America’s First Black Ops

Left to right: Beaumarchais, Viscount Stormont, Vergennes, Silas Deane (Wikimedia Commons)

Pierre-Augustin de Caron, better known by his stage name, Beaumarchais, was a French playwright, financier, and confidant of King Louis XVI. In the spring of 1775, he travelled to London to take care of some business for Comte de Vergennes, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and spend some time with his friend John Wilkes. At a dinner party one night at Wilkes’ home, he was introduced to Arthur Lee, the Massachusetts agent in London. Over the course of several weeks, Beaumarchais learned from Lee a great deal about the American cause as well as the problems America faced in her struggle for independence – the biggest being the need for arms, munitions, and technical assistance. Then one night Lee told Beaumarchais that America was willing to offer

France a secret treaty of commerce. This treaty [would] give France a certain number of years after peace is established, all the advantages of that commerce with which for a century America has enriched England [1]

Beaumarchais immediately informed Vergennes of the conversation. Over the next several months, he wrote a number of letters to Vergennes, each in one way or another encouraging support for America.

On February 29, 1776, Beaumarchais, who had returned to France the previous November, wrote directly to King Louis XVI by way of Vergennes. His letter, addressed La Paix ou la Guerre – Au Roi seul (”Peace or War – To the King alone”), laid out a convincing argument for offering aid:

The famous quarrel between America and England will soon divide the world and change the system of Europe … While a violent crisis is approaching with great rapidity, I am obliged to warn your majesty that the preservation of our possessions in America, and the peace which your Majesty appears to desire so much, depend solely upon this one proposition: the Americans must be assisted … If the English triumph over the Americans, their victory would embolden them to expand their American empire by seizing the French West Indies … we will not incur that danger if we adopt the plan I propose of secretly assisting the Americans without compromising ourselves. [2]

Vergennes did not pass the letter on to the King right away. He was still trying to understand the mixed message that the American Congress was sending to Europe as to her intentions, that is, one day adopting the Olive Branch Petition and the next day adopting the Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms. He was also concerned with Arthur Lee’s ties to the British government, whether Washington would welcome a French return to North America when twenty years earlier he called them “our perfidious, false, and cruel enemies,” and his country’s unpreparedness for war.

It was not until March 12 that Vergennes, with the backing of his Cabinet, presented Beaumarchais’ La Paix ou la Guerre to the king; two weeks later, he reminded Beaumarchais “You understand my dear fellow that neither we nor His Majesty wish to compromise ourselves in any way shape or form.” [3]

By mid-April the king was open to the overall scheme, but before granting his royal approval he wished to hear how the plan would be executed. Vergennes then presented Beaumarchais’ plan. The Royal Treasury would provide Beaumarchais with one million livres with which he would set up a front company, the Roderigue Hortalez et Compagnie. To conceal the French government’s involvement and maintain its plausible deniability, the King was to have the check made payable to Vergennes’ fifteen-year old son, Duvergier, who would then endorse it over to Roderigue Hortalez et Compagnie. Following the French and Indian War, the French had modernized their muskets and artillery. Beaumarchais would buy the outdated arms with half of the money and the other half would be first converted (or laundered) into Portuguese currency and then lent to the Americans to buy the arms from his company. This plan made sure that over time all of the money would return to the French Treasury. Beaumarchais was responsible for providing the armaments, the Americans were responsible for the ships to transport them. The armaments would be shipped to the French West Indies where they would be transferred to American ships. Simply, the supplies would disappear in France and reappear in America.

On May 2, King Louis XVI approved of the scheme. Over the next four months, Beaumarchais would visit most the French ports on the Atlantic looking for deep harbors, large warehouses, harbormasters that could be influenced, and merchant houses that would manage his transactions. At Le Havre he chose Messr. Eyries & Le Coureur as his agents; at Nantes, Le Pellettier & du Doyer; at Bordeaux, David Gradis & Son; at Rochford, Heber de St. Clement; at L’Orient, Dujat Ancient Secretary of the Marine; at Brest, Le Baron; and at Rochelle, Le Conte Ancient Counsellor to the Sovereign Council of Lisle de France. [4]

On June 10, Beaumarchais received the million livres. King Louis XVI then wrote to his Bourbon cousin, the King of Spain, and asked him to consider investing in the scheme. The King agreed and sent a second million to the French Treasury. On August 11, Beaumarchais received the second million, again by way of Vergennes’ son.[5] Beaumarchais raised a third million when he sold shares in his company to some French businessmen, ship owners Arthur Mantaudouin and Jean Gabriel Mantaudouin de La Touche, merchant Jacques Donatien Leray de Chaumont, financier/banker Joseph Peyrera, merchant/trader Jean Pelletier du Doyer, and ship charterer Jean-Joseph de Monthieu. The money was to be used to buy new arms, additional gunpowder, and non-military stores: clothing, sail material, anchors, and camp equipage, etc.

