Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from David Hartley, 26 July 1782

From David Hartley

Copy:8 William L. Clements Library

London 26 July 1782

My Dear Friend,

You will have heared before you Receive this that Mr T. Td. is appointed Secretary of State for that department to which the American Corespondence belongs. He is, & has been for many years one of my most intimate Friends.9 A more honourable & honest Man do’s not exist. I have been Requested, in connection with him to undertake one branch of his Office, relating to America. The point which I have been Requested to undertake is the Case, or rather the diversity of Cases of the American Refugees, I understand that in the progress of this business, I shall be referred to a Corespondence with you, as matter may arise. My purpose therfor for the present is only to advertise you of this, in case you Should have any preliminary matter to give or to Receive elucidation upon. I am very Ready to undertake any matter which may be necessary or Instrumental towards peace especially in Connection with my worthy Friend Mr Townshend.

You know all my principles upon American pacification and Sweet Conciliation. I Shall always Remain in the Same. But the delegation of a Single point to me, Such as the Case of the Refugees, do’s not entitle me to advise upon the great Outlines or principles of Such pacific Negotiation. I shall retain my full Reservation in Such points as Events may justify. My personal motive for Saying this to you, is obvious. But in point of justice to those who have at present the direction of publick measures in this Country, I must Request of you, that this Caution of mine may be accepted only as personal to myself, & not as ferential upon the conduct of others, where I am not a party. Having taken a zealous part in the principles & Negotiations of Peace, I wish to Stand clear from any Collateral Constructions which might affect myself, and at the same time not to impose any Collateral or Inferential Constructions upon others. God prosper the Work of Peace & good Will as the Means of Peace amongst Men. I am ever your most Affectionat F[riend]


Notations:1 Memm: 8th Septr Copy of a Letter from Mr H. to Dr Franklin, &ca / Copies of Letters from Mr David Hartley to Dr. Franklin of 26th. July, & 8th. Septr. 1782. / In Mr. Oswald’s. of 11th. Septr. 1782

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In the hand of Richard Oswald, who forwarded it to Shelburne with a lengthy note of explanation dated “8th Septemr” on the verso. BF had shown Oswald the letter “about three weeks ago” but said he did not understand it. On Sept. 8, when Oswald informed BF that Hartley had “given up his office,” BF mentioned having received several letters from Hartley which he had not yet answered. Oswald requested permission to copy the one BF had shown him. BF gave it to him and also allowed him to read Hartley’s letters of Aug. 16 and 20 (missing), seeming “as if he wished not to be thought to countenance Corespondences of that nature—or that it Should be thought there was any Change in his Sentiments with Regard to Certain Friends he had hitherto esteemed & honored.” Oswald “took that opportunity to take nottice of the designed Arts of those, who for Reasons personal to themselves, were apt to misrepresent things … Only having mentioned one Gentlemans name—the Doctor seemed to wish that it might not be Supposed that his long Stay here was owing to him. For excepting the first two days he had not Said a word to him on business. I said there could be no harm in his Staying, as I was Certain he meant alwise to do any good in his power—& we had often occasion to be together. The Doctr Said he was getting Acquaintances, & more insight into Naturl philosophy &ca. …” The gentleman in question was Benjamin Vaughan; see BF to Vergennes, July 24.

9Hartley had served in the House of Commons with Thomas Townshend, who represented Whitchurch from 1754 until he resigned in March, 1783, to become Secretary at War: Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, III, 554–6. He became part of the new Shelburne government, replacing Shelburne as secretary of state for the home department on July 10: Fortescue, Correspondence of George Third, VI, 76–8; Sir F. Maurice Powicke and E. B. Fryde, comps., Handbook of British Chronology (2nd ed., London, 1961), p. 115. Shelburne, however, continued to direct the American negotiations.

1The first of which is in Oswald’s hand; the last is in Shelburne’s.

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