Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Francis Montresor, 23 June 1778

From Francis Montresor

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Bordeaux june the 23th 1778:

Honourable Sir:

Since my departure from paris I Have Been very Busy in fitting out for Mister Basmorin and Mr. Chaumont, the frigate vengeance, mounted with 24 nine pounders Thirty swivels, 24 oars, 220 good men, must part foreigners the tender rangler mount’d with six three pounders, 20 swivels, 36 oars, and 50 men. Commanded By Lieutenant Barned one americain, having part of her Crew of the same nation. All will Be ready in twenty days for the farthest. I am in great hops of finding somme good ocasion of giving the strongest prouve of my good will for the wellfare of Liberty and our attachement for the united states. Your honour will Be so kind to send me his orders as soon as posible1 and if in Case there is some particulars that my Be of sarvice in anoying the Ennemies I should Be very proud to Be of some sarvice in this ocasions. Let the things Be as it please I shal allwais Be your honour most humble and most obedient servant Sir2

Francis Montresor
at Mr Basmorin in Bordeaux

My humble respects to the honourables deputys of the Congress

Notation by John Adams: Mr Montresors Letter from Bourdeaux 23d June 1778

1For the background of this letter see the headnote to Basmarein & Raimbaux’s letter above, [before May 16]. The Vengeance sailed in August, took three prizes, but returned to port after her captain, Chevalier de Montazeau, was killed in the frigate Greenwood in late October. See the Courier de l’Europe, IV, pp. 218, 316. BF’s sponsorship of the venture was recalled by the captain’s widow, writing on Dec. 24 (APS).

The Bordeaux firm then poured their remaining resources into a larger frigate, the Marquise de Lafayette, which proved their undoing; they declared bankruptcy in February, 1779, involving BF and de Lafreté in their legal procedures. Basmarein fled to England where he was well received, and eventually returned to Paris where he died in poverty in 1806.

“Barned” was James Barnett, the former prisoner whom Bondfield was trying to place; see Bondfield’s letter of May 8. The following November, Barnett was jauntily asking BF to honor his substantial drafts (Nov. 9, National Archives.)

2It is impossible to tell from the text whether this word is part of the complimentary close or, which seems far less likely, of the signature. In any case we have been unable to find a trace of the writer.

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