Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Vergennes: Letter and Memoir, 15[–16] February 1782

To Vergennes: Letter and Memoir

LS:3 Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; Copy: Library of Congress


Passy, Feb. 15.[–16] 1782.


I received the Letter your Excellency did me the Honour of writing to me the 6th. Instant, enclosing an Aperçu of the Situation of the Congress Account for the Year 1781. On considering that Account this Day, there seems to me an Error in stating one of the Sums, viz. that of 2,216,000. l.t. I have therefore drawn a new State of the Account, (which I enclose) wherein that Sum is placed with the 4,000,000. as equally lent by the King to the United States, which I understood to have been the Case. But if that was not his Majesty’s Intention, the Promesses I have given to reimburse the same to the Tresor Royal on the 1st. of January 1788 with Interest, should be returned to me.4 This will however derange exceedingly the Operations of Mr. Morris, who imagines, as appears by his Letters, that nearly the whole Dutch Loan will be in my Hands at his disposition.5 I cannot therefore but wish, if not too inconvenient to the Tresor Royal, that the said Sum may be suffered to remain in its present Situation.

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

B Franklin

Excelly. the Count de Vergennes

Notation: rep le 20.


Aperçu du Compte des Etats-Unis de L’Amerique


J’ai reçu pendant l’Année 1781 des Affrs. Etranges.

J’ai reçu de meme de la Finance & sur l’ordre motivé par Ecrit des Ministres sur des Promesses 2,216,000.
J’ai fourni en consequence a M D’Harvelay 4 Promesses payables en 1788 avec Interets £4,000,000.
J’ai egalement fourni au Tresor Royal 3 Promesses de même formant 2,216,000.
£6,216,000. £6,216,000

Par consequent ces Objets se soldent par eux mêmes.

Le Roi nous a accordé un subside Gratuit

de £6,000,000
Et nous a procuré l’Emprunt d’Hollande 10,000,000.6
Sur quoi a été payé en 5 Parties
1° Fourni Argent comptant à M. Lawrens   2,500,000
2° Prix des Effets expediés en Mai & Juin   2,069,109
3° Prix des Effets destinés a partir en Mars   2,570,000.
4° Traites de M. Morris sur Messrs. Le Couteulx   1,000,000.
5° Envoy revenu d’Hollande & remis a M. Franklin   1,430,000
Par conséquent il nous reste du   6,450,891.
£16,000,000. £16,000,000.


[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The letter is in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand, except for the last six words of the complimentary close, which are in BF’s hand. The memoir is in WTF’s hand and initialled by BF.

4During 1781, BF had received 2,216,000 l.t. to help him Pay bills of exchange (800,000 l.t. on July 18, 600,000 l.t. on Oct. 30, and 816,000 l.t. on Dec. 4). He neglects to mention the 416,000 l.t. to replace clothing lost on the Marquis de Lafayette for which he signed a certificate on May 30. This total did not include the 4,000,000 l.t. in regular loans received from the French government: XXXV, 71n; Grand to BF, Nov. 22, above. He had already received an additional 500,000 l.t. in 1782 and would soon receive another 500,000 l.t.; see our annotation of Vergennes’ Dec. 31 letter.

5See Morris’ first letter of Nov. 27 and his letter of Dec. 3.

6Promises of the 6,000,000 l.t. gift and the 10,000,000 l.t. loan guarantee had been made in March and April, 1781: XXXIV, 426n, 517n.

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