Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Cottin fils & Jauge, 27 February 1782

From Cottin fils & Jauge

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris Le 27 Fevrier 1782.


Nous venons d’apprendre que vous cherchez un Batiment,2 un de nos amis en a un à Amsterdam dont l’armement Se fait Sous pavillon Imperial. Il est de 500 Tonneaux nous vous l’offrons monsieur au prix de 200 l.t. du tonneau aquis avant le depart, & a ne jauger que la Cale du Navire, la place des vivres Sera defalquée, nous Esperons que ce Batiment pourra etre rendu a Brest dans tout le mois prochain.3

Nous vous Serons obligé de nous Faire une prompte reponse.

Nous avons l’honneur detre avec une parfaite consideration Monsieur Vos très humbles & très Obeissants Serviteurs

Cottin FILS Jauge

Notation: Cotin fils Jauge 27. Fevr. 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2To carry military supplies stored at Brest to Philadelphia or the Chesapeake.

3BF received a more detailed proposal from another Parisian banking firm, Dangirard frères, undated except for WTF’s notation: “Proposals for the Freight of Vessels 1782.” The firm offered two ships: the Syrène, 600 tons, currently at Ostend, and L’Aimable Sophie, 350 tons, at Dunkirk, both of which could be at Brest by March 25. They spelled out their terms in thirteen numbered articles. Chaumont advised BF against accepting their offer. His two-page critique, also undated, warned against paying in advance such high prices based on the capacity of a ship’s hold, rather than the tonnage of goods to be loaded. The client, in such cases, ended up paying far more than the value of the ship itself, even fully outfitted, and unscrupulous outfitters often used inferior vessels and anticipated reaping high profits by collecting the insurance when those ships were taken. In addition, BF should stay away from vessels owned by neutral nations; their captains had been known to leave the convoy and sell their cargo to the enemy. Both documents are at the APS, as are two others written by L’Air de Lamotte: a summary of the ten central articles of the Dangirard frères proposal and a related list (perhaps based on information from Chaumont) that summarized the standard freighting terms accepted by the King.

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