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The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. I
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I have seen many more of the persons in power in this time, and had long conversations with them; their intentions are good and they appear convinced, but there is wanting a great and daring genius at their head, which the Count Maurepas is very far from being; he has even imbibed a notion, that no assistance is necessary, as the Colonies are too powerful for Great Britain. All eyes are turned on the Duc de Choiseul. I am convinced the moment he comes into office, an active, open, and —— will be taken. I think he will be minister very soon; meantime I have nothing to complain of the ——. Indeed they will not be altered if he takes the lead. I find M. Beaumarchais, as I before hinted, possesses the entire confidence of the ministry; he is a man of wit and genius, and a considerable writer on comic and political subjects; all my supplies are to come through his hands, which at first greatly discouraged my friends, knowing him to be a person of no interest with the merchants, but had I been as doubtful as they, I could not have stepped aside from the path so cordially marked out for me by those I depend on. Mr Coudray, the engineer I before hinted at, obtained liberty last week to go for America with as many engineers as he should choose, and was not only assured of M. Beaumarchais being able to procure the stores he had stipulated for, but received orders for them, and liberty to take 200 pieces of brass cannon, lest part might be intercepted. M. Coudray has the character of the first engineer in the kingdom, and his manners and disposition will, I am confident, be highly pleasing to you, as he is a plain, modest, active, sensible man, perfectly averse to frippery and parade. My friends here rejoice at the acquisition, and considering the character of the man, and at whose hands I in effect received him, I must congratulate you on it. Several young gentlemen of fortune, whose families are nearly connected with the Court, are preparing to embark for America, by each of whom I shall without disguise, write you the characters they sustain here; I have told them that merit is the sole object with the Congress. The bearer can give you some idea of the situation I am in, should this packet fail, and should he arrive with it he may explain some part of it. I am confident his attention to the affairs of America here will be considered by the Congress; I have found him in the mercantile way active and intelligent.

Mr Carmichael is now with me from Maryland, and I find him a person of great merit. Respecting the Colonies he is recommended as such by —— from whom he has received a letter but of no immediate importance; he proposes seeing me here this month. M. Dumas has written me two letters from the Hague, but so timid that he has not ventured to sign either, though he speaks in the highest terms of the American cause. The pamphlet called Common Sense has been translated, and has a greater run, if possible, here than in America. A person of distinction writing to his noble friend in office, has these words;—"Je pense comme vous, mon cher Compte, que le Common Sense est une excellente ouvrage, at que son auteur est un des plus grands legislateurs des millions d'ecrivains, que nous connoissions; il n'est pas douteux, que si les Americains suivent le beau plan, que leur compatriote leur a trace, ils deviendront la nation la plus florissante et la plus heureuse, qui ait jamais existe."

Thus freely do men think and write in a country long since deprived of the essentials of liberty; as I was favored with a sight of the letter, and permitted to make this extract, I thought it worth sending you as a key to the sentiments of some of the leading men. I must again remind you of my situation here; the bills designed for my use are protested, and expenses rising fast in consequence of the business on my hands, which I may on no account neglect, and a small douceur, though I have been sparing in that way, is sometimes of the utmost importance. The quantity of stores to be shipped will amount to a large sum, the very charge on them will be great, for which I am the only responsible person. Five vessels arrived from America with fish, which is a prohibited article, and the officers of the customs detained them, on which I was sent to and informed, that if those vessels came from the Congress to me, they should be permitted to unload and sell. Here was a difficulty indeed, for the Captain had not so much as applied to me by letter; however, I assured the —— that there could be no doubt but they were designed for that use, and that the letters to me must have miscarried, on which orders were issued for unloading and storing those cargoes until further intelligence should arrive. I mention this case in confidence, and pray that in future some regulation may be made on this subject, and that vessels coming out may be directed to apply to me as their agent or owner at least, and I will procure in the different ports houses of known reputation to transact their business. This is absolutely necessary, for by this means their articles may be admitted. Tobacco may come in this way, and every other article. —— deeply indebted ostensibly to M. Beaumarchais, he can obtain the liberty for the discharge of their debts. M. Coudray will see that the articles of ammunition, cannon, &c. are provided in the best manner for the army, and will embark himself by the 1st of October.

I wrote you from Bermuda on the subject of seizing and fortifying that island. I am well informed the British ministry have had it in contemplation, and propose doing it next spring. Mr Warder, of Philadelphia, came a few days since from Bordeaux to Paris, and called on me with some young gentlemen from New England; he brought letters from my good friends Messrs —— in consequence of letters to them from Mr Alsop. I received him as I do all my countrymen, with real pleasure. A gentleman present warned him against conversing with a particular person in Paris, to which Mr W. seemed to agree, yet I am told he went directly from my hotel to that person, and informed him of every thing he heard mentioned, and of every person he saw visiting me; happily he could inform nothing of any consequence; for my chamber was full of a mixed company, and the conversation was general and in French and in English; but this conduct of his, with his want of common complaisance in leaving the city without calling on me to receive any letters I might have for London, which he had promised to convey, has given me some uneasiness, and I mention the incident only as a caution how and what persons are recommended. The pleasure I feel in seeing one of my countrymen is such, that I may be in as great danger from them as others, possibly much more. I should be unhappy if any suspicion should operate to the prejudice of this person without cause, but my friends here, who are kindly attentive to every thing that is said or done which respects America, think very strange of his conduct.

I rely on your indulgence for the length and incorrectness of this letter. I have had much on my hands, and no one to assist me in copying, &c. Visits from persons to whom I cannot be denied, or visiting them, with constant applications made on various subjects, take up my mornings, and I have had only now and then an evening to write in.

I have seen the prime agent, who proposed something in the way of supplying the Colonies with military stores from Prussia. I shall confer further on the subject with him and write you. I have drawn up a memorial on the commerce of America, and its importance to Europe, and shall present it tomorrow to the different personages concerned. I shall send a copy, if I can get one made, by this conveyance. The debt of the Colonies in carrying on the war is a common topic for ministerial writers, but permit me to assure you at the close of this long letter, that the demand for land in America, if its liberties are established, will more than compensate the whole expense. I will in a future letter be more explicit on this important subject, but am well convinced of the certainty of this fact, "that the advance in the price of lands in America, if the Colonies are victorious, will more than reimburse the expenses of the war." I have nothing material to add. Never were a people more anxious for news than the people of this kingdom are for news from America, and surely you will put me down as one of the first in the roll of American heroes, when you consider my situation, plunging into very important engagements, which I can by no means avoid, yet without funds to support them. But I will not enlarge on this subject, and only say, that I have met with every possible encouragement from every person I have seen, whether in or out of office, and I believe no person in the same space of time ever conferred with more of both. My being known to be an American, and supposed to be one of the Congress, and in business for the United Colonies, has introduced me beyond what almost any other recommendation could have done, which I mention to convince you of the attention paid here to the cause of the United Colonies, and how very popular it has become in this country.

I have repeatedly seen Mr Hopkins, formerly of Maryland, now advanced to be a brigadier general in this service; he talks of coming out to America; should the Duc de Choiseul, who is his friend and patron, come into the lead of administration, he might come out to advantage. Insurance from London to Jamaica is 20 per cent. If a few of our cruizers should venture on this coast they might do very well, as they would find protection in the harbors of this kingdom. Coming ostensibly for the purpose only of commerce or otherwise, no questions would be asked, and they might wait until an opportunity offered (of which they might be minutely informed,) and then strike something to the purpose. I give this hint to individuals, rather than to the honorable Congress as a body. The bearer, Mr McCreary, has obliged me by copying my memoir, which I send herewith. It has had a great run among the ministers of this and some other courts in a private way. M. Beaumarchais writes by this opportunity; he has shown me his letter, and I have agreed in general to the contents, not understanding any exclusive privilege for his house. Every thing he says, writes, or does, is in reality the action of the ministry, for that a man should but a few months since confine himself from his creditors, and now on this occasion be able to advance half a million, is so extraordinary that it ceases to be a mystery. M. Coudray was not in the Turkish service as I was informed; it was a gentleman who proposes accompanying him, but he is an officer of the first eminence, an adjutant general in the French service, and his prospects here of rising are exceeding good; but he is dissatisfied with an idle life. His proposals in general have been, that he should be general of the artillery, and subject only to the orders of congress or their committee of war, or of their commander in chief of the army where he might be. In the next place, that he should rank as major general, and have the same wages, &c. coming in as youngest major general for the present, and rising of course.

Many other particulars are not yet adjusted, but considering the importance of having two hundred pieces of brass cannon, with every necessary article for twenty five thousand men, provided with an able and experienced general at the head of it, warranted by the minister of this court to be an able and faithful man, with a number of fine and spirited young officers in his train, and all without advancing one shilling, is too tempting on object for me to hesitate about, though I own there is a silence in my instructions. I therefore honestly declare, I am at your mercy in this case, and I have no uneasiness of mind on the occasion, for should I be sacrificed, it will be in that cause to which I have devoted my life and every —— in it. The terms of M. Coudray may be thought high, but consider a person leaving a certain and permanent service and his native country, to go he hardly knows where, and it must be supposed he will ask at least as good terms as he could have in his own country, but as the terms have not been particularly considered, I must defer any thing further on this subject for the present, hourly in hopes of some explicit intelligence from the honorable Congress. You have the good wishes of every one here. Chevalier de Chastellier desires me this instant to write down his compliments to Dr Franklin, and with pleasure I say, the being known to be his friend, is one of the best recommendations a man can wish to have in France, and will introduce him when titles fail.

