Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Oliver Pollock, 10 April 1779

From Oliver Pollock

ALS: American Philosophical Society

New Orleans 10th. Apl. 1779


Annexed is Copy of what I had the honor to write you the 29th. April 1778 since which have not been favoured with a line from you.8 The purport of this letter is to acquaint you that I have this day drawn on Messrs. Saml. & J. H. Delap Sundry Bills of Exchange Viz for p.4000 in favour of Monsr. Jacque Toutant Beaugaud p.1000 in favour of Michael Poupart p.3500 in favour of Cadet Jardin & 2397 in favour of Monsr. F Detmaters the whole amounting to 10897 Dollars all at 90 Days sight being for Sundries Receiv’d from those Gentlemen for the use of the United states to excute the orders I received from Congress and in Consequence I hope in Sight of this you will see them all duly honored—9 But as in all Probability you may not yet have Received The necessary advices from Congress Respecting those Bills I make no doubt you soon will after this comes [to] hand having advised the Honbl. the Congress this day to that purpose but for fear their advice should be retarded by misfortunes or accidents at Sea I have herewith inclosed Paragraphs taken from the Secret and Commercial Committees Letter to me dated 12th. June 24 Octobr. & 21 Novr. 17781 as also Copy of a Draft of Exchange drawn by Capt. Jas. Willing in my favour on Congress to all of which I beg leave to defer you for your better Government and please now to observe that exclusive of paying Congress orders by forwarding Goods to a very large amount for which they have not had it as yet in their Power to supply me with sufficient Funds on Acct. of the Enemies Force at Sea and the Embargo which they think necessary to Continue on their Provisions I cannot negotiate Bills upon them in America nor have I ever had an oppty. of hearing from them on that Subject tho I have been Supporting a Detatchmt. of Troops under the Command of Col. Clark who took possession of the Illinois Country last June as also the ship Morris which I fitted out in a Warlike manner to distress the Enemys Trade in this River to the Islands2 then heavy advances have obliged me to draw those Bills in full Confidence you will See them duly honored for the Credit of the States which will much oblige your Most Obedient & very Huml. Servt.3

Olvr. Pollock


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8For the two letters of that day from Congress’ commercial agent at New Orleans see XXVI, 377–8.

9Pollock is calculating in Spanish pesos or milled dollars.

1The “inclosed Paragraphs” (now missing) are actually from three 1777 letters from Congress to Pollock: Smith, Letters, VII, 185–9; VIII, 171–2, 297–8. We have not found a letter of April 10 from him to Congress advising them on the bills. The committee of commerce, however, wrote BF on July 21 asking him to intercede with the Delaps to see that the bills were honored. At that point Congress owed Pollock $70,000: ibid., XIII, 271–2.

2For Pollock’s financial support of George Rogers Clark and his refitting of the captured British sloop Rebecca (renamed the Morris) see James Alton James, Oliver Pollock: the Life and Times of an Unknown Patriot (New York and London, 1937), passim.

3BF declined to act on Pollock’s behalf. He wrote Congress on Oct. 21, 1779, that his resources had been so exhausted by unexpected drafts and expenses that he would have been unable to pay the bills if they had been presented to him. Library of Congress. Pollock’s drafts on the Delaps eventually were returned protested, further complicating his accounts with Congress: James, Oliver Pollock, p. 352.

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