Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Digges, 10 March 1780

From Thomas Digges

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

10 mar 1780

Dr Sir

Your favr. of the 26th. ulo. got safe to hand,7 & I have consulted with Mr. H—— on the mode of distributing your benefactions to some unhappy sufferers— A vessel saild from Plyo. with 100 on the 5th. Int. There remains there but 86 and what is rather singular there is pardons lodgd for 68 of that number agt. the return of the vessel.8 Means are taking to get the remaining 18 (of wch M——n——y9 is one) to have pardons also, that there may remain none in that prison after another Embarkation takes place; but the Lord knows when this will take place, as the next Cargoe by the rotine must go from Portso. I have done the requisite for Capt M, and had aided him at least wrote to my friend to do so above a month ago. The Revd Mr Heath—has been a second Wren to those people.

My two friends who first movd the affair in the Rl Society, will do the necessary business as to the medal for the Governor of Picardy.1

No news yet from Ama. but it is generally reported Clintons Southern Expedn. has been renderd abortive on accot of a violent gale wch seperated his fleet & has driven one of the Transports wth Hessians on board to St Ives.2 A packet is arrd. from Jama. wh saild 29 Jany. The homeward bound fleet of abot 40 vessels saild from thence the 24th. with a Convoy of abot 2 fifty gun ships & as many frigates—3 The treasure taken at Omoa comes in that fleet. That fort has been retaken by the spaniards who have lost a man of War bound thither with stores, peircd for 60 Guns but had only 50 mounted.4 I am yr. very obt Sert

Alexr. McKinLock

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsr B. F——n / Passy

Endorsed: Mar 10. 80

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7XXXI, 548–9. H—— must be William Hodgson, who wrote BF about prisoner relief on the same day as the present letter, below.

8The numbers Digges gives for the prisoners who sailed on the cartel ship and those remaining in Mill Prison are confirmed by an accounting that Joshua Johnson sent to Samuel Huntington on April 12, 1780: “State of American Prisoners in England,” National Archives.

9Capt. John Manley; see Digges’s letter of March 3. He was not exchanged until much later: XXXI, 418–19n.

1The duc de Croÿ, whom BF had recommended for a medal from the Royal Society for his work on behalf of Capt. Cook: XXXI, 548–9. The friends were William Jones and John Paradise: XXXI, 448.

2Clinton’s expedition of 8,700 troops was hit by a storm while sailing to attack Charleston: XXXI, 420. The damaged transport Anne with 200 Hessians aboard found her way to St. Ives in Cornwall: London Courant, and Westminster Chronicle, March 6. Most of the vessels were able to reach a rendezvous off Tybee Inlet, Ga., and on Feb. 11 Clinton’s army landed on an island south of Charleston: John A. Tilley, The British Navy and the American Revolution (Columbia, S.C., 1987), pp. 174–5, 178.

3This convoy’s safe arrival was reported in the March 15 issue of the London Courant, and Westminster Chronicle.

4On Oct. 16, 1779, the British captured the rich Spanish port of Omoa, Honduras; they abandoned it on Dec. 28: Mackesy, War for America, pp. 275, 335; Mark Mayo Boatner III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution (New York, 1966), pp. 509–10.

Index Entries