Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Paul Jones, 1 March 1780

To John Paul Jones

LS:1 National Archives; two copies: Library of Congress

Passy March 1st. 1780.

Dear Sir,

I received the Letter you did me the Honour of writing to me the 25. & 28th past.2

I am glad to learn that you can take a Quantity of the Cloathing and Arms: and that you can accommodate the 4 Gentlemen I had mentiond to you.3 M. De Sartine desires also a Place for a Passenger that goes on some Business from him: I make no doubt of your Willingness to oblige that Minister. I could wish also that you would find Room for Mr. Brown of S. Carolina, who is about returning there.4

I do not know that I have Authority to give the Order you desire to Lieutenant Rhodes.5 But if you and he agree in the Transposition proposed I have no objection to it.

Capt. Landais has demanded of me an Order to you to deliver him his Trunks and Things that were left on board the Alliance.6 I find him so exceedingly captious and critical, and so apt to misconstrue as an intended Injustice every Expression in our Language he does not immediately understand, that I am tired of writing anything for him or about him, and am determined to have nothing further to do with him. I make no doubt however, that you will deliver his Things to any Person he may impower to receive them, and therefore think such an Order unnecessary.

I have not as yet received an Answer to the Memorial I sent to the Court of Denmark, reclaiming the Prizes sent into Norway, and deliver’d up unjustly by that Court to the British Consul. I have not heard that they have yet left Bergen. I hope we may yet recover them or their Value.7

There is a Mr Lockyer, who has served 22 Years in the British Navy as a Master, and having met with some Injustice would go to America, in hopes of finding Service there.8 He wishes to go with you, and if you can give him any Employment on board it will be very agreable to him.

Dr Bancroft being by this time with you will take all the Steps possible to promote your Refiting, and forward the Payment of the Prize Money.9 I do not comprehend what the Weight of Metal has to do with the Division unless where Ships are fitted out by different Owners.

I hope your Indisposition will soon be over, and your Health restablished, being, with sincere Esteem Dear Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant.

B Franklin

Hon Capt. Jones.

Notation:1 From his Excellency Dr. Franklin Passy March 1. 1780

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

1In WTF’s hand.

2The former is printed in XXXI, 524–5; the latter is missing.

3The clothing to be carried aboard Jones’s command, the continental frigate Alliance, was uniforms that JW was assembling for the American army. The arms were those which French Foreign Minister Vergennes and War Minister Montbarey had promised to provide through the marquis de Lafayette. Both are discussed in BF’s March 2 letter to Lafayette, below. The merchants John Ross and Samuel Wharton and the former commissioners Arthur Lee and Ralph Izard desired passage on the Alliance: XXXI, 499–500.

4Joseph Brown, Jr., apparently was a good friend of WTF; in an undated letter to him (APS) he signs himself “yours Affectionatly”; see also XXX, 131n; Adams Correspondence, III, 302, 402, 408–9. He was one of fifteen passengers who arrived in Boston on Aug. 16 aboard the Alliance; the others were Arthur Lee and his nephews Thomas and Ludwell, Lafayette’s aides Major Charles-Albert de Moré, chevalier de Pontgibaud, and Capt. Louis-Saint-Ange Morel, chevalier de La Colombe, and his secretary Joseph-Léonard Poirey (for whom see Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, III, 164), John G. Frazer (XXVIII, 408n), Michael Comyn (XXVII, 10–11n), Capt. Musco Livingston (XXVI, 256n), Duncan Ingraham, Jr. (XXVIII, 144n), two other South Carolinians, John Middleton (S.C. Hist. and Geneal. Mag., I, 236–7) and Joseph Wilkinson, and two residents of Philadelphia, Henry Ash (Elaine Forman Crane, ed., The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker [3 vols., Boston, 1991], III, 2111) and E. Brush: Boston Gazette, Aug. 21, 1780; Lee Family Papers, reel 6, frame 717; John Ross to WTF, Feb. 19, 1780 (APS).

5XXXI, 525.

6XXXI, 560.

7The prizes were from the cruise of the Bonhomme Richard squadron. They had been sent into Bergen, Norway, then a part of the Danish monarchy, where the British consul had reclaimed them, prompting BF’s protest: XXX, 336–7, 591–4; XXXI, 261–5.

8On March 3 a Mr. B. Lockyer wrote WTF to discuss the education of his children, whom he had decided to send into the country (somewhere near the coast) for their education. APS.

9Bancroft appears to have first gone to Nantes, where he delivered letters to JW (for which see JW to BF, March 7); on March 13, below, Jones reported he had not yet arrived at Lorient.

1This notation and one of the copies are in the hand of Thomas Hutchins.

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