Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to Ralph Izard, 10 March 1778

The American Commissioners to Ralph Izard

AL (draft):3 American Philosophical Society

Passy, March 10. 1778


As soon as the Commissioners to this Court shall have completed any Treaties here and it is in their Power to communicate them, you may depend on their Readiness to comply with your Request. And whenever you shall think proper to appoint a Meeting for the purpose of conferring with them on the other Points mention’d in the Letter you honour’d them with of the 5th Instant they will attend you with Pleasure. We have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient humble Servants.4

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3In BF’s hand. On March 5 Izard had asked to see the Treaty of Amity and Commerce; Lee held that the request should be granted, Deane that it should be denied because the French court had enjoined secrecy: Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, I, 402. BF drafted this answer and thought for a time that it had been sent. It had not. Lee, after disclosing its contents to Izard and learning that the latter objected, held it up for reconsideration; see BF to Izard below, March 30, with Izard’s note. In the present letter, and most of those that follow on the same subject, the treaties are referred to in the plural. Izard and William Lee had good ground for wanting to see the commercial treaty; it was relevant to their missions. They had no claim to see the treaty of alliance; it was secret, and the court was determined to keep it so, as BF pointed out to William Lee in his note of the 24th.

4On the verso BF began an unrelated letter: “Mr. Franklin presents his respectful Compliments to Madame de Chalut. He partakes.” He may well have been starting to answer a brief note in the APS, dated only Sunday, from the wife of Chalut de Vérin, the farmer general, in which she regrets having been unable to dine with him on Friday and asks him to name any day in the coming week. She addresses him as envoy to the court of France, and hence was probably writing after the King officially received the commissioners on March 20.

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