Benjamin Franklin Papers

The Committee of Secret Correspondence to [Arthur Lee], 12 December 1775

The Committee of Secret Correspondence to [Arthur Lee7]

ALS:8 Maine Historical Society

Philada. Dec. 12. 1775


By this Conveyance we have the Pleasure of transmitting to you sundry printed Papers, that such of them as you think proper may be immediately published in England.

We have written on the Subject of American Affairs to Monsieur C. G. F. Dumas, who resides at the Hague. We recommend it to you to correspond with him, and to send through his Hands any Letters to us which you cannot send more directly. He will transmit them via St. Eustatia. When you write to him direct your Letter thus, A Mons. Monsr. C. G. F. Dumas chez Made. le Ve. Loder, ?a Hague;9 and put it under Cover directed to Mr. A. Stuckey Merchant at Rotterdam.

Mr. Story may be trusted with any Dispatches you think proper to send us.1 You will be so kind as to aid and advise him.

It would be agreable to Congress to know the Disposition of Foreign Powers towards us, and we hope this Object will engage your Attention. We need not hint that great Circumspection and impenetrable Secrecy are necessary. The Congress rely on your Zeal and Abilities to serve them, and will readily compensate you for whatever Trouble and Expence a Compliance with their Desires may occasion. We remit you for the present Two Hundred Pounds Sterling.2

Whenever you think the Importance of your Dispatches may require it, we desire you to send an Express-Boat with them from England, for which Service your Agreement with the Owner there shall be fulfilled by us here.

We can now only add that we continue firm in our Resolutions to defend ourselves, notwithstanding the big Threats of the Ministry. We have just taken one of their Ordnance Store Ships, in which are abundance of Carcasses and Bombs intended for burning our Towns.3 With great Esteem, we are Sir, Your most obedient humble Servants

B Franklin
John Dickinson
John Jay
Committee of Correspondence

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7A tear at the bottom of the second page obliterates what once was apparently there, “Arthur Lee, Esq.”; see Richard Henry Lee, Life of Arthur Lee. . . (2 vols., Boston, 1829), I, 54.

8In BF’s hand.

9See BF’s letter to Dumas above, Dec. 9, written in the name of the committee. The printed papers enclosed in that letter were presumably the same as those with this one. Mme. Loder was in fact Mme. Dumas, a widow whom he had married some years before: J.W. Schulte Nordholt, “Dumas, the First American Diplomat,” in Owen D. Edwards and George Shepperson, Scotland, Europe and the American Revolution (Edinburgh, 1976), p. 18.

1Story carried the letter to Dumas and, we assume, this one as well.

2Congress had just put $3,000 at the committee’s disposition. JCC, III, 423.

3Along with the great mortar that Gates mentioned in his letter above, Dec. 5. Carcasses, or shells filled with combustibles, were ammunition for the mortar.

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