Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to Bérard frères, 26 November 1777

The American Commissioners to Bérard frères

Copy:7 Connecticut Historical Society

Paris Novr. 26. 1777.


Yours of the 17th is before us. Our Letter by your Express will direct you how to proceed with the Cargo of the Amphitrite. The Ship herself is at the Order of Mr. Peltier, and the sooner he has her the better, but the Cargo is at ours.8

In regard to which we have nothing to alter from the Directions given in our former untill you favour us with an Answer to our last.9 The Expences of repairing &c. the Two Frigates Capt. Thompson will settle with you, to whom we refer on the Subject. The Expence of sending the Prisoners to England must be taken out of the Gross amount of the Prizes before the division is made.

We observe what you propose as to the Ship lately bought by you and others but are of opinion that an Exchange between that Ship and Capt. Hinman cannot be effected without too much delay, and loss of Time. By the description given us of the Ship it appears to us, that if she were loaded out with Salt or other heavy Goods for Boston and the Vessel sold there, it will be the best Plan that can be pursued, on which we refer you to Capt. Thompson and Cap. Hinman whom we have Consulted on the subject, and shall be glad that you will write to us after your Conferring with them what you determine upon.

Capt. Thompson and Capt. Hinman will direct the Division of the Prize Money agreeable to the Rules of Congress in such Cases. We are with due respect Gentlemen yours &c.


Messrs. Berrard freres & Co. LOrient

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7In Deane’s hand.

8This was BF’s and Lee’s view, not Deane’s, and it occasioned no end of trouble. Beaumarchais had made clear at the start that he expected to be paid in goods or bills for the shipments he sent; and he had dispatched his secretary to America the previous September to confirm the arrangement: Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, II, 97; Brian Morton, “Beaumarchais, Francy, Steuben, and Lafayette . . .,” French Rev., XLIX (1976), 944. When he learned that the commissioners were trying to appropriate the return cargo of the Amphitrite under the nose of his agent, Peltier, he exploded; see his letter below, Dec. 6. Deane, as mentioned there, was sympathetic with his claim. The basis for BF’s and Lee’s position seems to have been a message from Vergennes that Ferdinand Grand had brought the commission in early October, “that we must mention nothing farther to congress when we wrote, but that we had sent them such and such things, for which they need give themselves no trouble about making returns; that nothing which we had received or were to receive was lent, but to be considered as given. . . .” Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, I, 336.

9Presumably Deane’s letter of Nov. 12: Deane Papers, II, 219–20.

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