Once Beaumarchais had returned to France his communication with Lee all but ended. There were a number of reasons for this: first, Vergennes was still concerned with Lee’s ties to the British government; second, Vergennes wanted to protect the clandestine nature of the company’s activities; and third, the Committee of Secret Correspondence of the Continental Congress had appointed an agent to Paris. His appointment was made without the knowledge of Congress because according to Benjamin Franklin, “We find, by fatal experience, the Congress consists of too many members to keep secrets.” [6] The agent was Silas Deane, a delegate from Connecticut. His mission was to secure military supplies and recruit engineers for the Continental Army.

On June 6, Deane, posing as a wealthy merchant from Bermuda, arrived in Bordeaux. Exactly one month later, he arrived in Paris. He was directed by Franklin to contact his friend, Dr. Jacques Barbeu-Dubourg, who would serve as his translator and arrange an introduction with Vergennes. In the meeting on July 11, Deane presented his letter of introduction and explained the purpose of his mission. The three men met again the next day; it was at this meeting that Vergennes stated that the French government could not sell him military supplies because it would violate their peace treaty with Britain, but Deane might be able to purchase the supplies from a private businessman by the name of Beaumarchais. On July 18, Beaumarchais sent Deane a letter of introduction and mentioned that he been working on a plan to provide the Americans with the supplies they sought. On July 20, Deane shared with Beaumarchais his commission as well as his instructions, a summary of his meeting with Vergennes, and “an invoice of the clothing … and stores necessary for [the Continental] army;”[7] on July 22, Beaumarchais confirmed that the supplies could be secured and explained how the Americans could gain possession of them:

the goods [from France] that cannot be sent directly to the mainland … shall be [sent to] our West Indies islands, and all the American vessels that may come thither with produce of the mainland shall, whenever possible, take cargoes from the goods in my Storehouses, carry them across, and thus establish a sort of ferry from our islands to the mainland, and back again … As to the value of the returns, I estimate it on the exact figures of their sale in Europe, deducting all charges. [8]

Two days later, Deane accepted the terms, writing,

I have considered the Letter you honored me with the 22nd, and am of the opinion that your proposals for regulating the Prices of the Goods and Stores are just & equitable. [9]

Beaumarchais wrote to the Committee of Secret Correspondence on August 18. He informed the committee that he would supply them “with necessities of every sort – clothes, linens, powder, ammunition, muskets, cannon, or even gold for the payment of your troops,” that he would have “a correspondent in each of our seaport towns, who, on arrival of your vessels, shall wait on the captains, and offer every service in my power,” and that “whenever you choose to receive my goods in any of our windward or leeward islands, you have only to inform me of it, and my correspondents shall be there according to your orders.” [10]

Once the British learned of the ferry, or West Indies warehouse purchase, system, the Americans had to devise a third way to secure the arms. Their plan was convoluted but effective. One or two privateers were sent to the West Indies when a ship was scheduled to arrive. After it had been in the harbor, one of the privateers would “hoist a French pendant and a Dutch flag at the main top mast head and fire three Guns.” This was the signal for the ship to leave the harbor. Once in open waters, under a false pretext, she would be captured by the privateers and carried away.

The captain will protest against the act of violence and threaten to complain to Congress. The ship would be conducted [to an American port], Congress would disavow the behavior of the Privateer[s], give liberty to the ship, and make an obliging excuse for the insult committed against the French Flag. While the ship was in the American port, the cargo would be taken off, and the hold was filled with tobacco. [11]

Deane on March 19 informed Beaumarchais,

I find I shall not be able to provide [the ships] so early as is necessary at any rate, and I fear not without making their destination and object too public … and now propose that you would take the procuring of the vessels necessary on you. [12]

