Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Paine, [13 May 1781?]

From Thomas Paine7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

[May 13, 1781?]8

Dear sir

Since writing the enclosed,9 a Messenger Arrived with a letter from you for Col Laurens, who is gone to take leave—

Col Laurens in making out his arrangement of supplies as mentioned in my note to you wants some commercial information, and if Mr Williams can make it convenient to be here early to Morrow Morning it will I know, be convenient to the Col. which is the purpose of my letter to Mr. W—therefore if you do not see him to day—I should be glad you could forward it to st. Germain—1 I have likewise sent a line on the same purpose to Mr Alexander at his Hotel.

I am Dear sir with much Esteem your Ob. Hlbe serv

Thos. Paine

I should be glad of half an hours conversation with you as I want much to mention to you something respecting a person (whom we both know) and his very extraordinary conversation in this Country.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Paine had accompanied John Laurens to Europe (XXXIV, 336, 434) and was by now reluctant to return to America. Laurens, however, convinced him to accompany him: John Keane, Tom Paine: a Political Life (Boston, New York, Toronto, 1995), pp. 212–13.

8Based on the letter’s reference to Laurens’ taking leave and on its enclosure (discussed immediately below) being dated “Sunday Morng”; see our annotation of the preceding document.

9The enclosure almost certainly was a letter from Laurens in Paine’s hand which reads, “Col Laurens requests the favor of his Excellency M. Franklin to send him a summary of the Articles shipped on Board the Marquis on public account, in order to enable Col. Laurens to make his ulterior arrangement.” Paine then added below it a note of his own, “Mr. Paine presents Compts to Mr. Franklin Junr. and requests him to send by the bearer Mr. P. French Grammar and Dictionary which Mr. Williams left at Passy.” APS. We believe that BF had sent Laurens a list of the Marquis de Lafayette’s cargo before the ship sailed: XXXIV, 473–5. There is, however, a more detailed list in “Mission of Col. Laurens,” I, 35–6.

1Where JW and his family were staying with William Alexander, Mariamne Alexander Williams’ father. JW had written to BF about the intended visit on April 18: Mariamne needed to recuperate from her recent illness and he would bring his accounts to Passy (XXXIV, 556–8). On May 3, writing from Angers, JW informed WTF that he expected to arrive at St. Germain on May 10 (APS). BF reviewed JW’s accounts against the receipts and approved them on May 31, paying JW the balance of 5,757 l.t., 10 s., 3 d. JW also signed the account on May 31, and WTF approved the copy that was made on June 3; this copy is Account XXIV (XXXI, 3). JW must have left shortly thereafter; on June 10 he wrote WTF a letter from Rouen (APS).

A note from Paine to WTF dated only “Thursday Morng” asks him to send Paine’s “Great Coat and Spurs” which JW had brought from St. Germain and left at Passy. (APS).

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