Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Nesbitt, 23 September 1782

From Jonathan Nesbitt

ALS: American Philosophical Society

L’Orient Septbr. 23me. 1782


The Captains Cain, Josiah & Deale, of the Ships St. James, Lady Washington, & Queen of France, arrived in this port the 19th. Inst &, have communicated to me the Contents of a Letter they have had the honor to address Your Excellency this day.3 These Gentlemen have from the first of the American War, engag’d their lives and Fortune in the Contest,4 & I am convinced in every respect prefer the publick Interest to their own. I therefore take the liberty in the warmest manner to second their request being well convinced that Your compliance therewith will conduce to the Publick good.

I have the honor to remain with Respect Your Excellency’s Most humble Servt.

Jonatn: Nesbitt

His Excellency Benj: Franklin Esqr. Passey

Addressed: His Excellency / Benjn: Franklin Esq / at / Passey / near / Paris

Notation: J. Nesbit 23 Sept 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The letter is missing. Alexander Cain, James Josiah, and Richard Dale brought into Lorient the three prizes Luxford, Lyon, and Will. They wanted instructions for what to do with the 90 prisoners: Nesbitt to WTF, Sept. 20, 1782 (APS).

4Dale (1756–1826) had served since 1776 in the Continental navy and was an officer on the Bonhomme Richard. He had been imprisoned by the British four times during the course of the war: XXX, 631; Gregory B. Keen, “The Descendants of Jöran Kyn, the Founder of Upland,” PMHB, IV (1880), 495–500. Josiah (1751–1820), who on this cruise was part-owner of both the Queen of France and the Washington, had also served in the Continental navy: William Bell Clark, “James Josiah, Master Mariner,” PMHB, LXXIX (1955), pp. 452–84. Cain (b. c. 1750) was part owner of the St. James and had previously commanded several other privateers. For the maritime careers and investments of all three see Claghorn, Naval Officers; William Bell Clark et al., eds., Naval Documents of the American Revolution (11 vols. to date, Washington, D.C., 1964–), I, 1361; and Charles Henry Lincoln, comp., Naval Records of the American Revolution, 1775–1785 (Washington, D.C., 1906).

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