Benjamin Franklin Papers
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Henry Waldegrave Archer to the American Commissioners, 14 June 1778: résumé

Henry Waldegrave Archer to the American Commissioners9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<Paris, June 14, 1778: I want to join the American Army and become a citizen. Although I am an Englishman I did not enter the King’s army, because it would have meant fighting my conscience; that army will probably become the instrument of despotism. In the United States, on the contrary, the disciplined soldier and the free citizen are compatible. I want to get to America as soon as possible, at my own expense, to be a volunteer in the cavalry. My reasons for troubling you are first that passing through Paris without seeing you might rouse suspicion, and second that I should appreciate your advice and assistance. I shall call next Tuesday.1>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VI, 205–7. The writer, who signs himself “H. Archer,” is tentatively identified as Henry Waldegrave Archer; his later career is outlined there and in Butterfield, Adams Correspondence, III, 44–5. The identification is unquestionable: a letter of his to the President of Congress on Aug. 4, 1779 (National Archives) is in the same hand and signed with his full name.

1He must have called on the commissioners on Tuesday the 16th, as promised, and immediately won their support. On the 17th BF wrote for him the letter to Benjamin Rush printed below. In a brief note to BF and Adams, dated Wednesday midnight, Archer acknowledged their attention and the letters they had given him; the next morning, he added, he was leaving with Ford for Nantes (Hist. Soc. of Pa.). They had arrived there by the 25th, when Hezekiah Ford wrote the commissioners.

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