Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin and John Jay to Vergennes, 28 June 1783

Franklin and John Jay to Vergennes

LS:3 Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; copies: Library of Congress, Massachusetts Historical Society, National Archives

Passy, June 28th., 1783


Mr Grand, Banker to the Congress, having laid before us the annexed State of their Affairs in his Hands,4 we conceive ourselves indispensably obliged to communicate the same to your Excellency, as some important Interests of both Countries are concerned.

Before the Peace was known in America, and while Mr Morris had hopes of obtaining the Five per Cent Duty,5 and a larger Loan from his Majesty, the immediate urgent Necessities of the Army obliged him to draw Bills, and sell them to the Merchants, to raise Money for the Purchase of Provisions, to prevent their starving or disbanding.

The Merchants have thereupon formed their Plans of Business and remitted those Bills to their Correspondents here, to pay Debts, and purchase Goods in this Kingdom to be carried home in the Ships that are come or coming to France, thus to open a larger Commerce with this Nation.

If those Bills cannot be paid the Creditors of America will be disappointed and greatly hurt, & the Commerce will be deranged & discouraged in its first Operations, of which the Numerous ill Consequences are more easily imagined than described.

Our Loan in Holland is going on, and with such Prospect of Success, that the Bankers who have the Care of it, have lately sent by express to Mr. Adams all the Blank Obligations necessary to complete it, for him to sign, that they might have them ready to deliver as demanded,6 his Return thither being delayed.

This Loan will therefore probably answer the Bills Mr Morris has drawn on those Bankers.

But the protesting any of his Bills here would occasion such an Alarm there as must probably entirely stop any further progress of that Loan, and thereby increase the Mischief.

The Government of the Congress would also be enfeebled by it.

We apprehend too, that in the present unsettled Situation of our Affairs with England, such a Failure might have very ill Effects, with respect to our Negociations.

We therefore request your Counsel, hoping your Wisdom, which has so often befriended our Nation, may point out some Way by which we may be extricated from this Distress.

And as the King has hitherto so generously assisted us, we hope that if it is any way practicable, his Majesty will crown the glorious Work by affording us this Help at the different Periods when it will be wanted, and which is absolutely the last that will be asked.

We are with great and sincere Respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servants

B Franklin
John Jay

His Exy Ct. de Vergennes.

Notation: rep [répondu]

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3In WTF’s hand.

4Grand’s memorandum of June 27, above, as confirmed by the docketing in the margin.

5See the annotation of Morris to BF, May 26, letter (I). In December, 1782, BF reported to Morris that the states’ refusal to go along with this plan hurt American credit in Europe: XXXVIII, 488–9.

6The bankers sent 2,000 obligations plus three as spares: Adams Papers, XV, 42–3. On July 22 Grand paid 1,027 l.t. 13 s. for the shipment back to Amsterdam and the courier’s return: Account XXVII (XXXII, 4).

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