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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0170

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1780-11-04

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

Mr. De Neufville, this morning brought to me, a number of Bills of Exchange, drawn upon Mr. Laurens, in the Month of July, amounting to seven or eight hundred Pounds Sterling, and informed me that your Excellency had declined becoming responsible for them and referred him to me.
I have enquired of Mr. Searle who informs me there are about twenty thousand Pounds in such Bills now on their Way.
If there were only seven or eight hundred Pounds, I would accept them for the Honour of the United States, and run the Venture of being able to pay them by borrowing or some way or other: but twenty thousand Pounds is much beyond my private Credit.1
I have been and am pursuing, all those Measures to which I am advised by Gentlemen, in whose Judgment I can justify placing Confidence, and am not without hopes of succeeding in some Measure: but I have not as yet been able to obtain any Money, nor any Certainty of obtaining any in future.
I write this therefore to your Excellency, that if You could see your way clear to become responsible for these Bills for the present, I will engage to see them paid with the Money I may borrow here, if I borrow enough before the Term for their payment expires, or as much of them as I shall be able to borrow: but in this Case if I should not succeed in obtaining the Money, your Excellency will be answerable.2
I should be sorry that the Credit of the United States should suffer any Stain, and would prevent it if I could: but at present it is not in my power.
The Successes of the English at the southward,3 added to the many Causes that obstructed our Credit in this Republick before, some of { 326 } | view which it would not be prudent to explain, will render a Loan here difficult: but I still hope not quite impracticable.
I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient & most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); endorsed: “J. Adams Novr. 4. 1780.”
1. Stated here in terms of pounds sterling, the transactions ultimately undertaken by JA would be done in guilders, at the rate of approximately £100 to 1,111 guilders (to Benjamin Franklin, 24 Nov., and note 1, below; John J. McCusker, Money and Exchange in Europe and America, 1600–1775: A Handbook, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1978, p. 44). While the sums mentioned by JA are large relative to his available funds, they constituted only a small portion of the £100,000 (1,111,000 guilders) in bills of credit authorized by Congress on 23 Nov. 1779 to be drawn on Laurens (JCC, 15:1299). The inability of its representatives abroad to raise sufficient funds ultimately forced Congress to use only a small portion of the authorized bills (Ferguson, Power of the Purse, p. 55–56).
2. See Franklin's reply of 13 Nov. (below).
3. That is, at Charleston and elsewhere in the Carolinas.

Docno: ADMS-06-10-02-0171

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Hendrik, Bicker
Date: 1780-11-06

To Hendrik Bicker

[salute] Sir

Mr. Blomberg is so ill, that he cannot Speak, upon Business,1 which obliges me, to beg the Favour of your Advise, whether I ought to give more than according to the following Plan.
A     Interest   5 Pr. Cent Pr. Annum for 10 years.  
    To the House for negotiating the Capital   1 Pr. Cent.  
    To the Undertakers to furnish the Capital   1 Pr. Cent  
    Brokerage   ½ Pr. Cent.  
    And for the Yearly paying off of 10 Pr Cent.    
    To the House, of the Loan   1 Pr. Cent  
B   }   To the Undertakers   1 Pr. Cent  
C   Brokerage   ¼ Pr. Cent  
I had the Pleasure of half an Hours Conversation with Mr. Bowens, who desired me to consult with M. Blomberg and Send him my Conditions.
A Gentleman of great Worth and Skill, advised me, not to give more than four Per Cent Interest. America, is willing, however, to give a { 327 } | view just Interest, and all other reasonable Terms but She would not, like a young Spendthrift Heir, give any Thing, to get Money.
I am Sorry to give you, So much Trouble, amidst the Sickness in your Family. But the Sickness of Several Persons, upon whom I depended, obliges me to do it, and to request your answer as Soon as convenient. With great Respect, your humble Servant
[signed] John Adams
1. This letter resulted from JA's visit earlier in the day to Hendrik van Blomberg, who had been acting as his broker in obtaining an agent, Daniël Jan Bouwens, to undertake an American loan. Van Blomberg's illness made it imperative that JA consult with Bicker. For JA's correspondence with van Blomberg that led to a meeting with Bouwens on the afternoon of 4 Nov., and the subsequent formulation of the plan contained in this letter, see JA's brief letter of 3 Nov. to van Blomberg (LbC, Adams Papers), and van Blomberg's equally brief reply of the 4th (Adams Papers). For the plan as altered by Bicker's advice in his letter of 7 Nov., see JA's letter to Bouwens, also of the 7th (both below).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.