Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Lee, 30 March 1779

From William Lee

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris Hotel D’Espagne Rue Guenegaud March
30th 1779


I had the Honor of writing the 23d. of Jany. last to the American Commissioners at the Court of Versailles5 requesting that they wou’d, in consequence of the recommendation of Count De Vergennes, apply to the Prince De MontBarey for certain Artillery, Arms & Ammunition for the State of Virginia which I had authority to engage that State to pay for, as soon as it was practicable to send their Commdities to Europe for that purpose.6

To this Letter I have not recd. any answer, nor do I know whether any application on the business has been made to Prince De MontBarey or not: I am now therefore to request that you Sir, will be so good, as Minister Plenepotentiary here from Congress, to do this favor to the State of Virginia; in which case I will do myself the Honor of waiting on you any time tomorrow that you shall appoint, with a list of the Articles wanted;7 the particulars of which, were annexed to my Letter above mention’d.

Those things that appear to me most necessary to be immediately dispatched are 20,000 Stand of Fusils & Bayonets compleat, 20 Tons best Canon Powder, 20 Tons best Fusil powder, & the more so as I apprehend Congress depends on each State for supplying these things for the Troops they raise for the General Service this Campaign.

I have the Honor to be with the Highest Consideration and Respect Sir Your most Obedient & most Humble Servant

W: Lee

P.S. The favor of an answer is requested by the Bearer

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr. Minister Plenepotentiary from the United States of America to the Court of Versailles, at Passy.

Addressed: His Excellency / Benjamin Franklin Esqr. / Minister Plenepotentiary from the / Congress of the United States of / America at the Court of Versailles, / at Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5XXVIII, 413–14.

6Lee had received his orders from Patrick Henry in the spring of 1778. Thereafter, the attempts to procure military supplies for Virginia became increasingly complicated; see, in particular, XXVII, 361–3.

7BF gave Lee an appointment for that evening or the next day; see the following letter. The list Lee brought of artillery, arms, and ammunition needed by Virginia, dated March 31, 1779, is at the APS. It approximates the list Lee had sent the commissioners on Jan. 23; that list is published in Adams Papers, VII, 375–6.

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