5. Capt. John Folger, a passenger on the sloop Benjamin
, Capt. Ricot, was employed by the American Commissioners to deliver dispatches to the congress. He landed in Wilmington, N.C., in late Dec. 1777, ostensibly bearing the first news from the Commissioners to get through to America since the preceding May. When the packet was opened, however, it contained, apart from some private letters, nothing but blank papers. This discovery prompted a lengthy investigation by the congress and the imprisonment for some months of Folger, who was suspected of complicity despite his vehement denials, but who eventually was released for lack of evidence. The Committee for Foreign Affairs warned the Commissioners to be more careful in their choice of couriers, for Folger had been at the least very indiscreet, as depositions from North Carolina, where he first landed, made plain (same, 2:468–469; PCC
, No. 59, I, f. 81–110). The means by which blank paper was substituted for the dispatches is recounted in Lewis Einstein, Divided Loyalties
, Boston, 1933, ch. 2.