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mously to step in for the relief of an oppressed people, or whether, if, as it seems likely to happen, we should be obliged to break off all connexion with Britain, and declare ourselves an independent people, there is any state or power in Europe who would be willing to enter into an alliance with us for the benefit of our commerce, which amounted, before the war, to near seven millions sterling per annum, and must continually increase, as our people increase most rapidly. Confiding, my dear friend, in your good-will to us and to our cause, and in your sagacity and abilities for business, the committee of congress, appointed for the purpose of establishing and conducting a correspondence with our friends in Europe, of which committee I have the honor to be a member, have directed me to request of you that, as you are situated at the Hague, where ambassadors from all the courts reside, you would make use of the opportunity that situation affords you, of discovering, if possible, the disposition of the several courts with respect to such assistance or alliance, if we should apply for the one, or propose the other. As it may possibly be necessary, in particular instances, that you should, for this purpose, confer directly with some great ministers, and show them this letter as your credential, we only recommend it to your discretion, that you proceed therein with such caution, as to keep the same from the knowledge of the English ambassador, and prevent any public appearance at present of your being employed in any such business, as thereby, we imagine, many inconveniences may be avoided, and your means of rendering us service increased.

That you may be better able to answer some ques

tions, which will probably be put to you, concerning our present situation, we inform you that the whole continent is very firmly united, the party for the measures of the British ministry being very small, and much dispersed that we have had on foot, the last campaign, an army of near twenty-five thousand men, wherewith we have been able not only to block up the king's army in Boston, but to spare considerable detachments for the invasion of Canada, where we have met with great success, as the printed papers sent herewith will inform you, and have now reason to expect the whole province may be soon in our possession-that we purpose greatly to increase our force for the ensuing year; and thereby we hope, with the assistance of a well-disciplined militia, to be able to defend our coast, notwithstanding its great extent-that we have already a small squadron of armed vessels, to protect our coasting trade, who have had some success in taking several of the enemy's cruisers, and some of their transport vessels and store-ships. This little naval force we are about to augment, and expect it may be more considerable in the next summer.

We have hitherto applied to no foreign power. We are using the utmost industry in endeavoring to make saltpetre, and with daily increasing success. Our artificers are also every where busy in fabricating small arms, casting cannon, &c.; yet both arms and ammunition are much wanted. Any merchants who would venture to send ships laden with those articles might make great profit; such is the demand in every colony, and such generous prices are and will be given; of which, and of the manner of conducting such a voyage, the bearer, Mr. Storey,

can more fully inform you: and whoever brings in those articles is allowed to carry off the value in provisions to our West Indies, where they will probably fetch a very high price, the general exportation from North America being stopped. This you will see more particularly in a printed resolution of the congress.

We are in great want of good engineers, and wish you could engage and send us two able ones, in time for the next campaign, one acquainted with field service, sieges, &c. and the other with fortifying of sea-ports. They will, if well recommended, be made very welcome, and have honorable appointments, besides the expenses of their voyage hither, in which Mr. Storey can also advise them. As what we now request of you, besides taking up your time, may put you to some expense, we send you for the present, enclosed, a bill for one hundred pounds sterling to defray such expenses, and desire you to be assured that your services will be considered and honorably rewarded by the congress.

We desire, also, that you would take the trouble of receiving from Arthur Lee, esq., agent for the congress in England, such letters as may be sent by him to your care, and of forwarding them to us with your dispatches. When you have occasion to write to him to inform him of any thing, which it may be of importance that our friends there should be acquainted with, please to send your letters to him, under cover, directed to Mr. Alderman Lee, merchant, on Tower-hill, London; and do not send it by post, but by some trusty shipper, or other prudent person, who will deliver it with his own hand. And when you send to us, if you have not a direct

safe opportunity, we recommend sending by way of St. Eustatia, to the care of Messrs. Robert and Cornelius Stevenson, merchants there, who will forward your dispatches to me. With sincere and great esteem and respect, I am, sir, &c.

B. FRANKLIN.

TO JOHN HANCOCK, ESQ. PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. Nantes, Dec. 8, 1776.

SIR,

In thirty days after we left the capes of Delaware we came to an anchor in Quiberon Bay. I remained on board four days, expecting a change of wind proper to carry the ship into the river Loire ; but the wind seeming fixed in an opposite quarter, I landed at Auray, and with difficulty got hither, the road not being well supplied with means of conveyance. Two days before we saw land we met a brigantine from Bordeaux belonging to Cork, and another from Rochefort belonging to Hull, both of which were taken. The first has on board staves, tar, turpentine, and claret: the other, Coniac brandy and flax-seed. There is some difficulty in determining what to do with them, as they are scarce worth sending to America, and the mind of the French court with regard to prizes brought into their ports is not yet known. It is certainly contrary to their treaties with Britain to permit the sale of them, and we have no regular means of trying and condemning them. There are, however, many here who would purchase prizes, we having already had several offers from persons who are willing to take upon themselves all consequences as to the illegality.

Captain Wickes, as soon as he can get his refreshments, intends a cruise in the channel. Our friends

in France have been a good deal dejected with the gazette accounts of advantages obtained against us by the British troops. I have helped them here to recover their spirits a little, by assuring them that we still face the enemy, and were under no apprehensions of their two armies being able to complete their junction.

I understand Mr. Lee has lately been at Paris, that Mr. Deane is still there, and that an underhand supply is obtained from the government, of two hundred brass field pieces, thirty thousand firelocks, and some other military stores, which are now shipping for America, and will be convoyed by a ship of war.

The court of England, Mr. Penet tells me (from whom I have the above intelligence), had the folly to demand Mr. Deane to be delivered up, but were refused.

Our voyage though not long was rough, and I feel myself weakened by it; but I now recover strength daily, and in a few days shall be able to undertake the journey to Paris. I have not yet taken any public character, thinking it prudent first to know whether the court is ready and willing to receive ministers publicly from the congress: that we may neither embarrass her on the one hand, nor subject ourselves to the hazard of a disgraceful refusal on the other, I have dispatched an express to Mr. Deane, with the letters I had for him from the committee and a copy of our commission, that he may immediately make the proper inquiries, and give me information. In the mean time, I find it is generally supposed here, that I am sent to negotiate, and that opinion appears to give great pleasure, if I can judge by the extreme civilities I meet with from numbers

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