From Jonathan Williams, Jr.
ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Yale University Library
Nantes May 6. 1779.
Dear & hond Sir.
I have not yet finished my algebraic Calculation1 relative to my proposed Voyage, because two Circumstances are wanting. News from America, & the arrival of Mr de Montieu. The first of these will I believe turn the Balance one way or the other.— If I should hear that my accots. have not been passed by the Committee, and that the malignant Spirit of Party has prevailed to affect my Character as an honest man, I must abandon every prospect of advantage to the support of my injured Reputation, and (if you think as I do) I must take the most direct Method to return to America, & confound my Enemies.— If I should hear the Contrary, my determination will principaly turn on Points of advantage, unless I find I can be of some further Service to my Country, which will always overpower every other Consideration.— I find the American Commissions have not paid the quarter part of the Expences I am obliged as an established Merchant to be at—and I don’t see a prospect of their encreasing while the english Cruisers swarm & our Ships coming hither are without Protection. Public employment is not often obtained without sollicitation, and I have not yet, nor can I ever sollicit any. Mr A2 has during his Residence here been making enquiry about the Situation of the administration of american affairs—& the best footing to put them on in future,—he has asked me many Questions on the Subject and left me many Openings to ask his Interest, but I never have given even an indirect appearance of a desire or, expectation ever to be again in public Employ, although I have often heard he has spoken of me in the highest Manner; and I once heard that after praising me for my Probity Commercial knowledge & french Language, he said I was the only person here who ought to be the agent or Consul.— This I have never appear’d to know, & it would be imprudence as well as foolish Vanity to tell it to any one else, I therefore mention it (entre nous) & the Satisfaction of my own Mind is all the advantage I expect from it.
From all this you will see I am in a State of indecision but I believe it will rather be on the side of staying at least over the Summer than going directly, for I do not expect to be so hardly treated by my Country as to require my immediate Presence and I have seen so much instability in Mr Montieu’s Plans that I place no Dependance ‘till I see them fixed.—
If you have any Reason for asking me the Question about my proposed Voyage, besides the kind Concern you have always taken in my affairs I shall be glad to know it—
I am ever with the greatest Respect your Dutifull & affectionate Kinsman
J Williams J
Please to answer my Letter about Mr Gourlades demand for the Deanes anchors.— I have not yet executed Mr Greens Order because I have had no Opportunity—3 I will embrace the first.
The Hon. Doctor Franklin
Notations in different hands: Williams Jona. May 6. 1779. / Jona Williams
1. See BF’s letter of April 8.
2. Adams. For JA’s account of his stay in Nantes see Butterfield, John Adams Diary, II, 356–66.
3. BF had forwarded to JW the request made by William Greene, governor of Rhode Island, for various goods: XXVIII, 216–17, 522–3.