Character, &ca. but as Shakespear says, “Trifles light as Air, &ca.”4 I am persuaded however that he means well for his Country, is always an honest Man, often a Wise One, but sometimes and in some things, absolutely5 out of his Senses.

When the Commercial Article, mentioned in yours of the 26th.6 was struck out of our proposed Preliminaries by the British Ministry, the Reason given was that sundry Acts of Parliament still in force were against it, and must be first repealed, which I believe was really their Intention; and sundry Bills were accordingly brought in for that purpose: But new Ministers with different Principles succeeding, a Commercial Proclamation totally different from those Bills has lately appear’d. I send inclosed a Copy of it.7 We shall try what can be done in the definitive Treaty towards setting aside that Proclamation: But if it should be persisted in, it will then be a Matter worthy the attentive Discussion of Congress, whether it will be most prudent to retort with a similar Regulation in order to force its Repeal (which may possibly tend to bring on another Quarrel) or to let it pass without Notice, and leave it to its own Inconvenience, or rather Impracticability in the Execution, and to the Complaints of the West India Planters, who must all pay much dearer for our Produce under those Restrictions. I am not enough Master of the Course of our Commerce to give an Opinion on this particular Question; and it does not behove me to do it; yet I have seen so much Embarrassment and so little Advantage in all the restraining & Compulsive Systems, that I feel myself strongly inclined to believe that a State which leaves all her Ports open to all the World upon equal Terms, will by that means have foreign Commodities cheaper, sell its own Productions dearer, and be on the whole the most prosperous.8 I have heard some Merchants say, that there is ten per Ct. difference between Will you buy? and Will you sell? When Foreigners bring us their Goods, they want to part with them speedily, that they may purchase their Cargoes & dispatch their Ships which are at constant Charges in our Ports; we have then the Advantage of their Will you buy? and when they demand our Produce we have the Advantage of their Will you sell? and the concurring Demands of a Number also contribute to raise our Prices. Thus both these Questions are in our Favour at home, against us abroad.— The employing however of our own Ships and raising a Breed of Seamen among us, tho’ it should not be a matter of so much private Profit as some imagine, is nevertheless of political Importance & must have Weight in considering this Subject.

The Judgment you make of the Conduct of France in the Peace, and the greater Glory acquired by her Moderation than even by her Arms, appears to me perfectly just.9 The Character of this Court and Nation seems of late Years to be considerably changed. The Ideas of Aggrandisement by Conquest, are out of Fashion; & those of Commerce are more enlightened, and more generous than heretofore. We shall soon, I believe, feel something of this, in our being admitted to a greater Freedom of Trade with their Islands,1 The Wise here think France great enough; and its Ambition at present seems to be only that of Justice and Magnanimity towards other Nations, Fidelity & Utility to its Allies.

The Ambassador of Portugal was much pleased with the Proceedings relating to their Vessel which you sent me, and assures me they will have a good Effect at his Court. He appears extreamly desirous of a Treaty with our States; I have accordingly proposed to him the Plan of one, (nearly the same with that sent me for Sweden) and after my agreeing to some Alterations, he has sent it to his Court for Approbation.2 He told me at Versailles last Tuesday3 that he expected its Return to him on Saturday next, and anxiously desired that I would not dispatch our Pacquet without it, that Congress might consider it, and if approved, send a Commission to me or some other Minister, to sign it. I venture to go thus far in treating, on the Authority only of a kind of general Power, given formerly by a Resolution of Congress, to Messrs. Franklin, Dean, & Lee:4 but a special Commission seems more proper to compleat a Treaty, and more agreable to the usual Forms of such Business.

