Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Dumas, 8 November 1779

To Dumas

ALS: Anne and Paul Fenske, Rapid City, South Dakota (1981); copy: Library of Congress

Passy Nov. 8. 1779.

Dear Sir

I received duly your several Favours of Oct. 18. 22. 25. 28. 29. & Nov. 2.

Your Reasons for the speedy Depart of the Squadron, are good.

I am glad the Affair of the Deserters is so well got over, as appears from your Extracts.

I am exceedingly well satisfied with the Conduct of your Government and with the Treatment our People have received.

M. Sayre desired a Commission of me for his Vessel.7 I acquainted him with the Rules of Congress, which require Securities to be given, for regular Conduct. He proposed to me M. Panchaud & Mr Petrie.8 Neither of those Gentlemen have appear’d to enter into such Engagement: And I hardly think it probable that in your neutral State, he can find such Securities. But if he can, I will send him the Commission. The sum will be 2,000£ sterling, & the Securities liable to make good Damages to that Amount, if any should be occasioned by irregular Proceedings.

I return herewith the Project of the Treaty. It seems to me to have been well considered; and I have at present no Alterations to propose that are of Consequence. I send only a little Remark on Article 5.9

With great Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

My Respect to M. De Neufville
M. Dumas.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7A frigate being built under Stephen Sayre’s direction was nearly ready for launching: John R. Alden, Stephen Sayre, American Revolutionary Adventurer (Baton Rouge and London, 1983), pp. 117, 120. It is unclear, however, to what degree it incorporated the new design proposed by him (XXIX, 181–3). In any case he probably requested the commission during his recent visit to France: Alden, Sayre, p. 116.

8Sayre had borrowed money from the banker Isaac Panchaud: Alden, Sayre, p. 104.

9The project was either a copy made by Dumas of the September, 1778, Dutch-American commercial treaty drafted by William Lee and Jean de Neufville (XXVII, 344n) or a new treaty proposal considerably resembling it: XXX, 27n, 383. Immediately following the letterbook copy of the present letter the copyist indicated that on a separate paper BF wrote: “Remark. Art. 5. Qu’ils ne les vendront pas en detail dans les boutiques ou ailleurs.— I wish to know the Reason of this Restriction. To me at Present it seems inconvenient, as it may occasion Disputes and Discussions about what is to be deemed Detail.” Article V of Lee and de Neufville’s treaty dealt with the rights of American and Dutch merchants in one another’s ports, including the right to sell goods transshipped from another port. A restriction to that right was “that they shall not sell the same [goods and merchandise] by retail or in shops or anywhere else”: Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, II, 790.

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