Adams Papers

To John Adams from Benjamin Franklin, 20 October 1780

From Benjamin Franklin

Passy 20 Oct. 1780


Understanding that in Case of Mr. Laurens’s Absence, you are charged with the Affair of procuring a Loan in Holland, I think it Right to acquaint you, that by a Letter from Mr. Jay of the 12th. Instant, from Madrid, we are informed that the King of Spain has been so good as to offer his Guarrantee for the Payment of the Interest and Principal of a Loan of Money for the Use of the United States.1 Mr. Grand thinks that no considerable Use can be made here of that Guarrantee, on Account of the considerable Loan Mr. Necker is about to make;2 but that possibly it may have weight in Holland. Orders will be sent to the Spanish Ambassador here, by the next Post respecting this Matter.

I regret much the taking of Mr. Laurens. His Son, I understand sailed a Fortnight after him, for France; but he has not yet arrived.3

The Ariel has been at Sea, but meeting with a terrible Storm which carried away all her Masts, has return’d into Port to refit.4

I have the honour to be with great Respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Sert.

B Franklin

P.S. By a former Letter from Mr. Jay I find the Sum to be one hundred and fifty thousand Dollars, for which the King of Spain would be answerable payable in the Space of 3 Years.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “His Excellency Dr Franklin recd and ansd 24. Octr. 1780 Warranty of Spain for a Loan.”

1Neither this letter from John Jay to Franklin nor that mentioned in the postscript has been found, but see Jay’s letter of 16 Sept. to the president of Congress in which he conveyed the same information (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 4:59).

2Raised in November, the loan totalled 36,000,000 (Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence description begins Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774–1787, Princeton, 1975. description ends , p. 199).

3John Laurens, appointed in December to raise a loan in France, did not sail from Boston until Feb. 1781 and reached Paris in mid-March (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 18:1141; Wallace, Life of Henry Laurens description begins David Duncan Wallace, Life of Henry Laurens, New York, 1915. description ends , p. 480).

4For an account of John Paul Jones’ ordeal in saving the Ariel, see Morison, John Paul Jones description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, a Sailor’s Biography, Boston and Toronto, 1959. description ends , p. 301–306.

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