Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert Morris, 17 May 1782

From Robert Morris

Two LS:1 Historical Society of Pennsylvania; copy: Library of Congress

Office of Finance May 17th. 1782.


In the Letter which I had the Honor to write to your Excellency on the seventeenth of last Month I mentioned the Communications of his Excellency the Minister of France here by which I was empowered to draw to the Amount of six Millions in monthly Installments of half a Million each. He has since informed me2 that no Monies will be paid by his Court except on my Drafts and in a Letter of the thirtieth April3 on the same Subject he says. “Il me paroit Monsieur, que vous pouvez regarder les Fonds des mois deja ècoulés comme ètant à votre Disposition; cependant comme on ne me le mande pas positivement, je desire que vous mettiez le Dr. Franklin en etat d’informer, quelques semaines d’avance, le Ministre des Finances du montant des Fonds d’ont il aura besoin. Il me paroit que cette Operation seroit simplifie a notre Egard, si vous tiriez sur M. le Dr. Franklin douze Lettres de Change que vous lui adresserez a lui meme et dont il touchera le montant aux Epoques indiques. Il s’arangera ensuite avec votre Correspondant pour le payement de vos traites particulieres.”— It is in Consequence of this that I have drawn the Bills contained in the enclosed Letter to Mr. Grand4 which is left open for your Perusal— Your Excellency will be pleased to arrange this Matter with Mr. Grand so as best to answer the purposes intended.— You will also be pleased Sir to pay over to Mr. Grand on my Account such Monies belonging to the United States as may be in Europe distinct from those to be advanced by the Court for the current Year. I am extremely desirious of having a State of these Matters so as to know what Dependance can be made on the Funds which are at our Command. You would therefore confer upon me a very particular Obligation by transmitting the best state in your power.5 I mentioned to your Excellency in a former Letter that I would write to you on the Subject of your Salary more particularly than I then did but I have since spoken and written to Mr. Livingston with Relation to those Matters6 and he will I expect write to you and to all our foreign Ministers very fully— We have not yet heard any Thing of the Alliance and therefore conclude that she must have been delayed in Europe.— I hope this may have been the Case for if she sailed on the first of March according to my Orders she must have met with some unfortunate Accident.—7 I hope soon to hear from your Excellency indeed I perswade myself that in the very critical Situation of Affairs at present we cannot be long without receiving very important Intelligence.

I have the Honor to be with great Respect & Esteem Sir your Excellency’s most obedient and humble Servant

Robt Morris

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esquire Minister plenipo of the United States of America at Passey near Paris


Endorsed: Mr Morris May 17. 82 He has drawn on me for Six Millions Letter from Mr de la Luzerne to him Orders all Money in my Hands to be paid to Mr Grand.— Desires a State of our Accts.

1The letter that we do not publish is marked “third” and bears an endorsement similar to the one reproduced below.

2In his April 22 letter to Morris: Morris Papers, V, 37–40.

3Morris Papers, V, 86–8.

4Dated May 17, it contained 12 bills of exchange on BF for 500,000 l.t. each: Morris Papers, V, 207–8.

5In a March 4 letter not yet received by Morris, BF had sent a sketch of Congress’ accounts with France for 1781: XXXVI, 649.

6We find no previous reference to BF’s salary in the extant correspondence between Morris and BF. Morris wrote Livingston on April 27 for information about the salaries of public servants living abroad. On May 8, Livingston sent an account to Morris, who immediately forwarded it to the President of Congress. The following day Livingston delivered to Morris a corrected list and a related report for Congress: Morris Papers, V, 69–70, 126, 134, 135.

7The Alliance departed France on March 16 and reached New London on May 13: XXXVI, 692n.

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