Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from John Adams, 2 March 1780

From John Adams

AL: American Philosophical Society

Passy March 2d. 1780.

Mr Adams’s respectfull Compliments to Dr Franklin. Informs him that Monsieur the Comte De Vergennes has appointed him next Tuesday to be at Versailles in order to be presented to the King and Royal Family.2 Mr Adams will have the Honour to breakefast at Passy with Dr Franklin, at an hour early enough to go to Versailles, which he supposes will be 8 o Clock.

His Excellency Dr Franklin

Addressed: His Excellency / Benjamin Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2JA was presented the following Tuesday, March 7: Adams Papers, IX, 24. The presentation was not announced officially, however, as Vergennes had told JA it would be: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, IV, 251–2, 254n. This was the result of a misunderstanding which would contribute to the eventual rift between the two. When JA informed Vergennes of his selection as commissioner to negotiate peace and a commercial treaty with Great Britain, he asked the French foreign minister’s advice about informing the British court and the public about his mission: ibid., IV, 243–5. He did not explain, however, the purpose of making such an announcement; as he himself later admitted, his going to England “would have been a just cause of jealousy to our ally”: Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 5th ser., IV (1878), 384. JA’s motives apparently puzzled Vergennes. He told La Luzerne, the French minister in Philadelphia, that the new commissioner had given him occasion “to judge he does not know the whole nature and whole object of his commission”: James H. Hutson, John Adams and the Diplomacy of the American Revolution (Lexington, Ky., 1980), p. 58. JA in turn asked why his presentation had not been officially announced: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, IV, 254n. It appears the cause of JA’s faux pas was his concern that BF would attempt to take over any peace negotiations: Hutson, John Adams and the Diplomacy of the American Revolution, pp. 52–9.

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