George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nicholas Cooke, 11 December 1775

From Nicholas Cooke

Providence Decemr 11th 1775


I do myself the Honor to address this Letter to you by Mr Penet, and another French Gentleman who arrived here last Night in Capt. Rhodes from Cape Francois, who was dispatched some Time since from this Place for Powder. Mr Penet comes extremely well recommended to our Committee for providing Powder from a Merchant of Character at the Cape. He hath Proposals to make for supplying the United Colonies with Arms and warlike Stores. I am informed that the other Gentleman is a Person of some Consequence.1 I beg Leave to introduce them to your Excellency, and to assure you that I am with great Respect, Sir Your most obedient and most humble Servant

Nichs Cooke

LS, DLC:GW; ADf, RHi: Cooke Papers.

1“Capt Wm Rhodes,” Nicholas Brown of Providence wrote to his brother John Brown on 11 Dec., “Bro’t sum thing Short of 15 C of Powder for the Colony & Abot 1½ Tons on fright for Connecticut, after a Voyage of near 6 mo” (Clark, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 3:54–56). The two Frenchmen were Pierre Penet and Emmanuel de Pliarne. “One is the Kings Armorer of the Cap,” Nicholas Brown reported, “the other from paris on purpose for to Contract. . . . they talk no Inglish but French & Lattin by the One from Parris—they seem sensible, & Say they can supply the Whole thats wanted for the Cont[e]nent. . . . They seem in a Hurry to see Genl Washington & Much Inclin[in]g to secrecy till they Can see the Genl they Inform’d me they had heard of Our House. . . . they have Ingag’d Me One Interview &c when they return I have Inform’d them what we have to pay them wth Vizt Sperm Candles Oil, Tobacco & all Kinds of Provisns wch they say will Answer by our Carryg them & sellg for that produce for the French Isds & some to France wth the like produce, wch they say will ansr as well as Cash—The Gentl from France to Stay here in the Country while the Other goes to France with any English Capt that May be Trusted to go with him The Powder they say May Come direct here from France Or to Spain [as] afsd from thence in Such Bottoms as we please—Its not improb[ab]le, but Genl Washington may recomend them to the Congress, if that Nesry Article is Not sufficiently provided for Allready—They allso Say they Can pro[cure] All Kinds of arms & Clothing the same way” (ibid.). For GW’s recommendation of Penet and Pliarne to Congress, see GW to Hancock, 14 Dec. 1775 (second letter).

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