Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from [Jean-Georges?] du Buat, 19 May 1778: résumé

From [Jean-Georges?] du Buat7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<St. Malo, May 19, 1778, in French: At the end of last year I sent two expeditions to America, of which one arrived safely at Charleston in March. No news has come of the other, and I am extremely anxious. My ship is the Vicomte de Vaux, twenty-four guns and a crew of ninety commanded by the Sieur Donat de la Garde; she left Lorient on December 31 with the Lion (formerly the Beaumont), forty guns, commanded by my brother-in-law, the Sieur Michel. The two were to keep together for mutual protection. I assume that if they were taken we should have had news; such ships would have made a stir in England. Their safe arrival, on the other hand, would probably have done the same in America. I should be most grateful to know anything you do about their fate.8>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Probably the du Buat (1742–1809) who later acquired some fame; in 1793 he took part in, and became historian of, the La Rouërie conspiracy that was a prelude to the rising in the Vendée: DBF.

8On May 25 Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux, writes BF from Paris to ask the same question; he outfitted the ship that bears his name and has a part interest in the Lion: University of Pa. Library. In 1782 he explains what happened. He supplied about a fifth of the total value of the shipment, which was at least a million l.t.; hence the rechristening of the ship, formerly the Anonyme. H.M.S. St. Albans captured her in the Delaware, he lost a large part of his fortune (the merchants involved with him went bankrupt), and he wants a land grant in recompense. To [Chaumont, c. July] and to BF, Sept. 2, 1782: University of Pa. Library; to BF, Sept. 28, 1782: Hist. Soc. of Pa.; Chaumont to Vaux, July 18, 1782: Yale University Library.

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