In April, 1782, Franklin received word from the English government that it was prepared to enter into negotiations leading to a settlement. This was embarrassing. In the treaty of alliance with France, the United States had promised that peace should be a joint affair agreed to by both nations in open conference. Finding France, however, opposed to some of their claims respecting boundaries and fisheries, the American commissioners conferred with the British agents at Paris without consulting the French minister. They actually signed a preliminary peace draft before they informed him of their operations. When Vergennes reproached him, Franklin replied that they “had been guilty of neglecting bienseance [good manners] but hoped that the great work would not be ruined by a single indiscretion.”
=The Terms of Peace (1783).=—The general settlement at Paris in 1783 was a triumph for America. England recognized the independence of the United States, naming each state specifically, and agreed to boundaries extending from the Atlantic to the Mississippi and from the Great Lakes to the Floridas. England held Canada, Newfoundland, and the West Indies intact, made gains in India, and maintained her supremacy on the seas. Spain won Florida and Minorca but not the coveted Gibraltar. France gained nothing important save the satisfaction of seeing England humbled and the colonies independent.
The generous terms secured by the American commission at Paris called forth surprise and gratitude in the United States and smoothed the way for a renewal of commercial relations with the mother country. At the same time they gave genuine anxiety to European diplomats. “This federal republic is born a pigmy,” wrote the Spanish ambassador to his royal master. “A day will come when it will be a giant; even a colossus formidable to these countries. Liberty of conscience and the facility for establishing a new population on immense lands, as well as the advantages of the new government, will draw thither farmers and artisans from all the nations. In a few years we shall watch with grief the tyrannical existence of the same colossus.”
[Illustration: NORTH AMERICA ACCORDING TO THE TREATY OF 1783]