Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Temple Franklin, 24 December 1776

From William Temple Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Versailles Decr. 24th. 1776

Honored Sir,

Mr. Gerrad not being in town, I waited upon Count Vergennes, and delivered him the Letters, which he put in his Pocket,3 and desired I would call upon him for his answer, at 9 OClock tomorrow morning; so that I purpose staying here to night and have taken the Liberty of keeping the Carriage and Servants. Present my respects to Messrs. Deane and Lee and believe me Honored Sir Your dutiful Grandson

W. T. Franklin.

PS. I have wrote to Mr. Chaumon,4 that I purpose to keep the Carriage.

Addressed: To / Dr. Franklin / à L’Hotel Dentragues5/ Rue Université / à / Paris.

Notations: dix huit Sols au porteur la presente rendüe a neuf heures du Soir ce jourd’huy 24. Decembre 1776.

W T. Franklin Versailles Decr 24. 1776

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Conrad-Alexandre Gérard (1729–90), later the first French minister to the United States, and his younger brother, Joseph-Mathias, directed the two political bureaux of the ministry of foreign affairs: John J. Meng, ed., Despatches and Instructions of Conrad Alexandre Gérard, 1778–1780 . . . (Baltimore, Md., 1939), pp. 33–42. The Minister normally used Gérard, it will be seen, as his channel of communication with the commissioners. Their letter above of Dec. 23 was one of those that WTF delivered; the other was probably a covering note from Deane to Gérard of Dec. 24, now in the APS.

4The first appearance of a man with whom BF worked as closely as with any Frenchman. Jacques-Donatien Le Ray (1725–1803) was a wealthy merchant from Nantes, who had added “de Chaumont” to his name after buying the château of Chaumont-sur-Loire in 1750. He had held a number of administrative posts, and was in close contact with Vergennes. In August, 1776, he had acquired the Hôtel de Valentinois at Passy, which soon became BF’s home; see the headnote below, under Jan. 28, on the agreement between the two. Deane no doubt introduced them as soon as BF’s party reached Paris, for while sole agent he had obtained saltpetre and gunpowder from Chaumont. These had been paid for, but the Frenchman continued to furnish the commissioners with military supplies “before we had provided any apparent Means of Payment.” BF to Richard Henry Lee, April 12, 1785, National Archives. See also Deane Papers, III, 166; Lüthy, Banque protestante, II, 452–6; Lopez, Mon Cher Papa pp. 123–8.

5BF and his grandsons arrived in Paris at 2 p.m. on Dec. 21, Mme. du Deffand reported to Horace Walpole the next day, along with Pierre Penet, JW, and a “tutor”: Wilmarth S. Lewis et al., eds., The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence (48 vols., New Haven, 1937–83), VI, 383; the “tutor” was undoubtedly the interpreter, Lestarjette, whose letter is above under Dec. 15. BF and the boys lodged for a time at the Hôtel d’Entragues. By Jan. 8 they had moved to the nearby Hôtel d’ Hambourg, where Silas Deane was staying.

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