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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0065

Author: Nazro, Nathaniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-11

From Nathaniel Nazro

[salute] Sir

As a Citizen, of the Commonwealth, of Massachusetts Bay, and an individual, of the United States of America (in Captivity) I beg leave to address your Excellency being flatterd, with a hope, of meeting, your countenance and favour, in consequence of your Known goodness towards the distressd of mankind in General, Particularly those whose merit, and distinguish’d Services in the Cause of our Country, (more or less) intitle them to Excellencies Care and Protiction, it would be highly Unbecoming in me to relate anything in Praize or Commendation of myself, nor would it redound to my Honor, in least, from my own bare asertion You will Howe’re permit me, to inform Your Excellency that Having been Educated, to the Mercantile Bussiness, which I follow’d in Company, with my Bro, Jno Nazro in Boston, and at the Commencement of the Present Warr, I took an Active Part and was Honord with a Commission, and a Co. which Commission I at Present bear, but in Process of time several Regts. falling short of the Complement of Men, and drafts having taken Place, from Several of the Junior officers to make up the compt. of the Senior I was in Consequence hereof left with a Command. I[n] this Scituation, I made application, for leave to go to Sea, (which being granted for a Particular time,) I engaged, and was in the Capacity of a Capt. of marines, in a Privateer Ship fitted out of Boston mounting 26. Guns Commd: by Jer’e OBrien Esqe. when I had the misfortune to be Captur’d, in Octo. 1780. to which I owe all my Present Woes, having Suffer’d much, during a long and tedious Transportation, from N York to this place, on which Passage many of my fellow Sufferers, (thro’ Cruel Treatment) lost their lives, who were brave men and had Signaliz’d themselves in our Countrys Service. I need not relate to your Excellency the uncommon distress that is experienced, by Prisoners, (Particularly, in England) not only in want of Food, but in a long tedious and Painfull imprisonment, and you will naturally conclude, it must be much more grating to Such as have ever lived in Plenty, affluence, and a Genteel life, than [to] those who have been accustom’d, to the Hardships of Seafaring Bussiness, and as the Government of Brit• { 101 } tain has Shewn manifest, dispositions of Exchanging us, for what She terms her Royal, Subjects Captur’d under the American, Flagg. The Gent. who bears your Excellency this being Exchangd in this manner, together with many others, Some, for and against, Persons detain’d for them, in France and america. The Purport of this address is Therefore that in your Excellency’s ever wanted goodness, you would be pleas’d to have, confin’d, for my immediate redemption, the first Brittish Officer, that Shall Happen, to be brought within the dominions, of that Court at which you reside, who may be of Rank, equal, or in any respect upon an Equality, Particularly if taken under the american Flagg, As the Independence of America, has already gain’d so much ground, in Brittain, as to hold rank of Prisoners, in the fullest estimation, (Capt. Jno.1 Manley2 being Exchang’d against an English Major) and I flatter myself, Opportunities of this kind will frequently offer from the several american Privateers, that are at This time Cruising in the European Sea’s, together with the many Letters of Marque, Vessell’s belonging to America, that continually trade, to several Ports of the Different Courts of Europe, and in an Instance of this Kind, I can with confidence assure your Excellency there will be no Injustice, done to any of my fellow Prisoners here, there being none, in Senority, to me of The like Rank, or held in the Same Estimation; and Permit me to add, that if I Should be So Happy as [to] meet your favour in this respect, I could wish you as Speedy as Possible communicate it to Mr. Wm. Hodgson & Co Merchts. No. 17 Coleman street London Who acts as agent on the Part and in behalf of america.3 The obligation of gratitude, which an Instance of this Kind will lay me under, will be equal to the respect I bear your Excellency, on account of the great Abilities and unquestion’d, Integrity in those High Employmen[ts] In which you have not only, Honor’d your Country [but] have Likewise, renderd her the most Esential Service.

