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Finished Peace, Unfinished Peace Portrait

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The negotiations that led to the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary War, were long, contentious and complicated, involving not merely the peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States, but also separate treaties between Great Britain and France, Spain and the Netherlands.  Benjamin Franklin, who led the American team, and who deserves the title of greatest American diplomat, made it clear from the outset that the United States would not make any peace with Great Britain without its ally France also coming to terms with Great Britain.  He also demanded Canada.  By such wily ploys, Franklin outthought the British negotiators at every turn, and quickly got them to concede American Independence in hopes that the Americans could prevail upon France to be reasonable in its demands. 

The Americans knew they had prevailed in the Treaty of Paris, and therefore the American team of John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens (who had spent two years as a “guest” of King George in the tower of London) and Franklin’s grandson, William Temple Franklin, delegation secretary, were only too happy to pose for American expatriate painter Benjamin West who planned a painting called The Peacemakers, featuring both the American and British delegations.  However, the British negotiators, David Hartley and Richard Oswald, having discharged their unpleasant duty, adamantly refused to sit for the painting and West had to abandon the project.  The ever acerbic John Adams found all this to be hilarious, purchased the unfinished painting from West, and brought it home with him to Massachusetts, giving it pride of place in his house.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

One Comment

  1. Never hear of Henry Laurens, so I have to look him up (thanks again for the stimulus Don). Quite a history. His estate is now in large part a Trappist monastery.

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