Middleborough March 23. 1776

I perfectly agree with you, Dear Madam, that G. Britain
is in a disgraceful situation, not only with regard to what you
have with great propriety instanced in, but also in her sending
Commissioners to treat with those she calls Rebels. These Com-
missioners are probably by this time arrived at Philadelphia:
but how they can introduce, with a good grace, the errand
they are come upon, is difficult to conjecture. We are
told they will not have any thing to do with the Congress,
but will treat with the Colonies seperately. If this be
their plan, it requires no great share of the prophetic spirit
to foretell, they will not be able to execute it: for it is not
likely that any of the united Colonies will enter into a seperate
treaty with them, but will undoubtedly refer them to the
Congress, which represents the whole, and which for many
reasons is the only suitable body to negotiate with them.

The Ministry have hitherto refused to acknowlege that body

as the Representative of the Colonies, and do not allow that
the Colonies conjunctly can legally be represented at all: and
from hence, and also from the hope of gaining advantages by
seperate treaties, proceeds the disinclination to treat with the
Congress. But it appears likely they must bring their Stomachs
to it, if they mean to do any thing in a way of negotiation.

The Commissioners have undoubtedly a discretional power
to act according as they find things circumstanced: and when
they are informed of the disgraceful precipitate flight of their
troops from Boston, the firmness and intirety of the union
of the Colonies, and their preparedness and capacity to defend
themselves, and therefore that the british troops can make
no great impression, they will condescend, I imagine, to treat
with the Congress. But if you should ask, Madm., how will the
Congress conduct on this occasion? my answer is, extremely well:
for it is manifest by their Proceedings hitherto, they are good polititians,
and have Requisites for negotiation- good sense, historical

knowlege, and integrity. The two former of these will secure
them from imposition and circumvention, and the latter, I
trust, from bribery and corruption. If they are not corruptible,
we need not be distressed about the issue of the negotiation. But as M—try
are said to be complete Adepts in the practice and arts of bribery, it is highly
probable those they employ on so interesting and important an occa-
sion are not less so; and come amply provided from the national
coffers with the means of it. They are therefore in an especial
manner to be guarded against in that view. - If a treaty should be
entered upon, I apprehend it cannot be done with dignity and pro-
priety on the part of America, before the whole british Armament
both by Sea and land depart from America; and this ought to be
insisted on as an essential preliminary to the negotiation. In this
idea Some Europeans do, and all Americans should, concur.

As to the treaty itself, in order to be lasting, it must be founded on meer
interest, the mutual interest of the parties: the free discussion and set-
tlement of which imply mutual independance, without which it is in
vain to expect they can take place. In order to such a discussion

settlement, does it not seem necessary on our part, there should be a decla-
ration of independance on Great Britain? and without such a declaration,
must not the Congress enter upon the treaty with great disadvantage? as their
silence on that head will be construed to imply an acknowledgment, that the Interests of
America are to be considered as subordinate to those of Great Britain, and
to be regarded no farther than they have a tendency to promote her interests.

Divers objections may be made against such a declaration: but I would
refer the objector to that excellent Pamphlet intitled "Common Sense": which,
if he is not influenced by private interest and attachment, will probably silence all
his objections, and disciple him to the author's doctrine, that an Independance
on Great Britain has now become absolutely necessary to the well-being of the
Colonies. - Thus Madm., in obedience to your command, for such I es-
teem the most distant intimation of your pleasure, I have given you some
crude thoughts on the subject of the expected negotiation. I wish they were
intitled to the approbation of so good a judge in politics. Such as they are,
I beg leave to submit them to your candour; and am with the greatest

Madm. Yr most obedt. & very hble servt.
James Bowdoin

March 23, 1776


We all present our best regards
to you & your good Gentleman, who we hope
is perfectly recovered. The report of my
D'rs arrival is a mistake.