Beaumarchais would eventually employ nine French ships as transports. They were the 480 ton l’Amphitrite (later renamed the Ranger), the 210 ton l’Amelie (formerly the Le Romaine), the 360 ton l’Heureux (later renamed Flammand), the 317 ton le Mercure, le Marquis de la Chalotais, the 420 ton le Comte de Vergennes (later renamed la Therese), the 350 ton la Seine, the 30 ton Mere Bobie, and the Marie Catharine. [13] In the agreement, it was

expressly covenanted and agreed … that all risks of the sea … shall be on account of the Congress … and shall be paid agreeably to … the bills of each … [and] if the Americans detain these vessels longer than two months in their ports, … all demurrage, wages, or expenses from the day of their arrival to that of their departure shall be at their charge and paid by them. [14]

By the end of November, Beaumarchais had chartered three ships, l’Amphitrite, le Mercure, and la Seine, but without the ships that Deane had originally promised, he needed additional warehouse space to store the supplies that he had amassed at le Havre and Nantes. His activities began to draw the attention of the informants working for Lord Stormont, the British Ambassador to France. Through them he learned

Beaumarchais has engaged to furnish the Rebels with two hundred pieces of Cannon Sixty Thousand Stand of arms, and a very large Quantity of ammunition, all which is now assembling at [le] Havre … Three million of Livres have been advanced to [Beaumarchais] to carry on this Commerce … Mr. Deane was at Versailles … [and has] obtained a promise of a french Vessel to carry to America a Number of offivcers, ammunition, Cloths etc but from what Port that vessel is to sail, I have not yet been able to learn … Franklin who offers France the exclusive Trade of North America is much listend to and there are … too many Indications of the insidious Designs of this Court and too much Rewason to apprehend that in a few Months they will pull off the mask and change these Secret Succours to the rebels into open assistance … Five Ships are preparing to sail from Havre, L’Orient, Nantes, or la Rochelle. These Ships, which are laden with Ammunition, Cloth, and various other Effects, for the use of the Rebels, are to carry French colours, and to clear out for St. Domingo. [15]

All of this was reported to Lord Weymouth, the British Secretary of State for the Southern Department, in a series of dispatches. [16]

On January 29, Stormont met with Vergennes and demanded an explanation. Vergennes

Seemed rather embarrassed, [he] assured me, that the whole was absolutely new to him; that indeed it did not, as I knew, relate to his Department, but to that of M de Sartine, to whom he would Speak upon the Subject. [17]

Following the meeting, Vergennes had no recourse but to prohibit the three ships from sailing. Over the following week, Deane and Beaumarchais separately pleaded with Vergennes to release the ships; Beaumarchais stated that he faced financial ruin if the ships were not released. On February 3, Vergennes lifted the prohibition with the understanding that all arms transported on French ships must sail to a French port and all arms transported to an American port must sail on American ships. On February 5, the three ships were permitted to set sail.

On February 16, Stormont learned that the American Commissioners were attempting to reach an agreement with the Farmers-General for the purchase of a large amount of tobacco. He pointed out to Lord Weymouth “the obvious importance of frustrating this Agreement and depriving the Rebels of the Supply … by our Cruizers.” [18] On February 28, the British Admiralty stationed five ships, the Speedwell, the Courageux, the Royal Oak, the Ranger, and the Hector, in the shipping lanes leading to and from le Havre. Between April 21 and June 18, seven American ships carrying immense cargoes of agricultural products were captured by these ships: the George on April 21, the Florian on May 4, the Billy and Mary on May 19, the Mercer on May 21, the Active on May 27, the Three Brothers on June 17, and the Three Sisters on June 18.

Franklin and Deane petitioned Vergennes on March 1 to reconsider his understanding with Beaumarchais. Vergennes’ response to the Commissioners was vague and open to interpretation; he said “No notice can be taken of commercial operations made by private individuals. No one is restrained in this respect, while keeping with the limits of circumspection.” [19] Beaumarchais either had anticipated the response or chose to totally ignore Vergennes’ directive of February 3 because he gave the captain of the Amphitrite verbal instructions for his ship and the Mercure not to sail to St. Pierre, Martinique as their manifests stated with the Seine, but rather to sail directly for Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

On March 17, the Mercure arrived in Portsmouth; on March 18, the Seine in St. Pierre, Martinique; and on April 20, the Amphitrite in Portsmouth. Between them, they brought 1,180 barrels of gunpowder, 18,119 muskets and 317 cases of muskets, 266,000 gunflints, 12,648 iron balls, 9,000 grenades, 315 bombs, 345 grape-shot, 52 cannons with carriages, 191 bales of tents or tent covers, 24,000 lbs. of lead balls, 20,160 4 lb. cannon balls, 48 bales of woolens, and 2,900 pickaxes for General Washington’s army. [20] Some historians assert that without these supplies the Americans might not have been victorious at Saratoga six months later.

