Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to the Marquis de Lafayette, 24 August 1779

To the Marquis de Lafayette

AL (draft): American Philosophical Society; copies:2 National Archives, Library of Congress (three); transcript: National Archives

Passy, Augt. 24. 1779


The Congress sensible of your Merit towards the United States, but unable adequately to reward it, determined to present you with a Sword, as a small Mark of their grateful Acknowledgement.—3 They directed it to be ornamented with suitable Devices. Some of the principal Actions of the War, in which you distinguished yourself by your Bravery & Conduct, are therefore represented upon it. These with a few emblematic Figures all admirably well executed, make its principal Value. By the help of the exquisite Artists France4 affords I find it easy to express every thing, but the Sense we5 have of your Worth & of our Obligations to you. For this, Figures & even Words are found insufficient.— I therefore only add, that with the most perfect6 Esteem & Respect, I have the honour to be, Sir,

P.S. My Grandson goes down to Havre with the Sword, and will have the Honour of delivering it unto your Hands.7

Marquis de La Fayette.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The copy at the National Archives and one of those at the Library of Congress is in WTF’s hand. One of the other Library of Congress copies is by Dumas, who composed a French translation, the draft of which is at the Library of Congress and a fair copy at the APS.

3BF wrote in the margin “See vote,” probably referring to the congressional resolution directing him to have the sword made; see JCC, XII, 1035.

4Replaces “Paris”.

5Originally drafted as “all the world”.

6Replaces “greatest”.

7WTF advanced himself 600 l.t. for the trip, which cost 320 l.t.: Account XXIII (XXIX, 3); Account VI (XXIII, 21). He was accompanied by Jacques Brillon, who wrote him on Aug. 22 to inquire about the carriage or carriages they would take and indicated they planned to leave on the 24th. APS. On Oct. 28 WTF paid 30 l.t. to Maugé for six days’ hire of a cabriolet for the journey to Le Havre: Account XXIII.

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