From Jonathan Williams, Jr.
ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Nantes Decemr 6. 1782.
Dear & hond Sir
The Day before yesterday there were a number of Letters in Town announcing a Peace.1 The News came from the secretary of the Duc d’orleans who ’tis said informed that the King had announced it to the Duc. Such respectable Information prevented every Doubt and I among the Rest believed it. I immediately set myself to work to get a little fast sailing Brig I have here ready to sail at 24 Hours Notice, supposing you wanted an Express Boat. The foolish Public always think I am in the Secret when anything happens that regards America, and immediately on this news one cried out “M. Williams doit savoir cela”. “Oui” says another “& peut être il a reçu un express de M. Franklin”— the third left the peut être out of the Question, & it was established as a Fact that an Express had arrived to me in 36 hours, nay some knew the matter so well as to describe whether the Expres wore a green or a blue Jacket.— The next Post la nouvelle meritait Confirmation how it will be tomorrow I cannot tell, but if it be true, and if you wish to convey it to America, here is the Brig at your Service. I only ask you to give her a protection from the English Plenipotentiaries, or in any other way you judge proper, Paying me for the Brig & outfitts exactly what she cost & no more, & returning me the Vessell in America at her estimated Value when she may arrive; this will be making the public pay what I should otherways lose, & what no Man can think unreasonable. As my only motive is to be usefull it is (as a matter of Interest) perfectly indifferent whether you accept the proposition or not, you have therefore only to say yes or no & your orders shall be punctualy obeyed or the matter will be as if it had never been, if I have not an answer in 10 Days I shall conclude that you have not occasion for my Vessell.
I am as ever most dutifully & affectionately Yours.
Jona Williams J
It is proper to inform you that my Brig has a Cargo on board her & she was intended to wait to fill up on Freight. I suppose there can be no objection to her having on board enough to ballast her & whether this be Brandy or Stones is of no Consequence, I mention this because if there be the usual Restriction of Flags of Truce she must be unloaded & Ballasted again, which would lose time & defeat the Object.2
Addressed: His Excellency / Doctor Franklin
Notation: J. Williams 6. Decr. 1782.
1. On Dec. 5 JW wrote to WTF that there were “above 50 Letters” circulating the previous day. He asked WTF to tell BF that he could have a fast brig ready to sail for America within 24 hours. APS. News of the provisional treaty reached England around 2 p.m. on Dec. 3; Townshend immediately informed the Lord Mayor of London, and his letter was published in the London Courant and Daily Advertiser on Dec. 4.
2. We have no record of BF’s having answered this letter. WTF answered on Dec. 11 (missing), inquiring about the brig. JW replied on Dec. 20, informing him that it could be outfitted for less than 40,000 l.t. He also thanked WTF for his hint about “Barney’s safety” and assured him that he would keep the secret, though it was already circulating from other sources. APS. BF had promised Barney an English passport on Dec. 5, above.