Benjamin Franklin Papers

Musco Livingston to the American Commissioners, 8 April 1778

Musco Livingston7 to the American Commissioners

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Paris the 8. April 1778


My business here, was to offer My Services to My Country, in the line of My profession (the Sea) and as I cannot be Employd here, am desirous to get to America as Soon as possible,8 where I have the promise of Some of the principal Members of Congress, that I should be provided for in that line. And as I have been inform’d, that Capt. Johnston, and Capt. Nicholson, of the American Navy, and Capt. All late of the Mercht. Servise,9 are going out Immediately, will be particularly obligd to you, if you would get leave for Me, to have a passage by the Same Opportunity; and if it is Necessary, that the destination of the Ship, or the place of her departure Should be kept Secret, I give you My Honour it Shall be particularly Observed by Me and will do my Self the Honour to Wait on you tomorow Morning for your Answer. I am Gentlemen, Your Most Obedient Humble Servant

M Livingston

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7He had a family and possessions in Jamaica, which he was later allowed to transfer to the U.S.: JCC, XXII, 417–18. He was called “a gentleman of unimpeached character,” and John Adams heard that he was “a Man of an handsome Fortune and good Connections.” Deane Papers, IV, 64; Taylor, Adams Papers, VI, 68. He had recently come to Paris from London, where he claimed to have seen a letter in Bancroft’s hand, written in January, that revealed the secret of the impending Franco-American alliance; see the note on Izard to BF below, June 17.

8He was subsequently appointed second lieut. for the return voyage of the Boston, but had to resign because of ill health; his captain testified that he was a good and widely beloved officer. The commissioners then named him to command the Ranger, but rescinded the appointment. Taylor, op. cit., pp. 259, 324.

9The three of them, with Capt. Eleazer Johnson, were en route with Silas Deane to Toulon to serve as pilots for d’Estaing’s squadron: Deane Papers, III, 184; V, 313. In March the Commissioners had advanced the three captains 800, 240, and 600 l.t. respectively: Grand’s Accounts (above, XXIV, 3), entries of March 17 and 25.

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