Page images
PDF
EPUB

VERGENNES COMPLAINS; FRANKLIN REPLIES.

305

tion in this matter, the negotiations Sir; you have all your life performed proceeded along the lines he indi- your duties. I pray you to consider cated, and the provisional articles how you propose to fulfill those were agreed upon without consulting which are due to the king."* Frankthe French court. Mr. Adams was in lin was requested by the other comhearty accord with Jay,* and finally missioners to make reply in behalf of Franklin took sides with the other all. In answer therefore, he said: two.t While the commissioners vio

Nothing has been agreed, in the lated their instructions for which preliminaries, contrary to the interthere were numbers at home to cen- ests of France, and no peace is to sure them, still it can be asserted that take place between us and England what they did was perfectly right till you have concluded yours. Your under the circumstances, and in the observation is, however, apparently end the best they could do to serve just - that in not consulting you betheir country's interest.I

fore they were signed, we have been Vergennes complained of the con- guilty of neglecting a point of duct of the American commissioners bienséance. But as this was not in a note to Franklin, saying: “I from want of respect for the king, am at a loss to explain your conduct whom we all love and honor, we hope and that of your colleague on this

it will be excused, and that the great occasion. You have concluded your

work which has hitherto been so happreliminary articles without

any

pily conducted, which is so nearly communication between us, although brought to perfection, and is so the instructions from Congress pre- glorious to his reign, will not be scribe that nothing shall be done

ruined by a single indiscretion of without the participation of the king.

ours." + You are wise and discreet,

In a letter to Luzerne, the French

minister in America, Vergennes * For Adam's views regarding the course of

speaks of this subject and says that the French court, see John Adams, Works, vol. i., Franklin's apology very much softpp. 392–395.

ened the displeasure of the French † John Adams, Works, vol. iii., p. 336. Morse, Life of Franklin, p. 373; Hale,

court. He says:

" I blame no one, Franklin in France, vol. ii., pp. 84-85, 125 et seq.; John Adams, Works, vol. i., pp. 340–342, Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence of the 363–376, vol. viii., pp. 86–89; Wharton, Diplo- Revolution, vol. vi., p. 140. See also the letter to matic Correspondence, vol. i., Introduction, 88 109_ Franklin, in Morse, Life of Franklin, p. 379. 11l; Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, + Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence of the vol. vii., chap. ii.; Prescott, Diplomacy of the Revolution, vol. vi., p. 144. Moore says that no United States, vol. i., pp. 100–106, 118–128; paper ever written by Franklin more advantaWheaton, International Law (ed. Dana), $$ 257– geously displays his marvelous skill than his reply 262; Hall, International Law (4th ed.), p. 347; to these reproaches.— American Diplomacy, p. Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century, vol. iv., pp. 255-264.

| Parton, Life of Franklin, vol. ii., p. 501 et

31.

306

ADAMS AND SPARKS ON ACTIONS OF FRENCH COURT.

*

not even Dr. Franklin. He has in the service under the instructions yielded too easily to the bias of his in being, if they are to be understood colleagues, who do not pretend to in that unlimited sense which some recognize the rules of courtesy in persons contend for."'*. However, regard to us.

If we may Jay's stand in the matter would judge of the future from what has seem to be justified, as he was there passed here under our eyes, we shall to conserve the interests of the be poorly paid for all that we have United States alone. Sparks says: done for the United States and for “The French court, from first to securing for them a national exist last, adhered faithfully to the terms ence. Under the circumstances it of the alliance, not that they had any was not unnatural that the American special partiality for the Americans, commissioners should be suspicious or were moved by the mere impulse of France, particularly as the British of good will and friendship, unmixed envoys endeavored by insinuation, with motives of interest. Why inuendo, and otherwise to excite should this be expected? When was jealousy between the Americans and entire disinterestedness ever known the French as to the ulterior plans to characterize the intercourse beand purposes of the latter. Adams

