Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Robert R. Livingston, 7 November 1782

To Robert R. Livingston

ALS and transcript: National Archives

Passy, Nov. 7. 1782


The Baron de Kermelin,3 a Swedish Gentleman of Distinction, recommended strongly to me by his Excellency the Ambassador of that Nation to this Court,4 as a Person highly esteemed in his own, purposes a Journey thro’ North America, to view its natural Productions, acquaint himself with its Commerce, and acquire such Information as may be useful to his Country, in the Communication and Connection of Interests that seems to be growing and possibly may soon become considerable between the two Nations. I therefore beg leave to introduce him to you, and request that you would present him to the President of Congress, and to such other Persons as you shall think may be useful to him in his Views; and I recommend him earnestly to those Civilities which you have a Pleasure in showing to Strangers of Merit.

With great Esteem I have the honour to be Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant5

B Franklin

R. R. Livingston Esqe

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3BF misspelled the name. Baron Samuel Gustaf Hermelin (1744–1820), an expert on mining, was sponsored by the Swedish College of Mines in the spring of 1782 to visit various European countries and study their mines and iron industry. King Gustavus III gave him secret instructions to investigate the economic and political situation in the United States, providing him with credentials to serve as Swedish envoy if Congress appointed a minister to Stockholm (which it did not). Hermelin did not keep secret the fact that he carried credentials; Philadelphia correspondents reported it in June, 1783 and again in June, 1784. In July, 1784, Hermelin visited Connecticut. After returning to Sweden he wrote a report on mining in America, and in 1785 he was elected a foreign member of the APS: Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon (28 vols. to date, Stockholm, 1918–); Amandus Johnson, Swedish Contributions to American Freedom, 1776–1783 (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1953–57), I, 580–1; Jefferson Papers, VI, 276; Smith, Letters, XXI, 699; PMHB, XXXIX (1915), 244; Franklin B. Dexter, ed., The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles … (3 vols., New York, 1901), III, 129; Samuel Gustaf Hermelin, Report about the Mines in the United States of America, 1783, trans. and ed. Amandus Johnson (Philadelphia, 1931), pp. 10–13; Adolph B. Benson, Sweden and the American Revolution (New Haven, 1926), pp. 47–8n; APS Trans., II (1786), xxvii.

4Graf von Creutz.

5Hermelin carried with him to America two other letters of recommendation from BF that we have located, dated Nov. 2. Nearly identical in wording to this one, but without the request to recommend him to the president of Congress, both letters addressed the unnamed recipient as “Your Excellency.” One was to Gov. Jonathan Trumbull (Conn. Hist. Soc.; the notation indicates that it was received on July 23, 1784), and the other (Hist. Soc. of Pa.) was most likely addressed to the President of the Pa. Supreme Executive Council, William Moore. Both are in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand and signed by BF.

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