Benjamin Franklin Papers
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The American Commissioners to American Prisoners in England, [19] September 1778: résumé

The American Commissioners to American Prisoners in England5

Draft: Massachusetts Historical Society; copies: National Maritime Museum,6 Public Record Office,7 National Archives (two); transcript: Library of Congress

<Passy, September [19], 1778: We have not written you for a long time but have been engaged in negotiating a cartel of exchange, and have assurances from England that an exchange will take place. The government of this kingdom has provided a passport for the purpose. We now sincerely hope you will obtain your liberty. Since we do not have an equal number to exchange, those among you in captivity longest will be considered first. So long as the British government refused an exchange, we did not discourage the escape efforts of our countrymen and provided them with small sums of money. However such escapes at the present time could undermine British commitment to the cartel. We now have permission to make use of French prisons for British captives. Keep us informed on the precise conditions of your captivity so we may enforce the same provisions here.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VII.

6Enclosed with a covering letter of Oct. 19 to Admiralty Secretary Philip Stephens from the Office of Sick and Hurt Seamen, indicating that it had been read aloud at Forton prison.

7Enclosed with a covering letter of Oct. 23 from Stephens to Undersecretary William Fraser, prohibiting the reading of letters to prisoners from the commissioners without express approval by the Admiralty.

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