Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Lafayette, 27 July 1783

From Lafayette3

ALS: Sotheby’s, New York (1985)

Chavaniac july the 27th 1783

My dear Sir

I Beg leave to Return You My thanks for the Notice You Give me of An opportunity to America— But find it is too late to improve it, and My only Hope is that some letters I Have these past days sent to Paris, Have Been put on Board the Washington— Since we Could not Get Monney Here, I am Glad it Has Been found in Holland— Mr. Hartlay’s dissatisfaction, if Sincere, arises from a disposition in Great Britain I Have long foreseen— Time, I fear, Will prove those people are not to Be Confided in—And for ever I take them to Be Natural ennemies to America— Inclosed You Will find a paper, the postscript of Which Contains two letters, that I earnestly Beg You to Have forwarded to American printers—4 About the 15th August, and sooner if I may Be of Service, I Hope to tell You Myself How Respectfully and affectionately I Have the Honor to Be, My dear Sir, Yours


Notation: Lafayette July 27. 1783

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Because L’Air de Lamotte wrote the notation, we are confident that this letter was addressed to BF.

4Lafayette must have sent copies of his April 30 letter to Sir Henry Clinton and Clinton’s May 12 response, which he had sent to Henry Laurens on July 6, asking that he get them printed in the British press: Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, V, 127, 127–8n, 141–2. They appeared in the Public Advertiser on July 17; there, as in all other newspaper appearances we have found, the first letter is dated April 29. Whether or not BF forwarded them, they did appear in the American press beginning (as far as we know) with the Sept. 20, 1783, issue of the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer.

BF also extended his friendship to Lafayette’s former aide-de-camp Maj. Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy (XXXI, 391n). On Sept. 1 he certified the signatures on an Aug. 20, 1783, power of attorney nominating Richard Peters to receive $1,600 due to Capitaine on account of his service in the American army (Harvard University Library). Capitaine had been promoted to major and granted leave to visit France on Nov. 5, 1778. He returned to the United States in March, 1780, where he served under Lafayette through the Battle of Yorktown. As a French officer, he served with the army intended to sail from Cadiz with d’Estaing (for which see XXXVIII, 330): Lasseray, Les Français, I, 141–2; Bodinier, Dictionnaire; JCC, XII, 1105.

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