Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 9 March 1779

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society, copy: Yale University Library

Nantes March 9. 1779

Dear & honoured Sir.—

I received a Letter from Billy per last Post in which he tells me you desire to know the general run of the Orders I have recvd from America. Bohea Tea composes much more than half, and the remainder is assorted— The articles are too numerous to give an exact accot of them, but in general they run on what is called necessarys for Familys, and under this Head is ranged what relates to dress & appearance; I have Orders for some Boxes of Glass and some Copper for Stills.6

Mr Lee being here, I thought it my Duty to demand of him a justification of his assertions (if they could be justified) and pointed out the means, I have not yet received any answer, when I do, I will transmit it to you with a Copy of my Letter to him, in which I inclosed a Copy of the one I wrote to You and Mr Adams.7

I hope you have got rid of your troublesome Companion the Gout— The Captain of the Alliance has informed that he will not be able to sail these 3 Weeks for want of hands & many necessary Repairs—

I am ever with the greatest Respect Hond Sir Your dutifull & affectionate Kinsman

Jona Williams

Notation: Jona. Williams. Nantes 9 mars 1779.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6JW’s letterbooks, beginning Feb. 20, 1779, and continuing through 1785, are in the Franklin Collection of the Yale University Library; they provide a record of JW’s mercantile activities during the period of this volume. Thirteen chests of tea had been ordered by Boston merchants, and throughout the following months JW managed to place most of them (through Gourlade and Moylan) on the General Washington, Capt. John Young, and the rest on his own Three Friends. Seventy-seven casks of glassware were ordered by John Holker, who also requested twenty casks of Rouen ware, printed velvets and cottons, and two cases of ladies’ caps for M. Gérard. The copper was ordered by Thomas Cushing, and proved to be unobtainable; the rest of his order, twenty ells of black silk, was shipped.

7A copy of JW’s letter to Lee, dated March 8, is at the APS. Its enclosure was JW’s letter to BF and JA of Jan. 31, informing the commissioners of certain critical endorsements which Lee had secretly entered on his accounts and defending himself against Lee’s charges (XXVIII, 443–6). JW also requested that an impartial committee of American merchants be formed to examine his accounts; his March 8 letter asked Lee to join him in this request.

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