Benjamin Franklin Papers

David Hartley to the American Peace Commissioners, 29 August 1783

David Hartley to the American Peace Commissioners

ALS: William L. Clements Library; copies: Library of Congress, Massachusetts Historical Society, National Archives; press copy of copy: National Archives

Paris August 29 1783


As the day is now fixed for the signatures of the Definitive treaties between Great Britain France and Spain4 I beg leave to inform you that I am ready to sign the Definitive treaty between Great Britain and the united States of America whenever it shall be convenient to you. I beg the favour therefore of you to fix the day.5 My Instructions confine me to Paris as the place appointed to me for the exercise of my functions6 and therefore whatever day you may fix upon for the signature I shall hope to receive the honour of your Company at the Hôtel de York.7

I am Gentlemen with Great Respect and Consideration Your most obedt Servt.

D Hartley

To Their Excellencies The Ministers plenipotentiary of the United States of America.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The day was set for Wednesday, Sept. 3.

5BF immediately applied to Vergennes on this point; see Gérard de Rayneval’s response, the following document.

6Hartley’s instructions contained no such restriction. His claim that he was obliged to perform all official functions at Paris was a ruse to forestall the Americans’ proposing that they sign the treaty at Versailles: Hartley to Fox, Sept. 1, 1783, in Giunta, Emerging Nation, I, 930. BF later observed to the president of Congress that Hartley’s refusal to sign at Versailles was evidence of the English ministers’ mounting irritation that “all their Treaties for Peace were carried on under the Eye of the French court.” The American commissioners complied with Hartley’s insistence on signing at Paris with “good Humour”: BF to Thomas Mifflin, Dec. 25, 1783 (National Archives).

7Hartley’s residence was at 56, rue Jacob, in the Latin Quarter; see Hillairet, Rues de Paris, I, 667.

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