Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 9 January 1783

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.5

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Yale University Library

Nantes Jan. 9. 1783

Dear & hond sir.

Please to read the inclosed Letters to Lord shelburne & Mr Vaughan then please to deliver them to Mr Vaughan if with you or forward them to him if not.—6 The subject appears to me worth a national Claim if you think so please to add a Line to my Letter to Lord shelburne, if you think an official Claim not consistent & you in your private name can with propriety add a Word to enforce my Representation I know you will do it.7

I beg you will accept my sincere Wishes for as many Returns of the season as you yourself desire.

I am most respectfully Dutifully & affectionately Yours

Jona Williams J

His Excelly Dr Franklin.

Notation: Williams M. Jona. Nantes 9. Jany 1783.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5JW sent this letter and its enclosures to WTF on Jan. 9 with a covering letter asking him to treat this with “the utmost dispatch” (APS). WTF’s now-missing response of Jan. 15 enclosed a copy of BF’s Jan. 15 note to Shelburne, below: JW to WTF, Jan. 21, 1783 (APS).

6JW’s letter to Shelburne, dated Jan. 9, was an appeal for the restoration of his brig Trio, an unarmed vessel that had sailed from the Loire on Dec. 7—after the preliminary peace agreement had been signed, he pointed out. The crew mutinied and brought the ship into Kinsale, where they were hoping to sell the cargo. JW blamed a “Negro Lad” for instigating the mutiny; this was Jean Montague, former slave of Capt. Robeson (XXXIII, 96–7), who owed JW money and whom JW mistrusted. The British press, however, credited the success of the mutiny to the four English sailors on board, former prisoners of war who had recently been released from a Nantes prison in order to fill out the crew. They conspired with the mate and locked the captain in his cabin: JW to Shelburne, Jan. 9, 1783; JW to Capt. Birrell, Nov. 22, 1782 (both at Yale University Library); The General Evening Post, issue of Jan. 2–4; Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, issue of Jan. 3, 1783.

JW’s letter to Benjamin Vaughan, dated Jan. 8, asked him to deliver Shelburne’s letter, either to obtain a passport allowing the Trio to return to France or else to remit to JW the proceeds of the sale of the cargo, and to assist the captain in returning to France: Yale University Library.

7See BF to Shelburne, Jan. 15.

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