Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Alexander, 27 March 1776

To William Alexander6

ALS: New-York Historical Society

Brunswick, March Wedny. 27. 1776

My dear Lord,

I received your obliging Letter some Days since at Philada. but our Departure from thence being uncertain, I could not till now acquaint your Ldp. when we expected to be at New-York. We move but slowly, and think we shall scarce reach farther than Newark to-morrow, so that we cannot have the Pleasure of seeing you before Friday. Being myself from long Absence as much a Stranger in N York as the other Gentlemen, We join in requesting you would be so good as to cause Lodgings to be provided for us, and a Sloop engaged to carry us to Albany. There are five of us, and we purpose staying in New York two Nights at least.7 With great and sincere Esteem and Respect, I have the Honour to be, My Lord, Your Lordship’s most obedient and most humble Servant

B Franklin

Rt. Honble Lord Stirling

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Known as Lord Stirling, and an old acquaintance: above, XIX, 191 n. He had been commissioned colonel the previous November and a major general in the continental army on March 1, and was in charge of preparing the defense of New York against the expected British attack. DAB.

7The five were the three commissioners, Father Carroll, and Baron de Woedtke, who joined them that day at New Brunswick—to the considerable amusement of the priest. “Though I had frequently seen him before,” John Carroll wrote his mother, “yet he was so disguised in furs, that I scarce knew him, and never beheld a more laughable object in my life. Like other Prussian officers, he appears to me as a man who knows little of polite life, and yet has picked up so much of it in his passage through France, as to make a most awkward appearance.” Thomas O’Brien Hanley, ed., The John Carroll Papers (3 vols., Notre Dame, Ind., and London, 1976), I, 47. We have found no mention of the Baron as part of the group after April 8: Journals of the Provincial Congress . . . of New York, 1775–1776–1777 (2 vols., Albany, 1842), I, 402. Achard de Bonvouloir, the young French agent whose report is printed above, Dec. 28, is said to have accompanied the party because BF had persuaded him to try to sway the French seigneurs as Father Carroll was to sway the clergy: Joseph Hamon, Le Chevalier de Bonvouloir (Paris, 1953), pp. 60–1. The author cites no evidence, and we have found none.

The stay in New York was longer than BF expected, and in the letter just cited Father Carroll characterized it as disagreeable. The party sailed on the afternoon of April 2: Carroll, Journal, p. [37].

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