Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from James Lovell, 4 May 1780

From James Lovell

ALS: American Philosophical Society

May 4th 1780

Hond Sir

I cannot write with official authority nor have I time to enlarge now upon our public affairs owing to the particular Circumstances of the Mass: Delegation which forces me to attend in Congress7 and the Vessel will probably sail before our Adjournment this Afternoon. I refer you to the Journals & Gazettes together with Mr. Robert Mease’s Conversation. It is not necessary that I should recommend this Gentleman to your Civilities: your Knowledge of his Family, and his present Care to forward Pacquets to you,8 both secure for him your Attentions.

We have had no Letter from you since one of Sepr. 30th. read Feb. 23d.9 nor have we at any Time recd. a Copy of the Instrument annulling the 11th. and 12th. articles1 the publication of which articles in our Newspapers make some public proceedg. here necessary in regard to the Annullment. It was some time in Novr. —78 as appears by the Copies of some Letters delivered by Mr Adams the originals of which did not come to hand.

Our Affairs at the Southward are to be judged of by the Gazettes. We 11. 14. 8. 12. 1. 3. 27. 13. 11. 17. 6.2 We have a very good Prospect that the late War between 3. 6. 18. 23. 3. 4. 13. 6. 14. 24. 18. 13. 16. 26. 4. 23. 3. 4 is the last that will spring up between those Tribes. They have convinced each other by every Skirmish that they ought to be in perpetual Amity on the Ground of reciprocal Benefits.

I do not feel easy till I have my Pacquets on Board. If I have Time I will again write to you by the same opportunity more largely.

Be assured of my greatest Respect for your Character and my sincerest Wishes for your Prosperity being, Sir, your Friend and most humble Servant

James Lovell

Addressed: Honorable/ Doctor Franklin/ Minister plenipory./ of the United States/ of America/ in/ France/ favd by/ Mr. Mease

Endorsed: J Lovell May 4. 80 / Lovel

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7At the moment only two members of the Massachusetts delegation, Lovell and Samuel Holten, were in attendance: Smith, Letters, XV, xviii–xix.

8He carried packets for JA as well: Adams Papers, IX, 270.

9XXX, 420–1. In fact Congress had received and read a much longer letter from Franklin of Oct. 4 (XXX, 463–74): JCC, XVI, 226.

1Of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Congress had exercised its option of dropping these two articles and in November, 1778, the commissioners and Vergennes exchanged declarations to that effect: XXVII, 330–2, 668.

2Lovell was using the cipher he had sent to BF on Feb. 24: XXXI, 521–2. BF, correctly assuming that the key was still “cor,” attempted to decipher it on the back of the address sheet. He became confused at number 13 (which was Lovell’s mistake; it ought to have been a 1) and wrote out every permutation of possible letters for both this sentence and the phrase below. He never understood them. This numerical string should read “may not boast.” The phrase in the next sentence should read “the merchant & farmer.” Lovell sent JA an explanation of the cipher in a letter of this same date, but JA had no more luck with it than did BF: Adams Papers, IX, 272n.

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