Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Nicholas Cooke, 15 August 1775

From Nicholas Cooke9

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Providence August 15th. 1775


I think it my Duty inform you that on Friday Morning last as Benjamin Mumford who rides Post from Newport to New London was crossing the Ferry to Newport he was taken by Capt. Wallace of the Ship Rose who broke open the Mails sent some of the Letters ashore and kept the Remainder in Order to send them to Boston. He detained Mumford until Yesterday.1

As the Mails will always be in the Power of the Ships of War so long as the Post continues to cross the Ferries to Newport which will not only render all Intelligence precarious but may be the Means of giving such Informations as may be very prejudicial to the common Cause I take the Liberty of recommending that the Mails be brought through Narragansett directly to this Town instead of being carried to Newport; and that they be returned the same Way.

Mr. Ward informs me that he delivered to you a Copy of the Act of Assembly establishing Post-Offices and Post-Riders in this Colony. In that Act Mr. Nathaniel Otis was appointed Post-Master for Newport; who hath removed to Middletown in Connecticut. The General Assembly have since appointed Mr. Solomon Southwick in his Room.2 I am with great Truth and Regard Sir Your most obedient and most humble Servant

Nichs. Cooke

B. Franklin

Notation: Lre to Benja. Franklin Esqr. Augt. 15th. 1775

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The news of Lexington and Concord precipitated a political upheaval in Rhode Island. Nicholas Cooke of Providence was elected deputy governor in May, and the Assembly refused to permit the Loyalist Governor, Joseph Wanton, to take the oath of office; Cooke acted for him until November and was then appointed to succeed him. David S. Lovejoy, Rhode Island Politics and the American Revolution, 1760–1776 (Brown University Studies, XXIII; Providence, R.I., 1958), pp. 182–3. BF’s reply to this letter is below, Aug. 27, 1775.

1An account of the incident appeared in the Pa. Gaz. of Aug. 23 and in the N.Y. Gaz. of Aug. 21, 1775; the latter is printed in Naval Docs., I, 1197. For several years past Benjamin and Peter Mumford had kept an illegal post office in Newport. In June the Assembly had appointed them postriders from Newport, Benjamin to New London and Peter to Providence, and had instructed them not to handle any letters from previously existing post offices in the colony. John R. Bartlett, ed., Records of the Colony of Rhode Island . . . (10 vols., Providence, R.I., 1856–65), VII, 352–3. See also [Frank H. Norton, ed.,] Journal Kept by Hugh Finlay (Brooklyn, N.Y., 1867), p. 33; James G. Mumford, Mumford Memoirs (Boston, 1900), p. 73.

2See the note on Ward to BF above, Aug. 12.

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