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Letter from Committee of Secret Correspondence to Silas Deane



Philadelphia, October 24, 1776.

DEAR SIR: We embrace this opportunity of your worthy colleague, and our mutual good friend, Doctor Franklin, to transmit you copies of our letters of the 1st October, by the sloop Independence, Captain Young, to Martinico, from whence they would be carried to you by Mr˙ William Hodge, Jun˙, sent in said sloop for that purpose. Those letters contained a commission from the Congress appointing Dr˙ Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Esq˙, and yourself, Commissioners on behalf of the United States of America, to negotiate a treaty of alliance and amity and peace with the Court of France; a plan of that treaty; instructions from Congress relative thereto; form of passports for the ships of each nation, &c. We consider these papers as of the utmost consequence, and hope they will arrive safe.

Yesterday we wrote you a few lines, enclosing additional instructions from Congress to their Commissioners, authorizing them to treat with other nations; also, two resolves of Congress, by one of which you would see that Thomas Jefferson, Esq˙, declined his appointment, and that Arthur Lee, Esq˙, was appointed in his stead, to whom we enclosed a letter, copy whereof goes herewith. By the other the Commissioners are directed to hire or buy eight line-of-battle ships for the American service. These papers were sent under cover to William Bingham, Esq˙, our resident at Martinico, with orders to forward them immediately.

We wrote you another letter yesterday, covering duplicates of all the papers and letters mentioned herein, and sent it by the armed brigantine Lexington, William Hallock, Esq˙, commander, to Mr˙ Stephen Ceronio, our resident at Cape Frangois, with directions to forward them to Messrs˙ Samuel & J˙ Hans Delap, merchants at Bordeaux, who are requested to send the packet from thence by express to you; and Dr˙ Franklin carries with him triplicates of all these publick papers. We have been thus particular in mentioning them, and the conveyances by which they were sent, that you may know when the whole are received; and we desire you to be equally pointed in advising us thereof, for we shall be anxious to hear of their getting safe, and shall be very uneasy if we don' t hear this in due time, for they ought not on any account to fall into the hands of our enemies.

Since Mr˙ Dickinson and Mr˙ Harrison were out of Congress, and Dr˙ Franklin appointed one of the Commissioners at the Court of France, the Congress have filled up the vacancies in this Committee, and the members now are Mr˙ Jay, Mr˙ Johnston, Mr˙ Morris, Colonel Richard Henry Lee, Mr˙ William Hooper, and Dr˙ John Witherspoon, which we mention for your information.

We shall continue to address all our advices and dispatches


to you only, until informed that the other Commissioners have joined you; but you will communicate the letters to them as if directed to the whole, and we depend on you to notify Dr˙ Lee of his appointment, using the utmost precaution in the method of doing it, or his person may be endangered. We suppose it may be best to have the letter enclosed by the Ministers of France to their Ambassador in England, with proper cautions respecting the delivery of it. Dr˙ Franklin being the bearer of this letter, it is totally unnecessary for us to enter into any detail of what is passing here, or to convey any political remarks. He being possessed of every knowledge necessary for your information, will communicate very fully every thing you can wish to know.

Therefore wishing you a happy meeting with him, and a successful issue to your labours in: the service of your country, we remain, with perfect esteem and regard, dear sir, your affectionate friends and obedient, humble servants.

To Silas Deane, Esq.