James Madison Papers

Robert R. Livingston to Virginia Delegates, 15 March 1783

Robert R. Livingston to Virginia Delegates

RC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of a clerk, except for Livingston’s signature. Addressed to “The Honorable The Delegates for the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Docketed, “Ro. Livingston enclosing Aubrey Memorial.” The file copy of the letter is in NA: PCC, No. 119, III, 241.

Office for Foreign Affairs
15th: March 1783


I have the honor to enclose a translation of a Memorial from Lewis Auby transmitted to me by Dr. Franklin with a letter from the Count De Vergennes accompanying it;1 which I pray you to submit to your Common Wealth in such way as will most probably procure him the releif he requires, if the State of their accounts with Mr. Pennet will afford them the means

I have the honor to be Gentlemen with great Respect your most obed humble servt

Robt R Livingston

1Auly, a merchant of Nantes, addressed his undated memorial to Vergennes, who forwarded it with a covering note to Benjamin Franklin on 20 November 1782. When Franklin sent them to Livingston is unclear, but translations of the two documents, in which the memorialist’s surname is consistently spelled “Anty,” are filed close to Franklin’s dispatch of 24 December to the secretary for foreign affairs (NA: PCC, No. 100, II, 304–11). Although Franklin did not mention the Auly memorial in that dispatch, he had commented to Robert Morris ten days earlier: “Penet, who was employed” by Virginia “as an agent to borrow money here, is broke and absconded. His creditors are all worrying me with their complaints, who have nothing to do with his affairs. I have long since mentioned the inconvenience of the attempts of separate States to borrow money in Europe. They have hurt our credit and produced nothing” (Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., VI, 136). For J. Pierre Penet (d. 1789), whom Virginia had commissioned in 1777 and thereafter to purchase and forward military supplies and to negotiate loans, see Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 36, 70, 91; Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 294, n. 2; IV, 108, n. 2; 175, n. 4; V, 186, n. 3; 195, n. 1; 345, n. 10; Franklin B[enjamin] Hough, Notices of Peter Penet, and of His Operations among the Oneida Indians, Including a Plan Prepared by Him for the Government of That Tribe … (Lowville, N.Y., 1866).

According to Auly’s three-page “Representation” describing his “deplorable situation,” he had been reduced to penury by Penet’s bankruptcy. Acting as an agent of Penet in fulfilling contracts with Virginia, Auly had used his own funds and credit for buying military matériel, paying export duties and sundry port fees, endorsing some of Penet’s bills of exchange, and borrowing money. Since Penet, upon becoming bankrupt, owed Auly over 92,300 livres, the latter pointed out that he had “no hope of recovery but from the Justice of the State of Virginia.” The delegates enclosed the translated copy of the memorial in their dispatch of 18 March 1783 to Governor Harrison (q.v.). See also Harrison to Delegates, 29 Mar. 1783, and nn. 5, 7, 10, 11, 14.

Before the end of that year Auly arrived in the United States, his name altered to Lewis Abraham Pauly. On 16 December 1783 he “presented” Governor Harrison with a new memorial (Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, MS in Va. State Library, pp. 245–46), and on 5 April 1785, a little more than three weeks after Pauly had married in Richmond, the state appears to have partially reimbursed him for his financial losses (Va. Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends , 12 Mar. 1785; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 431–32). On 28 February 1791 he was recommended “for appointment in the military service” of the United States, but President Washington apparently viewed the suggestion unfavorably (Gaillard Hunt, comp., Calendar of Applications and Recommendations for Office during the Presidency of George Washington [Washington, 1901], p. 98).

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