Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Silas Deane, 7 April 1778

To Silas Deane

ALS: Blumhaven Library and Gallery, Philadelphia; two copies: Yale University Library

Passy, April 7. 1778

Dear Sir,

I have had a long and very angry Letter from Mr. Lee,1 about your going without acquainting him with it, in which his Disorder seems to encrease, for he raves not only against you and me, but seems to resent the Court’s sending a Minister to Congress without advising with him. I bear all his Rebukes with Patience, for the Good of the Service: but it goes a little hard with me.2

The Negociator is gone back apparently much chagrin’d at his little Success. I have promis’d him faithfully that since his Propositions could not be accepted they should be buried in Oblivion. I therefore desire earnestly that you would put that Paper immediately in the Fire on the Receipt of this, without taking or suffering to be taken any Copy of it, or communicating its Contents.3

Mr. Adams is not yet arriv’d.

My best Wishes attend you. I am ever, with the greatest Esteem, Your most obedient Servant

B Franklin

Hon Silas Deane Esqr

Addressed: To / The honble. Silas Deane Esqr / Toulon

Notation: Benja Franklin Esqr Lettr Paris 7th April 1778 recd. at Toulon

1Above, April 2.

2BF suffered from Lee, Chaumont wrote Jean Holker in Philadelphia on March 30, but presumably “le Congress ecartera un fou de ses Affaires publiques; partout ou on l’envera, Il y portera l’orgueil, la defiance, et le mepris, il vaudroit mieux que L’Amerique ne deputat pas en Europe que d’y placer des hommes du Caractere de celui de Chaillot.” Charles M. Andrews, “A Note on the Franklin-Deane Mission to France,” Yale University Library Quarterly, II (1927–28), 66.

3Deane said later that he had done so: ibid., p. 59. Precisely when Pulteney returned home is not clear. On April 8 King George saw a note of his, apparently saying that BF had not—as in fact he had—quashed all hope of negotiation; “probably the old Doctor may wish to keep a door open,” the King wrote North, “but as it does not delay the Commission, it can be of no disservice.” Fortescue, Correspondence of George Third, IV, 101. Another indication that Pulteney remained hopeful is his inducing Whitehall to subsidize William Alexander’s move from Dijon; see above, p. 189 n. On the 10th Pulteney spoke in the House of Commons, and his presence in London generated a rumor that BF had sent over one of his relatives (Pulteney’s alias had been Williams) to explore the chance of peace negotiations with a ministry headed by Chatham: Cobbett, Parliamentary History, XIX (1777–78), 1080–2; Lauzun to Vergennes, April 10, 1778, AAE.

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