Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Thomas Collyer, 31 July 1781

From Thomas Collyer8

LS:9 American Philosophical Society

Nantes— July 31st: 1781


I have had the Honor already to apply for a Commission of War as explain’d in the obligation here annex’d. My ship being Just ready to be launch’d, I hope you will be pleas’d to transmit it immediately after the Receipt of this; directed to the Care of Mr. Penet.1 Could my services prove in any line acceptable both to you and the Public, Please to Command, Sir Your most obedient & very humble servant

Thomas Collyer

His Excellency Dr. Franklin

Addressed: A Son Excellence / Son Excellence Monsieur le / Docteur Franklin, Ministre / Plenipotentiaire des 13 Etats Unis / A Passy / près Paris

Notation: Thomas Collyer. July 31. 1781.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8A veteran privateer captain from Newburyport, Mass.: Claghorn, Naval Officers, p. 68; John A. McManemin, Captains of the Privateers during the Revolutionary War (Spring Lake, N.J., 1985), pp. 119–21.

9In the same hand as the letter from Penet, D’Acosta frères, immediately below.

1The enclosed obligation was a bond for the privateer Vengeance (now missing), as we learn from BF’s Aug. 6 reply (Library of Congress). He says that the bond was not regular so he is sending to JW one that is; when Collyer and Penet sign it, JW will deliver to Collyer a commission and instructions. The bond, dated the same day, is in the hand of L’Air de Lamotte with the blanks filled in by WTF and bearing a notation by Gurdon Mumford. For 70,000 Spanish milled dollars, it is signed by Collyer and Penet. It pledges that the Vengeance, 20, owned by Messrs. Stn. Hooper & Co. and manned by 70 men, would cruise against British trade and violate no congressional resolutions or instructions (APS). WTF forwarded it to JW on Aug. 8 (Library of Congress); six days later JW returned it with a covering letter to WTF (APS). The Hooper building a ship in France presumably was Stephen Hooper, a shipowner of Newburyport: John J. Currier, History of Newburyport, Mass. 1764–1905 (2 vols., Newburyport, 1906–9), I, 639; Naval Docs., I, 217–18, 584; II, 147–9, 547–9; IV, 18–19, 42; VI, 315.

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