Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Lafayette, [13 December 1783?]

From Lafayette

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris Saturday Evening [December 13, 1783?]7

My dear Sir

The Inclosed is a Paper I intend to Present to the Several Ministers, with the Hope it May Give them some favourable ideas Upon the American trade—8 But Before I do it, I wish of Course to Have Your Approbation— Be so kind, My dear Sir, as to Read it Over, and if You think it May Answer a Good purpose, I will in My private Capacity Give it to Marechal de Castries, M. de Vergennes, and M. de Calonne—9 To Morrow about ten in the Morning I Hope Having the Honour to Call upon You in My Way to Versaïlles.

With the Highest Respect I Have the Honour to Be Your obedient Servant and Affectionate friend

Lafayette

for this time Excuse the Scribbling

His excellency B. franklin Esq.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The Saturday before Dec. 18, when Calonne acknowledged receiving his copy of the memoir that Lafayette enclosed here: Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, V, 178.

8Lafayette had been working on “Observations Sur le Commerce entre la France et les Etats-Unis” since October, when he announced to WTF his intention to submit “beneficial” ideas on Franco-American trade to the French government before it had formed a policy. He asked WTF to forward an enclosed plan of his ideas to Thomas Barclay for his comments, and also asked for the opinions of WTF, his “friends,” and BF (APS). On Nov. 11 Lafayette informed GW that he was “Collecting the Opinions of Every American Merchant Within My reach” for a presentation to the government. The memoir did not claim to present new ideas or solutions, but merely to summarize American complaints about trading with France: the high duties and complicated regulations, the lack of long-term credit, the control held by the farmers general over the tobacco trade, the delay in naming free ports, and the restrictions on commerce with the French West Indies: Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, V, 164, 168–75, 382–8. BF’s copy of the memoir has not been found.

9On Dec. 26 Lafayette also sent a copy to Robert Morris. The day before, Calonne, the newly appointed controller general of finances, commended the memoir and assured Lafayette he would report on it to the king, after consulting with Vergennes. As a result of those discussions, Calonne announced to Lafayette on Jan. 9, 1784, the naming of four free ports and promised measures to address the other American complaints: Morris Papers, VIII, 842–4; Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, V, 182, 189, 389–91.

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