Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from John Shaffer, 1 February 1784

From John Shaffer

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Paris the 1 febuary 1784./.


I have the honour to inform you that the house of Parlement has Rendered Me Justis on thursday Last,4 I was Judged at liberty and Discharged of Every accusation, And Conducted to With all the honours of war to the Grand Stairs of Parlement, in order to have the Right to persue those who have bean the Ocation of my Disgrace.5

My inosance is Now proved theirefore I hope my Countryman will Contribute towards having my arrest Pupleshed in order to prove to the puplick my inosance, before my Departure.

I hav the honour to be with Profound Respect sir your humble servant6

J. Schaffer

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Jan. 29.

5This may refer to the customary public announcement of an absolution, a complete acquittal, by court criers. Absolution nullified all charges against the defendant, whose name was erased from the jail register, and it entitled the defendant to sue for damages against the plaintiff: Richard M. Andrews, Law, magistracy, and crime in Old Regime Paris, 1735–1789 (1 vol. to date, Cambridge and New York, 1994–), I, 473–4.

6The following day, Feb. 2, Beaumont wrote to BF with the same description of Shaffer’s honorable release at 8 A.M. the previous Thursday, and news that the court chose to disregard the spurious comments attributed to WTF. Confident that BF’s good opinion of Shaffer has been restored, the lawyer asks for money to help his client rehabilitate his good name. John Paul Jones has promised to contribute; his example will doubtless be imitated by other compatriots. Beaumont admits to being humiliated by his poor reception at Passy, but expects that BF will now help Shaffer return to America. APS.

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