Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, 20 June 1781

From Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer8

ALS:9 American Philosophical Society

Philadelpa. June 20th. 1781

Dear Sir,

I must beg the favor of your Excelly to forward the enclosed Letter to London. The Father of Mr. Lowndes who wrote it, is a worthy Citizen, and very desirous of seeing his Son in America before the 1st. of March 1782, the time limited by a Law of the State of Maryland for the return of absentees in the British Dominions, under penalty of forfeiting to the State their property.1

I suppose the Special appointment of Col Laurens to the Court of Verseilles, was a measure that you could not have suspected would have been adopted by Congress. Your having negotiated the business for which he was sent before his arrival, proved, that his errand was unnecessary.

Public bodies in all Countries, and more especially in this New-World are too apt to take up, and determine hastily upon Subjects of the greatest consequence. I was absent when that Gentleman was ballotted for;2 and however the Magot may have bit on that occasion, I can assure you that Congress have the greatest reliance on your abilities, integrity and address, in so much, that it is with pleasure that I can inform you, in the late choice of Ministers to negotiate a peace you were unanimously elected.3

I have the honor to be with Sentiments of the highest respect and esteem Sir, Your Excellencys Most obedient and most humble Servt.

Dan OF S Thos. Jenifer

P.S. Congress are well disposed towards your Grandson whom you recommended to their protection.4

His Excelly Benjn Franklin

Endorsed: Daniel of St Thos Jenifer June 20. 81 / answd. Septr.5 / D. Jenifer

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8This is BF’s first letter from the Maryland congressional delegate (1723–1790), for whom see the DAB.

9He wrote a similar letter on July 6 which is marked “Duplicate” and lacks the postscript. University of Pa. Library.

1The father was Christopher Lowndes, a prominent merchant of Bladensburg, Md. (1713–1785), the son Francis Lowndes (1751–1815). We have not located the enclosure but if the younger Lowndes returned to America his stay was relatively brief. His own son was born in Yorkshire in 1784: Christopher Johnston, “The Lowndes Family,” Md. Hist. Mag., II (1907), 276–8; Smith, Letters, XVII, 336n.

2Jenifer did not attend Congress between the end of September, 1780, and May, 1781: Smith, Letters, XVI, XIX; XVII, XX.

3Jenifer is tactful but misleading. BF’s election of June 14 was part of a compromise in which Henry Laurens and Jefferson were also elected without a recorded roll call, but he had little support on his own: JCC, XX, 648, and see the headnote to Congress to American Peace Commissioners, June 15. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer had nominated his fellow Marylander William Carmichael to be a peace commissioner: JCC, XX, 628.

4For BF’s recommendation of WTF see XXXIV, 447–8. We have found no other indication Congress was so disposed and even if they were they took no action on it.

5BF’s reply is below, Sept. 13.

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