I am in just the same Situation with Denmark: That Court by its Minister here has desired a Treaty with us. I have proposed a Plan formed on that sent me for Sweden;5 it has been under Consideration some time at Copenhaguen, and is expected here this Week, so that I may possibly send that also by this Conveyance. You will have seen by my Letter to the Danish Prime Minister that I did not forget the Affair of the Prizes. What I then wrote produced a verbal Offer made me here, of £10,000 Sterling proposed to be given by his Majesty to the Captors, if I would accept it as a full discharge of our Demand. I could not do this, I said, because it was not more than a fifth Part of the estimated Value.6 In answer I was told that the Estimation was probably extravagant, that it would be difficult to come at the Knowledge of their true Value, and that whatever they might be worth in themselves, they should not be estimated as of such Value to us, when at Bergen, since the English probably watch’d them, and might have retaken them in their Way to America; at least they were at the common Risque of the Seas and Enemies, and the Insurance was a considerable Draw-Back: That this Sum might be considered as so much saved for us by the Kings Interference; for that if the English Claimants had been suffer’d to carry the Cause into the common Courts, they must have recover’d the Prizes by the Laws of Denmark: It was added that the Kings Honour was concerned; that he sincerely desired our Friendship, but he would avoid, by giving this Sum in the Form of a Present to the Captors, the Appearance of its being exacted from him as the Reparation of an Injury, when it was really intended rather as a Proof of his strong Disposition to cultivate a good Understanding with us. I reply’d that the Value might possibly be exaggerated; but that we did not desire more than should be found just upon Enquiry; and that it was not difficult to learn from London what Sums were insured upon the Ships & Cargos which would be some Guide; and that a reasonable Abatement might be made for the Risque; but that the Congress could not in Justice to their Mariners deprive them of any Part that was truely due to those brave Men, whatever Abatement they might think fit to make (as a Mark of their Regard for the Kings Friendship) of the Part belonging to the Publick: that I had however no Instructions or Authority to make any Abatement of any kind, and could therefore only acquaint the Congress with the Offer & the Reasons that accompanied it, which I promised to state fully and candidly, (as I have now done) and attend their Orders: desiring only that it might be observed, we had presented our Complaint with Decency, that we had charged no Fault on the Danish Government but what might arise from Inattention or Precipitancy, and that we had intimated no Resentment but had waited with Patience & Respect the King’s Determination, confiding that he would follow the equitable Disposition of his own Breast, by doing us Justice, as soon as he could do it with Conveniency; that the best and wisest Princes sometimes err’d, that it belong’d to the Condition of Man, and was therefore inevitable; and that the true honour in such Cases consisted not in disowning or hiding the Error, but in making ample Reparation. That tho’ I could not accept what was offer’d on the Terms proposed, our Treaty might go on, and its Articles be prepar’d and consider’d; and in the meantime I hop’d his Danish Majesty would reconsider the Offer and make it more adequate to the Loss we had sustained. Thus that Matter rests; but I hourly expect to hear farther, and perhaps may have more to say on it before the Ship’s Departure. I shall be glad to have the Proceedings you mention respecting the Brig. Providentia.7 I hope the Equity and Justice of our Admiralty Courts respecting the Property of Strangers will Always maintain their Reputation; and I wish particularly to cultivate the Disposition of Friendship towards us apparent in the late Proceedings of Denmark, as the Danish Islands may be of use to our West India Commerce, while the English impolitic Restraints continue.

The Elector of Saxony, as I understand from his Minister here, has Thoughts of sending one to Congress, and proposing a Treaty of Commerce & Amity with us.8 Prussia has likewise an Inclination to share in a Trade with America, and the Minister of that Court tho’ he has not directly proposed a Treaty, has given me a Paquet of Lists of the Several sorts of Merchandize they can furnish us with, which he requests me to send to America for the Information of our Merchants.—9

I have received no Answer yet from Congress to my Request of being dismissed from their Service.1 They should methinks reflect, that if they continue me here, the Faults I may henceforth commit thro’ the Infirmities of Age, will be rather theirs than mine.

I am glad my Journal afforded you any Pleasure, I will as you desire endeavour to continue it.2

I thank you for the Pamphlet.3 It contains a great deal of Information respecting our Finances. We shall as you advise avoid publishing it. But I see they are publishing it in the English Papers. I was glad I had a Copy authenticated by the Signature of Secrey. Thomson, by which I could assure M. De Vergennes that the Money Contract I had made with him4 was ratified by Congress, he having just before express’d some Uneasiness to me at its being so long neglected. I find it was ratified soon after it was received; but the Ratification, except in that Pamphlet, has not yet come to hand.—5

I have done my best to procure the farther Loan directed by the Resolution of Congress. It was not possible. I write on that Matter to Mr. Morris.6

I wish the Rest of the Estimates of Losses and Mischiefs were come to hand; they would still be of use.7