[salute] I have the Honor, to be with the greatest Regard Your Excellency’s most Devoted, much Obliged Humble & obt. Servant

[signed] Nathl. Nazro4
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency Jno. Adams, Plenopotentiary For, the United States of America, at Present at the Court of Holland,”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Nat. Nazro Novr. 1781.” The removal of the seal has resulted in the loss of three words and part of another.
1. Open parentheses before “Jno.” in MS.
2. John Manley was pardoned for exchange on 16 Oct. (Marion and Jack Kaminkow, Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 127).
3. For William Hodgson, one of Benjamin { 102 } Franklin’s agents for American prisoners, see Franklin, Papers, 31:142.
4. From Aug. 1775 until his resignation in Nov. 1778, Nathaniel Nazro served in three Massachusetts regiments (Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, 17 vols., Boston, 1896–1908, 11:298). He was captured on the ship Hannibal of Newburyport, Mass., and committed to Mill Prison in Jan. 1781. In November, Nazro was in the black hole on the 9th, tried to escape on the 16th, and was released from the black hole on the 19th (Kaminkow, Mariners of the American Revolution, p. 139, 226; Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 164). In June 1782 he signed a petition to Congress from prisoners at Mill Prison (PCC, No. 43, f. 267–270). There is no indication that he was ever exchanged or that JA took any action in response to his plea. This letter, as well as a similar one of the same date to Benjamin Franklin, may have been carried to France by John Foster Williams (Williams to JA, 15 Feb. 1782, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0066

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1781-12-01

To Benjamin Franklin

[salute] Sir

Last night I had the honor of yours of the 23d. and 26th. Ulto. If it should be convenient for Mr. Barclay to come here and take the Care of the Goods, it would be happy for me. I am also very happy to learn from your Excellency, that our Troops are tolerably well cloathed, and will be in a short time completely so. This Information will make me less anxious about a little unavoidable delay, in the Conveyance of the Goods that are here.
Your proposals to Mr. De Neufville and Son, which I have communicated to day to the Son, appear to me very reasonable: viz, to deliver the Goods to me, and then make his demand for Damages, which if thought reasonable You will pay; if not let them be settled by Arbitration.
I have not delivered your Letter to him,1 nor given him any hint of its Contents. I thought it safest to reflect upon it a little: but I believe I shall deliver it. I am under no fear of its hurting our political Negotiations here. It is not in his Power to do Us good or harm in that way. I am of your opinion that Mr. De Neufville would not take the Goods off our hands at a discount of ten per Cent, nor double that Sum. I believe he would be puzzeled in his Affairs by the Attempt to take them, but wish I may be mistaken. I should be obliged to You for a Copy of the Terms on which he offered You to borrow Money for Us. I will examine Messrs. Fizeaux Account as soon as I can: but I believe it is right.
I am much pleased with your Reflections on the glorious News. Few military plans were ever better laid or executed. It gives the English an appearance of littleness, while the Allies appear great indeed. It is a demonstration to every thinking Mind, that the pursuits of Britain are chimerical: but the affair of Trenton, of Saratoga and { 103 } a thousand others might have taught this Lesson long ago, that in a Land War America could defend herself against all the World. A very sensible Officer in the British Artillery, tho’ a violent Tory, acknowledged this to me often in Conversation nine Years ago: yet this Opinion of his has not hindered him from serving against Us all the War.
Is the Comte de Grasse gone to Newfoundland, Hallifax, New York, Charlestown or the Islands? Or is it not permitted to guess? He has behaved so well however, that I am not afraid to trust him, let him be gone where he will.
I have recieved Letters from London, most earnestly importuning that a fund may be established in London for Mr. Laurens, who is represented as suffering for want of Necessaries. I have ventured to promise an 100 £ for him out of the few Guilders that Mr. de Neufville has obtained on the Loan: but I have referred to your Excellency, who can do better for him than I. I have recieved a pathetic Letter from his Daughter too, who has been advised from London to write to your Excellency and me. I have informed her all I knew of the Measures for his Exchange, and have referred her to your Excellency.

[salute] I have the honor to be, most respectfully Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant

[signed] J. Adams
Since writing the above, the Account of Messieurs Fizeaux & Grand has been examined and found right supposing the Exchange to be right: so that I have returned it inclosed.
[signed] J. Adams
RC in John Thaxter’s hand (PPAmP:Franklin Papers); endorsed: “J. Adams Dec. 1st. 1781.”
1. JA’s terms were the same as Franklin’s in his letter of 26 Nov. to Jean de Neufville & Fils (Franklin, Papers, 36:117). The letter’s tone—Franklin called the firm’s position regarding the goods left by Alexander Gillon “most ungenteel and unjust”—likely explains JA’s hesitancy to deliver it.
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, 2017.