Papers of John Adams, volume 11

Hendrik Bicker to John Adams: A Translation

From Jean de Neufville & Fils

From Benjamin Franklin, 22 February 1781 Franklin, Benjamin JA From Benjamin Franklin, 22 February 1781 Franklin, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Franklin
Sir Passy, Feb. 22. 1781

I received the Letter your Excellency did me the honour of writing to me the 15th. Instant, respecting Bills presented to you for Acceptance, drawn by Congress in favour of N. Tracey for 10,000 £ Sterling, payable at 90 Days sight; and desiring to know if I can furnish Funds for the Payment.

I have lately made a fresh and strong Application for more Money. I have not yet received a positive Answer. I have, however, two of the 157Christian Graces, Faith and Hope: But my Faith is only that of which the Apostle speaks, the Evidence of Things not seen.1 For in Truth I do not see at present how so many Bills drawn at random on our Ministers in France, Spain and Holland, are to be paid; nor that any thing but omnipotent Necessity can excuse the Imprudence of it. Yet I think the Bills drawn upon us by the Congress ought at all Risques to be accepted. I shall accordingly use my best Endeavours to procure Money for their honourable Discharge against they become due, if you should not in the mean time be provided; And if those Endeavours fail, I shall be ready to break, run away, or go to Prison with you, as it shall please God.

Sir George Grand has return'd to me the Remainder of the Book of Promesses, sign'd by us, which his House had not an Opportunity of issuing. Perhaps the late Change of Affairs in that Country may open a Way for them.2 If on consulting him, you should be of that Opinion, I will send them to you.

Late Advices from Congress mention that Col. Laurens is coming over as Envoy extraordinary to this Court, and Col. Palfrey as Consul General. They may be expected every day.

I send enclos'd an Extract of a Letter from Mr. Bradford (relating to intercepted Bills) which may be of use if such should be presented to you.3

With great Respect, I have the honour to be, Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant

B. Franklin

RC and enclosures (Adams Papers). For the enclosures, see note 3.


The complete verse, which seems applicable to Franklin's situation, reads: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews, 11:1).


Franklin refers to George Grand, older brother of Ferdinand, and the first (abortive) Dutch loan of 1778. It was undertaken by the Amsterdam firm of Horneca, Fizeaux & Co., which became Fizeaux, Grand & Co. following the death of Horneca in 1779. The “Book” originally contained 205 promissory notes, each valued at 1,000 florins and signed by Franklin, Arthur Lee, and JA. It was sent to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. on 31 Aug. 1778 (vol. 6:60, 411–413). Between 22 Oct. 1778 and 2 Jan. 1779 they sold 51 notes (DNA: RG 39, Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, p. 231).


John Bradford was the Continental agent for Massachusetts; the enclosures consisted of an extract from his letter of 27 Oct. 1780 and a copy of a congressional resolution dated 30 Aug. 1780 (Franklin, Papers , 33:465–466; JCC , 17:794–795). Bradford informed Franklin that a mail from Philadelphia to Boston had been intercepted at Stratford, Conn. It likely had included bills drawn on Franklin to the amount of $29,105 specie. Congress' resolution ordered Bradford to pay that sum to João Garcia Duarti, captain of the Portuguese snow Nossa Senhora de Carmo e Santo Antonio, as compensation for the seizure of his vessel in 1777 by the Mass. privateer Phoenix in violation of Portuguese neutrality. For documents concerning the case, see PCC, No. 44, f. 13–185; and Naval Docs. Amer. Rev. , 10:9– 11, 22–23, 135–136, 318–320, 517–518, 664–665, 793–794.