Benjamin Franklin Papers

Franklin’s Notes for a Dispatch, [before 28 November 1777]

Franklin’s Notes for a Dispatch

AD:7 University of Pennsylvania Library

These jottings are beyond question an early step in formulating the dispatch below, November 30, to the committee for foreign affairs. They afford the first insight we have had into Franklin’s approach to the drafting of such a document, and also into his determination to dabble in French even when preparing notes in English.8 The list can be assigned only a terminal date. The commissioners met on November 27 to discuss their dispatch, as explained in our annotation of it, and the next day Franklin had ready the draft that his colleagues subsequently accepted and sent. Here he is listing topics that might be included. Perhaps they came up at the meeting on the 27th, although Lee’s account of it says nothing of such a discussion; more probably Franklin talked them over with Deane. In either case they preceded the draft, which was finished by the 28th; the heading on the verso, “Minutes du derniere depeche,” he obviously added later.

[Before November 28, 1777]

Sale du Vaissau en Holland } Convoy
Difficulté avec le Lion
Confiscation des Prises

—Dedommagement promis en partie

Prusse rien

Conduct d’Hollande d’Espagne

Harangue du Parliamt.

M. Morris—Bills etc. [In pencil:] Amphitrite

Complaints d’Espagne et Hollande

Mesures recommended a donner Satisfaction.

Ordres que nous avons données.

Vacillation du Cour

Promesses de l’Argent


Monument fini pour M. Montgomery

[Deleted: Mr. Holcker]


lost 4 going and coming

Enquiries Support of Commissaires. Secretaire.

Inconveniences en amenant des Prizes en France

Infinis des Applications pour aller en Amerique

Minutes du derniere depeche

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7BF has drawn vertical lines through most of the items on the list, but not all; the great majority of those listed went into the final dispatch. On the other half of the sheet is a brief, undated note in Chaumont’s hand, forwarding the report of a battle outside Philadelphia on Sept. 21, in which 3,000 were killed on each side; the Quakers then betrayed the city, and Washington put them to the sword. BF has partly overwritten a note in another hand, that an artillery lieutenant by the name of Peyrelongue has leave to go to America. This young man reappears below in an inquiry of June 25, 1778, from his mother, Mme. Dauber de Peÿrelongue, who promotes him to a captain.

8The dabbling illustrates his difficulty with French genders, which he never outgrew. They had been bothering him for sixty years, he wrote in 1782, and he hoped to be released from them in heaven. To Mme. Brillon, January 6, 1782 (APS).

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