Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Joseph Greenleaf, 9 January 1779

From Joseph Greenleaf

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston Jany. 9th. 1779

Most hond. Sr

Mr. Williams5 favours me with an opportunity of addressing a few lines to you upon a subject very interesting to me— I have an only son, by name Thomas, who is now a prisoner in Portsmouth gaol, & has been so for several months.6

My request to you is, for your Influence to get him exchanged, if possible, & put into such public service as he is capable of; He has served his country in capacity of Capt. in a train of Artilery to good acceptance & I dare pronounce him capable of a higer station. Should he be released, and could return home in some public Vessel, so as to save him the expence of a passage (if he cannot be employ’d) it will be receiv’d as a favour.— Perhaps you may not recollect me, my son is a Nephew of the hon. Robt. T. Paine Esqr.7 with whome you are acquainted.— I need make no appology for troubling you with this epistle, because, I am well assured, that it always gives you pleasure to have an opportunity TO DO GOOD.

I am Sr. your most obd. huml. Servt.

Jos Greenleaf

P.S. I have wrote to Mr. Adams on the same subject.—

Addressed: To / The hon. Benja. Franklin Esqr: / Plenip. from America at the Court / of France / favd. by Mr. Williams

Notations: Greenleaf 9 Janr. 1779. /Jon Greenleaf Boston 9e. janvier 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Jonathan Williams, Sr.

6For the printer Thomas Greenleaf (1755–98) see the DAB. He had been a lieutenant of marines on the Angelica out of Boston which was captured by the British frigate Andromeda on May 30, 1778. Committed to Forton prison, he wrote to JA for assistance on July 16: Taylor, Adams Papers, VI, 293–4. He escaped, possibly at the end of December: ibid., 294n.

7Robert Treat Paine (1731–1814), a signer of the Declaration of Independence for Massachusetts. DAB.

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