Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Martha Laurens, 28 April 1781

From Martha Laurens7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

au Vigan en Cevènes8 April 28th. 1781.


By a Letter received from Nantes about five Weeks ago, we were informed that my Brother Col: John Laurens had passed through that Place the day before, in his way to Paris, & desired to hear from us by Letters addressed to your Care. My Uncle Mr James Laurens, whose bad state of health prevents his having the honor of writing himself to your Excellency, wrote to him directly, I wrote to him fifteen days ago, both Letters addressed according to his direction, but to our great surprize, we have not yet had the pleasure of an answer. I take the Liberty Sir as Daughter & Sister of Americans, truly attached to their Country’s Cause, to claim your Condescension, & to beg to be informed by your means, whether my Brother has been at Paris, or if he has quitted that Place, where I may direct Letters for him— My Uncle desires to be presented to your Excellency in terms of the most profound respect, & to add, that, as it is probable, he may be obliged to set out for England in about fifteen days hence, he will esteem it a particular favor, if you will get him a proper Passport from the french Minister, & let him know whatever Expence may attend the procuring it, which he will take immediate measures to repay—9 our family consists of four Persons. Mr & Mrs Laurens, & two Daughters of the unfortunate H Laurens Esqr. Prisoner in the Tower of London.

I plead the anxiety of near relations on account of my dear Brother, as an excuse for this intrusion on your Excellency—& I have the honor to be with respect—your Excellency’s most obedient, humble Servant

Martha Laurens.

Notation: Miss Martha Laurens April 28. 1781

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Martha Laurens (1759–1811) was the oldest of John Laurens’ three surviving siblings: David Duncan Wallace, The Life of Henry Laurens with a Sketch of the Life of Lieutenant-Colonel John Laurens (New York and London, 1915), p. 502. She was on an extended visit to France with her uncle James Laurens, Jr., her aunt, and her younger sister: XXVII, 468–70; XXVIII, 92–3.

8Le Vigan, near Nîmes, where the Laurens family resided until after the end of the war: Wallace, Life of Laurens, p. 226.

9As far as we know, James Laurens, Jr., who died in France in February, 1784 (Wallace, Laurens, pp. 414, 418), never left there.

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