Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Jackson, 28 June 1781

To William Jackson8

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

Passy June 28th. 1781.


Since my Acceptance of your Bills I have applied to the Ministers for more Money to discharge the other Engagements I enter’d into for Payment of the Congress Bills drawn on Holland and Spain.1 I find so much Difficulty and even Impossibility of obtaining it at this Time, that I am under the absolute Necessity of stopping the Cash that is in Holland, or of ruining all the Credit of the States in Europe, and even in America, by stopping Payment.2 This is therefore to order, that in Case the said Cash has been deliver’d to you by Messrs. Fizeaux and Grand, you would immediately return it into their Hands to remain there at my disposal. I am sorry that this Operation is necessary, but it must be done or the Consequences will be terrible.

I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Major Jackson

Endorsed: from Doctor Franklin June 28. 1781.

Notation: (C No. 12)

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8John Laurens’ agent in Amsterdam, who was supervising the loading of cargo purchased by Laurens aboard the South Carolina, which would take it to America; see JA to BF, May 25, above.

9In WTF’s hand except for the last seven words of the complimentary close and the phrase “and even in America,” which BF interlined.

1On June 5 BF wrote JA that he would furnish £15,000 for purchasing goods to be shipped to America aboard the South Carolina and on June 10 wrote Vergennes to ask for money. (Both letters are above). The arrival of the letter to JA apparently came as a shock to Jackson, who already was responsible for more than £50,000 in goods. He made a quick trip to Passy, “despatched the whole business” and returned to Amsterdam within the space of a week: JA to President Huntington, June 27 (Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, IV, 522); Jackson to BF, June 29; BF to Jackson, July 10 (below).

We know Jackson was in Passy on June 22, as on that date he signed an affidavit that in 1776 a M. de St. Pierre had been killed by Indians in South Carolina. (This must be Jean-Louis Dumesnil de St. Pierre for whom see XXVI, 612–14.) BF wrote his own certificate attesting Jackson’s and stating that he had solicited Jackson’s testimony at the request of St. Pierre’s family and that Jackson was “a Person of Character for Honour & Integrity, and well-deserving Credit.” An ADS of the former document and an autograph draft of the latter are at the Hist. Soc. of Pa.

2This undid whatever arrangement BF had reached with Jackson during the latter’s visit.

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