The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation
Versailles 27th. September 1778
In the letter which you did me the honor to write to me the 28th. of last month, You recall the promise which the King has made in the 8th Article of the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce signed the 6th. February last, to employ his good offices with the Regencies of Barbary, to procure for the subjects of the United States, every security in the Meditteranean for their Commerce and Navigation. I have communicated your request to M. de Sartine, to whose department this subject belongs, and you will find by this Ministers answer, copy of which you have inclosed, that he thinks it well founded, But before the orders of the King are taken in this respect, he requires several eclaircissements.1
I request of you Gentlemen to Address them to me, and to be beforehand assured that the King will very willingly do whatever is in his power to satisfy the United States and to render their wishes approved of by the Princes of Barbary.
I have the honor to be &c.
LbC (Adams Papers). Translation by John Pintard (PCC, No. 85, f. 183).
1. In the enclosed letter to Vergennes of 21 Sept., Sartine asked whether the United States sought to negotiate treaties with the Barbary States or only wished France to use its influence to insure respect for the American flag. Sartine considered the latter course to be unwise and probably fruitless since the Barbary governments, unless they received some tangible benefits, were likely to pay lip service to the French request, while continuing their depredations on American commerce. Sartine believed that it would probably be easier and more effective to negotiate treaties, and in that case he needed to know what powers and instructions the Commissioners had in that regard so that the French government could concert its efforts with those of the United States (LbC, Adams Papers; translation by John Pintard, PCC, No. 85, f. 187–188).