George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major David S. Franks, 24 November 1780

From Major David S. Franks

Robinsons House 24th November 1780


I hope this Letter and the Proceedings of the Court of Enquiry into my Conduct, will both be handed to your Excellency at the same time.1

Being fully conscious of my own Integrity, I have no doubt but the Report will be such as must silence the most malicious.

As Your Excellency has been pleas’d to comply with Col. Varick’s Request respecting the Publication of the Report of the Court of Enquiry, in his Case;2 I have every Reason to hope your Humanity & Indulgence in this Instance will also be extended to me, and if entirely consonant to Your Excellency’s Judgement, the same Mode of Publication may be pursued.

The length of time which has elapsed since Arnolds Defection makes me very solicitous that the Report may be put in Orders as soon as possible, many People are to this Hour inclin’d to think, that my Connection with Arnold could not be void of criminallity.3

Reposing entire Confidence in Your Excellency’s Goodness, I remain Sir, with the highest Respect Your most obliged & obedient humble Servant

Davd S. Franks


1Franks, then at West Point, had posed questions to Lt. Col. Richard Varick on 19 Nov. that Varick answered at the same place later that month. The questions and answers established the major’s “zeal to support the rights of America against British oppression,” his intention to leave Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s service in fall 1780 because of the general’s “cavalier and ungenteel treatment,” his determination to regard Joshua Hett Smith as “a liar and a rascal,” and Arnold’s movements immediately prior to his flight to the British on 25 Sept. (Hart, Varick Court description begins Albert Bushnell Hart, ed. The Varick Court of Inquiry to Investigate the Implication of Colonel Varick (Arnold’s Private Secretary) in the Arnold Treason. Boston, 1907. description ends , 167–86, quotes on 167, 170, 173; see also William Heath to GW, 12 Nov., DLC:GW).

2See Document XXI, and n.2.

3GW announced the exoneration of Franks in the general orders for 8 December. For sample newspaper publications of these general orders, see The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser (Philadelphia) for 23 Dec. 1780 and The New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton) for 3 Jan. 1781.

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