Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Jay, 3 January 1779

From John Jay7

Three LS:8 American Philosophical Society; copies: National Archives, Library of Congress

Philadelphia 3rd. Jany: 1779

Dear Sir,

I have the Honor of transmitting to you the enclosed Copy of an Act of Congress of the 23rd. Ulto:9

Being ignorant of the Gentlemen mentioned in it, and all Information respecting them having been received by Congress prior to my Arrival, I applied to the Secretary for the necessary Intelligence— He this moment sent me a note on the Subject in the following words—vizt.—

“Mr: Erkelins is a Gentleman from Holland who resides in Connecticut— He has kept up for some time a correspondence in Holland, for the purpose of reconciling the People in power to the views of America, & to prepare them for entering into commercial engagements with America, and assisting her with a loan— This correspondence he has shewn to Governor Trumbull, who has approved the same, & written several times to Congress in his favor— As he has not had any advices lately, he has engaged Coll: Diricks, who is, it is said connected with some of the first Families in Holland, to go home in order to promote his views1—”

You will also find enclosed a Copy of an Act of Congress of the 1st: Inst: on the Subject of an Expedition against Canada, a Plan for which had been before concerted but is now deferred—2

Be pleased, Sir, to accept the Compliments of the Season, and my best wishes for your Health and Happiness— I have the Honor to be Sir, with great Respect & Esteem your most Obedient & most Humble Servant—

John Jay
President of Congress

The Honorable Doctor Franklin Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the Court of Versailles—

Notation: John Jay 3d Jany. 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF’s former colleague on the committee of secret correspondence had been elected on Dec. 10, 1778, to replace Henry Laurens as president of Congress and was writing in that capacity.

8The LS from which we print is almost identical to that marked “Duplicate” which is published (with information on its composition) in Richard B. Morris et al., eds., John Jay, the Making of a Revolutionary: Unpublished Papers, 1745–1780 (New York, 1975), pp. 519–20. The third contains only minor variations in wording.

9Ordering that Jay mention to BF “Colonel J. G. Dircks,” who wished to correspond with him: JCC, XII, 1246–7. Two copies of the resolution, one incorrectly dated, are at the APS.

1Charles Thomson was the secretary of Congress. For Gosuinus Erkelens see XXVII, 366; for Dircks see Trumbull’s letter of Dec. 12. Their plans to promote the negotiation of a Dutch loan are mentioned in Smith, Letters, XI, 407n.

2By this act Congress deferred the proposed attack on Quebec: JCC, XIII, 11–14. The decision came too late to prevent Lafayette’s sailing with the original instructions: see Lovell’s letters of Dec. 8, 1778, and Feb. 8, 1779.

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