S. D.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] Missing

[3] Missing

* * * * *

FROM CARON DE BEAUMARCHAIS TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Translation.

Paris, August 18th, 1776.

Gentlemen,

The respectful esteem that I bear towards that brave people, who so well defend their liberty under your conduct, has induced me to form a plan concurring in this great work, by establishing an extensive commercial house, solely for the purpose of serving you in Europe, there to supply you with necessaries of every sort, to furnish you expeditiously and certainly with all articles, clothes, linens, powder, ammunition, muskets, cannon, or even gold for the payment of your troops, and in general every thing that can be useful for the honorable war in which you are engaged. Your deputies, gentlemen, will find in me a sure friend, an asylum in my house, money in my coffers, and every means of facilitating their operations, whether of a public or secret nature. I will if possible remove all obstacles that may oppose your wishes, from the politics of Europe.

At this very time, and without waiting for any answer from you, I have procured for you about two hundred pieces of brass cannon, four pounders, which will be sent to you by the nearest way, 200,000 lbs of cannon powder, 20,000 excellent fusils, some brass mortars, bombs, cannon balls, bayonets, platines, clothes, linens, &c. for the clothing of your troops, and lead for musket balls. An officer of the greatest merit for artillery and genius, accompanied by lieutenants, officers, artillerists, cannoniers, &c. whom we think necessary for the service, will go for Philadelphia, even before you have received my first despatches. This gentleman is one of the greatest presents that my attachment can offer you. Your deputy, Mr Deane, agrees with me in the treatment which he thinks suitable to his office, and I have found the power of this deputy sufficient, that I should prevail with this officer to depart, under the sole engagement of the deputy respecting him, the terms of which I have not the least doubt but Congress will comply with. The secrecy necessary in some part of the operation, which I have undertaken for your service, requires also, on your part, a formal resolution, that all the vessels and their demands should be constantly directed to our house alone, in order that there may be no idle chattering or time lost—two things that are the ruin of affairs. You will advise me what the vessels contain, which you shall send into our ports. I shall choose so much of their loading, in return for what I have sent, as shall be suitable to me, when I have not been able before hand to inform you of the cargoes which I wish. I shall facilitate to you the loading, sale, and disposal of the rest. For instance, five American vessels have just arrived in the port of Bordeaux, laden with salt fish; though this merchandise coming from strangers is prohibited in our ports, yet as soon as your deputy had told me that these vessels were sent to him by you, to raise money from the sale for aiding him in his purchases in Europe, I took so much care that I secretly obtained from the Farmers-General an order for landing it without any notice being taken of it. I could even, if the case had so happened, have taken upon my own account these cargoes of salted fish, though it is no way useful to me, and charged myself with its sale and disposal, to simplify the operation and lessen the embarrassments of the merchants, and of your deputy.

I shall have a correspondent in each of our seaport towns, who, on the arrival of your vessels, shall wait on the captains and offer every service in my power; he will receive their letters, bills of lading, and transmit the whole to me; even things which you may wish to arrive safely in any country in Europe, after having conferred about them with your deputy, I shall cause to be kept in some secure place; even the answers shall go with great punctuality through me, and this way will save much anxiety and many delays. I request of you, gentlemen, to send me next spring, if it is possible for you, ten or twelve thousand hogsheads, or more if you can, of tobacco from Virginia, of the best quality.

You very well understand that my commerce with you is carried on in Europe, that it is in the ports of Europe I make and take returns. However well bottomed my house may be, and however I may have appropriated many millions to your trade alone, yet it would be impossible for me to support it, if all the dangers of the sea, of exports and imports, were not entirely at your risk. Whenever you choose to receive my goods in any of our windward or leward islands, you have only to inform me of it, and my correspondents shall be there according to your orders, and then you shall have no augmentation of price, but of freight and insurance. But the risk of being taken by your enemies, still remains with you, according to the declaration rendered incontestable by the measures I shall take by your deputy himself. This deputy should receive as soon as possible, full power and authority to accept what I shall deliver to him, to receive my accounts, examine them, make payments thereupon, or enter into engagements, which you shall be bound to ratify, as the head of that brave people to whom I am devoted; in short, always to treat about your interests immediately with me.

Notwithstanding the open opposition, which the king of France, his ministers, and the agents of administration show, and ought to show to every thing that carries the least appearance of violating foreign treaties, and the internal ordinances of the kingdom, I dare promise to you, gentlemen, that my indefatigable zeal shall never be wanting to clear up difficulties, soften prohibitions, and, in short, facilitate all operations of a commerce, which my advantage, much less than yours, has made me undertake with you. What I have just informed you of is only a general sketch, subject to all the augmentations and restrictions, which events may point out to us.

One thing can never vary or diminish; it is the avowed and ardent desire I have of serving you to the utmost of my power. You will recollect my signature, that one of your friends in London some time ago informed you of my favorable disposition towards you, and my attachment to your interest. Look upon my house then, gentlemen, from henceforward as the chief of all useful operations to you in Europe, and my person as one of the most zealous partisans of your cause, the soul of your success, and a man most deeply impressed with respectful esteem, with which I have the honor to be,

RODERIQUE HORTALEZ & CO.[4]

P. S. I add here, to conclude, that every American vessel, though not immediately armed or loaded by you, will be entitled to my good offices in this country; but yours, particularly addressed to my house, will receive a particular preference from me. I ought also to intimate to you, gentlemen, that from the nature of my connexion, it is to be wished you would use discretion, even in the accounts that you give to the general Congress. Every thing that passes in your great assemblies is known, I cannot tell how, at the court of Great Britain. Some indiscreet or perfidious citizen sends an exact account of your proceedings to the palace of St James. In times of great exigency, Rome had a dictator; and in a state of danger the more the executive power is brought to a point, the more certain will be its effect, and there will be less to fear from indiscretion. It is to your wisdom, gentlemen, that I make this remark; if it seems to you just and well planned, look upon it as a new mark of my ardor for your rising republic.

R. H. & CO.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] This signature was assumed by M. Beaumarchais for the purpose of concealment.

* * * * *

TO COUNT VERGENNES.

Paris, August 22d, 1776.

Sir,

I was this morning informed of the arrival of Mr Arthur Lee, and that he would be in Paris tomorrow. This was surprising to me, as I knew of no particular affair that might call him here, and considering the extreme jealousy of the British Ministry at this time, and that Mr Lee was the agent of the United Colonies in Great Britain, and known to be such, I could wish, unless he had received some particular intelligence from the United Colonies, that he had suspended his visit, as I know not otherwise how he can serve me or my affairs, now (with the most grateful sense I mention it) in as favorable a course as the situation of the times will admit.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT MORRIS.

Bordeaux, 17th September, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I shall send you in October clothing for 20,000 men, 30,000 fusils, 100 tons of powder, 200 brass cannon, 24 brass mortars, with shells, shot, lead, &c. in proportion. I am to advise you that if, in future, you will give commissions to seize Portuguese ships, you may depend on the friendship and alliance of Spain. Let me urge this measure; much may be got, nothing can be lost by it. Increase at all events your navy. I will procure, if commissioned, any quantity of sailcloth and cordage. A general war is undoubtedly at hand in Europe, and consequently America will be safe, if you baffle the arts and arms of the two Howes through the summer. Every one here is in your favor. Adieu. I will write you again next week.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO ROBERT MORRIS.

Paris, September 30th, 1776.

Sir,

Yours of the 5th of June came to hand on the 25th instant. Mr Delap will inform you of the state of remittances in his hands. Messrs Cliffords & Teysett, and Mr Hodgson of Amsterdam, have received next to nothing; about two hundred pounds by the last accounts; from which you will perceive that not one third of the sum proposed has come to hand, and even out of that my private expenses and those for promoting the other parts of my mission must take something, let me be ever so prudent and cautious.

To solicit arms, clothing, and tents for thirty thousand men, two hundred brass cannon, mortars, and other stores in proportion, and to be destitute of one shilling of ready money, exclusive of the fund of forty thousand pounds originally designed for other affairs, (which you know by the protests in London was my case) has left me in a critical situation. To let slip such an opportunity for want of ready money would be unpardonable, and yet that was taking out of a fund before deficient. I hope, however, to execute both, though not in the season I could have wished. I have, as you see, had but a few days since the receiving of yours, in which I have discoursed with some of the persons to whom I had before proposed such a scheme, and think it will take well, but as men of property will be engaged in it, the remittances should be made very punctual.

The insurance I am sensible had better be in Europe, but it cannot be had at present unless in Holland, where I am told there are often disputes with the underwriters. On the whole it must be done in America. I can, I believe, engage for one hundred thousand pounds sterling during the winter. I shall write to you further in a few days.

