Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Ernst Frederik von Walterstorff, 20 May 1783

From Ernst Frederik von Walterstorff2

AL: American Philosophical Society

Rue neuve St. Augustin, au coin de
La ruë Ste. Anne. May 20th. [1783]

M. de Walterstorff presents his respectfull compliments to Dr. Franklin, requesting the honour of his Company to dinner on monday next the 26th. instant at 3 o’Clock.—3

Addressed: The right honourable / Dr. Franklin / at / Passy.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The Danish courtier who was instructed by Danish Foreign Minister Rosencrone to approach BF about the possibility of negotiating a commercial treaty: XXXIX, 462, 467–8. Documents obtained from the National Archives of Denmark indicate that prior to his first extant letter of April 13, Walterstorff visited BF at Passy four times. Their first meeting, on March 22, was cut short by the arrival of other guests, but the following day Walterstorff showed BF his instructions from Rosencrone (XXXIX, 468n), and the two men began to discuss commercial relations. BF agreed to send Rosencrone a draft treaty (which he did on April 15: XXXIX, 473–4) and led Walterstorff to believe that he would send an American representative to Copenhagen to conclude the negotiations, as the court desired. These talks continued on March 28 and April 10.

A copy made in Rosencrone’s office of BF’s treaty proposal, entitled “Plan d’un Traité d’Amitié et de Commerce entre le Roi de Dannemark et les Etats Unis de l’Amerique,” confirms that BF sent a French translation of Congress’ proposed treaty with Sweden, as he told Livingston he had (XXXIX, 468). To those 18 articles, he appended two, numbered 19 and 20, stipulating that ratifications were to be exchanged within eight months and the treaty would be in effect for 15 years. These correspond to Article 27 and the unnumbered Separate Article of the Swedish-American treaty: XXXIX, 267–8.

The editors are indebted to Erik Gøbel of the Statens Arkiver, Rigsarkivet, for providing copies of documents relating to these negotiations. The information on Walterstorff’s early meetings with BF is from his letters to Rosencrone of March 23 and 30 and April 10, 1783.

3WTF (“Mr. Franklin”) received his own invitation: APS. JA, Jay, and Laurens were also invited: Walterstorff to Rosencrone, May 25, 1783, Statens Arkiver, Rigsarkivet. This dinner may have been an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers. On May 18 Walterstorff had met with BF in the morning and dined, as part of a large company, at JA’s in the afternoon. BF warned him that although he had told Jay about the negotiations, JA as yet knew nothing about them. JA was not pleased to learn about them, in general terms, from Walterstorff that afternoon. He insisted that Walterstorff tell the king that the only person in Europe authorized to conduct such negotiations was Francis Dana. When Walterstorff wrote his dispatch that evening, he wondered at BF’s never mentioning Dana and observed that “il n’est pas impossible, qu’il ne regne un peu de jalousie entre quelques uns de ces Messieurs”: Walterstorff to Rosencrone, May 18, 1783, Statens Arkiver, Rigsarkivet.

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