France and America in the Revolutionary Era: The Life of Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont, 1725-1803

By Thomas J. Schaeper | Go to book overview

4
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S LANDLORD

ARRIVAL IN FRANCE

T he Philadelphia sage landed in France on 3 December 1776. A seventy-year-old widower, he was accompanied by two of his grandsons, William Temple Franklin and Benjamin Franklin Bache. The older of the two, usually referred to as "Temple," was the illegitimate son of Franklin's own illegitimate son William. The latter was the final colonial governor of New Jersey and a staunch Loyalist. By the time that Benjamin left for France, William had been imprisoned by the patriots. William and his father had become completely and, as time would tell, permanently estranged.1 The sixteen-year-old Temple was now being cared for by his grandfather, who hoped that a trip to France would round off the youth's education. The elder Franklin also planned for Temple to help him as a private secretary.

The other grandson, seven-year-old " Benny," was the son of Franklin's daughter Sarah. The old man brought him along so that the boy could learn French and go to a continental school.

The threesome sailed to France in the American frigate Reprisal, commanded by Captain Lambert Wickes. The ship entered Quiberon Bay in Brittany on 29 November, but contrary winds prevented it from proceeding up the Loire to Nantes. Impatient to get to work and eager to escape his uncomfortable accommodations, Franklin decided to go ashore as fast as possible. On 3 December he and his two grandsons boarded a small fishing boat and traveled to the village of Auray. From there he wrote three letters announcing his arrival. They were to his old friend Dr. Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg, to Silas Deane, and to Thomas Morris, the younger half-brother of Robert Morris.2 Thomas had been

-92-

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France and America in the Revolutionary Era: The Life of Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont, 1725-1803
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Abbreviations vii
  • Preface viii
  • 1 - CHAUMONT'S FIRST FIFTY YEARS 1
  • 2 - FRANCE AND THE COMING OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 38
  • 3 - CHAUMONT ENTERS THE PICTURE 63
  • 4 - BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S LANDLORD 92
  • 5 - CHAUMONT AS FRIEND, ASSOCIATE, AND ENEMY 122
  • 6 - CONGRESSIONAL SUPPLIES 156
  • 7 - PRIVATE TRADE WITH AMERICA 194
  • 8 - JOHN PAUL JONES: FRIEND 227
  • 9 - JOHN PAUL JONES: ENEMY 254
  • 10 - FINANCIAL RUIN 290
  • 11 - TWILIGHT YEARS 319
  • Appendix 348
  • Bibliography 349
  • Index 377
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