Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert R. Livingston, 24 November 1781

From Robert R. Livingston

AL (draft): New-York Historical Society; copies: New-York Historical Society, National Archives;7 transcript: National Archives

Philadelphia, 24th. Novr. 1781.


Majr Genl Du Portail will have the honor to present this. Congress in consideration of their Long & faithful services in this country have grantd permission to him & Colls. De Laumoy & Gouvion to revisit their friends in Europe for the winter.8

As the merit of these Gent [Gentlemen] has procured for them particular marks of the esteem of Congress they wish them to be distinguished by the notice of their Sovereign, And for that purpose have directed that they be recommended to you, & that you be requested to present them at Court in such manner as will bespeak for them the attention they justly merit.

Congress are persuaded that this task will be particularly agreeable to you as they are indebted to your care for the useful services of these gent. & as nothing is more acceptable to a man of real merit than to be made the means of displaying it in others. I have the honor to be sir with great respect & esteem Your Most ob & hum: Servt.

Dr. of a Letter to Docr Franklin recomg. Genl Duportail
No. 3

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The copy and transcript at the National Archives both contain a postscript: “P.S. This is the third Letter I have had the honor to write to you since my entering upon office, and you find it numbered in the Margin accordingly. I beg you will be pleased to number all your Letters to me in the same Manner, that I may know those which may some how or other be prevented from coming to hand.” Livingston had written BF on Oct. 20, Oct. 24, and Nov. 2.

8Duportail had been chief of American engineers at Yorktown and for his distinguished service was mentioned by Washington in his congratulations to the army and promoted by Congress to Major General: Rice and Brown, eds., Washington’s Army, I, 150; JCC, XXI, 1121. Gouvion (XXIII, 160–1n) served with him at Yorktown: Rice and Brown, eds., Washington’s Army, II, 158–9. The two returned from France in December, 1782: Elizabeth Kite, Brigadier-General Louis Lebègue Duportail, Commandant of Engineers in the Continental Army, 1777–1783 (Baltimore, Philadelphia, and London, 1933), p. 254. Their fellow engineer Laumoy (XXIII, 160n) had been captured at Charleston and was not exchanged until November, 1782: Bodinier, Dictionnaire.

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