Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Vergennes, 3 June 1783

To Vergennes

ALS: Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; AL (draft): American Philosophical Society

Passy, June 3. 1783.


Having long known Mr Williams to be a very just Man in all his Transactions, I hope the Favour he requests of a Surséance may be granted to him, being confident that it will be employed to the compleat Satisfaction of his Creditors. I therefore earnestly pray your Excellency to obtain it for him.2 With great Respect, I am, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

M. le Comte de Vergennes.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2BF enclosed the petition JW had written at Passy that same day, June 3, addressed to Vergennes, seeking an arrêt de surséance (protection from creditors) for his own firm in Nantes and his Lorient firm, Williams, Moore & Co. Asserting that in the past six years he had shipped more than 10,000,000 l.t. of French fabric to America, he explained that his present cash-flow problem stemmed from the bankruptcy of Parisian banker Vincens (XXXVIII, 158) and the delayed arrival from America of remittances that would cover his present debts. If granted temporary protection, he promised not to engage in any further speculations until these debts were paid.

On June 5 JW sent Vergennes a second letter along with a detailed financial statement of Williams, Moore & Co., begging the minister to save his reputation. BF had known him since infancy and would never protect him if he had the slightest doubt of his probity. JW sent these under cover of a solicitous letter to Rayneval, also dated June 5. The following day, June 6, he was granted an arrêt that was good for three months: notation on [Vergennes] to Louis XVI, [c. June 5, 1783]. All documents cited in this note are at the AAE.

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