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a general, not a partial peace : he suggested Paris as the most convenient place at which the plenipotentiaries should assemble, the ambassadors of Spain and America being easily summoned thither; but he said that the French king would willingly send proper envoys to any place the king of England might appoint.
*The substance of this conversation Dr Franklin sent by Mr Oswald the next day to lord Shelburne, desiring no other channel of communication with the British government, and professing every wish to treat with the simplicity and good faith which his lordship had said he should ever expect from him.
Dr Franklin also intrusted to this gentleman some of his 'notes of conversation,' in which he suggested how acceptable it might be to America if Great Britain would offer Canada, her only remaining colony in North America, as a “reparation” for the towns and villages burnt by her and her Indian allies during the war.
In the mean time the British minister had liberated Mr Laurens from his parole of honour, and made arrangements to exchange as prisoners' of war the Americans who had been captured; a tacit acknowledgment of the independence of America,
Mr Oswald returned to Paris on the 4th of May, to arrange “ the preliminaries of time and place” for the first treaty; announcing that the hon. Mr Grenville would speedily follow him, to settle “a general peace.”
This gentleman accordingly arrived May 8, bringing with him the following letter from Mr Fox, to whose department the business of conducting the treaty belonged :
“ To Dr FrankLIN.
“St. James's, May 1, 1782. “Sir,--Though Mr Oswald will no doubt have informed you of the nature of Mr Grenville's commission, yet I cannot refrain from making use of the
opportunity his going offers me, to assure you of the esteem and respect which I have borne to your character, and to beg you to believe that no change in my situation has made any in those ardent wishes for reconciliation, which I have invariably felt from the beginning of this unhappy contest.
“Mr Grenville is fully acquainted with my sentiments upon this subject, and with the sanguine hopes I have conceived that those with whom we are con tending are too reasonable to continue a contest which has no longer any object either real or even imaginary.
“I know your liberality of mind too well to be afraid lest any prejudices against Mr Grenville's name may prevent you from estimating those excellent qualities of heart and head which belong to him, or from giying him the fullest credit for the sincerity of his wishes for peace, in which no man in either country goes beyond him. I am with great truth and regard, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
“Ć. J. Fox.”
Dr Franklin took Mr Grenville, by appointment, ta the French minister on the following morning. · Here the British negotiator intimated, that in case Great Britain acknowledged the independence of America (the original object of the war on the part of the United States and their allies) it was expected that France would restore to Great Britain the West India islands she had taken, receiving back Miquelon and St Pierre. For an answer to this proposal, M. de Vergennes referred to Franklin ; who observed that he could see no necessity for bargaining for whát was already in the possession of America. A little warm discussion then ensued as to the origin of the war on the part of France; and the French minister observing that Holland and Spain must be consulted and arranged with, the interview closed. i On their return to Paris, Mr Grenville expressed himself dissatisfied with the French minister's conversation.
Dr Franklin, May 11th, entertained the marquis de la Fayette, Mr Grenville, and Mr Oswald, at Passy, when he learnt that the last gentleman, considering himself superseded, was about to return to London.
Before the end of this month, his old friend Mr Hartley enclosed a copy of " preliminaries," which in his zeal for peace he had left with lord Shelburne, and which stipulated for the immediate withdrawal of the British troops from America, as the commencement of a truce preparatory to a negotiation; but the proposal was not acted upon.
Franklin heard at this period from Mr Jay, that the court of Spain was exceedingly dilatory in the completion of the treaty upon which he had been engaged some time at Madrid; and he therefore wrote, to press his coming to Paris, where he arrived early in June.
May 26th, Mr Grenville called to acquaint Dr Franklin that he had received full powers from London to treat with France and her allies, a copy of which he had left with Monsieur de Vergennes. This gentleman also brought him the London Gazette containing admiral Rodney's account of his famous victory over De Grasse in the West Indies. Mr Grenville also informed him that he had a letter of credence to the French court, which he was not to deliver until a minister of the same kind was sent to the court of London.
