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TO CHARLES W. F. DUMAS.
Enclosed you have a letter for the gentleman you recommend to me. He seems to be a man of abilities. The words, “before I leave Europe,” had no relation to my particular immediate intention, but to the general one I flatter myself with, of being able to return and spend there the small remains of life that are left me.
I have written distinctly to Messrs. de Neufville concerning those bills. I hear that was at Newbern the 12th of April, and soon to sail from thence, or from Virginia for France. Probably he might not sail in some weeks after, as vessels are often longer in fitting out than was expected. If it is the Fier Rodérique, a fifty-gun ship, that he comes in, I have just heard that she would not sail till the middle of May. Herewith you have the judgment relating to the Flora, which I thought had been sent before. The mischiefs done by the mob in London are astonishing. They were, I heard, within an ace of destroying the bank, with all the books relating to the funds, which would have created infinite confusion.
I am grieved at the loss of Charleston. Let me hope soon to hear better news from the operations of the French and Spanish forces gone to America.
P. S. As the English do not allow that we can make legal prizes, they certainly cannot detain the Dutch ship, the Berkenloos, on pretence that it was become American property before they took it. For the rest, there is no doubt but the Congress will do what shall appear to be just, on a proper representation of facts laid before them, which the owners should appoint some persons in America to do. Those gentlemen may depend on my rendering them every service in my power.
TO M. DE SARTINE.*
Passy, 27 June, 1780. SIR, I am very thankful to his Majesty, in behalf of the suffering owners of the brigantine Fair Play, for his goodness in ordering to be paid to them fifteen thousand livres out of your treasury. But as that sum is conceived by your Excellency to be a favorable allowance, in consideration that the misfortune happened by the fault of Captain Giddins, and the owners apprehend there was no fault on his part, (being so informed by deposition upon oath,) and none was men. tioned or supposed in the governor of Guadaloupe's first letter to your Excellency on the subject, I fear they will think the sum very small as an indemnification for the loss of their vessel, valued at six thousand pounds sterling.
I therefore request your Excellency would be pleased to examine with some attention the said depositions, and the valuation (of which I enclose the duplicates); and, if, on the whole, you should judge the matter improper to be offered at present for his Majesty's reconsideration, you would at least favor me with the informations, that have been sent to your Excellency from Guadaloupe, of the blamable conduct of the captain, as, by communicating those informations to
• Minister of the Marine Department.
the owners, I may more easily satisfy them of the favorableness of the sum his Majesty has been pleased to grant them.
Your Excellency will perceive by their letter, which I send herewith, that they desire Mr. Jonathan Williams of Nantes might receive for them the sum that should be granted. I am therefore farther to request, that your Excellency would be pleased to give orders to your treasurer to accept and pay his drafts for the said fifteen thousand livres. I am, with great respect, Sir, &c.
• FROM COUNT DE VERGENNES TO B. FRANKLIN. American Paper Money held by Foreigners.
Versailles, 30 June, 1780. SIR, I did not until this day receive the letter, which you did me the honor to write to me on the 24th of this month.
You request, in consequence of an application made to you by Mr. Adams, that the orders given to the Chevalier de la Luzerne relative to a resolution of Congress of the 18th of March last should be revoked, or at least suspended; as that plenipotentiary is able to prove, that those orders are founded on false re ports.
Mr. Adams, on the 22d, sent me a long dissertation on the subject in question; but it contains only abstract reasonings, hypothesis, and calculations, which have no real foundation, or which at least do not apply to the subjects of the King, and, in fine, principles, than which nothing can be less analogous to the al
liance subsisting between his Majesty and the United States.
By this, Sir, you can judge, that the pretended proofs mentioned by Mr. Adams are not of a nature to induce us to change our opinion, and consequently cannot effect a revocation or suspension of the orders given to the Chevalier de la Luzerne. The King is so firmly persuaded, Sir, that your private opinion respecting the effects of that resolution of Congress, as far as it concerns strangers, and especially Frenchmen, differs from that of Mr. Adams, that he is not apprehensive of laying you under any embarrassment by requesting you to support the representations, which his minister is ordered to make to Congress. And, that you may be enabled to do this with a complete knowledge of the case, his Majesty has commanded me to send you a copy of my letter to Mr. Adams, the observations of that plenipotentiary, and my answer to him. *
The King expects that you will lay the whole before Congress; and his Majesty flatters himself, that that assembly, inspired with principles different from those which Mr. Adams has discovered, will convince his Majesty, that they know how to prize those marks of favor, which the King has constantly shown to the United States.
However, Sir, the King does not undertake to point out to Congress the means, which may be employed to indemnify the French, who are holders of the paper money. His Majesty, with respect to that, relies entirely on the justice and wisdom of that assembly. I have the honor to be, &c.
• See Diplomatic Correspondence, Vol. V. pp. 208, 213, 232.
TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.
Foreign Merchants ought not to suffer from the Depreciation of American Paper JMoney.
Passy, 10 July, 1780. SIR,
I received the letter your Excellency did me the honor of writing to me, dated June 30th, together with the papers accompanying it, containing the correspondence of Mr. Adams. I have taken some pains to understand the subject, and obtain information of facts from persons recently arrived, having received no letters myself that explain it. I cannot say, that I yet perfectly understand it; but in this I am clear, that if the operation directed by Congress in their resolution of March the 18th occasions, from the necessity of the case, some inequality of justice, that inconvenience ought to fall wholly on the inhabitants of the States, who reap with it the advantages obtained by the measure; and that the greatest care should be taken, that foreign merchants, particularly the French, who are our creditors, do not suffer by it. This I am so confident the Congress will do, that I do not think any representations of mine necessary to persuade them to it. I shall not fail, however, to lay the whole before them; and I beg that the King may be assured, that their sentiments, and those of the Americans in general, with regard to the alliance, as far as I have been able to learn them, not only from private letters, but from authentic public facts, differ widely from those that seem to be expressed by Mr. Adams in his letter to your Excellency, and are filled with the strongest impressions of the friendship of France, of the generous manner in which his Majesty was pleased to