Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Edward Bancroft, [before 14 June 1783]

From Edward Bancroft9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

[before June 14, 1783]1

Dr. Sir

I have done myself the honor to call to inform you of my intention of setting out on the Journey which has been explained to you, on Sunday Evening— I had intended to have Left this sooner, but as I could not possibly be ready to day, it would be to no purpose— If you should think of any thing in which I can be useful to you, I shall be happy to be employed—

I am with the utmost respect & Affection Your Excellency’s most Humble & Devoted Servant2

Edwd Bancroft

Addressed: A Son Excellence / Son Excellence M. Franklin / Ministre Plenipotentiaire / des Etats Unis &c

Notation: Bancroft

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9This undated letter appears to have been written in the days before Bancroft left for London, from whence he intended to sail to America. He had been planning this voyage since at least May 1, when Matthew Ridley (who was about to leave Paris) provided him with a letter of recommendation to Robert Morris: Morris Papers, VII, 786–7. Lafayette and Jay wrote letters of recommendation on June 10 and 11, and BF entrusted him with a June 12 letter to Livingston (above), adding a few lines of introduction in the postscript: Morris Papers, VIII, 706–7; Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, V, 132–3; Morris, Jay: Peace, p. 526.

Bancroft’s missions were various: he had financial interests as a member of the Vandalia Company and was eager to collect the North American barks whose dye properties he had discovered in the early 1770s and for which, just before the war broke out, he had been awarded patent rights to import and market. He also agreed to serve as agent for Silas Deane and, at Ferdinand Grand’s request, for the chevalier de Montmorency-Luxembourg, the outfitter of the frigate South Carolina (XXXV, 653n): ODNB; Julian P. Boyd, “Silas Deane: Death by a Kindly Teacher of Treason?,” W&MQ, 3rd ser., XVI (1959), 534–7; Edward Bancroft, Facts and Observations, Briefly Stated, in Support of an Intended Application to Parliament ([London], 1798), pp. 2–4; Morris Papers, VII, 787n; VIII, 21, 317–18; James A. Lewis, Neptune’s Militia: the Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution (Kent, Ohio, and London, 1999), p. 113.

1The day Bancroft left Paris with his family: Thomas J. Schaeper, Edward Bancroft: Scientist, Author, Spy (New Haven and London, 2011), p. 194.

2Also among BF’s papers at the APS is a letter from Bancroft to WTF dated only “Saturday noon,” which asks two favors. First, he encloses “another Power of attorney to be Legalised & returned by the Bearer.” If WTF and BF are not at home, they should please forward it to London care of William Hodgson, along with any other mail. Second, Bancroft encloses a letter he had just received from John Paul Jones, addressed to a third party; as that person was known to WTF, Bancroft asks him to deliver it. APS. This letter was probably written before Bancroft left Paris on June 14, a Saturday.

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