Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Petre Sargét, 6 July 1779: résumé

From Petre Sargét8

ALS: American Philosophical Society

<La Rochelle, July 6, 1779, in French: I left New Orleans on April 20 and arrived here June 19. The Americans had taken Illinois and Vincennes, but the post of Vincennes was retaken by the British last November. Col. [George Rogers] Clark has gone by land and sent troops by water to recapture it; there is every reason to believe he has been successful.9 Natchez and Manchac are well fortified. James Willing, who conquered them without resistance, should easily have been able to save them; to recapture Natchez will cost lives.1 Pollock, the agent, is not a very honorable man. Col. Clark has bought many furs, giving letters of exchange on him. Pollock says he will honor them when Congress places funds at his disposal.2 I have much to tell about their agreement. Bills of exchange are occupying me: more than 50,000 piastres of them have been protested, doing inexpressible injury to New Orleans. I fear business losses will keep merchants from aiding Col. Clark. I will come to Paris as soon as I finish my business here, which has prevented my coming sooner. My wife is from New York and I know the continent perfectly. I sailed from there to St. Domingue and Spain, stopping to recover my business affairs in New Orleans, where I always conducted myself like a true American.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8Printed with a translation and editorial comments by Lewis J. Carey in “Franklin is Informed of Clark’s Activities in the Old Northwest,” Mississippi Valley Hist. Rev. XXI (1934–35), 375–8.

9After an arduous march, Clark captured Vincennes and 79 prisoners on Feb. 24, 1779: Mark Mayo Boatner III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (New York, 1966), pp. 1192–3.

1James Willing and Oliver Pollock captured these Louisiana posts in early 1778, but left them unprotected; the British reoccupied them in May: Carey, “Franklin is Informed of Clark’s Activities,” p. 376.

2Commercial agent Oliver Pollock had also asked BF’s help: XXIX, 303–4.

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