Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Adams, 3 November [i.e., December] 1782

To John Adams3

ALS: Massachusetts Historical Society

Passy, Nov. [i.e., December] 3. 1782


I am perfectly of your Opinion respecting the Copy to be sent to Mr Dana, and shall have one prepared directly for that purpose.4

Is it not also a proper time for you to propose the Quadruple Alliance offensive and defensive, or at least defensive, which I think you once mentioned to me?5 For I apprehend this Peace may be so humiliating to England, that on the first Occasion, she will fall upon one or other of the Powers at present engag’d against her; and it may then be difficult for us to unite again.6

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

His Excelly. John Adams Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3In answer to the preceding letter, and sent on the afternoon of Dec. 3: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 88.

4WTF brought the copy later that day, with the “separate article” on a separate sheet in case JA wanted to send this copy to the Dutch minister: WTF to JA, Dec. 3, 1782, Mass. Hist. Soc.

5On Aug. 20, 1781, John Jay suggested to BF a quadruple alliance between France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States: XXXV, 384–5. JA mentioned the idea of a triple or quadruple alliance on Dec. 6, 1781 and May 2, 1782: XXXVI, 200; XXXVII, 263. Congress had specified that such an alliance must be solely for the duration of the present war: JCC, XXI, 877–8.

6BF expressed similar fears to Vergennes in a June 11 interview and suggested that the various parties to a treaty with Britain make an alliance for their mutual protection: XXXVII, 335. JA also feared postwar diplomatic involvements, confiding to his diary on Nov. 11 that “[America] had been a Football between contending Nations from the Beginning, and it was easy to foresee that France and England both would endeavour to involve Us in their future Wars.” Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 52. By Article 11 of the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance, the United States agreed to guarantee “forever” the present French possessions “in America” as well as those she acquired at the peace, while France guaranteed American liberty, sovereignty, and independence: XXV, 590–1.

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