Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert Morris, 3 January 1783

From Robert Morris

LS: American Philosophical Society; draft: Yale University Library

Office of Finance 3rd. January 1783.


I do myself the Honor to enclose to your Excellency under flying Seal a Letter to Mr Grand which I pray you to peruse.1 To what is said in that Letter I need add but little. The Bill to Messrs. Wadsworth and Carter is in Payment of what our Army have eaten during the last two Months and an half,2 and you will see by the Correspondence on that Subject which will be transmitted in my next Letter3 what a Situation I was drawn to. Be assured my dear Sir that nothing but extreme Necessity shall induce me to distress you but be also assured that unless a considerable Sum of Money is obtained for us in Europe we are inevitably ruined and that too whether a Peace takes Place or not for we must keep our Army together and we must prepare for war or we do Justice neither to ourselves nor our Allies. The Expence therefore is inevitable and I have no means of defraying it but the Sales of Bills. I shall write you more particularly as soon as my Leisure will admit and only repeat for the Present once more that money is indispensible.

I am Sir With Esteem and affection Your most obedient & humble Servant.

Robt Morris

His Excellency. Benjamin Franklin.

1Dated Jan. 2[–4], it enclosed a list of bills amounting to about 1.3 million l.t., drawn by Morris in 1782 and the first days of 1783, and apologized for continuing to draw on Grand “without the Certainty of Funds”: Morris Papers, VII, 264–7.

2Connecticut merchant Jeremiah Wadsworth (1743–1804), formerly the commissary general of the American army, served as commissary for Rochambeau’s army from 1780 to 1782: ANB. His business partner was “John Carter” (an alias for John Barker Church), an Englishman who in 1777 had married Gen. Philip Schuyler’s daughter Angelica. Wadsworth and Carter had supplied the American army when Morris could no longer keep up the payments with the former contractors. They agreed to accept payment in bills on France. The bill Morris issued them, drawn on Grand at 100 days’ sight, was for 1,038,000 l.t.: Morris Papers, VI, 538n, 565–73; VII, 261, 262n, 267.

3Dated Jan. 11, below.

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