Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Moses Brown, 23 July 1781

From Moses Brown6

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Amsterdam July the 23d 1781


Youl please to Excuse my freedom in Troubling you with these few lines to ask the favour Wheather your Exelencey Ever granted one Mr. Benjn. Joy a pass for goods to be Shipt. in London for america7 as I had the pleasuer to Captor Sd Joy on my pasage here in a fine Copper Bottom Brig Mounting Six Six poundirs and the people I took out of her8 tells me that She Was Comisond against the Unitid States her papers All proved her to be bound for [New] york but finding me to be An American producd. a pass from your Excelenecy to pass to Phelidelphia but I Thought Best by Virtue of a Comision from Congress to Alter his Rout And Sent him for Newbury port Where I trust he wil be Condemd there being a New Act passt Death for trading with the Inimie And I Could Wish to See Allittle of it put in practice that the fair trader might live the family of those Joys left America As Disafected9 At the first of our Disturbances And I Belive the Brig was as much bound to N york as I was to this port. Sir I brought a Number of Dispatches from the french Genrl & Adrimall At Newport1 which will Come per post would likewise inform you of the Arivall of the french fleet at Boston from france the 8th Ullto.2 Sir I have a fine Ship mounting 16 sixpound Cannon hope to Sail in four or five weeks if you Have any Comands Should Recive them With pleasuer Am Sr yr most obedt. Humbe Sert.

Moses Brown

Addressed: To / His / Excelencey Benjn. / Frankly Esqr / paris

Endorsed: Answd Aug 6.

Notation: Capt Brown July 23 1781

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6Formerly captain of the Mercury, Brown (XXXII, 416n) was named on Feb. 24, 1781, to command the New Hampshire armed ship Minerva, 16: Claghorn, Naval Officers, pp. 37–8.

7BF provided a passport for Joy’s brigantine the Swallow on Dec. 4, 1780: XXXII, 103n; XXXIII, 524n.

8Brown left six prisoners in Amsterdam to be exchanged for American prisoners in England: John A. McManemin, Captains of the Privateers during the American Revolution (Spring Lake, N.J., 1985), pp. 136–7.

9Although Benjamin Joy’s father was a Loyalist, he himself had a notable American career after the war: XXXIII, 524n.

1On May 15 Capt. Destouches (XXXIV, 504–5n) was relieved as commander of the Newport squadron by Chef d’escadre Louis de Barras-Saint-Laurent (1719–1792), who would play an important part in the coming campaign: DBF; Rice and Brown, Rochambeau’s Army, I, 26.

2The fleet was the convoy escorted by the Sagittaire: XXXIV, 467n, 479n. The Sagittaire brought news that in mid-July de Grasse would be off the coast of North America and wished Rochambeau’s recommendation for the best destination. Rochambeau urged him to come to the Chesapeake and so informed Gen. Washington. On June 11 the French army left Newport for Providence. Its ultimate destination, albeit not yet determined, was Yorktown: Lee Kennett, The French Forces in America, 1780–1783 (Westport, Conn. and London, 1977), pp. 107–8; Rice and Brown, Rochambeau’s Army, I, 27.

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