Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Jay, 30 June 1781

To John Jay

LS:2 Royal Library, Windsor; AL (draft) and two copies: Library of Congress

Passy, June 30. 1781.


You acquaint me that Bills have appear’d drawn on you in March last, and ask very properly if this can be reconciled to the obvious Dictates of Prudence & Policy?—3 It cannot. And if you are unable to pay them, they must be protested: For it will not be in my Power to help you. And I see that nothing will cure the Congress of this Madness of drawing upon the Pump at Aldgate,4 but such a Proof that its Well has a Bottom.— I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s, most obedt & most humble Sevt.

B Franklin

His Exy J. Jay. Esqr.

Addressed: A son Excellence / M. Jay, Ministre Plenipoten- / tiaire / à Madrid

Endorsed: Dr. Franklin 30 June 1781 ansd. July

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2In WTF’s hand, except for the address, which is in BF’s.

3Jay to BF, May 31, above.

4A “draught on Aldgate pump” once was a slang expression for a bad bill; Aldgate pump is now near its former location at the intersection of Aldgate High St., Fenchurch St., and Leadenhall St., London, but is no longer functional: Karl Baedeker, London and Its Environs … (18th ed., Leipzig, London, and New York, 1923), p. 154; information kindly provided by Michael Martin, Bishopsgate Police Station, London.

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