Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Lafayette: Extract, 24 July 1782

To Lafayette: Extract

Reprinted from William Temple Franklin, ed., Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin … (3 vols., 4to, London, 1817–18), II, 390–1.

Passy, July 24, 1782.

… In answer to your questions, Mr. Oswald is doing nothing, having neither powers nor instructions; and being tired of doing nothing, has dispatched a courier requesting leave to return.1 He has I believe received no letters since I saw you, from Lord Shelburne, Mr. Grenville’s return hither is I think doubtful, as he was particularly connected in friendship with Mr. Fox;2 but if he stays I suppose some other will be sent, for I do not yet see sufficient reason to think they would abandon the negociation, though from some appearances I imagine they are more intent upon dividing us, than upon making a general peace. I have heard nothing farther from Mr. Laurens, nor received any paper from him respecting Lord Cornwallis. And since that General’s letter written after the battle of Camden, and ordering not only the confiscation of rebels’ estates, but the hanging of prisoners,3 has been made public, I should not wonder if the Congress were to disallow our absolution of his parole, and recall him to America. With everlasting esteem and respect, I am, dear Sir, yours most affectionately,


1We have found no confirmation of this.

2George III recalled Grenville, directing him to tell BF that it was for the purpose of receiving fresh instructions. He left Paris on July 17: Lord John Russell, ed., Memorials and Correspondence of Charles James Fox (4 vols., London, 1853–57), IV, 260–1; Fortescue, Correspondence of George Third, VI, 82. As BF anticipated, he did not return. His diplomatic mission, paralyzed by the dispute between Fox and Shelburne, had accomplished little, but his lengthy diplomatic and political career was only beginning. It culminated in a six-month tenure (1806–07) as first lord of the admiralty: DNB.

3In mid-September, 1780, a month after the Battle of Camden, Cornwallis ordered the sequestration of estates of “traitors” and threatened to hang two prisoners if the Americans hanged the Loyalist planter John Hutchison (although he also offered an exchange for Hutchison): K. G. Davies, ed., Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783 (Colonial Office Series) (21 vols., Shannon, Ire., 1972–81), XVI, 400; Franklin and Mary Wickwire, Cornwallis: the American Adventure (Boston, 1970), p. 174.

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