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Copy: Connecticut Historical Society The matter-of-fact tone of this letter, and of the virtually identical one to Wickes that follows, conceals the fact that the commissioners had sustained a major defeat. Conyngham’s cruise infuriated Whitehall: on August 19 Stormont delivered a demand that Wickes’s squadron leave port, and Vergennes expected a British declaration of war. Naval patrols were...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society We conclude by this orders are recd. for permitting you to depart for America on condition of not cruising in these Sea’s nor returning into the Ports of France with the reprisal. We therefore desire you to put your ship into the proper state for sailing, and to supply her with the Provisions necessary for the Voyage. We must wait to know from you what...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society Having obtained permission for the Dolphin to sail for america on condition of her not Cruising in these sea’s nor returning again to the Ports of France you will equip her for sailing with all the Expedition Possible. We have agreed to appoint Capt. Brown to the Command of her, if agreable to him, let him take the Charge of her and put her in a proper...
DS and draft: American Philosophical Society To all Persons in Authority in any of the United States of America. The Ship Harmony of Bordeaux, Francis Barboutin Captain and M. Duler Supercargo being bound to the Continent of North America with Merchandize, and uncertain under the present Circumstances what Port she may be able to make; we hereby request that you would Favour the said M. Duler...
Copies: British Library, Harvard University Library, National Archives (three) It is long since we had a Line from you, the last received being of the Date of [ blank in MS ] per Mr. Reed. We suppose from the same Causes which have occasioned your hearing so seldom from us, the Difficulty of finding safe Conveyances, and sometimes the Loss of the Dispatches by the Way. Mr. Lee informs you, we...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society Yours informing us of your being ready for sea we recd. and by Capt. Bell advise you to settle your accts. of Disbursements and give Bills on us for the amount forwarding to us at the same time copies thereof, after which you are to take the first favourable opportunity to go for America endeavouring to make either the Port of Portsmouth in New Hampshire or...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society We recd. yours informing of your being ready for sea and that orders had been recd. for your leaving the Port. We hope this by Capt. Bell who goes express will find you still at St. Maloes. We send by him Dispatches for America which you will take the Charge of and have them ready for being sunk in case of accident. We advise your settling the Bills for...
ALS : Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, früher Preussischer Staatsbibliothek, Berlin; copy: Connecticut Historical Society We have directed Capt. Johnson to draw on Us for the Amount of the Sums furnished by you for his Disbursements, which Bills will be duly honored. In Answer to Yours, to Doct. Franklin, We have to assure You that We have ever had the fullest Confidence in Your...
DS with alterations: New York Public Library; copy (?) with alteration: British Library To the Commanders of Ships of War or other armed Vessels belonging to the United States of North America, or to any of the Subjects of said States, This Certifies, That the Ship Elizabeth [ altered from : Richard Penn, Isaac All] at present Commander or whoever may command her for the time being is owned by...
ALS : Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; LS : Archivo Historico National This memorandum, under its calm surface, conveys a sense of depression; and the commissioners had reason to be depressed. They seem to have become suddenly aware that they were in deep financial trouble, because they had made commitments that they did not have the money to honor and that Congress could not....
Attested copy: Harvard University Library; copies: British Library (incomplete), National Archives (three), Sheffield City Library (two), South Carolina Historical Society We received duly your Dispatches by Mr. McCrery, and Capt. Young, dated May 20 and 30. June 13, 18, and 26 and July 2. The Intelligence they contain is very particular and Satisfactory. It rejoices us to be informed that...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society We have recd. several letters from you written in a menacing Stile, as if we had failed in the fulfilment of our engagements with you; you must be sensible we never were privy to any Contract with you nor accountable for any thing you had contracted for. But the sole motive of our paying the Ballance due Messrs. Delaps was as well to extricate you, as to...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society Yours of the 6th. is before us. When the Private Letter referred to and the situation of the Frigates shall be communicated to us we shall be in a Situation for forming a judgment and writing you more particularly. Meantime we inclose a Letter for Capt. Thompson which we take the Liberty to ask you to deliver to him. We must rely on your assisting these...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society We recd. from Messrs. Gourlad &c. an acct. of your arrival and were informed that you had a Private Letter for us which we have not yet recd. Conclude it must Come to hand in the Course of this week. Mean time we desire you would inform us in a Letter under Cover of Messrs. Gourlade &c. what is the situation of your Vessels and what their destination, as...
