Papers of John Adams, volume 13

From the Marquis de Lafayette, 7 May 1782 Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de JA From the Marquis de Lafayette, 7 May 1782 Lafayette, Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Adams, John
From the Marquis de Lafayette
Paris May the 7h 1782

I Heartily Give You joy, My dear Sir, Upon the Happy Conclusion of Your dutch Negotiations. Every Body Here Congratulates me not only As a Zealous American, But Also as Your long Professed friend 13and Admirer. And tho' the Court Air Has not So Much Altered My Republican Principles as to Make me Believe the Opinion of a King is Every thing, I was the other day pleased to Hear the King of france Speack of You to me in terms of the Highest Regard. This dutch declaration, in the Present Crisis, I take to Be Particularly important to the Victory You Have Gained, I wish you may join a Successfull Skirmish, and Bring About an Useful Loan of Monney. I Had a letter from Mr Levingtson dated February the 19he.1 Nothing important in it, But that He Urges the Necessity of a Pecuniary Assistance, And the Advantages We are to derive from Operations in North America.

As this Opportunity is Safe, I may tell you the french Succour for this Year does not Exceed Six Million of Livres. So far as Respects Operations I Have My Hopes.

Mr franklin Has the other day Communicated a letter from You, and I Entirely Coincide With Every Sentiment You Have therein Expressed.2 It suffices to say the letter Respected Propositions of peace. I am Entirely of Your Opinion, that should England Amuse us with Emissaries, not Vested with Proper Powers, it is Not Consistent with the dignity of America to Continue the Correspondance.

But I do not Believe it Will Be the Case. Mr. Oswald Has Returned to Mr. franklin. A Gentleman is Expected to Count de Vergennes. It Appears they Wish for a General Peace. Our Independance to Be the Ground of it. It Remains to Know How they Understand it. The treaty to be Negotiated at Paris.3

I Heartily Wish for Peace. This Campaign, in Europe at least, is Going to Be a Spanish One.4 I think it the Interest of America to Have a peace, at such Conditions, However, Without Which I Had Rather fight for ten Years longer. I May, I Hope, Before long Converse With You at Paris. For in the Present Situation of Affairs, You Will no doubt think it the Sentiment of Congress and the people at large, that My presence at the french Court is likely to Serve our Cause Better than My Immediate Return to America.

Mr franklin is Very desirous You Would Come Here, and I am the More Anxious for it, Either Before My departure Which I Continue to Annonce as immediate; or in Case Propositions are Seriously Made I Have a Great desire to Converse freely With You.

This Will Be delivered By mr Ridley.5 So that I Have Been More Confidential than I should Have Hazarded to Be By Post. Mr jay will Have little objection to Come, and As mr franklin Says, the Spaniards Had four Years, We May Give them forty.6


With the Highest Regard and Most Sincere Affection I Have the Honour to Be dr Sir Your obedient hbl Servant


RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “M. de la Fayette. May 7. ansd May 21. 1782.”


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Of 16 April (vol. 12:410–413).


For a more detailed account of events at Paris in the wake of Richard Oswald's return and the anticipated arrival of Thomas Grenville, see Franklin's letter of 8 May, below.


Lafayette presumably refers to the planned final assault on Gibraltar by a Franco-Spanish force assembled for that purpose. For the operation's failure, see JA's letter of 23 Sept. to Robert R. Livingston, note 1, below.


For Matthew Ridley, see vol. 12:170–171 and also Edmund Jenings to JA, 16 May (2d letter), below.


Benjamin Franklin wrote to John Jay on 22 April that “Spain has taken four Years to consider whether she should treat with us or not. Give her Forty. And let us in the mean time mind our own Business” (Franklin, Papers , 37:198).

From Benjamin Franklin, 8 May 1782 Franklin, Benjamin JA From Benjamin Franklin, 8 May 1782 Franklin, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Franklin
Passy, May 8. 1782 Sir

Mr Oswald, whom I mention'd in a former letter which I find you have received, is returned and brought me another Letter from Lord Shelburne of which the above is a Copy.1 It says Mr Oswald is instructed to communicate to me his Lordships Thoughts. He is however very sparing of such Communication. All I have got from him, is that “the Ministry have in Contemplation, the allowing Independence to America on Condition of Britains being put again into the State she was left in by the Peace of 1763” which I suppose means being put again in Possession of the Islands France has taken from her. This seems to me a Proposition of selling to us a Thing that is already our own, and making France pay the Price they are pleased to ask for it. Mr. Grenville who is sent by Mr. Fox is expected here Daily;2 Mr Oswald tells me that Mr Lawrens will soon be here also.3 Yours of the 2d Inst is just come to hand. I shall write you on this Affair hereafter by the Court Couriers, for I am certain your Letters to me are open'd at the Post-Office either here or in Holland, and I suppose mine to you are treated in the same manner. I inclose the Cover of your last that you may see the Seal.4

With great Respect, I am, Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient & most humble Servant.

B Franklin

When you write ⅌ Post please to put your Letter under Cover to Mr Grand.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dr Franklin. May 8. 1782.” Filmed at 28 April, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 356, because Lord Shelburne's letter of 28 April (see note 1) was copied above Franklin's letter of 8 May.

15 1.

Richard Oswald, a Scottish merchant, slave trader, and Henry Laurens' friend and business associate, would serve as the principal British representative during the Anglo-American peace negotiations. He and Laurens traveled to the Continent in April, and while Laurens conferred with JA in the Netherlands, Oswald journeyed to Paris for talks with Franklin as Lord Shelburne's representative in preliminary peace discussions, which Franklin described in his letter of 20 April to JA. Following his meeting with Franklin, Oswald returned to London to report to Shelburne but was back in Paris on 4 May, bringing with him Shelburne's letter to Franklin of 28 April ( DNB ; vol. 12:412, 432–433). There, in addition to what Franklin says about the letter, Shelburne indicated that Charles James Fox's representative would be arriving at Paris soon and that ships were being readied to transport American prisoners to America for exchange (Franklin, Papers , 37:234–236).


Franklin met Thomas Grenville, son of George Grenville, the author of the Stamp Act, later in the day when Richard Oswald brought him to Passy to pay his respects (Morris, Peacemakers , p. 271). For Franklin's report on his dealings with Grenville, see his letter of 2 June, below.


Laurens did not arrive in Paris until 28 Nov., just in time to sign the preliminary peace treaty on the 30th (Laurens, Papers , 16:xlv).


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