1. On 17 Nov. a man claiming to be Capt. Job Prince of the privateer Concord
wrote to Le Baron at Dieppe, announcing his arrival with a Dieppe shallop recaptured from two English privateers and requesting supplies and advice for a proposed cruise against British shipping (
Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S.
, 4:276). On the 18th both Le Baron and Prince (same, 1:534) wrote to Franklin: the first to report his provisioning of the Concord
and probably to enclose Prince's letter of the 17th; the second to announce that he had important information for the Commissioners that could not be trusted to writing and to request advice on his intended cruise and the disposal of prizes.
With the letters from Le Baron and Prince in hand, JA and Franklin decided to send Temple Franklin to Dieppe, carrying these instructions and two letters of the same date from Benjamin Franklin (The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Albert Henry Smyth, 10 vols., N.Y., 1907, 7:201–202). The first, to Le Baron, approved moderate expenditures for provisioning the Concord; the second, to Prince, stated that Temple Franklin could be trusted with whatever he wished to communicate to the Commissioners.
A letter from Benjamin Franklin to Le Baron of 21 Nov. (same, 7:202) indicates that the younger Franklin was to leave later that day. In the interval between the drafting of the instructions of 20 Nov. and Temple Franklin's departure, JA and Benjamin Franklin had second thoughts and prepared a second set of instructions (see below under
) that, in part, superseded those of the 20th. When Temple Franklin arrived at Dieppe he found that Prince and the Concord
had sailed, thus justifying the doubts about Prince expressed jointly in the second set of instructions, by Franklin alone in his letter to his grandson of 26 Nov. (same, 7:203), and by Le Baron in a letter to Franklin of the 30th (
Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S.
Initially JA and Franklin may have thought that this “Job Prince” was either Capt. Job Prince or his son, Job Prince Jr., of Boston. However, although both men had interests in numerous privateers during the war, there is no record that either had any connection with a vessel named Concord
and the dates of bonds bearing their names make it likely that both were in America in the fall of 1778 (Allen, Mass. Privateers
, p. 66–278 passim).
A garbled account of this affair appeared in the London Chronicle of 12–15 Dec. The report, dated 29 Nov. at Paris, stated that on 20 Nov. a vessel with dispatches from the congress had arrived at Nantes. The captain, after requesting a guard to prevent his crew from going ashore, sent an express to Franklin asking him to send someone “to whom he might explain the object of his dispatches. Dr. Franklin immediately sent his grandson; and it has been said since he is gone that there has been a bloody battle in America, and that 6,200 men of Washington's army have gone over to the English.”
3. The degree to which Franklin and JA wished to keep this mission secret, even from Arthur Lee, is indicated by the payment of Temple Franklin's expenses at Dieppe, not from the funds held by Ferdinand Grand, but rather those used for the household at Passy (Household Accounts, 1 Oct. 1778 to 21 Feb. 1779
, entry for 21 Nov., above).