Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Arthur Lee, 5 March 1777

From Arthur Lee

AL: American Philosophical Society

Burgos March 5th. 1777

Dear Sir,

I have been desird to stop here which is half way to Madrid, in order to negotiate with more secrecy. There appears more timidity here than with you. What I shall be able to do, I cannot yet determine, but I am told that if I proceed to Madrid it will be likely to prevent the execution of those good intentions there may be towards us.1 I beg you will write me immediately your opinion, whether I ought to give up this point. Direct to me here.

I am assurd from the best authority, that a plan is forming for such a disposition of the forces of the two kingdoms, as will give the fullest alarm to our enemy.

If you think the enclosd is likely to be of use in augmenting that alarm, please to seal, and have it put into the post.

I suppose Mr. D. is gone. I am, dear Sir, Yours &c.

Addressed: A Monsr. / Monsr. Francois / dans le jardin

Notation: A Lee. to B.F. Burgos March 5th. 77.

1An itinerary of Lee’s journey, entitled “Route de Bayonne à Burgos” and undated, is in the Hist. Soc. of Pa. It shows, despite the title, that he intended to continue to Madrid by way of Valladolid, but in fact he got no farther than Burgos. When he arrived there at the end of February he received a letter from James Gardoqui, one of the sons in Joseph Gardoqui & Sons (above, XVIII, 196), who was writing from the capital to ask him, in the name of the government, to remain where he was. He promptly agreed. Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, II, 271–2. The marqués de Grimaldi, now a duke, former Spanish foreign minister and newly appointed ambassador to Rome, arrived at Burgos soon afterward with Gardoqui as his interpreter; and the three men met on March 4. Grimaldi was deaf to Lee’s appeal for an open declaration of Spain’s support, and insisted that the American’s presence in Madrid would jeopardize secret aid; instead he should return to Bayonne. Mario Rodriguez, La Revolución Americana de 1776 y el Mundo Hispánico: Ensayos y Documentos (Madrid, 1976), pp. 90–3. Lee responded with two memoranda; in one he reiterated his argument for an open declaration, and in the other he insisted on remaining somewhere in Spain. Wharton, op. cit., pp. 279–82. As a compromise he went back to Vitoria. Grimaldi waited to hear from the court and then joined him there in mid-March; see Lee to the commissioners below, March 16.

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