Decoding Revolutionary Correspondence

September 5, 1782, from Robert R. Livingston to Benjamin Franklin

Code/Cipher: WE008
Source: Papers of the Continental Congress, Roll 139, Page 259 (Code appears from Page 265)
Manuscript (
Electronic Text of Wharton (The Libary of Congress | American Memory)
Searchable Text of Sparks (Google)

In Plaintext

(plaintext pages omitted)
... our commerce. It will lessen the consumption of foreign sugars, increase the supplies which the poorer people among us draw from the maple, &c., and, by reducing the price of provision and rendering the cultivation of lands less profitable, make proportionable increase of our own manufactures and lessen our dependence on Europe. This will, I must confess, in some measure check our population, and so far I regard it as an evil. The merchants and farmers, if precluded at a peace from the advantages which this commerce gave them while connected with England.
The merchants and farmers, if secluded, at a peace, from the advantages which this commerce gave them while connected with England, will consider themselves a loser by the war and pine again for the flesh pot of Egypt.
A variety of arguments on this subject, arising as well from the general interests of France as from her political connection with us, might be urged to show the wisdom of adopting the same liberal sentiments on this point, which has of late distinguished her in so many others. But, if she should not be able to overcome her ancient prejudices, I believe they will be found to have less influence on the British, whom you will press earnestly on this head. Besides the general interest of the kingdom, there is with them a powerful West India interest to plead in behalf of a free importation of provisions into their islands. If I mistake not, the present wishes of the nation, as well as the professions of administration, lead to every measure, which may wear away our present resentments and strengthen the connexion between us and them.
The opposition between their views and those of France on this subject will give you great advantages in your negotiation.
The logwood trade we have some claim to, from our continued exercise of the right. Nor can England pretend to exclude us from it without invalidating her own title, which stands upon the same ground. If Spain admits the right in England she gains nothing by excluding us, since in proportion as she diminishes our commerce in that article she increases that of Britain. Other manufacturing nations are interested in exciting a competition between us at their markets. When you write to me, be pleased to be very particular in your relation of every step which leads to a negotiation. Everything of this kind must be interesting.
I ought, before I conclude, to inform you that the collection of taxes, owing to the decay of commerce, the loss of labour by the war, and a variety of other causes, has fallen extremely short of our expectation and that every exertion, whether your negotiation terminates in a peace or whether war is continued, will be necessary to procure a loan from France agreeable to your former instructions.
I have the honor to be, sir,
with great respect & esteem
your most obedient, humble servant

Robert R. Livingston.

Verification Dump

(Page 265)
The merchants & farmers, if secluded at a peace
from the advantages which this commerce gave
them while connected with England,
495 <wil[will]> 250 <con> 220 <si[sy]> 241 <D>
325 <er[err]> 483 <them> 33 <self> 140 <A> 436 <lo> 516 <O> 90 <ser> 304 <bi[by]> 19 <th> '658 <war> 357 <and>
294 <pi[py]> 119 <N> '293 <ag> 113 <ain> 94 <for> 19 <th> '99 <F> 397 <les> 452 <H> 447 <po> 559 <T>
606 <of> 481 <eg[egg]> 79 <Y> 496 <P> 559 <T>
a variety of arguments on...
(Page 266)
19 <th> '172 <op> 447 <po> 220 <si[sy]> 239 <tion> 656 <between> 569 <their[there]> 438 <ui[uy]> 334 <ew> .
357 <and> 579 <tho> .'606 <of> 597 <france> 338 <on> 188 <this> 389 <sub> 143 <I> 245 <ec[eck,ek]>
559 <T> 495 <wil[will]> 150 <give> 522 <you> 355 <gr> 30 <ea> 559 <T> 413 <ad> 618 <ua> 119 <N>
243 <ta> 120 <G> '.583 <in[inn]> 509 <your> 119 <N> 481 <eg[egg]> 516 <O> 50 <li[ly,ti?,ty?]> 140 <A> 239 <tion> .
(Page 267)
I ought before I conclude to inform you that
19 <th> '
199 <col> 640 <L> 245 <ec[eck,ek]> 239 <tion> 606 <of> 471 <tax> '.154 <ow> 619 <ing> 379 <to[too]> 19 <th> '241 <D>
42 <E> 574 <ca> 79 <Y> 606 <of> 187 <com> 476 <M> 325 <er[err]> 55 <C> '19 <th> '436 <lo> 365 <S> .606 <of>
146 <la> 166 <bo> 215 <ur> 304 <bi[by]> 19 <th> '658 <war> 357 <and> 140 <A> 618 <ua> 218 <ri[ry]> 42 <E> 50 <li[ly,ti?,ty?]> 606 <of>
531 <other> 588 <cause>[s] 49 <ha>[s] 626 <fal[fall]> 197 <en> 4 <ex> 510 <tre> 599 <am> 384 <li[ly]> 153 <sho> 73 <R> 559 <T>
606 <of> 280 <our> 4 <ex> 496 <P> 245 <ec[eck,ek]> 343 <wise> [should be 243 <ta> ] 239 <tion> 357 <and> 303 <that> 45 <ever> 79 <Y> 4 <ex>
235 <ci[cy]> [should be 325 <er[err]> ] 239 <tion> 480 <whether> 509 <your> 119 <N> 481 <eg[egg]> 516 <O> 50 <li[ly,ti?,ty?]> 140 <A> 239 <tion> 497 <ter>
265 <mi[my]> 251 <na> 559 <T> ' [s] 583 <in[inn]> 140 <A> 2 <peace> 417 <or> 480 <whether> 658 <war> 143 <I> .250 <con> 50 <li[ly,ti?,ty?]>
416 <nu> 80 <ed> 495 <wil[will]> 141 <B> '570 <necessary> 379 <to[too]> 72 <pro> 55 <C> 215 <ur> '140 <A> 436 <lo> 191 <an>
467 <from> 597 <france> agreeable to your former Instructions.

First posted on 23 September 2008. Last modified on 26 November 2008.
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