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To Samud Huntington, Esq. President of Congress.
Passy, December 2, 1780. SIR, - THE many mutual advantages that must arise from carrying into execution, the proposition already communicated to congress, of furnishing provisions to the king's forces in America, to be paid for here, have I make no doubt, already induced them to begin that operation. But as the proposition has lately been renewed to me, on occasion of my requesting further aids of money to answer the unexpected drafts upon me, ordered by the resolutions of May and August last, which drafts it is absolutely necessary I should find funds to pay, and as the congress have long desired to have the means of forming funds in Europe, and an easier, cheaper, and safer method cannot possibly be conceived; and as I see by the journals of February, that the several states were to furnish provisions in quantities instead of supplies in money, whereby much will be in the disposition of congress; I flatter myself, thạt they will not disapprove of my engaging in their behalf, with the minister of the finances here; that they will cause to be delivered for the king's land and sea forces in North America, such provisions as may be wanted from time to time, to the amount of four hundred thousand dollars, value of five livres Tournois, per dollar, the said provisions to be furnished at the current prices for which they might be bought for silver specię. I have constantly done my utinost to support the credit of congress, by procuring where; with punctually to pay all their drafts, and I have no doubt of their care to support mine in this instance, by fulfilling honorably my engagement, in which case, receipts in due form should be taken of the persons to whom the provisions are delivered in the several states, and those receipts sent to me here, With great respect, &c.
B, FRANKLIN. · P. S. This value of four hundred thousand dollars, is to be considered as exclusive of any provisions already fur. nished: but the receipts for those should also be sent me. if not paid for there,
To the same.
Passy, December 3, 1780.
I DULY received the letter your excellency did me the honor of writing to me, the 12th of July past, by Mr. Searle, and have paid the bills drawn on me by order of congress, in favor of the president and council of Pennsylva. nia, for one thousand pound sterling, which were presented by him. He is at present in Holland.
The news of Mr. Laurens being taken, must have reached you long since. He is confined in the tower, but of late has some more liberty for taking air and exercise than first was allowed him. Certain papers found with him relating to the drafts of a treaty proposed in Holland, have been sent over to the stadtholder, who laid them before their high mightinesses, who communicated them to the government of the city of Amsterdam ; which justified the transaction. This has drawn from England, a memorial delivered by sir Joseph York, demanding that the pensionary and magis. trates of that city, should be punished ; and declaring that the king will resent a refusal of the states to comply with this demand. What answer will be given to this insolent. memorial we do not yet know. But I hear it has produced much displeasure in Holland, and it is thought to have occasioned a more prompt accession to the armed neutrality which had before met with obstructions from the English party there.
We have met with a variety of unaccountable delays and difficulties in the affair of shipping the clothing and stores. The Alliance went away without taking her part. The Ariel sailed, but met a storm at sea that dismasted her, and obliged her to return to France. She is nearly again ready to sail. Mr. Ross, with his cargo of clothes in the duke of Leinster, sailed under convoy of the Ariel, but did not return with her, and I hope may get safe to America. The great ship we hired to come to L'Orient, and take in the rest of what we had to send, has been long unexpectedly detained at Bourdeaux. I am afraid the army has suffered for yant of
the clothes, but it' has been as impossible for me to avoid, as it was to foresee these delays.
The late minister of the marine here, M. de Sartine, is removed, and his place supplied by M. le marquis de Castries. But this change does not affect the general system of the court, which continues favorable to us.
I have received a copy of the resolutions of congress of the 19th of May, and the 9th, 15th, 23d, and 30th of Au. gust, directing bills to be drawn on me for near 300,000 dollars. I shall accept the bills, hoping the congress will approve of, and readily comply with the proposition contained in a letter to your excellency accompanying this, dated the 2d instant. Probably an answer may arrive here before many of those bills shall become due, as few of them are yet arrived. If that answer ratifies the agreement I have made, I shall have no difficulty in finding means to pay the rest. If not, I shall scarce be able to bear the reproaches of merchants, that I have misled them to their loss, by my acceptations, which gave a promise of payment, that not being fulfilled, has deranged their affairs, to say nothing of the power I am told the consul's court here has over the persons even of ministers, in cases of bills of exchange. Let me therefore beg your excellency to use your endeavours with congress, that this matter may be immediately attended to.
