Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to D. Wendorp and Thomas Hope Heyliger, 8 June 1781

To D. Wendorp and Thomas Hope Heyliger

AL (draft): Library of Congress

Passy, June 8. 1781


I received the Letter you did me the Honour of Writing to me the 31st past, relating to your Ship supposed to be retaken from the English by an American Privateer and carried into Morlaix.5 I apprehend that you have been misinformed, as I do not know of any American Privateer at present in these Seas. I have the same Sentiments with you of the Injustice of the English, in their Treatment of your Nation. They seem at present to have renounc’d all Pretention to any other Honour than that of being the first Piratical State in the World.6 There are three Employments which I wish the Law of Nations would protect, so that they should never be molested or interrupted by Enemies even in time of War; I mean Farmers, Fishermen & Merchants; because their Employments are not only innocent, but for the common Subsistence & Benefit of the human Species in general.7 As Men grow more enlightened, we may hope that this will in time be [the] Case. Till then we must submit as well as we can, to the Evils we cannot remedy. I have the honour to be Gentlemen,

Messrs D. Wendorp, & Thos Hope Heyliger

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Their ship was the Jonkvrouw Maria Magdalena, Jan Olhoff, master. According to their May 31 letter, written from Amsterdam (APS), the ship had arrived at St. Eustatius on January 1, was taken by the British, and sent to Europe on March 19 as part of a 40-ship convoy. The ship was retaken by an American privateer and brought into Morlaix; her pilot, Jan Jansen Ruberg, remained on board and informs them that the agent of the privateer was named Dyot. They asked BF to take to heart the interest of the Dutch and restore to them the ship and its cargo. The privateer in fact was the former American privateer Black Prince and the agent, John Diot (XXIX, 783; XXXIII, 41n), but the preceding summer BF had withdrawn her American commission: XXXIII, 114–15, 261n. The capture was made on May 10 under French colors: Courier de l’Europe, IX (1781), 354.

6BF here wrote but then deleted, “I wish all Commerce”.

7A wish BF had expressed earlier: XXXII, 466–7. At this point of the present letter he wrote but then deleted, “The English are [crossed out: at present] now at War with all the new World, and a great Part of the old, and are making great Strides”.

Index Entries