Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Hancock, 4 December 1777

To John Hancock

AL (draft): Library of Congress

Passy, near Paris, Dec. 4. 1777


The Bearer of this, Mr. Holcker, is a Gentleman of excellent Character, of great Credit in this Country, and one of my particular Friends. He can give you good Information of the State of Public Affairs here. I beg leave therefore to recommend him to your Acquaintance, and to all the Civilities you usually show to Strangers of Merit, of which you will find him very deserving. If he should enter into any Contracts in the Mercantile way, the punctual Performance of his Engagements may be rely’d on, as he is a Man of Worth, Prudence and the strictest Honour.7 With the greatest Esteem and Respect, I am Sir, Your &c.

Honble John Hancock Esq.
Recommendation of Holcker

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Jean Holker had been expecting to leave in October, but was delayed when the French government decided to make him an unofficial agent, to gather information and to assure Congress that Versailles was doing everything it could in the circumstances to accommodate American commerce. Gérard gave him a message of far stronger reassurance as soon as the news of Saratoga arrived. Holker sailed in early January, was forced back, and finally left on the Deane in late February. By then Vergennes had charged him with reimbursement for the two American prizes that had been returned to the British, and he also had a consignment of military supplies. Congress bought the latter, but was suspicious of him because he had no official credentials. In July, 1778, his government appointed him its consul and commercial agent in Philadelphia; he later served as consul in Boston, and eventually became consul general for the middle states. Crout, “Diplomacy of Trade,” pp. 229–30; Doniol, Histoire, II, 626–8; JCC, XI, 679, 713; Stevens, Facsimiles, VIII, no. 760; Meng, Despatches of Gérard, p. 131 n; AAE, correspondance politique, Etats-Unis, III, fol. 20; below: note on JW to the commissioners, Jan. 19; commissioners to the committee for foreign affairs, Feb. 28; committee for foreign affairs to the commissioners, June 21, 1778.

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