You have mentioned to me a loan. I choose to speak of this in a letter of business particularly by itself, which I will endeavor to do by a young gentleman going on Sunday, to which opportunity I also refer what I have further to say on this subject. Pray forward the trifles I am sending to my little deserted family as soon as received.

Tobacco is rising very fast, being now seven stivers in Holland. The scheme of the Farmers-General here is very artful; they grow anxious. They held high terms on my first application. I turned off, and they are now applying to me, as are also some people further northward.

God bless and prosper America is the prayer of every one here, to which I say Amen and Amen.

I am, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 1st October, 1776.

Gentlemen,

Mr Morris's letters of the 4th and 5th of June last,[5] on politics and business, I received with the duplicates of my commission, and instructions on the 25th ult. I stand corrected and confine myself to politics.

Your letter found me in a most critical situation; the Ministry had become extremely uneasy at your absolute silence; and the bold assertions of the British Ambassador, that you were accommodating matters, aided by the black and villainous artifices of one or two of our own countrymen here, had brought them to apprehend, not only a settlement between the two countries, but the most serious consequences to their West India Islands, should we unite again with Great Britain. For me, alas! I had nothing left but to make the most positive assertions, that no accommodation would or could take place, and to pledge myself in the strongest possible manner, that thus would turn out the event, yet so strong were their apprehensions, that an order was issued to suspend furnishing me with stores. Think what I must feel upon such an occasion. Our friend, M. Beaumarchais, exerted himself, and in a day or two obtained the orders to be countermanded, and every thing is again running on favorably. For heaven's sake, if you mean to have any connexion with this kingdom, be more assiduous in getting your letters here. I know not where the blame lies, but it must lie heavy somewhere, when vessels are suffered to sail from Philadelphia and other ports quite down to the middle of August, without a single line. This circumstance was urged against my assertions, and was near proving a mortal stab to my whole proceedings. One Mr Hopkins, of Maryland, in this service, and who is in the rank of Brigadier General, appeared desirous of going to America, but on my not paying him the regard he vainly thought himself entitled to, he formed the dark design of defeating at one stroke my whole prospects as to supplies. At this critical period he pretended to be in my secrets, and roundly asserted that I had solely in view a reconciliation with Great Britain, immediately after which the stores now furnishing would be used against France. This coming from a professed enemy of Great Britain, from a native of America, from one who professed himself a zealous friend to the Colonies, you must suppose had weight. However thunderstruck I was, as well as my friend, M. Beaumarchais, at this unexpected and last effort of treachery, we exerted ourselves, and truth prevailed. The mischief has recoiled on himself, and having fallen into disgrace here, he will strive to get to America, where he threatens, I hear, to do much mischief to me. However, he will not probably be permitted to depart, unless he slips off very privately. Should that be the case, or should he write letters, you have now a clue to unravel him and his proceedings.

It would be too tedious to recount what I have met with in this way. It has not only confined me to Paris, but to my chamber and pen for some weeks past in drawing up by way of memorial, the true state of the Colonies, their interests, the system of policy they must unquestionably pursue, and showing that the highest interests of France are inseparably connected therewith. I do not mention a single difficulty with one complaining thought for myself; my all is devoted, and I am happy in being so far successful, and that the machinations of my enemies, or rather the enemies of my country, have given me finally an opportunity of experiencing the friendship and protection of great and valuable men; but it is necessary that you should know as much as possible of my situation. The stores are collecting, and I hope will be embarked by the middle of this month; if later, I shall incline to send them by Martinique, on account of the season. It is consistent with a political letter to urge the remittance of the fourteen thousand hogsheads of tobacco written for formerly, in part payment of these stores; if you make it twenty, the public will be the gainers, as the article is rising fast. You are desired by no means to forget Bermuda; if you should, Great Britain will seize it this winter, or France on the first rupture, having been made sensible of its importance, by the officious zeal of that same Mr H. As your navy is increasing, will you commission me to send you duck for twenty or thirty sail? I can procure it for you to the northward on very good terms, and you have on hand the produce wanted to pay for it with. Have you granted commissions against the Portuguese? All the friends to America in Europe call loudly for such a measure.

Would you have universal commerce, commission some person to visit every kingdom on the Continent, that can hold any commerce with America. Among them by no means forget Prussia. Grain will be in demand in this kingdom, and in the south of Europe. Permit me again to urge an increase of the navy. Great Britain is calling in her Mediterranean passes, to expose us to the Algerines. I propose applying to this Court on that subject. Doctor Bancroft, of London, merits much of the Colonies. As I shall now have frequent opportunities of writing by officers and others going out, I will not add more, than that Mr Carmichael has now been with me some time, recommended by Mr A. Lee, of London. I owe much to him for his assistance in my despatches, and for his friendly and seasonable advice upon all occasions. He is of Maryland, and is here for his health, and proposes going soon to America. I expect to hear from London tomorrow by Dr B. who is on his way here.

I am, with my most sincere respect and esteem for the Secret Committee, and most profound regard to the Congress, your most obedient and very humble servant,

SILAS DEANE.

P. S. An agent from Barbadoes is arrived in London to represent their distresses; another from Bermuda with a declaration to the Ministry of the necessity of their being supplied with provisions from the Colonies, and saying that if not permitted they must ask the protection of Congress.

I have to urge your sending to me, either a general power for the purpose, or a number of blank commissions for vessels of war. It is an object of the last importance, for in this time of peace between the nations of Europe, I can be acquainted with the time of every vessel's sailing, either from England or Portugal, and by despatching little vessels armed from hence, and to appearance property of the citizens of the United States of America, to seize them while unsuspicious on this coast, and to stand directly for America with them, great reprisals may be made; and persons of the first property have already solicited me on the occasion. Indeed they have such an opinion of my power, that they have offered to engage in such an adventure, if I would authorise them with my name; but this might as yet be rather dangerous; it is certainly however a very practicable and safe plan to arm a ship here, as if for the coast of Africa or the West Indies, wait until some ship of value is sailing from England or Portugal, slip out at once and carry them on to America. When arrived the armed vessel increases your navy, and the prize supplies the country.

It is of importance, as I have mentioned in my former letters, to have some one deputed and empowered to treat with the king of Prussia. I am acquainted with his agent here, and have already through him received some queries and proposals respecting American commerce, to which I am preparing a reply. I have also an acquaintance with the Agent of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who proposes fixing a commerce between the United States and Leghorn, but has not as yet given me his particular thoughts. France and Spain are naturally our allies; the Italian states want our flour and some other articles; Prussia, ever pursuing her own interests, needs but be informed of some facts relative to America's increasing commerce, to favor us; Holland will pursue its system now fixed, of never quarrelling with any one on any occasion whatever. In this view is seen at once the power we ought to apply to, and gain a good acquaintance with. Let me again urge you on the subject of tobacco. Receive also from me another hint. It is this; if you would apportion a certain tract of the Western Lands, to be divided at the close of this war among the officers and soldiers serving in it, and make a generous allotment, it would I think have a good effect in America, as the poorest soldiers would then be fighting literally for a freehold; and in Europe it would operate beyond any pecuniary offers. I have no time to enlarge on the thought, but may take it up hereafter; if I do not, if is an obvious one, and if capable of execution, you can manage it to the best advantage.

I have no doubt but I can obtain a loan for the Colonies, if empowered, and on very favorable terms. I have already sounded on the subject, and will be more explicit hereafter, both as to my proposals, for I can go no further, and the answers I may receive.

S. D.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] These letters are missing.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 8th October, 1776.

Gentlemen,

Your Declaration of the fourth of July last has given this Court, as well as several others in Europe, reason to expect you would in form announce your Independency to them, and ask their friendship; but a three months' silence on that subject appears to them mysterious, and the more so as you declared for foreign alliances. This silence has again given me the most inexpressible anxiety, and has more than once come near frustrating my whole endeavors; on which subject I refer you to mine of the first instant. Employment must be found for the forces of Great Britain out of the United States of North America. The Caribs in St Vincent, if set agoing, may be supplied through Martinique with stores. The Mountain negroes in Jamaica may employ a great number of their forces. This is not employing slaves, which, however, the example of our enemy authorises. Should there arise troubles in these two Islands, which a very little money would effect, the consequence would be, that Great Britain, which can by no means think of giving them up, would be so far from being able to increase her force on the continent, that she must withdraw a large part to defend her Islands. I find that every one here, who is acquainted with Bermuda, is in my sentiments; and by the officiousness of H. the ministry here have got it by the end. This makes me the more solicitous, that the Island should be fortified this winter if practicable.