tween nations? But no fact in the said: There is nothing that hum- history of the American Revolution bles and depresses, nothing that

is more clearly demonstrable, than shackles and confines, in short, noth- that the French government, in their ing that renders totally useless all relations with the United States, duryour ministers in Europe, so much

ing the war, and at the peace, mainas these positive instructions to con

tained strictly their honor and fidelsult and communicate with French

ity to their engagements; nay more, ministers upon all occasions, and to

that they acted a generous, and in follow their advice. And I really

instances, magnanimous think it would be better to constitute

part." + the Count de Vergennes our sole

Undoubtedly Jay greatly aided the minister, and give him full powers to make peace and treat with all

John Adams, Works, vol. viii., pp. 12–13. Europe, than to continue any of us † Sparks, Life of Franklin, p. 495. See also Mc

Laughlin, The Confederation and the Constitution, seq.; Sparks, Life of Franklin, p. 490; Morse, p. 18 et seq.; Pitkin, Political and Civil History Life of Franklin, pp. 380-382. See also the of the United States, vol. ii., pp. 123–152; Pellew, various letters of Vergennes in Hale, Franklin in John Jay, pp. 204–207; Jay, Life of John Jay, France, vol. ii., pp. 149–159, 195–197.

vol. i., p. 133 et seq.; George W. Green, The Di. Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence of the plomacy of the Revolution, in Atlantic Monthly, Revolution, vol. vi., p. 152. See also Franl:lin's vol. xv., p. 576; John Adams, Works, vol. i., pp. letter accompanying the reply of the commission

As to its effects on the Northwest ers to the censure upon their actions, in ibid, see Moore, The Northwest under Three Flags, vol. vi., p. 581.

p. 279 et seq., and authorities cited.

some

a

[ocr errors]

354-399.

RIGHT OF FRANCE TO PARTICIPATE IN NEGOTIATIONS.

307

cause by his exhibition of firmness included in a general war with Engregarding the minutest technicali- land, and France had equally good ties, but it hardly seems possible reason for suspecting that if the that France, considering her former United States conducted separate conduct, would have gone back on the negotiations she would obtain as United States entirely. The conclu- much as possible, regardless of the sions reached by various historians interests of the other combatants. depend upon the manner in which Still, there are equally good grounds they interpret the personal conduct for suspecting that if France had of the various principals in the nego supervised the negotiations between tiations.* France was not pouring England and the United States, the out her money and the blood of her treaty would not have been as adsoldiers for the pleasure of it. Since vantageous as it was.* Writing to 1782 she had practically borne the Livingston July 10, 1783, Adams greater part of the burden of the

says: “But if by confidence in the war against England, and simply be- French Court is meant an opinion, cause she did not desire that America that the French office of foreign should conduct her negotiations sep- affairs would be advocates with the arately from the other allies is not English for our rights to the fishsufficient ground for saying that she eries, or to the Mississippi River, or was playing false to America. our western territory, or advocates America was only one of the allies to persuade the British ministers to

give up the cause of the refugees, * C. F. Adams says: “ The great diplomatists,

and make parliamentary provision without exception, proceed upon one maxim, which is, to advance their own country in power,

for them, I own I have no such conregardless, if not at the cost, of every other.

fidence, and never had. Seeing and The notion that the ministers of Louis the Sixteenth, who had grown gray in the service of this system, in taking the course which they did * See also Foster, Century of American Diplo. towards America, could have been actuated by any macy, p. 77 et seq. When Adams received Liv. other than the accepted ideas of their day, or ingston's letter of censure on the action of the that they shared in the enthusiasm generated in commissioners in disregarding the French court, the hearts of the French nation by the sight of he said: “I am weary, disgusted, affronted and brave men struggling for liberty against power, disappointed. * * * I have been injured and my seems entirely out of keeping with any thing that country has joined in the injury; it has basely previously happened in their lives, or that marked prostituted its own honor by sacrificing mine. But the rest of their career. * * * The ideas of Count the sacrifice of me was not so servile and intolerde Vergennes had never swerved from the doctrine able as putting us all under guardianship. Con. of his time, which was to maintain France as the gress surrendered their own sovereignty into the centre around which the various European powers hands of a French minister. Blush! blush! ye were to be kept moving in their respective guilty records! blush and perish! It is glory to orbits." - John Adams, Works, vol. i., p. 303. have broken such infamous orders. Infamous, I

