Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Nathaniel Falconer, 18 June 1783

To Nathaniel Falconer

Transcript:3 Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Passy, June 18. 1783.

Dear Friend

I received your kind Letters of May 15. and June 7. and was glad to hear of your Welfare and safe Arrival in England.— I wish you much Success in entring again upon your old Occupation, and should be happy if I could be ready to return in a Ship under your Care. But I have not yet receiv’d the Permission I requested from Congress, nor do I know any thing of their Intentions respecting me or my Grandson, having no Letter later than the 13th. of January. I am surpriz’d they did not take the Opportunity of writing by you. We are here totally in the Dark as to their Opinion of the Preliminary Articles of the Peace, which we sent by Capt. Barney in the Washington; who sail’d from L’Orient the 17th. of January, and carried with our Dispatches a large Sum of Money; we have not so much as heard with Certainty of his Arrival. I beg you will give me what Information you can of these Particulars and any others that you may think interesting, either respecting Public Affairs, or relating to me and mine. Is it true that Mr. Morris has resigned his Office; and that the Constitution of Pensilvania is to be altered in October? Was any one appointed to succeed me here, or who was intended? I never long’d so much to be at home, and am afraid that if my Discharge is delay’d I shall be oblig’d to stay here another Winter.—

I am glad to hear from you of the Welfare of my old Friends Mr. Jackson and Mr. Watley. If you see them again, please to present my best Respects to them. I have still a regard for Mr. Strahan in remembrance of our ancient Friendship, tho’ he has as a Member of Parliament dipt his Hands in our Blood. He was always as credulous as you find him: He told me a little before I left London that there was News of a Scotch Sergeant’s having alone met a party of 40 American Soldiers, disarm’d them, and brought them Prisoners into Boston. This he appear’d to believe, and may therefore well believe the Lie you mention of the French Troops & our Army killing each other. His believing such Falshoods would be of Less consequence, if he did not propagate them by his Chronicle; in the last of which that I have seen there are two lying Letters said to be from New York of April 13. but actually fabricated in London.4 In refutation of his Story of our quarrelling & fighting with the French Troops, I send you enclos’d part of a Pennsylvania Journal of May 7.5 which I wish you would give to him, and I doubt not but he will have the Candour to publish it. It will there appear authentically that the most perfect harmony subsisted between them to the last. My Grandson presents his Respects to you, as does Mr. Hartley. We are all (Thanks to God) well & hearty: But I am uneasy about Barney, fearing he may be lost, and therefore beg you would as soon as possible inform me if you know any thing of his Arrival. With great and sincere Esteem, I am ever, my dear Friend, Yours most affectionately

B. Franklin.

Tell me every thing you know about the Arrival & Reception of the News respecting the Peace, and whether it is true that the Articles were kept some time secret, & why;6 for we have received no Intelligence from Government, & know not what to believe or think

Capt. Falconer

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3A note on the verso indicates that it was “Copied from the Originals in possession of Peter Thompson of Philada.”

4These letters accused the Americans of conspiring to violate the terms of the peace agreement and of murdering Loyalists who returned to their homes in New Jersey: London Chron., issue of June 7–10, 1783.

5On May 7 the Pa. Jour. and Weekly Advertiser printed an address from the merchants of Baltimore to the commander of the French troops still in that city, expressing their gratitude and best wishes for a safe return voyage. The address was dated April 30.

6We do not know the source of this rumor, but it may have stemmed from the debate in Congress about communicating to France the secret article in the preliminary agreement. Livingston explained this to the American commissioners on March 25 when acknowledging receipt of the preliminary treaty from Capt. Barney: XXXIX, 380–5.

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