Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 26 May 1778

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes May 26. 1778.

Dear and honoured Sir.

You must have already seen by my Letters how much pains I have taken to keep clear of Dispute, and yet obey my Orders. My last to the Commissioners from Brest will show you that I have ever avoided doing the Rangers Business for fear of disagreeable altercation. Notwithstanding this, I have a Letter from Mr. A. Lee by which it appears that complaints are made, proved, Justice done to the Complainer, (or in other Words the person complained of censured,) and, by implication, I am this person. Is it possible that the Commissioners have judged and censured me unheard? I can’t beleive they have. I send you inclosed Copies of Mr. L’s Letter to me and my answer.4 The latter I hope you will not disapprove, and I beg Sir you will kindly continue to indulge me when I arrive at Paris with private audiences when you have Leisure from more important affairs, and If I can’t show clearly that I have conducted myself honourably, honestly and (as far as my ability would permit) usefully to the Public, let me be punished with the Loss of your affection. But ’till I fail in my Justification let me hold the place I hitherto have had in your esteem and believe me to be most dutifully and affectionately ever Yours

J Williams J

Notation: Jonathan Williams Nantes 26 May 1778

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4The first, of May 8, is missing; the second, JW’s response of the 26th, is in the Lee Family Papers, roll 4, frames 613–15. Lee had written that Schweighauser had made complaints and justice had been done him. JW’s answer, which is far from clear, mirrors his confusion about where he stood. The complaints, he said, could have had nothing to do with his getting in Schweighauser’s way, or with the latter’s misunderstanding of his journey to Brest. He himself had not complained of molestation by any one. He had chosen, when he heard the report that Schweighauser’s powers were paramount, to rely on a previous explanation of them rather than occasion dispute; a line from the commissioners, confirming or rescinding their orders, would have settled the matter. His letter to them of the 18th explains his conduct. He is determined on the one hand to behave with propriety and respect, and on the other to prevent any undeserved injury to his reputation.

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