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FROM SAMUEL COOPER TO B. FRANKLIN.
Impost of Five per Cent agreed to by the Legislature of Massachusetts.
Boston, 16 October, 1783.
The consul general of France kindly informing me, that a vessel was on the point of sailing for Brest, I have only a moment to inform you, that the House of Representatives for this State have this moment passed an act for a duty of five per cent, on all goods imported, for paying the interest of our national debt, according to the requisition of Congress. This measure has met with uncommon opposition here. Congress having voted to the officers of the army five years' whole pay after the war, instead of half-pay for life, a great popular disgust took place in the New England States. At the beginning of the present session of the General Court, a great majority of the Lower House were warmly determined against granting the impost to Congress, knowing that part of it would be applied to the payment of the officers. Near forty towns in this State had expressly instructed their representatives against such an impost. The Senate, however, judging more wisely, were almost unanimous in favor of it. Both Houses remained firm in their opinion, and it was concluded nothing could be done on this business, at least in the present session.
At this juncture, the Governor, who had before, in his speech to both Houses at the meeting of the Court, endeavoured to impress them with the importance of supporting public credit, made a second address to them, of the same import. It produced a conference between both Houses, and the effect of all has been a decision in the House of Representa
tives in favor of the impost. The Senate will no doubt concur, and the Governor will give his consent immediately. The struggle has been hard; seventyfive against sixty-eight. I hope the other States will come into the same measure, and lay a foundation for the support of our national credit.
We have yet no account of the conclusion of the definitive treaty. The vessel waiting for this letter, I have only time to subscribe myself most respectfully and affectionately yours,
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Passy, 16 October, 1783.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I have nothing material to write to you respecting public affairs; but I cannot let Mr. Adams, who will see you, go without a line to inquire after your welfare, to inform you of mine, and assure you of my constant respect and attachment.
I think with you, that your Quaker article is a good one, and that men will in time have sense enough to adopt it, but I fear that time is not yet come.
What would you think of a proposition, if I should make it, of a compact between England, France, and America? America would be as happy as the Sabine girls, if she could be the means of uniting in perpetual peace her father and her husband. What repeated follies are those repeated wars! You do not want to conquer and govern one another. Why then should you be continually employed in injuring and destroying one another? How many excellent things might have been done to promote the internal welfare of each country; what bridges, roads, canals, and other
useful public works and institutions, tending to the common felicity, might have been made and established with the money and men foolishly spent during the last seven centuries by our mad wars in doing one another mischief! You are near neighbours, and each have very respectable qualities. Learn to be quiet and to respect each other's rights. You are all Christians. One is The Most Christian King, and the other Defender of the Faith. Manifest the propriety of these itles by your future conduct. "By this," says Christ, "shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another." "Seek peace, and ensue it." Adieu. Yours, &c.
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Passy, 22 October, 1783.
I received my dear friend's kind letter of the 4th instant from Bath with your proposed temporary convention, which you desire me to show to my colleagues. They are both by this time in London, where you will undoubtedly see and converse with them on the subject. The apprehension you mention, that the cement of the confederation may be annihilated, &c., has not, I think, any foundation. There is sense enough in America to take care of their own china vase. I see much in your papers about our divisions and distractions, out I hear little of them from America; and I know that most of the letters, said to come from there with such accounts, are mere London fictions. I will consider attentively the proposition above mentioned, against the return of my colleagues, when I hope our commission will have arrived.
I rejoice to hear that your dear sister's recovery
advances, and that your brother is well. Please to present my affectionate respects to them, and believe me ever yours, &c.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Financial Difficulties of France.
Passy, 1 November, 1783.
Enclosed is a copy of my last, which went by the English packet. I heard after I wrote it, that, the French packet putting back by contrary winds, Mr Thaxter had an opportunity of getting on board her, and that she sailed the 26th of September.
The mentioned new commission is not yet come to hand. Mr. Hartley is not returned, and I hear will stay for the meeting of Parliament, which is to be the 11th instant, and he will not come hither till the recess for the Christmas holidays. Mr. Jay went to England about three weeks since on some personal affairs; and Mr. Adams followed last week to see that country, and take some exercise during this vacancy of business.
This court is now at Fontainebleau, but will return to Versailles in a few days. Its good disposition towards us continues. The late failure of payment in the Caisse d'Escompte, an institution similar to the Bank of England, occasioned partly by its having gone too far in assisting the government with money, and the inability of the government to support their credit, though extremely desirous of doing it, is a fresh proof that our not obtaining a further loan was not occasioned
by want of good will to assist us, as some have unjustly supposed, but by a real want of the means. Money is at present unaccountably scarce here; what is arrived and expected in Spain since the peace, it is thought, will set things right. The government has proposed a second lottery for this year, by which they borrow twenty-four millions, and it is filled readily. This helps, and the Caisse d'Escompte goes on again with its operations; but it is said the interest paid by the lottery plan is nearly seven per cent.
I have received the duplicates of your Excellency's letter of the 15th of July, to the Commissioners, which is very satisfactory, though it came to hand but lately. The first, sent via New York, has not yet appeared. I have sent copies of it to the Hague and Madrid. The substance is published in several papers.
I have acquainted the minister of Sweden, that I have received the ratification of the treaty; and he has written to me, that he shall be in town in a few days, when he will make the exchange. The conclusion of the Danish treaty waits only for the commission and instructions from Congress. The ambassador of Portugal informed me lately, that his court had our proposed plan under consideration, and that we should soon hear from them. I sent it to Congress by Barney, and hear the ship is arrived. A commission and instructions will be wanting for that also, should the Congress be disposed to conclude a treaty with that
I see by the public prints that the Congress have ratified the contract I made with the minister here, respecting the loans and aids we had received; but the ratification itself, though directed to be sent me, has never come to hand, and I am often asked for it. I beg it may be forwarded by the first opportunity.