Papers of John Adams, volume 6


French readiness to accept the deletion of Arts. 11 and 12 stemmed from the congress' objections contained in the extract from the Committee for Foreign Affairs' letter of 14 May (above, and note 4) given to Vergennes; it was probably also affected by Arthur Lee's complaints made in January. Lee wrote to Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane on 30 January to protest the inclusion of Art. 12, a concession to France for Art. 11, because it offered too great a trade advantage to France. Lee even threatened to withhold his signature from the treaty if the article remained. On 1 Feb. Franklin and Deane wrote to Vergennes to request the removal of the two articles, but were told in a letter of the following day from Conrad Alexandre Gérard that, since the King had already approved the articles, they could not “be submitted to a new examination without inconvenience and considerable delay.” A private understanding may, however, have been reached between the Commissioners and the French government, for Ralph Izard reported to the president of the congress on 16 Feb. that he understood “that if Congress objects to it [the French insertion of Art. 12], there is a verbal promise on the part of France that it shall be expunged” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:481–483, 485, 497–501). Neither Lee's complaints nor Izard's report affected the deliberations of the congress because Lee, perhaps satisfied with the Franklin-Deane effort and the French response, apparently did not send his objections to America, and Izard's letter of 16 Feb. did not reach the congress until 19 Sept. ( JCC , 12:936).