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a very unnecessary and profuse effusion of human blood; for the English derive such spirits from their captures at sea, and other little successes, and war is everlastingly so popular among them, when there is the least appearance of success, however deceitful, that they will go on, at whatever expense and hazard. Master Johnny, whom you have honored with an affectionate remembrance, and who acts at present in the quadruple capacity of interpreter, secretary, companion, and domestic to his papa, desires me to present you his dutiful respects. My regards, if you please, to Mr. Franklin and M. Gillée, and the young fry. I have the honor to be, with great respect, &c. JoHN ADAMs.


Paris, 15 April, 1779.


I took courage, and went this morning to Versailles to M. de Sartine, who immediately did all I desired." I now, therefore, can go on my journey with cheerfulness, and thankfulness to you for your kindness to my people and to me. I am sure your giving me that protection had the wished-for effect here. How many obligations have I and my people in America to you! It is a hardship for my heart, that circumstances have not allowed me to visit you. I am glad I saw you that evening at Mr. Grant's. I was proud of the general approbation I heard at different places given to your paper, read yesterday.*. You will remember, Mr. Spangenberg desired you should be consulted on the Aurora Borealis by Mr. Crantz several years ago; I think 1769. I hope this paper will be printed.

* In giving a passport for a vessel about to sail with supplies for the Moravian missionaries on the coast of Labrador.

VOL. VIII. B p *

I go from Paris to Lyons, April 22d, in order to have a good place in the diligence. I took it to-day. I shall always remember your civilities and kindness to, dear Sir, your much obliged and obedient,



Character of the French People, Too many Superfluities purchased in America.

Passy, 22 April, 1779. DEAR SIR, I received your very kind letter by Mr. Bradford, who appears a very sensible and amiable young gentleman, to whom I should with pleasure render any services in my power upon your much respected recommendation; but I understand he returns immediately.

It is with great sincerity I join you in acknowledging and admiring the dispensations of Providence in our favor. America has only to be thankful, and to persevere. God will finish his work, and establish their freedom; and the lovers of liberty will flock from all parts of Europe with their fortunes to participate with us of that freedom, as soon as peace is restored.

I am exceedingly pleased with your account of the

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* Paper on the Aurora Borealis, read by Dr. Franklin to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris. See Vol. VI. p. 417.


French politeness anti civility, as it appeared among
the officers and people of their fleet. They have cer-
tainly advanced in those respects many degrees be-
yond the English. I find them here a most amiable
nation to live with. The Spaniards are by common
opinion supposed to be cruel, the English proud, the
Scotch insolent, the Dutch avaricious, &c., but I think
the French have no national vice ascribed to them.
They have some frivolities, but they are harmless. To
dress their heads so that a hat cannot be put on them,
and then wear their hats under their arms, and to fill
their noses with tobacco, may be called follies, perhaps,
but they are not vices. They are only the effects of
the tyranny of custom. In short, there is nothing want-
ing in the character of a Frenchman, that belongs to
that of an agreeable and worthy man. There are only
some trifles surplus, or which might be spared.
Will you permit me, while I do them this justice,
to hint a little censure on our own country people,
which I do in good will, wishing the cause removed.
You know the necessity we are under of supplies from
Europe, and the difficulty we have at present in mak-
ing returns. The interest bills would do a good deal
towards purchasing arms, ammunition, clothing, sail-
cloth, and other necessaries for defence. Upon inquiry
of those who present these bills to me for acceptance,
what the money is to be laid out in, I find that most
of it is for superfluities, and more than half of it for
tea. How unhappily in this instance the folly of our
people, and the avidity of our merchants, concur to
weaken and impoverish our country. I formerly com-
puted, that we consumed before the war, in that single
article, the value of five hundred thousand pounds ster-
ling annually. Much of this was saved by stopping
the use of it. I honored the virtuous resolution of

our women in foregoing that little gratification, and I lament that such virtue should be of so short duration. Five hundred thousand pounds sterling, annually laid out in defending ourselves, or annoying our enemies, would have great effect. With what face can we ask aids and subsidies from our friends, while we are wasting our own wealth in such prodigality? With great and sincere esteem, I have the honor to be, dear Sir, &c. B. FRANKLIN.


On the Depreciation of American Paper Money.
Passy, 22 April, 1779,

I received your valuable letter by the Marquis de Lafayette, and another by Mr. Bradford. I can only write a few words in answer to the latter, the former not being at hand. The depreciation of our money must, as you observe, greatly affect salary men, widows, and orphans. Methinks this evil deserves the attention of the several legislatures, and ought, if possible, to be remedied by some equitable law, particularly adapted to their circumstances. I took all the pains I could in Congress to prevent the depreciation, by proposing first, that the bills should bear interest; this was rejected, and they were struck as you see them. Secondly, after the first emission, I proposed that we should stop, strike no more, but borrow on interest those we had issued. This was not then approved of, and more bills were issued. When, from the too great quantity, they began to depreciate, we agreed to borrow on interest; and I proposed, that, in order to fix the value of the principal, the interest should be promised in hard dollars. This was objected to as impracticable; but I still continue of opinion, that, by sending out cargoes to purchase it, we might have brought in money sufficient for that purpose, as we brought in powder, &c. &c.; and that, though the attempt must have been attended with a disadvantage, the loss would have been a less mischief than any measure attending the discredit of the bills, which threatens to take out of our hands the great instrument of our defence. The Congress did at last come into the proposal of paying the interest in real money. But when the whole mass of the currency was under way in depreciation, the momentum of its descent was too great to be stopped by a power, that might at first have been sufficient to prevent the beginning of the motion. The only remedy now seems to be a diminution of the quantity by a vigorous taxation, of great nominal sums, which the people are more able to pay, in proportion to the quantity and diminished value; and the only consolation under the evil is, that the public debt is proportionably diminished with the depreciation; and this by a kind of imperceptible tax, every one having paid a part of it in the fall of value that took place between the receiving and paying such sums as passed through his hands. For it should always be remembered, that the original intention was to sink the bills by taxes, which would as effectually extinguish the debt as an actual redemption. This effect of paper currency is not understood on this side the water. And indeed the whole is a mystery even to the politicians, how we have been able to continue a war four years without money, and how we could pay with paper, that had no previously fixed fund appropriated specifically to redeem it. This curVOL. VIII. 42 BB *

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