Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Adams, [13 September 1783]

From John Adams

Copies: South Carolina Historical Society,1 Massachusetts Historical Society; press copy of copy: Henry E. Huntington Library

[September 13, 1783]2


I have received the Letter which you did me the Honour to write me, on the Tenth of this Month, in which you say, you have received a Letter from a very respectable Person in America, containing the following Words vizt. “It is confidently reported, propagated and believed by some among us, that the Court of France was at Bottom, against our obtaining the Fishery and Territory in that great Extent in which both are secured to us, by the Treaty; that our Minister at that Court favoured, or did not oppose, this Design against us, and that it was entirely owing to the Firmness, Sagacity & Disinterestedness of M. Adams, with whom Mr. Jay united, that we have obtained those important Advantages.”—

It is unnecessary for me, to say any Thing upon this Subject more than to quote the Words which I wrote in the Evening of the 30 of November 1782 and which have been received and read in Congress, vizt.3 “As soon as I arrived in Paris, I waited on M. Jay & learned from him, the Rise and Progress of the Negotiation.— Nothing that happened, since the Beginning of the Controversy in 1761 has ever struck me more forcibly or affected me more intimately, than that entire Coincidence of Principles and Opinions, between him and me. In about three Days I went out to Passy, and spent the Evening with Dr. Franklin, and entered largely into Conversation with him, upon the Course and present State of our Foreign affairs. I told him my Opinion without Reserve, of the Policy of this Court, and of the Principles, Wisdom and Firmness, with which Mr. Jay had conducted the Negotiation, in his Sickness and my Absence; and that I was determined to support Mr. Jay, to the utmost of my Power, in Pursuit of the same System. The Dr. heard me patiently but said Nothing.

“The first Conference we had afterwards, with Mr. Oswald, in considering one Point and another, Dr. Franklin turned to Mr. Jay and said, I am of your Opinion, and will go on with these Gentlemen in the Business, without consulting this Court. He has accordingly met us, in most of our Conferences, and has gone on with us, in entire Harmony & Unanimity, throughout, and has been able and useful both by his Sagacity and Reputation, in the whole Negotiation.”

I have the honour to be, very respectfully, Sir, your most obedient & most humble Servant.

(signed) John Adams.

Copy of a Letter from his Excellency John Adams to B. Franklin Esqr. dated Paris, Sept. 13. 1783.—

Notation by Henry Laurens: Copy of Mr. Adams’s Letter of 13th. Septr 1783 to Doctr Franklin given to me by the Doctor 5th. Novr 1783 —

1In L’Air de Lamotte’s hand. The press copy is of this text.

2The dateline is present on the Mass. Hist. Soc. copy, written by Thaxter in JA’s letterbook; see Adams Papers, XV, 291–2.

3The following quotation is from JA’s journal of the peace negotiations, received by Robert R. Livingston on March 12, 1783: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 41–3n, 82.

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