Mr Barclay has in his Hands the Affair of the Alliance & Bonhomme Richard.8 I will afford him all the Assistance in my Power. But it is a very perplex’d Business. That Expedition, tho’ for particular Reasons under American Commissions & Colours, was carried on at the King’s Expence & under his Orders. M. de Chaumont was the Agent appointed by the Minister of the Marine to make the Out-fit. He was also chosen by all the Captains of the Squadron, as appears by an Instrument under their Hands, to be their Agent, receive, sell and divide Prizes &ca.9 The Crown bought two of them at Public Sale, and the Money I understand is lodg’d in the Hands of a responsible Person at L’Orient. M. De Chaumont says he has given in his Accounts to the Marine, and that he has no more to do with the Affair, except to receive a Ballance due to him.1 That Account however is I believe unsettled, & the Absence of some of the Captains is said to make another Difficulty which retards the Completion of the Business. I never paid or received any thing relating to that Expedition, nor had any other Concern in it, than barely ordering the Alliance to join the Squadron at M. de Sartines Request.2 I know not whether the other Captains will not Claim a Share in what we may obtain from Denmark, tho’ the Prizes were made by the Alliance when separate from the Squadron. If so, that is another Difficulty in the Way of making any Abatement in our Demand without their Consent.

I am sorry to find that you have Thoughts of quitting the Service.3 I do not think your Place can be easily well supplied. You mention that an entire new Arrangement with respect to foreign-Affairs is under Consideration. I wish to know whether any Notice is likely to be taken in it of my Grandson. He has now gone through an Apprenticeship of near seven Years in the Ministerial Business, and is very capable of serving the States in that Line, as possessing all the Requisites of Knowledge, Zeal, Activity, Language & Address. He is well liked here, and Count de Vergennes has express’d to me in warm Terms his very good Opinion of him. The late Swedish Ambassador Count de Creutz, who is gone home to be Prime Minister, desired I would endeavour to procure his being sent to Sweden with a Public Character, assuring me that he should be glad to receive him there as our Minister, and that he knew it would be pleasing to the King. The present Swedish Ambassador has also proposed the same thing to me, as you will see by a Letter of his which I enclose.4 One of the Danish Ministers, Mr. Walterstorf, (who will probably be sent in a Public Character to Congress) has also expressed his Wish that my Grandson may be sent to Denmark.5 But it is not my Custom to sollicit Employments for my self or any of my Family, and I shall not do it in this Case. I only hope that if he is not to be employed in your new Arrangement, I may be informed of it as soon as possible, that while I have Strength left for it, I may accompany him in a Tour to Italy returning thro’ Germany, which I think he may make to more Advantage with me than alone, and which I have long promised to afford him, as a Reward for his faithful Service, and his tender filial Attachment to me.

July 25th.

While I was writing the above Mr. Walterstorff came in, & deliver’d me a Pacquet from M. de Rosencrone the Danish Prime Minister; containing the Project of the Treaty with some proposed Alterations, and a Paper of Reasons in support of them.6 Fearing that we should not have time to copy them, I send herewith the Originals, relying on his Promise to furnish me with Copies, in a few Days.7 He seems to think that the Interest of the Merchants is concerned in an immediate Conclusion of the Treaty that they may form their Plans of Commerce, and wished to know whether I did not think my general Power above mentioned sufficient for that purpose. I told him I thought a particular Commission more agreable to the Forms, but if his Danish Majesty would be content for the present with the general Authority formerly given to me, I believed I might venture to act upon it, reserving by a separate Article, to Congress, a Power of shortning the Term, in Case any Part of the Treaty should not be to their Mind, unless the Alteration of such Part should hereafter be agreed on.

The Prince de Deux-ponts was lately at Paris, and apply’d to me for Information respecting a Commerce which is desired between the Electorate of Bavaria & America.8 I have it also from a good hand at the Court of Vienna, that the Emperor is desirous of establishing a Commerce with us from Trieste as well as Flanders, & would make a Treaty with us if proposed to him:9 Now that our Trade is laid open, and no longer a Monopoly to England, all Europe seems desirous of sharing in it, and for that purpose to cultivate our Friendship. That it may be better known every where, what sort of People, & what kind of Government they will have to treat with, I prevailed with our Friend, the Duke de la Rochefoucault to translate our Book of Constitutions into French, and I presented Copies to all the foreign Ministers. I send you One herewith. They are much admired by the Politicians here, and it is thought will induce considerable Emigrations of substantial People from different Parts of Europe to America. It is particularly a Matter of Wonder, that in the Midst of a cruel War raging in the Bowels of our Country, our Sages should have the firmness of Mind to sit down calmly and form such compleat Plans of Government. They add considerably to the Reputation of the United States.

