Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from the Comte de Vergennes, 24 October 1783

From the Comte de Vergennes9

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

A Fontainebleau le 24 8bre. 1783

Je crois, Monsieur, devoir vous adresser la copie de la réponse que j’ai reçue de M. le Maal. [Maréchal] de Castries, ainsi que de la piéce qu’il y a jointe relativement à la Saisie faite à l’Orient par le Sr. Pachelberg d’armes et de munitions dont le Sr. Barclay demande la mainlevée.1 Vous y verrez, Monsieur, les raisons que le Sr. Puchelberg allégue pour prouver l’impossibilité où il est de se prêter à cette réquisition. Je vous prie de communiquer le tout au S. Barclay. C’est à lui à faire connoitre les motifs qu’il peut avoir à alléguer pour détruire ceux sur les quels on fonde le refus de la mainlevée qu’il sollicite.

J’ai l’honneur d’être très sincerement Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur

De Vergennes

M. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9This letter finally answers the letters that Thomas Barclay and BF had written to Vergennes in July concerning the attachment of American arms in the arsenal at Nantes by Puchelberg & Cie. Vergennes forwarded their letters to Castries on Aug. 15, underscoring the merits of their case: XL, 407–9. Castries answered Vergennes on Aug. 31: he was instructing Clouet, the commissaire de marine at Lorient, to send him an account and to direct Puchelberg to lift the attachment. (A notation on this letter says that an extract was sent to BF. AAE.) Puchelberg, however, refused to comply. On Sept. 26, Castries ordered Clouet to send Puchelberg’s explanation as soon as possible, whereupon the king would surely order him to comply: Castries to Clouet, Sept. 26, 1783 (AAE).

1Castries’ Oct. 16 letter enclosed a memoir by Puchelberg dated Oct. 1. Puchelberg refused to lift the attachment because it would make him solely responsible for the outfit totaling 31,668 l.t. 12 s. 3 d. that he had furnished to the Alliance at the request of the ship’s captain and on the order of his associate, Schweighauser of Nantes. Schweighauser’s firm had been designated to furnish all American ships in the ports of Brittany; these orders had come from American agent William Lee, ministers BF, JA, and Arthur Lee, and the naval offices of both Boston and Philadelphia. On Aug. 23, 1781, Congress resolved that its auditor, Johnson, should settle the accounts of the Alliance and arrange for BF to pay. This has not yet been done, though BF himself ordered Schweighauser to furnish whatever was necessary to the Alliance.

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