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LETTERS PRIVATE AND OFFICIAL
THE BEGINNING OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
THE END OF THE AUTHOR'S MISSION TO FRANCE.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
The King of France grants to the United States a further Sum of Six Millions of Livres. — Declines the Mediation of Russia and Austria. Dr. Franklin requests Permission of Congress to return Home.
Passy, 12 March, 1781.
I had the honor of receiving on the 13th of last month your Excellency's letter of the 1st of January, together with the instructions of November 28th and December 27th, a copy of those to Colonel Laurens, and the letter to the King. I immediately drew a memorial, enforcing as strongly as I could the requests that are contained in that letter, and directed by the instructions, and I delivered the same with the letter, which were both well received; but, the ministry being extremely occupied with other weighty affairs, and 1 obtaining for some time only general answers, that something would be done for us, &c., and Mr. Laurens not arriving, I wrote again, and pressed strongly for a decision on the subject; that I might be able to write explicitly by this opportunity, what aids the Congress were, or were not, to expect; the regulation of their operations for the campaign depending on the information I should be enabled to give.
Upon this, I received a note, appointing Saturday last for a meeting with the minister, which I attended punctually. He assured me of the King's good will to the United States; remarking, however, that, being on the spot, I must be sensible of the great expense France was actually engaged in, and the difficulty of providing for it, which rendered the lending us twentyfive millions at present impracticable. But he informed me, that the letter from the Congress, and my memorials, had been under his Majesty's consideration; and observed, as to loans in general, that the sum we wanted to borrow in Europe was large, and that the depreciation of our paper had hurt our credit on this side of the water; adding, also, that the King could not possibly favor a loan for us in his dominions, because it would interfere with, and be a prejudice to, those he was under the necessity of obtaining himself to support the war; but that, to give the States a signal proof of his friendship, his Majesty had resolved to grant them the sum of six millions, not as a loan, but as a free gift. This sum, the minister informed me, was exclusive of the three millions, which he had before obtained for me, to pay the Congress drafts for interest, &c., expected in the current year.
He added, that, as it was understood the clothing, &c., with which our army had been heretofore supplied from France, was often of bad quality, and dear, the ministers would themselves take care of the purchase of such articles as should be immediately wanted, and send them over; and it was desired of me tc look over the great invoice, that had been sent hither last year, and mark out those articles; that, as to the money remaining after such purchases, it was to be drawn for by General Washington, upon M. d'Harvelay, Garde du Trésor Royal, and the bills would be