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Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0242

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-01-24

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

We had the honor of receiving your Excellency's Letter of the 20th. enclosing M. de Sartine's Answer, relative to the Convoy which we requested of your Excellency, for the Ships now assembled at Nantes.1
We are totally at a loss to understand what Mr. de Sartine writes of four Vessels mentioned by us, as ready to sail and a Convoy having { 378 } sailed with two of them. We never mentioned any thing concerning those four Vessels, nor has the appointment of a Convoy been announced to us, nor to those who have apply'd through us; and consequently they remain in Expectation of an Answer, and of a favorable one, thro' his Majesty's goodness and our application. We therefore apprehend that Mr. de Sartine is under some misinformation upon the Subject.
On the 29th. of December we had the honor of writing to your Excellency that “We had received a Letter signed by many Gentlemen at Nantes and dated the 15th of the Month informing us that most of their Vessels were ready to sail to America, and that others were expected to be ready immediately, so that the Convoy might be ordered as soon as convenience woud permit. That they were desireous of a Convoy quite to America if consistent with his Majesty's Service, or at least to the westward of the Western Islands. That it was of so much importance to our Countrymen to be supply'd with goods of various kinds, and especially with Warlike Stores, and there are so many belonging to the United States and to the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as to Individuals now ready to go, that we cannot avoid interesting ourselves with your Excellency that a sufficient Convoy may be appointed, and that as soon as possible to rendez-vous at Nantes.”2
On the 9th. of this Month your Excellency wrote us, desiring to know at what port the Vessels for which we sollicited a Convoy were collected.
To this we replyed on the 15th.3—“Those Vessels are at Nantes, where they wait for the Convoy, which we hope may be ordered immediately, as a Letter we received yesterday from a large number of Gentlemen at Nantes, informs us that many Vessels with valuable Cargoes have been waiting a considerable time for the Convoy.”
We are since well informed that the Number of Vessels is about fifteen. Your Excellency will perceive by these proceedings, that from the middle of last Month to this Time, the Gentlemen who have apply'd thro' us for a Convoy, and among whom are some as respectable as any in our Country, have been waiting at a considerable Expence, in Expectation of their request being granted. They had so full a Confidence, that such an Application woud be successful, if made, that they for sometime imputed their disappointment to our Neglect.
We therefore beseech your Excellency that as Strong a Convoy as can be spared, either quite thro', or to the westward of the western Islands, may be granted immediately; as we conceive the supplies that are to go are of very great Importance to the United States; and that they will certainly fall into the Enemy's hands, if unprotected.
{ 379 }
We have the honor to be, with much Respect, yr. Excellency's Mo. Obt. & Very humble Servts.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “M. de R. [rela]tif aux convois demandés pour expediés en amerique. nouvelles à ce Sujet.”
1. Neither Vergennes' letter of the 20th (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7) nor the enclosed letter of 18 Jan. from Sartine to Vergennes (extract, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 186) has been printed, but in his letter Sartine stated that two American ships were to have met a French frigate at the Ile d'Aix on 2 Jan. and that if four American vessels remained at Nantes, they would have to wait for another convoy.
2. The portion of the letter of 29 Dec. 1778 (above) that here is within quotation marks is, in part, a paraphrase of the actual text.
3. An inadvertence; the Commissioners' reply, which has not been printed, was dated the 13th (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7). The passage taken from that letter is an exact quotation.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0243

Author: Gillon, Alexander
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-25

Alexander Gillon to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Permit me to embrace this earliest opportunity of acquainting you of my arrival here this day from Our Continent, Via Havana, were I embark'd in A Spanish Vessel for Spain the 17 Novr. last, and on the 19th. Instant fell in with A Small Fleet from here under the Command of Count de Grace,1 (Cape Finisterre bearing E S E about 50 Leagues) who immediately with his Usual Politeness, offer'd me this Frigate Le Fortunée Capn. Marigny, to conduct me here or to Land me at the first convenient place if met with contrary winds. This friendly offer I accepted, because I tho't it wou'd be forwarding the business I am sent on, and it is with very great pleasure I assure you, that I received every attention from Capn. Marigny and his officers, also from the Gentlemen in the above Fleet, and that I esteem their Politeness as A proof of the friendship of their Nation for Ours. I have some Letters for your Excellencies, but as I conceive them to be introductory ones,2 I propose myself the happiness of presenting them to you soon, as I only go to Nantes, to be inform'd what property there is arrivd in Europe belonging to the State of South Carolina, and to give directions about its disposal. This business with the few days I propose tarrying here, will make it the 6th. Feby. ere I can leave Nantes, which admits time for any Letters of yours to Reach me there, under cover to Messrs. H. Q. Chaurand freres, if any of your Excellencies will Condescend to favour me with a Reply hereto; if so, you will Much Oblige me in communicating to me any interesting intelligence, you may have Received from { 380 } our Continent Since the 23d. July last,3 as it was then I set out for France, but A long detention at the Havana, and allmost continual contrary winds the different passages, has caus'd my thus long Journey. I am with all due Respect Your Excellencies Most Obedt. hble. Servt.
[signed] A. Gillon
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA : “Mr. Gillon answd. Feb. 2. 79.”
1. Count de Grasse had sailed with four ships of the line from Brest on 14 Jan. for the West Indies, where he arrived on 19 Feb. (Charles Lee Lewis, Admiral de Grasse, Annapolis, 1945, p. 73).
2. For several of these letters, as well as an account of Gillon and his mission, see Edward Rutledge to JA , 16 July 1778, and note 1 (vol. 6:294–295).
3. In their reply of 2 Feb., Benjamin Franklin and JA congratulated Gillon on his arrival, but stated that they had no news from America since November and nothing interesting since Estaing's departure from Boston ( LbC , Adams Papers; PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 149).