Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 1 September 1781

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Nantes sept. 1. 1781.

Dear & hond sir.

I hope you will not think me troublesome by requesting you to forward the Inclosed to Mr de Fleury with a short Letter informing him who I am and your Opinion of my Capacity & Probity.—6 I have the maintenance of my Family to think off and I wish by my own Labours to rise in the World. It is not therefore extraordinary that I should seize every Occasion to exercise my Industry. If the Government accept my services you may depend I will make them satisfied with my Conduct if it is possible to satisfy them, and surely it must be the same thing to them who provides the Cloathing &c if the Commission is well and faithfully executed. I therefore believe Mr de Fleury would employ me if you would favour me with your Reccommendation. You know how exact Congress have been in giving their Orders, and I trust you will not think me too presuming when I say I am better acquainted with the kind of Goods suitable for them as well as for america in general than any man who is not an american can be.— You have already laid me under Obligations which I shall never be able to repay, I am endeavouring however to shew my Gratitude by turning all the Business I can to Mr Baches house and have already procured him something handsome.

I beg you will favour me with this additional Favour and believe me to be with the highest Respect Your dutifull & affectionate Kinsman7

Jona Williams J

Notation: Jonathan Williams Sept 1. 1781.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The now-missing enclosure, as one might guess, was a letter from JW to Joly de Fleury. JW explained this in a long, desperate letter to WTF of this same date, imploring his cousin to convince BF to write a good word about him. Even something as brief as “C’est un honnête Garçon & mon Parent” would “do more than all the Memoires in the World.” And as long as “somebody must have the Business & as I am sure I can do it as well as anybody, why not try for it?” WTF, never having had to “dirty [his] fingers with Commerce,” might not understand the importance of personal connections in these matters. But if he would only deliver in person JW’s and BF’s letters, marking the packet “de la Part de M. Franklin,” JW is sure that he will get the business. And if BF cannot support his plan, then he must “at least applaud my Industry.”

7This appeal was unsuccessful. We have no record of the reply, but it was evidently contained in one of two now-missing letters from WTF dated Oct. 5 and 12. In JW’s response to them of Oct. 18, he acknowledged BF’s “disapprobation of my Application to Mr de Fleury,” and thanked both grandfather and grandson for their friendship. APS.

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