The Commissioners to Ferdinand Grand
Passi May 17th. 17781
It is our desire that you accept no Bills nor pay any money out of the funds which are or may be in your hands to the credit of us three jointly without our joint order. As it has been the practice to address Letters upon the business of the Commission to Mr. Deane we desire that you will send to us all the Letters you receive so directed, and not give them to any private person. We have the honor to be &c.
Dft in Arthur Lee’s hand (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
1. This letter was never sent. In a memorandum in his fragmentary journal for the period 25 May to 4 July (MH-H: Lee Papers), Arthur Lee explained that:
“Soon after Mr. Adams arrived, Mr. L. proposed that they should join in a letter to Mr. Grand the Banker forbidding him to pay any of the public money but to their joint order; to which Dr. F. would not agree saying he did not know but Mr. L. might starve him, that Mr. L. kept all the Spanish funds to himself. Upon his disagreeing the measure was dropt.”
Franklin’s reference to the “spanish money” is a reflection of his sensitivity about his position vis-à-vis Arthur Lee in regard to Spain, to which both men held commissions. For a more detailed description of this conflict, see the Commissioners to J. D. Schweighauser, 10 June (calendared below).
Franklin also explained his reasons for not signing the order to Grand in a draft letter to Arthur Lee of the same date (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. description begins I. Minis Hays, comp., Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1908; 5 vols. description ends , 3:510; Franklin, Writings, ed. Smyth description begins The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Albert Henry Smyth, New York and London, 1905–1907; 10 vols. description ends , 7:154–155). There he stated that he knew of no problems caused by orders by the separate Commissioners, declined to depend on Lee for his “Subsistence,” and would not agree to have all letters to Silas Deane delivered to the Commissioners for what would be essentially a “Gratification of private Curiosity.”