Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert Montgomery, 26 June 1779

From Robert Montgomery5

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Alicante 26th: June 1779


I find Myself under the Necessety of Troubling your Excellency to Inform you, that Notwithstanding I have Every time that the foraigne Merchants Established here ware Called by the Governour to Declare of what Nation they ware, always declared and Subscribed Myself a Subject of the Thirteen United States of North America yet Yesterday on A proclamation of war being Made here Against England I was Arrested my Property Seized and House filled with Soldiers, I Immediately produced My Certiffcate and Passeport Given Me, by you Mr Lee and Mr Adams when I had the Honour of Attending you at Passy Last August on My way to this Place,6 but have had No Answer nor Relief in Consequence of them, I Insisted to Know if Spain had Declared war Against the States of America to which Am Answerd in the Negative but without Any Relief or Apearance of it. And as I know myself Guilty of No fault; but the Exect Semillarity between us and the English (Except in Sentiment) I Must Request your Excelly will Immediately write the Count De Ricla Minister of War at this Court,7 that he may Consider Me, As I am, a Subject of the Allies and Order the Embargo to be taken off My house and Business, please Also Indicate to Me who is Charge des Affairs for the States at Madrid, if yet Appointed that I may Appley to him in future Should Any Simoller Injustice be done Me, I Rely Entirely on your freindship and Justice for the Releif I Claim from My Present distressed Situation, and dont dout to have Your Ansr. as it will Otherways be Very Deficult for Me to Extricate Myself and Save the Credit and Perhaps Ruin of Your Excellys. Most Obedt humble Servent

Robt Montgomery

Benjaman Franklin Esqr,

Addressed: To / His Excellancy Benjamin Franklin Esqr: / Plenipotenciary from the / united States / Passy / Paris

Notation: Montgomery 26. Juin 1779.—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5An American merchant who for the last two years had been residing on the Mediterranean coast of Spain: XXVI, 242–3. He had corresponded occasionally with JA; see, for example, Adams Papers, VIII, 5–6, and our annotation of BF to JA, April 24. He sent to JA a letter almost identical to the present one, and it is now with BF’s papers at the APS. A French translation of the present letter is at the Archivo Historico Nacional Estado, Madrid.

6See XXVII, 414.

7A cousin of the current Spanish ambassador to the French court, the conde de Aranda, Ricla had become minister of war in 1772: Anthony H. Hull, Charles III and the Revival of Spain (Washington, D.C., 1981), p. 184. When he learned of Montgomery’s plight he reprimanded the local governor and ordered him to support and protect the Americans as friends and allies: Adams Papers, VIII, 96; Montgomery to BF, July 6, 1779 (APS).

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