Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIII Final Days in France

I

WITH all the honors and attentions showered upon him, the remainder of Franklin's stay in France might have passed like a happy dream, had it not been for the constant necessity of raising new funds and of attending to the complicated transactions connected with the outfitting of privateers and the shipping of supplies home.

"The storm of bills which I found coming upon us both," he wrote to John Jay, who was vainly begging money from Spain, "has terrified and vexed me to such a degree that I have been deprived of sleep, and so much indisposed by continual anxiety, as to be rendered almost incapable of writing"; and to Jonathan Williams he wrote: "I, in all these mercantile matters, am like a man walking in the dark. I stumble often, and frequently get my shins broke."

When it wanted money, Congress, with a fine, large disregard for detail, simply drew on Franklin, who meantime had to pay the interest on the French debt and the salaries of all the American agents in. Europe. At length Robert Morris, financier of the war, wrote him that he simply must have 25,000,000 francs or go broke. Once more Franklin had to send a humble petition to the Count de Vergennes. The latter's reply was that the great expense under which France labored made such a loan impracticable; but that Louis XVI had resolved to grant the sum of six millions,

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