The Continental Congress to Louis XVI: Letter of Credence for Franklin as Minister Plenipotentiary to France1
L (draft):2 National Archives; LS:3 American Philosophical Society, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; copies: Archives du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, National Archives, South Carolina Historical Society
The Principles of Equality and Reciprocity on which you have entered into Treaties with us, give you an additional security for that good Faith with which we shall observe them from Motives of Honor and of Affection to Your Majesty. The distinguished Part you have taken in the support of the6 Liberties and Independence of these States cannot but inspire them with the most ardent Wishes for the Interest and the Glory of France. We have nominated Benjamin Franklin Esqr. to reside at your Court in Quality of our Minister Plenipotentiary that he may give you more particular Assurances of the grateful Sentiments which you have excited in us and in each of the united States. We beseech you to give entire Credit to7 every Thing which he shall deliver on our Part especially when he shall assure you of the Permanency of our Friendship. And we pray God that he will keep your Majesty our Great faithful and beloved Friend and Ally in his most holy Protection. Done at Philadelphia the [blank in MS] Day of [blank in MS] 1778. By the Congress of the united States of North America your good Friends and Allies.
Cha Thomson Secy
To Our Great Faithful & Beloved Friend & Ally Louis the sixteenth King of France & Navarre
1. Upon BF’s election as minister plenipotentiary (see Deane to BF, Sept. 15) Congress appointed a committee to prepare this letter of credence and to draft instructions for him. The original committee members were Gouverneur Morris, Samuel Chase, William Henry Drayton, Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee; John Witherspoon was added on Oct. 13 and William Duer on Oct. 24. This document was brought before Congress on Oct. 21 and promptly adopted: JCC, XII, 908, 1005, 1035–6, 1061.
2. In Morris’ hand. Above it is written “Your Committee to whom it was referred to prepare a Letter of Credence to his most Christian Majesty notifying the Appointt. of Benjamin Franklin Esqr. to be the Minister Plenipotentiary of these States at the Court of France and also the Draft of Instructions to the said Minister &ca. Report.” Following it are drafts of BF’s instructions, the plan of an attack upon Quebec and the observations on the finances of the United States, all printed below, under Oct. 26.
3. Signed by Henry Laurens as president of Congress and providing the date. It is divided into paragraphs and bears slight differences in capitalization as well as the change noted in the next two footnotes: JCC, XII, 1035–6.
5. The word “well” does not appear in the LS or in either copy.
4. Each LS bears this date, as does the National Archives copy.
6. Substituted after “taken” for “to support the,” which has been lined out.
7. Substituted after “beseech you to” for “place [?] entire Confidence in,” which has been lined out.