Mr. Jay, no doubt, has made you acquainted with his difficulties respecting the drafts upon him. I am sorry I cannot extricate him, but I hope he will still find means.
The Mars, an armed ship belonging to the state of Massachusetts, in her way to France, took and sent to New England, a Portuguese ship, bound to Cork, with salt, belonging to some merchant there. The Portuguese captain, who is brought in here, complains heavily of ill usage and plunder, besides taking his vessel, and the ambassador of that pation has communicated to me these complaints, together with all the papers, proving the property of the vessel; representing, at the same time, the good disposition of the queen to our states, and his wishes that nothing might lessen
it, or tend to prevent or delay a complete good understanding between the two nations. I advised that the owners should send over their claim, and empower some person to prosecute it, in which case, I did not doubt our courts would do them justice. I hope the congress may think fit to take some notice of this affair, and not only forward a speedy decision, but give orders to our cruisers not to meddle with neutral ships for the future, it being a practice apt to produce ill blood, and contrary to the spirit of the new league which is approved by all Europe ; and the English property found in such vessels will hardly pay the damages brought on us by the irregular proceedings of our captains, in endeavoring to get at such property.
With the greatest respect,
To the same.
Passy, March 12, 1781.
I HAD the honor of receiving, on the 13th of last month, your excellency's letter of the first of January, together with the instructions of November 28th and December 27th, a copy of those to colonel Laurens, and the letter to the king. I immediately drew up a memorial, enforcing as strongly as I could, the request contained in that letter, and directed by the instructions, and delivered the same with the letter, which were both well received; but the ministry being extremely occupied with other weighty affairs, and I obtaining for some time only general answers, that some. thing would be done for us, &c. and Mr. Laurens not arriving, I wrote again, and pressed strongly for a decision on the subject, that I might be able to write explicitly by this opportunity, what aids the congress were or were not to expect, the regulation of their operations for the campaign depending on the information I should be enabled to give. Upon this I received a note appointing Saturday last for a - meeting with the minister, which I attended punctually. He assured me of the king's good will to the United States; remarking, however, that being on the spot, I must be sensible of the great expense France was actually engaged in, and the difficulty of providing for it, which rendered the lending us twenty-five millions at present impracticable, but he informed me that the letter from the congress, and my memorial, had been under his majesty's consideration, and observed, as to loans in general, that the sum we wanted to borrow in Europe was large, and that the depreciation of our paper, hurt our paper on this side of the water, adding that the king could not possibly favor a loan for us in his dominions, because it would interfere with, and be a prejudice to those he was under the necessity of obtaining himself to support the war; but in order to justice, states a signal proof of his friendship, his majesty had resolved to grant them the sum of six millions, not as a loan, but as a free gift; this sum, the minister informed me, was exclusive of the three millions which he had before obtained for me, to pay the congress drafts, for interest, &c. expected in the current year. He added, that as it was understood the clothing, &c. with which our army had been heretofore supplied from France, was often of bad quality, and dear, the ministers themselves would take care of the purchase of such articles as should be immediately wanted, and send them over, and it was desired of me to look over the great invoice that had been sent hither last year, and mark out those articles; that as to the money remaining after such purchases, it was to be drawn for by general Washington, upon M.d’Harvelay,garde du tresor royal, and the bills would be duly honored, but it was desired that they might be drawn gradually, as the money should be wanted, and as much time given for the payment, after sight, as could be conveniently, that the payment might be the more easy. I assured the minister, that the congress would be very sensible of this token of his majesty's continued goodness towards the United States, but remarked that it was not the usage with us for the general to draw, and proposed that it might be our treasurer who should