Benjamin Franklin Papers

James Moylan to the American Commissioners, 30 January 1778

James Moylan to the American Commissioners2

ALS: American Philosophical Society

L’Orient, 30th. Jany. 1778

Honorable Gentlemen

I am not honor’d with the receipt of any of your favors since my last to you of the 23d. current.

I am this day informed, that Government has order’d 2,000 Seamen to be raised in Nantes and 2,500 more in St. Malo, besides a number of Bakers of this Town, which are all to proceed immediately to Brest; likewise, that there are positive directions in all the Sea Ports, not to admit the Fishing Vessels (as usual) to go to Newfoundland. I do not know whether you will find this information fresh, but I think it nevertheless my duty to acquaint you of it.

The unsettled state I am yet in here, obliges me once more, to request your answer to my letter of the 2d. Instant. I have the honor to be respectfully Honorable Gentlemen Your assur’d humble Servant.

James Moylan

Addressed: To / The Honorable Commissioners / of the United States / of America

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Moylan apparently wrote a covering note to Arthur Lee on the same day, in which he explained his difficulties in Lorient. On Feb. 17 Lee replied, for himself alone, that the commissioners had lost confidence in Gourlade’s firm. Rumor reported, furthermore, that Moylan was entrusted with private business of some of the commissioners; their reputation would be compromised if he remained there, and he should leave. On Feb. 23 he answered heatedly that BF and Deane had no private reasons for sending him; where had Lee heard the rumor? The commissioners were responsible to the American public; they should be scrupulous in their conduct and convert their jealousies, now public property, “into Shoes and Stockings for our suffering Countrymen.” If Lee had objected to the appointment, he should have said so at the time; Moylan will continue to do public business with his own funds if need be, and those he can borrow. Copies of these two letters are in the University of Pa. Library.

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