This John Hancock letter was written as a desperate plea for help when provisions were short in Boston. The Americans had just pulled out of the Battle of Rhode Island after the French fleet they were counting on failed to land after a storm. The French fleet went to Boston for repairs, but the citizens of Boston were angry they had not kept their promise to land at Newport, Rhode Island, making the mission a colossal military failure.
Citizens were rioting against the French, who were considering pulling out of their cooperation with the Americans against England. Hancock hurriedly tried to assuage the angry French soldiers, inviting them to his Beacon Hill mansion every day for meals and throwing them a ball. Many credit Hancock's efforts with keeping the French involved in the war.
The Philistines are coming upon me on Wednesday next at Dinner. To be Serious, the Ambassador &c, &c, &c, are to dine with me on Wednesday, and I have nothing to give them, nor from the present prospect of our Market do I see that I shall be able to get anything in Town; I must beg the fav'r of you to Recommend to my Man Harry where he can get some Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Hams, Partridges, Mutton, or any thing that will save my Reputation in a Dinner, and by all means some Butter; Be so good as to help me, and you will much oblige me; is there any good mellons or Peaches, or any good fruit, near you? Your advice to Harry will much oblige me; Excuse me, I am very troublesome; Can I get a good Turkey; I walk'd in Town to-day; I dine on board the French Frigate to-morrow; so you see how I have Recovered.
God bless you; if you see any thing good at Providence, do Buy it for me. I am Your Real friend John Hancock.