When the Second Continental Congress convened in 1775, the Revolutionary War was underway, with American soldiers disorganized, outnumbered and outgunned.
Anticipating a need for foreign assistance, the Congress created the Committee of Secret Correspondence. The Committee, charged with gauging European sympathy for American independence, was the fledgling country’s first foray into diplomatic relations and intelligence gathering – a precursor to today’s Department of State and CIA.
Founding member Benjamin Franklin’s connections and charm made him the perfect leader. Ultimately successful in procuring covert French aid, the Committee proved Franklin’s now-famous words true: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”