Benjamin Franklin Papers

Promissory Note to Peter Reeve from Members of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, 1 August 1775: résumé

Promissory Note to Peter Reeve3 from Members of the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety

DS: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

This document throws light on the impromptu methods of financing the war. The Pennsylvania Assembly, in creating the committee of safety, had authorized the emission of £35,000 in paper currency for the defense of the province.4 But the funds were not immediately available to the committee. In mid-July a subcommittee, including Thomas Wharton, Jr., and Robert Morris, was directed to borrow if possible from the provincial treasurer “until the Money for this Board is Emited.” On July 31 another subcommittee, also including Wharton and Morris, was directed to borrow as much as it could from the wardens of the port of Philadelphia.5 This promissory note was the result; it makes no mention of the committee, and the signers appear to be contracting the obligation as individuals. Wharton and Morris discharged it after the committee, on August 10, had made £25,000 available to them to cover such commitments.6

<Philadelphia, August 1, 1775: A promise to pay Reeve on demand the sum of £3,500, signed by Franklin and nine other members of the committee.7 An endorsement shows that £2,500 were paid by Thomas Wharton, Jr., on September 23 and the remaining £1,000 by Robert Morris on Oct. 16, 1775.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3A ship captain and merchant, who had at least once been associated with BF in a business venture: above, XI, 315.

4See the citations in the headnote on the committee above, June 30.

5Pa. Col. Recs., X, 286, 295. Since 1766 Reeve and Robert Morris had been among the wardens, who were responsible for the administration of the port, and Reeve was their treasurer; the funds he administered came partly from fines and partly from grants by the Assembly. James T. Mitchell and Henry Flanders, eds., The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania from 1692 to 1801 (17 vols., Harrisburg, 1896–1915), VII, 19–27; VIII, 264–84, 423–8.

6Pa. Col. Recs., X, 300–1.

7Those who attended the meeting on Aug. 1: ibid., p. 296.

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