Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Earl of Shelburne, 28 April 1782

From the Earl of Shelburne9

Copies:1 Massachusetts Historical Society, Library of Congress; AL (draft): Public Record Office; press copy of copy: Library of Congress; transcripts: Massachusetts Historical Society, National Archives

Shelburne House 28th. April 1782.

I have received much Satisfaction in being assured by you, that the Qualifications of Wisdom & Integrity which induced me to make Choice of Mr. Oswald, as the fittest Instrument for the renewal of our Friendly Intercourse, have also recommended him so effectually to your Approbation & Esteem. I most heartily wish that the Influence of this first communication of our mutual Sentiments may be extended to a happy Conclusion of all our Public Differences.—

The Candour, with which Monsieur le Comte de Vergennes expresses his most Christian Majesty’s Sentiments and Wishes on the Subject of a speedy Pacification is a pleasing Omen of its accomplishment. His Majesty is not less decided in the same Sentiments & Wishes, and it confirms his Majesty’s Ministers in their Intention to act in like manner, as most consonant to the true Dignity of a great Nation.2

In consequence of these Reciprocal Advances Mr. Oswald is sent back to Paris for the purpose of arranging & settling with you the preliminaries of Time and Place, and I have the Pleasure to tell you, that Mr Laurens is already discharged from those Engagements, which he enter’d into, when he was admitted to Bail.3

It is also determined that Mr Fox, from whose Department4 that Communication is necessarily to proceed, shall send a proper Person, who may confer and settle immediately with Monsr de Vergennes the further Measures and Proceedings, which may be judg’d proper to adopt towards advancing the Prosecution of this Important Business. In the mean time Mr Oswald is instructed to communicate to you my Thoughts upon the principal Objects to be settled.

Transports are actually preparing for the purpose of conveying your Prisoners to America to be there exchanged, and we trust, that you will learn, that due Attention has not been wanting to their accommodation & good treatment.—

I have the honour to be with very sincere Respect, Dear Sir, Your faithful & obedient humble Servant


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9In answer to BF’s of April 18. This letter was delivered by Oswald when he returned to Paris on May 4; see BF’s journal of the peace negotiations.

1The copy we print, made by WTF, was sent to JA on May 8. (BF’s accompanying letter of that date is below.) The press copy at the Library of Congress was made from this version and retained by BF. The original may have been given to Vergennes; there is a French translation at the AAE. The other copy and transcripts are in BF’s journal of the peace negotiations, where they were misdated April 20.

2The Cabinet met on the evening of April 25 and recommended to the King “that Mr. Oswald shall return to Paris with authority to name Paris as the Place, and to settle with Dr. Franklin the most convenient time for setting on Foot a Negotiation for a General Peace,—and to represent to him that the principal points in contemplation are the allowance of Independence to America, upon Great Britain being restored to the situation she was placed in by the Treaty of 1763, and that Mr. Fox shall submit to the consideration of the King a proper person to make a similar communication to Monsr. de Vergennes.” The next morning Shelburne forwarded the minutes of their meeting to the King. On April 27, he told the King that Oswald could leave the next day and sent a draft of the present letter for approval. George replied immediately that it “would be perfectly safe … to send it without any alteration.” Fortescue, Correspondence of George Third, V, 488, 492, 494.

3I.e., to appear before the Court of King’s Bench. On April 26, Shelburne released him from the obligation: XXXVI, 372n; Laurens Papers, XV, 397, 401, 494.

4As Foreign Secretary.

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