The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. I
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The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. I

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. I, by Various
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Title: The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. I
Author: Various
Editor: Jared Sparks
Release Date: December 1, 2008 [EBook #27371]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE ***
Produced by Frank van Drogen, Chris Logan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was produced from images generously made available by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at http://gallica.bnf.fr)
THE
DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE
OF THE
AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
BEING
THE LETTERS OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, SILAS DEANE, JOHN ADAMS, JOHN JAY,
ARTHUR LEE, WILLIAM LEE, RALPH IZARD, FRANCIS DANA, WILLIAM CARMICHAEL, HENRY LAURENS, JOHN LAURENS, M. DUMAS, AND OTHERS, CONCERNING THE FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES DURING THE WHOLE REVOLUTION,
TOGETHER WITH
THE LETTERS IN REPLY FROM THE SECRET COMMITTEE OF CONGRESS, AND THE SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.
ALSO,
THE ENTIRE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE FRENCH MINISTERS, GERARD AND LUZERNE WITH CONGRESS.
Published under the Direction of the President of the United States, from the original Manuscripts of the Department of State, conformably to a Resolution of Congress, of March 27th, 1818.
EDITED
BY JARED SPARKS.
B
VOL. I.
O
N. HALEANDGRAY & BOWEN.
G. & C. & H. CARVILL, NEW YORK.
S
T
O
N
:
1829.
HALE'S STEAM PRESS.
Nos. 6 Suffolk Buildings, Congress Street, Boston.
Resolution of Congress of March 27th, 1818.
Resolution directing the Publication and Distribution of the Journal and Proceedings of the Convention, which formed the present Constitution of the United States.
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the Journal of the Convention, which formed the present Constitution of the United States, now remaining in the office of the Secretary of State, and all acts and Proceedings of that Convention, which are in possession of the Government of the United States, be published under the direction of the President of the United States, together with the Secret Journals of the Acts and Proceedings, and the Foreign Correspondence of the Congress of the United States, from the first meeting thereof, down to the date of the ratification of the definitive treaty of peace, between Great Britain and the United States, in the year seventeen hundred and eightythree, except such parts of the said foreign correspondence, as the President of the United States may deem it improper at this time to publish. And that one thousand copies thereof be printed, of which one copy shall be furnished to each member of the present Congress, and the residue shall remain subject to the future disposition of Congress.
[Approved March 27th, 1818.]
ADVERTISEMENT.
[Pg vii]
The Correspondence between the old Congress and the American Agents, Commissioners, and Ministers in foreign countries, was secret and confidential during the whole revolution. The letters, as they arrived, were read in Congress, and referred to the standing Committee of Foreign A ffairs, accompanied with requisite instructions, when necessary, as to the nature and substance of the replies. The papers embracing this correspondence, which swelled to a considerable mass before the end of the revolution, were removed to the department of State after the formation of the new government, where they have remained ever since, accessible to such persons as have wished to consult them for particular purposes, but never before published. In compliance with the resolution of Congress, of March 27th, 1818, they a re now laid before the public, under the direction of the President of the United States.
On the 29th of November, 1775, a Committee of five was appointed to correspond with the friends of America in other countries. It seems to have been the specific object of this Committee, to gain information in regard to the public feeling in Great Britain towards the Colonies, and also the degree of interest which was likely to be taken by other European powe rs in the contest, then beginning to grow warm on this side of the Atlantic . Certain commercial designs came also under its cognizance, such as procuring ammunition, arms, soldiers' clothing, and other military stores from abroad. A secret correspondence was immediately opened with Arthur Lee in London, chiefly with the view of procuring intelligence. Early in the next year, Silas Deane was sent to France by the Committee, with instructions to act as a commercial or political agent for the American Colonies, as circumstances might dictate. This Committee was denominated theCommittee of Secret Correspondence, and continued in operation till April 17th, 1777, when the name was changed to that of theCommittee of Foreign Affairs. The duties and objects of the Committee appear to have remained as before, notwithstanding the change of name.
In the first years of the war, it was customary for the Commissioners and Ministers abroad to address their letters to the Committee, or to the President of Congress. In either case the letters were read in Congress, and answered only by the Committee, this body being the organ of all communications from Congress on foreign affairs. The proceedings of Congress in relation to these topics were recorded in a journal, kept separately from that in which the records of other transactions were entered, and called theSecret Journal. This Journal has recently been published, in conformity with the same resolution of Congress, which directed the publication of the foreign correspondence.
Robert R. Livingston was chosen Secretary of Foreign Affairs on the 10th of August, 1781, when the Committee was dissolved, and the foreign correspondence from that time went through the hands of the Secretary. As the responsibility thus devolved on a single individual , instead of being divided among several, the business of the department was afterwards executed with much more promptness and efficiency.
