This volume spans the period from late fall 1780 through the spring of 1781 and continues the documentation of Franklin's mission as minister plenipotentiary to France. During these eventful months, Franklin averts a financial crisis by obtaining additional loans and grants from the French government. The Continental Congress, however, not yet aware that Franklin has secured this support, appoints a special envoy to obtain assistance for the American Army. This attack on his authority so upsets Franklin that he volunteers to resign his position. Franklin also learns of Benedict Arnold's treason and capture as well as the arrest of American artist John Trumbull. Trumbull's friend Thomas Digges, Franklin's agent for prisoner relief in England, goes into hiding amidst rumors that he has been misappropriating funds intended for American prisoners.
Despite these reversals and his slow recovery from an attack of gout earlier in the fall, Franklin exchanges lively and affectionate letters with his neighbor Madame Brillon, and he sends her two bagatelles, "Dialogue Between the Gout and Mr. Franklin" and "The Deformed and Handsome Leg." His circle of correspondents expands to include three other accomplished women--the Russian writer Ekaterina Dashkova, the comtesse de Golowkin, and the comtesse d'Houdetot, who orchestrates a splendid "fête champêtre" at her estate in Franklin's honor.
Publication of this volume was assisted by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.