FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790.  Autograph Letter Signed ("B. Franklin") to David Hartley addressing Hartley's final issues with the recently completed ratification of the Treaty of Paris,

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Lot 13
FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790.
Autograph Letter Signed ("B. Franklin") to David Hartley addressing Hartley's final issues with the recently completed ratification of the Treaty of Paris,

Sold for US$ 87,812 inc. premium

Fine Books and Manuscripts

15 Dec 2021, 12:00 EST

New York

AMERICANA
FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790.
Autograph Letter Signed ("B. Franklin") to David Hartley addressing Hartley's final issues with the recently completed ratification of the Treaty of Paris, 4 pp recto and verso, legal folio, Passy, June 2, 1784, light creasing and toning, very minor offset from ink.
Provenance: Josiah French (1794-1850, autograph letter dated December 16, 1849, acknowledging the gift of the letter); sold Sotheby's Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana, November 1, 1993, lot 60.

FRANKLIN'S FINAL WORD ON THE TREATY OF PARIS ANSWERING LAST-MINUTE COMPLAINTS REGARDING AMERICAN RATIFICATION DOCUMENTS.

British Commissioner David Hartley and Franklin had met in London during the 1760s, sharing an abiding interest in scientific matters. The two friends carried on a correspondence regarding British-American peace efforts throughout the revolution, beginning in 1775, before the Declaration of Independence. Throughout the war, they exchanged letters observing the various interests and possibilities for peace, always with an abiding bonhomie and good will. The relationship proved somewhat fortuitous when the two friends found themselves on opposite sides of the negotiating table to hammer out the Treaty of Paris.

After more than a year of negotiations, the Treaty of Paris was signed by Franklin, Jay and Adams, in September of 1783, with Hartley representing the British Crown. It only remained for the two countries to ratify the treaty in their respective governments. In June of 1784, Hartley wrote to Franklin expressing what he felt were grave mistakes in the United States' ratification documents, suggesting that they might render the document null and void. The imperturbable Franklin, relying on years of good will and friendship with Hartley, diplomatically responds to Hartley's points one by one.

He opens: "I have considered the Observations you did me the honour of communicating to me, concerning certain Inaccuracies of Expression and Suppos'd Defects of Formality in the Instrument of Ratification, some of which are said to be of such a Nature as to affect 'the Validity of the Instrument.' The first is, 'that the United States are named before his Majesty, contrary to the established Custom observed in every Treaty in which a crowned Head and a Republick are the contracting parties.' With respect to this, it seems to me we should distinguish between that Act in which both join, to wit, the treaty, and that which is the Act of each separately, the Ratification. It is necessary that all the Modes of Expression in the joint Act should be agreed to by both Parties; tho' in their separate Acts each Party is Master of, and alone accountable for, its own Modes. And on inspecting the Treaty, it will be found that his Majesty is always regularly named before the United States. Thus the 'established custom in Treaties between crowned Heads and Republicks' contended for on your Part is strictly observed." .... Asserting American autonomy, Franklin notes that while the treaty mentions the King first, the American ratification articles certainly do not need to follow form.

Hartley's second point is minor, but Franklin concurs that he is probably correct, but correcting the wording is unnecessary: "The second Objection is 'that the Terms Definitive Articles is used instead of Definitive Treaty.' If the Words Definitive Treaty had be used in the Ratification instead of Definitive Articles, it might have been more correct, tho' the Difference Seems not great, nor of much Importance, as in the Treaty itself it is called 'the present Definitive Treaty.'"

The last point of Hartley's is really quite trivial, and, Franklin suggests, possibly the result of careless reading. Franklin continues, "The other Objections are, 'that the Conclusion likewise appears deficient,' as it is neither signed by the President, nor is it dated, and consequently is wanting in some of the most essential Points of Form necessary towards an authenticating the Validity of the Instrument.'" Franklin politely but firmly explains that both the President of the Continental Congress (Thomas Mifflin) and the date are present in the text of the document, and that perhaps Hartley missed the date, as it is written out rather than given numerically.

This important letter from Franklin stands as his final word on the subject between the two friends and negotiators, providing a book end to a nine-year negotiation of American independence.
Contacts
FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790.  Autograph Letter Signed ("B. Franklin") to David Hartley addressing Hartley's final issues with the recently completed ratification of the Treaty of Paris,
FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790.  Autograph Letter Signed ("B. Franklin") to David Hartley addressing Hartley's final issues with the recently completed ratification of the Treaty of Paris,
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