Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to William Lee, 31 July 1777

The American Commissioners to William Lee3

AL (draft4): Library of Congress; two copies: National Archives

Paris, July 31. 1777


The Hope of obtaining previously by means of Mr. Ross, a clear State of Mr. Morris’s Proceedings in the Commercial Affairs of the Congress, which was our Inducement to advise your Stay here for some time, being vanished, we now think it prudent and right for you to proceed to Nantes as soon as possible, and there take such Measures as to you shall appear most advantageous for the publick Interest, which we accordingly advise you to do, and are with great Esteem, Sir Your most humble Servants

Wm Lee Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Lee had been cooling his heels in Paris since the middle of June, waiting to go to Nantes. His authorization to be co-agent with Thomas Morris had not come through, the commissioners kept telling him; Morris insisted that he alone was empowered by Congress to conduct its business in Nantes and, even when he received Lee’s authorization, kept it to himself. At long last John Ross heard of it by accident, and urged that Lee be sent immediately to bring order out of Morris’ chaotic affairs: Ford, Letters of William Lee, II, 548–53; Deane Papers, II, 97–8. This letter and the one that immediately follows were the commissioners’ response.

4In BF’s hand.

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