Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite: The American Revolution & the European Response

By Charles W. Toth | Go to book overview

The Treaty of Paris:
An International Affair

Richard B. Morris

Two profoundly troubled American commissioners journeyed to Versailles on August 10th 1782 on invitation to put their problems to the Comte de Vergennes. Although Franklin was less perturbed than Jay about Shelburne's failure to grant America prior acknowledgment of independence, he shared the latter's indignation at the Spanish boundary proposals. . . . The Americans first took up the text of Oswald's commission. Vergennes revealed his concern that the several peace negotiations be "tied together," though proceeding separately. He now advised accepting the commission as soon as it was authenticated. Why worry about technicalities? Vergennes asked. So long as independence is made an article of the final treaty, the phraseology of the commission is not important.

Confident of approval, he looked inquiringly at the Americans. Franklin, who for months had opposed entering into negotiations without securing explicit recognition in advance, now meekly conceded that it "would do." Contrariwise, Jay let Vergennes know that the formula did not satisfy him and that he deemed it best to proceed cautiously. . . .

While cautious in expressing himself in the presence of the Americans the Comte de Vergennes made no secret among his subordinates that he considered the Americans to be extravagant in their boundary claims, not only because of their insistence on the Mississippi as the western boundary, but also for their venturing to assert title to the Northwest Territory, which France hoped England would

From The Peacemakers. The Great Powers and American Independence. Harper & Row, 1965.

-364-

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