Benjamin Franklin Papers
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From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Mifflin, 12[–13] May 1784

To Thomas Mifflin

Press copy of LS8 and AL (draft):9 Library of Congress; copy: Yale University Library; transcript: National Archives

Passy, May 12th.[—13]1 1784


In my last2 I acquainted your Excellency that Mr. Hartley was soon expected here to exchange Ratifications of the definitive Treaty. He is now arrived, and proposes to make the Exchange this Afternoon: I shall then be enabled to send a Copy.—

Enclosed is the new British Proclamation respecting our Trade with their Colonies.3 It is said to be a temporary Provision till Parliament can assemble and make some proper regulating Law, or till a Commercial Treaty shall be framed and agreed to. Mr Hartley expects Instructions for planning with us such a Treaty. The Ministry are supposed to have been too busy with the new Elections when he left London, to think of those Matters.

This Court has not compleated its intended new System for the Trade of their Colonies, so that I cannot yet give a certain Acct of the Advantages that will in fine be allow’d us. At present it is said we are to have two Free-Ports, Tobago & the Mole;4 and that we may carry Lumber and all sorts of Provisions to the rest, except Flour, which is reserved in Favour of Bourdeaux; and that we shall be permitted to export Coffee, Rum, Melasses and some Sugar for our own Consumption.5

We have had under Consideration a Commercial Treaty proposed to us by the King of Prussia, and have sent it back with our Remarks to Mr Adams,6 who will I suppose transmit it immediately to Congress. Those plann’d with Denmark and Portugal wait its Determination.7

Be pleased to present my dutiful Respects to the Congress, and believe me to be, with sincere and great Esteem Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant.

B. Franklin

His Exy. T. Mifflin Esq.—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In WTF’s hand.

9At the top of this draft, BF later wrote, “Sent by Mr. Jay who sail’d from Dover the 31st.” He must have based this erroneous date on the June 2 letter he received from Thomas Thompson (below). Jay forwarded the present letter to Mifflin on July 25, the day after he arrived in New York: Jay Papers, III, 589.

1BF added the following postscript to the now-missing LS: “May 13. I now enclose a Copy of the Ratification of the Definitive Treaty, on the part of His Britannic Majesty.” (The postscript is present in both the copy and transcript listed above.) On Aug. 2 Congress, meeting in Annapolis as the Committee of the States, voted to transmit the British ratification to the governors and have it both entered into the journal and printed in the Md. Gaz.: JCC, XXVII, 615–24.

2BF and Jay to Mifflin, April 16, above.

3Presumably the copy of the April 16 Order in Council that Laurens had sent BF via Hartley; see Laurens to BF, April 18, and BF to Laurens, April 29.

4Môle-St.-Nicolas on the northern coast of St.-Domingue.

5BF had given a similar report to Henry Laurens on Feb. 12: XLI, 557.

6BF and Jay to JA, April 29, above.

7Negotiations for treaties with both nations had begun in 1783: XXXIX, 252, 467–8; XL, 63.

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