Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert Montgomery, 5 April 1778

From Robert Montgomery6

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Alicant 5th: April 1778

Please Your Excellency

Being Established here about twelve Months and finding I have Acquired Business and Consequence in this Place Suffitient to Enable me to render your Excely. or the Honourable Cause you are Imploy’d in, any Services that May be Required on this Part of the Coast of Spain, I think it My duty to Make you A Tender of My Services and to Assure Your Excy. that nothing Could Give me More Happiness than that of Promoting the Welfare of the united Collonies as far as my weke Abilitys will Permit. Same time request you will send me a Certificate of what I am Least Spain Declareing war against England I Should be Treated as a British Subject and Sent out of the Countrey and Perhaps have All my Effects Confiscated.7 But least you Should not Recollect or know me I Must beg lave to Refer you to Mr. Thomas Morris or to any of the Captains of Ships Belonging to Philadelphia of which I was one many years and Inclose for your Inspection a Certificate from the Customhouse at Hampton in Virgenia the Only Paper I have Left of the kind which may satisfy you as to that Perticular.8 James Montgomery who Commanded in the Gallies of the Continent when they Defated the two English men of war in the Delewar is My Brother.9 These Circumstances I Mention as its Absolutely Necessary you Should acknoledge me in time as the Spanish Governor might not take my Bear word for what I Am and so long before I Could Get the Necessary Credentials from home I Might Be Ruined in the Interim and Notwithstanding they Might Make Some Restitution afterwards I Could never Expect Above one Third of the Damages.

I Most Humbly and Earnestly Request your Excely. will Honor me with an Imediate Answer and the Credentials that my Situation demands and Justice Entitles me to and you may Command Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

Robt Montgomery

This is a Place of Very Considerable Trade and no American Established here but my Self.

Addressed: To / His Excely. Dor. Franklin / Paris

Notation: Letter Rob. Montgomery to Dr F 3d April 1778

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6A merchant later appointed consul at Alicante: Boyd, Jefferson Papers, XIX, 315–16. The difficulties that he is anticipating materialized the following year, and elicited further correspondence with BF.

7Montgomery came to Passy the following September and signed an oath of allegiance on the 8th: APS. By November he was back in Alicante, whence he wrote John Adams on the 6th to thank him for his civilities and forward Spanish news; Adams acknowledged the letter on the 24th: Mass. Hist. Soc.

8The certificate is in the APS. It merely establishes that Montgomery arrived in November, 1774, and landed some goods from Philadelphia.

9For the engagement see above, XXII, 437. James’s naval commands are sketched in John W. Jackson, The Pennsylvania Navy, 1775–1781: the Defense of the Delaware (New Brunswick, N.J., [1974]), p. 337.

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