Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 13 August 1784

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Havre de Grace 13. Augt 1784.

Dear & hond Sir.

I should have called on you before my Departure if I had not been detained so long in Paris, that I expected to find you in bed and I was determined not to Stop myself ’till I came hither.1 The inclosed from my Father in Law will give you an Idea of his Business & Situation.2 I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you in about 15 days in the mean Time I remain as ever yours most dutifully & affectionately Yours.

J Williams J

Addressed: A Son Excellence / Monsr Le Docteur Franklin / Ministre des Etats Unis / en son Hotel A Passy / prés Paris.

Notation: Williams 13 Augt.— 1784.—

1JW was in charge of receiving tobacco sent from Virginia by William Alexander under the contract with the farmers general signed the previous autumn: XLI, 180n. The partnership’s first shipment, carried by the Mariamne (or Marianne), Capt. Archibald Carrol, arrived in Le Havre on Aug. 9: Jefferson Papers, VII, 395; Carrol to BF, Oct. 4, 1784 (AAE).

2Although William Alexander’s May 30 letter, above, was optimistic, he realized by October the impossibility of fulfilling the contract with the farmers general. Market conditions in both the United States and France were unfavorable; tobacco prices in the United States were too high, and it was impossible to turn a profit on what the farmers had agreed to pay. Despite being supported by Robert Morris’ credit, and his own best efforts at finding bargains, Alexander was able to purchase only about 7 percent of the amount specified in the tobacco contract, and he sent even less to France. He later calculated that the partnership’s losses on the contract amounted to more than 4,000 pounds in Virginia money: Price, France and the Chesapeake, II, 743–6, 1088; Le Couteulx & Cie. to BF, July 3, above; Morris Papers, IX, 470.

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