Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to the South Carolina Legislature, 25 June 1778

The American Commissioners to the South Carolina Legislature

AL (draft):4 Harvard University Library

Paris June 25th 1778


Miss Stevens being in this City,5 in a very [torn: poor?] state of health and attended by a Physician; is un[der app]rehensions, from prevailing reports of an act hav[ing p]assed in South Carolina, to confiscate the Estates [of tho]se who are absent after a given time, that she [torn: may incur?] the penalty of that act notwithstanding [her] most earnest wish to comply with the laws of [her] Country6.

We the Commissioners plenipotentiary [of the] United States of America, do hereby certify that [the] above is the real State of her health, and we submit [it] as [our o]pinion that in consequence of this Ladys [ill?] he[alth and] the great inconveniences and dangers [of] passing the Sea at the present period, she coud [no]t attempt it without the most iminent peril of her life. It appears therefore to us [missing]tuation pleads powerfully for a pra[missing] time stated to be in that act, shou[missing] the description of it, until the recovery of [missing] and the greater safty of the voyage [missing] to pass without extraordinary danger [missing?]

Honble the President of the Legislative Council Speaker of the House of Delegates of the State

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4In Arthur Lee’s hand. The recto is cropped and torn, but most of the gaps are small enough to reconstruct the text with reasonable confidence. The verso lacks the lines to the right of a vertical fold, and what has disappeared defies the hardiest conjecture.

5Margaret Stevens, of Beaufort, S.C., was baptized in 1758. In March, 1771, she sailed for England with her aunt and uncle, Margaret and John Gibbes, and in 1781 married Sir John Orde; she died without issue in 1790: S.C. Hist. and Geneal. Mag., XXIII (1922), 185; Laurens Papers, VII, 448–9 n. She and Mrs. Gibbes were still in Paris in early July, 1778 (Butterfield, John Adams Diary, II, 317).

6A S.C. act, passed on March 28, 1778, provided that absentees who did not pay their taxes within two years of notification should forfeit their estates: Thomas Cooper et al., eds., The Statutes at Large of South Carolina . . . (14 vols., Columbia, S.C., 1838–73), IV, 414–16. Reports that such an act was in preparation must have reached Margaret Stevens before she knew its actual terms; she and her aunt did not receive the statute itself until two weeks later: Lloyd to BF below, July 13.

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