From Alexander Lermonth
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Paris 25th June 1783
Please to pardon this Address from an American Gentleman that has not the agreeable pleasure of Your Acquaintance, but from the Amaible Character you bear in life and in the World in General by that you are Well known to be a Gentleman of a most humane Temper and dispossition and one who a Heart that feels for every Man brought up in that Line and Capasity and thro. Unhappy Misfortunes is under the disagreeable necessity to let his Case be made known to so worthy a Gentleman as you are, permit me to inform you that I Traded from Edinton North Carolina to the Island of Saint Eustatua for Sixteen Years, in the Cource of that time I reallized by Trade a Fortune of Eight Thousand Pounds Sterling— This was all taken from me by Admiral Rodney when he took that Island. I with many more American Gentlemen had every thing taken from us we had in the World,5 I was then reduced from Living in Afflueence and plenty to a State of Want and distress. I went from Saint Eustatua to a Neighbouring Island called Saint Thomases from thence I got a Passage to Ostend in Flanders, having a Correspondant there that owed me Money but upon my Arrivall found he was dead by that means lost the debt he contracted with me, when in Saint Eustatua, I came to Paris from Flanders in hopes to meet with a Gentleman that owed me some Money but can hear nothing of him, by that means I am disappointed in my Expectations, permit me to Inform you that my Misfortunes and disappointments has reduced my present Circumstances to a much lower Eb than ever I was before, its true I am a Stranger in a manner to you, notwithstanding I have had the pleasure to see you in Philadelphia a good many Years ago, I was acquainted with a Good many Merchants there permit me to say that I always Lived in Affluence & plenty before my Misfortunes, I am here a Stranger in a Strange Country not having Money at present to enable me to pay for the Common Necessarys Life requires, from my distressed Situation I hope it may prevail upon your heart so far to pitty me, so that you may be pleased to assist me with a little Money. You may depend its like death to me to be reduced to the disagreeable necessity to ask a Favour at your hands, depend its far from my heart my Principles or dispossition to do a thing of the kind was it not real distress’ obliges me at present to it, your kind Compliance to my request will for ever oblige with due Esteem and Regard Your Excellencys Most Obedt. very humble Servt.
His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr.
Addressed: His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr. / Ambassador Plenepotentiary from the / United States of America to the Court / of France at Passy / near Paris
Endorsed: Cost a Guinea6
5. Adm. Rodney seized St. Eustatius on Feb. 3, 1781, confiscating more than 150 merchant ships and their cargoes. Americans were allowed to leave with only their household goods: XXXIV, 465n; J. Franklin Jameson, “St. Eustatius in the American Revolution,” American Hist. Rev., VIII (1902–3), 704.
6. On the same sheet as a June 15 receipt of payment to James Fife (see the Editorial Note on Promissory Notes), BF added: “Another Guinea to one Alexr Lermenth who had been a mercht in N. Carolina / without Receipt”. APS.