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he would find us faithful and firm allies, and we wished with his majesty that the amity between the two nations might be eternal. And mentioning that republics were usually steady in their engagements, for instance the Swiss Cantons, the secretary remarked that France had been as steady with regard to them, two hundred years having passed since their first alliance for fifty years had commenced, which had been renewed from time to time; and such had been her uniform good faith towards them, that, as it appeared in the last renewal, the protestant Cantons were free from their ancient prejudices and suspicions, and joined readily with the rest in the league, of which we herewith send you a copy.
It is sometime since we obtained a promise of an additional aid of three millions of livres, which we shall receive in January Spain we are told will give an equal sum, but finding it inconvenient to remit here, she purposes sending it from the Havannah in specie to the congress. What we receive here will help to get us out of debt.
Our vessels laden with supplies have by various means been delayed, particularly by fear of falling into the hands of the English cruising ships, who swarm in the bay and channel. At length it is resolved they shall sail together, as they are all provided for defence, and we have obtained a king's ship to convoy them out of the channel, and we hope quite to America. They will carry we think to the amount of £70,000 sterling, and sail in a few days. Also, in consideration of the late frequent losses of our despatches and the importance of the present, we have applied for and obtained a frigate to carry them. These extraordinary favours, of a nature provoking to Great Britain, are marks of the sincerity of this court, and seem to demand the thanks of the congress.
We have accepted five bills drawn on us by the president in favour of some returned officers, and shall pay them punctually. But as we receive no remittances for our support, and the cargo in the Amphitrite is claimed from us by Mr. Beaumarchais, and we are not certain
that we can keep it, we hope congress will be sparing in their draughts, except for the interest mentioned in our former letters; of which we now repeat the assurances of payment. Otherwise we may be much embarrassed, and our situation rendered extremely uncomfortable.
It is said the French ambassador at London has desired to be recalled, being affronted there, where the late news from America has created a violent ferment. There is also talk here of Lord Stormont's recall. The stocks in England fall fast; and on both sides there is every appearance of an approaching war.
Being informed by the concurring reports of many who had escaped, that our people, prisoners in England, are treated with great inhumanity, we have written a letter of expostulation to Lord North on the subject, which we sent over by 'a person express, whom we have instructed to visit the prisons under the directions of Mr. Hartley, to relieve in some degree the most necessitous. We shall hereafter acquaint you with the result.
The expenses we are put to by those who get to us, are very considerable.
The supplies now going out from hence, and what we have sent and are sending you from Spain, though far short of your orders, (which we have executed as far as We were able) will we hope, with private supplies encouraged by us and others, put you in pretty good circumstances as to clothing, arms, &c. if they arrive. And we shall continue to send as ability and opportunity may permit.
Please to present our best respects to the congress, and believe us to be, with sincere and great esteem, gentlemen, your most obedient and very humble servants,
W. T. FRANKLIN.
“ Passy, near Paris, Feb. 28th, 1778. Gentlemen,–Our despatches of Dec. 18th, which would have acquainted you with the state of our affairs
here, and our expectations of a speedy conclusion of the treaties with this court, are unfortunately returned; the French man-of-war which went on purpose to carry them, having met with some disaster at sea, which obliged her to put back, after a long struggle of six weeks against contrary winds. We now have obtained another ship to sail with them immediately, and with our fresh despatches containing the treaties themselves, which were happily concluded and signed the 6th inst., though hitherto for some political reasons kept a secret from the public.
The English parliament adjourned in December, for six weeks. During that time their ministers strained every nerve to raise men for their armies, intending to continue the war with vigour. Subscriptions were set on foot to aid government in the expense, and they flattered themselves with being able to enlist 10,000 volunteers. But whether they found this impracticable, or were discouraged by later accounts from America, or had some intimation of our treaties here, their vaunts and threats are suddenly abated ; and on the 17th Lord North made a long discourse, acknowledging the errors of their former conduct in the war with America, and proposing to obtain peace by the means of two bills, of which we enclose copies.
We make no remarks on these bills ; the judgment of the congress can be at no loss in determining on the conduct necessary to be held with regard to them. And we are confident they will not answer the purpose of dividing in order to subjugate, for which they are evidently intended.
Our states have now a solid support for their liberty and independence in their alliance with France, which will be certainly fellowed by that of Spain and the whole house of Bourbon, and probably by Holland and the other powers of Europe, who are interested in the freedom of commerce, and in keeping down the power of Britain. Our people are happy in the enjoyment of their new constitutions of government, and will be so in their extended trade and navigation, unfettered by English acts
of our te
and custom-house officers. They will now never relish the Egyptian bondage from which they have so happily escaped. A long peace will probably be the consequence of their separation from England, as they have no cause of quarrel with other nations; an immediate war with France and Spain, if they join again with England, and a share in all her future wars, her debts, and her crimes. We are therefore persuaded that their commissioners will be soon dismissed if at all received, for the sooner the decided part taken by the congress is known in Europe, the more extended and stable will be their credit, and their conventions with other powers more easy to make and more advantageous.
Americans are every where in France treated with respect and every appearance of affection. We think it would be well to advise our people in all parts of America to imitate this conduct with regard to the French who may happen to be among us. Every means should be used to remove ancient prejudices, and cultivate a friendship that must be so useful to both nations.
Šome transactions here during the last four or five months, in the rigorous observance of treaties with regard to the equipments of our armed vessels in the ports, and the selling of our prizes, have no doubt made ill impressions on the minds of our seamen and traders relative to the friendship of this court. We were then obliged to observe a secrecy which prevented our removing those prejudices, by acquainting our people with the substantial aids France was privately affording us; and we must continue in the same situation till it is thought fit to publish the treaties. But we can with pleasure now acquaint you that we have obtained full satisfaction for the owners of the prizes confiscated here for a breach of the laws by a false declaration, they being entered as coming from Statia, and the payment will be
made to the owners in America. We mean the prizes taken by Capt. Babson and Hendricks in the Boston and Hancock privateers, which prizes after confiscation were, for reasons of state, restored to the English. This is a fresh proof of the good will and generosity of this court, and their determination to cultivate the friendship of America.
The preparations for war continue in all the ports with the utmost industry, and troops are marching daily to the sea coasts, where three camps are to be formed. As France is determined to protect her commerce with us, a war is deemed inevitable.
Mr. W. Lee we suppose acquaints you with the decease of Mr. Morris, his colleague in the commercial agency. On our application to the ministry, an order was obtained to put Mr. Lee in possession of his papers. If that department has been found useful and likely to continue so, you will no doubt appoint one or more persons to take care of the business, as Mr. Lee has now another destination. Perhaps the general commerce likely to be soon opened between Europe and America, may render such an appointment unnecessary. We would just add for the consideration of congress, whether, considering the mention of Bermudas in one of the articles, it may not be well to take possession of that island, with the consent of the inhabitants, and fortify the same as soon as possible. And also to reduce some or all of the English fishing posts in or near Newfoundland.
With the greatest respect we have the honour to be, gentlemen, your most obedient humble servants.
W. T. FRANKLIN.
(6) Extracts from the Journal of Mr. Lee. Journal
" PARIS, Sept. 26th, 1777. Mr. Grand reported his having delivered the memoire for money to Count Vergennes, who said he must communicate with the Spanish court upon the aid required. He was then informed that it had been communicated to Count d'Aranda, and pressed with the immediate necessity the commissioners were under for the money. Up