Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Vergennes, 31 July 1784

From Vergennes

Copy: Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères

Vlles le 31. Juillet. 1784

J’ai communiqué, M. à M. le mal. de Castries la lettre que vous m’aviez fait l’honneur de m’ecrire relativement à la mainlevée que vous aviez demandée des Saisies faites Sur les deniers provenans des prises de la fregate l’alliance.2 Ce ministre m’a fait la reponse dont vous trouverez ci joint la copie. Vous y verrez M la maniere dont il pense que cette affaire doit etre envisagée et les moyens qu’il indique pour la mettre en etat de recevoir une decision.3

M. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2BF’s letter, written on Jan. 12 (XLI, 437–42), was delivered to Vergennes by Thomas Barclay, whom Vergennes knew to be in charge of settling the dispute over Forster frères’ attachment of the proceeds of prizes taken by the Alliance; see XXXIX, 308. Barclay was not in Paris when BF wrote the letter, and was delayed far longer than he expected. He did not deliver it until c. May 11: Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, V, 215; Roberts and Roberts, Thomas Barclay, pp. 138–9, 322.

3Vergennes sent Castries a translation of BF’s letter, with a request to know the current state of affairs, on May 2 8. Castries replied on July 3. He reminded Vergennes that according to Vergennes’ directions, the dispute over Forster frères’ attachment had been transferred to the Conseil royal in June, 1783. It had not been decided there because neither party had provided the necessary documentation. BF was now requesting ministerial intervention, but surely Vergennes would agree that once the Conseil had assumed jurisdiction over the case under its power of evocation, ministerial action would be inappropriate. (Both letters are at the AAE.) After reading the present letter and its enclosure, Barclay wrote to WTF on Aug. 4 that he had forwarded all the documentation he had to Castries and had run out of ideas on how to settle the matter. APS. The dispute was still unsettled when Barclay left France in 1787: Barclay to TJ, July 16, 1787, in Jefferson Papers, XI, 593.

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