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the British army during the war, for the tobacco, rice, indigo, and negroes that had been plundered, for the vessels and cargoes seized before the declaration of war against the United States, and for all the towns, villages, and farms, that had been burned and destroyed by his troops.
The tone of the British commissioners was softened by this formidable proposition. Nothing more was said about sending the treaty to London. It appeared, indeed, that they had a discretionary power to sign the treaty, even if they should fail to gain these two points of compensation to the loyalists and the new claim to the fisheries. The ministry had always intended to give them up, if they could do no better. An article was inserted, however, by which Congress were to recommend an indemnification of the loyalists to the States; but it was declared, at the same time, that there was not the least probability that the States would take any notice of this recommendation. By another article it was agreed, that there should be no legal impediment, on either side, to the collection of debts contracted before the war. These two articles, even in this limited shape, were regarded as important by the ministry, because they would appease the clamors of the British creditors, and of the loyalists, and thus disarm the opposition, in some degree, of the weapons with which it was foreseen the treaty would be assailed on the meeting of Parliament.
It may be added, also, that the commercial article, which Dr. Franklin proposed in his first sketch, and which Mr. Jay afterwards assisted him to mature, was not introduced. The treaty was merely a treaty of peace. Commercial regulations were left for a future. arrangement. The whole business was at length concluded, and the original demands of the American
commissioners, in every essential point, were allowed and confirmed. The treaty was signed at Paris by both parties in due form, on the 30th of November, 1782. It was approved and ratified by Congress, and received with joy by the people; and the commissioners had the satisfaction, which has rarely fallen to the lot of negotiators, of finding their work applauded by the unanimous voice of a whole nation.*
Lord Brougham, in his sketch of the character of Mr. Wedderburn, afterwards Lord Loughborough, recently published, has unguardedly repeated a false report, respecting the signing of the treaty, which was circulated soon after that event, but promptly refuted. In alluding to Mr. Wedderburn's abusive speech against Dr. Franklin before the Privy Council, Lord Brougham says; "It is well known, that, when the ambassadors were met to sign the peace of Versailles, by which the independence of America was acknowledged, Franklin retired, in order to change his dress and affix his name to the treaty in those garments, which he wore when attending the Privy Council, and which he had kept by him for the purpose many years." This statement is entirely erroneous. The report was fabricated in England, at a time when the treaty was a topic of vehement discussion; and it was eagerly seized upon to gratify the malevolence of a disappointed party. When it appeared in print, it was immediately contradicted by Mr. Whitefoord, who was present at the signing of the treaty, and affixed his name to it, as the secretary to the English commissioner. "This absurd story," says Mr. Whitefoord, "has no foundation but in the imagination of the inventor. He supposes that the act of signing the peace took place at the house of Dr. Franklin. The fact is otherwise; the conferences were held, and the treaty was signed, at the hotel of the British commissioner, where Dr. Franklin and the other American commissioners gave their attendance for that purpose. The court of Versailles having at that time gone into mourning for the death of some German prince, the Doctor of course was dressed in a suit of black cloth; and it is in the recollection of the writer of this, and also he believes of many other people, that when the memorable philippic was pronounced against Dr. Franklin in the Privy Council, he was dressed in a suit of figured Manchester velvet." See the whole of Mr. Whitefoord's letter in the Gentleman's Magazine, for July, 1785, p. 561.
Treaty signed without the Knowledge of the Court of France, contrary to the Instructions from Congress, and to the Treaty of Alliance. Count de Vergennes's Opinion of the Treaty. - Unfounded Suspicions. Rayneval and Marbois. — Franklin's Explanation of the Grounds upon which he acted. —False Rumor concerning his Exertions in obtaining the Boundaries and Fisheries. - His Financial Contract with Count de Vergennes.-Negotiates a Treaty with Sweden.
Mr. Hartley. - Definitive Treaty of Peace signed. - Franklin's Sentiments on this Occasion. — Appointed by the King of France one of the Commissioners for investigating the Subject of Animal Magnetism. -Negotiations. His Request to be recalled is finally granted by Congress. Mr. Jefferson succeeds him as Minister to France. — Treaty with Prussia. - Franklin prepares to return Home.-Journey from Passy to Havre de Grace. - Sails from Southampton and arrives in Philadelphia.
THE most remarkable circumstance attending the treaty of peace remains to be noticed. The American envoys not only negotiated it without consulting the court of France, but signed it without their knowledge, notwithstanding they were pointedly instructed by Congress, "to make the most candid and confidential communications upon all subjects to the ministers of our generous ally, the King of France, and to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or truce without their knowledge and concurrence;" and notwithstanding the pledge in the treaty of alliance, "that neither of the two parties should conclude either truce or peace with Great Britain, without the formal consent of the other first obtained." It is true, that the treaty was only provisional, and was not to be ratified until France had likewise concluded a treaty; but this reservation did not alter the nature of the act. When the American treaty was signed, it was not known to the commissioners what progress 62
had been made by the French in their negotiation, or whether it was likely to be completed, or the war to continue. There was also a separate article, which was not intended to be communicated to the French at all, concerning the southern boundary of the United States, in case West Florida should be given up to the British in their treaty with Spain.
It was not strange, that Count de Vergennes should complain of this procedure, and express himself with some degree of indignation when it was told to him, without any previous notice of such an intent, that the treaty had been signed. The commissioners, as a body, offered no explanation. This task was laid upon Dr. Franklin, who executed it as well as he could, and with such success as to soften the displeasure of the French court. Entire satisfaction was not to be expected; indeed, it could not be given. The feelings of Count de Vergennes on this occasion, and his opinion of the treaty, may be gathered from a confidential letter, written by him to M. de la Luzerne three weeks after the treaty was signed, and communicating the first intelligence of that event.
"With this letter," says Count de Vergennes, "I have the honor to send you a translation of the preliminary articles, which the American plenipotentiaries have agreed to and signed with those of Great Britain, to be made into a treaty, when the terms of peace between France and England shall be settled. You will surely be gratified, as well as myself, with the very extensive advantages, which our allies, the Americans, are to receive from the peace; but you certainly will not be less surprised than I have been, at the conduct of the commissioners. I have informed you, that the King did not seek to influence the negotiation, any further than his offices might be neces
sary to his friends. The American commissioners will not say, that I have wearied them with my curiosity. They have cautiously kept themselves at a distance from me.
"This negotiation is not yet so far advanced in regard to ourselves, as that of the United States; not that the King, if he had shown as little delicacy in his proceedings as the American commissioners, might not have signed articles with England long before them. There is no essential difficulty at present between France and England; but the King has been resolved that all his allies should be satisfied, being determined to continue the war, whatever advantage may be offered to him, if England is disposed to wrong any one of them.
"We have now only to attend to the interests of Spain and Holland. I have reason to hope, that the former will be soon arranged. The fundamental points are established, and little remains but to settle the forms. I think the United States will do well to make an arrangement with Spain. They will be neighbours. As to Holland, I fear her affairs will cause embarrassments and delays. The disposition of the British ministry towards that republic appears to be any thing but favorable.
"Such is the present state of things. I trust it will soon be better; but, whatever may be the result, I think it proper that the most influential members of Congress should be informed of the very irregular conduct of their commissioners in regard to us. You may speak of it not in the tone of complaint. I accuse no person; I blame no one, not even Dr. Franklin. He has yielded too easily to the bias of his colleagues, who do not pretend to recognise the rules of courtesy in regard to us. All their attentions have