Benjamin Franklin Papers

Certification of a Signature, [29 March 1780]

Certification of a Signature3

AD (draft): University of Pennsylvania Library

[March 29, 1780]

I do hereby certify that the Signature P Henry4 to this Instrument is truly the Hand-writing of the Governor of Virginia. At Passy, this 29th Day of March 1780.

Minister Plenipotentiary OF THE United States
AT THE Court OF France

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Most probably written on behalf of Louis-Pierre Penot Lombart de Laneuville, a brigadier general in the American army who was now lobbying for the rank of lt. col. in the French army (which he received on June 24): Laneuville to WTF, March 2, 1780 (APS); Bodinier, Dictionnaire, p. 379. (BF had performed similar services for Laneuville’s younger brother: XXXI, 391.)

Laneuville used WTF, with whom he shared a lively social life, as a go-between to request help from BF in his quest for advancement. The ten letters written to WTF during the period of this volume (APS) ask a variety of favors, including securing a passage with John Paul Jones (which he then turned down), attesting documents, and intervening on his behalf at Versailles. On April 14 BF drafted an attestation of Laneuville’s signature on a power of attorney; that draft, written to “whom it may concern” and initialed by BF, is at the University of Pa. Library. On the same sheet is an apparently unrelated address in an unknown hand, “M. Hope au bain D’orleans rue de Richelieu.”

4BF first wrote “Thomas Jefferson”. He interlined “P. Henry” above and deleted “present” before “Governor”. Henry had been governor from 1776 to 1779 while Laneuville was serving with the American army. We can only conclude that BF did not have the signature in front of him when he drafted this certificate.

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