Generosity of spirit or sympathy with liberty say, for so they will be to all posterity. How was not even thought of. It was the cry of ven- can such a stain be washed out? Can we cast a geance from France, humiliated by the domineer. veil over it and forget it?"- John Adams, Works, ing Anglicism of William Pitt.”— Ibid, p. 309. vol. iii., p. 359. See also vol. viii., pp. 11-13.

[ocr errors]

308

THE BASIS FOR A TREATY.

[ocr errors]

hearing what I have seen and heard, draft, it was due to the tenacity of I must have been an idiot to have Adams, who had some time previentertained such confidence; I should ously arrived on the scene, that the be more of a Machiavelian, or a fishery rights were retained in the Jesuit, than I ever was or will be, to treaty.* It was agreed in this second counterfeit it to you or to Con- treaty that no hindrances should be gress.

placed in the way of British creditIn October, shortly after the ar- ors in their endeavors to collect debts rival of Oswald's revised commis- contracted before 1775, but regardsion, Jay submitted to Oswald a ing the Loyalists the American comscheme for a treaty, t which was ac- missioners would only agree that cepted by Oswald and sent to Lon- Congress would recommend that the don for acceptance by the ministry. I States change their confiscation laws As defined by this plan, the northern so as to be consistent with justice boundary line was to run from the and equity.t Scarcely any change intersection of the 45th degree of N. Lat. with the St. Lawrence, to the

* Pellew, John Jay, pp. 216–217. See, however,

p. 223. In a letter to Secretary Livingston, south end of Lake Nipissing, and November 8, 1782, Adams says: “If Mr. Jay thence to the sources of the Missis- and I had yielded the punctilio of rank, and taken

the advice of the Count de Vergennes and Dr. sippi, thus including much of what

Franklin, by treating with the English or Spanis now Canada; the western bound- iards, before we were put upon the equal footing

that our rank demanded, we should have sunk in ary was the Mississippi. The Ameri

the minds of the English, French, Spaniards, cans assured to themselves the right Dutch, and all the neutral powers. The Count to the fisheries, but on the other

de Vergennes certainly knows this; if he does not,

he is not even a European statesman; if he does hand made no provisions for paying know it, what inference can we draw, but that the refugees or repealing the con- he means to keep us down if he can; to keep his

hand under our chin to prevent us from drown. fiscatory laws.|| The English minis

ing, but not to lift our heads out of water? try refused to accept this draft of

If we conduct ourselves with caution, the treaty, and early in November prudence, moderation, and firmness, we shall sucanother scheme was agreed upon by

ceed in every great point; but if congress or their

ministers abroad suffer themselves to be intimthe commissioners and taken to Eng- idated by reats, sla ers, or insinuations, we land. In drawing up this second

shall be duped out of the fishery, the Mississippi, much of the western lands, compensation to the

tories, and Penobscot at least, if not Kennebec. * John Adams, Works, vol. viii., p. 89.

This is my solemn opinion, and I will never be * Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence of the answerable to my country, posterity, or my own Revolution, vol. v., p. 811.

mind, for the consequences that might happen # Pellew, John Jay, pp. 200–201.

from concealing it.”—John Adams, Works, vol. || McLaughlin, The Confederation and the Con- viii., pp. 4-5. stitution, pp. 24–25. See also Fitzmaurice, Life † Franklin said: “Your ministers require that of Shelburne, vol. iii., p. 269 et seq.

we should receive again into our bosom those 8 Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. who have been our bitterest enemies and restore V., p. 851; Pellew, John Jay, pp. 210-212; John their properties who have destroyed ours, and Adams, Works, vol. i., pp. 377-378.

thus, while the wounds they have given us are PRELIMINARY TREATY CONCLUDED.

