Page images



again called upon to raise $6,000,000 Congress, therefore, on September annually for eighteen years, beginning 14, 1778, appointed Franklin sole with 1780.* This sum was to be ap- commissioner to France, Arthur Lee propriated to pay the interest of all still remaining commissioner to loans made to the United States pre- Spain, though not allowed to enter vious to that year, and the balance, as that

country. Adams had well as the $15,000,000 previously avoided participation in the quarrel called for, was to be cancelled. Dur- as much as possible, but in the new ing 1778 the total

the total expenditures arrangement of commissionerships no amounted to $67,000,000 (worth in notice seems to have been taken of specie about $24,000,000) which was him and he soon hastened home innearly the same amount as had been tending to return to his law practice expended during the previous year. “ to make writs, draw deeds, and be

Trouble now arose among the rep- happy."* With all their dissensions, resentatives of Congress in France. however, the commissioners had sucIn the latter part of 1777 John Adams ceeded in borrowing 3,000,000 livres had been sent to France to take the (about $500,000) from the court of place of Deane who was recalled to Spain, but this sum proved very ingive an account of his conduct.t sufficient out of which to pay for arms When Adams arrived at Paris, he and stores and for the equipment of found Deane and Franklin on one side

cruisers and to meet the bills for inand Arthur Lee on the other engaged terest drawn upon them by Conin a violent quarrel, which even the gress.t recall of Deane did not terminate. I

The quarrel between the commis

sioners was now transferred to * Bancroft, vol. v., p. 294.

America. Arthur Lee had written † Parton, Life of Franklin, vol. ii., pp. 249–251 ;

home letters full of insinuations John Adams, Works, vol. i., p. 275 et seq., vol. iii., pp. 94-120, vol. vii., p. 5 et seq.

against both his colleagues, but more # John Adams, Works, vol. iii., p. 123. “He [Franklin] said there had been disputes be- spent his time in consultations with Mr. Lee, and tween Mr. Deane and Mr. Lee; that Mr. Lee in interfering with the business of the commission

of an anxious, uneasy temper, to this court; that they had made strong objecwhich made it disagreeable to do business tions to the treaty, and opposed several articles with him; that he seemed to be one of those of it; that neither Mr. Lee nor Mr. Izard was men, of whom he had known many in his day, liked by the French; that Mr. William Lee, his who went on through life quarrelling with brother, called upon the ministers at Paris one person or another till they commonly ended for considerable sums of money, and by his conwith the loss of their reason. He said, Mr. Izard nection with Lee and Izard and their party, in. was there too, and joined in close friendship with creased the uneasiness, &c., &c., &c.” See also pp. Mr. Lee; that Mr. Izard was a man of violent and 138, 159–161, 175-176; vol. vii., pp. 14–15. ungoverned passions; that each of these had a * John Adams, Works, vol. i., pp. 280 et seq., number of Americans about him, who were always 289-290, vol. iii., p. 219, vol. vii., pp. 82–83, 87. exciting disputes, and propagating stories that † Hildreth, vol. iii., pp. 265–266; Morse, Life made the service very disagreeable; that Mr. Izard of Franklin, pp. 261 et seq., 291 et seq.; Hale,

instead of minding his own business * * * Franklin in France, vol. i., p. 228 et seq.






particularly against Deane, through delphia Packet of January 2, 1779, whose hands almost all the receipts claiming that the arrangement with and expenditures of the commission- Beaumarchais had been made by ers had passed. Similar insinuations Arthur Lee while in London; and were made against Deane by Ralph that those supplies, while furnished Izard and by William Carmichael, by a mercantile house, really came the former secretary of the commis- from the French court. Paine's pubsioners, the latter claiming that lication angered Gérard, the French Deane had appropriated the public ambassador, as it involved France in money to his private use.* Car- a charge of double dealing with Engmichael and Deane were now ex- land, and in consequence Paine reamined at the bar of Congress the signed his office. Congress denied latter later making a written report.

