Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Arthur Lee, 3 April 1778

From Arthur Lee

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: National Archives

Challiot April 3d. 1778.


Mr. Grand has informd me, that Mr. Williams continues drawing upon him, tho he has receivd no Order to answer his Draughts, and I believe has no funds in his hands at present.8 As this is an irregularity I have thought proper to advise you of it. For myself having never been informd or consulted about the Orders that have been given to Mr. Williams to fulfil; I am incapable of judging what propriety there is in his drawing upon our Banker; but I am sure the latter ought not to pay any draughts out of the public funds without our Orders. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir your most Obedient Servant

Arthur Lee

P.S. I apprehend you have forgot to write to Mr. Ross as you intended relative to his sending the Invoice and Copies of the Bills of Loading for the Goods he shippd on public Account. I mention this because it seems to me absolutely necessary that we shoud have them.9

The Honble Benjn Franklin

Notation: Ar. Lee to BF. Ap. 3. 1778.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Since the previous December Lee had been objecting to JW’s drawing on Grand without the commission’s authorization. He subsequently aired his grievance before Congress and quoted this letter. BF did nothing about it, he said, and rather than quarreling with him Lee let matters rest. Arthur Lee, Observations on Certain Commercial Transactions in France . . . (Philadelphia, 1780), pp. 9–12. On March 21 Deane had assured JW that the commissioners would accept his bills on Grand; a general authorization of them, JW had replied, would be more useful than having them approved separately. Deane Papers, II, 419; JW to Deane, March 26, 1778 (APS). BF did not act on this idea, but neither did he ignore the whole question. In his note to Grand below of April 6, presumably a result of the present letter, he instructed the banker to continue the ad hoc arrangement; he or Lee would pass on each draft as it came in. On the same day he wrote Lee to explain what had been going on, but apparently did not send the letter; his draft is below.

9This issue was part of the endless bickering over the agency at Nantes. Lee’s demand to see the invoices seems to have been only one factor in a flaming quarrel that he was conducting by letter with Ross. Deane Papers, II, 423–8, 455–7.

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