Tobacco in Holland is at the enormous price of seven stivers, and will soon be as dear in France and Germany. I have promised that you will send out twenty thousand hogsheads this winter, in payment for the articles wanted here. Let me advise you to ship the whole to Bordeaux, after which it may be shipped in French bottoms to any other port; the price will pay the convoy; therefore I would recommend the vessels in which it should be shipped to be armed, and that each ship shall sail under convoy of one of your frigates, which may also be ballasted with it; this will be safer than coming in a fleet. On their arrival, Messrs Delap, whose zeal and fidelity in our service are great, will be directed by me, or in my absence by Mons. B. or ostensibly by Messrs Hortalez and Co. where to apply the money. Eight or ten of your frigates, thus collected at Bordeaux, with a proper number of riflemen as marines, where they might have leisure to refit and procure supplies, would strike early next season a terrible blow to the British commerce in Europe, and obtain noble indemnity. The appearance of American cruisers in those seas has amazed the British merchants, and insurance will now be on the war establishment; this will give the rival nations a great superiority in commerce, of which they cannot be insensible; and as our vessels of war will be protected in the ports of France and Spain, the whole of the British commerce will be exposed. I hope to have a liberty for the disposal of prizes here, but dare not engage for that. The last season the whole coast of England, Scotland, and Ireland has been and still remains unguarded; three or four frigates, arriving as they certainly might unexpectedly, would be sufficient to pillage port Glasgow or other western towns. The very alarm, which this would occasion, might have the most surprising and important effects, and in this method it might be effected with the utmost certainty if entered upon early next spring; but should that be laid aside, the having five or six more of your stoutest ships in these ports, where you may every day receive intelligence of what is about to sail from England, would put it in our power to make great reprisals.

I wrote for blank commissions, or a power to grant commissions to ships of war. Pray forward them, as here are many persons wishing for an opportunity of using them in this way. The granting commissions against Portugal would ensure the friendship of Spain. Grain will bear a great price in this kingdom and the south of Europe; and I have made application to the minister of marine to supply masts and spars from America for the French navy. Pray inform me how, and on what terms the British navy formerly used to be supplyed from New England. I am fully of opinion, that a war must break out soon and become general in Europe. I need say no more on the situation I am in, for want of your further instructions. I live in hopes, but should I be much longer disappointed, the affairs I am upon, as well as my credit, must suffer, if not be absolutely ruined. My most respectful compliments to the Congress.

I am, gentlemen,

Your most obedient very humble servant,

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

Translation.

Articles for hiring armed Vessels and Merchandize, agreed to between Messrs de Monthieu, and Rodrique Hortalez & Co. and Mr Silas Deane.

We the subscribers John Joseph de Monthieu and Rodrique Hortalez & Co. are agreed with Mr Silas Deane, Agent of the United Colonies, upon the subsequent arrangements.

That I, de Monthieu, do engage to furnish on account of the thirteen United Colonies of North America, a certain number of vessels to carry arms and merchandize to the burthen of sixteen hundred tons, or as many vessels as are deemed sufficient to transport to some harbor of North America belonging to the thirteen United Colonies, all the ammunition and appurtenances, agreeable to the estimate signed and left in my possession, and which we suppose would require the abovementioned quantity of vessels to carry sixteen hundred tons burthen, which are to be paid for at the rate of two hundred livres the ton, and that I will hold said vessels at the disposal of said Messrs Hortalez & Co. ready to sail at the ports of Havre, Nantes and Marseilles, viz.—The vessels which are to carry the articles and passengers mentioned in the aforementioned list, and are to depart from Havre, as well as those that are to go from Nantes, to be ready in the course of November next, and the others in the course of December following, on condition that one half of the aforementioned freight of 200 livres per ton, both for the voyage to America and back to France, laden equally on account of the Congress of the thirteen United Colonies and Messrs Hortalez & Co. aforesaid, who are responsible for them, shall be advanced and paid immediately in money, bills of exchange, or other good merchandize or effects, and the other half the said Messrs Hortalez & Co. do agree to furnish me with in proportion as the vessels are fitting out, in the same money or other effects as above; over and above this they are to pay me for the passage of each officer, not belonging to the ship's crew, the sum of 550 livres tournois, and for every soldier or servant 250 livres, and for every sailor who goes as passenger 150 livres. It is expressly covenanted and agreed between us, that all risks of the sea either in said vessels being chased, run on shore or taken, shall be on account of the Congress of the United Colonies, and shall be paid agreeably to the estimation which may be made of each of these vessels, agreeably to the bills of sale of each, which I promise to deliver to Messrs Hortalez & Co. before the departure of any of the said vessels from any of the ports of France mentioned above.

Finally it is agreed that if the Americans detain these vessels longer than two months in their ports, without shipping on board them the returns they are to carry to France, all demurrage, wages or expenses on them from the day of their arrival to that of their departure, these two months excepted, shall be at their charge and paid by them or by Messrs Hortalez & Co. in our own name, as answerable for the Congress of the United Colonies. We accept the above conditions, as far as they respect us, and promise faithfully to fulfil them, and in consequence we have signed this instrument of writing one to the other, at Paris, 15th October, 1776.

MONTHIEU, RODRIQUE HORTALEZ & CO. SILAS DEANE, Agent for the United Colonies of North America.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 17th October, 1776.

Gentlemen,

I once more put pen to paper, not to attempt, what is absolutely beyond the power of language to paint, my distressed situation here, totally destitute of intelligence or instructions from you since I left America, except Mr Morris' letters of the 4th and 5th of June last, covering duplicates of my first instructions. Nor will I complain for myself, but must plainly inform you, that the cause of the United Colonies or United States has, for some time, suffered at this court for want of positive orders to me, or some other person.

It has not suffered here only, but at several other courts, that are not only willing, but even desirous of assisting America. Common complaisance, say they, though they want none of our assistance, requires that they should announce to us in form their being Independent States, that we may know how to treat their subjects and their property in our dominions. Every excuse, which my barren invention could suggest, has been made, and I have presented memoir after memoir on the situation of American affairs, and their importance to this kingdom, and to some others. My representations, as well verbally as written, have been favorably received, and all the attention paid them I could have wished, but the sine qua non is wanting,—a power to treat from the United Independent States of America. How, say they, is it possible, that all your intelligence and instructions should be intercepted, when we daily have advice of American vessels arriving in different ports in Europe? It is true I have effected what nothing but the real desire this court has of giving aid could have brought about, but at the same time it has been a critical and delicate affair, and has required all attention to save appearances, and more than once have I been on the brink of losing all, from suspicions that you were not in earnest in making applications here. I will only add, that a vessel with a commission from the Congress has been detained in Bilboa as a pirate, and complaint against it carried to the court of Madrid. I have been applied to for assistance, and though I am in hopes nothing will be determined against us, yet I confess I tremble to think how important a question is by this step agitated, without any one empowered to appear in a proper character and put in a defence. Could I present your Declaration of Independence, and shew my commission subsequently, empowering me to appear in your behalf, all might be concluded at once, and a most important point gained,—no less than that of obtaining a free reception, and defence or protection of our ships of war in these ports.

I have written heretofore for twenty thousand hogsheads of tobacco. I now repeat my desire, and for a large quantity of rice. The very profits on a large quantity of these articles will go far towards an annual expense. The stores, concerning which I have repeatedly written to you, are now shipping, and will be with you I trust in January, as will the officers coming with them. I refer to your serious consideration the enclosed hints respecting a naval force in these seas, also the enclosed propositions which were by accident thrown in my way. If you shall judge them of any consequence you will lay them before Congress; if not, postage will be all the expense extra. I believe they have been seen by other persons, and therefore I held it my duty to send them to you. My most profound respect and highest esteem ever attend the Congress, and particularly the Secret Committee.

I am, Gentlemen, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

P. S. Doctor Bancroft has been so kind as to pay me a second visit, and that most seasonably, as my former assistant Mr Carmichael has gone to Amsterdam, and thence northward on a particular affair of very great importance. The vessel referred to is commanded by Captain Lee, of Newburyport, who on his passage took five prizes of value, and sent them back, but brought on two of the Captains and some of the men prisoners to Bilboa, where the Captains entered their protest, and complained against Captain Lee as a pirate, on which his vessel is detained, and his commission, &c. sent up to Madrid. This instantly brings on a question, as to the legality of the commissions; if determined legal, a most important point is gained; if the reverse, the consequences will be very bad, and the only ground on which the determination can go against the Captain, is that the United States of America, or their Congress, are not known in Europe, as being Independent States, otherwise than by common fame in newspapers, &c.; on which a serious resolution cannot be grounded. The best, therefore, that the Captain expects will be to get the matter delayed, which is very hard on the brave Captain and his honest owners, and will be a bad precedent for others, who may venture into the European seas. I have done every thing in my power, and am in hopes from the strong assurances given me, that all will be settled to my satisfaction in this affair, but cannot but feel on the occasion as well for the Captain as for the public. I have been told repeatedly I was too anxious, and advised "rester sans inquietude," but I view this as a capital affair in its consequences, and though I wish it, I cannot take advice.

Warlike preparations are daily making in this kingdom and in Spain; in the latter immediately against the Portuguese, but they will most probably in their consequences involve other powers. I need not urge the importance of immediate remittances towards paying for the large quantity of stores I have engaged for, and depend this winter will not be suffered to slip away unimproved.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, 17th October, 1776.

Sir,

The bearer, Mons. M. Martin de la Balme, has long served with reputation in the armies of France as a Captain of Cavalry, and is now advanced to the rank of a Lt Colonel; he has made military discipline his study, and has written on the subject to good acceptance; he now generously offers his services to the United States of North America, and asks of me what I most cheerfully grant, a letter to you and his passage, confident he may be of very great service, if not in the general army, yet in those Colonies which are raising and disciplining cavalry. I have only to add that he is in good esteem here, and is well recommended, to which I am persuaded he will do justice.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO WILLIAM BINGHAM.[6]

Paris, 17th October, 1776.

