Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Vergennes, 8 November 1782

To Vergennes

LS:2 Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; copy: Library of Congress

Passy, Novr 8th 1782.


The Congress disregarding the Proposals made by Sir Guy Carleton,3 and determined to continue the War with Vigour, ‘till a Peace can be obtained, satisfactory as well to the King as to themselves; (as will appear by their Resolves hereto annex’d) but being disabled by the great Deficiency in their Taxes arising from various temporary Causes, have found it absolutely necessary to borrow another Sum in Europe, which they have accordingly directed me to endeavour by all means possible. The Necessity of this Measure is so clearly express’d, in the Letter of Mr. Morris their Financier, and Mr Livingston their Secretary, which are subjoined, that there is little Occasion for any Remarks of mine;4 I shall therefore only observe that from what pass’d in some of the last Conferences we had with the English Negociators here, I apprehend Peace to be still at a Distance and that another Campaign can scarcely be avoided; our Enemies being well informed of our present Distresses for want of Money & conceiving great Hopes that we shall no where find a Supply. The Congress on this important Occasion have therefore sent a Packet Boat5 express with their Orders to me to implore the Aid of his Majesty, our Friend & Father which I hereby do most earnestly from a full Conviction that unless the Loan is obtain’d, our Army can neither be kept up nor safely disbanded.

With the greatest Respect, I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant.6

B Franklin

His Exy. Ct. de Vergennes.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2In WTF’s hand.

3The proposal to recognize American independence immediately. After Congress refused to communicate with him, Carleton sent it to George Washington: XXXVII, 399n, 674n, 717n.

4BF sent Vergennes extracts from Livingston’s postscript to his letter of Sept. 13 (with the enclosed Sept. 14 congressional resolution directing that BF borrow $4,000,000 from France), and from Livingston’s letter of Sept. 18. He also sent copies of Lincoln’s letter of Sept. 25, Morris’ first letter of Sept. 27 (with an explanatory note and the congressional resolution of Sept. 23 enclosed by Morris), Morris’ letter of Sept. 28, and Morris’ third letter of Oct. 7. All these are above; the enclosed copies are at the AAE. BF also enclosed copies of a Sept. 27 letter from Morris to JA (Morris Papers, VI, 443) and of an Oct. 3 congressional resolution (JCC, XXIII, 632–7) promising not to listen to British peace proposals without consulting France: Morris Papers, VI, 451n.

5The General Washington, commanded by Joshua Barney.

6When BF presented this memorial, Vergennes promised to have it translated and laid before the King. He warned, however, that it would meet with many difficulties: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 47.

Index Entries