Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 28 January 1783

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy:3 Yale University Library

Nantes Jan. 28. 1783.

Dear & hond Sir.

As It is proper for every prudent Man to know on what Ground he proceeds before he engages too far, and as now we have a general Peace there can no longer be a Reason for keeping the Terms of it Secret, I beg you will kindly resolve the following Questions.

1 Does the Prohibition of English Goods in America cease, on Britains ceasing to be an Enemy?

If you cannot inform this positively, does it not appear probable it will be so, as that prohibition was the declared Consequence of the War?

2 May Tobacco already imported into France go to England, as it does to other Powers without any infringment of the Treaty, in short, will Tobacco be received there?

I have 800 hhds Tobacco on Sale, & I have some Vessells which propose to go to Liverpool & take Crockery Ware from thence to America, you therefore see the importance of these Questions & I trust you will answer me decisively excusing the Freedom.

My Father joins in the most respectfull Affection I am as ever most dutifully Your affectionate Kinsman

Jona Williams J

As there will be vessells now soon going hence to England I can get a passage for the few Prisoners remaining here if by treaty you are obliged to send them home, if not I will let them go as they can.

Notations: Jonath. Williams Nantes Jany. 28 1783 / [In William Temple Franklin’s hand:] Ansd by WTF.4

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The copy, in JW’s letterbook, is misdated Jan. 23.

4WTF’s letter of Feb. 2 is missing. JW acknowledged it in his response of Feb. 6: he “did not intend to do anything unworthy an American,” he wrote, and assured WTF that his cargo would be confined to crockery and tools for the fishery, “both of which articles America want[s], & the latter will be a public Benefit.” He had heard from Samuel White that blank passports would arrive from England, and that in order to fill them out, BF would need from him a list of names. He enclosed it, but anticipating that the personnel might change, he requested that he be sent blank passports on the assurance that he would return an exact account of how he had used them. He requested 30 blanks to serve for the Americans in Bordeaux, Nantes, and Lorient. APS. JW wrote to White on Feb. 6, as well, informing him that their Liverpool scheme was disallowed; he had heard from BF that the prohibitory laws remained in effect in England and America until repealed, which might take up to a year, and there could be no trade until a treaty of commerce was signed: JW to Samuel White, Feb. 6, 1783, Yale University Library.

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