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It is not my purpose to dispute any share of the honor of that treaty, which the friends of my colleagues may be disposed to give them; but, having now spent fifty years of my life in public offices and trusts, and having still one ambition left, that of carrying the character of fidelity at least to the grave with me, I cannot allow that I was behind any of them in zeal and faithfulness. I therefore think, that I ought not to suffer an accusation, which falls little short of treason to my country, to pass without notice, when the means of effectual vindication are at hand. You, Sir, were a witness of my conduct in that affair. To you and my other colleagues I appeal, by sending to each a similar letter with this, and I have no doubt of your readiness to do a brother Commissioner justice, by certificates that will entirely destroy the effect of that accusation. I have the honor to be, with much esteem, &c.*
Adams on this subject. M. de la Luzerne, in writing to Count de Vergennes some months afterwards, said, “ Dr. Franklin has at last aroused himself froin the apathy with which till now he seems to have regarded the attacks of his colleagues. He has sent to Congress the copy of the letter, which he had written to Mr. Jay and Mr. Adams, requesting these two ministers to explain themselves respecting a report, which had gone abroad, that he did not unite in procuring for the United States admission to the fisheries, and that he was disposed to conclude a treaty of peace without securing this advantage to the eastern States. Mr. Jay, in his letter to Dr. Franklin, renders full justice to him on this point, and affirms in a positive manner, that he concurred with a zeal equal to his intelligence and experience in all the articles of the peace.' - Philadelphia, December 1st, 1783. MS. Letter.
A copy of the correspondence was likewise transmitted to Dr. Cooper, but it is doubtful whether it reached him in such season, as to enable him to use it for the purpose of correcting the erroneous impression that had been made in Massachusetts. Dr. Cooper died on the 29th of December, 1783.
• A copy of the same letter was sent to Mr. Adams.
FROM JOHN JAY TO B. FRANKLIN.
Refutes the Charges contained in a Letter to Dr.
Franklin, respecting the Part taken by the latter in Regard to the Fisheries.
Passy, 11 September, 1783. SIR, I have been favored with your letter of yesterday, and will answer it explicitly. I have no reason whatever to believe, that you were averse to our obtaining the full extent of boundary and fishery secured to us by the treaty. Your conduct respecting them throughout the negotiation indicated a strong, a steady attachment to both those objects, and, in my opinion, promoted the attainment of them.
I remember, that, in a conversation, which M. de Rayneval, the first Secretary of Count de Vergennes, had with you and me, in the summer of 1782, you contended for our full right to the fishery, and argued it on various principles.
Your letters to me, when in Spain, considered our territory as extending to the Mississippi, and expressed your opinion against ceding the navigation of that river, in very strong and pointed terms.
In short, Sir, I do not recollect the least difference in sentiment between us respecting the boundaries or fisheries. On the contrary, we were unanimous and united in adhering to and insisting on them. Nor did I perceive the least disposition in either of us to recede from our claims, or be satisfied with less than we obtained.
I have the honor to be, with great respect and esteem, &c.
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, VOL. X.
“ 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
* Josiah Quincy, Junior.
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.
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
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,