Benjamin Franklin Papers

James Smith to the American Commissioners, 15 November 1778: résumé

James Smith3 to the American Commissioners

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: National Archives

<Paris, November 15, 1778: I enclose the testimony of Mr. Anthony Payn concerning the detention of my goods, which gives the names of the officer who took them and of Mr. Payn’s servant, who was also a witness.4 Your agent at Calais, together with Mr. Whitall and Miss Farrel were also informed at the time about the case.5 Mr. Williams informs me that seized and detained goods are deposited separately; you may not have known this, which would explain the minister’s [Vergennes’] answer. If this is not the case, the customs officers mean to defraud me, and it is up to you to prevent it.

I wish a pass for myself and my family so I can go to England to settle my affairs before returning to America. In case my prior remonstrances influence you to refuse, I am willing to give the most solemn assurances of my affection and duty to my country. My zeal for the cause leads me to volunteer to execute any commission which promotes its interest and independence.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3A physician who for months had been attempting to recover his effects detained at Calais; four weeks earlier (XXVII, 564) Vergennes had informed the commissioners that the goods could not be located. The present letter is published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VII, 217–18.

4On Nov. 4, Payn wrote a certificate (AAE), datelined London Inn, Dover, that he and his servant, Lewis Dambrun, had been present when Smith’s packet was seized but had not seen the contents. The commissioners sent the document on to Vergennes with their letter of Nov. 17.

5The agent at Calais was Jacques Leveux. Whitall was Joseph P., presumably on his way to the Netherlands (XXVII, 322).

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