Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Arthur Lee, 1 November 1777

From Arthur Lee

AL: American Philosophical Society

Challiot Novembr. 1st. 1777.

Mr. A. Lee presents his Compts. to Dr. Franklin and begs to have the Papers he mentiond to Dr. Franklin, namely Count Vergennes’s Letter, the last Memoire to him, the last Letter to the Committee, and the list of Stores shipt from Marsailles.9

Mr. L. sends a Newspaper, which Mr. Izard borrowd and desird him to return.

Addressed: The Honble / Benjamin Franklin / a / Passi

Endorsed: Ar. Lee to BF. Nov. 1. 1777.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Some of these are identifiable. The commissioners’ memoir to Vergennes is above, XXIV, 555–63. Their letter to the committee for foreign affairs is that of Oct. 7. The list of stores sent from Marseilles—presumably on Beaumarchais’ ship, the Heureux—had been in BF’s hands for some time, but Lee had not seen it (Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, I, 342); Wentworth’s copies are in Stevens, Facsimiles, III, no. 306; no. 277, p. 11. Vergennes’ letter, unless it was a much earlier one, is a puzzle, because at this time the Minister was not communicating directly with the commissioners. Lee wanted the documents, we presume, as background for an appointment he had just made with Deane for the following day to discuss the hoped-for loan from France and Spain. When he arrived at Passy he found BF instead of Deane, and expressed to him his misgivings about the way the commissioners were spending money without keeping any account of it. “He answered it was as much my business as his; why did I not make it out?” Lee expostulated that he had no papers to go on; many of the expenditures had been made in his absence, and most without consulting him. BF said that he had no more information, and that they should look at Deane’s books. “But when, he would not determine, and so that went off like every thing else, unsatisfactorily.” Lee, op. cit., I, 346–7.

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