Papers of John Adams, volume 7

John Bondfield to the Commissioners, 8 September 1778 Bondfield, John Franklin, Benjamin Lee, Arthur JA First Joint Commission at Paris John Bondfield to the Commissioners, 8 September 1778 Bondfield, John Franklin, Benjamin Lee, Arthur Adams, John First Joint Commission at Paris
John Bondfield to the Commissioners
Sirs Bordeaux 8 Sept 1778

This morning Arrived the Privateer Schooner Success—Attwood Master from Virginia. She left Cheasapeak Bay 13 July. The Captains 14inteligence consists that the ninth Comte d'Estaing saild from the Bay for New York remained in the Bay five French Frigates.1

Some English Prisoners are brought in here taken by American Privateers their enlargement or detention is optional in the Captures no claim under your Authority being made of them and as being prisoners of the States the French Government dont appear to enterfer.

There are frequent Altercations betwixt Masters and their Seamen being matters of a Civil Maratime Nature between parties not Subjects in this Kingdom are not Connoisable in their Courts by Which the injured are sometimes agreivd without redress.

In One of my former I mentiond to you an Advantage that I apprehended would result should all Vessels belonging to the States be order'd to make their Report to your Constituents2 thereby enabling them to transmit you circumstantial Accounts of all that related thereto as well as the earliest information. I am attentive to procure as Authentic Accounts as private Curiosity will permit which of course being bounded I am not so interestingly inteligent to you as at all times I should esteem myself happy to be.

I have the honor to be with due respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant

John Bondfield

RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. Benj Franklin Arthur Lee, John Adams Esq Commissioners from Congress Paris”; docketed: “Mr Bondfield 8. Septr. 1778”; in another hand: “Bondfield Septr. 8th.”


This is probably the first report of Estaing's arrival in America to reach the Commissioners directly from America (see Commissioners to the president of the congress, 11 Sept., below). The news had been eagerly awaited ever since the departure of the fleet of twelve ships of the line and five frigates from Toulon on 13 April because of the expectation that a decisive battle would be fought between Estaing and Adm. Richard Howe. The fleet's slow passage and missed opportunities, however, doomed such hopes. Estaing arrived off the mouth of Delaware Bay—not the Chesapeake—on 8 July, ten days too late to prevent the escape of the British fleet from Delaware Bay to the safety of New York. On 11 July, Estaing arrived off Sandy Hook, but was again unable to join the battle when he determined that the shallowness of the entrance and the strength of the defenses would not permit him to force his way into New York Harbor. On the 29th the fleet arrived off Newport, R.I., where Estaing hoped, in conjunction with an American army, to dislodge the British from the town and harbor. The plan failed because of a lack of coordination between the Franco-American forces and the arrival of Howe's fleet off Point Judith on 9 Aug. The following day the French fleet put to sea in an attempt to close finally with the British, but a storm intervened and so damaged Estaing's ships that he was obliged to go to Boston for repairs, arriving there on the 28th. In November, his repairs completed, Estaing sailed for the West Indies, thus ending, without decision, the first major French challenge to British supremacy in American waters (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution , 1:327–333; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence , p. 63–78; Dull, French Navy and Amer. Independence , p. 122–123). For JA's concern at receiving no information on Estaing's fleet, see vol. 5:xxviii, note 43, and references there.

15 2.

No such proposal has been found, but it may have been part of the plan referred to, but not described, by Bondfield in a letter of 17 16 Aug. (vol. 6:373–374, and note 3). By “your Constituents,” Bondfield apparently means American agents in European ports.

To Jonathan Williams, 9 September 1778 JA Williams, Jonathan To Jonathan Williams, 9 September 1778 Adams, John Williams, Jonathan
To Jonathan Williams
My dear sir Passi September 9. 1778

Your Favour of the 3d1 I duely received and am very much obliged to you for the Trouble you have taken in Writing to my dear Mrs. Adams, and in sending her a few Merchandises to the amount of 229 Livres: 6 s: 9 d which Sum I will immediately pay to Mr. W. T. Franklin as you desire,2 and I should have been very glad to have paid an additional sum for your Commissions.

We are in the Midst of an Awefull Pauze in the Political Concert,3 but I suppose a few Hours will set all the Instruments in Motion together. May the Musick be as ravishing to the Allies as the strains of Orpheus.

I am with much Esteem your most obedient servant

LbC (Adams Papers).


Not found.


On 9 Sept., JA paid the required sum to Temple Franklin for the goods shipped by Williams on the Dispatch, Capt. Corbin Barnes, which sailed from Paimboeuf on 29 Aug. with the Spy, Capt. Robert Niles, both of which were captured by privateers from Jersey and Guernsey (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:334, 335; Niles to Benjamin Franklin, 27 Oct., Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 1:522).


JA's reference here may be to a number of things then being or about to be considered by the two governments, including the disposition of prizes in French ports, the exchange of prisoners, the settlement of Beaumarchais' accounts, the inability of the United States to borrow money in Europe, and the general deterioration of the Commissioners' finances.

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to the Massachusetts Council, 9 September 1778 Franklin, Benjamin JA Massachusetts Council Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to the Massachusetts Council, 9 September 1778 Franklin, Benjamin Adams, John Massachusetts Council
Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to the Massachusetts Council

Passy, 9 September 1778. RC in Adams' hand PPAmP. printed (with enclosure): Magazine of American History, 12:462–463 (Nov. 1884). Franklin and Adams sent the Council a letter of 10 Aug. from Thomas Hutchinson to Dr. James Lloyd of Boston, concerning land owned by Hutchinson's sister, Grizell Sanford, and enclosing his and his sister's powers of attorney. Franklin and Adams had opened the letter because they believed it unwise to permit any communication from Hutchinson to go to America without examination, but left it up to the Council to decide what to do in the matter. No record of any action by the Council has been found.

RC in Adams' hand (PPAmP). printed (with enclosure): Magazine of American History, 12:462–463 (Nov. 1884).