Benjamin Franklin Papers
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Gentlemen at Nantes to the American Commissioners, 28 January 1779: résumé

Gentlemen at Nantes to the American Commissioners1

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<Nantes, January 28, 1779: The memorial from the undersigned American gentlemen, merchants and commanders of vessels at Nantes, shows that merchants now incur an inconceivable expense in outfitting their vessels, many of which may not sail because of the unjust conduct of the seamen and lack of an official to arbitrate disputes between American captains and sailors. Seamen are encouraging one another to leave their vessels, taking their two months’ advance, and enter French service. The memorialists have applied to the Commissary of Marine who, though full of zeal, had no jurisdiction and referred them to you, as did Schweighauser. According to the 29th article of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, consuls and agents are to be appointed in each port. They request your Honors to appoint consuls and to invest someone with the power to arbitrate these cases. They refer you to the enclosed case of Josiah Darrell.2>

1Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VII, 384–6.

2Darrell’s letter is above, Jan. 25. The signers of this memorial include Lloyd, Daniel and William Blake, Fendall, Wharton, Ross, Thompson, Gilbank, Ogilvie, Mease, Darrell, Johnson, and Robert Brooke. Four signatures appear for the first time: Wm Robeson, F. Speak, Charles Jenkins, and John Joyner. Capt. William Robeson of South Carolina (who appeared under the name of Robertson in XXVII, 119n) is not introduced to BF until March 14, in a letter to WTF from Thomas Waties (APS). Speak may have been the former captain of the Md. sloop Potomack, Francis Speake: Naval Docs., VIII, 139. For Captain Jenkins see XXV, 645n, 649, 673–4. Joyner is identified in the annotation to Gilbank’s letter of Nov. 28.

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