W hen the Franklin family departed from Passy in July 1785, Chaumont was 60 years old. The remaining 18 years of his life cannot have been happy ones. The financial troubles that besieged him starting in 1780 continued through the decade. Disputes with Silas Deane and John Holker over who owed whom money refused to go away and never were resolved.1 The royal commission investigating whether Chaumont had been overpaid for his services in the grain trade in the 1770s still met irregularly.2
At the château of Chaumont-sur-Loire, the sculptor Nini died in May 1786. Apparently the partnership between the Italian and Chaumont had been earning modest profits up to that time. Chaumont thereupon leased the pottery business to a Frenchman named Mercier. Over the next couple of years, however, Chaumont had to fend off legal charges from Nini's family concerning supposed debts to the deceased artist.3
Chaumont himself was owed considerable sums by various business associates, but his own debts were even greater. Each year he provided the government with evidence of sincere efforts to pay his creditors, and each year the crown renewed his arrât de surséance. This protected his property and other assets from seizure. The final arrêt came on 11 July 1789.4
Chaumont still dreamed of commercial enterprises that would help him recover his old wealth and prestige. For example, in 1785- 1786 he corresponded with the French navy about the possibility of supplying treenails and lumber. He hoped these would be
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Publication information: Book title: France and America in the Revolutionary Era:The Life of Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont, 1725-1803. Contributors: Thomas J. Schaeper - Author. Publisher: Berghahn Books. Place of publication: Providence, RI. Publication year: 1995. Page number: 319.
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