Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Dumas, 12 March 1779

To Dumas

LS:2 Henry E. Huntington Library; copy: Library of Congress

Passy March 12th. 1779.

Dear Sir,

I lately received yours of Oct. 18. recommending Mr Huet Du Plessis, He left it at my House when I was not at home; and having been these three Weeks past much confined by the Gout, I have not been able to look for him.—3 I have also received yours of Feb. 23. 26 & March 1. The Informations they contain are very Satisfactory. Mr Deane is not arrived as had been told you, but is expected to be in Europe about the Beginning of May. The Difference you mention between him and Mr Lee is an unpleasant one; but will I hope not be attended with very ill Consequences.4 I shall be glad to see the Plan of the Treaty as soon as you have copied it fair.5 I wish also that you may be permitted to point out to me the false Friends you mention that I may be upon my Guard against them.6 I thank you for the Copy of the little printed Pamphlet.7

Your Friend brings to my hand a little Memoir of your Services. I am not insensible of them, and shall keep the Memoir under my Eye.8 The immence Expence necessarily incurred in this War, and the Difficulty of raising Money render this an unfavourable Time to propose Additions to Salaries; especially for Services in a Country, from whence I believe they begin in America not to expect the Advantage of much Friendship. The Times may change, our Affairs become more prosperous, and our Means greater. You will then not be forgotten. But it is not good to place much Dependance on future Contingencies. It seems to me that you lay out too much in News Papers, &c which I am sorry for as it lessens your support: but I consent that you draw for an additional 25 Louis on Account of such Expences, and I wish you to limit them accordingly.

Your Friend having reduced his Proposals, ’till they came within the Limits of my Instructions, I agreed to take of him the Sum of 1,500,000 Florins and give for it the Promises of the States when he should produce a Subscription amounting to that Sum: But I own I do not rely much upon it.9

I am ever, Dear Sir, Your affectionate Friend & humble Servant.

B Franklin

M. Dumas.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2In WTF’s hand.

3For Dumas’ letter recommending this doctor and old family friend see XXVII, 565; see also XXVIII, 22.

4Dumas inquired about the return of former commissioner Silas Deane in the first of the three letters: XXVIII, 595. Deane himself was expecting to return momentarily to Europe once he had finished testifying before Congress about his former service there: Deane Papers, III, 403–4. For Dumas’ concern about the dispute between former commissioners Arthur Lee and Deane see XXVIII, 618.

5Dumas was either copying William Lee and the Amsterdam banker Jean de Neufville’s draft American-Dutch commercial treaty or preparing a similar treaty of his own: XXVII, 344n; XXVIII, 551, 595; Ford, Letters of William Lee, II, 672.

6Dumas’ warnings are in his Feb. 26 letter: XXVIII, 618–19.

7Sent with Dumas’ letter of March 1.

8The friend was probably de Neufville, whom Dumas had introduced to BF: XXVIII, 353. Dumas describes the memoir (now missing) in his March 23 letter, below. Hitherto the commissioners had provided him with 200 louis (4,800 l.t.) per annum: XXVII, 117, 128, 142.

9De Neufville had originally proposed to raise two million guilders for the United States: XXVIII, 629–31. “Guilder” and “florin” are interchangeable terms; the guilder traded at slightly more than 10 per £1 sterling: John J. McCusker, Money and Exchange in Europe and America, 1660–1775: A Handbook (Chapel Hill, 1978), pp. 43–4, 60. BF later explained that he gave de Neufville a chance to find subscribers on the same terms as those offered to Horneca, Fizeaux & Cie.; this attempt also failed: Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, III, 361–2.

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