Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Elias Boudinot, 15 August 1783

From Elias Boudinot

LS: Library of Congress; copy: National Archives

Princeton 15. August 1783.


I had the honor of your favor of the 7th. of March last enclosing the treaty between the United States and the King of Sweden,2 the ratification whereof has been retarded for want of nine States present in Congress. This Act has now taken place, and I am honored with the commands of Congress to transmit it to you for exchange, which I now have the pleasure of doing, and hope it will meet with a safe and speedy conveyance.3

On revising the Treaty a manifest impropriety struck Congress in the Title of the United States being called of North America, when it should have been only America; and also in the enumeration of the different States, wherein the Delaware State is called “The three lower counties on Delaware.” As there is no such State in the union, Congress were at a loss how they could ratify the Treaty with propriety, unless they should alter the transcript, which might be liable to many exceptions; they have therefore, to avoid all difficulties, passed a seperate Resolve, empowering you to make the necessary amendments.4 A certified copy of this Resolution I do myself the pleasure to enclose.

Congress are entirely at a loss to account for the silence of their Commissioners at Paris since February last, being without any official information relative to the Treaty with Great Britain since that time.

I had the honor of writing you very fully on the 15th. of July last, giving the reasons for our removal to this place at length, which I hope got safe to hand.

Congress having determined not to fix the place of their permanent residence till the first Monday in October next,5 is the reason of deferring the appointment of a Minister for Foreign Affairs till that is done.—

I have the honor to be, with high respect, & Esteem Sir, Your most obedient & very humb. Servt.—

Elias Boudinot

P.S.6 I have sent by this Oppertunity, the News Papers to this Date.

The Honorable Benjamin Franklin, Esq.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2BF’s letter to Livingston of March 7 announced only that the treaty had been concluded; it did not enclose a copy (though BF promised to send one “by the first good Opportunity”). His next extant letter to Livingston, dated April 15, enclosed what he called “another Copy” of the treaty. That was the first (and, as far as we know, the only) copy to arrive. Congress received it on July 18: XXXIX, 300, 467, 472.

3Two delegates having arrived from Connecticut, the treaty was ratified on July 29: JCC, XXIV, 457–77.

4JCC, XXIV, 477. See also our discussion of this issue in XXXIX, 255.

5After the disorders in Philadelphia (for which see Boudinot’s July 15 letter), Congress reassembled in Princeton on June 30; on Aug. 13 and 14 a motion to return to Philadelphia was defeated: JCC, XXIV, 410–11, 506–9.

6In Boudinot’s hand.

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