Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Gérard de Rayneval, 7 May 1783

From Gérard de Rayneval

AL: Library of Congress

à Versailles ce mercredy 7. may 1783.

Mr. de Rayneval à l’honneur de prévenir Monsieur franklin, qu’il Se presentera chez-lui demain avant diner pour l’entretenir sur différents objets;4 il renouvelle en attendant à Monsieur franklin les assûrances de son inviolable attachement.

Endorsed: Note M. de Raynevall May 7. 83

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Vergennes may have dispatched Gérard de Rayneval to discuss the three draft articles BF had sent, especially if BF had not been able to go to Versailles on May 6 or if Vergennes was unprepared at that time to discuss them; see the exchange between BF and Vergennes, May 5. Rayneval surely would have reminded BF that by Article 2 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (XXV, 598), any concessions to British merchants would also have to be made to French merchants.

BF may also have broached with Rayneval the question of the excessive duties charged at Nantes for American tobacco, which JW and other American merchants had refused to pay beginning in the spring of 1782. The municipality of Nantes was suing JW for what he owed, even as the officials admitted that the rate was inappropriate and that other ports charged no duty at all: XXXVII, 486–7; XXXVIII, 238–9. BF intervened with the French ministry in May, 1783, and probably before May 11, when Vergennes wrote to minister of finance Lefèvre d’Ormesson asking his view of the tariffs. BF requested that Nantes cease charging duty on American tobacco. This much is known from docketing on a May 14, 1783, letter from JW to Rayneval (AAE), written when JW learned that a ruling in the case was imminent, and if he lost, he would have to remit the full amount within twenty-four hours. Vergennes arranged for the judgment to be suspended: Vergennes to Antoine-Jean Amelot de Chaillou, May 14, 1783; Amelot to Vergennes, May 15, 1783; Lefèvre d’Ormesson to Vergennes, May 19, 1783; all at the AAE.

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