Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 11 December 1779

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Yale University Library

Nantes Dec. 11. 1779

Dear & hond Sir.

I am informed by the Admiralty here that I cannot have the Condemnation of the prize Goods taken by the Mifflin untill they receive from you the Papers & the Judgment by the Conseil des Prises at Paris. I therefore request you to return the said Papers with the Judgment that I may be able to transmit the Accot Sales to my Employers.1

M Merciers Accot & papers lay ready for the first private Opportunity, being too bulky & of too little Consequence for the expence of Postage.

The last Vessell from America was the Committee to the address of Mr Dacosta. I gave you by last thursdays post the little news I could collect, if you have anything more please to let Billy give me an accot of it. I saw some time since in an american Paper an address to the people of Ireland with your Name to it. If there is no indiscretion in the Question I should like to know if it is genuine.2

I hope & persuade myself you continue your kind Friendship to Messrs Alexander in their Affairs & with my mariamnes most affectionate Respect I am ever Dear & honourd Sir Your dutifull & affectionate Kinsman

J Williams J

Notation: Jona Williams Dec 2. 79

1Capt. George Babcock on the General Mifflin had taken three prizes in May. He removed the bulk of the cargo from one of them, the Betsey, and on May 19 sent her to England with one hundred ninety prisoners to be exchanged. She arrived in Portsmouth around July 10, the same time that the General Mifflin arrived at Nantes: XXX, 103, 213; Courier de l’Europe, VI, no. 4 (July 13, 1779), p. 32. It appears that the other two prizes were recaptured (JW to Sears, July 20, Yale University Library), and the Betsey’s confiscated goods could not be sold until the ship was condemned in absentia. BF enclosed a certificate of condemnation, dated Dec. 21, in his letter to JW of Dec. 22, below.

2It was not. “To the Good People of Ireland,” signed with BF’s name and dated Oct. 4, 1778, was first published in Ireland and reprinted in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. See our editorial note on the address (XXVII, 504) and BF’s reply to the present letter, Dec. 22.

Index Entries