Matthew Ridley to the American Peace Commissioners
ALS: American Philosophical Society
Paris Sunday Evening [before May 6, 1783?]6
On my return from Versailles I found a Letter from my Friend Mr. Joshua Johnson at Nantes covering the Inclosed Extract of a Letter from Mr S Chase & sent him by his Brother the Governor of Maryland—7 Mr. J. Johnson desires me to communicate the Intelligence it contains to you & also to the Ministers of the French Court—it being probably the only authentic hitherto received— The latter part of Mr. Johnson’s request I must beg of you too, if you think it necessary.
I shall be much obliged to you to return me the Extract as I have not taken time to Copy it. I am respectfully Gentn Your most Obedient & most humble Servant
Mr. Johnson desires me to ask Dr. Franklin if he has rec’d any Letters from Mr Carroll covering others for him
Addressed: The Honble Commissioners / of the United States of / America
Endorsed by John Adams: Mr Ridley. [Added by William Temple Franklin:] Note from
6. This letter has defeated our efforts either to date it precisely or to explain its contents. Because JA endorsed it, evidently before passing it on to BF, it must have been written when Ridley and JA were both in Paris and while Joshua Johnson was in Nantes. That puts the date somewhere between Oct. 26, 1782, when JA arrived from the Netherlands, and c. May 6, 1783, when Johnson left Nantes to come to Paris himself, on his way to London. (The last letter Johnson wrote Ridley from Nantes is dated May 6; Ridley’s endorsement suggests that he was in Paris by May 9: Mass. Hist. Soc.) The letters Ridley mentions from Johnson and Chase, and the one to Johnson from his brother “the Governor of Maryland” (former governor, in fact), are missing, as is the enclosed extract of Chase’s letter, which was doubtless returned to Ridley. If that extract contained military intelligence, then this letter was probably written in the winter.
7. Thomas Johnson (XXVI, 227–8), the governor of Maryland from 1777 to 1779, had written to BF on Ridley’s behalf in 1781: XXXV, 354. He was related to Md. assemblyman Samuel Chase (XXII, 148–9) through marriage; see the entries for both men in Edward C. Papenfuse et al., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789 (2 vols., Baltimore and London, 1979–85).