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AID OF VERGENNES; BEAUMARCHAIS.
ness for the American cause, however, When Deane arrived in Paris, he no obstructions of any kind would be found that the Revolutionary cause placed in the way of such shipments. was in a fair way to receive aid of a He said that the custom-house officials substantial nature. Through his unhad not been informed as to the secret tiring efforts Franklin's friend, Dr. intentions of the court, and if Deane Duborg, had secured about 15,000 experienced any difficulty whatever in stand of arms from the royal arsenals, transporting his merchandise through and probably would have been able to the custom-houses, he should report it secure some brass cannon by the same immediately to the court and such ob- method, had not“ the circumstance of structions would be removed imme- their bearing the king's arms and diately. Deane was to consider him- cipher
made them too disself under the immediate protection coverable.” The most important of of the ministry, and if the police or the early friends of the colonies, howany other officials should in any way, ever, was Pierre Augustin Caron de shape or manner interfere with his Beaumarchais, one of the most unique movements, such interference should characters in French history of that be reported to the ministry and every- time. Originally of low birth and by thing would be immediately cleared occupation a watchmaker, he had deaway. Deane was to be perfectly free veloped great business talents, and by to carry on any kind of commerce in several important operations had bethe kingdom which was permissible to come possessed of a fortune and sethe subjects of any other nation of the cured a standing among the nobility. world, for the court had resolved to
He had a talent for music and was remain strictly neutral and to allow
well known as an operatic comthe ports to be free and open to both poser and author.
His various parties alike, excepting, of course, in
accomplishments, both in finance contraband of war. On the subject of
and literature, together with his independence, however, Vergennes de- daring
speculator, highly clined to commit himself definitely, as
recommended him to the court and he he deemed this matter too uncertain
soon became a favorite of the king. at the present time for consideration, He early suggested that he be apand that it was a subject which might pointed secret agent of the French be considered in the far distant government to furnish material aid to
the revolted colonies of the traditional future.*
enemy of France, and to further his
plans went to London to enlist the aid See Deane's letter of August 18, 1776, to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, in Wharton,
of Arthur Lee of Virginia, who had Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. ij., p. 112, and Franklin's and Deane's letters of March 12, 1777, yette, vol. i., pp. 144 et seq., 298 et seq.; Parton, in ibid, vol. ii., p. 283; Tower, Marquis de LaFa- Life of Franklin, vol. ii., p. 189 et seq.
RODERIQUE HORTALEZ ET CIE.
succeeded Franklin as agent for the relief for the American army was obcolony of Massachusetts.* The secret tained much sooner than had Deane nature of the scheme of Beaumarchais been compelled to conduct the negois witnessed by the following letter tiations alone.* In September, 1776, from Count de Vergennes to the king, Deane wrote to Robert Morris, “I dated May 2, 1776, two months before shall send you in October clothing for the arrival of Deane:
20,000 men, 30,000 muskets, 100 tons “Sire: I have the honor of laying at the feet
gunpowder, 200 brass cannon, 24 of your Majesty the writing authorizing me to mortars, with shot, shell, etc. in profurnish a million of livres for the service of the
portion." + Furthermore, he obtained English colonies. I add also the plan of an answer I propose to make to the Sieur Beaumarchais. credit to the amount of $2,500,000. I solicit your approbation to the two propositions. Meanwhile, after the king had defiThe answer to M. de Beaumarchais will not be written in my hand, nor even that of either the
nitely given his approval to the clerks or secretaries of my office. I shall employ scheme of Beaumarchais, it was for that purpose my son, whose handwriting can
mercantile house, not be known. He is only fifteen years old, but I can answer in the most positive manner for his dis- under the
“ Roderique cretion. As it is important that this operation Hortalez
Hortalez et Cie.,” should be esshould not be suspected, or at least imputed to
tablished to “sell” to the colothe government, I entreat Your Majesty to allow me to direct the return of the Sieur Montaudoin nies military supplies which France to Paris. The apparent pretext for that proceed
could not send them, without violating ing will be to obtain from him an account of his correspondence with the Americans, though in the rules of neutrality. This firm esreality it will be for the purpose of employing tablished itself on a prominent street him to transmit to them such funds as Your Majesty chooses to appropriate to their benefit, direct
in Paris in a house formerly occupied ing him, at the same time, to take all necessary as an embassy of the Netherlands govprecautions, as if, indeed, the Sieur Montaudoin
ernment. The head of the house was made the advance on his own account. On this head, I take the-fiberty of requesting the orders supposed to have been a Spanish of Your Majesty. Having obtained them, I shall banker, but he was never seen, and all write to the Marquis de Grimaldi [Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs), inform him in detail
confidential inquiries were answered of our proceedings, and request his coöperation to by Beaumarchais. The French govthe same extent."
ernment supplied 1,000,000 livres, and Having obtained the assent of the
on its endorsement, the Spanish govking to his scheme, the pathway was
ernment advanced 1,000,000, more, made smooth for Beaumarchais. When chiefly because of her hatred to the Deane arrived in Paris, Beaumar
British. When Deane arrived, therechais immediately put himself into
fore, he was officially refused any ascommunication with Deane and thus
sistance, but was semi-officially referred to Beaumarchais who imme
* For details see Hale, Franklin in France, vol. i., chap. iii.; Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. 424-432; Pitkin, Political and Civil History of the United States, vol. i., pp. 402-422.
