Papers of John Adams, volume 17

To Richard Henry Lee

To John Jay

From Richard O’Bryen, Isaac Stephens, and Zaccheus Coffin, 27 August 1785 O’Bryen, Richard Stephens, Isaac Coffin, Zaccheus Adams, John
From Richard O’Bryen, Isaac Stephens, and Zaccheus Coffin
Honoured Sir Algir August the 27th. 17851

We The Subjects of the United States having the misfortune of Being taken by the Cruisers of Algires and has Been made Slaves of take the Liberty of Informing you of oure present Situation the Severities of which is Beyond youre Immaginition—

The Honourble Charles Logie Esqr. British Counsl. Has taken three masters of Vessells of us Out &c. keep us at his house paying to The King of This port 2 dollrs. per month for us, per—man— We were Stript & Left destitute, of Every thing Hoping you will take oure Grivances into Consideration & make Some Extra provision for us Besides what the King of Cruelties allows, otherwise my people will perish. For I assure you it is impossible The Can Live—on what the are allowed— all other nations Whose Subjects falls in the Hands of those Heathens, allows Them—two, or Three Dollars per month The Winter approachig and The Being Entirely Bare of Cloaths The will Be in A poor Missereable Situation

Hoping you will make oure Distressed Situation known to Congress and That the will Fall on Some plan for oure Speedy Redemption The Are fitting out at present and will Cruise to The Nd. of The western Islands, and in The mouth of The Channell The are well informed of oure Trade & will Spread all over the Atlantick

Ship Daupin Richd. OBryen Master Belonging to Mathew & Thomas Irwin Merchants of The City of Philadelphia— The Ship Daupin Was taken the 30th. July—from St. Ubes two days out Bound to Philadelphia, & is not yet arrivd. The Schooner Maria Isack Stepens Master Belonging To Mr. Wm. Foster & Co. of Boston, taken The 24th. Capt. Zachriah Coffin was passenger in the Ship Daupin—2 Hoping you will Be So kind as to Write to Charles Logie 368Esqr. for his picular Sivillity to us, &, to, assist, My men which is in A Misserable Situation—

We, are twenty one in Number, of Americans

We Remain youre Most Obedt. & Humble / Petitioners—

Richard OBryen Isack Stephens Zachrs. Coffin

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To / John Adams Esqr. / Plenipotentiary For The / United States of America / In London”; endorsed: “Letter from Algiers / from / O Brian / Stevens / Coffin.”


O’Bryen had written to JA on 16 Aug. (Adams Papers) to say he had secured a promise of support from Charles Logie, the British consul at Algiers, and that “a few Lines to him from you, would, perhaps Ese us a little.” There is no record of any correspondence between JA and Logie in the Adams Papers, but see JA’s reply to O’Bryen of 6 Oct., below.


Capt. Zaccheus (Zacharias) Coffin of Nantucket, Mass., died of consumption in late 1787, while still in captivity (Jefferson, Papers , 12:288, 549). For more on the welfare of American captives in the Barbary States, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 8, above.