Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Lee, 13 June 1777

From William Lee7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Hotel de Grand Villars June 13th. [1777.]

Dear Sir.

In my way to Town this evening I call’d on Mr. D. to request he wou’d write the Letter to Nantes that had been talked of, which he promised to do, at the same time he inform’d me he was going on Monday next into the Country for some weeks, and proposed that we shou’d together wait on you on Sunday Morning to settle what was best to be done. This proposition was of course agreed to, therefore we shall do ourselves the Honour of Breakfasting with you on Sunday at Nine oClock.8 I am Dear Sir with Sincere Esteem &c. Your most Humble Servant.


Addressed: Monsieur / Monsieur Francois9 / chez Monsr. Chaumont / a Passi

Notation: W Lee. to BF. June 13. 1777.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7In late April Lee, in London, had learned from Deane of his appointment as the secret committee’s co-agent with Thomas Morris at Nantes, and had promptly accepted. He wound up his business affairs and arrived in Paris on June 11. According to his later account he saw Deane the next day, and learned that the commissioners had no official notice of the committee’s action or authority to act themselves; Robert Morris had sent the news in a private letter to Deane, who refused to show it. John Ross, Deane explained, had gone to Nantes to try to untangle young Morris’ affairs, and Lee would be well advised to stay in Paris until Ross returned. BF was expected for dinner, but did not appear; neither was he there, as promised, when Lee returned that evening. The next day, the 13th, Lee went to Passy, found that BF was in town, returned to Deane’s lodgings, and after a long wait was finally admitted to a conference with the two commissioners; but they merely reiterated their advice not to go to Nantes. Ford, Letters of William Lee, II, 542–3, 547–51.

8The details in this account, it will be noted, diverge sharply from those in Lee’s later one summarized above. Here he returns to town on Friday the 13th, presumably from Passy, and sees Deane alone that evening. The conference of the three, “to settle what was best to be done,” is arranged for Sunday the 15th at Passy.

9The alias that BF had adopted in January above, XXIII, 151 n.

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