* John Adams, Works, vol. i., p. 307.
† Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., p. 148.
COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO PREPARE TREATY.
diately delivered to Deane whatever long openly espouse its cause. John he wished upon security of the ship- Adams had urged that steps should be ment of cargoes of tobacco or other immediately taken to effect a treaty American produce.* It is estimated with that nation, and was very persistthat during the existence of this firm, ent in advocating this policy, saying, from 1776 to 1783, its disbursements “ Some gentlemen doubted of the amounted to more than 21,000,000 sentiments of France, though she livres, the greater part of which was would frown upon us as rebels, and be advanced for the American cause. afraid to countenance the example. I Beaumarchais, however, had much replied to these gentlemen, that I apdifficulty in securing a settlement of prehended they had not attended to his accounts from the Continental the relative situation of France and Congress, which was probably due to England; that it was the unquestionthe enmity of Arthur Lee, who, be- able interest of France that the cause of his hatred of both Beaumar- British continental colonies should be chais and Deane, sent to Congress re- independent; that Britain, by the conports which cast doubt upon the quest of Canada and her naval correctness of the accounts rendered: triumphs during the last war, and by Consequently, Beaumarchais was un- her vast possessions, able to effect a settlement up to the exalted to a height and preëminence time of his death (1779), and for that France must envy and could not many years after the subject was dis- endure. But there was more than cussed at length in Congress, but pride and jealousy in the case. Her finally, by the treaty of 1831, it was rank, her consideration in Europe, agreed that out of the sum to be paid and even her safety and independby the United States, 800,000 francs ence, were at stake.” Congress finally should be given to the heirs of Beau- yielded to the arguments of Adams, marchais.
and in June, 1776, appointed Franklin, The fictitious nature of the business Adams, Robert Morris, Dickinson and of this firm was too thin to remain Harrison a committee to prepare a long unpenetrated by the British am- formal treaty to be proposed to forbassador in France, but it served its eign powers. On July 10 the compurpose as a temporary expedient of mittee reported a plan, which, after the French government before an being submitted and approved by open alliance with the colonies could Congress, was adopted September 17. be effected and made public.
This was chiefly the work of John It had become apparent to Congress Adams and consisted of thirty artiearly in the war that France must ere cles.* It was almost exclusively a
* Foster, A Century of American Diplomacy, p. 15.
* For text see Freeman Snow, Treaties and Topics in American Diplomacy, pp. 12–24. See
COMMISSIONERS SENT TO FRANCE; THEIR INSTRUCTIONS. commercial treaty and called for no jects of his most Christian Majesty, the King military aid or support. In his report be beneficial to both nations ;— Know ye, there
of France, and the people of these States, will Adams said: “Our negotiations with fore, that we, confiding in the prudence and France ought to be conducted with
integrity of Benjamin Franklin, one of the
Delegates in Congress from the State of Pennsyl. great caution, and with all the fore
vania, and President of the Convention of the said sight we could possibly obtain; we State, etc., Silas Deane, now in France, late a
Delegate from the State of Connecticut; and Ar. ought not to enter into any alliance
thur Lee, barrister at law, have appointed and which should entangle us in any deputed, and by these presents do appoint and defuture wars in Europe;
pute them, the said Benjamin Franklin, Silas
Deane, and Arthur Lee, our Commissioners, giving would never be to our interest to
and granting to them, the said Franklin, Deane, unite with France in the destruction and Lee, or any two of them, and in the case of
death, absence or disability of any two, or any one of England.
