Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners: Petition to the Massachusetts Council and House of Representatives, 22 May 1778: résumé

The American Commissioners: Petition to the Massachusetts Council and House of Representatives

AL: Clements Library, University of Michigan; AL (draft):8 Massachusetts Historical Society; copy: National Archives

<Passy, May 22, 1778: Mr. Joseph Parker of London9 has asked us to write to you about his property in a vessel that has been in public hands since the spring of 1775. We have reason to think that he is a worthy man, a friend of America; further detention of his property will ruin him and his family. The ship was held, we understand, on an order from the General Court before September 10, 1775; if so, he may be thought to have suffered a hardship. We petition that his case be settled as soon as possible, and we hope favorably.

Although at the beginning of the war considerable American property was in the hands of British merchants or in government funds, as far as we know none of it has been confiscated or inquired about. For us to set the first example of severity would be imprudent, especially when the law of nations gives subjects of states at war at least six months’ grace to withdraw their effects.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8The AL (draft) is published in Butterfield, John Adams Diary, IV, 110–11. The AL is reproduced facing p. 131; it is unsigned, the first paragraph in Adams’ hand with BF’s interlineations and the second in BF’s hand. It would therefore appear to be a draft, but Parker notes at the end that it was the document he received at Passy.

9The London merchant who was a friend of the Rev. William Gordon: above, XXIV, 311 n.

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