To [the Duc de Deux-Ponts]
AL (draft):4 American Philosophical Society
[on or after June 14, 1783]5
Without Information what are the Productions & Manufactures of the Palatinate & of Bavaria and their Prices, of which Mr Franklin is totally ignorant, it is impossible for him to say what of them will be proper for a Commerce with the United States of America. He can only answer in general, that America purchases from Europe all kinds of Woollens & Linnens coarse & fine, proper for Clothing of Men & Women; with a variety of Iron & Steele Manufactures. And she pays in Tobacco, Rice, Indigo, Bills of Exchange or Money. If the Electorates abovementioned can furnish any of these Manufactures cheaper than France, Holland, or England, they may thereby obtain a Share of the American Commerce. But it will be prudent for the Merchants to send a discreet intelligent Man with a small Cargo of Samples of all their Kinds of Goods, in order to obtain a thorough Knowledge of the Nature of the Commerce in that Country, and of the Kinds of Goods & Proportions of their Quantities, that are most in demand there, before they hazard the making of large Adventures.— There is no doubt but that the Commerce of the German States will be favourably receiv’d in America, where a great many People of that Nation are establish’d. Mr F. will give it all the Encouragement that can be expected of him: but he cannot take upon him to point out and name as he has been desired the most Solid Houses of Commerce there, having been long absent from that Country, and the War having probably made a Change in the Circumstances of many.
4. Written in pencil on the verso of the preceding document.
5. Whenever BF drafted this answer, he had not sent it by June 25. On that date, the duchesse de Deux-Ponts’ brother Fontenet (XXXII, 151n) wrote WTF to remind him of his promise to send the “prince” a reply about commerce with the German states. He also requested an answer for the consul at Civitavecchia, who sought a position for his son. APS. This was Vidaú père, whose most recent letter in a long campaign was dated May 12; see XXXIX, 79–80.