Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Huntington, 16 October 1779

From Samuel Huntington8

LS:9 Library of Congress; partial copy: National Archives

Philadelphia Octr. 16. 1779.


Congress have appointed the honble. John Jay esq minister plenipotentiary for negotiating a treaty of amity and commerce and of alliance between his Catholic Majesty and the united states of America And the honble. John Adams esqr. minister plenipotentiary for negotiating a treaty of peace and a treaty of commerce with Great Britain.1

The honble. William Carmichael esqr. is appointed secretary to the first and the honble Francis Dana esqr secretary to the last mentioned embassy.2

Mr Jay and Mr Carmichael will embark on board the Confederacy, continental ship of war now in the Delaware ready to sail for France. Mr Adams and Mr Dana will probably take their passage on board Le Sensible, one of his most Christian Majesty’s frigates in the harbour of Boston.

The salaries annexed to these appointments respectively are two thousand five hundred pounds sterling per annum to the ministers and one thousand pounds sterling to the secretaries.3 An in order to enable these gentlemen to enter without embarassment, upon the duties of their several functions, I am authorised by an act of Congress of the 15 instant, a certified copy of which will accompany this, to request you Sir, to take the most effectual means for supplying them with two thousand Louis d’ors in distributions proportioned to their respective salaries and to assure you on the faith of Congress that speedy and proper measures will be adopted both for repaying that sum and for establishing a fund for the future support of all the embassies of these united states in Europe.4

You will likewise find enclosed a certified copy of an act of Congress of the 4th. instant, by which you will be informed that your Salary is also to be two thousand five hundred pounds sterling per annum, and that John Laurens esqr. a member of the house of representatives for the state of South Carolina and lieut col. in the army of the united states is appointed by Congress to be secretary to the minister plenipotentiary at the court of France.5 I have the honour to be Sr. Your obedient humble Servt

Saml. Huntington

Honble. B. Franklin Esqr.

Endorsed: Honble. S. Huntington Esq President. Letter Oct. 16. 79 Recd June 12. 1780—Salaries

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In his new capacity as president of Congress. On Oct. 16 Huntington also signed the instructions to BF which we print under the date of Aug. 14. The present letter was drafted by a congressional committee consisting of Henry Laurens, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Woodbury Langdon, John Witherspoon, and James Lovell: JCC, XV, 1167–8, 1179–81, 1182–3.

9In the hand of Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress. The copy lacks the final paragraph.

1The election of Adams and Jay on Sept. 27 was the result of a compromise between political factions in Congress. BF was nominated as peace commissioner, but then-President of Congress Jay objected: H. James Henderson, Party Politics in the Continental Congress (New York, St. Louis, San Francisco, 1974), pp. 208–10; Jack N. Rakove, The Beginnings of National Politics: an Interpretive History of the Continental Congress (New York, 1979), p. 258.

2For their nomination and election see JCC, XV, 1115, 1127–8; Smith, Letters, XIII, 586.

3In a tie vote Congress on Oct. 4 failed to pass a resolution to pay BF, JA, and Jay £3,000 per annum: JCC, XV, 1143–4. BF’s annual salary as commissioner had been 11,428 l.t. (approximately £500) plus “reasonable expences”: JCC, XIV, 928.

4The enclosure (JCC, XV, 1179–80) is among BF’s papers at the APS, as are the other enclosures, noted below. He endorsed it “Resolution of Congress Oct. 15. 1779 That Messrs Jay & Adams be furnish’d each with 1000 Louis d’Or And that the Sum be replac’d.”

5Laurens was nominated by Elbridge Gerry and was elected on Sept. 29 by the vote of eleven states: JCC, XV, 1115, 1128; Smith, Letters, XIII, 586. On the same day Congress elected Joshua Johnson to audit the accounts of the American diplomats in Europe: JCC, XIV, 929; XV, 1126; Smith, Letters, XIII, 349n, 586–7. BF endorsed the notice of Laurens’ appointment and of the Oct. 4 resolution fixing his salary, “Resolution of Congrss Sept. 29 & Oct. 4. 1779. Secretary elected / Allowance to Plenipotentiary & Secretary, established.” The last enclosure is a copy of the Congressional resolutions of Aug. 6 (recommending the appointment of someone to examine American accounts in Europe) and of Sept. 29 appointing Johnson. BF’s endorsement reads “Resolution of Congress, Aug. 6 and Sept. 29. 1779. Accounts Mr. Johnsons Appt.—”. There is also a copy in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand. Laurens declined his appointment (JCC, XV, 1366); Johnson accepted but four months later refused to undertake the audit (to BF, Feb. 29 and July 1, 1780, APS).

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