Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jonathan Williams, Jr., 31 May 1783

From Jonathan Williams, Jr.

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Nantes May 31 1783.

Dear & hond Sir.

With this you will receive a Letter from Capt Alexander Heguye(?) inclosing a Memoire to the Marquis de Castries.— The Favour requested is highly merited and is in itself such as ministers have frequently granted on Slight pretentions— It is only to have Lettres de Capitaine which in this Country is necessary to have, before a man (however he may be qualified) can command a Ship.—

Mr de la Ville2 the Proprietor of the Ship for which this Request is made is one of the first Characters in this Town & a Gentleman for whom I have a particular Respect & Esteem, more especialy as I have experienced Acts of Friendship from him which lay me under great Obligations.—

You will oblige me very highly by Sending the Memoire to the Marquis de Castries, who I am Sure will grant the Request contained in it; A Note from you on the Subject will make it Certain.3

I am as ever most dutifully & Affectionately Yours.

Jona Williams J

His Excellcy Dr Franklin.

Addressed: His Excellency / Doctor Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Amand (Armand)-François Delaville (b. 1734) was from a prominent Nantes family of outfitters and merchants. By 1783 he was sole proprietor of his firm, which specialized in the slave trade: Meyer, Armement Nantais, pp. 199–200, 278, 373; Dieudonné Rinchon, Les Armements négriers au XVIIIe siècle, d’après la correspondance et la comptabilité des armateurs et des capitaines nantais (Bruxelles, 1956), pp. 27–76.

3JW wrote to WTF on June 18, alerting him to the present document and asking him to make sure BF forwarded the memoir and accompanying papers to Castries, with a good word for the captain. He also asked WTF to notify Delaville when it had been done (University of Pa. Library). On July 8, annoyed that nothing had happened, JW asked WTF to return the papers; the ship was about to sail, and the captain, not having received his authority, had been obliged to transfer command to another (APS).

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