Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Horatio Gates, 28 August 1776

To Horatio Gates

Transcript: Harvard University Library

Philadelphia August 28th. 1776.

Dear Sir,

The Congress being advised, that there was a probability that the Hessians might be induced to quit the British service by offers of land, &c., came to two resolves for this purpose, which, being translated into German and printed, are sent to Staten Island to be distributed, if practicable, among those people. Some of them have tobacco marks on the back, that so tobacco being put up in them in small quantities, as the tobacconists use, and suffered to fall into the hands of these people, they might divide the papers as plunder, before their officers could come to the knowledge of the contents, and prevent their being read by the men. That was the first resolve. A second has since been made for the officers themselves. I am desired to send some of both sorts to you, that, if you find it practicable, you may convey them among the Germans that shall come against you.9

The Congress continue firmly united, and we begin to distress the enemy’s trade very much, many valuable prizes being continually brought in. Arms and ammunition are also continually arriving, the French having resolved to permit the exportation to us, as they heartily wish us success;1 so that in another year we shall be well provided.

As you may not have seen Dr. Price’s excellent pamphlet, for writing which the City of London presented him a Freedom in a gold box of fifty pounds value, I send you one of them.2

My last advices from England say, that the Ministry have done their utmost in fitting out this armament, and that, if it fails, they cannot find means next year to go on with the war. While I am writing comes an account that the armies were engaged on Long Island, the event unknown, which throws us into anxious suspense. God grant success. I am &c.

B. Franklin

From Dr. Franklin to Genl. Horatio Gates.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9The first Congressional resolve is discussed in BF to McKean above, Aug. 24, 1776. BF was promptly added to the committee that had drafted it, presumably to help in disseminating its offer. On the 26th he, Jefferson, and John Adams were appointed a second committee, and its report the next day, apparently by Jefferson, became the basis for another resolution that offered deserting German officers land bounties scaled according to their rank. JCC, V, 654–5, 705, 707–8; see also Boyd, Jefferson Papers, I, 509–10, and the article by Butterfield cited in BF to McKean. Gates, at Ticonderoga, forwarded the present letter to Arnold and promised to send on the tobacco that he assumed would follow it: Force, 5 Amer. Arch., II, 302.

1This conclusion was apparently based on rumors emanating from the West Indies; see Crout, “Diplomacy of Trade,” pp. 37–60, passim.

2For Price’s Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty see Priestley to BF above, Feb. 13. The author received the freedom of the city in March: Public Advertiser, March 15, 1776.

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