[dateline] Versailles, 26 April 1778
I have received, gentlemen, the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 20th
of this month.1
When the United States frigate Boston received a summons from the officers of the Admiralty Headquarters in Bordeaux, the
King's orders to treat men-of-war belonging to the United States as those of free
countries—allies of France—had not yet reached that harbor. These orders must have
crossed the letter sent to you from Bordeaux informing you of the démarche of the
Admiralty, which will be without effect as soon as the intentions of the King are
known. However, I must inform you that American vessels which drop anchor in our harbors
must in any case identify themselves as men-of-war of the United States, when indeed
they belong to them, for you know that if they were only privateers they would enter
the category of private vessels belonging to foreign states, which are not compelled
to salute and to which the stations and fortresses never return a salute even if given.
I have the honor to be, gentlemen, with the most perfect esteem, your very humble
and very obedient servant.