Benjamin Franklin Papers
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The American Commissioners to Any Governor or Member of a Council or House of Representatives of an American State, 18 May 1778: résumé

The American Commissioners to Any Governor or Member of a Council or House of Representatives of an American State3

LS: Massachusetts Archives; AL (draft): Massachusetts Historical Society; copies: National Archives (two),4 Pennsylvania State Archives, Public Record Office; two transcripts: National Archives

<Passy, May 18, 1778: We have received reliable word that eleven British ships of the line are at St. Helen’s, near Portsmouth, bound for North America.5 You are requested to forward this letter as quickly as possible to any French naval commander, and to publish the contents in the newspapers.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Published in Butterfield, John Adams Diary, IV, 102, where with the full form of address Adams adds that 20 copies were sent. One of them reached the Mass. Council on June 30: Cooper to BF below, July 1, 1778. The announcement was also published in the Sept. 1 issue of the Courier de l’Europe, IV, 139.

4One of these copies is in Lee’s hand with his note: “This intelligence was sent to the Commissioners from M. de Sartine by M. de Chaumont who came accompanied by Mr. Bancroft. And the two Commissioners at Passi having signed the above letters they were sent away without communicating the . . . [sic] to Mr. Lee, who was signing the Bills to borrow money in Holland. Mr. Adams informed him of it the next [?] day.”

5This was Byron’s squadron, actually 13 of the line. It had been ordered to America in April, as reinforcement for Lord Howe against d’Estaing’s threatened attack, but had been delayed pending reliable news of where the French were bound. It did not actually sail until June 9, too late to help Howe. Willcox, Portrait of a General, pp. 215–16.

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