Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from George Clifford & Teysset, 31 May 1781

From George Clifford & Teysset9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Amsterdam 31st May 1781.


We beg leave to trouble your Excelcy. on a Subject which we are persuaded will carry it’s own Apology, as it Concerns one of the Members of The Congress, and Mr. Isaac Hazlehurst of Philadelphia, now in this City, and who has the Honour to be personally known to your Excellency.1 The Honble Robert Morris Esqr: of Philada lately remitted us Forty thousand Livres in Holker’s bills2 as per Inclosed List,3 on Le Ray de Chaumont of Paris, who accepted them, but they were not discharged at Maturity, and they have been Returned to us, with Protest for non payment.—4 This money we were ordered to pay out to Mr: Hazelhurst, who in consequence of the Acceptance, relyed on the payment, & contracted engagements, which he now is not able to perform, & lays him under great disapointments. He Conceives these bills are drawn for account of the Government, and that their want of payment May perhaps in part be attributed to the present Circumstances, & changes in the Ministerial part of the Finances, which Your Excellency’s kind interposition will very likely be able to remove the Inconveniencies of; he therefore humbly entreats Your Excelcy. to Make proper Representations on the Subject, which he flatters himself will be attended with Succes and procure him the payment of these drafts, together with the Charges incurred by their Returning protested— If these bills must go back to America, it will entirely distroy the Confidence the People there have hitherto Reposed in them, and be attended with very bad consequences. We beg leave to add how much we Interest ourselves in the aplication in behalf of both Mr: Morris & Mr. Hazlehurst, with assurance of our Sensibility, & Acknowledgment, for the Protection your Excellency May please to grant them in this affair, and with a Most perfect devotion to your Commands, we have the honour to Subscribe Ourselves—Sir Your Excellency’s Most obedient & most humble Servants

George Clifford & Teysset

[torn: His] Excllcy. Benjn. Franklin Esqr:

Addressed: A Son Excellence / Monsieur Benjamin Franklin / Ministre Plenipotentiaire des / Etats Unis de L’Amerique a / La Cour de Versailles / à / Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9We follow the spelling used in the signature, but the firm generally was spelled “Clifford and Teysett.” Dumas spelled it, however, in various ways: XXIX, 585, 632.

1On leaving for the Netherlands he had carried a letter from BF to Dumas: XXXIV, 455.

2Jean Holker was not only the French consul general for Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey, but carried on considerable private business. The French government complaining about this conflict of interest, he resigned his official duties in October, 1781. He had a long-standing commercial relationship with Robert Morris and was Chaumont’s principal agent in America: Abraham P. Nasatir and Gary Elwyn Monell, comps., French Consuls in the United States: a Calendar of the Correspondence in the Archives Nationales (Washington, D.C., 1967), pp. 561–3; Morris Papers, I, 30n; Thomas J. Schaeper, France and America in the Revolutionary Era: the Life of Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont, (1725–1803) (Providence and Oxford, 1995), pp. 200–3.

3The list was on a separate piece of paper. There were 12 bills, dated Nov. 10 or Nov. 13, 1780, for a total of 40,005 l.t., drawn on 30 days sight to the order of Thomas Russell of Boston and by him to the order of Clifford and Teysset. Russell was a prominent merchant: “Memoir of the Rev. Charles Lowell, D.D.,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings V (1860–62), 428–9n.

4The dispute between Chaumont and Holker over various bills of exchange lasted until the former’s death in 1803: Schaeper, Life of Chaumont, pp. 310–11.

Index Entries