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At the beginning of the Revolution, DR FRANKLIN was in England, where he had resided several years as an agent for Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Georgia. He returned to America in the spring of 1775, and was shortly after elected a member of Congress. In that body he held the rank, to which his great talents and patriotism entitled him, and was chosen one of the Committee of Secret Correspondence for transacting foreign affairs.
On the 26th of September, 1776, he was elected a Commissioner to the Court of France, in conjunction with Silas Deane and Thomas Jefferson. Immediately after his appointment he hastened preparations for his deparCure. Meantime Mr Jefferson declined serving, and Arthur Lee was chosen in his place. Dr Franklin set off from Philadelphia on his voyage, October 26th, and entered Quiberon Bay, on the coast of France, November 29th, after a fatiguing passage. He was now seventyone years of age. He proceeded to Nantes, where he remained a few days to recruit himself, and arrived in Paris about the 20th of December. Here be found Mr Deane, and they were soon after joined by Mr Lee.
Little was done by the Commissioners in Paris for more than a year, as France was not then prepared to take an open part against England. The success of the American arms against Burgoyne became the turning point in the French Cabinet, and they immediately consented to make treaties of amity and commerce with the United States, which were definitively, signed on the 6th of February, 1778. This great work being finished, Congress deemed it expedient to dissolve the Commission by appointing a Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of France. The choice fell on Dr Franklin, and, notwithstanding his advanced age, and the arduous nature of the office, he accepted the appointment, and discharged the entire duties of it to the end of the Revolution.
While holding the place of joint Commissioner in France, Congress elected him, on the 1st of January, 1777, to a separate mission to the Court of Spain. Upon this mission, however, he never entered, and it was afterwards transferred to Arthur Lee.
Towards the close of the war, Dr Franklin strenuously urged Congress to permit him to return to his own country, requesting that a successor might be sent out, whose years and strength would better qualify him to endure the labors and perform the services of his station. But Congress did not listen to this petition. His counsels and experience were thought essential to the management of the important concerns then pending. He took a leading part in all the negotiations for peace, and, in conjunction with John Adams, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, signed the preliminary articles, November 30th, 1782, and the definitive treaty, September 3d, 1783. On the 3d of April, of the same year, he concluded a treaty of amity and commerce, with the Swedish Minister n Paris, between Sweden and the United States.
Mr Jefferson at length arrived in Paris as his successor, and Dr Franklin returned to Philadelphia in September, 1785, after an absence of nine years, during the whole of which time he had been engaged in a most active, laborious, and successful service for his country.
In thirty days after we left the Capes of Delaware, we came to an anchor in Quiberon Bay. I remained on board four days, expecting a change of wind proper to carry the ship into the river Loire ; but the wind seemed fixed in an opposite quarter. I landed at Aury, and with some difficulty got hither, the road not being well supplied with means of conveyance. Two days before we saw land, we met a brigantine from Bordeaux belonging to Cork, and another from Rochefort belonging to Hull, both of which were taken. The first had on board staves, tar, turpentine, and claret; the other coniac brandy and flaxseed. There is some difficulty in determining what to do with them, as they are scarce worth sending to America, and the mind of the French Court, with regard to prizes brought into their ports, is not yet known. It is certainly contrary to their treaties with Britain, to permit the sale of them, and we have no regular means of trying and condemning them. There are, however, many here, who would purchase prizes, we having already had several offers from persons who are willing to take upon themselves all consequences as to the illegality. Captain Wickes, as soon as he can get his refreshment, intends to cruise in the channel.
Our friends in France have been a good deal dejected with the Gazette accounts of advantages obtained against us by the British troops. I have helped them here to recover their spirits a little, by assuring them that we still face the enemy, and were under no apprehension of their armies being able to complete their junction. I understand that Mr Lee has lately been at Paris, that Mr Deane is still there, and that an underhand supply is obtained from the government of iwo hundred brass field pieces, thirty thousand firelocks, and some other military stores, which are now shipping for America, and will be convoyed by a ship of war. The Court of England (Mr Penet tells me, from whom I have the above intelligence) had the folly to demand Mr Deane to be delivered up, but were refused.
Our voyage, though not long, was rough, and I feel myself weakened by it, but I now recover strength daily, and in a few days shall be able to undertake the journey to Paris. I have not yet taken any public character, thinking it prudent first to know whether the Court is ready and willing to receive Ministers publicly from the Congress, that we may neither embarrass her on the one hand, nor subject ourselves to the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on the other. I have despatched an express to Mr Deane, with the letters that I had for him from the Committee, and a copy of our commission, that he may immediately make the proper inquiries, and give me information. In
the mean time I find it generally supposed here, that I am sent to negotiate, and that opinion appears to give great pleasure, if I can judge by the extreme civilities I meet with from numbers of the principal people, who have done me the honor to visit me.
I have desired Mr Deane, by some speedy and safe means, to give Mr Lee notice of his appointment. I find several vessels here laden with military stores for America, just ready to sail ; on the whole, there is the greatest prospect that we shall be well provided for another campaign, and much stronger than we were last. A Spanish fleet has sailed with seven thousand land forces foot and some horse. Their destination unknown, but supposed against the Portuguese in Brazil. Both France and England are preparing strong fleets, and it is said, that all the powers of Europe are preparing for war, apprehending that a general one cannot be very far distant. When I arrive at Paris I shall be able to write with more certainty. I beg you to present my duty to Congress, and assure them of my most faithful endeavors in their service.
With the sincerest esteem and respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.
Nantes, December 8th, 1776. Gentlemen, After a short but rough passage of thirty days, we anchored in Quiberon Bay, the wind not suiting to enter the Loire. Captain Wickes did everything in his power to make the voyage comfortable to me; and I was much