Dear Sir,

Since receiving yours of the 4th and 5th of August last, I have written you repeatedly, and have no doubt of your receipt of my letters, to which I refer you. You are in the neighborhood of St Vincents, and I learn that the Caribs are not contented with their masters, and being an artful as well as revengeful people, would undoubtedly take this opportunity of throwing off a yoke, which nothing but a superior force can keep on them. My request is, that you would inquire into the state of that island, by proper emissaries, and if the Caribs are disposed to revolt, encourage them and promise them aid of arms and ammunition. This must tear from Great Britain an island, which they value next to Jamaica, and to which indeed they have no title but what rests on violence and cruelty. At any rate they will oblige Great Britain to withdraw part of her forces from the continent. If any thing can be effected there, inform me instantly, and I will order to your care such a quantity of stores as you shall think necessary.

The enclosed letter I desire you to break the seal of, and make as many copies as there are vessels going northward, by which some one must arrive. A war I think may be depended upon, but keep your intelligence of every kind secret, save to those of the Secret Committee.

You will send also a copy of this, by which the Committee will see the request I have made to you, and the reason of their receiving several duplicates in your hand-writing. I wish you to forward the enclosed to Mr Tucker, of Bermuda, and write me by every vessel to Bordeaux or Nantes.

I am, with great esteem, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] Mr William Bingham was an American merchant, residing in Martinique. He was an Agent for Congress during a large portion of the war, and was the medium of communication with France, by way of the French West India Islands.

* * * * *

TO WILLIAM BINGHAM.

25th October, 1776.

Dear Sir,

I have received no letter from you since those of the 4th and 5th of August last, nor any intelligence from Congress since the 5th June, which not only surprises but distresses me. I now send to the care of Mons. Deant two hundred tons of a necessary article to be at your orders for use of the Congress; the freight is to be paid in Martinique as customary, and I wish you to ship it for the ports of the Colonies, in such a manner, and in such quantities in a vessel, as you shall judge most prudent, advising the Congress of your having received it, and the methods you are taking to ship it to them, praying them to remit you the amount of the freight, as you must make friends in Martinique for advancing the same.

I wish you could write me oftener, and inform me very particularly what letters you receive from me, directed immediately to you, and what letters for other persons. In this way I shall know which of my letters fail.

I am, with great respect, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

P. S. Forward the enclosed under cover, and with the usual directions, in case of capture.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 25th October, 1776.

Gentlemen,

I have purchased two hundred tons of powder, and ordered the same to be shipped to Martinique to the care of Mons. Deant, to the direction of Mr Bingham for your use. The first cost is 18 sols per lb. or 10d sterling; the charges will be added; the amount I have not as yet ascertained, and interest at five per cent until payment. I must again urge you to hasten your remittances. Tobacco, rice, indigo, wheat, and flour are in great demand, and must be so through the year. Tobacco is nine stivers per lb. in Holland, rice 50s sterling per cwt. Flour is already from 20 to 23 livres per cwt. and rising. I have engaged a sale for 20,000 hogsheads of tobacco, the amount of which will establish the credit of the Congress with the mercantile interest in France and Holland.

Let me urge your attention to these articles, though I must say your silence ever since the 5th of last June discourages me at times. Indeed it well nigh distracts me. From whatever cause the silence has happened, it has greatly prejudiced the affairs of the United Colonies of America; and so far as the success of our cause depended on the friendship and aid of powers on this side the globe, it has occasioned the greatest hazard and danger, and thrown me into a state of anxiety and perplexity, which no words can express. I have made one excuse after another, until my invention is exhausted, and when I find vessels arriving from different ports in America, which sailed late in August, without a line for me, it gives our friends here apprehensions that the assertions of our enemies, who say you are negotiating and compounding, are true; otherwise, say they, where are your letters and directions? Surely, they add, if the Colonies were in earnest, and unanimous in their Independence, even if they wanted no assistance from hence, common civility would cause them to announce in form their being Independent States.

I will make no other comment on the distressing subject than this; were there no hopes of obtaining assistance on application in a public manner, I should be easier under your silence, but when the reverse is the case, to lose the present critically favorable moment, and hazard thereby the ruin of the greatest cause in which mankind were ever engaged, distresses my soul, and I would if possible express something of what I have undergone for the last three months, until hope itself has almost deserted me. I do not complain for myself, but for my country, thus unaccountably suffering from I know not what causes.

I am, gentlemen, with most respectful compliments to the Congress, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 6th November, 1776.

Gentlemen,

The only letters I have received from you were 4th and 5th of June last, five months ago, during which time vessels have arrived from almost every part of America to every part of France and Spain, and I am informed of letters from Mr Morris to his correspondents, dated late in July. If the Congress do not mean to apply for foreign alliances, let me entreat you to say so, and rescind your resolutions published on that head, which will be but justice to the powers of Europe, to whom you gave reason to expect such an application. If I am not the proper person to announce your Independency, and solicit in your behalf, let me entreat you to tell me so, and relieve me from an anxiety, which is become so intolerable that my life is a burthen. Two hundred pieces of brass cannon, and arms, tents and accoutrements for thirty thousand men, with ammunition in proportion, and between twenty and thirty brass mortars have been granted to my request, but the unaccountable silence on your part has delayed the embarkation some weeks already. I yesterday got them again in motion, and a part are already at Havre de Grace and Nantes, and the rest on their way thither, but I am hourly trembling for fear of counter orders. Had I received proper powers in season, this supply would before this have been in America, and that under the convoy of a strong fleet; the disappointment is distracting, and I will dismiss the subject, after taking the liberty to which a freeman and an American is entitled, of declaring, that by this neglect the cause of the United States has suffered in this and the neighboring Courts, and the blood that will be spilt through the want of these supplies, and the devastation, if any, must be laid at this door.

Captain Cochran having arrived at Nantes, I sent to him to come to me. He is now with me, and by him I send this with a packet of letters. He can inform you of the price of American produce in Europe, the very advance on which will pay you for fitting out a navy. Rice is from 30 to 50 livres per cwt., tobacco 8d and 9d per lb., flour and wheat are growing scarce and rising, masts, spars, and other naval stores are in demand, and the more so as a war with Great Britain is considered as near at hand.

Mons. du Coudray, who has the character of being one of the best officers of artillery in Europe, has been indefatigable in our service, and I hope the terms I have made with him will not be thought exorbitant, as he was a principal means of engaging the stores. The rage, as I may say, for entering into the American service increases, and the consequence is, that I am pressed with offers and proposals, many of them from persons of the first rank and eminence, in the sea as well as land service. Count Broglio, who commanded the army of France during the last war, did me the honor to call on me twice yesterday with an officer who served as his Quarter Master General the last war, and has now a regiment in this service, but being a German,[7] and having travelled through America a few years since, he is desirous of engaging in the service of the United States of North America. I can by no means let slip an opportunity of engaging a person of so much experience, and who is by every one recommended as one of the bravest and most skilful officers in the kingdom, yet I am distressed on every such occasion for want of your particular instructions. This gentleman has an independent fortune, and a certain prospect of advancement here, but being a zealous friend to liberty, civil and religious, he is actuated by the most independent and generous principles in the offer he makes of his services to the States of America.

Enclosed you have also the plan of a French naval officer for burning ships, which he gave me, and at the same time showed me his draughts of ships, and rates for constructing and regulating a navy, of which I have the highest opinion; he has seen much service, is a person of study and letters, as well as fortune, and is ambitious of planning a navy for America, which shall at once be much cheaper and more effectual than any thing of the kind which can be produced on the European system. He has the command of a ship of the line in this service, but is rather disgusted at not having his proposed regulations for the navy of France attended to. His proposal generally is to build vessels something on the model of those designed by the Marine Committee, to carry from 24 to 36 heavy guns on one deck, which will be as formidable a battery as any ship of the line can avail itself of, and by fighting them on the upper deck a much surer one. Had I power to treat with this gentleman, I believe his character and friends are such, that he could have two or three such frigates immediately constructed here on credit and manned and sent to America, but the want of instruction, or intelligence, or remittances, with the late check on Long Island, has sunk our credit to nothing with individuals, and the goods for the Indian contract cannot be shipped, unless remittances are made to a much greater amount than at present. Not ten thousand pounds have been received for forty thousand delivered in America as early as last February, and I am ignorant what has become of the effects shipped. Under these circumstances I have no courage to urge a credit, which I have no prospect of supporting; but I will take Mr Morris's hint and write a letter solely on business; but politics and my business are almost inseparably connected. I have filled this sheet, and will therefore bid you adieu until I begin another.

I am, with the utmost esteem, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] The Baron de Kalb.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 9th November, 1776.

Gentlemen,

I have written to you often, and particularly of affairs here. The want of intelligence retards every thing; as I have not a word from you since the 5th of June last, I am well nigh distracted. That I may not omit any chance of sending to you, I write this, though I have long and minute letters by me waiting the departure of General du Coudray and his train, who, had I been properly and in season instructed, would before this have been with you. At present I have put much to the hazard to effect what I have. Enclosed you have my thoughts on naval operations, and I pray you send me some blank commissions, which will enable me to fit out privateers from hence without any charge to you. A war appears at hand, and will probably be general. All Europe have their eyes on the States of America, and are astonished to find month after month rolling away, without your applying to them in form. I hope such application is on its way. Nothing else is wanting to effect your utmost wishes. I am, with compliments to friends, and respect to the Congress, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 26th November, 1776.

