Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to Sartine: Two Letters, 18 August 1778: letter and résumé

The American Commissioners to Sartine: Two Letters

(I) AL (draft):9 American Philosophical Society; (II) AL (draft): Massachusetts Historical Society; two copies: National Archives


Passy, Aug. 18. 1778


The Administration in England have agreed to an Exchange of Prisoners with us, and propose that it shall be made at Calais.1 They will accordingly2 furnish us with a Pasport for a Vessel to bring the Prisoners from Brest to Calais,3 if we procure a similar one for their Vessel which is to bring the Prisoners from England.4 As our People may languish in their Confinement, and when recover’d, may be of Use to Capt. Jones, or in some other Enterprise, we wish the Exchange may be made as soon as possible, and therefore request your Excellency would take the Affair into Consideration, and afford us your Advice and Determination upon it. We are, with the greatest Esteem and Respect, Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servants

His Excy M. de Sartine

Notation by Arthur Lee: The Minister has already agreed to give a Passport for the english vessel whenever we inform him it is necessary for Brest and therefore I presume he will have no objection to give it for Calais.

Notation by Franklin: Rough To M. Sartine Passport5


<Passy, August 18, 1778: In answer to your letter of the 16th we believe the alterations to the projected regulations will remove the difficulties we apprehended. We thank you for your readiness to discuss the matter further should inconveniencies arise in the execution of these regulations, which we hope will not occur.6>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9In BF’s hand, with his own deletions as indicated.

1Deleted: “if that Place is approved by Government here.”

2Deleted: “If there is no Objection to this, we pray your Excellency.”

3Deleted: “on our procuring them a.”

4See above, Hartley to BF, July 14. BF here deleted: “If this Proposition is approved by Government here, we pray your Excellency to give us such a Passport.”

5This, one of the few letters of the period drafted by BF, was apparently not sent, perhaps because of Lee’s objections. Instead the commissioners requested the passport from Vergennes in their letter of Aug. 28.

6Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VI, 376. The new French prize regulations went into effect on Sept. 27: ibid., p. 334.

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