« ZurückWeiter »
should not send the things ordered by your Board, unless the bill was paid; and it appearing on the face of the bill, that it was drawn for public service, I concluded to take it up, on which he has purchased the things and shipped them. Colonel Laurens has put on board some other supplies for the army, and I suppose the vessel will now sail directly.
The drafts from Congress upon me for various services, and those on Mr. Jay and Mr. Laurens, all coming upon me for payment, together with the expenses on the ships, &c. &c., have made it impracticable for me to advance more for loading the Active; but as we have obtained lately promises of a considerable aid for this year, I shall now try what I can do, as the money comes in, towards supplying what is demanded in the invoice you mention. You will receive, I hope, twentyeight cannon, and a large quantity of powder and saltpetre, by the ship Marquis de Lafayette. I have, by several opportunities, written in answer to your questions relative to the ship Alliance. I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
P. S. Please to present my respects to the Board.
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Duties on American Exports.
Passy, 19 May, 1781
I have with you no doubt, that America will be easily able to pay off not only the interest, but the principal, of all the debt she may contract in this war. But whether duties upon her exports will be the best
method of doing it, is a question I am not so clear in. England raised indeed a great revenue by duties. on tobacco. But it was by virtue of a prohibition of foreign tobaccos, and thereby obliging the internal consumer to pay those duties. If America were to lay a duty of five pence sterling a pound on the exportation of her tobacco, would any European nation buy it? Would not the colonies of Spain and Portugal, and the Ukraine of Russia, furnish it much cheaper? Was not England herself obliged, for such reasons, to drop the duty on tobacco she furnished to France? Would it not cost an immense sum in officers, &c., to guard our long coast against smuggling of tobacco, and running it out to avoid a duty? And would not many even of those officers be corrupted and connive at it? It is possibly an erroneous opinion, but I find myself rather inclined to adopt that modern one, which supposes it best for every country to leave its trade entirely free from all incumbrances. Perhaps no country does this at present. Holland comes the nearest to it; and her commercial wealth seems to have increased in proportion.
Your Excellency has done me the honor of announcing to me your appointment. I hope soon to return the compliment by informing you of my demission. I find the various employments of merchant, banker, judge of admiralty, consul, &c. &c., besides my ministerial function, too multifarious and too heavy for my old shoulders; and have therefore requested Congress that I may be relieved; for in this point I agree even with my enemies, that another may easily be found who can better execute them.
FROM COUNT DE VERGENNES TO B. FRANKLIN.
Versailles, 8 June, 1781.
I have received the letter you did me the honor to write me on the 4th instant. I do not know whether Mr. Laurens has purchased the clothing in Holland on account of Congress; I only know (and you were likewise informed of it at the same time), that this officer was to employ for his purchases in France part of the six millions, which the King has granted to Congress, and that the residue of this sum was intended to be sent to America, with a view of reëstablishing the credit of the United States.
If Mr. Laurens, instead of paying ready money in Holland, has contented himself with giving bills on you, I have no concern in it, and the King can furnish no means for your reimbursement.
As to the moneys arising from the loan opened in Holland, we have no pretensions to regulate the employment of them, as they belong to the United States. You must, therefore, Sir, apply to Congress for the power of disposing of them, in discharge of the drafts drawn on you from all quarters. I have the honor to be, &c. DE VERGENNES.
TO MESSRS. D. WENDORP AND THOMAS HOPE
Passy, 8 June, 1781.
I received the letter you did me the honor of writing to me on the 31st past, relating to your ship, sup
posed to be retaken from the English by an American privateer, and carried into Morlaix. I apprehend that you have been misinformed, as I do not know of any American privateer at present in these seas. I have the same sentiments with you of the injustice of the English, in their treatment of your nation. They seem at present to have renounced all pretension to any other honor, than that of being the first piratical state in the world. There are three employments, which I wish the law of nations would protect, so that they should never be molested or interrupted by enemies even in time of war; I mean farmers, fishermen, and merchants; because their employments are not only innocent, but for the common subsistence and benefit of the human species in general. As men grow more enlightened, we may hope that this will in time be the case. Till then we must submit, as well as we can, to the evils we cannot remedy. I have the hono to be, Gentlemen, &c.
FROM JOHN LAURENS TO B. FRANKLIN.
Suggests the Appointment of a Secretary of Legation. At sea, 9 June, 1781.
On the 1st instant, we had a faint breeze, that just served to bring us to sea, where we have been languishing in calms and buffeting against contrary winds, which at one time were so violent, as to oblige us to lie to till yesterday morning, when a favorable change took place, and enabled us to enter the ocean at a convenient distance from Cape Ortegal. As we are parting with the Engageante, which has accompanied
us thus far, and returns to Coruña to convoy a part of the French West India trade, I snatch a moment to pay my last respects to your Excellency, and to mention a matter, which has occurred to me since my being on board.
I have frequently reflected upon the mention, which you have made, of retiring from your present important station, and have never varied the opinion, which I took the liberty of giving you once at the Count de Vergennes', namely, that the best arrangement would be, to give your Excellency an active, intelligent Secretary of the Embassy, who might relieve you from the drudgery of office, and that your country should not be deprived of the advantages of your wisdom and influence. The difficulty hitherto has been, to find a person properly qualified. The advantages, which your grandson derives from his knowledge of the language and manners of the people, and his having been so long in your office and with your Excellency, are very great. The prejudices, which have been entertained against him, may be removed by a personal introduction to Congress, especially if it is combined with rendering a popular service. I take the liberty of proposing to your Excellency, therefore, if you can spare Mr. Franklin for the purpose, to commit to his care the second remittance of money, and to hasten his departure with that and such of the public supplies of clothing, as may be ready to accompany it. I am persuaded, that, in public bodies, the want of a personal acquaintance is a great objection to appointing a man to any important office.
The Engageante's boat demands my letter. I have written in the greatest haste upon a subject, which I hope you will turn to public utility. I renew my sincerest and tenderest wishes for your health and pros