Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Elias Boudinot, 27 September 1783

To Elias Boudinot

ALS and transcript: National Archives

Passy, Sept. 27. 1783—


Mr Thaxter late Secretary of Mr Adams, who is charg’d with all our Dispatches that were intended to go by the French Pacquet-Boat, writes from L’Orient, that tho’ he arriv’d there two Days before the time appointed for her Sailing, he miss’d reaching her by four Hours; but another light Vessel was fitting and would sail the 21st. Inst. in which he hop’d to arrive at New York nearly as soon as the Pacquet.4 We shall send Duplicates by the next from hence. In the mean time I inclose a printed Copy of the Definitive Treaty,5 which I hear is ratify’d. Indeed we have already the Ratification of the Preliminaries.6

Mr Hartley when he left us, expected to return in three Weeks, in order to proceed with us in forming a Treaty of Commerce. The new Commission that was intended for us is not yet come to hand.7 With great Respect, I have the Honour to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

His Excelly. Elias Boudinot, Presidt of Congress

Notation: Letter 27 Sept 1783 B. Franklin with printed copy of definitive treaty.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4See Thaxter to the Commissioners, Sept. 20. Thaxter reached New York with the treaty on Nov. 19, and Boudinot, in New Jersey, had it two days later. No longer president of Congress, he forwarded it to Thomas Mifflin in Philadelphia. Though the intention was to keep the text private until Congress reviewed it, the treaty was soon published, reprinted from English newspapers: Edwin Wolf 2nd, “The American Printings of the Definitive Treaty of Peace of 1783 Freed of Obfuscation,” Bibliographical Soc. of America Papers, LXV (1971), 274–5.

5BF had the treaty printed by Philippe-Denis Pierres. The title page, displaying the Great Seal of the United States, is reproduced as the frontispiece to vol. 40. Pierres sent BF proofs to review on Sept. 9 (XL, 599), but the present letter is the first indication of the pamphlet’s having been issued. On Sept. 17, the chevalier de Kéralio wrote to WTF requesting a copy, whenever it was ready; WTF sent it on Oct. 7. (Both letters are at the APS). For a bibliographic description of the imprint see Wolf, “American Printings,” p. 273; Luther S. Livingston, Franklin and his Press at Passy (New York, 1914), pp. 188–9.

6BF had first informed Boudinot that the British had ratified the preliminary treaty in his letter of Sept. 13: XL, 621.

7BF and his colleagues had as yet received only the congressional resolution of May 1 authorizing a new commission to make a commercial treaty with Great Britain; see XL, 604.

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