Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, [before 4 January 1777]

From Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont

ALS: American Philosophical Society

[Before January 4, 17771]

Nous avons vu ce matin, Monsieur, avec vostre petit fils unne pension qui peut convenir au Benjamin, si le compte que vostre petit fils vous en rend peut vous determiner, comptez sur toutte ma surveillance.

Un gentilhomme francais qui a commandé unne troupe de volontaires en pologne demande a passer avec sa troupe en amerique et servir vos braves americains, il luy faudra cent ecus par volontaire, il en conduira soixante qu’il commandera en qualité de Colonel, et ses volontaires recevront la solde que vous donnez aux meilleures troupes. Ce Colonel a de Bons et Excellents Repondants.2Un homme d’importance doit venir Lundy me demander vostre Reponse vous pouvez compter que cette troupe servira bien parcequ’elle sera composée de gens determinés a vaincre ou mourir. Je suis avec le Respect dues [dû] a vos vertus Monsieur vostre tres humble serviteur

Leray de Chaumont

Notation: de Chaumont sans datte

1Dated by the beginning of BFB’s stay in Passy for his schooling at the pension of a M. d’Hourville. Another maître de pension, a Parisian by the name of Gadolle, tried to obtain the boy and WTF for pupils; two undated notes from him survive, one enclosing a prospectus. Passy, thanks no doubt to Chaumont, was selected; BFB had a new suit made for the occasion, and arrived at the pension on Jan. 4. BF’s account of payments for him, Dec. 12, 1776-Sept. 6, 1780; Hourville’s receipted bill, Jan. 8, 1777. All these documents are in the APS.

2This was undoubtedly Philippe-Charles-Félix Macquart, baron de Rullecourt, a soldier of fortune from the Austrian Netherlands. He had been in the Spanish and French services before entering the Polish, and was now full of ideas for aiding the Americans. The previous September he had proposed to join them with six hundred men. Chaumont and Dubourg seem to have been involved, and Beaumarchais asked Vergennes’ advice about introducing Rullecourt to Deane. In December the British Ambassador reported that this plan had been stopped. The Baron then concocted a much wilder scheme, but none of his various projects came to anything. He eventually rejoined the French army, and was killed in an attack on Jersey in 1781. Lasseray, Les Français, II, 494–6; Morton, Beaumarchais correspondance, II, 254; Stevens, Facsimiles, XIV, no. 1393, pp. 2–3; the headnote on the commissioners to Rullecourt below, Jan. 10.

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