Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Williams, Jr.: Two Letters, 8 July 1779

To Jonathan Williams, Jr.: Two Letters

(I) and (II) copy: Library of Congress


Passy, July 8. 1779.

Dear Jonathan,

I received yours of the 1st. & 2d. Instand. Inclos’d I send as you desire Mr. Lee’s original Letter declining any farther Concern with the Accounts. As it contains some malevolent Insinuations relating to them that are groundless, I think it right you should at the same time see my Observations on them, in the Drafts of a letter Intended to send him in Answer; but which on second Thougts I did not send, merely to avoid a continued Altercation, for which I had neither Time nor Inclination, and he abundance of both.

I am much oblig’d to the Gentlemen who have undertaken the Trouble of examining your Accounts and if they think fit to join Commodore Gillon to their Number, and he will be so good as to accept it will be very agreable to me. I am sorry that Mr. Schweighauser declines it, as he was put into our business by Messrs. Lee’s and it was therefore I nam’d him in the request, tho’ not an American.

I request you would make Enquiry concerning the Complaints contain’d in two Papers I inclose, which were handed to me from the spanish Ambassador.3 I suspect that some of the English Cruizers do sometimes personate Americans to create Mischief. Let me know if Such Vessels realy went from Nantes. I am your Affectionate Uncle.

M. Williams.


[July 8, 1779]4

Dear Cousin,

The Bearer, Mr. Genet junior,5 a young Gentleman of excellent Character, goes to Nantes with an Intention of Spending a little time there in improving himself in the Englisch Langage by conversing among our Countrymen. I desire you would introduce him to their Acquaintance, and I recommend him warmly to all your Civilities, which I Shall esteem as done to myself. I am ever Your affectionate Uncle


Jona. Williams.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The now-missing enclosures from Ambassador Aranda undoubtedly concerned the reported capture of the Nuestra Señora de la Merced (XXIX, 744n) and the two other Spanish merchant ships by American privateers. Documentation of the Spanish concern is provided in Yela Utrilla, España, II, 260–6. See also JW’s response of July 13.

4Dated by its placement in the letterbook.

5Edmond-Charles-Edouard Genet (1763–1834), the only son of BF’s friend Edme-Jacques, was the future Citizen Genet who would become the first minister of the French Republic to the United States, befriend BFB, marry the daughter of George Clinton, and become an American citizen. Already at this young age he had distinguished himself as a talented translator of several languages. One of his projects, for the time he proposed to live at Nantes, was to work on a dictionary of English nautical terms for French sailors. DAB; DBF; Meade Minnigerode, Jefferson, Friend of France, 1793: the Career of Edmond Charles Genet … 1763–1834 (New York and London, 1928), pp. 12, 24, 51–4.

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