Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to a Friend in England, 16 April 1778

To a Friend in England8

Reprinted from William Temple Franklin, ed., Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin . . . (3 vols., 4to, London, 1817–18), II, 244–5.

Passy, April 16, 1778.

Dear Sir,

I wish you would assure our friend, that Dr. Franklin never gave any such expectations to Mr. Pultney. On the contrary, he told him that the Commissioners could not succeed in their mission, whether they went to recover the dependance or to divide.9 His opinion is confirmed by the inclosed resolves, which perhaps it may not be amiss to publish in England.1 Please to send me the newspaper. Yours affectionately,

B. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The disappearance of the MS leaves the recipient in doubt. WTF headed the note “To Dr. Bancroft, F.R.S. London,” which may or may not have been in the original. We doubt that it was, for there is reason to believe that Bancroft was in Paris at the time. On March 30 Deane, who said that he was leaving on a tour of several weeks, directed correspondents to write him in Bancroft’s care at Passy: Deane Papers, II, 443–4; on April 17 some one in England—perhaps Samuel Wharton, though the hand is not his—sent a ciphered letter to Bancroft in Paris under the latter’s alias of St. Pierre: Hist. Soc. of Pa. If WTF was mistaken about Bancroft, he was undoubtedly right about London; the last sentence leaves little doubt that BF was writing to some one there. Some one whom he knew well, as witness his signing himself “Yours affectionately.” Some one also, if we are right that his letter elicited Vergennes’ to the commissioners above of April 15, who discounted the rumor he was forwarding. A good possibility is Benjamin Vaughan, in which case “our friend” in the first line is doubtless Lord Shelburne.

9Gov. Johnstone, when he reached America as a member of the Carlisle commission, claimed that on March 29 BF had approved the terms that the commission brought; see the headnote on Pulteney to BF above, March 29. Here is the only evidence we have discovered that the same story was current in England weeks before Johnstone sailed.

1The Congressional resolves of Nov. 22, 1777, which Adams had brought and the commissioners had immediately forwarded to Vergennes with their letter above of April 10. The commissioners were intent on publicizing the American commitment to independence; WTF, undoubtedly acting for them, sent a copy to La Rochefoucauld on April 16: Bibliothèque municipale, Mantes.

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