Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris, 7 March 1783

To Robert Morris

Press copy of LS:1 New Hampshire Historical Society

Passy, March 7th. 1783.

Dear Sir,

With this I send you a Copy of the last Contract I made with this Court respecting the late Loan of Six Millions, the Terms of the Loan and the Times of Repayment.2 It was impossible for me to obtain more, and indeed, considering the State of Finances and Expences here, I wonder I have obtained so much. You will see by the inclosed Gazette, that the Government is obliged to stop Payment for a Year of its own Bills of Exchange drawn in America and the East Indies;3 yet it has advanced Six Millions to save the Credit of ours. You will I am sure do all in your Power to avoid drawing beyond your Funds here for I am absolutely assured that no farther Aid for this Year is to be expected; and it will not be strange that they should suffer your Bills to take the same Fate with their own. You will also see in the Contract fresh Marks of the King’s Goodness towards us in giving so long a Term for Payment, & forgiving the first Years Interest. I hope the Ravings of a certain mischevous Madman here against France and its Ministers, which I hear of every Day,4 will not be regarded in America, so as to diminish in the least the happy Union that has hitherto subsisted between the two Nations; and which is indeed the solid Foundation of our present Importance in Europe. With great Esteem, I am ever Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Honble R. Morris Esqr. &ca &ca &

1In WTF’s hand.

2Morris provided Congress with an extract of this letter and a copy of the Feb. 25 contract (published above). Congress referred it to a committee consisting of delegates James Madison, James Wilson, and Stephen Higginson; upon their recommendation Congress ratified the contract on Oct. 31: JCC, XXIV, 422n; XXV, 773–8.

3For which see JW’s letter of March 5 and Joly de Fleury’s of March 15. News that payments had been stopped reached the United States in April: Morris Papers, VII, 510–11n.

4BF named JA as the source of these “ravings” in his letter to Laurens of March 20. JA had expressed these views to Benjamin Vaughan on Jan. 12; Vaughan described them in detail in his letter to Shelburne of the same date: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, III, 103–6; Charles C. Smith, ed., “Letters of Benjamin Vaughan,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., 2nd ser., XVII (1903), 432–5, where most of Vaughan’s letter is published. In the unpublished portion, Vaughan characterized JA as being “no less a decided enemy to Dr. Franklin than to M. de Vergennes; & attributes to these gentlemen jointly, every hostile measure that any persons whatever conceive against him; nay he even attributes to them every pasquinade in the newspapers. I believe his enmity to Dr. Franklin is however the most difficult to stiffle of the two” (APS). JA’s “prejudice against the French Court” and “venom against Doctr. Franklin” already had caused comment in America: Madison to Jefferson, Feb. 11, 1783 (Jefferson Papers, VI, 235). JA was suspicious that the French and BF wanted to keep him from returning to America where he might cause them mischief: JA to Abigail Adams, April 16, 1783 (Adams Correspondence, V, 126).

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