Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Alexander, [19 March 1780]

From William Alexander

Copies:1 Historical Society of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Library, Library of Congress, Pendleton Satterthwaite, East Orange, N.J. (1955)

[March 19, 1780]

Dear sir

I send you adjoined the Certificate you desire, and am perfectly convinc’d from Conversations I have since had with Mr. Pultney that no body was authorised to hold the Language which has been imputed to him on that Subject;2 and I have a high Opinion of his Candour and Worth. I know it must be painful to him, to be brought into question in Matters of fact with Persons he esteems. I could wish that this Matter may receive no farther Publicity than what is necessary for your Justification.

1Each copy of the letter has adjoined to it a copy of the certificate (dated March 19) which Alexander mentions below. The ones owned by the Library of Congress and Pendleton Satterthwaite are adjoined to BF’s March 19 letter to Joseph Reed, immediately below. Those at the Hist. Soc. of Pa., the University of Pa. Library, and the Library of Congress are in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand.

2William Alexander in March, 1778, had served as an intermediary for William Johnstone Pulteney, a correspondent and business associate, when Pulteney twice traveled to Paris to try to persuade BF that conciliation was still possible. For the abortive mission see XXVI, 94–5, 173–4, 188–90. Alexander’s certificate attests that he was present during a conversation between Pulteney and BF. The American minister disapproved of the Englishman’s proposals and doubted they would be agreed to in America. He offered, however, to communicate them to his colleagues and the French ministry. Pulteney opposed this and asked that his propositions not be mentioned and that the whole business “might be buried in Oblivion, agreable to what had been stipulated and agreed to by Dr. Franklin, before the Propositions were produced, which Dr. Franklin accordingly promised.”

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