Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Bonvouloir, M. de

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BONVOULOIR, M. de, diplomatic agent, born and died in France during the 18th century. He was the secret envoy of Vergennes, the French minister of state, through whom the negotiations were opened in 1775 that resulted in French intervention for American independence. He is described as a man of remarkable prudence and judgment. He had been in Santo Domingo, and returned home about July, 1775, by way of the colonies, then in revolt against Great Britain. Visiting Philadelphia, New York, Providence, and Boston, he was well qualified to express an opinion regarding the state of affairs in America. At this time De Guines, French ambassador to the court of St. James, became aware of a faction in England that favored war with France, on the ground that the colonies would thereby be driven back to their old allegiance, through a fear that Canada would be regained by the French. Bonvouloir, who was well known to De Guines, offered a perfectly trustworthy medium, and was sent to America, at the suggestion of the French minister of state, with verbal instructions to learn what he could of public sentiment, and so far as possible eradicate the idea of jealousy regarding the reannexation of Canada. He reached America just as the leading spirits—Franklin, Harrison, Jay, and the rest—were in secret conclave on the very problem that he came to solve. Seeking an introduction to Franklin, he had several conferences with the committee, and conducted his part of the delicate negotiations with consummate tact and wisdom. His written reports to the French minister were prudent and truthful, and speedily brought about deliberations of the most momentous character, resulting in the material aid afforded by France to the struggling American colonies. See Treseot's "Diplomacy of the Revolution" (New York, 1852).