Mauger & Cie.’s Memoir with a Notation by Franklin9
Copy: University of Pennsylvania Library
<August 20, 1781, in French: Last January Mauger & Compagnie of Metz was charged by the Continental Congress acting through Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris to provide it with cloth, shirts, shoes, and uniforms, which the Army greatly needs. We prepared the goods for departure at Amsterdam commencing in April, but the enemy captured or prevented from reaching port the ships to carry them. As there remains no way to transport these supplies, so impatiently awaited in the United States, from Amsterdam, they must be sent by way of France. Therefore in the name of the United States we ask passports for this merchandise to enter Brest or Nantes freely. To minimize the risk it will not all go on the same ship, but it will be sent as rapidly as circumstances permit. The first cargo ought to leave in September to profit from any escort that might be leaving at that time for the United States.1 The shipments will consist of (1) 150,000 aunes of coarse cloth for soldiers’ shirts, uniforms, and gaiters, divided into five loads; (2) 10,000 soldiers’ shirts, in three loads; (3) 9,000 pairs of shoes, in three loads; (4) 3,000 pieces of Metz cloth called Eternelle for soldiers’ vests and trousers, in five loads. These passports should be valid for 15 to 18 months and allow freedom of transit through the interior of France. If this purchase cannot be executed, we despair of making another such, given the limited means of Congress. We solicit this in the name of the United States.2>
9. The original was enclosed in the Sept. 6 letter, below, from Louis-Dominique Ethis de Corny (XXXIV, 336n, 343n). The copy is in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand.
1. As far as we know, no French convoy for America sailed before late October.
2. A marginal notation adds the following information: La Luzerne and Lafayette sent Ethis de Corny, principal in Rochambeau’s army, back to France to be of service to Congress. The passports are necesary to supply the urgent needs of the U.S., which were increased by the capture of the Marquis de Lafayette. These goods can only be sent from French ports. As the merchandise comes from a province considered foreign and is only passing through France, the shipment does not violate His Majesty’s rights. (The province was Lorraine, which had been formally acquired by France fifteen years earlier and, like Alsace, enjoyed special trade privileges). And by assisting France’s allies he will reduce the amount of aid he must furnish himself. The business will aid the economies of Lorraine and the bishoprics (Metz, Verdun, and Toul). Without these passports Congress will incur unnecessary storage and interest payments.
A notation in BF’s hand indicates that the originals of this memoir and Ethis de Corny’s Sept. 6 letter were sent to Versailles. He also wrote that, “It appears to me that the Passports desired may be of great Utility to our Affairs, and therefore, if there be no particular Reasons that make it improper to grant them, I cannot but wish they may be obtained B. Franklin”.