Penet, Pierre (d. 1812)

French merchant.

Established at Nantes before 1775. Arrived in America with his partner de Pliarne (1775). Met Washington, who recommended them to Congress. Falsely claiming to be French government agents, they negotiated with the Secret Committee, of which Franklin was a member, and offered to supply arms to the Americans (1776).

At Washington’s request, Penet was commissioned brevet aide-de-camp (1776). He returned to France, met with royal officials at Versailles, and began to arrange for shipments of military supplies to America (1776). Welcomed Franklin at Nantes and accompanied him on his trip to Paris (1776).

Traded privately with the Americans throughout the Revolution. A partner in the Nantes merchant firm of Penet, d’Acosta frères & Cie. (1778). Proposed to build an arms factory in Virginia (1779). Went bankrupt due to business failures (1782).

Settled in New York (1783) and lived with the Oneida Indians, who made him an honorary chief of their tribe (1787).