that the French court had made any The adherents of Deane, led by presents of money or supplies preRobert Morris, Gouverneur Morris, vious to the late treaty of alliance.* and other members of Congress well It subsequently developed, howacquainted with mercantile matters, ever, that the French court had furnow opened an acrimonious debate nished Beaumarchais 1,000,000 livres, with the Lee adherents, headed by but that the shipments made by BeauRichard Henry Lee, brother of marchais amounted to a much larger Arthur Lee, and chairman of the sum, being, according to his account, Committee for Foreign Affairs.f over $1,000,000. The proceeds of cerDeane published an “Address to the tain cargoes of tobacco were credited People of the United States " in the against this, but a heavy balance still Philadelphia Gazette in which, beside remained and he sent an agent to attacking the Lees, he claimed the Philadelphia to solicit payment. Concredit for securing the supplies ob- gress soon afterward gave him bills tained through Beaumarchais. I of exchange, payable three years Thomas Paine, at this time secretary after sight, drawn on Franklin, for to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, nearly $500,000 and by him accepted then entered the lists in behalf of and paid when due out of the funds Arthur Lee, in a reply in the Phila- loaned by the French court. The ac

counts of Beaumarchais were evi* Charges of incompetence were made also dently kept in a careless manner, and against Franklin. See Morse, Life of Franklin,

this was one of the charges against p. 287 et seq. For excerpts from some of his letters see Parton, Life of Franklin, vol. ii., pp. Deane, but it likewise might have 254 et seq., 354, also chap. x.

been made with equal justice against † See Oberholtzer, Life of Robert Morris, p. 52 et seq.; W. G. Summer, Robert Morris, p. 29 et

Lee and Franklin. seq.; Roosevelt, Gouverneur Morris, pp. 93–94.

| See Adams' letter to Vergennes regarding this, * Parton, Life of Franklin, vol. ii., pp. 356–359; in John Adams, Works, vol. vii., pp. 79-80. John Adams, Works, vol. i., p. 283.



The warmth of the discussion in- While distracted by these disputes, fluenced Congress to recall Izard and Congress was still wrestling with the William Lee. Deane was finally dis- financial problem. Though there charged from his attendance on Con- were now $100,000,000 of Continental gress and returned to France for the money in circulation, Congress, at the settlement of his accounts, under beginning of 1779, authorized $50which he claimed that Congress owed 000,000 more, the faith of the United him a large balance. Congress, how- States being pledged to redeem these ever, did not appoint any one to settle on or before January, 1797, under the the accounts of their agents; and as futile scheme already mentioned of this claimi constituted Deane's sole having the States contribute $6,support, its nonpayment reduced him 000,000 annually for eighteen years. to poverty. “No proof appears that The channels of circulation were alhe had been dishonest, or had em- ready full and this issue met with ployed the public money in specula- little success, being considered a poor tions of his own, as his enemies al- investment. But the issues did not leged; but he had occupied the un- stop here. In February $10,000,000 fortunate position of having large more were authorized with $20,sums of public money pass through 000,000 loan-office certificates: in his hands before any proper system April $5,000,000 of bills of credit of vouchers and accountability had were issued; and in May and June been established, and he fell before $20,000,000 additional. This rapid the same spirit of malignant accusa- issue caused the depreciation to reach tion which presently assaulted Wads- twenty for one; and in May Congress worth, Greene, Morris, and requested the States to pay $45,Franklin himself, but which they had

France. better means of warding off. Some

He had lost his high standing both in

France and America. I found him a voluntary letters from Deane to his friends in

exile, misanthropic in his feelings, intent on getAmerica, intercepted and published a ting money, and deadly hostile to his native land.

His language was so strong and decided on the year or two afterward, in which he

subject of American affairs, and evinced so much expressed the wish and hope for an hostility to his native land, that I felt constrained, accommodation with Great Britain upon my return to Paris, to announce to Dr.

Franklin my conviction that Mr. Deane must be ruined him forever, and extinguished

regarded an enemy alike to France and America. the least desire to do him justice.

He observed to me, that similar reports had reached him before, but that he had been unwill.

ing to admit the truth.” In a note, Mr. Watson Hildreth, vol. iii., p. 270. See also Foster,

quotes from a letter of John Trumbull, the author Century of American Diplomacy, p. 35 et seq. Mr. of McFingal, some remarks in vindication of Mr. Elkanah Watson, writing in 1781, says:

Deane, and calculated to explain, at least, in part, return from Brussels, I called upon the once cele- the reasons which led to many of his acts.- See brated Silas Deane, at Ghent. He was a member Men and Times of the Revolution, pp. 130–131. of the first Congress, a sensible and intriguing See also Pitkin, Political and Civil History of the man, and our early secret agent at the court of United States.