of them, full power to communicate, treat, agree preparing treaties to be proposed to and conclude with his most Christian Majesty, the foreign powers, and in the instruc- King of France, or with such person or persons,
as shall by him be for that purpose authorized, of tions to be given to our ministers, we
and upon a true and sincere friendship, and a ought to confine ourselves strictly to a firm, inviolable and universal peace for the detreaty of commerce; such a treaty
fense, protection and safety of the navigation and
mutual commerce of the subjects of his most would be ample compensation to Christian Majesty, and the people of the United France for all the aid we should want
States, and to do all other things, which may con
duce to those desirable ends, and promising in from her."*
good faith to ratify whatsoever our said Commis. Immediately after approving this sioners shall transact in the premises. Done in
Congress, in Philadelphia, the thirtieth day of plan, Congress appointed Franklin,
September, in the year of our Lord one thousand Deane, and Thomas Jefferson commis- seven hundred and seventy-six.” sioners to France. But Jefferson,
In addition to the letter of credence because of the illness of his wife, was unable to leave America.& Arthur
Arthur special instructions were prepared for
the commissioners relative to their Lee, then in London, was named in his place. Their letter of credence is in
duties ;t among the more important teresting and was as follows:
paragraphs being the following: “The Delegates of the United States of New
“You will solicit the court of France for an Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island,
immediate supply of twenty or thirty thousand Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
muskets and bayonets, and a large supply of am. Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina,
munition, and brass field-pieces, to be sent under South Carolina, and Georgia, to all who shall
a convoy by France. The United States engage see these presents; send greetings;— Whereas
for the payment of the arms, artillery and ama trade, upon equal terms, between the sub
munition, and to indemnify France for the con
voy. also Moore, American Diplomacy, pp. 6–8; John Adams, Works, vol. i., p. 242.
Secret Journals of Congress, vol. ii., p. 32. * Secret Journals of Congress, vol. ii., p. 7. † Morse, Life of Franklin, p. 229; Hildreth, vol. † Parton, Life of Franklin, vol. ii., pp. 166–167. iii., p. 178. See also the Secret Journals of Con.
# His reply to the President of Congress is given gress, vol. ii., pp. 6, 31, 35; Force, American in Parton, Life of Thomas Jefferson, pp. 197–198. Archives, 5th series, vol. ii., pp. 1198, 1212-1216, See also Ford's ed. of Jefferson's Writings, vol. i., 1237; Tower, Marquis de Lafayette, vol. i., pp. p. 71, vol. ii., pp. 91-92.
FRANKLIN ARRIVES IN FRANCE.
“ Engage a few good engineers in the service
messenger did not meet, and soon the of the United States.
three commissioners were hard at “It is highly probable that France means not to let the United States sink in the present con
work at the task before them. Soon test. But as the difficulty of obtaining true ac- after Franklin arrived the commiscounts of our condition may cause an opinion to be entertained that we are able to support the war
sioners were received in private audi. on our own strength and resources longer than, ence by Vergennes at which time they in fact, we can do, it will be proper for you to press for the immediate and explicit declaration
presented the first formal diplomatic of France in our favor, upon a suggestion, that communication made on behalf of the a re-union with Great Britain, may be the conse
United States to a foreign power.* quence of a delay.
“Should Spain be disinclined to our cause, from Regarding this interview, they said: an apprehension of danger to her doininions in
“ It was evident that this court, while South America, you are empowered to give the
it treated us privately strongest assurances, that that crown will receive
us privately with all no molestation from the United States, in the pos- civility, was cautious of giving umsession of those territories." *
brage to England, and was, therefore, At the time of these appointments,
desirous of avoiding open reception Deane was already in Paris discharg- and acknowledgment of us, or entering the duties of private agent, and ing into any formal negotiations with Lee soon after went from London to us, as ministers from Congress." + join him. Franklin started from
In October these commissioners were America at the earliest possible mo
instructed to purchase from the ment, and when the news of his land
French government eight line-ofing reached Paris, Lord Stormont, the
battle ships and to equip them at the British ambassador, threatened to
earliest possible moment. leave the country if the “ chief of the
On arriving in Paris in December, American rebels ” were permitted to
Franklin and Lee immediately put enter the city. Vergennes pacified themselves into communication with Stormont by saying that a messenger Vergennes, but for some time their would be sent to forbid Franklin to
labors availed little. The French enter the capital, but should this mes
were not yet ready to acknowledge
the senger perchance miss Franklin, the
independence of America or government would not send him openly to espouse the American cause. “ because of the scandalous
It was evident that the French had away scene this would present to all France,
* Moore, American Diplomacy, p. 8. should we respect neither the laws of
† Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence of the nations nor of hospitalities.” Ver- Revolution, vol. ii., p. 283.
Hale, Franklin in France, vol. i., pp. 48 et seq., gennes saw to it that Franklin and the
142; Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. ii.,
p. 239; Weld, Life of Franklin, pp. 492–493; * The instructions are given in full in E. E. Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. i., pp. 162Hale, Franklin in France, vol. i., pp. 61-65; Snow, 165. For the results, see Bancroft, vol. v., p. 126 Treaties and Topics in American Diplomacy, pp. et seq. On Lee's conduct see Trevelyan, American 24-26.
Revolution, vol. iv., p. 442 et seq.