Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Adams, 7 April 1781

To John Adams

ALS: Massachusetts Historical Society; copy: Library of Congress

Passy, April 7. 1781


Among the late intercepted Letters from London, is one from the Army Agent there to the Traitor Arnold, by which it appears that his Bribe was 5000£ Sterling, in Bills drawn on Harley & Drummond, who are the Contractors for furnishing the Army with money.2 Inclos’d I send you a Copy of that Letter, and shall send you others by next Post.—

The English Papers tell us, that you have succeeded in your Loan.3 Be so good as to inform me if it is true. It will give me great Pleasure. I obtain’d here, before Col. Laurens’s Arrival, a Promise of 6,000,000 for our Army, to which I hope his Sollicitations will make a considerable Addition. The Marquis de la Fayette sail’d the 27th past,4 under Convoy of the Alliance, with a fair Wind, and a Cargo for the Publick, of Arms, Clothing, &c valued at 1,000,000 l.t.

With great Respect, I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

His Excellency John Adams, Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2A Jan. 30, 1781, letter from James Meyrick to Benedict Arnold (National Archives) was among those captured aboard a New York-bound British packet brought into a French port: Pennsylvania Gaz., July 25, 1781. In an undated letter (APS) John Laurens asked BF for a copy of the intercepted letter so he could make an extract for Gen. Washington. Laurens sent extracts to President of Congress Huntington on April 9 and Washington on April 11. In the covering letters he reported that on April 8 Vergennes had informed him that the King in addition to his existing loans and grants to the United States would guarantee a loan of 10,000,000 l.t. to be raised in Holland: Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, IV, 355–7. On 13 April Vergennes informed La Luzerne of the arrangement, stressing the importance of having the States General as a co-guarantor and said that Fizeaux & Grand would handle the loan (AAE). For his further communication with La Luzerne on the guarantee see Doniol, Histoire, IV, 559n.

3The March 30 issue of the London Courant, and Westminster Chronicle reported that JA had obtained a loan of 1,000,000 f., which was already “on the ocean for America.”

4Actually, the 29th of March.

Index Entries