Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to James Lovell, 30 September 1779

To James Lovell

LS:2 National Archives; copies: National Archives,3 Library of Congress; transcript: National Archives

Passy, Sept. 30. 1779. 2 PM.


I have within these few Days received a Number of Dispatches from you which have arrived by the Mercury and other Vessels. Hearing but this Instant of an Opportunity from Bordeaux, and that the Courier Sets out from Versailles at 5 this Evening, I embrace it just to let you know that I have delivered the Letters from Congress to the King, and have laid the Invoices of Supplies desired, (with a translation) before the Ministers.4 And tho’ I have not yet received a positive Answer I have good reason to believe I shall obtain most of them, if not all.— But as this Demand will cost the Court a Vast Sum, and their Expences in the War are prodigious, I beg I may not be put under the Necessity by occasional Drafts on me of asking for more money than is requir’d to pay our bills for interest. I must protest those I have advice of from Martinique and New Orleans5 (even if they were drawn by Permission of Congress) for want of Money; and I wish the Committee of Commerce would caution their Correspondents not to embarras me with their Bills.— I put into my Pocket nothing of the Allowance Congress has been pleas’d to make me, I shall pay it all in honouring their Drafts, and Supporting their Credit, but do not let me be burthen’d with Supporting the Credit of everyone who has claims on the Boards of Commerce or the Navy. I shall write fully by the mercury. I send you some of the latest newpapers, & have the honour to be with much Esteem, Sir Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin.


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2In the hand of L’Air de Lamotte, whom BF would hire as a secretary in February, 1780. One of Lamotte’s early duties was to prepare duplicates of the correspondence BF had last sent to America, to be carried by Lafayette when he sailed in March. (The Mercury, which had taken those letters in November, 1779, ran into treacherous weather; BF only learned of her safe arrival in May, 1780.) BF corrected the duplicates, signed them, and frequently marked them “Copy” at the top of the first page. The present letter is the earliest of these duplicates.

3Made by WTF (who signed for BF), marked “Duplicate,” and identifying Lovell as the recipient.

4See the committee for foreign affairs to BF, July 16; BF to Vergennes, Sept. 18; and Vergennes’ first letter of Sept. 25.

5I.e., from William Bingham and Oliver Pollock; see BF to Bingham, Oct. 4, and XXIX, 303–4.

Index Entries