Benjamin Franklin Papers

Philip Mazzei to the American Peace Commissioners, 2 November 1782

Philip Mazzei to the American Peace Commissioners

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Hague, 2. Novr. 1782.


What I am going to mention to your Excellencies will, I hope, apologize for the liberty I take of addressing myself to you. In January 79. I was appointed by the Government of Virginia to go to Europe to transact there some business of importance for the State.2 I was taken prisoner in coming, & did not recover my liberty ’till Novr. the same year. I arrived at Paris the Spring following, & consulted His Excellency Dr. Franklin, to whom I had the honour of having been long personally known, according to the written Instructions I had recd. from the Executive.3 Not to trouble your Excellencies with a long detail of particulars, which are no ways necessary, I shall only inform you that after a variety of disappointments, proceeding from the miscarriage & neglect of sending papers from Virginia,4 probably occasioned by the confusions there, & from other causes, such as the non payment of bills drawn in my favour by order of the State, I find myself reduced to the necessity of requesting your assistance to enable me to go to my family in France, & from thence with them to America.5 In consequence of the disappointments I met with, I disposed of a little estate in Tuscany to defray the expences I was necessarily obliged to incur. This supply has long been expended. A stranger as I am in this Country, & trusting to meet with Mr. Adams, & to receive his assistance & advice, I am at a loss how to raise money on my own credit, or on the property I have in Virginia. The favour therefore which I am to request of your Excellencies is, that you would furnish me, either on the credit of the State, or my own, with a sufficient sum for the purpose above-mentioned, or that you would recommend me to some person who is able & willing to advance me that sum on either of those credits. I am further induced to make & to urge this request, because I am induced to believe, from the last letter I recd. from Government, that it is imagined there, that I have recd. the money which was appointed for me, & of course I can have no expectations from home. Permit me to beg the favour of an answer directed to me chez George Henrie Lÿsson dans la grande Cour de l’Empereur á Amsterdam, & to have the honour of signing myself most respectfully, Gentlemen, your Excellencies most Humble & most Obedient Servant

Philip Mazzei

Their Excellencies Dr. Ben: Franklin, John Adams, & John Jay, Ministers Pl. &c.

Notation: Philip Mazzei, 29bre. 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2To obtain a loan: XXXI, 247–8n.

3Upon his arrival in France, BF refused to advance him money: XXXI, 247–9, 285, 414–15.

4When he was captured en route to Europe, Mazzei destroyed his commission and instructions. The duplicates, sent by Jefferson to France, were not forwarded to Mazzei in Italy for nearly a year, owing largely to BF’s neglect: XXXIII, 147; XXXV, 101–2, 330, 345, 369–70; XXXVI, 104.

5The Va. assembly revoked his powers on Jan. 31, 1782. Mazzei received notification from Gov. Benjamin Harrison by Sept. 6, when he answered that he would leave as soon as possible. He would have been successful, he added, had his papers arrived earlier: Margherita Marchione et al., eds., Philip Mazzei: Selected Writings and Correspondence (3 vols., Prato, Italy, 1983), I, 331–2, 367, 378–9.

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