Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert R. Livingston, 31 May 1783

From Robert R. Livingston

LS: University of Pennsylvania Library; AL (draft): New-York Historical Society; transcript:4 National Archives

Philadelphia 31st. May 1783


I informed you some time since, that I had written to the Court of Appeals on the subject of the Nostra Signora da Soledade Saint Miguel e Almas, and lay’d before them the papers you sent me, the cause has since been determined in such way as I hope will be satisfactory to her Portuguese Majesty— I enclose the copy of a Letter from the first Judge of the Court of Appeals upon that subject5—nothing has yet been done as to the acceptance of your resignation,6 nor will as I beleive any thing be done very hastily—many think your task will not be very burthensome now, and that you may enjoy in peace the fruit of your passed labours, As this will probably be the last Letter, which I shall have the pleasure of writing to you in my public Character7—I beg leave to remind you of the Affairs of the Alliance and the Bon Homme Richard, which are still unsettled—8 I must also pray you not to loose sight of the Vessels detained by his Danish Majesty, this will be a favorable opportunity to press for their restitution—9 I do not see how they can decently refuse to pay for them— Great Britain is bound in honor to make them whole again— Preparations for the evacuation of New York still go on very slowly, while the distress of our finances have compelled us to grant furloughs to the greater part of our Army, If it was possible to procure any addition to the last six Millions1 it would be extremely useful to us at present.

An entire new arrangement with respect to our foreign Department is under consideration, what its fate will be I know not—

I am Sir with the greatest Regard and Esteem your most obedt. humble servt

R R Livingston

Honble Benjn: Franklin Esq.

No. 28.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The transcript indicates that the LS was carried by the packet General Washington.

5The now-missing enclosure must have been a copy of Cyrus Griffin’s letter to him of May 31 announcing the judgment for the Portuguese shipowner (National Archives). Griffin, George Read, and John Lowell were the three judges of the court: Henry J. Bourguignon, The First Federal Court: the Federal Appellate Prize Court of the American Revolution, 1775–1787 (Philadelphia, 1977), pp. 117–21. For background see XXXVIII, 185; XXXIX, 395.

6BF renewed his request to resign after the preliminary articles were signed: XXXVIII, 416–17.

7Livingston’s resignation was accepted four days later; see Boudinot to BF, June 16. This is his last known letter to BF.

8Livingston had ordered Barclay to secure this unpaid prize money in May, 1782: XXXVII, 430.

9BF did so, in his negotiations with the Danish minister for a commercial treaty; see his letter to Livingston, July 22[–26].

1The most recent French loan of 6,000,000 l.t.

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