Stephen Atwood papers  1803-1853
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This volume (117 pages) contains excerpts from correspondence, reports, and treatises concerning the relationships between the United States, Great Britain, France, and Spain during the Revolutionary War era. The first two segments (pp. 1-8 and pp. 9-33) are extracts of "intercepted letters" from Silas Deane to Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons (May 14, 1781) and Robert Morris (June 10, 1781) concerning diplomatic relations between the United States and the three major Continental powers (England, France, and Spain). Deane concentrated on the possible motives of France in assisting the American rebellion, noted the historical animosity between France and Great Britain, and shared his suspicion that France merely wished to see Great Britain's power diminished. He also questioned Spain's supposed neutrality and urged Parsons and Morris to consider reconciliation with Britain. The second letter focuses heavily on economic arguments, while the first primarily considers international politics and power relations.

The next excerpt is a third-person account of "Doctor Franklin's representations to the Court of France" (pp. 34-37), which recounts the American response to a recent French proposal. The summarized response cites the United States government's continuing desire to achieve full independence from Great Britain and its reluctance to accept the presence of large international military forces on its soil. Franklin also discussed French loans to the United States and reported his responses as the wishes of the United States Congress. The fourth, and lengthiest, excerpt, entitled "Extracts from the seventh report of the Commissioners of Public Accounts" (pp. 38-82), reflects the finances of British forces in North America from January 1, 1776-December 31, 1781. The report, issued on June 18, 1782, and later published, discusses funding for "extraordinary services of the Army" and notes specific amounts of money owed and supplies used during the Revolution.

The final essay, entitled "On Conjunct Expeditions" (pp. 83-114), discusses Great Britain's naval strength and posits a possible strategy for amphibious warfare combining infantry and naval forces. The treatise mentions several previous battles and examples and considers the drawbacks and benefits of these tactics. The essays are followed by brief biographies of Silas Deane, Samuel Holden Parsons, Robert Morris, and Benjamin Franklin, adapted from A Universal Biographical Dictionary, Hartford. S. Andrews & Son, 1856 (pp. 115-117).

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