Benjamin Franklin Papers
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The American Commissioners to Vergennes: Draft by Arthur Lee, 5 February 1779

The American Commissioners to Vergennes: Draft by Arthur Lee

Copy:3 American Philosophical Society

Passy Feb. 5th. 1779.

We think it necessary to inform your Excellency that there is announced in the Courier de l’Europe a Translation of a Letter signed Silas Deane, & to appear in the next number. This Letter is printed in the English Papers from the New York Gazette, and whether it is genuine or false, it is not in our Power to determine: But as it contains a discovery of the Proceedings of some of the Representatives of the United States in Europe, & traduces grosly two of their now actual Negotiators, we cannot but think that the dispersing it thro’ Europe in a Paper supposed to be printed in France, will be disgraceful & perhaps injurious to the United States.4 We therefore request your Excellency to take such Measures, as you may think proper to stop the intended publication of it in the Courier De l’Europe.

We have the honor to be, with the greatest Esteem & Respect, Your Exys. most obedient humble Servts

(Signed) A. LEE.

Notation by Franklin: Propos’d Letter by Mr Lee to Count Vergs. which was not agreed to—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3In WTF’s hand.

4A translation of Silas Deane’s letter in the Pennsylvania Packet was promised by the Jan. 29 issue of the Courier de l’Europe (V [1779], p. 68) and a partial translation did appear in the Feb. 2 issue (ibid., pp. 75–8). The plea to stop publication was moot, therefore, whatever the feelings of Lee’s colleagues. Soon after, on Feb. 10, Lee wrote a lengthy letter to the president of Congress responding to Deane’s criticisms of him, and Adams wrote Vergennes in Lee’s defense: Case of Silas Deane, pp. [151]–82; Butterfield, John Adams Diary, II, 347–51; Taylor, Adams Papers, VII, 401–4.

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