Exchange of Notes Referring to Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France of February 6, 1778


27th August, 1784.


You have communicated to me an extract from the instructions which Congress addressed to you the 11th May last, which imports that the United States will in no case treat any other nation, with respect to commerce, more advantageously than the French. This disposition is much the wisest, as it will prevent those misunderstandings which might arise from the equivocal terms in which the second article of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce signed 6th February, 1778, is conceived. But that the resolution of Congress on this subject may be clearly stated, it would be best, Sir, that you furnish me with it in the form of a declaration, or at least in an official note signed by yourself. I have no doubt, Sir, but that you will adopt one of these two forms.

I have the honor to be, etc.,

PASSY, Sept. 3, 1784


I have the Honour to transmit to your Excellency by Order of Congress a Resolution of theirs, dated the 11th of May last, which is in the Words following, Viz,

That Doctor Franklin be instructed to express to the Court of France the constant Desire of Congress to meet their Wishes; That these States are about to form a general System of Commerce by Treaties with other Nations: That at this Time they cannot foresee what Claim might be given to those Nations by the explanatory Propositions from the Count de Vergennes on the 2d & 3d Articles of our Treaty of Amity & Commerce with His most Christian Majesty; but that he may be assured it will be our constant Care to place no People on more advantageous Ground than the Subjects of his Majesty."

With great Respect I am. Sir, Your Excellency's, most obedient and most humble Servant.

9th September, 1784.
B. Franklin


I have received the letter which you did me the honor to write me the third instant. You there declare in the name of Congress that the United States will be careful not to treat any other nation, in matters of commerce, more advantageously than the French nation. This declaration, founded on the treaty of the 6th February, 1778, has been very agreeable to the King; and you, Sir, can assure Congress that the United States shall constantly experience a perfect reciprocity in France.

I have the honor to be, etc.,

Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America.
Edited by Hunter Miller
Volume 2
Documents 1-40 : 1776-1818
Washington : Government Printing Office, 1931.

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.