Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jean de Ternant, 15 January 1777

From Jean de Ternant7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Bordeaux 15 Jr. 1777


I am but just arrived at Bourdeaux after a dangerous Illness and shall have scarce time to buy the goods I Intended to carry with me before our vessel sails. Such a hasty departure makes me doubtful of receiving the letters you promised to send me for North america. However if they could not reach me before I leave this port, Messrs. Pecholier, freres Negotiants;8 at whose house you will be kind enough to direct them, will forward them to me very carefully by another vessel that will sail some days after ours for the same place (The Cap francois) where I shall spend a month or six weeks and wait for your letters.. . .9 If I can be of any use to you in any thing whatever, you may depend upon my ardent desire of defending the rights of humanity and supporting with all my might, those who have so generously stood in defence of them.. . . I have a thousand things to say; and some useful plan to propose; but prudence forbids me intering here into any particulars.. . . I must wait for a better opportunity. I wish you success in your Negotiation.. . . The new spanish minister Count florida-Blanca whom I know, and who was formerly a counsellor will undoubtedly serve your cause with an unremitted ardour.1I am very respectfully sir, Your most obedient humble servant


chez Messrs. Pecholiers freres Negotiants à Bordeaux.

Notation: Ternant Bordx. 15 Jan 77.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The chevalier de Ternant (born 1751) had clearly been in touch with BF in Paris and, if only because he was an engineer, had no doubt been promised letters of recommendation. The young man was at the beginning of what proved to be a distinguished career. He did not appear in America until he joined Washington’s army at Valley Forge in the spring of 1778; perhaps he was delayed by a return of the illness he mentions here, for bad health plagued him. He acted as chief subordinate of Baron Steuben, who confirmed the impression this letter gives that Ternant spoke perfect English. At the end of the war the chevalier returned to France a full colonel, and in 1791 began a brief term as minister to the United States. Lasseray, Les Français, II, 433–6.

8They forwarded this letter with theirs below of the 18th.

9Suspension points here and later are in the original.

1José Moñino y Redondo, conde de Floridablanca (1728–1808), was returning from his embassy to the Vatican to become the King’s chief minister, a position that he retained for the next fifteen years.

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