Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Nathan Rumsey, 15 April 1777

From Nathan Rumsey

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes 15th. April 77.

Honorable Sir

The dispatches by Mr. Cunningham3 arrived safe late on Sunday Night. The Packet falls down the River to day, and if the wind continues fair, will sail tomorow.

I have my faults, and perhaps they are conspicuous but Nemo nascitur sine Vitiis.4 I doubt not but Ennemies have made a Handle of them to rob me of your favor and good Opinion for the Loss of which I am sincerely sory. My Views at leaving my Native Land were to serve it; they shall be the same on my return; and I hope my general Behaviour will be such as to merit again Your approbation. As far as my Assistance may be necessary to forward the Dispatches to Congress, it shall be heartily given.

I wish you all possible success in your laudable Commission and have the Honor to be Sir Your most obedient Humble Servant

Nathan Rumsey.

Doct. Franklin

Addressed: A l’Honorable / Doct. Benjamin Franklin / A l’Hotel D’Hambourg / Rue Jacob / a / Paris.

Notations: N. Rumesy 15. April 77. / Rue Royal Place de Louis 15.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The first appearance of a ship captain who later made major trouble for the commissioners. Gustavus Conyngham (1747–1819), an Irish-born Philadelphian, had been marooned in Europe when the British blockaded his ship and its cargo of war supplies in the Texel. He got to Dunkirk and there met William Hodge, who was purchasing cutters for the commissioners and apparently recommended him for command of one of them. Conyngham was commissioned, returned to Dunkirk soon after carrying these dispatches to Nantes, took over a lugger renamed the Surprize, and on May 1 left for his first cruise. Helen Augur, The Secret War of Independence (New York, etc., [1955]), pp. 82–4, 176; Robert W. Neeser, ed., Letters and Papers Relating to the Cruises of Gustavus Conyngham, . . . 1777–1779 (New York, 1915), pp. xxix-xxx. The choice of Dunkirk as a base was imprudent to a degree. The town, so long a bone of contention between France and Britain, had been demilitarized under the Treaty of Utrecht; its status had been confirmed in the peace treaties of 1748 and 1763, and a resident British commissioner ensured compliance. Fred L. Israel, ed., Major Peace Treaties of Modem History . . . (4 vols., New York, 1967), I, 207, 282, 313. The cruise was being prepared under that official’s eyes, and had serious diplomatic repercussions.

4“No one is born without faults.” Horace, Satires, I, 3:6.

Index Entries