Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from David Hartley, 2 March 1779

From David Hartley

ALS: American Philosophical Society; transcript: Library of Congress

London March 2 1779

My Dear Sir

Yours of 22d of february received.4 I have been as much discontented with the delay respecting the Exchange of prisoners as you can have been, and before the receipt of yours, I had made an heavy complaint and remonstrance upon the Subject. I have now the Satisfaction to tell you, that the first Cartel ship has actually left Spithead, and is now upon her Passage to Plymouth, to take on board the first hundred. I have received this positive assurance from the Admiralty. The Cartel ship was got as far as Torbay upon her Passage, and was blown back, but they now presume that she must probably be arrived at Plymouth, by this time.5 I have spoke to the Minister6 upon your proposal of sending Dr Bancroft to expedite the Exchange, as you state it. His answer to me was, that he thought it needless in so plain a business. He expressed surprize and displeasure at the delays, and assured me that he wd interfere to prevent any farther delays. I presume that Dr Bancroft will wait for your orders upon the Subject, however I shall apprize him by this Mail of the Ministers answer.7 I will write to you again soon. I am Dear Sir Most affectely yours &c

D Hartley

To Dr Franklin

Notation: D. hartley Londres 2. mars. 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4See Letter I of that date: XXVIII, 587–8.

5The prisoners received word on March 5 that the cartel had arrived at Plymouth and awaited orders from London before they could embark. On the 16th ninety-seven men were on board the cartel and waiting for a fair wind to sail: Charles Herbert, A Relic of the Revolution (Boston, 1847), pp. 225–7. The ship apparently left Plymouth on March 25; see Hartley’s letter of March 30. For a discussion of the cartel and the prisoner exchange in the spring of 1779 see Catherine M. Prelinger, “Benjamin Franklin and the American Prisoners of War in England during the American Revolution,” W&MQ, 3rd ser., XXXII (1975), 275–6.

6Lord North, who had previously worked with Hartley on matters relating to prisoners: see XXV, 269, 350.

7BF had proposed in a letter of Feb. 22 sending Bancroft. Hartley’s March 2 letter to Bancroft is at the Library of Congress.

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