On March 19, Stormont emphasized to Weymouth the importance of stopping any French or Dutch ship that was suspected of transporting military supplies to the Americans.

I am more and more persuaded … that nothing but the Vigilance, and activity of our Cruizers, can Stop these Succours, with which the french will continue to furnish the Rebels, tho’ in direct violation of the friendship they profess. If many of the Ships … fall into our Hands … they [the French] will soon grow tired, of carrying on so losing a Trade. [21]

Beaumarchais’ fourth ship to sail to America was the Le Marquis de la Chalotais;

unfortunately very little is known about the ship. Her captain was Francois J. Foligne-Deschalonges, she departed from Nantes on March 6, she “entered Charleston accompanied by 3 other French vessels on the 4th of May,” she made two trips across the Atlantic with supplies in 1777, part of her cargo on the second trip was 240 cases of arms, and she was captured by the British on February 12. [22]

The L’Amelie, formerly named the Le Romaine and Beaumarchais’ fifth ship, arrived in Cape Francois, Santo Domingue on May 18. She was carrying 19 4-lb.brass cannons with carriages, 6,561 cannon balls, 200 barrels of gunpowder, 288 bombs, 120 bars of lead, 20 cases of musket balls, 100 spades and 100 mattocks. [23]

On June 19, Lord Stormont informed Lord Weymouth that

The french Ministers have within these three or four Days consented that between one and two hundred Tun of Brass shall be sent over to America with proper Workmen to cast it into large Cannon… The Farmers General have actually paid to the Rebel Agents One Million of Livres for which they [expect] to receive Tobacco … and France will never suffer the Colonies to return to their obedience without risking a War to prevent it … I have no doubt the french Ministers have given this Promise and I am inclined to believe they mean to keep it.” [24]

With his agents continuing to report to him that ships filled with military supplies were leaving French ports on a regular basis and that the amount of the supplies was well beyond the needs of the French military in the West Indies, Stormont was becoming frustrated with the responses that Vergennes was giving to his inquiries and protests.

Late in June the La Therese, formerly named the Comte de Vergennes and Beaumarchais’ sixth ship, arrived in Cape Francois. Unlike the previous ships, she carried materials needed for making uniforms:

31,177 of ⅝ broad cloth, 31,112 of ¼ aunes serge fulled 9,352 ⅝ aunes cloth for spatterdashes, 70,864 aunes of linen, 7,038 pairs of shoes, 49,500 pairs of socks, 2,305 blankets, 19,394 pairs of knee buckles 18,972 caps, 12,132 handkerchiefs, and 26,976 hose. [25]      

On April 1, Franklin and Deane had signed a contract with M. Ray de Chaumont to equip a swift packet-boat that each month would carry their dispatches to America and then return with those from Congress. Because of limited space onboard the first ship, the combined cargo of Chaumont and Beaumarchais could not exceed thirty tons for any more would impede her sailing. The cargo belonging to Beaumarchais was twenty bales of broad cloth. It is unclear why Beaumarchais identified the ship as one of his since he did not own it or charter it and it carried so little of his supplies. [26] On July 14, the Mere Bobie, Beaumarchais’ seventh ship, arrived in Portsmouth. This was the only successful voyage of any ship that served as a courier. On the Mere Bobie’s return to Europe she was forced to sink the dispatches she was carrying before being boarded by a British cruiser. The next four ships to serve as couriers were also unsuccessful, each on the front end of their voyage. Two were forced to sink their dispatches in European waters shortly after setting out, one was forced to sink her dispatches in American waters and the fourth foundered near Newfoundland. The contract was cancelled by M. Chaumont shortly thereafter.

Early in September, Beaumarchais’ eighth ship, the Maria & Catharina, arrived in St. Pierre. Her cargo had been loaded aboard the ship six months earlier in Dunkirk but because Stormont knew of the contents, she had to delay her sailing. Her cargo included 34 brass cannons with carriages, 60 barrels of gunpowder, 2700 grenades, 16,872 cannonballs, and 60 caissons of 100,000 musket balls. [27]

The success of the British cruisers off the coast of France was for the most part due to the recommendation of Lord Stormont and the action taken by Lord Weymouth; the success of the British cruisers off the coast of America was due to an order, dated September 10, by Vice Admiral Richard Lord Howe to Capt. Hyde Parker, Jr.

