From ——— Champion and ——— Lescuyer, and Other Offerers of Goods and Schemes
ALS: American Philosophical Society
During the months covered by this volume Franklin received but a few offers to supply goods or to promote commercial relations. The first letter, printed below, comes from a supplier to the French army at the Invalides and a merchant-manufacturer in Beauvais, an important textile center. On this letter Franklin drafted a note for a negative reply. We have found no traces of any replies to the following unsolicited offers.3
On March 27, Montesquieu l’aîné has heard that Franklin is proposing to purchase cloth in the southern region of Languedoc and writes the “député Du Congrès” to offer his assistance from Toulouse. At the beginning of the war he furnished several Bordeaux outfitters, including 10,000 uniforms for Mr. Delap.4 Examples were forwarded to Franklin at Paris, but arrangements were suspended following new orders from Congress. His prices are far lower than those Congress has received before.
On April 20, the bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay writes from that city to offer woolen blankets manufactured there in workshops set up to assist the poor.5 The main industry of his diocese is a form of silk lacework which the English used to buy in great quantity for export to America. He would like to reestablish that commerce without any intermediaries. He closes by recalling the time he and Franklin conversed at some length in 1778 at M. Bertin’s country estate.6
On April 23, M. Tezenad writes from Passy on behalf of M. Carrier, M. de Montieu’s uncle,7 to offer Franklin the opportunity to view a rifle at Mr. Molley’s, near the Grand Chatelet. The firearm is four feet, eight inches long and so finely worked in gold and ivory that it would make a proper offering to His Excellency General “Wasinghton”.
A merchant from Abbeville, M. Meurice,8 sends Franklin on May 30 a small sample of his “curative powder” which has proved successful on all kinds of wounds, however ancient. He encloses instructions for its application. The powder is inexpensive and easily distributed to soldiers in small blotting paper packets as a form of first aid. If Franklin needs confirmation of its efficacy and has no occasion to test it for himself, Meurice has treated a local worker with a badly wounded leg who would be willing to travel to the capital to report on his case in person. Franklin would only have to pay the two louis for the worker’s journey.
Perhaps anticipating new trade opportunities presaged by the peace negotiations, J. U. Pauly writes from Hamburg on May 209 proposing a commercial treaty between that city and the United States. The arrangement, using Philadelphia as the initial American port, would give preference to the merchandise of Russia and the Austrian Empire. Eventually other cities in America and the Hanseatic League could be included in this commercial exchange. He outlines the terms of the treaty, and refers Franklin to the ambassadors of Vienna and Russia1 for further details.
a Paris Le 25e mars 1782./.
Les soussignés ont L’honneur d’offrir Leurs Services Pour Les fournitures de L’habillements des trouppes Ameriquaines Conformement aux models qui Leurs sera donné, ou a Ceux qu’ils ont Envoies a nantes a Monsieur Villiammes neveux de Monsieur francklin ministre et deputé En La Cour de france2
1er Uniforme en Brun Veste et Culotte Blanche
2e Uniforme en Rouge de Garence veste et Culotte Blanche
3e Uniforme en Jeaune Veste et Culotte Blanche
4e Uniforme en Bleu Veste Et Culotte Blanche avec Les Boutons Uniformes Conformes aux Models qui Leurs Seront Presentés, Les dits Entrepreneurs offrent de faire les Models Cy dessus designés Pour que L’entreprise qui Leurs Seroit donné Fut de même dans Son Execution
Endorsed: Que je garderai le Proposition mais qu’actuellement je n’ai point d’achats a faire
3. Unless otherwise noted, the letters discussed in this headnote are in French and are at the APS.
4. Samuel and J. H. Delap had long been involved in the American trade: XXII, 445n. For Congress’ earliest order for military supplies, including uniforms, see XXIV, 122–6.
5. Marie-Joseph de Galard de Terraube (1736–1804) began his ecclesiastical career as prior at the Sorbonne and then canon at Notre-Dame de Paris. He was consecrated bishop of Le Puy-en-Velay in 1774: DBF under Galard; Dictionnaire de la noblesse, VIII, 797.
6. Bertin had entertained BF at least once that year at Chatou: XXVI, 506. JA, who accompanied BF and WTF on that occasion, described that visit and others to Chatou that year: Butterfield, John Adams Diary, II, 314–15, 318; IV, 117–18, 161. Bertin retired as secretary of state in May, 1780: Michel Antoine, Le Gouvernement et l’administration sous Louis XV: Dictionnaire biographique (Paris, 1978), p. 34.
7. Jean-Joseph Carié (Carrier) de Montieu, the former entrepreneur de la manufacture royale des fusils accused of furnishing defective firearms to the royal arsenal and later to the Americans: XXII, 464n.
8. He is listed among the principal merchants of the town in the Almanach des marchands, p. 7. Meurice signs his letter with an abbreviated first name, “Aen.”, probably for Adrien. This letter is at the University of Pa. Library.
9. The original letter in German is not extant. We have a French translation (Hist. Soc. of Pa.) prepared at BF’s request by a M. Tillier, who appended a brief note and signed himself an officer of the Gardes. He is listed among the second lieutenants of the Swiss Guards in the Etat militaire for 1781, p. 156. In a postscript Tillier added: “Je Vous prie dassurer de mes respects a Vos Dames.” The letter is undated as to year.
1. The comte de Mercy-Argenteau (XXIII, 590n) and Prince Bariatinskoy (XXIV, 49n), respectively. Also among BF’s papers at the Hist. Soc. of Pa. is a title page of a pamphlet printed at Hamburg in May, 1782, addressed to Catherine II and the Economic Society of St. Petersburg, and proposing the establishment of commercial ties between Russian and Hanseatic merchants. A note on this title page, in an unknown hand, identifies Pauly as the author: “Prospectus addressé à la Chambre Economique de Petersbourg pour l’Etablissement dun commerce en General entre les deux Nations Russes & ameriquaines, fait par lautheur de la lettre & terminé par des passages du vieux Testament”.
2. Champion had introduced himself to BF two years before: XXXIII, 107–8. Lescuyer, listed as Lescuyer Vuatrin on p. 81 of the Almanach des marchands, supplied JW with textiles from the summer of 1777 (XXIV, 456, 474) until his death in the spring of 1782: JW’s accounts and his letters to Mme Lescuyer of May 25 and June 22, 1782 (Yale University Library).