Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from François Baudin, 21 March 1777: résumé

From François Baudin6

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<St. Martin, Isle de Ré, March 21, 1777, in French: This island is well situated for importing from America, and exporting more cheaply than from Nantes or Bordeaux. Captain William Moore of the Dauphin7 left here on the 19th carrying salt furnished by my friends the Delaps, and with notes on the island’s advantages for your commerce. He prefers our brandy to that of Bordeaux; it is as strong as cognac and is free of export duty. French manufactures may also be exported cheaply from here. MM. Sellonf & Cie.,8 who forward this letter, will vouch for me, and I am known in Nantes, Bordeaux, and La Rochelle; I ask only the usual two percent commission.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6A merchant who was so pushing in his effort to drum up trade for himself that he annoyed fellow merchants on Ré, the island off La Rochelle. In the summer of 1777 two of them wrote a letter, which eventually found its way to the commissioners, to say that Baudin was making contact with American ship captains, when they put in at St. Martin, on the pretense of having orders from Congress that they should apply to him. Fairholme and Luther to J. R. Hamilton, July 15, 1777, APS. In 1780 Baudin’s son requested BF’s help to settle in Pennsylvania; eight years later the father asked to be U.S. consul on Ré, and cited his services to American shipping and sailors. Sept. 12, Oct. 18, 1780, APS; to Congress, July 8, 1788, National Archives.

7The Dolphin: Smith, Letters, III, 377.

8A Parisian banking firm: Lüthy, Banque protestante, II, 437–8.

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