Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 23 February 1783

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Yale University Library

Nantes Feb. 23, 1783.

Dear & hond Sir.

I inclose you a Letter I have received from Mr Dalton of Newbury, you will see by it that he is in hopes another Application will procure a greater allowance from Government for the Brig Fairplay.7 I have promised (not with a view of having ⅙ of the Property) to write you once more though it does not appear [to] me likely to meet any Success. If you imagine otherwise I shall be obliged by your Answer, and to forward the Papers and such a Letter to the Minister as you may think the affair merits.8

I am obliged to you by your kind Notice of Mrs Williams who I hear is with you, my Father will thank you for himself, I should be happy if my Business would permit me to make one of the Party but I must mind the main chance.9 Now we are at Peace the americans are flocking to England. Poor Richard’s Advice makes me incline to remain where I am at least ’till I see some certainty of being better elsewhere which does not appear likely to happen soon.

I am as ever most dutifully & affectionately Yours

Jona Williams J

Please to return me the Letter.
His Excelly Doctor Franklin

Notation: Williams Jona. Nantes Fevr. 23 1783.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The Fair Play was mistakenly sunk by the French in 1779, and BF’s intervention had failed to obtain the full value of the ship; see XXXVIII, 11. The letter JW enclosed was Dalton’s to him of Dec. 24, 1782, begging that BF try once more to procure the full value of 26,666 Spanish milled dollars. One-sixth of any sum in excess of the 15,000 l.t. already awarded was promised to the man who secured the increase.

A week after Dalton sent that letter, JW wrote to him with the news that on Nov. 14 Castries informed him that the award would not be increased. The money was ready to be delivered, but they needed Capt. Giddings’ signature on a receipt that JW enclosed (JW to Dalton, Dec. 30, 1782, Yale University Library).

8JW did not wait for BF’s response. On the same day that he wrote the present letter he sent a discouraging reply to Dalton. Castries, he said, claimed that the captain was responsible for the fate of his ship, and the settlement was more of a favor than the discharge of an obligation: JW to Dalton, Feb. 23, 1783 (Yale University Library).

9JW had intended to go with his father to Paris and escort Mariamne Williams home to Nantes. On Feb. 6 he notified WTF that because of business-related matters, he was postponing his trip and his father would travel alone: JW to BF, Jan. 25, above; JW to WTF, Feb. 6, 1783 (APS).

Index Entries