Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Vergennes, 17 March 1779

To Vergennes

LS:5 Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; AL (draft) and copy: Library of Congress

Passy, March 17. 1779.


I received the Letter your Excellency did me the honor of writing to me the 13. Instant. I imagine that M. De Chaumont has been disappointed in the Expectations he had of finding Bankers here who would advance the Sum for which he sollicited your Excellency to guarantee the Interest. He at length brought to me a Merchant of Amsterdam, who has undertaken to procure a Loan of 1,500,000 Florins at 6 per Cent.6 But by what I can learn & judge of that Person, I think there is little Dependance to be had upon his Success; especially as the English borrow there at a higher Rate, and the House of Hornica Fizeaux & Co. have been already engaged more than 6. Months in endeavouring to obtain such a Loan, and have succeeded only to the Amount of 51,000 Florins. In the mean time my Apprehensions of approaching Distress grow stronger, and give me a great deal of Anxiety.7 And having more Hopes from Mr Grand’s Endeavours to procure us a Supply, than from those of M. De Chaumont by the Dutch Merchant, I wish his Plan may be examined, and if found practicable encouraged.8 For if both should succeed they will not be too much for our Occasions.

With sincere & great Respect I have the honor to be, Your Excellency’s, most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

His Excy. Count De Vergennes.

Notation:9 M. Francklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5In WTF’s hand, as is the copy.

6Jean de Neufville; see BF to Dumas, March 12.

7At this point in the draft appears a lengthy passage that has been bracketed for deletion: “The Supplies sent from America, have either been taken by the Enemy, or if they arrive in Tobacco are deliver’d as justly due to the Farmers General, or they are seiz’d by Mr Beaumarchais, who threatens (as your Excellency will see by the enclos’d) to seize all our Cargoes that may arrive in France, if a Suit is not stopt, that was commenc’d by the Commissioners against a Mr Peltier of Nantes for selling without our Orders, a Cargo of Rice consign’d to us, and delivering by his Orders the Produce to him [Beaumarchais]. The Congress order’d us to settle his Accounts, but he has never produc’d them to us, tho’ we earnestly desir’d & he promis’d it. He talks of immense Demands that he has against the States, but does not ascertain them by delivering an Account: We gave up to him one large Cargo of Rice at his Request; he has got Possession of another without our Consent by Means of Mr Peltier; and tho’ I am dispos’d to do every thing in the Business that is just and honourable, I know not how to proceed with him, being ignorant of the Foundation as well as of the Extent of his Claims. I am sorry to give your Excellency so much Trouble with our Affairs, but I have great Need of your Counsel with regard to this Gentleman.—” The intended enclosure must have been Beaumarchais’ lengthy memoir of Feb. 13 (XXVIII, 523–31); for the controversy over the Thérèse see BF to Beaumarchais, March 15.

8Grand wrote the foreign ministry on March 15 to report that BF was suffering from gout and to remind Vergennes of their conversation of the 10th (AAE); see our annotation of BF to Vergennes, March 10.

9In Gérard de Rayneval’s hand.

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