Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Hilliard d’Auberteuil, 25 May 1782

From Hilliard d’Auberteuil

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Ce Mardi 25e mai 1782.

Je saisis avec empressement l’occasion d’assurer monsieur franklin de mon respect et de mon attachement sincere et suis de son excellence Le très humble & très obeissant serviteur

Hilliard D’auberteuil

P.S. Je desire que le petit monument que j’ai voulu ériger à la mémoire de la pauvre mis Mac Rea,7 Paraisse agréable à lui et à ses amis


Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Franklin / Ambassadeur des états unis / de l’amerique. / A Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Following his account of Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign in New York, and a general mention of Indian atrocities against Americans, Hilliard inserted the tragic and (by then) infamous story of the murder of Jane McCrea. The daughter of a New York merchant, in Hilliard’s version, McCrea had fallen in love with a young British officer who was serving under Burgoyne and camping close to where her family was living. McCrea, joined by two servants, left home to join her lover. Indians guarding the camp assaulted and scalped her, triumphantly displaying her long hair before the English army and her lover: Essais historiques et politiques …, II, 282–3.

News of the murder spread quickly. Private citizens and military officers on both sides of the conflict were horrified, and Burke even used the incident to argue in the House of Commons against Britain’s use of Indian allies. Hilliard later turned the story into a novella, entitled Mis Mac Rea, roman historique (Philadelphia, 1784), which drew on his own recollections of New York. For a modern edition, with a critical introduction by Lewis Leary, see Miss McCrea (1784): A Novel of the American Revolution, a facsimile reproduction together with a translation from the French, trans. Eric LaGuardia (Gainesville, Fla., 1958).

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