George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Temple Franklin, 9 July 1790

From William Temple Franklin

New York, 9th July 1790


In addition to the favorable Testimonials of my Conduct in Europe, which I had the honor to lay before your Excellency,1 allow me to add the inclosed,2 which I have just procured from the Office for Foreign Affairs, by the friendly Intervention of the Secretary of State.3

Permit me also to inform your Excellency, that my desire of being employ’d in Europe, is in no way diminished by a late melancholly Event;4 but that on the contrary, some particular Circumstances render me still more anxious for such an Appointment. Should your Excellency deem my Pretensions on this head well founded, and be disposed to favor my Views, you may rely on my most diligent & faithful Services: and that my Gratitude will be equal to the Respect, with which, I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obedient & devoted humble Servant

W.T. Franklin


1William Temple Franklin previously sent GW testimonials from Benjamin Franklin (his grandfather) and John Jay to support his pretensions for a diplomatic post (William Temple Franklin to GW, 20 April 1789, 9 Jan. 1790).

2Temple Franklin enclosed an extract in his own hand of a 22 July 1783 letter that his grandfather wrote from Passy to Robert R. Livingston, asking whether any notice of his grandson would be taken in the newly arranged department of foreign affairs and noting that Temple Franklin “has now gone thro’ an Apprenticeship of near seven years in the ministerial business, and is very capable of serving the States in that line, as possessing all the Requisites of knowledge, zeal, activity, language & address. He is well liked here, and Count de Vergennes has expressed to me in warm terms his very good opinion of him. The late Swedish Ambassador Count de Creutz, who is gone home to be Prime Minister, desired I would endeavour to procure his being sent to Sweden with a public character, assuring me that he should be glad to receive him there as our Minister, and that he knew it would be pleasing to the King. The present Swedish Ambassador has also proposed the same Thing to me, as you will see by a Letter of his which I enclose. One of the Danish Ministers, Mr Walterstorff who will probably be sent in a public character to Congress, has also expressed his wish that my Grandson may be sent to Denmark. But it is not my custom to solicit employments for myself or any of my Family, and I shall not do it in this case. I only hope that if he is not to be employed in your new arrangement, I may be informed of it as soon as possible, that while I have strength left for it, I may accompany him in a tour to Italy returning thro’ Germany, which I think he may make to more advantage with me than alone, and which I have long promised to afford him, as a reward for his faithful service & his tender filial attachment to me” (DLC:GW).

Temple Franklin also copied an extract from a letter of Baron de Staël, the Swedish ambassador to France, to Benjamin Franklin, 13 June 1783, and enclosed it with a translation (both in DLC:GW).

3Temple Franklin was in New York to retrieve the copy of an autobiographical manuscript that his grandfather had given Jefferson in March 1790. Jefferson had been aware of young Franklin’s diplomatic ambitions since 1785, when he wrote to James Monroe in code: “I have never been with him enough to unravel his character with certainty. It seems to be good in the main. I see sometimes an attempt to keep himself unpenetrated which perhaps is the effect of the causelessons of his grandfather. His understanding is good enough for common uses but not great enough for uncommon ones. However you will have better opportunties of knowing him. The doctor [Benjamin Franklin] is extremely wounded by the inattention of congress to his applications for him. He expected something to be done as a reward for his own services.” Jefferson wrote to Temple Franklin in May 1786, “I wish with all my heart Congress may call you into the Diplomatic line” and replied to Franklin’s 17 Dec. 1789 statement “I know from good Authority that the President is well disposed towards me, and desirous of complying with my Views, but that he waits your entering on the Duties of your Office previous to making any foreign Arrangements,” that “your merit is too well known to [GW] to need any testimony from me.” Jefferson solicited and received Franklin’s advice on departmental matters and in July 1790 depended upon his assistance in finding living quarters in Philadelphia. No reply of GW to Franklin’s 9 July letter has been found, and Franklin wrote again to the president on 13 Oct. 1790 (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 8:261–62, 9:466, 16:36–37, 180; see also GW to Franklin, 25 Oct. 1790, n.1).

4Benjamin Franklin died on 17 April 1790 (see Benjamin Franklin to GW, 16 Sept. 1789, n.1, and Henry Hill to GW, 7 May 1790).

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