Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 14 February 1781

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library; copy: Yale University Library

Nantes Feb. 14. 1781

Dear & hond sir

The Marquis de la Fayette is at length arrived at L’Orient3 & as soon as the Freight she brought round from Bordeaux is delivered she will begin to take in: All that depends on me is ready, & you may depend there will not be a moments Delay that I can prevent.—

I have written a Letter to the Minister which I inclose for your perusal, please to deliver it or not as you think proper, I thought it prudent to write in Time in order to have the advantage of a Convoy for Rhode Island.4 It will be well if you will send me your authority to engage american Seamen, because otherwise I apprehend American ships can prevent me if the Captains choose, indeed it is hard to see our Sailors entering into the French Service, some to go to the East Indies which much distresses the american Trade, & as we are prevented from taking Frenchmen both here & in America, it ought not to be suffered, this single Circumstance shows the Want of a Consul & I hope the arrival of Mr Palfrey will put all right.

I am ever most dutifully & affectionately yours

Jona Williams J

Dr Franklin.

Notation: J Williams Feb 14. 1781

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The ship arrived the evening of Feb. 9. The following day JW sent this news to Passy, but only in a postscript to a letter he had his clerk, Gabriel Tardy, write to WTF concerning bills that were being forwarded. APS.

4Addressed to Castries on Feb. 13, the letter is an appeal for protection of the vessel, which will carry arms and uniforms for 20,000 men, a cargo worth more than a million l.t. Would there be a convoy for Rhode Island that could escort the Lafayette? And would Castries send instructions to Lorient to facilitate the completion of her crew and her prompt departure? University of Pa. Library. BF did not forward it, and sent his reasons care of WTF on Feb. 22, below.

Index Entries