Diary of John Adams, volume 4

June 2. Tuesday. 1778.

June 6. 1778

Commissioners to Lord North
My Lord

The Fortune of War, having again made a Number of British Sea-128men Prisoners to the United States, it is our Duty to trouble you with a renewal of our former request, for an immediate Exchange of Prisoners in Europe. To detain unfortunate Men, for months in Prison, and send them, three thousand Miles to make an Exchange, which might take place immediately and on the Spot, is a most grievous and unnecessary Addition to the Calamities of War, in which We cannot believe the British Government will persist.

It is, with the utmost regret, that We find ourselves compelled to reitterate, to your Lordship, our Remonstrances against your treating the Citizens of the United States, made Prisoners by the Arms of the King of Great Britain, in a manner unexampled, in the practice of civilized Nations. We have received late and authentic Information, that numbers of such Prisoners, some of them Fathers of Families in America, having been sent to Africa, are now in the Fort of Senegal, condemned, in that unwholesome Climate, to the hardest labour, and most inhuman Treatment. It will be our indispensable Duty, to report this to the Congress of the United States of America, and Retaliation will be the inevitable Consequence, in Europe as well as America, unless your Lordship will authorize Us to assure Congress that these unhappy Men, as well as all others of our Nation, who have been treated in a similar manner, shall be immediately brought back and exchanged.

Most earnestly We beseach your Lordship, no longer to sacrifice the essential Interests of Humanity, to the Claims of Sovereignty,7 which your Experience must by this time have convinced you, are not to be maintained. We have the Honor to be &c.

Signed B. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams
To Lord North.