Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Peter Allaire, 10 May 1779

From Peter Allaire7

ALS: Library of Congress

London 10 May 1779


An Offer has been made me, which I think worthy Your Attention, as it may be of Infinite service to the fleets & Armies of America.

A person has Applyed to me to furnish any Quantity (not less then 20 lb weight) of Doctr: James’s fever Powders, so well known all over Europe, for fifteen Shill, Ster. an Oz. Each Oz Contains 12 Packages, and the price that James & Newbury sells that at is 2/6 each paper, & to Goverment at 30/per Oz, I am Offered them at one half.8

The person before the Death of the late Doct James, was Imployed by the Doctr: for many Years to make them, but since his Death, his Son9 & Newbury, have Discharged him & having a pattent the Secret is of very little service to him in this Kingdome.

Inclosed I send You Two Oz for Your Inspection & Examination.

If You approve of them & the proposall I shall be happy to think I have been of some little Service to my Country.

I can at all times send them to Calais. I shall Esteem it as a favour, Your Answer to the Above proposal & am With Respect—Your Very humb Servt

P. Allaire

N 61 Titchfield Street
a few lines without any Signature will be Sufficient
Benj: Franklin Esqr.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7For the N.Y. merchant who had sent political and military intelligence to BF on at least two occasions see XXIV, 470; XXVI, 518.

8Dr. Robert James, who died in 1776, had invented a popular but controversial medicine for fever and inflammation: XI, 202n. Francis Newbery (1743–1818), who had inherited a publishing house and patent medicine business established by his father, held the patent for James’s fever powders. DNB. The person who offered to furnish the powders was Samuel Swinton, owner of the Courier de l’Europe, wine merchant, entrepreneur, and double agent. Claude-Anne Lopez, “The Man Who Frightened Franklin,” PMHB, CVI (1982), 518–19; Eugène Hatin, Histoire politique et littéraire de la presse en France (8 vols., Paris 1859–61), III, 404–6.

9Pinkstan James (1766–1830), who practiced medicine in London: DNB under his son, George Payne Rainsford James.

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