Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Elias Boudinot, 18 June 1783

From Elias Boudinot

Copies:7 Massachusetts Historical Society, Library of Congress (two), National Archives; AL (draft): Library of Congress

Philadelphia, June 18. 1783


I have the honor of enclosing you an official Letter, directed to our Ministers Plenipotentiary at Paris.8

The Resignation of the late Secretary for foreign affairs, (occasioned by his Preference of the Chancellorship of the State of New-York, which he could not hold longer, & retain his Secretaryship,)9 has cast the Business of his office on me, till a Successor is elected, which I hope will speedily take Place.

As Part of the Resolution of Congress of the 12. Inst. enclosed in that Letter, is of a secret Nature, I have wrote it in Cyphers, but not having that of Mr. Livingston, I thought it best to use Mr. Morris’ to you, which he has obligingly supplied me with; so that the Ministers will be indebted for your deciphering of it.

Your Letter to Mr. Livingston of the 15. April, enclosing the two Medals, came to hand this Morning.1 I am sorry to find, that you have cause for similar Complaints, to those we have been making two Months past, on the Subject of want of Intelligence. We have not heard from any of our Commissioners at Paris, since February, excepting a Letter from Mr. Laurens, tho’ our Anxiety & Expectations have been wound up to the highest Pitch.

I feel myself much indebted for your polite Compliment of the Medal; it is thought very elegant and the Device & workmanship much admired. You will be pleased, Sir, to accept of my Acknowledgments on this occasion. As I doubt not but the Copper one was designed for Mr. Livingston personally, I shall send it to him by the first convenient Opportunity. He is a worthy deserving Character, and the United States will suffer greatly by his Resignation, tho’ I think him justified in attending to the Calls of his private affairs.

You will receive herewith a Number of our late News-Papers, in which are inserted many resolves, Associations &c from all Parts of the Country, which I earnestly wish could be kept out of Sight— But the Truth is, that the Cruelties, Ravages & Barbarisms of the Refugees & Loyalists have left the People so sore, that it is not yet time for them, to exercise their good Sense & cooler Judgment—2 And that cannot take Place while the Citizens of New-York are kept out of their City, and despoiled daily of their Property, by the sending off their Negroes, by hundreds, in the Face of the Treaty. It has been exceedingly ill judged in the British to retain New-York so long, and to persist in sending away the Negroes, as it has irritated the Citizens of America to an alarming Degree.—3

I have the honor to be, with the greatest Respect & Esteem, Sir, Your most obedt. & very hble Servt.

(signed) Elias Boudinot


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The copies at the Mass. Hist. Soc. and Library of Congress, from the peace commissioners’ letterbooks, were made from the now-missing original. The National Archives copy (published in Smith, Letters, XX, 339–40) may have been made from Boudinot’s draft, which differs slightly in wording from what he eventually sent.

8Above, June 16.

9A faction in New York State who resented his absences had been scheming for months to remove him as chancellor: George Dangerfield, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1746–1813 (New York, 1960), p. 177.

1XXXIX, 467–72.

2That very day, a set of anti-Loyalist resolutions from Germantown was printed in the Pa. Gaz.

3As a result of the war, an estimated 80,000–100,000 slaves had fled or been taken from their owners, leading to a severe labor shortage in the American South: Sylvia R. Frey, Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age (Princeton, 1991), p. 211.

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