Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Edward Bridgen, 13 September 1783

From Edward Bridgen

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London Sepr: 13 1783

My Dear Sir

As your Excellency & the rest of the Commissioners were so obliging as to second my former proposals I think it my duty to inform you Sir and them of the additional step we have taken towards accomplishing our wishes.6

The preceeding7 I laid before Mr Laurens which meeting with his approbation I immediately dispatched the same under Mr Ls: cover, as a vessell was just then taking away the Bag for Philadelphia and gave me no time to consult with the other Gentlemen whose friendship I had experienced.8

Would you do me the favour Sir to make my Apologies to the other Gentlemen and believe that I am with great truth Your Excellency’s and their Much Obliged & faithful Hum: Sert.

Edwd: Bridgen

His Excellency Benjn: Franklin

Addressed: His Excellency / Benjn: Franklin / at Passy.

Endorsed: E Bridgen to R R Livingston Esqr. Sept. 8. 83. Copper Coinage

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Bridgen had been proposing to supply America with copper coinage since 1779. In 1782 he sent a proposal in the name of himself and John Waller to various members of the American commission, who discussed it after the preliminaries were signed. JA, acting on his own, sent it to Congress in mid-December. Some days later, the American commissioners as a group forwarded the proposal under all their signatures. BF sent an additional copy to Livingston on Dec. 24 along with his ideas on coin design and samples of the copper: XXXVIII, 74n, 243–4, 481–2, 492–3.

7Bridgen wrote the present letter below a copy of Bridgen & Waller to Livingston, Sept. 8, 1783. Wondering whether Congress’ silence was due to “the want of Cash,” the partners offer an alternative: they would strike the coins in England (according to terms they specified) and launch them into circulation, trusting that English merchants would exchange them for American goods. In this way, the “whole Continent” would eventually be supplied, at no risk or expense to America.

BF wrote extensive calculations on the bottom of this letter, evidently struggling to figure out the advantages of this scheme.

8Laurens sent Bridgen & Waller’s revised proposal with a group of dispatches he forwarded to Congress along with his own letter to Livingston of Sept. 11; that letter (which does not mention coinage) is filed at the National Archives with copies of the original and revised proposals from Bridgen & Waller. Another set of the proposals is filed at the National Archives with a copy of BF’s Dec. 24, 1782, letter to Livingston. When Congress finally took up the matter of manufacturing copper coinage in 1787, they considered Bridgen & Waller’s bid among the many they had received, referring to it as the one communicated by BF. In the end, another proposal was selected: JCC, XXXII, 160–4, 221, 223–4, 225.

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