Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Dumas, 25 May 1781

From Dumas

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Lahaie 25 May 1781


Je comptois de vous faire parvenir aujourd’hui une Lettre pour le Congrès, où vous auriez vu l’Histoire en raccourci de nos opérations ici;2 mais un service que viennent de me demander nos amis ici, & une Lettre que je dois écrire à Mr. Adams, m’obligent malgré moi de différer encore. En attendant je joins ici ma traduction de la Proposition d’Amst., qui a beaucoup consterné certain parti.3 J’ai eu le bonheur, mardi dernier, de pouvoir faire grand plaisir avec cette version à quelqu’un, qui l’a tout de suite envoyée à sa Cour bien loin d’ici.4

Je suis à la hâte, mais avec tout le respectueux attachement que vous me connoissez pour Vous, Monsieur, Votre très humble & très obéissant serviteur


P.S. Je n’ai jamais dit, Monsieur, that Congress, but that the service of Congress, unsought, but offered to me, chearfully accepted, & faithfully performed by me, has naturally & necessarily involved me into difficulties, from which I cannot be delivered & set at ease but by the Kind attention & remembrance of Congress,5 & by their appointing me, by a formal Commission, with the intended Secretaryship of this Legation, & allowing me the 500£. St. which Mr. Lawrens was impowered to allow me if he had not had the misfortune of being taken.6 And as you ask me what are the Difficulties I complain of,7 that you may write about them more exactly. I shall subjoin them in my above said Letter to Congress himself.

Paris à S. E. Mr. B. Franklin

Addressed: His Excellency / B. Franklin Minr. Plenipo: / from the United States, &c. / Passy./.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Dumas began this letter on May 1, but did not finish it until July: Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, IV, 393–7.

3Undoubtedly the “proposition” calling for an inquiry into the inactivity of the Dutch navy, which JA sent to Congress on May 24: Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, IV, 431–3.

4Most probably French chargé d’affaires Laurent Bérenger (XXV, 375n), who informed Vergennes about it on Tuesday, May 22 (AAE).

5See, for example, Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, III, 879–80.

6Henry Laurens was elected on Oct. 21, 1779, to negotiate a loan in the Netherlands (JCC, XV, 1198), but we find no record of Dumas being selected as his secretary. James Lovell did hint at Dumas’ desires being satisfied in a July 10, 1780, letter: XXXIII, 435n.

7XXXIV, 455.

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