Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert R. Livingston, 2 November 1781

From Robert R. Livingston2

Copy: National Archives

Philadelphia, Novr. 2d. 1781


It is with peculiar pleasure that I obey the directions of Congress in making Communications, which shew their Sense of the Exertions of their Ally, & the merit of the Officers She Employs. The Confidence inspired by the first, & the Esteem Excited by the last, form new bonds of Union between Nations whom reciprocal Interests had before Connected. In this View I flatter myself the Enclosed Acts of Congress will be agreeable to you, & that you will with pleasure Communicate to his most Christian Majesty, their desire, with his permission, to present to the Count de Grasse, two pieces of Field Ordnance, taken from the Enemy at York,3 with inscriptions calculated to shew “that Congress were induced to present them from Considerations of the illustrious part which he bore in Effectuating the surrender.”4 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect & Esteem, sir, Your most obedient & most humble servant

R R Livingston

The Hon. the Minr. Plenipy. of France: / :
(Copy) No.1.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Who had recently undertaken his duties as secretary for foreign affairs: XXXV, 378n, 616. La Luzerne, the French minister in Philadelphia, held him in high esteem: La Luzerne to Vergennes, Nov. 1, 1781 (translation in Giunta, Emerging Nation, I, 259).

3I.e., Yorktown, where Cornwallis had surrendered two weeks earlier.

4The Congressional resolutions of Oct. 29 also presented two field pieces to the comte de Rochambeau: JCC, XXI, 1080–2. President of Congress McKean wrote de Grasse on Oct. 31 to inform him of the honor: Smith, Letters, XVIII, 173–4. De Grasse sailed from Chesapeake Bay for the Caribbean on Nov. 4: Dull, French Navy, p. 248. He eventually received his cannon and King Louis XVI’s permission to place them at his château, Tilly: Jean-Jacques Antier, L’Amiral de Grasse, héros de l’indépendance américaine ([Paris], 1965), pp. 381–2.

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