Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Sartine, 12 February 1780

From Sartine

Copy: Library of Congress

Versailles le 12. fevr. 1780.

J’ai l’honneur, de vous prevenir que le Paquebot Anglois l’heureux8 armé en Parlementaire vient d’arriver au Port de l’Orient, et comme le nombre des Prisonniers qui sera remis en Echange au Capitaine de ce Batiment ne sera pas égal à celui qu’il a apporté en France, J’ai pensé que vous pourriez profiter de cette occasion pour renvoyer en Angleterre les Prisonniers faits par des Bâtimens du Prince noir qui sont détenus à l’Orient, et je vous prie pour cet effet de donner les ordres que vous croirez convenables à l’Agent du Congrès dans ce Port./.9

J’ai l’honneur d’être avec la Consideration la plus distinguée, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obeissant Serviteur

(signé) De Sartine.

M. Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Actually the Happy Return, a snow which brought French prisoners of war. These carried a letter to BF from their less fortunate American fellow-sufferers; see our annotation of American Prisoners to BF, Feb. 3. At the beginning of 1780 Britain and France began a large-scale exchange of prisoners, for which see our discussion of intelligence reports, Nov. 9. The two countries agreed in March to a general exchange, the side providing fewer prisoners to pay a cash ransom for the difference: Olive Anderson, “The Establishment of British Supremacy at Sea and the Exchange of Naval Prisoners of War, 1689–1783,” English Hist. Rev., LXXV (1960), 82.

9Capt. William Webb of the Happy Return acknowledged receiving on Feb. 23 twenty-eight of the Black Prince’s prisoners; a list of their names and former ships (in French) is at the APS with Webb’s receipt, dated Feb. 24, at the bottom. According to the March 17 issue of the Courier de l’Europe (VII [1780], 178), the Happy Return embarked some 300 prisoners. Not all of the prisoners taken during the recent cruise of the Black Prince were included in the exchange, however, as the privateer had brought in forty-eight: Gourlade and Moylan to BF, above, Jan. 19. On Feb. 25 Frantz Nicolaus Gustav Becker (XXV, 724n) forwarded Webb’s receipt on behalf of Puchelberg & Co. A covering letter in Becker’s hand is at the APS.

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