Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Tench Coxe, 4 June 1782

From Tench Coxe5

ALS and LS:6 American Philosophical Society

Philadelphia June 4th. 1782


I take the liberty of troubling your Excellency with information of an accident which lately happened to some Bills of Exchange drawn by the Commissioner for the time being at the Court of Versailles.

The fourth Bills of four sets were delivered to a gentleman in Philada. to be taken to Borden Town in order to procure a continuation of the set as it was feared the others were lost. This gentleman has unluckily dropt them in our Streets & every proper Step has been made use of to regain them. Under these Circumstances your Excellency will excuse the freedom I take in writing to you to apprize you of the accident— The Bills are as follow—

4th. of one set of Bills N.539. 12 drs. 26th. Feb. 82 to Wm DeHart7 mark KL

Do of 1 do. N. 11. 30 drs. 5th April. 82 to Mary Henry mark PK—
Do of 1 do. . 94. 300 drs. 12th Sepr. 81 to Jno Stevens senr. mark YW8
Do of 1 do. . 23. 300 drs. 8th. Jany. 82 to Peter Schenck9 mark

The two last were drawn by Mr. Hopkinson for interest & the two first by Mr. Hillegas for the same. All countersigned by Mr. Borden—1 N.94 was endorsed to Messrs. Nesbitt & Co mentioning I think in the endorsement for Account of Mr. James Abercrombie2 & the other three vizt. N.539 N.11 & N.23 were endorsed to Messrs Sigourney Ingraham & Bromfield Merchts. of Amsterdam—3 purporting I think to be for value in account with Me—

As these are all fourth Bills I have determined that they shall not be forwarded from hence by Me, so that if they should be presented to your Excellency for payment, I ask the favor of their being refused payment and the proper Steps taken— Unless it should be thought proper on detection of the Bills to pay the Money to the respectable houses in whose favor the genuine endorsements (under the hand of the payees) are.

I have the honor to be with very great Respect yr. Excellency’s mo. obedient & mo. humble Servt.

Tench Coxe

His Excelly. Benj. Franklin Esqr.

Addressed: His Excellency / Benjamin Franklin Esqr. / Minister Penipotentiary / of the United States of Ameri / ca— / Paris / via Baltimore

Notation by William Temple Franklin: No 94—for 300 Drs. was accepd the 2d May 82—presented by Mr Chaumont

3d: No 23, accepd the 24 Augt 82. being regularly indorsed to Sigourney, Ingraham & Bromfield & presented by them, thro Messrs. Mallet le Royer—4

The 3d of No 11. in the same Case.

The 3d. of No 539. Do.5

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5This is the first extant letter from Coxe (1755–1824), a Philadelphia merchant and early promoter of American industrialization. In 1775, Coxe joined the United Company of Philadelphia for Promoting American Manufactures, and the following year he became a partner in his father’s firm of Coxe, Furman & Coxe. During the war Coxe sympathized with the British and was charged with treason but avoided conviction. This is his only surviving communication with BF until 1786; the following year the two men served together in the Pa. Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Philadelphia Society for Political Inquiries. Coxe achieved greatest prominence as a political economist and publicist. ANB; Jacob E. Cooke, Tench Coxe and the Early Republic (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1978), pp. 93, 99.

6On which BF wrote “Receivd Jan 31 1783”.

7Possibly William D’Hart (d. 1801), a major and lieutenant-colonel in, respectively, the 1st and 2nd N.J. Regiments. He resigned in 1781: Heitman, Register of Officers, p. 153.

8Here BF wrote “2d Accep’d 2d May 82”. Stevens was probably John Stevens, Sr. (1716–1792), a N.J. merchant who served in the Continental Congress and as president of his state’s convention ratifying the Constitution: Maxine N. Lurie and Joanne R. Walroth, eds., The Minutes of the Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey … (4 vols., Newark, N. J., 1949–85), IV, 474.

9Possibly the man of this name of Millstone, N.J.: Lurie and Walroth, eds., The Minutes of the Board of Proprietors, IV, 248.

1Joseph Borden, Jr. (1755–1788), the Continental loan officer for New Jersey: Morris Papers, I, 201n.

2Possibly the man of this name living on Pine Street in Philadelphia by 1785: [John] Macpherson, Macpherson’s Directory, for the City and Suburbs of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1785), p. [1].

3For the firm see XXXVI, 119–20, and Butterfield, John Adams Diary, II, 453–4n.

4The Paris banking firm of Mallet, Le Royer & Mallet fils: XXX, 570.

5The bills to DeHart, Henry, and Schenck are listed on page 27 of BF’s ledger of loan office bills dated Jan. 8 to Sept. 12, 1782 (APS). Grand accepted them at an exchange rate of 5 l.t. per dollar.

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