Benjamin Franklin Papers

The Committee of Secret Correspondence to William Bingham, 3 June 1776

The Committee of Secret Correspondence to William Bingham

LS: American Philosophical Society

Philada June 3d 1776


We deliver you herewith two Letters from the secret Committee of Congress, one directed to Messr. Adrian Le Maitre and Mr. Richard Harrison at Martinico, whereby they are directed to pay the Net Proceeds of a Cargo of Provisions Consign’d them per the Sloop Fanny Capt. Britton to our Order and We have endorsed on said Letter that the Payment is to be made to You; the other Letter is directed to Mr. Richd Harrison directing him to pay to our Order the Net Proceeds of another Cargo of Provisions Consign’d him per the Sloop Peggy Capt. Patton, which we have also endorsed to you.2

We hope both these Cargoes may arrive safe and thereby afford you the intended Supply of Money. In that Case you must detain what may be sufficient for your present Expences and apply the Remainder to Payment for the Ten Thousand Stand of Arms you are directed to procure; but should things be so circumstanced that You cannot procure those Arms nor any Part of them, You may then only take up so much of the Money as may be necessary for your present Expences and direct the Gentlemen to whom the Cargoes are consigned to pursue the Orders they received from the secret Committee and to dispatch the two sloops as quick as they can under Convoy of Capt. Hallock in the Hornet; On the Contrary if you take up the whole Money and send the Muskets by the Hornet you may order the two Sloops to be sent away without any Goods or you may send a Part of the Muskets by each as you shall judge may be best. We are Sir Your obedient humble Servants

B Franklin
Benja Harrison
John Dickinson
Robt Morris

Wm Bingham Esqr

Addressed: To / Mr William Bingham

Endorsed: Com’ of Secret Correspondence June 3d 1776

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The letters, each accompanied by one from this committee, immediately follow. Adrien le Maitre was a Martinique merchant with whom the secret committee and private individuals had been doing business since April. Richard Harrison, a young Baltimore merchant, was acting as agent in Martinique for Maryland and Virginia; he had taken a cargo of flour to the island to exchange for arms and ammunition, and in June formed a partnership with Abraham van Bibber, the Maryland agent in St. Eustatius. William Briton was a Philadelphia ship’s captain and exporter to Martinique. Capt. Thomas Patton’s sloop, in the convoy that Wickes was taking to the island, was captured with others off the Capes of Virginia. MS proceedings of the secret committee (Harvard University Library), p. 61; Smith, Letters, III, 543, 598–9; Naval Docs., II, 1299, 1327; V, 648, 1134; Robert C. Alberts, The Golden Voyage. The Life and Times of William Bingham (Boston, 1969), p. 31; J. Franklin Jameson, “St. Eustatius and the American Revolution,” Amer. Hist. Rev., VIII (1902–3), 685; Crout, “Diplomacy of Trade,” pp. 42–9; Clark, Wickes, p. 53.

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