Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Charles Thomson, 13 September 1783

To Charles Thomson

ALS: Library of Congress

Passy, Sept. 13. 1783.

My dear old Friend,

Mr Livingston having resigned, I am obliged to trouble you with some Notes of Enquiry, and other Papers that have been put into my Hands from time to time.9 If you can procure any of the Informations desired, you will much oblige me and some of my Friends.—

With great Esteem, I am ever, Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

Cha. Thomson, Esqr

Endorsed: Letter from Doct Franklin Sept 13. 1783.—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9After receiving this packet, Thomson referred in his correspondence to eight letters or petitions BF had sent him, dating from as far back as 1780. Two of them concerned Frenchmen who had fought for America and whose families were desperate for news: Mlle Poliange’s memoir about Gabriel Vigeral (see XXXIII, 212–13, 346–7) and the sieur d’Averton’s query about his son (see XXXVII, 36). Du Pont de Nemours’ Aug. 10 letter, seeking documentation about the death of an immigrant to Philadelphia, is above. Stromeyer and Straub had begged BF to force Gen. von Steuben to pay a longstanding debt (their letters are summarized in the headnote to Du Berruyer’s letter of May 18, above); BF simply forwarded their complaint. Several supplicants petitioned about land claims: Lotbinière (for whom see XXXIX, 124–6, 150–1, 398–9, 401); Dr. David Barry, born in England, and his wife, Ann Hellier Barry, born in Wilmington, N.C., who wanted to pursue a claim on several tracts her father had owned (an undated petition from them, in French and addressed to Congress, is among BF’s papers at the APS); and the heir of Earl Granville, who was claiming vast tracts in North Carolina. Finally, BF forwarded a July 5, 1783, petition to Congress, in Latin, from Gioanni de Bernardi, who had first offered his services to the United States in 1779 (see XXIX, 170). Now that the war had ended, de Bernardi was offering to supply America with artists, artisans, scientists, and scholars from his native Italy, which had plenty of such people to spare. He directed Congress to send its reply, in secret, care of BF; if it was encouraging, de Bernardi would set forth immediately, bringing with him an Italian mathematician (National Archives): Thomson to Michael Hillegas, Dec. 30, 1783; to Reuben Haines, Jan. 1, 1784; to BF, Jan. 14 and 15, 1784; published in Smith, Letters, XXI, 245–6, 254–5, 279–80, 283–5.

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