ALS : American Philosophical Society; copy: Harvard University Library We have consider’d your Proposition of Returning in case of the Accident you mention on this Coast, and approve of the same: You will therefore act accordingly. We wish you a good Voyage, and are Sir, Your humble Servants Addressed: To Captn. / John Folger / To Care of Mr. Jno. Moylan / Merchs / Havre du Grace In BF ’s...
Reprinted from Richard Henry Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, LL.D., Joint Commissioner of the United States to the Court of France, and Sole Commissioner to the Courts of Spain and Prussia, during the Revolutionary War . . . (2 vols., Boston, 1829), I , 343–6. Having some conversation with Dr. F. upon the present state of things, he seemed to agree with me in thinking that France and Spain mistook...
AL (draft): Library of Congress We learn with much surprise from your Letter to Dr. Franklin of the 27th of Octr. that you have remaind at the Court of Berlin apparently in a public character. It is our duty to inform you, that acting under a public character without being authorizd, is criminal; and we therefore advise and enjoin you to desist from any such conduct in future at Berlin or...
AL : University of Virginia Library Mr. Lee presents his Compliments to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Dean. He has been prevented from waiting upon them this morning as he intended, but will do it this Evening having a Letter to communicate. The Bearer Mr. Floyd will wait to carry Dispatches, if the Gentlemen think it necessary; if not he is sollicitous to go off this Evening, and wants an advance of 7...
DS and draft : American Philosophical Society We cannot explain this document. It is among Franklin’s papers, he and his colleagues signed it, and he endorsed it; but we can find no trace of the Cadiz merchant with whom it was supposedly made, or of cannon bought from any Spanish suppliers at this time. One of the central points of this agreement, furthermore, is to barter tobacco for guns;...
AL : American Philosophical Society Mr. A. Lee presents his Compts. to Dr. Franklin and begs to have the Papers he mentiond to Dr. Franklin, namely Count Vergennes’s Letter, the last Memoire to him, the last Letter to the Committee, and the list of Stores shipt from Marsailles. Mr. L. sends a Newspaper, which Mr. Izard borrowd and desird him to return. Addressed: The Honble / Benjamin Franklin...
AL : American Philosophical Society On November 4 the commissioners learned that the King of Spain, enraged by an American capture of goods belonging to his subjects, had canceled a loan to the United States. Vergennes suggested, according to Arthur Lee’s journal, that a letter to Madrid from the commissioners would doubtless be effective; the King was as quick to forgive as he was to take...
AL (draft): Library of Congress We had the honor of receiving in due time your Letters of the 30th. of Octr. last, together with the Papers annexd. It gives us much concern to find that any persons belonging to America shoud be chargeable with having acted with such violence and injustice. But as it appears they have sent with the Vessel the Papers which will prove the illegality of their...
Copies: Connecticut Historical Society, University of Virginia Library Yours by Capt. Nicholson are before us. Mr. Deanes Lettres of yesterday proposed passing a Sale of the Lyon and sending her out as french Property, that is that she go down the River as commanded by the french Captain, and that Captain Nicholson instead returning to Nantes go directly to meet her at the mouth of the River...
ALS : University of Virginia Library; copy and transcript: National Archives What elicited this letter, as witness the second notation, was one from Dr. John Berkenhout, a shadowy figure who hoped to be Whitehall’s emissary for exploring peace terms, and had initiated a correspondence with Lee on that subject the previous August. Berkenhout’s letter is unsigned and undated, though it refers to...
