Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Williams, Jr., 22 December 1777

To Jonathan Williams, Jr.

Copy: University of Virginia Library; eight copies, five incomplete: National Archives; incomplete copies: Harvard University Library, South Carolina Historical Society

Passy Decr 22: 1777

Dear Nephew.

I received yours of the 15th and am concerned as well as you at the Difference betwen Messrs. Deane and Lee but cannot help it.7 You need however be under no concern as to your Orders being only from Mr. Deane. As you have always acted uprightly and ably for the public Service, you would be justified if you had had no Orders at all: But as he generaly consulted with me and had my Approbation in the Orders he gave, and I know they were for the best and aim’d at the public Good, I hereby certify you that I approve and join in those you received from him and desire you to proceed in the Execution of the same. I am ever Your affectionate Uncle (signed)

B Franklin

Mr Williams
Copy of a Letter from Doctor Franklin to Jona Williams

Addressed: A Monsr / Monsr Williams / Negociant / a Nantes

Notations in different hands: Dr. Fr. to Mr. Wills. / Benjn. Franklin to Mr. Williams (22 Decr. 1777)

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7JW’s letter is missing, but his concern is understandable. On Nov. 24 William Lee complained to Richard Henry that JW’s orders were invalid because Deane had given them on his sole authority; on Dec. 9 Arthur Lee informed JW that he was not to consider such orders as coming from the commissioners. Ford, Letters of William Lee, I, 273–4; Arthur Lee, Observations on Certain Commercial Transactions in France . . . (Philadelphia, 1780), p. 10. The crucial order was Deane’s of July 4 in the name of the commission, to ignore any attempts by Thomas Morris or William Lee to meddle in the disposition of prizes: above, XXIV, 263–4. BF is here retroactively endorsing that letter. Guard the endorsement well, Deane wrote JW on Jan. 13, 1778, “as you are as much the object of the malevolence of these Adelphi [brothers] as myself.” Deane Papers, II, 327. He went on (pp. 328–30) to excoriate the “little avaricious soul” of William Lee.

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