Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from Henry Laurens, 27 August 1783

From Henry Laurens

ALS: Library of Congress; copy: University of South Carolina Library

Bath 27th August 1783.

Dear Sir.

My thanks are due for the justice you did me, in beleiving I had written to some one or other of my Colleagus since my last return to London, altho’ it appears by the Letter you have honored me with under the 21st Inst. mine of the 9th. addressed to the whole had not reached them, an unlucky circumstance which gives me much concern. I say I wrot to the American Ministers on the 9th. made up my Letter with a News Paper or two into a small Packet which I delivered on Sunday Morning the 10th. to Mr. Barclay who assured me he would leave London on Tuesday the 12th. at latest— You say nothing & I have not heard any thing of his arrival at Paris3 wherefore I now transmit a Copy of my said Letter, tho’ with a slender prospect of its being serviceable since ’tis probable, that before this can arrive, your Phœnix Treaty will be finished.

I was actually in Treaty for the Cabin of a Ship intending to have embarked very early in October for Philadelphia or New York, but three days ago I received a Letter from my Sister in Law in the south of France intimating that my Brother had desired her to inform me he was growing weaker & weaker every day & found himself near his End & therefore earnestly wished to see me before I left Europe.4 I cannot refuse to gratify the wish of a dying freind. I dare not turn my back upon a Widowed Sister, a most valuable worthy Woman—so long a journey will be rather too heavy for me, but I must encounter it, therefore I shall once more have the honor of paying my Respects at Passy, perhaps about the 10th. September.

You may possibly have seen before this time a little Printed Paper, which the Mr. Jenings has been privately circulating under the Title—The Candor of Henry Laurens Esqr—poor Devil he is as weak as wicked, he has now compeled me to display his wickedness in a more public manner than ever I had intended—the most painful part to me is his involving a third person the friend he pretended to be so much attached to on your side.5

My Son & Daughter unite with me in the most Respectful Cordial Salutes to yourself & Mr. Franklin & I have the honor to be with sincere Esteem & affection Dear sir Your obedient humble servt.

Henry Laurens.

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esquire Passy.

Addressed: His Excellency / Benjamin Franklin. Esqr: / Minister Plenepotentiary from / the United States of America at / the Court of France. / Paris.

Endorsed: H. Laurens Esqr to B.F.— Aug. 27. 83

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Barclay arrived on Aug. 22 and that same day delivered a personal letter to Jay, which the latter endorsed with the date he received it: Morris, Jay: Peace, p. 577. Since Jay also endorsed the Aug. 9 letter from Laurens (above), it is reasonable to suppose that Barclay delivered it at the same time.

4Laurens here quotes from Mary Laurens’ letter. James Laurens, Jr. (XXVII, 468n), died on Jan. 25, 1784: Laurens Papers, XVI, 269–70n, 373n.

5This dispute was of long standing. Laurens had accused Jenings of writing two anonymous letters: XXXVI, 499. Jenings retaliated in a pamphlet published in July, entitled The Candor of Henry Laurens, Esq. … Laurens’ rejoinder, dated Sept. 3, was published as Mr. Laurens’s True State of the Case. … In the opening paragraph he explained that as soon as he arrived in London, he received from Edward Bridgen one of Jenings’ pamphlets, which Bridgen had been instructed by Jenings to deliver. For Laurens’ pamphlet see Laurens Papers, XVI, 277–333; see also James H. Hutson, ed., Letters from a Distinguished American: Twelve Essays by John Adams on American Foreign Policy, 1780 (Washington, D.C., 1978), pp. 61–2.

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