Two copies: National Archives This circular letter was a companion piece to the commissioners’ memorandum to the French and Spanish courts below, November 23, and had been equally long under consideration. Lee presented his draft of the letter to his colleagues on the 9th. An argument developed over how to interpret the old maxim that free ships make free goods: Lee’s draft had apparently...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society We are informed that the Ship Portsmouth, which left Bourdeaux a few days since, made Prize of a Vessel from Cork entering the River, with a Pilot onboard and after she had got into the Passage of Grave. This is the Captain’s Story, on which his complaint is founded. We ask you to enquire into the particulars of this Transaction and send us the Pilots...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society You are desired to get from Capt. Adams a particular Account of his being taken, in which he must ascertain as exact as is in his Power at what distance he was from the Coast of France when he was first Chased and when he was actually taken. He must make oath to his narration and send it up to us by the first Courier. If you have knowledge of other Vessels...
DS : Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères, Archivo General de Simancas; DS (draft ): Princeton University Library; copy: Archivo Historico Nacional This memorandum had been in preparation for more than a fortnight. On the 8th Franklin had made the original draft, now lost, and Lee had suggested changes that his colleagues accepted; on the 9th the document was ready to be copied and...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society We received yours of the 18th and observe the Contents. We shall this Week transmit to America the Papers relative to your Vessel taken and write on the Subject as we proposed in our last Letter; at the same Time as there is danger of the Packets being intercepted, it will be proper for you to send Duplicates to your Correspondent in St. Eustatia from...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society Yours of the 18th. under Cover of Messrs. F & A Dubbledemuts We received, are obliged to you for your offers of Correspondence and for Accots. of the Price of Sundry Articles of American Produce at your Port. Please to inform us if the Indigo you mention at 50 to 70 Stuyvers per lb. is Carolina growth or other, and what the Difference if any between that...
Two AL : Library of Congress, Harvard University Library We advise you on your return to L’Orient to put your Ship in readiness for Sea, Capt. Hinman will do the same, and after you have obtained the best intelligence to be had, of the British Merchant Ships, and Commerce to pursue the Course, which you judge best for intercepting and making prizes on Our Enemies Ships, and property. As it is...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society Yours of the 17th is before us. Our Letter by your Express will direct you how to proceed with the Cargo of the Amphitrite. The Ship herself is at the Order of Mr. Peltier, and the sooner he has her the better, but the Cargo is at ours. In regard to which we have nothing to alter from the Directions given in our former untill you favour us with an Answer to...
LS : National Archives; AL (draft ): Yale University Library; three copies: National Archives When the commissioners met on November 27 to plan this dispatch, differences between them soon emerged. Lee profoundly distrusted Deane, who he believed had Franklin in his pocket and, in his dual role of private businessman and agent of Congress, was playing fast and loose with public money. Deane...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society You will receive by Mr. Moylan dispatches for Congress, which you will secure ready for sinking in Case of Danger. On your Leaving the River Nantes it has been recommended as the safest to keep well in with the Coast of France until you can leave the Continent intirely. Of this you will be the best judge. We advise you to avoid speaking with every Vessel on...
D : American Philosophical Society Jonathan Loring Austin had ridden post haste from Nantes with his dispatches. On Thursday morning, December 4, he paused in Versailles for an hour’s sightseeing, and then at 11:30 A.M. he arrived in Passy. Rumor had preceded him, or so the story goes, and the commissioners were waiting in the courtyard. “Before he had time to alight Dr. Franklin addressed...
ALS : Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères We have the Honour to acquaint your Excellency that we have just receiv’d an Express from Boston, in 30 Days, with Advice of the total Reduction of the Force under General Burgoyne, himself and his whole Army having surrendered themselves Prisoners. General Gates was about to send Reinforcements to Gen. Washington, who was near Philadelphia...
LS : Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; two copies: Archivo Historico Nacional The Commissioners from the Congress of the United States of America, beg leave to represent to your Excellency, that it is near a year since they had the Honour of putting into your Hands the Propositions of the Congress for a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with this Kingdom, to which, with sundry other...
AD (draft): Library of Congress; copies: Library of Congress, Harvard University Library The mistreatment of American prisoners of war in England had long been on the commissioners’ minds. In February they had suggested to Lord Stormont an exchange, and the Ambassador had not replied. In April they had sent him depositions to back their claim that the British were behaving like savages, and to...
