Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Harris, 12 August 1779

To John Harris1

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy, Aug. 12. 1779.


I received your Letters of the 7th. Instant.2 I wish it was in my Power to Accommodate the exchang’d Prisoners with every thing they desire. But the Number is so great, and my Means so Small by the Loss of Several Cargoes sent by the Congress, that it is with difficulty I can provide them with mere Necessaries. I have directed M. Sheweighauser to furnish the Officers and Men that came in this Cartel in the same manner and Proportion that was advis’d and approv’d by Mr. Adams a Member of Congress late Commissioner here then at Nantes. I cannot exceed this nor do for one what I am not able to do for all. As to any Money that may be due to particular Persons for Shares of Prizes or Wages, it is a Matter I cannot meddle with, being totally improvided with the Means of ascertaining and adjusting Such Claims, or any Orders to authorise me in paying them. They can only be settled in the proper Offices at home; whither I wish you all a safe and happy Return. I have the honour to be Sir Your most obedient and most humble Servant.

Capt. John Harris Nantes.

1A captain in the Va. navy, who had been captured in June, 1777: XXV, 415–16n; XXVII, 92–4. Among BF’s papers is a July 26, 1779, inquiry about him by one Blittenberg, whose friend Lewis Dupré had just returned to Paris after three months’ captivity in Gosport (near Portsmouth). Dupré had left his trunk with Harris, who was expecting to be exchanged. Had Harris arrived yet in Nantes? APS.

2These letters (missing) were written some two weeks after the arrival of the Milford’s group of prisoners.

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