[AMERICAN REVOLUTION]. YOUNG, Moses, Secretary to Henry Laurens. Autograph manuscript signed, entitled "Moses Young's Account of himself from the time he was separated from Colonel Laurens at Newfoundland until he arrived in London 26 April 1782." Amsterdam, 31 May 1782. 12 pages, 4to, closely written, integral blank, neat repairs to fold tears.
CAPTURED WITH HENRY LAURENS: AN AMERICAN POW'S ACCOUNT. A first-hand narrative of capture, escape and hardship. Young was secretary to Henry Laurens (1724-1792), sent to Europe in 1780 to negotiate treaties and loans. Both were captured at sea by British vessels. Laurens was taken to the Tower while Young was clapped into Forton prison, from which he soon escaped. He made for Paris via Dublin and Ostend, and "waited on Dr. Franklin, told him I was in the public service of America and that if he had anything for me to do in that line I was ready to engage in it." Franklin had no work for him, and reverting to Poor Richard mode, "thought it was commendable in me to economize as much as possible" during his time in Paris.
Young repeatedly pressed Franklin to arrange to exchange Laurens for General Burgoyne, but Franklin could not proceed unless instructed by Congress. When Young asked for an advance of salary, Franklin refused; Young would have to go back to America and receive his salary from Congress. He did offer Young money for transportation to the nearest port, "which was what he did for every American that came from an English prison." Young explained that he had no money for passage and no seaman's skills. How, he asked Franklin, was he to get home? The Doctor "simply said, 'I cannot tell.'" The disgruntled Young "writ frequently to several friends in America...making it well known that the person or persons employed to manage our foreign affairs did not do their duty." Young's narrative concludes with the story of his meetings with Lafayette and the latter's clandestine dealings with Irish revolutionaries. Laurens was finally freed on 31 December 1781, exchanged for Cornwallis after Yorktown. At that point, John Adams, who had refused assistance before, funded Young's passage to Amsterdam where he waited for Col. Laurens.