Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 16 May 1782

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Nantes May 16. 1782.

Dear & hond sir.

It is current on Change to day that the Americans have declared War against Portugal. I can not conceive how this accot can come yet every body seems certain it is true. I beg if there is anything in it that you will let me have a Commn for the Spry6 to cruise against the Portuguese. She may pick up a rich Prize on her Way home.

I shall be obliged to you if you will answer my Letter of the 26 March about the Prisoners I put to Board the Expence will run high if something is not done & I surely ought not to lose it.

A Vessell from martinique is just arrived with News of a bloody Engagement between Mr de Grasse & Mr Rodney & the Fleets were left repairing in sight of each other, it is said the advantage was on the side of the French but there does not appear any decisive Accot.7

A Vessell is arrived at L’Orient from Boston I have Letters as late as the 15 April but no news.

I am with the greatest Respect & affection yours most dutifully & Affectionately

J Williams J

Capt Jona Coffin of Nantucket8 is now with me & desires to be respectfully remembered to you he has brot me 135 hhds of Tobacco.

Addressed: His Excellency / Doctor Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The brig JW had purchased in early March: XXXVI, 676. She was now ready to sail, and on May 11 JW wrote WTF to ask BF for any dispatches he wanted sent, and for information on the Brest convoy (APS). The Spry sailed for Philadelphia in mid-July: JW to Hebre de St. Clement, Aug. 31, 1782 (Yale University Library).

7News of Rodney’s victory over de Grasse reached Vergennes by May 17; see our annotation of the May 26 entry in BF’s journal of the peace negotiations.

8Captain of the Unity, which reached Brest by late April: JW to Thurninger, April 29 (Yale University Library).

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