Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from George Anderson, 22 September 1778

From George Anderson4

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Lisbon 22d: Septmr. 1778


I embrace this opportunity to inform Your Excellency, I was to have been the bearer of the Ratification of the Treaty between France and America together with a large Number of letters and papers from the Congress and the Governor and Counsel of Virginia (of the utmost consequence) to Their Excellencies The Ambassadors at paris; but was unfortunately taken (by The King George packet) with my Vessel and Cargo of Ninety Seven Thousand weight of Tobacco, within about Twenty Leagus of the Bay of Biscay, when I destroyed all the letters and papers having particular directions so to do in case I was taken. The only letters that were saved was four of recommendation, one of which was to Your Excellency, and Three to the rest of Their Exellencies The Ambassadors, from the Secty., and The Governor of Virginia, which letters the English Consel here has taken from me, as I was set at liberty at this place; and was it not for the Civilities of Arnold. H. Dorman Esquire,5 should be in distress for even Common Necessaries as they Strip’d me of everything except my Cloaths. He, Mr. Dorman, is kind enough to furnish me with Cash and tells me he will procure a passage either to France or america as soon as possible, if to the Former shall wait on Your Excellency.

As to News respecting The Two Armies, General Washington gave Sr. Henry Clinton (in his march to New York in June last) a handsome drubing, and had it not been for the Misconduct of Genl. Lee wou’d certainly have taken his whole Army, however from the best Accounts, he with the remainder must have Capatulated before this. I am Your Excellencies most Obedient Humble Servant

Geo Anderson

The Vessel in which I was taken was owned by Colo. Adams, Mr. Hylton, of Virginia & my Self, and was Commanded by Capt. Thoms Coleman, Called the Sally6

The Honble. Ben. Frankling Esqr.

Addressed: The Honble. Benj Frankling Esq. / a / Paris

Notations in different hands: Geo. Anderson Lisbon 22. Sept. 78 / Anderson Geo. 22d. Sept. 1778. / M Caccia Banquier à Paris rüe st. martin Vis avis la rüe aux Ours

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Anderson (1755–1816) had been entrusted with these documents by Patrick Henry, a fellow native of Hanover County, Va. He was the brother of Col. Robert Clough Anderson, later a prominent man in Kentucky political and military life. After the revolution George became a tavern keeper and plantation owner in Cumberland County. William T. Hutchinson, William M.E. Rachal et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (16 vols. to date, Chicago, 1962-), II, 33, 34 n.

5Dohrman, a Lisbon merchant and consulship seeker, is identified in XXVI, 211–12 n; Anderson wrote a lengthy letter on his behalf to the commissioners on Feb. 16, 1779 (Harvard University Library).

6Probably Thomas Adams, a Virginia delegate to Congress; Daniel L. Hylton, of Henrico County, Va., was a close associate of Thomas Jefferson who, with JA and others, supported the agricultural company of Philip Mazzei: Boyd, Jefferson Papers, II, 128 n; IV, 271–2; I, 158, 48–9. Coleman was probably the former pilot of the Virginia brig Liberty: Naval Docs., V, 1299; VI, 1228, 1282; VII, 91.

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