[dateline] Passy, 13 April 1778.
Mercklé, described by JA as “a Dutchman and another Adventurer, who applied to Us for Assistance, without any fair Claim to it,” in May 1776 had applied to the congress and apparently convinced the Committee of Commerce to allow him to act as a commercial agent in Europe (
Diary and Autobiography
, 4:403; Samuel Flagg Bemis, “Secret Intelligence, 1777: Two Documents,” Huntington Library Quarterly
, 24:239 [May 1961]). By April 1778 the Commissioners had concluded that Mercklé was unfit to serve the United States in any capacity (Silas Deane to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, 10 Jan. 1777; Arthur Lee to Richard Henry Lee, 6 March 1777,
, 1:455; 2:21; Commissioners to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, 17 Jan., 4 March, 7 Oct. 1777, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev.
, 2:248, 278,405). For Mercklé's reply and his effort to influence JA in his favor, see 27 April