Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Hodgson, 26 August 1782

From William Hodgson

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

London 26 August 1782

Dear sir

Not having any thing particular to Communicate I have deferred too long paying my tribute of thanks for the Civilities I recd from you during my short stay at Paris—8 I saw the Minister9 soon after my Return, who was much upon the Fish to know why I paid you a Visit, I turned it off, by saying we had a long Acc’t to settle & that I flatterred myself my Visit had not been alltogether fruitless as I had endeavoured & I hoped with some Success, to convince you that his Lordship was fully resolved to grant American Independence, of the Truth of which most Men entertained great Doubts, he said I did right—& that alltho the Commission for that purpose had not been expedited, yet the Copy had, & the Commission itself shou’d be sent as soon as the Chancellor returned to Town, all which I hope will be carried into execution—1 If in the course of this Business any thing shou’d occurr which may require a fuller Conversation with his Lordship than perhaps can be obtained from the Gentleman at Paris, I shall be happy in being employed & you may depend upon my Zeal & discretion & you will oblige me much by a hint of Information how things go on.

I have sent the 4 Boxes of pepper Mint drops to Shelburne house which I hope you will receive Safe2 & I have made application for another Cartel Vessell to carry what American Prisoners have been collected since the last Sailed—with those who were left behind sick the No. is about 1303—& I am promised that they shall be sent away as soon as a Vessell can be procured for the purpose— If you have any Dispatches to send I can forward them by some of the Officers that go & perhaps it may be a safe & eligible mode of Conveyance— I have given Directions to Mr Wren4 to pay a weekly allowance to the Prisoners 1 s., to Officers & 6 p. to Men. I am with the greatest Respect Dr sir Yours most sincerely

William Hodgson

I wrote to Digges pursuant to what we settled but he has not given any Answer, nor do I expect he will—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Hodgson seems to have been in Paris from late July through at least the first week of August, during which time he settled his 1782 accounts through July 26 (XXXVI, 605–6n), and was paid by Ferdinand Grand on Aug. 1: Account XXVII (XXXII, 4). On July 31 Vaughan mentioned in a letter to Shelburne that he would ask Hodgson to carry his letters, and on Aug. 6 Vaughan reported to Shelburne that he, Hodgson, and Bancroft had discussed the possibility of America making a separate peace; both letters are at the APS.

9Shelburne, with whom Hodgson had conferred in mid-July about the peace negotiations: XXXVII, 653–5.

1The official copy of Oswald’s commission was sent on Aug. 10: Morris, Jay: Peace, p. 286n.

2These were for Gérard de Rayneval; see XXXVII, 31n, and BF to Rayneval, Sept. 4.

3There still were 157 American prisoners at Forton and Mill on Aug. 28: Sheldon S. Cohen, Yankee Sailors in British Gaols: Prisoners of War at Forton and Mill, 1777–1783 (Newark, Del., and London, 1995), p. 204.

4Rev. Thomas Wren, who assisted American prisoners at Forton Prison, Portsmouth: XXV, 416–17n.

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