Benjamin Franklin Papers
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William Lee to the American Commissioners, 23 January 1779: résumé

William Lee to the American Commissioners2

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<Frankfort-on-Main, January 23, 1779: In following my instructions from the state of Virginia to procure cannon, arms, and ammunition from the French ministry, I applied to Vergennes, who thought it best that you should apply to the prince de Montbarey, the business falling within the department of the Secretary of War. Consequently, I request your help and enclose a list of articles needed. The state will pay as soon as circumstances permit and will send their commodities to Europe for that purpose. I have no doubt that you will be willing to render this service, and if you should succeed, please inform me at which ports these articles can be delivered, and I will have them shipped to Virginia.3>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VII, 375–6.

3Lee had received his instructions from Patrick Henry the previous spring, via Jacques Le Maire. For background on the various attempts to procure arms for Virginia see, in particular, XXVII, 361–3, which cites evidence that it had been Arthur Lee who had applied to Vergennes and Montbarey, the minister of war, the previous June. BF, who did not answer Lee until this request was repeated two months later, claimed never to have seen this letter: to William Lee, March 30 (Library of Congress).

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