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To R. R. LIVINGSTON, Esg.
Passy, Dec. 5, 1782. “ You desire to be very particularly acquainted with every step which tends to a negociation." I am therefore encouraged to send you the first part of the journal," which accidents and a long severe illness interrupted; but which, from notes I have by me, may be continued if thought proper. In its present state, it is hardly fit for the inspection of congress, certainly not for public view. I confide it therefore to your prudence.
The arrival of Mr. Jay, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Laurens, relieved me from much anxiety, which must have continued, if I had been left to finish the treaty alone; and it has given me the more satisfaction, as I am sure the business has profited by their assistance.
Much of the summer had been taken up in objecting against the powers given to Great Britain, and in removing those objections, in using any expressions that might imply an acknowledgment of our independence, seemed at first industriously to be avoived. But our refusing otherwise to treat, at length induced them to get over that difficulty, and then we came to the point of making propositions. Those made by Mr. Jay and me before the arrival of the other gentlemen, you will find in the enclosed paper, No. 1,which was sent by the British plenipotentiary to London for the king's consideration. After some weeks an under secretary, Mr. Strachey, arrived; with whom we had much contestation about the boundaries and other articles which he proposed; we settled some, which he carried to London, and
See page 125 of this vol.
? See p. 287. ib.
returned with the propositions ; some adopted, others omitted or altered, and new ones added ; which you will see in paper No. 2. We spent many days in discussing and disputing, and at. length agreed on and signed the PRELIMINARIES, which you will receive by this conveyance. The British ministers struggled hard for two points; that the favors granted to the royalists should be extended, and all our fishery, contracted. We silenced them on the first, by threata" ening to produce an account of the mischief done by those people, and as to the second, when they told us they could not possibly agree to it as we requested it, and must refer it to the ministry in London ; we produced a new article to be referred at the same time, with a note of facts in support of it, both which you have, No. 3.3 . Apparently it seemed that to avoid the discussion of this, they suddenly changed their minds, dropped the design of recurring to London, and agreed to allow the fishery as demanded.
You will find in the preliminaries, some inaccurate and ambiguous expressions that want explanation, and which may be explained in the definitive treaty; and as the British ministry excluded our proposition relating to commerce, and the American prohibition of that with England may not be understood to cease merely by our concluding a treaty of peace; perhaps we may then, if the congress shall think fit to direct it, obtain some compensation for the injuries done us as a condition of our opeping again the trade. Every one of the present British ministry has, while in the ministry, declared the war against us unjust; and nothing is clearer in reason, than that those who injure others by an unjust war, should make full reparation. They have stipulated too,
This paper does not appear. ? See page 278 of this vol,
page 269 of this vol,
in these preliminaries, that in evacuating our towns, they shall carry off no plunder, which is a kind of acknowledgment that they ought not to have done it before.
The reason given us for dropping the article relating to commerce, was, that some statutes were in the way, which must be repealed before a treaty of that kind could be welt formed, and that this was a matter to be considered in parliament.
They wanted to bring their boundary down to the Ohio, and to settle their loyalists in the Illinois country. We did not choose such neighbors.
We communicated all the articles as soon as they were signed, to M. le Comte de Vergennes, (except the separate one) who thinks we have managed well, and told me that we had settled what was most apprehended as a difficulty in the work of a general peace, by obtaining the declaration of our independency.
December 14. I have this day learnt that the principal preliminaries between France and Eugland are agreed on, to wit:
: 1st. France is to enjoy the right of fishing, and drying on all the west coast of Newfoundland, down to Cape Ray. Miquelon and St. Pierre to be restored, and may be fortified.
2nd. Senegal remains to France, and Goree to be restored. The Gambier entirely to England.
3d. All the places taken from France in the East Indies, to be restored, with a certain quantity of territory round them.
4th. In the West Indies, Grenada and the Grenadines, St. Christopher's, Neyis and Montserrat, to be restored to England. St. Lucia to France. Dominique to remain with France, and St. Vincent's to be neutralised,
5th. No commissioner at Dunkirk.
The points not yet quite settled, are the territory round the places in the Indies, and neutralisation of St. įVincent's. Apparently these will not create much difficulty.
Holland has yet hardly done any thing in her negociation.
Spain offers for Gibraltar to restore West Florida and the Bahamas. An addition is talked of the island of Guadaloupe, which France will cede to Spain in exchange for the other half of Hispaniola, and Spain to England; but England, it is said, chose rather Porto Rico. Nothing yet concluded.
As soon as I received the commission and instructions for treating with Sweden, I waited on the Ambassador here, who told me he daily expected a courier on that subject. Yes: terday he wrote a note to acquaint me that he would call on me to-day, having something to communicate to me. Being obliged to go to Paris, I waited on him, when he showed me the full powers he had just received, and I showed him mine. We agreed to meet on Wednesday next, exchange copies, and proceed to business. His commission has some polite expressions in it, to wit: 'that his Majesty thought it for the good of his subjects to enter into a treaty of amity and commerce with the United States of America, who had established their independence so justly merited by their courage and constancy ; ' or to that effect. I imagine this treaty will be soon completed; if any difficulty should arise, I shall take the advice of my colleagues.
I have this day signed a common letter to you, drawn up by my colleagues, which you will receive herewith. We have kept this vessel longer for two things, a passport promised us from England, and a sum" to send in her ; but she is likely to depart without both, being all of us impatient that congress should receive early intelligence of our pro
ceedings; and for the money, we may probably borrow a frigate.
I am now entering on my 78th year; public business has engrossed fifty of them; I wish now to be for the little time I have left, my own master. If I live to see this
peace concluded, I shall beg leave to remind the congress of their promise then to dismiss me. I shall be happy to sing with old Simeon, Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. With great esteem, &c.
(Enclosed in the foregoing.)
No. I. ARTICLES agreed upon by and between Richard Oswald, esq. the commissioner of his Britannic Majesty, for treating of peace with the commissioners of the United States of America, on the behalf of his said Majesty on the one part; and Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, two of the commissioners of the said states, for treating of peace with the commissioner of his said majesty on their behalf, on the other part.
To be inserted in, and to constitute the treaty of peace, proposed to be concluded between the crown of Great Britain and the said United States : but which treaty is not to be concluded, until his Britannic Majesty shall have agreed to the terms of peace
between France and Britain, proposed or accepted by his most Christian Majesty; and shall be ready to conclude with him such treaty accordingly. It being the duty and intention of the United States not to desert their ally, but faithfully, and in all things, to abide by and fulfil their engagements with his most Christian Majesty.
Whereas reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience are found by experience to form the only permanent foundation of peace and friendship between states, it is agreed to frame the articles of the proposed treaty, on such principles of liberal equality and reciprocity, as that partial advantages (those seeds of discord) being excluded, such a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse between the two countries
may be established, as to promise and secure to both the blessings of perpetual peace and harmony.