I have mentioned above the Port of Trieste, with which we may possibly have a Commerce; and I am told that many useful Productions and Manufactures of Hungary may be had extreamly cheap there.1 But it becomes necessary first to consider how our Mediterranean Trade is to be protected from the Corsaires of Barbary. You will see by the enclosed Copy of a Letter I received from Algier, the Danger two of our Ships escaped last Winter.2 I think it not improbable that those Rovers may be Privately encouraged by the English to fall upon us; and to prevent our Interference in the carrying Trade; for I have in London heard it as a Maxim among the Merchants, that if there were no Algiers it would be worth Englands while to build one. I wonder however that the rest of Europe do not combine to destroy those Nests, and secure Commerce from their future Piracies.— I made the Grand Master of Malta a Present of one of our Medals in Silver writing to him a Letter of which I enclose a Copy;3 and I believe our People will be kindly received in his Ports; but that is not sufficient; and perhaps now we have Peace, it will be proper to send Ministers with suitable Presents to establish a Friendship with the Emperor of Morrocco, and the other Barbary States if possible. Mr. Jay will inform you of some Steps that have been taken by a Person at Alicant without Authority, towards a Treaty with that Emperor.4 I send you herewith a few5 more of the abovementioned Medals which have given great Satisfaction to this Court and Nation. I should be glad to know how they are liked with you.

Our People who were Prisoners in England are now all discharged. During the whole War, those who were in Forton Prison near Portsmouth, were much befriended by the constant charitable Care of Mr. Wren, a Presbyterian Minister there, who spared no Pains to assit them in their Sickness & Distress, by procuring and distributing among them the Contributions of good Christians, and prudently dispensing the Allowance I made them, which gave him a great deal of Trouble, but he went thro’ it chearfully. I think some Public Notice should be taken of this good Man. I wish the Congress would enable me to make him a Present, and that some of our Universities would confer upon him the Degree of Doctor.6

The Duke of Manchester, who has always been our Friend in the House of Lords, is now here as Ambassador from England. I dine with him to Day (26th.) and if any thing of Importance occurs, I will add it in a Postscript.

Be pleased to present my dutiful Respects to the Congress, assure them of my most faithful Services, and believe me to be, with great & sincere Esteem, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant.

B Franklin

Honble: Robt. R. Livingston Esqr:

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3In WTF’s hand, with minor corrections by BF.

4In his draft, BF interlined “with reason” and “often.”

5As BF had written to Livingston on June 12, above.

6For Matthias Ogden and the letters he carried see XXXIX, 518–19, 535–6. He arrived in Paris on July 12: Adams Papers, XV, 106.

7Above, July 18.

8For BF’s dealings with Vergennes on this matter see XXXVIII, 461–2, 464–6, 487–8n.

9For the intercepted letter and Vergennes’ view of the negotiations see XXXVIII, 220n, 504.

1JA. Because Livingston was no longer in office when this letter arrived, it was referred to a congressional committee. Elbridge Gerry copied this entire paragraph and sent it to Abigail Adams. She sent it to her husband, who received it on May 5, 1784: Adams Correspondence, V, 250–2, 280–2.

2BF had complained similarly to Robert Morris in March: XXXIX, 301–2. In May, Samuel Cooper alerted BF to the accusations against him and the French that JA had written to correspondents in America. That letter seems to have arrived in September: XXXIX, 561–2.

3See Vergennes to the Commissioners, July 5.

4“Trifles light as air / Are to the jealous confirmations strong / As proofs of holy writ”: Othello, act III, scene iii, lines 322–4. BF had written most of the second line in his draft, but deleted it.

5BF interlined this word in his draft.

6Article 4 of the first draft of the preliminary articles (XXXVIII, 193–4), whose subsequent revision had been lamented by Livingston: XXXIX, 394. It called for American ships and merchants to be treated as British while in Britain and vice versa.

7The July 2 Order in Council; see Falconer to BF, July 8.