Your [squadron’s] first attention [is] to prevent the Rebels from Putting to Sea with Cargoes of Tobacco whether in American (or Foreign Bottoms) destined for the Ports of France in payment for Supplies of Arms and other Military Stores furnished on those Conditions from that Kingdom[28]

            On December 1, Beaumarchais’ ninth ship, the L’Heureux, arrived in Portsmouth. She was carrying a cargo almost as large as that carried by the l’Amphitrite, 50,000 lbs. of sulfur, 48 brass cannons and carriages, 19 bronze mortars, 20,000 four-pound cannon balls, 3,000 grenades, 3,000 bombs, 8,300 entrenching tools, 150,000 musket shot, 25,000 lbs. of lead balls, 5,000 muskets with bayonets, and 500 pairs of pistols. [29] On board was Beaumarchais’ secretary, M. Theveneau de Francy. Beaumarchais was frustrated that he had not yet received any “agricultural products” from the Continental Congress in compliance with their contract. He sent Francy to look into the matter with Congress. [30] When he arrived in Philadelphia he was confronted with two unexpected problems: the first, Congress had not been informed by the Committee of Secret Correspondence of Deane’s contract with Beaumarchais; and second, Arthur Lee, angry that Beaumarchais had cast him aside for Deane and his plan for his family to profit considerably from the sale of tobacco that would have been paid for by the Congress was lost, had written to his brother in the Continental Congress and the Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 6, “The Minister [Vergennes] has repeatedly assured us [Franklin, Deane, and Lee], and that in the most explicit terms, that no return is expected for these subsidies.” The recently formed Committee of Commerce was directed to look into the matter. After examining the papers brought by Francy, the Committee recommended to Congress that the agent be assured that payment would be made for past shipments.

Stormont, on December 3, all but accused Vergennes and France of colluding with the American rebels. In the memorial he stated,

I have good reason to believe Sir, that a vast Quantity of Arms, purchased for the Rebels, is going to be shipped … at Nantes and L’Orient; If my Intelligence is exact there is no less than fifty thousand Stand of Arms … Such Quantities of Arms cannot be shipped in your Ports without the Knowledge of those who command there, and those Officers never can, or dare suffer a thing of this Nature, if the Intentions of this Court are agreeable to its friendly Professions.

Later that day in a letter to Weymouth, Stormont offered the facts behind his earlier accusation:

Some months ago Mr. Deane purchased of Mons. Monthieu … about eighty thousand Stand of arms at a very low Rate. They were deposited in a large Warehouse [in Nantes] which the Rebel agents hired and which is situated directly over against the Exchange, but on the other Side of the River. In the lower Part of this Warehouse are many Bales of Cloth and other Goods … I have spoken to a Person who has been in this Warehouse and seen and examined the arms. [31]

On February 2, 1778, Lord Camden during a debate in the Committee on the State of the Nation made a foreboding statement:

Notwithstanding the pacific assurances, and the delusive private promises and public acts, which had been boasted of with so much parade, it is now known that the ports of L’Orient and nantz are blocked up by the british naval force. Three frigates are now cruising off those ports, to intercept succours going to America, and to put a stop to that very commerce which the French king, in his public edicts, pretends to prohibit. If ministers should carry their threats into execution, and, from remonstrating, resort to open force, he had not a doubt but a war must be the consequence.[32]

Six days later, Franklin and Deane informed the President of the Continental Congress that

We have now the great satisfaction of acquainting you and the Congress that the treaties with France are at length completed and signed. The first is a treaty of amity and commerce … the other is a treaty of alliance, in which it is stipulated that in case England declares war against France, or occasions a war by attempts to hinder her commerce with us , we should then make common cause of it and join our forces and councils, etc. [33]

When France officially came to the aid of the American rebels, Beaumarchais’ covert operations came to an end; the country of France would now conduct the same operations but in an overt manner. The Commerce Committee of the Continental Congress immediately set in motion plans to send large quantities of tobacco to France. On February 17, Robert Morris informed the committee that the following ships were loaded and soon would set sail: the Speedwell would be carrying 142 hogsheads of tobacco, the Braxton 120 hogsheads, the Governor Johnston 476 hogsheads, the Morris 269, the Chase 492, the George 117, the Virginia 117, and the Boston 117. [34]

