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lieutenant-colonel, and Lieutenant Haldane, who were aids-de-camp to Lord Cornwallis, that they too might be set at liberty with him. I told the Marquis, that he was better acquainted with the custom in such cases than I, and being himself one of the generals, to whom their parole had been given, he had more right to discharge it than I had, and that, if he judged it a thing proper to be done, I wished him to do it. He went into the bureau, saying he would write something, which he accordingly did, but it was not, as I expected, a discharge that he was to sign, it was for me to sign. And the Major not liking that which I had drawn for Lord Cornwallis, because there was a clause in it, reserving to Congress the approbation or disallowance of my act, went away without taking it. Upon which I the next morning wrote the following to Mr. Oswald.
TO RICHARD OSWALD.
“I did intend to have waited on you this morning to inquire after your health, and deliver the enclosed paper relating to the parole of Lord Cornwallis, but being obliged to go to Versailles, I must postpone my visit till to-morrow. “I do not conceive that I have any authority in virtue of my office here, to absolve that parole in any degree; I have, therefore, endeavoured to found it as well as I could on the express power given me by Congress to exchange General Burgoyne for Mr. Laurens. A reservation is made of confirmation or disapprobation by Congress, not from any desire to restrain the entire liberty of that general, but because I think it decent and my duty to make such reservation, and that I might otherwise be blamed as assuming a power not given me, if I undertook to discharge absolutely a parole given to Congress, without any authority from them for so doing. With great esteem and respect, &c. “B. FRANKLIN.”
I have received no answer from Mr. Laurens. The following is the paper mentioned in the above letter.
The Discharge of Lord Cornwallis from his Parole.
“The Congress having, by a resolution of the 14th of June last, empowered me to offer an exchange of General Burgoyne for the Honorable Henry Laurens, then a prisoner in the Tower of London, and whose liberty they much desire to obtain, which exchange, though proposed by me, according to the said resolution, had not been accepted or executed, when advice was received, that General Burgoyne was exchanged in virtue of another agreement; and Mr. Laurens thereupon having proposed another lieutenant-general, viz. Lord Cornwallis, as an exchange for himself, promising, that, if set at liberty, he would do his utmost to obtain a confirmation of that proposal; and Mr. Laurens being soon after discharged, and having since urged me earnestly, in several letters, to join with him in absolving the parole of that general, which appears to be a thing just and equitable in itself; and for the honor therefore of our country, I do hereby, as far as in my power lies, in virtue of the above resolution, or otherwise, absolve and discharge the parole of Lord Cornwallis, given by him in Virginia; setting him at entire liberty to act in his civil or military capacity, until the pleasure of Congress shall be known, to whom is reserved the confirmation or disapprobation of this discharge, in case they have made, or shall intend to make, a different disposition. “Given at Passy, this 9th day of June, 1782. “B. FRANKLIN, “JMinister Plenipotentiary from the United States of America to the Court of France.”
I did not well comprehend the Major's conduct in refusing this paper. He was come express from London, to solicit the discharge of Lord Cornwallis's parole. He had said, that his Lordship was very anxious to obtain that discharge, being unhappy in his present situation. One of his objections to it was, that his Lordship, with such a limited discharge of his parole, could not enter into foreign service. He declared it was not his Lordship's intention to return to America. Yet he would not accept the paper, unless the reservation was omitted. I did not choose to make the alteration, and so he left it, not well pleased with Ine.
This day, Tuesday, June 11th, I was at Versailles, and had a good deal of conversation with M. de Rayneval, Secretary to the Council. I showed him the łetters I had received by Mr. Oswald from Lord Shelburne, and related all the consequent conversation I had with Mr. Oswald. I related to him also the conversation I had had with Mr. Grenville. We concluded that the reason of his courier's not being returned, might be the formalities occasioning delay in passing the Enabling Bill.
I went down with him to the cabinet of Count de Vergennes, where all was repeated and explained. That minister seemed now to be almost persuaded, that the English court was sincere in its declarations of being desirous of peace. We spoke of all its attempts to separate us, and of the prudence of our holding together and treating in concert. I made one remark, that, as they had shown so strong a desire of disuniting us, by large offers to each particular power, plainly in the view of dealing more advantageously with the rest, and had reluctantly agreed to make a general treaty, it was possible, that, after making a peace with all, they might pick out one of us to make war with separately. Against which project I thought it would not be amiss, if, before the treaties of peace were signed, we who were at war against England should enter into another treaty, engaging ourselves, that in such a case we should again make it a common cause, and renew the general war; which he seemed to approve of. He read Lord Shelburne's letter relating to Mr. Walpole, said that gentleman had attempted to open a negotiation through the Marquis de Castries, who had told him he was come to the wrong house, and should go to Count de Vergennes; but he never had appeared; that he was an intriguer, knew many people about the court, and was aceustomed to manage his affairs by hidden and roundabout ways; but, said he, “When people have any thing to propose, that relates to my employment, I think they should come directly to me; my cabinet is the place where such affairs are to be treated.” . On the whole he seemed rather pleased that Mr. Walpole had not come to him, appearing not to like him. *. I learned that Mr. Jay had taken leave, on the 7th past, of the Spanish ministers, in order to come hither, so that he may be daily expected; but I hear nothing of Mr. Laurens or Mr. Adams. . . Wednesday, June 12th. I visited Mr. Oswald this morning. He said he had received the paper I had sent him, relating to the parole of Lord Cornwallis, and had, by conversing with Major Ross, convinced him of his error in refusing it; that he saw I had done every thing that could be fairly desired of me, and said every thing in the paper that could give a weight to the temporary discharge, and tend to prevail with the Congress to confirm and complete it. Major Ross, coming in, made an apology for not having accepted it at first, declared his perfect satisfaction with it, and said, he was sure, Lord Cornwallis would be very sensible of the favor. He then mentioned the custom among military people, that, in discharging the parole of a general, that of his aids was discharged at the same time. I answered, I was a stranger to the customs of the army, that I had made the most of the authority I had for exchanging General Burgoyne, by extending it as a foundation for the exchange of Lord Cornwallis, but that I had no shadow of authority for going further; that the Marquis de Lafayette, having been present when the parole was given, and one of the generals who received it, was, I thought, more competent to the discharge of it than myself; and I could do nothing in it. He went then to the Marquis, who, in the afternoon, sent me the drafts of a limited discharge, which he should sign, but requested my approbation of it, of which I made no difficulty, though I observed he had put into it that it was by my advice. He appears very prudently cautious of doing any thing, that may seem assuming a power that he is not vested with. Friday, the 14th. M. Boeris called again, wishing to know if Mr. Grenville’s courier was returned, and whether the treaty was like to go on. I could give him no information. He told me it was intended in Holland, in answer to the last Russian memorial, to say, that they could not now enter into a particular