8An elaboration of an opinion expressed in 1781: XXXV, 83.

9XXXIX, 394.

1On July 15 Vergennes informed the commissioners that two free ports were being secured to the United States as provided by Article 32 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (XXV, 624–5). According to JA’s account, these were on Saint Lucia and Martinique: JA to Livingston, July 16, Adams Papers, XV, 123. In fact, this new French policy was less liberal than what had occurred during the war, when American ships had enjoyed access to all ports in the French West Indies. In early 1783 France had quietly reverted to the regulations of 1767 which permitted access only to Portdu-Cârenage, Saint Lucia, and Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Saint-Domingue. These regulations also limited what cargoes could be carried, although colonial officials were slow to impose these restrictions. A permanent policy, however, was still under debate; see the editorial note in Morris Papers, VIII, 681–4.

2See the Portuguese Counterproposal for a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, [c. June 7].

3July 15.

4The resolution of Oct. 16, 1776: XXII, 629–30.

5As BF wrote to Livingston on April 15: XXXIX, 468. See the annotation of Walterstorff to BF, May 20.

6BF had sent Livingston a copy of his letter to Rosencrone with his April 15 letter cited above. The verbal offer described here was made on May 29; see the annotation of Rosencrone to BF, July 8. Ever since the prize ships were seized, the Danish ministry had known that BF valued them at £50,000 sterling; he had written this explicitly in his initial protest: XXXI, 264–5.

7Which Livingston had offered to send, if it seemed necessary: XXXIX, 395–6.

8See Schonfeld to BF, July 20.

9Actually, BF had requested these lists. On May 26 Frederick II had instructed Goltz, his minister in Paris, to propose to BF that America designate a European port through which Prussia could continue the trade that formerly had been handled through Britain and Holland: fabrics and woolens exchanged for Virginia tobacco, leather, rice, and sugar. As Prussia had no treaty with the Barbary states, the king was unwilling to risk sending ships to America. Goltz had to wait some weeks before he could meet with BF. (His June 13 dispatch explained that the American had been ill.) On June 20 he reported that BF requested “an exact and extensive” list of Prussian merchandise with prices marked in English and German, which he would forward to American merchants and which Congress could consult before formulating their instructions. BF clarified that only tobacco, rice, and indigo were products of the continent; sugar and coffee could be supplied from the islands. He knew the reputation of fine Silesian fabrics but surmised that less expensive woolen cloth from Westphalia would find a larger market; woolen products and hardware were needed. By contrast, BF assured Goltz that Americans did not need beeswax and honey from Poland. As for setting up a depot in a European port, BF predicted that American merchants would not want to incur the extra expense. They would certainly prefer to ship goods directly to Prussia, even if Prussian outfitters were unwilling to risk encounters with Barbary pirates, who were (it seemed to BF) “quite far off the route.” Frederick responded on June 30 that he was having lists of Prussian merchandise printed according to BF’s wishes, and would send them to Paris. One of them reached Bache & Shee by Sept. 22, when the firm advertised that it had received a price list of Prussian linen, cotton, and woolen goods: Marvin L. Brown, Jr., ed. and trans., American Independence through Prussian Eyes … Selections from the Prussian Diplomatic Correspondence (Durham, N.C., 1959), pp. 202–5; Pa. Gaz., Oct. 8, 1783.

1XXXVIII, 416–17; XXXIX, 397.

2He never did. For Livingston’s praise of BF’s journal of the peace negotiations see XXXIX, 397–8.

3Address and Recommendations to the States, by the United States in Congress assembled, which Livingston sent on May 9: XXXIX, 579.

4That contract (XXXVII, 633–9) was included in the pamphlet.

5It was ratified on Jan. 22, 1783: JCC, XXIV, 50–64. In February, Vergennes and BF signed a new contract, which Congress ratified on Oct. 31: XXXIX, 201–6.

6The resolution requested an additional 3,000,000 livres from France: XXXIX, 580n. BF’s letter to Morris is below, July 27.

7After concluding the preliminary articles, the commissioners requested estimates from all the states of the losses they had suffered at the hands of the British. Only two states had as yet complied: XXXIX, 580.

