Benjamin Franklin Papers

[Duportail and the American Commissioners]: Memorandum on Terms of Service, [11 January 1777]

[Duportail and the American Commissioners]: Memorandum on Terms of Service5

D: American Philosophical Society

[January 11, 1777]

1. M. de Portal demands to be at the Head of the Corps d’Ingenieurs in America: and under the Orders only of the General, or the Commander in chief in the Place where he may be.

2. He demands a Rank superior to that he enjoys at present, which is Major in the marine Infantry.

3. He proposes to take two Captains of the same Professions with him: to whom should be given in America the Rank superior.

4. That himself and his Friends shall be at Liberty to quit the Service and return to France when they please except in the middle of a Campaign.

The Gentlemen are willing to give the Chevalier de Portal the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and the Gentlemen he mentions that of Major, when their names are made known to them so that they may inform themselves of their qualifications which they shall do with every necessary precaution. They cannot do so much in justice to Gentlemen who have been from the beginning in the service of the States as to advance Strangers suddenly above them.

Notation in BF’s hand: M. de P––l’s Proposals

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5The first half of this memorandum is in WTF’s hand, the second in Arthur Lee’s. The document was undoubtedly the product of Duportail’s interview with the commissioners on Jan. 11 (referred to in his letter below of the 12th), which seems to have settled only two of the Major’s four conditions. He reiterated them all when he wrote the next day, with slight changes, and added four new ones.

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