309

pp. 18-20.

was

made in the northern and share in the fisheries.* Finally, as eastern boundaries, and the south- the English saw they could obtain no ern boundary continued the same further concessions, a preliminary

the 31st degree of N. Lat., treaty was agreed to on November from the Mississippi to the Appala- 30, 1782, and signed by the commischicola. A secret article was also sioners at Paris, † and early the foldrawn up, agreeing that if Great lowing year was approved and ratiBritain should desire to retain West fied by Congress. Much was left to Florida at the conclusion of the war,

be determined by later negotiation, the northern boundary should be a particularly as to boundaries. The line through the mouth of the Yazoo northeastern boundary was defined River, or about 32° 25'.*

as “a line drawn due north from the This was not entirely acceptable to source of the Saint Croix River to Shelburne, and as the king was the Highlands; along the said Highshortly to meet Parliament, Shel- lands which divide these rivers that burne decided that as favorable a

John Adams, Works, vol. i., pp. 379-386, vol. treaty as possible should be pre

iii., p. 327 et seq. For the remarks of the comsented when Parliament convened. t missioners on the various articles see vol. viii., However, he determined to make one

† Beside the works on the peace 'negotiations more effort for the Loyalists and the previously mentioned, see Wharton, Digest of Infisheries, but the Americans

ternational Law, vol. iii; Sparks, Diplomatic Corre

respondence of the American Revolution (in 12 mained firm in their refusal to com

vols., 1829–1830 and in 6 vols., 1857); Johnston, pensate the Loyalists and insisted The Correspondence and Public Papers of John that the United States be given a

Jay, vols. ii. and iii.; John Jay, The Peace Negotiations of 1782–1783, in Winsor, Narrative

and Critical History of America, vol. vii., chap. still bleeding! It is many years since your na- ii.; Theodore Lyman, The Diplomacy of the tion expelled the Stuarts and their adherents, and United States, vol. i., chap. iv.; Foster, A Century confiscated their estates. Much of your resent- of American Diplomacy, chap. ii.; John Jay, The ment against them may by this time be abated; Peace Negotiations of 1782–1783, in Papers of yet, if we should propose it, and insist on it as the American Historical Association, vol. iii.,

pp. an article of our treaty with you, that that family 79-100, and Ibid, Count de Vergennes, in Magashould be recalled and the forfeited estates of zine of American History, vol. xiii., pp. 31–38; its friends restored, would you think us serious W. E. H. Lecky, History of England in the in our professions of earnestly desiring peace ?"- Eighteenth Century, vol. iv.; Lord John Russell, Letter to Oswald, quoted in Parton, Life of Frank. Life and Times of Charles James Fox (3 vols., lin, vol. ii.,

1859–66); John Adolphus, History of England Wharton, vol. V., pp. 851-853. See also from the Accession to the Decease of George III. Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, vol. (7 vols., 1940-1845). For the designs of France ii., pp. 541-545; Gordon, American Revolution, on the Mississippi Valley, see F. J. Turner, The vol. iv., pp. 331–341 (ed. 1778); Lecky, England Policy of France toward the Mississippi Valley in the 18th Century, vol. iv., pp. 252-268; the in the Period of Washington and Adams, in Works and Letters of Jay, Franklin and Adams; American Historical Review, vol. x., pp. 249 7279. Ogg, Opening of the Mississippi, p. 397; Hale, #Watson (Men and Times of the Revolution, Franklin in France, vol. ii., chap. viii.

pp. 203–206) gives an interesting account of his † Fitzmaurice, Life of Shelburne, vol. iii., pp. being present when the king read his speech in 287, 298; Pellew, John Jay, pp. 214–215.

Parliament, December 5, 1782.

P. 495.

« PreviousContinue »