Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Wharton, 14 June 1780

From Samuel Wharton

ALS and copy: American Philosophical Society

L’Orient June 14 1780

Dear Sir

I Am sorry to have Occasion to write you on the Subject of all the Letters, which are addressed to you by this Courier. Captain Jones, Messrs. Moylan and Nesbit will inform you of the particulars of the outrageous Behaviour of Captain Launday, and the (original) Officers, and Crew of the Alliance, in taking Possession of Her.9 I will take the Liberty of giving my private Opinion of the Cause of this extraordinary Conduct. It is said by the partisans of Captain Launday, That you assumed a Power, not warranted by the Nature of your Ministerial Office in suspending Him and giving Captain Jones the Command, and therefore Captain Launday, as being accountable to the States for the Frigate was warranted in going on Board, and taking Charge of Her. I apprehend, Captain Launday is only made Use of, as an Engine, To create Confusion, and a Delay of the publick Stores, for the purpose of grounding a Complaint against You. It is difficult at present to collect such Facts, as would positively authorise me to say, That Mr. Lee is at the Bottom of this Affair, But from combining a Variety of strong Circumstances, I think, That When the Parties shall be properly examined on Oath by Congress, or the Admiralty Board, It will be found, He has employed every indirect Means in his power for that End.1

I have the Honor of being with the highest Respect, and Consideration Dear Sir your most affectionate humble Servant.

Saml. Wharton

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin

Endorsed: 31 / Mr Wharton Alliance

Notation: L’Orient June 14. 80

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Jones and Nesbitt wrote on June 13, above.

1Lee in turn said that no honest man could be safe among Wharton and his set: Lee to Lovell, June 16, 1778 [i.e., 1780] (National Archives). Wharton elected not to return to America on the Alliance; for the passenger list see our annotation of BF to Jones, March 1.

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