Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Paul Jones, 5 July 1780

To John Paul Jones

Copy: Library of Congress

Passy, July 5. 1780.

Dear Sir

I received yours of June 21. with the Papers it inclosed from M. Genet, who had kept them a Day or Two to translate them for the Minister.7 I approve much of your humanity and Prudence. But am sorry in the Letter to Dr. Bancroft, you Complain of your friends who are in no fault.8 They spare you, and have not even hinted that if you had staid on board where your Duty lay in stead of coming to Paris, you would not have lost your Ship. Now you blame them as having deserted you in recovering her. Tho’ relinquishing to prevent Mischief was a Voluntary act of your own for which you have Credit.— Hereafter, if you should observe on occasion to give your officers and friends a little more praise than is their Due, and confess more fault than you can justly be charged with, you will only become the sooner for it a Great Captain. Criticising and censuring almost every one you have to do with, will diminish friends, encrease Enemies, and thereby hurt your affairs.— I continue as ever, Dear Sir. &c.

Honble. Comme. Jones.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Jones had described how his intervention kept the French from firing on the Alliance when she left Lorient for the anchorage at the Ile de Groix: XXXII, 565–7. The minister is Sartine.

8Among his other complaints Jones told Bancroft in a June 27 letter that the French officers at Lorient had acted “rather like Women than Men”: Bradford, Jones Papers, reel 5, no. 1123. He also said that “If 299 Sits Still in this matter I shall pronounce him and 868 Philosophers indeed!” We suspect that 299 stands for “Franklin” in a private code to which BF was not privy; 868 represents “you.” For a list of documents using the code see James C. Bradford, Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Papers of John Paul Jones (Alexandria, Va. and Cambridge, Eng., 1986), p. 121.

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