Gentlemen,

This serves only to enclose and explain the within State of the Commerce of Leghorn, which was given me by the Envoy of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, a gentleman of universal knowledge, and a warm friend to America, and indeed to all mankind. I have the honor of his acquaintance in an intimate degree, and have communicated to him a memoir, setting forth the particular state of the commerce of America, with the history of its rise and increase, and its present importance, it being a copy of what I delivered to this Court. He has marked the articles generally in demand, after which he enumerates their articles for exportation, which in my turn I marked and observed upon, as you will see.

I have only to add, that the Grand Duke has taken off all duties on the American commerce, to give it encouragement. This indeed is done rather privately to prevent complaint of other powers of a seeming partiality. When I add to this, that it is agreed on all hands that ships of war may be purchased at Leghorn ready fitted for sea, cheaper than in any other port in Europe, I think a good acquaintance ought to be cultivated with this State.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Paris, 27th November, 1776.

Sir,

The bearer, Mr Rogers, is a native of Maryland, whom I fortunately met in the hotel I some months lodged in. He was in Paris finishing his education, and by my advice accepted the office of aid-de-camp to Mons. du Coudray, and accompanies him out to America. I have received many kindnesses from him, and, confident of his integrity, have intrusted him with many things to relate to you viva voce, especially should my despatches fail. He has a general knowledge of the history of my proceedings, and what I have at times to struggle with. As he speaks French tolerably, he will I conceive prove a valuable acquisition, at a time when such numbers of foreigners are crowding to enter your service.

I am, wishing him a speedy and safe arrival, with the most profound respect for the Congress, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 27th November, 1776.

Gentlemen,

In a former letter I mentioned a naval enterprise, which might at first appear romantic, but the more it is considered the less danger I shall be in of being taxed on that score. Admiral Montague lately returned from the Banks, where the fishermen have had a wretched season, in consequence of the American privateers. He left two small sloops of war there of 14 and 16 guns. In common years they leave six or seven thousand of their laborers or fishermen there, as in a prison, through the winter, employed in taking seals, repairing boats, stages, &c.; these are unarmed, and ever dissatisfied to the last degree with their situation. Two frigates arriving early in February would destroy the fishery for one if not two years, and obtain an acquisition of a fine body of recruits for your navy. I have conferred with some persons here on the subject, who highly approve the enterprise, but I submit it to your opinion, after urging despatch in whatever is done or attempted on that subject.

The resolution of the Court of Spain in the case of Capt. Lee, at Bilboa, gives every encouragement to adventurers in these seas, where the prizes are valuable, and where you have constantly harbors at hand on the coast of France and Spain to repair to and refit in, and where constant and certain intelligence can be had of the situation of the British ships of war, as well as of commerce. I need not add, on a subject so plain, and at the same time so important, but will only remind you that the Dutch, in the space of two or three years after their first revolt from Spain, attacked the Spaniards so successfully and unexpectedly in every quarter of the globe, that the treasures they obtained thereby enabled them to carry on the war. Let me repeat, that if you empower me or any other person here, you may obtain any number of ships of war on credit from individuals, on paying interest at five per cent until the principal is discharged. The king will probably have use for his, and besides, to let his go would be the same as a declaration of war, which in form at least will for some time be avoided.

I write on different subjects in my letters, as they rise in my mind, and leave you to use as you may judge best my sybil leaves, and am, gentlemen, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 28th November, 1776.

Gentlemen,

Your favor of the 7th of August last, covering a copy of yours of the 8th of July, I received, though the original never came to hand. This letter also enclosed the Declaration of Independency, with instructions to make it known to this and the other powers of Europe; and I received it the 7th inst. though the vessel which brought it had but 38 days passage from Salem. This letter was very far from relieving me, as it enclosed what had been circulated through Europe for two months before, and my pretending to inform this Court would be only a matter of form, in consequence of your orders, which were expressed in the style of any common affair. I certainly prefer simplicity of style, as well as manners, but something is due to the dignity of old and powerful states, or if you please to their prejudices in favor of long established form and etiquette; and as the United States of America, by this act, introduce themselves among the established powers, and rank with them, it must of course be expected that at the first introduction, or the announcing of it, some mode more formal, or if I may so say, more respectful, would have been made use of, than simply two or three lines from the committee of congress, in a letter something more apparently authentic, not that either your power or the reality of your letter could be doubted. I mention it as deserving consideration, whether in your application here and your powers and instructions of a public nature, it is not always proper to use a seal? This is a very ancient custom in all public and even private concerns of any consequence.

Further, to keep a proper intercourse with Europe, it is by no means sufficient to write a single letter, and leave it to be forwarded when the captain of a vessel thinks of it, or has nothing else to do. Duplicates of every letter should be lodged in every port in the hands of faithful and attentive persons, to be forwarded by the first conveyance to any part of Europe. Had this been practised since my leaving America, instead of receiving but two short letters from you, I might have had intelligence every month; let me urge you, from the danger our affairs have been in of totally miscarrying for want of intelligence, to pay some attention to this in future.

As the copy was dated the eighth of July I took occasion to observe, that the honorable Congress had taken the earliest opportunity of informing this Court of the declaration of their Independency, and that the variety of important affairs before Congress, with the critical situation of the armies in their neighborhood, and the obstructions of their commerce, had prevented that intelligence which had been wished for, but that the present served to shew the early and principal attention of the United States to this Court; and as their Independency was now in form declared, the queries I had formerly put in consequence of my first instructions might now be resolved, and I hoped favorably. To this I was answered, unless France by a public acknowledgment of your Independency makes war on Great Britain in your favor, what service can such acknowledgment be of to the United States? You are known here, our ports are open, and free for your commerce, and your ships are protected in them, and greater indulgencies allowed than to any other nations. If France should be obliged to make war on England, it will be much more just and honorable in the eyes of the world to make it on some other account; and if made at all, it is the same thing to the United States of America, and in one important view better for them, to have it originate from any other cause, as America will be under the less immediate obligation. Further, France has alliances, and cannot resolve a question which must perhaps involve her in a war, without previously consulting them. Meantime the United States can receive the same succors and assistance from France without, as well as with, such an open acknowledgment, and perhaps much more advantageously. To this and such like arguments I had the less to reply, as you informed me that articles for a proposed alliance with France were under consideration, and that I might soon expect them.

I was further told that the Swiss Cantons, though in every respect free and independent States for several centuries, had not to this hour been acknowledged as such by any public act of any one power in Europe, except France, and that neither the Revolution in the United Provinces or Portugal had been attended with any such acknowledgment, though the powers of Europe in both cases lent their aid. I replied that I would not urge a formal acknowledgment, as long as the same ends could be obtained, and without the inconveniences hinted at; besides, as I daily expected further instructions I would reserve myself until their arrival. The apprehensions of the United States' negociating has done us much damage, and the interview at New York said to have been between a Commissioner of Congress and the two brothers, however politic the step may have been in America, was made use of to our prejudice in Europe, at this Court in particular, as it has been for some time asserted by Lord Stormont and others, that a negociation would take place, and as far as this is believed, so far our cause has suffered and our friends been staggered in their resolutions. My opinion is, that the House of Bourbon in every branch will be our friends; it is their interest to humble Great Britain.

Yesterday it was roundly affirmed at Versailles, that a letter was received in London from Philadelphia, in which it was said I had written advising the Congress to negociate, for that I could obtain no assistance from Europe. You can hardly conceive how dangerous even such reports are, and how prejudicial every step that looks like confirming them. The importance of America in every point of view, appears more and more striking to all Europe, but particularly to this kingdom.

Enclosed I send you the size of masts and spars with the price, which, if it will answer, may be a certain article of remittance, as may other naval stores, but I dare not contract with the marine, as I have no powers, and am unacquainted with the rate at which they were usually exported to England. A wide field is opening, since the American commerce is to be free, and I have had applications from many parts on the subject, though few are disposed to venture until the close of this campaign, and if it is not decisive against us, our wants will be supplied another season at as cheap a rate as ever, but I trust never more on the old terms of long credit.

