George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Salisbury Franks, 16 October 1780

Robinsons House 16th Octr 1780


When last I had the Honor of seeing your Excellency, I requested to be indulged with a Court of Enquiry on my Conduct, not only to investigate what Knowledge or Share I might have had in the late General Arnold’s Perfidy, but also to take in a retrospective View of my Conduct whilst serving in his Family at Philadelphia.

You were so obliging as to accede to my Request and to promise that a Court of Enquiry should be called to examine into the first Part, but thought, that the Court could not with Propriety go into the second, as your Excellency was pleas’d to say; there appeared no Accusation.

It is with Pain I do inform you Sir, that a Report has been circulated thro’ this Part of the Country, and I believe has reach’d your Excellencys Ears, of a most cruel and injurious tendancy, That of having perjured myself last Winter to save Arnold from merited Punishment. This I feel most sensibly, unsupported by Connections or Interests on this Part of the Continent, I had here nothing but a Name unspotted I trust, untill Arnold’ baseness gave the Tongue of Calumny, Ground sufficient to w[ork] upon against any one unhappily connected with him.

A conscious Innocence of this abominable & groundless Charge of Perjury may cheer, yet cannot support me thro’ a World, too easily misled by first Reports and Prejudices; it however imboldens me earnestly to request your Excellency, to recommend to the Court, a strict examination into both Parts of my Conduct. I shall write to the Secretary of [the] Executive Council of the State of Pennsylvania, who will, I make no doubt transmit to the Court every Paper found among Arnold’s which may carry the smallest Tendancy to criminate me, and from wh[ich] I shall be fully able to exculpate myself.

I do not wish to trespass longer on your Excellency’s time & shall therefore conclude myself with great Respect Your Excellency’s most obedient and obliged humble servant

Davd S. Franks

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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