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CHAPTER XIV.

Treaty signed without the Knowledge of the Court of France, contrary to the Instructions from Congress, and to the Treaty of Alliance.—Count de Vergennes's Opinion of the Treaty.— Unfounded Suspicions.— Rayneval and Marbois. – Franklin's Explanation of the Grounds upon which he acted. — False Rumor concerning his Exertions in obtaining the Boundaries and Fisheries. – His Financial Contract with Count de Vergennes.—Negotiates a Treaty with Sweden. — Mr. Hartley. — Definitive Treaty of Peace signed. — Franklin's Sentiments on this Occasion. — Appointed by the King of France one of the Commissioners for investigating the Subject of Animal Magnetism. — Negotiations.—His Request to be recalled is finally granted by Congress.-Mr. Jefferson succeeds him as Minister to France. — Treaty with Prussia. — Franklin prepares to return Home. —Journey from Passy to Havre de Grace. — Sails from Southampton and arrives

in Philadelphia.

THE most remarkable circumstance attending the treaty of peace remains to be noticed. The American envoys not only negotiated it without consulting the court of France, but signed it without their knowledge, notwithstanding they were pointedly instructed by Congress, “to make the most candid and confidential communications upon all subjects to the ministers of our generous ally, the King of France, and to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace or truce without their knowledge and concurrence;” and notwithstanding the pledge in the treaty of alliance, “that neither of the two parties should conclude either truce or peace with Great Britain, without the formal consent of the other first obtained.” It is true, that the treaty was only provisional, and was not to be ratified until France had likewise concluded a treaty; but this reservation did not alter the nature of the act. When the American treaty was signed, it was not known to the commissioners what progress

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had been made by the French in their negotiation, or whether it was likely to be completed, or the war to continue. There was also a separate article, which was not intended to be communicated to the French at all, concerning the southern boundary of the United States, in case West Florida should be given up to the British in their treaty with Spain. It was not strange, that Count de Vergennes should complain of this procedure, and express himself with some degree of indignation when it was told to him, without any previous notice of such an intent, that the treaty had been signed. The commissioners, as a body, offered no explanation. This task was laid upon Dr. Franklin, who executed it as well as he could, and with such success as to soften the displeasure of the French court. Entire satisfaction was not to be expected; indeed, it could not be given. The feelings of Count de Vergennes on this occasion, and his opinion of the treaty, may be gathered from a confidential letter, written by him to M. de la Luzerne three weeks after the treaty was signed, and communicating the first intelligence of that event. “With this letter,” says Count de Vergennes, “I have the honor to send you a translation of the preliminary articles, which the American plenipotentiaries have agreed to and signed with those of Great Britain, to be made into a treaty, when the terms of peace between France and England shall be settled. You will surely be gratified, as well as myself, with the very extensive advantages, which our allies, the Americans, are to receive from the peace; but you certainly will not be less surprised than I have been, at the conduct of the commissioners. I have informed you, that the King did not seek to influence the negotiation, any further than his offices might be necessary to his friends. The American commissioners will not say, that I have wearied them with my curiosity. They have cautiously kept themselves at a distance from me. “This negotiation is not yet so far advanced in regard to ourselves, as that of the United States; not that the King, if he had shown as little delicacy in his proceedings as the American commissioners, might not have signed articles with England long before them. There is no essential difficulty at present between France and England; but the King has been resolved that all his allies should be satisfied, being determined to continue the war, whatever advantage may be offered to him, if England is disposed to wrong any one of them. “We have now only to attend to the interests of Spain and Holland. I have reason to hope, that the former will be soon arranged. The fundamental points are established, and little remains but to settle the forms. I think the United States will do well to make an arrangement with Spain. They will be neighbours. As to Holland, I fear her affairs will cause embarrassments and delays. The disposition of the British ministry towards that republic appears to be any thing but favorable. “Such is the present state of things. I trust it will soon be better; but, whatever may be the result, I think it proper that the most influential members of Congress should be informed of the very irregular conduct of their commissioners in regard to us. You may speak of it not in the tone of complaint. I accuse no person; I blame no one, not even Dr. Franklin. He has yielded too easily to the bias of his colleagues, who do not pretend to recognise the rules of courtesy in regard to us. All their attentions have been taken up by the English, whom they have met in Paris. If we may judge of the future from what has passed here under our eyes, we shall be but poorly paid for all that we have done for the United States, and for securing to them a national existence. “I will add nothing, in respect to the demand for money, which has been made upon us. You may well judge, if conduct like this encourages us to make demonstrations of our liberality.” There is no disguise in this letter; and we learn from it the precise sentiments of the French court in relation both to the treaty and to the conduct of the commissioners. On this latter head, it manifests no want of sensibility; and, on the former, not even a hint is thrown out, that the treaty included privileges with which the French were displeased, or which they had intended to claim in their treaty with England. On the contrary, the minister expresses his gratification, that the Americans had gained such very eatensive advantages. And it may be added, that, notwithstanding the intimation at the close of the above extract, the King of France had already resolved to grant to the United States a new loan of six millions of livres for the coming year, and his purpose was not changed. After all these facts, it may be asked what motive could induce the commissioners to act in a manner apparently so unjustifiable. This question may be answered by a single word, suspicion; excited in the first instance by circumstances, which seemed to indicate some interested designs of the French ; and fomented, from the beginning to the end of the negotiation, by the British envoys. Count de Vergennes and the French minister in Philadelphia had uniformly urged moderation on the Americans, with respect to their claims to the boundaries and the fisheries; and they recommended compensation to the loyalists. The reason is obvious. The French had bound themselves to carry on the war, till a peace should be concluded, satisfactory to the Americans; and they feared, that, if extravagant demands were put forth in negotiating a treaty, the pride of England would not yield to them, and that the war would be protracted on this account, after all the other powers had gained their ends and were desirous of peace. But it was suspected, that France could have no other aim, than to secure certain advantages to herself at the expense of the Americans. If such a scheme had been formed, would not the French ministers have been silent till the time of action, instead of making their sentiments known, as they did, openly and on many occasions during the war, both in America and in France. While the negotiation was pending, an incident occurred, which raised new suspicions, and tended to strengthen the old ones. M. de Rayneval, the principal secretary under Count de Vergennes, went twice to London. It was immediately surmised by Mr. Jay, that these visits were inauspicious to the American treaty; and, in short, that M. de Rayneval was instructed to enter into an agreement with Lord Shelburne to divide the fisheries between England and France, and to curtail the boundaries of the United States, before the American treaty should be finished. There is a long despatch from Mr. Jay to Congress, in which he endeavours to establish these points by an accumulation of circumstances and conjectural evidence. But whatever his imagination may have suggested, which could render such a suspicion plausible, it had no just foundation in fact. M. de Rayneval's instructions, his correspondence with Count de Vergennes VOL. I. P P

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