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TO CHARLES W. F. DUMAS.
Passy, 9 October, 1780. DEAR SIR, I received yours of the 29th of September and 3d of October. It is a very good addition you have made to your Memoir for the ministers of Russia and Sweden. I am glad to find you are again on such good terms with the ambassador, as to be invited to his comedy. I doubt not of your continuing to cultivate that good understanding. I like much your insertions in the gazettes. Such things have good effects.
Your information relative to the transactions at Petersburgh and in Denmark are very interesting, and afforded me a good deal of satisfaction, particularly the former. Mr. Searle will have the pleasure of seeing you. I recommend him warmly to your civilities. He is much your friend, and will advise Mr. Laurens to make you his secretary, which I hope you will accept. I have given it as my opinion, that Mr. Laurens can nowhere find one better qualified, or more deserving. The choice is left to that minister, and he is empowered to give a salary of five hundred pounds sterling a year. I am in pain on account of his not being yet arrived, but I hope you will see him soon. I request you would find means to introduce Mr. Searle to the Portuguese ambassador. Pray consider the enclosed papers, and, after advising with your friend, give me your opinion as to the manner of the application to the States-General, whether I should make it through their ambassador, or directly with a letter to the grand pensionary, or in what other manner. You know we wrote to him formerly, and received no answer. With great esteem, I am, &c.
P. S. You say nothing of Mr. Adams? How do you stand with him ? What is he doing ?
TO RICHARD PRICE.
Passy, 9 October, 1780. DEAR SIR, Besides the pleasure of their company, I had the great satisfaction of hearing by your two valuable friends, and learning from your letter, that you enjoy a good state of health. May God continue it, as well for the good of mankind as for your comfort. I thank you much for the second edition of your excellent pamphlet. I forwarded that you sent to Mr. Dana, he being in Holland. I wish also to see the piece you have written (as Mr. Jones tells me) on Toleration. I do not expect that your new Parliament will be either wiser or honester than the last. All projects to procure an honest one, by place bills, &c., appear to me vain and impracticable. The true cure, I imagine, is to be found only in rendering all places unprofitable, and the King too poor to give bribes and pensions. Till this is done, which can only be by a revolution (and I think you have not virtue enough left to procure one), your nation will always be plundered, and obliged to pay by taxes the plunderers for plundering and ruining. Liberty and virtue therefore join in the call, COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE!
I am fully of your opinion respecting religious tests; but, though the people of Massachusetts have not in their new constitution kept quite clear of them, yet, if we consider what that people were one hundred years ago, we must allow they have gone great engths in
liberality of sentiment on religious subjects; and we may hope for greater degrees of perfection, when their constitution, some years hence, shall be revised. If Christian preachers had continued to teach as Christ and his Apostles did, without salaries, and as the Quakers now do, I imagine tests would never have existed; for I think they were invented, not so much to secure religion itself, as the emoluments of it. When a religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one. But I shall be out of my depth, if I wade any deeper in theology, and I will not trouble you with politics, nor with news which are almost as uncertain ; but conclude with a heartfelt wish to embrace you once more, and enjoy your sweet society in peace, among our honest, worthy, ingenious friends at the London. Adieu,
TO THOMAS RUSTON.
American Finance and Paper Money.
Passy, 9 October, 1780. SIR, I received and read with pleasure your thoughts on American finance, and your scheme of a bank. I communicated them to the Abbé Morellet, who is a good judge of the subject, and he has translated them into French. He thinks them generally very just, and very clearly expressed. I shall forward them to a friend in the Congress.
That body is, as you suppose, not well skilled in
financing. But their deficiency in knowledge has been amply supplied by good luck. They issued an immense quantity of paper bills, to pay, clothe, arm, and feed their troops, and fit out ships; and with this paper, without taxes for the first three years, they fought and baffled one of the most powerful nations of Europe. They hoped, notwithstanding its quantity, to have kept up the value of their paper. In this they were mistaken. It depreciated gradually. But this depreciation, though in some circumstances inconvenient, has had the general good and great effect of operating as a tax, and perhaps the most equal of all taxes, since it depreciated in the hands of the holders of money, and thereby taxed them in proportion to the sums they held and the time they held it, which generally is in proportion to men's wealth. Thus, after having done its business, the paper is reduced to the sixtieth part of its original value.
Having issued two hundred millions of dollars the Congress stopped, and supplied themselves by borrowing. These sums were borrowed at different periods during the progress of the depreciation. Those, who lent to the public, thereby fixed the value of the paper they lent, since it is to be repaid in silver according to its value at the time of the loan. The rest went on depreciating; and the depreciation is at length only stopped by the vast nominal sums called in easily by taxes, and which will be by that means destroyed. Thus, so much of the public debt has been in this manner insensibly paid, that the remainder, which you desire to know, does not exceed six millions sterling. And now they are working with new paper, expressed to be equal in value to silver, which they have made to bear interest; and I have provided such funds to pay that interest, that probably its original value will be supported.
In the mean time the vigor of their military operations is again revived, and they are now as able, with respect to money, to carry on the war, as they were at the beginning, and much more so with regard to troops, arms, and discipline. It is also an increasing nation, sixty thousand children having been born annually in the United States since the beginning of the war; while their enemies are said to be diminishing. I am, Sir, &c.
FROM JOHN JEBB TO B. FRANKLIN.
Proposal of a Federal Union between America and
London, 11 October, 1780. SIR, The consciousness of a sincere desire to promote the interests of human kind, as far as my confined abilities and humble station will permit, induces me to give you my sentiments upon a subject, which, I have no doubt, is ever present to your thoughts. Excuse the presumption; the intention is honest; let this consideration compensate for the want of every other qualification. Independent in my principles, and unconnected with party, I speak those sentiments, which circumstances appear to me to dictate, and I speak them without reserve.
A federal union between America and England, upon the broad basis of mutual convenience, appears to me a point of so much consequence, that I cannot conceive, in the present circumstances, how either country can fully enjoy the means of happiness, which indulgent Providence has poured forth on each with so