The Navy Board for the Eastern Department5 to the American Commissioners
LS: American Philosophical Society; copy: Library of Congress
Navy Board Eastern department Boston N England
Febry 2d: 1778
Having presumed to draw a Bill on you in favour of Mr. William Dennie a merchant of this Town for one hundred pounds Sterling, it becomes necessary to Appologize for this Step by Explaining the reasons of our Conduct, which otherways must Appear very extraordinary, as we have neither the Express Orders of Congress for it or have the Honour of being Connected with you in any other way than as public Officers of the Continent.
Congress having directed us to furnish the Honble: John Adams Esqr. (who they have Appointed One of the Commissioners at the Court of France6) with Every Accomodation Necessary for his Voyage Among which is the Article of hard money which we have not been able to obtain any other way Seasonably for his passage in the Boston now nearly ready to Sail, without discovering his Intentions which require Secrecy therefore by his Consent and Advice have taken the Liberty to draw on you on this Occasion. We flatter ourselves the Bill will be duly honoured. We have the honour to be Gentlemen with the Greatest respect Your Most Obedient humble Servants
Honble: Benjamin Franklyn & Arthur Lee Esqrs.
Notations in different hands: Letter from the Navy Board, E. Department respecting their Bill of Exchange. / Navy Board Boston respecting Bill of Exchange 2 Feb. 1778
5. Congress had created the three-member board the previous spring as an agency of its marine committee, to supervise naval and maritime affairs in New England: JCC, VII, 281, 331. For William Vernon and James Warren see the DAB; Vernon was the father of the young man whom Hancock recommended to BF below, Feb. 9.
6. Deane had come under criticism for his unauthorized recruiting of French officers, and his recall had been moved the previous August. Congress was repudiating his commitments, and after Saratoga raised hopes of a French alliance he became a diplomatic liability. In late November, long before the feuding within the commission was known in Philadelphia, Congress recalled him and named Adams as his replacement. Rakove, Beginnings of National Politics, pp. 250–1.