Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Stephen Gregory, 3 September 1781

From Stephen Gregory

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Cherbourg 3th. of september 1781


I hope your Exellency will Excuse the Neglect of Duty as a Continental officer for not writing to you Before, it was throu Ilness I Did not write, fore I kep room Ever since I Landed here from England, which it was 27th. of August Last. I’m a Lieut of the Confederacy fregate Seth Harding Esqr. Commandr Send home to England to be Confin’d;1 Likewise the Capt the Marines & one Lieut of marines, & greatest part of the Petit Officers, as for the Rest of Ships Lieut, were Exchang’d, as for my Been send away; was I think: Owing to that, of my Been franchman Born, for I Can’t account for any thing Ells, for I saild out of amirica Near fifteen Years,2 & have the honor of Been in the Cause of America Ever Since the first Shot was fired againt the king of england. I Propose to take the Rhod for paris & wait on your Exellency, soon as Ever I’m Able to Stir, I hope in the Main time, that Your Exellency will Remember a Commision’d Officer by Congress if their is any ship of war for the service of the united states of america Being the first one entitled if no officer older than me on the Spot.3

I Remain your Exellencys must Devoted Hble. Sert.

STEPHEN Gregory Lieut

Addressed: To / His Exellency Benjm Franklin / An American Ambassador— / at / Paris

Notation: Stephen Gregory sept 3. 1781

1He had been third lieutenant on the frigate Confederacy, captured on April 14, 1781: James L. Howard, Seth Harding, Mariner: a Naval Picture of the Revolution (New Haven and London, 1930), pp. 144–5, 209.

2In 1772 he had been employed by Nicholas Brown & Co.: James B. Hedges, The Browns of Providence Plantation (2 vols., Providence, 1968), I, 41.

3He found employment with Caron de Beaumarchais as captain of the Alexandre, which was captured at the end of 1782; by 1786 he was captain of a merchant ship trading between France and the United States: Gregory and Beaumarchais: Bond, July 8, 1782 (APS); Roger Lafon, Beaumarchais le brillant armateur (Paris, 1928), pp. 217, 250; Jefferson Papers, IX, 581–2; X, 67, 136, 228; Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Diaries of George Washington (6 vols., Charlottesville, 1976–79), V, 359.

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