Printed in The London Evening Post , January 24–27, 1778 From motives of duty, and an earnest desire of mitigating the calamities of war, we proposed, near a year since, to the King of Great Britain’s Ambassador here, an Exchange of prisoners in Europe. The answer we received must have been made known to your Lordship, and the world will judge of its decency. It would have been honourable for...
AL : American Philosophical Society Mr. A. Lee’s Compliments to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane. He receivd a Letter yesterday from Bilboa informing him, that the ten thousand Blankets for which Mr. Lee had remitted money from the spanish fund were ready to be shipt together with a very great quantity of Sail and tent cloth, Anchors, Cables, Cordage and Dreggs but that they must either purchase...
ALS : Library of Congress We received your several Letters from Nantes and Portsmouth. We shall be glad to see you here, as soon as is consistent with your Affairs, in order to consult with you on the Matters mention’d in your Instructions from the Congress, &c. We are, with Esteem Sir, Your most obedient and most humble Servants Addressed: To / John Paul Jones Esqr / Nantes Endorsed: Paris...
LS : National Archives; attested copy: National Archives; copy: Harvard University Library; copy and transcript: National Archives Since our last of Nov. 30, a Copy of which is herewith sent you, we received your Dispatches of Oct. 6. from York Town. They came to us by a Packet from Boston, which brought the great News of Burgoynes Defeat and Surrender, News that apparently occasion’d as much...
ALS : American Philosophical Society We Recd: yours giving an Acct. of the Arrival of the Goods on which we had not made any Insurance. From the Situation of your Affairs when you wrote Us last, we presume that Your Ship, Capt. Green is ready for sailing. Capt. Nicholson will also be ready in a few Days, We have therefore to propose to you that They go in Company as Capt. Nicholson will be...
ALS : Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères The Persons going out with the dispatches are Mr. Simeon Deane and Mr. Anthony Knap both of New England. They will set out this Evening for Bordeaux, and will follow Your Orders, which You shall send; inclosed You have a Letter of Credit for the Captn. of Your Ship. We have the honor to be with the utmost respect Sir Your most Obedient and...
Copy: University of Pennsylvania Library You will receive herewith a Packet for Monsr. L Moyne Commissaire &c. at Bourdeaux, and also a Packet for the Committee of Congress for Foreign affairs. You are directed to go for Bourdeaux without loss of Time and on your arrival within one Post of the City that you send forward your Servant to Mons. Le Moyne informing him that you have a Packet for...
AL : University of Pennsylvania Library We are much obliged by your Favour of the 24th. October which brought us the first Intelligence of the Defeat and Surrender of Bourgoyne’s Army, which gave great Joy not only to us but to this whole friendly Nation. In return we can only tell you at present, that our Affairs hear wear the most promising Appearance, and that we have little Doubt of seeing...
AL : American Philosophical Society Mr. Lee’s Compliments. Mr. Girard appeared much surprizd at the doubt about the frigate, as he had sent the necessary Dispatches to Passi yesterday which made it plain that no alteration had taken place respecting the frigate at Bordeaux. He thinks Mr. Beaumarchais shoud be desird to bring in his Account, and that we shoud send it to Count V. who will...
Reprinted from Report of the Committee of the House of the 17th February on the Subject of the Claims of the Heirs of Caron de Beaumarchais . . . (20th Congress, 1st session, House of Representatives Report No. 220; [Washington, 1828]), pp. 44–5. Beaumarchais’ letter above to the commissioners of December 6, with a copy to Vergennes, brought to a head the dispute about the cargo of the...
Copy: Connecticut Historical Society Yours of the 19th we received Yesterday and immediately enclosed it to Monsieur De Sartine in a Letter of ours, and have not the least Doubt that Justice will be immediately done. The part you have acted merits our Thanks, and Justice to you requires that we should represent it to our Friends in America, which we shall do in our first Dispatches. You on the...
LS : Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères We beg your Excellency’s Permission to make an appeal from the Judgment of the Admiralty at Nantes which ordains a confiscation of two Prizes (British Westindia Ships) taken legally on the high seas by two American Privateers, and that Your Excellency will be pleased to request his Majesty to suspend the Departure of those Prizes, and their...