Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to the Comte de MercyArgenteau, 19 April 1777

The American Commissioners to the Comte de Mercy-Argenteau3

ALS:4 Haus-, Hoff-, und Staatsarchiv, Vienna; draft:5 Library of Congress

Paris, April 19. 1777


By direction of the Congress of the United States of America, we have the Honour of informing your Excellency, that they purpose to send a Minister to your respected Court, with all convenient Expedition, properly impower’d to treat upon Affairs of Importance.

In the mean time we beg the Favour of your Excellency to inform your Court, that we are instructed and authorized by the said Congress to sollicit its Friendship, to request that it would afford no Aid to their Enemies, but use its good Offices to prevent the Lending of Troops by other Powers to be transported to America for their Destruction; and to offer the free Commerce of the said States to the Subjects of Austria; which Request and Offer we now hereby make, and we beg your Excellency would transmit the same to the Ministers of your Court, for their favourable Consideration. With great Respect we have the Honour to be Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servants

B Franklin
Silas Deane
Arthur Lee

Commissioners Plenipotentiary from the United States of North America
His Excelly. M. le Comte de Mercy-Argenteau, Imperial Ambassador.

Addressed: A son Excellence / M. le Comte de Mercy-Argenteau / Ambassadeur de l’Empereur, & de sa / Majesté Imperiale, Royale & Apostolique / l’Imperatrice Reine de Hongrie & de Bohéme / &c. / à Paris

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Florimond-Claude-Charles, comte de Mercy-Argenteau (1727–94), had the dual role spelled out in the address on the letter, of representing both the Emperor Joseph II and his mother, Maria Theresa. The two courts were distinct, and Congress had authorized a minister to the first (along with the Prussian and Tuscan) but not the second. The commissioners are lumping them together, and in the second paragraph mention specifically “the Subjects of Austria,” i.e., of Maria Theresa.

4In BF’s hand.

5Partly in an unidentified hand and partly in BF’s, and endorsed by him “Draft of Letter to Ambassadors 1777.”

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