Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from James Lovell, 6 August 1779

From James Lovell

ALS: American Philosophical Society, Harvard University Library, University of Pennsylvania Library6

Philadelphia Aug. 6. 1779

Honble. Sir

Your favor of July 22d 1778, forwarded from Nantes by Mr. Williams the 25th of February this Year, arrived not here till the 31st. of July.7 I wonder the more that so very few of yr. letters reach Philada. in the Course of a Year as Mr. Dumas finds means to convey a series above the Numbers of the Alphabet in the same term of time, and is also in continual Correspondence wth. you.

It is needless at this Season to take up the different Parts of your long letter, for which I feel myself, however, obliged to you: But, I cannot omit to notice that you are totally mistaken as to “partial Objections” having been before Congress at the time of their dissent to the 11th. & 12th. articles.8 It is true that, since that Period, much has been read from the Persons you suppose to have written on that subject.

You will long e’er now have seen the use which has been made of my letter to you respecting Mr. Deane’s Recall.9 I at least made a Show of a Disposition to befriend him. I really had such a Disposition; and, early on his arrival, let him know what had grounded that Proceeding of Congress, in hope that he would not be driven by a false Jealousy, which he discovered, so as to suffer Wreck upon the Quick sands of Indiscretion. All my Aim was in vain; He has been borne headlong. His Publication of Decr. 5th1 has, in my opinion, totally ruined his claims to any public trust on the ground of his Hability in Affairs. And, however you may not discover the great Malignity of his Innuendoes, you cannot but see & own that his Peice contains dowright Lies which must be pointed out to the Public, who have not yet your good Grounds for Conviction.

There is not a single Circumstance which is mentioned against Mr. Lee that is supported, except his not having the Confidence of the french Court. The Ministers must have been Angels of Light not to have conceived Prejudices in Consequence of the indefatigable Arts of one who thought himself saddled, when a Colleague of Sense Honor and Integrity was given to him by Congress.2 The Ministry were misled but, the Consequence does not follow that, therefore, Congress should destroy an able & faithful Servant. What slippery Ground would this make for our Ministers abroad?3 Will there not probably be ambitious Men always in Congress to trip them? But I drop the disagreable Subject and go to the pleasing Office of assuring you of the Attachment with which I am Honorable Sir Your most humble Servant

James Lovell

Honble. Doctr. Franklin.

Addressed: Honorable / Doctor Franklin / Minister Plenipotentiary / of the United States of America / at the Court of France / Passy

Notation: James Lovell Phyladelphie 6e. aout 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The Harvard University MS is marked “(Copy) private” and is signed with Lovell’s initials. That at the University of Pennsylvania is marked “/3plicate/private” and lacks either notation or endorsement. We use it to supply several words missing because of a tear in the APS MS.

7For BF’s letter see XXVII, 135–42. He and JW share responsibility for the long delay in its reaching Congress: XXVII, 142n.

8Of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce: XXV, 605. These articles were dropped at the request of Congress: XXVI, 448–9, 462; XXVII, 138–9.

9In a letter of May 15, 1778, Lovell discussed Deane’s recall as a consequence of the agreements he had made with foreign commission seekers: XXVI, 470. This letter was printed in the Dec. 21 Pennsylvania Packet as part of a defense of Deane by Matthew Clarkson, who said Deane had communicated it to him: Deane Papers, III, 111–12; Smith, Letters, XI, 369n.

1Deane’s “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” printed in the Dec. 5 issue of the Pennsylvania Packet (Deane Papers, III, 66–76) questioned the conduct of Arthur and William Lee; for the former’s reaction see XXVIII, 470–1.

2Deane had said he was “honoured with one colleague and saddled with another”: Deane Papers, III, 67. The word “saddled” is underlined in the other two ALS.

3On Aug. 6 Congress gave evidence of support for the commissioners by retroactively voting them a salary of 11,428 l.t. per annum, payable from the date they left their place of abode to take up their duties until three months after the notice of their recall: JCC, XIV, 928. A copy of the resolution among BF’s papers at the APS bears Lovell’s signed notation, “It is requested, that Doctr. Franklin wd. furnish Copies to such Gentlemen whom it concerns to have them and who are not furnished by this opportunity, thro haste. James Lovell.” Three other copies of this resolution (all bearing Lovell’s notation) are at the Harvard University Library as well as partial copies at the APS (two), the Harvard University Library, and the University of Pa. Library.

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