Diary of John Adams, volume 4

May 2. Saturday. 1778.

May 3. 1778

Commissioners to John Ross
Mr. Ross at Nantes.
Sir Passi May 3. 1778

In a former Letter, you wrote Us, that you would send Us, the Invoices &c. of the Goods shipped, on the public Account, if We thought it necessary. We wrote for those, which would answer for the money, We had advanced to you. The Reason given in yours of the 18th 2 for refusing it, does not appear to Us, at all sufficient. If it be unavoidable to seperate the part from the whole, We desire the whole may be sent agreable to your first proposal, which will also be of Use to Us, by shewing the nature and extent of the Supplies which have been sent. We therefore expect you will comply, without any farther delay, with what We desire, and which is indispensable.

You will be so good as to send Us a Copy of the order of the Commissioners, under which you say, the Ship Queen of France was purchased, as We find none such, here.

When you first applyed to Us for our Assistance, and represented that you had made Contracts for Goods, in pursuance of orders from the Committee of Congress, which contracts, if not fulfilled, would destroy your Credit, and, in consequence, hurt that of the Committee, it was agreed to furnish you with the Sum which you desired, and which you said would be sufficient to prevent those great inconveniences, on your promise to replace it. It is now near a Year since, and you have not performed that promise. The Disappointment has been very inconvenient to Us. Probably it was occasioned by your not receiving the Remittances you expected. However, We think you should have foreborne entering into any fresh contracts and Embarrassments; especially, as it was not required or expected of you, by the Committee, as appears by their Letter to you of Decr. 30. of which you have sent Us, an extract; nor have they ever desired it, of Us; nor did you inform Us, when you made your engagements, that you had any expectation of our Assistance, to discharge them. A little consideration will convince you, that it is impossible for Us, to regulate our own purchases and engagements, and discharge our debts with punctuality, 90if other people, without our participation, allow themselves to run in debt, unnecessarily, as much as they please, and call upon Us for payment. By our complying with such unforeseen demands, We may soon, to prevent your discredit, become Bankrupts ourselves, which We think would be full as disreputable to Congress. We therefore now acquaint you, that We cannot give the permission you desire, of drawing on our Banker for the immense Sums you mention, and desire you would not have the least dependance on Aids, that We have it not in our power to grant. We are, Sir, your most obedient humble Servants.

B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams.