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draw the bills for the remainder, but was told that it was his majesty's order. And I afterwards understood from the secretary of the council, that as the sum was intended for the supply of the army, and could not be so large as we had demanded for general occasions, it was thought best to put it in the general's hands, that it might not get into those of the different boards or committees, who might think themselves under the necessity of diverting it to other purposes. There was no room to dispute on this point, every donor having the right of qualifying his gifts with such terms as he thinks proper. I took with me the invoice, and having examined it, I returned it immediately with a letter, of which a copy is enclosed, and I suppose its contents will be followed, unless colonel Laurens, on his arrival, should make any changes. I hope he and colonel Palfrey are safe, though as yet not heard of.
After the discourse relating to the aid was ended, the minister proceeded to inform me, that the courts of Petersburg and Vienna had offered their mediation, that the king had answered it would to him personally be agreeable, but that he could not yet accept it, because he had allies whose concurrence was necessary. 'And that his majesty, desired that I would acquaint the congress with this offer and answer, and urge their sending such instructions as they may think proper to their plenipotentiary, it being not doubted that they would readily accept the proposed medi. ation, from their own sense of its being both useful and necessary, I mentioned that I did suppose Mr. Adams was already furnished with instructions relating to any treaty of peace that might be proposed.
I must now beg leave to say something relating to myself, a subject with which I have not often troubled the congress. I have passed my seventy-fifth year, and I find that the long and severe fit of the gout which I had the last winter, has shaken me exceedingly, and I am yet far from having recovered the bodily strength I before enjoyed. I do not know that my mental faculties are impaired, perhaps I shall be the last to discover that; but I am sensible of great
diminution in my activity, a quality I think particularly necessary in your minister for this court. I am afraid, therefore, that your affairs, may some time or other suffer by my deficiency. I find also, that the business is too heavy for me and too confining. The constant attendance at home which is necessary for receiving and accepting your bills of exchange, (a matter foreign to my ministerial functions) to answer letters and perform other parts of my employment, prevents my taking the air and exercise, which
annual journies formerly used to afford me, and which contributed much to the preservation of my health : there are many other little personal attentions which the infirmities of age render necessary to an old man's comfort, even in some degree to the continuance of his existence, and with which business often interferes. I have been engaged in public affairs, and enjoyed public confidence in some shape or other, dur. ,ing the long term of fifty years, an honor sufficient to satisfy any reasonable ambition, and I have no other left but that of repose, which I hope the congress will grant me, by sending some person to supply my place.
At the same time I beg they may be assured, that it is not any the least doubt of their success in the glorious cause, nor any disgust received in their service, that induces me to decline it, but purely and simply the reasons abovementioned. And as I cannot at present undergo the fatigues of a sea voyage (the last having been almost too much for me) and would not again expose myself to the hazard of capture and imprisonment in this time of war. I purpose to remain here at least till the peace, perhaps it may be for the remainder of my life; and if any knowlege or experience I have acquired here, may be thought of use to my successor, I shall freely communicate it, and assist him with any influence I may be supposed to have, or counsel that may be desired of me,
I have one request more to make, which if I have served the congress to their satisfaction, I hope they will not refuse
It is that they will take under their protection my grandson, William Temple Franklin: I have educated him from his infancy, and I brought him over with an in. tention of placing him where he might be qualified for the profession of the law: but the constant occasion I had for his service as a private secretary during the time of the commissioners, and more extensively since their departure, has induced me to keep him always with me, and indeed being continually disappointed of the secretary congress had at different times intended me, it would have been impossible for me without this young gentleman's assistance, to have gone through the business incumbent on me.
He has thereby lost so much of the time necessary for law studies, that I think it rather advisable for him to continue, if it may be, in the line of public foreign affairs, for which he seems qualified by a sagacity and judgment above his years. Great diligence and activity, exact probity, a genteel address, a facility in speaking well the French tongue, and all the knowlege of business to be obtained by a four years constant employment, in the secretary's office, where he may be said to have served a kind of apprenticeship. After all the allowance I am capable of making for the partiality of a parent to his offspring, I cannot but think he may in time make a very able foreign minister for the congress, in whose service his fidelity may be relied on. But I do not at present propose him as such; for though he is now of age, a few years more of experience will not be amiss. - In the mean time, if they should think fit to employ him as a secretary, to their minister at any European court, I am persuaded they will have reason to be satisfied with his conduct, and I shall be thankful for his appointment as a favor to me.
My accounts have been long ready for the examination of some persons to be appointed for that purpose, Mr. Johnson having declined it, and Mr. Dana residing at present at Paris, I requested him to undertake it, and to examine at the same time, those of Mr. Deane ; but he also declines it, as being unacquainted with accounts.
If no fresh appointment has been made by congress, I think of desiring Mr. Palfrey to perform that service, when he arrives, which I hope will be approved, for I am uneasy at the delay. With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c.
To Count de Vergennes.
Passy, February 13, 1781. SIR, I HAVE just received from congress their letter for the king, which I have the honor of putting herewith into the hands of your excellency.
I am charged at the same time to represent in the strongest terms the unalterable resolution of the United States, to maintain their liberties and independence, and inviolably to adhere to the alliance at every hazard, and in every event; and that the misfortunes of the last campaign, instead of repressing, have redoubled their ardor ; that congress are resolved to employ every resource in their power to expel the enemy, from every part of the United States, by the most vigorous and decisive co-operation, with the marine and other forces of their illustrious ally: that they have-accordingly called on the several states, for a powerful army and ample supplies of provisions; and that the states are disposed effectually to comply with their requisitions.
That if in aid of their own exertions, the court of France can be prevailed on to assume a naval superiority in the American seas, to furnish the arms, ammunition and clothing specified in the estimate heretofore transmit ted, and to assist with the loan mentioned in the letter, they flatter themselves that under the divine blessing, the war must speedily be terminated with glory and advantage to both nations. By several letters to me from intelligent persons it appears, that the great and expensive exertions of the last year, by which a force was assembled capable of facing the enemy, and which accordingly drew towards New York and lay long near that city, was rendered ineffectual by the superiority of the enemy at sea, and that their
success in Carolina, had been chiefly owing to that superiority, and to the want of the necessary means for furnishing, marching, and paying the expense of troops, sufficient to defend that province.
The marquis de la Fayette, writes to me that it is impossible to conceive, without seeing it, the distress the troops have suffered for want of clothing, and the following is a paragraph of a letter from general Washington, which I ought not to keep back from your excellency, viz.
“I doubt not you are so fully informed by congress of our political and military state, that it would be superfluous to trouble you with any thing relative to either.
If I were to speak on topics of the kind, it would be to shew, that our present situation makes one of two things essential to us.... a peace....or the most vigorous aid of our allies, particularly in the article of money; of their disposition to serve us we cannot doubt: their generosity will do every thing, their means will permit."
They had in America great expectations, I know not on what foundation, that a considerable supply of money would be obtained from Spain, but that expectation has failed: and the force of that nation in those seas has been employed to reduce small forts in Florida, without rendering any direct assistance to the United States; and indeed the long delay of that court in acceding to the treaty of commerce, begins to have the appearance of its not inclining to have any connection with us; so that for effectual friendship, and for the aid so necessary in the present conjuncture, we can rely on France alone, and in the continuance of the king's goodness towards us.
I am grown old, I feel myself much enfeebled by my late long illness, and it is probable I shall not long have any more concern in these affairs. I therefore take this occasion to express my opinion to your excellency, that the present conjuncture is critical ; that there is some danger lest the congress should lose its influence over the people, if it is found unable to procure the aids that are wanted ; and that