Diary of John Adams, volume 4

May 24. Sunday 1778.

May 26. Tuesday. 1778.

Commissioners to John Paul Jones
Sir Passi May 25. 1778

Your favours of May 9. and 16 from Brest We duely received.1 We 113congratulate you, on your Success, and safe Arrival at Brest, as well as on the honour you have acquired by your Conduct and Bravery in taking one of the Kings Ships.

As We have some expectation of obtaining an Exchange of Prisoners from England, We would advise you to keep those you have made, securely confined, tho' in the manner most consistent with humanity, till We have an Answer from thence. For if We can get an equal number of our own Seamen, to man the Drake, she will be an additional Strength to you, in a future Expedition; whereas sending her, with the Prisoners to America, will not only weaken you, by the hands you must spare to navigate her, and to keep the Prisoners in Subjection, but will also hazard their being retaken.

We should have been happy to have been early informed of the particulars of your Cruise, and of the Prizes you have made, of which We have no authentic Advice to this hour.

Your Bill of Exchange in favour of Mr. Bersolle, for twenty four Thousand Livres, which you inform Us you mean to distribute among the brave Officers and Men to whom you owe your late Success, has been presented to Us, by Mr Chaumont.

We are sorry to inform you, that We have been under the disagreable necessity of refusing Payment; and that for several reasons; first, because your Application should have been made to Mr. Schweighauser, who is the Person, regularly authorized to Act as Continental Agent at Brest, and We are determined that all American Concerns, within our department shall go through his hands, as long as he shall continue in the Character of American Agent, or at least till We shall find it necessary to order otherwise. Secondly because the Bill is drawn for an expence, which We have no right or authority to defray. We have no Authority to make presents of the public Money, to Officers or Men, however gallant or deserving, for the purpose of providing their Families with Cloathing, or for any other purpose. Nor to advance them money upon the Credit of their Shares of Prizes, nor have We Authority to advance them any part of their Pay or Bounties: All these Things belong to Congress alone, and must be done by the proper Boards, in America.

Our Authority extends no farther, than to order the necessary Repairs to be made to your Ship, to order her to be furnished with necessary Victuals, which We are ready to order Mr. Schweighausser to do, as soon as We shall be informed by you, what repairs and 114Victuals are wanted, with an Estimate of the Amount of the Expence.

There is one Thing further, which We should venture to do, for the benefit of your Men. Upon a representation from you of the quantity of Slops, necessary for them, We should order Mr. Schweighausser to furnish your Ship with them, not more however, than one Suit of Cloaths for each Man, that you may take them on board of your Ship, and deliver them out to the Men, as they shall be wanted, charging each Man upon the Ships Books, with what he shall receive, that it may be deducted out of his Pay.

Lt. Simpson has stated to Us, your having put him under Arrest for disobeying orders. As a Court Marshall must by order of Congress, consist of three Captains, three Lieutenants, and three Captains of Marines, and these cannot be had here, it is our desire, that he may have a Passage, procured for him, by the first Opportunity to America, allowing him whatever may be necessary for his defence. As the Consequences of an Arrest in foreign Countries, are thus extreamly troublesome, they should be well considered before they are made.

If you are in Possession of any Resolution of Congress, giving the whole of Ships of War, when made Prizes, to the Captors, We should be obliged to you for a Copy of it.

We should also be obliged to you for a particular Account, in whose hands the Prizes made by you, are, and in what forwardness, the Sale of them. We have the honor to be, Sir your most obedient humble Servants

B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams.
John Paul Jones Esqr. Commander of the Ranger.