I am well nigh harrassed to death with applications of officers to go out to America. Those I have engaged are I trust in general of the best character; but that I should engage, or rather take from the hands of some leading men here, some one or two among the rest not so accomplished, cannot be surprising, and may, considering my situation, be pardonable, but I have no suspicion of any such in my department, of consequence. I have been offered troops from Germany on the following general terms, viz.;—officers to recruit as for the service of France, and embark for St Domingo from Dunkirk, and by altering their route land in the American States. The same has been proposed with Switzerland, to which I could give no encouragement, but submit it to your consideration in Congress, whether, if you can establish a credit as I have before hinted, it would not be well to purchase at Leghorn five or six stout frigates, which might at once transport some companies of Swiss, and a quantity of stores, and the whole be defended by the Swiss soldiers on their passage? Or, if you prefer Germans, which I really do not, the vessels might go from Dunkirk. I daily expect important advices from the North, respecting commerce at least, having sent to the King of Prussia, in consequence of a memorial he ordered his agent here to show me, and propose some queries to me, a state of the North American commerce at large. I have presented memorial after memorial here, until in my last I think I have exhausted the subject as far as the present time, having in my last given the history of the controversy, obviated the objections made against us, and pointed out the consequences that must ensue to France and Spain if they permit the Colonies to be subjugated by their old hereditary enemy. It consisted of fifty pages, and was, after being translated, presented to his Majesty and his Ministers, and I was assured was favorably received and considered. I presented it about two weeks since, and whether it has hastened the preparations or not I cannot say. The Ministry were pleased to say, that I had placed the whole in the most striking point of view, and they believed with great justice. I could wish to send you copies of these, but I have no assistant except occasionally, and the uncertainty of my situation will not permit my making engagements to one, who might deserve confidence, and those who are deserving are but few.

Bread will be scarce before the next harvest. Flour is now 22 and 23 livres per cwt. and tobacco is as I have before mentioned; and I promise myself you will not let slip so favorable an opportunity of making remittances to advantage. In expectation of your sending over frigates to convoy your ships, and of your giving instructions on what I have written you of operations in these seas, I design being at Bordeaux in March, when I shall be able to give you the needful directions in any such affair; but, at any rate, send out a number of blank commissions for privateers to be fitted out in Europe under your flag. The prizes must finally be brought to you for condemnation, and the principal advantage will remain with you. I have written largely, and on many subjects, yet fear I have omitted some things deserving attention.

Mons. du Coudray will be with you by the receipt of this, with stores complete for thirty thousand men. The extraordinary exertions of this gentleman, and his character, entitle him to much from the United States, and I hope the sum I have stipulated with him for, will not be considered extravagant, when you consider it is much less than is given in Europe. Baron de Kalb I consider an important acquisition, as are many other of the officers whose characters I may not stay to particularize, but refer you to Baron de Kalb, who speaks English, and to Mr Rogers, who is generally acquainted with them. As to sea officers, they are not so easily obtained, yet some good ones may be had, and in particular two; one of whom I have already mentioned; the other is quite his equal, with some other advantages; he was first lieutenant of a man of war round the world, with Captain Cook, and has since had a ship, but wants to leave this for other service, where he may make a settlement, and establish a family. These two officers would engage a number of younger ones. Should they embark, I send herewith the plans of one of them for burning ships. I submit it to the honorable Congress, who are sensible of the variety and magnitude of the objects before me, whether it is not of importance to despatch some one of its body to assist me, or to take a part by his own immediate direction. Such a person known to possess your fullest confidence, would, by his advice and assistance, be of service to me, though he were, and I were, occasionally at Madrid or Berlin. Having obtained some knowledge of the language, and an acquaintance with those in power here, as well as others, such abilities as I have, which are ever devoted to my country, can be employed here to the best advantage at present, but I submit my thoughts to your determination, and am, with great truth and sincerity,

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 29th November, 1776.

Gentlemen,

The several letters you will receive with this, will give you some idea of the situation I have been in for some months past, though after all I must refer you to Mr Rogers for particulars on some subjects. I should never have completed what I have, but for the generous, the indefatigable and spirited exertions of Monsieur Beaumarchais, to whom the United States are on every account greatly indebted; more so than to any other person on this side the water; he is greatly in advance for stores, clothing, and the like, and therefore I am confident you will make him the earliest and most ample remittances. He wrote you by Mr McCrery, and will write you again by this conveyance. A nephew of his, a young gentleman of family, education, and spirit, makes a voyage to America with Monsieur du Coudray, and is ambitious of serving his first campaigns in your service. I recommend him therefore to your particular patronage and protection, as well on account of the great merits of his uncle, as on that of his being a youth of spirit and genius; and just entering the world in a foreign country, he needs protection and paternal advice to countenance and encourage him. This I have confidently assured his uncle he will receive from you, and am happy in knowing you will fulfil my engagements on that score, and, in whatever department you may fix him, that you will recommend him to the patronage of some person, on whom you may rely to act at once the friendly and the paternal part.

A particular account of the stores shipped may probably not be ready by this vessel, but may go by the next or some succeeding one, as several will sail after this on the same errand. Let me by every letter urge on you the sending in season a quantity of tobacco, of rice, and flour or wheat. These are articles which cannot fail, and are capital ones; twenty thousand hogsheads of tobacco are this instant wanted in France, besides the demand in other kingdoms. I think Monsieur Beaumarchais wrote you under the firm of Hortalez & Co. if so, you will address him in the same style; but as I must probably remain here until the arrival of these articles, I can regulate that on the arrival of your despatches. I have advised these stores being shipped for some of the New England ports, northeast of Newport first, and if failing of making a port there, to stand for the Capes of the Delaware, or for Charleston in South Carolina, as the most likely route to avoid interception. I cannot in a letter do full justice to Monsieur Beaumarchais for his great address and assiduity in our cause; I can only say he appears to have undertaken it on great and liberal principles, and has in the pursuit made it his own. His interest and influence, which are great, have been exerted to the utmost in the cause of the United States, and I hope the consequences will equal his wishes.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 29th November, 1776.

Gentlemen,

I have recommended several officers to your service, but none with greater pleasure, scarce any one with so much confidence of his answering great and valuable purposes, as the bearer, Colonel Conway, a native of Ireland, advanced in the service by his merit. His views are to establish himself and his growing family in America; consequently he becomes our countryman and engages on the most certain principles. This gentleman has seen much service; his principal department has been that of training and disciplining troops, and preparing for action; and from his abilities as well as from his long experience, he is considered as one of the most skilful disciplinarians in France. Such an officer must be, I conceive, of very great service, and his generously confiding in the honorable Congress for such rank and appointments as they shall confer, entitles him still more to our immediate attention and notice. I have assured him of the most favorable reception, and am confident he will receive the same.

Colonel Conway takes with him some young officers of his own training, who know well the English language, and may be of immediate service in the same important department of discipline. As Colonel Conway has been long in service, (though in prime of life) I am confident you will not think it right he should rank under those who have served under him in this kingdom, which will not be the case if he fills the place of an Adjutant, or Brigadier General, for which, I am well assured, he is every way well qualified. I have advanced him as per receipt enclosed towards his expenses and appointments or wages, and told him he may rely on your granting him one of the above ranks in the Continental forces. Should the honorable Congress have a new body of troops to form in any part of the Continent, this gentleman might take the direction of them to very great advantage, and may, I presume, be equally so in the station you may appoint him in the main army.

I have the honor to be, &c.

SILAS DEANE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF SECRET CORRESPONDENCE.

Paris, 1st December, 1776.

Gentlemen,

Among the many important objects, which employ your whole attention, I presume ways and means for defraying the expenses of the present war have a capital place. You will therefore give the following thoughts the weight which they deserve. In the first place, to emit more bills will be rather dangerous; for money, or whatever passes for such, when it exceeds the amount of the commerce of a state, must lose its value; and the present circumscribed state of the American commerce, is perhaps within the amount of your emissions already made. Your bills, therefore, must be borrowed of individuals by the public at interest, or those already emitted paid off by taxes and new emissions. Some Colonies may now be content with a tax, but it is most probably quite out of the power of some, and a measure rather impolitic in a majority of the Colonies or States, durante bello.

To effect any considerable loan in Europe is perhaps difficult. It has not been tried, and on the probability of succeeding in this I will give my sentiments hereafter. It is obvious, that let the loan be made when it will, it must have a day fixed for payment, and respect to some fund appropriated to that purpose. The relying on future taxes is holding up to the people a succession of distresses and burthens which are not to cease even with the war itself, whereas could they have a prospect of paying the expenses of the war at the close of it, and enjoying the remainder of their fortunes clear of incumberance, it must greatly encourage and animate both the public and private spirit in pushing it on with vigor. A loan of six or eight millions, or a debt of that amount, will probably enable you to finish the war. This I am confident may be negotiated on terms, which I will propose hereafter, but previously let it be attended to, that the present contest has engaged the attention of all Europe, and more, it will eventually interest all Europe in favor of the United States, the Russians in the north and Portugal in the south, excepted; I make no consideration of the little mercenary electorates in my calculation. The mercantile part of the other powers are convinced, where their interest appears so evidently engaged. The political part are sensible of the importance of enlarging their own naval concerns and force, and of checking that of Great Britain. The good and wise part, the lovers of liberty and human happiness, look forward to the establishment of American freedom and independence as an event, which will secure to them and their descendants an asylum from the effects and violence of despotic power, daily gaining ground in every part of Europe. From those and other considerations, on which I need not be minute, emigrations from Europe will be prodigious, immediately on the establishment of American Independency. The consequence of this must be the rise of the lands already settled, and a demand for new or uncultivated land; on this demand I conceive a certain fund may now be fixed. You may smile, and recollect the sale of the bearskin in the fable, but at the same time you must be sensible that your wants are real, and if others can be induced to relieve them, it is indifferent to you whether they have a consideration in hand or in prospect.

