Benjamin Franklin Papers

Franklin’s Sketch of Articles of Peace, [between 10 and 13 December? 1782]

Franklin’s Sketch of Articles of Peace

Copy: South Carolina Historical Society

[between December 10 and 13, 1782?]4

That there shall be a firm & perpetual Peace &ca.

A Renunciation on the Part of the K. of G. B. of all Claim or Pretention to the Government or Territory of all or any of the United States, ceding all Claim to the Lands, or to the Right of Preemption of any of them from the Natives, included in the Boundaries, Viz.

That all his Troops shall be withdrawn from the Continent, and the Provinces of Canada & Nova Scotia declared free & Independent States, and at Liberty to join the Confederacy or remain separate.

That the Island of Bermudas shall likewise be left at Liberty.

That Ships belonging to any of the Subjects of G. B. shall and may enter freely into any of the Ports of the United States, and expose their Merchandize there to Sale, subject to no other Restrictions, Duties &c. than the most favoured Nations are or shall be subject to.

That the Vessels belonging to any Subjects of the said States may enter as freely all the Ports of Great Britain, Ireland, or any of its Dependencies, as they might have done in the Year 1750, liable to no other Duties &c than the most favoured Nation— or than they were subject to at that time.

That the Subjects of the United States and those of the King of Great Britain shall not be deemed Aliens in the Dominions of either, but enjoy the same Rights of Citizenship, as at the time above mentioned.

That the Right of Fishery shall remain the same & be enjoyed in common by the Subjects of both Nations under such Regulations only as were in Force in 1750.


In Case of future War, no Privateers.

All Merchant Vessels unarmed to pass freely with their Cargoes.

Any Merchandize taken out of them because wanted, to be paid for.

No Goods contraband.

Military Stores may be detain’d paying for the delay, or taken paying the Price.

Landing, Farmers & Inhabitants of open Towns not to be molested.

Fishermen free.

Notation in Henry Laurens’ hand: Dr. Franklin’s sketch of Articles of Peace. /

Copy of a sketch of Articles for a Treaty of Peace between Great Britain & America proposed by Doctor Franklin & delivered by him to Mr. Jay to be extended, as appears by Mr. Jay’s endorsement in the words contained in the two first Lines above-written which I have seen in Mr. Jay’s own hand writing & carefully compared this Copy with the original. Paris 5th. Novr. 1783. H L.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4On Dec. 10, according to JA’s diary, BF and JA visited Oswald and discussed the British reaction to the preliminary articles as well as Britain’s ongoing negotiations with the other warring powers. At the end of the conversation BF told JA that “he was for beginning early to think about the Articles of the difinitive Treaty. We had been so happy as to be the first in the Preliminaries, and he wished to be so in the definitive Articles.” JA then listed in his diary five articles that he wanted to see included: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 94–5.

Within the next few days JA thought of four additional items and drew up a sketch of nine “Articles to be proposed in the definitive Treaty” (Mass. Hist. Soc.). One of the new items reads: “Dr Franklin desired to draw an Article respecting exempting Husbandmen Fishermen and Merchants as much as possible from the Calamities of War, in any future War.” BF drafted that article by Dec. 13, when he showed it to JA; it is published below, under that date.

The present document certainly predates BF’s draft of that proposed article, many of whose well-organized elements are listed here in a scattershot fashion among other ideas that seem to have been jotted down as they came to mind. We speculate that BF drew up this list after his Dec. 10 meeting with JA, and possibly after a subsequent conversation during which they discussed the idea that Canada, Nova Scotia, and Bermuda should be free to join the United States: both men’s lists contain articles to that effect, and the coincidence is striking. To the best of our knowledge, this idea was never actually proposed. This copy is in the hand of L’Air de Lamotte.

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