Louis François Rolandeau to John Adams: A Translation
Paris, 2 September 1778
Your kindness in deigning to take notice of my condition is so precious to me that I shall cherish it always. My situation had become so overwhelming that I despaired of ever surmounting it until you generously asked me to send you a statement of my losses, which I take the liberty of enclosing,1 and pray that you will consider my urgent need to return from Nantes to the United States.
I respectfully await your orders at the earliest possible moment. I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect, your very humble and very obedient servant
As you can see by what is listed at the end of this memorandum, I am destitute of every necessity and I know that in your wisdom you will be able to judge what I require to purchase those things that will make my voyage possible. This memorandum is intended only to inform you of my losses and I will gratefully receive whatever it pleases you to send.
Please inform the bearer of the day on which I may meet with you.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, perhaps by Arthur Lee: “Mons’ Rolandeaux Paris 2 Sepr 1778.”
1. The list of losses, referred to here and in the paragraph immediately below the signature, has been omitted, but it included 17 items, 15 of which had their prices indicated, at a cost of 7,350 livres. The first 7 items, which included 70 grenadier caps at 30 livres apiece and 50 muskets at 50 livres each, cost 4,392 livres and were apparently intended to outfit a body of men. The remaining items, for which prices were indicated, included a request for 1,500 livres to pay for passage to America for Rolandeau and his two brothers as well as two dozen shirts at 12 livres each; the total cost being 2,958 livres. The Commissioners did not reimburse Rolandeau for his losses, but see note 2.
2. Louis-François Rolandeau, a Frenchman serving in the 5th South Carolina Regiment, had taken leave and returned to France in 1777, but was captured in early 1778 when he set out for America to resume his military career. The Commissioners learned of his escape and arrival at Calais from James Leveux’s letter of 26 Aug. to Benjamin Franklin and on 4 Sept. authorized a payment of 192 livres to Rolandeau as an escaped prisoner (André Lasseray, Les Français sous les treize étoiles, 1775–1783, 2 vols., Paris, 1935, 2:394–395; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S description begins I. Minis Hays, comp., Calendar of the Papers of Benjamin Franklin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1908; 5 vols. description ends ., 1:486; Commissioners’ Accounts, vol. 6:360).