<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0191

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Committee of Secret Correspondence
Recipient: the Massachusetts Council

Honble Gentlemen,

The number and vigilance of our enemies hath prevented us hitherto from
sending the enclosed Despatches through these southern ports And since
it is of the last importance to the American Cause that these letters
should reach their destination with all possible dispatch, We beg the
favor of you, Gentlemen, to cause the quickest Sailing vessel that to
be directly engaged on continental account to carry the Packet No. 1
directly to France. We wish the Captain to be a man of secrecy and
discretion, that without disclosing to any one his destination or his
business, he may immediately on his arrival repair by post to Paris,
deliver the letters with his own hand to the Gentlemen they are
intended for, or to any one of them, receive their answer, and be
governed by their directions touching his return and the port he is to
come to.1

We meet with so much difficulty in the business of Remittance, that we are
desirous this vessel should take with her such Merchandize as she can
conveniently without injuring her sailing, but by no means occasion any
delay. For this purpose the Secret Committee send a letter to their
Agent which You will please to convey to
him,2 that he may while the vessel is
fitting, prepare a small cargo for her.

The Merchants in Nantes on whom we send a letter of credit for the Captain,
will inform him where to find either, or all of the Gentlemen, to whom
the letters are addressed in Paris. Your drafts on the Congress
committee of Secret Correspondence for the expense incurred in this
business shall be duly honored.

The Packets No. 2 are duplicates, and we wish may be sent by any vessel
going to France, but under the care of a discreet person employed by
you at Continental expense to go passenger; and to repair immediately
with his dispatchs to Paris, and deliver them himself to the gentlemen
they are intended for. He will as in the other case take his directions
from the gentlemen as to the time of his return.

You will please, Gentn, to direct the person to whose care these Packets
are committed to have them sealed up in a Bag with weights ready to be
sunk in the sea, if there should be a certainty of their being taken by
the enemy, as it may be attended with the worst consequences should the
enemy get possession of them.

Yrs &ca.

B. Harrison
R.H. Lee
W Hooper

Notes:

File copy, Papers of Continental Congress, item 79, U.S. National Archives
and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

1 The Massachusetts Council replied indirectly to this letter through Robert
Morris as chairman of the Secret Committee. Responding to a now
missing February 7 letter from Morris, Jeremiah Powell notified him
that the council had met with John Bradford and that he would fit out
a ship. Powell concluded that “as soon as she is ready we shall
Transmit the dispatches we have received from the Committee of Secret
Correspondance in the method they have directed.” PCC, item 65, 1:187 – 88. See also Robert Morris to John Bradford, January 23 and
February 7, 1777.

2 Not found.