A Political and Civil History of the United States of America, from the Year 1763 to the Close of the Administration of President Washington, in March, 1797: Including a Summary View of the Political and Civil State of the North American Colonies, Prior to That Period - Vol. 1

By Timothy Pitkin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X.

Committee of Secret correspondence appointed by Congress--Direct a Letter to be sent to a gentleman in Holland--Send Silas Deane to France, in March 1776, as a Commercial and Political Agent--His instructions--Arrives in Paris in July 1776--Has an interview with the French Minister, Count de Vergennes--Is well received and promised protection in his commercial arrangements--French ports open to the Americans--Mr. Deane was to appear in the character of a merchant only--Congress prepare a commercial treaty to be proposed to France--Dr. Franklin, Mr. Deane, and Arthur Lee, appointed commissioners to the French Court--Their instructions--Meet at Paris in Dec. 1776--France not prepared openly to join the Americans--A paper signed by the King himself, is read to the Commissioners in January 1777--He decline entering into a treaty, but promises them protection, and gives two millions of livres--This to be kept a secret--Congress offer to France and Spain more favorable terms--These terms insufficient--Capture of Burgoyne creates consternation in England--Lord North declares his intention to offer the Americans terms of reconciliation--France accepts the offers of the Americans Commissioners, and enters into treaties--Reasons for this given by the French Monarch in a letter to the King of Spain--Policy of France in relation to America explained-- She affords secret aid to the Americans--For this purpose, secretly puts money and arms into the hands of an Agent, by the name of Beaumarchais--The Agent sends arms to America, under the name of Horttales & Co.--American Commissioners send despatches by Capt. Folger--They are secretly taken out by some one, and blank papers substituted--Folger suspected and is imprisoned, but afterwards released--Beaumarchais sends an Agent to America, to demand payment for the articles furnished by him--Divisions in Congress on the subject--Congress agree to pay Beaumarchais--Deane recalled--Thomas Paine publishes some of the secret despatches--Displeases the French Minister--He applies to Congress to disavow the publication--Arthur Lee's letters relating to the claim of Beaumarchais--The officers of the Treasury charge him with one million of livres paid to him by France, for the use of the Americans--He disputes this, and applies to Congress for relief.

AT an early stage of the contest with Great Britain, the attention of congress had been drawn, to the subject of securing foreign aid, in case of necessity. This interesting portion of American history, now claims our notice. On the 29th of November 1775, a committee, consisting of Mr. Harrison, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Dickinson, and Mr. Jay, was appointed for the sole purpose of holding a secret correspondence, with the friends of

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