Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from John Bondfield, 4 November 1783

From John Bondfield

ALS American Philosophical Society

Bordeaux 4 Novr 1783


I am Honord with your Confidential Letter of the 22 Ulto (sans signature).9

A fall from my Horse by which I have my left arm Broken confines to my room and will prevent for some days longer applying to the Contents of your Enquiries wch I shall do so soon as able and transmit you every information I can obtain from the most Inteligent & impartial of our friends at this City. The Subject has already been ‘descuted’ in the Chamber of Commerce our Merchants do not conclude that an admission into their Islands of American Traders ought to be forbid but they cannot trace out a line but what will bring great Injury to their Trade.1

The Line that appeard most equitable was a Duty on Tonage say a certain stipulated Sum on every Ton burthen of every vessel inwards & outwards that should unload or (&) Load in any of the Islands belonging to Franch which Duty should be calculated so that the Economy of the American Navigation should be cloggd with a burthen equal or even some little more than the rate at which the National Navigation can be carried on.

They are greatly jealous of their Sugar Trade deriving so many various advantages that to burthen The Exportation to compensate them would be laying a prohibition refering to the report I may make in virtue of the different sentiments that I may occasionally gather I have the Honor to be respectfully Sir your most Obedient Humble Servant

John Bondfield

His Excellency D B Franklin Esqr

Notation: Bondfield 4 Nov. 1783.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Not found.

1Since early 1783 the French government had been trying to formulate a policy for the West Indies that balanced liberalized trade with America and the established mercantile interests of French ports like Bordeaux. As a temporary measure, France returned to the restrictions on American access to the islands that had been in place before the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce. At the end of August, 1783, Castries consulted Barclay, Matthew Ridley, and Lafayette on the issue. Barclay probably conveyed to BF his impression that the status quo was going to prevail. On Oct. 23, Castries wrote a letter to the Chamber of Commerce of Guienne, urging the expansion of Franco-American commerce and explaining why previous ventures had failed. Perhaps aware of this initiative, BF may have asked Bondfield for information about its likely reception: XL, 360n; Roberts and Roberts, Thomas Barclay, p. 129; Marvin MacCord Lowes, “Les Premières Relations commerciales entre Bordeaux et les Etats-Unis d’Amérique (1775–1789),” Revue historique de Bordeaux et du département de la Gironde, XXI (1928), 87–9, 131.

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