Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
[Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine]
[dateline] Passi June 15. 1778
We beg leave to inform your Excellency, in Answer to the Com•
plaint of Mr. Bersolle, that he had formerly taken the Liberty, himself to draw upon our Banker for Advances, made to Captain Jones, before his last Cruise, and was much displeased, that his draft was refused payment…. We acquainted him, then, with the reason of this refusal, vizt. that he had sent Us, no Account of his disbursements or Advances, by which We might judge, whether his Draft was well founded, and he never had any Permission to draw upon our Banker. However, Afterwards, when We had seen his Accounts, Payment was made to him.
In the present Case, it is said, he has advanced to Captain Jones, iooo Louis immediately on his Arrival, for which the Captain has drawn on Us, in Mr. Bersolles favour: but as Captain Jones had not previously satisfyed Us, of the necessity of this Advance, nor had our permission for the Draft, his Bill was also refused Payment. And as Captain Jones writes Us, that upon the News of our refusal, he was reduced to Necessity, not knowing where to get Victuals for his People, We conclude that the Advance was not actually made, as it was impossible he should in so short a time have spent so large a Sum. And We think it extreamly irregular in Merchants to draw Bills before they send their Accounts, and in Captains of Ships of War, to draw for any Sums they please, without previous notice and express Permission. And our Captains have the less Excuse for it, as We have ever been ready to furnish them, with all the Necessaries they desired. And Captain Jones in particular has had of Us, near one hundred thousand Livres for such Purposes, of which twelve thousand were to be distributed among his People to relieve their Necessities, the only purpose mentioned to Us for which this draft was made, and which We thought sufficient.—If this Liberty assumed of drawing upon Us, without our knowledge or Consent, is not checked and We are to be obliged to pay such drafts, it will be impossible for Us to regulate our own Contracts and Engagements so as to fullfill them with Punctuality, and We might in a little time become Bankrupts ourselves…. If therefore Mr. Bersolle has brought himself into any Embarrassment, it is not our fault but his…. We are ready to discharge all Debts We contract, but We must not permit other People to run us in Debt, without our Leave, and We do not conceive it can hurt our Credit, if We refuse Payment of such Debts.
Whatever is due for Necessaries furnished to Captain Jones by the Caisse de La Marine at Brest either from the Magazine, or for the Subsistance of his People, We shall also readily and thankfully pay, as soon as We have seen and approve of the Accounts. But We con•
[ running head ] Passy & Paris, June 1778
ceive, that regularly, the Communication of Accounts should always precede Demands of Payment.
We are much obliged by the Care that has been taken, to recover the Goods pillaged from the Chatham, and We think the Charges that have arisen in that Transaction ought to be paid, and We suppose will be paid out of the produce of the Sales of that Ship and her Cargo.
We understand Lieutenant Simpson is confined by his Captain for Breach of Orders: He has desired a Tryal, which cannot be had here, and therefore at his request, We have directed that he should be sent to America for that purpose.
We shall be obliged to your Excellency, for your Orders to permit the immediate Sale of the Chatham and other Prizes, that the part belonging to the Captors may be paid them, as they are very uneasy at the delay, being distressed for Want of their Money to purchase Cloathing &c. and We wish to have the Part belonging to the Congress, out of which to defray the Charges accruing on the Ships. The Difficulties our People have heretofore met with in the Sale of Prizes, have occasioned them to be sold, often for less than half their Value. And these difficulties not being yet, quite removed, are so discouraging, that We apprehend it will be thought adviseable, to keep our Vessells of War in America, and send no more to cruise on the coast of England.
We are not acquainted with the Character of Captain Botsen. But if your Excellency should have Occasion for a Pilot, on the coast of America, and this Person, on examination should appear qualified, We shall be glad that he may be found Useful in that quality: And We are thankfull to the Consull at Nice, for his rediness to serve our Countrymen. With the greatest respect and Esteem, We have the honor to be, your Excellency's &c.
[signed] B. Franklin,
[signed] Arthur Lee,
[signed] John Adams.
[addrLine] M. De Sartine