Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Thomas Pownall, 23 November 1781

To Thomas Pownall

AL (draft): Library of Congress

Passy, Nov. 23. 1781

Dear Sir,

I received your Favour by Mr Hobart.2 I caus’d an Application to be made to Almon in Behalf of Mrs Barry, but do not learn that it is like to meet with any Success.3 As the Transaction was between yourself & him, no other Person but you can claim with Authority: I must therefore beg for the poor good Woman’s Sake, that you would do something effectual in it.

I also request that you would send the Copies4 you mention to me here, directed to the Care of Mr Bowen at Ostend; and that the Plate may be pack’d with them.—

I wish most heartily with you that this cursed War was at an End: But I despair of seeing it finish’d in my Time. Your thirsty Nation has not yet drank enough of our Blood. I am authoriz’d to treat of Peace whenever she is dispos’d to it,5 but I saw Inconveniences in Meeting & Discoursing with you on the Subject, or with any one not avow’d by your Ministry; having already experienc’d such, in several Instances.— Mr Hobart appeared not fully acquainted with your Ideas, and as he could not communicate them, I could make no Judgment of them. My best Wishes attend you, being with the old long-continued Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant

Govr Pownall

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2XXXV, 331–3, 627.

3BF had asked a Jno. McGill to call on John Almon (who had published in 1776 the map by Amelia Barry’s father), but McGill was unable to see him: XXXV, 332n, 389.

4Of her father’s map kept by Almon.

5This passage had a great effect on Pownall. On Dec. 6, the day after receiving it, he reported it to the British cabinet (supposedly without revealing BF’s name) and nineteen days later he submitted to the Cabinet the draft of a memorial suggesting they offer the Americans an indefinite truce. He volunteered his services for negotiating such a truce, but, after some delay, was refused: Pownall to George Hobart, July 2, 1782, and to BF, July 5, 1782, in WTF, Memoirs, II, 381–5; Thomas Pownall, “A Memorial in Two Parts Originally Intended to be Presented to the King,” in Three Memorials Most Humbly Addressed to the Sovereigns of Europe, Great Britain, and North America (London, 1784), pp. 1–32, 51–8, second pagination; Charles A. W. Pownall, Thomas Pownall, M.P., F.R.S. … (London, 1908), pp. 407–12. Pownall claimed that his initiative led to the North government’s undertaking an attempt to make a separate peace with the French, Dutch, or Americans: WTF, Memoirs, II, 382.

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