The Foreign Affairs Committee to the Commissioners
York Town April 16th. 1778
This, with my affectionate wishes for your prosperity, may serve to acquaint you that Congress has this day resolved “That William Bingham Esqr. agent of the United States of America, now resident in Martinico, be authorized to draw bills of exchange at double usance on the Commissioners of the United States at Paris for any sums not exceeding in the whole one hundred thousand livres tournois, to enable him to discharge debts by him contracted on account of the said states, for which draughts he is to be accountable.”1
Mr. Bingham will forward the American Gazettes with this billet of advice, and tell you why we have enabled him to draw upon you when we have stores of produce laid up in magazines for exportation.2 He will also inform you of our anxiety to know something of your proceedings and prospects, an uncommon fatality having attended your dispatches ever since the month of may last. I am, with much esteem Gentlemen, Your very humb: Servt.
James Lovell for the Commttee. for for: Affairs
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “Honble Commissioners of the United States of America Paris”; docketed: “Mr Lovell”; in another hand: “Mr. Lovell April 16. 1778”; Dupl (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mr. Lovel. Ap. 16. 1778”; FC, designated Instruction No. 5 (PCC, No. 79,1).
1. This information, taken directly from the Journals, was sent to Bingham on the same date (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 10:356; PCC, No. 79, I). “Double usance” meant twice the time normally allowed for the payment of bills of exchange (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends ).
William Bingham had been the British consul at St. Pierre, Martinique, from 1770 to 1776, when he became the continental agent, serving in that post until 1780 (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; for further information on Bingham, see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:149, note 1).