Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Huntington, 1 January 1781

From Samuel Huntington

LS: American Philosophical Society; copy: National Archives

Philadelphia January 1. 1781.


You will receive herewith enclosed, a Letter addressed to his most Christian Majesty, as also a Copy of the same for your Information, together with Instructions of the 28th of November & 27th of December for your Government on the important Subject contained in the Letter to the King of France; likewise a Copy of the Instructions given to Coll. Laurens on the same Subject,4 and a Copy of the Resolution of Congress respecting the Declaration of the Empress of Russia.5

By these Despatches you will be informed that Colonel Laurens is coming to France charged with a special Commission, with your Advice & Influence to solicit the Aids in Money and other Articles referred to in his Instructions. It is probable he will sail from America in some fifteen or twenty Days from this Time.6

You will observe nevertheless, that it is the Pleasure & Expectation of Congress you should not delay any Measures for obtaining the Aids requested, or wait for the Arrival of Mr Laurens.

An Estimate of the Aids requested, except the 25.000.000 of Livres, you have already received the last Year; and no Time ought to be lost in forwarding such Aids as may be obtained.

Your Wisdom, Prudence, & Zeal for the Prosperity of the United States render it unnecessary for me to add any Perswasives on this important Subject.

I have the Honor to be with the highest Respect & Esteem sir your most obedient & most humble servant

Sam. Huntington President

The Honorable Doctor Franklin

Endorsed: Letter Presidt Huntington Jan. 1. 1781 recd. Feb. 13. 81

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Laurens’ instructions, as well as his commission and letters of credence, were approved on Dec. 23 and sent to him on Jan. 1: JCC, XVIII, 1184–8; Smith, Letters, XVI, 526–7. Two copies of the instructions are with BF’s papers at the APS. In addition to obtaining supplies and financial aid Laurens was instructed to urge the French government to obtain naval superiority in American waters. Before he reached France, the French government had taken the matter under consideration. In mid-February Naval Minister Castries recommended sending a large squadron to the West Indies and leaving its commander the option of taking it to American waters: Dull, French Navy, pp. 217–18. For the letter to Louis XVI see Huntington’s instructions to BF, Nov. 28.

5Catherine’s declaration, which laid the foundation for the League of Armed Neutrality, called for regulations to establish the rights of neutrals: XXXII, 21n. Congress had agreed in principal to her proposals and on Nov. 27 had ordered captains of warships to conform to them: JCC, XVIII, 864–7, 905–6, 1097–8, 1166–7.

6It took six weeks for Laurens to sail; see our annotation of Cooper to BF, Feb. 1.

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