Benjamin Franklin Papers

Franklin: Passport for a French Vessel, [14 February 1779]

Franklin: Passport for a French Vessel

AD (draft):2 American Philosophical Society

[February 14, 1779]

To all3 Captains and Commanders of Vessells of War, belonging to the thirteen united States of America or either of them, and to all Captains and Commanders of Privateers, and Letters of Marque, belonging to any Citizen or Citizen of any of the said States.

It appearing to me by authentic Papers, that4 his most Christian Majesty has thought fit for Reason’s of State to grant Passeports to Captain   de   Men, of about 15 Tons Burthen5 to go from Bourdeaux to some Port of Ireland6 with a Cargo of Marchandises, of which the Export7 is permitted, and to return from Ireland to Bourdeaux8 with a Cargo of Marchandises, where the Entry is permitted, or without Cargoes.

And I being requested to do what may be in my Power on the Part of the said States for the Safety of such Vessell and Cargo thus protected by his Majesty, the same being the Property of his Subjects.9

I therefore the Minister Plenipotentiary from the said united States at the Court of France, hereby request, you to permit the said Vessell and Cargo to pass and Repass according to her Passport. dated at Versailles the 14th of February 1779 without Molestation or Hindrance. Given under my Hand at Passy near Paris this   Day of   one thousand seven hundred & seventy eight.—1

Notation: Pass-Port for a Vessel from London to Blaye2

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2This draft of a passport, in JA’s hand, was originally dated Sept. 27, 1778 (a day on which BF was absent from Passy: XXVII, 462). In one of his first acts as sole minister, BF altered the document. Using both black and red ink, he changed pronouns and verbs from plural to singular, inserted his new title, and revised the date. We note the other changes, below.

3“Continental” is crossed out in black ink.

4JA had originally written, “It having been represented to us by his Excellency M. De Sartine, the Minister of State for the Marine to his most Christian Majesty that his Majesty. . . .” BF interlined in red ink the phrase we publish and bracketed JA’s passage for cancellation.

5The phrase “15 tons Burthen” is underlined in red, probably indicating it was meant for deletion, leaving a blank to be filled in as appropriate.

6Written in red, “Bourdeaux to some Port of Ireland” replaces “London to the Port of Blaye”.

7In red, superseding “Entry”.

8“Ireland” and “Bourdeaux” are in red, superseding “the said Port of Blaye to that of London”.

9In this paragraph BF added the phrases, “on the Part of the said States” and “the same being the Property of his Subjects”.

1BF had changed the date in the previous sentence, had interlined “at Passy near Paris”, but neglected to alter the last phrase, which had been added onto JA’s draft by WTF.

2On the same sheet as the notation are the following, apparently unrelated, figures:

 894: 0:0

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