Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Arthur Lee: Two Letters, 26 September 1779

From Arthur Lee: Two Letters

(I) AL: American Philosophical Society; copy: National Archives; (II) ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: National Archives


Paris Sepr. 26th. 1779

Mr Lee has the honor of presenting his Compts. to Dr. Franklin; & of forwarding the enclosd, which came in Mr Lovell’s letter to him.4


Paris Sepr. 26th. 1779


It has pleasd Congress to continue me as their Commissioner to the Court of Spain,5 without making any alteration, that has come to my knowlege, in their former Resolve relative to the manner in which the Expences of their Commissioners are to be supplied.6 The spanish funds7 which were in my hands are not only exhausted, but I am considerably in debt upon them. I shall therefore be obligd to you for informing me, whether you can supply me with money for my Expences; that if you cannot; I may return forthwith to America, & deliver up a Commission for the execution of which the means are not provided.

I have the honor to be with great respect, Sir yr. most obedt. Humbe. Servt

Arthur Lee

Endorsed: Recd the 29th at 9 a Clock A.M.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Lovell wrote Lee on June 13 and on July 17, informing him that the attempt in Congress to recall him had failed: Smith, Letters, XIII, 62–3, 251–3. We assume Lee had just received one or both of the letters and that the enclosure was related to the May 3 congressional decision: JCC, XIV, 542–3; H. James Henderson, Party Politics in the Continental Congress (New York, 1974), pp. 202–6.

5A mission long dormant which Lee had recently been attempting to revive; see his letter of Aug. 14. Lee was nominated in Congress on Sept. 26 to be minister plenipotentiary to Spain, but on the following day Jay was elected: JCC, XV, 1110, 1113.

6The resolve, of May 7, 1778, was that the commissioners to the courts of Spain, Tuscany, Vienna, and Berlin “should live in such style and manner, at their respective courts, as they may find suitable and necessary to support the dignity of their public character,” for which purpose they were empowered to draw bills of exchange on the American mission in France: JCC, XI, 473. The present letter may have been prompted, however, by Lee’s having seen a more recent resolution on reimbursements for the commissioners which Lovell had asked BF to communicate to his former colleagues and which BF had shown to Izard; see our annotation of Lovell to BF, Aug. 6, and BF to Izard, Sept. 27.

7The 187,500 l.t. obtained during Lee’s 1777 mission to Spain: XXIV, 557.

Index Entries