Papers of John Adams, volume 6

104 From Samuel Tucker, 9 May 1778 Tucker, Samuel JA From Samuel Tucker, 9 May 1778 Tucker, Samuel Adams, John
From Samuel Tucker
Sir Bourdeaux May 9th. 1778

These with my Regards to your Honour, acquainting you of my receiving your kind Epistle by the Docter1 and will engage myself to take all the Care possible of the Articles that I may receive of your Worthey friend John Brondfield Esqr. and will see them safe Delivered to Mrs. Adams, please God, I should arrive safe with my Ship after a short Cruze. Pray Sir excuse my not Writing more perticular nor frequenter, being so much troubled with one thing and another that I neglect my Duty in that Respect, but I hope to get my Ship in Readiness within two or three Days of the Time I wrote your Honour but I've been vasley detained. I've had the Misfortune to loose poor Cavey who fell over Board on the 5th Instant and was Drowned about 6 oClock in the Morning.2 I regret the loss of him very much, he became a very good and useful Officer since your departure from hence. A Ship arrived from the Coast of Guinea last Evening, which gives an Account of one of our Frigates takeing three Ships all Slaved fitt for Sea. I think it must be the Verginia Capt. Nicholson.3 I Remain sir with Respect your Most Humble Servt.

Saml Tucker

RC (Adams Papers).


The “Docter” has not been identified, but see John Bondfield to JA, 28 April, and JA to Tucker, 29 April (both above).


Samuel Tucker's log (MH-H) for 5 May states that “this Morning Peter Cavey a midshipman got over the side to were wear the Boat a Stern, taking hold of a rope which he thought was made fast but was not fell over Board, and tho all Means was used to save him was drowned.” Six days later Tucker wrote that “the Body of Mr. Cavey was found by the people on Shore and decently buried.”


This may be the same incident reported by John Bondfield in his letter to JA of 8 May (above), but the frigate was certainly not the Virginia, Capt. James Nicholson. The Virginia, built at Baltimore but forced to lay idle for a year because of the British blockade of the Chesapeake, did not sail until 30 March and was captured by the British on the following day when it ran aground (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution , 1:199, 307–308).

John Paul Jones to the Commissioners, 9 May 1778 Jones, John Paul First Joint Commission at Paris JA John Paul Jones to the Commissioners, 9 May 1778 Jones, John Paul First Joint Commission at Paris Adams, John
John Paul Jones to the Commissioners
Gentlemen Ranger Brest 9th May 1778

I have the honor to acquaint you that I arrived here last Night and brought in with me the British Ship of War Drake of 20 Guns with English Colours inverted under the American Stars. 105I shall soon give you the particulars of my Cruise1 in the mean time you will see some Account of it in a letter of this date from Comte D'Orvilliers2 to Monseigneur De Sartine. I have brought in near Two hundred prisoners and as Comte D'Orvilliers is apprehensive that as the War with England is not yet declared they may perhaps be given up without an Exchange.3 I have resolved to Equip the Drake with all possible expedition at Cameret4 and to send the prisoners in her to America, so fully am I convinced of the bad Policy of releasing prisoners, especially Seamen, without an Exchange that I am determined never to do it while there remains an Alternative. I should not however have taken a resolution of such importance without consulting you had not Comte D'Orvilliers told me that the return of a Letter from the Minister might perhaps put it out of my power and therefore recommended that I should loose no time.

Notwithstanding this you will perhaps find it expedient to endeavour to Effect an Exchange of these prisoners in Europe and should the Minister agree to hold them avowedly as Prisoners of War you will of course inform me thereof per Express so as to reach me if possible before the departure of the Drake. I have suspended and confined Lieutenant Simpson for disobedience of Orders. I have only time at present to say that I have the honor to be with much Esteem and Respect, Gentlemen Your very Obliged very Obedient very humble Servant

NB. I have been rather disappointed in not being favored with a Line from you in Answer to any of my former Letters from Quiberon and Brest.

Dupl (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); unsigned, but in Jones' hand; docketed: “Captn. Jones May 9. ans. May 25"; in another hand: “1778.” A second copy (ViU: Lee Papers) is docketed in an unknown hand and perhaps considerably after it was received: “J. P. Jones: to Amn. Comms. London Paris 9 May 1778” and “1778.” Designated a copy, the MS is in Jones' hand, but bears the signature that he apparently used on copies as opposed to originals. See, for example, Jones to the Commissioners, 27 May (below).


See Jones' letter of 27 May (below).


Louis Guillouet, Comte d'Orvilliers (1708–1791) was commandant of the port at Brest and commanded the fleet that met Adm. Keppel in the major, but indecisive, battle of 27 July, the first fleet action of the war (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ; Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence , p. 67, 122).


See the Commissioners to Sartine, 14 May (calendared below).


Camaret is a town on Point Toulinguet at the entrance to the harbor at Brest.