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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0189

Author: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-15

J. D. Schweighauser and Others to the Commissioners

[salute] Honbl. Gentlemen

We are favour'd with yours of the 5th. instant together with duplicates of your favours of the 11th and 27 Ultimo.1 The original of the first never came to hand, the last we received in due course of post.
We hold ourselves greatly obliged to you for the trouble you have taken, in endeavouring to obtain a sufficient Convoy, for the Vessels bound to America, for the whole Voyage.
We have been honoured with a letter from the Secretary of State for the Marine, informing us that he could not grant a Convoy farther than Cape-Finister, and as we did not look upon one, that far, and no farther, as an object worthy our attention, we had given up all thoughts of renewing our application, until we were honoured with yours of the 27th which has revived our hopes, and we flatter ourselves that it may be in your power to procure a Convoy to the westward of the western Islands2 if not for the whole Voyage.
In our former letter3 we mentioned that the Vessels would be in readiness by the end of the last month, many of them were ready to sail at that time, and have waited ever since for a favourable opportunity of geting out, and as your honours must be sensible that the trade cannot be carried on to the advantage of either Country, unless it is properly protected, we have not the smallest doubt, but that you will take every step in your power to procure a sufficient Convoy as soon as possible, by which means America will be supplied with a large quantity of goods, and many of us get safe to our desired homes.
We have the honour to be with great Esteem and Respect Honbl. Gentlemen Your most obedient and most humble Servants
[signed] J. Dl. Schweighauser
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] Cha. Ogilvie
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] Josiah Darrell
[signed] J. Grubb
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
[signed] Robert Elliot
[signed] H. Thompson
{ 280 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “from several Gentn. at Nantes Dec. 15. 78.”
1. The Commissioners' letter of 5 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers) merely transmitted their letters of 11 and 27 Nov., neither of which is printed, but see Schweighauser and Others to the Commissioners, 7 Nov., note 2; and Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and JA, 28 Nov. (both above).
2. Presumably the Azores.
3. That of 7 Nov. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0190

Author: Vernon, William Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-12-17

From William Vernon Sr.

[salute] Dear sir

The foregoing of the 22nd. of Octr. is copy of my last. Being yet without any of your favors, since you left N. England gives me Pain, for many Reasons, that are too delicate to touch upon; I hope my Son, has not forfeited your friendship, by ill conduct and mis-behaviour.
Since my last, we have lost the Brigantine Resistance that was given to Capt. Burke. She was sent out as far as Cape Cod, to look for Count de Estaings Fleet, that was expected here, after the Rhode Island expedition was given up, missing of them, he stood to the Southward, and the Third day fell in with Lord Hows Fleet, who captured him?
We have now in this Harbour, the Continental ships, Warren, Providence, Boston, Queen of France, and the Dean, the last full Man'd and ready to sail, the Others are in great forwardness and may sail in Three Weeks, if it was possible to get Men for them, which we shall never be able to accomplish, unless some method is taken to prevent desertion, and a stopage of Private ships sailing, until our ships are Man'd, their infamous practice of seduceing our Men to leave the ships, and taking them off at an out Port, with many other base methods, will make it impossible ever to get our ships, ready to sail in Force, or Fleets, or perhaps otherwise then single ships, from whom we cannot expect any great matters; indeed it hath generally proved fatal—I wish, I hope and pray for an Embargo, upon all Private ships, whether Arm'd or Merchants ships may take Place thro' the United States, until the Fleet is Man'd.2 This is the only method, that can be taken—they elude our utmost efforts at Present; and at a most enormous expence, it was truely great before you left us. But you can scarsely form an Idea of the increase and groth of the extravagancy of the People in their demands for Labour &c. Dissipation hath no bounds at present, when or where it will stop, I dare not predict.
The ship Built at Norwich is given to Capt. Harding and call'd the Confederacy, near ready to sail, she is a fine Frigate, its said exceeds the Alliance if possible?3
{ 281 }
The Trumbul remains in Connecticut River, perhaps may never be able to get out of that hole, unless Camels are built to carry her out.4
The Ranger at Portsmouth, in good forwardness. I think. Capt. Simpson will be able to get his Men for that ship very soon?
The Two ships that were sunk in the Deleware their upper Works burn't by the Enemy are now got up, and fitting at Phila.5
The Brigantine Genl. Gates and sloop Providence, are out upon a Cruise—thus you have a general state of remains of the Navy.
I have taken up much of your Time in this detail. If its any satisfaction to you, I shall have pleasure in being your most Obedt. Hble. servt.
[signed] Wm Vernon
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Vernon 177<9>8”; in a different hand: “October 22d.” This letter begins on the second page of the recipient's copy, being preceded by a triplicate of Vernon's letter of 22 Oct. (above).
1. JA did not receive this letter until his return to Paris in 1780 (JA to Vernon, 16 March 1780, RNHi: Vernon Papers).
2. Vernon's is an accurate account of the problems faced by the Continental Navy in its competition with privateers for seamen. Privateers offered the prospect of less discipline and more prize money because they concentrated on destroying commerce and avoided, whenever possible, battles with enemy naval vessels. Embargoes, bounties, advances on pay, and the equalization of the prize shares alloted the crewmen of privateers and naval vessels had no lasting effect. For a more detailed discussion of the issues raised by Vernon, see Charles O. Paullin, The Navy of the American Revolution, Cleveland, 1906, p. 144–149; Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, p. 48–51.
3. The Confederacy was launched on 8 Nov. at Norwich, Conn., and in Dec. was at New London being outfitted for sea. It displaced 959 tons and was armed with 28 twelve-pounders and 8 six-pounders, while the Alliance was 900 tons with 28 twelve-pounders and 8 nine-pounders (Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships).
4. The Trumbull, launched in 1776 at Chatham, Conn., was not floated over the sand bar at the mouth of the Connecticut River until the summer of 1779. Then, as Vernon suggested, it was done by the use of “Camels,” large casks filled with water which were tied to the vessel's sides and pumped dry to reduce the draft (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, 2:498).
5. For the burning of the Effingham and the Washington, see Vernon's letter to JA of 20 May, and note 5 (vol. 6:143, 144). The congress resolved on 8 April 1779 to sell, rather than repair, the hulks (JCC, 13:432).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.