“A Short History of the Department of State” has been retired and is no longer maintained. For more information, please see the full notice.
Origins of a Diplomatic Tradition
Despite their status as colonial subjects of the King, some 18th century Americans already had a great deal of experience negotiating with ministers at the highest levels of the British Government.
Franklin secretly negotiated with the British in 1774 to prevent the outbreak of war. Although he was unsuccessful, he gained valuable diplomatic skills. When war became inevitable, a nucleus of Americans, including Franklin, was ready to assume the tremendously important task of representing the breakaway nation in the courts of Europe.