Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Jay, 4 September 1781

To John Jay

ALS: Columbia University Library; AL (draft) and two copies:7 Library of Congress

Versailles, Sept. 4. 1781

Dear Sir,

I received a few Days since a very obliging Letter from you.8 I have it not with me here, and therefore cannot mention the Date. I shall answer it particularly by the next Opportunity. This serves chiefly to cover the Communication of two Letters, which I have received, one from Mr Adams, relative to the Propos’d Mediation.9 The other from some Merchants who possess Congress Drafts of a Late Date.1 I have declar’d my Opinion of those drawn on Mr Laurens, that we have nothing to do with them, and that I can give no Expectations of their being paid.2 I believe I sent you a Copy of M. le Comte de Vergennes’s Letter, in which I am explicitly told that I shall not be assisted to pay any Drafts made after the first of April.3 You will see that the Promise of drawing no more upon you, has not been kept: and you will judge for yourself whether it will be right for you to accept these new Bills. But I ought to acquaint you, that I see no Prospect at present of my being able to help you in paying them.— I just now hear that Mr Adams is very ill.4 I think it would be of Service if you and I could meet. Cannot you make a Trip to Paris? Or will you meet me at Bourdeaux? Mr Laurens is not likely to be at Liberty to join us. And it is perhaps a Question whether Mr Jefferson will cross the Seas. He refus’d the Appointment of coming with me.5 And I should not wonder if Mr Adams should return before the Treaty commences: In which case the Business will rest much with us two. I have many reasons for desiring to converse with you besides the Pleasure it would give me.

With great and sincere Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servt.

B Franklin

I write this in a Croud. Excuse the Incorrectness.
His Excelly. Jno Jay Esqr

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Jay, / Minister des Etats Unis de / l’Amerique Septentrionale / à Madrid.

Endorsed: Doctr Franklin 4 sep. 1781 ansd. in part 3 Octr. 1781 by Maj. Franks

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7One of which lacks the date line, heading, and first four sentences.

8Probably Jay’s most recent letter, that of Aug. 20, above.

9JA to BF, Aug. 25, above.

1Probably Parish & Thomson to BF, Aug. 24, above.

2BF to JA, Aug. 31, above.

3Vergennes to BF, Aug. 23, above. As far as we know, BF had not written Jay in the interim, but he did mention Vergennes’ letter in his Aug. 24 letter to Carmichael, above.

4See Thaxter to BF, Aug. 30, above.

5In 1776 Jefferson had declined to serve as one of the commissioners to the French court: XXII, 624–5. On Aug. 4, 1781, he declined appointment as a peace commissioner: Jefferson Papers, VI, 113–14.

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