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Believe me truly to be, not only a lover of my country, but a sincere friend to peace and to the rights of mankind; and ever most affectionately yours.
Observations by Mr Hartley.
Lord North consented to Mr Hartley's proposition, for endeavoring to procure from the American Plenipotentiary or Plenipotentiaries some opening, that they would be willing to commence a parley, on propositions of peace between Great Britain and America; and supposed the terms, which Mr Hartley had in view, would be something like a tacit cession of independence to America, with a truce for a certain term of years, to serve as a basis for a general treaty of accommodation and final settlement.
This last application (which was made on the 20th of April, 1779) of Mr Hartley to Lord North, after several previous conferences on the subject, is the ground of the present confidential communication with Dr Franklin, on the part of Mr Hartley, who states to Dr Franklin, as he did to Lord North, that an auspicious beginning of a negotiation is dimidium facti.
Mr Hartley's ideas of the probable course of the negotiation would be to the following effect;
1. Five Commissioners (or any three of them) to be appointed on the part of His Britannic Majesty to treat, consult, and agree upon the final settlement and pacification of the present troubles, upon safe, honorable, and permanent terms, subject to ratification by Parliament.
2. That any one of the aforesaid Commissioners may be empowered to agree, as a preliminary, to a suspension
of hostilities by sea and land, for a certain terın of five or seven years.
3. That any one of the aforesaid Commissioners be empowered to agree, as a second preliminary, to suspend the operation and effect of any and all acts of Parliament respecting America, for a certain term of five or seven years.
4. That it is expected, as a third preliminary, that America should be released, free and unengaged, from any treaties with foreign powers, which may tend to embarrass or defeat the present proposed negotiation.
5. That a general treaty for negotiation shall be set on foot as soon as may be, after the agreement of the foregoing preliminaries.
N. B. A doubt seeming to arise from Lord North, relative to the probability of any explapatory communication on the part of Dr Franklin, Mr Hartley expressed, he thought it possible, that as a known friend to peace, he might be considered by Dr Franklin as a depot of any communications, which may serve from time to time to facilitate the terms of peace; which therefore prevents this communication from being considered as any direct overture from Lord North to Dr Franklin, or from Dr Franklin to Lord North ; but as it is merely a mediatorial proposition of Mr Hartley, as a private person, for the purpose of bringing the parties to a parley.
T. John Paul Jones, Commander of the American
Squadron in the Service of the United States, now in the Port of L’Orient.
1st. His Majesty, having been pleased to grant some troops for a particular expedition, proposed to annoy our common enemy, in which the sea-force under your command might have an opportunity of distinguishing itself, you are to receive on board the ships of war, and the other vessels destined for that purpose, the troops that shall present themselves to you, afford them such accommodation as may be most proper for preserving their health, and convey them to such port or place as their commander shall desire to land them at.
2dly. When the troops are landed, you are to aid, by all means in your power, their operations, as they will be instructed in like manner to aid and support those you may make with your ships, that so by this concurrence and union of your different forces, all that such a compounded strength is capable of may be effected.
3dly. You are during the expedition never to depart from the troops, so as not to be able to protect them in case of a repulse, and in all events you are to endeavor to effect their complete re-embarkation on board the ships and transports under your command, when the expedition shall be ended.
4thly. You are to bring to France all the English seamen you may happen to take prisoners, in order to complete the good work you have already made such progress in, of delivering by an exchange the rest of our countrymen now languishing in the gaols of Great Britain.
5thly. As many of your officers and people have lately escaped from English prisons, either in Europe or America, you are to be particularly attentive to their conduct towards the prisoners, which the fortune of war may throw into your hands, lest resentment of the more than barbarous usage by the English in many places towards the Americans should occasion a retaliation, and an imitation of what ought rather to be detested and avoided, for the sake of humanity and for the honor of our country.
6thly. In the same view, although the English have burnt wantonly many defenceless towns in America, you are not to follow this example, unless where a reasonable ransom is refused, in which case your own generous feelings, as well as this instruction, will induce you to give timely notice of your intention, that sick and ancient persons, women, and children may be first removed. Done at Passy, this 28th day of April, 1779.
States to the Court of France.
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Passy, May 4th, 1779. Dear Sir, I received your several favors, viz. one of April the 10th, one of the 20th, and two of the 22d, all on the same day, but by different conveyances.
, I need not repeat, what we have each of us so often repeated, the wish for peace. I will begin, by frankly assuring you, that though I think a direct, immediate peace, the best mode of present accommodation for Britain, as well as
for America, yet if that is not at this time practicable, and a truce is practicable, I should not be against a truce; but this is merely on motives of general humanity, to obviate the evils men devilishly inflict on men in time of war, and to lessen as much as possible the similarity of earth and hell. For with regard to particular advantages, respecting the States I am connected with, I am persuaded it is theirs to continue the war, till England shall be reduced to that perfect impotence of mischief, which alone can prevail with her to let other nations enjoy, “Peace, Liberty, and Safety." I think, however, that a short truce, which must, therefore, be an armed truce, and put all parties to an almost equal expense with a continued war, is by no means desirable.
But this proposition of a truce, if made at all, should be made to France at the same time it is made to America. They have each of them too much honor, as well as too much sense, to listen separately to any propositions, which tend to separate them from each other.
I will now give you my thoughts on your ideas of a negotiation, in the order you have placed them. If you will number them in your copy, you will readily see to which my observations refer, and I may therefore be more concise.
To the 1st,—I do not see the necessity or use of five Commissioners. A number of talkers lengthens discussions, and often embarrasses instead of aiding a settlement. Their different particular views, private interests, and jealousies of each other, are likewise so many rubs in the way, and it sometimes happens, that a number cannot agree to what each privately thinks reasonable, and would have