Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Franklin, Benjamin (1706-1790) to unknown [incomplete]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00496.025 Author/Creator: Franklin, Benjamin (1706-1790) Place Written: s.l. Type: Letter signed Date: circa May 1777 Pagination: 2 p. ; 32 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Signed by Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. Reports on their activities in France including getting Mr. Hodges released from the Bastille for lying about outfitting a privateer. Mentions receipt of commissions for Ralph Izard and William Lee (both appointed May 1777) but cites a lack of salary. Also mentions loans and subsidies requested from Europe. The lack of salary for Izard and Lee caused problems between them and Franklin. Date inferred from the commissions. The last three lines are in Franklin's hand. Last page only.

Background Information: Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Full Transcript: [text loss] them on the Supposition of his being absent at Congress. We wish such Acknowledgement may be made, accompanied with some Expressions of Gratitude towards those from whom the ...Supplies came, without mentioning who they are supposed to be. - You mention the Arrival of the Amphitrite & Mercury, but say nothing of the Cargoes.
Mr Hodge is discharged from his Imprisonment on our Solicitation, & his Papers restored to him. He was well treated while in the Bastile. The Charge against him, was Deceiving the Government in fitting out Cunningham from Dunkirk, who was represented as going on some Trading Voyage, but as soon as he was out began a Cruise on the British Coast, and took 6 Sail. He is got safe into Ferrol. -
We have received and delivered the Commissions to M.r W.m Lee & M.r Izand. No Letters came with them for those Gentlemen with Information how they are to be supported on their Stations. We suppose they write to you, and will acquaint you with their Intentions.
Some Propositions are privately communicated to us, said to be on the Part [2] of Prussia, for forming a Commercial Company at Embden. We shall put them into the Hands of Mr Lee.
We do not see a Probability of our obtaining a Loan of the 2,000,000 Sterling from any of the Money holders in Europe, till our Affairs are in their Opinion more firmly established; What may be obtained from the two Crowns either as Loan or Subsidy, we shall probably know on the Return of the Couriers, and we hope we shall be able to write more satisfactorily on those heads by Capt. Young who will by that time be ready to return.
We are, Gentlemen, with great Esteem
Your most obedient
humble Servants
B Franklin,
Silas Deane
Arthur Lee

See More

People: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Deane, Silas, 1737-1789
Lee, Arthur, 1740-1792

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarMilitary HistoryGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyFranceFinanceEconomicsPrivateeringDiplomacy

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources