Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris, 29 August 1775

To Robert Morris5

ALS: University of Pennsylvania Library

Brunswick, Augt. 29. 1775

Dear Sir,

Understanding since I came hither that 4 Waggon Loads of Gunpowder for New York, which had been landed at the Neversinks, pass’d thro’ here last Friday, I have dispatch’d an Order to our Waggoner, whom I pass’d yesterday at Trenton, to return back with the Ton we spar’d, since it will not be wanted at New York, and may be wanted with us. I hope our Committee will approve of this.6 If not I ought to pay the Expence. With great Esteem, I am Sir, Your most obedient Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Mr Robert Morris / Mercht / Philadelphia

Endorsed: from Doctr. Franklin Brunswick 29th. augt: 1775 recd 31st. augt. 1775

Notation: Dr. Benjamin Franklin Signer of the Declaration

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5This is the first extant letter in the long correspondence between BF and the famous Philadelphia merchant. For Morris’ previous career see the DAB; his later activities will appear in our subsequent volumes. His close association with BF, which soon became even closer, began as far as we know when the Pa. Assembly appointed them to its committee of safety. Before the year was out they were serving together on two crucial standing committees of Congress, the secret committee and the committee of secret correspondence, and by the autumn of 1776 the latter consisted only of Morris and BF; see the note on the committee’s memorandum below, Oct. 1, 1776.

Morris was the second-ranking member of the Pa. committee of safety and chaired it in the President’s absence, as mentioned in the editorial note above, June 30. Hence he was the natural person to inform of the decision that BF describes in this note. We publish it before the letter that follows because it was written earlier on the same day, while BF was crossing New Jersey to visit his son at Perth Amboy.

6The powder promised to New York by the Pa. committee of safety, in its letter above of Aug. 26, left Philadelphia the next morning; see the following document. The committee approved BF’s decision, and the consignment was returned to the city magazine on Aug. 31: Pa. Col. Recs., X, 328. The other shipment of powder, ordered by the N.Y. congress and mentioned in its letter above of Aug. 16, had been expected to come by sea and doubtless did. The Neversinks are highlands between Sandy Hook Bay and an inlet known as the Shrewsbury River, where the powder was presumably landed to be carried overland; in that case the waggons would have crossed the Raritan at Brunswick. They were in New York by Sept. 1: Force, 4 Amer. Arch., III, 570.

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