Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Dumas, 10 January 1780

From Dumas

ALS: American Philosophical Society; AL (draft): Algemeen Rijksarchief

Amst. Jan. 10th. 1780

Honoured & dear Sir,

My last,9 of which I could not keep a copy, has carried you the declaration & denunciation of the principal cities of this province against the late arbitrary proceedings of an influenced plurality. They say here, that the English have insulted the men of war of this State, & taken the Dutch mercht. Ships who sailed under their protection:1 if this is true, I am sure they have been invited to do it by their friends at the H—— [Hague].

The Serapis, Scarboroug, Pallas & Vengeance are said to be safe at Dunkirk.— The Alliance had been seen sailing along the coast of Holland the very day She went out; since which nobody knows what is become of her. I think her cruizing,2 & that you will soon hear of her coming in triumphantly with another Serapis. I have this day examined the genl. account of Mr. Neufville, & found it exactly conforms to the particular accounts & receits or signed bills out of which it is made up, which, at his request, I have attested without difficulty.3

I am with great respect, Honoured & dear Sir Yr. very humble & obedient servant


Passy to his Exc. B. Franklin

Addressed: His Excellency / B. Franklin, Esqr. Min. Plen. / of the united States &c / Passy./.

Notation: Dumas Amstm. Jany. 10. 1780

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Above, Jan. 6.

1The British had in fact seized seven ships, but most of those carrying naval stores and timber reached French ports safely: Fauchille, Diplomatie française, p. 185n; Dull, French Navy, pp. 175–6. The Courier de l’Europe estimated the value of these supplies at more than 20,000,000 l.t.: VII (1780), 59 (issue of Jan. 28). Vice Admiral Frederik Sigismund van Bylandt, commanding the escort of three Dutch ships of the line and three frigates, not only dared not resist, but even had to salute the British flag: NNBW, IV, 377–9; Edler, Dutch Republic, pp. 129–32. This incident, which occurred on the last day of 1779, marked a major step in the deterioration of British-Dutch relations. Within a year the British would initiate hostilities.

2Lined out in the draft: “about the Irish coast”.

3See de Neufville & fils’s letter of this date.

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