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of forty per cent in their price. And this must always happen in some proportion, when the quantity of any article in commerce exceeds the present demand. And when it is considered, that the merchants of America are numerous, and dispersed through thirteen different provinces, at great distance from each other, such a combination will appear as improbable, as that the farmers in France should combine to raise the price of wheat. With regard to the English commerce, there is none certainly but what is contraband, and there can be no temptations to such contraband, but for particular commodities that are cheaper there than in France. The quantity therefore cannot be great. Such contraband is found difficult to prevent in all countries. . It is carried on at this time between France and England. But there are many commodities much cheaper in France, such as wines, silks, oil, modes, &c., which will be of great consumption in America; and, when corre
spondencies are once settled, and the people there be
come acquainted with the manufactures of France, the demand for them will increase; these manufactures will of course be improved in goodness and cheapness, and the trade continue to augment accordingly.
It is difficult to change suddenly the whole current of connexions, correspondencies, and confidences, that subsist between merchants, and carry them all into a new channel; but time and a continuance of friendship will make great alterations.
FROM - JOHN JAY TO B, FRANKLIN.
- Madrid, 9 July, 1781. DEAR SIR,
Many weeks have elapsed since I have been favored with any letters from you. I have received a letter from Colonel Laurens, dated at sea, and covering the one herewith enclosed for you. A vessel has arrived at Bilboa, in twenty-four days from Salem. I received by her some family letters, which came from Bilboa under cover to a gentleman here. She brought for me a large packet, which was put into the postoffice, and ought to have come to hand a week ago. I have inquired for it, but in vain. This is not an uncommon case, and shows how necessary it is, that Congress should take some other means for conveying intelligence to and from their ministers than the European postoffices. Be pleased to make my compliments to your grandson, and remind him that he is three letters in my debt.
You will also find herewith enclosed a copy of a letter I have received from Silas Talbot, a prisoner at Plymouth, requesting aid. This gentleman gives a true description of himself. He has on various occasions acted like a very brave and enterprising officer, and the journals of Congress contain ample evidence of it. I sincerely lament his situation, and regret that my own does not put it in my power to afford him relief. The far greater part of the money which the public demands require here, I draw from you. The amount of the bills drawn upon me by Congress far exceeds that of the funds prepared for their payment, and the debts already incurred on account of distressed American seamen still remain unpaid. It would not be delicate in me to advance money to Colonel Talbot, and then request the favor of you to replace it, especially as his situation places him more immediately under your care than mine. All that I can therefore do with
propriety is to make you acquainted with his case. . .
He has served his country zealously, and has a right to her care; gratitude as well as policy dictates it. I fear too little attention has in general been paid to our captive seamen. I often hear of many entering into the enemy's service for want of bread, and for ill treatment not retaliated; even those, who have had the good fortune and address to escape, are frequently obliged, in seeking opportunities to return home, to wander about from place to place, friendless, penniless, ignorant of the language of the strangers through whose land they pass, making known their wants only by the voice of distress, and subsisting on the wretched husks cast to them by the frugal hand of charity. Nor is this all; although their misfortunes, on finding American vessels bound home, ought to recommend them to their brethren, yet it too often happens that masters of American vessels inhumanly refuse (unless paid passage money) to carry home these unfortunate people, though offering to do duty without wages as sailors during the voyage. I am, dear Sir, with sincere esteem and regard, &c. JoHN JAY.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. Passy, 11 July, 1781. SIR, The number of Congress bills that have been drawn on the ministers in Spain and Holland, which I am by my acceptances obliged to pay, as well as those drawn upon myself, the extreme importance of Sup
porting the credit of Congress, which would be disgraced in a political, as well as a pecuniary light, through all the courts of Europe, if those bills should go back protested, and the unexpected delays arising with regard to the intended loan in Holland, – all those considerations have compelled me to stop the one million five hundred thousand livres, which were to have been sent by way of Amsterdam. As soon as more money can be furnished to me by this court, I shall take care to replace that sum, and forward with it as great an addition as possible. I am now soliciting supplies of clothing, arms, ammunition, &c., to replace what has been unfortunately lost in the JMarquis de Lafayette; and hope to succeed. Captain Jackson, who is truly zealous for the service, has been exceedingly solicitous and earnest with me to induce me to permit the money to go in this ship; but, for the reasons above mentioned, I find it absolutely necessary to retain it for the present, which I doubt not will be approved by Congress. With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
FROM ROBERT MORRIS TO B. FRANKLIN.
Efforts to restore the Credit of the United States. – JWecessity of foreign Aid. , Philadelphia, 13 July, 1781. SIR, The unanimous appointment to the superintendency of our finances, with which Congress have honored me, and my conviction of the necessity that some one person should endeavour to introduce method and economy into the administration of affairs, have induced me, though with reluctance, to accept that office.* Mr. Jay will receive by this conveyance, and forward to you, copies of those resolutions and letters, which may be necessary to explain my appointment and powers. I wish I could as readily effect, as I, most ardently desire, the accomplishment of all proper arrangements. Thoroughly convinced, that no country is truly independent, until, with her own credit and resources, she is able to defend herself and correct her enemies, it shall be my constant endeavour to establish our credit and draw out our resources in such manner, that we may be little burdensome, and essentially useful to our friends. . . I am sure I need, not mention to you the importance of collecting a revenue with ease, and expending it with economy. As little need I detail the time, the authority, the ability, the favorable circumstances, that must combine for these purposes. But I think that I may assert, that the situation of a country, just emerging from dependence and struggling for existence, is peculiarly unfavorable; and I may add, that this country, by relying too much on paper, is in a condition of peculiar disorder and debility. To rescue and restore her is an object equal to my warmest wishes, though probably beyond the stretch of my abilities. Success will greatly depend on the pecuniary aid we may obtain from abroad; because money is necessary to introduce economy, while, at the same time, economy is necessary to obtain money; besides that a greater plenty of solid circulating medium is required to support those operations, which must give stability