Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to [Vergennes], [on or after 28 July 1783]

To [Vergennes]6

ALS: Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; ALS (draft): Library of Congress

[on or after July 28, 1783]7

Note on Mr Barclay’s Letter

When the Ship Alliance belonging to the Congress was at l’Orient, under the Command of Capt. Jones, Moylan & Co Merchants there, were appointed to supply the Ship with what was necessary during her Stay.

Capt. Landais taking Possession of the Ship surreptitiously in the Absence of Capt. Jones, apply’d to one Puchelberg, a Commis of Mr Schweighauser, for some Provisions, who not only without Orders either from me or Mr Schweighauser, but contrary to express Orders from both, furnished the same, pretending that Landais demanded them in the Name and on Account of the Navy-Board of Boston.

Payment was afterwards demanded of me, which I refus’d, referring the Matter to the said Navy-Board. It was also demanded of his Employer Schweighauser, who it seems refus’d also, probably because the Disbursement was made contrary to Orders.8

This Man, Puchelberg, has on this Account, arrested the Property of the United States, in whose Hands so ever he could find any.—

The Consul of the States complains of it as an Injury, and an Insult: And it is certain, that great Inconveniencies will follow, if such Proceedings are permitted, and if every Man who pretends a Demand against any Foreign Power, however illfounded, may arrest the Effects of that Power in France;—for so the Arms, Ammunition, Clothing, &c. purchased in France, & depended on for important Operations of Government, may be stopt by any private Person, perhaps under Direction of an Enemy, & those Operations defeated; and the United States can never hereafter with Safety make any such Purchases in France.

It is therefore submitted to Consideration, whether the said Arrests ought not only to be immediately discharg’d, but the Arrester punish’d for his Insolence.

B F.

Notation: a raport à la lettre de M. Barclay du 28. Juillet 1783.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Drafted by BF for Barclay to forward to Vergennes, along with the letter he had just received from Barclay (immediately above). Vergennes sent translations to Castries on Aug. 15, requesting that Castries consider this case in the same light as the one that had been decided against Forster frères (for which see Vergennes to BF, July 29): AAE.

7BF could not have prepared this appeal any later than Aug. I, the day Barclay left Paris for London; see our annotation of Laurens to the Commissioners, Aug. 9.

8The story of Landais’ seizure of the Alliance in June, 1780, and Puchelberg’s supplying the ship against orders is told in vols. 32 and 33.

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