Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Richard Bache, 20 June 1781

From Richard Bache

ALS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia June 20th. 1781.

Dear & Hond: Sir

I again acknowledge receipt of your Favors, per Captain Paul Jones, of the 16th. March, 3d & 27th June, 4h Octr. & 9h. Decr., & copies of Letters to & from Ben, all of which have given us the greatest satisfaction & pleasure, his profile too, which you sent us,7 has added not a little to our gratification; we have had it framed, and it hangs now in our Chamber, it reminds us often of the dear little Fellow, for it bears a strong likeness of what he was.

I have had some conversation with Mr. Wharton respecting the joint power you have given to him & me, the business it relates to, I am afraid will not soon be settled; he has published a pamphlet on the subject, which seems to point out pretty clearly the equity of our claim, but it will be a very difficult matter, I apprehend, to convince the Virginians of it—8 I before sent you the Essay on the Delaware Indian Language, but I think it was by the Shelala, which Vessel there is no account of, I now send you another, and shall send a third by another Vessel, in a few days.—9 I send you likewise the Dutch & English papers, some of which I never fail transmitting you by every opportunity— In the Fall, which I am told is the proper Season, I shall not fail of sending you the Newton pippin Grafts, as you direct—1

In one of my former Letters I mentioned to you the State I found your Trunk of papers in, that was left under Mr. Galloways care, but I suppose you never received it—2 After the Enemy had evacuated the City, I found upon inquiry, that the Trunk had been left at Trevoes, I went up thither, & found that it had been broke open, & emptied, the papers scattered, some in the house & some out of doors, many of the latter having suffered from the Weather; I collected all that I could find, put them in the Trunk, & had them brought home, but the Manuscript books you speak of, are missing, & I suppose, so are many other valuable papers; what I have recovered shall be taken care of, but they are at present in a confused State,— As this Trunk of papers had been committed by you to Mr. Galloways care, I had no doubt, but that his former Friendship for you, would have excited that Care, otherwise I should have endeavored to have got them out of his hands before the Enemy came here, it is now too late to say, I wish I had—

Should any of the Gentlemen of the French Army, whom you mention in your Letters come this way, you may rest assured of my paying them every attention & Civility in my power; Colonel Deauxponts was here last Winter, but it was before your Letter, mentioning him came to hand;3 I had the pleasure of dining with him at the Minister’s,4 & from some conversation I had with him, I found he was acquainted with you, I paid him a visit, & he came to see Sally, but not knowing at that time the regard you had for his Family, my Civilities went no further— And I cannot forbear now mentioning to you, my dear Sir, that owing to a considerable Sum being due me for my Salary as P.M.G. my Finances have been low of late,5 & I have not had it in my power to take that notice of Strangers, my inclination would lead me to.—

Congress, I am told, have been busily employed for some days past, in appointing Commissioners to attend a Congress of pacification at Vienna, it is said, they have nominated five, & that you are of the number; the other four that are named, are Messrs. Jay, Adams, Laurens Senr., & Governor Jefferson—6 I am afraid we think so much of Peace, (which no doubt is a very desirable Object) that we forget to strengthen our Arm for War— but I wish not to cast any reflections—

My Son William has a great desire to be sent to his Brother, & I have had some thoughts of sending him, but it has been wispered lately, that you have expressed to Congress, a desire of being recalled;7 I find Congress do not wish to want your Services at present, but whether after the treatment you have received from them, you will continue to serve them, is a matter of some doubt; I shall therefore wait to know your determination on this head, & your opinion & advice respecting William—

Sally & the Children are perfectly well they join me in Love & Duty— I am with the greatest Respect & Regard Hond. Sir Your ever affectionate son

Rich: Bache

Sally will write you per next opportunity—
Dr. Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7We have not located a letter of Dec. 9, 1780, but the other letters RB is acknowledging are printed in XXXII, 115, 466, 609–10; XXXIII, 368–9. He had already written his father-in-law of their receipt: XXXIV, 491. For the copies of BF’s correspondence with BFB see XXXIV, 282, and for BFB’s portrait see BF to RB and SB, May 14, above.

8Although BF had not recently been active in western land ventures with his long-time partner Samuel Wharton, the two men had presented a memorial to Congress in February, 1780, defending their claims: XXXI, 525–48. A significant obstacle to their success was Virginia’s conviction that it had complete rights to the purchase of Indian lands within the state’s chartered boundaries: XXXI, 527. Wharton sailed for America on the Ariel and arrived in Philadelphia on Feb. 19: XXXIII, 420–2, XXXIV, 183, 535. His pamphlet, Plain Facts: Being an Examination into the Rights of the Indian Nations of America to their Respective Countries … (Philadelphia, 1781), was an enlargement of his earlier one, View of the Title to Indiana (XXII, 102n), which argued for the validity of Indian claims and, by extension, the legality of the sale of their lands to Wharton and BF’s Walpole Company.

9See our annotation of Court de Gébelin’s May 6 letter, above.

1BF had asked for some grafts of the apples whenever it was seasonable for cutting: XXXII, 609.

2BF for four years had been seeking information about the state of his papers and his son-in-law had already responded, although in a very general way: XXIV, 64; XXVII, 90, 605; XXXII, 610.

3BF had introduced comtes Christian and Guillaume Deux-Ponts, sons of the duchesse de Deux-Ponts, a year earlier; the former was colonel of the regiment bearing his name. He apparently had also recommended other Frenchmen, Messieurs Regnier and Dezoteux, whom RB had mentioned in an earlier letter: XXXII, 610; XXXIV, 283.

4La Luzerne.

5Congress had appointed RB postmaster general on Nov. 7, 1776, a few days after BF sailed for France. This was not the first time he had complained about the inadequacy of his salary: XXIII, 280n; XXVII, 602. See also Richard R. John, Spreading the News: the American Postal System from Franklin to Morse (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1995), p. 27.

6See the Commissions from Congress to the Peace Commissioners, June 15.

7He had done so on March 12: XXXIV, 446–7.

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