8Barclay received his orders to settle the affair of these prizes (for which see Livingston’s May 31 letter) in September, 1782, when he applied to WTF to send him the relevant documentation and provide him with a letter to Castries announcing his assignment. He obtained an audience with the naval minister, who promised to look into it. In March, 1783, when drafting a memorial to the French government at Castries’ invitation, Barclay asked BF (once again through WTF) whether he could state that the expenses of the expedition were to be paid by France: Barclay to WTF, Sept. 10, 1782 (APS); Roberts and Roberts, Thomas Barclay, p. 106; Barclay to Livingston, Oct. 19, 1782 (National Archives); Barclay to WTF, March 22, 1783 (APS).

9XXX, 223n, 248n, 459.

1Chaumont had ceased his involvement with the project in late 1781: XXXVII, 732; XXXIX, 305n.

2For the request and BF’s orders see XXIX, 345–6, 372, 382–3, 383, 780–1; XXX, 68–9.

3See Livingston to BF, May 31.

4Staël von Holstein to BF, June 13.

5Walterstorff was actually not a minister, but hoped to be permitted to sign the treaty and to be named minister to the United States. In early August, when soliciting these favors from Rosencrone, he claimed that BF had offered to write on his behalf. As for WTF’s diplomatic career, Walterstorff’s dispatches reflect only that when he pressed BF to send a negotiator to Copenhagen (for which see the annotation of his May 20 letter), BF had told him in confidence that he would send WTF. As the weeks progressed, however, it became clear that BF had no intention of doing so. He argued that the matter could be settled more quickly if the treaty were signed in Paris: Walterstorff to Rosencrone, April 10, May 9, July 20, Aug. 3, 1783, Statens Arkiver, Rigsarkivet.

6See Rosencrone to BF, July 8.

7He did so on Aug. 7. On Aug. 26 they met to discuss them. BF objected to two of Denmark’s changes. To the reciprocal Articles 4 and 5, which in Congress’ draft guaranteed mutual protection of ships “upon all occasions,” Denmark inserted a clause restricting protection of ships to occasions “where there may be a common enemy.” BF also objected to a restriction they placed in Article 13, the revised version of Congress’ draft Article 11 (itself essentially identical to the first part of Article 19 of the Franco-American commercial treaty: XXV, 612–13). Whereas America and France had allowed that ships of war or privateers could carry into each other’s ports ships and goods taken from their enemies without paying any duties, Denmark specified that they would pay no other duty “than such as the most favored nations.” (Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, VI, 520–1, 522–3.) After debating both issues, Walterstorff reported (however reliably) that BF yielded and was willing to sign the Danish counterproposal. Walterstorff immediately wrote for powers to sign, while informing his court that BF would not sign until he received special powers from Congress, which he expected to arrive in four to five weeks. In the meantime, BF gave Walterstorff two new articles he proposed for inclusion: the humanitarian articles he had long wished to see in the peace treaty with Great Britain, which he wove into his proposed treaty with Portugal (retained as Articles 11 and 12 in the Portuguese counterproposal, [c. June 7]), accompanied by a French translation of the essay later entitled “Thoughts on Privateering” (XXXVII, 617–19). Though the king approved these additions in early October, Walterstorff did not inform BF, as he decided against scheduling another meeting until BF received further instructions from Congress. Walterstorff to Rosencrone, Aug. 7 and 28, Oct. 24, 1783, Statens Arkiver, Rigsarkivet.

8On June 14, above.

9See XXXIX, 445–6n.

1For the opening of a direct trade between the United States and Trieste see XXXVI, 354–5; XXXIX, 600–2.

2XXXIX, 419–21.

3XXXIX, 436.

4The person was Robert Montgomery; see our annotation of Crocco to BF, July 15.

5There is an “X” here keyed to the number 25 written in the margin. BF had previously sent Livingston 50 medals: XXXIX, 470–1n. In early July he had additional medals struck in silver and copper (XXXIX, 391n). When those sent with this letter arrived, Boudinot distributed them “among the States”: Smith, Letters, XX, 675.

6A congressional committee recommended a gift “not exceeding £500,” but in the end, Congress voted to confer its thanks. The College of New Jersey awarded Wren an honorary degree: Smith, Letters, XX, 703; JCC, XXV, 632; Sheldon S. Cohen, “Thomas Wren: Ministering Angel of Forton Prison,” PMHB, CIII (1979), 279–80, 297–9.

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