The plan adopted, in arranging the papers for publi cation, has been to bring together those of each Commissioner, or Minister, in strict chronological order. As there is much looseness, and sometimes confusion in their arrangement as preserved in the Department of State, this plan has not always been easy to
[Pg viii]
[Pg ix]
execute. The advantage of such a method, however, is so great, the facility it affords for a ready reference and consultation is so desirable, and the chain of events is thereby exhibited in a manner so much mor e connected and satisfactory, that no pains have been spared to bring every letter and document into its place in the exact order of its date. Thus, the correspondence of each Commissioner, or Minister, presents a continuous history of the acts in which he was concerned, and of the events to which he alludes.
It will be seen, that letters are occasionally missing. These are not to be found in the archives of the government. The loss may be accounted for in several ways. In the first place, the modes of conveyance were precarious, and failures were frequent and unavoidable. The despatches were sometimes intrusted to the captains of such American vessels, merchantmen or privateers, as happened to be in port, and sometimes forwarded by regular express packets, but in both cases they were subject to be captured. Moreover, the despatches were ordered to be thrown overboard if the vessel conveying them should be pursued by an enemy, or exposed to the hazard of be ing taken. It thus happened, that many letters never arrived at their destination, although duplicates and triplicates were sent. Again, the Committee had no Secretary to take charge of the papers, and no regular place of deposit; the members themselves were perpetually changing, and each had equal access to the papers, and was equally responsible for their safe keeping. They were often in the hands of the Secretary of Congress, and of other members who wished to consult them. Nor does it appear, that copies were methodically taken till after the war. In such a state of things, many letters must necessarily have been withdrawn and lost. When Mr Jay became Secretary of Foreign Affairs, in the year 1784, that office had been made the place of deposit for all the foreign correspondence which then remained. Under his direction, a large portion of it was copied into volumes, apparently with much care, both in regard to the search after papers, and the accuracy of the transcribers. These volumes are still retained in the archives of the Department of State, together with such originals as have escaped the perils of accident, and the negligence of their early keepers.
The letters of the Committee of Congress to the age nts abroad were few, scanty, and meagre. This may be ascribed to two causes. First, there was really very little to communicate, which was not known through the public papers; and, secondly, it was not made the duty of any particular member of the Committee to write letters. Hence the agents frequently complained, that their despatches were not answered, and that they were embarrassed for want of intelligence. When Mr Livingston came into the offi ce of Foreign Affairs, a salutary change took place in this respect. His letters are numerous, full, and instructive.
In preparing the papers for the press, according to the spirit of the resolution of Congress, the first rule has been to print such matter only as possesses some value, either as containing historical facts, or illustrating traits of character, or developing the causes of prominent events. In such a mass of materials, so varied in their character and in the topics upon wh ich they treat, it has not always been easy to discriminate with precision in regard to these points. The editor can only say, that he has exercised his best judgment to accomplish the
[Pg x]
[Pg xi]
end proposed. His task has been rendered still more perplexing, from the disputes, and even quarrels, which existed between the early American Commissioners, and with the effects of which a larg e portion of their correspondence is tinged. No worthy purpose can be answered by reviving the remembrance of these contentions at the present day; but, at the same time, such particulars ought to be retained, as will exhi bit in their proper light the characters of the persons concerned, and show how far their altercations operated to the public good or injury. This line ha s been pursued as far as practicable, and those parts of the correspondence chiefly marked with personalities, and touching little on public intere sts, have been omitted, as neither suited to the dignity of the subject, nor to the design of this publication.
On perusing these volumes, it may at first seem extraordinary, that so large a collection of letters, written by different persons at different times, embracing topics of great moment, and assuming the character of secret and confidential despatches, should be so generally well fitted to meet the public eye. But it must be kept in mind, that the writers knew their letters would be read in open Congress, which was much the same as publishing the m, and under this impression they were doubtless prompted to study ci rcumspection, both in matter and manner.
Justice to himself requires the editor to observe, that he has not felt at liberty, in accordance with the express terms of the resolution of Congress, to add anything to the original papers by way of commentary or illustration. The few notes, which he has subjoined, are intended mainly to assist the reader in referring to collateral topics in different parts of the work. When it is considered under what circumstances and with what aims these letters were written, it will be obvious, that time and succeeding events must have detected occasional misapprehensions and errors of statement in the writers, as well as the fallacy of some of their conjectures and speculations. They were called upon to grapple with the politics of Europe, and to discourse on a theme and execute a task, that would have been of no easy accomplishment in the hands of the veteran diplomatists of the old world. The editor's researches in the public offices of England and France, with particular reference to the early diplomatic relations between those countries and the United States, have put in his possession a body of facts on the subjects discussed in these papers, which might have been used to advantage in supplying corrections and explanations; but, for the reason above mentioned, he has not deemed himself authorised to assume such a duty. He is not without the expectation, however, that the public will hereafter be made acquainted with the results of his inquiries in some other form.
CONTENTS
OF THE
[Pg xii]
[Pg xiii]
V
F
O
I
SILAS DEANE'S
CORRESPONDENCE.
From the Committee of Correspondence to Silas Deane. Philadelphia, March 3d, 1776, Instructions to Mr Deane on his departure for France.
Silas Deane to the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, August 18th, 1776, Mr Deane's interview with Count de Vergennes, and conversation on American affairs.—Dubourg. —Beaumarchais.—Military supplies for the American service.
