Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Lafayette, [20 March 1779]

From Lafayette

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris Saturday Evening [March 20, 1779]5

Dear Sir

I am just Coming from Versailles where I went à hunting with the king, and I Do take this first opportunity of inquiring for the state of your health— I hope you are free by this time from your troublesome Gout— I make no doubt but that you knew last Night of the Senegal being taken by our troops—6 that Advantage I think is interesting7 for the Allied powers, and will Most Certainly excite disputes among the good people of Both houses in London— I Remember I heard Complaints among the Southern Gentlemen of America about the Senegal being in the enemy’s hands and preventing the Nigrò trade for that part of the United States—So that I Believe our Conquest will be pleasing to them and I wish to know your opinion Concerning that affair— there is An important one I want to Communicate to Your Excellency and I schall beg the favor of a Meeting at Passy Monday Morning where we Might Speack without disturbance— it is Relating to some ideas of ours we had Agreed upon in our last interview, and I wish it to be the Same with our Ministers.

With the highest Respect and tenderst affection I schall ever be My dear Sir Your excellency’s Most obedient humble Servant


Addressed: To / his Excellency Benjamin Franklin / Esq. plenip. Minister of the Unit. / States of America at the Court / of Versailles / At Passy / the m de lafayette

Notation: Lafayette 79—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Possibly March 27, but more likely the 20th; Lafayette here requests a meeting for the following Monday, and we know BF and Lafayette did meet on Monday the 22nd: Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, II, 244; our annotation of BF to Lafayette, March 22, below.

6The March 30th issue of the Courier de l’Europe (V [1779], 201–2) reported the capture of the main British fort at Senegal on Jan. 31 by French troops commanded by the duc de Lauzun. The accompanying French naval squadron then proceeded to the West Indies: Dull, French Navy, pp. 125, 159n. Vergennes reported the news to Ambassador Montmorin in Spain on March 22 (AAE).

7He first wrote “obvious”.

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