Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Benjamin Putnam, 27 September 1783

From Benjamin Putnam3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Portsmouth Virga. 1783. Sept. 27th.

Honble. Sir,

I cannot, cease to trouble you while my All is at stake, my Mind at the highest Reach of Pain & Anxiety, & only to be determined & reliev’d by your Excellency’s Interference without which of what Consequence to me, are Resolutions of Congress, however favorable to my Interest, they may have been past?4 I am Sir, without your Assistance in these two Cases, all but ruin’d—

Mr. Ridley who politely offer’d his Assistance in my absence has never let me hear from him. I am therefore totally ignorant how my Affairs stand. I have thro’ my Corespondent at Boston deposited Mony with Mr. Jona. Williams at Nantes, should it be wanted, & to be drawn for, by Mr. Ridley. The Amt. of this Acct. is to me very Considerable & its Consequence nearly my Existence.—

We were unfortunately taken on our Passage by a British Man of War & consequently I became a large sufferer— By a Recapture we were bro’t into this Place where as an Owner I am involv’d in a Lawsuit, the End of which, Courts in this Country being so dilitory in giving Judgment, I am unable to assertain. I have till then, settled in my Profession, & where I beg your Excellency to address for me.

I am Your Excellency’s most Obed. & most Hble Servant.5

Benj. Putnam

His Excelly Dr. B. Franklin.—

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsur. Doct. B. Franklin / Minr. Plenipotentiare / A la Court de France / a Paris— / Per Post, via, Dunkirk. Capt. Duccroÿ.—

Notation: Putnam Mr. Benjn. 27 Sept. 1783.—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3The Massachusetts shipowner who was pursuing two prize claims that had yet to be decided by the Conseil des finances pour les prises en mer. Unable to obtain a settlement during a visit to Paris at the end of 1782, Putnam engaged Matthew Ridley to be his agent; see XXXIX, 401–2, and the references cited there. Putnam sent BF two letters during the summer of 1783 that BF forwarded to Ridley. Now missing, they were dated July 2 and Aug. 9: Ridley to Putnam, Oct. 9, 1783 (Mass. Hist. Soc.).

4Congress resolved in Putnam’s favor in the first case, concerning a sloop taken in 1779: XXXIX, 402n. In the second case, however, dating from 1781 and concerning the Terrible, Congress tabled consideration indefinitely: JCC, XXI, 945.

5On the same day as the present letter, Putnam wrote to WTF, asking him to intervene and telling him that he had renewed his pleas to BF. Desperate for news, as he had received no letters from Ridley, Putnam wrote twice more to WTF before the end of the year: Putnam to WTF, [Sept.] 27, Nov. 25, and Dec. 29, 1783, all at the APS. Ridley did, in fact, write to Putnam on Oct. 9 (cited above). Responding to the shipowner’s letter of July 20, he explained that he had hired a lawyer, but had learned that the council would not meet again before Christmas.

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