Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Bache & Shee, 2 January 1784

From Bache & Shee

Two ALS:6 American Philosophical Society

Philadelphia 2d January 1784


Tho’ hitherto, we have not taken the liberty of addressing your Excellency; we have requested Mr. W. T. Franklin, to acknowledge how sensibly we are obliged by your attention to the interest of our house, as well as the many advantages we have derived from your friendly recommendations,7 a continuance of which we flatter ourselves we shall merit, by evincing upon every occasion the utmost attention and deference— We cannot Sufficiently thank your Excellency for the recent instance of your goodness in preventing the return of the bill we drew on Mr. Williams,8 such circumstances being peculiarly injurious to mercantile reputation.

We now enclose, for your reimbursment the two following drafts on Messrs. Le Couteulx & Co. Paris.

John Browns, on said house at 20 days st. 15,000 l.t.9
Our own draft on ditto at 30 do. 10,000

making together 25000. l.t.

We have taken the liberty of drawing on those Gentlemen before they have advised us of thier being in Cash, for us, from the circumstance of thier house in Cadiz, having made Insurance for us, on a Vessel that was lost, & as the loss became due the 3rd. of last October and we had directed our proportion of it upwards 20000 l.t. to be placed to our Credit with thier Parisian house, we cannot but conclude it has been done long ’ere this, tho’ we are yet without advice shou’d any untoward circumstance have delayed it of which no doubt we shall soon be acquainted; we will immediately replace the sum we have now drawn for; observing only, that shou’d our bill, in the present instance, be refused, the trouble & expence of protest may be avoided. Our Mr. R B, being in the Country, from whence probably he may not return in time to write by this packet; we have the pleasure of informing of the good health of the family, subscribing ourselves with every sentiment of respect and esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obliged hum Servts.

Bache & Shee

His Excellency Benjn. Franklin Esqr

Endorsed: Bache & Shee Jan 2. 1784—

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Both in the hand of John Shee. The one we do not publish is marked “2d”.

7The most recent instance concerned Saxony. The previous spring, BF had recommended BF’s firm to Saxon minister Schönfeld, who had given BF a list of his country’s manufactures: XXXIX, 311–12n. WTF forwarded that list to Bache & Shee with a letter (now missing) requesting on Schönfeld’s behalf that it be published. We speculate that WTF wrote that letter in late July, when BF was providing Saxony’s newly appointed commissioner of commerce with letters of introduction, and sent it to Philadelphia with Capt. Barney, who arrived on Sept. 9: XL, 350–1, 375, 376, 444n. Bache & Shee had it by Sept. 22, when they announced to the public that a newly arrived price list of Saxon manufactures and raw materials, along with pattern cards, could be examined in their store, as well as a price list of Prussian textiles (for which see XL, 363n). Their advertisement ran in various Philadelphia newspapers throughout October; it is quoted in William E. Lingelbach, “Saxon-American Relations, 1778–1828,” American Hist. Rev., XVII (1911–12), 521–2n.

Bache & Shee answered WTF on Nov. 1 (APS), enclosing the newspaper announcement and explaining that it would have been too costly to publish the list itself. Like other American merchants they were experiencing “almost insuperable difficulties” in establishing commercial relationships outside England, being ignorant of the customary terms and not knowing whom to contact. Wishing to import some of the Saxon cloth, and hoping that their relationship to BF would induce manufacturers to extend credit, Bache & Shee sent WTF open letters addressed to unnamed manufacturers in Döbeln and Budissin (Bautzen), asking WTF to insert the names of suitable trading partners and forward the letters. If the manufacturers did not want to “become exporters,” could WTF ask BF to identify a mercantile house in Hamburg that could handle these orders or at least serve as an insurer? A French translation of a letter from Bache & Shee to a manufacturer in Döbeln, and a copy of their letter (in English) to a Hamburg mercantile house, both dated Nov. 3, are at the APS. They are in the hand of L’Air de Lamotte.

RB sent WTF the Nov. 1 letter from Bache & Shee with the abovementioned enclosures under cover of a personal letter dated Nov. 5 (APS). He sent duplicates by another conveyance on Nov. 9 (APS). A copy of Bache & Shee’s letter to WTF has been located in the state archive of Saxony, which indicates that BF probably gave it to Schönfeld: Lingelbach, “Saxon-American Relations, 1778–1828,” p. 522n.

8Bache & Shee’s bill on JW arrived at a time when he was experiencing acute financial difficulties. BF paid the bill to prevent it from being protested: XL, 112, 318, 417.

9Brown’s bill of exchange, dated Jan. 2, 1784, was to be paid to the order of Bache & Shee. On the verso, the firm endorsed it to BF. APS.

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