Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from the Comte de Mailly, [1783]

From the Comte de Mailly8

L: American Philosophical Society


M. Le Maréchal de Mailly, ayant sçû que, Monsieur francklin, désireroit connoître Le plan et la Situation du Port-Vendre.

Il a crû pouvoir lui en Envoyer quelques Exemplaires,9 et Il désire qu’ils puisse Lui plaire Et luy paraître de quelque utilité Respective./.

Notation: Le Mal. de Mailly—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The military commander of Roussillon in the eastern Pyrenees (DBF, under Haucourt), who since 1773 was responsible for enlarging and deepening the harbor of Port-Vendres and augmenting its fortifications. In 1783 Mailly commissioned the architect Charles de Wailly to design four bronze reliefs for the base of a newly erected obelisk placed at the mouth of the harbor. They commemorated American independence, free trade, the French navy, and the abolition of slavery in France: Sylvia Pressouyre, “Un ensemble néo-classique a Port-Vendres,” Les Monuments historiques de la France, new ser., IX (1963), 199–222. We suspect that the present letter was written in 1783, when Mailly must have been promoting trade with the United States and was probably involved in the campaign to have the French government choose Port-Vendres as a free port for American shipping: Gilbert Larguier, “Port-Vendres: une fondation d’inspiration maçonnique,” in Les Lumières en Roussillon au XVIIIe siècle: hommes, idées, lieux, ed. Larguier (Canet, France, 2008), p. 197. For the competition in the first half of 1783 among French cities to be selected a free port see XXXIX, 104–7; XL, 6–7.

9The enclosures have not been found, but they may have been the engravings of Wailly’s view and plan of Port-Vendres that were produced around 1780 and 1781 (printed in Pressouyre, “Un ensemble néo-classique a Port-Vendres,” 206–7).

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