Benjamin Franklin Papers

Franklin and John Jay to John Adams, 28 February 1784

Franklin and John Jay to John Adams

LS:7 Massachusetts Historical Society

Passy, 28 Feby. 1784.


We had the honor of receiving your Favour of the 20th. Inst, and are persuaded that the Communication of the Friendly Disposition of his Prussian Majesty made to you by the Baron de Thuilemeyer will give great Pleasure to Congress. The Respect with which the Reputation of that great Prince has impress’d the United States, early induced them to consider his Friendship as a desirable Object;8 and we are happy in being authorised to assure his Majesty that they will most chearfully enter into such a Commercial Treaty with him as being founded on Principles of Reciprocity may be productive of equal Benefits to both Countries. Altho’ we have no Commission to conclude such a Treaty, yet our Instructions from Congress9 enable us to join with the King’s Minister in preparing a Draft of such Treaty, which being sent to Congress, they would, together with a Commission to conclude the Treaty, give us pointed Instructions on the Subject, and much time might be thereby saved. If you are of this Opinion, and his Majesty should be pleased to approve such a Measure, we think the Articles may be discuss’d between you and the Baron in the first Instance, on the Principles which govern in the Treaties you mention, both of which have been approved and ratified.1 That being done, we might confer together, & write a joint Letter to Congress on the Subject; we shall nevertheless make this Communication a part of our next Dispatch to Congress.

We have the honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servants

B. Franklin
John Jay

His Excellency John Adams Esqr.

Endorsed: M M. Franklin & Jay 28. Feb. 1784

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7In WTF’s hand. BF completed the complimentary close before signing.

8In 1777, both Congress and the commissioners had expressed interest in cultivating the friendship of King Frederick II: XXIII, 98, 327, 473–4, 591–2, 621; XXIV, 73, 515; XXV, 35–6, 227.

9Above, Oct. 29.

1JA showed this letter to Thulemeier on March 8, and Thulemeier communicated its contents to the king. In response, Frederick authorized Thulemeier to begin negotiations with JA for a treaty of commerce: Adams Papers, XVI, 77–9, 90–1.

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