Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Francis Coffyn, 28 September 1779

To Francis Coffyn

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy, Sept. 28. 1779.


I received your several favours containing the Claims of Capt. Cunningham’s french Sailors,3 and The Memoirs relative to the Privileges of your Port.4 With regard to these Claims, I Shall Send them to Congress, but I observe that they are Simply the Declarations of the People themselves, that an Agreement was made with them for such high Wages with Shares of Prizes and are not confirmed by any testimony of Persons concern’d in that Equipment, which methinks they ought to be. The just Privileges of your Port I hope you will be able to maintain. I am fully Satisfied by your former Memoir5 of its Conveniency for the American Commerce, and I make no doubt but you will in time have a large Share of it. I thank you for the Copy of the regulation relating to Prizes.6 By this Post Mr. Torris will receive all that he desires, except for the last 8 Ransomers, I having been little instructed as to the Part I am to act in such Business; he will here after meet with no delay in his business from me.

In compliance with your Recommendation I Shall also Send commission for the Black Princess. As to the Maintenance of Prisoners these Privateers may bring in to your Port, you will find that Matter arranged in the same regulation of sept. 27. 1778. Article 15.—7 With great Esteem I have the honour to be Sir Your most obedient and most humble servant


M. Coffin, Dunkirque.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The sailors in question had been exchanged in the recent cartel; see BF’s Aug. 4 letter to Coffyn. On Aug. 12 Coffyn told BF that he would forward their depositions and on Aug. 30 promised to send the papers with his next letter: above. His next letter seems to have been the now-missing one of Sept. 9 (for which see Coffyn to BF, Sept. 18), so the sailors’ claims are also missing.

4See our annotation of Coffyn’s letter of Sept. 18.

5Described in XXVI, 522n.

6Enclosed with the letter of the 18th.

7Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, II, 687.

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