Papers of John Adams, volume 11

From “Boston”

To C. W. F. Dumas

From Benjamin Franklin, 7 April 1781 Franklin, Benjamin JA


From Benjamin Franklin, 7 April 1781 Franklin, Benjamin Adams, John
From Benjamin Franklin
Sir Passy, April 7. 1781

Among the late intercepted Letters from London, is one from the Army Agent there to the Traitor Arnold, by which it appears that his Bribe was 5000 £ Sterling, in Bills drawn on Harley & Drummond, who are the Contractors for furnishing the Army with Money. Inclos'd I send you a Copy of that Letter, and shall send you others by next Post.1

The English Papers tell us, that you have succeeded in your Loan. Be so good as to inform me if it is true. It will give me great Pleasure. I obtain'd here, before Col. Laurens's Arrival, a Promise of 6,000,000 for our Army, to which I hope his Sollicitations will make a considerable Addition. The Marquis de la Fayette sail'd the 27th. past, under Convoy of the Alliance, with a fair Wind, and a Cargo for the Publick, of Arms, Clothing, &c. valued at 1,000,000 .

With great Respect, I am, Sir, Your Excellency's most obedient & most humble Servant

B Franklin

RC (Adams Papers).


The packet Anna Theresa, bound from Falmouth to New York, sailed on 15 March. Soon thereafter a French frigate captured it and carried it into Lorient. The crew threw the mail overboard, but it failed to sink and the crew of the frigate retrieved it. The mail included numerous letters from Lord George Germain and others to officials in America. At least sixteen of the intercepted letters found their way into Franklin's hands and he enclosed them with a duplicate of his letter of 12 March to the president of Congress, which reached that body on or about 16 July (London Chronicle, 5–7 April; JCC , 20:750–751; PCC, No. 51, I, f. 777–828). Many of the letters soon appeared, some with editorial commentary attached, in American newspapers, including the Pennsylvania Gazette (25 July; 1, 15, and 29 Aug.; 1 Sept.) and the Boston Independent Chronicle (16 and 23 Aug.).

Franklin's enclosure has not been found, but from his description it clearly was James Meyrick's letter to Benedict Arnold, dated 30 Jan., Parliament Street, London. Meyrick gave an account of his investment of £5,000 in bills of exchange drawn on Harley & Drummond that he received from Arnold. A French translation of the letter, possibly supplied by JA, appeared in the Gazette de Leyde of 20 April. For additional intercepted letters Franklin sent to JA, see his letter of 29 April, note 2, below.