Papers of John Adams, volume 18

From Thomas Jefferson

From Samuel Austin

382 To John Adams from John Paul Jones, 10 July 1786 Jones, John Paul Adams, John
From John Paul Jones
Sir, Paris July 10th. 1786.

On the other side is a Copy of a Letter I had the honor to write you by Mr. Bingham the 7th. of Feby. last. As I have long expected to see Dr. Bancroft here I was led to conclude that he would have been able to give me some satisfaction respecting the application to the Court of Denmark. I find however that he is not acquainted with the effect either of your correspondence to Denmark, or of your conversation on the Subject of our Prizes with the Danish Minister in London.—1 The Board of Treasury has sent such Orders to Mr. Jefferson respecting the Prize-Money I have recovered from the Court of France, as makes my return to America, in a public light, not immediately necessary.2 I must therefore request the favor of you to let me know as soon as possible the result of your correspondence to Denmark, and of your conversation on my subject with the Danish Minister, with your advice on the best steps for me to pursue to receive satisfaction from his Court.3 There is a Danish Minister now here, and an application through him will not be subject to the unfavorable influence of the Court of London.

I am, Sir, with great esteem & Respect, / Your most obedient / and most humble Servant

Paul Jones

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency / John Adams Esqr. Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States / at his House Grosvenor Square London.”


For the 7 Feb. letter (Adams Papers) and JA’s previous efforts on Jones’ behalf, see Jones’ 7 Jan. letter, and notes, above.


In its 29 Oct. 1783 instructions to the peace commissioners, Congress directed them to investigate whether proceeds from the 1779 Bonhomme Richard expedition remained in French hands and might be recovered and distributed to the American sailors. On 1 Nov. 1783, Jones was named as the agent, under Benjamin Franklin’s direction, in the endeavor (vol. 15:332, 334). Thomas Jefferson reported to the Board of Treasury on 26 Jan. 1786 that Jones had recovered ₶181,039.1.10. It had been expected that Jones would return to the United States with the funds, but the board wrote to Jefferson on 9 May that in view of the shortage of American funds in Europe, the sum obtained by Jones should remain there and be used to pay the expenses of the American ministers in Europe. Congress would appropriate an equivalent sum in America to pay the prize money to the crews of the vessels involved in the Bonhomme Richard expedition. Jones provided an accounting of the money he had recovered, minus his expenses, in his 7 July letter to Jefferson, who then reported to the Board of Treasury on 13 Aug. that after the deduction of all expenses, including Ferdinand Grand’s commission, there remained enough money on hand to pay the American diplomats for three months (Jefferson, Papers , 9:227, 480–481; 10:93–95, 237–238). See also Jefferson’s 13 Aug. letter to JA , below.


See JA’s 17 July reply, below.