But what of the debt owed to Beaumarchais? The story would best be told in another article, but here is a brief summary. In 1779, Beaumarchais wrote to the Congress in an attempt to get them to pay their debt to him. President John Jay apologized for the tardiness of the payment and said the debt would be settled. Nothing happened. In 1782, Beaumarchais sent to Robert Morris the itemized cost related to each ship that he had sent. Nothing happened. In 1793, Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, was directed to examine Beaumarchais’ claim. He concluded that the United States owed him 2,280,000 francs. Nothing happened. In 1795, Beaumarchais made his appeal directly to the American people. Nothing happened. Sadly when Beaumarchais died in 1799, the debt had still not been paid. In 1807, Thomas Jefferson on behalf of the French government asked Attorney General Caesar Rodney to look into the claim. After three months, he concluded that the United States had no legal right to withhold payment from Beaumarchais’ family. Nothing happened. In 1812, President Madison asked the Attorney General William Pinckney again to look into the matter and he agreed with his predecessor’s position. Finally, sixty years later, in 1835, the United States offered a one-time only settlement to Beaumarchais’ family; the amount was 800,000 francs. They accepted the offer, fearing another one would never be made.


[1] Burton J. Hendrick, The Lees of Virginia: Biography of a Family (Boston: Little Brown, 1935), 229.

[2] Louis De Lomenie, Beaumarchais and his Times (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1857), 118-19.

[3] Rene dalseme, Beaumarchais 1732 – 1799 (New York: Knickerbocker Press, 1929), 248.

[4] Naval Documents of the American Revolution (hereafter cited as NDAR) (Washington DC: G.P.O., 1964-), 8:939.

[5] John Durand, New Materials for the History of the American Revolution (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1889), 90.

[6] “Franklin, Morris, et al., Memorandum of October 1, 1776,” Francis Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (Washington DC: Library of Congress, American Memory, 1888), 2:152.

[7] “Deane to Beaumarchais, July 20, 1776,” Ibid., 2:102.

[8] Durand, New Materials for the History of the American Revolution, 97.

[9] “Deane to Beaumarchais, July 24, 1776,” Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:105.

[10] “R. Hortalez & Co. (Beaumarchais) to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, August 18, 1776,” Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:129-32.

[11] “Pierre Augustyn Caron de Beaumarchais to M. de Francy, December 20, 1777,” NDAR, 11:955.

[12] “Deane to Beaumarchais, August 19, 1776,” Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:133.

[13] NDAR, 8:650; Deane Papers, Vol. III, 1778-1779 in Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1888, Publication Fund Series, Vol. 21 (New York: Printed by the Society, 1889), 312.

[14] “Articles for hiring armed vessels and merchandise, agreed to between Messrs. de Monthieu and Roderigue Hortalez & Co. and Silas Deane,” Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:171.

[15] NDAR., 7:738, 730, 769, 792; NDAR, 8:540.

[16] Ibid., “Lord Stormont to Lord Weymouth, January 29, 1777,” 8:551.

[17] “Beaumarchais to Vergennes, February 3, 1777,” Henri Doniol, Histoire de la participation de la France a la ‘etablissement des Etats-Unis d’Amerique (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1886), 2:359-60; NDAR, “Lord Stormont to Lord Weymouth, February 16, 1777,” 8:592.

[18] Ibid., “Lord Stormont to Lord Weymouth, February 16, 1777,” 8:592.

[19] Ibid., “Memoir of the American Commissioners to Vergennes, March 1, 1777,” 8:626-28.

[20] NDAR, 8:235, 284, 622-23.

[21] “Lord Stormont to Lord Weymouth, March 19, 1777,” NDAR, 8:693.

[22] “Beaumarchais to Vergennes, March 7, 1777,” NDAR, 8:650; NDAR, 9:451; The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, “Jonathan Williams, Jr., to the American Commissioners, July 26, 1777,” 24:358; NDAR, 10:1029.

[23] NDAR, 10:999.

[24] NDAR, 9:411-12.

[25] Brian N. Morton and Daniel D. Spinelli, Beaumarchais and the American Revolution (Lantham, MA: Lexington Books, 2003), 111.

[26] Ibid., 368-69; “Jonathan Williams, Jr., to the American Commissioners, 7 June 1777,” in William B. Willcox, ed., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 24, May 1 thru September 30, 1777 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), 133; Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:301-02.

[27] NDAR, 10:999.

[28] NDAR, 9:952.

[29] NDAR, 10:999-1000.

[30] “Deane to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, September 10, 1777,” Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, 2: 392.

[31] Ibid., 2:1063.

[32] William Cobbett, The Parliamentary History of England (London: T. C. Hansard, 1814), 19:665.

[33] Wharton, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:490-91.

[34] NDAR, 11:363-64.

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