Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/602

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CHAPTER XXXII — FRENCH ALLIANCE, 1778- 1779
199. A Treaty with France (1778)

BY COMMISSIONER BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
 
This letter, addressed to Thomas Gushing, is a brief announcement of the conclusion of negotiations that began with the sending of Silas Deane to France in 1775. The treaties continued in force till the war with France in 1798. For Franklin, see Nos. 68, 81 above. — Bibliography of the treaties: Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, VII, ch. i; Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, II, 490, 568-578; Channing and Hart, Guide, § 139. — For later French relations, see chs. xxxiv, xxxv below.
 
Passy, 21 February, 1778.


. . . I RECEIVED your favor by Mr. Austin, with your most agreeable congratulations on the success of the American arms in the Northern Department. In return, give me leave to congratulate you on the success of our negotiations here, in the completion of the two treaties with his most Christian Majesty : the one of amity and commerce, on the plan of that proposed by Congress, with some good additions ; the other of alliance for mutual defence, in which the most Christian king agrees to make a common cause with the United States, if England attempts to obstruct the commerce of his subjects with them ; and guarantees to the United States their liberty, sovereignty, and independence, absolute and unlimited, with all the possessions they now have, or may have, at the conclusion of the war ; and the States in return guarantee to him his possessions in the West Indies. The great principle in both treaties is a perfect equality and reciprocity ; no advantage to be demanded by France, or privileges in commerce, which the States may not grant to any and every other nation.

In short, the king has treated with us generously and magnanimously ; taken no advantage of our present difficulties, to exact terms which we would not willingly grant, when established in prosperity and power. I may add that he has acted wisely, in wishing the friendship contracted by these treaties may be durable, which probably might not be if a contrary conduct had taken place.

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