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to request it of that assembly, making no doubt of obtaining a favorable answer, without loss of time.
“ This proposal, signed by Mr. Laurens's hand, I carried and delivered, I think, in the month of December last, to his Majesty's then secretaries of state, which was duly attended to; and, in consequence thereof, Mr. Laurens was soon after set at full liberty. And though not a prisoner under parole, yet it is to be hoped, a variation in the mode of discharge will not be supposed of any essential difference.
“And with respect to Mr. Laurens, I am satisfied he will consider himself as much interested in the success of this application, as if his own discharge had been obtained under the form, as proposed by the representation, which I delivered to the secretaries of state, and, I make no doubt, will sincerely join my Lord Cornwallis in an acknowledgment of your favor and good offices, in granting his Lordship a full discharge of his parole above mentioned. I have the honor to be, with much respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
“P. S. Major Ross has got no copy of Lord Cornwallis's parole. He says it was in the common form, as in like cases.
“ Since writing the above, I recollect I was under a mistake, as if the proposal of exchange came first from Mr. Laurens; whereas, it was made by his Majesty's secretaries of state to me, that Mr. Laurens should endeavour to procure the exchange of Lord Cornwallis, so as to be discharged himself. Which proposal I carried to Mr. Laurens, and had from him the obligation above mentioned, upon which the mode of his discharge was settled.
To this I wrote the following answer.
TO RICHARD OSWALD.
“ Passy, 6 June, 1782.
“I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me, respecting the parole of Lord Cornwallis. You are acquainted with what I wrote some time since to Mr. Laurens. To-morrow is post day from Holland, when possibly I may receive an answer, with a paper drawn up by him for the purpose of discharging that parole, to be signed by us jointly. I
I suppose the staying at Paris another day will not be very inconvenient to Major Ross, and, if I do not hear to-morrow from Mr. Laurens, I will immediately, in compliance with your request, do what I can towards the liberation of Lord Cornwallis. I have the honor to be, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
“ B. FRANKLIN.”
Friday, June 7th. Major Ross called upon me, to thank me for the favorable intentions I had expressed in my letter to Mr. Oswald, respecting Lord Cornwallis, and to assure me, that his Lordship would for ever remember it with gratitude, &c. I told him it was our duty to alleviate, as much as we could, the calamities of war; that I expected letters from Mr. Laurens, relating to the affair, after the receipt of which I would immediately complete it. Or, if I did not hear from Mr. Laurens, I would speak to the Marquis de Lafayette, get his approbation, and finish it without further delay.
Saturday, June 8th. I received some newspapers from England, in one of which is the following paragraph. vol. ix.
From the London Evening Post, of May 30th, 1782.
“If report on the spot speak truth, Mr. Grenville, in his first visit to Dr. Franklin, gained a considerable point of information, as to the powers America had retained for treating separately with Great Britain, in case her claims, or demands, were granted.
“The treaty of February 6th, 1778, was made the basis of this conversation ; and, by the spirit and meaning of this treaty, there is no obligation on America not to treat separately for peace, after she is assured England will grant her independence, and a free commerce with all the world.
“The first article of that treaty engages America and France to be bound to each other, as long as circumstances may require ; therefore, the granting America all she asks of England is breaking the bond, by which the circumstances may bind America to France.
“The second article says, the meaning and direct end of the alliance is, to insure the freedom and independence of America. Surely, then, when freedom and independence are allowed by Britain, America may, or may not, as she chooses, put an end to the present war between England and America, and leave France to war on through all her mad projects of reducing the power and greatness of England, while America feels herself possessed of what she wishes.
“By the eighth article of the treaty, neither France nor America can conclude peace without the assent of the other; and they engage not to lay down their arms until the independence of America is acknowledged, but this article does not exclude America from entering into a separate treaty for peace with England, and evinces, more strongly than the former articles, that America may enter into a separate treaty with Eng
land, when she is convinced that England has insured to her all that she can reasonably ask.”
I conjecture that this must be an extract from a letter of Mr. Grenville's; but it carries an appearance as if he and I had agreed in these imaginary discourses, of America's being at liberty to make peace without France, and whereas my whole discourse, in the strongest terms, declared our determinations to the contrary, and the impossibility of our acting, not only contrary to the treaty, but the duties of gratitude and honor, of which nothing is mentioned. This young negotiator seems to value himself on having obtained from me a copy of the treaty. I gave it to him freely, at his request, it being not so much a secret as he imagined, having been printed, first in all the American papers soon after it was made, then at London in Almon's Remembrancer, which I wonder he did not know; and afterwards in a collection of the American Constitutions, published by order of Congress. As such imperfect accounts of our conversations find their way into the English papers, I must speak to this gentleman of its impropriety.* Sunday, June 9th.
Dr. Bancroft being intimately
* In relation to some of these topics, Mr. Oswald wrote as follows to the Earl of Shelburne.
“ I have nothing of business to trouble your Lordship with, only that upon one occasion, since my last arrival, Dr. Franklin said they (the Americans) had been totally left out in Mr. Grenville's powers, as they extended only to treating with the minister of France. I told him, the deficiency would, no doubt, be supplied in due time, as might be supposed, since, in the mean while, they had been assured by Mr. Grenville, that his Majesty had agreed to grant independence in the first instance. The Doctor said it was true, and he was glad of it, and supposed that was all that could be done, until the act depending in Parliament was passed.
“He then talked of treaties, and said, he thought the best way to
acquainted with Mr. Walpole, I this day gave him Lord Shelburne's letter to Mr. Oswald, requesting he would communicate it to that gentleman. Dr. Bancroft said, it was believed both Russia and the Emperor wish the continuance of the war, and aimed at procuring for England a peace with Holland, that England might be better able to continue it against France and Spain.
The Marquis de Lafayette having proposed to call on me to-day, I kept back the discharge of Lord Corne wallis, which was written and ready, desiring to have his approbation of it, as he had in a former conversation advised it. He did not come, but late in the evening sent me a note, acquainting me, that he had been prevented, by accompanying the Great Duke to the review, but would breakfast with me to-morrow morning.
This day I received a letter from Mr. Dana, dated at St. Petersburgh, April 29th, in which is the following passage." “We yesterday received the news, that the States-General had, on the 19th of this month,
come at a general peace was to treat separately with each party, and under distinct commissions to one and the same, or different persons.
“ By this method, he said, many difficulties, which must arise in discussing a variety of subjects, not strictly relative to each other, under the same commission, and to which all the several parties are called, would be in a great measure avoided. And then at last there will only remain to consolidate those several settlements into one general and conclusive treaty of pacification; which, upon inquiry, I found he understood to be the indispensable mode of final accommodation.
"However material that part of the question might be, regarding the possibility of an equitable coalescence of so many different propositions and settlements, there was no explanation as to the extent of their relative dependence on each other. And I did not think it proper to ask for it. He only explained, as to the Commissions, that there might be one to treat with France, one for the Colonies, one for Spain, and, he added, one for Holland, if it should be thought proper. Mr. Grenville being very well with the Doctor, he has, no doubt, mentioned the same things to him; yet I thought it my duty to communicate to him the substance of this conversation.” - Paris, June 9th. MS. Letter.