Benjamin Franklin Papers

The Secret Committee to John Ross, 27 September 1776: résumé

The Secret Committee to John Ross9

LS:1 New York Public Library

<Philadelphia, September 27, 1776: Several vessels bringing clothing have been captured. Please purchase on the best possible terms 10,000 striped blankets, 30,000 yards of blue and brown broadcloth at 3s. to 6s. the yard, 3,000 yards of different colors for facings at about 4s., and 1,000 pieces of Duffields2 or the equivalent at about 90s. Use either funds on hand or credit; we are buying rice, indigo, tobacco, etc., for immediate export, and the season will give us a fair opportunity of getting them to market, whereas enemy cruisers have hampered us this summer. Get the cloth wherever it can be most quickly procured, except in Great Britain or Ireland; if need be charter a foreign ship to carry it, and we will promptly return her loaded. If you cannot send directly to America, consign the goods to William Bingham at Martinique, Cornelius Stevenson at St. Eustatius, Isaac Gouverneur at Curaçao, or Stephen Ceronio at Cap François,3 with orders to forward them at once. Signed by Franklin, Robert Morris, Richard Henry Lee, Francis Lewis, and Philip Livingston.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Ross (1729–1800) was a Scot who settled in Philadelphia and was active in the East Indian trade. He had recently gone to Europe, under contract with the committee, to oversee purchases. PMHB, XXIII (1899), 78; Naval Docs., IV, 580. His resultant financial troubles will appear in later volumes.

1The complete text in Naval Docs., VI, 1024–5, omits a notation on the MS that the letter was received on Feb. 12, 1777.

2A coarse woolen cloth now known as duffel.

3For Bingham and Stevenson see above, the letter to the first of June 3 and from the second of Aug. 22, 1776. Isaac Gouverneur, scion of a prominent N.Y. mercantile family, was in business on both Curaçao and St. Eustatius; see John A. Stevens, Jr., Colonial New York, Sketches Biographical and Historical . . . (New York, 1867), pp. 136–7; Political Mag. and Parliamentary, Naval, Military and Literary Jour., II (1781), 564–5. A letter to Ceronio is below, Oct. 23.

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