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versations respecting the fishery, the boundaries, the royalists, &c., recommending moderation in our demands, are of weight sufficient in my mind to fix an opinion, that this court wished to restrain us in obtaining any degree of advantage we could prevail on our enemies to accord; since those discourses are fairly resolvable, by supposing a very natural apprehension, that we, relying too much on the ability of France to continue the war in our favor, and supply us constantly with money, might insist on more advantages than the English would be willing to grant, and thereby lose the opportunity of making peace, so necessary to all our friends."
A rumor was circulated in America, not long after the signature of the treaty, that Dr. Franklin was lukewarm about the boundaries and fisheries, and that he was even willing to conclude a treaty without securing these advantages to his country. His friend, Dr. Cooper of Boston, informed him of this rumor, and of its tendency to injure his character. Such a charge, considering that he had originally proposed these articles as essential, and had zealously supported them to their fullest extent in every stage of the negotiation, appeared to him as ungrateful as it was unjust. He immediately wrote to the other commissioners on the subject, enclosing an extract from Dr. Cooper's letter. "It is not my purpose," said he, "to dispute any share of the honor of the 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, Pp*
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." Mr. Jay replied; "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." And further; "I do not recollect the least difference of 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."*
Whilst the treaty was in the course of negotiation,
Notwithstanding this declaration, so positive and full, we find the following extraordinary language in the Life of Jay, lately published. Speaking of the claims to the boundaries and fisheries, the author says; “Dr. Franklin never questioned either the justice or the importance of these claims, but he did question the propriety of making the success of these claims an ultimatum of peace, when Congress had not made it so." And again; "Urged on the one hand by France, and fettered on the other by his instructions, Franklin would, in all human probability, but with feelings of deep mortification and regret, have set his hand to a treaty, sacrificing rights, which he had himself ably and zealously maintained, and which he knew to be of inestimable value to his country."- Life of John Jay, Vol. I. pp. 153, 154. These charges, equally unfounded and unsustained by proofs, may be regarded with the less surprise, when it is known that the author adopts all Mr. Jay's suspicions of the French court as historical facts, and appears to have acquired but a limited knowledge of the actual history of the negotiation.
Count de Vergennes and Dr. Franklin entered into a contract, on the 16th of July, fixing the time and manner of paying the loans, which the United States had received from France. The amount of these loans was then eighteen millions of livres, exclusive of three millions granted before the treaty of alliance, and the subsidy of six millions heretofore mentioned. These nine millions were considered in the nature of a free gift, and were not brought into the account. By the terms upon which the eighteen millions had been lent, the whole sum was to be paid on the 1st of January, 1788, with interest at five per cent. As it would be inconvenient, if not impracticable, for the United States to refund the whole at that time, the King of France agreed that it might be done by twelve annual payments, of a million and a half of livres each, and that these payments should not commence till three years after the peace. All the interest which had accrued, or which should accrue previously to the date of the treaty of peace, amounting to about two millions of livres, was relinquished, and it was never to be demanded. This arrangement was generous on the part of the King, and highly advantageous to the United States. The contract was ratified by Congress.
Some months before the treaty of peace was signed, Count de Creutz, the Swedish ambassador in Paris, called on Dr. Franklin, and said that his sovereign desired to conclude a treaty with Congress, whenever a minister should present himself for that purpose, invested with the usual powers. Sweden was thus the first European government, which voluntarily proffered its friendship to the United States, and the first after that of France, which proposed to treat before their independence was acknowledged by Great Britain.
Dr. Franklin gave notice of this proposal to Congress, and he was furnished with a special commission to negotiate the treaty. It was finished within a few months, and signed by him and Count de Creutz at Paris.
The provisional treaty of peace was violently assailed in the British Parliament, and became one of the principal causes of the dissolution of the cabinet under Lord Shelburne. The coalition ministry, which followed, probably hoped to obtain some favorable changes in the definitive treaty, or, at all events, to introduce modifications and commercial principles, which would render it more acceptable to the nation. Mr. Hartley was accordingly sent over to Paris, duly commissioned by the King, and instructed to negotiate with the American envoys, not only "for perfecting and establishing the peace, friendship, and good understanding so happily commenced by the provisional articles," but also "for opening, promoting, and rendering perpetual, the mutual intercourse of trade and commerce between the two countries." Mr. Hartley was the bearer of a letter from Mr. Fox, then one of the ministers, to Dr. Franklin, containing professions of personal friendship, and expressing a hope that the treaty of peace would terminate in a substantial reconciliation.
A commercial article was proposed to Mr. Hartley by the American envoys, which they said they were ready to confirm. By this article it was agreed, that, whenever his Britannic Majesty should withdraw his fleets and armies from the United States, all the harbours and ports should be open to British trading vessels in the same manner as to American vessels, and without any other charges or duties. It was required, as a reciprocal privilege, that American vessels should
be admitted on the same footing into British ports. Mr. Hartley was not prepared to assent to this proposal. He represented the Navigation Act as a barrier to such an arrangement, and proposed that the commerce between the two countries should stand on the same basis as before the war; adding, that this was only a temporary provision, which might be gradually matured into a more complete compact. The West India trade offered other embarrassments. In short, after four months' negotiation, nothing was accomplished. All the propositions went to the ministers, and were returned with unsatisfactory answers. The American commissioners drew up a series of new articles, chiefly relating to commerce, which they were willing should be inserted, and which embraced Dr. Franklin's philanthropic scheme for protecting private property in time of war, and for suppressing the practice of privateering. None of them was accepted; and the preliminary articles were finally adopted as the definitive treaty, and signed as such at Paris on the 3d of September, 1783.
It was expected that the treaties between England, France, and Spain, and the one between England and the United States, would be signed at the same time and place. A day was appointed for performing the ceremony at Versailles. at Versailles. But Mr. Hartley declined signing at that place, and said his instructions confined him to Paris. The British government did not choose to allow even so slight an acknowledgment of the interference of the court of Versailles in their treaty with the Americans, as that of signing it in the presence of the French minister. Count de Vergennes offered no objection to this mode of proceeding, but he was resolved not to put his hand to the treaty of peace, till he was assured that the Ameri