Papers of John Adams, volume 12

Hendrik Bicker to John Adams: A Translation

From Jean Luzac

447 From Benjamin Franklin, 22 April 1782 Franklin, Benjamin JA From Benjamin Franklin, 22 April 1782 Franklin, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Franklin
Passy, April 22. 1782 Sir

Messrs. Fizeaux and Grand have lately sent me two Accounts of which they desire my Approbation. As they relate to Payments made by those Gentlemen of your acceptances of Bills of Exchange, your approbation must be of more Importance than mine, you having more certain Knowledge of the affair. I therefore send them enclos’d to you, and request you would be pleas’d to compare them with your List of Acceptations, and return them to me with your Opinion, as they will be my Justification for advancing the money.1

I am very happy to hear of the rapid Progress of your Affairs. They fear in England that the States will make with us an alliance offensive and deffensive, and the public Funds which they had puff’d up 4 or 5 per Cent, by the Hope of a separate Peace with Holland, are falling again. They fill their Papers continually with Lies to raise and fall the Stocks. It is not amiss that they should thus be left to ruin one another, for they have been very mischievous to the Rest of Mankind. I send enclosed a Paper, of the Veracity of which I have some doubt, as to the Form, but none as to the Substance, for I believe the Number of People actually scalp’d in this murdering War by the Indians to exceed what is mention’d in the Invoice, and that Muley Istmael (a happy Name for a Prince as obstinate as a Mule) is full as black a Tyrant as he is represented in Paul Jones’s pretended Letter: These being substantial Truths, the Form is to be considered as Paper and Packthread.2 If it were re-publish’d in England it might make them a little asham’d of themselves. I am, very respectfully Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Dr Franklin Ap. 22 ansd July 23. 1782.”


The enclosed accounts were returned to Franklin with JA’s reply of 23 July. JA expressed regret that he had not answered Franklin sooner, but attributed the delay to the prolonged illness of John Thaxter, “who keeps the Account of those Affairs,” but see also JA to Franklin, 24 May (both LbC’s, Adams Papers).


The enclosure, which is not in the Adams Papers, was a fictitious piece printed by Franklin at Passy purported to be taken from the Boston Independent Chronicle of 12 March (Franklin, Papers , 37:184–196). It consisted of two letters, dated 7 March 1782 and 7 March 1781, respectively. The first, from a Capt. Gerrish of the New England militia, described the contents of eight packages of scalps, totaling 954, taken from American men, women, and children on the western frontier. The Seneca Indians intended the scalps for the governor of Canada, but they had been captured in transit by an American expedition. It was ultimately decided that the scalps should be sent in small packets to George III, Queen Charlotte, and members of the government. The 448second letter was from John Paul Jones to Sir Joseph Yorke, the British ambassador to the Netherlands, protesting the British diplomat’s memorial to the States General in which Jones was designated a pirate. Jones argued that he in no way met the definition of a pirate because he was acting in the cause of liberty in defense of his fellow citizens against British tyranny. No comment by JA regarding Franklin’s fabrication has been found.