Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Matthew Ridley, 28 March 1783

To Matthew Ridley

LS:8 Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères

Passy, 28 March 1783


I have read the Letter from Monsieur de Rayneval to you of the 20th. instant, wherein he thinks that the Representation of Mr. Putnam’s Case as stated by a Resolve of Congress of Septr 4. 1780,9 ought to be from me. The Multiplicity of Affairs in which I was engaged when Mr. Putnam was at Paris made me wish that some American Gentleman would undertake this Business. The Choice he made of you was quite agreable to me; and it is my Desire that you should pursue the Reclamation.1 Other more weighty Objects on my Mind at this Time, would render it very difficult for me to give the Attention necessary to the one in Question. And therefore I flatter myself that upon your producing this Letter to Comte de Vergennes no Difficulty will be made to your obtaining the Information you may Want & such Justice as the Nature of the Affair requires.

With great Esteem, I have the honor to be Sir, Your most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

Mr. Ridley.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In the hand of L’Air de Lamotte. BF added the complimentary close before signing.

9I.e., 1779.

1Benjamin Putnam had long been seeking resolution on two claims. This one, from 1779, concerned an English sloop he commandeered in Antigua and sailed to Guadeloupe, where it was confiscated by the French authorities and returned to its owners. Congress resolved on Sept. 4, 1779, to protest the case to the French minister, Conrad-Alexandre Gérard. BF attempted to pursue this matter with Gérard in 1781, to no avail: XXXIV, 370; XXXV, 78, 477. In December, 1782, Putnam (visiting Paris) engaged Matthew Ridley to pursue his claims, but begged BF to intercede in the matter of the sloop and forward the congressional resolution to the French ministry; he also asked WTF to make sure BF did so: XXXVIII, 512–13; Putnam to WTF, [Jan.] 7, 1783 (APS).

On April 3 Ridley sent the present letter to Rayneval, asking him to forward it to Vergennes with several enclosures: his own memorial to Vergennes of the same date, a statement by Putnam, and a copy of the congressional resolution. AAE.

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