Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Ralph Izard, 27 September 1779

To Ralph Izard2

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy sept. 27. 1779.


As Soon as I knew you were in Paris I Sent you a Copy of the Congress Resolution of the 6th. of august respecting their Commissioners in Europe being desired so to do by the Committee of Correspondance from whom I had just received the Original.3 But I received with it no “Orders from Congress to pay you any Money,” nor can I think myself authorised by that resoluton to make any Such payment, their being not a word in it to that purpose; and if it did authorise me; it does not enable me.— But on the other [hand] there is a Part of it which directs that every “commissioner who has been entrusted with public money Shall transmit without Delay his Accounts and Vouchers to the Board of Treasury in order for settlement.”4 Till Such settlement is made I conceive it cannot be known what or whether anything is due to you.

I recollect upon this Occasion a Promise I made you of complying with your Request in giving you a Copy of the Drafts of a Letter I proposed to the Commissioners to send you last January, in answer to a fresh Demand you then made of more Money.5 I now fulfill that promise by inclosing it and have the honour to be Sir, &c &c

Honble. M. Izard.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Formerly the commissioner designate to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Izard was recalled by Congress on June 8. Congress also voted, however, that he “need not repair to America”: JCC, XIV, 700–3. On Aug. 6 Congress took up the question of salaries for Izard and the other former commissioners, resolving an allowance be paid them for past services, but requesting them to transmit accounts and vouchers for the public money they had spent: ibid., p. 928. When Izard learned of this latter resolution from BF, he asked if the American minister had received directions from Congress to pay him or whether he thought himself authorized by the resolution to do so: Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, III, 351. Note that Arthur Lee in requesting money from BF had cited instead a 1778 congressional resolution: above, Sept. 26.

3See our annotation of Lovell’s Aug. 6 letter to BF.

4BF here condenses a long passage of the resolution which, applying to all the commissioners, originally was written in the plural.

5XXVIII, 381–3, 401–2.

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