A few days afterwards, Dr Franklin found that the British plenipotentiary's powers were very full with respect to treating with France, but mentioned nothing respecting her allies. “They want,” said the. French minister, 56 to treat with us for you ; but this the king will not agree to, as inconsistent with your dignity. The fact is, each power must treat for itself, only we must take care that the treaties go hand in hand, and are signed together.”
Dr Franklin was particularly noticed at the French
minister's this day, by prince Bariatinski, the Russian ambassador, and prince Paul of Russia, afterwards known as the emperor Paul, who was now travelling under the assumed name of the comte du Nord. In the evening an opera was given in honour of the Russian visitors; and Franklin speaks of the splendour of this scene as being superior to that of any other that he ever witnessed.
Mr Oswald returned to Paris with the powers of Mr Grenville.
Mr Grenville came to Dr Franklin on Saturday, June 1st, by appointment, to explain the circumstance of the omission in his powers ; which, he said, he could only account for by supposing, that the last official form of a treaty with France had been copied, He had despatched a courier home, he said, to have the difficulty removed. Franklin avoided, at this interview, any close discussion as to the terms of the future treaty, though pressed a little upon that subject by the British negotiator, who, to convince him of the sincerity of Great Britain, told him in confidence, that he was instructed to acknowledge the independence of America, if necessary, prior to the commencement of any formal treaty.
Mr Oswald, on the 3rd, is said to have told Di Franklin, that Great Britain was so completely reduced in her resources, as to meditate, if the war must be continued, stopping payment of the interest on all sums above 1000l. due to the fundholders. He further added, Dr Franklin tells us, that her enemies had the ball at their foot; that their best hope was in himself, Dr F.; and that they trusted to his known moderation and magnanimity. Puor Great Britain if this man's conduct and concessions were the issue of thy public councils !
Mr Oswald also observed to our envoy, that he had assured the British ministry that nothing was to be expected from Dr Franklin inconsistent with his duty to America ; which made the latter suppose, that some- . thing of the kind had been agitated among them. Dr Franklin also now learned,t hat an act to enable his
Britannic majesty to conclude a peace with America, was passing the British parliament; and conceived that such an act being thought necessary was the true reason why Mr Grenville's powers had not been more explicit.
Our plcnipotentiary, indeed, felt himself now a little strangely situated with regard to the two British negotiators. Lord Shelburne seemed to have commissioned his friend Mr Oswald ; while Mr Grenville was more immediately the representative of Mr Fox. He considered that, since the victory of Rodney, there was probably a desire on the part of Great Britain to prolong the negotiations, so as to take the chance of another campaign. But in the interim, Spain, according to Mr Jay's account, had been much quickened in her movements toward a treaty by the resolution of the British parliament to discontinue the war. Franklin therefore, and Mr Jay, were very cordially received by the Spanish ambassador at Paris, who said he had instructions from his court to close the treaty with all possible dispatch. The ambassador from Sweden also proffered to the United States, through Dr Franklin, a treaty of amity and commerce.*
On the 15th of June, Mr Grenville again went to Versailles with a power to treat with the king of France or his ministers, and any other prince or state whom it may concern. These words would have satisfied the French court that America was included; but Franklin, observing that the enabling bill was not passed, insisted that Great Britain had never regarded America as a state, and therefore that the powers of her plenipotentiary were still incomplete..
Thus affairs rested until another change took place in the British ministry, on the death of lord Rockingham. Mr Fox then vacated his secretaryship, lord Shelburne was appointed first lord of the treasury, and Mr Grenville returned home. a
July 26th, lord Grantham wrote a letter to Dr. Franklin, introducing Mr Fitzherbert (afterwards
This was finally concladed April 3rd, 1783; Dr Franklin and the count de Krutz being the respective plenipotentiaries.