Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to the Continental Congress, 9 July 1782

To the Continental Congress7

LS:8 Yale University Library

Passy, 9th. July 1782.

From the Knowledge I have of Mr Young, by his Conduct while in my Family, writing in the Secretary’s Office, and waiting the Arrival of Mr. Lawrens then expected here; I esteem him a Person of Virtue and Merit, and I recommend him and his Account to the Consideration of Congress, not thinking myself authorised to discharge it without their Order; tho’ to assist him in his present Occasions, and in returning to America, I have ventured to advance him Three thousand Six hundred Livres.1

B Franklin

Notations in different hands: Accot. against the United States — Amsterdam 30th May 1782. / Letters of Moses Young Henry Laurens Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Vaughan2

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7A statement given to Moses Young.

8In WTF’s hand.

1Young had decided to go into partnership with Benjamin Vaughan and move to the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. He came to Paris on July 6 to settle his accounts, and gave BF a statement claiming £567 14 s. 2 p. for his salary as Laurens’ secretary from October, 1779 to February, 1782, at £250 per annum. He added a paragraph describing his experiences since leaving Philadelphia with Laurens. After his capture and subsequent escape from Forton Prison he came to Passy; he was employed by BF from Feb. 5 until April 14, 1782, when BF consented to his going to England to rejoin Laurens. Beneath this statement Young copied an extract of Laurens’ May 30 letter to the President of Congress recommending payment of his claim (Laurens Papers, XV, 524). Laurens himself certified the accuracy of the extract. This sheet (Young’s statement, the extract, and the certification) is filed with the present letter; a copy in Young’s hand is at the APS.

On July 8, BF replied that he did not think he had authorization to pay Young’s salary and complained of his own financial difficulties, particularly those caused by Alexander Gillon. Because of Laurens’ recommendation, however, he did agree to advance Young £150 (£50 of which Young owed Laurens) and authorized Grand to pay the amount in French money (3,600 l.t.). Young noted this fact on the bottom of his claim statement. BF told Young on July 9 that he had been just in time; BF had just received orders from Robert Morris forbidding salary payments to American ministers and secretaries: Young to Laurens, July 10 (Laurens Papers, XV, 537–40).

2Young showed BF’s recommendation to Benjamin Vaughan, who on July 19 wrote his own statement immediately below it, affirming that Young’s “frugality has been exemplary, his distress considerable, and his conduct so meritorious & so perfectly conscientious and discreet, that I [ Vaughan] have intrusted him with the management of a very considerable concern (to the amount of not a few thousand pounds sterling in money) without any security given on his side.”

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