Benjamin Franklin Papers
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The American Commissioners’ Passport for Joseph Waldo and Thomas Brattle, 13 May 1778

The American Commissioners’ Passport for Joseph Waldo and Thomas Brattle6

DS: Boston Public Library

May 13, 1778

Nous Benjamin Franklin, arthur Lée et John adams deputés plenipotentiaires des treize états unis de L’amerique septentrionale pres sa majesté tres chretienne,

Prions tous ceux qui sont a prier de vouloir bien laisser passer surement et librement Messieurs Joseph Waldo et Thomas Brattle Ecuyers Americains et Sujets des dits Etats, allant en Angleterre par Calais sans leur donner ni permettre qu’il leur soit donne aucun empechement mais au contraire de accorder toutes sortes d’aides et assistances comme nous ferions en pareil cas, pour touts ceux qui nous seroient recommandés.

Enfoi de quoi nous leur avons délivré le present passe port valable pour Un mois signé de notre main contresigné par l’un de nos secretaires, et au bas duquel est l’empreinte de nos armes.7

Donné a Passy en notre hotel Le 13 May, mille sept cent soixante dix huit

B Franklin
Arthur Lee
John Adams
W.T. Franklin
secry. pro tempore

Notation: The Honble Commissioners Pasport [illegible] Paris

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6This is the earliest example we have of a formal passport from the commissioners, as distinct from their letters to commanders of American armed vessels or, as in the case of Ingenhousz (above, XXV, 80–1), a letter from BF alone. The document is in an unidentified hand and with blank spaces. BF has filled in the names and “en Angleterre par Calais,” and has added “pro tempore” to WTF’s signature as secretary.

Waldo and Brattle were Boston merchants and Loyalists who had been living in England, and had come to Paris in search of either employment through the commission or recommendations to Congress that would permit them to return home. They dined at Passy three days earlier, and Waldo in particular had a cold reception from Adams. Butterfield, John Adams Diary, II, 311 n; IV, 95–6.

7The seal remains on the document. It is BF’s and is identical, except for the ornamentation, to the one reproduced above, II, facing p. 230, that he used on a printed passport.

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