Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to [William Carmichael], [2 June 1779]

To [William Carmichael]8

Incomplete copy: Library of Congress

[June 2, 1779]9

… Copies of the Letters, Votes &c relating to that Amiable and excellent young Man.1 He was mighty well received, at Court, and has a Regiment given him. Ever Since his arrival he has been industrious in moving or projecting Something or other for the Advantage of America.

I am Sorry to hear of Dissensions in Congress, You are now one of that Body, and will, I hope, contribute to heal them;2 I See, as you Say, that we have Wedderburnes in france as well as in England. They quarrel at me, rather than with me; for I will not quarrel with them. They write me long abusive Letters which I never answer, but treat the Gentlemen with The same Civility when we meet as if no Such Letters existed. This I think most prudent for public Character but I Suspect my Self of being a little malicious in it, for I imagine they are more vex’d by Such neglect than they would be by a tart Reply. Such malignant natures cannot long agree together even in mischief no revenge is necessary from me, I need only leave them to hiss, bite sting & poison one another.

Permit me to recommend to your Civilities the Cher. De La Luzerne who Goes over to replace Mr. Gerard. He is a Nephew of that Great man Mr. de Malesherbes President of the Cour des Aides; is much Esteemed here for his personal qualities and has a hearty Good will to the american cause.3 All goes as well here as I could wish; except that you are not come over as expected to assist me in the Business. A Dieu, and believe me ever Dear Sir, Yours most affectionately.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In answer to his letter of Oct. 30, 1778: XXVII, 664–6.

9The letter is in a letterbook from which the date, salutation, and possibly some of the text have been cut. The letters preceding and following it are dated June 2; hence our dating. On this and the next two days BF wrote half a dozen other letters of recommendation for minister designate La Luzerne to various prominent Americans. The others are below.

1Lafayette had carried Carmichael’s letter to BF; in it Carmichael had recommended that BF personally take to the French court the letters and resolutions in praise of the returning hero: XXVII, 664–5.

2Maryland elected Carmichael to Congress on Nov. 13, 1778: Burnett, Letters, III, liii.

3La Luzerne was not only a nephew of the celebrated jurist Chrétien-Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes (above, April 22), but also a cousin through the maternal line of one of France’s greatest military commanders, the maréchal de Broglie. One of La Luzerne’s brothers became a cardinal, another minister of the navy: William E. O’Donnell, The Chevalier de la Luzerne: French Minister to the United States, 1779–1784 (Bruges and Louvain, Belgium, 1938), pp. 39–40.

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