Diary of John Adams, volume 4

May 14. Thursday. 1778.

May 17. 1778.

La Tuilliere to Garbriel de Sartine

I have the honour to inform you, that on the fourth of this month, a French Snow or Brigantine, which is believed to be the Prudent Captain Rochell of about one hundred and fifty tons, coming from London with a Cargo of Commodities, and some flour, for this Island, was met, visited and captured, near enough to the Land and in Sight of this City by an American Privateer, which is said to be from Boston and is named the Lyon Captain John Warren, and finally sent to Boston, under the praetext that the Cargo belonged to Englishmen. The Circumstances which accompanied this Capture, render the Action of this Cruiser not only extremely blameable but they characterize him rather as a Pirate, than as a Privateer authorized by any Government.

Following the directions of a Portuguese Fisherman, whom the said Vessell had taken for a guide to conduct her into the Road, the Privateer entered into this Vessell as into a Prize, taking immediate possession, and even ill treating the People, and after having transported them by violence on board the Privateer, taken and kept all the Papers, which could prove to whom the Vessell belonged, and of what Nation he was, she put on board an American Crew with whom she sent her to America, naturally in the Intention of selling there, the Cargo, and perhaps the Vessell, with the Ventures of the french Captain and Seamen, and all that might belong to Merchants of Neutral Nations, with the Insurgents in some of our American Islands, where the said Cargo of Commodities, ou bien de Pipes en 102 bote would sell to great Advantage whereas they would be of very little Value, if sold in the English Colonies of the Insurgents, which abound in such Merchandizes. I have made haste, my Lord to inform you of this fact, persuaded, that after having reflected upon its importance, you will condescend to take all the measures necessary, to obtain restitution of so irregular a Capture, to cause the Captain of the Privateer to be punished for his Crime, and to prevent in future all similar Outrages, so prejudicial to our navigation and commerce, and so inconsistent with the Safety, and the respect, which all nations preserve, for our flagg, in the present Circumstances.2