Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Philip Schuyler, 8 August 1775

To Philip Schuyler4

ALS: Massachusetts Historical Society

Philada. Augt. 8. 1775. 5 PM.


Your Letter to the President of the Congress, arrived here just now by an Express from Albany, and is brought to me, the Congress being adjourn’d and all the Members out of town but my self.5 I have taken the Liberty of looking into it, to see if it required any Service from hence in our Power to render. I wish we had more Powder to send you as you desire: But all hitherto arriv’d is gone to Boston, and an Order is left here for sending 5 Ton more thither as soon as it comes in. I hope the second Parcel sent you from hence, which had been delay’d on the Road by some Mismanagement, has got safe to you before this time.6 I shall immediately forward your Letter to the President who is now I suppose in the Camp before Boston. Wishing you Success in your arduous Undertakings, and a safe Return with Health, Happiness and Honour, I am, very respectfully Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Gen. Schuyler

Endorsed: Benja Franklin  August 8th  Recd. 14th

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Schuyler (1733–1805), who belonged to a prominent Albany family of Dutch extraction, was by this time a seasoned politician and a fledgling commander. In his seven years in the New York Assembly he had attempted to follow a middle course, opposing both radicals and extreme conservatives, but the developing crisis forced his hand. In April he joined the extralegal convention, which chose him as a delegate to Congress. His service in Philadelphia was brief, for he received one of the four original appointments as major general. In June Washington gave him command of the northern army, whereupon Congress ordered him to clear Lake Champlain of the enemy and, if “it will not be disagreeable to the Canadians,” to occupy Montreal and take such other measures as might secure the northern border, JCC, II, 99, 109–10. Schuyler soon realized that he had meager resources for an invasion. His letter of Aug. 2 to John Hancock, which BF is here acknowledging, reported that Ticonderoga was in its present condition defenseless. The troops were desperately short of powder, and without it the ships Schuyler was building on the lake would serve only as transports. Force, 4 Amer. Arch., III, 11–12; see also DAB and Martin H. Bush, Revolutionary Enigma: a Reappraisal of General Philip Schuyler of New York (Port Washington, N.Y., 1969), pp. 12–37.

5Congress adjourned in the first days of August, and did not meet again until Sept. 13.

6The five tons ordered to Boston were, Congress believed, already in Philadelphia: JCC, II, 238. The first consignment to Schuyler seems to have been from Connecticut; the second was entrusted to the Philadelphia committee and sent by way of New Jersey, where it arrived in mid-July: ibid., p. 108; Force, op. cit., II, 1674; Smith, Letters, I, 560, 568. An additional three tons from South Carolina had been sent to the northern army in late July, and was expected to bring its total to five tons. Ibid., p. 180. As late as Aug. 10 BF had apparently not learned of this most recent supply, for another 2,200 pounds then started northward from Philadelphia. See below, BF to Schuyler, Aug. 10, and to the N.Y. congress, Aug. 19, 1775.

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