Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from O’Gorman, 15 May 1778

From O’Gorman

AL: American Philosophical Society

Ce vendredi 15 may 1778

Le chevalier O’Gorman de retour de la Bourgogne est venu pour avoir l’honneur de faire sa cour a son Excellence Monsieur Le Docteur Franklin.9

M de Bory chef D’escadre
L’abbé Rochon1

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9He was, we suspect, paying his court for a purpose. Two undated memoranda, endorsed “Mr. O’Gorman’s Memoire,” are among BF’s papers in the APS, both addressed to Sartine. They are worth describing for what they reveal about the chevalier and how he saw the U.S. The first gives his qualifications to be French consul in Philadelphia: he is a naturalized Frenchman with a French heart; he has long been connected with BF; he speaks several languages, notably those used in America; his modest means and considerable expenses (with which the “chevalière” d’Eon had promised to help but could not) leave him unable to support his family without assistance. The second memorandum is observations on the Americans: most of them are English at heart; they are divided between Whigs and Tories; France must bring them together, dominate their counsels, and in particular attract the merchants through French goods, which should undersell British by 10 percent. O’Gorman, with his mastery of the language and his ties with the Protestant and Catholic Irish families that predominate in Philadelphia, Maryland and Virginia, could do more than any other Frenchman, even the ambassador, to further French interests.

He wrote the memoranda after Gérard’s appointment as minister and before the news arrived that the consulship had gone to Jean Holker in mid-July (Meng, Despatches of Gérard, p. 131 n). During that interval, in May, O’Gorman made one of his infrequent visits to Paris; and the assumption is plausible that one of his reasons was to urge BF to intercede with Sartine.

1He may have jotted down their names merely because they happened to be calling on BF at the same time. Both men were members of the Académie royale des sciences; Gabriel de Bory was a retired naval officer turned physicist (above, XXIV, 325) and Alexis-Marie Rochon, a friend of Turgot, was a distinguished marine astronomer and physicist (DBF), with whom BF subsequently had considerable contact.

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