<br /> Lee Letter: n340_0502

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Secret Committee
Recipient: John Langdon


Your letter of the 18th Ultimo has been delivered us by Capt Wentworth
together with the Several dispatches that came by the French Ship
Mercury, Capt. Dudoger, and have afforded particular Satisfaction to
the Congress as they must to all well wishers of America. We are
Surprized not to find amongst these dispatches, any letter of
instructions or directions respecting this Ship. We do not see any
Charter party, or Agreement, nor any Copy of Such, nor in short any
Rule whatever to go by. The Ship it Seems was dispatched in haste from
Nantes, the Contracting parties we apprehend were in Paris and they
have contrived to leave us totally in the dark as to the Nature and
terms of their Agreement. We must therefore request that you will apply
to the Captain, request him to produce the Charter party or a Copy of
it, if any he has, the Bills of Loading he Signed for the Cargo, the
instructions he has from his Owners or from our Commissioners or the
Agents they employed to transact this Affair.

We only wish to know the Actual terms on which this Ship came out and the
real intention of her future employment and we would choose to comply
therewith. Circumstanced as we are, it is impossible to determine here
what must be done with her but Should you discover that our
Commissioners meant She should be loaden with Rice dispatch her to
Charles Town South Carolina addressed to Messrs. Livinius Clarkson
& John Dorsius directing them to load and dispatch her Agreeable to
the design of our Commissioners. Should it appear that She was intended
to Load Tobacco Send her into James River Virginia addressed to Mr
Benjamin Harrison Junr of Berkly Charles City County. If Flour was the
object she may come here, but if no Particular commodity was promised
and it was only meant that this Ship Should bring out her Cargo to
America and carry back from thence any Cargo we might have for her, we
should not wish in this Case to risque the Ships going to any Other
Port, but would Choose you Should load her with a Cargo of Masts,
Spars, and such Other commodities as you can Collect on Reasonable
terms and are Suited for the European Markets. The Cargo must go
Consigned to the Order of the American Commissioners at the Court of
Versailles and the Neat proceeds to be disposed of as they may direct.
Whatever Charges arise on the Ship & the advances you make for the
Captain You will transmit a fair and clear Account thereof, with the
Captains acknowledgement of the receipt of them, together with the
Invoice & bill of Loading for the Cargo to the Honorable Doctor
Franklin, Silas Deane & Arthur Lee Esqrs. American Commissioners at
Paris &c &c.

Respecting the Cargo you have received by this Ship you will find enclosed
herewith Certain Resolves of Congress the 31st
Ultimo1 which you will please to comply
with and we must also observe to you that by another Resolve passed the
24th Feby all Continental Arms are directed to be Marked and
stamped,2 that resolve is published and
we request you will have all these Arms (not already delivered out)
properly marked & stamped the charge for doing it may be placed to
our Account. After Complying with the Resolves of Congress you’l please
to deliver the remainder of the Powder, Arms & Flints to the Order
of the Continental Board of war of which the Honble John Adams esqr. is
chairman and the Residue of the Cargo to James Mease Esqr. the
Cloath[ier General] or to his Order, but as no perfect Invo[ice of]
these Goods has been transmitted us, we [must] trouble you to take
Inventories of every thing you deliver and transmit us Copies thereof
with the Receipts of those you deliver them to. As you are in want of
money to pay the former Ballance and will want more to load this Ship
we send you by Capt. Geo Wentworth Twenty Thousd Dollars which is
charged to your Account.3

We are, sir,
Your obed servts,

Robt Morris
Richard Henry Lee
Wm. Whipple


Receiver’s copy, owned by Capt. J. G. M. Stone (1973), Annapolis, Md. In a
clerical hand and signed by Morris, Lee, and Whipple.

1 See JCC, 7:211 – 12.

2 See JCC, 7:151.

3 The committee also enclosed the dimensions for a ship of 74 guns, which had
been requested by Langdon in his January 23 letter to Whipple. See
Morgan, Naval Documents, 7:1020″21.