Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789


Portrait of Joseph Reed.
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon J. Reed (1741-1785).
Benoit Louis Prevost (1735-1804).
Engraving, 1781.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-45178.

Joseph Reed (1741-1785)

In their desperation to prevent an alliance between France and America, British commissioners began to send letters to individual American statesmen, offering pardons and honors to those who helped bring the rebelling colonies home to their mother country. One recipient of such a letter, Congressman Joseph Reed of Pennsylvania, was promised ten thousand pounds sterling and any office in America, if he would try to re-unite Great Britain and the colonies. Reed replied: "He was not worth purchasing, but such as he was, the King of Great Britain was not rich enough to do it." In response to this incident, Congress resolved that it would not suit the honor of Congress to "hold any manner of correspondence or intercourse" with the British commissioner who issued this offer.