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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0020-0002

Author: Laporte, Arnauld de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-04

Arnauld de Laporte to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

The Count Dorvilliers has sent me the Letter you wrote him concerning the American sailors that are on board the fier Rodrigue.1 Always desirous to render every service, that depends upon myself, to the United states, and more so in what may be agreeable to your Excellency I immediately ordered the Cap of said Vessel, to deliver these Men to Mr. Landais. The Cap whose Crew is very week, informed me that these pretended American sailors,2 who are only two in number, are part of a Crew belonging to a Privateer from Bristol taken by a Kings Vessel and conducted to Rochefort, that these men had been put3 in Prison from whence the Cap had had the liberty to take them to go on board his Vessel; That the Privateer had made no Prizes, that these two Men taken in Arms against France, and making part of a Crew of an English Privateer could not be looked upon but as English-Men, and cannot partake of the priviledges of the subjects of the Republic of the United states of America.
Notwithstanding the legitimacy of those premature4 Reasons, I { 24 } should in any other circumstance have ordered it otherwise and have delivered these Men to Cap Landais, but the Vessel the fere Rodirigue being so ill manned altho a Vessel of force having 56 Cannons mounted, and ordered to sail after tomorrow, I should have the utmost dificulty to replace the Men he would be obliged to put on shore, in short your Excellency is not ignorant that this Vessel is in a great measure, in the service of the United states;5 those she has already rendered to the Continent are not in all probability the last that the Congress is to expect; and if she returns she will land these Men without any difficulty. I dare flatter myself, sir, that your Excellency will not take it amiss on these considerations that the Cap establish a Guard on board his Vessel the fiere Rodrigue. I supplicate to know what is required of me, I shall execute it with the haste, or eagerness that I have in proving on every occasion the perfect consideration with which I am Your Excellencys' most humble & obedient Servant
[signed] (Signed) La Porte
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “M. De la Porte 4. Ap. 1779.” Contemporary translation in an unknown hand (Adams Papers). One must exercise special caution in using this translation because Laporte's handwriting was very difficult to decipher and the translator also took some liberties; see notes 2, 3, and 4.
1. JA's letter to Comte D'Orvilliers has not been found. This letter of the 4th was, however, apparently sent under a covering letter from Orvilliers dated 5 April (Adams Papers). That letter explained the powers of the “intendant” of the port of Brest in regard to prisoners and, like Laporte's letter, expressed the desire to cooperate fully with JA.
2. The translator should have rendered this “pretended Bostonians.”
3. This should read: “put, with the other English sailors, in prison.”
4. The translator should have rendered this “peremptory” or “decisive.”
5. That is, the Fier Roderigue was in the service of Beaumarchais and had already carried supplies to America. See letters from John Bondfield of 3 Oct., note 3, and 28 Nov. 1778, note 1 (both above).

Docno: ADMS-06-08-02-0021

Author: Williams, Jonathan III
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-04-05

From Jonathan Williams III

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Flattery has effectually ingaged me in your Correspondence, for when my Services in writing can at any time amuse or inform you, You may assure your self I shall most cordially become your Volentier.1
Commodore Manly as he is called is again taken in the Cumberland by the Pomona Frigate Capt. Waldergrave.2
Compte De Stang sailed the 12 of Jany from Martinique and Byron from St. Lucie. They both met, and after they saw each other they both returned again to Port.3 This is represented by Byron as a flight, { 25 } but I think the Count will have just as good grounds for His Story; tho perhaps there may not be that occasion for it, such Stories are necessary to keep up the Spirits of the People; but the French do not depend on such Bubbles. Count De Stang I hope will do something to retrieve his Name; he has been unfortunate.
Will you be so obliging Sir, as to let me know whether the Alliance, will sail directly from Brest, or come to Nantes, as Soon as it is determined.
I coud wish to perswade my Father to accompany You, and will if his engagements will admit off it.
If I do not see you again before you sail, most sincerely I wish you a pleasant, safe and short Passage.
When you arrive in America you shall constantly receive the [Stories of?] the day, thro' my Hands. My best Respects to Mrs. Adams.

[salute] I am with real Respect Yours most affectionately

[signed] Jon Williams trd
My Father and Cousin present their Compliments to you.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “a Monsieur Monsieur J Adams Ministre Plenipotentiare des Etats unis a <Brest>,” and, for clarity, in another hand, “a Nants M. Williams”; stamped: “NANT[ES]” and “BREST”; docketed: “Jon. Williams 3d,” and in another hand: “April 5th 1779.” The letter was received by JA after his return to Nantes, where he arrived circa 12 April (to Vergennes, 12 April, below).
1. Jonathan Williams III had written to JA on 28 March (Adams Papers). That letter contained essentially the same information as the letter from his cousin Jonathan Williams Jr. of the same date (above). In this paragraph Williams implies that he received an answer to his letter of the 28th; no letter from JA has been found.
2. John Manley had previously commanded the Continental frigate Hancock, which was taken by the British frigate Rainbow in July 1777 (from James Warren, 7 Sept. 1777, vol. 5:283–286). Following his exchange in March 1778, Manley commanded privateers and in Jan. 1779 was taken in the Cumberland off Barbados. Soon escaping, he was back in Boston by April (Isaac J. Greenwood, Captain John Manley, Boston, 1915, p. 103–108).
3. On 12 Jan., after learning that the newly arrived Adm. Byron had split his fleet between two harbors on St. Lucia, Estaing set out from Fort Royal on Martinique. Byron's quick action in bringing the two parts of his fleet together again caused Estaing to return to Martinique (W. M. James, British Navy in Adversity, London, 1926, p. 144).
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.