From Caron de Beaumarchais to the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, August 18th, 1776, Account of his contract with Mr Deane for furnishing the United States with military supplies.
Silas Deane to Count de Vergennes. Paris, August 22d, 1776,
To Robert Morris. Bordeaux, September 17th, 1776,
To Robert Morris. Paris, September 30th, 1776, On mercantile affairs.
R
L
Page
5
9
35
40
40
41
S
U
T
M
E
.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, October 1st, 1776, Military supplies.—Asks for blank commissions for ships of war.—Dr Bancroft.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, October 8th, 1776,
Agreement between M. Monthieu and Silas Deane for the Transportation of military Supplies to America. Paris, October 15th, 1776,
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, October 18th, 1776, Urges the importance of making known formally to foreign powers the independence of the United States.—Case of Captain Lee who went into Bilboa with prizes.—Demands remittances.
To the President of Congress. Paris, October 17th, 1776,
To William Bingham. Paris, October 17th, 1776,
To William Bingham. Paris, October 25th, 1776,
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, October 25th, 1776,
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, November 6th, 1776, Supplies forwarded.—M. du Coudray.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, November 9th, 1776,
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, November 26th, 1776, Grand Duke of Tuscany proposes commercial intercourse with America.
To the President of Congress. Paris, November 27th, 1776,
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, November 27th, 1776, Proposals to send frigates to harass the British fishery on the Grand Bank.—Recommends sending American privateers into the European seas.
43
[Pg xiv]
48
51
53
56
57
58
59
60
64
64
65
66
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, November 28th, 1776, On the acknowledgment of American independence by European powers. —Applications of officers to go to America. —Baron de Kalb.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, November 29th, 1776, Beaumarchais's military supplies.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, November 29th, 1776, Military officers recommended.—Colonel Conway.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, December 1st, 1776, Thoughts on the means of defraying the expenses of the war.—A loan for the purpose. —Great resources in the western lands.—Plan for constituting them a pledge to redeem a loan. —Credit of the different European powers.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, December 3d, 1776, Military articles shipped for the use of the United States.
To John Jay. Paris, December 3d, 1776, Plan of a treaty with France sketched by Mr Deane.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, December 6th, 1776, List of officers destined to serve in the United States.—Agreement with the Marquis de la Fayette, and Baron de Kalb.
To Count de Vergennes. Paris, December 8th, 1776, Arrival of Dr Franklin at Nantes.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, December 12th, 1776,
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, January 20th, 1777, Disappointment in shipping the military articles. —M. du Coudray censured.
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence.
67
74
76
[Pg xv]
77
88
90
96
100
100
101
Paris, February 6th, 1777,
To the Committee of Secret Correspondence. Paris, February 27th, 1777,
To the President of Congress. Paris, April 8th, 1777,
To Robert Morris. Paris, August 23d, 1777, Particulars relating to the American ships in French ports.—Conduct of the government towards them.
To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Paris, September 3d, 1777, Account of articles shipped under charge of Captain Landais.
To the Committee of Foreign Affairs. Paris, September 10th, 1777, Articles shipped.—M. Francy, agent for Hortalez & Co.
To Robert Morris. Paris, September 23d, 1777, Remarks concerning the commercial agency at Nantes.
Committee of Foreign Affairs to Silas Deane. York, in Pennsylvania, December 4th, 1777,
James Lovell to Silas Deane. York, December 8th, 1777, Communicating the resolution of Congress for Mr Deane's recall.
Count de Vergennes to the President Congress. Versailles, March 25th, 1778, Approving Mr Deane's conduct in France.
Count de Vergennes to Versailles, March 26th, 1778, Commendatory of his conduct.
Silas
of
Deane.
Dr Franklin to the President of Congress. Passy, March 31st, 1778, Approving Mr Deane's conduct.
To the President of Congress. Delaware Bay, July 10th, 1778, Notice of his arrival.
103
103
104
105
112
113
114
[Pg xvi]
117
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To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, July 28, 1778, Proposes to give Congress information respecting the state of their affairs in Europe.
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, September 8th, 1778,
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, September 11th, 1778,
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, September 22d, 1778, Nature of communications made to Congress. —Offers any further information that may be desired.
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, September 24th, 1778, Asks copies of Mr Izard's letters to Congress.
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, October 7th, 1778,
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, October 12th, 1778,
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, October 12th, 1778, Reply to charges in Mr Izard's letters, respecting commercial and other transactions in France.
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, October 12th, 1778, Vindication against charges made to Congress by Arthur Lee.—Political and commercial transactions in France.—Dr Franklin.—Affair of Dunkirk.—Vindication of Dr. Franklin against Mr Lee's charges.—Count Lauragais.—M. Holker. —Mr Williams.
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, October 12th, 1778, History of the eleventh and twelfth articles of the treaty with France.
To the President of Congress. Philadelphia, November 1st, 1778, Communicating a project for the redemption of the Continental money;—and a plan for equipping a fleet for defending the coasts and commerce of the United States.
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[Pg xvii]
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