Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 18 April 1782

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Yale University Library

Nantes April 18. 1782

Dear & hond sir.

I cannot account for the delay of the seeds; in order to get them expeditiously to you I addressed them to a Mr Goddard at the Bureau de la messagerie at Versailles, and desired him to send them to you without going into Paris, this precaution Billy desired me to take: If they are not arrived when you receive this please to send to Mr Goddard & you will certainly hear of them.7 I yesterday heard of another Case of seeds which came to your address in the Nonesuch & of which I had no advice,8 I have sent it to the Messagerie which goes off tomorrow; this I have addressed directly to you & hope you will receive it without delay.

I am preparing a long Letter for you, with a detail of Obstacles in the way of american Commerce in this place & others in this part of the Kingdom many of these must be removed if the French think our Trade worth keeping at a Peace; I shall delay this Letter a few Days in order to make the Information compleat.9 I have not met with the difficulty I apprehended about the Comte de Grasse, so shall not trouble you. You have not yet answered my Letter of the 26th & the Prisoners are still at Board at my Expence.

I am as ever Your dutifull & affectionate Kinsman

Jona Williams J

P.S. You have often talked of coming hither to see the salt Pitts at the mouth of the River.1 The season is now advancing, and I should be happy if you would put your design into Execution, I have a large House & can accomodate you very well, I am sure a Journey would be beneficial to your Health.

Notation: Williams M Jona. Apl. 18 1782.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7For these seeds see JW to BF, March 19. JW told Goddard in a covering letter (March 22, Yale University Library) that there were two cases, which means that this was the shipment from Boston, via the Betsey, and included one case for Barbançon and the gift box for BF (XXXVI, 186n).

8RB sent the second of Barbançon’s cases on the Nonesuch and the third on the St. Helena, both sailing from Philadelphia: RB to WTF, Jan. 5, 1782 (Musée de Blérancourt). By the beginning of March, the Nonesuch had arrived at Nantes and the St. Helena at Lorient: JW to Harrison & Co., March 4, 1782 (Yale University Library).

9BF’s request for this memoir is missing, but JW described it in an April 24 letter to the Bordeaux firm V. & P. French & Nephew: BF had desired “a memoire setting forth what disadvantages the American Commerce suffers from the laws & regulations of the Customs &c. & what remedies would be of service.” JW asked the firm to send their views relating specifically to their port. Yale University Library. JW’s memoir is below, June 15.

1BF had wanted to view the salt works ever since arriving in France: XXIV, 357, 375. The shortage of salt in America meant that European methods of production were of particular interest: XXIV, 420; XXV, 455; XXVII, 463–4. The French system of moving sea water through a network of channels and evaporating basins is still used in the salt fields northwest of the Loire estuary. These methods are described and illustrated in Pierre Lemonnier, Paludiers de Guérande (Paris, 1984).

Index Entries