‘Beautiful’ Benjamin Franklin letter from France for sale in US

The founding father was in France to garner support for the American revolution

Polymath and inventor Benjamin Franklin wrote the letter during his time in France as an agent of the American revolution
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A letter written by Benjamin Franklin when he was in France to garner support for the American revolution is on sale for $120,000.

The sale of the letter by American historical document specialists the Raab Collection is intended to coincide with the release of a new dramatic series on Benjamin Franklin’s time in Paris on Apple+.

The series, starring Micheal Douglas, premiered on April 12.

Elder statesman of the American revolution

The renowned inventor, polymath and founding father of the United States, had come to France in 1776 as an agent of the fledgling American revolution. 

The then 70-year old Benjamin Franklin was already well-known to European intelligentsia for his work on natural philosophy and electricity in particular, and he soon became the fulcrum of American diplomatic efforts to garner support for the revolution in France.

“He was the elder statesman of the revolution and quite the celebrity in France,” Nathan Raab from the Raab Collection told The Connexion.

“He was living just outside of Paris in the village of Passy, and while the French received him graciously, the authorities were still very coy about openly supporting the revolution.”

Read more: Napoleon letter from Moscow for sale in US for $55,000 

What does the letter say?

In the letter dated December 3, 1777, Benjamin Franklin vouches for Captain De la Plaigne, who, like himself, was acting as an agent in France on behalf of the revolutionaries, albeit for the assembly of Georgia rather than the Continental Congress.

Written in two copies, one of which was passed around in diplomatic circles, the validation of such a famous figure as Benjamin Franklin would have carried special weight. 

While it dates from after the decisive battles of Saratoga, in which the revolutionaries had captured 6,222 redcoats with minimal losses, news of the victory had not yet reached Europe, and the success of the revolution was by no means assured. 

It reads:

I do hereby certify whom it may concern, that the Papers herewith connected under my Seal, viz. the Extract from the Minutes of the Assembly of Georgia, signed by Henry Cuyler, Clerk; and the Instructions to Capt. De la Plaigne signed by N W. Jones Speaker, are genuine and authentic Papers. B Franklin

“This is Benjamin Franklin’s own copy, which he would have kept. The one he sent out would have circulated,” said Mr Raab. “It’s a beautiful letter, with only some small imperfections.”

“His published works are many, many volumes, but his important letters are harder to find. And this one in particular is a key part of the struggle for our independence. 

“It has personal significance for Franklin’s time in France but also national significance.”

The letter is for sale for $120,000 from the Raab Collection.