Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Don Gabriel Antonio de Bourbon, 12 December 1775

To Don Gabriel Antonio de Bourbon4

Copy: Library of Congress; letterpress copy:5 Yale University Library

Philadelphia Decr: 12. 1775

Illustrious Prince

I have just received through the Hands of the Ambassador of Spain, the much esteemed present your most serene Highness hath so kindly sent me, of your excellent Version of Sallust.6

I am extreamly sensible of the honor done me, and beg you would accept my thankful acknowledgements. I wish I could send from7 hence any American Literary Production worthy of your perusal; but as yet the Muses have scarcely visited these remote Regions. Perhaps however the Proceedings of our American Congress, just published, may be a subject of some Curiosity at your Court. I therefore take the Liberty of sending your Highness a Copy, with some other Papers which contain Accounts of the successes wherewith Providence has lately favoured us. Therein your wise Politicians may contemplate the first efforts of a rising State, which seems likely soon to act a part of some Importance on the stage of human affairs, and furnish materials for a future Salust. I am very old and can scarce hope to see the event of this great Contest: but looking forward I think I see a powerful Dominion growing up here, whose interest it will be to form a close and firm alliance with Spain , (their Territories bordering8) and who being united, will be able, not only to preserve their own people in peace, but to repel the Force of all the other powers in Europe. It seems therefore prudent on both sides to cultivate a good understanding, that may hereafter be so useful to both; towards which a fair Foundation is already laid in our minds, by the well founded popular Opinion entertained here of Spanish Integrity and Honour. I hope my presumption in hinting this will be pardoned. If in any thing on this side the Globe I can render either service or pleasure to your Royal Highness, your commands will make me happy. With the utmost esteem and veneration I have the Honour to be Your serene Highness’s most obedient and most humble Servant

Bn. Franklin

To His most Serene Highness Dn Gabriel of Bourbon. on receiving his Version of Sallust.9

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Infante of Spain; see Williams to BF above, June 7.

5Lacking the address at the end; otherwise the two copies differ only in picayune details.

6The “just received” should be taken with a grain of salt. Williams sent the volume by a Capt. Miller, who arrived in Philadelphia in mid-August: Pa. Gaz., Aug. 16, 1775.

7“From,” and “Franklin” in the signature, have been deleted in what appears to be a different ink; both are present in the Yale copy.

8The new American state, in other words, will stretch to the Mississippi.

9There follows “(Insert it above)”, and at the head of the letter is “(Insert here the Title below).”

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