Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Samuel Chase, 19 January 1784

From Samuel Chase

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London. 19 Jany. 1784.

Dear Sir.

On Fryday last I had the Honour to receive your letter of the 6th. Inst., for which be pleased to accept my thanks. The temporary loss of the Papers gives Me no other Concern, that what arises from the Remembrance that your Illness was the Cause of the Accident. I am glad to hear of your Recovery, & sincerely wish You may never again be afflicted with the Gout, Gravel, or any other painful Disorder.

I am not very sanguine in my Expectations of Compensation for the loss of the Ship, in which I was considerably interested. Mr. Jay having been so kind as to promise his Assistance not only to Me, but to Mrs. le Vachè, that he may be informed of the Circumstances in both Cases, I take the liberty to request You to deliver him my letter of 18 of September with the protest of Capt. Belt, & any Papers relative to the Widow of M. le Vachè. If on Consideration Mr. Jay shall think it adviseable to present a Memorial, he will take the trouble to prepare one,7 and your friendly Interposition & Influence with M. le Marquiss de Castries, & the Marquiss de la Fayette will ever be thankfully remembered and acknowledged by Me.

I have, at present, but little prospect of obtaining the Bank Stock. I intend to return to Maryland in February or March8 and therefore must relinquish the Pleasure I had proposed to Myself of paying my Respects to You at Paris.—

I most cordially wish You the greatest of all human Blessings, Mens sana in Corpore sano9 farewell, and beleive Me to be at all times Dear Sir, With Great Respect Your Affectionate Friend & Obedient Servant

Saml. Chase

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Jay did so, and it was endorsed by Lafayette; see Idzerda, Lafayette Papers, V, 436, where the document is calendared and a citation given to its location in the Fonds de la Marine. Among BF’S papers at the APS are four more documents concerning this incident that Chase must have brought with him to London: the deposition of John Dorsey, acting partner of Dorsey, Wheeler & Co., owners of the Matilda (Jan. 18, 1783); the deposition of Michael McNamarre, captain of marines on the Matilda (Jan. 13, 1783); the protest of Charles Harrison, captain of the Jolly Tar (Oct. 24, 1782); and the deposition of Joseph Smith, a passenger on the Jolly Tar (Jan. 13, 1783).

8Those intentions were frustrated by prolonged litigation. In February, when Chase finally engaged the trustees in discussions, he found Grove and the executors of (then-deceased) Osgood Hanbury willing to yield, but Russell—who insisted on compensation for his own confiscated property as a condition to settlement—opposed. Russell filed a Chancery suit against Chase, Grove, and the Bank of England. Chase finally returned to Maryland in August, leaving the case in the hands of his solicitors. It was not resolved until 1804, when Maryland recovered most of its appreciated stock and reinvested dividends, and Chase (then a U.S. Supreme Court justice) received a hefty commission: James Haw et al., Stormy Patriot: the Life of Samuel Chase (Baltimore, 1980), pp. 123–4, 127–9; Jacob M. Price, “The Maryland Bank Stock Case: British-American Financial and Political Relations before and after the American Revolution,” in Law, Society, and Politics in Early Maryland, ed. Aubrey C. Land et al. (Baltimore and London, 1977), pp. 10–31.

9A healthy mind in a healthy body: Juvenal, Satire X, line 356.

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