I trace the river Ohio from its junction to its head, thence north to Lake Erie on the south and west of that lake to Fort Detroit, which is in the latitude of Boston, thence a west course to the Mississippi, and return to the place of my departure. These three lines of near one thousand miles each, include an immense territory in a fine climate, well watered, and by accounts exceedingly fertile; it is not inhabited by any Europeans of consequence, and the tribes of Indians are inconsiderable, and will decrease faster than the lands can possibly be demanded for cultivation. To this I ask your attention as a resource amply adequate, under proper regulations, for defraying the whole expense of the war, and the sums necessary to be given the Indians in purchase of the native right. But to give this land value, inhabitants are necessary. I therefore propose, in the first place, that a grant be made of a tract of land at the mouth of the Ohio, between that and the Mississippi, equal to two hundred miles square, to a company formed indiscriminately of Europeans and Americans, which company should form a distinct state, confederated with and under the general regulations of the United States General of America. That the Congress of the United States shall, out of such grant, reserve the defraying or discharging of the public debts or expenses; one fifth part of all the lands, mines, &c. within said tract, to be disposed of by the Congress, in such manner as good policy and the public exigencies may dictate, the said one fifth to be sequestered out of every grant or settlement made by the company, of equal goodness with the rest of such grant or settlement. The company on their part shall engage to have, in seven years after the passing such grant —— thousand families settled on said grant, and civil government regulated and supported on free and liberal principles, taking therein the advice of the honorable Congress of the United States. They shall, also, from and after their having one thousand families as abovementioned, contribute their proportion of the public expenses of the Continent, or United States, according to the number of their inhabitants, and shall be entitled to a voice in Congress, as soon as they are called on thus to contribute. The company shall at all times have the preference of purchasing the Continental or common interest thus reserved, when it shall be offered for sale. The company shall consist, on giving the patent or grant, of at least one hundred persons.

These are the outlines of a proposed grant, which you see contains more than 25,000,000 acres of land, the one fifth of which, if a settlement is carried on vigorously, will soon be of prodigious value. At this time a company might be formed in France, Germany, &c. who would form a stock of one hundred thousand pounds sterling, to defray the expense of this settlement. By such a step, you, in the first place, extend the circle of your connexion and influence. You increase the number of your inhabitants, proportionably lessen the common expenses and have in the reserve a fund for public exigencies. Further, as this company would be in a great degree commercial, the establishing commerce at the junction of these large rivers, would immediately give a value to all the lands situate on or near them within the above extensive description, and future grants might admit of larger reserves, amply sufficient for defraying the expenses of the war, and possibly for establishing funds for other important purposes. It may be objected that this is not a favorable time for such a measure. I reply it is the most favorable that can happen. You want money, and by holding up thus early to view a certain fund on which to raise it, even the most certain in the world, that of land security, you may obtain the loan and engage the monied interest of Europe in your favor. I have spoken with many persons of good sense on this subject, which makes me the more sanguine.

As to a loan, I will now dismiss this scheme to speak of that, only adding, or rather repeating what I have in a former letter written, that a large and generous allowance ought immediately to be made to the officers and soldiers serving in the present war, in which regard should be had to the wounded, the widows or children of those that fall, and to the term or number of campaigns each one serves. This will make the army consist literally of a set of men fighting for freehold, and it will be a great encouragement to foreigners, with whom five hundred or a thousand acres of land has a great sound.

It has been a question with me at times, whether, if our commerce were open and protected, the colonies would be wise in negotiating a loan. But on considering, that before this war, the imports of the Colonies just about balanced their exports, I cannot think it possible, with the most rigid economy, supposing exports as large as formerly, to make a lessening of consumption equal to the amount of the expenses of the war; and consequently a debt must be contracted by the public somewhere. The question which naturally arises is, whether it be most prudent to contract this debt at home or abroad. To me it admits of no doubt, that the latter is to be preferred on every account. If you can establish a credit and pay your interest punctually, the rate of interest will be less by two or three per cent in Europe than in America; you will thereby engage foreigners by the strongest tie, that of their immediate interest, to support your cause. There are other obvious reasons for preferring the latter mode.

The next question is, where can you borrow, and what security can you offer? Holland is at present the centre of money and credit for Europe, and every nation is more or less indebted to her collectively to such an amount, that could the nations in Europe at once pay the whole of their debts to this Republic of Mammon, it would as effectually ruin it, as the breaking in of the sea through their dykes. Would you know the credit and situation of the affairs of the different kingdoms, consult the books of the Dutch banks.

This kingdom (France) has been in bad credit, from the villainy of a late Comptroller General, as it is said, one Abbe Terrai, against whose administration the severest things have been uttered and written. He was succeeded by the much esteemed Mons. Turgot, and stocks rose, and a commission was given to a banker (a correspondent of mine in Amsterdam) to negotiate a loan, but the dismission of Mons. Turgot, and the indifferent opinion which monied men at least had of his successor, Mons. Clugny, prevented the loan, and lowered the stocks. Mons. Clugny died last week, and is succeeded ostensibly by one Monsieur Tabourou; I say ostensibly, for M. Necker, a noted Protestant banker, is joined with him as Intendant of the Treasury. This raised stocks immediately, and I am told they have already risen ten per cent. This is the most politic appointment that could have been made, and it deserves our notice, that where a man has it in his power to be of public service, his principles of religion are not a sufficient obstacle to hinder his promotion even in France. This will probably enable this kingdom to borrow money, which from all appearances will be soon wanted. Spain, from the punctuality of its payments of interest, and its well known treasures, is in high credit in Holland. Denmark borrows at four per cent, Sweden at the same; the emperor of Germany, from the security of his hereditary dominions, and the empress of Russia, from her having lately paid part of the large sum she borrowed in the Turkish wars, are both of them in good credit. The credit of Great Britain, though it has not fallen, yet it is in a critical situation with those foreseeing people, who, on receiving the news of the action on Long Island, which raised stocks a trifle in England, began immediately to sell out.

Not a power in Europe, the king of Prussia excepted, can go to war without borrowing money of Holland to a greater or less amount, and whilst so many borrowers are in its neighborhood, whose estates, as I may say, are settled and known, it is not to be expected Holland will be fond of lending money to the United States of North America, though we should offer higher interest. To offer a large interest might be tempting, but it would be very ruinous to us, and I conceive it will never be thought prudent to permit higher than five per cent interest in the States of North America, and this is but one per cent more than is given in Europe.

This view leads me again to reflect, as I constantly do, with the utmost grief, on the unaccountable delay of proper authority announcing the Independency of the United States, and proposing terms of alliance and friendship with France and Spain. This I am confident would at once remove this and many other difficulties; would put our affairs on the most established and respectable footing, and oblige Great Britain herself to acknowledge our Independency and court our friendship. On such powers being received and presented, these kingdoms, I have no doubt, would become our guaranty for the money we want, and the produce of our country will be wanted for the interest, and even the principal, as fast as we can transport it hither. But as no such powers and instructions are received, and as it is possible you mean not to send any, I will mention a few thoughts on another plan.

You are not in want of money, but the effects of money in the manufactures of Europe. For these the Colonies or United States must now have a demand to the amount of some millions sterling. These manufactures are to be had principally in France and Holland. As to the latter, they have not at present, and are resolved never to have, any peculiar connexion with, or friendship for, any power, further than their commerce is served by it, but that is not the ruling passion of the former. The desire of humbling their old rival and hereditary enemy, and aggrandizing their monarchy, are predominant, and never was there a more favorable opportunity than the present,—so favorable is it, that were the funds of this kingdom in a little better situation, and were they confident that the United States would abide by their Independency, not a moment's time would be lost in declaring war, even though you had made no application direct. Whatever part this kingdom takes will be pursued by the Court of Madrid. Would this Court give a credit even to private merchants, it would answer the same purpose as a loan; as for instance, the United Colonies want about three millions value of manufactures annually (it has heretofore been a little more) from Europe. If this Court will give a credit to that amount to any body of men in the kingdom, that company may engage to pay the Court the same amount in Continental bills within a limited time, this company may send to America supplies to that amount, as the Congress shall order, such goods as are wanted either for the army or navy; the Congress will instantly deposit their bills for the amount; the residue may be sold at a stated advance for Continental bills, the whole of the amount immediately put on interest to this Court; this will be the calling in of such an amount of the bills, and of course give the greater currency to the whole. Meantime, this Court must become interested to have the commerce free, by which alone remittances can be made. This is but a sudden thought, recommended to you for consideration, if deemed worthy. That something may be effected in this way I can have no doubt, while I have this most unequivocal evidence. I am now credited to the amount of all the supplies for thirty thousand men, a train of artillery, amounting to more than two hundred pieces of brass cannon, ammunition, &c. &c. which must be of near half a million sterling, not ostensibly by the Court, but by a private company. At the same time other companies, as well as individuals, after offering any loan or credit I should ask, always brought in sooner or later the condition of having my bills endorsed by some banker or person of credit; where you are sensible in my situation the affair ended; though in several instances I had the most flattering encouragement, and expected most assuredly no security would be required; but that this particular house should be able and willing to advance this prodigious sum at once, and without security, is no way surprising, but perfectly consistent with what I have all along asserted.

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