Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Robert Morris: Three Letters, 7 October 1782

From Robert Morris: Three Letters6

(I) LS: American Philosophical Society; (II) LS: American Philosophical Society, Independence National Historical Park; copy: Library of Congress; (III) LS: American Philosophical Society (two), Syracuse University Library; L (draft): Yale University Library; copies: Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères,7 Library of Congress


Marine Office 7th. October 1782.—


This Letter will be delivered to you by Joshua Barney Esqr. a Lieutenant in the Navy of the United States, and now commanding the Packet Ship Washington.8 This young Gentleman is an Active, gallant Officer, who has already behaved very well on many Occasions, and I recommend him to your particular Notice and Attention from the Conviction that his Conduct will do Honor to those by whom he is patronized and introduced.

I am Sir Your most obedient & humble Servant

Robt Morris

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

Endorsed: Marine Office Oct. 7. 1782


Office of Finance 7th. October 1782.


Captain Barney having been detained until this Day and it being probable that he will not arrive in Europe so early as I expected I am very doubtful whether it would be proper to send him to the Havanna but think it would be better he should return immediately hither because it is likely that the Negotiation I proposed9 will consume more time than he can spare. His Ship is small but she sails remarkably well and will therefore give us a good Chance of being well informed of the Situation of our Affairs. If there is likely to be any Delay or Difficulty in the Havanna Plan it will be best that you endeavor to obtain the Shipment of a considerable Sum in Europe on Board some of the King’s frigates.1 At any Rate we must have Money and I think you may venture fifty thousand Crowns by this Vessel. You will see that Capt. Barney is put under your Directions and is to wait your Instructions but I must at the same time inform you that Congress have directed his Ship to be purchased and sent to France2 among other Things for the Purpose of obtaining a better Communication with their Servants and more frequent and accurate Intelligence from Europe you will see therefore the Propriety of dispatching her as speedily as possible and I think we may probably fall upon ways & Means to afford you frequent Opportunities of writing with a great Chance of Security.

I am Sir your most obedient and humble Servant

Robt Morris

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin Esqr.

Endorsed: Office of Finance Oct. 7. 1782


Office of Finance 7th October 1782

Dear Sir

In a Letter of the second Instant which I have just now received from the Head Quarters of the American Army is the following Paragraph—3 In short, my dear Sir, the Want of Money gives rise to so many complaints and uneaseinesses, that without a portion of it, I fear the infection will spread from Officer to Soldier. It is most vexatious to see the parade of the states upon every occasion; They declare in the most pompous manner that they will never make peace but upon their own terms, and yet call upon them for the support of the war, and you may as well call upon the dead. If they persist in their present accursed system, I do not see but they must accept Peace upon any terms.

I am Sir your most obedient Servant

Robt Morris

P.S. I would have sent the whole Letter from which this is extracted but I have not time to put it in Cypher

His Excellency Benjn. Franklin Esqr.

Endorsed: Office of Finance Oct. 7. 1782 Letter from Head Quarters decyphered

Notation:4 (By C. No 4.)

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The first letter was also sent to JA, John Jay, Lafayette, and William Carmichael: Morris Papers, VI, 522.

7BF sent this deciphered copy to Vergennes on Nov. 8 (below). It is in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand.

8Barney also carried Morris’ letters to BF of Sept. 25, 27, 28, and 30 and Oct. 1 and 5: Morris Papers, VI, 518n.

9In his second letter of Sept. 27, above.

1For the latest version of the Havana plan see Morris’ letter of Oct. 1.

2In a resolution of Aug. 29: JCC, XXIII, 537.

3The rest of this paragraph is in cipher. We print the interlinear decipher by L’Air de Lamotte, corrected by WTF.

4In WTF’s hand. The cipher used here is the same as the one used in Morris’ letter of Sept. 28; see our annotation there.

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