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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mifflin [Extract]
Adams, John, 1735-1826; Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790; Jefferson, Thomas, 1742-1826
November 11, 1784
Volume 17, Pages 179-180


Dated at Paris, 11th November, 1784.

A Letter from the Count de Vergennes and another from Monsr. Grand to Doctor Franklin of which Nos. 21 & 22 are copies give us reason to apprehend an uneasiness in this Court lest we should fail not only in the punctual payment of the interest of their particular loans but should permit the payment on the Dutch Loans which this Court Guaranteed to fall in the first instance upon them. This circumstance under the present probability of a War in Europe might be really inconvenient to them and give unfavorable ideas of the sense we entertain of their past favours. Congress will know whether measures have been taken to make timely payments here, and they can best judge of what exertions the States are capable for reducing their foreign debt even faster than their stipulations require. A hearty disposition in the people goes far towards making them equal to whatever it is their duty and interest to do; and we cannot help supposing that if our Countrymen would boldly look that part of their foreign debt in the face which they have a right to discharge, if they would view it and view themselves they would find they could master it, perhaps with a single effort. Of this we can assure them that nothing would produce such a resolution in the opinion entertained in Europe of their powers, of their justice and of the tone of Government.

If a reputation for equity and gratitude, if a demonstration of our resources and of our resolutions, if the subjection of the riches of Europe to our wishes on any future emergency may be bought at half a Guinea a head cannot our Countrymen be roused to make the purchase? Add to this that it would command for us a respect

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which might save us in the end millions of money and torrents of blood. Congress we hope will pardon us these reflections. We are on a field where every circumstance tends to produce them. Our instruction to gratification and indemnification to John Baptist Pequet has not yet been complied with. Mr. Grand's letter will assign the reason.

The honor of our Country as well as our feelings will not permit us to pass unnoticed that we are now depending for daily subsistence on the bounty of a Subject of this Kingdom; A bounty which he tells us in his Letter “qu'il sera forcemettre des bornes” (he will be forced to set bounds). We trust that Congress will be so good as to order us effectual and instantaneous relief from this situation.