Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Temple Franklin, 6 April 1791

From William Temple Franklin

London 6 April 1791.

Dear Sir

I received duly your obliging Favor of the 27 Novr. last, together with the M. S. of Negotiations; for which I beg you will receive my thanks, as well as, for the obliging Expressions of your Friendship; in promising to make my special Preferences known, relative to a foreign-Appointment—should Circumstances give place to it.—These I think may probably soon occur, as I understand a Minister to Congress, is appointed, and soon going out from France;—and another from this Court is much talked of, and will in all probability be sent out ’ere long.—A very considerable Report is gone in to the Privy Council, on the Connection between this Country and the United States: I have been promised a sight of it, but have not yet been able to procure it:—As soon as I do, I will take the liberty of informing you particularly of its Contents:—For the present, I have only been able to learn, that the Dispositions towards us are more favorable than formerly. That they entertain a greater Respect for us as a Nation; and that a Commercial Treaty with us is a desireable Object.—For these Dispositions we have nobody to thank but Ourselves. The Establishment of our new System of Government, and thereby our public Credit, has work’d this Change in our Favor, not only here, but throughout Europe.

Finding my Mitchels Map, would not be compleat, even with the addition of the Sheet you have—and as you appear to be desirous of having the whole,—I have sent you a Compleat one, by Col. Smith, who sails in the Packet.

Having had much other Business at hand, I have not been able to give as yet much attention to the Publication of my Grandfathers Works. But being now more at Liberty, I shall soon put them into the Press:—and you may rely on my following your Advice of printing them in 8º as also of my attending to the Hint you have been pleased to give me, on another Point.

I sent to Mr. Adams by a former Opportunity, several late Publications here, relative to the French Revolution;—and I requested him to let you have the Perusal of them, which I suppose he has done.—[Paynes “Rights of Man” was among them:—It has had a great Effect here:—and did the lower order of People read, and think for themselves, it would have a greater: The Cause of Liberty is every where gaining Ground—and Monarchy getting out of Fashion:—I am told the King here says he does not think it will last above his Time in this Country.

The late Alarmes of War with Russia, are by no means so pleasing to the Nation, as those occasioned by the recent Dispute with Spain.—But War is as yet very uncertain; and I hardly think it will take Place.—The Ministry are much abused by Opposition on the present State of Affairs.]1—The inclosed will shew on what Grounds, tho’ otherwise a trifling Performance.

The Cause of Freedom and good Government is loosing some of its ablest Supporters. Mirabeau, it is said, is dead!—and Dr. Price lies dangerously Ill!!

I meet here with many who ask kindly after you;—among them, the Duke of Dorset, who is very particular in his Enquiries. He has mentioned to me that his Neice had wrote once or twice to your Daughter, since her return to America; but not receiving an Answer had suppos’d she meant to drop her Acquaintance; which his Neice much regretted. I ventur’d to assure his Grace, that that was not likely, and that possibly the letters might have mis-carried. You will take what Notice of this you may think proper.

I shall probably leave this for Paris in about 3 Weeks; where I shall be very proud of hearing from you, and being honor’d with Your Commands—Being with great Esteem Dr. Sir, Yr obliged humble Servt,

W. T. Franklin.

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 21 June 1791 and so recorded in SJL.

Believing as he did in the essential need for confidentiality in diplomatic discourse, TJ had admonished Franklin—in the hint here referred to—against publishing such of his grandfather’s letters or papers as might “not yet be proper to put into the possession of every body.” At the same time he had returned to him the m.s. of negotiations which, as a fragment of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, gave an account of his fruitless efforts at reconciliation between Great Britain and the colonies (see TJ to Franklin, 27 Nov. 1790). For a discussion of Franklin’s important action in transmitting an abstract of Hawkesbury’s report … to the privy council, see Editorial Note and group of documents at 15 Dec. 1790.

Franklin’s gesture in sending a copy of Paine’s Rights of Man to John Adams with the request that he let TJ read it was well-intended, but it could not have come at a more inopportune moment. Adams of course ignored the request, knowing well—as did the general public also—that TJ had already seen the pamphlet and had commended it in terms that brought about an open break between himself and Adams (see Editorial Note and group of documents at 26 Apr. 1791). But one of the pamphlets sent by Franklin to Adams was transmitted to TJ: Calonne’s De l’état de la France (London, 1790). It bore this inscription by Franklin: “Mr. Adams is desired after perusing this Work to lend it to Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Secy. Hamilton. W.T.F.” (Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends No. 2543). The fact that TJ retained the volume in his library—it still exists in the Library of Congress—suggests that Adams sent it first to Hamilton. For other pamphlets sent directly to TJ by Franklin, presumably without covering letters since none is recorded in SJL after that of 3 July 1793, see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends Nos. 2596, 2597, and 2598.

1Brackets in MS. TJ may have marked this passage for publication during the controversy over Rights of Man, but the text has not been found in any newspaper.

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