Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert Montgomery, 12 August 1779

From Robert Montgomery

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Madrid 12th August 1779


I had the Honour of writing your Excely. the 29th June6 Advising that the Governour of Alicante had on the Declaration of the war Against England, Embargoed my house and put me under an Arrest until he Should know his Majesty’s Pleasure Concerning the Americans, and I Shortly after wrote you that the Minester of State el Conde de Florida Blanca on hearing this, Immediate dispatched a post Extraordinary to that Govert: Severely Censuring his Conduct, with Orders to Give me Every Liberty and Protection, on which Requested you would take no farther Trouble on my Acct: Supposing myself then in full Security;7 but unfortunately being in Company with the Governour’s Assesor Shortley after this Affair, I was So Imprudant as to Ralley him tho’ in Good Nature, on his not better understanding his Majestys Order of the 21st June, which Was to Seaze all British Ships then found in any of the Ports of those Dominions. This Creature who Could Not Bear to See his own Weakness, has to Be Revenged Informed the Minester that I have Never been in America, and that the passport and Certifícate I Produced Signed by your Eccely. Mr Lee and Mr Adams, are no more than Counterfits and ware never Given by you. On this false Information I am Ordred to Retire 20 Lagues from the Coast, till I Can Prove the Authenticity of those Papers. This (I may Say Vile[?]) Insinuation of the Assesor of Alicante Is So Injurious to My Honour, as well as to My Credit as A Merchant, that I hope you Sir, will not Hisitate a Moment to Repair it as you are the only Person who has Power to do it. I Reley on your Justice and Honour for this Redress. On being Ordred to Retire from Alicante I Came directly here and Expect to Morrow to be Introduced to the Minester, but fear I May meet many Deficultys, till I am Honour’d by a Letter from you Ratefying the Certifycate and Passeport Given Me the 8th Sepr. 78 at your Hotel in Passy,8 this would fully Satisfy all douts with the Minester by Shewing it to him, and hope you will not be Silent on this Occation, as that would Perfectly Confirm this falce Assertion, which must be Attended with the worst Consequences, I am with True Respect. Sir Your Eccelly’s. Most Obedt Most Humble Servent

Robt Montgomery

Please Direct A Los Srs: Don Pedro Casamayor & Co9 Para Entregar A Don Roberto Montgomery Madrid
Benn: Franklin Esqr—

Addressed: à Son Excc. Monsieur / Monsieur Ben: Franklin / Plenipotentiare des Etates Unie de l’Amerique / En Passy / Paris

Notation: Robt. Montgomery

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Actually, the 26th; see his letter of July 6.

7From France Spanish Ambassador Aranda sent Foreign Minister Floridablanca a copy of Montgomery’s June 26 letter (which BF provided him, as he told Montgomery on Oct. 28, below); on Aug. 2 Floridablanca replied that he had ordered the situation rectified: Purificación Medina Encina, et al., eds., Documentos relativos a la independencia de Norteamérica existentes en archivos españoles (11 vols., Madrid, 1977–1985), VI, 153, 283–4.

8His oath of allegiance of that date (APS) is attested by JA and Arthur Lee, but not by BF. See also XXVII, 414.

9Montgomery’s banker: Adams Papers, VIII, 314. This may be the Pierre Casamajor of Malaga mentioned in Lüthy, Banque protestante, II, 189n, or a descendant of his.

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