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TO JOSIAH QUINCY.
Treaty of Peace.- Depreciating Currency. — False
Charges of his Enemies.
Passy, 11 September, 1783. MY DEAR FRIEND, Mr. Storer told me, not long since, that you complained of my not writing to you. You had reason, for I find among your letters to me two unanswered. The truth is, I have had too much business to do for the public, and too, little help allowed me, so that it became impossible for me to keep up my private correspondences. I promised myself more leisure when the definitive treaty of peace should be concluded. But that it seems is to be followed by a treaty of commerce, which will probably take up a good deal of time, and require much attention. I seize this little interim to sit down and have a little chat with my friends in America.
I lament with you the many mischiefs, the injustice, the corruption of manners, &c., that attended a depreciating currency. It is some consolation to me, that I washed my hands of that evil by predicting it in Congress, and proposing means, that would have been effectual to prevent it, if they had been adopted. Subsequent operations, that I have executed, demonstrate that my plan was practicable; but it was unfortunately rejected. Considering all our mistakes and mismanagements, it is wonderful we have finished our affairs so well, and so soon. Indeed, I am wrong in using that expression, “we have finished our affairs so well.” Our blunders have been many, and they serve to manifest the hand of Providence more clearly in our favor; so that we may much more properly say,
“These are thy doings, O Lord, and they are marvellous in our eyes."
Mr. Storer, whom you recommended to me, is now in England. He needed none of the advice you desired me to give him. His behaviour here was unexceptionable, and he gained the esteem of all that knew him.
The epitaph on my dear and much esteemed young friend, * is too well written to be capable of improvement by any corrections of mine. Your moderation appears in it, since the natural affection of a parent has not induced you to exaggerate his virtues. I shall always mourn his loss with you, a loss not easily made up to his country.
How differently constituted was his noble and generous mind from that of the miserable calumniators you mention. Having plenty of merit in himself, he was not jealous of the appearance of merit in others, but did justice to their characters with as much pleasure as these people do injury. It is now near two years since your friendship induced you to acquaint me with some of their accusations. I guessed easily at the quarter from whence they came; but, conscious of my innocence, and unwilling to disturb public operations by private resentment or contentions, I passed them over in silence; and I have not, till within these few days, taken the least step towards my vindication. Informed that the practice of abusing me continues, and that some heavy charges are lately made against me, respecting my conduct in the treaty, written from Paris and propagated among you, I have demanded of all my colleagues that they do me justice, and I have no doubt of receiving it from each of them. I did not think it necessary to justify myself to you, by answering the calumnies you mentioned. I knew you did not believe them.
* Josiah Quincy, Junior.
It was improbable, that I should at this distance combine with anybody to urge the redemption of the paper on those unjust terms, having no interest in such redemption. It was impossible, that I should have traded with the public money, since I had not traded with any money, either separately or jointly with any other person, directly or indirectly, to the value of a shilling since my being in France. And the fishery, which it was said I had relinquished, had not then come in question, nor had I ever dropped a syllable to that purpose in word or writing; but was always firm in this principle, that, having had a common right with the English to the fisheries while connected with that nation, and having contributed equally with our blood and treasure in conquering what had been gained from the French, we had an undoubted right, in breaking up our partnership, to a fair division. As to the two charges of age and weakness, I must confess the first, but I am not quite so clear in the latter; and perhaps my adversaries may find that they presumed a little too much upon it, when they ventured to attack me.
But enough of these petty personalities. I quit them to rejoice with you, in the peace God has blest us with, and in the prosperity it gives us a prospect of. The definitive treaty was signed the 3d instant. We are now friends with England and with all mankind. May we never see another war, for in my opinion there never was a good war, or a bad peace. Adieu, and believe me ever, my dear friend, yours most affectionately,
FROM JOHN ADAMS TO B. FRANKLIN.
Paris, 13 September, 1783. SIR, I have received the letter, which you did me the honor to write to me on the 10th of this month, in which you say you have received a letter from a very respectable person in America, containing the following words, viz. “It is confidently reported, propagated, and believed by some among us, that the court of France was at the bottom against our obtaining the fishery and territory in that great extent, in which both are secured to us by the treaty ; that our minister at that court favored, or did not oppose this design against us, and that it was entirely owing to the firmness, sagacity, and disinterestedness of Mr. Adams, with whom Mr. Jay united, that we have obtained those important advantages.”
It is unnecessary for me to say any thing upon this subject, more than to quote the words which I wrote in the evening of the 30th of November, 1782, and which have been received and read in Congress, viz. “As soon as I arrived in Paris, I waited on Mr. Jay, and learned from him the rise and progress of the negotiation. Nothing that has happened, since the beginning of the controversy in 1761, has ever struck me more forcibly or affected me more intimately, than that entire coincidence of principles and opinion between him and me. In about three days I went out to Passy, and spent the evening with Dr. Franklin, and entered largely into conversation with him upon the course and present state of our foreign affairs. I told him my opinion without reserve of the policy of this court, and of the principles, wisdom, and firmness with which Mr. Jay had conducted the negotiation in
his sickness and my absence, and that I was determined to support Mr. Jay to the utmost of my power in pursuit of the same system. The Doctor heard me patiently and said nothing."
“ The first conference we had afterwards with Mr. Oswald in considering one point and another, Dr. Franklin turned to Mr. Jay and said, 'I am of your opinion, and will go on with these gentlemen without consulting this court.' He has accordingly met us in most of our conferences, and has gone on with us in entire harmony and unanimity throughout, and has been able and useful, both by his sagacity and reputation, in the whole negotiation.”* I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Sir,
TROM SIR JOSEPH BANKS TO B. FRANKLIN.
Soho Square, 13 September, 1783. DEAR SIR, The having it in my power to answer with precision the numerous questions, which are asked me by all sorts of people concerning the aërostatic experiment, which, such as they may be, are suggested by every newspaper now printed here, and considered as a part of my duty to answer, is an obligation for which I am indebted to you, and an obligation of no small extent. I lament that the vacation of the Royal Society will not permit me to lay your paper before them as a body
* For further information on this subject, and particularly for an account of the part taken by Dr. Franklin in the negotiation before he was joined by Mr. Jay and Mr. Adams, see the North American Review, for January, 1830, pp. 15 et seg.