[ocr errors]

“ On my



000,000 more of the bills in addition the very doors of Congress. In Pennto the $15,000,000 already called for." sylvania party spirit was still very

In the summer of 1779 the Treasury violent, the constitutional party, who Board was reorganized, but this did were in power, favoring the regulanot prevent the rapid depreciation in tion of trade by law and the enactthe value of bills of credit. They now mcnt of strong measures against enpassed at the rate of twenty for one, grossing, while the leaders of the but were still a lawful tender for the opposition took the other side. A payment of debts. This situation af- committee of Philadelphia citizens forded many a dishonest debtor an had undertaken to regulate the prices opportunity to pay his debts at a very of ham, salt, flour, sugar, coffee, etc., cheap rate, a species of legalized after the example of Boston and robbery which caused much suffer- other places, but Robert Morris and ing.t The public clamor against this some of the leading merchants rcstate of affairs became louder and

fuscd to conform. James Wilson bclouder, and in order to quiet it, Con- came particularly obnoxious and he gress on September 1, 1779, resolved was denounced as a defender of that the issue should not exceed Tories, for which it was proposed to $200,000,000. The bills already out banish him and some of his friends. amounted to $160,000,000.# The loans These friends, among whom were prior to August 1, 1778, the interest George Clymer and Mifflin and probof which was payable in bills on ably Morris,* assembled at Wilson's France, were $7,500,000; and the house and were there attacked by a loans contracted since, the rate of in- mob with small arms and cannon. One terest upon which was to increase as of the inmates of the house was killed the issues were increased, amounted and two wounded, but before any furto more than $26,000,000. The debt ther damage could be done, President abroad was estimated at $4,000,000. Joseph Reed of Pennsylvania apThe States had paid in but $3,000,000 peared with a few cavalry and disof the $6,000,000 in paper money al- persed the mob. Prosecutions were ready issued.||

begun on both sides, but before the Prices of commodities also con- proceedings had gone far the Assemtinued to rise and finally became so bly passed an act of oblivion.f highộ that they occasioned a riot at It was useless to deny the great

depreciation and a convention of the * Hildreth, vol. iii., p. 271; Bancroft, vol. v., p.

8, 1779, Madison wrote: “ Corn is already at £20, † Bullock, Monetary History of the United and rising. Tobacco is also rising. Pork will States, pp. 65, 69; Bancroft, vol. v., p. 292. probably command any price. Imported goods 1 Bancroft, vol. v., p. 440.

exceed everything else many hundred per cent."|| Hildreth, vol. iii., p. 296.

Madison's Works (Congress ed.), vol. i., p. 32. $ Regarding this see Kalb's letters quoted in * Sumner, Robert Morris, p. 36. Kapp's Life of Kalb, pp. 183–184. On December † Hildreth, vol. iii., pp. 297–298.




five Eastern States, held at Hartford taxes, and bills sold; but the specie October 20, 1779, proposed that prices value of the whole did not equal be regulated on the basis of twenty $10,000,000. The only resources to for one, at the same time advising which Congress could look forward that a convention be held at Phila- for the ensuing year were the unpaid delphia at the beginning of the year balance of the $65,000,000 of paper for the general adoption of this already called for and a further call scheme.* Congress, however, while from the States, except Georgia, for approving the plan, urged the States $15,000,000 monthly, the payments of to put the regulation into force at which were to begin in February, once, without waiting for a conven- 1780. tion.

In January, 1780, the depreciation The remainder of the $200,000,000 of the currency had reached forty for of Continental bills was issued before one, and the hope of regulating prices the end of the year, at which time the at a convention at Philadelphia was depreciation stood at thirty for one, destroyed. The army commissaries but the clamor was now stopped. had no money with which to obtain Washington doubted that the stop- food, and credit would not be expage of money issues was expedient, tended them; consequently, Washingfor he saw no other means of feeding ton adopted the harsh expedient of the army, and soon afterward an at- levying contributions on the country tempt was made to secure further surrounding his camp, each county issues.

being called upon for a certain The States were exceedingly slow quantity of the necessities, in payin remitting the amounts allotted to ment for which the commissaries gave them, and to meet pressing necessities certificates. A plan was then formuCongress sold long-date bills of ex- lated of calling upon the States for change on Jay and Laurens, which “ specific supplies " - pork, beef, were to be met by the proceeds of salt, flour, corn, rice, hay, tobacco, loans to be obtained in Holland and

rum, etc. — the States being credited Spain. Those bills were sold for at fixed prices for the supplies furpaper at the rate of twenty-five for nished. For immediate use in place one, it being required that the pur- of certificates, the commissaries were chaser lend an additional amount given drafts on the State treasuries equal to the purchase money.

for the portions of their unpaid The expenditures for the year quotas of the requisitions heretofore reached a total of $160,000,000, of made.* which $100,000,000 were new issues and $60,000,000 the proceeds of loans, * Hildreth, vol. iii., pp. 301-302; Washington's

Writings (Ford's ed.), vol. vi., p. 281. Bancroft, vol. v., p. 446.

Oberholtzer, Life of Robert Morris, p. 61 et seq.

[ocr errors]

See also

Vol. III - II

« PreviousContinue »