Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Robert R. Livingston, 24[–25] December 1782

To Robert R. Livingston

LS6 and transcript: National Archives

Passy, Decr. 24.[–25] 1782.


Sundry Circumstances occurring since mine of the 5th & 14th. have hitherto retarded the Departure of our Dispatches. They will now go under the Security of a British Passport, be accompanied by a Sum of Money, and by some farther Intelligence from England, which show the still unsettled State of Minds there, and, together with the Difficulties and small Progress in the Dutch and Spanish Negociations, make the speedy Conclusion of Peace still uncertain.

The Swedish Ambassador has exchanged full Powers with me. I send a Copy of his herewith.7 We have had some Conference on the proposed Plan of our Treaty, and he has dispatched a Courier for farther Instructions, respecting some of the Articles.8

The Commissioners have join’d in a Letter to you, recommending the Consideration of a Proposal from Mr. Bridgen relating to Coper Coin. With this you have a Copy of that Proposal, and some Samples of the Copper.9 If it should be accepted, I conceive the Weight and Value of the Pieces (Charge of Coinage deducted) should be such, as that they may be aliquot Parts of a Spanish Dollar.1 By the Copy enclosed of an old Letter of mine to Mr. Bridgen, you will see the Ideas I had of the additional Utility such a Coinage might be of in communicating Instruction.2

Dec. 25. Inclosed is a Copy of a Letter just received from M. le Comte de Vergennes upon the present State of their Negociation with England.3 With great Regard, I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Honble. Robt. R. Livingston Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6In L’Air de Lamotte’s hand, except for the last seven words of the complimentary close, which are in BF’s hand.

7The copy of Creutz’s powers (in French) is in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand, with an attestation by WTF that it was a true copy, and that the original was signed by Gustavus.

8The conference was held on Dec. 18. The following day Creutz informed Gustavus that BF’s draft treaty differed on several points from the one the King had sent. Creutz would endeavor to have BF accept unconditionally the King’s version; if unsuccessful he would send the American version by courier: Amandus Johnson, Swedish Contributions to American Freedom, 1776–1783 (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1953–57), I, 576–7.

9The commissioners’ Dec. 20 letter is above. Bridgen had sent two sample copper blanks in September, 1779: XXX, 355–6.

1In 1775 perhaps half of the coins in the American colonies were Spanish dollars (also called “pesos” or “pieces of eight”): John J. McCusker, Money and Exchange in Europe and America, 1660–1775: a Handbook (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1978), p. 4. For Robert Morris’ recent proposed exchange rates for various coins see Morris Papers, VII, 197.

2See XXX, 429–31.

3Vergennes to BF, Dec. 25, below.

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