Papers of John Adams, volume 12



Isaac Collins, by John Brewster Jr. 375 [page] [image]

This oil on canvas portrait by the itinerant deaf-mute artist John Brewster Jr. shows Isaac Collins (1756–1834) of Gloucester, Massachusetts, as a substantial merchant captain in the 1790s. As a privateersman during the American Revolution, however, he had the misfortune to be twice captured and imprisoned in England. In June 1781, as a mate on the Massachusetts privateer Ulysses, Collins was taken and committed to Forton Prison in Portsmouth, England. By August he and four others were in France, having escaped and crossed the English Channel in a small open boat. Assisted by Michel Guillaume St. John de Crèvecoeur, who would soon publish Letters from an American Farmer, Collins joined his brother Charles on the privateer Black Princess. His new vessel was soon captured and in October he found himself an inmate of Mill xiii Prison (William Young, ed., A Dictionary of American Artists, Sculptors, and Engravers, Cambridge, 1968; Franklin, Papers , 35:410–411, 415–417; Marion and Jack Kaminkow, Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 42, 235). See Collins’ letter to John Adams, written from Mill Prison, March 1782, below.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.