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instance of the honorable John Laurens, Esq. special minister at the court of Versailles from the United States, and by him committed to my further care, I conceive myself indispensably bound to remonstrate to your excellency, on the late order given by you to Messieurs Fizeaux and Grand, directing the detention of that money, and to inform you that if they are not repealed, I must embark without it; and however I may lament the disappointment and distress, in which this measure must involve congress, whose arrangements are undoubtedly taken, on the certainty of this supply being sent from Europe; however much I may regret colonel Laurens's absence which induces it, I shall possess the pleasing reflection of having done my duty, in demanding conformably to the intentions of Mr. Necker, and by his order, that money which the court of France had accorded to the United States by the application of colonel Laurens, in virtue of his special commission, and which was particularly and expressly destined to reanimate the credit of continental currency. The ship waits for nothing else but this money. I shall attend your excellency’s ultimate decision thereon, which I expect to receive by return of the express, who only waits your commands. I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S. Mr. Fizeaux informed me that he had resolved to arrest the ship, had the money been on board. I need not inform your excellency, that alike opportunity may not again offer, to transport this essential supply, rendered still more so, by the capture of the ship Marquis de la Fayette. W. JACKSON.
My fever which was greatly increased by my late jaunt to Passy, will not admit of my waiting upon your excellency in person, and I am persuaded, your justice will render it unnecessary after this representation.
From the same. o Amsterdam, july 2, 1781, SIR,
SINCE the departure of my express, I find myself obliged in conformity to colonel Laurens's instructions (from which, as his agent I cannot recede, unless compelled thereto by forcible means, and which unless such are practised against me, I must carry into execution) to retain the money which he has confided to my care, and which the minister of finance’s order makes deliverable to me specially; and to arrest it in the hands of Mr. Fizeaux, should he continue to refuse the delivery of it, but by your excellency’s orders.
I rely upon your excellency’s attachment to the welfare of America, to prevent this painful operation, which must inevitably take place, should your determination decide otherwise, for as this money is subject to no other controul in Europe, but the immediate order of the court of France, I cannot relinquish my charge of it, but by their special order. I have the honor to be, &c.
From the same,
YOUR excellency will not wonder at the determination which I have adopted, to arrest the money now in Mr. Fizeaux’s hands, (and which I have communicated to you by a second express this afternoon) when you reflect, that this money is absolutely committed to my charge, for a special purpose, and that I stand accountable for the execution of this commission. Your excellency must likewise be sensible that you cannot have the disposal of it, as it was obtained without either your knowlege or concurrence, by colonel Laurens, appointed special minister for that purpose. These considerations, and the knowlege I have how much America must suffer from a disappointment in this supply,
about to be transported by so excellent a conveyance, must plead my excuse individually, for this plain and candid avowal of circumstances, and my determination thereon. I am further persuaded, that the court of France is not disposed, was there even a shadow of an excuse for an alteration of the allotment of this money, to infringe their honor and injure the essential interests of America by detaining it, I must therefore again entreat your excellency’s repeal of those orders to Mr. Fizeaux, which now detain the ship and supplies, so much required in America.
I have the honor to be, &c.
To Major Jackson.
I HAVE this instant received your letter of the 2d, urging the delivery of the money. I must be short in my reply, as your express waits.
Colonel Laurens indeed obtained a promise of ten millions to be raised by a loan in Holland. I understood while he was here, that that loan was in train, and that the million and an half to be sent with you was a part of it. I since learn that nothing has yet been obtained in Holland; that the success is not yet certain, and that the money in question is part of the six millions obtained before his arrival, upon the strength of which I accepted the bills drawn on his father and on Mr. Jay, and without which acceptances the congress credit in America would have been ruined, and a loss incurred of twenty per cent. upon the protests. I cannot obtain more money here at present, and those bills being accepted must be paid, as well as those I accepted on your earnest request for the great unexpected purchase you made in Holland. Colonel Laurens has carried two millions and an half of that six millions with him, which will serve till the loan in Holland produces a further supply. In the mean time I cannot suffer the credit of our country to be destroyed, if by detaining this money it may be saved; and if I were to consent to its going, our banker would be obliged to arrest great part of it as belonging to the states, he being in advance for them, which would occasion much disagreeable noise and very ill consequences to our credit in Europe. I find by Mr. Viemerange's account just received, that Mr. Laurens's orders have more than absorbed all the money he did not take with him. I applaud the zeal you have both shown in the affair, but I see that nobody cares how much I am distressed, provided they can carry their own points. I must therefore take what care I can of mine; theirs and mine being equally intended for the service of the public. I I am sorry to learn that the vessel is detained for this express. I understood by your last, that she waited for convoy. I I heartily wish you a good voyage, and am, with great esteem, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
To the same.
I RECEIVED your letter of the second instant by your first express this morning at six, answered it and sent him away immediately. I have just now received your second express of the same date, in which you threaten me with a proceeding, that I apprehend exceedingly imprudent, as it can answer no good end to you, must occasion much scandal, and be thereby very prejudical to the affairs of the congress. But I cannot therefore consent to suffer their bills to the amount of more than a million, accepted and expected to go back protested for want of this money. I have nothing to change in the answer abovementioned. You will however, follow your own judgment, (as I must follow mine) and you will take upon yourself the consequences. I have the honor to be, &c,
To the same.
Passy, july 6, 1781. S1R, I RECEIVED and answered two of your expresses yesterday morning, and in the evening I received a third letter from you, all dated the 2d instant. In this last you tell me, “that I must be sensible I cannot have the disposal of the money, as it was obtained without either my knowlege or concurrence, by colonel Laurens, appointed special minister for that purpose.” I do not desire to diminish the merit of colonel Laurens. I believe he would have been glad if it had been in his power to have procured ten times the sum, and that no application or industry on his part for that purpose, would have been wanting. But I cannot let this injurious assertion of yours pass without expressing my surprize, that you who were always with that gentleman, should be so totally ignorant of that transaction. The six millions, of which he took with him two and an half, of which one and an half was sent to Holland, and of which more than the remainder is ordered in stores from hence, was a free gift from the king's goodness, (not a loan to be repaid with interest ) and was obtained by my application long before colonel Laurens's arrival. I had also given in a list of the stores to be provided, though on his coming I cheerfully gave up the farther prosecution of that business into his hands, as he was better acquainted with the particular wants of the army than I could be, and it was one of the purposes of his appointment. Thus no part of the affair was done without my knowlege and concurrence, except the sending a million and an half of the specie to Holland. This was indeed a secret to me; I had heard of that sum’s being ready there to embark, but I always till lately understood it to be a part of the Dutch loan, which I am about to mention, or I should certainly have opposed that operation. What colonel Laurens really obtained, and a jor hope it will prove, was a loan upon inte
rest of ten millions, to be borrowed on the credit of this