Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Hodgson, 26 January 1783

From William Hodgson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London 26 Jany 1783

Dear sir

I have Rec’d your favor of the 14th per Mr Oswald & am much obliged to you for your friendly Intentions,9 I have the Satisfaction to inform you that after all the Alarms & Apprehensions the upshot was tolerable, much better than I expected.

I without delay waited upon the Secretary of State with the discharges of the Officers you sent me & he readily consented to do every thing you requested & desired I woud return you his best thanks1 & this day I have been again at the Office desiring the Cartel Vessell might go to L’Orient instead of Morlaix which was promised me2 I hope they will be soon sent away, if you judge a Passport still necessary I will endeavour to procure one & send before the Cartel Vessell goes— I do now most sincerely congratulate you on the happy Issue to the horrors of War, which in my Opinion has terminated in such a Manner as to be a general Blessing to the human Race & to yourself nothing coud be more glorious & honorable—there Remains yet a good deal to settle & arrange— I recollect when at Passy you was pleased to say that you woud turn your thoughts to the Consideration of which wou’d be the wisest & best Conduct for this Country to pursue with respect to America, after Independence shou’d be acknowledged & you gave me reason to hope you wou’d favor me with them, I take the Liberty of reminding you because I think you will do thereby an Essential Service to this Country & it will be highly honorable to me to be the Communicator of your Ideas on such a Subject to the Minister— War being now no more, Commercial Ideas, begin to occupy my Mind, I wish to have Connections with America & I think there is a fair prospect that those who get first to Market will do best —3 I have a Ship of my own Called the Mary, Jno Muir master which I design to send to the Chesapeak with a Cargo of goods as soon as I possibly Can, Hostilities, I expect, will cease in the Channell before the Vessell can possibly be ready, but I am apprehensive she may get into War Latitude before the Cessation of Hostilities for this reason I request the favor of you to give me a pass for her both in her Voyage & on her arrival in America shou’d it so happen that she gets there before the final Settlement & as I wish her to be protected att all Events if Mr W. T. Franklin will oblige me so far as to procure a pass for her both from the French & Spanish Ministers I shall be much obliged to him & the sooner it is done the more likely to prove beneficial— I am well informed that there is not any thing novel in this request— After the Preliminaries of the last General Peace were signed the different Powers granted Passports for such Vessells as were to sail after the signing & were intended for long Voyages, where they might run the risque of being captured as the Time limited for the Cessation of Hostilities woud not be expired.4

I submit it to your Consideration whether it may not have some weight in Case of any Demur, to certify the pass to be given to the Ship as belonging to me, (which she actually does)—as I am apt to flatter myself my Conduct wou’d entitle me to some favor in America. I hope soon to furnish you with my Ballance Acct for the prisoners, I recd upwards of a Month ago a small Bill from Mr Wren belonging to a Prisoner twas a Continental Loan Note I enclosed it you in a Letter per a friend of Mr Vaughans be pleased to signify if you recd it.5

The favor of an Answer to this Letter the first opportunity will much oblige. Your’s most Sincerely

William Hodgson

P.S. pray am I to prosecute Digges,6 I totally forgot to mention it to you—

Addressed: To / His Excellency / Benj. Franklin Esqr

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Included in the “note” dated Jan. 14: XXXVIII, 583–4.

1On Jan. 8 Hodgson had relayed Secretary of State Townshend’s request for the exchange of three British officers: XXXVIII, 568–9. BF’s answer is missing; it might have been in the now-missing section of his letter of Jan. 14 (XXXVIII, 583).

2Preparations for an exchange of prisoners at Lorient were well under way when Hodgson wrote on Jan. 8 that the site had been changed to Morlaix; see our annotation of Bondfield to BF, Jan. 26, and XXXVIII, 568. BF must have insisted on Lorient in a now-missing response.

3European imports flooded American ports in the spring and summer of 1783: Richard Buel, Jr., In Irons: Britain’s Naval Supremacy and the American Revolutionary Economy (New Haven and London, 1998), p. 247.

4As in the current preliminary agreement, the preliminary treaty of Nov. 3, 1762, between France and Great Britain provided for time limits, based on distance, for the armistice to take effect. Article 22 of the 1783 preliminary articles (for which see the annotation of BF to Livingston, Jan. 21) was in fact adapted from Article 25 of the 1762 preliminaries: Parry, Consolidated Treaty Series, XLII, 225–6. The geographic zones were identical, but the amount of time allowed for sailing to them was shortened.

5Hodgson’s letter of Dec. 12: XXXVIII, 442. Hodgson wrote to Samuel Vaughan, Sr., on the same evening as he penned the present letter to BF, complaining that the letters he had entrusted to Vaughan six weeks earlier for forwarding to Passy did not appear to have been delivered, and asking for the name of the prisoner whose bill of exchange was in question. That letter was conveyed to Paris, where Samuel Vaughan, Jr., wrote and signed a statement that “The above letters came by Mr. Watson,” and thence to Passy, where WTF noted on the verso that the bill, no. 499 dated April 16, was accepted on Dec. 17, 1782, and was to the order of E. Baker for 36 dollars: APS. Elkanah Watson, Jr., arrived in Paris on Dec. 15, after an extended stay in England: XXXVIII, 501n. He is most likely the “friend of Mr Vaughans” mentioned here by Hodgson.

6For embezzling funds intended for prisoner relief: XXXVII, 25–6n, 627.

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