Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 2 March 1779

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Yale University Library

Nantes March 2. 1779—

Dear & hond Sir.—

Capt Collas is now ready to sail in a little Brig which Mr Johnson has given him & in which I have a small Share.— At His request I gave him the Privateer Commission which was made out for his intended Cruize last Spring in the Mediterranean, and in order to put the matter on a regular Footing I inclose you a new Bond in proper Form.—8

I am informed by Mr William Dennie9 that “in his Letters to Mr Moylan & Myself jointly of the 1 & 12 of Decemr he inclosed Bills on the Commrs for 2318 Dollars.” As I know one of the Vessells he wrote by is taken, and as I have never heard of these Bills, I shall be obliged to you if you will observe whether the Bills which may be presented to you endorsed by Wm Dennie to Mr Moylan or my order, are endorsed in turn by our genuine Signatures; I take this precaution because if the Letters were not Sunk, the Captor may, by counterfeiting Moylans or my Name, get the Bills paid.

I recvd the inclosed Letter from Doctor Cooper. I send it to you because if his Letters to you have miscarried you will see & be pleased at so good a mans remembrance of you.1

I hear you have had the Gout I hope you are now better & will soon turn so troublesome a Companion out of Doors.— I have heard you intended to write to me about my accts which I anxiously wait for.—2

The Bergere a french Ship from America is arrived at Port Louis with 300 hhds Tobacco on acct of Congress. The proprietor Messr Colpron & Co sent to me to know if I had any orders about it, as they did not know who to deliver it to, having had no application— I refered to Mr Schweighauser.3

I am ever your most dutifully & affectionately

J Williams J

Dr Franklin

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Franklin / Ministre Plenipotentiaire / des Etats Unis / a Passy / pres Paris4

Notation: W. Dennie’s Bills

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8BF’s nephew-in-law Peter Collas had been given command of the brig Franklin the previous November: XXVIII, 78–9. A bond for that brig, signed by Joshua Johnson, JW, and Peter Collas, is at the APS. It is curiously antedated Dec. 14, 1777, and bears BF’s notation, “Williams Johnson Collas / Privateer.”

9Dennie, a wealthy Boston merchant and ship owner, was active in that city’s political and civic affairs. In 1773 he had been one of the most visible opponents of the British tea duties; he served on Boston’s committee of correspondence from its organization in 1772 until 1776, as well as on various other committees whose concerns ranged from education to the maintenance of town property. Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., 2nd series, X (1895–6), 73, 80; XVI (1902), 92; A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston (Boston, 1887), XVIII, passim; Charles H. Lincoln, comp., Naval Records of the American Revolution 1775–1778 (Washington, D.C., 1906), p. 400.

1BF had received via Lafayette two letters from Samuel Cooper dated Jan. 4: XXVIII, 338–40.

2See BF’s reply of March 16.

3The Bergère had sailed for Virginia the previous summer; see XXVI, 425–6, where the owners were named as “Corperon.” They may have been the Nantais armateurs listed as “Corpron” in Villiers, Commerce colonial, pp. 193–4, and Meyer, Armement nantais, p. 265. BF had already sent the ship’s invoices and bill of lading to Schweighauser on Feb. 25: XXVIII, 602–3.

4Also on the envelope is a brief calculation in BF’s hand of Dennie’s bills which had come to hand and which were “accepted Feb. 19.” They are the same figures that BF sent to Grand on March 16, totalling $1,494.

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